Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How I use facebook

"Thank you for asking me to be your friend on Facebook. I've found that I use Facebook mostly to catch up with old friends and to stay in more regular touch with current friends. I try to keep my personal and professional lives separate, and prefer not to use Facebook to connect with colleagues. I'm very happy to connect professionally through Linked In. Look for me there!"

This is a message I've found myself typing more frequently to the handful of people from work recently ask to "Friend" me on Facebook.

I use Facebook to affirm/strengthen friendships. Why? Because Facebook is both silly and efficient. I can get caught up with a whole slew of people without spending money in one fell swoop.

Some of the people with whom I'm FBFs (Facebook friend) are current or former colleagues. But, because of my current position, I'm careful about my boundaries in the office - not too friendly, not too aloof, not too allied with one person (or type of person) or another. And my colleagues who are also FBFs are people I've decided pose no political risk if I tell them I'm exhausted or really angry at my boss (not that THAT would ever happen), or would be concerned about sharing something that might be deemed too personal or inappropriate in the work environment. The upshot, I try to be careful about my personal relationships in the office.

So, I find these Facebook requests from colleagues who want to friend me to be a little mystifying. Are they writing because they think we ARE friends? Or, do they think because we're colleagues we must also be friends? Or, are they less guarded about their personal boundaries?

Whatever the reason, I feel a little funny when I send my now standard response, fearful I'll make the requestor feel rejected at best and angry at worst. But, I know it is the right thing to do. I need to come home and wax philosophic about "The Office," and voodoo, and war stories from Grade 12 without worrying about how my colleagues will judge my choice in television shows, religion, or high school hijinks. So, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to get back to my search for former employees of the Erie Boulevard Hechinger Store and people who hate the State of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Gimp is slang for a person with a physical disability, refers to some sort of open source photo editing software. The word gimp is a combo term for gay wimp, and is used to describe a man who likes to wear rubber suits as part of sex play. And it is also a common term for plastic lacing used at summer camps around the world to make lanyards and other useless crafts.

Or at least is USED to be a common term for plastic lacing used at summer camps around the world.

Is there anyone out there who can explain to me how the derogatory slang for a person with a disability became associated with a summer camp activity? I'm not looking for conjecture, but rather an explanation. Seriously.

I was called on the virtual carpet by a colleague last week for sending an email to three people asking for information on where they buy "gimp" for student activities. This was after getting a request to buy "gimp" from a teacher, and asking three purchasing professionals in our business office if they had any idea where I could buy "gimp," AND searching the online catalogues of myriad retailers for "gimp" using multiple search terms including "boondoggle" and lanyard craft kits. All with no result. So, at the suggestion of a member of the purchasing team in my office suggested I contact colleagues in the summer camp division of our office where they buy the plastic lacing. And that's when my awareness was raised about the link between summer fun and making fun of other people.

Had it every occurred to you that gimp, the plastic lacing, was politically incorrect? It has occurred to me now, and I feel embarrassed about the email I sent around the office last week. Oh, and I found and purchased the plastic lacing online, using the search term "gimp".

Monday, February 9, 2009

Liberal dilemma

Is there anyone out there who feels there is a dearth of cell phone storefront operations available in their neighborhood? If yes, I'd like to hear from you. Because I cannot, in my wildest dreams, imagine that there are people in this world who find themselves in a quandry over the lack of bobo cell phone shacks. Along my 18-miles commute I've seen two new cell phone stores open up in just the last month.

The liberal in me is desperate for the hopeful franchisees from Pakistan and Vietnam or whatever down and out locales either foreign and domestic from which they hail to make it in our capitalistic economy.

And the smart person in me thinks these people are stupid for sinking their savings into a business that no one wants, in an overcrowded marketplace where many people can use the Internet to get their needs met on their own time in their comfort of their own homes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Love letter from God to me

"Hi Gurch!"

How ya doing?! I'm real glad to see you are finally getting confirmed. I can remember as far back as your baptism. I rember (sic) that because you screamed and screamed because the water was cold. It was so funny.

I also remember your first day at kindergarten and first grade and second grade. You were so little and so unaware of all that went on around you. Now look at you, all grown up and being confirmed. I've kept (a) special eye on you, and I know you are going to go far with your life. That newspaper thing you go to? Everyone else is going to drop out, but you'll go on to be the editor, and someday you'll be editor of the New York Times.

Good luck with your life +
I love you, and
I'm always watching you.

Art and artifacts

If you were to conduct an archaeological dig into the far recesses of your personal files what would you find?

I'm sorting old files today, as I set up my new home office. I've found my Grade 4 report on the nation of Egypt, a series of "reports" I wrote in Grade 1 on fall clothes, fall activities, and fall animals, and what I imagine is a representative sample of the more than 2,000 illicit notes passed between me and my closest friends are among the files of personal artifacts I have saved over the course of my nearly 40 year life on this planet. My boarding pass from a high school trip to Mexico taken in 1987, a family photo album created for school which includes a section called "BMPS" (Before My Parents' Separation" and another section called "AMPS", napkins from the party at church that followed my confirmation, my grade report from Drivers' Ed (a score of 86 - not my best class ever), and a letter written to me on the eve of my 16th birthday from a woman who was sort of like a godmother to me.

I kept scrapbooks from middle through high school. And my mom gave every one of us kids a scrapbook for our high school graduation - complete with every drawing, birthday card, or "Let me tell you why I hate you mom" note we had ever written. I've gradually deconstructed these scrapbooks, and every time I go through the remaining pile of ragged edged papers, I winnow the stack down just a little further. Okay, Egyptology was really important to me as a kid, so I'll keep the Egypt report. And I live in Massachusetts now, so I NEED to save the report on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But maybe it is time to recycle the report on the "Tar Heel State." And all of those hazy and unfocused photos from Disney World, Mexico, and the general carousing of high school life? They don't hold meaning for me anymore. Or maybe the meaning is so firmly etched in my heart and mind that I don't need the objects to remember.

And then I wonder if, at the age of 85, if I'll remember that night in Michelle Carisse's bedroom at her grandmother's house, when all of us girls teased our hair to its biggest best before heading out for a night of underage activity. Do I need that photo to help me remember what I was like as a teenager in the event that I become an 85 year-old who wants recall the full story of her life?

And here is the curious thing. Do these artifacts actually help me remember the full story of my life? The other day an old high school friend was reflecting on the people in her life and she commented that I was always the friend in our crew who kept a level head. "Really?" I thought to myself, realizing that I have NO idea how other people know me. I only know how I know myself.

So, as I work on this round of culling the archaeological finds of my life, I'm doing it with an eye towards telling my story as I know it, and hoping to get glimpses of how other people know me.