Pouting Face Emoji

Pouting Face EmojiEmojis really bug me. I don’t now why; but they do.

They lack imagination. They are uninspiring. But mostly, they are annoying.

The biggest problem is that I can’t see them on my cell phone. They are so tiny I need a magnifying glass.

These smiley faces do not make me happy; in fact, they are infuriating. And my husband won’t stop sending them to me. How can we communicate if I can’t decipher what he’s saying?

Is the red mark on the smiley face puckered lips or a tongue sticking out?

He can’t stand sitcom laugh tracks; and I used to wonder how a person could get enraged from laughter. Maybe we’ve been married for too long, but I get it now. Emoji smiley faces are maddening.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge supporter of the original 1970’s smiley face. But there is something about this emoji that makes my skin crawl.

Horrible Smiley Face Emoji with Heart Eyes I have nothing against ancient cave drawings, hieroglyphics or even Morse Code; but if I see one more dancing girl, I will have come up with the perfect reason to use the gun emoji.

I admit I've added :) and :(  to some recent messages; but I have no reason to use the man wearing a turban, a syringe with blood or two boys holding hands.

Who uses this emoji?

Two Boys Holding Hands Emoji

In what context would it be applicable to send this?

I guess a teenage boy who was coming out could send that emoji with a text message that said, “Hey, Dad, guess what?”

Emoji is a computer language that originated in Japan. Pictures were created so people could send a lot of information through a small amount of data.

But how is that necessarily beneficial? Don’t tell me if you were just dumped by the love of your life this broken heart would suffice to express how you felt.

Broken Heart Emoji Did you know that in addition to a broken heart emoji there is a green heart, a red heart, a blue heart, a yellow heart, a purple heart, a growing heart, a beating heart, a sparkling heart and a revolving heart?

All of these symbols rub me the wrong way because they are cartoonish and child-like. They are one-dimensional and flat.

I don’t have anything against cartoons per se; but emojis are not smart like Family Guy or sophisticated like The New Yorker.

Maybe what’s happening to language is no different from when, almost 300 hundred years ago, “will not” turned into “won’t” and “you are” turned into “you’re”. Lexicographers of the time objected.

I certainly don’t want to be left behind, out of date. So, maybe I’ll come around.

I’ve started to use exclamation points excessively in my text messages even though I was schooled to use them sparingly. But today, in a texting world, it’s what’s expected. When you don’t, you come across as dull and unfriendly.

Note the difference:

Come over.

And…

Come over!!!

Language has depth and dimension. Words convey meaning, complex, multi-faceted thoughts and emotions that are layered and fluid, which arouse our five senses; sound, taste, touch, smell and sight.

Emojis don’t do that. They may be quick and easier to use than words; but they are as sensual as a kid’s stamp kit.

The purpose of emojis is to allow you to get more bang for your buck, so to speak; and while sometimes quick and easy is preferable, not everything is better abridged.

Wink Emoji 2

Draw, Sing, Dance, Shout from the Rooftops: Je Suis Charlie

BLOG- Je Suis CharlieI’m writing this post because I can. I have that right.

And yet, I have to admit, I’m scared.

I’m scared to google: Charlie Hebdo.

I’m scared to go to a kosher supermarket, a synagogue, a yeshivah.

I’m not scared to the point where I won’t actually do those things; but I do them with forethought.

For months after 9/11 the only way into Manhattan was by subway. As the Q train sped across the Brooklyn Bridge, I put my hands over my face, my head in my lap and prayed. My friend, Susan, took one look at me and said, “I don’t believe what I’m seeing. Are you crazy? What do you think is going to happen?”

I didn’t know.

What I did know was that on the morning of 9/11, while phone lines were still intact, I called my husband, hysterical. I told him I was watching TV and that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I said the building was going to go down. Even as the words came out of my mouth, I didn’t really believe what I was saying. My husband told me I was being ridiculous, that the building would not go down.

But it did.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newsmagazine named after the American Peanuts character, Charlie Brown. The magazine is known for its provocative cartoons mocking political leaders and religious extremism.

All extremism- Catholic, Jewish, Muslim.

