Two Pairs of Keds

"One for dress, one for everyday."


January 2016

The Cost of Calling. Hello?

Frequently, there is a portion of my brain split between two demographics. It’s uncomfortable, neither place entirely comfortable, which is basically how I feel at the sale rack of a shoe department at the mall.

As a social media specialist, also a mantle that is as scratchy to wear as a boiled wool scarf, I frequently explain the technological differences between two subsets of people.

Example 1
Technology Testy: I sit around people who have their faces in the screen of their phone. They are disassociated and rude. How can this occupy all their time? Don’t they see me sitting there?
Smart Phone Savvy: I am away from so many of my friends. Everyone is so busy. A quick text, a SnapChat, and we’re connected. We might not see each other. But we’re there.


Example 2
Technology Testy: No one writes thank you notes anymore. It’s a thing of the past. It’s like they can’t sit down and focus. I’m not even sure, through my gift, that I made a connection.
Smart Phone Savvy: I absolutely loved their gift. I appreciate the money completely. I thanked them when we were group chatting. It’s more significant to tell someone in person. (Pause.) Where do you put a stamp?

I do not adhere to the theory that it’s generational. It’s the Luddites versus Microsoftees (or Applettes). It’s like an extra gene. You’re born with it. You’re not. I have an 80 year old friend and a late-70’s step dad, both smoothly navigating the internet waters. They can search, post web maps, and copy pictures to Facebook with the best of them. And I know 40-somethings who administer the worst websites imaginable.

So it’s a thing.

Yeah. I love technology. I’m endlessly fascinated by the search features we almost take for granted. As a fourth-grader, I can still remember painstakingly crafting a report on Africa from the World BookWB Encyclopedia, magazines, and books, at the library, citing all their locations, with cut-out pictures from the out-of-circulation stack. There is a portion of me that would like to teach students how to use the library like the old days. You will appreciate the variety of locations from which publications originate, dammit.

let your fingers do the walkingBut now, as a graduate student, oh, how I love being able to punch up a topic and let my “fingers do the walking.” This is an old Yellow Pages ad jingle. Don’t know it? Look it up. Wait. You might not even know about Yellow Pages. Well, you can look that up, too.

But here’s where no one gets off free.

There is someone out there. And all they want is to hear from you.

We administer our time, popping texts back and forth with certain people, while selfishly waiting for others to reach out to us. We know, deep down, that we could absolutely make someone’s day with a phone call. Or a text. Or a Facebook post. And we hoard that time, technology misers, because we are busy. Short on time. So sorry. Later.

You could be forgiven, sins absolved, if we still had long distance charges. (Don’t know about that, either? Look it up. You paid by zone and by minutes. It sucked. But it put a precious tag on talking time. You savored each minute and despaired when the object of your affections rang off.) But you are not let off the hook.

The cost today is minimal and maybe that’s why we’ve treated it like a cheap commodity, rather than the rich and expansive asset that it is.

This is not about calling senior citizens, although if that’s the person in your life that needs a ring, great. Do it. But they’re not the only ones. We’re all included. Missing a friend? Disconnected from a relationship? Hello. Pick up the phone.





What’s in an institution?

What keeps us together?

What makes a unit? Unites? Makes ties that bind?

Does it take an institution to create that bond?

Take, for example, a student group or club. I’ve been asked to join MONTS (Michigan Organization of Non-Traditional Students). Divided, we wander aimlessly through the channels and byways that were built for full-time U-M cohorts. It’s a new group. I think there are fourteen members. Will we coalesce? Be more, together?

Another institution: marriage. Left to each other – without the vows, and the paper, and the ceremony before friends and family – are you entering into an institution? All the trappings are called “the institution of marriage.” It’s certainly tougher to break. But does it make stronger links?

I thought, for a long time, of friendship as an institution. I am deeply loyal. I don’t trust easily, and so, I thought the gift of sincere friendship was revered equally. Sure, you have differences. You cause pain. But you commit. Together through thick and think, you endure.

Turns out, I didn’t understand the premise. Friendship seems, now, a sliding scale. Slide in. Slide out. There are times of intensity. And times to walk away. I am stunned by how easy it is for some to walk away. They don’t even look back.

Would some sort of friendship vow (or family vow, for that matter), a formalized institution, raise the bar? Not enough to just be born into a subset. Or to enroll. Should we have formalized ritual at the onset? Declare our intentions?

sorry i'm late girl scout

Take Girl Scouts. This was not strictly a Girl Scout tenet, but it’s where I heard, “The way to have a friend is to be one.” The other night, I was due for one thing or another involving a friend and I did not want to go. This thought kept my foot on the gas pedal and my car headed in her direction. “On my honor, I will try…”

You make a pledge. A solemn vow. It’s not going to be easy to let go, even through the years. You can’t just say, “I didn’t want to.” Or think, “You’re not worth it,” or “But you hurt my feelings.” In the Institution of Friendship, you would say, “…to help other people at all times.”

This group I’m joining, MONTS, well, I’m going with an open mind. I would like to think what I am joining is a supportive group of people who are concerned with the welfare of one another. What I fear is that, like my misunderstanding of friendship, this will be something organized around the wants and needs of individuals.

Not an institution, at all, just another place to slide in, look around, and slide out.


Vintage Girl Scout postcard:
Vintage Girl Scout Uniform photo: Pinterest image (edited by J. Preston) 


Off Your Feed

Source: Off Your Feed

Off Your Feed

Days are short. My thoughts are short. Like milky winter days they shimmer, but lack form and shape.

One thought circling is that I am off my feed.

I used it to describe a friend who repeated a request to both Anne and me.

My daughter says to me, “What does that mean?”

And I explain, it’s an idiom. It’s agricultural. Animals get off their feed. They’re out of sorts, not eating well. Something may be wrong. Or it could right itself. Hard to say. It bears watching. For now, they’re just off their feed.

This happens to me after times of intense output. You, too?

My mother-in-law said to me, “I know something about you. You get quiet when you’re under stress.” She has known me for almost thirty-five years.

If you are this sort, and I don’t think there are many of us, anymore – like an endangered species – you curl up. You’re conserving energy. What I’ve come to think of as “Armadillo Mode,” you tuck and roll, tucking being the armadillo’s defense mechanism.

After a while, you pop out of the tuck, a gymnast without a landing mat. Ta da!

Lacking an insightful mother-in-law, people may have missed your landing. It’s disorienting. Where am I? Here, in the middle of January?

Wait. Classes have started. My meetings and organizations have taken up. I have commitments. Bills to pay. A new year of expectations, when I haven’t even had the time to get my bearings. Some worries from the old year linger, but fresh ones, without snow tracks, lie ahead.

Today, there is so much clamor for attention. I’ve been wronged! I need! I have! I’m working out, I’m quitting this or that, I’m falling out of love, I’m desperate, let me show you.

I do wonder how many of us are just off our feed. Quietly. No one but the stable master may notice. I will keep you in my prayers.


Photo credit: Milky Winter Syndrome, by Cattywampus (



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