Cravens cafeteria at Sewanee Academy

As you know, I have been having a very public love affair with facebook for the past 2 ½ years.  Through my virtual lover, I have reconnected with many, many old aquaintances.  Social Media has become an entirely new way to socialize, and I find myself running to my computer upon entering my house after any absences of more than, say, 30 minutes. And, facebook  never lets me down. There is always a new post from someone, leading to comments from others that I know or have become familiar with through this whole crazy web of “friends” and “friends of friends”.

Having had a fist full of face to face reunions with old buddies, and reminiscing about “the good old days”, I started a page for facebook users that at one time or another attended my old high school alma mater, Sewanee Academy.  Being a boarding school, we lost touch, in most cases, right after graduation.


The Cross

After hooking up online w/ one old bud, we started online chatting about getting us all together in the spring. Since he’s a teacher, we decided it would be during his spring break, which just happens to be 1), April  Fools Day,  and 2) My birthday. Coincidence? Who knows. More like kismet, methinks.

I regard the rapidly approaching date with a head full of mixed emotions. About 20 of us will be coming together to rekindle old ties and make some new ones.  I suspect there will be some healing taking place, as well.

From the hundreds of posts that have taken off on the FB page, someone posted the question “What’s your worst memory from Sewanee?”

The gate to the bullring opened up. Most of the posts were humorous: “pissing on theean’s head from the second floor window”,  some sad: “leaving”, “breaking up with my BF”, but a few held on to some past resentments. “Getting busted by xxx” and “getting turned in by xxx and being thrown out of school”.

So one girl from my dorm, Phyllis, described being bullied by “mean girls.” I paused for thought. Had I been one of those girls? I don’t think so, but back in those days, we were all so wrapped up in our own personal drama that maybe we had been cruel to others. I remembered feeling judged by some and the ensuing insecurities that plagued me as I carried on living among this diverse group of strangers.

We were here for a variety of reasons, some from broken homes with broken parents, some were “broken” themselves, others had found too much trouble back at home (or maybe were just too much trouble…) and still others came here for the sake of a better education. (Imagine that!)

Regardless of why we were there, the fact remains that we were, so we had to make it work as best we could.  It still amazes me that a mixture of so many personalities could live 24/7 in such tight confinement with so few conflicts. Sure, there were bound to be those that one didn’t like for whatever reason, that is a fact of life, but…

I sent Phyllis a private email. Had I been one of the mean girls? Because if I had, I don’t remember.  But if I was, I am truly sorry.

She promptly “faced” me back. Not me, not at all. I was relieved, but realized that somewhere in even questioning myself,  I probably had some amends to make.  Somewhere. To somebody.

Then, as I see so many posts from so many former classmates facing the same self-doubts or even regrets from our shared history, I realize that we have all grown up, now, and moved on from what damage may have been done those 30-some-odd years ago. I think the only “amends” needed to be made are to ourselves.

So to all my classmates and teachers that I will have the pleasure of re-visiting this weekend, ( and the ones who can’t make it, as well,) let’s pull the bandages off any old sores and allow the fresh mountain air to collectively heal our wounds.  Each of you had an impact on me in one way or another, and for that, I love you.

In honor of No More Excuses Month, I have to say I’ve done myself pretty proud!

Yesterday, in looking over my writing projects, I reviewed some notes I took at the recent SCBWI conference. (Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators).  In the notes were a few random ideas for children’s stories that had popped in to my head at various times, like driving in the car, laying in bed with the pups for “snuggle time” in the morning, and while enjoying a nice long soak in the tub. I realized during the conference that I was investing too much time and energy in this one story that is going to make me a break-out phenomenon.

For one thing, while a story is sitting in an editor or agents slush pile, it is common courtesy not to send it elsewhere. That is called a simultaneous submission, and by most accounts, it is a no-no. So I figured it’s time to get off my ass and start writing another one of my great story lines. Well, I sat down at about 10:00am, and other than a 1 1/2 hour appointment with my physical therapist (shoulder rehab), I had completed my rough draft by 5:00 pm.   And this one is pretty damn good, if I may say so myself.  I’ve read it aloud several times (using my “voices”)  to the dogs, and Chance and Kismet think it’s pretty great.  Chance especially likes it because he is the main character, and Kismet likes it because, well, he just likes me to talk silly to him.  Roxie… not so much. If there is not food or a Frisbee involved, she pretty much hangs out under the bed.

Anyway, sometimes we just need a prod to move us along that path that lies directly in front of us. We often find ourselves just standing there, staring, knowing that that is the ultimate direction that we will need to take to get from point A to point B, but there is often that little something that diverts us. Some little detour in the road. A nice blade of grass? A new facebook message?  The decision to have a cup of tea followed by a glance at your email only to see that one of your favorite bloggers has posted a new entry and you have to comment on it which leads you to reading 7 other comments from bloggers you don’t know and adding them to your RSS feed and then seeing that you have 3 more emails…..

