Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Unpublished Status

I joined Facebook relatively late. For years, I had proudly and stubbornly declared, I'm not on Facebook, not because I had anything against it, but just because I figured I didn't need anything else in my life that would take up time.

When I was on maternity leave with Annabel, however, I had more time, lightened up a bit, and decided that Facebook sounded kind of interesting.

At first, I was completely overwhelmed. I had only about 25 "friends," including several people that I hadn't heard from in years. While this new social space was great in many ways, it was also so very strange. With the click of a button, I could peek into the lives of people I barely knew and they could peek back at me. It weirded me out, but it absolutely intrigued me at the same time.

At first, Brian was totally against joining Facebook and he couldn't believe that I had converted to the dark side. He's a private person, often uninterested in sharing his "status" with me, never mind with the rest of the world, and he doesn't waste a second of any day. But it turns out that Facebook can distract even the most purposeful of people because one day soon after I joined, I caught Brian scrolling through my News Feed. I gave him a hard time and we had a good laugh about it. Then I convinced him to get his own account. He did, although he very rarely checks it.

Since then, Facebook has absolutely fascinated me; for so many different reasons. On a high note, it's been an incredible way to connect and reconnect with people whose path otherwise doesn't cross mine very often. I may not see those people, but I care about them, and it's nice to know how they're doing.

On a low note, in some of my weak times, I get pissed that Facebook has the ability to make me feel like total crap. I'll see photos from paradise and be jealous that other couples somehow find time to fly away on vacation together. I'll see snapshots of kids' elaborate birthday parties or afternoons with their moms in the park and I worry that I'm not giving my kids all that they are giving their's.

Then there are times when I'm just downright confused. For instance, I don't feel right offering my condolences for a family death over Facebook, but I don't feel right ignoring that news, either. I feel like an awful person scrolling over a photo of a little kid who beat cancer, but sometimes I just don't want to think about that.

Other times, a Facebook comment on a blog or on a photo fills me with pride and joy. And yet other times, Facebook draws me in and then leaves me feeling empty. I can't even really explain why.

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A few weeks ago, I sent off a book proposal and some sample writing to a literary agent to inquire about the possibility of getting published. When I didn't hear back for so long, I figured that I never would. I decided I needed to cast a much wider net so just yesterday morning, on a trip with the kids, Brianne, and James to Barnes & Noble for summer books, I escaped for five minutes and found a book on writing query letters and finding an agent. I was so excited to get back to work on this little dream of mine. 

Yesterday was a beautiful day and at dinnertime, Brian and I took the kids to a picnic at the elementary school that Teddy will attend next fall. The kids climbed and slid and emptied wood chips from their Crocs for a while until the skies quickly darkened and we saw lightening in the distance. It was time to go home. 

By the time we got home, it looked like night. We shut the windows, turned on the AC, and tried to calm Teddy's nervous questions about thunder and lightening.  

The kids settled down and I checked my email. I was shocked to see a response from the agent. She wasn't interested in my work, and given that, I was so impressed that she took the time to write an incredibly thoughtful, honest, and helpful email that offered a few opening lines of encouragement and then a few paragraphs of constructive criticism, advice, and information from her own experience. I have to think a lot more about what she said, but last night, I was totally up for the challenge. 

This morning, I woke up like I usually do -- early -- and ready to start my day with the one thing that Dr. Bunnell says will reduce my chance of recurrence (exercise). Walking down the stairs, however, I tweaked my back and I felt an onslaught of pain. I could barely walk. 

When I crawled back in bed (literally), I was terrified. Was a tumor at the root of this injury? Could it happen this suddenly? I felt that hair-raising, paralyzing type of fear that I have been happy to have distanced myself from for a while now. Brian took care of me and repeated that I had thrown my back out. Seventy three percent of me believes him. 

Since I can barely walk, my entire day's plan was completely derailed. No CrossFit, no train, no office, no picking up my kids, no playing in the neighborhood (no cooking, but that's every day). Instead, I was back to faking for Teddy and Annabel that I feel fine, because they worry when I don't. In fact, Annabel arrived to my bedside this morning with her icepack bumble bee and I was so frustrated that I couldn't scoop her up and hug her for being so sweet. 

I haven't posted a blog since last Thursday. That doesn't mean I haven't written one, because I have; it's just one of those that has remained in the Unpublished category. Today, that category has me thinking. 

