My Calendar

I work from home and one of the main questions that I get from people is, “So what is your day like, exactly? Do you have trouble staying on task?”

People want to hear about coffee shops and working from the beach and going for long rambles in the sunshine in midday, and for a lot of my coworkers, that is actually probably what it’s like. But I’m a boring, depressive hermit, so my days are honestly probably a lot like the days of anyone who works in an office, except I’m at home.

Continue reading “My Calendar”

1:32a it has become nearly impossible to string a coherent sentence together. why is it that we always attempt to have intellectual conversations when we are physically incapable of doing so? you know what passes for witty discourse in my everyday life? “hey stranger at a party, do you ever feel like your deodorant has stopped working?” all i can talk about when i’m sober is hot dogs and teen mom but get three gins in me and all of a sudden i have opinions about intersectionality and internalized misogyny and academic imperialism. shut the fuck up, samantha.

Sam Irby, on the horrifying shit show that is going out. Her post perfectly sums up why I haven’t been out on a Saturday night in at least two years, and am currently posting this from bed at 9:00pm, about to tuck into a Margot Livesey novel and just loving all of my choices.

Georgie Porgie, Problematic as Pie

This year, I’ve been participating in a tutoring program in which adult volunteers work one-on-one with kindergartners to reinforce the reading and writing concepts they’re learning in class. I meet with the same two little girls every Monday for thirty minutes each. They meet with another tutor on Wednesdays and another one on Thursdays.

Typically, I read them a little book, and then we read a little book together, and then we do some writing and drawing, and then there’s usually some sort of flashcard-type skill or something.

This past Monday, I found that we had new material — there was a little binder of nursery rhymes and each day we were supposed to read one of them and highlight the rhyming words. The kids had already done one of them with their Thursday tutor, and now I was supposed to guide them through ‘I’m a Little Teapot.’ After I’d read it to my first student (A), she said, “What about the one where he’s biting in her ear?”

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The Eurello Diaries

On February 21, 1999, I began to keep a diary. I was 18 years old and a senior in high school. Since that time, I’ve kept a diary pretty consistently. Sometimes I only write a few times a month. Every so often I miss half a year. But for the most part, I have written down something or other at least a few times every week for the last 16 years of my life.

My diary is not, sadly, a collection of witty stories, or an investigation of deep and profound thoughts. Nor is it a scrupulous if mundane recitation of my daily tasks, meals, and appointments over the years. Continue reading “The Eurello Diaries”

A Dancing Man

I read blogs in Feedly, and sometimes the juxtaposition of what I read is interesting.

I also use TweetDeck for Twitter, and I have one column that is nearly all black people, and one column that is nearly all white people in tech. The juxtaposition of that is always very interesting — on nearly every day, one entire column is tweeting about a black person being shot by the cops. Often this is before I will have seen that latest incident reported anywhere else. Next to them, all the tech people will usually be tweeting about a new product or game.

Anyway, today in Feedly, I saw this post from the popular Oatmeal blog, drawing our attention to a project by this guy, Matt. Matt goes to different countries and does a silly dance with the people there. He did this in 2008 and it went viral, and he did it again recently and went to more dangerous or isolated countries.

Matthew Inman, who writes the Oatmeal, says of dancing Matt’s latest effort:

[Matt] danced in Afghanistan. He danced in Iraq. He even danced in North Korea on Kim Il Sung’s birthday. The result? He didn’t get kidnapped. He didn’t get shot. He didn’t find misery or suffering or terrorism or hate. He didn’t find suicide bombers or savages or cruelty. He found normal people. He found nice people. He found that the world isn’t as dangerous as we’re led to believe. And neither are the people in it.

The fact that Matt can blithely dance wherever he wants without experiencing or acknowledging hardship of any kind is supposed to make us feel happy, not frustrated.

Matt can even visit a country that is essentially a giant concentration camp, and he doesn’t see poverty or abuse or pain. He just sees dancing! Matt’s whole world is a giant dance.

Just below Matt in my Feedly was this article in which a woman describes the violence and harassment she’s experienced throughout her life for being a woman. My Feedly is mostly stuffed with such articles.

When you look at these two things back to back, it starts to seem as if Matt is dancing at this woman. His dance appears suddenly snide and arrogant.

