Irony Unplugged

unplugged-imagination

After years of never-ending electronic connectedness, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mayra, and I decided to do a single night away from it all.  The rules were simple, no computers, no phones, no television, no tablets, no e-readers.  We would wander around to find what we wanted, rather than using the maps on our phones.  We would listen to a CD, rather than our iPods or Pandora.  We would talk instead of text, laugh instead of LOL and we would loudly exclaim things and demonstrate our feelings through facial expressions, rather than emoticons.  Part of our plan was also to disconnect from work.  Both of us hold jobs that are demanding and often require significantly more than 40 hours per week and the ability to let go of work for even a day is an infrequent treat.  We appropriately named our getaway “Mayra and Kim – Unplugged.” With no agenda and limitless possibility, we set out on our adventure.

We selected a seaside hotel in one of our favorite little towns along the coast of central California.  Upon our arrival in the quaint little town we struggled a bit without the use of our phones and Yelp for a dinner place and ended up breaking down and using them to choose a restaurant; we were extra hungry and couldn’t just meander around to find a place with gluten free options, or at least that’s what we told ourselves.  Luckily, we gained some confidence after our setback and, with full bellies, we commenced our wandering.  As the sun set in a cotton candy sky, we walked through the tree-lined streets of downtown Santa Cruz with no destination, no purpose, no agenda.  We wandered in and out of shops and just thoroughly enjoyed each other.    We finished our evening with a nightcap and laughter on a balcony overlooking the Pacific. We reminisced about younger days, fears, friendships, and times gone by, then retired peacefully.

The next day dawned into a foggy and drizzly fall day that left the town and the beaches deserted.  A delicious breakfast and a walk on the empty beach  in the rain were the perfect start to our morning.  As we thought about what to do for the remainder of our day, we happily reminded ourselves that it didn’t matter, we were not in a hurry and had nowhere to be.  This reminder brought peace to my mind, that is so often occupied by deadlines and to-do lists and appointments.  Nowhere to be.  Not in a hurry.  These two simple sentences seemed too impossibly good to be true!  Even my vacations are usually chock full of sightseeing, shows, reservations, and lists.  I couldn’t remember the last time I just did whatever I felt like doing.  I wondered to myself, ” Is this something that goes by the wayside of all other childhood glories?  Imagination, honesty, confidence, lack of self-awareness, unconditional acceptance, curiosity, making friends easily, and doing whatever you feel like doing, when you feel like doing it.  Are these things that adults can really just gain back with a little effort?  Are the playthings of adults, television, smart phones, computers, killing the child-like beauty that lies within our amazing brains?”   I snapped out of my thoughts and we decided to go to the most laid back of all museums – The Surfing Museum.

Some more wandering led us into another shop that sold some eclectic wares.  Mayra picked up a book that touted 365 days unplugged.  This book seemed eerily appropriate for our little weekend getaway. Our interest piqued, we opened the cover and began to explore the ideas within.  Suggestion after suggestion of life’s simplicities that seemed so obvious and were clearly a part of everyday life not so long ago.  Take a walk.  Call a friend.  I stopped reading and got lost in my head once again.  Here is a book that is telling us to talk to people we care about, rather than text them or email them or like their posts on Facebook.  A sadness swept over me as I realized that I too was not doing the simple things that bring me joy and strengthen the connections with the people I hold dear.

I was brought back to reality when Mayra excitedly said the most amazing thing.  “I wonder if they have an e-version of this book?”  And there it was, a hilarious statement that summed up everything that is wrong with us.  The simple book, the age old information sharing medium is now not good enough.  We need our devices!  As we laughed about what just happened, Mayra found something in the little book that she wanted to try – writing one line a day.  This was to be an exercise Mayra and I shared in order to connect more deeply and feel a sense of fulfillment, being that we both love to write to express ourselves.  I didn’t think things could go downhill from the e-version comment, but they did.  We discussed how we would write one line a day and share it with each other and since Mayra didn’t want to forget the idea, she decided to “write it down” on her phone.  After much discussion of how to share our daily writings, we now use text and Google Docs to complete our daily “unplugged” exercise.  I know I am not the only one that sees something wrong with this picture as I sit here writing from my laptop.

