Name: Heather Dorsey
Kids: son, age 11; daughter, age 7
Works: marketing writer, LPi & freelance writer
Favorite part of being a mom: Unconditional love from my children.
Least favorite part of being a mom: Repeating myself. (I am speaking English, right?)
Famous for: Being the only mom on the block who can Rip-stick.
I used to be a self-described Facebook addict. No lie.
Facebook used to be like my morning cup of coffee. I'd wake up in the morning, and had to check my news feed real quick before I started my day. Pathetic? Perhaps. I have always viewed Facebook as mindless entertainment, on the one hand; and as a way to keep up with what my friends and relatives are up to, on the other.
I have relationships that have been totally strengthened because of all the things I've learned about that person on Facebook.
Rather than the small talk I used to have with one of my distant relatives I rarely saw, and hardly knew, for example, now I could ask her about her recent trip to Mexico, her job, or if her husband was recovering from his recent leg injury. I've learned a lot about her through her interactions with her friends, and realized how seriously funny she is. The times we do see each other are now more productive, and as a result we've grown closer. We've become really good friends in real life, because of our friendship on Facebook.
This past January, I made a New Year's Resolution, though: spend less time on Facebook. Though I enjoy it, it is a bit of a time-suck and I thought I needed to regain that time. So, as a result, I have spent less time on Facebook in the last few months than ever before. And thank goodness for that, because it will make going cold turkey all that much easier.
You see, when I went to log on Facebook today, I got this message: "Your account has been disabled. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page here."
Huh? There must be some mistake. I re-entered my login and password and received the same message. (Truthfully, I did it at least three times.) I clicked on the FAQ link and read the reasons I could have been disabled without warning, and this is what I found:
Fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. All accounts must abide by the following policies:
People on Facebook want to interact with their real friends and the people they know in the real world. Since fake accounts can damage the integrity of this environment, they are not allowed to remain on the site.
OK, well I haven't done any of that, so I called customer service. Have you ever tried to do that? First of all, good luck trying to find the number. You have to leave the site and Google "Facebook corporate" to find it. Secondly, lots of luck reaching a real person. This is the recording I got when I dialed the extension for customer service: "Thank you for calling Facebook User Operations. Unfortunately, we do not offer phone support at this time." They then refer you to the help section that you can find on the bottom of any Facebook page.
While I am glad that I had started to work on curbing my addiction before this occurred, to say that I am a little annoyed right now is an understatement. To have my account pulled for no reason, when I use Facebook as a resource to keep up with friends, businesses and organizations that I support, is just wrong. I also teach a social media class, and use my own account to demonstrate how Facebook works. I had no warning, explanation, or opportunity to prevent this from happening.
I left a message at the extension for "press" at their corporate headquarters. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted. But in the meantime: buyer beware. If this happened to me—for no reason—it could happen to you, as well.
It's almost 2011: a time to reflect on 2010, and set goals for the upcoming year. Thanks to Facebook, I had more people remember my birthday than ever before. Facebook is probably the best thing that has ever happened to post-Christmas babies. Although, I must say, it would have come in more handy when I was 9, than it does now at age 39 (ahem), when birthdays were something we really looked forward to!
I haven't posted in awhile, because I have a lot to say. This happens a lot. When I have the most to say, it is often the most personal. My filter takes over and then nothing gets written at all. Writing a blog is a lot harder than it looks. Aside from having to be really careful about spelling and grammar (since you don't want to appear stupid), you have to be real if you want what you write to be interesting. Again, this is much harder than it sounds. And you also have to be careful not to offend anyone you know.
I also have kids who are discovering the Internet. This means that Googling mom can't be far behind one of these days. There are lots of interesting things I can write about single parenting, divorce, and the dating world, that I would be fine with thousands (or hundreds, or fifty, or two) of my closest friends reading, that I'd never want my kids to read.
So, to help clarify, here are a few things I won't be writing about this upcoming year:
OK—wait—it may just be easier to list what I will write about:
I recently booked a ticket, online, to fly to New York for the weekend. It was a really good price: under $200, including all taxes and fees. And since I am just going to bring a carry-on, I can avoid the extra fees to check luggage.
