Thursday, March 27, 2014

Social Notworking

Have you missed me, guys? Have you? See, I've been purposely making myself scarce online these days. I log on only for work, shopping and to browse Reddit. (You know, for the news and such.) But the truth is, the Internet was making me all stabby. I needed a break from Facebook, Instagram and every other site that was chock full of people saying or showing me things that made me hate everything.

I still am hating Facebook and whatnot, but to be honest, I have kind of felt out of the loop after being away for so long and I want to come back. So I'm going to tell you all how to fix the social network environment so that I don't have to choose between slicing my wrists and reading terrible updates.

Now, please understand that I'm not saying everything you ever say online needs to be a home run or anything. (I admit it, I've had a BUNCH of dud statuses.) I'm saying that people should take a look at their collective social presence. If every status or picture or tweet or whatever is consistently terrible or preachy or boring, cancel your account. If everything you put online is all about how beautiful you are or how you feel about disposable diapers or why your life sucks or why your life is "perfect" (it's not, BTW), you are maybe not built for being on a network. You need a club. And probably a therapist.

I have recently unfollowed some people on Facebook. It's not because I don't love them, but it's because they are narcissistic, pathetic, bossy, or so incredibly uninteresting on Facebook that they were literally ruining my day. Everyone uses their social networking power differently, and I won't fault anyone for how they choose to use that power. But please don't make me stop liking you in real life because you are just the WORST on Facebook.

The first "social network" experience I had was when I was really young and my parents got Prodigy. We were the first people I knew to have it, and the power I felt was insane. My little brother and I would sit for hours, tying up the phone line, while we visited online chat rooms and talked to strangers. We were far too young for the Internet, but no one had ruined it yet. It was a pristine, intriguing and life-expanding environment full of randomness and interesting people.

Back then, there was no threat of "cyber bullying" or "you may get sucked into human trafficking." It was just a way to talk to people. I remember going into a chat room geared towards married women, curious about what it was like to be married. Findings? It's hard and men will never understand women. And after a few minutes in a Minnesota chat room, I figured out that people in Minnesota love casserole recipes. It was wildly informative.

I liked that Internet. I liked that people were just afraid enough to still keep it respectful and diplomatic, and really try to think about what they wanted to say before spewing it out to others. People had manners back then. (I'm apparently 100 years old, by the way.)

Now, it's just a means of puking up information about yourself without any filter whatsoever. Instead of taking responsibility for what we say, we put all the pressure on our "friends" to deal with whatever ridiculous garbage we decide to post on any given day. See, when you SAY something whiny or rude or vain or supremely lame on a public/social network, you are making every other person read that, internalize that and then get stuck with that information. If that information sucks, you have effectively ruined someone's day. Just because you CAN say something doesn't mean you SHOULD.

So, my final point is this: Please don't ruin the Internet. Try and be funny, informative, curious, kind, helpful or interesting. I'm not saying that we need to do this all the time, but maybe think about this before you post another picture of your running shoes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Taking punches

I did it, you guys. I tried to branch out and find my own little group of pals in Rochester. I did what every cool, relaxed, spontaneous gal does and thoroughly researched my new adventure before I headed out on my journey.

See, I needed to find something "Pharon-y" in this town. Geo got me all started by finding this fairly dope brewery blocks from our house that reminds of Minneapolis, and I realized that I was ready to try and get this hot piece out there. You know, really make a name for myself in this town. So I googled things I like. It was not super amazing. I looked up book clubs that are just a front for gossip and drinking, random karaoke nights and meat raffles and places to meet crazy people while waiting for a bus. I came up with virtually nothing.

Then I looked up kickboxing. I was mad, frustrated and had just finished eating a brick of Costco cheese, so it seemed appropriate. Now, I don't like kickboxing because it's, like, a good workout or anything. (UGH. I promise not to bore you with a workout story, because there is NOTHING MORE BORING THAN A WORKOUT STORY.) No, I like it because I seem to have a knack for it and I only know two other people who even remotely enjoy it. I may not be good at it, but I'm better at it than 99% of the people I know because they have never even tried it.

Anyway, so I google "kickboxing in Rochester" and actually found a place called 9Round. Everything about it screamed "PHARON - THIS IS FOR YOU." It was my chance to find my niche.

So I spent a few hours watching training videos to prep myself before I left to try out the place. I put on my best/only workout clothes, packed up my wrist wraps and boxing gloves that were covered in dust, told Geo not to wait up for me and headed out in search of Pharon.

I got lost on the way there. That is not surprising. But what IS surprising is that I still found the place without GPS. It was like I was drawn to it. A shining beacon of familiarity in the vast wasteland that is a city I do not understand.

