Trimming the social fat

I just finished a thorough purge of my Facebook friends list, leaving me with about 25% fewer “friends.”  It feels marvelous.

In what I imagine has been a fairly common experience this week, the first ones to go were those who, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, revealed themselves to be racist bigoted jerks.  Once upon a time I might have just hidden these people’s feeds, hoping to check back in on their lives after the storm of hate has blown over, but not anymore.

Because why waste my time on such people?

Recent events might’ve been the nudge that finally pushed me over, but this has been a long time coming.  I joined Facebook back in college, at an age when “friending” everybody you met was the thing to do.  To someone whose life has largely been spent on the outskirts of social groups, this felt like a good thing.  I could connect with people!  I could follow the lives of others and imagine myself a part.

But I’m much pickier now, and more cynical.  There are indeed a number of folks whose lives I enjoy keeping up with, even if it’s just baby announcements and graduation pictures.  There are a modest number of people who appear to enjoy doing the same for me.  We “like” each others’ posts, we smile in passing, we feel a little less alone.

Honestly though, most of my college acquaintances?  I really don’t care all that much about them anymore, and there’s no evidence that they have any interest in me.  We networked, we tried… and it turns out we’re just not friends.

It’s been a non-trivial personal journey to get to the point where I’m OK with that.  I’m shy and anxious and introverted—I don’t have that many real, close friends—so I’ve had a tendency to cling to the faux ones in the subconscious hope that the passage of time will bring us closer.  But in doing so, I use more of my my limited social energy; that energy would be better spent deepening the connections to people with whom I actually connect.

Developing my pseudonymous presence on the web has been very informative in this regard.  Outside the weird social pressures of using my real name, and the automatically reciprocal nature of Facebook’s friend button, I’m free to follow those who interest me and ignore those who don’t.  I’m also free to say what I want, without fear of setting off someone to whom I feel I’m supposed to be “nice.”  It’s freeing, it’s empowering, and I love it.

Facebook’s never going to be that kind of venue for me, in no small part because I’ve chosen to use it to connect with family.  But I can definitely make it a more positive experience, and that starts with sticking up for myself and my time.

Readers, what’s your approach to social media?  Do you keep it small or connect with everyone?

When did you first start feeling like an adult?

The true secret of adulthood is that nobody really knows what they’re doing.  You don’t wake up on your 18th birthday suddenly knowing how to invest your money, handle difficult situations, and fold fitted sheets.  As a kid, you think your parents have all the answers; as an adult, you realize they were just doing the best they could.

I certainly don’t feel like an adult on a regular basis.  I feel like a clueless young person (being a PhD student doubtless exacerbates this), and I feel like me.  Of all the complicated things that go into being me, “being a grown-up” really doesn’t register.

There are occasional moments, though, when it hits me and I feel responsible and competent and holy crap I’m an adult.  It’s almost never the obvious stuff.  Getting married?  Nope, don’t feel like an adult yet.  Having a baby?  Nope, still don’t feel like an adult.  (It continues to boggle my mind that I can introduce myself as “Mrs. LastName” or “Little Boy’s Mom.”)

But the first time I took the trash bins out to the curb at our house, then checked that all the doors were locked before heading upstairs for bed?  Adult.

Pouring over paperwork in the car salesman’s office before getting the keys to our new vehicle?  Adult.  (This was at least a big event, of sorts.)

Why these situations?  Why not others?  I have a theory, which is that the things that make me feel adult-y are the things that I saw my parents do when I was a child.  My parents got married before I was born, and I was too young to recall much about the birth of my sibling.  But I do remember them locking the doors every night, and I remember killing time in a car dealership while they went into various rooms to discuss prices and sign pieces of paper.  Something deep in my brain registered those actions as Things Adults Do, and it built up my picture of adulthood accordingly.

What about you, readers?  When did you first start feeling like an adult?

