My mother is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is person. This could stem from the fact that she grew up in a family full of New Yorkers hardened to city life. She is a strong advocate for getting a full eight hours of sleep (and I learned through experience as a child to never wake her up in the middle of the night unless it was an emergency). She enjoys reading biographies and yet also knows the words to most of the songs in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We've bonded over going to Harry Potter midnight release parties, talking about books (especially what Gretchen Rubin recommends reading), watching Gilmore Girls and going to the gun range with my grandfather.
She's also one of my best friends.
My mother has always believed in me. I told her I wanted to pursue music in middle school and despite the fact that she has no musical talent, she encouraged me to pick up an instrument. I chose the clarinet à la Harry Potter -- "the wand chooses the wizard" -- and the clarinet chose me. My mom gladly attended concerts and marching band performances. However, I had to practice in the bathroom in the furthest room in the house with all of the doors shut until "I was pleasant enough to listen to."
We've always had regular conversations and while I'm living in New York and she in Florida, she is the one pushing for Skype conversations as opposed to phone calls or texts. She also drops whatever she is doing to talk to me when I call. "Hold on a second," she often tells me. "I'm on the phone with a friend." I hear her tell her friend that when a daughter calls, you have to take it. Family first. Daughters first.
Now that she's a newly-divorced mother and I recently ended a six-year-long relationship, we have a lot more to discover about each other as we navigate the dating world.
She told me about a date she went on and I told her about a guy I met on Tinder. I then explained to her what Tinder was. A few days later, she sent me a photo via text of a New York Times article recommending Hinge over Tinder as a dating app. "Check it out," the text read.
I was having a particularly rough time of dating (online and IRL), and said to her, What if I don't find anyone? I was asking her for guidance in a city she was born and raised in decades ago. I'd only been in New York for a year.
Her piece of advice? She said that "there are single men all over the place. Go to where the type of guy you want to meet is."
I enjoy books, wine, cheese, running, yoga, classical music, science fiction and other random things. I have yet to find a good watering hole for that kind of guy, but I think there's still hope.
She stresses the importance of finding someone who is good to you, who cares about your well-being and happiness. She advises to look older, but the trend in my extended family (and my sister) is to marry younger, so my fate (and the age of the potential guy) is still up in the air.
When I accepted a job offer and moved to New York around this time last year, she wanted to throw a "goodbye and good luck" party for me for her friends. I thought the idea was silly. She said that we should take the time to celebrate all of the moments in our life.
We celebrated and had a great time.
It also got me thinking: How many daughters are able to talk about dating (and swap stories) with their single mothers? I'm happy that we have this unique opportunity to learn more about each other and to truly get to know each other in ways other mothers and daughters typically are not able to. We are, in some way, a real-life Lorelai and Rory talking about friendships and dating and relationships.
When I first moved into my new apartment, the walls were the dull yellow of a decaying sponge cake, and I expressed an interest in painting the walls. She recommended we throw a "paint party." I wasn't planning on "Tom Sawyer-ing" my friends into helping me out, but she didn't view it that way. "It's a great way for everyone to get together. Have some drinks, have some food and make a party out of it."
I sort of acquiesced, in the fact that we are having people come over to paint. The walls in the Brooklyn apartment are absurdly high and I can't reach it even with a stepladder and was wondering whether I should get a bigger ladder or enlist the help of taller guys.
"Ask the guys," she said. "They're safer."
I'm thankful for the constant advice and our vast array of communications. I'm glad that through it all I know she will always be there for me, and I for her. I'm proud of her taking this leap forward in the dating world. I'm proud of us.
And there is nothing I would change about our relationship.
On Instagram (iPhone and Android, free), users take photos from their daily lives and have the option to apply a variety of filters to enhance or touch-up their images. Users then have the ability to share their images on various social network sites as well as Instagram's own social network. Users also have the ability to "like" other users' photos and share with their own friends. BEST FOR: The application is best for those wanting to share the daily images of their lives. As Instagram has grown in popularity, many users can share their photos on multiple social networks. It's a great way to share your latest craft project or vacation adventures with your family and friends. TIPS & TRICKS: Photos from Instagram don't have to stay in the online realm. Users now have the ability to easily turn their filtered photos into actual photos on canvas using CanvasPop or even into desk calendars with the app Calendargram (iPhone, free), which would make great gifts for all of your loved ones.
Google+ is a social networking site that encompasses a variety of features, including Google Hangouts, an online spot that facilitates group chat and the "+1 button" that allows users to show your personal endorsement of an informative article or an interesting item. Google+ allows you to categorize your contacts into a variety of groups called circles. With circles, you can choose what groups can see what you post and what you share. If you want to talk about a family get-together, you can share it with your friends and family circle, but not your professional colleagues. BEST FOR: Google+ is ideal for those who want to share content-rich information. It has features for sharing personal documents and photos, articles and can connect users via text chat and video chat. The social media network also has over 40 games where you can connect with friends and share your scores with your different circles. TIPS & TRICKS: Google Docs has recently been integrated into Hangouts, the video chat feature of Google+. Now users can pull up their documents while using the video chat feature and you can even share your screen to make for a productive and basically face-to-face conference.
