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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve, 2010

Well, I guess it wouldn't be right not to acknowledge that twenty-ten is closing and a new year starts tonight. I've never been much for New Year's. Never. Never liked the hoopla. Never felt particularly festive and always had to fake having a good time, sometimes when I was freezing cold and spending more than I had. I never could understand the meaning of the holiday. It's not as if the earth is at any particular spot in its trip around the sun. As I understand it, it's more of an arbitrary decree by a pope. That's kind of pitiful, if you ask me.

But I'm no dummy; I'll take this opportunity to say if I could clone this year, I'd take ten. After two thousand-nine, though, anything would have been better. Two thousand-nine didn't exactly raise the bar very high. But there's no denying it, 2010 is going to be a hard year to beat.

This was the year when I studied for and took the GRE (did most of my studying on the subway), drew a line in the sand and said I was going to stake my life on the theater and writing and applied to Boston University. I was accepted (one of only four people accepted to Boston Playwrights' Theater's prestigious program), was given a scholarship, and just when I was just adjusting to that good fortune, was offered a teaching fellowship. I actually stood on the Park Street T station platform and shed tears. It was a Friday afternoon. After 30 years of being a corporate writer, and summarily being let go at my last job by an ad agency that thinks way too much of itself, it was quite emotional to be picked up for my real writing, the writing that comes from my soul.

That was a Friday. On Monday, Sue, Kathryn, and I left for three weeks in Costa Rica (Kathryn came for one week.) I was traveling and on a high with two people who I love dearly. After Kathryn flew back to the U.S., Sue and I continued on our vagabond ways, ultimately ending up in Panama. Both of us were made for the road, with nothing but backpacks. I could have died right then and there, and gone straight to heaven.

I started school in the summer, at Simmons College, and it was like falling face first into a swimming pool on a hot day. The more the professor gave us the read, the more I asked for. At one point I asked him how I was doing in the class. He said, you don't know? I said, no. He said, you're doing tremendous.

September brought on BU, and it was challenging. That's what all the grad students say when someone asks them how it's going. They sort of smile and say, it's challenging. For the record, it is very challenging. But writing is what I love, and it was all writing. I'm the oldest in the creative writing program by a long ways. Hell, I'm older than many of the professors. But age doesn't mean anything when it comes to writing. It's actually an advantage.

And how did this crazy year end? The day after Christmas, for the first time in ten years both my daughters were sleeping under my roof. I did a very stupid thing and broke my family apart for a very stupid, selfish reason, and it took me ten years to pick myself back up and put myself together, and I didn't give up, on myself or trying to put my family back together. And on December 26 Allison was crashed in the guest room and Kathryn was snuggled under a blanket on the big sofa, the one on which I take my naps, and I turned out the lights, kissed them both on the head, and I went to bed next to the woman I love.

All right, 2011. Beat that.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

How To Save a Drowning Man

I used to feel guilty, and maybe I still should. But I don't know how many years I was working wishing I had more time. I have money, I'd think, from my job. It's time I need. Time to write and time to spend with my family and time to travel and do all the things you can't do when you're sitting in an office or a cubicle (Sue calls them veal-fattening pens) like do your laundry and go grocery shopping.

Then I got laid off, for the third time in my career, and whoo-boy did I have time. As my mother would have said, I had more time than I could shake a stick at. (Who shook sticks at anything, I still wonder.) But then it was money I needed. Man, you can't please anyone, can you?

The guilt came from from not being "a productive member of society." That means an employed member of society. I guess that also means a person who pays taxes, because I can't think of any other way I've ever been a productive member of society. Maybe when I coached my daughter's softball team, but employment had nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, unemployment, or self-employment, which is what I had at the time, aided that.

But now I have time. I have exactly what I asked for, but in hindsight I wish I had wished for time and money. When they say, be careful what you wish for, they're right. Take my word for it, if you're wishing for something, if you're wishing for something really hard, make sure you have all your bases covered. Don't ask for time without money. I'm just saying.

So I use the time. I write a lot. I take care of the apartment. I grocery shop and wash the dishes and make the bed and wash the clothes and make bread just about every day and try to make good, healthy, cheap meals for us. I do a lot of the things women traditionally do. And when Sue mentions something like she doesn't like the napkins washed with the underwear, I listen and I don't do that, because I want to make her happy. Do I feel any less of a man for doing all this? Not in the least. I don't even understand why I should.

