Examination of Conscience for Social Media Users

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If you are like me and you have a tendency to get a little too twisted up over what to Tweet or you find yourself instagraming things that should never be grammed like water boiling… then you’ve come to the right place. I jotted this down a while ago to keep myself in check, and to not go crazy over the crazed toll that social media can take on me. Some of them are more sarcastic (because that’s how myself responds best to myself) and others more blunt. Whether you use it, loose it, tweet it or hate it here are 10 questions to keep your head above the water:

  1. Do I start a conversation with “You have to see this!!!”. A m I uplifting someone? Am I mocking? Did they kind of ask for it?

  2. Am I thinking in Tweets? Do I actually use “hashtag”  fingers  and talk in fragments while I’m speaking to a real person?

  3. Do I only bake things because they will look good on Instagram? Am I wasting food? And time?

  4. Have I spent as much time with real people today as I spent with my phone or computer? The people on People.com do not count.

  5. Have I given others in my life the attention I give Twitter? Do I check in with them for updates as much?

  6. Do I give my prayer life the equivalent or more time than I spend blogging, Tweeting, checking my e-mail or Facebook?

  7. Am I aggravated or refreshed when I shut my internet browser? Do I look for things that lead my thoughts closer to God? Do I binge read on depressing news stories and ruin my day because of worry?

  8. Do I only go on Facebook to be nosy? Is what I read on someone’s profile really any of my business?

  9. Do I get stressed out over a blog post someone wrote, a Tweet someone sent or a picture someone posted? Am I giving myself meaningless anxiety, making me less able to do my real job adequately?

  10. Do any of my fingers hurt from swiping, typing, pinning, posting or tweeting?

What other questions would you add to the list?

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Get Real

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Sometimes I follow these Pinterest links to these super-housewifey-June-Cleaver-ish blogs. I don’t know about you but they depress me. Well, at least they used to, until I started getting real with myself. I don’t see reality when I read on their ‘about’ page:

 “ Howdy! I’m Linda and I have 23 kids , two culinary arts degrees, and a black belt in Karate. I home school all my kids, teach CCD, run the Rosary society and volunteer at our local pet shelter. In my free time I post endless sewing patterns, vocabulary templates, and recipes that I’ve written all myself. I also like to practice my knitting skills and have an entire YouTube page with tutorials on how to spin yarn and raise & shave your Alpacas! This blog is my way of making you feel entirely unproductive, talentless and generally useless because I will post, tweet, and Facebook new ideas daily! Thanks for stopping by!”

I used to see that and want to roll up with a tiny whimper on the couch clutching the last morsel of a Mallomar feeling completely incapable of daily life.Now I see that and I mentally stand with my hand on my hip “C’mon girl! Get real!”. I’m not buying it! Life is not instagramed. It is not collection of photo documentation of what we do. To prove ourselves worthy of the world. “See cyber world? I am so much better than you. This is me striking a yoga pose while making my own hummus. It’s all in the buttocks.” See that profile that has the picture on Facebook that hasn’t changed in over 3 years? That’s a sign of a  person who is real. They are actually living their life!

