Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Facebook Era

In the past week, three of my Facebook friends have posed the question Does Facebook enhance or reduce your quality of life? via their status updates. "It enhances it of course!" was my first reaction. I didn't even think twice about it. I love reconnecting with people who I haven't been in touch with in years! People like childhood BFFs (minus the last F for the obvious reason that we haven't been in touch for years) and the kids of family friends who I somewhat remember vacationing with at one point or another. There's something refreshing about looking up the "Info" of the little annoying kid who used to play with crickets and constantly untie the laces of my tennis shoes and find that he's en route to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. And who needs Jerry Springer's "You made fun of me in grade school, but look at me now!" episodes when Facebook allows us to literally watch karma take her course and witness the most amazing transformations ever. The chubby tomboy from middle school who is now a stunning professional body builder. The beautiful, blond mean-girl from high school who traded her killer bod and trendy fashion accessories in for a couple of kids and an old pick-up truck. My favorite story though was seeing what happened to the girl that was dumped by her jock boyfriend once they got to college together (a college that he convinced her to attend because he had a football scholarship). Two weeks into freshman year he told her he was going to focus on his "studies" so they couldn't be together anymore but he really just wanted to study all of the girls in his dorm. She's gorgeous, just passed the Bar and is newly engaged. He, on the other hand, lives with his parents and often posts unflattering pictures of himself double-fisting beer mugs at the bar down the street. C'est la vie.

Yesterday, while grabbing a cup of coffee at Starbucks with my dad I overheard a similar Facebook discussion at the table next us. A visibly upset high school-aged girl, wearing over sized sunglasses and a tee that said "I was with stupid and now I'm with you" was picking at a muffin. She anxiously squished little pieces of it in between her fingers before popping them into her mouth and by the time her latte-toting mom joined her at the table, the young Nicole Richie lookalike just about exploded. She went on and on about how, because of Facebook, her best friend had become completely insane. Her mom stared back at her blankly and nodded. Little Richie continued to explain to her that her friend had become a "picture maniac freak" and that she could never sit still because she constantly needed new material for her status updates. I giggled a bit to myself as she flailed her arms and flicked her muffin pieces angrily and then suddenly she calmed down and her tone took a more solemn tone. "It's like she uses me now." She said sadly. "For photo albums and status updates." I immediately frowned for her. How sad I thought to myself. She seemed to hold back tears as she continued to somberly explain how her supposed BFF had become an EX-BF, and she blamed it all on Facebook. I suddenly thought back to all of the photo albums and status updates that I've posted through the years. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever made anyone feel the way she did. Had I ever made anyone feel used? Had anyone ever used me? All in the name of Facebook?

I began thinking about the Facebook and the quality of life question a bit differently. Sure I loved keeping up with my friends and keeping in touch, but I began to wonder if there is a point when the networking tool actually becomes intrusive? Intrusive into the lives of those who share too much personal info with others unwittingly, or even intrusive into our own lives in an unfortunate way.
It made me think back to the trip that Danny and I took to Europe last year. The trip on which he not-so-affectionately nicknamed me the "camera terrorist." I admittedly cringed a bit when I thought back to how I spent a good chunk of our vacation saying, "Smile!" and "Point to that!" and "Hold this!" and "Now pretend like you're having fun!" and "Now take one of me doing that too!" Could I have been anymore obnoxious? Pretend like you're having fun?

I remember being in the Notre Dame Cathedrale in Paris, and watching Danny light a votive candle and say a prayer. I don't remember wondering what he was praying for in that moment and I don't remember being thankful for having a spiritual and loving better half either. I don't remember if he looked at me and smiled when he was done and I don't remember how the experience of being in such a magical place made me feel. All I can remember is cursing my camera for having such a dim flash. I think I even asked him to light another one because the picture I'd gotten was blurry. As a live in the moment kind of guy, he didn't. After thinking back to a few other intimate moments that I'm sure I ruined with my trustee Canon, I couldn't help but actually feel ahsamed.