The thing is, there is really nothing wrong with what Matt is doing. His videos are cute. I like them! They are not profound, though. It is not in the least surprising that a privileged white male American can travel wherever he wants and film a dance without coming to any harm or even being insulted by anyone. None of us are surprised by that, and I am not particularly comforted by it.

Sometimes men wonder why women get mad at them when they aren’t actually doing anything wrong or bad. It’s usually because they are like Matt, dancing without realizing that to either side of them, there are articles by women like Anne Thériault. There is nothing wrong with their ecstatic tweets about the latest Apple product except that, unbeknownst to them, those tweets are appearing right next to outraged men and women mourning the most recent legal murder of a black citizen.

The problem is that they are unaware of the context in which they are so often living their blameless lives, and depending on how stark and immediate that contrast is, sometimes their blissful ignorance of this can seem positively willful.

It isn’t willful, of course (usually), but you can hardly blame the rest of us if sometimes we lose our temper and lash out at these guys as though it is.

Matt is asking for funding for another video; you can donate to his Kickstarter here.

Thoughts on Fear

Today a man knocked on my door with a couple of rakes and a bag of trash bags, and he asked me if he could rake my leaves. I don’t usually open my door to strangers, but I did for some reason today. I told him no before I thought about it, and then he offered to do it for $20 and stressed that he was really fast and could have it done in a second. I told him my landlord usually has someone who does it for me (he doesn’t) and then I wished him luck.

I told him no before I thought about it because I don’t like interacting with people at all, especially at my house. More importantly, I live alone and I avoid having any sort of involvement at all with men I don’t know. I’ve lived alone a lot, and I feel perfectly comfortable with it, but I do try not to draw attention to it, and strange men dropping by out of nowhere make me nervous. Most people reading this will probably understand this and will say that it’s a wise apprehension to have. But really, I’m 99% certain that if I had allowed this guy to rake my yard, he would have raked my yard (which I did need done), been very happy for the money (which I could easily afford), and gone about his day.

I said no because of a fear that wasn’t really even very convincing. And sure, I can blame him for going door-to-door in this day and age, for persisting (however politely) after I said no the first time. But really, he didn’t do anything wrong. If you need money and can’t get a job for whatever reason, that’s a pretty decent way to go about earning it, or it would be if we weren’t all afraid of each other now.

I said no out of reflex. I felt bad about it as soon as I closed the door. And I’ve thought about it since, because I’ve been very judgmental this week about the various irrational ways that many people respond to fear.

Real fear is extremely remote in my life. I almost never have to confront it. Statistically speaking, I am one of the least likely women on the planet to come to harm, but even so, I do feel afraid sometimes. When I feel afraid, I try hard not to give into my fear. I tell myself very sternly that what I’m feeling is irrational, that it’s a fear that society has tried very hard to instill in me for various reasons that have little to do with reality and everything to do with keeping me in my place. And that works, when I have the time to be logical.

Still, today I saw that when I’m confronted with even the mildest whisper of potential threat, this is how I react — reflexively, without even thinking about it. I should remember this, and try to do better.

FOAP

You might be familiar with FOMO — fear of missing out. It’s that thing where you overcommit and stay up later than you really want to, because you’re afraid that the one time you stay home (or leave early) the thing you’re missing will be really fun (even though nothing is ever any fun). I don’t suffer from FOMO, but I do suffer from a similar acronym, which I call FOAP, or fear of accidental participation.
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Belize City

After our caving adventure, it was time to leave the jungle, but we wanted to make our travel day count. We planned to take a cab to visit Xunantunich, one of the larger Mayan ruins in the area, and then come back to the hotel, pick up our bags, and try to catch a bus into Belmopan and from there to Belize City.  Continue reading “Belize City”

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Our main goal in San Ignacio was to take the Cave of the Crystal Maiden (Actun Tunichil Muknal or ATM cave) tour. This is a cave that you swim into and then alternately swim and wade for two miles underground. Then, you climb up on a ledge, and wander around through a ton of Mayan pottery, tools, and human remains. Although over 1000 years old (dating from 300-900AD), these artifacts are extremely well-preserved due to calcification from being underground.

Or something. I wasn’t totally clear on the preservation part.

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