this year has been a year of losses, most particularly the loss of my best friend which occurred last week. but counting up my losses is not as productive as counting blessings. my new friend boris certainly knows about counting blessings.
boris counts the ways
in 2011, i made a new year’s resolution to spend the year visiting each and every facebook friend i had at the time. it was a fun year, a year of discovery, a year of having to push my boundaries. 325 friends? oh, yeah, and 13 countries and just about every state in the nation. being an agoraphobic who has difficulty leaving the house it was a challenge. but it was also a pleasure because i got to be with friends, some of whom i had only known online, some of whom i hadn’t seen in decades, some of whom turned out to be, well, catfish.
this year, my resolution is to recover myself. and to do what my friend mark hashizume calls self-care. so every day i will do and blog about an act intentionally meant to care for myself. i ask you, i challenge you, to do the same with me. we all have had tough years–i have a friend who lost a husband to alzheimer’s. a friend who lost her five year old son to cancer. a friend whose son committed suicide. a friend who lost her home (oh, wait, i did too). and then there’s ryan gosling–
ryan, really, we both have to move on especially now that you and eva are becoming parents. think of her feelings! and the arlynn presser t-shirt isn’t going to make her feel strong and confident as she should! but truly, i understand your pain. i’ll always love you.
how do you self-care? how do you think should start self-care? and can we help each other self-care together?
this is right around the time of year when there’s a free treadmill at the gym, when the double stuffed oreos crowd out the kale in your grocery cart, when the pack of cigarettes behind the counter at 7-11 shrieks “buy me!”
the problem with most new year’s resolutions is that they’re hard. and they’re based on the principle that we have to punish ourselves with a good dose of self-discipline and denial. and we can only last two weeks before throwing in the towel. january 14 is the day it all goes south. well, at least it does for me.
in 2011, i had a new year’s resolution to meet all my facebook friends in person in one year. that was 325 friends and a lot of travel. a lot of interesting experiences. a lot of new things. 13 countries. 52 weeks of packing my bags. did i meet all 325? no, but i got the asian f. 90%.
since then i have met new facebook friends. and this past week i drove 900 miles in less than 36 hours so that i could meet jim hellman and connie conley in ironwood, michigan–just south of lake superior. i felt so 2011!
connie and jim have known each other forever. well, it feels like forever.
jim and connie
would you believe that connie is younger than me???? i just want to know what moisturizer she uses.
in any event, the duo did not become romantically involved until years later. and how did they connect? on facebook, naturally!
connie “poked” jim on facebook and it led to true love and happiness. maybe you should go to your facebook friends list and see if there’s somebody you’d like to poke.
a new year’s resolution won’t work unless it’s fun. and i had fun with my two new friends! they are the 332 and 333rd facebook friends i have met.
i woke up thinking–i cannot leave her behind. miss x was crying when i left her.
“i feel like i made and lost a friend in the past couple hours!”
“no, you haven’t,” i said. “you made a friend on facebook and you still have a friend.”
she wasn’t convinced when i pulled out of the driveway. she sat on the porch bench, crying. i felt awful. i was tired, i was scared, i was driving so many hours. i had so many more to go.
miss x is the 331st facebook friend i have visited since my 2011 new year’s resolution. at that time, i had 325 facebook friends and i resolved to meet and spend time with each one during the course of the year. i mean, who are all these people in my little solar system of mark zuckerberg’s virtual universe?
but as the year progressed and in this year 2012, i have been meeting newer friends. miss x had seen a bit of news about me, had friendshipped me, and we’d been corresponding. she thought she was inviting me to louisville, kentucky to give me an opportunity to test out my fearlessness against agoraphobia. instead, we faced an interesting problem: she drinks. a lot. much more than i do. when i showed up at her doorstep at one thirty, vodka had been two glasses ahead of me.
we all find ways to quell the pain. whether it’s prescriptions, meth, alcohol, video games, hoarding or the carbo load of a dozen doughnuts in front of the television set, we do it. we have to. times are particularly tough right now. miss x lost her job fourteen months ago and has pretty much given up on getting another for the moment.
are you better off than you were four years ago? asked ronald reagan when debating then president jimmy carter. it’s a question every voter has to ask. in miss x’s case, the answer is decidedly no. she has unemployment benefits, but she would rather have a job. and her drinking–popov vodka mostly–has ramped up. jobs often give us purpose, which gets us out of bed and away from our poisons.
the breckenridge inn of louisville, kentucky had generously booked my room next to the “can’t sleep without the television on, argue at two a.m., have makeup sex at four” couple. i so got to appreciate the room decor.
was it a good idea to go back? to meet miss x again? but i was haunted by the crying galpal. and by something she had said.