However, I encountered something new to me when I went to choose my seat assignments: there was a charge to select any seat on the plane. I know that the emergency exit row costs extra, and, of course, if you want to upgrade to first class. But they were charging for the cramped middle seat—in the last row, near the stinky bathroom, and for the middle seat—that doesn't even recline, directly in front of the emergency exit row. It would cost me $6 to have either of those seats. If I wanted to sit near the front of the plane, it would cost me $10.
"What is the alternative?" I wondered. Can you sit in the bathroom, or on the wing? I decided not to choose my own seats and proceeded to payment, at which time the airline assigned my seats. A couple weren't so bad, but I wasn't crazy about getting the middle seat, right in front of the emergency exit row, on one leg.
Anyways, it got me thinking. Perhaps, as a freelance writer, I am going about billing all wrong. Typically publications will offer you a flat fee for a story, or pay you by the word. I've decided that from now on I am going to take a lesson from the airlines' playbooks and tack on the following fees:
That reminds me, I need to go and eat some breakfast before I head out for my day job. Who is going to pay for that??
In the same vein as "you don't see this every day" I had an interesting experience with 14 of my closest friends last weekend. Well, actually, I'm not all that close to them (some of them I had never even met); unless we're talking actual physical closeness—in which case they were 14 of my new best friends.
Yup, when you are crammed into an elevator, like sardines, there is not a lot of breathing room. And so I found myself, trapped between floors, with a bunch of really joyous people who had been reveling in all the fun that Fish Day, in Port Washington, had to offer.
When the elevator started to ascend from the first floor and made a stop at the second floor, this jovial group of people made room. You know the drill: "Sure there's room come on in!" as people move to accommodate the extra riders...something you've seen a million times and that I am not always altogether comfortable with.
I'm not a huge fan of crowds, but it's just an elevator ride—no big deal. So we started going up and then ga-ga, thump! Now we're not moving. Uh-oh.
I'm not claustrophobic (usually) and I'm not a worrier (most of the time) and I've proven to be pretty calm in an emergency situation (even put a fire out at a gymnastics facility once). But the equalizing factor in this whole situation was the article I had just read, the day before, and had shared with some of the people I now found myself stuck with: an elderly couple had died of heat exhaustion in an elevator that had been stuck between floors.
I mean really, what are the odds? I read about a couple, stuck between floors in an elevator, dying of heat exhaustion; and the next day I'm in an elevator, stuck between floors, as the temperature outside is hovering in the 90s (in the shade).
So between having had a few adult beverages and with this article fresh in my mind, I am feeling just ever so slightly freaked out. I probably would have been even more unsettled if it weren't for the fact that this stuff happens to me all the time. The kids and I have even dubbed my funky tendency to have crazy coincidences as my jinx mojo, because it happens too often to just be ignored (but that's another story).
Anyways, as jokes flew left and right (i.e. someone on the outside pounded on the door and one of my fellow riders yelled out: "Is that you God?") I really wasn't finding too much humor in our situation. I switched places to stand next to my friend, who oozes calm in a crisis, and suggested that we call 911. I was not reassured that a fellow rider was on the phone with the elevator company; I wanted to bring in the big guns.
Someone did call 911 and we found out that help was already on the way. About 20 minutes later, firefighters opened the hatch on top, popped the plastic ceiling panel off from over our heads, dropped in a ladder, and were instructing us how to climb out the top of the elevator.
With a "step here" a "step there" and then someone reaching and grabbing my arm, I was out of the shaft and back on solid ground. A friend later asked me if the elevator shaft looked like it did in the movies; but between being very focused on where they were instructing me to step, and being beyond thrilled to be out of the elevator, not only did I not notice what the elevator shaft looked like, I didn't even notice if the firemen were hot (I mean: what the firemen looked like). That just shows you how stressed out I was feeling.
We took the stairs to the top of this high-rise and the view of the lake was spectacular—truly worth the trip. But for the foreseeable future there will be a little more room on elevators, because I'll be taking the stairs.