Anyway, seeing some of these blogs made me think about this one and what I hope that it is or who it is for. I realized that here at athimons.com we are a place for all the moms who stand over the garbage can, scarfing down the leftover pizza crust on your toddlers plate while “clearing the table”, for those of you who nearly break their necks tripping over the lost camel from your nativity scene….in August. Who pick up, re pick up, and spend the whole livelong day picking up! Who have to ask “where are your underpants?” regularly. Who buy ovulation test sticks in bulk, from the pharmacy window, with all your babies in tow. And then has to drag your sorry self back to the pharmacy the very next day because the totally incompetent college aged pharmaceutical assistant sold you fertility tests instead of ovulation tests. As if you just being there with all the kids was not a completely obvious sign of which one you needed. Who lick the outside of the yogurt container before you put it back in the fridge, who found out that hey, applesauce and rice cereal is realllllyyyy yummy,who remember that you forgot to switch the wash at 2am and who chase deranged, fat, squirrels off your front porch when you find them attacking your pumpkins. This is for those of us who cannot get out of the house due to dirty diapers, spit up, nursing, crying, meltdowns, potty accidents, spilled yogurt, pulled hair, political survey phone calls, tracked in mud, or all of the above. Or for us who never whistle while they work, but sometimes moan or sigh loudly and occasionally have a quivering bottom lip while listening to shrill tiny voices prattling on at hyperspeed.  For moms who find that their times they negotiate most with God is in the wee hours of the morning, with a child who’s been up half the night screaming. (It’s amazing how many novenas and rosaries we promise. And how many saints needing a 3rd miracle we promise canonization to!) For us who are going to be a “Hello My name is: tired” sticker for Halloween (don’t steal my idea, at least wait until I Pinterest it) For all the moms who get pointless advice from old ladies in the grocery stores or endure unasked for rude comments on your fertility. For you who fish around poking yourself in the eye, looking for a contact lens you never put in. For those of us who eat leftovers for lunch cold. Because, no, we don’t have time to heat it up. And frankly, at this point it doesn’t matter because you just swallow it whole in a matter of seconds anyway. Who take out your earrings at night and find one earring with no back on it, and the other one with two. And who are so gosh darn tired that you cannot remember the names of the children you birthed.

This blog is for all you real mommies out there, who are wiping up, cleaning up, picking up,  living it up and are sometimes tempted to give up, but will never want to wake up with any other family than the one you got. And who know that it’s ok to be aggravated and frustrated with changes or crosses, and that it doesn’t make us failures or less of a good parent to question our decisions. I hope this blog is an avenue for Moms out there to not feel like an island in their chaos, that all of us are there, have been there, and know that eventually…everyone will sleep through the night. And naturally we will have our routines back. And certainly, if we had a choice over which cross we wanted, we would choose our own because let’s get real: nobody knows the ins and outs of our jobs like we do.

Next, please!

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Summer always makes me think of ice cream. Well, okay, realistically speaking I can probably say that just about anything can make me think of ice cream.

To clarify: summer has a way of reminding me that it’s “ice cream season.”  The sweaty, sticky days that beckon us to do nothing but squint and search for shade are here. Days that inevitably have a way of driving everyone in our town to the one location that serves the best ice cream around. You know its really good ice cream when perfectly sane neighbors (including yourself) tote the whole family along to wait in line (out the door, through the parking lot) in the blazing heat for a milkshake. Definitely putting themselves at risk for heat stroke or at the very least, sweat stains.

In any case, summer will always make me remember my days waiting on those such customers when I worked at Holy Cow. A good 4 summers of memories. Some very, funny, memories.

One such story is what I now call “The Legend of the Bands”. For it is quite simply the short summary of my awkward teen years and all its embarrassing moments wrapped up in a tiny nutshell topped with whipped cream and a cherry. It goes like this:

Holy Cow is the best ice cream in town. The best. The prices are insanely cheap, and the ice cream is so delicious that the place is open all year round (even on holidays!) minus two days.

To work at Holy Cow is probably one of the most prestigious jobs a teen around here can hold.It practically warrants celeb status. To this day, people will come up to you and expect you to remember them, or worse, their usual orders. If they don’t recognize you from the store, you can reference working there in pretty much any circumstance (like getting out of a ticket or meeting new friends) and you instantly move up on the awesome ladder.

Typically, the girls who worked at HC were the high school field hockey team. Gorgeous girls who had straight teeth, nice figures and boyfriends. Popular girls, in short. I, however, was not on the field hockey team. I did not have anything resembling a figure and  I certainly did not have a boyfriends, or boys who were my friends. Heck, I didn’t even go to the public high school. I was a homeschooled, knobby kneed, braces wearing, overly exuberant teenager who was somehow hired.

