Slightly Frayed

Normally I try to stay on the topic of fiber art in this blog. I’ll get there eventually with this post, too. But first, here’s the situation that has my thoughts in such a tangle.

Over the weekend, my sister was in an area where flash floods and landslides left dozens dead, more injured, and many homeless. As would be expected, services like telephone and internet connections were disrupted. Let me skip the details and jump to the good news: She called and is safe. We’re grateful beyond words. At the same time, our thoughts are with the the families mourning losses.

I know many of you have been through this with loved ones in the military, in New York and Washington on 9/11, in the area of the DC sniper attacks, in the path other natural disasters, and (I hate to say it) the list goes on. I hope you won’t think I’m trivializing those situations when I say this: 

I now have a Twitter account. 

A Worldwide Web
Before I clicked “Sign Me Up,” at Twitter, I used all the resources I could think of on the worldwide web. The U.S. State Department site had a number that then connected me to the duty officer in Lisbon (very helpful). Google Maps helped me visualize where my sister’s area is in relation to reports I found via Google Searches and videos I saw on You Tube. A topical Facebook group sprang up almost immediately, and several kind people provided information. Google Translate help interpret other people’s posts and convert my own posts into Portuguese. My own Facebook friends (and friends of friends) provided their prayers, considerable good karma, and a ham radio operator.

But after hearing reports of how tweets helped broadcast information after events in Mumbai and Haiti, I didn’t see how I could not try Twitter.

Please remember that I live in a fairly remote rural area with more limited resources than are found in more populated places. Cell phone coverage here is better now, but there are still dead zones. Until last October we were on dial-up for internet service, and I had never seen Facebook or You Tube. Both my husband and I are self-employed, and the faster alternative we finally chose was a stretch for our budget. I have trouble picturing how we would manage the kind of monthly bill we see advertised with smart phone plans. And while we’ve managed a couple of test messages on our Trac Phones, texting without a full keypad seems like an exercise in character building, not communication.

So Twitter was not on my to-do list. Until this.

I signed up and started tweeting. With zero followers and no clear idea of how things were supposed to work, I asked my Facebook friends for help. They started tweeting and their friends retweeted. At one point I almost looked for Google Translate Twitter option (what do “@somebody” and “#something” mean?), but a friend posted a very helpful crib sheet for me.

By the time my sister could call us, I was following a freelancer writing in Portuguese and being followed by friends, friends of friends, some possible spammers, and the Tehran Free Press (no idea).

Oh, What A Tangle
For my sister, this story is far from over. And as I have all my life, I’m watching and learning from her: If the road is blocked, you hike to town. I have a feeling there are other lessons, less dramatic, that I’m supposed to be getting from this, too.

I haven’t forgotten how it felt to be separated from my family with limited communication options on 9/11. I haven’t forgotten how in 2007, when a tornado touched down a little over a mile from our house, how I worried that my parents would see it on the Weather Channel before I could phone to say we were OK. I’m keeping the Twitter account. It might be like grabbing an umbrella after it stops raining. Fine by me.

But how to manage one more thread? Are these signs and portents that I should be writing more, which means doing less of something else? How do I best meet the needs of my students and readers and friends and family, and still make that monthly mortgage payment? After family, what is it that I do that really makes a difference in the world?

So today, when I’m feeling slightly frayed, I’m asking you to pick up the thread and help me untangle some of these thoughts. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Add your voice to the conversation at facebook.com/donnakallnerfiberart

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin

4 thoughts on “Slightly Frayed”

  1. First of all, Donna, I am so happy you received news that your sister is ok. As for untangling your thoughts – at this point I would say it’s too late at night for me to have any great ideas other than going to sleep, doing some meditative looping, taking a walk, and/or writing morning pages. And trying to be patient, knowing that the answers will come, but not all right now.
    These are interesting questions that you pose. I sometimes think that at this point in my life I should be past some of this questioning, yet I’m coming to realize that this is who I am and in the long run I’m better off still questioning than being so stagnant that I don’t think about anything any more. Is this part of the life as process not product view of the world? (Who gave me excellent lessons about that???)
    Take care of yourself.

  2. Is there an echo in here? My morning shower pep talk today went something like, “answers will come, but maybe not right now.” Thanks for the reminder that it’s the process, not the product. I wasn’t seeing that, and it makes a huge difference.You made a huge difference today.

  3. I’m glad your sister is OK and also that there were so many willing to help when you needed and asked for it.
    This is just a sympathetic voice, no answers. Closest I can get is that the trouble with “the answer” is that it keeps changing. Keep listening and being open to new possibilities.

  4. Thanks, Judy. I think you hit part of my confusion squarely on the head. In the past, my style for making sure I’m listening and being open to possibilities involved stepping away from the noise of other things. That “answer” has changed. Now that I recognize the beneficial power of things like Twitter and Facebook, I think I need to develop new skills that integrate them without letting them overwhelm me. Not sure yet how to do that, but it’s a target. Your comments are much appreciated.

    A brief update: Services restored to much of Madeira but some roads and bridges badly damaged. 18 people still missing. We grieve for those who lost family members or are still searching, and for the 200 families who lost their homes. More rain in the forecast where so much running water made it appear that the island was weeping.

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