Friend 2.0

chatI’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t always a good friend. There was a time in my life when I was so incredibly selfish that I took advantage of people who I called friends, telling them what I thought they wanted to hear, making them feel special for the moment, and then forgetting all about them when the next one came around. Oh, and did I mention that during this time most of my friends were of the online variety? Or that I was 19 back then?

When I was 19 I was in a state of flux. College was on hold but I was still working at the campus library, I was still able to use my college ID to get into the computer labs, and no one had canceled my email accounts so I was all set to talk to people from all over the country, and indeed all over the world. My friend Anthony had gotten a hold of some pirated internet chat software called Homer. I’ll never forget it because it had a drawing of Homer Simpson on it. He gave me a disk and kept one for himself. And I was in business.

Now, you might not know how things were on the internet back then, still in its early stages, but it was all about messageboards, actual email conversations, and places called chatrooms. A chatroom was a place you could connect to at any time of day or night and others would more than likely be there… chatting. I was fascinated by chatrooms when I first found them. There were just so MANY of them it was daunting at the start, but then I got totally into it. At my apex I was spending up to eight straight hours sitting in a chair at an old-school Mac with the Homer disk in talking to people from all over the place.

I made so many friends it was incredible, and I called them friends, not “friends.” I mean, I spent more time talking to them through IRC (internet relay chat) than my own family, and my two real life friends. It was so easy, being so far apart from them, to embellish things about myself, and before long it was impossible to tell the real me apart from the various versions of me that I created to suit each other person. Then I started emailing them. They wanted to talk apart from chatrooms so I obliged. I began getting and sending a cubic ton of emails.

Then the phone calls started and I really couldn’t keep things straight. Continue reading “Friend 2.0”

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A Father’s Freedom

Father-ChildA colleague asked me today if I lost my freedom when I became a father. I told him, “Yes, but I knew what I was getting into,” but both parts of that statement were false. Having kids didn’t destroy my freedom. In fact, it helped me revitalize myself. And I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. None at all.

Here’s what I knew going into parenthood:

  1. I wanted to spend time with my kids. Real time, like playing games and reading with them.
  2. I wanted to be on the same page with my wife when it came to discipline and enrichment.
  3. Kids go through stages, and I wanted to be prepared for each stage.
  4. Kids like animation, so I would probably be watching a fair bit of animation with them.
  5. I would be a role model for my kids, so I would have to be extremely careful in what I did and said

That’s it. That’s all I knew when we decided we wanted to be parents, and as I look through each of them I see shades of things that have happened over the course of these past 8+ years, but things don’t always happen the way we think they will. Kids are individuals, and no two are alike, so I’ve had to get to know my children. To find out what things they will copy and what things they won’t. To figure out how their minds work in order to absorb information. To learn how to head things off before they begin by being aware of what’s going on with them at all times.

And I’ve realized so much about myself in the process. I used to think I was so patient, that it was some innate talent I had, my superpower if you will. But when my daughter won’t stop repeating a line from one of her TV shows, or when she doesn’t pick up her skirt from the floor even though I’ve told her a million times, I find myself ready to blow my lid. All of that so-called patience just flies out the window and I need to go somewhere and control my emotions. It’s helped me to work hard on being truly patient instead of just saying I am.

I’ve also realized that planning means absolutely nothing when it comes to kids. Continue reading “A Father’s Freedom”

Girl Meets World

Girl-Meets-World-PosterI had of course heard about it for nearly a year, this idea of a show that would take two of my favorite characters and bring them into a new era. You see, for those of us in Generation X there are benchmarks that we can all share, at least the ones born after 1975, because for us the ’90s were a more influential decade than the ’80s. The years between 1990 and 1999 helped to define us more than any years before and since, so we wax nostalgic about them. That’s why “Girl Meets World,” a new show on the Disney Channel speaks to us, even now.

That’s why I set the series to copy on my DVR, because I wanted to see Cory and Topanga again. They are like old friends. We grew up together and I want to see what’s happening with them now. Just as they are, I am also a parent struggling with the idea that I’m the adult now, and dealing with the idea of discipline and structure in the house. But the glory of it being a sitcom is that I can also laugh at the parts where the parents don’t always get it right, and they always have a chance to change and adapt to each situation as it comes. As a parent, I also have the chance to adapt, and sometimes I can even laugh at myself for getting it wrong.

In the series premiere, Riley (Cory and Topanga’s daughter) has a best friend, Mya, who is a bit of a bad girl. It gives us a chance to see right off the bat how her parents deal with the idea of a bad influence on their daughter, and instead of judging Mya harshly they help both girls understand that it’s okay for them to be different, that they both have qualities that are wonderful and they can motivate and help each other *without being the same.* Yes, these are age old lessons, but they’re ones Cory and Topanga learned themselves right on the air for all of us to see so long ago.

That’s what really hits home, the feeling that it all comes full circle, that we can go back again and feel what we felt while simultaneously using what we’ve learned in the meantime to grow and move forward from the other side of things. Shows like “Boy Meets World,” were good for their value lessons, but they were also positive reinforcements for kids like me who were dorky but who still enjoyed that time period for what it was. Now “Girl Meets World” shows me that while Cory and Topanga are still dorky, the influences they had growing up helped them to be good parents, and I feel the same way in my own life.

