Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Monday, January 19, 2009


It started with Friendster a few years ago . . . an old student of mine sent me a request to be his friend on Friendster. Remember Friendster? I joined, it didn't do much for me, I had no idea what I was doing except I had this one friend and then after about a year I had 2 or 3 friends. Non many of my friends belonged to Friendster so it was not a big deal. It died out.

Then one day my husband said, "Hey you should check out this MySpace thing" so I set up an account and labored over customizing my page. I had to have the most relaxing color and the most groovy font. I wanted the Dixie Chicks to sing that song that pissed everyone off in the country music world when my page loaded. I wanted my political views to slap everyone in the face when they browsed my page. I only wanted cool friends and sent Spam reports every time someone I didn't know, oh and porn stars tried to add me as their friend. It was very high school.

It was during my MySpace era that I set up a Facebook account. It was soooooo Dull, with a capital D. I quickly returned to MySpace. Much like the attention span of a high schooler, I lost interest in MySpace as it got "seedy" and "lame" and turned to Facebook. It was exciting!

It was so adult. It was so grown up. It was so hassle-free and vast. I found people I went to school with when I was 12 years old. I found people from around the world that I never thought I would meet again. I found boys I had dumped in college. I found girls whose clothes I had borrowed and never returned. I found people I hadn't seen in 20 years who now lived down the street. I found people who snubbed me and never accepted my friendship requests. I found people who collected friends but never actually emailed or chatted with me. I found people who remembered me, but for the life of me, I could not remember them. It was exhilarating!

It was addicting. All of a sudden I was checking Facebook before I checked my email. I was sneaking off to play Scrabulous (until they took it down) while the girls ate lunch. I was wishing I had a blackberry so I could check it at play dates and playgrounds. I was asking my husband if he could play Scrabulous with me from work. I was accepting and sending plans to help stop global warning. I was finding more and more friends I had lost contact with over the years. I was giving gifts of Indian food. I was buying Hermes scarves and handbags. I was having to pick a new pair of shoes everyday to avoid being barefoot. I was taking quizzes and tests and given compatibility scores. And then there was the chat! I could see who was online and decide if I wanted to chat with someone in the Canary Islands. I was It was like having a new full time friend and to tell you the truth, it was exhausting.

I wonder sometimes what we will do when we outgrow Facebook as we are bound to do. Will there be something bigger and better? Something even more exciting, exhilaration and exhausting? Will it include planting trees? Will there be Indian food? Will I be cool and have hundreds of friends? Will it be called Call Sheet? Binder Book? Roster List? Roll Call? Whatever they call it I'm sure that it will be a wild success and that it will lure people from everywhere much like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook.

Here's a wild idea, how about finding the time and space to sit down with your closest friends, have a coffee and chat and catch up and enjoy each other's company and call it "Face Time"?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


There is a homeless camp near my house. You can barely see it because it is hidden behind lots of shrubs and trees that sprout up quickly and that make the space between the freeway and the turn off to my home a small forest.

Today on my way to take the kiddos to the park I noticed a bunch of orange Caltrans trucks and equipment parked by the side of the encampment and saw they had cut down all the foliage and had thrown several tents, tarps and what looked like belongings into the trucks to haul off to the dump. I only hope the people who lived there knew they were coming and had a chance to take their belongings before the cleanup crew arrived.

I felt sad as I sat there and watched the Caltrans people weilding electric tree cutting and shrub cutting equipment until the car behind me honked and I had to start driving again. Now the people who made that camp their home are homeless. They were homeless to begin with.

I'm smart enough to know that homeless people are not all mentally ill, avoiding child support payments or people who don't want to pay taxes. They are also people who lost their homes and families through tragedies, people with substance abuse issues and people who have no support systems. We have so few shelters and the shelters we do have fill up so quickly that there are always people forced to make homes for themselves on the streets.

I have been homeless before, not the kind of homeless where I've had to live on the streets but homeless where I've slept on people's spare beds, lounged on their couches and shared their dormroom beds. I have always had a support system however and that has kept me from sleeping on benches outside, from camping off freeway exits or having to walk all night to keep warm. Once I had to sit in a train station in the bathroom from 2am to 6am but even then I was relatively warm and had shelter.

When my eldest asked me what was going on, I told her that they had torn down the homeless camp and that they had thrown away their tents and tarps and things. She said, "Oh NO! Now we don't have anyone to give our crackers and snacks to anymore"! And she was right.