Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Balance Beam

I don’t know about you, but when a former male model wants to sell me on the idea of a balanced life I’m all ears. Actually, he wasn’t talking to me, exactly. He was being interviewed by Elle magazine. Cameron was shown both in his previous incarnation as a Guess jeans model, pouting and flexing, and in his new form as an Ayurvedic healer, pouting and flexing in an enlightened fashion. He stayed with the reporter for a day, helping her improve her life (beyond whatever inherent benefit you get from staring at a really well-defined profile for 24 hours).

What he suggested to the reporter made sense in a “I think my mother said something like this” kind of way. Go to sleep early. Drink lots of water. More vegetables than meat and alcohol, while hugely fun, has never improved either the inner or the outer Quinn. But mostly what he talked about – besides his website where we could all benefit from his knowledge and cheekbones – was the idea of balance. He also talked about air, water, fire, all in alignment with your charkas, something about dripping oil on your forehead…I’m sorry, I kind of drifted, because I read the article standing in the “Twelve items or less” line and I couldn’t decide whether the woman in front of me had one group of lemons, which put her under twelve, or four lemons, which put her over twelve. And then my phone rang but I couldn’t find my Bluetooth in my purse so I decided to buy gum, which put me over the twelve-item limit and I became confused. Anyway, once again I was reminded that I’m supposed to be living in balance, no one element of my life should take dominance over the others. I can’t think of a single religion which disagrees with that statement. It’s sane, it’s sensible, I couldn’t agree more. I just want someone to come into my life and make me do it.

For instance, how am I supposed to live in balance in a world which contains ponytail holders? For those of you without long hair in your life, either on your head or the head of a loved one, ponytail holders have only two development stages: all or none. I either cannot walk through my house without wading through a teeming mass of mating hair-elastics or I am taking my daughter to ballet which is ten minutes away and starts in five minutes and there isn’t a single ponytail holder in the entire house. I will eventually grit my teeth and pull her hair back with a rubber band, knowing it will lead to tears and scissors-wielding later. I also know that after everyone is settled in for the evening and I go to lock up the house for the night, a thousand ponytail holders will form the world’s longest conga line through my house. I know, I’m supposed to put them in a special hair-elastic place, which is just the sort of thing balanced people do. Cameron probably does it. I can swear under oath that I do put them someplace dedicated to hair-elastics. But they move. And the next thing I know, the cat is using them as soccer balls. This is entertaining, but this is not balanced.

For a compete lack of balance in one's life, there is nothing which compares to Facebook. There is no dabbling in Facebook just like there is no kind of swimming the English Channel. After enough gentle mocking from friends about my lack of Face, I created a Facebook page. Within minutes, I had my first friend request, from one of the mockers. Delighted, I invited her into my book. Or my face. Or whatever. And I happily invited those who came afterwards. Then, I got a friend request from someone I knew from elementary school. I thought a bit about this one, and then invited her in. Within days, I had a nest of people from elementary school sitting in my inbox.

Then high school classmates started finding me. Then friends I knew from acting in my twenties started finding me. People were poking me, hugging me, sending me theater announcements and birth announcements and “I changed my font!” announcements and online drinks, which struck me as just teasing, really. Consort pointed out that I – barely social in the three-dimensional world – had now created a whole new world in which to long to be left alone in no dimensions. Within weeks of creating a page, I had people leaving plaintive messages to the effect of “Guess you don’t check your Facebook page that often…” and I was about to write a long impassioned wall-graffiti about how I mean to write all of them back, and I’m terribly happy to be poked, and keep those delicious online daiquiris coming, when it suddenly dawned on me: this modern age was bringing me more guilt, that most ancient of emotions.

So, here is what I am. I am the mother of a child who is back in her own bedroom. I am the owner of a house without a single right angle. I am a person with three pets indoors and several outdoor feral cats who sneer at me but still hang around waiting for dinner. I am a writer with a deadline. I am a person with a great longing for a hair-band and a slight fear of being tickled online. I am a person who goes to the grocery store far too often but appreciates the magazine-scanning opportunities. What I am not is balanced. The magazine and the gum went back into their shelves.