I was also very skinny. So the “small” shirt I was given to wear sat on me like a loose sheet  totally killing any chance of emphasizing the imaginary figure I wished I had. And I didn’t have contacts yet, so I wore “attitude glasses”. And I had some crazy cases of acne. So, in short as one employee dubbed me, I was a “funny dork”.

Lucky for me, I was confident in my dorkiness. The one thing I had going for me was that I was super friendly. Sometimes this aided my situation and sometimes it entirely destroyed my self esteem, as in this case (and in the Christmas tree nose hair case, but that’s another story).

It was a piping hot June day. I had just undergone oral surgery a few days prior, for which one of my upper incisors (aka front tooth’s neighbor) had to be “lassoed” from the roof of my mouth (for whence it decided to settle instead of my gums) and be dragged down to the front of my mouth.  The end result consisted of a silver linked chain with one end attached to the roof tooth and the other end attached to the front tooth. Totally insanely gross & weird, and completely would figure to be just my luck as I entered my 16th year of life. I definitely kissed all prospects of attracting boys goodbye. I did come to terms with the surgery rather quickly though, especially when the alternative was a tooth which potentially would settle in the roof of my mouth, near the nasal cavity. Now that would definitely have been special. No nose-tooth for me, give me the silver chained lasso.

In addition to the bling and my usual fully loaded metal mouth, I had been assigned to wear “rubberbands” which helped pull the top teeth lower by anchoring them with a teeny tiny rubber band to the bottom teeth. So, pretty much I could only open my mouth as far as the tension on the very visible rubber bands would allow before they snapped or before I was in pain. Something usually gave.

As I stood at the dull ice cream counter, waiting for the customers to pour in, I pitied  myself in my baggy shirt, gawky glasses, and the fact that when I spoke it looked like I was choking on a necklace.

People began to flood the store in search of decadent sundaes and cones. I blinked comatosely through my smudged glasses and convinced myself to be the best ice cream waitress possible, to be friendly and get the order right. I coached myself that people would be so caught off guard by my helpfulness & cheer that they couldn’t possibly have a chance to notice my war zone mouth.

“Can I help who’s next?”

I shouted out to the masses, lunging my body up higher by standing on my toes to get people’s attention.

More people poured in, the chatter between people created a cicada-like hum and the heat grew stickier, no one stepped forward to my line.

“Next?”

I tried again, pushing my glasses up my nose with a sigh.

I looked around at the other girls serving customers, hastily dashing between the milkshake machine and the ice cream freezer, dousing cones with sprinkles, filling dishes with strawberries and dollops of whipped cream. Sweating buckets as they heard the front door jingle over, and over, and over again as more, and more, and more people stuffed themselves into the store.

I smiled hugely and tried an approach that was sure to work: speaking up.

Again I went up on my toes, gripping the counter for stability with my bony fingers.

My baggy shirt swayed in the motion.

“Can I please help who’s next?!”

As my mouth widened to finish the “ex” part of next, something gave.

My rubberbands snapped, spit splattered  and so did my self image for that month.

I watched in that slow-motion like in movies where the people inwardly shout “noooooooooo”

as my rubberbands flew out of my mouth and into the sea of customers. All of whom were staring at me; the girl who was supposed to fix their ice cream which they wanted to eat. Even though I looked like I was trying to swallow a tiny tennis bracelet. And now all they knew was that something flew out of my mouth all slimy at a most abrupt rate and landed somewhere in their midst, but because it was “clear” colored  it wasn’t going to be located too easily.

I cringed and made a mortified mad dash to the bathroom where I locked myself in there to “fix” my rubberbands or really, wait until the crowd left so I wouldn’t have to face my victims.

I’m pretty sure for the rest of my shift, I tried to find everything imaginable to do that wouldn’t require interaction with customers.