I know that I've consciously posed for pictures and taken pictures either hoping that they will or won't end up on Facebook, and I also know that I miss the good old days when taking pictures wasn't so complicated. Photographing a moment used to be a way of documenting a memory or capturing a special second in existence and I can't help but feel that so much has changed since then.
So maybe it's both. Maybe Facebook does enhance my life in certain ways but also detract from it in others. Maybe people call it their guilty pleasure rather than just their pleasure because everyone knows there is something about it that's just wrong. Maybe the rolling eyes of our husbands and boyfriends (generally after the millionth picture that we make them take, alone, by a monument, and usually in front a huge crowd of people) are actually speaking a thousand words. Words that remind us that they want to spend moments with us rather than on the other side of a pestering lense.

I may not be deleting my account anytime soon, and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll continue to update my status and post pictures every once in a while, I just don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I've come to the conclusion that as long as I don't live to post or post to live, I can continue to indulge in the little guilty pleasure that I've come to enjoy now and again. The book of our true faces as well as the faces that we choose to decorate and put on display.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday came and went just as uneventfully as it usually does. I made some sweet and spicy meatballs, threw together a pitcher of sangria and had a few of our faves over to watch the game with us. In contrast to the way we used to celebrate the big game in college, it was a pretty dull day. There was no big party, no money pool, no trash talking and definitely no football paraphernalia or decorations in sight. I actually think it's safe to say that the past few Superbowl Sundays at the Fells household have consistently been somewhat melancholic. And as long as Danny plays the game and doesn't make it to the big show, I think that'll be the norm.

My guess is that if you were to ask any NFL player (who isn't planning on playing in the Superbowl) what he's doing on the day of the big game, he'll say he's not doin' much. He'll watch the game on Sunday, maybe even give his two cents about a play call or two, but that's about it. A minimal amount of emotion will be invested in the occasion, and the outcome won't make much of a difference either way. Exciting one-handed grabs will only earn mere head nods and the thrill of going into overtime will generally be translated into an animated sigh. The concept is one that used to be hard for me to grasp. I couldn't, for the life of me, understand why football players weren't among the MOST emotionally invested Superbowl viewers. Weren't they supposed to be the ones with the true passion for the sport? The ones that truly cared? I was even a little frustrated by the apathetic attitude that seemed to plague every single one of our football buddies on the day of the big game until a friend who used to play in the league recently explained it to me in terms I could understand.

He suggested that him throwing a Superbowl party would be comparable to me having a party for a co-worker who was promoted in front of me. It just wouldn't make sense. He insisted that I wouldn't host a celebration for someone I spent countless hours studying and trying to defeat. Someone who didn't shed a single ounce more of blood, sweat or tears than I did over the course of a career and yet had the opportunity to be named "the best." Someone who I matched hour for hour in the office and penny for penny in sales. He insisted that I wouldn't throw a party for someone who ridiculed me to the media and even "talked about my mamma" when we crossed paths. I laughed, but he didn't. I had never really thought about it that way. When I teasingly asked him if the cardinal sin of jealousy played a role in his anti-Superbowl attitude, he surprised me by assuring me that it absolutely did. I appreciated his honesty. He told me that, no matter what anyone would ever tell me, there isn't a single guy who's ever played the game (whether it be in high school, college, or even Pop Warner) that hasn't dreamed about kissing the Lombardi trophy at one point or another. He also assured me that the closer you get to it, the more you want it. And the closer you get to it, the more it "stings" when you fail. And for a guy like that to say it stings, a guy who played hundreds of hard-hitting games while bearing the agony of broken bones and torn ligaments, well, it must really hurt!

