Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Snapchat, Social Media, and Feeling Old at 35

Today, I started a new semester teaching First Year Writing at Montclair State University. I love the start of a semester.  There's just a feeling of newness and hope that permeates the hallways. Anything, any grade, any opportunity is possible.

I also love talking with my students.  Like it or not, they are of a different generation and I learn a lot about current popular culture by hearing what they have to say. For our first unit, we are working on analyzing social media and modern day communication, so today, I had them talk about what social media platforms they are on.

Predictably, almost all of them said Facebook.  (Whoever says it is going out of style for teenagers clearly needs to rethink that position.) However, there is a point in the afore-linked article; students are using more messenger apps on their phones.  In addition to the old standbys, Facebook and Twitter, a good amount of them mentioned Instagram and also Snapchat.

Before today, I had NO idea what Snapchat was. "With this mobile app, users can send photos and videos to their friends. These messages promptly disappear after one viewing, which, in the minds of teenage viewers, allows for greater security" (Daniels para.1). The problem is, the images don't really disappear, or so I've read. I mean, this is the internet. Are we really to believe anything ever disappears?

Regardless, it seems that it is that which offers more for a shorter attention span that has become more popular. I would say a good 90% of my students today said they are on Snapchat, and said it with major enthusiasm.

So, just now, I searched for a Snapchat meme to include in this blog post and almost everything that came up had to do with sex. Ugh. And now I officially feel old and oblivious, because I really, naively, didn't realize that the allure of instant pictures that "disappear" would be to send graphic photos. I have a six month old daughter and am officially horrified.

Please allow me to return to my blissful ignorance and my old people's social media of Facebook and Twitter now. I'm good on the Snapchat.

Monday, January 19, 2015

An Ode to Single Mothers Everywhere

Dear Single Mothers,

My husband recently went on a trip to India. It came at an interesting time. My six month old was just starting antibiotics (for the second time and this time, on Augmentin. Ever seen a baby's poop on Augmentin? Don't even get me started) for a wicked double ear infection. It was the first time she was really, truly sick; she had a high fever, lots of greenery coming out of her nose, was unable to eat without taking breaks because of the congestion and certainly was not sleeping through the night. Thankfully, I'm a professor so I was on winter break, but still...

I have to give serious kudos to single mothers everywhere. It was difficult even to do this temporarily with one kid, a baby. I can't even imagine doing it constantly with more than one child, older children and babies at the same time, etc.  My mother had three children under the age of 10 when my father died and I have never respected her as much as I do right now, an hour before I leave to pick my husband up from the airport.

Ladies, you are awesome. I realize you probably have to pull some magic strings to shower, to put make up on before you leave the house.  Keeping the house clean, sticking to routine, walking the dog - it's all on you.  So, as I sit next to a napping baby who is finally feeling better, I absolutely salute you.  Your house may be a mess at times, you may have to wear your child in the freezing cold while you walk the dog, you may not remember what an adult movie looks like, you may forget to eat.  But you take care of your children.  Rock on, mamas.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Late Introduction...

So, since I already wrote my first blog post, please allow me to introduce myself.

I am a writer, a poet, a professor, a wife, and now, a mom.  I have many identities, it seems. Over the years, I have tried my hand at blogging but can never really find one subject that interests me. Then it dawned on me; I don't have to focus on just one subject!


Primarily, I have always written poems. So, I figure here, I can write about anything I feel doesn't fit into a poem.  I may focus on parenting. I may focus on education. I may focus on self - promotion (I mean, come on...give me a break! I have a chapbook coming out this year for God's sake!).  But overall, I hope you'll enjoy it all and feel free to talk with me in the comments section.

I am a Mother, a Writer, a Professor. Can I Find Time to Clean the House?

Balancing it all is an interesting concept. I've been reading a book lately, What Happy Working Mothers Know: How New Findings in Positive Psychology Can Lead to a Healthy and Happy Work/Life Balance.  One idea that it presents fairly early on is the idea that I can be the "CEO" of my family.  The idea of this is really attractive, right?  Picture it:

I wake up in the morning and immediately find time to wash up.  My boobs are not too full because they are used to my baby's eating habits. I put on a sports bra that fits well and work out without waking up the baby. I shower.  I wake the baby and feed her, get us both ready for the day before leaving for work.  At work, I am a model of success. When my husband or the caregiver texts in the middle of the day with a question about the baby, I have the answer immediately and without worry. I handle my job with the ease of a true professional, not a hair out of place. I commute home and the traffic does not stress me out. My evening is spent playing with, bathing and feeding my baby and she goes right to sleep when I put her down. I then get lunches and food ready for the next day and spend time with my husband watching a show we both like, speaking deeply on issues that matter to us and spending satisfying time together before falling off into a dreamless sleep. My baby doesn't wake me for hours. I am in charge of everything.

Sounds perfect, right? Full, but manageable, if not a bit glossed over. I mean, nothing is planned out perfectly. Routine is all well and good, but my baby may decide she wants to eat before I work out.  I haven't worked in time for personal pursuits like writing or learning Bengali and practicing the guitar. I haven't spoken honestly about how hard it is to pump in between the classes I teach at the university so I can continue to breastfeed my baby.  And when, exactly, does my house get cleaned, organized, sanitized for that little baby?

I am blessed with a husband who is willing to help with all of this, but he is busy as well. And there are only so many hours in the day.  So, while I continue to read books about being a successful working mother, managing my time effectively, remaining calm in the face of 103 degree fevers, messy diarrhea, complaining students and a sticky kitchen floor, I wonder if being this CEO is possible. Perhaps I should read a book on positive thinking next.