to facebook or not to facebook aka facebook obituary?

A friend who is a significant person in the blogosphere (got a book contract out of it) has recently ghosted herself (left facebook). She says she was wasting too much time on it, and needed that energy for the blog (and i imagine next book) writing.

i know what she means.

when i was writing seriously, sometime the wastebook was a huge distraction.

i was a late (and reluctant) adopter. The social straw that broke that particularly stubborn camel’s back was moving house – all of a sudden i wasn’t seeing my much loved peeps in the small country town street, and i missed some (mostly minor) significant social events that i would have preferred to attend (isolate introvert that i often am, i like to have to the choice ūüėČ ). And so i succumbed. Having read over the husband’s shoulder for a few years first, and used his account to msg those people who had (by virtue of our wierd rural ph/mb/isp/lifestyle idiosyncrasies) become only contactable via fb. I succumbed, set up m own account (using a pseudonym – i’m a privacy freak, had a couple of peeps in my past whom i did not wish to be contacted by, and don’t trust my own ITC nor FB’s frequent setting changes). Once i’d felt comfortable to ditch my fb training wheels, i even ended up page adminstrator for one of the community groups i volunteer for.

but again (as with every time i think i’m way too screen addicted), i see what she means. Is fb just a great waste of my time? Another tool in my already extensive procrastination toolkit?

i think, for the moment, no. It’s still my only way, in what feels sometimes a very lonely life, to stay in touch with certain very significant peeps. (See, i’ve been corrupted: i use words like ‘peeps’, which i would never have used prior fb and blog reading). Even when they are only posting / reposting ‘cats’ (metaphor for miscellaneous trivia), sometimes those cats are actually their own cats, or fur-children, and those posts give me a sense of how they are travelling – and a nudge to give so-and-so a phone call, or line up a coffee date. i tend in particular to keep an eye on the ones i feel are less socially equipped (the orphaned, the widowed, the currently under stupid amounts of pressure), and see how they are going – without having to actually do much more than ‘like’ or ‘lol’ to indicate my ongoing interest, concern, love and support for their day to day thoughts.

it means i do have less long catchup phone calls, which is a little sad. i used to spend long chunks of time on the ph with certain interstate or housebound folk (remember the days of telstra ‘cheap on sundays / evenings’ calls?). It seems that when i have a sense of ‘what have you been up to’, i’m less likely to call. As are they. And it’s probably a lifestage thing too – we’re all too busy wrangling family / work / study / domestics / volunteering / living, these days, in our thirties and forties, to spend long luxurious hours on the phone.

but it means when those phone calls do happen, they cut to the chase (the d&m) bits almost instantly – rather than ‘what have you been up to’, it’s ‘i need your advice / i’m losing the plot / my [insert friend/relative] is seriously ill and i need to talk’. Wow. Intimacy without verbal foreplay. Or weeks of facebook foreplay, With an awful lot of people, who you might never / otherwise have progressed to that sort of intimate conversation with.

fb has brought some real blessings to my life. Blessings i firmly fended off (then gradually succumbed to, firstly by peering over my husband’s shoulder). The quiet joy of observing and learning from other people, their lives, their interests, their reflections. The exposure to global art, science, history, social manifestations. The ability to be a clickitivist for issues i feel strongly about but cannot jam into my current activist platter. The endorphin rush of the many generous responses when i tentatively (rarely) broadcast an actual status update: sometimes brief, heartfelt, heavily camouflaged but slightly desperate plea for warm fuzzies. My usual solely sharing/liking/lurking presence seems to mean that when i do ask for feedback or support, i get it in what seems like relative spades. Or even if i don’t get a like or a comment, that person in the street will say, yeah, how are you going with that? saw your post this morning… And i get a surprise: someone did see that post. Someone did think of me briefly. Someone does care.

