Grandpa Ball was a man of great reserve and formality and, on one hand, a deep introversion, but on the other hand, a deep sense of belonging to society. He did loosen up in his old age; many years after he retired, he stopped wearing suits around the house, and started wearing sweater vests over his button-down shirts. The only time I remember seeing him not at the very least in a button-down shirt was when he stayed at my apartment in Crawfordsville, IN, one night, the weekend of my college graduation, and I saw him in his pajamas, which seemed as bizarre as, I don’t know, doing keg stands with the President of the United States.
A few months ago I was feeling like my mind was somewhat out of control and I couldn’t keep thoughts straight or get organized and everything was just getting lost in nothingness and months would go by without my having much to show for myself. Maybe because I stopped blogging for a while and I lost that particular record of where I’d been. I’d been updating Facebook pretty frequently, but that is like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs; it feels like it’s impossible to get whatever of yourself you put into Facebook back out.
So I bought a bunch of blank index cards and stuck them and a pen in my bag, or occasionally in a front shirt pocket, dorky as that sounds, and when something came to me I’d just write it down.
And a month or two ago, it occurred to me that I’d become Grandpa Ball. He always wore button down shirts, and in the front pocket was a pocket protector (he was a chemical engineer in the 40′s – 60′s and before pocket protectors became a clichéd signifier of dorkiness, it really was just What Was Done: they kept your shirts protected from the inevitable inky mess of early ball-point pen technology, and they were given out by companies as viable marketing schwag) and inside the pocket protector were a bunch of blank index cards and a pen. He’d often stop whatever he was doing, reach under his sweater vest, dig into his front shirt pocket, pull out an index card and a pen, write something down, and put it all back in the pocket, and then resume whatever he was doing without comment.
Of course, I’m not Grandpa Ball, and my cards are now a total mess, as everything that goes into my bag becomes. They’re crinkled and wrinkled and crushed and illegible and the sides are stained black and grimy. But I was sorting through some of them tonight and one dated 9/20 said “I am tired of viewing the world through the tiny window of an iPhone screen”. I don’t remember writing it, but I remember the sentiment, and it’s why I am going on Facebook hiatus for the rest of November. If I’m going to bother recording my life, it’s going to have to be in higher resolution than I get with short frequent updates. It’s going to have to be in the unfettered verbose onslaught of no character limits, free of the increasingly and strangely difficult constraint of writing for my FB audience.
There are many layers of irony in all this: the only way I can explain how Facebook has, in fact, greatly enriched my life greatly can’t be explained on Facebook itself (and will have to be the subject of another post). Also, my Facebook audience is so much more vastly diverse and challenging than my blog audience, it feels like a bit of a cop out to retreat back to the obscurity (and presumed socioeconomic homogeneity) of the blog and its relatively minuscule audience.
But it just feels like the right thing to do now.