This question has been plucked straight from a series of messages between me and Carlos.
Carlos: "I just read a piece on The Daily Beast about the founder of Facebook. It was written by one of his classmates and it comes in the wake of the new movie The Social Network, which doesn't represent the guy in a very flattering light. It made me wonder if all these gadgets and communication devices we have now hurts us as a society or helps us.
Personally it's a mixed bag for me. I love being able to communicate with someone like you from a couple hundred miles away, but are we losing the personal touches of talking to someone face to face? I saw a MTV "True Life" episode that was about being too attached to your technical device or something like that. It was sad to see how these young people in relationships would ignore each other over their blackberry's, xboxs, and social networks. What do you think?"
Me: "Excellent question! Thank you! I will use it on QOTD. I haven't personally known any young people ignoring each other over technology, but I have seen a couple Oprahsodes that showed families who are constantly texting or playing video games and are challenged to unplug. When they do, they discover each other.
You and I weren't brought up that way, so we know to put away our cells when we're socializing with other people. But I can see how young people would have different boundaries. Interesting stuff."
So, bloggers, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Do all these gadgets and communication devices help us or hurt us?
Yesterday, I attended a funeral. During the burial service, loved ones played keyboards, guitar and bongos. They read poems, sang and danced by the gravesite in celebration of the dear friend who died.
It was beautiful and very much a celebration of her life.
In what unique ways have you seen a life celebrated?
A fat bolt just fell out of the desk chair I'm sitting in. I turned the chair over and searched for where it could have come from. I have no idea. And of course, I threw out the instructions my cheap IKEA chair came with.
So the bolt is on the floor and I am in my chair. For now.
What instructions have you thrown away that you wished you kept?
Yesterday's book club met at Skylight Books, which is a supercoolindependent bookstore. We ate delicious brownies and discussed Albatross by Josie Bloss.
Albatross is a twisted story about a love triangle, but more so, about how someone can get in your head and convince you that you're worth less than you are. We book clubbers agreed that the message was an important one, especially for teens. Josie Bloss does an amazing job of subtly creating the most uncomfortable moments where as a reader, you're cheering for the MC, Tess, to walk away, but knowing that honestly, as painful as it is, she won't. And that most other kids wouldn't either.
It's through a skillfully crafted series of those moments and warnings from that little voice in her head that she's finally done.
Tess's parents were so well drawn. That's a really hard thing to do as YA writer because the focus is on the teen and parents are so...secondary in the teenage world. The mother in this book was thoughtful, smart, realistic and believable. And I really admired how Bloss wrote the father. She did an excellent job of showing how Tess's history with her father created an opportunity for another abuser to slide right in and manipulate her. He was realistic and cutting but it never hammered us over the head. A perfect blend of subtly and cruelty.
The combination of a great read and meeting smart, fun readers made book club totally awesome.
I'd like to do a little market research regarding market research.
I just filled out an online survey about my last travel experience. It took about 10 minutes and was fairly painless. But I did wonder whether or not my "additional comments" section, where I typed in what annoyed me, would actually be read and considered.
And because I questioned whether or not my input would actually impact the company's processes and / or services, I questioned why I was actually spending 10 minutes on the survey. Unlike my supermarket, which invites shoppers to fill out a survey and then enters them in a drawing for a $100 gift card, this company offered me nothing for my time.
Which gave me pause. I mean, do I have get something in order to give my feedback?
So, how do you feel about surveys? Do you fill them out?
It’s like this I ease my bedroom door open The air conditioner hums as I step into the still hallway Through the darkness, I reach for the railing And tread down the carpeted stairs Skip the third And the fifth Lean to the right
At the back door The house holds its breath as I pull on the knob and step outside Crickets sing as my feet meet the smooth slate, still warm from the day I tiptoe Until I reach the neighbor’s lawn
Dew splatters my ankles as I burst into a run Down the street To the next And the next Pebbles dig into my soles But I keep running Heart pumping Flesh tingling Giggles rising
Headlights beam through the trees So I duck behind a hedge Catch my breath And start again
Racing through the warm summer night To get to you
I met with my critique group last night. I'd sent them the first few pages of the story I've been researching. As always, they brought up excellent questions. What's the bigger secret? Why is M able to see the things she sees?
Excellent questions. Questions I don't have answers to right now. And that's okay. Sometimes you just have to get your butt in the chair and trust that the answers to the questions will present themselves, right?
(A resounding "right!" would really boost my confidence right about now.)
After just one night in Jersey, the "aw" in talk, walk and call snuck back into my speech.
And after spending a week with my mother, yesterday, when I entered a bathroom and saw myself in a mirror, I caught myself walking like her. My laugh also sounded similar and my hands gestured like hers.
I didn't realize I'd been picking up on that stuff and I was surprised when I noticed.