This trip was truly about the journey and not the destination, and though I have heard that so many times, experiencing a mere 24 hours without the technology of today reminded me that this saying still holds true, even if we do slip up a few times.

At the end of our day of disconnect, what did we gain?  A renewed sense of appreciation of the beauty around us.  That special feeling of knowing that the memories made were ours and ours alone.  No sharing on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Ello, Linkein, Foursquare, or any other of the numerous social media sites.  A rediscovered interest in the importance of a single person in our lives and the impact a true friendship can have on them.  A few new ideas and a new-found belief in self.  The realization that the world has changed, but the basic needs of human beings have not and no amount of technology is going to make us evolve out of needing the human component to life.

http://mitchlav.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/unplugged-from-social-media-day-44/

Letting go

 

I never thought of myself as someone who let go of things easily. I hang on to love and friendships very tightly and treasure each one. When the time comes for some ties to be severed, I start to worry about myself and the other person. I have been told by multiple bad boyfriends that they would be fine without me and if I wanted to end things, I should end them. The funny thing about someone telling you to end things: even when you were actually just about to end them, the fact that the other person steps up and calls you out in it makes you stop dead in your tracks and reconsider the ramifications of it all.

The funny thing about me is that I think constantly and hate to let go of things, but at some point, I make a final decision to let go and I don’t go back on it. In the end, it turns out to be me that is over things more quickly and the other person is left trying to get me back and pick up the pieces. Some people who seem like they would let go easily end up being the ones who just can’t.

Though I’ve gone over it all in my head so many times, I can’t quite figure out the psychology of it all. What is it about calling a person out that makes them back-peddle? What is it about the loss of something that makes people make desperate attempts that are not realistic or thought out or even what the person wanted (e.g. proposing post-breakup,  stalking, pretending to want things they never wanted)? And why is it that people mistake caring for weakness and take advantage of it? Why is it that those that flaunt their “strength” turn out to be the weaker ones in the end?

Will one ever be enough

-Rent

I read an article today about the spark in relationships fizzling out-The article was in Elle, October 2011 (Called “The Cheating Agreement”).  In the article, a married couple decided that going to a sex party and having sex with a random stranger would remind them that they were still desireable. They hoped it reignite their flame within their marriage.

Where do I begin?!  Yes, I’m guilty of enjoying the flattery of a strangers’ compliment or the rush of someone trying to catch my eye and flirt. But when in a relationship, I don’t want others’ attention over that of my man. I have heard friends talk about how they want to feel desirable again by getting the attention of someone else and seeing if theyre still wanted. When flames have died in my past relationships, I trudge on an try to reignite it, not by sleeping with others, but be doing extra special stuff for my honey. Granted, my honey must be receptive and reciprocate for it to actually work. I guess in the end, I’m looking for a relationship that challenges me and my partner. One in which we keep eachother on our toes, but care so deeply for one another that eachother’s attention is more than enough. Though I know one person is all I want and need, I still have to ask-will I be enough for someone? Will one ever be enough for people or have times just changed too much and people’s attention spans been destroyed forever along with their loyalty, dedication and other such old fashioned values?

Misunderstandings

They happen.  I have found that in so many instances misunderstandings creep up on us, seemingly out of nowhere.  When both parties are open to discussing things, great, but most of the time, one or both of the parties becomes angry and frustrated and working through things seems impossible.  What is it about getting in a disagreement that makes some people’s good sense go out the window?  Why does a time of disagreement turn into a time to hurt and namecalling for some?  It is a rare instance when both parties will listen to eachother’s side and discuss, calmly, where things went awry.  Perhaps people have not trained themselves well in the art of communication, or perhaps their pride just gets in the way too often.  Whatever the case, I wish people would be more open to compromise and understnding.

