Monthly Archives: January 2012

it’s january fifteenth and i’m a little behind on my new years resolution. . .

at the beginning of the new year, the ancient babylonians made promises to the Gods that they would return borrowed items and repay their debts.  the romans made their new year’s promises to janus, the two faced God for whom january is named.  and the medieval knights made a “peacock vow” right after christmas to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry.  these days, a lot of people make new years resolutions.  fully 40% of americans make resolutions.  the most popular ones being losing weight, exercising more, getting a better job, getting control over one’s finances.  but 88% of people fail at their resolutions, almost half giving up before the end of january.  last year, i resolved to meet all 325 facebook friends that i had at the time.  for a variety of reasons, i managed to meet up and have real face time, with 292.

in the third episode of season three of the hit series glee, mike chang's father demands that the principal force mike out of the glee club because mike has received an A- on one of his tests. the A- is referred to as the asian F, in part because of the stereotype that asian parents expect perfect grades from their children. i met 90% of my facebook friends last year so i guess that's an asian F.

 

this year, my resolution is to meet 12 facebook friends who would like my help getting out from behind the computer screen.  i think we sometimes use facebook friendships as a way of avoiding the chaos, confusion and just plan scariness of modern life.  and some of us have our worlds get smaller and smaller.

i made three new years resolutions:  one, i have to lose ten pounds.  i gained that much over the course of last year–damn, those taipei soup dumplings, the weiner schnitzel in dortmund, the smashed peas in bristol, the seven course meal in eastbourne. . .  the next is a little more embarrassing.

white wine, we have to talk. . . . i like you too much. so we have to break up. i'll still let myself drink beer but the white stuff's offlimits. if you see me with a glass like this in my hand, call me out on it!

 

and the big resolution is that i will take what i have learned and visit twelve facebook friends who are stuck.  and i will do what i can to help “un-stuck” them.  but january’s nearly over.  i have to get moving.  people who are successful at new years resolutions do two things:  they engage in interim goal setting and they announce their intentions and ask for support from their friends.  in order to make my facebook new years resolution work, i will have to meet one facebook friend a month.  and it can’t just be one meeting or one interaction.  it’s going to have to be a little more intense.  but i have made the first step:

on january 26th, i will be in pennsylvania meeting with a facebook friend who has been housebound for some time.  she would like to be a “better” mother and see her son succeed at things like little league games.  i will be meeting her for the first time.

on january 29th, i will fly out to boston where i will meet with a facebook friend who has similar issues.  i hope she’ll let me take her to lunch at the “top of the hub” restaurant in boston because one of the focuses of her anxiety is heights and elevators.

if you want to succeed at whatever you’ve chosen as your new year’s resolution, you should announce what you plan to do and you should celebrate your interim successes.


hey, where’s my facebook money? and the need for early supporters. . .

so i’ve been having a wonderful year of meeting facebook friends.  i didn’t meet all 325 of the friends i had as of january 2011, but i got ninety percent of the way there.

some of my friends didn't have time or resources to respond to my request to see them. this dude wrote "harbinger of doom" and is a fan of my grandfather fritz leiber. i never saw him this year although i tried!

 

one of the things i appreciate most about libby hellmann (f2fb friend #7) is that she showed up!  it was january of last year.  i told her my resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  she was a facebook friend.  i said i wanted to spend some time with her.  it took some faith on her part to take part in my resolution when there was no way of telling whether i’d complete it.

i like index cards, datebooks, and lists. libby is on this list as one of the first friends i saw last year. if you have a new years resolution, get some index cards, get some organization, figure out what you have to do each day to get closer to your goal.

 

so last year, right around this time, we met at a restaurant in northfield called seul’s and spent a happy few friendship hours.  i made a video.  i posted a blog.  she was f2fb friend #7–if i was going to finish up 325 friends i just had 317 more to go.  she had faith in me.

libby writes suspense and i am such a fan! you can find her at libbyhellmann.com

 

today we met at the same restaurant because she wanted to celebrate the completion of my project.  the restaurant is now called stormy’s.  the interior is well decorated.  libby looks great.  she is off to cuba because her newest book is set there and she needs to do research.  and i realized how wonderful every one of my facebook friends has been to me!