“i started drinking because i thought i was too boring when i’d be with people, you know, at parties and such.”
i was thinking “that’s me”
i have often felt like a wallflower who can only manage with a glass of white wine. and then i can talk with people. and then another glass of white wine. and i can sit still through dinner parties. and another white wine. i can be funny or witty or amusing. one more white wine. and i’m smushy in my thinking and scattered in my speech. but i don’t notice by then because i have white wine saying “it’s all good.”
i messaged miss x at six a.m. total long shot. if she was up, i would return to her house. we’d go for a walk. i wanted this facebook friend visit to end well. she had drank and fallen asleep and had awakened early. i was packing up for the next facebook friend adventure.
i checked out, went to her house. and that’s when i really met my friend. the day before, i had met alcohol smothering my friend.
the facebook friend who opened the door, the three hundred and thirty first friend i have recorded about since i made that resolution, is bright and funny and witty and engaged in the world. she looks sort of like lana turner or maybe jennifer coolidge. she has a gift for seeing beauty and translating it into home decorating. she has an empathy with cats and although one of her own is dying, she has a sense of humor.
jennifer coolidge is the actress who played stifler’s mom in american pie. this is sort of what miss x looks like. she would be chill with being identified by name but she wants to protect her husband.
we walked and we shared a morning ritual. it is how i pray these days, having figured out that rosaries and om’s sometimes seem hollow for me. we exchanged lists of ten things we are grateful for. i was grateful for coffee that morning. she was grateful for her husband and mother who are both loving. we were able to exchange gratefuls for each other.
there are many days in which coffee has made my list.
we said goodbye. well, goodbye sounds more final than what it was. we hugged and kissed and i will see her again. and i’ll even take up the offer of the manager of the breckenridge inn for a free upgrade because of the couple next door. really, i should just remember that maybe the couple was celebrating and happy and . . . well, actually, i know they were pretty happy at four a.m. roughly thirty seconds apart from each other.
no secret–i love the white wine. we’re having a break up. i am using a drug that is weaning, subtle, strange. i am not a believer in twelve steps because i think we do all need something to get us through the day.
i strike north for bloomington. i thought i would be aiming for tennessee but my friend in cookeville has distractions. i drive. i meet my facebook friends. i ask for their friendship to be in person. mark zuckerberg introduces but there’s nothing better than right there, right now.
this week i have spent almost all of my waking time eating the chocolates from my christmas stocking–and reading facebook messages. in fact, i’m spending so much time on facebook that i’m starting to worry that i’m living in my computer like i was in december 2010. which was part of the reason i made the resolution in 2011 to meet all 325 of my facebook friends. i am reading messages from new facebook friends. they tell me about fear, isolation, disappointment, self-loathing. mostly, it’s people who have said “i can’t” and the can’t is anything outside their door. in fact, there’s a few where that door is their bedroom door and they can’t even manage parts of their house.
these are smart, plugged in, caring sometimes very funny and witty people. they feel they’ve disappointed their families. they wish they could travel and experience the real world. they have made a place for themselves on facebook. and now i’m part of that world.
according to some interpretations of the mayan calendar, the world will end in december 2012. according to the digital marketing firm icrossing, facebook will have its one billionth user set up an account on august 12, 2012. spooky!
one new friend is brandon, twenty six years old, living in los angeles. he has trouble with panic attacks. he has gone to the emergency room absolutely convinced he’s having a heart attack. boy, i’ve done that! he has gone through periods of being housebound. me too! we have been messaging each other quite a bit and we’ve discovered something else we share. the outside world is frightening because we’re scared we’re going to have a panic attack and we’re going to be embarrassed, helpless, made fun of. as brandon put it to me, if he is at home he knows that if he panics, he can make a cup of tea, sit on the couch, try to calm down and call 911 if absolutely necessary.
he made me think about why i’m scared of flying. i know statistically the plane is unlikely to crash which is what i say when people ask me what i’m afraid of. but i have that moment when my heart starts racing as the plane is taking off. . .
one time, i was on a plane and the person i was with said "oh, that's the noise the plane makes just before it crashes". i screamed. i was so ashamed of myself that i spent the rest of the flight with bright red hives. and didn't get on a plane again for years. and then only with a lot of white wine sloshing around my stomach.
i’m scared of the panic of flying. i’m also scared of the panic of being in grocery stores, trains, crowds, dinner parties, lunches, offices.