So I don't really make a huge deal of the Superbowl these days. Maybe, in the future, I'll break my football shaped glasses and referee striped caution tape back out of storage, but for now I'm just sticking to meatballs. There are two things, though, that still make Superbowl Sunday a reason to celebrate in my eyes...good eats and commercials, of course. Those E-Trade commercials get me every time. Obviously the only thing funnier than a talking baby is several of them. And the Google commercial that aired this year was pretty good too. The one where a guy uses the Google search engine to illustrate every step of his blooming relationship with a girl that he meets in Paris. Pretty romantic stuff. It provided quite the special moment until our single bachelor friend (who will remain unnamed) interjected his own search engine topics once the commercial was over. No, dear friend, the natural sequence of events following the building of a baby's crib is not always therapy or divorce. And yes, although you were right when you said that you were sure that Megan Fox had to have used a finger double in her Motorola commercial, all that that proves is that you need to get out more.

Yup, Superbowl Sunday petty much went as planned. I was somewhat surprised however that the "Kim vs. Kendra" E! headlines didn't weasel their way into prime time on Sunday. What a let down. The only thing we bet on before the game started was how many times we thought the camera would cut to Kim throughout the course of the game. It's possible that I wasn't watching very closely but I only saw her once throughout the entire telecast. She was on the field snapping photos at the end of the game, and I would have completely missed her even then if the sharp shoulder-pad of her trendy blazer hadn't literally come through my TV and poked me in the eye.

Here's to Superbowl Sunday, and all of it's glory and all of it's hype, and to hoping that one day soon we'll be under the confetti watching ourselves celebrate on the jumbotron rather than under our own roof saying, "There's always next year."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snapshot of right now

I had no idea that when Danny and I got married last summer we were also secretly initiated into the "you are now eligible to receive family Christmas cards" club. Go figure. One after the other we received the most beautiful Christmas cards this year from both friends and family alike, some of whom we hadn't spoken to in years.

Some cards were from our happily childless couple friends, many of whom are newlyweds, but most cards had family photos on the front of them, complete with newborn babies and family dogs. And, of course, the ones with photos on them were almost always accompanied by detailed paragraphs outlining what the family had been up to since the previous Christmas. In a nutshell, Danny and I feel pretty honored to be surrounded by so many future soccer hall-of-famers, pint-sized Picassos and of course, plain and simply, little genius children.

We had so much fun flipping through the Christmas cards and playing catch-up with good friends that we'd somehow lost touch with. It was as if the little paragraphs in them adequately replaced the need for long-lost-friend dinner dates. You know, the ones you schedule and rescheduled about a hundred times over the course of a year because when they get close you get nervous that you'll have nothing to talk about. They're the same ones that generally require a glass of wine to loosen you up a bit before you meet for dinner. We couldn't help but conclude that the convenience of the Christmas card was truly brilliant, and we were enjoying every bit of our speed dinner-dating until we found ourselves cringing through some of the paragraphs. As we flipped through the pile of cards that we'd gotten from the friends that we've made through Danny's NFL career, there was one staggering constant that seemed to hit home like a ton of bricks. Change.

Change, sudden and constant change at that, was the common denominator in every single Christmas card that we'd gotten from Danny's old teammates, coaches and their families. And it was, quite frankly, a reality that we knew all too well with our 4 teams in 4 seasons history. Card after card, in the upbeat and optimistic foreign language of NFL-speak (one we're learning quite quickly), we read about our dear friends being traded, being released, moving, getting injured, exploring alternate professions, being signed, moving, getting injured again, moving again, and getting released again. New states, new cities, new homes, new climates, new schools, new friends, new co-workers, new jobs. And although they weren't written on the page in legible ink we undoubtedly read about the hellos, goodbyes, see you laters, good riddances, and how could yous. It was exhausting.
So as the first real entry of my blog, I've decided write my version of what our Fells Christmas card would look like today. A snapshot of our "right now" if you will. Because tomorrow could be another story.

