Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris



The Social Comparison of New Year’s Eve

I awoke early this morning, intent on doing two things: read my bible and check my Facebook news feed. Believe me, those two tasks don’t usually go together, but I was eager to see how our friends and family rang in the New Year. I willingly risked the “Facebook depression, low self-esteem and bitter jealousy” that (reportedly) comes from “social comparison.” You might not know it by that name, but it’s when we look at people’s Facebook posts (i.e., a BEST OF reel) and then compare it to our boring, ordinary lives. (Guess it’s a good thing I read my bible first!)

I eagerly scanned my news feed to answer the Who? Where? and How? questions of New Year’s Eve.

From fishing to fireworks, you marked the passing of the old into the new wearing everything from party dresses and dinner jackets to jeans and pajamas. Paper top hats, blinged-out tiaras and confetti covered your heads while balloons covered the walls, floors and ceilings. You raised Champagne flutes, beer cans and noise makers high overhead, or you sank into a comfy couch with bowls of popcorn.  You celebrated abroad and close to home, really close to home…like AT HOME.

Whatever you chose to do last night, you did it in the company of that special someone, your kids, extended family, church members, friends, neighbors, college roommates and frat brothers. I saw you surrounded by LOVE, even if you chose to be alone because you love yourself enough to give/receive the gift of self-reflection.

“Social Comparison?”Maybe a little, but I’m neither depressed, experiencing low self-esteem or bitter jealousy. I only see the love.

HAPPY NEW YEAR loved ones!


Day 34: The Trouble with Texting

Proof positive that texting isn’t always the best way to communicate.

May 11, 2014; 9:41 p.m.
INCOMING TEXT:  Happy Mother’s Day Mrs. Hutchinson. I hope you had a glorious day. Richard.
AT-HOME CONVERSATION (ME): I just got a text from Richard, but he called me Mrs. Hutchinson. We know “two” Richards, and neither calls me that (name). Now I don’t know whom to thank.

Five days later, around 6:00 p.m.
AT-HOME CONVERSATION (JEFF): I visited the clinic today to (blah, blah, blah). Richard is back in town, but I didn’t get to see him.
(ME): I’ll bet THAT Richard sent the text. But why would he call me Mrs. Hutchinson?
(JEFF): Maybe he didn’t know how to spell your first name.
(ME): But wouldn’t he have called me “Dee?” At least now I can text him back.

6:51 p.m.
OUTGOING TEXT: Hey thank you! It was great. Are u in town?
INCOMING TEXT: Yes I am. How are you guys???

8:52 p.m.
OUTGOING TEXT: Whew! I am not used to you calling me Mrs. Hutchinson. Lol. I thought you called me Dee. We are well. How ling (typo – I meant “long”) are you here? Would love to see you.

(At this point, I have no idea that I have just told my friend’s husband that I would love to see him. This could have ended poorly.)

9:57 p.m.
INCOMING TEXT: I am in town the next couple weeks. End of year school activities (which should have been my clue) along with a few meetings sprinkled throughout. What are you guys plans next weekend. I will check but I THINK we are free.

May 18; 11:42 a.m.
OUTGOING TEXT: Memorial Day weekend looks good for us minus a few kid things during the day. Did you check with Miles’ schedule? (I’m sure “Rich” wondered who Miles was, but dismissed it as some weird auto-correct for Val, the name of his wife.)

May 20; 4:39 p.m.
INCOMING TEXT: How about a cookout.

10:05 p.m.
OUTGOING TEXT: Sounds good. Let me know the deets and what you’d like us to bring.

More than a week of texting, and we’ve made plans to join Richard and Miles for a cookout. Right?

…Well, not exactly.

Next day; 10:03 a.m.
PHONE CONVERSATION (Val): So we’ll see you this weekend, right?
(Me): What’s going on this weekend?
(Val): Rich said you guys are coming over for a cook-out.

Sometimes it’s just better to call.

Day 41: It’s Complicated

…No, not my Facebook relationship status. What’s complicated is me, trying to figure out how to play a DVD.

Now before you start rolling your eyes at my not knowing how to operate a DVD player, stop! I was attempting to use the X-Box 360. If you know your way around gaming systems, I’m not talking to you. (You may commence with the eye-rolling now.) But if you’re a woman of a certain age, who doesn’t generally find herself locked in the basement for hours playing video games, you will appreciate how complicated this task can be.

To play a DVD on the X-Box at our house, start by turning it on. Next, push the button that releases the DVD tray and insert the DVD. So far, so good.

Now, turn on the projector. Did I mention that we have one of those? Once it’s powered-up, press the source button on the remote control to toggle down to Video 1. (I am not sure what all the other options do, but Video 1 is the one you want.) Be sure the tuner is on, and tuned to Video 2.  Ours also has a switch box that requires you to press the third button to send the signal from the X-Box to the projector.

Now comes the fun part, for all you gaming aficionados – the game controller. It helps to know that different gaming systems have different controllers. (Imagine that!) Insist upon using the X-Box 360 game controller not the Game Cube one that looks exactly like it! Trust me; it matters. 

What’s suppose to happen next goes something like this.

Select the X-Box controller with a cord. Take the end of the cord and add the adapter to change the “male” end into a USB. Plug the whole thing into the console, through a secret trap door, under the CD drive. Or use a cordless controller, which also probably won’t work because the kids will have drained the batteries.

That’s what should have happened. What actually happened was:

I got so frustrated with the stupid thing that I flung the controller back into the basket and got on the treadmill. I’ll leave X-Box 360 to Generation Z.

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