and for someone of my depressive tendencies, those little moments can really help keep me afloat. Particularly when i’m feeling alone. in that worldwide global collection, that is my group of past and present significant and insignficant and acquaintence type friends, someone is generally available to care. Or join me for an insomniac fb msging frenzy. or ring me, since we’re clearly awake anyway, and we might as well both talk.

so whilst i do need to keep an eye on my wastebook usage, and acknowledge (and accept) the dopamine seeking desperation addictive lurking / clicking i sometimes berate in myself, i need to see it as an indicator. if i’m lurking on fb but unable to talk to friends in person, that’s ok. it means i need to be careful, to try to keep those maslow triangular eat/sleep/security/affirming occupations/exercise/nourishing not crappy tv and novels and online articles distractions coming. it means my present brain chemicals are hunting desperately for small sugary fixes. And that’s ok.

becuase sometimes all those small distractions are so much better than staying alone in my headspace.

and all those fb addicts out there appear to feel this too.

may we all enrich our lives through both our online and IRL social networking. And be rejoiced by each others’ cats.

xx fair world xx

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calling?

How are you going in study land (again)?

Studyland is odd but mostly entertaining!

That sounds pretty good, right?

yep smile emoticon

Good news! Do you feel this is your calling?

Calling? Nup – never had a singular one of those, always more than one to choose from! Convenient / potentially satisfying place to park / develop a number of skills, yes.

er…

er… i think i’m trying to be a med student, not a nursing student.

evidence: 20+ hours (at a guess) on a clinical reasoning report of 1000wds, where i ended up looking up EBM (more or less) re respiratory rate and nursing assessment.

Or a researcher. See evidence above.

must take notes re the experience of being a nursing student cf being a med student – there is an auto-ethnographic paper in there somewhere…

facebook moments we have known…

[party 1] has been reminded that trying to write badly is just as hard as trying to write well. Possibly harder. Trying to write generally sux. Writing when not having to try = good smile emoticon

… and that a good day off / impending deadlines may, even in the least inspired moments, adrenaline-dredge something vaguely functional out of an otherwise apparently ‘dysfunctional’ (ha!) writing process…

Likes: [6 of the more thoughtful and academic peeps]
[party 2] Why would you be trying to write badly?

[party 1] er, in an attempt to not spend too much time on first year essays. Tried writing well (took too long), tried writing badly (took longer), clearly need more practise wink emoticon

[party 2]¬†writing well but concisely… hmm… might be a question of limiting the number of ideas you explore in the essay. hard for you i know as you have so many ideas and one leads to another! i’d try writing a very simple essay plan – just a couple of points – and sticking to it ruthlessly. then you can write well but just not so much.
[party 1] yep, did all that. NB i have tutored first and second year uni students, remember!
Think i’m just sick of being as disciplined writing wise as per phd/proposed article land, and not sufficiently simple/smart not to absentmindedly try and pack a phd into every essay paragraph.
Eg: most recent essay on ‘stereotypes of nursing, choose at least 2, discuss, 1500wds’.
The whole process of my responses (roughly):
1. Why bother, yes stereotypes exist, i counteract them via professional practice / peer education every day when working, will continue to do so as nurse, see also sector whatever of my thesis.
2. Choose ‘dr’s handmaiden’ and ‘heroine’, noting that given current writing issue (writers’ block / complete disinterest/motivation) that i can always choose more stereotypes if i can’t write enough about either of these two. Write essay plan, attempt to write, complete failure. Can’t be bothered writing on either. Limited inspiration via txtbooks and database acquired articles. Attempt to break down into pros and cons & write 200 on each. Fail.
(note ‘blood from stone’ writing phenomena, and wonder why i’m doing this degree. Again). Give up for a few days/weeks.
3. Impending deadline: try again with adrenaline input and absentmindedly/blood from stone write 500wds on intro (definitions) and conclusions. Absentmindedly/blood from stone write 1000wds on handmaidens (with publishable article potential). Rather more intentionally write 500 on hero. Cut all down and count quotations separately in order to keep to word count. Submit electronically 1.5hr before midnight deadline on my b’day.
4. Vow to get more efficient at essay writing…. (and await result with some trepidation).
5. Ignore result (who cares as long as i pass?!)
6. Actually get more efficient about (u/g nursing) essay writing, given more than one attempt „ÄÄ [note: 5 and 6 are aspirational phases in this plan…]
update 8mo later:
Have mastered #5 (mostly, at least until i actually go to check results at which point my heart still beats faster. oh well.). Still repeating #1-4 ;). And getting top marks. Oh well. Guess this is working.
ie ditch #6 as an aspirational goal. Instead: 6. stop beating myself up for what I consider a poor/chaotic/inefficient process. Keep enjoying the ride (note, at that point i really was NOT, ergo there has been progress). Attempt to increase trust in myself that said processes of mine are apparently well and truly good enough, so i might as well keep doing [er, no choice apparently], well, actually accept them.
ie create a separate, most important goal: 7. Enjoy the ride.

