Tag Archives: agoraphobia

anticipation anxiety and the positive guest blog from david janis

in the end, my facebook friend david janis was not able to see me.  i felt a sense of failure, but i also felt like i understood him completely:  i have had anticipation anxiety suck much of the pleasure out of experiences and i’ve often cancelled when i can’t fathom how i could get from point a to point b in an experience.  nonetheless, david–who is an inspiration to many agoraphobics through the magic of the internet–shared this with me:

 

A Positive Side to Agoraphobia

by David Janis

 

We are writers, painters, musicians, crafters, gardeners and teachers. We possess imaginations that extend well beyond that of the “normal” person. We have broad emotional feelings that reach far deeper than your neighbors. We have learned how to live with ourselves, and accept who we are despite our limitations. When we love it is unconditional and when we befriend it will be for life. We speak the truth for there is no point in lying anymore. Our fears run extremely deep but no one is better equipped to handle them. Fear is a daily occurrence for us and if you believe that practice makes perfect, we have become experts in dealing with this demon. Yes, we are prisoners in our homes but that is only a physical limitation. Mentally we are very sharp, witty and extremely intelligent. This becomes so obvious in the words that we write, pictures we paint, songs we write and gardens we grow. We may not run a mile everyday but or minds are strong and powerful.

In the grand scheme of things, is it important that we are afraid of grocery stores or that we eat? Every agoraphobic I know is afraid to shop for food and yet not one of us ever misses a meal. That is called, identifying the problem and fixing it, and I could easily site twenty examples of this ingenuity if called upon to do so.

We have experienced some of the worst situations that life can throw at one person. Public and private ridicule, expulsion from family, accusations of lying and laziness, taking a free ride and probably the worst, our loved ones and friends have forsaken us. Who else do you know would still be standing as we are, not many, I assure you! All one needs to do is read the daily posts on our forum to see the strength of the people this plague has swallowed. We are articulate, insightful, compassionate, and opinionated. We are firm in our resolve to either beat this affliction or live with it peacefully. We are strong!

So I say to you today, embrace the life you have been given and steer around the bumps and potholes. If you cannot leave your house today, write something, build something or grow something. It is not a curse to be housebound, it is a hurdle, a hurdle that you may choose to jump over, or not. Either way, you are just as important to this earth as the president, the pope and Oprah.

 

What validates you? Is it your bank account or your car? Could it be the house you live in or the company you keep? Maybe it’s because you’re pretty or handsome! What makes you a contributing member of the human race? I can’t answer this one, only you know if your existence is with reason. I can tell you this much, we all have a purpose and we are all incredible people. So go and write a poem, paint an abstract, compose a ballad, start a scrapbook, plant a garden and share your knowledge with whoever will listen, just remember, agoraphobia is only a small part of who you are. All of us that know you, know this to be true, the question is, do you?


just like laguardia on a friday afternoon before a holiday–but without planes!

new york is like a love affair:  getting out is so much harder than getting in–and leaving new york at three o’clock on a friday afternoon, with an e-ticket for a flight at laguardia, you should be prepared for an experience that will not compare favorably with the ex-boyfriend who slashed your tires and dumped a box of your thong panties, that sex toy, and the edible body lotion from victoria’s secret on your mother’s with the words, “i think these are for her.”

but i got out of new york after my visit with facebook friends azusa watanabe from tokyo and carolyn quinn and michele persiak from new york even with a cab driver who got lost, a terminal change, long lines, surly t.s.a. agents who claim they want to touch my junk because i’m “random”, gate changes, delays, cancellations, etc.

i had paid an extra thirty dollars for a “premium” seat 7a. unfortunately, united sold that same seat to someone else. the airline implemented its new “customer empowerment” policy and i lost. i was seated in a middle seat between two oversized bins (i mean men). note to united: can i have my thirty dollars back?

several times over the last year, facebook friend david janis and i have tried to set up meeting with each other.  while i was in new york, we talked on the phone and i resolved that i would really do it!  i made reservations at a hotel and plotted the course.  a few days before my arrival, david messaged me that he was having anticipatory anxiety attacks which was particularly difficult because of some other health problems he battles.  i decided that since the hotel was prepaid, i would go anyway.

david is an agoraphobic who embraces himself and his way of life.  he doesn’t shy from it.  and he helps others who may want to change and others who may not want to–as well as those who think they have no options.   he has a lot of interesting wisdom.  i wanted to hear it!  i told him how long i would be in st. louis and if the anticipatory anxiety fell away i would be happy to see him.