 

one of the things i appreciate about libby is that she was an early supporter.   if you have a new years resolution you need to find your early supporters.  you need to find the friends who say “you can do it”.  you do have friends who might not give you that support but they might later.  there are friends we need at all stages of what we do.

facebook is set to open itself up to investors with what’s going to be the largest public offering ever.  mark zuckerberg is going to be a very wealthy and since he’s the dude who set this thing up in his dorm room in 2004 i think he deserves a big paycheck.  but. . .

 

 


create that panic attack. . . and enjoy it!

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 want to thank the academy and the mental health semi-professionals who made this possible. . .

on january 24, the academy of motion picture arts and science president will announce the nominations for an oscar.  i won’t be getting one.  but i sure felt like a star last night when the black lincoln town car pulled into the driveway.  michael, the driver, opened the passenger door for me and off we went.  president obama was in town but i didn’t have to worry about traffic.  i had to worry about dr. drew.

dr. drew pinsky is an internist, addiction specialist and a radio/television personality. he wanted to talk about my facebook project for his show on hln network.

 

i had run six miles earlier in the evening to calm my nerves.  i texted friends in the back seat as if the digits on my driver’s license were reversed and i was fifteen not fifty one.  i hardly noticed the beautiful lights on michigan avenue.  michael dropped me off at the building where cnn has its bureau.  the bureau is eight desks in one room and a small studio.  a cheerful makeup artist made me look so great i felt awful i was being wasted on a wednesday night.  and the producer took me into the studio.  it was nine thirty and i really wanted to be home in my pajamas.

i sat in front of a screen that was a video feed of the view from the window.  i had a microphone up under my sweater.  i had an earpiece in my right ear and could occasionally hear parts of dr. drew’s interview with billy ray cyrus.  a camera was directly in front of me and the producer told me to look just towards the top of the lens.  then it would appear as if i were looking at dr. drew.  it’s kind of like skype, but i would have to use my imagination.

for some reason i kept thinking of heidi fleiss and parrots. she was on two shows--celebrity rehab with dr. drew and sober house with dr. drew. instead of picturing dr. drew, i kept thinking about the fact that heidi the former hollywood madam owns over two dozen parrots.

 

i heard but could not see a clip of the time my facebook friend gretchen miller taught me how to open a champagne bottle with a saber sword.  it was a wonderful memory.  then an expert psychologist was introduced.  she was quite alarmed–because she said that panic attacks are made WORSE by someone going out into the world without proper medical supervision and care.  further, she said that panic attacks were among the easiest ailments for a professional to treat.

i have to stop right here and tell you what i HAVEN’T been doing for the past week.  i haven’t been seeing facebook friends.  i haven’t been traveling.  i haven’t been lolling by the pool at some wonderful resort.  i have been reading messages, texts, and emails from people who are just like me.  it has been overwhelming because almost all of them have been from people who suffer from panic attacks and agoraphobia.  all of them feeling trapped.  all of them doing their best.  some of them unable to afford treatment but most having made some effort. i have tried to respond to every email and i’ve made arrangements to visit at least one new friend because they believe i can help them walk out the door of their house.  hell, it can’t make things any worse, right?  and at least they’ll get a hostess gift out of the deal.

in the studio i did the worst thing:  i forgot my manners and my microphone.  i felt like i was being told that everything i had done over the past year was not only wrong, but medically ill-advised.

“maybe i should have brought a psychologist with me,”  i said about my past year of travel.

i instantly regretted the words.  and i settled into a familiar feeling of self-loathing.  my foot and my mouth are a perfect fit, yes?

the interview ended, dr. drew couldn’t have been more polite and sweet.  the producer and the makeup artist were very kind.  i went down to the curb and watched the president’s helicopter fly overhead.  michael told me the traffic would be light on the way home.  i felt guilty taking dr. drew’s car.

sometimes when i really feel down, i drink white wine and a lot of it. but after the dr. drew episode, i had an amstel light and read OK! magazine.

