Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Happy Place

I used to live here- and sometimes it totally sneaks up on me. This is the backyard of the house my mom and grandma bought when my parents got divorced. It's about 2 miles north of 1604 on Bulverde Road. It sits on about 10 acres, the house is beautiful flat stone with an aluminum roof. The driveway is a red brick circle drive and the stone fence has two rod-iron gates. There are about 3 acres in front, an acre fenced in around the house for the dogs and then the horse run and pasture make up the other 6 acres. I lived here when I was 9 and 10 I think and then briefly when I graduated from college before getting my own apartment. I remember it seemed forever to get into town from here and now there is Wallgreens about a mile a way and a shopping center maybe 5 miles away. It has built up so much around there, but luckily once you step foot on that land you forget that the city is quickly encroaching.

Every Tuesday before I go hookah-ing and Karaoke-ing with my old college roommate, I go home and spend time with my mom. Sometimes we go swimming but most of the time we just sit on the back porch and watch the sunset while having cocktails. Its so peaceful and quiet and I can't believe I never noticed it when I lived there. One day it'll be all my mothers and she wants to fix it up some and maybe change some things, but to me it's perfect how it is, and so so relaxing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

101 Ways to Hurt Yourself on the Guadalupe

Last Saturday I went tubing with my sister, her husband and their friend Carlos. It started out as all tubing trips, I was told to arrive at 9:30 and we'd leave by 10, but we inevitably left the house at 10:30 to go wake up slackers that had yet to arrive. We drove half way across San Antonio to try to pick up someone who wasn't even at their house. Around 11 we hit the road to the actual river. We got to the the Lazy L Camp Site before noon and ran into some of Haley's (my sister's) friends. Because I had gone out the night before I opted to be the designated driver that day so everyone else got to drink and drink while floating. The Guadalupe was running pretty slow due to lack of rain and so the tubing place shuttles you up the road 3 minutes and tells us the float will take 3 hours. We were all a bit skeptical but 4 1/2 hours later we knew not to doubt the man with the tubes...

When we get to the water everyone loads in their coolers and tubes. Haley's husband's, Greg's, tube had a leak so he had to go back and get a new tube. Now we were ready to go...go in the loose definition. I think I can describe our float as the longest mile ever! We would go 20 feet and then the wind would push us upstream another 30 feet. After an hour we could still see where the bus had dropped us off and the group of about 20 was well on their way to being more than tipsy.

About 2 hours into the float everyone was getting a little happy and I was enjoying watching people fall out of their tubes, trip on the rocks and try to put sunscreen on their backs by themselves. It was about this time that the first hat was lost, sunglasses and a $400 waterproof digital camera. All the drunkish people decided they should look for the camera as their tubes floated down stream. The camera was a lost cause- it sunk to the bottom and is now a part of the Guadalupe forever, or until some lucky person finds it...

The river started getting crowded 12 and 13 year olds floated by on air-mattresses. Jello shots were being thrown by sling-shot across the river. All cooler radios seemed to play the same bad summer river music- "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and much much worse. Matches were common on the river even though once wet they became ineffective, just like the wet cigarettes people couldn't get to light. Several lighters were lost to the abyss as everything from cigarettes, joints and cigars were trying to be lit. The cops looked on from the shore, helpless to the vast array of illegal activity happening on the river- maybe they should invest in kayaks...

Our large group got divided as more floaters joined in on the sun and I was trying to put us back together. Haley and her husband were calling pet names to one another 100s of feet a part from one another and I tried to reunite them to no avail. I eventually abandoned my tube to swim a while and let the drunks fend for themselves. After a good swim I tried to become friends with my tube again but ran into rocks...more rocks...and more rocks. As the only sober person on the river and possibly the world last Saturday my drunk companions offered their help and made it so much worse. They had begun to drift into really shallow water and became stuck on rocks. As I tried to pull the group through the shallow waters pockets of deep found me and continued to scrape my legs, hips and back.

Our group never came back together as a whole but at the end of the float half of the group was waiting for us and helped get the tubes out of the water. The coolers were now empty and many were sunburned. I wrangled up the group I came with and drove them home. Once we got to my sisters house we started examining the damage. Haley's husband was complaining of his back hurting and insisted (drunkenly) that it wasn't a sunburn but upon inspection the women decided it was. The front of my body was completely sunburned and bruises were starting to form on my knees, shins and left hip. Cuts accompanied some of the bruises and everyone was in awe that the only sober person was so injured by the river. Haley and her friend Carlos were not burned or scraped up at all.

I've never drank on the river, I normally act as the DD because combining my sober clumsiness with alcohol and slippery stones just seems like the worst idea ever.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Are you seeing anyone right now?

