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Getting Real on the Internet

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If we are friends on Facebook, I owe you an apology of sorts. A few weeks ago, the night of Christmas Eve, I posted the following on Facebook. Accept my apology now, I’ll make my excuses in a bit. So along with this picture of my three boys dressed in matching blue Oxford shirts and suit jackets, all smiling adorably in front of the tree, this is what I posted:

3 Boys Xmas

“We’ve had our Christmas miracle! Managed to get the boys to do a video to mail Grandma in Arizona that included trumpet, violin and harmonica solos, the first EVER recording of the Rolstad boys SINGING, and they even got dressed up! Alleluia!”

It was probably three days before I reflected on that post and realized how COMPLETELY over-the-top nauseating it may have read to some. Trumpet solos? Seriously? It could easily be interpreted as just another polished-for-the-interwebs overly shiny and somewhat fake post that we find ourselves hating when done by others.

Social media posts like that can make us feel bad about ourselves, make us hate our lame vacations to the Sock Museum, hate our spouses for not buying us diamond-encrusted cars for Christmas, and even tempt us into embellishing our own posts to compete with the virtual Jones’.

But here’s the deal. We also need to remember to give each other grace, because I truly didn’t realize how overly precious that post could sound when I wrote it because here’s what my Facebook friends didn’t know:

1. on the other side of the camera? I was getting over the flu, generally cranky and phlegmy. I was gross.

2. My boys had been wearing their footie pajamas until I made them do this video. Even though it was like 3 in the afternoon. OK, it was later than that.

3. They were all wearing jeans with those suit jackets. Two of them were wearing visibly dirty jeans.

4. They were all barefoot.

5. None of them were initially too excited about being pulled away from TV shows and computer games. (I had the flu, ok? Mama has to do what mama has to do when mama has the flu and there are three of you.* We had a very electronically intensive Christmas break. Oh, well.) The oldest visibly pouted through much of the video.

6. All of those instrumental solos? Well. Said eldest somehow managed to look grumpy while playing his trumpet, the violin solo was a simple scale, and the harmonica solos were two songs completely made up by the 7-year-old, who does not know how to play the harmonica. (They did sound the same every time he played his “songs”, amazingly.)

7. Video of them singing was a big deal. I have not had the glorious experiences of friends who put their precious wee ones in the church kids’ choir, and beamed with pride as they performed for their church family. My youngest two flatly refused to participate after absorbing the misery caused to their oldest brother. He wouldn’t sing in choir practices because he “didn’t know the songs” (hey, perfectionist introvert child I do not get – hello? that’s how you LEARN the song???) He finished one of his only performances sitting on the floor in silent protest, as everyone around him stood and sang. He had begun the performance with a full minute of shooting death rays at my head from his eyes and making violent chopping motions at me with his hands. In front of everyone. He was 5. The three have not ever sang together, really, until this Christmas Eve afternoon.

See? It really was a miracle. A messy, imperfect, disorganized miracle. But in my virally induced state, I didn’t think to make the context clear, so it could have been perceived like a pretentious braggy mama post. Well, anyone who knows my family very well probably assumed at least 4 of the 7  points above, so they knew, but if you didn’t know me well…..I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes.

So while I don’t normally jump on a bandwagon created by a corporate entity, I thought it was perfect timing to do this post today. One of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, has declared this week to be Get Real on the Internet Week. It’s all about “down with fakebooking”, and up with sharing more of who we really, authentically are with each other. Those who want to sign up get fun challenges all week, including today’s challenge: “Meals can’t always be gourmet. Show off your botched dinner, junk food, or sad sandwich.”

I’m taking a different tack, however. Partly as penance for my potentially pretentious post (nothing more fun than some good ol’ alliteration), and partly because I need to GET ON TOP OF THE CLUTTER ALREADY, I’m going to post one “before” photo of a different horrible and horribly true spot in my house every day this week. The following day I will have hopefully cleaned it up and can show you the “after” picture. Before and after pictures are fun, right? Hopefully, the public pressure of sharing my mess will help motivate me to clean it up, one trouble spot at a time.