yesterday, i went to the jefferson memorial park and i would have ordiniarily confined myself to going to the westward expansion museum.  but then i thought why do i place a limit on myself or on what i believe is possible for me?

brave before you have your ticket to the arch tram is one thing.  brave after you have put your money down . . . well, in my case, courage evaporated.  and i think part of the mood change, the anticipatory anxiety if you will, is the same as in airports.  the park rangers are now equiped with a conveyor belt, metal detectors, harsh voices.  i saw one poor woman moved to tears because she had to go through the metal detector three times.  finally, she lifted her shirt, as if to say “look, i don’t have anything!”  and this is what we do just to visit a national park.

i needed an attitude change but i couldn’t get enough privacy to create it.  after a long line that slithered down into the basement of the museum, we were loaded as a group into a room about the size of a motel six bath not included.  we should have been appreciating the exhibit items devoted to the arch’s architect eero saarinen.  instead, we were crowded together so tightly contemplative thought was not possible.  we were half an hour late.  we were then herded further into the sub-basement of the museum into another area where we were shown a three and  a half minute safety and history video.

i admit it, i freaked in the eero saarinen tram car.  seats five but only if the five are freakishly small or they are quite friendly in a kentucky cousin sort of way.  getting off the tram and entering into the arch’s viewing area, i totally lost it.  i stood in the center of the eight feet by twenty feet room, with its low slung windows overlooking the city.  i waited for my legs to stop shaking.

the arch shifts a little, there are noises from the bumping tram cars, children running up and down the narrow space made me want to scream “stop it!  you’re going to make the damn arch collapse!”

i waited.  the park officials–can you really call teenagers officials?–looked bored.  a group of teens turned their backs to the windows and took pictures of each other with their cell phones and then texted.  lots of texting.  i decided that yes i was scared.  but hardly anybody was aware of it.  except for that poor couple who had driven up with me on the tram.  they were from indianapolis and i think they were glad to get out of the tram and even more relieved that i was going back down without waiting for them.

we take our victories whenever and however we can find them!  and now i hope that i meet david, but if not, i still have other facebook friends to visit in the gateway to the west!

of course, my facebook friend william clark goes with me for every adventure! he is right there in front of the blue trunk! the real william clark explored the western half of the united states from 1803 to 1806 in what is commonly called the lewis and clark expedition. you can read all about it in William Clark and the Shaping of the West by Landon Y. Jones!


you win an argument on facebook, you’ve already lost. . .

i don’t remember exactly how it happened or what was said, but i remember i violated the most important rule for parents on facebook:  if you are so lucky as to be confirmed as your child’s friend you may not comment–nay, you cannot even look–at your child’s posts.

i did. i looked and i even commented.  something parental, along the lines of “i think you shouldn’t”

this is not either of my sons. my heart goes out to the mother of this poor man. every mom should know that she shouldn’t look, it will only break her heart, at her progeny’s facebook photos.

my sons erupted in a baffling and quick comment and reply i was awash in tears.  until eastman called me and said everything was just for show.  “if you win an argument on facebook, you’ve already lost,”  he said.

i was reminded of his wisdom, forged upon his twenty years on this planet, last night as i logged on.  there are many support groups on facebook, one for every supportable human condition.  i am a member of several associated with agoraphobia.  i joined all of these early this year, after i started my facebook new year’s resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  last year, i resolved to meet all 325 of my facebook friends, no matter where in the world they might be.  by the end of the year i had met 290–and had discovered that about ten percent were spambots, in prison, were hopscotching the world in such a way that we could not meet, or had some reason they didn’t want to meet me.  including being dead.

i still consider myself agoraphobic.  meaning i am terrified to leave the house.  the problem is that my house now includes the world.

my home is also five bags in the back of my car: one for computer equipment, one for shoes, for clothes, for cosmetics and soaps, and for just every day. and of course there is william clark my facebook friend who is both a stuffed toy and also a nineteenth century adventurer.

every morning i wake up and the first thing i say to myself is “this is the day that the Lord has made.  i will be happy and grateful” and then i quickly think of ten things that i am grateful for.  before i think of things that make me stay in bed and say fuggeddaboudit!

does that make me religious?  i don’t think of myself as particularly so.  but without this ritual i would probably fall into a former habit of refusing to get out of bed at all.