i'm completely freaked by wal-mart but a lot of people are. it's like they've stuffed the entire planet into a pig's intestine.
brandon forces himself to go out and create a panic attack, and let it wash all over him. that’s basically what my entire 2011 was all about. letting the panic wash all over me as i made my way through a list of facebook friends. in some sense, trusting each facebook friend to be a friend. sometimes i would have to say “i’m having a panic attack, help me” and you know what? no friend ever let me down when i asked for help.
brandon and i agreed that we both have done the usual–antidepressants, sedatives, drinking too much, therapy. and so have a lot of the new facebook friends i’ve been introduced to. i think brandon’s trying something very interesting. and i think it’s time for me to get back to being out from behind my computer screen. because if i don’t do that, i’ll backslide into being someone scared.
my new year’s resolution last year was to meet my 325 facebook friends. around this time last year, i was taking baby steps towards my goal. i didn’t think about how impossible it was. i didn’t think about how i would have to get on a plane. i tried not to think about the philippines, taiwan, korea, india. . . i secretly hoped all my facebook friends would move to winnetka, illinois. if you’ve made a resolution–especially one to get outside your comfortableness–you should be making one small step every single day.
i'm a big believer in index cards and datebooks. this time last year i was definitely working on a day at a time. . .
if your new years resolution is to make a million dollars, you might need to set a goal of making $2,739 a day. if your resolution is to lose ten pounds, maybe you should be scheduling time to work out. . . and adding one minute every day to how long you work out. if your resolution is to go to your sister’s wedding when you haven’t been outside of the house in a year, maybe it’s time for you to get a copy of bride’s magazine and look at how much fun people have with weddings.
all right, i have to go create a panic attack. . .
i wish i knew enough technology that i could just paste it on here like i do most videos. it’s been a very affirming day but also a troubling one. the affirming part is that my hair looks okay. troubling that i have a developing double chin.
oh, whoops, that’s not quite it.
today is about YOU and your resolution. tomorrow i make my new years resolution–okay, i’m a little late–but you should already have written it down, announced it to your friends (i count!!!!), and you should feel a little weirded out. it has to be big.
did you know that 36% of people who make new years resolutions have broken them by the end of january. but i think that’s because the resolutions aren’t specific enough. don’t say “i’m giving up smoking”. . . . say “i will smoke this number of cigarettes in january and this much fewer in february. . . “. . .
but here’s the good news: contrary to everything you’ve heard, if you get past january 31, you have a better than average chance of making it. so whatever you’re doing, keep at it. and whatever you’re doing, be specific about the goal. i have a twin resolution this year. one is this: to lose ten pounds. because during my year of seeing every facebook friend, i gained ten pounds. let’s be honest. a guy can gain weight it gives him gravitas. a girl gains weight it makes her pudgy.
this morning great america.
oh, gosh, i got interviewed on good morning america. i keep thinking it was great america. nobody offered me rides on a rollercoaster.
tomorrow, i will be on dr. drew. i had no idea who he was. i confused him with dr. phil.
last year, at december 30, i woke up and decided what i was going to do to change my life. not change it by saying i’m going to lose five pounds, drink less, get more organized. none of those resolutions that disappear by february, leaving self-loathing as a lenten finish.
i am a person who doesn’t leave the house unless i have to. i am person who is afraid all the time. i am a person who lives alone but thinks i have a great social life because i’m on the computer all day and i’m communicating. particularly on facebook.
emily dickinson was a nineteenth century poet who was a reclusive spinster. i am not a spinster, having been married once. and i'm not a poet. but she definitely would have had a healthy facebook account.
so i decided i would meet every one of these people whom i have messaged and messaged by, posted and responded to posts, liked and commented on. i knew it would mean getting on a plane. going to a country not my own. meeting people. some of them for the first time. or at least the first time in a long time. but i knew i was sick of being me. of drinking or taking ativan to make it through the things that most people regard as just what you do in our modern times. don’t tell me to try therapy–i have and i think therapy just makes me dependent on a therapist. don’t tell me drugs–i like them, don’t get me wrong, but drugs just help me addicted to drugs. meditation, hypnosis, etc.–i’ve tried them. this time i would try relying on me . . . and my friends.
so for you, make a resolution. make it huge. make it so huge it scares you. it should really scare you. and then tell everyone of your friends. on your facebook page, on a comment to this blog, by telling the town gossip, whatever it takes.
