Thursday, August 18, 2011


A newsletter came through my e-mail inbox the other day, and because the newsletter was pleasing to my eye, I read it (though I cannot remember what it was called or who sent it). It contained a single article which took as its premise the fact that expressing ourselves via Facebook status updates or 140-character Tweets has a benumbing effect on our attempts at longer, more circumspect writing.

I remember reading recently about a songwriter who became addicted (his word) to Twitter and the lure of what amounts to a sound bite. He had legions of followers, all awaiting his pithy, clever little tweets and thus fueling his desire to send out even more zingers. The only problem was that thinking and writing in microbits began to affect his work to such an extent that he could no longer write songs. I can't recall how it all ended, but I believe he went cold-turkey on the tweeting. Good for him, I say.

Some counter this argument by pointing out that it is, indeed, mundane facts (what we ate for lunch is the classic example) that help us forge connections with each other. To this I want to say, "Really?"

Anyways, The Actual Truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere between. I will admit, though, that when I was recently working on a short story, the feeling I had was one of extreme luxury. It felt like I'd been sleeping on a tiny cot for two weeks, and then suddenly someone delivered me unto a king-size featherbed. Except the feathers were letters and I was rolling all over them and laughing. I don't know if the story works, but it felt good to write it. Better, even, than offering up a droll tweet or an amusing status update.

I do have a thing for the Facebook "Like" button, though.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Camp Makes Me Sad

My older girls are about to start their second consecutive week of sleepaway camp at a working organic farm. Just typing that makes me laugh; the list of things they can do that I've never done and will likely never do, grows more lengthy by the day. I'm talking about:

• mudding a pig
• milking a cow
• grabbing chickens
• archery
• feeding goats
• real gardening

And while I'm at it:

• base stealing
• base sliding
• homerun hitting
• bunting
• pitching
• scoring the winning goal
• presenting in front of the School Board
• making & launching a rocket
• performing in a talent show
• being Student Body President
• being Student Body Environmental Leader

These things are, admittedly, not extraordinary. They are the stuff of a privileged childhood, but they blow my mind because at their age I was far too shy/too self-conscious/too willing to sit on the sidelines. Simply put, my kids are way cooler than I am.

My original point, though, is that they've been away exactly seven days, but it feels exactly like one year. I miss them; it's distracting. Parents have access to one-way email communication, of which I take extreme advantage, furiously typing stream-of-consciousness messages at one o'clock in the morning (in my defense, stream-of-consciousness is really the only way to go when the communication is one-way).

My younger daughter attended the one-week version of this camp, and when I picked her up on Friday, she was busy exchanging phone numbers with her new friends. I experienced a mild feeling of, "Oh, shit," because I'm sure that Ri & Vi will be performing the tween/teen version (the kids in their camp are ages 11 - 15) of this ritual, which is likely to include email addresses and cell phone numbers. But...they have neither. Why? Because our plan all along has been to give them these things at the end of summer, just before they start middle school. Having to inform their new friends of the deprivation that they must endure at the hands of their despotic mother will no doubt cause them embarrassment, so yay: I've managed to embarrass them without being present.

I'm sure this will continue for many years.