coffee also helps. if i try to make any decisions in the morning without having three cups, i am doomed.

last night, i observed on facebook two groups devoted to the support of people with agoraphobia.  the two groups devolved into–well, i won’t put to fine a point on it–a bitchfest of accusations of members and admins (administrators) being non-agas — not particularly agoraphobic. one woman was outed as a non-aga because she had recently been able to get out of the house.  even holding down a job.  she was still the administrator of a support group on facebook devoted to agoraphobics but she was badmouthed by a few members of another group.  defriending.  blocking.  barring from the group.  closing the formerly open group.  posting, more posting and still more posting.  and cut and pasting slanderous posts and reposts.  and j’accuse.  lots of j’accuse.

the adminstrator (and facebook friend of mine) of one group deactivated her account, taking down (inadvertently or not) many photos beloved by the group as a whole.  she reactivated her account and the photos were reposted a few hours later.  i think someone won the argument.  but i think whoever won has lost.
i’m not sure i’m entitled to be in any of the support groups for agoraphobics and other housebound people on facebook.  i was someone who was housebound.  i could be someone who is housebound tomorrow.  every day i wake up with the decision  and every day i am unsure whether i can do it.  mostly i do.  some days i can’t.  but every day i start with this

i think of myself as a secular person. . . what is it with this? how do you start your day? how do you get your ass out of bed? because if i don’t start with this and a list of a lot of gratitudes i’m damn grumpy and then i falter.

 

i am with the majority of the group members of the support groups i am part of:  we need to be supportive of whatever  we are, wherever we are in life.  we struggle, we figure it out, we forgive ourselves, we forgive other people.

 

and if we have time we post this on every friend’s page every day. although after a few weeks it would be annoying, so we’d switch to posting pictures of cute kitties or inspirational sayings. oh, whoops, most of us already do this!

 

 


in order to succeed. . .

in order to succeed, a million things must go right.  in order to fail, only one thing has to go wrong.  i admit that on the morning of august ninth i was thinking there’s going to be that one thing today.  four friends coming together for lunch at laconda verde in new york city.  one coming in from japan.  one from brooklyn.  one from staten island.  and me?  i get lost everywhere.

i just didn’t think it could happen.

facebook friend #316 carolyn quinn woke up on that morning and had a completely different mindset!

on may 9th of this year, i met michele piersiak of staten island.  she is the 317th facebook friend i have met with since i made the new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  so often, we have friendships and partnerships that exist online, on the phone, on facebook or twitter or instagram–and it’s important to supplement those interactions with real time.

michele followed the progress of my resolution because she shares a characteristic with me–we are both agoraphobic.  we both have awful panic attacks and tend to look for our “safe” zone–and that zone can expand and contract.  in my case, it has expanded considerably because of my facebook project.  in michele’s case, she had been nearly housebound for more than a year because leaving the house affords too many opportunities for panic.   but she’s just too young and pretty and bright and with so much to offer . . .  it’s a darn shame to take that away from the world.

i’m a believer in tackling small goals and in doing so creating courage for tackling bigger ones.  for michele, a big goal is to become a doctor to help others with this condition.  a smaller goal was to have lunch at laconda verde.  i said if she could make it to the restaurant in manhattan,  i would fly out and take her there.  she’s been working on getting out of the house and this morning she would get on the staten island ferry.  we picked her up at the station.  she was accompanied by her boyfriend anthony.

michele did something that is really important.  she planned what she was going to bring.  as someone who now lives out of her little orange bag, i totally understand.

we got off the ferry and took a cab to the restaurant.  we were met by facebook friend #326 azusa watanabe who had flown in from japan a few days before.

the second most wonderful thing about lunch was dessert! the most wonderful thing was being with friends! after lunch azusa, carolyn and i went to have our auras photographed. michele and anthony went home to staten island. i think michele can do anything she sets her mind to!


this is how new yorkers welcome a traveler to the city!

two months ago i made a commitment to facebook friend michele persiak that i would fly into new york just to take her to lunch at her favorite restaurant laconda verde.  why?  because michele had been experiencing a period of anxiety attacks and agoraphobia that made it impossible to leave her staten island home.  what was a place that would motivate her to walk around the block, take the bus a few stops, go to the store, all to get her ready for the trip across the water to manhattan?

i think it’s the sweetest most adorable endorsement of a restaurant that michele was willing to make major life changes and overcome obstacles in order to go to the restaurant laconda verde 377 greenwich in new york.