God, it’s no wonder I can’t find the time to write.

OMG!!!! It’s HERE! They finally made a movie about Facebook, and naturally, I had to go see it opening day! (If they knew what a fanatic I am about fb, I surely would’ve gotten premier tickets or something.) The movie is called “The Social Network” and I have to tell you, run, don’t walk to this masterpiece!

As you know by now, I am a big-time, heavy-duty facebook addict! I got hooked the first time I tried it. I have tried to kick my habit a couple of times, but the withdraws were too much! Body sweats, insomnia, lethargy and suicidal thoughts hounded me until I broke down and got my fix.  I realize that I am a slave to fb, and I’ve asked for the serenity to change…bla bla bla–

So you can imagine my utter delight when I learned about the movie. Watching the trailer online was like surfing porn for me–I swear, if I was a man, I’d have had a boner! I’ve watched it over and over. the trailer song, “Creep” originally by radiohead, re-done by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, mesmerizes me each time I hear it.

David Fincher’s film tells the story of  facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (brilliantly played by sandal-clad/hoodie-wearing Jesse Eisenberg), but it is not a movie primarily about all things facebook. Rather, it is a study in human relationships, determination, success, failure and betrayal.  The movie opens with Zuckerberg and his (soon to be ex) girlfriend arguing, her calling him an asshole and breaking up. He rushes back to his dorm room and begins blogging about her fake bra size and what a bitch she is, and at that moment, that wonderful, angry, drunken moment, facebook is born.

Or was it? The movie centers around (more…)

Hiking in the Lofoten Islands

“Julie, do you remember Beverly Barlow?” My Mom asked when she called to wish me Bon Voyage on my upcoming trip to Norway. It was more of a statement than a question. “Mary George’s niece, from Louisville. Remember her?”

The name was familiar, and I vaguely recollected a freckle-faced red head kid from many years ago.

“Yeah, I remember. She was my age and we used to play at the country club swimming pool when she came to visit.”

“That’s her. Well, guess what?  She lives in Norway!  You should visit her!”

Just that simple. I was leaving on my trip in three days. Not being a traveler herself, Mom obviously didn’t realize how meticulously I had worked on the perfect itinerary.  I discounted the idea initially. Upon continued reflection, though, I admit I was a tad intrigued.

Jeff and I had been planning a 2-week vacation in Norway for several months, and I had perfected our itinerary down to the latest bus schedules. Our plan was to have the “greenest” possible trip, using only public transportation, hostels and small, local lodgings when possible.

Since turning fifty last year, I‘ve had a self-revelation of sorts. There’s something about hitting the half-century mark that has encouraged me to reflect on life and the paths I chose to take. More than ever, I have been thinking about my past and long-lost relationships. My introduction to facebook has offered possibilities to rekindle old friendships as well as make some new ones.

Since Mom knew nothing more than Beverly’s married name and the city she lived in, I “faced” her, just out of curiosity.  Despite the decades, I immediately recognized the bronze-headed beauty that popped onto the screen.  Hmmmm….

Why not? I sent her a message. “Hey, Bev, you probably don’t remember me but…” yadda yadda yadda…

Within minutes, she “friended” me and sent me her response.  “I may not remember to put on matching earrings, or what I ate for breakfast, but I remembered you as soon as I saw your name in my in-box.”

After a few more messages, we figured out that she lived a good six hours from my northern-most stop in the Lofoten Islands, a good bit north of the Arctic Circle. Since my schedule was already set, circumscribed by non-refundable tickets and reservations, (Norway is billed as the most expensive travel destination in the world), we agreed that while it would be fun to hook-up, it may not be feasible logistically. We agreed to confer via email once I arrived in Norway though, and see if either of us could figure something out.

After examining our self-prescribed itinerary, Jeff and I agreed to combine two days of hiking and sightseeing into one, freeing up our last day in the Lofoten Islands.  After several back and forth emails and ample opportunities to opt-out, we agreed to meet up at the halfway point. Jeff and I rented a car and drove three hours north to Harstad, Norway. Bev took a ferry south.

Hiking above Geirangerfjord, Norway

“So, how long has it been since you’ve seen each other,” Jeff asked on the drive.

“Well, I think it’s been about forty years. We were around ten years old is my best guess.”

“Were you good friends?”

“More like ‘amicable acquaintances’, I’d say”

“What are you going to talk about?” Jeff, like a lot of guys, doesn’t see the point in meeting up with someone without an agenda.

“I really don’t know. Whatever comes up, I guess.” Now he’s making me question my motives. Am I crazy? Is this going to be awkward? I sit in silence much of the ride, second-guessing my motives.

As she stepped off the ferry, I immediately spotted her long auburn locks and easy smile. That’s her, no doubt about it. Running up to her, we hugged, then sat at a nearby café table with Jeff and chatted a bit before deciding where to have lunch. She already had a restaurant suggestion that she had researched. Ah! My kind of girl–a pre-planner.

