ASK Musings

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Friday

30

November 2018

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30 Days of Thankful

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I’m thankful every day for so many things, but this month I decided to make a point of publicly recognizing something I’m thankful for every day. Below are all of those posts, in one place, including the final one: Today, I’m thankful that I found an outlet for my creativity in writing. I’ve written a book (still in search of an agent), maintain a couple of websites (How Not to Be a Jerk When, Seattle to London), and participate in the Cannonball Read, which forces me to write reviews for all the books I’ve read. Writing brings me joy, frustrates me, and just generally improves my life.

November 1: Today, I’m thankful for the partner I have in Austin. He’s thoughtful, he’s kind, he wants to make the world — and himself — better. Plus, he makes me laugh every day.

November 2: Today, I’m thankful for The Good Place. Yes, the TV show. It is thoughtful, sweet, and always puts a giant smile on my face.

November 3: Today, I’m thankful that we were able to get an apartment in London with an office / guest room. We’ve hosted friends and family in it, and it serves as an excellent place for one of us to sleep when the other gets sick (feel better Austin).

November 4: Today, I’m thankful for supportive teammates and a manager willing to take extra time to help me be a better goal keeper.

November 5: Today, I’m thankful for cafes that serve delicious hot drinks and provide space for studying, writing, reading, and quiet conversation.

November 6: Today, I’m thankful that Washington state has vote by mail, and that it has a super easy way for us folks living overseas to still exercise our right to vote.

November 7: Today, I’m thankful that we took back the House.

November 8: Today, I’m thankful that, after three months, the repairs to our house in Seattle are complete, and our tenants totally just rolled with it.

November 9: Today, I’m thankful for first responders. Right now, I’m thinking about the folks who were at the shooting in Thousand Oaks and then spent the next night fighting a fire and evacuating people.

November 10: Today, I’m thankful for Cannonball Read. Being part of this community for the last six years (!) has opened me up to new genres and pushed me to read at least a book a week.

November 11: Today, I’m thankful for Jameson and Tigger. They are sweet, loving, annoying little shits and they make life better.

November 12: Today, I’m thankful for modern dentistry. Just had my fourth root canal (my teeth hate me) and while it was mildly uncomfortable near the end, it was no worse than a run-of-the-mill filling.

November 13: Today, I’m thankful for family recipes that remind me of home. Made banana bread today and it was delicious.

November 14: Today, I’m thankful for crisp and sunny fall days. This is my favorite time of year.

November 15: Today, I’m thankful for friends willing to watch our kittens when we’re away for longer stretches of time. It feels good knowing the buddies are with extended family.

November 16: Today, I’m thankful for the kind man at Primark who was able to figure out that when I said tank top I meant what is known as a vest in British English. (Also thankful for all the other British folks who are able to understand and translate my US English.)

November 17: Today, I’m thankful for long walks through fascinating cities with Austin.

November 18: Today, I’m thankful that I’ve never had to worry about having a roof over my head. As it gets colder here, I’m thinking about all the people who aren’t as lucky as I’ve been. (To support an org helping those without homes in Seattle: Aurora Commons.)

November 19: Today, I’m thankful I live in a place with free museums. The ability to pop into a building and spend an hour looking at fantastic art for just a small donation is kind of unbelievable.

November 20: Today, I’m thankful for umbrellas. I know I part ways with my Seattle friends here in my insistence on using them, but screw it. I like being dry.

November 21: Today, I’m thankful for family vacations. When I was a kid, we’d travel to L.A. to visit family over Thanksgiving, with a stop at Disneyland on the day before. I have so many great memories from those trips.

November 22: Today, I’m thankful for everyone who has ever welcomed me into their home for Thanksgiving.

November 23: Today, I’m thankful for my parents. I had a great childhood, and I’ve never doubted their love for me, which I know isn’t a guarantee in life.

November 24: Today, I’m thankful for the means and opportunity to travel. A weekend in Berlin? Yes please.

November 25: Today, I’m thankful for Stephanie, a.k.a. the best sister ever. Missing you as we explore Berlin – that was such a fun trip (and shockingly long ago)!

November 26: Today, I’m thankful for the composers and lyricists who can bring out amazing emotions in a three minute song (or two hour musical).

November 27: Today I’m thankful for a new opportunity. Starting on Monday I’ll be working in higher education and I could not be more excited! Emergency management has been so good to me, but it’s time for a change.

