There’s something about my birthday drawing near that always makes me feel like putting the proverbial pen to paper to do a bit of soul-searching. In 2009, it resulted in a blog post about musical influences, and in 2010, it resulted in a mind-spill of self-reflection.
Now here I am in 2013, trying to figure out how to mark my latest trip around the sun (in writing, anyway – the real-life celebrations are being taken care of as I write this…). I’ve been tossing a few ideas around in my mind and brainstorming with a few of my closest friends, and what you’ll find below is a result of that process. Since my son turned nine last week (and because nine fits nicely into 45, but we all know the first reason sounds much better…), I’ve divided the list into five categories with nine items each, mostly in random order. I’ve included a slew of links to relevant old blog posts, and just for fun, I’ve linked almost every instance of the word “poetry” (or variations thereof) to a different poem of mine, so be sure to check those out too. You can hover over each link to read its brief description.
About me: (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
I had the television news on this afternoon, but only for a little while. With my face buried in my computer screen and my ears picking up bits and pieces of the ongoing live reporting as I typed, every time I heard a siren, I jumped a little, momentarily startled and wondering for just a sliver of a second if it was coming from outside instead of the news report. We live far away from the rockets and missiles being fired at the south and now the center of the country, but in Israel, “far” is merely a relative term. Tel Aviv is just under an hour away by car, and Kiryat Malachi, the town where three people were killed by rocket fire on Thursday (and also the town where my husband is from and one of his brothers still lives), is just over an hour away if we take the Trans-Israel highway (known locally as Road 6), the country’s only toll road.
It’s sadly amazing to me how we always manage to seamlessly slip back into the jargon of war. My Facebook feed is filling up with words like rockets/missiles, sirens and booms, and people in “safer” parts of the country are letting friends and family know that they’ve got room for guests if anyone feels the need to get away. The “situation”, as times like these are always referred to, is discussed over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at a bat-mitzvah in a resigned, almost casual manner, simply because over the years, we have grown so used to periodically doing so.by Liza Rosenberg
For me, one of the most remarkable aspects of Facebook is that it provides so many of us with an opportunity to come full circle; to reach beyond the relatively shallow aspects of our former, younger selves and build on the positive aspects of the relationships of our youth. We have, hopefully, shed our bitchy, divisive teenage angst and injected wisdom and maturity accumulated during the years that have passed, allowing these relationships to grow on new, wonderful levels. Perhaps you weren’t friendly with everyone back in the day, but to a certain degree, each individual played a role in the tapestry of our formative years – loving us, hating us or not knowing we existed, with a never-ending palette of grey shades in between.
As a member of such a community, I feel very blessed. I am often in awe of how we have come together with a unity that deserves to be celebrated, despite the time gone by and the great physical distances between us. I am encouraged by our collective urge to reach out to one another as adults and the desire to cast aside our childhood differences and form friendships with those who knew us when.
My friend A is one of those. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
Sometimes, life isn’t so great. You get bogged down in the negatives and lose sight of the good stuff – the stuff that makes you smile. And, while I’m not trying to minimize the negatives (and these days, there are more than a few, what with a friend being very sick, political and environmental disasters that are seemingly at every turn, a difficult job market, etc.), perhaps taking some time to focus on the positives will help take you to a better place. That’s why I’ve decided to take up a challenge – one that I will also pass on to you. But more on that later…
Fabulously talented author Isabel Losada (you really must read her books if you haven’t – even my son thinks she’s wonderful ) wrote a book entitled 100 Reasons to Be Glad, and as she shares her own list, she challenges readers to come up with their own. And because you know I simply can’t resist a challenge – especially one as interesting as this one, let’s see what I can come up with (in no particular order, of course).
My 100 reasons to be glad: (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
In the age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, I daresay that most of us – if not all of us – have been there. You know what I’m talking about – virtual friendship. Those friends we make online, often through other friends, but not always. We interact with them on our profiles, we poke and get poked in return. We tag them in notes and we exchange 140-character “tweets”. Deepest thoughts are revealed, private jokes are created, mundane tidbits of everyday life are shared. Before you even realize it, you have a new friend. Sure, you haven’t actually met in “real” life, but in the days of friendship 2.0, that almost seems trivial. After all, you “connect” on so many different levels. Or at least you think you do…
Because, after exchanging hundreds of messages, wall comments and the like, it slowly begins to change. A flurry of pathetic excuses are made, occasional bickering ensues (followed by abject apologies, of course) and with each passing day, the friendship feels more and more like a toy whose time has passed. The initial excitement has seemingly died down (for one of you, anyway) and maybe you lose interest and toss the friendship aside. Or perhaps you are the one relegated to the virtual shelf with all the other “toys”, taken down to be played with at random, at the whims of someone you believed was your friend. You just don’t understand it, because not only were you led to believe that things were going well, but even when you decide to take a step back, they’re back on the radar with emails and comments, keeping you just off-balance enough so as to keep you guessing.
