Monday, October 20, 2014

self-curated creativity

I'd like to get something off my chest. Like most goals I made for myself in 2014, I failed at not buying the new iPhone. In the end, the desire to stay in sync contract-wise with my partner weighed out my determination to accomplish something. And I sort of accomplished something by doing it anyway. The steps I had to follow to get the new iPhone (paying off the 5C, paying for the new iPhone) were expensive upfront, but will save me about $20 a month on my cell phone plan, and that's a good chunk of money. I don't regret it, though I'm now dealing with two other first world problems.

First, my computer is starting a decline. I've already decided upon a solution, and it is a rational one. I will replace the hard drive with a solid-state drive (no moving parts! extremely fast, everyone says) and I will double the memory (RAM) while I've got my dear Honeycrisp under the knife. I will do these upgrades myself armed with the vast knowledge of the internet. If you'd like to help me afford these upgrades, feel free to send some $$ to the PayPal account in the column on your right...scroll down a bit.

Second, my fitbit (pedometer/fitness tracker) has met its end as well. I've had it a year and it will no longer hold a charge longer than 12 hours at the most, meaning I can't properly track my steps!! AAAAAHHH. This shouldn't be a tragedy except that the only reason I go for walks and get my steps EVER is because I get credit for it. That's so unbelievably lame, but it's true. I don't yet know what my solution to this issue will be. I might buy a cheaper fitbit model. I have already emailed the company because I should be within warranty, but I'm not hopeful I'll be able to resolve this the easy way. My new iPhone has a motion processor. It can count my steps, but only when I have the phone on me. So, I could just take the phone with me on walks and runs and call it good. That idea sounds the most rational because it won't cost a thing, but do I ever take the rational route anymore? I feel I've lost my grip on the rational.

Buuuuut, I hadn't meant to whine about which electronics I do and don't need. I meant to talk about something much more positive.

I'd like to talk about one way in which our society's progress has been towards the good. Yes, we have too many screens/too little focus on the world around us. Yes, we're getting older. Yes, our private lives are online, but this has its advantages.

Everyone can do everything these days. If I wanted to publish a book, I know exactly how to do it myself. If I wanted to make music, I'd upload it instantly to soundcloud. 24 hours before my first DJ gig I downloaded software called VirtualDJ, learned a bit about it and used it immediately. If I were an artist, I could sell my stuff on any number of websites without any intermediaries aside from the web services themselves. If I wanted to make movies, I could use my phone and an internet connection to upload them to YouTube.

When I decided to create a radio station, I downloaded a program (later had to pay a licensing fee to use the program beyond the trial period), signed up for a free server (later decided to pay $17 every three months for a server capable of being listed on shoutcast I could be on the Tune In app) and started broadcasting. It took a lot of research to get everything working together, but I finally got it up and running and it's my favorite thing I've done all year.

A person doesn't need a record executive anymore to get their sound heard. A person doesn't need a gallery to get their art seen. Sure, no one makes money anymore, but did we ever? Probably the same amount of people "make it big" as ever, it's just that now the rest of us can do our thing too. We can put our art out there in whatever form(s) we make it at no cost to us or our audience.

I really like the way I put my art out there. I make a zine and don't charge for it. I have a radio station that's free to anyone with an internet connection. I have a YouTube channel that's free too. If I ever publish a book, I might make that available for free as well. I can do this because I have no expectations of ever being able to promote myself enough to charge people for what I do and because largely everything I do costs me nothing but time.

All of the things I do can be done for free or nearly so. All of the creativity you can ever possibly exude can be put onto the internet. Anything you'd ever want to learn can be found on the internet. Here's a few short tutorials:

BLOG: Go to or or or and sign up for an account and start typing your thoughts. When you feel like you're done typing, press "publish".

You're now a writer!

RADIO STATION: Sign up for an account on Download a program called Nicecast if you're a Mac user and SAM broadcaster (or something similar; Google it) if you're a PC user. Do lots of research, do a test broadcast, then tell people how to find you and play some tunes!

You're now a radio DJ!

ZINE: Put things on paper by whatever means necessary (computer printout, typewriter, Sharpie, collage, drawings, comics, etc) then make copies of that paper and hand them out to friends and family. Google zine layouts if you have more than one page and want to get fancy with staples and folds and shit.

You're now a magazine editor!

YOUTUBE CHANNEL/VLOG: Sign up for a Google account. You probably already have one. Record a video on a device you probably already have (phone, tablet, digital camera, webcam on your computer, etc). Use whatever means necessary to transfer that video to your computer (USB cable, email, Dropbox, etc). Go to and select "upload".

Several hours later (unless you have AMAZING internet speeds or you only uploaded a 5 minute video) you're now a video producer/vlogger!

DJ: Download a program called Virtual DJ. Look up a few tutorials on how to use it on YouTube. Play with transitions and beat-matching and sound effects or whatever else you want.

You're now a DJ!

I firmly believe that being a DJ or a writer or whatever other creativity-creature you want to be doesn't have to be a prescribed set process. Doing it in whatever way makes you feel comfortable is still doing it. I've stopped doing many things in my life because someone else told me I was doing it wrong. My process in general has always been to jump in and see how it feels (usually after hours of research, but still). I go from not doing it to putting it up on the internet in no time flat. Some would say that's rash. Some would say I don't know what I'm doing. They're right, but I'm figuring it out. Becoming anything you want to become isn't sacred, or rather it is sacred, but the process isn't up to anyone but YOU. You hold the sanctity within yourself. YOU place the meaning on what you're doing. Don't let anyone else dictate your path. Everything can be done by everyone. The pressure to be "the best" at things causes us to not start things, not post things while we're still in the process of becoming...

well, guess what? We're never DONE becoming who we are. I hope to someday make music. I hope to someday write a novel or two. I hope to get better at DJing and see if I like it. I hope to keep making zines and posting blogs and vlogs and radio shows. These things are done by a perpetual amateur, but love me how I am or don't love me at all.