I went in and was greeted by this crazy-fit girl who wasn't the least bit judgmental when my hip inadvertently knocked brochures off a table. She seemed extra cool. And even though it looked like she never saw the bottom of a wine bottle on a Tues. night, I liked her a lot. She explained this workout to me, and was impressed by the fact that I could wrap my own wrists. I was slowly slipping back into the gentle embrace of Myself.

Then the workout started. It was the hardest effing thing I've done in my entire life. I thought I was going to puke. But I actually got through it because I felt so miserably aware that this was just for me. I knew these moves, even if I couldn't do them. And despite the gut-heaving pain I was in, I loved every second of it. Oh, 9Round, you GET ME. You soooo get me.

Ah yes, it would have been the perfect self-affirming experience. Until the end. I was nauseous, dehydrated and on a little bit of a workout high, so of course THAT'S when they hit me with the sign-up details.

It was a BILLION dollars to join, AND I'd need to sign a year-long contract in blood, even though I have no intention of being here this time next year. It was THE WORST. Oh, and plus? They were like "We'll need $100 so we can give you wrist wraps and gloves," and I was all "Hey, bros, no prob. I already have those things, so let's just go ahead and waive that, right?" And they were all "Silly rabbit, that's not how this works."

So now I refuse to join this delectable haven because it literally is the most expensive workout I will have ever had. And considering the fact that I also just polished off a Costco tube of summer sausage, I just don't think I deserve that. Oh well, at least I've got the brewery!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dissed and dismissed - Jury Doodie Update

Well THAT was rude. After weeks of build up and anticipation, I was called up to the big leagues for 4 hours and then sent home. I won't lie you guys, it stung.

See, remember when I got the notice about Jury Duty? Well, my citizen-ly duty of serving on a jury has officially come and gone so I can finally dish on the patriotic experience.

Here's one thing I will say about the process: No one is in a hurry to do anything. Except give me a parking ticket for parking in the wrong lot at the government center. See, I was "on call" for a full WEEK before being called in. Every night, I'd have to call this phone number and find out if I'd have to take a shower a put on pants the next day to go serve on a jury. It was an impossibly slow and tedious process. And it was nerve-wracking. For five stupid days, I'd get all ramped up to hear my number called, and it never happened.

But then it happened. I got a call-back to be on jury duty. It was like what I imagine American Idol is like. I was excited, nervous and scared all at the same time. What if it was a murder case? A rape trial? A kangaroo court? (Whatever that is.) On the morning of my first day, I left a full 50 minutes before the government center even opened because I didn't want to be late. (Meanwhile, everything in Rochester is 11 minutes away. EVERYTHING.) And I started off my heroic journey into judicial stardom by parking in the wrong lot and sitting in my car for 35 minutes browsing Reddit. Then I went in to the courthouse to change lives.

Serving on jury duty is boring. I sat with a bunch of strangers who had no desire to talk to me, even though I had my "conversation-starter Nordic leggings" on. Everyone just sat and ignored everything until some dude came in to explain the process and tell us not to worry about the 50 police officers that we may see near the courtroom. Then we were herded up to the courtroom where we sat again and just waited. My God, this is slow...

Finally, the judge started talking and we "met" the dude facing charges and two lawyers with a billion stacks of papers in front of them. (Um, wouldn't it be more efficient/earth-friendly to keep all that stuff in a Word doc?'s called a computer, people.)

Then they started asking us a bunch of questions. How we felt about that, what we think about this. Are we pro- or anti-violence? Pro- or anti-nutjobs? Could we make rational decisions, or were we insane? Blah blah blah. I thought I nailed all the questions. Even when one of the lawyers called me out individually to ask how I felt about the criminal justice system, I really thought I blew them away with a super valuable response.

Other people sounded pissed to be there. They gave these nasty, impatient answers and didn't smile back at the charming attorney. RUDE. No one likes rude people, right?!

WRONG. People LOVE rude people, apparently. After about 2 hours of playing a judicial version of Hot or Not, the lawyers picked their teams. And NO ONE PICKED ME.

At the beginning of the process, the judge told us not to take it personally if we were not chosen to be on the jury. But I couldn't help it. It was the high school Homecoming Court all over again. I had been passed over by my peers and never really understood why. "You're free to leave," the judge said to all of us rejects, while all the super rude folks got comfy in the jury box.

I left the courthouse and got in my illegally-parked car. I didn't know where to go. I had planned to be changing lives and passing judgement all day, so now that I'd been dismissed, I didn't know what to do. It was all so...disappointing.

I was ready to be a hero. To be the voice of reason. To make an impassioned plea to my fellow jurors against a powerful song scored by John Williams. It was all going to be so epic. And then it wasn't. Because no one liked me OR my charming leggings.

So, the moral of the story is that I'm not fit for a jury, even though the government basically hunted me down the second I changed my address to this county so that I could be called in. Oh well. Their loss. I'm crazy-good at pretending to listen and then making a snap judgement. Amurrrica!