Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Letter to Leslie

Dear Leslie,

We are merely friendly acquaintances, most often nothing more than passing and smiling "hellos." We are mothers of boys, something I could never have imagined in terms of wonderment and confusion. My boy and your youngest son played football together this past fall, our sons attend the same small school. I am at times a conflicted mom of a young athlete, not because of the severe, life-changing injury your oldest son Jack sustained over Christmas vacation, the one that severed his spinal cord after he was checked from behind. As a result of that hit, Jack sailed headfirst into the boards while playing a JV hockey game and he didn’t get up. He said to your husband, his dad, from the ice the words no parent ever wants to hear, he said, "I can't feel anything."

I was conflicted before that unspeakable accident; I've called out too-intense, inappropriate coaches and parents over the years because I cannot understand the need to verbally abuse a child in hopes of inspiring him or her into athletic greatness. I understand that this is a philosophical argument, and I am merely reacting to gut feelings that are viewed as unpopular given the context. I know excellence is achieved through training and self-discipline, but it also requires heart, brains, and luck. What happened to Jack could've happened to any of our kids while playing a demanding game that they love. Parents, friends, and relatives of young athletes everywhere collectively gasped in horror when the details of Jack’s injury were reported throughout our community.

There's, to my mind anyway, something wrong with the culture of youth sports and the way our kids are driven and rode like our very own little unfulfilled dream vehicles. They're our cherished children, and my kid loves sports. For that reason, I help my son find situations in which he can pursue his passion just like you. I love watching him play, win or lose, and just like you, I’ve learned to love and appreciate the beauty and intricacies of these games. Sometimes I'm too vocal during a tight game because I've crossed a boundary I've promised myself I'd never cross. Regardless of my own blurted out "Heys" and "Open your eyes ref," I hate hearing a coach or a parent scream "Hit someone!" It sounds too close to "Hurt someone!" I understand that some sports are rough and command intense physical contact; it just seems that somewhere along the line finesse, skill, and sportsmanship have been replaced with something that feels and looks mean, desensitized, and violent. This outspokenness of mine embarrasses my son; he wishes I'd keep my concerns to myself instead of hollering "Cool it!" way too loud. Growing up in a hockey-centric family, I'd long marveled at the tolerance for bullying and brutality that is sometimes collectively accepted in the name of winning a game years before Jack received the hit that has changed his and your life irrevocably. I cannot get him and you and the rest of your family out of my heart or off of my mind. I feel so sad for the kid who hit him. I don't blame the game of hockey, or football, or any game for that matter; it's the misplaced intensity and the beyond-appropriate aggression I find problematic.

When I try to place myself in your current position, I am overwhelmed with the enormity of what lies ahead for all of you. You can't let down, but know that there are battalions of parents all around you trying to absorb the shock and sadness for you so you can remain strong and focused. Collective helplessness helps no one; lean hard on friends and strangers. Delegate. It is not your job to reassure us and let us know that we are lightening your emotional load. I hope that our collective energy and empathy can somehow keep you buoyed.

I was on a flight to Mexico -- a well-deserved respite that suddenly felt frivolous in light of your situation -- when I read the headline that stated that Jack would never walk or skate again. I burst into tears in the middle of a sardine can jammed full of traveling strangers. Everyone pretended not to notice; something that is both polite and distressing. A few days earlier I was sitting in the orthodontist’s office while my son was being outfitted for his dreaded headgear when I picked up the newspaper and saw a picture of you on the front page that was taken while you were addressing the media on behalf of Jack and your family. Your strength, grace, and poise are inspiring to parents everywhere. To see the stunned determination, the deep sadness intermingled with optimism that was captured in that image of your pretty gamine face was to send me into my first spasm of wracking sobs in front of polite strangers. When I opened that paper to page four and saw the picture of Jack in a hospital bed wearing a neck and head-stabilizing halo, I saw with horror what no parent ever wants to have to see. But that’s your reality now, and we're making it ours too because in our onlookers’ helplessness we want to help alleviate something, anything.

