Monthly Archives: December 2010

It’s the most awkward time of the year…

I hate winter.  I hate the cold and the snow.  I can’t breathe because of my asthma.  I get colder faster because of circulation problems.  Most of the worst days of my life happened in winter.  My grandfather died on December 1st, 2008, as one example.

My birthday is in December.  So’s my brother’s, my grandmother’s and my cousin’s.  My great-grandfather also, when he was still alive.  I hate aging.  I hate attention.   I also hate how often people can’t make my birthday because tree lightings and work Christmas shindigs are more important, or how often people will give me a card then say, “But I got you something good for Christmas.”  I don’t care.  Fuck you.  You can’t split your gift budget on two gift cards or something?  Make me a mix CD?

I also don’t celebrate Christmas anymore.  I was homeless one year during the holiday and it was never the same.  My now deceased grandfather was the one who kept me trying to like it, so now, I have no reason to.

Needless to say, December is my personal hell.

It’s hard, being someone like me.  At least the Jewish have their own holiday.  I have nothing to celebrate, no joy for this time of year, and too many scars on my heart to feign a smile.  And yet, I don’t wish to bring down my friends and family, who enjoy the time and revel in it.  It’s not my fault that life rained out my parade time and time again, to the point where I don’t even make a float anymore, but it’s not theirs, either.

So, I sit alone, playing music, watching Twitter and Facebook fill up with jingle this and Santa that and shopping updates, and feel isolated.  I drink a little, and tune out.  I wsh everyone well.  I now give out ‘winter’ cards to a few friends who’d grown accustomed to my yearly holiday cards, heavily personalized.  They usually arrive late because sitting down to put them together reminds me of why I no longer have spirit.  I look up to the photos on my TV and cry, sometimes.

He wouldn’t have wanted it this way, but our whole family finally threw in the towel when he left us.  They still try, a little.  But I’d already given up halfway 20 years ago.  There was nothing for me to save.

It’s frustrating, this sense of push and pull.  I want to be with people, but the thought of pretending to be happy makes me feel ashamed, just as I cringe inwardly when someone wishes me happy holidays.  I wish it back, and mean it – for them.  But hearing it, I think, “Unlikely.”

Do I bring it on myself, a self-fulfilling prophecy?  Most certainly, to a degree.  But were I to list off the many reasons why I have bad feelings at this time of year, you’d surely agree I’m justified in being a bit Grinchy.

So what is there left to do, when you feel alone and yet, don’t want to join the party?  How do you make lemonade from the sourest lemons when you’ve run out of sugar?

In closing, something that does make me smile in December…

Or this…

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The Purposeful Social Networker

For my birthday, fiance and I finally got off our asses and saw Fincher’s The Social Network, the film chronicling the somewhat dramatic and most definitely embellished creation of Facebook and the subsequent lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg for various forms of intellectual property theft and reportedly skeezy business dealings.  The film is fantastic, with biting dialogue and an incredible score.  It also raises a key point that few teenagers grasp in Generation Wired:  the internet is written in ink, not pencil.  In other words, once it’s out there, it can safely be assumed it will live on forever, one way or another.

I have always been aware of this fact; it’s why I usually indicate my postal code as 90210 when signing up for online accounts, and give a completely wrong birthday in many cases as well.  I have online pseudonyms to protect my privacy, and also use privacy settings with gusto.  That said, my Google Alert search on my birth name, in addition to telling me that there are name twins in Spokane and New Jersey, reveals that even letters to the editor during my university days live on, happily searchable online, with two words and a click.  Searches on my commonly used online handles reveal a plethora of information that I might not necessarily want known.  For anyone with a little knowledge about my life, it’s very easy to dig up a few skeletons, even on someone as net-savvy as I generally am.

I remember a former friend, whose job involves summarizing blog and other internet hits on various companies and famous people, who was unable to mention certain brands and trademarks on her public Twitter, lest the clients find out she was speaking of them.  Paranoia?  Not so much; one slag of, say, Harry Potter, would potentially have her ass being handed to her.  Then again, she was dumb enough to use her first name and last initial as a handle, so really, she’d castrated herself moreso than necessary.  Keeping her Twitter public to chat with celebrities as if they were friends also didn’t help.

