last year i visited 292 of my then 325 facebook friends. i went to thirteen countries, the four tips of the united states. i visited a strip club in cincinnati because my facebook friend owned it. i went hiking in the topanga mountains because a facebook friend persuaded me that the mountain lion warnings were just for show. i had dinner in a home in calabassas that is in the same gated community that has within it a gated community that britney spears lives in! i went fishing, golfing, to a casino, to dinner at everything from the chili’s in morgantown, pa to the pizza place in nome whose delivery team uses planes. i wore out the tires on my car and my patience with airlines and the transportation security administration. two hundred and ninety two out of 325 is 90% and the remaining ten percent were dead, spambots, ignored my invitations, or declined my conditions.
in the albany, new york apartment i was told by a t.s.a. agent that she would put her hands on my ankles and feel me up until she “reached resistance”. like a good catholic girl, i put my knees together. in her own little braille, she was able to establish that i was wearing a tanga panty and that it had been several weeks since i had brazilianized myself. everybody stopped to watch. i was chagrined but i think anything a t.s.a. agent is going to do to you in their offer of a “private” room is going to be much worse.
my passport has a lot of stamps and looks like i’m either a terrorist, a drug mule, or a war criminal who is confused about which countries have extradition policies. most countries, i got off the plane, paid a customs official some money, got that magic stamp on the passport and went on my way. the exception was india which required three weeks notice, a money order and an appointment at the consulate.
this coming week was set aside for brazil. i had managed the visa application. no problems. but then my two chaperones had their visas denied.
captain reginald gholston was the 32d facebook friend i visited last year. he also chaperoned me on two facebook trips. i was planning to go to brazil with him and last year’s facebook friend #57 vince peters. it’s important in meeting any new friends that you have safeguards: for instance, take a trusted friend, meet in public, and NEVER agree to meet someone in their home or to invite them into yours. out of the ten percent of facebook friends with whom i didn’t meet, two were gentlemen who would only meet me in my house or theirs. so i didn’t. but i would have if i could have brought a chaperone.
a week before a scheduled trip, a brazilian visa speed bump. reggie and vince can’t get visas. i’ve got one.
my choices: go it alone, reschedule, go to the next place on the agenda and come back to brazil another time, or cry. i did the cry thing.
reggie is being deployed to afghanistan next month. he has been deployed to iraq twice. i feel like he’s a son–er, younger brother–to me. i had hoped he would have fun in brazil.
in mexico city, reggie and i met my facebook friend #79 yoshi maeshiro whom i knew because he admires my grandfather fritz leiber, jr.’s science fiction novels. long after i was asleep at the hotel, reggie went out to a samba bar. it was a photo finish getting to the airport for an eight a.m. flight back to the states. reggie was smiling. i wanted him to smile after he had seen brazil!
after the nice, long cry, i remembered what one has to do when there’s a speed bump —
we strike west for los angeles and las vegas. this is going to be like a combination of three musketeers, driving miss daisie and the hangover. except i don’t want to be the dude who loses a tooth!
obrigada brazil–i will reschedule and be there soon!
facebook challenges the notion of a world of nations bound by geographical borders and nationally shared identities. facebook nation will, by the end of the summer, have a citizenry of over 900 million. which makes facebook’s census figures just shy of those of china or of the entire african continent. facebook has a government insofar as SOMEBODY is making the rules. i figure mark zuckerberg is king and his wife priscilla chan our queen. facebook national travel policy? you can go anywhere as long as your passport is stamped “like”!
kate and william, by comparison are of a royal family that rules over the united kingdom, population 62 million, and it’s roughly twice the size of the state of new york. happy anniversary wills and kate!
facebook citizens can be separated by oceans or seated side by side at computers (or any reasonably intelligent phone).
i’ve been thinking about national boundaries in the past week. in 2011, i began a journey that has hopscotched around the world and around my geographic country of america–all to meet my facebook friends, my fellow citizens of a country without borders. before this journey, this resolution, i had never purchased a plane ticket for myself. didn’t have a valid passport (only about one third of americans actually have one). and i had never been out of the country before. making a commitment to meet every one of my facebook friends in person has changed all that.
for most countries, a visa–a permission to enter the country–is either a fee one pays at the airport or just a wave hello from an official after you stand in line for a while. other countries are a bit more stringent. i sweated through several weeks waiting for my visa to india. and it cost a lot of money. this week i’m sweating through waiting on three visas to brazil. brazil is feeling a bit bruised because american policy about allowing brazilians into america has become more of a hassle since 9/11. wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all belonged to the nation of facebook where there are no boundaries?