November 28: Today, I’m thankful for my friends. Pretty generic statement, I know, but I’m lucky to have friends all over, and you’re all fantastic.

November 29: Today, I’m thankful for all the health care workers and caretakers out there. Whether they care for people or animals, I appreciate how much they add to our lives (literally and figuratively).

November 30: Today, I’m thankful that I found an outlet for my creativity in writing. Writing brings me joy, frustrates me, and just generally improves my life.

Wednesday

19

September 2018

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Three Months Off

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At the beginning of the summer, I reviewed a book about deleting social media. After a lot of thought, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and pared down my Twitter. I didn’t have a page for my etiquette blog anymore, and I didn’t tweet anything except new essays and book reviews.

Monday, I created new Facebook and Instagram accounts, and I’m not entirely happy about it.

When I left Seattle after college, social media wasn’t really a thing. My Space existed, but I don’t remember using it as much as we all seem to use Facebook and Twitter now. Even texting wasn’t huge, so my friends and I stayed in touch with emails and phone calls.

I know. Phone calls. Without video!

When I closed down my Facebook account about five months after moving to London, I figured it’d be the same as before. Occasional long emails, perhaps a Skype or WhatsApp video call. But it wasn’t. At least not entirely. A few friends did stay in touch that way, responding to my emails, or writing their own. And a couple downloaded WhatsApp (it’s used by pretty much everyone over here, but seems to not have caught on in the US) so I can text with them almost daily.

But from the rest of my friends, I didn’t hear much about what was going on. It made me sad, and I felt cut off, even forgotten.

That’s more than a bit self-centered, I know. But it’s what I was feeling,

And for some friends, it probably rings a bit true. If I’m not in front of them, and I’m not following them online, and they’ve got a lot of other more important shit to deal with, are they really going to settle down to send me a long email when they could be playing with their kids (or the new Spider-Man video game)?

But for others, I’d imagine (and, let’s be real, I’d hope) that it was less a statement about or friendship and more about just not having the energy or time to repeat themselves. As we’ve all gotten so used to sharing so much of our lives with our friends via this one method of social media, it’s pretty easy to forget that there are a couple people out there who haven’t seen the pregnancy announcement or career change update.

Given that, I’ve come to recognize that since Facebook and Instagram are so common, asking for another, separate update from some folks was a bit presumptuous of me. I mean, yes, writing an email doesn’t take that long, but if a person has already told their story on an outlet that I can easily access, is it fair for me to expect they do it all again, just for me?

I still don’t like Facebook – as they say, if you don’t have to pay for a service, it’s probably because you’re the product that’s being sold, and I don’t like being sold. I also don’t have any interest in getting sucked into fights on there again, or in connecting any of my other online life through it. I’m also not going to bring back my etiquette blog page at this point, because a main benefit of that would be using Facebook to advertise it, and I don’t want to give Facebook any of my money.

I do, however, want to know what’s going on with people, and share what’s going on with me. So that means that, at least until there’s an alternative, or everyone leaves at once and starts sending emails again…

Tuesday

3

April 2018

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Social Media Reset

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Earlier this year I read a book about phone usage and have been actively working on reducing the time I spend on my phone. I deleted all casual games as well as all social media apps except Slack, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which means I need to actually log into Facebook and Twitter to post or view. It’s been a pain at times, but it’s also forced me to be a bit more intentional with my words and my time.

I know that in the past couple of weeks many people have deleted their Facebook accounts due to the data collection, use, and abuse by among others Cambridge Analytica (among others). I absolutely respect that, although it does make me a bit sad. Facebook is a nightmare, but it’s also the way I see pictures of your children, or find articles of interest, or learn about events to attend. Having moved yet again, it keeps me feeling connected to friends who may not have time to Skype or send long emails on a regular basis. Plus, it’s a way for me to promote How Not To Be A Jerk When…

Same with Twitter. It’s basically my news aggregator (RIP Google Reader, which was the best), as well as a way to share little jokes with friends.

However, I’ve found that for the most part,* I don’t need a running history of my life available for public consumption. So over the past week, I’ve taken my own steps. I’ve deleted everything I posted on Facebook prior to 2018 (yes, everything), and deleted all tweets I’ve ever made from my personal account, and all but a handful of writing-related posts from my public account (more on that below). I’ve also changed up some names.

