What’s New?: V-Day

Love is a timeless, universal sentiment. It defies the parameters within which we seek to define it. To attempt its definition is to find oneself at a loss. Love, true, real, raw love, is not easy, and it is ever elusive. But once it’s been found, once it has allowed itself to be confined within the hearts and souls of two people, it makes life more rich and abundant than we could possibly imagine it to be.

So why is it that we devote only one day a year to something so important, something so consuming?

In elementary school, we hand out little paper hearts attached to lollipops in hopes that they will bring happiness to our classmates. We eat cupcakes (at least we used to) and have parties and leave school sugared out all in the name of love.

In high school, we wait expectantly either to receive flowers or to find out how our flowers will be received. We give cliché greeting cards in the hopes that they will accurately expose our adolescent feelings to our sweethearts. And we think it will last forever.

In adulthood, men are now obligated to scramble around at the last minute to purchase flowers (that will die), candies (that she will say have contributed to her nonexistent weight gain), and jewelry (that she will likely wear for a few weeks before allowing it to slip to the bottom of her jewelry box to lie with the relics of Valentine’s Days past). Women, it has to be said, have a fairly easy job this holiday. They are required only to wait and to receive. The final judgement regarding the success of the holiday lies within their jurisdiction. Sorry, guys.

But why? Why do we do behave in these ways? Why do we stress ourselves out wondering whether or not he will propose this year or whether or not the flowers and necklace will be enough to keep her happy for now?

The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery and confusion. No one saint can claim patronage over the day, and early celebrations of the holiday were hardly the greeting-card infused sweetness we know today. But somehow over the years we have adapted this day to our own purposes and allowed it to become the international day of love, for better or for worse.

I’m not suggesting here that Valentine’s Day is a pointless exercise designed only to make us feel worse about ourselves than we already do. I can be just as sappy and sentimental as the next girl (and quite frequently am). But if love is so important, if we’re willing to call it the be-all, end-all, if we’re willing to spend a lifetime searching for it, if we consider ourselves so lucky to know it, to possess it, to bestow it, then isn’t it worth celebrating every day?

Happy Birthday

Facebook.

We all know it. Some of us love it. Some hate it. And some are unflinching in their indifference. But whatever the feelings its reach is inescapable.

Masquerading as the ever helpful connection between far flung friends, Facebook has managed to create not just a desire to stay connected but a dependence on social information. In scanning through my Newsfeed, I can’t help wondering: what is Facebook’s true motive here?

Studies have concluded that social interaction via Facebook can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and depression (take a look at this and this). Whether or not these studies are conclusive really is not the point. The fact that we are all subject to the potential findings is enough to inspire feelings of uncertainty and suspicion.

Perhaps it’s not in the forefront of our minds, but that lingering hesitant feeling before posting a status update is proof positive that Facebook encourages us to second guess ourselves. For me, the uncertainty comes in the form of a weekly birthday reminder email.

Every Sunday I receive an email reminding me which of my Facebook friends is celebrating (or not, whatever) a birthday that week. Some weeks I am prompt with my good wishes, some weeks not so much. And it’s those weeks that I feel that Facebook has far too much hold over my sense of self-worth.

I have good intentions. Don’t we all? I receive the email, and I think to myself that this will be the week when I finally beat Facebook to the punch. This is the week when my birthday buddies will know that they’re special. And then I fail. The weeks scoots past me, and before I can log on, birthdays have come and gone, and I once again find myself feeling guilty. Not profoundly so, but dully, naggingly.

In an attempt to mitigate these feelings, I am sending out best birthday wishes to all of my Facebook, Twitter, and blogosphere friends. I wish each and every one of you the absolute best birthday of your life this year. May it be filled with hope, happiness, and celebration. May your wish come true when you blow out your candles. And may you be set free from any and all obligations imposed upon you by some arbitrary social network.

I’m sure there are those who feel the same way I do, whether you will admit it or not. But for those of you who don’t know these feelings, for those of you who find yourselves able to absolve yourseles of any feelings of virtual responsibility or duty inflicted by Facebook, this post, I’m sorry to say, is not for you.

Meet Mr. Peay

For many people, blogging offers a source of catharsis, a way to release that which we keep pent up within ourselves, a therapy of sorts. But as with anything else, every now and then change becomes necessary. The blogosphere is great for that. Adaptable and fluid, a blog offers its writer the chance to grow when he or she wants to or to remain in a virtual comfort zone indefinitely.

Unquestionably, offering new and various perspectives is a great way to keep things fresh. Bringing on guest bloggers opens up new possibilities and outlooks and can help to remind us of the things we take for granted. For that reason, it is my hope that both of the guest writers you see here will offer a unique perspective on the world as he and she see it.

So without further ado, meet Mr. Peay:

That’s pronounced Mister Peeee. It’s European. Hello and welcome. Where to begin explaining myself I’m not quite sure. So allow me to start at the beginning. I was born in a small town in Tennessee. My family was not what you would call close, and we never see each other. Despite a questionable childhood, my sensibilities remain fully functional and, normally, fully employed. Some people prefer to call me nervous, twitchy. I, however, view myself as alert and attentive. Someone has to be, you know.

I have lived in a number of places, some nice and some not so nice. I try not to let geography dull my abilities to maintain order and a sense of correctness, and most of the time I am successful.

In terms of personality, you should know that I appreciate and demand order. I do my best to constantly order my surroundings, and I make every attempt to create some sense of organization in the lives of those around me. Despite their resistance. It is my firm belief that the only way to live a productive, healthy life is to live in as regimented a way as possible. You could say I love a good routine.

While it takes me awhile to warm up to new people, once I accept you as one of my own I am deeply loyal and (probably) overprotective. Some people mistake my suspicion as aggression, but let me be clear: I am not an aggressive being. On the contrary, I am gentle and loving. I feel I need to be clear about this because it bothers me to no end when people assume my personality is something it isn’t. It makes me fretful and needy, and I dislike feeling vulnerable that way.

As far as interests and hobbies are concerned, I appreciate a good movie. I can stare at the screen for hours, completely captivated, and I am particularly fond of animal movies. While movies are certainly my favorite, I sometimes fall victim to the allure of a good television program. My only quarrel with television would be the commercials; they break my focus, and it becomes difficult to remember where I left off.

I am new to the computer craze, and I am fascinated by its ability to perform so many tasks. When it first debuted itself in my life, I sat watching the woman with whom I live pounding away at its keys, hoping someday I might know it well enough to do the same. While I’m still learning, I feel I’ve made tremendous progress, if I do say so myself.

This is to be my first attempt at blogging or, indeed, communicating on a grand scale via the Internet, and I’m hoping to make it a success. I do love a good, well-deserved pat on the back. It is my sincere hope that my perspective will bring both enlightenment and humor to the reader’s daily life.

Until we meet again,

Mr. Peay

Meet Mr. Peay:

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