 

i flew in the day before our luncheon and had a chance to wander around.  i walked into the shop sabon, which sells sweet smelling soaps and candles and lotions.  the proprietress said that it was a company tradition that first time customers be welcomed with a ceremonial washing of hands.  new york is brutish, dirty, sweaty, hot and sometimes overwhelming.  this is how to be welcomed in new york and it is the same experience i hoped to offer michele when she came into manhattan!

sabon has three different locations in new york and while i was at the one at 1371 6th avenue, you can find the others at sabonnyc.com


i am (briefly) living the supermodel life in new york!

the hotel st. james is an unassuming little boutique hotel on west forty fifth street and you could be forgiven for walking right by it, as i did.  i got there just when the doormen and the valets and the bellboys were on break.  nonetheless, it is the most magnificent fan-tabulous hotel in all manhattan!  the lobby is a commentary on ikea postmodernist minimalism and dusty plastic flowers.

the desk clerk raised an eyebrow–i had cheated on my diet in the past few days–and he assigned me the supermodel suite on the twelfth floor. how do i know it’s the supermodel suite?  it’s on the twelfth floor. and the staff very helpfully shut down the elevators. getting to my room was a great workout! and coming back downstairs to tell them that the magnetized key card didn’t work just doubled the fun!

you don’t need blush or highlighter powder at the hotel–everyone has a natural, pink glow, in part because they are true environmentalists who don’t believe in air conditioning!  coming back up to the room after getting my card fixed i figured i was ready for a refreshing shower.

this picture from the st. james website doesn’t do justice to the supermodel bathroom which is so slim and compact that only a woman with a nineteen inch waist can brush her teeth without standing in the tub. i am learning to suck in that tummy!

real estate is pricey in manhattan and i was surprised by how reasonably priced the st. james is.

a picture of somebody else’s guest room and the pool from their website. i haven’t found the pool but since i cheated on my diet maybe that’s a good thing. i might alarm chic new yorkers if i wore a bikini! and besides, i’m on a mission and shouldn’t get distracted.

in may of this year, i crossed over to staten island in the ferry to meet michele persiak, the 317th facebook friend in my friends list.  michele is an agoraphobic who rarely left the house and then only with the help of a “safe” friend.  i was very honored that i counted as a “safe” friend and we went for a walk.

michele is a wonderful twentysomething gal who is just too young to let herself be tied to the house this way.  i asked her what her major goal in life is and she said it was to become a psychiatrist and help people who have anxiety disorders.  i asked her what her “minor” goal was and she said it was to one day dine at the restaurant laconde verde which is on greenwich street in manhattan.  she had read that robert de niro owns the joint and that it was the superswankest restaurant she could imagine.  a bus ride, a ferry trip, and a cab ride away.  it might as well be on the moon.

supermodels are allowed their eccentricities. so if michele wants to bring her pet stewie, i guess i have to say “okay!”

but i promised michele that if she broke things up into little parts she could call me and i would make reservations.  she started walking a block every day, then two blocks, then a trip to micky dee’s, and then out for a meal with our mutual facebook friend carolyn quinn.  carolyn called for reservations.  and i booked my flight.  and we’ll be joined by azusa watanabe who is coming all the way from japan!

this is exactly how supermodels do it!  and it’s going to be four supermodels having the supermodel life!  if you want to join us please do!  but make sure you  work it like a supermodel!


pardon me while i exit the blogosphere —

just for a moment!  i have made a commitment to do some other writing and so that’s what i’m going to do.  a girl’s gotta work and today’s job is to organize a year’s worth of facebook friendship blogs into some sort of sense.

casey’s flyboy was the first book i ever wrote. it was about an anthropologist in alaska who falls in love with a pilot. the editor who called to say she wanted to buy it asked me how long i had lived in alaska. i confessed i had never even been to the state. thanks to facebook i have been to nome, kotsebue, anchorage and homer, alaska.