In my relationships (with the opposite sex, especially), pride and ego seem to overcome compassion, understanding and mutual respect.  I can understand that people lose their cool sometimes.  I understand that you can’t always agree.  Where my understanding ends is when there is a lack of desire to pick up the pieces leftover after your cruel words and actions wreaked havoc during the argument.  As if people’s lack of apologizing wasn’t bad enough, the compulsuion to subjugate the apology and use it against you when you decide to be the bigger person and apologize is just dispicable.

In a disagreement between two parties who respect eachother there should be time for both to express themselves.  There should be no interrupting, no name calling, no yelling (though a little bit of passion in your voice should be acceptable), there should be no storming off, no throwing things, no bringing up past arguments and no mocking (or other such childish behavior).  Even better is when some of the anger can be diffused with humor (as long as it is not at the other person’s expense) and both people can laugh.  In the end, both parties should strive to understand the other person’s point of view and one party can either concede the point or a compromise can be reached.  If you don’t want to talk about something at that point in time, the respectful thing to do would be to table the issue until later, but not to betray trust by never actually talking about it.   Is that too much to ask, people?

The apology is a magical thing when done right (and by right, I mean sincerely).  It should not be clouded with excuses or “buts.” The bona fide apology is a treasure and should be respected.

Pondering

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Caught somewhere between what was and what will be I sit alone in my room and ponder where I am now. Why does fear sometimes replace my excitement of the unknown? Why does doubt overshadow joy and hope? I’m a good person with so much love to give. Will anyone ever want it? I know I have friends and family who love me, but will a man ever appreciate and want all I have to give? I know I have a good heart, a good head on my shoulders, ambition, curiosity, compassion, intelligence, values, and humor, but why can’t I find someone with those qualities who wants mine too?

Love, devotion and overstimulation

Dr. Seuss always had a way with words

We live in a world filled with too much of everything. Americans in particular are infamous overconsumers. I can’t help but think that this overstimulation is harmful to us as individuals. We are bombarded by images on tv, online, in magazines, in newspapers, on billboards, and who knows where else. These images tell us about fashion, love, beauty, intelligence, prosperity, success. The hidden harms in images have been written about, but what about the harms of social networking and meeting so many people?

I can’t help but wonder if the constant overload of meeting new people and having the ability to communicate with them in so many ways at any time of day or night can be harming our ability to make good decisions and fall in love the way people used to do. Love used to be a committment. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married, and they live happily ever after, or something like that. I have watched the great examples of such a love story throughout my life-my aunts and uncles who have surpassed 50 years of happy, faithful marriage, my grandma who never remarried once my grandfather died, and my parents who have been in love for over 30 years. The devotion of these relationships has always amazed me and I have aspired to find such love of my own. Given the recent statistics about marriage (50% end in divorce) and even more recent stories about the Mexican government trying to make marriage a temporary and finite institution with an expiration date, my discouragement seems to be growing. I have even read articles discussing the importance of time apart in a marriage. What?! How can that be? In my experience, the successful marriages are those in which the couple relies on each other and does not want to spend time apart. They are each other’s best friends. They vacation together, they laugh together, they learn together, they sleep together, they cry together and they support one another through thick and thin.

So what is the change that has occurred? No doubt there have been changes in values and beliefs over the generations, but could there be more to it? There is a constant stream of temptation and fantasy being fed to us daily. Even the most devoted lovers can be tempted, especially when marriage seems to be disposable. There are subconscious competitions happening inside our brains consistently, who has more friends on facebook, how many people have commented on my photo, can I dress skankier than the other girls, can I be more witty with my online quotes, how many followers can I get on twitter. As we become increasingly more connected, we ironically become more disconnected with reality and thus, more lonely. Whereas our parents would go about their days, call people on the phone to catch up, and discuss things with each other over dinner, we post our lives online for all to see. Nothing is special as we share so much with so many. And the simple feedback from a spouse or a friend doesn’t seem to be enough; we want people to ‘Like’ our status and comment and commiserate. We seem to have forgotten the interactions that are meaningful and fulfilling. We have replaced a few gratifying encounters with hundreds of dissatisfying ones.