And to top it all off, Mr. Feenie, the old, wise teacher/principal makes a guest appearance at the very end of the series premiere, further expanding the theme of going back to move forward, one we could all learn from.

Sam

Evolution

Frozen-WorldThe stone was ice cold, frigid to the touch, exactly like the other ones that went on for miles in every direction with no end in sight. Between the cracks in those stones, however, lived infinitesimal creatures who had no heartbeats and yet were still alive. They existed in the arctic temperatures like ticks on a dog’s skin, burrowing into the the startlingly narrow cracks with precision. Both the stone and the creatures were gray in the pale light cast by the weakening sun. It had been that way for millions of years.

Then things changed. From the depths of the earth came a stirring, gradual at first. It picked up speed and power as it tunneled its way to the surface, bringing along with it a blazing heat that transformed from orange to red in the blink of an eye. As the fire finally made its way above ground its excess heat melted the creatures that had made their homes in the crevasses between the stones. They were absorbed into the fire as if they had never existed separate from it. The stone itself remained untouched, except that its very nature shifted from ice cold to flaming hot.

With the fire from below also came fire riders, people who rode the fire like it was a bucking bronco, who were never burned by it no matter how tightly they held on. They had lived at the earth’s core for as long as it had existed and had known no other existence, but when the fire began its unexpected journey they came along for the ride, curious about the surface. None of them had any idea that there was no way they could return to their homes after they had ridden the flames. They were doomed to remain above under the low light of a dying sun.

In time the stone began to crack from within, from being subjected to the intense heat like a vice, squeezing until it exploded. One by one the other stones followed suit, the explosions following each other like gigantic dominoes reacting from the force of their brethren falling thickly on them. The fire riders jumped from one stone to the next, in a sort of leapfrog maneuver, as they tried to outrace the exploding stones to the ends of the earth. It was sheer chaos, the cacophony of a million leaping and dancing fire riders, and the sounds of a billion exploding stones mixing together.

Then there was a silence so absolute it was deafening. The fire riders were stymied once all of the stones had been reduced to rubble, the endless field of tiny stones expanded before and behind them like so much sand on a beach. While they had been riding the stones, the fire itself had seeped back into the earth from whence it came, leaving them exposed and alone on the surface, with just themselves for company. A bitter cold had begun to descend again upon the earth, and they found that they were freezing. Huddling together for warmth proved futile, and none of the small stones provided any protection from the elements, though they tried to bury themselves underneath.

And they began to die, their bodies frigid and cold like the stones on which they collapsed, one by one like the stones themselves when they exploded. The sun shone down dully on their frozen husks as if taunting them in its weak gaze. Then it blinked off, like an automatic light will in a room with no movement, disappearing from existence, and both the stones and the bodies on the earth’s surface were lost to view. Then the celestial being smiled to herself.

For she saw that it was good.

Sam

Checked Out: Week 24

city_of_heavenly_fire_by_grodansnagel-d6cyo1bWell, I’ll readily admit that I haven’t had much time for reading this week, what with my daughter’s preschool graduation, both of my children finishing school for the year, renewing old friendships, and writing a lot towards my new novel. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t read at all. I did get in some in-between time reading, which is sometimes the best because it means I have to focus more with such a small window of time to do it in.

That focus helped me to make some progress in the three books I’m reading right now, but particularly in the final book of the Mortal Instruments series that I’m reading on my Nook. I even got to talk about it a little bit with a work friend of mine who is reading the same book (but is about 50 pages behind me at the moment).

Here’s what I have Checked Out:

  1. City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare. The book starts off with a bang, a declaration of war, but who really wants it? And what will be its eventual outcome? The cast of characters has expanded, yet the central ones are still the centerpiece of this novel so far. The descriptions and the interactions are what I enjoy the most about this series, and so far they have continued. I’m a little over a hundred pages in, and I still have no idea how it’s going to end. To me that means something.
  2. The Gordian Knot, by Bernhard Schlink. This has become my bedtime book (I always have to have one), and as such I haven’t been able to make too much headway in it, but it’s reminding me so much of Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist so far. They both have these scuffling male protagonists who need some good turn to happen in their lives, but when it seemingly comes they can’t help but question it. I like the book but it’s due back at the library soon.
  3. The Enemy, by Lee Child. This seventh book in the Jack Reacher series takes us back in time to when Reacher was a major in the army, the first book to entirely take place in the past. It brings back characters who have died in Reacher’s present and gives us a look at them when they were alive, and I enjoy the interactions. Of course there’s also a death/series of deaths he has to investigate, as usual, and that keeps the action going.

I’m still waiting for Top Secret Twenty-One, the next book in the Stephanie Plum series, to come in for me from the library, but that can wait for the moment. The book I’m really most interested in reading next is The Silkworm, the next one in the Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike series (really written by J.K. Rowling). If I get that book in next, it will be the one that I read by itself. I still want to do that at some point here since I haven’t read just one book at a time in it seems like a millennia.

I also found out last night that hopefully Elude, the second book in C. Miller’s Reave series, will be released on July 14th, so a little over two weeks to go to be able to read that one!

Happy reading to you too!

Sam

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