 

the scariest and most daunting distance in writing a book is from the blank page to the first sentence.   i’m a little nervous.  but while i’m biting my fingernails, i wanted to share with you a story written by my facebook friend 294 molly parshall.  i met her at her home in coldwater, michigan because she wanted to understand how i had overcome my fears and phobias to get out there and meet facebook friends.  she wanted some of that for herself.  when i first met her, she couldn’t come out onto the front porch of her own house to talk to me.  now. . . well, let her tell it the way she wants to:

 

i haven’t eliminated panic attacks or the powerful desire to shut the door and make the world go away. in fact, today i had to take two ativan and sit in the parking lot of the local hospital so that i could dash into the emergency room if the ativan didn’t make it all better. it must have worked because after twenty minutes i was reading the august issue of allure magazine and pondering whether i’m too old for purple mascara.

so, with a warm welcome to guest blogger and beautiful friend molly parshall:

 

My name is Molly I am 27 years old and I live in a small town in Lower Michigan. For the past 8 years I have struggled with agoraphobia. I have missed out on countless trips with my family, family functions, holidays, you name it I missed it. My sister came to me last Christmas and told me she was getting married and she really wanted me to attend her wedding. I felt doomed that I would never be able to make it to her wedding. I was scared and upset that she too would be disappointed by me and the agoraphobia would again win. The longer I sat watching the world go by around me the more I wanted to get out of the house. So one day I got a wild hair and decided enough was enough and I set off on my very first journey. I didn’t tell anyone where we were going or when we would be back. I am sure they assumed our trip would be short lived and back home within a few minutes because that is all I was able to do. Oh how wrong they were… As we headed down the road both my husband and son not knowing what I had planned to do, I navigated them down the side streets of our little town, Out on the back roads we went (avoiding as much traffic as possible) We usually take the country roads if possible. I didn’t get too far before I started to feel anxious and then the tears started flowing, I held my husband’s hands and with tears in my eyes I told him, “I am scared… I want to go home” He asked if I wanted him to turn around to which I replied “No, I will be ok” “I am not turning back” He said ok just let me know if you need me to turn around. My son in the back seat kept telling me I was ok. After a ways down a few different roads they finally realized that I was making the trip out to see My in-laws who live 13.4 Miles from my house (22 minutes by car if you take the main roads) but the route I had to take made it a 13.7 mile trip (31 minutes by car) Half way to their house tears of joy came over me and I was so proud of myself.. My son kept saying you’re doing it Mommy… You’re doing it… I am so proud of you!! By the time I got on the final road before their place, Sheer panic had fully set in… I wanted to turn back but knew if I could push through the anxiety just a few more minutes I would be at their house and that I did! I made it with no problems. I was able to stay at their house for over an hour and a half with no problems what so ever… I surprised myself at how good I did. I had accomplished what I set out to do and if that meant just pushing through the anxiety with no help of medication etc. I did it. I didn’t know that by doing that I had opened up the road to adventure. I haven’t stopped since then. I have visited my Grandma grave on Mother’s Day (haven’t been there in years) went to my sisters, My in-laws for dinner (again) Visited my friend and her family, went out to a friend’s farm for my son to see their horses and mules, Visited Grandma J among other people. I even made it to the dentist just recently I didn’t take any medication to do my travels EXCEPT the dentist which me meds didn’t kick in until after I left my appointment. I have been taking my son every day to the park program and picking him up (except on Fridays cause I don’t have a license) I guess in the simplest terms the only reason I am getting out and enjoying life once again is I pushed myself, I pushed myself through the fear, anxiety, and unknown. I knew deep down that I would be ok. The dentist appointment seemed to be the hardest adventure yet because I hate going to the dentist… But I sure did have the best motivate ever in the form of an 8 year old blue eyed boy who told me as I sat in the house hyperventilating in fear… You know Mommy… You don’t have to be scare, I heard on TV you have to face your fears, so come on well face that fear together… How could I refuse? If my 8 year old son could do it, so could I! So I am one step closer to attending my sister’s wedding, she is going to get her wish; her only sister is going to attend her wedding!!

I have great faith that anyone can accomplish what I did; all they need are a few simple things.
1.) The want
2.) The support of loved ones
3.) Courage to try it
4.) Persistence to push through it!

I am not saying it was easy by any means it was not easy when I started out and I still have Pajama days where I really don’t want to leave my house but I still try and make it a point to leave everyday even if it’s for a short trip out! I know I still have a long road of recovery ahead of me but I will make it. I have a great network of friends on Facebook who are agoraphobic to and they seem to give me a bit of reassurance that I can do it, I do it for them, my family & my friends… But most of all Myself!!