All this reminds me of that joke about a man drowning in the ocean. And he prays to God, asking for help. And then a helicopter comes along and drops a rope, but the man waves it off and says, don't worry, God is going to save me. And the helicopter flies off. And then a boat comes alongside him and drops a life preserver, but the man waves them off, too, saying, thanks, but God is going to save me. Then a dolphin swims along and starts pushing him to shore, but the man get irritated and shoos the dolphin away. And then the man sinks under the water and drowns.

He gets to heaven and the first thing he says to God is, I believed in you and you let me drown. And God said, I sent you a helicopter and a boat and a dolphin, what more do you want?

You got to be able to see when God drops a gift in your lap.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ENG 202

"I am pleased to inform you that on the recommendation of your department, you have been selected to receive a Teaching Fellowship for the Spring Semester 2011." So starts the letter I received last fall. It was quite a thrill, one of many that happened during 2010. One of my goals when applying at Boston University was to teach upon graduation. As I wrote in my personal statement:
 
"Another reason I want to teach is because I want to be constantly around intelligent, creative people who value ideas, and work in a place where ideas are generated. I have worked for some incredibly stimulating organizations where creativity and openness were valued—as long as the bottom line was robust. But there is something about the nature of corporations and commerce that when, as soon as hard times come, they become very risk-aversive and ideas and creativity are the first things to be jettisoned. I want to belong to an organization where ideas—and not product or money—are generated and valued and protected."

I knew I wanted to be a writer--that I actually was a writer--when I was quite small. Starting at around second or third grade. It's all I ever really wanted to do, and quite frankly I can't imagine what I'd do if I couldn't write. I am so confident and comfortable in the medium--probably the way fish feel in water; the way we feel in air. But now I'm going to teach people how to swim, and it's a bit daunting. And what's troubling me the most is maybe that student who may not be right for the class, who may not have the talent, but is there anyway. Isn't that funny? The teaching fellows all got a letter from the department telling us to grade hard, to really push and challenge the students (well, it is Boston University, after all) and that the worst thing we could do is give an undeserving B. To encourage someone to continue to beat his or her head against a wall some more.

And I do get that. I don't think children should get trophies for just running out on the soccer field. There are winners and losers, and there is talent and then there are the wannabes. But what I've spent a good amount of time and energy doing is trying to figure out how to set up an environment that is encouraging and nurturing. A place where, if you really want to write, you'll get your chance. I don't want to get touchy feelie about this, because I truly don't see writing being that way. I guess maybe because I've always been able to do it, it doesn't seem that hard to me. It just takes practice. In my case, about forty years of practice, we all had to start somewhere. For me it was sophomore year in high school, where a student teacher named Miss Harbert showed me how to be a writer, then I turned around that craft back on her. On her final, she asked what we had learned, and I answered nothing. That writing in itself was what was needed. Or some such snotty reply. She was devastated. That's the power of words right there.

I still have the letter she sent me, hand-written from her home in Connecticut, telling me all classes weren't like hers, and all schools weren't like the one I was in, a public school in Cincinnati. And if I could find her today I'd tell her students would be lucky to have a class like hers. She got us to write, which is all you have to do. Sit down, and write everyday. If you do it every day for a semester, you'll certainly be better at the end of the semester than you were at the beginning. I'd almost guarantee it. Write every day for ten years, and you'll certainly be better. You might not be published. You might not be famous. But you'll be a better writer. And that's all  you really should strive for. The rest is gravy.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Writer's Work is Never Done

Even when he's not "working", i.e. going to an office or pulling down a W-2 (or more likely a 1099) a writer is working.  I bet my "to-do" list rivals the most industrious and driven office puke. And in some ways I bet it's more important, because my list drives my life, and not some soulless organization that would drop me in a minute despite the emotional and physical energy I'd devote to it.

I have plays to write. Yes, real plays that have to be written for next semester and to send out to theaters. And I have plays to send out to theaters around the world. Just last week I sent three short plays to a theater in Romania. Why? Why not? The theater was looking for plays, advertised for them in the United States, and I would love to see how my work plays in Romania.

I have plays and books to read. Plays for the Boston Theater Marathon, and books to read for my own education. Every time one of my professors mentions a book or a play or a movie that I'm not familiar with, I go to the library and pull it out. The stack of books is impressive, but when people ask me what I do without a television, they should see the stack. And I know most people's eyes would glaze over, but mine do too when I hear about Mad Men. (Just the other day on Hulu I pulled up a clip of Glee, just to see if my opinion had changed, the same way people will try Brussel Sprouts.) Nope.