in my case, i posted a video on my facebook profile page and within hours i knew what this year was going to be like. it scared me. and it should have. if you want to read about that, go to the top of this blog page and click on the “for those who like to start at the beginning”. then i started taking baby steps. small discrete things i could handle. some of the results were funny. some were heartbreaking. some were scary. some made me feel really strong.
do one thing each day in furtherance of your resolution and don’t for a moment think about the obstacles way ahead of you. trust that you will be strong enough for them when you get there.
the biggest thing i was scared of was traveling around the world. i decided to break up the friends into geographic zones and visit a few in each zone and make the travels just a little more challenging each time. and then come back home and see friends in chicago.
which totally reminds me, i saw facebook friend #290 yesterday. she was pretty funny. she didn’t want me to use her name and instead wants me to call her agent 99. okay that’s fine. i’m seeing facebook friend 291 today and possibly 292 tomorrow. i will get to about ninety percent of my goal.
some friends were unreachable. some friends were reluctant and i have no interest in forcing anybody to do something they don’t want to do. some friends had their own issues that made seeing them impossible. quite bluntly, there are four friends in california that would have seen me but i ran out of money–and i’ve been to their area of california twice already.
i’ve been to over 51 different cities. i’ve been on at least forty five flights. i’ve taken trains, cars, buses, planes although never a boat. i’ve been to mexico city, the top of alaska, around the world. i traveled through new york enough times that i honestly can’t remember. i’ve made new friends. i’ve rediscovered old friends. and now when i read a post or a comment, i have a picture in my head of the person. i know who they are in a way that can’t be communicated just through facebook or a social network site.
i have to make a new years resolution for 2012 and i want it to include some aspect of helping others who are in somewhat the position i was in last year.
rely on your friends to help you with your resolution. if you don’t ask your friends for help, you’re saying you don’t need them. and if that’s the case, what kind of friend are you?
i want to be the friend who helps. contact me on facebook or comment at this blog. i want to be the friend who helps another friend.
so christmas was going along splendidly. i had hosted my ex-husband, my stepson, and my two boys for christmas eve dinner and then for brunch, my ex-husband, his first ex-wife, his daughter, her husband, their daughter, and my two boys. after the last chocolates had been eaten and everyone was feeling a bit bloated and happy, my younger son eastman announced he wanted to go out and he would take my car. so far so good. at least for another half hour.
in the meantime, i reflected on the new years eve resolution that had brought me to christmas–sure, i’m not going to get to all 325 friends. some are spambots and don’t even really exist. some are uninterested in seeing me. some have moved. four of them are orphaned to me because i can’t afford another flight to california. but i was thinking ninety percent was looking pretty good. if i made a new years resolution to make a million dollars and i only made $900k i’d still be able to afford a pair of pretty earrings. and if i made a new years resolution to lose ten pounds and i only lost nine i’d still feel better about that bikini. i was getting pretty self-congratulatory, which is really something you shouldn’t do until you actually cross that finish line.
eastman arrived home with the news that the back window of the car had spontaneously shattered. then there was the confusing addition to the storyline of a mysterious group of underage drinkers, a garage, and a verbal altercation. while my first reflex was relief that eastman was not hurt, i suddenly realized i had better cancel my december 26 facebook appointments. i did so with a heavy heart because i know how busy the holidays are — these were appointments i might not be able to make up by december 31. and further, everything i do from here on out requires a car. and the window will not be repaired for at least til the end of the year.
i lost it. utterly lost it. pulled a dark cloud over my head and gave up. spent december 26th in bed with a migraine-ish pain in my soul. i would quit. five days before the end of the year. i was mad at me, mad at eastman, mad at the entire year of 2011!
i turn to white wine when i'm feeling awful. it's not like it helps matters any and adding chocolate does nothing either.
then i thought, this project is about friendship and about sometimes having to ask for help. lots of help from your friends. if you don’t ask for help, then you’re really saying you don’t need your friends.
i called brenda allison, f2fb friend #287, and asked if there was any way she could meet me today in winnetka even though i had had to cancel for the twenty sixth. i am grateful that she agreed. after all, she’s from fayettevill, arkansas–it’s quite a drive. to be fair, she was visiting relatives in chicago. we got together and in the meantime, my ex-husband has volunteered his car to eastman who has now signed on to be my driver for the next several days. an ex-husband and a son can be good friends too!
brenda and i got matching pedicures. we caught up on the things that had happened since brenda and her husband moved to fayetteville a year and a half ago. it’s the sort of catching up that doesn’t work when you just see a news feed scroll by. . . . and then she had something very interesting to say about new years resolutions!