Category Archives: social media

A Tale of Two Lewises


This morning I was trolling C.S. Lewis memes, looking for reassurance in quotes from “Mere Christianity” and “The Problem of Pain.” But as Google is wont to do, it proffered the words of another Lewis, those of the representative of Georgia’s 5th District.

I myself led a quite sheltered life in my youth. While I quietly protested the war in Vietnam in my own way, I was unaware of much of what was going on in America, largely due to media censorship, but also because I was too busy embroidering my jeans and trying to get a boyfriend.

It’s not like in the past 40-50 years I’d forgotten how truly brutally political and human rights activists were treated.  But earlier this week I watched “Steal This Movie,” about the life of Abbie Hoffman.  I’d been unaware that Hoffman was severely beaten for simply wearing a red, white and blue shirt patterned after our flag.

Wearing our flag was something many of us proudly did in the weeks after 9/11 and I’ll bet not one of us thought we’d risk a beating for it.

By his own count, John Lewis was arrested more than 40 times during his days of civil rights activism.  I don’t like to think about how many of those times he was also battered or beaten.  Yet today he stands before crowds and preaches a message of diligence and courage.

I am afraid. I am worried. I am angry and frustrated that America is still a land of great brutality and violence and political corruption. We’ve forgotten that some of us fled England for relief from religious tyranny. We do not remember how precarious it was for the Founding Fathers to write such a thing as a Constitution.

And we still allow those in power to sacrifice lives overseas for economic and political reasons, spinning war as a necessary exercise in defense of freedom, while they, like so many leeches, suck human rights and civil rights from the lives of ordinary citizens.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

He also wrote, “We read to know we are not alone.”

So I’m writing this morning as I struggle with understanding. And I will read this morning to find community and comfort, which means taking a break from Facebook and CNN.  And I’ll post this and hope it helps someone else. It surely has helped me.


what I did on my Facebook vacation


My part-time job as TV news editor has been sort of hateful lately.

So on Thursday, when all my assignments were preempted yet again by another assassination, this time in front of Parliament, I opened my Facebook page to a string of hateful posts related to other crises in America.

I’d had enough.  So I started my weekend a little early.  And I took time off from Facebook.

1. On Thursday afternoon, driving down Walnut Grove,  I laughed out loud at a Blue Screen of Death on a digital billboard.  I’ve never seen one that big.  Maybe another media conscript was feeling mutinous.

2. On Friday, I walked to the Art Center to buy origami paper.  I decided to step into Inz and Outz Gift & Cards, thinking I’d shop for Father’s Day.

Y’all should have told me what that place was before I went in there.

I didn’t buy any cards.  I did, however, consider some of the leather thongs.  Bet those zippers get awfully hot in this heat.

3. On Saturday, I perfected an origami envelope for a direct mail project and designed an outdoor sign, a non-digital one.  No BSODs here.

Sidebar:  I used to have a recurring dream, working at my old job as a graphic designer.  Today I’m literally living that dream.  Life is full of surprises.

4. On Sunday, I was grateful, grateful, grateful for so many things.  I’m grateful that I have air conditioning in my entire apartment now and my butter doesn’t melt if I leave it on the table.

I’m even grateful for my part-time job as TV news editor, even if it does make social media unbearably redundant some days.  There’s lots of love at that job.  My co-workers bring it every day.  Otherwise, I just couldn’t cope.

Actually, there’s lots of love at all my jobs, some of which necessitate my using Facebook.  I just have to remember that I have a choice:  I can unfollow people or pages that post stuff I don’t want to read.

I am one lucky girl.  I live in America.  I get to read about it all, the bad and the good.  Life is full of surprises.  It’s also full of choices.

1. Today I choose to be grateful.

2. Today I choose to show up for the love.



It is a rainy, chilly Monday morning. I have to drive downtown to see my dentist. I’m killing time before I leave, playing 8 Ball Pool on Facebook.