Molly Parshall

 


facemash becomes facebook becomes friendship matchmaking

facebook was originally a term given to the student directories that certain schools gave out to make remembering the name of the cute dude in calculus easier.  harvard, where mark zuckerberg attended, didn’t have a facebook but several of the fraternities and sororities had their own individual facebooks.

mark had a little fun by hacking into the databases for these facebooks and creating “facemash” — an online game of “hot or not” in which players rated side by side pictures of their classmates. the game attracted 450 players and 22,000 views in the first four hours. mark got into some trouble and was nearly expelled but then he decided that “facemash” had tapped into some primal needs for connection and for looking at cute potentials. facemash didn’t ask players to rate pictures of adorable kittens, inspirational thoughts, or team logos–all of which have been or are presently used by some of my facebook friends!

mark played around with other similar applications, eventually hitting on what we now use as facebook.  facebook sometimes makes us believe we have a rich and varied social life when we really haven’t even gotten out of bed all day.  and facebook sometimes brings people together who wouldn’t normally interact.  one of the surprises of my new years resolution to meet my facebook friends was discovering how different and yet how similar i am to my friends.

this past week i went to los angeles with two chaperones reggie gholston and vincent peters.  i sometimes take chaperones because it’s a good safety measure.

i also took these chaperones because reggie (on the left) is being deployed to afghanistan in a few weeks. he will be gone for a year and my “care” packages will include smokes, toilet paper, and food. both vince and reggie are my facebook friends, but they are more than that. they are my buddies.

one of the facebook friends i wanted to meet was #324 brandon day.  he is a twentysomething genius who ran into a bit of trouble a few years ago when he experienced full on agoraphobia.  it was difficult for him to explain to his family and friends what he was going through–panic attacks that made it impossible for him to get beyond the front door.  i think with facebook people can connect and relate their common experiences and they don’t feel so alone or so weird.

and that’s an even more important application of mark zuckerberg’s genius than offering the world the opportunity to rate their fellow humans hot or not.

brandon’s genius is in the creation of phone apps, video games and whatnot.  through the magic of facebook i am friends with sarah, whom i visited in detroit.  she is agoraphobic.  and she wants very much to create video games, which she oughta be real good at because video games is how she gets through her day.  i introduced the two of them via facebook and when i met brandon we had a message for her.

brandon is working on a phone application and website to help agoraphobics like sarah and our fondest wish is that the three of us will be together for lunch in los angeles, detroit, chicago, london, paris, rome?

meanwhile, on the other coast, last night i received a message from facebook friend michele piersiak.  she lives in staten island and has had trouble leaving the house for a year.  i visited her and she felt i was “safe” to walk around the neighborhood with.  we talked about major goals–hers is to become a psychologist who helps people with social anxieties.  and then we talked about minor goals.  i think of minor goals as the things that may sound silly to other people but they are building blocks for your major goal.  michele’s is to have dinner at laconde verde, a restaurant in manhattan owned by robert deniro.  there are reservations under my name for august ninth!  in order to do that, she has had to make mini-goals of walking around her neighborhood on her own, going to shops and stores, using public transportation.  just yesterday, she readied herself for the laconde verde lunch by going to lunch with facebook pal carolyn quinn.  facebook matchmaking.

you can play hot or not on facebook, but i think facebook and other social networking sites have a lot more to offer. or maybe i am just worried i’d get a “not”!

after saying goodbye to brandon, the chaperones and i headed for las vegas where we would ultimately end up with friendship tragedy.  still, if our adventure could be a moviemash it would be “driving miss daisie” and “the hangover”. . .


the best prayer of all

when i started my facebook friendship journey, it was january 2011 and i had 325 friends.  i figured it was a long distance run with a timer set at exactly one year.  i didn’t meet every single friend, but i got the asian f.

on the third episode of season three of the hit series glee, mike chang’s father demands mike be drug tested and drop out of the glee club because he has received an a minus on a test. mike and the other kids referred to the ninety percent grade as an “asian f”. one could say i got the asian f, because ten percent of my facebook friends didn’t get a visit from me. i was surprised to find out i was friends with spambots, dead people, prison inmates, and some friends who maybe just didn’t like me enough to make a facebook friendship a face to face friendship!

