Disconnect to get connected?

Where have I been? On a media diet, so to speak. I got inspired by The Winter of our Disconnect by Susan Maushart. The trouble with reading is I get inspired a lot and find myself making home made ice cream that requires steeping tea bags in milk and standing at the stove stirring milk and sugar to custard consistency, which can take the better part of an hour. Or dreaming about hiking the Medeterranean with a seven year old and a nine year old. Wait. That's a nightmare. At any rate, reading can put crazy ideas into your head and when one sticks....watch out. So the media diet. Ms. Maushart is a warrior mom if I ever heard of one. She has three teen-agers that she has raised mostly on her own, and upon a re-reading of Walden she decides life as they know it has to stop! She was sleeping with her I-phone and her laptop and found this more appealing and less work than any potential suitor. Whoops....trouble. So off she goes to rid her home of cell phones, lap tops, tv's, and all manner of gaming stations. For six months. Did I mention she has three teen-agers? The idea behind all of this is that as much as they are connected in the digital age, real-time conversation and real-time connection were at an all-time low. The multi-tasking that so many of us revere was playing havoc on the ability to form complete sentences at dinner time- if there was a dinner time. An eerie blue glow emmanated from the bottom of her kids' bedroom doors late at night and it wasn't from night lights. So she sought to get her family back and that is as far as I've gotten. In the meantime, I have simply tried to limit my own computer time and am trying to notice how I feel about my own day and my own life. Do I feel less conneced? Not so far. I feel less stressed, for sure. I am not agonzing every hour about my friends in Wisconsin, I am not compulsively checking the weather, and I did not once peak at Justin Bieber's new do because I knew how limited my time was. I made holiday reservations and tried to write real e-mails to people rather than stalk old friends on Facebook. I had to force myself to stay on the task at hand and was not all that surprised at how hard it was. You can't google one thing without another coming to your attention. And I am itching for American Idol, a real sad admittance-one I can hardly believe I am putting out there. But so it goes. When Thoreau trounced through the woods, he felt he was getting in touch with real life by saying good-bye to the distractions of every day living in modern society. But he was also getting in touch with himself. All that techology can really distract ourselves from....ourselves. Crazy, right? Maybe Thoreau and Ms. Maushart are braver than even I originally thought. If you can stand being in your head and comfortable with your thoughts...now that is a real connection. No wonder this media diet is scary.

So this is poetry?

"Clutter is the poetry of our homes. It is an intimate view that is not always perfect--a few dishes in the sink, books piled next to the bed. Everything in it's place may give a certain satisfaction but a lived-in room exudes comfort and warmth."
Mary Randolph Carter
author of
The Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life

Recently, I was thrown this lifeline from a friend on Facebook. I knew that ginormous social networking site would one day become truly meaningful to me. I just didn't know when. Unintentionally finding out intimate details of people's lives such as pictures of broken body parts or last night's dinner, who is attending Sarah Palin speeches at Wal-Mart, or when Grandma last had a bowel movement were certainly things I never dreamed I'd be discovering when I tip-toed onto Facebook. But this...this quote has meaning for me and now Ms. Carter has my money because the title alone is all it takes for me to seek out her book.

Anyway, the piles. Oh yes. My piles- clothes, papers, books, art supplies, dishes, music, recipes, Legos, and did I mention papers and books? Who knew they were creating warmth and atmosphere and not just dust and angst and frustration? And sweat! Yes- you know from moving said piles around? I will look at them differently now. With more kindess and curiosity and even warmth. Each little or big pile represents some aspect of my life and that is certainly worth a poem. Or two. I am a poem. Who knew? Did Erma Bombeck write poetry? Hmmm....At any rate, my life contains poetry which means I am really living which means I am piling. Guests won't need to fear-- I know how to make them feel quite comfortable.