Happy 2010 Everyone! This last year has gone by like a whirlwind but we're still chugging along! We got engaged last April and married in June, and by now you know that no, I wasn't pregnant, we just didn't need a long engagement. Seven years was a long enough time for us to figure out that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. After being in four weddings over the course of 9 months I was somewhat wedding-ed out, so we decided to just have a couple of intimate celebrations with family and call it a day. Married life has been pretty phenomenal. Although Danny swears that not a single thing has changed other than the piece of paper that now bonds us, I secretly think that little paper makes him love me just a tiny bit more than before. I'm still not used to calling him my husband and I think I'll forever turn around and look for his mom whenever someone calls me Mrs. Fells.
Three long years after getting my masters degree in Writing I'm finally publishing my debut novel, "Drowning in the Mainstream: Confessions of a Sister." I often describe it to friends as a girly, young adult novel about sisterhood and sorority-stuff and then follow-up with the phrases "No, you're not in it. A novel is fiction," and "Yes, I agree, it would be awesome to be on Oprah one day." I've been lucky enough to have a career that I can do anywhere because Danny's has pretty much taken us all over the U.S. Danny's currently a tight end for the St. Louis Rams. He had somewhat of a breakout year in 2009, scoring one-third of the team's touchdowns last year and making it onto the pro bowl ballot as a second-stringer. A pretty hard feat on a 1-16 team. But don't you worry, Superbowl 2011 here we come! (That's an example the optomistic NFL-speak I wrote about above)
So since it's offseason, we're spending our time at our duplex in San Mateo. Yup, I said duplex. My sister and her husband are our neighbors (we share a wall) and yes, our life is pretty similar to most episodes of Friends. Danny is almost fully recovered from a knee injury he sustained at the end of the season (on a cheap shot I might add) and we'll be heading back to St. Louis once Off Season Training starts up in March. I'm not excited to leave California again but I do terribly miss the girlfriends that I made in St. Louis this last year. My life as an NFL wife is both everything that most people think it is and nothing like anyone could ever imagine it to be. In a nutshell, while most people spend their Sundays vegging and bracing themselves for a busy work week, I spend most of mine taking deep short breaths, the kind that vibrate in the back of your throat when you're nervous, and praying for the physical safety of the man that I love. Praying for the physical safety of the man that I love. It's like that MTV phrase that everyone used to use as their IM status update in college, "You think you know, but you have no idea."


So with all of the new Oscar buzz surrounding the ever so hyped Avatar, Danny and I FINALLY went to see it. Yup, we finally penciled in a (too long for my taste) three hour block of time in which we could sit in a freezing theater and witness the strange, and somewhat erotic, connecting microfibers that we'd heard so much about. And, per usual, on the way home from the movie we discussed it from beginning to end. The discussion started out as a casual conversation, one that we we both seemed to enjoy, until the overly critical novelist in me reared her ugly head. And so I began my (now common) post-movie rant...

I came away from the movie feeling like, although it was an amazing work of art, I just wasn't invested in any of the characters. And on top of that, I just didn't feel any real emotional bonds between the characters in the movie either. I just didn't buy the relationship between Sully and Neytiri. Prior to them mating and becoming "life-long partners" in the whimsical weeping willow-esque sacred forest, they had only glanced at each other playfully one or two times. And because there wasn't much flirtation or insinuation of physical attraction, they really just seemed to have a platonic relationship. Of course, early on I could see the Pocahontas parallels and could pretty much deduce what would happen between them, but there was no sexual tension, no deep conversation. I would've liked to witness a tender moment or two so that I could actually feel the love by the time they were eternally bonded. It just didn't ring true (well as true as it could ring for being sort of science fictiony). And I've also never not cried when a dad has died in any movie I've ever watched in my entire life. My eyes didn't so much as water when Neytiri's dad died, and I frankly didn't like that one bit! Maybe if we had seen him interacting with his people or Neytiri's mom, or even Neytiri for that matter, in a loving or paternal way (even once) the scene would have struck an emotional chord with me. And was it just me, or did anyone else want to know more about Sully? He was a complete stranger to me throughout the entire movie.

