J's Page

Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.


How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook

ED’S NOTE: Amended Sept. 13, 2011, for clarity.

I have done the unthinkable: I have deactivated my Facebook account. That was three days ago, three years to the day that I joined Facebook.

I had joined Facebook in 2008 as my personal 9/11 Project. Each year I do something to change my life for the better. Sometimes it’s big; sometimes it’s small. It’s my way of reclaiming my autumns. I started this several years ago when I realized that if I didn’t do something – anything – that perfect September days would forever be tarnished by the terrorist attacks of 2001. It isn’t that I want to forget that day; I just want to go forward – with hope. In 2008, I wanted to reconnect with people I had lost touch with. And I did. I made it a project, and Facebook helped. These people mattered to me; I wanted, I needed, to know them again. Now I do, thanks to Facebook.

But with the good came the bad, the ugly and the mundane. Several times, I found myself overdosing on information that I didn’t need, and so I’d uninstall the app from my BlackBerry and later, my iPhone. Then I would re-install it less than 8 12 hours later.

My friends need to know about my vacation, commute, dinner, dammit!

A recent Monday night, I found myself logged on well after 1 a.m., clicking through photos of a Lady Gaga concert posted by a sister-of-a-friend-of-a-friend.

We were at that concert! She lives three states away! She was at the same concert! Miracle!

No, not miracle. Insanity. I didn’t know this woman. I will never meet this woman. I can’t tell you how I found her album or why I felt compelled to click through it. I can only tell you that I lost 20 minutes of my life trying to determine whether she and I were at the same show in 2010.

She had better seats than we did, didn’t she?

Who gives a shit?

Evidently, I do.

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On 9/11, loss, anger, hope and Gaga

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally posted on my Tumblr on Sept. 8, 2010. It was born of a creative writing exercise and is a departure from the posts I usually do on advertising, social media and tech.  

Yesterday in my creative writing class I realized that if I’m not careful I’m going to spend the semester workshopping my anger, and it’s a damn shame: I’d had so much hope for 2010 – despite Eric’s death. Even through the blizzards and the shit at work, I held on to that hope – mostly because I believed that he wanted me to and would be super pissed if I didn’t.

According to my April journal entries, I was hanging on just fine: I was insanely busy with a marketing class, two writing workshops, and I was painting the bathroom and guest room. The first weeks of spring were sleepless and bright, and hope was abundant even though I was still mourning Eric, crying unexpectedly and suffering under the delusion that I would see him again soon – so very soon – later in the spring, don’t you know? Before Smita’s farmers markets are in full swing.

There was so much I had left to tell him. So many meals left to share. Stories to hear. Trips to take. I didn’t get to hear nearly enough about Macedonia – what they ate, what they saw. My next trip was to Vegas: Trey and I were going for New Year’s because it looked like Buenos Aires wasn’t going to happen for us in 2010. And after a pressure-cooked fall, I had to escape.

“I’ll see you when you guys get back from Vegas,” he said at Thanksgiving.

“No, you won’t,” I said. “We’ll see you before then.”

“Babe, we’ll see them before then,” Smita affirmed.

We didn’t see him after that. Sometimes I believe that if I had only agreed with him that he’d still be here.

“Sure! See you then!”

After the shock turned into pain and the pain into denial, a hazy shade of winter set in. Vegas was a ridiculous bittersweet blur of fine meals and better drinks. “Go! Eat well! Toast Eric!” Smita had said. “His whole life was travel! He’ll be pissed if you don’t go!”

And so we did. At Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, I had the finest meal I’ve ever had or will have, and looking back now, it was only made better when Smita and I talked about it – in savory detail – during a phone call days later. She wanted to hear about the food so I told her about the food. We also talked about my classes and what was next for her. I remember hoping that Eric was listening in. I wanted him to know about my classes.

Around mid-January, I decided it was past time for me to actively seek out the long-lost friends who were important to me, and let them know that I was – am – glad to know them. I’d start with my college pals, the wonderful women scattered across North Carolina. As our adulthoods shifted and shaped, there were always flimsy mentions of visiting this person next season, next year, next decade. Life doesn’t allow for such hesitance. Buenos Aires still looked unlikely, so I decided I’d drive a 1,000-plus miles in a winter week, racing after people I need to know again.

As it happened that trip, I welcomed March alone and snowbound in an Asheville hotel. I could have been miserable, but mostly I was hopeful. I was submerged in a marketing textbook, quite surprised to realize how much I already knew about global distribution systems. I passed the white-gray hours reading and writing. Safety concerns cut short attempts at running on a substandard treadmill. There was quite a bit of pleasure in being so displaced.

In mid-March, one workshop wrapped and another began. I wrote and wrote and wrote some more – more than I had in years. One day a rather bizarre plot-building exercise forced me to craft a story about a beetle, a bridge game, and a cruise ship. After that feat, I entered a flash-fiction contest I’d heard about years ago. I came in third.

Had you asked me then, I would have said, yes, 2010 is good. I obviously didn’t know what May had in store. My frustration at work became nearly unbearable – and it only got worse. (I later expressed this in no uncertain terms to management, so I’m comfortable divulging it here.) Buenos Aires was downgraded to San Francisco. May further conspired against me: San Francisco fell apart eight hours before we were supposed to board our flight. There was no rescheduling; work didn’t allow for that — and wouldn’t allow for that. I wouldn’t go anywhere. Irritations mounted – one shitty surprise after another. Surely June would be better.

It wasn’t.

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