I have a syllabus to write for the English class I'm teaching next semester. It's almost there, but I don't want any surprises somewhere around week 12, where we're all looking at each other going, now what? More on this in an upcoming blog.

I have to finish the proposal for a fellowship I'm applying for for next fall.

And I have to write a long overdue letter to a cousin whose wife died many months ago, but I just haven't been able to pull the words together. Families are like that. I could sit here and blather on for 2,000 words, but to write 100 meaningful words to a man who lost his wife of 50 years or so absolutely freezes me.

This is my day. And cook and pick up the apartment. And it's all self-induced. I don't have a manager who has to tell me what to do. Or a boss who lets me know when I can take a break. Or a anyone who says I have to do this or that or sit in on this meeting or when I can go to the bathroom or if I can take a vacation. (When I was in the corporate world, I think the one thing I resented the most was having to get permission to do things that were in my life.)

I do what I want, and everything you just read about are things that I want to do. Me. Not someone else. Me.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas All Over Again. And This Time It's a White Christmas.

It's the day after Christmas, and like many days I have that feeling I get when I'm on a plane and the I've just felt the wheels leave the ground: It's all out of my control now. And I love that feeling. If I've left the iron on, well, the apartment and everything I own is just going to burn down. And I ease my seat back (but not too much to upset the passenger sitting behind me) and order a Bloody Mary and enjoy the ride.

It's already snowing like crazy. Today the Christmas festivities continue, or as Baxter calls it, the Christian Shopping Season. The girls (and their doggie companions) are taking the train in, then the subway. I'm making bread dough, the first of many goodies I'll hopefully turn out in the oven today. (We make our own bread. It's cheaper than the good store bought bread, and like gardening, connects you in a small way to the natural world.) A chicken has been marinating in the refrigerator since last night. The Christmas lights burn against the cold. (We hang Christmas lights in the apartment all year 'round. The tree at first seemed startled by this, then comfortably happy about it.)

I have so many things that are calling me--plays to read, a class to flesh out (sorry, folks, still don't know exactly what we'll be doing next semester; my advice is to order a Bloody Mary and sit tight), plays to write, novels to read, and it would be really nice if the Economy would let up on me just a touch and send a little work my way.

But today that's all on hold again. I'm taking off into a snow-filled day that, thanks to a blizzard that's casting its soft blanket over all, is bereft of any of the annoyances of modern life. When nature and family intersect, joined by food and love, it's Christmas all over again.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

All is Calm, All is Bright...Because We Chose it to Be

Christmas night and for us, it's still not over. As a matter of fact, it still hasn't really started. For reasons that aren't really important right now, the big meal will be tomorrow, when my kids turn up with two dogs and a blizzard on the way. Sue's niece may come over, depending on snow boarding conditions. Al lives in Cambridge, but it just might be easier for her to bed down for the night here. She'll have to flip her sister for the couch or the guest room. And yes, as crazy as life and our Christmases can be (with our families, Sue and I don't even attempt a Currier and Ives Christmas; we know, like Santa, world peace, and love at first sight, it's simply a wishful fabrication) we still are having a great Christmas because expectations are fluid and I think happiness in this world is dependent upon intelligence and experience.

All the makings of happiness are right there. It's your choice: Be happy, or stew in your own juices.

The other day Kathryn and I were booking it up the hill back to the apartment. She said, this hill seems to just keep getting steeper. For me, there's a little something in me now that, every time I have to run for the subway or I walk up and down stairs or walk uphills, I say a little thank you, because three months ago I literally couldn't walk. And today my back and leg show no sign of the damage done. So look at it this way: Think of all the opportunities I have in a day to be thankful, simply for being able to walk. All I have to do is walk up some stairs and I get to choose whether or not I'm going to feel happy.

Right now my truck is dead in the water--dead battery and in need of a tune up I can't afford because of a mixup earlier in the fall with BU about my loans. So I found myself walking to the grocery store instead of driving. I could have moaned about it, but instead it was a pretty day, and I thought to myself, I'm walking to the grocery store, for God's sake. I can afford food. And it's not like I'm walking to a hospital where Sue is lying sick. Be happy.