I don't know why I'm writing you a public letter Leslie except that writing is how I try to make sense of the world; it’s how I reach out. I hope through writing, my way of speaking, that I can speak for others beyond myself. Hopefully I can somehow manage to say, though clumsily, that the Jablonski family is not alone. We’re in it with you for the long haul.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Will K, eleven years old and young for his grade with an August birthday, stands at five feet tall, weighs seventy-five pounds, and is on the pitcher's mound. His right hand clutches two seams of the dirt dusty baseball, his right hand meets his left hand that's buried in an over-sized glove, he raises his bony right knee, widens his cornflower blue eyes (I'm sorry, but they truly are cornflower blue), pulls his mitt and throwing hand into the center of his narrow chest, and goes into one of the most baffling graceful dances I've ever watched, a move they call the wind up.

"'Atta boy Scottie, swing at the good ones, really let it rip, keep your eye on the ball," – rattled Will K releases the ball and the voice continues to boom, "NICE PITCH KID! HOLY COW! Did you see that pitch Scottie, that kid has an arm! Now let one rip! Keep your eye on the ball! Easy swing! Easy! Atta boy."

In the three seconds it has taken Will K to release the ball from the wind up (only to have it bounce in the dirt in front of home plate), the first base coach has scream-shouted at least seven sentences at a volume that doesn't suit the situation. It's the first pitch of the game.

For a few seconds, between the umpire's calls of a strike or a ball, the voice is quiet. At the precise second that Will K has the courage to cock himself into the coil required for that spring-loaded wind up of his, the voice continues his monologue, throat fully opened, volume menacing, "Run! Run! You've gotta run, man! Don't look back! Just run, run, run! Atta boy! Atta boy! Now go! Do it again! Go for three! Don't look back!" He's sending his man Scottie to second base long before the pitch has left Will K's increasingly deflated right hand.

We, the parents on the first base sideline whisper amongst ourselves, "They're not supposed to steal before the ball leaves the pitcher's hand." "Didn't we get called "out" last week for sending a guy too early?"

The vociferous parent/first base coach is wearing white linen shorts, a polo shirt, and – sorry, I can't leave it out – hirachis. His build is sinewy, his height is average, a little on the short side, and he has a Matt Lauer haircut. His voice is thunderous. He also happens to be standing next to my son, who at the moment is the first baseman with his knees hyper-extended backward and his eyes diverted away in hopes of avoiding any sort of contact with the wailing coach blasting hot air onto his personal space.

It's six-thirty on an almost-uncomfortably warm evening in a public park in southwest Minneapolis; we're watching twelve-year-olds play six innings of baseball in a low-pressure park league game. The third base coach is ripping it up too, but I'm not keying in on him; it's the dude a foot away from my son that is screaming and yelling like it's Game 7 of the World Series that makes me uncomfortable.

The first inning springs eternal as the opposing team makes it through their batting order and then some, mostly on walks and steals, the first and third base coaches have not let up, not for a second, always timing their bellows with the pitcher's wind up. Maybe it's a coincidence.

From the second inning on it is if we are all character actors in an old episode of Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone":

"Hey coach, we got called an "out" for sending a guy before the ball left the pitcher's hand," I offer in hopes of calming the overly intense first base coach.

"Un-uh lady, high school rules, high school rules," he shouts dismissively. This brings his constant chatter upon the wind up a decibel higher. I actually enjoyed high school, so maybe he's reiterating that high school rules? "Run baby! You got it! You gotta run every time! Steal home! Hey ump, the catcher's blocking the plate!"

"This guy needs to calm down," we whisper amongst ourselves with equal amounts of smugness and concern; we would never debase ourselves with such attention seeking behavior, no one has ever been this whacked in front of our kids who play on a park league teams versus travelling or club teams. Inspired, Will K's dad hollers over to the first base screamer, "Hey, let's mellow out and let the kids play ball!"


"Are you challenging me to a fight?" Will K's dad says, giggling while rising from his portable lawn chair. Will K's dad is tall and muscular and could easily take his challenger, but who the heck challenges someone to a fight while coaching first base? Who the heck challenges someone to a fight period? I find this scene so weird that I feel like I'm in a dream because reality has just left the field.

"YA, MAN, I'LL TAKE YOU ON ANY TIME! I'M JUST SUPPORTING MY TEAM AND YOUR PLAYERS! HEY KID! NICE PITCH!" he yells with increased anger and downright hatred to both father on the sidelines and son on the pitcher's mound.