What this means going forward is that I’ll probably not be liking your Facebook posts or Tweets as often. I’ll be reading them, and possibly reaching out to you via other means if the post shares particularly awesome (or not awesome) news. I’ll likely still engage, but there won’t be a record of it for long, as for my personal Facebook and Twitter, I’ve set it up to only keep 3-4 months of history going forward.

For Twitter, that means I’m using a third party website that deletes tweets that are more than 93 days old. For Facebook, I have a recurring task at the start of each month to go and delete any Facebook activity from the previous month.

This doesn’t mean I think what I’m doing is the only or best way to do social media; it’s just what I’m trying out to see if it works for me. The only reason for posting this is in case you notice that something I’d posted on your awesome profile pic disappeared, or you wonder why I didn’t react to the news you posted. Of course, I’m not under any illusion that any friends just sitting there waiting for my like or retweet (we all have lives), but I didn’t want to just disappear either.

So! Going forward:

Personal (history retained for three months or so)

Public (history retained indefinitely)

Finally, if you have any questions about how I did what I did, including apps or sites I found helpful and ones I found to not be helpful at all, drop me a note.

*I’m not deleting Instagram, because I love those pictures, and I do like having that little history available.

Wednesday

24

August 2016

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COMMENTS

What Does A Word Cost?

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About six months and a whole lot of money, if you’re Hope Solo, and the word is ‘coward.’ US Soccer has terminated its contract with Ms. Solo for the comments she made after losing to Sweden during the Olympics, and suspended her for six months.

On the one hand – she isn’t what some people seem to want in a female athlete. She gets in trouble, she doesn’t always apologize, and she has an attitude. I like her more than I like Clint Dempsey, but that seems to be a comparable player. Both are really good, both seem to have giant chips on their shoulders, and both don’t seem interested in apologizing for who they are.

On the other hand – really? Six months for that? It seems … excessive.

(Maybe those are both the same hand? I don’t know.)

Also, as some others have mentioned, it’s super convenient that she was only suspended for 30 days after the van borrowing DUI / fight with her nephew , which meant she missed no real competition. But now that the world cup and Olympics are over, US Soccer cares about her attitude?

That’s a bit rough to even pretend to believe.

More info here: http://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2016/08/24/uswnt-hope-solo-suspended-us-soccer-six-months-olympics-sweden-cowards

 

Friday

13

November 2015

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Paris, je t’aime

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I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris six times in my life; I was just there again in March. It is one of my favorite places to be – I even spent my 30th birthday there, eating and drinking my way across the arrondissements.  What is happening there today is breaking my heart.

DSCN1275 DSCN1289 DSCN1620

Friday

30

October 2015

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What’s Up?

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I need to get back to writing. For the most part this blog has consisted of Cannonball Read reviews, weekly lists of articles guaranteed to depress the heck out of folks, and the occasional rant about losing my hard drive (update to that: I paid a bazillion dollars and everything was recovered!). But I love to write, and I love policy and social justice, so instead of ranting into the wind, or in 140-character bites on Twitter, I think it’s time to get back to the blog.

Before I take an in-depth look at something horrible (the Republican primary contenders? police violence? racism? people who insist on incorrectly pronouncing ‘.gif’? SO MANY OPTIONS) I thought I’d share what’s been distracting me lately.

This fall has been challenging; there was a two week stretch there that was downright brutal. We put in an offer on a house (and lost), I went through three rounds of interviews only to come in second to a job I’ve wanted since college, and it all culminated in the Aurora bridge bus collision.

 

But things are looking up. I’ve got a plan to start looking for other work, and to also kick up my writing. I’m in my second round of edits to my book, and hope to start pitching it soon. And there is promising news on the house hunt front.

So, long way of saying: watch this space for more than book reviews and weekly wrap-ups.

excited-cat

Thursday

10

September 2015

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Facebook Break

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quitting facebook

This weekend I went back and deleted everything I’ve ever posted onto Facebook, with the exception of a handful of pictures, save the most recent round of birthday well-wishes. I hid every status update Facebook wouldn’t let me delete, un-tagged myself in a bunch of photos (I really wish there were an option for un-tagging that didn’t make it seem like the person who tagged me did something wrong. Why isn’t “I’d rather not be tagged in pictures” a choice?), hid my various page likes from my timeline, deleted all my comments on other posts (so sorry if you go back and it looks like you’re having a conversation with yourself). Basically, according to my Facebook page, I was born 35 years ago, and nothing has happened since.