Pinterest is a virtual pin board where users can "pin" images on a variety of topics, such as home décor, recipes, and apparel. Pinterest users then create boards to house the images, so users may have one specific to anniversary planning, birthday parties, favorite recipes or quotes, for example. The cyber-version of "vision-boards," users have the opportunity to browse and share images. BEST FOR: If you're constantly surfing the web to collect ideas, it can be difficult to remember every site you visited or how to keep up with all of your bookmarks. With Pinterest, the "pinning" can be added to your internet browser easily and you can start collecting all of your favorite images. TIPS & TRICKS: Need some quick gift ideas for your grandchild's first birthday party or your son's promotion and not sure what you're looking for? Pinterest has segmented categories for price ranges in their gift section and you can quickly click on the image to take you to the product information and you can order right from your mobile device or computer.
Twitter is an online, micro-blogging social network channel that allows users to share and read posts up to 140 characters. Users can follow friends, celebrities, news distributors, companies and other organizations to keep up with daily news, the "it" celebrity or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. BEST FOR: Twitter is a great way to quickly receive news and catch updates from your friends, family, favorite sports team or news outlet. You can create different lists to separate your personal friends from the entertainment world from breaking international news. TIPS & TRICKS: To help you create lists, Twitter has a suggestions feature that provides categories such as music, fashion, technology and government. With these suggestions, you can have a complete list to keep you up-to-date on these areas. Also remember, watch what you tweet, especially if your information is public. News and broadcast networks could feature you on their show if you interact with them online.
With "more than 10 billion visits per month and the Facebook user hitting the site an average of 68.7 times every month," according to The Financial Brand, most people are familiar with the social networking site. A recent study from AARP amongst people age 50+ showed that 23% of those surveyed either used or frequently visited Facebook, which was by far the most popular social network amongst their age group. One thing to keep in mind is that Facebook has seen changes recently with Timeline, meaning users need to familiarize themselves with the different privacy policies that accompany the modifications. BEST FOR: To best use Facebook, remember to keep in mind what you want to share. Check your privacy settings and if you need help, remember that Geek Squad is available 24/7 online at geeksquad.com to help you navigate the changes. TIPS & TRICKS: Did you know you can now use Facebook to connect you and your friends through text message? If your Wi-Fi or internet connectivity is off, you can still contact your friends and family via Facebook. You can turn on text messaging so your contacts can use Facebook Messages to send you texts. Also, once you have activated text messaging through your Facebook account you can send a text to 32665 (FBOOK) and in the message, write msg and the name of the person you'd like to Facebook message and it will send to their inbox! For example: msg Joe Smith How are you?
LinkedIn is a social networking tool focused on professional networking and building business relationships. The tool can be used to network and has informational tabs that compile your personal industry's top news for the day for quick reference. BEST FOR: LinkedIn can be used to connect professionally and also as a supplement to the traditional resume and business card. You have the ability to expand and personalize your descriptions and skills that you sometimes leave off in hard copies. You even have the option of adding a video onto your LinkedIn profile to give you an extra boost in impressions. TIPS & TRICKS: Frequently check your LinkedIn to see what your contacts and colleagues are up to. It's a great way to stay connected professionally.
Watch who you "Friend" and "Follow." On many social media sites, people can request to follow or friend you. If you're not comfortable with strangers having access to your social media information, depending on the social media tool, you could have the option to allow them access to pre-approved sections of your profile. Privatize your profile. Geek Squad can show you how to take advantage of the privacy settings offered by social media sites. By marking your page as private, people have to request you as a friend or ask for your approval in order to "follow" you on Twitter or view your complete Facebook profile. Social media websites generally undergo changes a few times every year, and most of those facelifts affect privacy settings in some way - though users may not be directly alerted of those specific changes. If you notice changes on social-networking site homepages, it's a good idea to revisit your privacy settings, perform a quick internet search to learn more or ask a Geek Squad Agent to give you the scoop.
Beware of your posts! Always remember that any content you post on the internet will be there forever, for anyone to read, store and republish. Remember that this information is stored somewhere, likely in multiple places. Avoid sharing personal information. License plate numbers, house numbers or other addresses as well as specific names of schools, workplaces or towns should be not shared on the internet. Information can be used like pieces in a puzzle to paint a bigger picture of you. Always take a second look. Just because the screen says your friend John has sent you information doesn't mean John is actually the person who did. Scams often run rampant on social media sites, so beware of any unusual messages. For example, hackers disguise messages to your contacts claiming to need money after being robbed or having lost money in a foreign country. Trust your gut. If it doesn't "seem right" it probably isn't. Things free or too good to be true are just that. Social networking sites have been a breeding ground for fake antivirus software ads, so avoid any type of free antivirus offers.
Follow Madeline Wahl on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MadelineWahl