That said, what of those of us who choose to be public?  What does this say about us?  I keep my Twitter public, and often spout off on personal topics.  I never reveal anything that would betray my identity (my fiance has a codename, as one example; I never refer to an employer by name), but I am pretty open.  I blog here, about my personal life, and also mention it on my music blog.  In this day and age, where archives are endless, what possible value could there be?  Aren’t we all doomed, as Zuckerberg is in Fincher’s film, to be remembered as the guy who compared farm animals to women, or similarly awful labels?

I believe, as someone whose passion lies in helping the mentally ill, that it is important for those who are currently in the trenches of their own personal wars – often teens and young adults, being as they spend so much time online – have the ability to connect with those who have made it, or are making it.  I believe that the only way for me to see value in misery is to turn it into cautionary tales and wisdom to be passed along.  I believe in connection, in its purest form, that life is now online as much as offline.  Zuckerberg gets that, too.  It’s why he understood the potential for Facebook and pushed onward.  The world is truly smaller, these days, with the advent of technologies like webcams and Skype, among others.  We may not have Hoverboards and self-adjusting clothing as predicted in Back To The Future 2, but we have a hell of a lot of new gadgets and tools to make and keep friends we may never have found without the internet.

The blog may also be educational, with some writers making a living by instructing and coaching others on a variety of topics.  I, too, choose to contribute here, blogging on political issues, the complexities of the music industry and why some artists need to be thrown off their high horses.  A well-tagged, well-composed entry may yield thousands of viewers who can read one blog and understand an issue that may have been a vague one before.  I pride myself on being thorough, and am pleased when some of the entries that matter the most to me are hit time and time again.  Knowledge is power; Julian Assange is likely going to prison for daring to turn that power over to the public, but he believes in that balance.  I believe in it, too.

For those who dare to be exhibitionists on the World Wide Web, there’s a smart way and a stupid way.  I firmly believe one should be bold, speak up, contribute to the discussion.  When doing so, however, protect yourself.  Opening yourself up means opening up to all kinds – good, bad and batshit crazy – so play safe.  Have an email with a pseudonym that is strictly for online site sign-ups; it centralizes spam and protects your identity.  I’ve had mine for half my life.  Avoid posting clear photos on public sites; you simply don’t know who’s a stalker.  My Gravatar is obviously not me.  Choose usernames more creative than ‘LucyDBToronto’ if going public, and codename your friends and family, even.  One of my public blogs had a key for who was who that I held privately, to ensure privacy.  Avoid using the same username everywhere; have different names for different ‘levels’ of connection.

Most importantly, know your privacy settings and when to use them.  Because your ‘farm animals to women’ will live on longer than any blog or email account, whether you like it or not.

 

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Goals For 2011: Literature (Part Two)

I’ve finally tracked a list of banned and challenged books from Canada since this 60s, and have decided that since there’s a lot of different titles on this list as compared to the American banned books I plan to devour, I will add these to my goals as well. I have omitted French language books, magazines and similar anothologies of them, as well as materials I know will be impossible to locate through my resources.  I’m only going to tackle the last ten years, to keep it on par with my previous goals.

You can see the expansive pdf, with details of the challenges and many of the results here.  Books I’ve read are in bold.

Canadian Challenged and Banned Books List

Takes One To Know One: An Alison Kaine Mystery – Kate Allen
Something To Tell – Ann Alma
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
In the Heat of the Night – John Ball
Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life – Faber Birren
Glory Days and Other Stories – Gillian Chan
Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide – Barbara Coloroso
Wild Fire – Nelson DeMille
The Homoerotic Photograph: Male Images from Durieu/Delacroix to Mapplethorpe – Allen Ellenzweig
Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak – Deborah Ellis
Snow Falling On Cedars – David Guterson
Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying – Dereh Humphry
Hitler’s War – David Irving
A Little Piece of Ground – Elizabeth Laird
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art – Richard Meyer
Outrageously Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Silent Witness – Richard North Patterson
Waging War From Canada – Mike Pearson
The New York City Bartender’s Joke Book – Jimmy Pritchard
His Dark Materials series – Philip Pullman
Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

The Seduction of Peter S – Lawrence Sanders
Greasy, Grimy, Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Children – TKF Weiskopf and Josepha Sherman
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Trouble on Tarragon Island – Nikki Tate
Black Like Kyra, White Like Me – Judith Vigna
What We Don’t Know About Children – Simona Vinci
Paul Kagame and Rwanda: Power, Genocide and the Rwandan Patriotic Front – Colin M Waugh
Daddy’s Roommate – Michael Willhoite

Total Read At Start:  2/30

Follow my progress on the tab at the top of the blog!

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