Things I would have preferred not to learn this weekend

Learning new things is fun and all, but there is some stuff I would have been much happier never knowing:

  • Our camp mattress fits in the downstairs bathroom.
  • Dehydration can cause your arms and legs to go tingly and numb.
  • The local urgent care center is equipped to give IVs.  (They also have an X-ray machine.)
  • Zofran dissolves under your tongue.
  • My husband’s new health insurance has surprisingly good prescription coverage. [OK, maybe that one is actually good to know in the long run.]

Food poisoning sucks, y’all.

Lessons from my baby: Sometimes, you have to fall on your face

Little Boy currently has a small bruise on his cheekbone, the result of face-planting on a wooden puzzle piece while trying to reach for another toy.  At eleven months old, he remains steadfastly opposed to any tummy-down activities, but has begun to notice that there are interesting things just out of his reach.  His approach to acquiring these objects from a sitting position is to lean as far forward as he possibly can, which, it turns out, is pretty far.  He’s started to realize that he can stretch a little bit farther if he tucks his legs around rather than leaving them stuck out in front.  Eventually—hopefully—these efforts will put him on his hands and knees.

However, he hasn’t quite figured that last part out yet.  Sometimes, when he reaches extra hard for that toy, he loses his balance and tips forward onto his head, whereupon he promptly rolls onto his back and starts loudly complaining about the indignity of it all.

I can’t stop him from falling, much as I want to.  I can make sure he’s falling on carpet and mostly avoiding wooden puzzle pieces, and I can offer tickles and hugs as needed after he falls.  But I can’t teach him to crawl perfectly.  I can encourage and demonstrate, but in the end it’s something he has to figure out for himself, falls and all.

I need to keep this point in mind for my adult life.  I’m used to staying on safe ground, keeping in balance, reading all the rules before I start—generally wearing metaphorical padded cushions.

But sometimes, the only way to learn is to try repeatedly, fail repeatedly, and keep trying.

Sometimes, you have to fall on your face.

Jumbled bits and pieces

Today has been a struggle to pull my mind back together after a family vacation (pros: family, lack of work; cons: four days in the car with a ten-month-old).  I forgot to put on makeup this morning, for goodness’ sake.  So for tonight’s post, enjoy a sampling of the things that have been bouncing around my brain.

  • The house was not invaded by insects while we were away.  I am relieved.
  • Obnoxious ex-advisor continues to be obnoxious, now with more unprompted and condescending reprimands about how the culture of our field operates.  If it weren’t so aggravating, it would be hilarious: 90% of the times she’s done this, she’s been wrong.  (The other 10% of the time, she gets it right — but she misses that I was already well aware of cultural conventions and chose to work around them for a very deliberate reason.)
  • The long days in the car with a ten-month-old were exhausting, but they weren’t really that bad.  As on our first, shorter road trip, Little Boy generally napped well, ate well, and handled the new places and people with aplomb.
  • Rest areas without changing tables make me grumpy.  Really, I’d like to see changing tables everywhere, but a facility that is built specifically for highway travelers to use the bathroom doesn’t have any good excuse to leave them out.
  • I’ve been strongly tempted to join the Dark Side open a Twitter account under my blog name, even though that I’ve rolled my eyes at Twitter for years and am a huge Luddite with a flip phone.  I am currently stymied by the need to come up with The Perfect Profile Picture.
  • Despite arriving to pick Little Boy up from daycare at 5:15 p.m., we’re consistently some of the last parents in his age group to do so.  This doesn’t bother me, but I do find it rather odd.  Where do these other parents work?

Have a random thought to share?  Leave it in the comments below.

Last of the lengthening days

Tomorrow is the first day of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.  The summer solstice.  The longest day of the year.

I always mark this day with a little twinge of sadness, knowing that it means each evening for the next six months will grow a little darker, until the Sun is setting on my drive home from work and the evenings stretch long and black through the winter.

But tonight is a lovely evening, and so my heart will rejoice.