Our boys are eyeballing us, their parents, from the field, our coaches stand up from the bench where they've been taking in the inning, spitting sunflower seeds, looking to the ump, who is all of maybe twenty years old, wondering if he's going to take control of the game and settle these guys down with a warning. We have never experienced anything quite like this in the many years since our sons started playing t-ball eight years ago.

Meanwhile, behind the backstop, a heavy-set mother from the other team is trying to mix-it up on the sidelines.

"Did someone in your crowd just yell something at our catcher? Did someone just yell at a child? What the hell's wrong with you people?"

Someone, a parent of one of our players, did indeed mutter "rookie mistake" as he watched a play at the plate. He may have said it with a little too much mustard on the remark because everyone's on edge by now.

"What the hell is wrong with you people?" Re-states confrontational mom to anyone who will engage in her vitriol.

"I don't know who you are, but I don't want to talk to you," Noah's mom Josie says walking away from this woman who seems to be bucking for a fight. In a lather, she moves onto the next parent of one of our players who's milling about behind the backstop, "Did someone over here just talk trash to one of our kids? Did one of you actually threaten a child?"

"Ya know, this is getting weird," says the unsuspecting parent milling about behind the backstop. "No one is threatening the kids. No one has any ill intent toward your players. Really," he continues with a look of exasperation

From that moment on, a flood of obscenities, hollered taunts and accusations are unleashed. A kid on the other team throws an elbow into my son as he crosses the bag on first base, "You are out of the game," the ump calls walking toward first base. "You know what you did."

"What did he do? What the @#$% did he do, ump? Let my team play ball!" roars the first base coach.

"This is f-ing insane!" hollers my husband the assistant coach from the bench.

"YOU ARE OUT OF THE GAME!" the ump screams to my husband who then proceeds to amble toward the sidewalk and walk away. I think maybe the ump knew that my husband wasn't going to pitch a fit over an ejection. I think he was trying to take the safest route in an attempt to exert his authority and take some semblance of control of the game. My husband enjoys swearing; oftentimes it doesn't mix well with coaching kids. It's the fourth inning.

"There is way too much yelling going on. Everyone settle down!" Broadcasts coach Karl who must now defend his team without his salty assistant coach.

"Hey buddy, we're rooting for BOTH teams! We're just really into it man. Get a grip, pal!" Roars the menacing presence at first base still within punching distance of my son.

Coach Karl calls "Time out!" to the ump while summonsing his team in from the field to meet him on the pitchers mound.

We didn't know it at the time for they were huddled, but Coach Karl asked the boys, a team calling themselves the Yankees, if they would like to walk off the field and go home because the situation was out of control and because this wasn't baseball. All of the boys said that they wanted to play on.

I wish this story ended here. I wish this scene didn't mimic the anger I watch every day on the news whether it comes from tea partiers, Arizonans, extremists in any form, or lovers of the Gulf coast (and really, for any one who's ever visited there, who isn't?). I don't know why people in general seem angrier, more on edge than they used to be, though there are several indicators as seen on the daily news, on reality TV, in the stands of any concert or sporting event. Bad behavior gets ink and screen time and their own shows; I'm feeding the monster right now.

At games end, the yelling coaches and yelling mom cross the field, one wielding a bat, and descend upon our fans like a goon squad in an action adventure movie while parents are instructing their children to get in the car, now. This is some of what I heard though my ears were ringing in that way they do when one is anxious and hyper-aware: "Hey rummy, I've been seeing you around for years. There's booze on your breath. You're always hammered, aren't you? Are you drunk right now, loser?" (In front of the children, in front the accused's son.) "You know what's wrong with you people? You're all old. Look at you, what a bunch of old !@@## parents!"

At this point a quiet mother from the other team approaches us and pulls Josie aside and says, "I'm so sorry. This happens every game. I don't know if they're drunk or on drugs or what, but we're taking our son off of their team." Chafing from the "old parent" comment and overhearing the previous exchange, I have my own immature "oh ya; prove it kid" moment and say to one of the opposing yellers, "I don't know what your problem is or why you think it's okay to carry on like this, but we hear you guys are out of control every game."

The confrontational mother is yelling at the back of Elizabeth of the white blouse, tasteful scarf, and espadrilles, Elizabeth of the quiet, thoughtful demeanor who asks often about the rules because she signs her son up for sports because of the community and team work aspect of it all. "What a bunch of *crude colloquialism for male sex organ* suckers!" Screamy mom unleashes onto Elizabeth's back.