For many years I competed in road races and now because of my back, my running days are over. The doctor said I could do permanent damage if I continue. I guess I could get depressed about that, but instead of seeing it as my running days are over,  I see it as my biking days are beginning. Life is about change, and new opportunities coming while old ways go to the wayside. 

Years ago, whenever I raced, I always would reach a point where it because so painful because of how hard I'd push myself that I'd say, I'm never doing this again. Of course I would, and next race I'd come to that same point again. Until one time I was in a race, only this time my mother was at my apartment dying of cancer. And I thought to myself, what a jerk. You're healthy enough to be out here doing this. Stop your damn complaining. And I always enjoyed racing after that.

These thoughts come into my head because, for reasons that really aren't important right now, this Christmas has been trying. The only things traditional about this year have been the tree and the stockings hung by the chimney with care.  We've had our ups and downs. The economy. Family matters. Life in general, all like some insidious Grinch tried to foil us. But we haven't allowed anything or anyone stop us from enjoying the season and being in the spirit of the season because it was our choice to do that. And tomorrow I have faith that we will continue to enjoy it.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

John Prine and Nanci Griffith: The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

No Depression went from one of the best magazines ever that wrote about Americana music, to being the best site today for the music. I check the site every day, to learn, to listen, and to enjoy.

Today there was this little treasure from 20 years ago. If you've ever been in a spot in your life where you just want to be left alone, you'll instantly catch on to this song. And, if not, Prine's and a young Griffith's voices just meld together, with Prine's voice taking on the characteristics of a footfalls on a gravel road and Griffith's like wind on the trees.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Please read and rate my plays on Gorilla Tango Writers Source

I am absolutely horrible at self-promotion and networking, the two skills that someone in the creative arts should be able to do better than even their actual art.

But, I'm trying.

As many of you know, I've decided in my life to make a go at it. Finally to put down all the chips on the theater and doing some of my own writing. Something I've been wanting to do for a very long time.

And I seem to be doing pretty well at it. I got a scholarship (one of only four) to Boston University's playwriting program at Boston Playwrights' Theater. I had a very good first semester, learned a lot, wrote even more, had another of my ten-minute plays produced by the Provincetown Theater, and I'm pretty much in a good spot for the next semester. I was awarded a teaching fellowship, and in January will also be trying to impart my love of writing onto college sophomores.

But I need your help spreading the word. 

There is a theater in Chicago called Gorilla Tango Theatre that produces a lot of original work. Just like BPT, it is a theater that is making it its business to cultivate new writers like me. Right now three of my plays are listed on their site for producers to look at for production. The more people view them, and rank them favorably, the longer my scripts will stay high on the list and visible.

I'm asking you to read the scripts and score them. Be honest; the only favor I'm asking for is that you read them and rate them. I don't want you to compromise any morals.

So, without explanation of intent or anything, here are the links to the scripts:

A Trip to New York

Norwood, Ohio

Love on the Rocks

Thanks in advance for your help and support.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Littlest Birds: The Be Good Tanyas

A Friday in December. Yesterday was the last day of my first semester at BU. It's all so anticlimactic. (Is that all there is, my friend? Is that all there is?) I woke up this morning, with things to do, loose ends to tie up that I've let go because I was busy with school, but still there's this underlying feeling that I should be doing something else. Wandering.

Well, I feel like an old hobo...



(Sammy Parton/Jolie Holland/Syd Barrett)

Well, I feel like an old hobo
I'm sad, lonesome and blue
I was fair as a summer's day
Now the summer days are through
You pass through places
And places pass through you
But you carry them with you
On the soles of your travelling shoes

Well, I love you so dearly
I love you so clearly
I wake you up in the morning
So early just to tell you
I got the wandering blues
I got the wandering blues
And I'm going to quit
These rambling ways one of these
Days soon

And I sing
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
And the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

Well it's times like these I feel so small
And wild like the rambling footsteps
Of a wandering child
And I'm lonesome as a lonesome whippoorwill
Singing these blues with a warble and a trill
But I'm not too blue to fly
No I'm not too blue to fly

'Cause the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
And the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

But I love you so dearly
I love you so fearlessly
I wake you up in the morning so early
Just to tell you
I've got the wandering blues
I've got the wandering blues
And I don't want to leave you
I love you through and through

Well I left my baby on a pretty blue train
And I sang my songs to the cold and the rain
And I had the wandering blues
And I sang those wandering blues
And I'm gonna quit these rambling ways one of these
Days soon

And I sing
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
And the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

Well I don't care if the sun don't shine
And I don't care if nothing is mine
And I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my loving in the wintertime.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Band to Watch: Truckstop Darlin'

From Portland, Oregon. Truckstop Darlin' is John Phelan  (vocals/ guitar),  Eric Kotila (drums),  Nick Foltz (bass/vocals), and Michael Winter (pedal steel).