If not, it will at least give you the chance to feel better about yourself, looking at what a bad housekeeper I am. (Warning – if you are a true neatnik, you should probably avert your eyes. My disorganized mess may give you hives or something.)

Ready for picture one? In the interest of  getting real, being authentic and motivating myself, here it comes………………I call this:

The Dumping Spot Next to the Sink

Why does this spot ALWAYS look like this? Such a small spot, SO MUCH crap.

Why does this spot ALWAYS look like this? Such a small spot, SO MUCH crap.

OK, Interwebs, we’re getting real. Tomorrow, the “after” version of this spot, and a new spot to make you shake your  head and wonder how I can be such a mess. See you tomorrow!

Oh, and want to join me in my quest? Go for it! Share your spots in the comments, or tell me how you’re being real on the Internet!

*Ha! I wrote a funny poem! If I was artsy, I would design a cute word graphic out of this and post it on Facebook, or maybe needlepoint it onto a pillow and then Pin it on Pinterest…..oh, wait.

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Existential Ennui, Eeyore, and Ecclesiastes

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Was searching something random online the other day and was shocked – shocked I tell you –  to find my exact question had already been asked and answered. Has that happened to you yet? You turn to the Internet for answers to some question you believe to be unique and interesting, and your exact question pops up in the search box.

My ego struggled with the knowledge that the wonder I’d been wondering, the ponder I’d been pondering, had already been both wondered and pondered.

That’s when it hit me.

What if it’s already all out there? All the information, the questions, the answers, all out there on the Internet. Are we just recycling information and ideas? How long will it be before we all have access to all information? What’s the point? Why am I even writing?

Pretty existential stuff.

Made me think of that verse from the Old Testament.

“What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

My Bible cheater notes claim that King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, was merely describing the futility of seeking meaning in our own accomplishments.

He must have been a real bummer. (I can’t help but picture Solomon saying those words in Eeyore’s voice. Go ahead, imagine it…….I know, I’m sorry, now I’ve ruined Ecclesiastes for all of us.)

Was Solomon right? Is it all pointless? My arrogant 2013 self says “yeah, but what about Pinterest? That’s new. What about the glorious TV fluff and suspense that is “Scandal”? What about Foldify*? What about my dead frog post?”

I began to test my “It’s already all out there” hypothesis, asking the Internet the most random questions I could dream up.

Question: Do chickens get hiccups?

     Out there.

Question: How do they get the membranes off mandarin oranges before they put them in cans?

     Already answered.

Question:What is the smelliest flower you can send someone?

     Answered. And you’ll need a BIG vase.

Question:How many people in the U.S. are named …oh, I don’t know, how about Martin Pickle?

     Thank you, magical Interwebs (and this cool site). Apparently, there are four Martin Pickles in the U.S.  I wonder what they’re like?

Ah ha!

I believe that’s where we find the reassuring answer to my existential concerns. Because who they are, those 4 Martin Pickles? No Internet can tell me that. Can’t tell me what their stories are, how their lives have been shaped. Can’t tell me what makes them laugh hard enough milk comes out their nose. Can’t explain why their families love them, or how they’ve been wounded, or what I could learn from any one of those Martin Pickles by knowing them.

Our stories, our triumphs and our wounds, are what make us more than a Wikipedia entry. It’s our unique creativity, like this guy:

A whole special bundle of unique, right here: Ya can't go wrong with a Mardi Gras mask, a sword, and pj's on your head!

A whole special bundle of unique: Ya can’t go wrong with a Mardi Gras mask, a sword, and pj pants on your head!

After all, we were formed by a Creator Who crafted us each one a unique facet of Himself, then lovingly placed us in a world so amazing that we’ll never be done learning all of the cool things He has in store for us.

So…..enough existential ennui, we need to keep connecting and writing and creating. Because it’s in making the connections and revealing our facets to each other, that’s where the glory is!

* Foldify didn’t get a link up there because they are only available for the iPad right now, and aren’t available on Android. Get on Android, Foldify, then you’ll get a more prominent link! (I didn’t link to Pinterest because it’s Pinterest. If you don’t know Pinterest, you are probably reading this on the paper copy your secretary printed out for you in 1962, but thanks.)

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