At that moment soft-spoken, demure Elizabeth transforms into Wonder Woman, turning around in a flash, eyes ablaze, fists clenched, "THERE ARE CHILDREN HERE!" Reflexively I flip open my cell phone and dial 911 to call the police because I'm pretty sure someone is on the verge of getting hit. The sadness setting in is a sense of regret that our children were watching this whole thing, a tale that no one believes when I re-tell it, a tale with no explanation or moral. The next pang has to do with the wondering about what these people are like in their private lives if they were perfectly comfortable with such horrid behavior in a public place.

In the words of coach Karl, "There is way too much yelling going on. Everyone settle down!" In the words of Robert Plant on the live version of "Stairway to Heaven," "Doesn't anyone remember laughter?" Guess I am an old parent.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Love Book Clubs (and how it relates to my memoir Petal Pusher)

(Guest Blog on Book Talk)

One of the coolest parts about having a book published is that your friends will usually, as an act of charity or obligation, ask their book clubs to read your book and then ask you to visit the book club when they meet to discuss your book. (First of all, I don’t know why they call them book clubs, why can’t we be up front about this, and call them wine clubs?) ANYWAY, I freaking love having book clubs read and discuss my book.

After visiting in person or cyber-visiting, around sixty book clubs since PETAL PUSHER’S release, I love the many ways that my book has been read and interpreted based on the readers’ own life experiences. A woman in my mother’s book club consolingly placed her hand on my mom’s forearm and said, “I don’t know what I’d do if I had a daughter like that.” Instead of crying, I choose to laugh at this remark since my mom has that unconditional love thing going when it comes to her children, and Lord knows, I was not a first daughter for the faint of heart mother!

Once I answer the questions that every book club so far has asked me:

Yes, my sister divorced the guy she married in the book.

My mother thinks that I exaggerate in the book; my siblings tend to see events the same way I did.

My dad loves me though there are parts of my book he does not love.

I changed the names of people I’m no longer in touch with unless they’re considered “public domain.”

My bandmates are okay with the book (there’s a lot I did not include). I sent them both galley proofs of the manuscript before it went to press (as I did with my parents, siblings, and husband), and there were no disputes or up roars – though it’s always important to remind memoir readers that I experienced the events in the book differently than did a lot of the characters.

Then, it’s my turn to ask the book club members what they thought the book was about:

An older woman told me she thought it was about women figuring out how to deal with their bodies.

Someone else thought it was about women and friendship and how “business” can really corrode those friendships.

Another said she thought it was about dealing with disease.

A lot of people think it’s about growing up or following a dream to fruition.

Some folks think it’s about loving music and falling in love.

I think it’s about my relationship with my father.

The cool thing is, there are no right and wrong answers. It’s all about absorption and interpretation, and I love how different we all are.

Friday, May 8, 2009


I love my yoga instructor. She's wise, energetic, funny, and real. I've been attending her classes for almost eleven years. The coolest thing about her is that she's still learning; she's the rare teacher who is always evolving, updating, and bursting with enthusiasm to share her latest discoveries.
I'm sort of a crappy yoga student in that I pick and chose which lessons to embrace. Sometimes I don't give it my all. Sometimes I resist. I'm easily distracted. Sometimes I go through the motions while trapped in my own thoughts. Speaking of easily distracted, the pre-schoolers across the street are playing Duck, Duck, Goose on the front lawn. Their high pitched excited voices are so sweet. Did you know that Minnesotans call this game Duck, Duck, Grey Duck? ANYWAY...
Last week I did something for which I'm not proud; I responded to a hateful, destructive blog comment. I'm constantly urging my son to resist the urge to take the bait cast out by haters, and yet I did just that. I tell him that the best way to get to someone with bad intentions is to ignore them because responding only fuels their dark flame. In responding, they know they've got you where they want you. I'm not sure why on that day I failed to act with dignity in the face of desperation, but sometimes I let down my guard. I don't brim over with self confidence and admittedly, my skin is not nearly as thick as it needs to be. It's hard not to be pissed off at someone who projects all sorts of bad intentions and bad vibes onto your attempts to be open and connected. I know that the blogosphere is made for open debate and disparaging points of view. I know that anonymity bolsters ones courage to lash out.
But I'm still disappointed in myself that I jumped off the high road. This desperate soul doesn't even know me, yet clearly she's invested a lot of time and energy into hating me. That makes me sad, makes me feel less safe, gives me a bad feeling in my stomach. But these types of people are not new to me; it comes with the territory in which I have chosen to live. Silence and disconnection can make me prostrate with depression, so on occasion, I take a big gulp and take the chance of sharing. I know that there are more good people than there are bad out there. But still, I didn't need to dignify those misguided comments that were meant to hurt me. Folks can hate my writing all they want; it would probably do them good to avoid it at all costs if it gives them a violent reaction or a borderline personality disorder. But to have a complete stranger speculate that my child was not conceived with love, them's fightin' words. I would say something about mama bear, Sarah Palin sort of ruined that image for a lot of us.
Recently, our yoga instructor's daily theme was "don't steal." Sure, we all know that it's wrong to steal, that it's one of the commandments, duh. She patiently smiled at our patronizing nods. She continued, "Yes, we all learned not to steal back when we helped ourselves to gum at the grocery store and our mothers marched us back in and made us return our loot to the cashier with an apology." We all chuckled and nodded back knowingly. She continued, "But how about this; don't steal other people's confidence." Eureka. Think of how much better everything and everyone would be if we all consciously tried to abide by that idea. Desperately flawed as I am, I'm going to try to work harder on that one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