Although it was the one of the most embarrassing days of my fragile teenage life, I can’t help but laugh about it now.I also can’t help but be super skeptical of who’s serving me food.Especially when it’s ice cream season and I’m the one on the other side of the counter.

Say Cheese Please!

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So we did the seemingly insurmountable task of getting our family pictures done. Over Camera Guy’s dead body, we went to a studio in Sears.

Thus is the curse of being the photographer’s family. Everybody else gets amazing portraits, but we can’t get our own young-ins to sit still for a second to smile. Luckily we had a coupon for a free portrait so I dragged Princess for a haircut, got Chubbers in his Dockers and off to the mall we went.

So we had an appointment. But when we got there, the studio was dimly lit and no one was around. It was eerie. If someone had whistled and beckoned to us from behind the hallway wall I wouldn’t have been the least surprised.

We got a late start, about a half hour because the photographer was late. A half hour , I’m learning, is very valuable on toddler time. They were fed, changed, clean and happy. But the closer we crept to naptime, the more fiesty the troops became.

Finally the girl (who had to have been like 19) gets us into the studio room. Everyone is set. We all are matchy matchy, feeling good, there’s no one in the waiting room, and I’ve got a bag of tricks.

Then I look at Chubber’s hair and realize I forgot to comb it. I assumed the studio had a box of disposable combs for things like this. Nope. So a 15 minute scramble through the diaper bag ensued… resulting in tilting the bag upside down & shaking it, determined that amongst the cheerios, raisins and diaper cream there HAD to be a comb! A half hour elapsed again, and no comb was found.

So we licked our hands and pushed his hair the side. Que Sera….

Onto photos. A big letter “x” appeared on the studio screen for the kids to sit on.

“Now make sure they sit right on that “x’ ” photo girl stressed.

I almost burst out laughing.

“They’re 2 and 1….um….. I can’t get them to sit in the tub, let alone sit on that 3 inch “x’ ”

But we tried, we tried for oh, about…. let me not exaggerate here: 2 hours.

Totally. Not. Kidding.

Yes, believe me. We tried very hard to make it work. Things just kept preventing blissful family picture from occurring. Sometimes the barcode on Princesses shoe was showing, or Chubbers was holding the football in front of his face, or lipstick was on my teeth, or Camera Guy was looking like he was in a coma, or Chubbers decided to play peek-a-boo with his forehead fat.

Exasperated the photo girl cried out “Mom & Dad, you’re going to have to make them smile”

Exasperated I cried back “If we could do that, we wouldn’t be here!”

“I have an idea” She reached into the toy bin and pulled out a baseball bat.

I gasped in horror and started to throw raisins at her bald head. But then she just used it to tickle their bellies…so…

Either way, it was overly strenuous for all of us. And when we finished (more like quit emphatically) we realized there were 4 other families waiting in the lobby and she was the only photographer scheduled for the day. (I made sure I took the bat away from her before she saw the line)

In the future I am going to be much more leery of those free portrait coupons.

2 hours later and we had come away with the following :

1. One empty exhausted bag o’ tricks: snacks, toy medicine dropper, toy car, ballerina bunny, rubber duckies, umbrella, football & lollipops.
2. Two red-eyed kids from crying
3. Zero photos of them together. In that lovey dovey sister brother cuteness, that we never see anyway, but would have been nice for the picture.
4. Two near-migraines
5. One family photo where husband looks Asian.
6. 2 huge laughs from when they tried to sell us the “Gold” package that started at $1000, but would offer us at a special reduced rate of ONLY $800 ( how kind, we’re supposed to pay you
400 bucks an hour to drive us loco? I don’t think so, the kids know how to do that already for free…)

All in all it was a learning lesson. Which I learned nothing from immediately and was instead suckered into buying the $10 portrait card which was good all year round for a free 8×10 any time I came in! As much as I wanted! (Oh goody! Now I can accelerate the speed of loosing my mind at an even faster and more concentrated rate than I was already doing!)