Mid-rant Danny interrupts me to irritatedly note that he couldn't remember the last time I'd expressed a SINGLE good review about any movie we've seen. I looked at him somewhat blankly and then took a second to think about what he'd just said. Was he right? Had hours upon hours of character development, plot sequencing and dialogue compression have completely turned me into the debbie-downer of movie goers? I knew that after most movies, I'd voice my wishes to have had things like more background information, or more relatable relationships, but was I being overly critical? I suddenly flashed back to hearing myself say, "That character wouldn't say that!" or "That scene was such a filler. Where was the conflict?!" (in the theater). I cringed a little bit. Hmmm...I cringed a little more when I thought about how I often get quite angry (borderline hostile) when endings left me yearning for more information, not in a cliffhanger way, but in an unfinished kind of way. He was right. While becoming a writer, I'd somehow also become the thumbless Ebert. I'd become the Rush Limbaugh of film critics. I'd become...a nag.

After reflecting on the overly critical (and most likely annoying) movie watcher that I'd become, I suddenly began to miss the good old days. In the past, when Danny would ask me what I thought about a movie we just saw I'd usually just bring up a scene in it that proved a point that I'd tried to make at some point in our seven year relationship. Devilishly (but jauntily) capitalize on a sort of "See! I told you so" moment if you will. Or sometimes I'd just cheerfully remind him how much I liked the grey sweater that that one girl in the movie wore when they went to dinner (and where I saw it on sale in my size). Sometimes that sweater would even magically appear upon my nightstand a couple days later! (Well, once that sweater magically appeared upon my nightstand, but my antics were good for a chuckle at the very least!) Yup, those were the days.

The squinted frown on Danny's face during the car ride home said it all. I was pretty sure that my ranting had somewhat ruined the movie for him. His random defensive rebuttals about different scenes he "by the way, really LIKED," throughout the remainder of the evening solidified my assumption. My rampant negativity surely took the "date" out of "date night," and I couldn't help but feel a little bad.
After laying my head on his shoulder and getting a minimal response, I decided to try and redeem myself by reminding him how brilliant I thought Juno was (how ever many years ago that we saw it in theaters). I asked him to recall how I raved about it for days after we saw it and how many times I told him how amazingly phenomenal and authentic it was. Juno had hit on every emotion I had. I cried, I laughed, I scrunched my nose. When we got home from watching it I pranced around the house playing a fake banjo and repetitively sung (in an undoubtedly high pitched country accent) "If I was a flower growing wild and free, all I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee!" One of the best songs ever by the way. After desperately searching for validation, I sang it to remind him exactly how it went. He smiled.

I put my head back on his shoulder and told him that I'd work on being a little more positive after the next movie we watched. He nodded and rested his head on mine. I shrugged and sighed. "Yup, I'll work on it...but I just might have a long road ahead of me." I relented. He asked me why I thought so and I obliviously responded, "Well, I just can't understand why we wouldn't have at least seen a glimpse of Sully's relationship with his brother! You know? I mean seriously! Were they buddies? Did they get beers together after work? Was Sully ever jealous that he had more success in the military? A flashback or two would have really helped me understand..." I stopped when I felt him looking at me somewhat sideways and then giggled embarassedly. I shrugged and flashed him my "Woops" smile. He smiled back, gave me his "you're hopeless but cute nonetheless" look and then kissed me goodnight.

So, anyone else think that the movie was a little lacking in the interpersonal relationship department??? KIDDING!!!!...sort of.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I've been debating whether or not to start a blog for over a year now, but today, the internal argument has literally spilled out of my head and into my lap top. As much as I love the idea of sharing my happenings, my thoughts, and my opinons with everyone (friends and strangers alike) I keep wondering what I have to offer. I mean, really, there are already millions of blogs out there about being a writer, being a woman, being Iranian, being a daughter, sister, and friend, being married, and even being an NFL I ask myself, what's the point? And I suppose that today, I've finally answered. There really isn't a point at all, and I love that. No point, no pressure, no deadline...just me doing what I love to do...just me writing.
So here I am. Stay tuned...