“Charlie” is pro-freedom and believes that the best cartoons make people laugh and think.

Extremists don’t want people thinking independently. Education is like kryptonite to extremists. (See: Teach Children and Change the World.)

Twin Pencils It’s true that Charlie Hebdo cartoons have been inciting havoc for years, and after seeing images, I agree that some are racy and even disrespectful; but in a free society, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to look. You can boycott or protest- you can write, draw, dance, march, sing your opposing point of view; but you can’t murder.

Voltaire, a French philosopher and advocate for freedom of religion and freedom of expression said, “I hate what you are saying, but I shall fight so that you are able to say it.”

Friday night, at our Shabbat dinner table, my family talked about the killings at Charlie Hebdo, we talked about the murders at the kosher supermarket and we talked about the march in Paris for solidarity.

I brought up that in response to the supermarket incident, a women commented online, “Why should anyone have sympathy for a group that thinks that regular food out of the regular grocery store is unfit to eat.”

Thankfully, someone wrote back, “That is an incredibly racist and ignorant comment.”

But the questions we are left to grapple with are:

How do we deal with such hatred and naivety?

And how do we fight terrorism while protecting our civil liberties?

Before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the magazine was in financial trouble and did not have a huge following. Weekly, the magazine printed 60,000 copies with less than half being sold. But since the massacre, one million copies of the first issue were planned. It was then increased to three and later five million copies. In the end, seven million copies were printed. Ironically, just like with the film The Interview, terrorists have called worldwide attention to, and spurred interest in, subjects that might have gone less noticed.

And as a result of their heinous crimes, we have joined together, and in that solidarity there is commitment and strength. Who knows what will change, or if anything will change at all; but every small act matters, and if the terrorists hadn’t attacked Charlie Hebdo, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post, mostly, because my dedication to freedom of speech wouldn’t have been on my mind; but also because if I didn’t address my own fears in writing this, terrorism would be working.

While I’m not as brave as the editor at Charlie Hebdo who said after an attack in 2011, “I’d rather die standing up than live on my knees,” I embrace his sentiment, and this post is my banner, my contribution to the fight.

I am freedom.

I am Charlie.

Je Suis Charlie

Why Are So Many Marriage Essays Going Viral?

Oprah Winfrey I want my marriage essay to go viral.

Why You’re Not Married, written by Tracey McMillan went viral.

Marriage Isn’t For You, written by Seth Adam Smith went viral. It has over 30 million views!

Both Tracey and Seth have book deals, and Tracey was on Oprah!

At the time of his post, Seth had been married for only a year and a half. Tracey’s been married 3 times.

Okay, I’m happy for them. Really I am. And I’m not suggesting they don’t have anything to share or teach; but come on, I’ve been married for 32 years!

If staying together is the goal (which I guess is questionable as far as goals go) I’ve got the credentials. I’m the one who should have a marriage essay read by millions. I should be on Oprah.

I mean really, where are the people who’ve been in long-term marriages? They’re actually not on Oprah.

Exception: Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want. He’s great, and his book is awesome, and he’s been on Oprah a number of times; but we need more role models. Good ones.

And fast.

Because marriage is getting a bad rap.

People are choosing not to get married at all, as in NEVER. Or they talk about first marriages like it’s a bachelor degree, something they will eventually move on from in order to pursue a second marriage, their graduate degree.

There are some misconceptions I’d like to clear up:

Long-term marriage doesn’t mean 10 years. Ten years is a phase, a bleep in a life, like adolescence. Long-term means you go through all the developmental stages together: playing house, raising children, growing old, facing health issues, dying. A lifetime.

A partner is not someone who stays home changing diapers and cooking you dinner while you pursue every dream you ever had.

Respecting each other’s differences doesn’t mean you’re awesome because you don’t change the music when The Carpenters are on and you prefer Eric Clapton. (Okay, full disclosure- that’s my house.)

And monogamy is a full-time job. If you do it part-time there’s less insurance and fewer benefits.

Look, I’m not judging. My philosophy is that everyone should be happy. And what would make me really happy is to have my marriage essay, or any of my essays for that matter, go viral!

But back to my initial question: If marriage is on the decline why are essays with marriage as a keyword wildly popular?