Recovery

For the first time in weeks, i’m able to genuinely feel (rather than intentionally [totally unconvincedly] attempt to count) my blessings. All that gratitude practice stuff? Feels like bollocks when you’re in the thick of the black fog. But perhaps going through the motions helped.

Or perhaps it was the semi-enforced morning walk, which turned into a 2 hour ramble and nude swim on one of southern Tasmania’s most beautiful beaches.

Or perhaps it was the total immersion therapy of my family – the usual holiday craziness / full catastrophe of reconciling the various needs of the south american¬†BIL, (age appropriately) slightly obsessive lesbian aunts, (age appropriately) self-obsessed 4yo, (age appropriately) presents-obsessed 9yo, (age appropriately) physically fragile and heat struck grandmother, swimming mad grandfather, migrainey sister, sailing obsessed husband, son and BIL, one possibly bi (in many senses) mum, and a neurotic lonely rescue dog tied up on the verandah so that all the native wildlife doesn’t get harassed and the air-conditioned carpets don’t get dog-haired. Several million shoes on the front verandah. A tent, a motor home and every room in the house littered with mattresses. Food wrangling to suit one special needs diet (low amine), one gluten intolerant, one IBS and multi-cultural preferences. This all may look bohemian (in a Victorian / Arts & Crafts movement rather than 60s kind of way) from the outside.

Or perhaps it was the operatic imitations at 9.30pm (performed by 3 immediate family members, none of which was me), accompanied by taswegian 9yo on pianola. Perhaps it was the afternoon swapping of YouTube annual ‘best of’ in a wanna be low-screen-time environment. Perhaps it was the combined efforts of seven adults to keep one other adult out of the kitchen. Perhaps it was the 36 deg day, where those of us willing or capable of tolerating such temperatures went for swims and sails, and those not hibernated indoors with air-conditioning. Perhaps it was the fact that (unlike many other families, i’m told) the above stresses did not lead to serious arguments or permanent communication cessation, but only mildly expressed tensions.

Please note that most¬†of the above are seriously weird in my family / for many families. Christmas carols yes, opera no. Screen time yes, but on Christmas day or when family are gathered never. Keeping my mother out of the kitchen at a family celebration? Earth shattering. No arguments? Normal for us (we don’t do shouting or tantrums), however¬†polite assertiveness and appropriate self-medicating via¬†largely non-medicinal forms is normally a bit patchy ¬†– and this time achieved by all of us. Air conditioning and 36 deg in Tasmania on Christmas Day???? Literally a record. i remember far more Tasmanian Christmases in flannelette pyjamas with the woodfire on. As it should be. As today (Boxing Day) may well be.

Anyway, i suddenly realised i was the only normal person in the room. Again. [Just in case i was delusional, i checked with an online friend, who confirmed this. So there, actual external evidence ūüėČ ].

Or¬†maybe i’m not normal. As the case may be. Apparently all of the above may well be within the bounds of normal. Very post-modern, very 21st century normal, but normal.