As Heard in the Emergency Room on Saturday Evening

Nondescript woman on the phone behind the front desk in the ER: "Hello, this is Shelley, I did not know that I was scheduled to work tonight, therefore I didn't come in but I'm here now. I didn't make it til the end of the shift that I didn't know I had and they told me to just go home. Please call me and let me know if I'm still employed." Slam. Stomp off and out the automatic doors in a huff. Quite a show for the huddled groups of sick, injured, or faking-it patrons. And oh so very professional.

When did the ER turn into Super America? I wonder to myself.

Middle-aged husband injured playing a child's game. I don't blame him a bit. Sometimes you've got to push back against time.
"You look familiar, have we met?" says the orderly wheeling he and his very swollen foot into a holding area.
"Nah," my husband says.
I peek behind the curtain to assess our surroundings.

A baby is crying inconsolably behind the curtain in the next cubicle. Screeching. Sobbing. My nipples tighten.
Can you spontaneously lactate after a decade of inactivity? Is anyone with that baby? He/she can't stop crying.
Somebody do something.

"Someone save the baby," sings a very heavy ER worker walking down the hallway with a white styrofoam cup in her hand.
She's walking away from the baby's cubicle.

We sit and wait. And wait. A physician that oddly resembles the guitarist from Soul Asylum steps in, looks at my spouse's swollen block of a foot, and says, "We'll need an x-ray."

The baby's still crying. A doctor or nurse or employee in hospital scrubs, is talking loudly and condescendingly to a short silent man with copper bronze hair who's standing in the hallway trying to read the eye chart. "Can you read any of these letters?" shouts the employee to the paying customer. Maybe the silent man is mute. He shakes his head, and gestures wildly towards his eyes shaking his head and pleading. "You're a diabetic," the examiner discovers glancing at a chart, "when did you last have insulin?"

The baby ramps up into blood curdling shrieks. All this time, I've not heard a comforting adult voice behind that curtain. I envision a baby alone strapped into its car seat bucket, I want to do something.

Twenty minutes pass, a pretty woman with royal blue hair extensions wheels my husband in to X-ray.

Moaning, groaning, pure sounds of agony emitting from a suffering young woman who's hunched over, no doubled over. Breathless gasps, tears, breathing, ouch, oh, ouch, ohhhhhhh. I think she o.d.ed though I have no reason to assume this except that she looks like the girl I went to middle school with who o.d.ed on speed in the girls bathroom during the seventh grade dance.
She disappears behind the cloth wall sanctioning the next waiting station. "Someone please help me," she whimpers.