Why was Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus on the topseller list for 121 weeks?

Why is the book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts a hit?

Why are we watching Dr. Phil? Broken Nose, Broken Marriage. Dr. Phil, Save My Marriage, Save My Life.

Why when I saw a friend on Facebook had taken a test that told her who she was married to in her past life, I was intrigued? I shouldn’t have cared but she got Jim Morrison. I wanted Jim.

I thought about taking the test but worried I’d get Barry Manilow.

I had to know.

I took the test.

And I got John Lennon. I couldn’t have been happier. He’s a peace-loving artist. And he’s cool.

You’d think I had better things to do with my time like write a really great marriage essay. One that would go viral. But no. I needed to know who my fantasy husband from a different life might’ve been.

Here’s what I think. Even though marriage is on the decline, for many of us, a fascination exists. There are things we want to know about relationship: how to make it last, how to make it better, how to fix what’s broken. Aha! The “in” for my marriage essay- When Your Marriage Breaks.

Maybe it’s physiological or sociological or biological or historical but there is something in us that yearns to unlock the mystery of marriage. We want to get it right.

Granted, I’ve never been on Oprah but here’s my marriage advice: Relationships have their rough spots and you have to figure out how to navigate those moments like jujutsu.

For example: when your spouse stops listening to you when you talk, (which is inevitable, even if temporary) start writing.

And pray it goes viral.

Brave New Me

Blog- Movie Brave New WorldGrowing up, I detested Star Trek and anything futuristic. I had no interest in science fiction, and to this day have never seen Star Wars.

In high school, because it was assigned, I read Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, but left to choice, never saw The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi or The Matrix.

Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with science and technology, space travel, time travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. And truthfully, for the most part, those things didn’t interest me.

I’m not one for dramatic change, and science fiction forced me to participate in scenarios that required a lot of imagination, and even if only for the duration of a film, acceptance of a life that looked way different from the one I was living. I didn’t want to contemplate an existence with aliens or a future bleak with Big Brother. Those things, and Spock’s ears, frightened me.

BLOG- SCIENCE FICTION

Turns out, I was right to be frightened because science fiction movies and books have predicted our future.

"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley portrayed a world in which people escaped through the use of mood-enhancing drugs called "soma".

"By this time the soma had begun to work. Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out on every face in happy, friendly smiles."

Huxley wrote about mood- altering drugs in the 30’s, years before antidepressants became prevalent.

And in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948), written by George Orwell, government control was questioned. Orwell described a future where "Big Brother," knew exactly what you were doing and when.

"There was no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system…It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time."

With surveillance cameras, computer hacking and information forever stored in the cloud that concept is not so far-fetched today.

As a young girl, I couldn’t have imagined a future world without landline phones, encyclopedias or marriage. And yet those things are either already obsolete or on there way to being outmoded.

The same way I couldn’t have imagined a world without those things, I’ll bet you can’t imagine a world without food. And yet science is taking us there.

Interestingly enough the concept of not needing food was depicted in a 1973 science fiction movie called Soylent Green. I’ve never seen the film but it takes place in a dystopian future suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans and other problems due to the greenhouse effect.

In the movie, people survive on wafers called "Soylent Green"; and as if an overpopulated, polluted, world weren’t horrifying enough -spoiler alert- Soylent Green, viewers find out at the end of the movie in a surprising twist, is made of human remains.

BLOG-Soylent Green

In 2012, three young men ran into financial trouble while working on a technology startup. They needed a way to cut expenses. They found food was a problem: costly and time-consuming.

Rhinehart, who was studying electrical engineering, began to think about food as an engineering problem and concluded that food was an inefficient way to get what you needed to survive. Rhinehart put his startup on hold and focused on nutritional biochemistry. He invented a potion made up of 35 nutrients required for survival, and being a bit derisory called it Soylent. He started living on it. Only.

Rhinehart claimed Soylent was saving him time and money and physically, he wrote, “I feel like the six million dollar man. My physique has noticeably improved, my skin is clearer, my teeth whiter, my hair thicker.”

Read: The End of Food published in The New Yorker for more details. The article describes how meals in the future will be separated. There will be meals for utility and function, and meals for experience and socialization.