I did, however, grab a box of ponytail holders.


Blogger Leta said...

I joined Facebook in about February and it is like drinking from a fire hose, isn't it?

Friend me and I promise never to poke you or throw anyone or anything at you..... :-)

8:20 PM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

I bought the Elle magazine, but when I saw the very article you spoke of, I only skimmed it. It seemed rather ridiculous to have a gorgeous man in your home for a day and all you do is talk about the stuff you're not doing well enough.

I think your Cliff Notes version was a much more satisfying read. I noticed in the latest Good Housekeeping that they added a word to their department pages. Now they read Good Enough Housekeeping, Beauty, etc.

Balance, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.

8:26 PM  
Blogger OHN said...

I think balancing is over rated. What would life be if you could find things where you KNOW you left them, just the right amount of candy in your secret stash, or being on time for an appointment only to be told they are 1 1/2 hours behind. Nah....balanced would be boring ;)

7:47 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

Balance is like a perpetual motion machine; everyone thinks it should be possible theoretically, but no one has ever accomplished it.

9:36 AM  
Blogger BiPolar Wife said...

I know too many people whose lives have become ridiculously unbalanced after getting a Facebook....or a MySpace...or heck, a blog, for that matter. That, and the fact that I'm too afraid to have elementary school friends find me...I don't need to relive the most horrible years of my life!

12:44 PM  
Blogger Muffy Willowbrook said...

I feel the same way about Facebook and other social sites. While in theory, they sound like alot of fun and a great way to get in touch with old friends and possibly to network with associates, or get a lead on a job or whatever.

But in practice, Facebook and those other sites, are just another time bandit from my real life. I would have the same guilt, and quite frankly, I barely get enough time in my day/week/month to see the friends I already have.

I love the idea of a big social circle, but at the cost of my free association? No, thank you.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say, I laugh really inelgantly (i.e., I snort) just about every time I'm reading one of your posts.

I joined Facebook because a good friend of mine did and I wanted to be able to interact with her. I've friended most everyone who's invited me and have been poked and superpoked and invited to various groups. It's mildly annoying and I've ignored it all.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Facebook and MySpace. A stalkers paradise. I had to delete my accounts those happily placed in the past found my happy present which didn't make me very happy.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thought you might enjoy another hilarious take on joining facebook...

my husband and i decided that facebook has definitely reached the tipping point - for months it was no big deal, just a way to keep up with others whose only online presence was there - and now? the onslaught has come.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your picture is in Good Housekeeping, and I loved the interview...when does the book come

3:45 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Balance? I think it's a state of mind. I like the part about your cat using the ponytail holders as soccer balls. My cat does that too, with little pieces of paper. They're too funny (and not too worried about balance!)

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha. I finally gave up and joined facebook too, and am also struggling with guilt at not keeping up.

Do you also have a myspace page or have you vetoed additional web 2.0 guilt?

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, do you have the Good Housekeeping link? I'd love to see it!

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Quinn, I live in England and have good housekeeping delivered to me from the states. i saw your article on the Fair Isle jumper. this web site may help you find one however, i will say that they are not cheap! If i can be on any more help just let me know.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the ponytail holders. At any given time, we own 500, but they are nowhere to be found. Until I clean the bathroom, and then I find about 75 of them where they shouldn't be, and 40% of the are too stretched out to use. They all go into the trash at that point, because once they've been behind the toilet......

And those darn plastic clips. A great idea, once you've been through as much ponytail holder shenanigans as you can stand. Until they snap in your hand and the spring sproings you in the eye.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I joined Facebook at the urging of my children, who had suggested starting a 'family' group. I do like that. One message and we would have EVERYONE covered.

This because I was the mom who cooked a special dinner for my oldest son who had gone overboard to help me out in a time of dire need (moving).

Sadly, I forgot to invite him.

The rest of us? We enjoyed the meal, and were thankful for all the help he gave.

After that slight slip, I joined.

(I did at least WONDER where he was. That should count for something!)

Does anyone else wonder where their Facebook 'friends' find all this time to play games and join stuff?

5:17 PM  

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