In the past we would cut contact with old boyfriends and girlfriends. They would become part of our memory and that would be that. Save for a few old letters and photos, they would be history. Now, we have digital cameras to capture every moment and we end up with thousands of photos to supplement our every memory. In addition, we have social networking sites where we keep tabs on exes. If we don’t add them as a friend, we certainly look them up to see what they are doing (and if their current flame is as good looking as we are). Adding exes as friends is dangerous territory since it is so easy to forget about the reasons for the breakup and we could fall back into old habits with the familiar face. Having contact, even if only by a social networking site, or an online game, or text (any electronic means of communication, really) is not fair to your current significant other. If the feelings for this person are in the past, why not keep the person in the past? Are you keeping them around just in case?
What about those relationships that “might have been?” Those are just as dangerous. Keeping those people as friends on social networking sites is another huge temptation. Keeping in contact with someone you had an interest in is not fair to your significant other or anyone who might come along while you’re single. Whatever didn’t happen with you guys probably didn’t happen for a reason, but keeping them in the loop is just making it harder. John Greenleaf Whittier said it best: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” We may dwell so much on the things that might have been (but never were and never would be) that a fantasy is built up in our heads and we lose sight of reality. Who could compete with a fantasy? Nobody! In the end, the fantasy will win out because nobody will compare to it.
Maybe I’m just an old fashioned kind of gal, but I like the whole idea of formal dating. If we go dancing, ask me to dance. Hold the door open for me, bring me flowers, oh yah, and don’t keep in contact with your exes (ex-girlfriends, ex-lovers, ex-crushes, ex-flings, ex-whatever). I will be a devoted wife and mother and I expect that my husband will adore me, support me (emotionally people, sheesh…I’m gonna be working too), and love me unconditionally. I hope I live to see the day when old fashioned values, true love, and hard work are part of the norm.
While I do believe that men and women can be friends, I think it is important for us to differentiate between the types of “friendship.” Is it a true friendship in which both sides care for the other and support each other? Is it a friendship grounded on mutual respect and platonic love? Or is it a friendship in which one party only wants more to develop? Perhaps a friendship of convenience?
All of our behavior and comparisons that we make to unrealistic visions of happiness and love are self-destructive. We have destined ourselves to failure in love as we are penetrated by the constant visions of something better. We don’t even know a true friend when we find them because we are so caught up in the business of ‘checking in’ online. Perhaps it all grows from a deep dissatisfaction with ourselves. With everything in the spotlight and so much information accessible, we constantly see things we consider better. There is always someone more successful, more attractive, more fun, more adventurous. How can any of us ever measure up? We seem to try to measure up in the emptiest of ways and we have been trained to think it’s ok since it is socially acceptable.
So are people more inclined to cheat (on exams, on lovers, on spouses, etc) due to the constant stream of information coming to us on a daily basis? Or are we just more aware of things that have been going on for years and years (and people are getting divorced because of it because divorce is now socially acceptable)?

For example:  http://www.aphroditewomenshealth.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=382019#Post382019

Hormone Misery

In a new world where days are like nightmares and nighttime sleep brings the only escape, it is becoming increasingly hard to function. 5 weeks and 2 days ago I stopped taking birth control. I knew that people had issues with irritability, etc. while adjusting to taking the pill and I did experience that. What I did not know was the rollercoaster of horror I was in for after deciding to stop the pill. I am a 29 year old graduate student who just moved 3000 miles to attend a special program in Biomedical Sciences. I should be done in 18 months if I don’t screw up. I left behind my life in California (my home for 28 years) to pursue a dream of higher education. I left my friends, family and boyfriend of 6 years behind. The one person (sort of) that I brought with me was my little friend Lola Bird. Lola has been great company, though she is baffled while what is happening to me. Are you ready to hear it? I think I’m ready to say it, but it won’t be pretty.