Liquid food has played an escalating role in diet regiments for years. We have Ensure and Muscle Milk and because of health concerns and time constraints there is juicing and green drinks and smoothies.

Tim Gore, the head of food policy and climate change for Oxfam says, “The main way that most people will experience climate change is through the impact on food: The food they eat, the price they pay and the choices they have due to availability.”

The New Yorker article states that Chipotle announced it might phase out guacamole due to climate change.

This might be proof that Gore is right.

In Interstellar, a recently released science fiction movie, humans can no longer survive on a dying planet Earth and a crew of astronauts travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity.

Blog- Interstellar

It doesn’t sound like my kind of movie but I’m reconsidering if I’ll see it. That’s what art does: it shows us who we are, and what we want. But also what we fear.

Killer Heels

Heels 2Is it true that men are chumps for women in pumps? A new study out of France says that men are more helpful to women in high heels. Is that why we wear them?

The first time I can remember being wowed by a pair of heels was when Olivia Newton John wore red stilettos in the movie Grease. Her beauty mesmerized me, even as she danced, a bit wobbly, as if dancing on stilts, singing You Better Shape Up to John Travolta. Given how good she looked to me, her discomfort and clumsiness seemed irrelevant.

I bought my first pair of heels, red Candies, just a few months later.

I was 14.

And I loved those shoes.

Some historical accounts show that heels were worn by men, and not women, as early as the 9th century in Persia. Other accounts say heels grew in popularity around the time of Louis XIV in France. High heels were symbols of power and dominance, allowing men to tower over other men. Heels were initially associated with class, status and privilege. Around the 17th century upper class women began to wear heels and by the 18th century, men stopped wearing them, deeming them impractical.

Heels went out of fashion for a while but then made a comeback in pornography, mostly pinups for men’s barracks during World War ll.

It wasn’t until after the war that the stiletto was invented and fashion aligned with erotica. While we may have had a desire for higher heels; we simply didn’t have the technology. But in the 50’s it became possible to create higher heels by putting steel in the heel, and crafting high heel shoes became an art form for striking and innovative design.

Presently, at the Brooklyn Museum, there is an exhibit, Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled Shoe. I loved the exhibit, and viewed the shoes on display in awe, appreciating the genius and beauty in the designs, captivated by the red soles on countless Louboutin shoes, gold leather Salvatore Ferragamo wedges from 1938 and silk creations from as far back as 1650.

But then there were the shoes from China that women who had their feet bound wore; and my heart literally clenched, my stomach turned. I went home and read about foot binding and how a woman’s foot was broken and bound in order for it not to grow. As a result feet would be smaller, more dainty and womanlike. This process, foot binding, was excruciating, feet deformed and women crippled. And yet the desire to be beautiful, and maintain high status, according to some cultural belief, allowed this to go on for centuries.

Is it so different today here in America?

Our back hurts, our calves are tight but go to Barney’s 5th floor any time of any day. Go to the Bergdorf’s shoe salon. Those floors are so crowded you would think they were giving the shoes away. On the contrary, prices have climbed as shoe departments have grown in size. It seems we can’t get enough. Of course flats are displayed too; but that’s not what catches my attention.

What fuels our desire for heels?

Is it Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City? Does her desire for Manolo Blahniks glamorize the high heel?

Are women more attractive in stilettos?

Or have we been conditioned to think that high heels are beautiful because celebrities and fashion models are pictured in them?

Here’s news: in 2010, at an Alexander McQueen fashion show a model took off her deadly sharp stilettos, protesting, choosing not to walk the show for health and safety reasons.

Are high heels the new cigarettes?

There was a time when Lauren Becall and Humphrey Bogart made smoking look cool. But in case you didn’t know, Humphrey Bogart died of esophageal cancer. As people got educated and became aware of the hazards of smoking, things changed.

So feminists, like the surgeon general, warn us. They proclaim that heels are unsafe and detrimental to the well-being of a body, our backs and feet compromised. And maybe that agenda has been successful. The image of the heel altered from something beautiful to something irrational, which leads one to believe that flats are just cooler. Image accounts for a lot. And possibly, in time, these shifts in thinking will change things for future generations.