 

this morning, i was still feeling like i owed somebody–most particularly the expert psychologist–an apology.  and i had to question whether it’s okay for me to just haul off and write back to the facebook friends who contact me about their anxiety attacks.  i’m not an expert.  and i didn’t have experts with me when i went off to see my facebook friends around the world last year.  i didn’t even ask any experts what to do or how to do it.

silly rabbit, you had a LOT of help from mental health semi-professionals. they're called family and friends!

 

so i don’t have any opportunity or need to make up a thank you for oscar night, but i have a thank you for this morning.  thank you to my friends and family, on facebook and those who aren’t on facebook, because you made it happen.  and if i could roll out the red carpet for you on oscar night, i would!


so i’m in a coffee shop and. . .

i was eating an omelette and sausage and thinking “damn these extra pounds” and i looked up at the television screen and, well, every restaurant has a television screen these days. .. .

 

http://gma.yahoo.com/video/health-26594251/woman-beats-agoraphobia-with-facebook-visits-hundreds-of-friends-around-u-s-27839183.html

 

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.

well, okay, way handsome. i'm in.


if you’re shaking with fear, i am too!

so last year right around this time i couldn’t leave the house.  i was scared.  i had scared myself witless by making a new years eve resolution to meet all 325 of my facebook friends.

it would take a lot to get me to leave the house. you might have a phobia that everyone knows about or that you keep to yourself. it might sound silly to others or to yourself but it's real. okay, except maybe freddy krueger in my house isn't. . .

 

so i hope you have made a resolution.  something about yourself that you want to change.  something that defeats you, makes you feel like you’re not as good as others, that paralyzes you.  i want you to figure out a specific goal that will show you once and for all that you are strong.  make it a very specific goal and write it down.  and then go tell every one of your friends. . . some of them will laugh, some of them will shrug their shoulders like it’s no big deal.

but some of your friends already know what this means to you.  and they are the ones who will tell you that you CAN!  

 

i want to know your resolution.  you can email me, you can comment, you can friend me on facebook and tell me about it.  but i want to know what it is.  and if it’s that you want to leave your house, i want you to tell me too!

one of my new facebook friends messaged me that his sister is getting married in march.  he’s housebound and most of his family assumes he won’t be able to go to the wedding.  much less dance at the wedding.  which is something he’d really like to do.  i hope he emails me today to tell me that he has visualized himself having fun at the reception, or that he’s visited the website of the church so that he’s familiar with the layout, or even that he called his sister and asked her to show him some of her wedding preparations.  just one thing.  tomorrow is soon enough for step two.

i spent the first week of january last year unsure of what to do to reach my goal.  to visit a friend in the philippines?  to see someone in nome, alaska?  to travel to new york city?  325 friends, all in one year?  time for the blindfold.

pick one small thing you can do today and write down immediately what you did.  and tell me about it.  

the first day i started working on my resolution, i visited one friend.  my younger son eastman.  we went out onto the front porch and smoked cigarettes.  i know, not a very good thing for a mom to do but i really felt that i was getting one step closer.  just 324 more friends, i thought.

if i had thought too much about how many countries i would visit and how many times i would shut the door on my house and leave i couldn't have done it.

 

so pick the first step for today.  one tiny tiny thing that gets you an inch closer to your goal. 

my goal this year is to take what i learned about last year and make this YOUR year.  to write and share about my experiences.  to give back what my friends gave me in 2011, namely their support and their time and their energy.

so tell me about your goal, tell me about what you did today.


make your 2012 my 2011

lose five pounds?  drink less?  be more organized?  what’s your new year’s resolution?  if you can say it, if you can breathe it, if you can tell me, you haven’t aimed high enough.  it’s january 3 and you should be scared of yourself.

samoa straightened out the international dateline by giving up friday the 30th of this year. just eliminated it from their calendar. i think they just were anxious to get to the new years party but you can switch your clock around too! make this day december 31!

