up the academy

Heads up, movie buffs: Mr. Videoport Jones (a.k.a., The Fella) and intrepid reporter Justin Ellis will be live-blogging the Oscars for the Portland Press Herald. The NXT Gal and I will be with them in the isolation booth, mixing cocktails and cracking wise. You can count yourself in on the Facebook event page, and tune in to the NXT Generation on Sunday night!

a body at rest

Wanting to be somewhere is not the same as wanting to go there. In matters of social travel, I embody a principle of Newtonian mechanics. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and all that. (Unrelatedly, I’m also wicked entropic: a closed system characterized by disorder and chaos, with an undeniable tendency toward heat death.)

You know what will really improve my social life? Teleportation. Getting there isn’t half the battle; it’s the whole battle.

faced

I recently spent an hour trying to overcome some NoScript issues so The Fella could set up a Facebook account. To check things out, I signed into my own long dormant account

And I decided, despite my previous kvetching, to give it a try.

(I’m currently reserving Facebook, logically enough, for people I know face-to-face. It’s mostly to preserve the illusion of distance between the Elsa known to the professors and administrators and the Elsa who swears fluently and tells goofy stories in the hazy world inside the tubes.)

If nothing else, Facebook allowed me to message a friend who’s been otherwise unreachable, and to see the comment stream of a loved one who’s been too overwhelmed to use email or phone. I’ll cheerfully admit that’s handy.

Otherwise… well…

In a week or so, I’ve had exactly one flashing moment of illumination: I saw how this network could hook you but good, like buying scratch tickets or playing craps. I was idly looking up a grade school friend — a girl I hadn’t seen in 25 years and several thousand miles. To confirm that the profile was indeed my old friend and not someone else with her name, I check to see if her sister (also a one-time friend of mine) was among her contacts. She was

… and the sister lives here, in my small hometown, a town neither of them had ever heard of when we met in Texas.

It flushed me like a win at roulette, this odd little nothing of happenstance. I shook my head and thought “What are the odds?

And then I closed both profiles without contacting either, because, y’know, what’s the point? If we’d wanted to be in touch in the past 25 years, I guess I would’ve made an effort earlier, or they would’ve. But I didn’t, and they didn’t, and so we didn’t.

This pretty well sums up my response to Facebook in general: cool! But what’s the point?

barnraising

I recently wrote about a friend’s potluck wedding reception, where family and friends fed each other, sharing their joy and love with the happy couple. The Fella and I aren’t having a potluck wedding, but for the past few months, I’ve been musing that our DIY wedding feels like a barnraising: our loved ones keep enthusiastically pitching in, lending their strength and talents to help us build something of value.

If you browse wedding forums or advice columns, you’ll soon bump into shrill warnings against this approach. Naysayers dismiss the handmade, homemade, shared nature of the event. It’s tacky, it’s rude, it’s cheap. It’s inconsiderate to expect guests to contribute to Your Special Day.

Of course guests don’t want to do your dirty work, but you can accept loving assistance (and even ask for it) without being rude or demanding. Some thoughts guiding our own requests:

– Our friends miiiiight enjoy showcasing their talents. They would not enjoy predictable drudgery; we’ll pay people for that.
– Any guest’s wedding-day contribution should be brief. Everyone wants to have fun!
– Things will go wrong. It doesn’t matter. If the cake falls over, if the photos don’t come out, if the iPod freezes… we’ll still be married at the end of the day.
-If anyone seems hesitant, for any reason or for no reason at all, we’ll withdraw our request.
If we ask you to consider helping out, it’s because we value your talent and we trust your judgment. That includes the judgment that leads you to say, “No, I’d rather not.”
In fact, we’ve made few requests so far; our family and friends keep amazing us with their offers of help, offers far more generous, creative, and serendipitous than we could have imagined.
Behind the click is a loooooong list of the help being offered, and a few requests we plan to make.

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potluck

When I think back on the weddings I’ve attended, though all of them have been joyous affairs, one simple celebration sparkles in my memory, all covered with love and joy and fairy dust. JE & JO spent very little time on the frills that we so often associate with weddings. They decided to get married, and then they got married.

Like, two weeks later.

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Warning: I am a sap.

Support from dear and long-time friends is no surprise; indeed, knowing it is always there under the jokes and the kvetching is the very essence of friendship. Elli, K., T & J: there are no words to thank you for your good, generous hearts. We’ve been through so much together that your love leaves me grateful but unsurprised.
But the sweet, stalwart persistence of a few new friends utterly sideswiped me.

You took me out for breakfast. You put down your textbook and suggested coffee. You bought me vodka & tonics in that dim, swanky bar. You burbled beautifully about your wedding plans or your internship or Shakespeare. You listened. Oh, sweet fancy Moses, did you listen. You cracked stupid, smutty jokes. You hugged me ’til my knees buckled, and held on ’til I could stand straight. You revealed yourselves as true friends, and you make me quite weak with fondness and gratitude.

I take it back: you make me strong.