Mom, you gotta’ watch this! So shouted my kids as I walked in to our hotel room in DC last weekend. I had gone down to the business office to check in for our flight the next morning. They had played the same game that had been entertaining them, for the past two days, whenever we were in our hotel room—they stood on either double bed in our hotel room and whipped a beach ball back and forth between the two of them. There was also some leaping between beds, I believe, and some diving of some form or another. This time, they had recorded it for posterity’s sake.
As I sat there watching their shenanigans—hoping that during the heat of the day, all the guests surrounding us were either at a museum, the hotel pool or sweating it out at the National Mall or the Zoo (this was a fairly noisy game)—I couldn’t help but wonder if we could have had just as much fun at a hotel within an hour or two drive from our house, rather than a somewhat pricey, holiday weekend, Washington DC hotel room.
It got me thinking that I am looooooooooong overdue to do a blog posting. So, since traveling with kids is pretty commonplace for me, I thought I’d share some of my worldly advice in the hopes that I can make someone’s vacation with their kids a little more enjoyable.
1. Less is more – kids enjoy the little things. They loved their beach ball game, the hotel pool and the Metro the best. They didn’t care for the heat and my son doesn’t like museums. So I kept our visits to the museums and the zoo short, knowing that for us getting there and back on the Metro was half the fun; and since all the museums in the Smithsonian are free, it didn’t matter how long we stayed.
2. Bring a beach ball or two – my kids always make friends at the hotel pool with a beach ball (all the kids want to play with it). It takes up no room in the suitcase and supplies hours of fun at the pool or in the hotel room. You can leave them behind if you want, it’s not like they cost much. You will feel good about making another family happy and it’s one less thing to carry home in your suitcase.
3. Pack light! – The rule in my house is you only pack what you can carry. And if my youngest doesn’t have to carry much, even better. My children shared one carry-on that we took on the plane and I had a second one. Mine included a small blanket for us to sit on for the fireworks, and my suit case still had room left in it, in case we bought anything on our trip. We also pack one backpack for the plane, that we share, to put their DS’s in, a deck of cards, some reading material, and snacks. That’s it. Your kids will find stuff to entertain themselves with if you don’t bring many toys. Promise.
4. If all else fails, bribe ‘em. – My kids, like all kids, can drive me nuts when they bicker. A typical exchange goes something like this: “Hey do you guys want to go to the Air & Space Museum or the Natural History Museum first?” One says one, one says the other and then depending on their moods they could fight to the death to get their way. I instituted an “every time you guys agree you get a dollar policy.” It actually works. You need to pay for stuff for them anyways, why not make it part of a reward? And half the time, like on this trip, I don’t even end up having to pay up, it’s just making it a game that makes it fun for them.
5. Make games out of stuff – OK, here was one I just stumbled on to (or I’m a genius, I’m not sure which). We were walking back to the hotel and Miranda was really tired. We were about three blocks from the hotel. She was whining heavily. I said, “how many steps do you think it will take to get back to the hotel? I think 409.” She threw out a number. She forgot about being tired as we counted our steps the last few blocks. Funny thing was I was only off by nine steps. What a fluke! We both enjoyed the game.
When you have younger children, you speak a language all your own. You can have complete conversations with them that people standing nearby won't interpret a word of, though you understand your child perfectly.
As they get older, the vocabulary changes, but the same basic premise applies.
In the spirit of being helpful, I've created a dictionary of some common phrases in my house and what they mean:
7 yr-old girl: Mom, I love you (spoken spontaneously at 7:00 in the morning) means: I love you.
11 yr-old boy: Mom, I love you (said at any time) means: Can I sleep over at _____'s house?
7 yr-old girl: Mom, your hair looks nice means: Your hair looks nice.
11 yr-old boy: Mom, your hair looks nice means: Can ___ sleep over at our house?
11 yr-old boy: Your hair looks nice, you look so much younger! means: Can I have two friends sleep over?
7 yr-old girl: What are you doing? means: Can we do something fun?
11 yr-old boy: What are you doing? means: Can you drive me over to ____'s house?
7 yr-old girl: What's for dinner? means: I hope it's one of my favorites.
11 yr-old boy: What's for dinner? means: Can we order Chinese?
7 yr-old girl: Mom, you're the best mom ever! means: You are the best mom ever!
11 yr-old boy (at bedtime): I love you means: I love you.