My opponent is DarkFeelings, and his avatar looks slightly like a Smurf. I’m guessing DarkFeelings is a male, because this game is the realm of mostly young or youngish men, rock star or gangsta wannabes.

I wonder what they think about my avatar: a meme of Gromit with a caption that says, “Knitting: It makes everything better.”

Nevertheless, I sympathize with DarkFeelings. I have some Dark Feelings of my own.

See, I was left off a Cool Girls List.

In times past I have been a Cool Girl, times when I immersed myself in a culture (or subculture) which eventually consumed me.

Right now, I am not a Cool Girl. In fact, I’m practically invisible. Since my dad’s death four months ago, I have been rebuilding social stamina. I’m not there yet.

But being left off this latest list felt a lot like adolescence, when I was always too something. Too outspoken. Too nonconformist. Too alpha female (whatever that is).

The truth is, I like those things about myself. It’s when I’m ashamed of them that there’s a problem.

DarkFeelings scratches the cue ball and I run out the game, leaving him with five on the table. I offer to play again but the Smurfy avatar vanishes.

My next opponent has a name I cannot decipher, because it is in Russian. It could be Kevin but it could also be Katie. (There are a few women on here.) This player’s avatar is a photo of two young boys holding hands. It’s possible I’m playing one of the boys’ parents.

But on Facebook one just never knows.

Between shots I ponder the old, familiar feeling of shame, a straitjacket from my throat to my ribs. While Kevin/Katie lines up the next shot, I Google “cool girl.” One result takes me to an article, which I passive-aggressively publish to my Facebook page. It theorizes that coolness is borne of practice, a kind of covert conformity to a very subtle standard.

I do not try to guess the identity of the next 8 Ball player. Drawing conclusions from the wispiest knowledge set me up to step off Monday’s curb into a funk. Making assumptions about what I am and ought to be is just no way to get rid of Dark Feelings.

Instead I discuss it with my Higher Power. And I recall that Jesus Christ was a Cool Girl — until He wasn’t; that is, when He was too outspoken, too nonconformist, too alpha male (whatever that is).

I recall also that He was always hanging out with people who would never have made the Cool Girls List.

Then I pick up my knitting.

Fight Back


Write the feelings down on a piece of paper, fold it into an airplane and make it fly. Play music and dance. Trace the outline of your hand on the wall and color it in. Tell someone you love them. Sing. Pray. Be visible. Be alive.



Democracy is about arguing position.  It’s about debating.  It’s about eventually, at the end of the day, settling on what will be in the best interest of the whole country, of the whole nation. ~ Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde is the first woman ever to head the International Monetary Fund.  She assumed the role at the head of the troubled enterprise in the wake of former director Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sexual assault legal case, during the U.S. debt ceiling crisis in mid-2011.

a whole new world


Ecclesiastes 2:12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.

I was writing to a good friend on Facebook, and this just sort of spilled out of me.  It seemed like a good thing to repost here, because I need these sorts of revelatory experiences to remind me of where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.


I don’t recommend it for everyone, and I wouldn’t have recommended it for me five years ago, but I have settled into a nice little life without making The Group the center of it.

I have a well-rounded set of friends and acquaintances and we rarely lapse into tirades of personal drama. But I have stopped soliciting that, too, and so my communication with my peeps is more about what we’re doing and where we’re going.

My recovery from alcohol is not the neon sign over my head any more. It’s a fact of my life like my adoration of God and my love of good poetry and my obsession with art direction.

The best thing is I don’t feel like I have to compete with people just to be who I am.

I look back on all the angst I felt around the women at The Group, and especially the women in certain cliques, and it seems so strange to me now.

I feel like I have spent great chunks of my life trying to shoehorn myself into places where I wasn’t welcome or even that I didn’t care about, as if that would somehow complete me.

I see it in my romance, trying to get men to accept me who weren’t even worthy of me. I see it in my family, as if they could provide the solace I needed when they were so overwhelmed by their own pain that they forgot I existed.

I went to The Lake with David last week and, for the first time since I’ve been going there, it felt just right.