for the most part, i try to have a chaperone when i am traveling to see a facebook friend i’ve never met before. reggie has twice been my chaperone. without him, i’m sure i’d still be in mexico city at the plaza revolucion eating ice cream and chatting with my facebook friend yoshi maeshiro whom i met on facebook because he is a fan of my grandfather who wrote science fiction novels.
reggie is my chaperone for brazil, as is one other facebook friend vincent peters. reggie is about to be deployed to afghanistan. he cannot personally visit a brazilian consulate without going offbase. so vince is pleading his cause at the brazilian consulate in washington. meanwhile, i have gotten my shots and filled out my paperwork. it’s very unnerving to hand over one’s passport to a representative of another country and have them say “we’ll get back to you on this.” i do what i do because i believe strongly that if we are only interacting on the internet we are not fully engaged. we are only friends if we can cement that friendship with reality. we leave for brazil next week. between now and then i need to learn the words i learn for every country i visit: hello, goodbye, thank you and friendship!
the buyers of my home haven’t received their mortgage approval. therefore, we can’t close on the house. but they had closed on the sale of their condo. they had no place to live unless i agreed to let them move into the house and rent from me until they are approved. they have a really cute baby and two dachshunds. if i find out they rented the trio in order to persuade me i will be quite miffed.
instead of aiming east or south, i returned to winnetka to sign some papers related to the house and to visit the brazilian consulate. they have my passport. they have my visa application. they also have a jacket i was wearing when i visited the first time and i forgot to take it with me because it’s a hundred degrees outside and the midwest thinks it’s a tropical paradise.
i leave for brazil on the eleventh of july and will have two chaperones. it’s important to set up safeguards when you’re meeting an online friend for the first time. i never meet a new friend in their home. i never invite a new friend to mine — well, i guess the car is sort of different! and i often bring a chaperone.
the two chaperones are vincent peters and reggie gholston. vince and reggie were classmates at west point. vince is now a government contractor. reggie is in active service and is being deployed later this summer to afghanistan. he has served twice in iraq. watch out brazil–these two are quite handsome!
and as my facebook friends from brazil say, beijos! (kisses!)
deal’s on. deal’s off. deal’s on. deal’s off. deal’s on. it’s a little hard to make life plans when you’re not sure if you have a place to stay.
my home in winnetka was on the market for a long time–in fact, the entire year i visited facebook friends i worried that it would sell and i would be out of the country or on the road. i am very happy that the new owners have a baby and two dachshunds and they will love this place and make it their home! on the other hand, i’ve been weepy.
getting approval for a mortgage is ne plus ultra difficult and the new buyers have been stretched in their patience. without approval for a mortgage they cannot afford to purchase the house. without knowing that they have the mortgage, i’ve dithered about buying renting or even looking for a place to live.
this past weekend, i divested/sold/gaveaway all my possessions except what i can fit in the back of my car. i still wasn’t sure the buyers were moving in, but i had to move forward as if i knew they would. i was helped by so many friends–and my son eastman who came home from college to help me. he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady with white gloves–he’s that good at the garage sale wheelin’ and dealin’!
several times this week i have been approached by deer. whether in the forest preserve where i run, the streets of winnetka, or in my own backyard. i think they were saying goodbye.
for some native americans, the deer totem is a signal that one is about to experience great change and possibly go on a journey. this deer was in my backyard. i felt sorta bad because i didn’t know her name and i didn’t have anything except beer, diet coke, and perfume in my refrigerator. such a bad hostess!
on tuesday morning, the new owners pulled into the driveway. the missus and i hugged and i said “welcome to your home!” i felt that teary thing coming on and then stopped myself–the moment was not about me letting go of a house, it was about a young couple starting a new life.
as eastman and i pulled out of the driveway, i called the renaissance hotel. full. the marriot. full. the super 8. full. wow, being homeless is a little harder than it looks. then we called eastman’s dad, my ex-husband. with a great generosity, he invited us to his apartment. tomorrow, i visit the brazilian consulate to get a visa so i can visit facebook friends in brazil. after all, i am free to roam the planet. and then i drive eastman back to college.
there is a moment in a young man’s life when his mom has to say “wow, you’re an adult, i respect you, i rely on you, and i admire you.” this past weekend was that moment. especially when he told the radnors h to the n when mr. radnor came into the house on sunday afternoon and said he would purchase the remaining pieces of furniture for twenty dollars but only if we transported all of it into his home. those pieces of furniture are now resting at the winnetka community church rummage sale storage facility. we had our limits.
this afternoon, i gave five bucks to a homeless dude sitting on the sidewalk and i asked him to pray for me. i know we all struggle with what to do in the face of seeing someone who is homeless. i am not in that position. i shouldn’t use the word homeless, i should use the phrase “officially without residence”. . .
