thirty day chip

Thirty days ago I posted my last status on Facebook.

I then drove my family three hours from our home in the city to a remote cabin in south central Pennsylvania for an off-the-grid weekend in the wilderness. For seventy-two hours I lived in complete ignorance of the world beyond our tiny house in the woods. There was no cell service, no internet, no social media, no functioning toilets. As someone who enjoys the conveniences of the modern world, to say nothing of proper indoor plumbing, this was roughing it.

But I survived.

Actually I did more than just survive, I thrived. For the first time in a very long time I was not distracted by phone calls or texts or the siren call of social media. With nothing left to steal my focus I was forced to live in the moment. I participated. I was engaged. I listened to my children play and rather than dismiss their exuberance as “just noise” I heard their words and I understood their language. I celebrated their creativity. I laughed and I smiled and I saw my kids again for the first time.

I’m not saying three days without Wi-Fi and suddenly I was Father of the Year, but in the days and weeks since that weekend I believe I’ve morphed into a solid second runner-up. The truth is even without the distractions of the modern world I struggle to be fully engaged every minute of every day. Sometimes I phone it in. I want to be Super Dad, but by the time the end of the day or the weekend rolls around I’m so exhausted and done with it all that I’ll settle for being the out-of-shape lazy-ass beer-drinking sidekick to Super Dad.

But then even being the fat drunk Robin is easier once you make the decision to unplug.

The world is a strange place without Facebook. I have no idea what people are doing or feeling. I don’t know what they ate for dinner last night or what movie they watched on Netflix last weekend or how they plan to vote in some distant primary. I don’t know what issue to hashtag or if black lives still matter or if that clerk from Kentucky is still a thing.

Even worse, since I can no longer use memes and shared links from Reddit as a barometer for one’s level of mental illness I’m forced to trust that every person I meet on the street is perfectly normal even though I know deep down they’re all fucking crazy.

I’m a stranger in a strange land.

I’m not complaining. Life is simpler without social media. I’m less concerned with things that have nothing to do with me. I spend more time enjoying all of the amazing things I have in my life and less time telling people about all the amazing things I have in my life. I’m not concerned with reliving the moment five minutes from now because I’m living the moment now. And while choosing to disconnect in a connected world can make you feel isolated I find that I enjoy living in a bubble.

It’s very quiet.


Sean Michael O’Donnell is the author of Which One Of you is the Mother? It is available on Amazon here. Why haven’t you bought it yet?! Seriously.

the week that was 4

The big news this week was Thanksgiving. I love holidays for many reasons — food, presents, more food — but mostly I love holidays because they give me a legitimate excuse to drink before 9 am, an opportunity I seized yesterday with both hands…firmly on a bottle of champagne as I indulged in a round of early morning mimosas. In our house if you do the cooking, you do the drinking.

So cook I do. Or did, rather. A twenty-five pound turkey, homemade stuffing, homemade mac-n-cheese, fresh cranberries, broccoli, a pumpkin pie and apple-cranberry cobbler.  And yes, Todd cooked too: homemade mashed potatoes and a to-die-for carrot soufflé.

Despite the mountain of food that we prepared (and for three people, no less), I’ve still never understood the fuss around cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It really is the easiest meal to prepare; mostly idiot proof, provided you can follow directions. Essentially you turn on the oven and then pop the turkey in for 3-5 hours depending on how big a bird you bought. If you have any self-respect you baste it every 30 minutes. (Note: Those of you lacking dignity may skip that step and jump to the part where you serve your guests a dry turkey carcass.)

As for the sides…seriously, how hard is it to prepare a few vegetables?  Wash, peel, cut, cook.  Voila.  I suspect the idea of Thanksgiving dinner being this laborious, back-breaking task was a myth created by our grandmothers and then perfected by our mothers; a scheme designed to allow them a few peaceful hours — free from husband and children — to sit in the kitchen getting hammered and melancholy on cheap wine and regret.

Well I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinners for nearly two decades now and the jig is up. You ain’t fooling anyone, Nana.


This week, like a dead fish left to bake out in the hot Florida sun, you could smell the stink steaming off Facebook.  People took to their iPhones and laptops to “express themselves” with a wailing and a gnashing of teeth I haven’t seen since, well, three months ago when everyone was wailing and gnashing their teeth over dead celebrities and mental illness.

Suddenly everyone was my eight-year-old son, tears streaming down his face after losing a round of Clue, screaming, “I have feelings.”

Full disclosure: I wrote a lot of other stuff here but Todd said it was too angry. And no matter how strongly I may feel — not about the events in Missouri, but the reaction of the public to those events —  I don’t want to offend good people, who I otherwise respect, simply because I disagree with their opinions.

So I’ll just say this:  if you have an overwhelming need to be a part of something, keep it simple and be a part of your life. By which I mean, clean your own house. Because all this noise disguised as discourse is just you distracting yourself from the business of living your life. It changes nothing.

This instafacegram tweeting cyberbullshit — this isn’t real. Your life is real.