Something is different with me, and I chalk it up to God changing me when I wasn’t looking. That, and all that TRUE drama in my life has sort of brought me around to a clearer perspective.

It’s really a struggle for me to muster much sympathy for the strident shrew who screeches because she hasn’t accrued an appropriate level of sympathy for her latest self-styled crisis.

Friends are putting their furniture up on cinder blocks at Harbor Town. Hopefully they stacked the blocks five or six high, because the water is thigh-deep there now.

I am happy because I am strong enough to push the lawnmower up the hill.  Even though it takes me three days, cutting the front yard is great for my waistline, and I revel in the personal glee I experience when I think, this body belongs to a 57-year-old woman, and it still works.

My life doesn’t really look that different from the outside.  From behind my eyes, it’s a whole new world.



Last night’s dinner conversation included a debate on the necessity and/or appeal of texting and instant messaging.

My date was mildly astonished that I’ve never met my boss or my coworkers.  As a matter of fact, I don’t even know what they look like or how they sound.

I’m a telecommuter.  I applied for work online.  I interviewed and tested via email and FTP. I get assignments via email, phone text and AIM.

I have fibromyalgia.  It’s an odd illness.  It prevents me from sitting or standing for long periods.  As long as I keep moving, I’m fine, but that has its limits as well.  Eventually my back and knees will complain, and after a while they demand bedrest and Advil.

So I ended up here. I do all my work on my bed.  While sitting in a chair becomes painful after a couple of hours, I can work long days sitting on a mattress, propped up with many pillows, and still be able to cook, exercise or hook up with friends at the end of my “shift”.

When I was a child, we had a rotary dial telephone, four television channels and a Kodak camera that shot 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 black and white film.  Dad was in the Air Force, and I grew up around tubes and solder and meters and stuff.  Mom was a public school librarian, and when the budget enabled the system to put computers in, she learned how to use one.  But they do not have a computer at home, and while she has a cell phone, she keeps it turned off most of the time.

It’s an interesting time we live in, and I seem to be squarely in the middle.  I’ve resisted using Twitter, because I already spend so much time on my Treo and Facebook and email and AIM.  But the Red Cross and the National Weather Service are finding that during an environmental crisis, satellite TV really bites, and when the power goes out there’s not even that. So status updates and tweets help folks find food, water and shelter — and loved ones.

I do have a Twitter account.  I check it online about once a quarter, if that often.  But methinks a more proactive path lies ahead.

Sunday Morning ~ Jack Grapes


Sunday morning. Spring. I wake to the sun lifting one leg over the top of the Ticor Building on Wilshire Boulevard. The new leaves on the tree outside my bedroom window are tinged with sunlight. If only I were a photographer or painter I’d freeze this moment and crawl into it.

Sunday morning. I have to get up but my body wants to drown right here in the bed. Spring ambles up the street waving its arms. A matinee today. I have to be at the theater by two. Yesterday, I find out from my agent that I didn’t get the part I was counting on.

Eat this, they say.
It’s good for you.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.

I eat and concentrate on the window, on the tree, on the sun beginning to beat its chest as it comes over the top of the tallest building.

I drive down Beverly Boulevard, take the curve where it changes into 1st Street, turn on Grand and park right across from the museum. It’s just after ten, hardly any cars on the street. MOCA doesn’t open till eleven. The sun has followed me all the way, reflecting off the Security Pacific Bank Building, glass and steel going all the way up.

I get off on this urban sleekness, especially the unfinished building across the street, another skeleton of steel and concrete. Someone should stick a sign on it, make it part of MOCA, part of the Permanent Collection, and leave it just as it is, unfinished. No clear line where the museum ends and the rest of the city begins. One easy flow, stretching all the way back into our homes, into the very center of our lives.

I walk past the California Plaza sign, running my hand along the chrome and glass, then head downstairs for a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll at the “Il Panino.” There’s a girl two tables over, in the sun. We both drink our coffee in silence, checking our watches, writing something down in our journals.