I did this because I think I’ve been using Facebook as a way to share information with people who might not really be interested in seeing it. I can see the usefulness in posting a major life event for a couple of days (‘we’re getting married!’ ‘I’m starting a new job’ ‘we’re moving!’), but I’m hoping that if friends are interested in seeing my thoughts on a political issue or pop culture, they’ll follow me on twitter, or visit my blog. I feel as though I have more control of those than I do over Facebook.

So why not close my account? Well, because I do want to know what’s going on in the lives of folks who I don’t see regularly. Also, it remains one of the easiest ways to invite folks to an event, and I know other folks use it for that (so not being on Facebook could mean missing out on the occasional event). So I’ll still RSVP and even post the occasional event. But future birthday wishes are coming via email or text, and anything interesting you post on my timeline will get responded to in a message, not on my wall.

For now.

Wednesday

18

March 2015

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Cleaning House. Literally.

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After finishing the Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, I decided to actually try it out, and Austin agreed to join me. I started with my clothes, as suggested, and between the two of us we worked out way through the house, area by area. Electronics, books, photo albums. Kitchen stuff. All that is left is a drawer and nook in the office that Austin needs to look through, and a tub of holiday decorations.

We probably could have sold many of the clothes and books we decided we didn’t need anymore, but we donated everything instead. Someone else will enjoy these things, and hopefully the money will help some folks who need it more than we do.

Our house is lighter now. Our bookshelves don’t have as many items, and our closets aren’t stuffed full. There’s something pretty cool to know that everything in our house either brings us joy or serves a real purpose.

Some items were hard to part with. Clothing that I purchased when I was fitter than now was especially challenging, as part of me feels like I’m accepting that I might not get that fit again. But there’s no point in taking up space in my closet – or my brain – with items that I don’t love and don’t need. Same with some books. I can appreciate the idea of holding onto items that I want to read, or projects I want to start, because I like the idea of them.

At the same time I think part of growing a bit wiser is recognizing the difference between an aspiration that I want to do for me and an aspiration that I want to want to do, if that makes any sense. I have limited time when I’m not at work or sleeping, and I want to choose to do things that are meaningful to me. It might seem odd, but this really helped.

Wednesday

11

February 2015

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Monday

26

January 2015

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A Promising Update to my Navient Experience – It WAS Partly on Me (but also on them)

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If you read my post from this weekend you know that I expressed concern about the fact that the only information available on my Navient page is about my current loan, not my loan that I paid off last year. Mostly I was concerned that I might have missed out on important tax documents. From what I could tell, it appeared to be both a function of the loan being paid off and a function of it being a Department of Education (as opposed to Federal) loan.

A little before 9:30 this morning my phone rang, and the number that showed was Sallie Mae Client Services. I have that number in my phone because of a situation in 2011 where Sallie Mae double-debited my large monthly payment after switching bank accounts and raised enough of a stink that someone from their office called me. Now that Navient is managing things, they must have transferred the number to them.

Anyway, I answered the call and it turns out that the woman calling had read my blog post. Coming on the heels of my post last week about social media and the public nature of it, this did weird me out a bit. I realize that my real name is on Twitter, but I think I would have preferred the method other customer service reps have followed before: send me a DM asking if they could email me for more information.

The woman I spoke with was very polite and said that I was emailed something on January 9th that said I’d be getting my tax document for interest under a certain amount soon, and another email telling me I’d be getting my tax document for interest over that amount after that. I’m not sure why the complicated process, but either way I don’t have a record of those emails. However, in looking for that email I did find a different email from a week or so ago that has a link to my Department of Education Loan tax document. Because the subject line was identical to the one for my Federal Loan I deleted it. That’s definitely my oversight.

However, the woman I spoke with also said that I should have been able to access information about my Department of Education from my log-in page regardless. I gave her permission to view my account page, and when she got in she navigated a bit and then put me on hold. After coming back she asked if she could put me on hold again, as she thought this might be an issue she’d heard them talking about with respect to these DoE loans. I had to get to a meeting and so could not hold, but I was able to share with her that regardless of the system, people should be able to access paid loan information from the site and not have to find old emails to access a link that is specific to my account. My log in to their main site should be sufficient.

I think that message got through; we’ll see. But in the mean time I do appreciate that they took my comments seriously.