I Get Social Media

Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?

I get social media. But to get it, you have to give it.

I am Facebook, Twitter, Instagram girl, but I put myself out there. I’ve seen studies that show the more engaged a social media user is, the happier she is.

Some people complain about social media, “I don’t want to know what you had for lunch.”

I admit I occasionally report what I’m cooking. When I recently updated my FB status, “Making chili, meat and vegetarian,” several cyber friends in several states were also making chili. Coincidence? I dunno. But it was interesting and fun and I felt less alone in my solo chili-making kitchen.

Sometimes I overshare. That’s me. I overshare IRL too.

As a wife of someone with Parkinson’s Disease, I feel connected to friends and family through social media. Apathy is a side effect of my husband’s disease. On social media, I can’t tell if people are apathetic towards me. I try to notice only the thumbs up, the cheers, the interactions that lead to deeper sharing. I affirm people, just like I like being affirmed.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve connected in person with two different high school friends who were visiting New York. I wouldn’t have stayed in touch with them without Facebook. When we got together, we talked about deep stuff — how we felt different, theater, how we parent, what’s new with our siblings, how we work.

Of course, it’s scary to put yourself out there and swim in the social media community pool. It’s easier and safer, emotionally, to lurk, dangle your feet in the water.

My social media mania has one downside.

I was reminded of this jealousy factor, when I read: More kids than suitcases’ blog post about torturing yourself on spring break. Because yes, just by the look of some other people’s spring break pics, they’re having a lot of fun out there. I saw in friends’ feeds palm trees and London tea (different people obviously.) That made me wish I was somewhere fabulous.

But I was. I was somewhere fab. Making every day fabulous is one of my life goals. (Thanks to my former colleague, Klay Williams!)

Compare and despair. I try to post awesome pictures of me and the kids having a really good time out in the world. (See below!) Because a picture of one of my kids staring at the phone, laptop, or TV is boring. I post about things, people, and events that I want to remember. I don’t want to remember boredom, bickering, apathy, and negativity.

I want to remember doing cartwheels on the beach. I want to remember bike riding. I want to remember making each other smile and laugh.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt – Social Network.

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A Play Celebrates Diversity in Jackson Heights

On a dreary cold afternoon in Manhattan, I took my two 13-year old daughters to see a sparkly, “You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase,” a magical play by a team of writers about a place in the world that is the exact opposite of the place where I grew up.

Way back when Hillary Clinton was running for president, the cover of the New York Times ran an article about Ms. Clinton’s (and my) hometown that began with a phrase, something like, “In the lily whitest of Chicago suburbs, Park Ridge, Illinois…”

We did not have diversity in Park Ridge or in our class of about 800 at Maine South High School. The one African American kid was actually African, an exchange student from Kenya. There was one Jewish family.

No wonder I love diversity. I love it beyond words can explain. And I love that this play loves diversity.

“I think I now know about 20 different ways of saying, “I’m looking for a beautiful woman new to the city,” says Joe, one of the dozen characters who wander on the stage on a quest. He is looking for the owner of the suitcase.

This play, “You Are Now the Owner …” is the middle play of the Jackson Heights trilogy, a microscope on diversity and a kaleidoscope of racial and ethnic community.

This is magical realism with a contemporary ‘tude.

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A magic cell phone and a diverse community that looks out for each other. (photo by Joel Weber, courtesy of “You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase.”)

Characters jump from a storybook.  A cell phone turns into a girl.

With so many storylines, I lost the thread of plot at times, but I was just happy to be with my girls and to be transported, taking a trip, like that suitcase.

Here’s some poetry from the play:

ROSA: As a rose petal falls and the rain feeds the underground, my love will remain true to the one that grants me my soul through and through.

TOMÁS: That makes you guys soul mates. Ah that’s nice.

They make their way to the book. ROSA crawls in. TOMÁS looks around.

TOMÁS: Man, this place may not be a fairy tale. But love does live here.

There's action in magical realism. (photo by Joel Weber, courtesy of "You Are Now..." )
There’s action in magical realism. (photo by Joel Weber, courtesy of “You Are Now…” )

The play is a multi-culti mish mosh, just like the borough. Just like New York City.

My favorite character was Salim, the fast-talking cell phone salesman. His shop seemed to be the hub upon which the whole world spun.

One of my daughters said, about the play, “It was abstract and beautiful.”

The other said, “It was a mystery.”

I said, “The play celebrated diversity.”  Like David Dinkins always said, “New York City is a beautiful mosaic.” And so was this play.

Thanks culture mom media for the tickets! (My thoughts are always my own!)

“You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase,” was conceived by Ari Laura Kreith and written by Mando Alvarado, Jenny Lyn Bader, Barbara Cassidy, Les Hunter, Joy Tomasko, Gary Winter, Stefanie Zadravec.

I think the show has closed now, but like a suitcase in your closet, I hope it opens again soon and transports you somewhere warm and diverse and teeming with interesting and eccentric characters to enchant you.

After all, this is spring break! You deserve such a nice break.

Give Me a Break

I seriously was about to cry when I read The New York Times Sunday travel section today. The cover article, “Give Us a Break,” by Jennifer Conklin talked about three levels of spring break travel: budget, moderate, and in your dreams.

The budget travel option for a week-long vacay in Orlando (without airfare) for a family of four? $4,115. This is referred to as “thrifty.”

Really? Really? Is that thrifty? I consider it thrifty to spend less $400. For our spring break, I am hoping to spend less than $1,000. Maybe I’m jealous. Maybe I’m out of touch with the cost of vacations.

I still think vacations cost about what they did when I was in college. My bible was the paperback “Let’s Go Guide to Europe.” I think my budget was $20 a day.

Are we not, as a country, still clawing our way out of a recession? Are we not all looking for simple joys and saving any extra thousands of dollars for our kids’ college? Who reads The New York Times that $4,000 is considered thrifty?

I don’t care. I will rise above.

I do want to go somewhere grand for spring break and I will. I am psyched that we have spring break plans to visit cousins in Boston or Nantucket and perhaps some old friends. Vacationing with family and friends is way better and more luxurious than some stupid generic vacation a travel agent could arrange.

Maybe the Times did not publish this article to infuriate me about the cost of spring break travel and my inability to travel first class. But did they really have to rub my face in that $1.06 million Caribbean private yacht cruise as an example of the in your dream options?

So to calm my anger, I will write a few “thrifty” spring break fun ideas (and all for about $2.50 a day)

  • sit on a bench in Central Park with a friend (free)
  • visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History (donation is a suggestion)
  • ride on the M5 bus to SoHo ($2.50) or Chelsea and gallery hop (free wine!)
  • walk the High Line (free)
  • have coffee at a cafe and write in your journal ($2.50)
  • bike ride in Riverside Park (free)
  • Saturday morning at Wave Hill (free for the fam)
  • read The New York Times, get mad, blog about it ($2.50)
  • help friends with a creative project, working on a movie, like I did today (free)
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a still from the comedy adventure series I worked on.