Lingering over lunch at a lovely café just steps away from the water, time flew by. Fluent in Norwegian, she ordered us a beer and helped decipher the menu. We talked nonstop, not about our past (since there aren’t many memories), but of where our lives have taken us.

“I’ve lived in Norway for eight years,” Beverly explained. “My soon-to-be ex husband’s parents were Norwegian, so there are family ties. Even after separating, I’ve decided to stay. I can’t imagine leaving this place.” (I don’t blame her, Norway is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen.)

All of the taboo subjects were on-limits, including politics, religion, and the shared teenage/young adult experiences that go along with coming of age. Our experiences are remarkably similar, our philosophies and beliefs on par with one another’s. We laughed in near amazement, but not surprise, that we have many of the same general mantras and aspirations of writing books. We both agreed that after turning fifty last year, we are becoming more comfortable in our own skin.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the ferry. I regretted having to leave so soon, there was so much more I wanted to learn and share with Bev.

We hugged each other goodbye, but in reality, this was a hello hug. A welcome to my life, friend, hug.

Bev and me with Willy and the Boyz

Holey Moley!  What in the world have i gotten myself into this time????

Last year i hooked up with my old buddy from Sewanee Academy (a boarding high school), and we went back to our old stomping grounds and spend a very successful day (and night) of reuniting.

This spring, Martina and I got together again, this time with two other old Sewanee classmates, for a long weekend that left us all with a sense of reborn kinship and rejuvenation.  We have since stayed in touch, and 3 of us had an impromptu cocktail party when we discovered that we would all  be in Destin, Fla. for Memorial Day weekend.

I have also reconnected with several old peeps from my past, and have found that some of these relationships are just as, if not more, fulfilling than some more current ones.

Anyway, I got a call from Martina a couple of months ago. It went something like this…

“Potsie! I have a proposition for you!” (My nickname at Sewanee, and on into college was Potsie, but I won’t go into details here.)

“‘What’s up, Martina? Want to meet in Sewanee again?”

“No! I want you to come to Disney World with me and Sara Beth (her 15 year old daughter). She thinks you’re the coolest!!”

Well, how can I resist that offer? I mean, I never had kids, but for some strange reason that is beyond me, teenagers have always thought  I was the shit (that is meant in good ways).

A couple of my friend’s kids call me “Auntie Jules”, and confide secrets and problems to me. I’m a good listener, and they know that I’m gonna tell them my honest opinion, because I remember all too well hating the bullshit that adults fed me when I was a teenager.

So now, at this moment, I am packing my suitcase and heading to the airport bright and early in the morning. I’m staying 4 days in a house they’ve rented, then we’re driving the long haul back from Orlando to Atlanta. This is gonna be very interesting, to say the least.  Check back for the story!

All I can say is, Watch Out Mickey!

i-am-awesome.jpg (482×390)

I was over at my friend Bern’s blog today, and was intrigued by her account of seeing a guy in a t-shirt that read simply “I am awesome”.   The guy seemed like your average Joe, but a soul brave and proud enough to sport his feelings on his chest (or back–not sure about that).

Anyway, as I read her post I was in total agreement, that I love that shirt! How cool is it that a person can be self assured enough not to care what others thought about his wearing it–I think that some people with low self esteem may like to think that guy is an asshole, or conceited, or whatever…

That prompted me to think about how, not so many years ago, I would never have even remotely considered myself an awesome person, much less (more…)

Bondage can be a GOOD thing!

Sewanee Gals @ Shenanigans

I’m on cloud 9.  I have just returned from an absolutely amazing weekend in the rolling hills of Tennessee.  And yes, it was because of facebook, once again.

As you may remember, I reunited w/ my old Sewanee Academy friend “Martina” a year ago.  It was my first facebook-generated face-to-face, and I was nervous as a whore in church! But it worked out beautifully.  We vowed to do it again, soon.

So about a month ago, I turned on my computer and I had a new friend request! Ohhhhhh!! I LOVE getting “friended”, (unless it’s from someone I don’t know or didn’t like,) so I clicked accept, and there she was!  Beth, an old dorm-mate from back in my Sewanee days.  Not even a week later, same thing.  Accept friend request. Tracy!!!! OMG WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN????”   Well, you know the drill…back and forth the 4 of us, yadda yadda yadda, giddy as shit with tons of questions.

Having gone to the funeral of an old Sewanee classmate 2 years ago (who just happened to be Martina’s ex-husband), I made a promise to myself that I would make an effort to revisit those people that had made an impact (good, not bad) on my past. I have lost too many friends unexpectedly without having had the chance to tell them how I felt, that I loved them. That was before I was on facebook, tho, and my efforts to make contact were mostly in vain.  Enter facebook and, well, you know that story.

So, last weekend, with very little (more…)

Next Page »