Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sometimes, High School Just Isn't Fun!

Everything happens for a reason. Hindsight is 20/20. Disclaimer: This is a personal story, but more than a personal story.

For the most part, my youth was a happy time. I had a stable family. I had a community of extended family, neighbors, church and school that nurtured and impacted me.

But during my sophomore year, I found myself in a situation that challenged me emotionally. I began dating a young man who was three years older than me. He had the opportunity to take advantage of a young woman that was enthralled with him, but he always behaved as a gentleman. Even all these years later, I speak highly of him. For two months we had a wonderful relationship; even though we had very different backgrounds. Then there was a good reason we broke up.

One of the great disappointments of high school was not making cheerleading for junior year. It’s all water over the bridge now and I am long over it, but at the time it was devastating. I cried most of the evening. Late that night I called the former boyfriend to share my feelings, and that would be the last time I would talk to him for some time.

Senior Sam Lykins attempting to
fix the broken microscopes
The following morning my mother took me to the bus terminal as I headed out of town, to help my aunt with her new baby. We heard on the radio of the vandalism of my high school. We were as shocked as anyone would be, but I put it out of my mind. During that week the students that remained in Fairborn for their spring break worked very hard to get the school put back together and it opened on schedule without so much as a hiccup. Had I been home, I am sure I would have been among them.

Later I learned the former boyfriend was involved in the vandalism, but had made the decision to drop out of school and join the army. This was difficult for me. I did receive a couple of letters before he shipped out to Viet Nam. Many years later we were able to talk and catch up; we had good lives.

Page two…the rest of the story. I won’t pretend to have any idea of the politics of this; but the gist is that in the wake of the vandalism, the science department had been destroyed. When the insurance money came, the science department was further down the list than those teachers would have desired. Those were days when teachers could easily find jobs, and three of them resigned.

And one of those openings was filled with a person by the name of Jerry Derge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What to Do When You Can't Remember Someone!

I have had more than one person say to me, “Denise, I don’t remember so and so and he/she has asked me to be a friend on Facebook. What do you remember about them?” What does a person do when that dreadful disease “Can’t Remember Stuff” rears its ugly head?

Sometimes I can give a clue and let the person make their decision. But what if you are the person asking for the friendship? How do you know you will be remembered by the other person? We had a graduating class of around 700 people; even though we didn’t graduate that many in June 1971. No one can be expected to know everyone!

Maybe you were on student council or on of one of the athletic teams; someone who was really out there on many occasions. That is no guarantee you are remembered!  So how do we draw the line between an acceptable “ask” and what we might call stalking.

I highly recommend the messaging format either on Facebook or our Class of 71 web site. That is a private way to introduce yourself and let the other person make a decision. Then you have to let it go. Not everyone wants to use these social networking tools to interact at the same level, and we must respect that.

Chat brings in another aspect of social networking, which can get touchy. There are those who either are turned off by it, or they simply don’t type well enough to keep up and they don’t want to admit that! I normally reveal that I am online and let others initiate chat. There are exceptions to this, usually a reflection of the relationship I have with that person.

We have to be respectful also. We should not feel badly if we don’t have the time. We should not be offended if the person we would like to chat with is says they are busy. With everyone multitasking, they are typically not just sitting there on Facebook or our class web site. As I write this, I have three tabs open, Facebook being one of them and chat is “offline”. I can’t type a blog entry and chat with anyone, even my mother!

Use caution if approaching someone you are not sure remembers you.  Use common sense and courtesy. Do not be offended if that person has the CRS disease. We are drawing many people who have not been involved in 40 years and naturally they may be struggling. Although we have our yearbook scanned on the web site, it may be all a person has to look at.

On our class web site, you can also make yourself invisible. It is really fun to talk to people there, but realize that if a person is new, there is much to look at, they may be looking something up, reading an article or listening to the music. They may be registering for the reunion!

If you are approached by someone you don’t remember, be honest about it. Use basic common sense and try to treat another as you would desire to be treated. Be courteous. If someone doesn’t remember you, don’t be offended. With each reunion, more time has been put between the end of our high school years and the place in life that we are at present.

I think basic courtesy and understanding will cover most issues. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of those you trust. Educate yourself. Social networking can be a fun experience and sets the stage for a great reunion!

On Deck: Sometimes High School Isn’t Fun.

In the Hole: On Marrying a Teacher.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Special "Friend" Request

This is a story of how a ‘Friend Request’ on Facebook brought healing to me and another person that I never expected to receive. Disclaimer: This is a personal story!

As a high school junior, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do in life and who I wanted to do it with. In June of 1970, with a promise that we would not become engaged until I got out of school, we became “pre-engaged.” (What the devil is that anyway?) During the summer we acted like any couple that was planning a future. We worked, went to the movies, usually taking one or more of our 6 younger siblings with us, went to family reunions, Reds baseball games, and just the stuff of life we did.

When he started college and I was still a senior in high school, we weren’t together as much. I just figured it was like that when you weren’t at the same school. What I didn’t know at the time is that he met another girl, who went to another high school, and in time he liked her better than me. He did take me to Homecoming the second weekend in October and then the next weekend broke up with me—completely. I was rather taken aback. He immediately started dating the other girl and of course, to me; she was the enemy. What I didn’t know at the time was that he met her while watching his younger brother in two-a-day football practice, which was in August!

They were later married and divorced, but I have maintained a cordial relationship with his family for the rest of my life (thus far) and around the time that his father was dying, she sent me a “friend request” on Facebook!  Say…..what is up with this???  Let’s face it, the timing was terrible. I wrote her and told her “I needed to pray about it.” We wrote back and forth a couple of times and within an acceptable amount of time—to me—I did friend her.

