I'd like to take this moment to share a personal pet peeve of mine: the internet.
[rant mode ON]
The internet is a wonderful tool that I have found instrumental in finding musicians, community, feedback, expression, and information. I surf regularly, and hell...I even have one of those damned on-line journals. I used the internet to find my bandmates, book just about every gig I've played in Chicago, get involved with my spiritual path and community, learn about just about everything I'm interested in, keep in touch with my distant friends, arrange parties, buy all kinds of stuff....so, yeah, I love the internet. My friend the internet is a handy-dandy, useful thing to have around.
I remember when I first got on-line, waaaaay back in, say, 1991. Green-screen. Geek-a-licious, baby. Then in 1995, I got my first e-mail address (one I kept until earlier this year, in fact). When I went off to college in 1996, the 24-hour computer labs shuttled me straight into full-blown internet addiction...I was an IRC/chatroom whore, baby. I had friends all over the world, joined clubs filled with people I'd never even met, had deep emotional and spiritual connections to people whose voices I'd never even heard. I bought the whole program, lock, stock, and cyber-barrel. And then, like, sanity struck.
I realized that people you "meet" on the internet are pretty much always total strangers. It hit me that you can't fall in love - can't have a real friendship - on the internet. You can have a correspondence, a discussion, joint ventures, creative partnerships....but none of that is an actual relationship. Relationships happen when you spend actual, physical time with someone. In fact, I think that - while kicking words around the 'net is fine - it's almost impossible to effectively communicate on-line with someone you haven't met in person. If you know someone fairly well, you know the language of their reactions, their personal syntax, their inflections, all the subtle parts of communicating with someone that have nothing to do with verbal language....and when they send you an e-mail or an IM, you can fill in all that subconscious information and - for the most part - get what they're saying. Without all that information, though...all you get is words, and words are only a fraction of actual communication.
The thing is, without that face-to-face knowledge, whoever you think you're talking to on the internet is most likely NOTHING like the actual person at the keyboard on the other end of the IM. Their words come out of the mouth of a construct you make in your head, a projection of your hopes and dreams and preferences....without a physical reality to tie into the words we see, we're free to tell ourselves whatever story we like, and that story gives us a false sense of intimacy, of safety, and we can develop emotional reactions...based on nothing but words and imagination.
I know for a lot of my generation, it's easier to deal with a machine than a person. We were raised by TV and movies and video games. Love is a stream of electrons projected onto a glass bubble covered with reactive dust (I forget what kind it is....sorry to any fellow science geeks in the house). Or a plasma screen if we were born after 1985 and grew up rich. It's not surprising that so many of us prefer dealing with people minus the risk of actual physical confrontation. Flame wars are a helluva lot easier than actually telling someone to their face that they're an asshole and here's why. Confessing love for someone a world away that you'll most likely never meet is way safer than looking into someone's eyes and saying "I love you" when they might walk away from you right then and there.
And I know there are many instances when people have grown amazing relationships out of on-line meetings. I have several friends who met their current partners on-line, but the bottom line is that those relationships weren't real until they met in real life and brought that cyber-relationship into the physical plane. And the pure meeting of minds available on the internet has its own appeal, too...sometimes it's nice to find the five other people in the world who're obsessed with counting the eyelashes on black and white prints of Minnie Mouse made between February and July of 1963.
My point here is, I suppose, a cautionary tale in the end. It's dangerous to mistake anything on the internet for reality. It's not reality.
[rant mode OFF]
Sometimes I wonder what it's like in "normal" families, families with two parents who've been married their kids' entire lives, where all the kids have the same parents, where there aren't strange post-divorce, post-re-marriage dynamics about houses and cars and siblings and attention. Sometimes I wonder what holidays are like without catching up on the latest family drama - which uncle and aunt are squabbling over whether the price limit for kids' presents for the Big Family Christmas should be $5 or $10. Sometimes I wonder if Christmas is easier when you don't have to divide your time between this parent's house and that parent's house, or bite your tongue during dinner for the sake of goodwill towards men.
And sometimes I'm blown away by how awesome my family is, even though we're all crazy and divorce is a family tradition and half the time we can't stand each other.
I went home for Christmas and had possibly the best holiday I've had in years, which is surprising since I've been broke, depressed, and definitely NOT in the Christmas spirit or anything approximating it. I helped my stepmom decorate the Christmas tree. My dad and I had our annual cribbage tournament, and he handed me my ass. I had a really lovely conversation with one stepsister, and the other gave me a ride to the train station. I spent Christmas Day with my mom, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my darling neice...which was warm and wonderful.
I didn't give any amazing presents. I didn't get any amazing presents. But everyone kept telling me "it's not about presents" - and you know what? It's not about presents.
Once upon a time, Christmas was my favorite holiday - not because I liked presents, but because Christmas meant I would get to see all my grandparents, all my aunts and uncles, all my cousins, and spend an inordinate amount of time singing carols with my family in the car as we drove from one Christmas party to the next. That's Christmas to me, in it's purest sense....it has nothing to do with Jesus or God or wisemen or Mary or Angels or any of that. Christmas is about family, about huddling together against the cold with the most important people in your life. It's about finding warmth in the dark of winter, about singing with joy because you're together, and you'll all make it through to spring.
So, yeah, I guess I've kinda been celebrating Solstice since I was a kid, then, huh?
Sometimes it amazes me how frickin' witchy I have always been without even knowing it.
Anyway. I'm swamped at the office, and I'm throwing a New Year's Eve party tomorrow night, and I'm about ready to kick off an ass-kicking 2005. I'm going to go ahead and make some New Year's Resolutions, although I'm going to call them Intentions because I like the word better. So, my New Year's Intentions:
1. Daily Practice
I really want to get into the habit of doing a daily Tarot draw, daily exercise, daily meditation, etc. I know me - I need variety, so I'll have to shake it up...but I'd also like to get into a routine of sorts. I have some ideas on this, and when crises aren't putting me into fight-or-flight mode, I've actually made some test runs that give me hope that I can actually do this.
I want to find a way to do some sort of activism at least once a month. Whether this means going to a protest or doing a beach clean-up or organizing something myself....I don't know yet. I do know that it's important for me to find a way to bring the earth connection into the city, and activism feels like one way to do that. Plus there's so much meat for getting pissed off enough to spur action with that motherfucker in the White House.
I do lots of music anyway, but I really want to get focused and get cracking on recording, gigging, and promoting the music. It's the thing that makes me happiest, and if I'm following my bliss, I need to get off my ass and on the road with it!
Okay, enough babbling. Happy New year to you all, and may the Universe bring you all the health, happiness, and prosperity you can stand to hold in 2005.
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.