She’s an art student from Santa Barbara come to see the Jasper Johns. She asks what am I here to see. “Oh,” I say, “the art. Just the art. I don’t care. Just something.”

I don’t understand anything.
Hot and humid days;
nights, dark and mysterious.
They take me to school.
I stare at the blackboard.
The kid from around the corner beats me up at recess.
Some nights my father doesn’t come home.

My mother shrieks on the telephone.
My pet turtle dries up in the sun.
My uncle dies on the floor in the empty kitchen.
Who is the world?
Why is the moon where the sun is?
If the street goes nowhere, why is it in my bed?
What is the rain that rains just rain,
and why does it rain crows, or bats, or baseball gloves?
How is the pencil writing my name,
and why is my name the name for the thing that fixes tires,
the name for the flag on the pirate ship,
the name for the clown crushed in the box?
Outside, the kids continue to jump rope on the sidewalk,
singing, “A my name is Alice,”
seeing everything, but knowing nothing.

The class takes a bus with Miss Cook
to the Delgado Museum on Elysian Fields Avenue.
We’re going to see Vincent Van Gogh.
Later, when I tell my mother,
who was born in Antwerp,
she says to say it like this,
Vincent Van Gough,
and she coughs as she says it.
Van Gough! Van Gough!.
But Miss Cook says Van Go.
We are marched single-file from one room to another,
walking past each painting that hangs just above our heads.

Vincent van GoghI look up at the painting.
I can’t believe what I am seeing.
Everything mysterious and horrible about the world vanishes.
He paints like I paint!
Trees outlined in black.
All those wavy lines, all those colors.
And he piles the paint on.
He’s wasting all that paint,
just like I did before they told me not to waste all the paint.

He sees everything I see.
The moon is where the sun is.
The street that goes nowhere is in his bed.
It’s not just raining rain,
it’s raining crows and bats.
He sees the blood, he sees the faces.
Everything so bright it’s on fire.
Everything so dark it swallows me up.
The man cuts his ear off.
The man leans against the table so sad.
The man dies on the floor of the empty kitchen.

I stop in front of the painting with crows above a cornfield.
The world I see is real.
I bring my hand up and touch the dried paint.
It’s real!
Mounds of paint,
swirls of paint,
rivers of paint!

But it’s not paint.
It’s real.
It’s the world.

“Don’t touch the painting!” Miss Cook yells.
She pulls my hand away.
She yanks my arm into the center of the room.
“Never ever touch a painting!”
She shoves me into a seat in the back of the bus.
It doesn’t matter.
The world is real.
I fold my hands in my lap.
I know what I will do.

I will write about the real world.

Frank Gehry11 o’clock. The girl heads off toward the Jasper Johns. I walk into the J. Paul Getty Trust Gallery and find the Geary cardboard chairs and cardboard houses. “Can I sit in them?” I ask the guard. “They can be sat in,” he says, “but you can’t sit in them.”

“Oh,” I say, and walk into the room with the huge pavilion shaped like a fish. I walk into the belly of the fish. The wood inside is so beautiful.

“Don’t touch the wood, please,” says the guard.

I wander over to the Nauman video. A clown is being tortured on simultaneous video screens. “Clown Torture,” it’s called. Later, in the Permanent Collection, I bump into the girl from Santa Barbara. In the center of the room, a metal sculpture of a man moves his motorized mouth up and down. A silent




This, I understand. I stand as close to it as I can. The guard watches me suspiciously.

Over in the North Gallery there’s an empty spot in one corner. Something was there, but it’s been                 removed. I make a sign for myself and hang it around my neck. I stand in the corner of the Permanent Collection, North Gallery, as still as I can, one arm out in the gesture of an actor about to speak.

Eat this.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.
The street that goes nowhere is in your bed.
You know nothing,
but you can see everything.

A woman and her little girl walk up to me. “What does the sign say?” the girl asks.

“Touch me,” her mother says. “The sign says touch me.”

So the child reaches out a hand and touches my own.

by Jack Grapes