Or maybe the current drug regime has finally kicked in.

Or maybe the vague snifter of a couple of possible jobs has cheered me up.

Or maybe it was the two hour walk and swim on one of local beaches on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, something appears to be working. At least temporarily. For now.

And i’m grateful.

Advance Care Directive & After Death Care Instructions for AS

Advance Care Directive & After Death Care Instructions:

i would prefer to die (and be cared for prior to death) at home, however if this is too much drain on everyone, it’s ok to have me in care.¬†Ideally if i die¬†in winter, i’d be next to the biggest plate-glass window you can find, and i’d have the heating turned up full bore (but silent), and some small window (elsewhere – maybe not direct drafts on me) open for fresh air simultaneously. Not very environmentally friendly i know, but that’s how i like it ūüėČ – and no, i can’t bring myself to do this now in winter while i’m alive, too much waste of precious resources, but when i’m dying, let’s make me happy :). If i die in summer, i’d like to die on a shady bit of a beach or on a verandah. i’d be happy to die any time of year in my parents’ sunroom.

i really hate hospital smells (they make me anxious, and trigger memories of being a small child walking away from my baby sister in hospital, and not wanting to go, being confused about why we were leaving her, sad, anxious etc). So please do whatever you can to avoid / eliminate / reduce any hospital smells for me (bunch/s flowers, air-purifying plants, essential oil burner, open window/s etc). Including keeping me out of hospital or hospice if possible.

Brazilian rosewood oil is my favourite, for before or after death use.

After death, I want Jen O’Bryan and Cath Schylder to be in charge of helping friends and family to wash and anoint my body, according to anthroposophical / buddhist / quaker practice / whatever feels right to everyone.

If i die somewhere other than home, i want to be brought home – for the above after-death care in my own home. Doesn’t need¬†to be in my own bed unless C&R want me there – C&R will probably need to sleep there in between helping care for me, and while i’d love them to sleep with me after i’m dead for a day or two, they might not be into that / want to remember my dead body every time they go to bed. Although given how much R and i love sleeping together, he might well be happy to sleep with my spirit when i’m dead as well as when i’m alive. i could be laid out on a long table in our living room, much like when we had my 40th long table all weekend food fest.

I want ¬†people to hold vigil with my dead body for at least 1-2 days, but as long as they’d like. Please don’t bury or cremate me until my spirit has fully departed (typically 2-3 days after death – you will all know when i’ve finally gone / am ready to let go of my body). Buddhist practices around transitioning from this world to the next have always rung true to me – there is a buddhist monk attached to the Whittle ward who can assist with this. Sit ‘shiva’ for me:¬†a¬†Jewish tradition where friends and family gather each evening for a week or so after death, for prayers, tea and cake, and to swap memories. The Kaddish could be sung, and¬†some requiem mass Gregorian chant. Or both. Also the Shostakovich (Tatiana Nikolayevna) piano preludes and fugues. Or Bach (Glen Gould) preludes and fugues. i do love the Mozart Req, but it may be over the top to play this unless someone is feeling particularly like doing so. There is good evidence that sitting through the length and symbolic stages of a requiem mass (in my case, the musical settings of, not an actual catholic requiem mass) help mourners transition / reflect. Maybe people might prefer to listen to the Mozart Req as a¬†private memorial ceremony to me. Probably the only time in my life i’ll ever suggest¬†Mozart! (he wrote relatively¬†boring cello parts).

i want a quaker funeral, ideally with my shrouded body (or coffin’d if absolutely necessary)¬†on a (shade available / early morning / late afternoon) beach, for everyone to ponder and contribute as they see fit. Maybe Sandrock with my (preferably unshrouded, unconfined / uncoffined) body ferried in and out by Poppy Olive?!

My body (not on the Poppy Olive, maybe a raft or something) could then be set fire to, a la Viking Рor burned outdoors. Possibly difficult to do legally in Tas. Shrouded cremation will do as a substitute.

(updated 27-12-15)