Category Archives: this blog

“It’s All About Me! (the column).”

In the late 1990s, I began posting what I then called a “weekly column” or “web essay.” Long story short, I called the column “It’s All About Me! (the column).” These days, I’m not so convinced sharing my personal experiences will be of interest to others. Not because I think they are uninteresting, but because the www is flooded with post after post written by people who find themselves interesting.

I’ve missed writing about my experiences, though, on the ultra-personal level that personal blogging allows; my newspaper column must relate to current events and I must keep the readers in mind. I know that sharing my experience can benefit others, if only because they might feel less alone in their own foibles and peculiarities. But I also know that these days, we all need a lot of emotional energy to stay strong in the fight against fascism and I don’t want to add to the noise.

Posting here on this personal blog with very little traffic, I think I can play with those old experiences of sharing my stories and reaching readers while also not taking up any spotlight that should be shining on other voices. Maybe I can do some good without doing any harm.

 

 

 

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these dots and words are meant to keep the wordpress ads away from my post :-)

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offline/online, quitting Facebook?

Since the 1990s, a significant part of my social life has lived online. I started “It’s all about me! (the column)” in 1997 before we called websites of online essays “blogs.” I spent a great deal of time in AOL chat rooms and in the usenet newsgroups misc.writing and alt.music.soulcoughing. Several of the relationships I formed back in the late 90s, including the one with my ex-husband, have continued all these years. The relationship I have with my online-only friends are real; that’s why I don’t call offline life “real life” when I’m talking about online and offline.

A couple weeks ago, I began changing how I use social media. I’m cutting back on it. I’m not the only one, I know, who has found it a time suck. It’s a common refrain, “I’ve been Facebooking/tweeting/Instagramming way too much! I need to cut back!” I made one significant change and I’m now considering other steps to find more balance in my life.

What I can’t figure out is how to cut out Facebook. On the one hand, I’d love to simply delete. I know a few people who don’t use Facebook and they seem to be fully functioning members of society. So, why can’t I pull the trigger?

Honestly, I resent the fact that I feel my professional and personal life depend so much on Facebook that I would be affected negatively if I quit. What kind of world is it that a corporate product has that kind of power over me?

If I were to quit Facebook, I would miss my friends. I know that. I would miss the ease with which I can catch up with people all around the country, even around the world. I would miss the easy way I can stay semi-informed about pop culture, including politics. But, that’s part of why I don’t like it. It’s so easy. It’s seductively easy. Is it like Fight Club?

Tyler Durden: We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.

Narrator: Martha Stewart.

Tyler Durden: Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.

Is it leading us to Bladerunner? Are we becoming replicants?

Am I quoting and referencing mass media movies try and process my philosophical considerations? (Yes.)

What is keeping me beholden to Facebook? I want people to read my newspaper column. That’s one thing. It’s a neat place to share that link once a month.

Then there are the real friendships, both close and casual. When I considered deleting a month or two ago, Facebook friends reminded me they enjoy my updates about my personal life. I don’t mean to sound self-important, but it matters to me that people would miss me. That’s what kept me from deleting then.

But, ugh, I don’t like Facebook. I really don’t like it. I don’t like how it feels so necessary! I’ve seen many people do very good things with it as an organizing tool. I believe it can be used as a force of good. But, ultimately, it’s a corporate product and more than one billion people use Facebook every day. How can that kind of dependence on a single corporate product be good?

Obviously, I’m not deleting Facebook yet (though I’m sorely tempted to do it right now!). And, of course, I’ll share a link to this blog post on Facebook. (Ugh!)

Here I am using a corporate product (WordPress) to make a post on social media (my website/blog). It feels a little different, though. I remember when I first started in 1997 and I used some html and an Internet connection to write my “columns.” I used Earthlink and then AOL to get online. I don’t remember what I used to write the text and code, but it certainly wasn’t something I felt was necessary to have a fully functional adult social/political life.