Tired all the time

To paraphrase the Dos Equis guy, I don’t always feel tired, but when I do — no, actually, I do always feel tired.  Or, if not always, often enough that it’s my normal.

For the longest time, I hoped that there was something specific (but fixable!) wrong with me, like iron-deficiency anemia or an underactive thyroid.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), blood tests through the years have ruled those things out.  We did eventually figure out that one of the medications I was taking in college was the reason I kept falling asleep in class, and changing that helped quite a bit.  But I still routinely find myself overwhelmed by the urge to lay my head on a pillow, close my eyes, and let my brain recharge with sleep.

Pregnancy and the early postpartum period made everything much worse, of course.  Now, however, I no longer wake unprompted at 5 a.m., expecting either a hungry baby or loud thuds from our ex-neighbors.  By the numbers, I’m getting enough sleep at night.  Yet I still often find myself unable to think or focus or process information by the end of the day.

And so I run through the list of possible reasons:

  • I’m hungry and have low blood sugar.
  • I just ate and am in a carbohydrate stupor.
  • I worked out today.
  • I haven’t worked out much lately.
  • I’m depressed.
  • My antidepressant makes me drowsy.
  • My antidepressant keeps me up at night.
  • I didn’t get the chance to take a nap.
  • I took a nap, but it wasn’t long enough.
  • I took a nap and it was too long.
  • I tried to do too many things today.
  • I didn’t do anything today.
  • I haven’t had any caffeine yet today.
  • I had too much caffeine today.
  • I’m bored.
  • I’m worried.
  • I’m being overdramatic… maybe this is normal and everyone feels this way.

Maybe I’ll figure it out someday.

Early to bed

I could make a joke about how you know you’re a parent when your idea of a great Friday night is staying in, realizing you’re too tired to finish the movie, and snuggling up in bed for a good night’s sleep.

But who am I kidding?  That’s always been my idea of a great Friday night.

No, the true sign that you’re a parent is when you can recite multiple Sandra Boynton books from memory – and randomly do so throughout the day.

I get my best ideas at bedtime

It’s rather annoying, actually.

On an average evening, I have a bit of time after dinner, when Little Boy is in bed and tomorrow’s lunches have been made and baby bottles washed.  But I’m tired.  My brain is tired.  It doesn’t want to write, or read interesting things to get ideas.  It wants me to veg on the couch and read mindless Facebook shares and watch TV.  Which is totally understandable after a long day of parenting and research and more research and more parenting.

However, when I start getting ready for bed – taking a shower, brushing my teeth – my brain wakes back up again.  Suddenly, it’s composing my next three blog posts.  And not just a hey, you should write about that sometime; there are whole sentences and paragraphs just running around in my head.

If I were back in college, unencumbered by normal work hours or the needs of a tiny human, I might choose to run with it.  Sit down at my computer for an hour and let the words flow.  But I’m not a college kid any more, I’m a mom who has to get up in the morning and needs a lot of sleep to function, so I have to go to bed.

Fortunately, the free-flowing sentences don’t usually prevent me from falling asleep.  In fact, they’re can be somewhat meditative.  Unfortunately, some of them are lost by the time I wake up in the morning.  I should start keeping a little notebook and pen by my bed to jot down some key points, but unless I take the time to write down everything, something’s going to be forgotten.

When do you find your best ideas brewing?

It’s no fun being sick

It took exactly three days of daycare for Little Boy to catch a cold.  And another three days for him to give it to me.  Thanks, kid.  Consequently, we’ve been a house full of sick people for the past week.  After the cold (or at least the worst part of the cold), there was the stomach bug.  My husband and I spent that morning taking turns in the rocking chair, soothing our poor little sick baby to sleep on our shoulders.

I know we’re in for many repeats of this cycle as Little Boy’s immune system confronts a whole new world of germs.  Ugh.  Oh well, it has to happen sometime.