They kind of sound like Lucero, don't they? Or maybe it's Phelan that sounds like Ben Nichols, the lead singer in Lucero,

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He Broke Burrita: A Lesson in values, anger management, and comedy

Um, I don't know what to say.

Actually, I do know what to say: First, it looks highly staged. Just call me Mr. Skeptic. But everything on the Internet looks staged to me. That's my biggest fear: No more spontaneity.

But...let's just take it on face value, because even if it is a fake, it has a premise.

So, while I don't condone violence in any form, sometimes a person just gets pushed too far and he (or she)...snaps. It happens. And when it does, sometimes the person who gets the brunt of the snap deserves the lesson.

And I don't play golf. I have, and found it all pretty boring. Actually, if a golfer (a person who really likes the game and identifies him or herself as a golfer) strikes up a conversation with me, I know our value systems are likely to be kind of skewed and I tread carefully. The same way I would with someone who likes DisneyWorld, for instance. So, there's a side of me that thinks the kids are kind of funny in kind of an innocent way.

But, I think there's something awfully funny about how the golfer just freaking stands his ground and chases that kid like a fat gopher. 

What do you think?

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Let Me Google That For You

The Web (and Google) was made for the likes of me. I'm constantly getting something stuck in my head (or in my old age, something is always just on the tip of my tongue) and I Google it, which leads to a merry skip down the garden path as one link leads to another.

The same with the dictionary. I still use a big old bound dictionary, because when I look up a word, other words catch my eye and I learn new words along the way.

But that doesn't mean I like to do your research. Remember the teacher who told you to look something up because you learn better when you do the leg work yourself.

So, here's a great site to send people when they either a) ask you something they already should know, or b) ask you about something they could easily look up themselves.

Here's Let Me Google That For You.

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Fake It

Yes, read the comments. Everything that went through my mind while watching this (and I couldn't stop watching.)

How'd they do that?

Is it fake? Of course it's fake. So...how did they do that?

Why would they do that? What mind came up with the idea of all these Japanese divers jumping into the water in a synchronized way? Does this say something about the Japanese culture that I don't know about (but continues to fascinate me?)

Is this theater? How can I do something like this on a stage? How can I get the same emotion I'm feeling while watching this on a stage? Why would I want to?

Watch.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dublin Blues--Guy Clark

Guy Clark is an old boozer but he sure can write good songs. This is one of them.



 I wish I was in Austin
In the Chili Parlor Bar
Drinkin' Mad Dog Margaritas
And not carin' where you are

But here I sit in Dublin
Just rollin' cigarettes
Holdin' back and chokin' back
The shakes with every breath

Chorus

Forgive me all my anger
Forgive me all my faults
There's no need to forgive me
For thinkin' what I thought
I loved you from the git go
I'll love you till I die
I loved you on the Spanish steps
The day you said goodbye

I am just a poor boy
Work's my middle name
If money was a reason
I would not be the same

I'll stand up and be counted
I'll face up to the truth
I'll walk away from trouble
But I can't walk away from you

I have been to Fort Worth
I have been to Spain
I have been to proud
To come in out of the rain

I have seen the David
I've seen the Mona Lisa too
I have heard Doc Watson
Play Columbus Stockade Blues

Chorus

Repeat 1st half of verse 1

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Thank Heaven for Pictures of Miley Cyrus's Crotch

Even though I haven't blogged in ages (and the key to keeping a blog fresh is new and stimulating content daily) I still continue to get hits because people continue to search for pictures of Miley Cyrus's crotch.

I blogged all the way back in June about how pictures of her hoo-hoo were a big hit on the Internet. I was blogging for gather.com back then--another of a long line of hack writing jobs I've held over the course of my life--and as a news writer I couldn't get hits for my posts (or at least enough to make any kind of decent income) but the entertainment writers were raking them in, and at the time this was a big topic. Bigger than the BP oil spill. Bigger than the economy. And people still seem to be interested in her nether bits.