I’m going to shut my computer and go watch a puppet show. Then I think I’ll do some painting. Whether or not I share about it all on Facebook later, we’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

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with all this time

In less than two months, I’ve learned a few things about having all this extra time now that both of my daughters are in school five days a week:

  • Everyone I talk to thinks about how much time they have, don’t have, how they could use it better, how best to manage it;
  • Because I allow myself time for tasks that previously fell much lower down on my priorities list, I’m more busy than before both girls were in school;
  • My too-busy is stressful, but it’s at a more mindful pace than when I had at least one kiddo with me most of the time;
  • The chronic health issues I’ve dealt with over the years might have been expressions of the physical and emotional stress that came with trying to make a living while single parenting non-school-age children (tbd);
  • Having time available to contemplate how to best manage my time is a significant improvement in my life;
  • I think about—I’m an introvert in the extreme, so I don’t act on this much—having a personal life beyond the survival level;
  • Self-care is rising on my priorities list.

Anxiety over finances has me considering a new no groceries challenge. With 3-5 school lunches x2 each week it would be a much more significant challenge. Perhaps a modified version…

(Just a “checking in” blog post to stop the darned spammers from thinking this site is inactive!)

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what I learned in just over two days

In my last post, I described my feelings as I face more “free” time than I’ve had in over a decade.

Today, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned from this new-found freedom:

  • My business has a task list that—now that I have time to look at it closely—seems unending. Personal tasks still have to wait.
  • Advanced food prep will still help keep me sane.
  • Managing time well is now the most important part of my day.
  • Posting to this blog may be a part of my regular routine, even if it’s only interesting to me. :-)
  • How, how, how did I ever get everything done before? There’s still no time to get everything done! (Answer: I didn’t get it all done. I was making myself sick trying, though.)

I still have “too much to do,” but I now have the luxury of taking a bit of time to figure out how I’ll get it (mostly) all done.

I’m still basking in gratitude.

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too personal for the Internet

In the 90s, I wrote (online) my most intimate thoughts for anyone who would read them. The concept of personal boundaries was new to me. Back then, I called what I did “web columns.” In 2001, a friend of my then-husband called my writing my “blog.” I thought it a quaint term used by a computer geek (as it was). When blogs went mainstream, I resented and resisted the term. I’ve since accepted the label, but am now challenged by the content.

As everyone and her sister (and brother and cousin and step-son and grandmother and co-worker and politician and business owner and…) share their offline lives via the Internet, I find myself wandering in a bit of a daze. Or, shocked like a pinball being whipped around, slamming against bright lights and loud sounds. What do I want to share online? What is the point of it for me?

With the addition of the significant consideration of my family’s privacy—especially my children—and my growing need for a more professional public presence, most content feels inappropriate.

Then, I listened to Montaigne’s essays. I am reminded of the value of sharing my introspective fascinations. The richness of my inner life deepens when I write regularly about my thoughts. I also miss experiencing a response from readers.

Next week I will begin as a (monthly) columnist for The Bangor Daily News. Based on the comments following my op-ed in October, I’ve found a forum to experience responses from readers.

Next week I will also publish an updated version of my business website. In the process of developing new content, I considered telling “the story” of how grantwinners.net came into being. That story relies heavily on my struggle to balance parenting and income production. It was too personal for my business site. I miss being “too personal.”

I’d like to return to “blogging” (writing!) here on serenebabe.net. The Montaigne essays inspired me. As I said in a tweet, “Comparing myself to Montaigne is so Montaigney of me.” I have no interest in publishing hyper-personal journal entries. I won’t take time to follow current events enough to dissect my opinions about many of them (and the BDN column provides some space for that type of content). It feels good, being attracted to using this space again to write about random thoughts and ideas as they occur to me. As I’ve said twice now, I’ve missed it. I’m not sure what will end up “published” here, but I know I want to find out.

“And taking upon me to write indifferently of whatever comes into my head, and therein making use of nothing but my own proper and natural means, if it befall me, as oft-times it does, accidentally to meet in any good author, the same heads and commonplaces upon which I have attempted to write (as I did but just now in Plutarch’s “Discourse of the Force of Imagination”), to see myself so weak and so forlorn, so heavy and so flat, in comparison of those better writers, I at once pity or despise myself. Yet do I please myself with this, that my opinions have often the honour and good fortune to jump with theirs, and that I go in the same path, though at a very great distance, and can say, “Ah, that is so.” I am farther satisfied to find that I have a quality, which every one is not blessed withal, which is, to discern the vast difference between them and me; and notwithstanding all that, suffer my own inventions, low and feeble as they are, to run on in their career, without mending or plastering up the defects that this comparison has laid open to my own view.”  – Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

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