13 December 2011

Half-Days and Birthdays: the Past, the Present, the Internet

Today is a minimum day for four of five pack members. Four goes to a private school and his calendar never syncs with the public school, so he's screwed. Well, we're both screwed, because I don't have time for a half-day. Seriously, they're sending my children home early in the middle of my Christmas shopping?!

The automated recording from the superintendent said today was a "teacher in-service day," but I think they let them all leave early to go catch the Macy's One Day Sale preview. I'm not even sure if there's a sale this week, but I'd bet even money. (Captain? Can you confirm or deny?) I would know this fact if I was a regular shopper at the company that feeds us and pays our bills, but I am not, except for shoes and lingerie. (The Captain just awoke at the mention of lingerie. I meant bras, honey.)

For someone who wears sneakers all day, I sure do like shoes. I'm no Imelda, or even my mother, who has fully embraced her Floridian lifestyle by purchasing a matching pair of sandals for almost every one of her outfits. I usually buy shoes for events. I selected four pairs for the conferences I attended this year, then put them away in the closet next to the ones previously purchased for graduation, first communion, and last year's forty-fifth birthday.

For this year's forty-fifth birthday, I would like motorcycle boots. I do not now, nor will I ever, own a motorcycle. I just like the boots. I have a subversive, anti-authority streak that, at my advanced, fixed age of forty-five, can only be given expression through expensive leather goods, or black toenail polish. Which, truthfully, is about as crazy as I ever got.

I was much more radical in my mind than I ever was in practice. I am a white girl who grew up in a homogeneous, middle-class suburban neighborhood. My father was a police officer, and my mother was a nurse. I wasn't even exposed to dramatically different views until I got to college. Back then, I altered my appearance frequently, dyeing my hair or shaving it off, and I wore lots of thrift store clothes and rosary beads. I owned Doc Martens and a black leather jacket, which shows you how little the counter-culture has changed in twenty-five years.

The Captain used to laugh about how my friends and I were so determined to be "different," but we all dressed the same. Physical appearance was a way of aligning with a group, which is why I find the interwebs so fascinating. The people who read my blog identify with something I'm saying, and I feel a kinship with the writers I follow. We are friends, in the most pure form. There is no judgement made based on appearance, because most of us will never meet. Our community is based on shared ideas or feelings, and the rest is allowed to blow away like useless chaff.

I know there are people who abuse the anonymity of the web. But I, a subversive, liberal optimist, choose to believe it can be the great equalizer, a modern realization of ancient teachings of love, that encourages us to identify with our fellow man. It allows us to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, whether they're motorcycle boots or ballet flats. It's a precious gift, suitable for this forty-fifth birthday and all those to come. I thank you for it.

Now I'm off to use the Internet for it's next-best purpose: shopping. Half-day be damned!


  1. Ugh. I hate half days. However, I also hate using credit cards, so no internet shopping days for me unless absolutely necessary.

    I agree about the internet. I've made many friends here. :)

  2. As a teacher I can affirm your belief that half days are a bitch. I'd way rather be teaching than sitting on a child size plastic library chair listening to some overpaid consultant tell me why I'm teaching wrong in our "staff development" meetings. :P

    And the internet rules for the reasons you said and also for ebates that sends me a % of mmoney back on all my xmas shopping.

  3. Hmm. I've been thinking about social cues (like wardrobe and body language) since this weekend when Sarah and I watched "The Help" with our mother. (Awesome book, by the way, that they did not ruin by making it into movie. That so rarely happens.)

    There are some pivotal moments in the movie where thousands of pounds of meaning are conveyed through a glare or a glance. Like the wardrobe choices that Megan mentions, body language cues provide important context. All of that is missing on the Internet. I think we're doing just fine without the context of physical appearance, but we struggle a bit without cues from tone of voice, facial expressions and posture. (I'm clearly dependent on facial expressions to give meaning to my communication because I'm heavily dependent on emoticons in on my online writing. :D)

  4. Darn, my comment from my phone didn't post. Well, it probably went to Carrie, who will now read it again. I think it does make it difficult sometimes to interpret the meaning of comments, without the physical clues. We see this a lot in our house, especially with One, but also with Four, and sometimes Three, who remains incapable of properly interpreting our "What the fuck?" expressions. But I think that One has less difficulty expressing himself online, and does so without some of the social awkwardness he experiences in the real world. It's a double-edged sword.

  5. Speech every six days! What kind of sadistic monster plans class schedules these days. I have two smart phones, two computers, and an ipad. I would still forget to bring my folder about 98% of the time. I would have to put post-it notes on my front door.

  6. @June: Exactly!The elementary school has been operating on a six-day cycle for about four years. We all hate it. It means I must check a color-coded calendar every day to find out if it's library day, or science, etc. It was invented to give the children two days of phys ed each cycle. How about we just let them get up and move an extra fifteen minutes every day, and go back to a routine we can remember? Arghh.

    @Lora: Ebates? Pray tell, what are those magical things?

    @Delia: You're the Captain's dream woman. You get your kids to bed on time, and you don't like credit cards! Alas, you are too tall for him, so I guess the Universe put us where we belong.

  7. The Captain13.12.11

    Today was a preview day for the ODS. I love lingerie, even if that means bras. For the record - I don't mind taller women. Loved this post.

  8. I hate credit-cards but I love internet shopping, especially at Christmas...I have a debit card!
    I love that the internet removes those barriers for us, I have connected with so many amazing people that I never would have in real life.


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