We Come Full Circle with Stalking

Here’s a visual for you. Me running around the forest with bowls of water, sprinting from tree to tree seeking swift blooming, swift fading elusive tree blossoms.

My children firmly believe, and with some evidence, that when I am immersed in a good book, they could detonate a nuclear weapon in the room with me AND I WOULD NOT NOTICE. But when it comes to things like blossoming trees or the Flowers of tiny weeds, I am all over the noticing thing. And this is a good thing, because with the fast action photography growth brought on by our recent extended spate of hot weather, I need to find the blossoms and make the Flower Essences pronto. It is an serious understatement to say the Flowers are coming and going very very fast this spring summer.

My children have always considered my penchant for yelling, “Stop the car, I see a weed.” rather harmless. Strange, but harmless. However, some of my noticing skills have brought censure from them, especially when they were teenagers. Take for example what I call paying attention to other people and what they call “stalking.”

For a long time, my children did not appreciate this skill set . So what if I could sit next to a table of strangers in a restaurant and know nothing about them when we got our breakfast menus, yet know their names, life histories, and dietary restrictions before our pancakes were served.

For a long time, my children felt this interest in other people was just plain wrong and of course, embarrassing. They could burn the midnight oil with entertainment TV’s coverage of K-fed, Brittany, and Brangelina, but I was not supposed to be interested in the flesh and blood people sharing their life stories only inches from my head. If I reported any details of data I had garnered, even in the benign circumstance of someone actually telling me said data, there was eye rolling and cries of, “Muuuuuther.”

It was sort of like my laugh. I have a distinctive laugh. Now don’t go thinking it’s piercing or a horse’s whinny. It’s a nice laugh. I don’t cringe when I hear it on tape or anything, but it is, as I said, distinctive and I do like to use it. This meant that during their teenage years, my three elder children found my laugh a problem. If we had to share a space for some event, say an auditorium for example, they wanted me to take a vow of silence.

So too with the stalking. If someone they knew walked into a restaurant where we were eating, let’s say a former romantic interest I had never meet, I was forbidden to turn around and look at said ex. I was not even allowed to go to the bathroom so as to take a look. Checking the ex out in any restaurant mirror was also a no go.

Things have changed. Things have changed. And frankly, I love it.

In part, I credit this lovely sea change to the fact their lives have cut them off from excessive doses of entertainment TV. Steady employment will do that too you. Plus two of them don’t even have TVs. Suffering from this dearth of entertainment news has left them a bit more interested in actual people. It has made my curiosity in the human race seems a little bit more legit. I even am getting street credit for my data gathering skills. Suddenly, they want to study at the feet of the master. And yes, that would be me.

I am quick to tell them it is not all a bowl of cherries, but sometimes the stalking really is better than Perez Hilton. For example, the other day I was in line for a table at our favorite breakfast joint. The woman in front of me sported a grape sized diamond and spoke to her attentive friend about her recent trip to visit her in laws to be at their country estate in England. Think castle. I certainly did.

The woman with the rock hardly came up for air and neither did I as she shared the dish about her country weekend. In a flood of detail, unequaled by even a Jane Austen novel, I got the serious scoop on Gosford Park 2008. Sadly, Jim, Will, and I were seated just out of earshot of her lovely BBC vowels. I could only wonder what further raucous details I was missing as she kept up a steady stream to her friend from the beginning of our pancake breakfast to the end.

While this was a peak moment, I suffered one of the typical casualties of stalking only this Saturday. I was in the check out line at an enormous used book sale with about thirty people ahead of me. I settled in for some quality stalking and was rewarded by a conversation in front of me between two old friends. However, when the talk turned to why one of the women’s husbands had given the book sale a miss, I was miffed by what she said.

She explained that her husband was off giving a workshop on blogging. She noted with a laugh that he did not believe in blogging, did not read blogs, and had nothing positive to say about them. This is when it gets as tough to be a stalker as to stop laughing at a teenager’s command. I wanted to poke my head between the two women and say, “Then WHY on earth is he giving a workshop about blogs?”

This is the heartbreak of stalking. Since I wasn’t an official part of the conversation, I had to stifle said comment and instead keep my best blank and disinterested face on.

I felt badly for the people who were attending this man’s workshop hoping just to get information about what a blog is, not somebody’s pretentious, editorial comments. This overheard conversation made me glad, very, very glad that when I first heard the word blog it was because my stalking skills had begun to have some appeal to my children.

I first heard about blogs from Ben who heard about them at a meeting with his former job, the ceramics sculptor. One of the axioms of stalking is that even at a meeting, even at a meeting that you are attending by default, why, even at a meeting that defines the word boredom, you may learn some interesting stuff if you just hang in there and pay attention.

This particular meeting was with a big time internet guru, somebody who invented something to do with email while at MIT, somebody who when he invented this thing had professors invest on the spot and then take the student out to copyright the thing right then and there. Ben had been dragged along to the meeting and could easily have nodded off in the background. But no, he had begun the long rewarding journey towards master stalkerhood and he paid attention at the meeting.

And what happened was the internet guru told Ben’s boss that blogs were where everything was going. While Ben’s boss did not seem to find this of any interest, Ben had year’s of my example of listening for juicy nuggets, even at things like business meetings and lines at book sales. Ben knew he had stalker gold and because he is nothing if not a generous soul, he shared this gold with his muuuuuther.

“Mom, it’s time to blog.”

I had seen the word maybe once or twice in a knitting magazine, but wasn’t at all sure what it was. A social faux pas?

“No really Mom. It is something you should try. I can set you up. You should do it.”

Ben kept at me. For weeks he blog bugged me. I am nothing if not initially very resistant to new technologies while later finding myself to be a total convert. Think email. Think ipod.

I started reading blogs. I fell in love with a lot of them. They were a natural for a person who loved knowing about other people’s lives, but who didn’t get out much. Running the farm and all doesn’t always leave as much room for stalking as I would like which is probably why I am so FOCUSED when I do get a chance. Blogs fill in the gaps. They are not bad news like most media or at least the blogs I like aren’t bad news, unless you consider knitting goofs or culinary disaster bad news. Plus, they are always there. No ear strain and such good juice. I love blogs!

And I love blogging.

So if you are out there blog stalking Ben, consider this my heartfelt thanks for getting me rolling. You may have studied at the feet of the master, but like any good student, your skills have surpassed the teacher’s.

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