 

 

 

this past weekend, reveling in my newly minted homelessness, i visited rock island, illinois to see my facebook friends #27 eric fields and #9 heather tyler.  i don’t really think of my friends as being numbers but i found it was easier for me to keep track of what i was doing by giving a friend a number based on when i saw them.  my first facebook friend was my son eastman.  heather was the ninth person i visited last year.  eric was the twenty seventh.

sometimes when you have a goal that is really important to you and really big, it helps to divide it into smaller chunks and keep track of the small successes as they pile up.  many times i would look at the “number” of the friend i had just visited and look at the day of the year and i would think “i’m doing okay” which is a pretty good feeling to have!

eric and heather are married and live with eric’s family in rock island. recently, they have experienced an economic reversal: they need a place to live and some work. if you live in or around rock island, illinois, do you have any ideas for them?

 

after visiting with eric and heather, i went east to see my facebook friend #322 charles henry.  charles became my friend after january 1, 2011.  i got a lot of new facebook friends but i stayed focused during the year on the “original” 325 friends.

you might ask yourself why i would think it was so important to meet my facebook friends.  well, sure, there’s the inte-ma-lectual inquiry into the nature of social media and networking systems in the early twenty first century. . . but there’s also this:  i was a fifty year old empty nester with no reason to open the front door except to welcome the pizza delivery guy.  i was scared to leave the house and i consoled myself with the delusion that i engaged in the world and had an active social life because, hell, i had 325 friends on facebook.  and when i left the house i got crushing panic attacks.  absolutely convinced i’m having a heart attack.  terrified of the world.  ready to cry and scream.  i still do that all the time, but i am learning to just keep driving.

charles shares some of my problems:  he has panic attacks when he leaves his “safe” area which is a radius of about two miles outside of his home.  he has panic attacks when he has to wait out a red light.  he went through a period of being housebound when he was younger and then, after many years of feeling great, he again struggles.  he has been unemployed and he is working through a divorce.  one would think meeting him would be a downer.  one would be wrong.

facebook friend #315 tony tyner, #71 bonnie bradlee, me and #322 charles henry met at charles’ home. we had a lot of fun and next month, charles will pick out a restaurant outside of his safe area and we’re going to do this again! oddly, on august ninth i’ll be having lunch in a manhattan restaurant with a facebook friend who is housebound in staten island. she has been opening up her boundaries a lot in preparation!

 

one of the many things we talked about was faith and our respective relationships with God.  although we four have differences, we agreed that the best prayer begins with “thank you for. . . ”

what’s your prayer for today?


thank you mr. zuckerberg for my facebook new years resolution–it was an adventure!

when i was nineteen, i was pretty sure that people in their fifties were either stupidly or brilliantly settled.  there was no romance to being in one’s fifties, because one was sure to be so desperately past pretty that love could hardly blossom in such gray and wrinkled landscape.  there was no adventure to fifties, because there was mortgage and grandchildren and pensions and jobs coming to a close.  there was nothing to look forward to, no risks and few unexpected rewards.

last year, i made a new year’r resolution to meet all 325 of my facebook friends–the ones i hadn’t seen in thirty years, the ones i had never met, the ones i wasn’t quite sure would be too happy to see me, the ones i needed to resolve a few things with, the ones i wasn’t even quite sure why i was friends with them.  i went around the country, around the world. . . .

i took everything i owned in one bag. never checked anything because i sort of don’t trust baggage handlers and airlines. now the bag is in my refrigerator along with diet coke, orangina, perfume, and bottles of beer. i am having a house sale in one week. this is how i roll now!

 

this year’s adventure has been to meet more facebook friends who are new to me.  a lot of them have anxiety and panic issues like i do.  just last night, i texted with a facebook friend who prefers to be anonymous because he is scared everybody will think he’s crazy.  he’s not crazy–he’s having a perfectly reasonable response to a chaotic, confusing, irrational world!  he’s decided to drop out and stay home by himself.  on the other hand, he is unhappy.  and that is a good reason to get out of the house.  to find a purpose.  even if the purpose is sort of silly–like meeting your facebook friends.

next week, the house closes.  and the place–the “safe place”–of an agoraphobic will belong to another family.  i am so happy for them.  i know they will have many good years of raising their children, of having parties and get togethers, of feeling secure.  and me?

i’m happy and really grateful! last year’s experience has at least taught me something! when you pack a bag, roll your clothes into a single tube and baby wipes are good for a lot of disasters you will encounter!

 

i owe a lot to facebook and to mr. zuckerberg!  today’s share price is now $28 and i sense a revival.  because zuckerberg has put us in touch with our friends, our family, and sometimes with the part of us that is 51 years old and still wants to be a nineteen year old adventuress!