 

last year at this time i was shaking.  i had posted a video on facebook telling the world i would be visiting every one of my facebook friends.  which video, of course, was ignored by ninety percent of my facebook friends but . . .  it’s the ten percent who paid attention who made the difference.

who can argue with the man?

 

that ten percent of my friends said “yeah, we’ll see you soon!”  and that’s the point–seeing facebook friends, meeting people, traveling, getting out of my house, it’s scary to me.  it’s the way i aim high.  your personal “aim high” is different.  maybe you’re scared of going back to school.  maybe you think you have forever lost the fat war.  maybe you believe you will never have dinner at the ritz carlton because you won’t ever have that kind of money.  whatever it is, announce it.  tell everybody.  tell me.  once you say it, you own it.  my resolution is to . . . .

okay, so yesterday, i finally got to meet mr. f2fb friend #292.  i first came to know frank skony because he was a producer of a show my son eastman was in and he’s done a lot of costume and set design for shows both of my sons have been in.  two years ago, i noticed he was posting about dental work he was having.  he’s a midthirtysomething guy and he’s saying i don’t like my teeth and i’m going to do whatever it takes so that i am okay with my teeth.  i like that!  i admire that!

i have ended the year seeing ninety percent of my facebook friends that i had on january 1, 2011.  if your new years resolution is to make a million dollars, i don’t think you’ll be unhappy if you make nine hundred thousand.  if your new years resolution is to lose fifty pounds, you’re not going to quibble if you lose 45.  and if your new years resolution is to de-hoard and de-clutter your house, it’s going to be okay if you have one really awful closet.

i don’t know my new years resolution for 2012. i’m a little behind.  i’m a little samoa-like.  i’m recovering from 2011 which became all consuming.  your resolution for 2012 should be all consuming too!  and i’m with you.  so you make the resolution.  and you announce it.  and then. . .

the phrase originated in the 1986 film the fly starring jeff goldblum and geena davis--they were married for three years which in hollywood years is a golden anniversary

 

so think of the thing that defeats you.  the one thing that would make john wayne say “get on the goddamn horse” and that’s what you’re going to do this year.  and i have to figure out what puts me down on the dust next to the horse and i will tell my friends.  all of them.  facebook included.  tomorrow. . .


the new year begins january 2 this year!

i had technical and logistics issues this last weekend of 2011.  a friend who had to cancel while i was in transit.  a hotel with internet service delivered by a recalcitrant donkey.  photos that wouldn’t upload.  or is it download?  i can never tell the difference. 

yet, i have gotten my asian F, finishing at 292 friends met during 2011 out of 325 friends i had as of january 1, 2011.  f2fb friend #291 was john adorjan who i hesitated to call because of his number — 867 5309.  i thought it was a prank when i saw it on his “info” page.

867-5309/jenny was a song on the tommy tutone 2 album released in 1982. its popularity caused many people to call the number and ask for “jenny”
john gets people calling him all the time asking for jenny.  think of all the area codes in the country–there are a lot of folks with that problem. 
 
john and i met because of mutual friends.  he likes to play with his facebook profile and we agreed that what people present themselves as on facebook very often isn’t what is real.  john is a photographer and he’s developing a business creating profile portraiture that would express the real essence of a person.  we had a photoshoot and the results will be posted on my facebook page soon. 
 
and then i welcomed in the new year. . . .
 
 
but, wait, you’re saying to yourself what about f2fb friend #292?  well, frank skony works in banking and december 31 represented the end of the quarter and the end of the year.  reports, reports, long hours, lunches delivered by management to one’s desk so that nobody would slip away for an hour. 

chinese new year for 2012 year of the dragon is monday january 23. frank skony's new year is january 2..

frank is someone who has transformed his life and he’s using 2012 to do it again.  he is a perfect facebook friend to conclude the year with.  we will talk about my new years resolution for 2012 and give thanks to mark zuckerberg for creating the facebook that let’s us keep in touch so well. 
 
i began the year with f2fb friend #1 eastman, my son, representing love and frank will represent growth.  2012 will be a very good year for you and me both.  let’s do it together!