Life Lessons

Recently, Thing 1 got into some serious trouble. It was the kind of trouble that makes everyone's heart ache. As a parent you think, "My kid did that?" As a kid you think, "Why did I do that?" Thing 1 knew quite quickly after the transgression that this was going to be quite some ordeal. There were talks and tears and agreed upon consequences and then this, "Mom, I have a head ache. I wish I could go back in time and do the right thing." Big sigh. Well, yes. I told her she had a sadness hang-over. The kind of head and body ache you get after lots of crying and the realization that you did something you regret and now...the hard part...living with it. The next morning the head ache was still there. I told her this was good. Because don't we all want remorse in people when they do something wrong? And let me tell you, I was right there with her. I was sad and it was hard to sort out what was making it hardest on me- the anger I felt at the choice she made or watching the whole process unfold on her face and in her life. Of course, we all want to save our kids from pain...but darn those life lessons. They get you whether you want them or not.

Don't ask if you don't want to know.

I love questions. I am good at asking them. In the past, I have gotten praise for my curiosity, my willingness to put myself out there, to ask the tough questions. I have been on both ends of the question- you know, the asker and the responder and it's hard to tell which is tougher. I have been asked questions and people have not liked my answers. One time someone hung up on me. My theory is always that you should not ask if you don't really want the answers. Recently, I got to ask some questions to a group of toddler parents. It was hard on them. They just wanted sleep.

Recently, I asked some questions regarding a piece I have been working on. It's been brewing for awhile. I wrote it in one fell swoop, set it aside, came back to it and re-hashed and re-arranged and re-thought. It took quite some time, but I felt good when I was done. I don't get a lot of feedback so I sent it to someone asking some questions. There was a delay in the response. I asked again. Finally, I got one. It was a response where the gloves were off. Not in a bad way, but in an honest, this-is-for-your own-good sort-of-way, and after I recovered from the intitial blow (it was soft, but a blow nonetheless), I started wondering if I really do have what it takes to be a writer. I liked the insight, the honesty, the frank dissection of my work, but it felt a little like that dreadful peeling of the cow's eyeball you might have been lucky eough to do in 4th grade. It was kind of eerie and kind of cool all at the same time. You want to go back for more, but should you?

At any rate, the whole experience has left me pondering questions and which end I prefer to be on. I could live in my happy bubble toiling away, or I could put myself out there. Bubbles certainly have less drama. But what might I be missing? Now that is the real question.

It Looks Good on Paper

The little cafe next to The Book Shelf is having a Valentine's Dinner- 4 courses of local, pc fare that will make your heart swoon. But what I was most excited about was being made the hostess. The store kind of organizes the table seatings and times, does publicity, and takes the reservations. We take a small cut from this which helps in the downward economy for little bookstores. And I get a chance to host. Maybe. I sense the jury is still out on whether I am a suitable candidate. Said the chef to me, "You realize, Lisa, that people aren't coming to see you. It's Valentine's Day. They want a quiet evening with their paramour. They don't want to field questions and get razzed about anything. A good hostess has decorum." Uh....that means not me? So what if I might know 89% of the clientele. I can leave them alone. Seat them with the right amount of warmth and graciousness. I can bite my tongue and not ask about visiting grandkids or the latest book club pick or hospital fund raiser. I can resist small talk in the name of intimacy for the couple. I can. I CAN. I know I can. Just because I smile and laugh and chat a lot does not mean I don't know when to say when. Oh, ok. Maybe people don't want to see me. Maybe they want to escape after all. In a town this size, it is hard to go anywhere unnoticed. But in a town this size, it can also be a blessing to find a kind word anywhere you go. That seems to be in the spirit of love, doesn't it? Oh, I get it. It's just so hard. And secretly, I know people like it when I chat with them. It makes them feel special, especially in our little store. That's what sets up apart, right? But I can leave them alone for a romantic dinner. I am a big girl. I say, give me a chance. People will think I am ill from all the quietness I exude. I will be zen personified. Poor hubster will have to brace himself for the onslaught upon my return home. Hours of play by play that I hold in. But it works out. My words stored up will relieve him of any required response. A dream for him. Just sit and listen. I really see a win-win for all involved. Hubby gets out of a pressured-filled holiday, I get to see what people are up to, and the restaurant gets a warm, gracious, quiet hostess. Looks good on paper, right?