Featherfish, Facebook and other things that start with F.

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First the featherfish. They hang from a hook on our little pergola on our deck. Here’s a picture of them:

featherfish trio

featherfish trio

I bring them up because I love them. They make me smile. I found them last spring when I went hat shopping with a dear friend at the Eastern Market in D.C. It was a great morning and we had a wonderful time.

“They are made of all natural products,” the Asian vendor said proudly in broken, but enthusiastic English. “Coconut shells, goose feathers, chestnut for the weight,” he added.

“What about the eyes? Those aren’t natural…” I said, smirking at him. The eyes are googly eyes. The kind you can buy in bulk, something like 100 for $.25 at a craft store.

how can you not smile after you look at this? this featherfish is game, for anything. its enthusiasm is contagious.

how can you not smile after you look at this? this featherfish is game, for anything. its enthusiasm is contagious.

“No, you are right, they are not natural,” he said, smiling. I was grateful he knew I was having a little fun with him.

I didn’t care what the price was; I was in love with the featherfish. Three featherfish per line; three boys in my home. Each boy has a fish. I was sold.

“Thirty-five dollars,” he said. I physically balked; I couldn’t help myself. I looked at my friend, she gestured to me to confer with her.

“They like to barter. Tell him twenty. It’s an insult if you don’t barter. If you don’t barter it means you don’t really want the item. Tell him twenty….” she explained. She got where I was coming from. I rolled my eyes at her. Well, not at her, but at the idea that I had to barter over the stinking overpriced featherfish. I turned toward the vendor.

I turned back to my friend.

“Twenty,” she mouthed; eyes wide and glaring with intent.

The vendor was smiling, his arm was outstretched, ready to take the featherfish down and wrap them for purchase.

“Twenty.” I said, half embarrassed.

He smiled. “Twenty five.”

“Deal.” I said. I just wanted it to end and I was psyched. I tried to control my voice, my grin; I loved them. He knew it and he was proud to sell them to me. I’d never seen anything like them and I was enamored. I was like a little girl in a toy store.

He took them down and wrapped them in tissue paper and put them in a brown paper bag. I have since bought a set of featherdogs, and while they’re cute an’ all, they’re nothing like the featherfish. The dogs don’t smile and their noses fell off last winter. So I’ve treated the featherfish with clear sealant so they can withstand the summer’s heat.

They put up with rain, wind gusts and the heat bouncing off our south-facing but shaded (and still mighty hot anyway) deck. These dudes know how to live: they face the wind when it really gets going.

I’m writing about the featherfish because they remind me of what’s actually happening right now. I can see them as I type this. Outside, in the real world. The wind blows and their bodies turn and their tail feathers spin:

Seeing the featherfish makes me smile. I saw an image on Facebook last week from Sadie Nardini Yoga:

(c) cinismoilustrado.com

(c) cinismoilustrado.com

I’m pretty good about the smartphone use; I was much better about it during Lent when I took a break from Facebook. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me in a while and I don’t want to lose that edge.

I’ve made a decision and it’s no big deal to anyone but me, but it means a lot to me. It means I’ve reached another milestone in my writerly life and that I’ve finally reconciled something: I’m pulling the plug on the Facebook fan page that “shamelessly plugs my blog”; it’s not for me. Never has been; it never was my style. I did it to keep up with an unhealthy trend: trying to be something I’m not. Trying to fit in. Trying to keep up with everyone else.

I want — SO MUCH — to live the life I have; to have boots on the ground; to get dirt under my nails; to write; to sing; to paint; to draw; to bend; to run; to row; and to dream, that I’m done trying to be a showman on that page. I don’t have it in me; I never did and I’m finally doing something about it. I’ve hung up the cloak of someone else’s ambition and put on my own. I am almost fiercely protective of my time now; the last thing I want to do — with all due respect to any fan out there who liked my page and was a dedicated fan — is look for things pictures for fans to share to bring more traffic to my page. And with Facebook’s new algorithm, no one is seeing anything I post — I’m talking 25 out of 472 “fans.” So if you come here from there, you have two options: subscribe to my blog from here or “subscribe” to me on Facebook proper (https://www.facebook.com/molly.t.field?ref=tn_tnmn) where you can see what I upload publicly.

What I noticed the most, is that the really neat things I enjoyed seeing and sharing: nature photos, amazing architecture, astronomy images and other really cool stuff got almost no traffic, no Likes; but the more sarcastic I was, the nastier I was, the more snarky I was, the more traffic I saw. An image I shared right before Thanksgiving, got SO much traffic, I “gained” 40 fans in a weekend. It was shared 28 times.

this. it's funny / shocking, but it's not me. i can't spend time looking for stuff like this all the time... so i won't.

this. it’s funny / shocking, but it’s not me. i can’t spend time looking for stuff like this all the time… so i won’t.

I laughed privately to a good friend, saying, “the poor bastards…. they’re gonna expect more of that and I’m gonna hit ’em with Dorothy Parker quotes or images from National Geographic or Eagle nebulas from the Hubble telescope…” and sure enough: as soon as I did, as soon as I reverted back to my taste and my interests, I lost about 12 “fans.”

It’s ok. But faking it has been stupid and exhausting. I don’t want to care about that page anymore, so I’m not; it’s also hard on me to see that it’s sinking and there’s nothing I can do. The bottom line: I’m trying to spend less time online, not more. Want some irony? The post announcing my page’s shut down has seen 226 views. That is the most ever of anything I’ve ever posted since Facebook started sharing view counts.

Thank you.

3 responses »

  1. Feel the same way about Facebook…once someone posted a pot of simmering spaghetti sauce with the caption “Making homemade gravy” that got more “likes” than almost anything I’d ever posted! I just can’t compete with that…

    Good for you for having the guts to know yourself and do what you really want!

    Also, love the fish and sooo glad you got a deal, makes it even better when you’re not a negotiator.

    • thanks, ronnie. i really appreciate the support of grounded people. i can’t keep trying to be something i’m not. it feels right. i’m 45 and this is silly; i’d much rather be doing something silly and possibly pointless, but enjoyable than worry about that fan page. xo

  2. I love this post, Molly! It’s just SO you and I’m glad you made a decision about Facebook that feels right for you.

    I really need a feather fish now. Is that guy still selling them? So awesome!

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