In doing so, I knew I was opening up something I was not quite sure about. But I must admit, I found a person that is so much like me it is perfectly scary! We both share the same faith, we like the same books and music (we both sing), we are in long-time marriages (she has remarried) to now-retired men and we have both raised two kids. We both worked in the child care business, and just naturally have some of the same interests.

When her brother-in-law died, she returned “home” for her sister.  She called me Wednesday night and said “Can we get together tomorrow?” and I said “How about breakfast?” So we planned that. I spent one and one half hours with her and we might have talked about “him” for ten minutes!  We just had so much in common and laughed at the same things. As a 57-year-old woman who has raised two teenagers, I learned about her background and understood why they were attracted to each other, and it really had nothing to do with me. I had forgiven each of them a long time ago, that was not the issue, but there was always that residue of “why?”

We have Facebook chatted and kept up with each other. We were able to plan a day together when I  went to Florida to help my Mom clean out her apartment to prepare to move back to Ohio. We had a fabulous day and laughed and laughed (at ourselves).  I know that when she returns to Ohio to visit her family and her husband’s family, we will get together!   I am amazed that a simple response to a ‘Friend Request’ would fill the gap of past misunderstandings and become a story of healing. This would never have happened for either of us had it not been for Facebook.

On Deck:  Etiquette for Social Networking.

In the Hole: Sometimes, High School is Not Fun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Delights and Downsides to Social Networking

Certain friends say I could write a book on social networking (which I keep only to our class website, Facebook, and LinkedIn. There are others but I can only do so much!) so this blog will be the abridged version.

I was born for this! I love keeping in touch with people and have been frustrated at times when I lost touch with a person. Some of you are on that “aha” list. I have shrieked with delight as I found the entire family (of girls) that I grew up as neighbors with! I have literally wept as I found my first “best friend.” (Our parents were close friends from the time we were 2 and 3. I have no memory of life before her!)

There have been enough articles on the dangers of Facebook to scare the living daylights out of a person. I continue to read about security, I don’t do games and applications; it’s really all about people for me, and I have not had any problems. The only horror story I have happened to another person. I have used Facebook to find classmates, and in the process have made some friends I never would have otherwise. Most of these are because we have interests in common. The biggest surprise for me is the keeping up with my kids’ friends’ parents! I DO come from a small town!

The delights of Facebook have been the running gags; the contact with my kids, their friends, my cousins’ kids; my nieces and nephews posting the pictures of their family happenings—things I would miss and never really get at once-a-year reunions. It is a pleasure to keep up with the old neighbors and church friends that have moved away from this military town. And it is pure joy to have that “touch” with classmates, some more than others. They are out there and we can communicate as we need to.

Another delight of Facebook is the groups I belong to. I have a “secret” group with my Sunday school class. No one else can see what goes on there (except I suppose the Facebook staff, which has much better things to do). I have a church group, a high school class group, several “In Memory” groups, and private family groups on both sides of the family, high school choir group, college sorority group, and one of my personal favorites, the “alumni” group of the now-defunct pool where we grew up. These are great ways to keep up with more than one person with a similar interest.

Everyone’s downsides, just as everyone’s delights, are different. I think the biggest issue is that we are losing our face-to-face contact. On the other hand, we can keep up with more people. Is this good or bad? The answer is different for each person. As I was writing this blog, I was Facebook chatting with my employer, a longtime friend. We had a misunderstanding because we were typing at the same time and didn’t get the message right. Facebook chatting can be a wonderful tool, but I can see it as a negative of Facebook. You never know when that chat is going to go too far in any particular direction, as—perhaps ironically—you don’t have the person’s face to guide you in your response.

With respect to finding old friends; how does Facebook make you feel? Even though you present yourself honestly to others, does the interaction make you feel like you are someone else, that younger person your friend knew? Is there complete honesty in that? This is a danger that even the person with the best of intentions can fall into. Then there are the issues of initiating a chat and seeing the other person go offline immediately. It may just be the page timing out on their end, but do you feel kinda, well, dissed? Do you start having those old junior high rejection feelings? That’s when I think chat should be limited. I talk to my BFFs regularly and we know that if FB or our ISP kicks us off, it’s not intentional, but what about some of the others? Do we need that feeling again? Shoot, going through puberty once was enough!

Then there is the issue of sharing accounts, with a variety of opinion on this. Either way, in my opinion there should be complete transparency with your life partner. If he/she doesn’t want to do social networking; fine, but there should be nothing on your account that would be a problem. If someone makes a remark that is not appropriate, take it down. Personally, my profile is ME, but in another sense it is US. I want it to represent what it is we are about: wife, husband, children, in-laws and grandchildren.

The words “time-sucking” come into play. My feeling on this is, is the basic housework done, have you completed your responsibilities to your employer, and have you truly connected with your family?  If so, it’s a fun hobby. Doesn’t cost anything, and as I say to my family, my eyes and hands cannot do needlework anymore, so I do this. If Facebook is stealing from your employer, keeping you from relating to your spouse, or from any other responsibility you have, then it’s a problem. Even though I don’t do games, I believe these guidelines still apply to any social networking use.

Privacy: it is my humble opinion that anyone involved in social networking knows that to some extent it’s “out there.” That said, any networking site, including our class website, has privacy settings. Educate yourself. Use common sense. Do not post pictures that would hurt or embarrass another person. Know what “tagging” does. Follow the Golden Rule.

With boundaries established, social networking can be a marvelous tool. Know thyself and know when too much is too much. Read up on the new things. Don’t believe everything you read either. Know what is annoying! Twitter is another thing entirely. Status reports are not meant to follow your every move. Think of what message you are sending to others.

All of this is to say, I love it, but like many delicacies, I “use in moderation.”  And my chores are done first!

On Deck: A Special Friend Request.

In the Hole: Etiquette For Social Networking.