Broken vase is another search that keeps hitting Action Bob Markle. People are either looking for images of broken vases, or they want to know how to fix them. Back in January, 2009 I wrote about the breakup of my family and my responsibility in it and compared my relationship with my kids to a mended vase. I still think it's a pretty good piece of writing, and hope that people stop to read it even though it's not exactly what they were looking for.

For some crazy Neil Young's ranch is something that people search for a lot. I mean, a lot. Who'da thunk it, huh? And Libra constellation. And The Low Anthem, a group of musicians from Providence, Rhode Island.

And it's always weird to see your name as a search term. Who out there deliberately typed my name into google?

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two of my plays are listed at gorillatango.com

Two of my plays, Love on the Rocks and Norwood, Ohio are now listed at Writer Source at gorillatango.com.

Go to Writer Source and right now you can click on newest and they're right at the top.

Or here is Love and here is Norwood.

Check them out and rate them.

Come on producers. Chicago is the town for playwrights right now. You guys are doing so much cool stuff.  Let's collaborate.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sayōnara Facebook: How Do I Get Off Facebook?


It's been two full months since I blogged. Yeah, been busy. Not that I'm not busy now, but the main reason I'm back in this space is I quit Facebook, ostensibly for just awhile, taking a breather, but it's been two days and I'm liking it. I'm not sure what it is, what's the big deal about leaving Facebook (what leaving?--it's a Web site, you just don't log on.) It's the decision to turn your back on a digital society and it seemed momentous at the time. It's severing a connection and I'm not sure if it's the severing or the the perceived loneliness that is most scary.

But for me, it's a relief.

I didn't realize how much time I was wasting just surfing the site, lurking in other people's lives. (Wait, I was well-aware how much time I was wasting. I just didn't have exact figures. Exact figures probably would have disgusted and embarrassed me.)

I didn't realize the amount of energy it takes, the amount of emotion that I was feeling. It reminded me of high school, where you'd stand aside and watch all the cools kids doing cool things, and feeling bad because you weren't doing cool things, too. (Well, that's what I did in high school anyway.) So much of the status lines weren't directed at me; most of my 400+ "friends" were people who I was marginally acquainted with, many from the past with whom I've lost touch, and many of them for good reason. Facebook is so good at keeping that top layer of friendship alive, but nothing deeper. I once called it, life-support for friendships in that it keeps friendships alive--barely. It allows for just enough contact to keep a friendship or acquaintance alive, and nothing more.

And I was so tired of scrolling down and seeing posts for things that I simply couldn't have cared less about: Go Pats, Celtics, Red Sox, and Bruins. References to Glee, Mad Men, DWTS, Project Runway or hell, any stupid TV show.

I stayed with it for so long mostly because there were a handful of people who actually posted things that elicit thought or debate. Taught me something. And I especially liked actually "meeting" people who I had a lot in common but never met, although I actually one night in Cambridge did meet two Facebook friends for the first time face to face, and it was a enjoyable and very cool experience.

And I'm going to have to work harder at keeping up with the local theater. It was where all the fringe theaters posted their shows and special deals, and I'm going to have to work to keep up on that. But hey, with the Internet, you can run, but you can't hide.

I think the clincher came though recently when I heard a Very Big Deal go on and on about Facebook, how he just joined because someone signed him up, he didn't understand it, he joked about the idea of friends, but all in all the whole performance was for his benefit, and I thought to myself, yeah, if you're on Facebook, it's passe. Time to move on.

It was fun, and I may log on sometime just out of curiosity. But I've had a two very productive days, and I'm not so sure I want to give them up. Funny, there's a link on my toolbar, and all I have to do is click on it and log back on, but I'm not even tempted. The hard part was making the break. Once you do that, it's easy to stay away.

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Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

I grew up on comedy and comedians. Maybe when you had the kind of life I had you appreciated anyone who could make you smile. When I was little it was Bill Cosby. Bob Bromfield in the Cincinnati Enquirer. You get older in your teens and it was George Carlin and Cheech and Chong. On TV it was Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Flip Wilson, Jonathon Winters, The Smothers Brothers, and  Laugh-In.

And there was this lady. I can still remember her telling a joke about mini and midi skirts. She said there were midi skirts and she liked them because she didn't have to shave her legs. Then minis came back and she looked like a gorilla in sweatsocks. That's funny.

Joan Rivers.

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