And speaking of real, it’s time for me to unplug. I’m off to cut down a Christmas tree with my husband and son. It may not be some grand act of passive protest, but it is living.

i unfriend you

In this age of social media — where friendships live and die by the click of a button, where an acquaintance of an acquaintance of an acquaintance of the guy who cuts your hair knows what you had for dinner and how you voted in the last election, where high school never ends — what is a friend?

I have had more than a few epiphany moments since becoming a dad sixteen months ago. Chief among them is the realization that my friendships are no longer just about me. The company I choose to keep also affects my kid.  And some of my choices have been lacking.

I have unfriended people for many reasons — some legitimate, some whimsical, some ridiculous. I once hit the unfriend button because a person (over)used the phrase YOLO, as in You Only Live Once. I’ve unfriended people for political opinions that were deeply personal and personal opinions that were offensively political. I’ve unfriended family members.

I know what kind of person I am and I knew that I would be littering Facebook with personal stories of parenthood and photos of Chris.  I knew I would be that parent.  So in the weeks leading up to meeting Chris, I deleted 150 people from my Facebook friend list (more than half my list).  These were people I knew casually — the girl who acted in a play I directed three years ago but had not seen since; that homophobic guy from high school who I wouldn’t remember if he came up to me and said, “Hey I’m that homophobic guy from high school you don’t remember”; the seldom-seen cousin who stated there should be zero gun control less than 24 hours after the Sandy Hook school shooting.  These people were a no-brainer — they either weren’t really friends or they were people I wanted nowhere near my child.

But in the real world — that ever-shrinking dimension where face-to-face interpersonal communication still exists — ending a friendship is not as simple as clicking a button. It’s one thing to erase a person in cyberspace, it’s another thing to wipe out their existence on this earthly plane.

But sometimes that’s just what you have to do.

So I took an inventory.  Peter Pan.  The “every-other-word-is-fuck” guy.  The slutty one.  The emotional vampire.  The passive aggressive narcissist.  The lunatic.  What was I thinking?    

At one time it was cute. Their unwillingness to grow up. Their foul mouth. Their neediness.  Their dangerous mental instability.  Their overt sexuality so in your face at times you felt like their gynecologist. But what was once colorful now seemed — I was going to say sad, but that isn’t fair — it now seemed, so not where we are in our lives.

I’ve been told that I burn bridges.  That I’m quick to judge. Incapable of forgiveness. Someone once called me an asshole (to my face!)  And while it’s true that I am an asshole, I also think I’m honest. Some friendships go the distance. Some do not.

the week that was

The biggest news this week was that I had a cold sore.  Left to wander the rain-soaked streets of Pittsburgh like a syphilitic 19th century whore, my oral Scarlet A told a story. It let people know that I had been places.

Of course worse than actually having a cold sore is having to go to the store and buy cold sore medication.  I was a bit unnerved to discover that Rite-Aid keeps these medications locked up and that if you want to buy them you have to go up to the sales clerk and say, “I need to purchase some medication for my fever blister which is NOT herpes despite how many questionable sex acts I engaged in while in college.”

I was applying the shame salve when Chris asked if he could borrow my ChapStick.  I told him it was not ChapStick and then hid it on an upper shelf after having a vision of my eight year old in his room smearing herpes meds all over his face.


Also of note this week was the election.  A former talk radio and cable news junkie, I no longer partake in political catnipping as it left me with the urge to gather up all Republicans and hold them prisoner in a raunchy gay sex club/third trimester abortion clinic.

The truth is I only know there was an election because Facebook (from where I get all my news) told me about it.  Or rather, the people in my newsfeed (who apparently invented voting) took pictures of themselves with stickers that said “I voted”.  Sigh.  I’m currently printing up stickers that say: “This is NOT herpes.”

I think it’s great that you voted and I love a sticker as much as the next 5 year old, but I noticed as the day went on that it went from statuses of “I just voted!” to “I voted.  Have you?!” to “I’m morally superior to you because I voted.” to “People who don’t vote should be held prisoner in a raunchy gay sex club/third trimester abortion clinic.”  Hey, whatever.  I could use a vacation.

I just wish people could vote and shut up about it.  Why does it have to be a “thing”? Why does it have to be cool?  Why does it have to be celebrity endorsed?  Why does it need a sticker?!?!


Halloween was also this week(ish).  For the second straight year it rained.  This did not deter a skeleton-clad Chris who was determined to fill up his 37-gallon plastic pumpkin with enough candy to feed all those Republicans I’m currently holding prisoner at my raunchy gay sex club/third trimester abortion clinic.

As someone who came to this parenthood thing a little late in the game, I have to say that walking around in the cold, wet dark for two hours while my kid becomes pre-diabetic is, well, kind of awesome.  It’s one of those moments I never thought I’d get to have: trick-or-treating with my kid.

I do hate that the only time I seem to truly big picture my life is during these seminal moments.  Trick-or-treating.  Christmas.  Birthdays.  It makes me a little sad that I take for granted the every day.  That each moment isn’t significant.  But then I think of my instagram feed with its “I voted” pictures of mugging adults and I realize: not every thing in life can be a sticker moment.