It has me wondering about why I continue to publish here, and why I want to be a published author at all. I know why I write -- because I need to -- but I have been thinking more and more about why I allow/want/need others to see what I write (aside from my kids who I will gift all of this to one day). Does it have to do with the validation that Oprah spoke about? Why does it matter to me if people "Like" or just "like" what I write (because it does)? Should I bother turning parts of this blog into a book? If I do, for whom would I be doing that? For what? Would it all become less pure? Less real? Less me? 

Last night after the kids went to bed, I completely broke my sugar pact (as I have several times in the last few weeks). Brianne and I, both kid- and husband-free, grabbed a frozen yogurt together. I topped mine with chocolate sauce, whip cream, and Oreos and savored every bite. When we got back to our house, we noticed the spectacular rainbow, then the double rainbow. I took about fifty photos, and, judging from Facebook, so did everyone else across the state.   

As my family knows, I am kind of obsessed with rainbows. As cliche as it may be, I just can't get over how beautiful and totally unreal they are and so I get a little bit excited when I see one. A few years ago, Brian found this YouTube video and told me that it reminds him of me. I laugh to the point of tears every time I watch this ridiculous clip and think of Brian comparing me to this nutcase.  (Warning: 30 seconds of this video is plenty. You'll never get back the other few minutes of your life!)

Anyways, last night when Brianne and I got home, Teddy was (no surprise), still awake. Brian was getting ready to watch the Bruins game and since he had been listening to Teddy yell down from his bedroom for an hour, Brian was understandably frustrated. 

I was refreshed, so I went up. Teddy, on the verge of tears, told me that he didn't understand why it was light out. When I went to bed it was dark out and now it's light out. He was really confused and since I was powered by an hour away and a great dessert, I had the patience to kiss him and hug him and explain why it had been so dark an hour earlier and why it was light again now, despite that it was past eight o'clock.  

Then I did something that the how-to-put-your-kid-to-sleep books would most certainly frown upon. I asked Teddy if he wanted to get up and see the rainbow. He's Teddy, so he'd get out of bed to  look at the pavement if I suggested it. So we stood there, peering through his shades, staring up at the rainbow. And no, we did not sound like the crazy camper in the video (although I am still laughing about that). We were just quiet for a few seconds, until Teddy started asking me why Uncle Seamus's truck was at the house. Time for bed buddy, and after a few more fits, he was asleep. 

Later last night, I scrolled through Facebook. Rainbows and the Bruins scattered my News Feed. 

Now, as I lay uncomfortably in my healing chair, I admit that I feel lost. I'm alone in the house, I can barely move, and I don't have work that is pressing at this very moment. And, I admit, I'm deflated about the agent's critiques that were, really, truly, 100% right. 

I sit wondering about my back and my blog. What am I when I can barely even get up and walk? Why, yesterday, was I so determined and today, I'm totally deflated? 

I don't have answers. 

So I keep thinking. And I keep writing. 

And I realize that these days, Facebook, tweets, blogs, texts (and, likely, programs I don't even know about) allow us up-to-the-minute information about each other's lives. These outlets let us all share our cheers for the Bruins, and our pictures of paradise, kid parties, and rainbows. Sometimes that news feed fills us up and sometimes, it drains us. 

There is so much of my journey, and likely, your's, that has gone unpublished. Maybe, sometimes, that's a good thing. Because behind each of those rainbow pictures yesterday, I wonder how many people really saw that rainbow -- not through the camera lens on an iPhone; not with Instagram filters to burst the color; not with plans to post to Facebook. I'm certainly no example because I really didn't. Instead, I clicked and snapped and wondered how I could work one of the photos into a blog.

But then, I whispered to Teddy to get up and I showed him the rainbow. That's when I saw it. And nothing -- not a photo or a blog or a Facebook post -- could ever explain the magic in that moment. Published or unpublished.

[Insert your own rainbow photo here.

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Click HERE for a fabulous and relevant New York Times Op Ed ("I Know What You Think of Me") that I found after I published this post. 

1 comment:

  1. OKay, I admit it - I wasted the 3mins, 30 seconds of my life watching this video....made me laugh. I thought it started to sound like an SNL Will Ferrell skit after a while...am I right? haha