Suddenly, it all goes to hell. The person you thought you knew, the friend you thought you’d made is no more. You can’t figure out what happened, so you push the issue, you question the silence. Outrageous accusations begin to fly. Words, calculated to cause pain, hit their mark. You are stunned, shaken, hurt. And once you get over the initial shock, you are angry. Angry that this individual you’d trusted and liked could twist things around in such a grandly absurd manner, absolved of all responsibility. Angry that this person has decided that they were an innocent victim of a “stalker” of sorts (!), conveniently forgetting their own involvement in the “friendship”. You are shocked by this blatant display of pathetic, childish behavior, and it comes as no surprise when you discover that you’ve been unceremoniously defriended, blocked and publicly moaned about on your former “friend’s” wall (the modern day version of calling everyone in your address book to badmouth someone, even if you don’t mention them by name), for apparently, this is what we do when friendship 2.0 goes sour.
So, how do we go about the nasty business of ending friendship these days? With the magical click of a few buttons, of course. An “unfollow” here, a “block” there, and presto, the direct connection is virtually severed. They can no longer see your comments on the profiles of mutual – often virtual – friends and you can’t see theirs. In many cases, they live in some far-flung corner of the world, so you’re not likely to run into them in your local café or pub. If you play your cards right, you might even be able to pretend that they never even existed, that you never willingly invited them into your world. Except, of course, that you did.
So, how have your online friendships fared?by Liza Rosenberg
For those of you under 30, this post just might not be for you. You lot have always known what a fax machine was, and unless you grew up with a Mac, your computer always came with the Microsoft Windows operating system. Opening and closing virtual windows on your computer comes as natural to you as opening and closing real windows comes to us.
When I was in elementary school, taking home one of the coveted school computers from the library meant bringing home a keyboard of sorts (of which I have little to no recollection), a small black and white television for use as a monitor, and what I can only assume was a modem that would allow me to connect to the local network. Picking up the phone receiver (which was, of course, not cordless – this was the 70s, after all, when the only portable phone we knew of could be found in the car of Jennifer and Jonathan Hart), I’d dial the requisite number, wait for the appropriate series of tones to sound, and then place the receiver in the modem. I’d log on to the network (my chosen ID was “ringo”, reflecting my early love of The Beatles), and using the limited tools at my disposal, exchange crudely formatted (but quite well-written, of course ) messages to others on the network – other local students who’d also managed to score a computer for the weekend.
I played games like “Eliza” and “Dungeons and Dragons“, and used my proudly acquired – though clearly inadequate – knowledge of BASIC to create simple programs. We all learned BASIC in school, and the geeks kids who were evidently more clever than I were testing the waters with programming languages like Fortran and COBOL. There were no graphics. There were no colors. To be honest, there wasn’t much of anything.
Computers were not central to my life while growing up. Indeed, they were barely of any interest to me at all. In university, I was the proud owner of a Brother word processor (two, actually, after the first one was stolen during a break-in), and the less than proud owner of a failing grade in my first university-level computer course. I passed it with flying colors the second time around with a different teacher, so I hope you’ll indulge me and allow me to blame my earlier failure on what was so obviously an instructional glitch.
Somewhere along the way, though, something changed. At some point, I unwittingly discovered – and embraced – my inner geek. Days spent sitting in front of the computer began to get the better of me, and I found myself becoming curious – intrigued, even. With the advent of the internet, I was utterly smitten. I was amazed by the capabilities, by the virtual doors it opened. Think about it! Think about what you can do! If you’re persistent, you can find information about anything. Or anyone… You can make purchases, you can make travel plans. And when you make those plans, you can even get your bearings long before you arrive, thanks to programs like Google Earth. You can see the sights without leaving home, or take a tour of your hotel while wearing your pajamas (or while not wearing them, though if that’s the case, I may or may not want to know…). You can find old friends and make new ones; you can find songs (or they can find you…).
Longing to poke that special someone? Got an irresistible urge to throw a sheep at your high school crush? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you should be on Facebook, of course, the website that lets you do almost anything to your friends and loved ones. Start a snowball fight or a food fight with your mates (or with your favorite blogger, but remember that she plays dirty), fling office supplies at your colleagues (because face it – they’re all on Facebook too). Challenge me to a word game, though I should warn you – I can be very, very competitive.
And how about those gadgets you keep around the house? You know, the ones you can use with your computer? iPhones and cameras and scanners, oh my! Seriously, could you have imagined 10 or 15 years ago being able to use your cell phone to access your email? How incredible is it that I can connect my camera to my computer and send you a photo via email, which you can receive on your cell phone anywhere in the world – within seconds? Not that I’m going to, of course, so don’t be getting your hopes up. Requests, however, may be considered (get your mind out of the gutter! You know who you are…)…
Less than 20 years ago, I was amazed by the act of being able to send a piece of paper through my phone and have that content come out on someone else’s phone somewhere else in the world. Today, my five year-old son begs me to allow him to watch VOD, and I’m quite certain that he already knows more about it than I ever will. My father just got his first mp3 player. He’s waiting for me to arrive and assist him with the mindboggling task of filling up this credit card-sized gadget with nearly 1000 songs and old radio show recordings. The player was a Father’s Day gift from my mother, and the process of getting it loaded up is a Father’s Day gift from me. It will undoubtedly be a time-consuming technological labor of love, and as I compile a list of suitable download sites, I think to myself, what a wonderful world…by Liza Rosenberg