9 days after stopping the pill I went to sleep happy and content, though I had not started my period yet (and hadn’t had it in 3 months). I had studied, talked to Matthew, talked to my parents, worked out, watched TV, and just felt good and optomistic. I woke up the next morning and BAM. Out of nowhere I was weighed down with the most overwhelming sadness I had felt. I had feelings of hopelessness and impending doom for those I left behind. I thought I’d never be happy again. I cried ALL DAY. Then, in the late hours of the afternoon came a horrible migraine. “Oh,” I thought, “the crying must be a new precursor to the migraines. If I’m sad, I’ll know one is coming.” Five days of constant crying and I had had enough. Then, a very scary symptom revealed itself-tachycardia. Sitting on the couch resting and I felt my heart begin to race. I took my pulse-130!! OMG! I was dying! I was having a heart attack or a stroke or something! And I was all alone!! A visit to the neurologist revealed poisoning from a multivitamin I had started (selenium and magnesium poisoning). “Flush your system with at least 3 liters of water,” he said. So I did. I was told I’d be better in 5 to 7 days. 7 days came and went and I was still the same. I literally spent over a week without leaving my house. I spent my time crying, forcing myself to drik water and trying my hardest to eat, though several days passed with no food. My mom spent hours daily on the phone with me. My dad called when he could. School began to suffer because my time was consumed with what I later found out were repeated panic attacks. 2 weeks turned into a month and though I had multiple emergency visits to my doctor and was now armed with an anti-anxiety medication and prgesterone, nothing had really changed. As my condition deteriorated, my boyfriend came to visit. It helped only a little, as he was only here for two days and that was just enough to throw me into a panic over his departure. Aside from that, his visits were intended to be fun and he pushed hard to get me to go do fin things here in Miami. He didn’t seem to understand (or care about) what was happening to me. I felt as though he didn’t believe my feelings were real or that I was exaggerating them. My mom was the next one out here. Two weeks into her stay and her departure approached I was being awakened with panic over being alone. She booked another week. I am now 5 weeks and 2 days into this nightmare I call life and it feels like this will be a permanent state. The nausea is taking a toll on my body andI cannot eat. The anxiety prevents me from napping and studying and the sadness keeps me from going out of the house at certain times of day. My eyes are puffy and there are permanent tear stains down my cheeks. The resilience of the human body that always amazed me seems to be letting me down. An emergency visit yesterday to a hormone specialist revealed a glimmer of hope. More blood tests and here I wait. Waiting for hope, resolution and for myself to reappear. Though I believe I found the best migraine doctor out there, I think we both got more than we bargained for. He seemed astounded when I had a panic attack in his office-shaking, trembling, hyperventilating, crying and irrational thoughts. If I saw me coming down the street, I’d cross to avoid me.

Not only is eating a struggle due to the nausea, but the day to day activities like showering, brushing my hair, dressing, leaving the house seem like giant mountains. With my mom here pushing me and encouraging me, I’m barely getting by. I feel as though I’m a new person and it is not a person I care to know. My head hurts every day and the hopelessness is not letting up. I wish I had known before starting the pill what I know now. I wish I could spread the word to others on the pill. I am a 29 year old woman who is incapable of taking care of herself completely at this time. I am angry and frustrated and scared to death. I know support from family and friends will help a lot. The gynocologist I just saw suggested a psychiatrist because though the anxiety is hormone induced, she thinks it may be seated in a deeper rooted problem. Not a bad idea, but I am scared of the stigma associated with this type of thing. I just pray for the light at the end of the tunnel to reveal itself to me. It isn’t fair that people must suffer so. Life is beautiful, but I have lost sight of that.