"I'm from Triage," says a woman in street clothes to another woman in hospital garb, "she has a long family history of severe hypochondria." The baby is till wailing on the other side and I'm starting to become de-sensitized to his/her pleas.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I was so proud of myself yesterday for finally taking in the loads of clean, gently used clothes to consign at the neighborhood thrift shop.
I had two shopping bags full of cool boys' clothes that my son refused to wear because they didn't say RAMONES or GOPHERS or TWINS.
"Uh, we only take clothing on hangers," she snapped through her wad of Juicy Fruit.
I wasn't in the most charming of moods as it was the end of the day, and I had accomplished very little, and now this whole undertaking was going sour.
"Oh, sorry, I'll take them home and put them on hangers," I flatly responded Roseanne-style, hoping passive-aggressively that she would see the folly in her controlling statement. "The last time I was here, you gave me back all of the hangers." Their process makes no sense, it's just a ploy to stand superior over we, the lowly consigners.
She didn't take all of my stuff. Not by a long shot. In fact she didn't take some of the stuff that a MUCH BETTER consignment shop had already taken (but had since gone out of business) -- and this particular shop is, most definitely, the last stop in consigning before donating to Goodwill.
"So you don't have any interest in boys' dress shirts?" I wondered, blushing, while gathering my jilted items.
"We do if they're IRONED," she spat with icy malice, "No one wants to iron."
I resisted the energy it would take for a bitch-on-bitch show down.
No kidding no one wants to iron, but I most certainly don't want to iron something I was hoping to get rid of that was slightly ruffled from the car ride from my house to her crappy store. Is it worth the fifty-cents? Well, philosophically somehow, yes.
Ridiculed, I slunk out and placed my not-good-enough fashion finds in the back seat. The sense of rejection washing over me was inconsistent with the situation, and the way I was letting it blacken my mood was silly. Why, I wonder, is it such an awful feeling when your clothing gets rejected by a consignment shop? Probably because you experience buyer's remorse all over again, or maybe it's the realization that something you know damn well to be very cool is not seen as such by someone with bland taste. I know thrift shoppers, and believe you me lady, you passed off some treasures. Oh well, your loss. I'll just never get back that chunk of time I wasted trying to procure the stuff for re-sale, and I never should've bought more stuff than we possibly have time/occasion to wear to begin with, which boils down to my Shopping Problem glaring smugly back at me. Oh well, Goodwill's much cooler anyway. Right?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Confessions of a Facebook Slut

I'll forever refer to the winter of 2009 as "my lost winter". I gave it alway on facebook. I have no logical explanation. It's really not my style. I guess I can be obsessive about things. I do so enjoy avoiding the unfinished work on my desktop. "Are you on facebook?" "Oh, you've just gotta sign up for facebook!" "You can really do a lot of networking and marketing on facebook." After having every person who needed to take the time to let me know they hated me publicly share their disdain on myspace, I was gun shy. "But you control who gets to see your page," they assured me. "None of the scary people can get on without your permission." I think I gave in to techno peer pressure around Thanksgiving, and signed on -- though I had to have someone else figure it out for me.
And then, there all of you were...long lost step siblings, high school friends, college crushes, drinking buddies, old boyfriends, writers, musicians, executives, all of my ladies. As many of you know, it's quite a rush unearthing someone long lost and even more fun to have day-long rambling joke-offs with your funnier friends. To become reacquainted with charming people you've met but don't really know -- how oddly satisfying even though it doesn't mean anything. It is sort of like being slutty, no, it's totally slutty. Then there's all those people you don't really know but admire. Trying to friend those folks can take weeks. Once you start collecting notches of infamy on your laptop bed post, you consider irony. I spent entire days thinking of friending people no one in my crowd had thought of friending like say Ernest Borgnine ("Love you as Mermaidman") or the greatly under-appreciated Alicia Silverstone. It's like being a groupie, pop. culture obsessed weirdo, and social commentator all in one. Or so I told myself as the days, weeks, and months peeled away while the snow fell and the sub-zero winds blew. I wanted to be the first amongst my friends to "get" Pat Benatar. I learned which friends' friends lists to cherry pick in order to make my friend population grow.
Then my son's math grades started to fall, my husband gave himself a startling haircut, my cat threw up on a daily basis, my novel was ditched. I had to pull myself together, so I gave up facebook for Lent...not like a big "I joined the "I gave up facebook for Lent" Catholic statement group, more like, I like to utilize the opportunity Lent provides to shed something that's bad for me. I lasted maybe two weeks, making every excuse in the book ("Oh, I need to see if I have any messages from the colleges I'm speaking at, the friends with sick kids, that hip rock icon who relishes turning down my friend requests.....) Then!
Facebook took care of the problem for me by changing their format and layout and sucking the life and enjoyment out of their product. Thanks facebook.