Often, comfort wins out, and I wear flats; but while I believe there is nothing as uncool as wearing high wedges or heels to the beach or a poolside, sometimes, I do it anyway.

Even though it might not be considered the height of elegance or class, I have been known to dance barefooted at the end of a long night. Yes, I can be defeated, or more precisely, “defeeted” by my shoes.

And yet, I won’t stop wearing them. I gawk at them in wonder in magazines, on department stores shelves, on other women’s feet and in museum exhibitions. They are inexplicably alluring.

In Kinky Boots, the Broadway show, there is a song called, Sex Is In The Heel. And maybe that’s it.

After all, John Travolta responds as desired to Olivia Newton John as she struts in those red stilettos. He sings, “And I’m losing control ‘cause the power you’re supplying, its electrifying.”

High heels are instruments of power. And I, along with many other women, buy into the idea that they elongate your legs, make you wiggle when you walk and give you a taller, thinner silhouette.

Even though logically, I want to say those are silly, superficial reasons to wear high heels, on some primitive level, I’m seduced by them. Just as men are.

Writing: It Could Come Back to Bite You

Photo of flowers in brick I keep hearing the same thing over and over again in regards to my blog.

“You’re so honest.”

And, as if I didn’t understand this the first time, I get, “No, but you’re really honest. ”

I interpret this as a warning. And after ten posts, I’m feeling it. Shut down. Censored. And I’m having trouble writing.

I go back. I reread. I don’t know what everyone is talking about. Don’t we all fight with our spouses? Don’t we all have medical concerns? Don’t we all go to the bathroom?

Okay, I’m sorry to bring that up again but I’m fighting against censorship here. I had 3 posts lined up for last Tuesday and according to my friends I couldn’t post any of them.

As I developed the piece, Desire and Marriage: A Parodox, my friend said I could not post anything that had the words stool softener in it. “No guy will ever look at you again!”

When I repeated this to a different friend, also married for over two decades, she said: “No pun intended but who gives a shit.”

Later when I told my husband I was worried about revealing too much, he thought about it and said, “It could come back to bite you in the ass.”

The jokes were endless. Even punctuating with a colon got a laugh.

Then, there was this other piece. I’d written it with passion, okay, I admit it, I was a bit irate but I didn’t think it showed. Just to be safe, I checked with a friend and after reading it, she said, “I agree with you one-hundred percent but you can’t post that. You don’t want to be known as The Angry Blogger.”

All of this to say, I got stuck.

I called Alison #2. I named her Alison #2 because she is the Alison who is teaching me about social media. She is the Alison who is a writer and has her own blog, Very Curious Mind. I named her Alison #2 so as not to confuse my friends who know of the original Alison, Alison #1, the writer and author of The Adults who worked with me for years on my novel. Both Alisons are smart and brazen. Both Alisons have been vital to me: part teacher, part muse, part therapist. They’ve helped me fight through my fear. Alison #2 reminds me that writing what others won’t say is part of what artists do.

And I don’t get it really. What’s the problem? I go back again. I reread. I look at other people’s blogs, and see how bloggers sometimes disclose how much they’d pay for a haircut or purse, there are pictures of their children, the insides of their newly renovated apartment, their perfectly organized closet.

Now, those things seem private. Those are things I wouldn’t share.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m comfortable (mostly) revealing my feelings, sharing my thoughts, but my spending habits and a photo of my headboard are off limits.

Maybe it’s just that I’m willing to look less than perfect. It’s what makes us human. I’m not ashamed to say I fight with my husband, I mess up with my kids, I forget to call my parents. And while all of that is true what is also true is that I would do anything in the world for them.

“I believe we don’t chose our stories. Our stories chose us. And if we don’t tell them, then we are somehow diminished.” (Honor Moore quoted in Dani Shapiro’s book Still Writing.)

I am reminded that I need to work hard to ward off my inner (and outer) censors.

My father says that as a kid, I always had to get the last word. Maybe that’s why I write.

Maybe that’s a flaw I shouldn’t reveal.

And maybe it simply doesn’t matter.