Yesterday, as I sat at the airport bar watching people drag carry-on's through the terminal, I wondered if they were arriving for vacation or for business. Were they coming home after long trips? Just starting one?
"You must meet people from everywhere," I said to Susana, the pretty bartender who served me a beer and buffalo wings.
"I've met some pretty amazing people." She leaned on her elbows and raised an eybrow. "I waited on Matt Damon once. And you know what's weird? He's pretty tall."
"He is? He always looks like the short one," I said.
"I know." She turned to a customer on the other side of the bar and took an order.
I thought about the time I ran into an old family friend at O'Hare in Chicago. And the time in college, when on a flight to Boston, I saw a friend from my hometown.
"Do you know who Chuck Liddell is?" Susana asked as she punched an order into the computer.
"Yes." I remembered the episode of Entourage when Chuck Liddell punks Johnny Drama and challenges him to UFC fight.
"I'm a huge fan," she said. "And one time, I saw him walk by so I ran out from behind the bar and chased him all the way to baggage claim."
She tapped her long nails on her cell phone, then showed me a picture of her and Chuck.
"I had to get my picture taken with him," she said.
"That's awesome," I said. I pulled out my notebook and started writing.
As I paid my tab, I handed Susana my card and told her about The Question of the Day. I asked if it would be okay to write about her.
"Sure, I'll totally read it," she said.
"Excellent. Thanks!" I said and walked towards my gate.
And just like that, another airport connection was made. What airport connections have you made?
"Mommy, where does ice cream come from?" I asked repeatedly, only about three summers ago, until my mother finally took me to Ben and Jerry's for a factory tour.
At the factory, we watched a moo-vie about how Ben and Jerry took a simple idea and turned it into a thriving business. Then we got to stand over the production room and watch as pints were filled with crunchy, fruity, chocolaty goodness. We learned about the Testers, whose job is to taste Ben and Jerry's creations all day long.
While I seriously contemplated a career change, I noticed that every once in a while a pint was chopped in half and someone examined it to make sure that the ice cream to chunky goodness ratio was on target.
The whole thing was fascinating. So, for the last few days I've been following my mother around asking, "Mommy, where does milk come from?"
She got the hint. Today we're going to visit a dairy farm and I'm super excited to peek at the inner workings of the dairy industry.
What inner machine have you had the privilege of learning about?
As we pulled out of the airport parking lot, my mother said, "Oh! I have a great cemetery to take you to."
"Really?" I asked. "What's it like?"
"It's down a long gravel road, next to a river. The headstones are really old. You're gonna love it," she said.
"Awesome," I said.
Then I laughed.
"How crazy do we sound right now?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" She asked and giggled.
The new project I keep referring to involves a cemetery in a small town. Since those aren't easy to find in LA, Mom found one in Vermont. So last night, after dinner, we grabbed a camera and a flashlight and drove down a dark, tiny lane to the cemetery.
Headstones marked deaths from the 1753 - 2008, sadly including many children. Water rushed by on three sides of the plot, where multiple rivers met. Ferns sprouted from the mossy grass.
Surprisingly, it wasn't creepy. The cemetery felt peaceful. And I wondered if the cemetery in my new book should also feel serene.
Over a tray of Cheerios, my beautiful little niece puts her hands over her eyes then pulls them away, peekaboo-ing Auntie Suzie. She wiggles in her high chair. Pushes the seat with her hands. Moves her legs around the post that holds her in.
But she's stuck. There's no escaping the high chair.
This weekend, my friends J and T are getting married.
I love weddings.
I love getting dressed up. And the moment the groom sees the bride at the end of aisle. The excited family members. Music. Dancing. Reuniting with old friends and feeling like we just hung out last week. Tearing up during the father / daughter dance. Crying through the toasts. More dancing. Finally, piecing the night together over breakfast the next morning. (Like suddenly remembering the dance moves of the crazy guy in the picture above. And then asking, "Who was that guy?")
Yesterday I was craving a cheeseburger. The craving started the day before, when I thwarted it with chicken, but by yesterday I had to eat a burger. So I went to the pub with E and gobbled down a delicious California burger and savored every last french fry.
When we were finished, E asked, "Do you want to play pool?"
"I can't play pool," I said.
"Yes, you can," he said.
"No, really. I'm horrible."
"When's the last time you tried?"
"I don't know. Like high school," I said.
"You might want to try again." He cocked an eyebrow at me.
"Okay, fine," I said. "But don't make fun of me."
"I won't," he said.
I sank a ball or two. I also missed most balls so ridiculously that a normal person would have laughed at me. But E didn't.
It was fun because E didn't do that thing that guys do. You know, when they tell you how you should hold a pool cue or baseball bat or golf club and say, "No, no, not like that. Like this." And all the fun of trying gets sucked out of the moment.
He just let me play. And I wasn't very good at it. But it was fun.