doesn’t it sound very very downton abbey british to say “officially without residence” — and now i visit facebook friends. .. . everywhere!
maybe i don’t like the nightlife. i’m an early bird special girl. five o’clock is quite late enough for dinner and pajamas at seven seems de rigeur. dinner at eight? what is that all about?
however, i have spent the last three nights out on the town for the purpose of fulfilling my new years resolution to meet all (at the time) 325 facebook friends.
so tuesday night was baseball–specifically the sox versus the cleveland indians. i thought baseball was nine innings but these guys were having so much fun that they extended the game to fourteen innings. at that point, well after one a.m. and as near as i can interpret the action on the field, the two teams shook hands, patted each other’s asses and agreed that the sox won.
wednesday night i went to the wonderbar (650 n. rush) to see lonie walker, but more specifically, my facebook friend f2fb #196 downtown tony brown. i got there early, which in bar scene is not cool. being anywhere late, particularly the next day, is cool. but i saw how lonie and the bad ass company band of which downtown is a member plays when the band outnumbers the audience. they still rock it as if they were playing for a thousand facebook friends! after the first set, i bought downtown a few buttery nipples. it’s a drink, not a condition. so here i am at downtown’s lunch break–
i was careful to explain to the drummer that he was the fourth best drummer in the world–right behind david presser (my stepson who is not a facebook friend but is nonetheless quite wonderful), joseph presser (#61) and eastman presser (#1). a good drummer is able to play on the third floor and make the ceiling fixtures on the first floor quake. and give me a migraine. the drummer from bad ass offered his bona fides. i said maybe another time.
last night–continuing my string of out of the house nights–i went to a botox party. it was an event at the elyssian hotel sponsored by a plastic surgeon dr. dayan. there were a lot of women, many of whom were on their way to auditions for the remake of the movie brazil. and aestheticians, one of whom applied enough glitter on my eyes that i don’t ever have to do that again. she was a professional who has several times done kim kardashian–in a makeup way. she gave me this exclusive–
KIM KARDASHIAN’S BUTT IS NOT REAL!!! SHE WEARS BUTT PADS!!
this struck me as strange because when i was growing up in the sixties my adoptive mother mrs. patrick was quite unhinged over the fact that i had a butt. a big butt. that suggested i was of a “lower” ethnicity. i did exercises to reduce my butt. i could have donated my butt to the kardashians!
one gal at the party asked my age. i said that i was seventy. she asked how long i had been a patient of the kindly surgeon. i said that i was on a diet of white wine and glitter and hadn’t yet needed his services. she agreed that it was a good diet. because even though there were hors d’oeuvres they were passed about as if all the guests were of an aleutian family on an ice floe about to shove off mom.
the boy scouts arrived and were thrown out. every documentarian should have an “i was thrown out” moment and i was so proud for them. but i didn’t forget to have some time with f2fb friend #197 terri wojak. i didn’t know how i knew her but i think it’s because i’m fifty one and i could be somebody who could benefit from her course on skin care. it’s only $295 dollars and there’s five weeks of intense training on how to make the best of the epidermis.
terri is the gorgeous one. i'm the gal who just got glitter on her eyelids.
i left the party, mostly because i didn’t know anybody besides terri who needed to talk to the other guests. and the glitter eye shadow was migrating to my retinas. i am old. i don’t mind that. i was surprised at the frenzy of the party–we want to avoid the aspects of age but we are happier growing old than dying young. and i was reminded that the previous night i had seen lonie walker and her band–and she wears the grey hair quite proudly beautifully. please if you are ever in chicago go see her at the wonderbar just to see her beauty.
i have resolved to tell everyone that i’m seventy. lying upwards about your age gives you a lot of street cred, and as for showing up at a downtown tony brown concert. . . no matter what band he’s fronting, just buy him a buttery nipple. or stop at the 7-11 before you see him and show him a buttery one!
olá! a meus amigos em Brasil! eu tenho quis sempre jogar na praia e ver o teatro da ópera de manaus e talvez pescá-lo para pirhanas e visitar lotes das esmeraldas de Salvatore, de Baía e de compra (se eu tive o dinheiro) dos fazendeiros de meu estado de origem de illinois estão agora em Brasil. minha primeira prioridade é visitar e ser com os amigos que eu tive janeiro em 1 do facebook, 2011.
prossiga por favor com meus viagem e quando eu terminei acima com os três cem e trinta e cinco amigos que eu comecei o ano com, mim partying no sao Paolo! e perdoe por favor meu não muito bom português! amor e abraços!
for my english speaking friends (or brazilians who think my portuguese is truly wretched), i am so excited by the encouragement i’m getting from south america!!
in the meantime, my facebook friend mc kato sent me some music he will be playing at the world tour kick off party on tuesday!