You wouldn’t believe what happened when I got home, either.

I found the comb in the front pocket of my diaper bag.

Priority Mail

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I think I figured out the place to go when I want to find impatient people. (I fully admit, I’m one of them when I’m there!) Ever visit the post office? Wow. This place is loaded. I don’t really understand why it is, but every time I go there I meet the cream of the crop of grouches.

It really confuses me, because when I sit down and think about it… the ends don’t match up. Let’s see:
Mail= cool.
Getting mail= Awesome, possibly the best part of the day
Writing letters= nice, and rejuvenating when you have the time to put into it

Mailing letters= fun, as long as the stamps are in stock in your wallet
Mailing letters from post office= aggravating, and just about every other word that’s synonymous with it.

Maybe it’s just New York? Or maybe it’s just me? Either way, every time I’m in there, I’m usually on a line and everyone on the line is rolling their eyes and dead pan staring down the postal workers like this task is the most burdensome thing they have ever had to do. Post office customers make getting a root canal look like a walk in the park.

What is it about the post office that makes everyone so darn edgy? Even I notice my demeanor change when I walk through that door. It’s usually a sigh followed by an evaluation of how many windows they have versus how many people on line there are, then the feet start to tap when you observe how they, as always, have one working window per every 10. And a line out the door down the street to the Sunoco.
"Um, hi? United States Postal Service? Yeah, in case you’ve been living under a rock the past 3 years..the country is facing this like economical thingy where people are out of jobs and I was just thinking……since I had so much time waiting on this lovely line you always have….that maybe, if you know, you needed some more postal people…..maybe you could hire another two or three? Just a thought….."

But seriously. Today I went to the post office, and there was no line. NO LINE! This was a gift from God. Especially since I had 42 manila envelopes that needed to be individually weighed and stamped. So with a smile blaring across my face, I skipped up to the one window open, greeted the postwoman and presented my mail to her.

As if my mere presence in the post office set off some kind of alarm, the door opened. It opened again, and again, and again. A line formed almost instantly. I brazenly turned around to assess the damage when the door opened again, and I saw the line reaching to the back of the building.
Quickly, I turned back to the postwoman and tried to mentally stop myself from sweating out of sheer shock, and rising anxiety.

"Hurry!!!" I started screaming inside, "They’re all going to kill me! They’ll bind and gag me with stamps, then ship me off to Bosnia if I don’t get out of here quick!"

The postwoman scanned envelope #5 silently, stamped it gingerly and set it in a bin. The door swung open again. It was like Chinese water torture.
With each scan, my heart skipped a beat, "Almost there! 18 more go!"
The door creaked loudly, and I could hear people tisking, feet shifting, packages crinkling, and my guilt was near critical mass. I could feel them throwing glances at the back of my head. This was payback for all those thousands of times I had stood in line and grumbled over the lady taking fourteen years just to mail a letter.

Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I lunged my body forward further into the window, cutting off my peripheral vision completely. The postwoman looked up and I nervously explained to her in whispers, that the line was getting long, and I could feel the mutiny building.

"Nice office, by the way, " I added, to somehow ease the total weirdness of my actions. "Huh, American Flag. That’s great to see, you know you don’t see many of those anymore." (Instant insert foot into mouth…it’s a government office! Duh!)

Needless to say, a horrendous 19 minutes later, and I was released from one of the most humbling moments of my short life. I would just like to take this time to say to everyone who was standing on the line that I created, thank you. Thank you for not tripping me on my way out, casting me dirty looks (well I wouldn’t know, I sulked out of there with my head so low) or for calling me any names. I know you probably struggled with thinking about many of these things but thanks for holding back. You’ve all helped me realize how beneficial an at-home postage meter would be to my life. It is definitely a priority now. And you can bet your bottom dollar, I will wait on line happily the next time I am at the post office.