August 23, 2011

How to have a Birthday Week

Dear heavens, Blog, where have I been? I know, I know, my remissness blog-wise is inexcusable. But the excuse I can give for the past week is that I've been having a Birthday Week (currently on Day 7). And what more festive activity for Day 7 of my Birthday Week than to tell our readers how to have a Birthday Week!

Great decorating job, co-workers!
The foundation of a BW is your birthday itself, natch. Odds are in the busy and complex world of 2011, you are unable to celebrate the day with all your family and friends on the same day. Maybe you and the significant other are planning a romantic dinner, while your parents are hosting you a different day, etc. In my case this year, I had a fun lunch get-together planned with my dad on my birthday itself, a Thursday. Meanwhile, the dinner with husband, daughters, and daughters' BFs was planned for Saturday. So, take these occasions and build your BW around them!

Now, add to the mix any fun activities that happen to be scheduled during the adjacent week. I, for example, had a massage appointment set up for Tuesday. I haven't had a massage in like 10 years, so this definitely qualifies as a special occasion that makes my Tuesday a festive BW day. Maybe your activity is less thrilling, like grocery shopping day, but that doesn't mean you can't make it festive. In that case, you might splurge on a bunch of your favorite entrees, drinks, snacks, or know, Blog, make it your dream food shopping spree!

It's the Domes Art Fair!
Another factor that will help you is the scientific fact that every week includes a weekend. And weekends tends to be opportunities for special activities. See what's happening in your town and make it a BW activity. For example, in Milwaukee this was the weekend for the 2nd Annual Domes Art Fair, at which my daughter Katie's boyfriend happened to have a booth. How exciting! And anything exciting is BW fodder, Blog. The early kickoff on Friday meant a checkmark by that day for me.

Taking advantage of fun adventures you always enjoy definitely counts, so Saturday I took a groovy trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum (yep, Saturday was double festive!), and Sunday went to lunch and shopping in lovely downtown Cedarburg.

"The 500 Fingers of Dr. T" rocks.
Sadly, you will still have some weekdays to fill, and at least one will require creative thinking. If your office observes birthdays with treats, bringing in doughnuts, cake or cookies certainly adds a celebratory air to your random Wednesday. And remember, you can have festive fun even in the evening in your humble home. Wednesday evening it was a fab French Silk Sundae from Kopps (an annual treat) and a beloved movie I hadn't seen in 40 years, "Dr. Seuss's The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T." It's a party!

Here's a little tip: Sometimes it can be fun to NOT plan a BW activity and just be on the lookout all day for some happy surprise the universe sends your way. In my case, my blank Monday was made festive when my coworkers surprised me by decorating my office while I was out having a long weekend. Sweet! And it made for a complete seven-day extravaganza of fun.

A couple more suggestions: Birthdays are yet another reason to join Facebook. It's so fun getting greetings all day from your friends all over the world. You don't have to thank each one individually, but I find that doing so just makes each gesture more meaningful. It's a cyberparty all day! Meanwhile, if you can line up your BW with some several-day fun time, like a trip or a visit, that week will rock all the more. I was lucky that my uber-friend Martha stayed with us four fun days.

And that's all there is to it! The added benefit of observing a Birthday Week is that it will teach you to look for fun wherever you are and whatever you do, Blog. It's amazing how having a party attitude makes party feelings materialize on the most ordinary days! And that's a bonus b-day present for sure.

August 4, 2011

Maybe not your view of Facebook, but--

Blog, I know you keep dropping hints about getting your own Facebook page, but you know the rules: no disembodied anthropomorphic beings allowed. There aren't a ton of rules about Facebook, but there are some.

Meanwhile, there's really no rule about how a person looks at the role of Facebook in their lives, and I'm not here to tell anyone what that role should be for them. However, I feel like talking about how I look at it for me. Which of course may not matter to our readers, or even to you, Blog.

But it's my blog and I'll pontificate if I want to.

Today I got a friend request from a stranger. I do put out there in the cyberverse that people who are fans of my writing are welcome to friend me on Facebook, so sometimes that happens. Typically the person then introduces him-/herself with some nice words of appreciation. What's not to like? Other times, I get a request from a friend of a friend who has perhaps read my comments on that friend's status and would like to know me better and vice versa. Also very cool.

But this was one of those strangers who is a Networker. If you, dear reader, are a part of any sort of category, like I am a part of the authors of the world, you know whereof I speak. "Networkers" on Facebook are those who love to accumulate hoards of "friends" with that one thing in common, in my case, writing. I can appreciate the networking functionality of Facebook, although I'd prefer people keep that stuff to LinkedIn, which is really designed for professional networking. But hey, it's okay.

However, sometimes what Networkers are really trying to build on Facebook is a place for self-promotion, and only for self-promotion. Before you throw that pot/kettle/black thing at me, Blog, I won't deny that I sometimes bring up my books on Facebook. But I try to do it sparingly and in ways I would comfortably do at a party with my "real life" friends. Different story for the Facebook page for Aggie's Nine Heroes, since it's fan page and people know that going in. Many of my friends occasionally self-promote, and I'm cool with that's reasonably proportional.

So back to our story. By Facebook's list of our mutual friends, I could see this stranger who sent the friend request was a writing networker. Typically when I get these, I'll accept, and then I'll give the person a week or two of posting. Oftentimes I really like them as a person and thus make a new friend. Othertimes less so, and then I block them. Yes, I admit it, that's what I do.

However, today's stranger was different. I accepted her request and then, as is my practice, checked out her wall. She was an author, all right. But what I found was 75% postings of political nature--links to articles, diatribes, etc. And as it happens these were not of my particular political bent. Result: immediate unfriend.

This is not to say I vehemently dislike anyone whose political views differ from mine; that's true of many of my dearest, oldest friends (and also my dad). What I vehemently dislike, frankly, is the behavior of posting endless political diatribes to one's friends on Facebook. It's a free country, do it if you like, but I don't have to read it. To me it seems like complete disrespect for those friends you have who disagree with you.

Whatever happened to the adage that, when in social groups, one ought not discuss religion or politics?

At any rate, clearly this person knew nothing at all about me and didn't really care to. And this leads to my problem with Facebook Networkers in general. Facebook is supposed to be for friends, people who either know each other or have a commonality that could genuinely lead to friendship, like I do with fans of my writing. When I accept a friend request and then see on his/her wall "Joan Blow is now friends with Diana Laurence and 17 other people," I'm tempted to unfriend or block right there.

What you are doing is very likely simply adding me to your promotional pool. Unless you truly use Facebook to share yourself, your interests and activities, and to engage with mine, you're not using the medium the way I do. I fear your ensuing status updates will be a steady stream like this:

Joan Blow Tell me what you think of my awesome new book cover!

Joan Blow I just added Pizza Bend, WY to my book tour--hope to see you there!

Joan Blow I just can't decide which guy in my new novel the Werewolf Alley series is the hottest. But then, it will be hard to top Tristan O'Donahue from the last one, or at least that's what my fans say!

Which, while better than a string of political diatribes, does not strike me as the best use of Facebook. But that's just me. (Of course if it's also you, you can click the Right On Box below.)

P.S., there is a real Joan Blow on Facebook. I really didn't mean her, I'm sure she's super nice.