Uhhhggg, I hate this question. And when different people ask it, it has different connotation. When my Grandma asks "are you seeing anyone right now?" it usually has a sense of pitty tied to it cause she's worried that I'm alone. If my mom asks "Are you seeing anyone right now?" it's because she has someone she wants to set me up with. If my boss asks "Are you seeing anyone right now?" it's because I seem lazy, lack energy or aren't taking too much care with how I look at the moment.

But I'm not seeing anyone right now. For the first time in a long time I'm not serial dating this summer. It's been maybe 3 weeks since the last time I went out with a guy that even vaguely resembled the loose definition of a date. Before that it'd been like every week- I had a busy spring for some reason. But all these dates were kinda pointless- they all leaded to now and now is me not dating and not really caring if I date or not this summer.

The last two summers in a row I did the online dating thing and got maybe a dozen dates in a month of trying- maybe 4 of which lead to second dates and 2 which I would say I actually started dating the person. The idea of trying to do online dating again this summer is exhausting I do not have the energy- besides you have to be so careful with all of that. At the same time I don't really feel the need to start going out and looking for guys either. I just don't want to date...I think...

Then I start reading- I couldn't pick a new book to start so I picked up one of my favorite books since high school by Alain de Botton called On Love. It is one of my all time favorites! Thanks to Mr. Flieger for recommending it when I was in like 9th grade. Its the very soliloquized story of a man who falls in love with a woman on a airplane and their relationship- but the way it is written is just amazing and I find something new every time I read it- It is amazing to hear a man thing through things in these ways

"For those in love with certainty, seduction is no territory in which to stray. Every smile and word leads to a dozen if not twelve thousand possibilities. Remarks that in normal life (that is, life without love) can be taken at face value now exhaust dictionaries with their possible meanings. And for the seducer, enduring the trepidation of a criminal awaiting sentence, the doubts reduce themselves to a central question: Does s/he, or does s/he not, desire me?"

"The telephone becomes an instrument of torture in the demonic hands of the beloved who does not call."

"I merely adjusted myself to whatever I judged Chloe might feel. If she liked tough men, I would be tough; if she liked wind surfing, I would be a wind surfer; if she hated chess, I would hate chess. My idea of what she wanted from a lover could have been compared to a tight-fitting suite and my true self to a fat man, so that the evening was a process resembling a fat man's trying to fit into a suit that is too small for him. There was a desperate attempt to repress the bulges that did not fit the cut of the fabric, to shrink my waist and hold my breath so the material would not tear. It was not surprising in my posture was not as spontaneous as I might have liked. How can a fat man in a suit too small for him feel spontaneous? He is so frightened the suit will split, he is forced to sit in complete stillness, holding his breath and praying he can get through the evening without disaster. Love had crippled me."

It's a great book. I really love that a man feels this way and goes through these things. There's only one other book I've read where a man expresses himself in long detailed thoughts like this - Ethan Hawke in The Hottest State another amazing book where the man totally gets destroyed and hurt but expresses it beautifully, and yes I mean Ethan Hawke the actor- it's amazing. But none of these things are enough to make me want to date again, but it's good to read while I'm not dating cause I think if I tried to date while in Alain de Botton's world I might become overly neurotic.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inspiring young minds...

It's that time of year again...Freshman Days (aka new student orientation)! Last January I started hosting a portion of the Orientation sessions on Student Life. It quickly left the general focus of Student Life and narrowed into the area of Social Media, and again more specifically Facebook, MySpace and integrating RedRover on our campus. I gave a 30 minute keynote presentation on "The Secrets Behind MySpace and Facebook" and spent the afternoons round-robin-ing about 150 students into the Cyber Cafe to get them registered for RedRover. I was super enthused about the program, I could have done without the speaking in front of a lot of people, but the subject was something I get really excited about. In these orientation classes that I was speaking to, there are all different types of students- really involved students, apathetic students, non-traditional students that are excited, non-traditional students that are bitter, the underage student and then the resentful student who doesn't understand why they have to listen to me speak. I tried to act like all the students were really involved and excited because taking on the resentful student and the bitter non-traditional students just would have made me depressed. In my first orientation season I probably gave 8 keynotes and 36 round-robin classes, by the time it was over I felt totally at ease and had no more worries.

Now it's June- about 4 months since my last keynote and I'm getting nervous. The orientation classes I'll be speaking to over the summer are for the majority younger college students between 17 and 23 years old, I find these students to be the most judge-y. I don't know how to battle their apathy, sometime I think they just look up at me like I'm a huge nerd getting all excited about how these social media tools can change the world they live in. Maybe I am just a nerd about it but I think its exciting. I get really excited when students interact with me on Facebook and reply to my Page posts. But as Saturday approaches I'm getting more and more nervous, I hope I can do this again. Luckily its just this Saturday, then I have another break till July, when they're back to back.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How I use the internet-

Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, blogs...the list goes on.  There are so many ways to use the internet as a social network.  Social media I think is the more professional term to use for these things, or the term to use when using the sites for work purposes.  I use these sites for work, I have a Facebook page, MySpace account, Twitter and Flickr account for San Antonio College's Office of Student Life.  For personal use I have them all.  I'll be the first to admit that I am addicted to my Online Social Networks (OSNs as some people call them) and I have access to most of them on my phone, adding to the addiction.  I may one day need help-

Personal Tyler
I've had MySpace since 2003ish when I went to college.  My friend Angela was going to school in California and was all over the MySpace thing so I got one and didn't touch it for a while.  I couldn't figure out how to do any of it but eventually made friends and started adding people and pictures.  I still use it personally today but also have a lot of students from work on there as friends so sometimes it gets cross contaminated with work stuff too.  I use MySpace for more socializing and to keep in touch with people I didn't know from a school or professional setting.  Also the students at SAC use MySpace more than the other social networks.

Facebook came out in early 2004 and back then your school had to petition to get added and you had to have an .edu email address (yes back then mom, dad and grandma weren't on Facebook it's fine they're on it now, it's evolved).  TLU got in the game in May-ish and I jumped on the bandwagon.  I liked Facebook lots better than MySpace, it just seemed safer and the people on there were my friends that I actually saw everyday so it was cool.  It was also easier to use and everyone's profile looked the same.  Your "coolness" wasn't determined by your background or if you had music on your page- everyone was equal.  I liked this cause I was really bad at computer-y type stuff once- I'm still bad but in college I was way worse.  Facebook is how I keep in touch with people from high school, college and work.  

I got my Flickr account because of family peer pressure.  My birth-family used it to share photos with one another.  I was really into it at first and uploading pictures and sent the links to my friends and family, but after I filled up the 200 free pictures they give you I kinda forgot about it.  It's still out there at www.flickr.com/tyleralyse but nothing too new is on it.

YouTube is a new acquisition.  I don't use it, but I wanted to get my name reserved in case in the future I ever figure out how to use it.  I really want a Flip Camera and then I'll add stuff...

I am totally addicted to Twitter.  I love it and am always "tweeting" (a term I hate).  I am a total "Twit" (person addicted to Twitter) but I'm okay with that.  I've even started to follow that more than my Facebook which is my old obsession.  I think Twitter is attractive because it's short and sweet and people are funny when they're only allowed 140 characters.  You can also find some seriously entertaining viral videos and blogs.  Get in on the addiction www.twitter.com/tyleralyse

LinkedIn I just registered for last week and I've made maybe a dozen connections, but I really just did it so if people at conferences ask me if I'm on it I can say yes.  It is supposed to be the Facebook for professionals which is fine I don't really care, but we'll see if anything happens with that.

Finally blogs! I'm all about the blogging- my wonderful birth-family got me addicted with the family blog www.whippleworld.com ages ago.  They've been blogging since summer 2003 and once every blue moon I'll post something there too.  But I've been going to these Social Media conferences ever since I started at SAC and I just love the idea of blogging.  My family's blog is the perfect example of a really successful blog- lots of people post on it and so it's always new and fresh and it has expanded the community of people we can call friends.  I'm trying to start a blog for myself, I used to do LiveJournal and never got into it too much.  Randomly I'd post little vents about being annoyed and sometimes I'd post song lyrics, but it just wasn't for me.  I'm still debating on what type of blog I want.  Do I want a blog about my personal life, my work life, my family life? or do I want to combine them all into one?  I think it'll end up being a combination, otherwise there will be too much time where I have nothing to say.

Work- SAC OSL Tyler
My Facebook page for SAC OSL has over 150 fans- whoo-hoo, Twitter has over 150 followers, and my MySpace has a little over 100 friends.  We have a Flickr too but I don't know how to track the users, followers or whatever they're called there.  I hope to move to a student blog in the near future.  I want students to write about being students at SAC.  With help from this great company we work with SwiftKick I'm hoping that in the future we'll get student leaders to blog and have a really great something to show for it.

The idea behind using all these social networking sites for work is that students use them and are constantly on them (as evident by my usage as well).  If we reach out to them in a forum they are familiar and comfortable with the idea is that they'll respond and interact with us.  I see it happening, students love MySpace and actively search us out, Facebook was slower at first and now I see that more students have switched to it instead, they are also using Twitter in large numbers too- I know all of these will grow as the next semester starts and I'm really looking forward to it.

The addiction is real though.  I feel like I don't know what's going on if my internet goes out or I can't reach Twitter on my cell.  I feel like a huge nerd half the time cause if someone asks me "Have you heard from ______?" I say "oh-ya, I saw online that they're __________"- it's crazy!  What's even worse is sometimes a student or relative will ask me "how was karaoke last night?" and I get confused as to how they knew and then think to myself that I'm an idiot cause I posted it online for the world to see.  I probably don't use these sites the most, I'm sure there is someone out there who is more active than I am, but I'm also sure that there are a ton of people, most of my friends included, that don't use these sites even a quarter of how much I do.  
So I guess I'll see you online!