You know?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone...

I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.
I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.
I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.

It will cost me at least $10/mo more than I pay on my service plan now, which is already too much.

My current phone (iPhone 5C) is my favoritest phone I have ever owned. I would miss it. It's canary yellow! It works great. It has good battery life. It's perfectly acceptable for EVERYTHING I use it for...

I don't need every new device. I don't even love the design of the new iPhone. It's good and if I didn't have to replace my last phone back in March, I'd be happy to upgrade to this phone, but I. DO. NOT. NEED. IT.

This is my year of no new electronics. This is the hard part. I knew this would be the hard part. A new iPhone that I don't purchase. This will be the first year since 2011 that I haven't bought a new phone...if I get through this I will be golden. This is the last temptation of the year. I can do this. I can do this.

I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.
I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.

I am NOT a mindless consumer.
I am NOT a hopeless Apple fangirl.
I am NOT reduced to my need to hold all the new electronics.

Hold me to this, friends. Help me. I might not make it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Unexpected Identity Progression

This year I've strayed far from the path of intention.

I meant to write my face off, but instead I've fallen into the performance of identity. I've started a vlog. I've begun the likely expensive and arduous journey towards becoming a DJ, both on internet radio and at local clubs. I've picked up the eyeliner pencil more times this year than the previous 10 years combined; and this year I've done it not out of a need to make myself "presentable" but out of the same child-like creativity that got me to start wearing makeup in my teens.

I started a new job this year that involves working at all the public service desks at the library (circulation, reference, children's, teen, and computer lab). I was very fearful of taking this position, even though it's the exact thing I've wanted to do at the library since I started there ten years ago. At the last minute I took the job after almost turning it down. The position didn't exist before I took it back in March. As the director told me a few months ago, "You're kind of an experiment." Ha. From my perspective, the experiment is going very well. I've taken over programming for Cari, the teen librarian, while she's on maternity leave and I love it. I was able to see the magic of Summer Reading up close through the eyes of the creative force that is the children's department. I never thought I'd work with children, but I generally like working with all age groups now, though I am still partial to teens and the over 60 crowd. I'm VERY happy with my job(s) now. I have always loved flittering about to different groups of people, and the "floater" position has allowed me to get paid for my tendency to wander.

An unexpected side effect of subverting society's tendency towards caution is that (mostly the imaginary kind of self-imposed) obligation has become irrelevant to me, mostly to my advantage, but often to the cultivation of ennui. Depression caused by inertia or no, my determination to commit to the "flow" remains, because this attitude has led to radio, DJing, and YouTube. Had I stayed the path I set out for myself last December, I wouldn't have made a tiny zine instead of the regular expensive one. Had I walked the premeditated course, I wouldn't have said yes to a DJ gig. I would have simply said, "I'm not a DJ..." and that, as they say, would have been that. It had never occurred to me that I could do it. My instincts for picking the right music at the right time have always existed and I've been making mixes since I was at least 10 years old, but I never thought that I could get paid for it. I have now been paid in a DJ capacity, but not because I decided I could do it. I took the gig and did the thing expecting only to endure it and see how it felt. In the moment, it felt awful. I was paralyzed with anxiety and nerves. Only now, three days later, am I starting to come out of the haze of confused adrenaline to analyze the situation.

Most of my adult life I've analyzed opportunities to death, like I literally kill them on the vine by relentlessly talking myself out of them. Life is easier to navigate when the analysis can happen after the experience. I don't know what changed this year, but I've somehow internalized the mantra I made up for myself LAST year:

Do it now. Be ready later.

This affirmation works for me because I've always stumbled through life, whether I wanted to or not. Before my instincts were smashed by internalized societal insecurities, this was how I operated. I just fucked with things until they made sense, and if they didn't I let them go.

Rupaul gives advice that applies in this blog; something to the effect of taking unexpected opportunities and letting the universe draw you to your purpose. People have been telling me for years that I should DJ and I waved my had, "pfffffft"ing the idea away.

I hate to contradict the above decision to analyze later rather than sooner, but I suspect I might be stumbling towards a more actualized self. If I can stay out of my own way, perhaps I'll be a DJ, a zen house cleaner, a librarian, AND a writer.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top Ten Books

So there's that rash spreading on Facebook wherein you tag some friends and force them to tag other friends...and it's all about your ten most "influential" books. I'm doing it in a blog so I can describe why I like the books without the overstimulation of Facebook churning in the background. My, that site can be distracting...

I choose to interpret "influential" as being the books that changed something about the way I think. They are in order of appearance into my life:

1) Drawing Blood // Poppy Z Brite -- This is probably my favorite book of all time and I cannot separate how much of this is because of the quality of the work itself versus the impression I made of it when I first read it. This is a book about wayward youth and the listless darkness of the goth soul. If that sounds laughable, perhaps you're not a real goth. Poseur! Poppy's prose is exquisite and I still reread this book at least once every couple of years. It's like a comfy cardigan that's never too frayed as far as you're concerned, thankyouverymuch.

Fun Fact: The copy my bff Kim and I first read still resides at the original library in which I checked it out for the first time. That very book has been read by all the tortured goth kids of Joplin over the last two decades.

2. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching // Thich Nhat Hanh -- I spent a lot of my teenage years searching through spirituality and religion for something that "fit". I researched absolutely everything from Satanism to Astrology. This is the first book about Buddhism I ever read and I was hooked. The tenants of Buddhism are still important to me and if I ever need to refocus on a way of thinking that really centers me, I go back to Buddhist texts. This is the book that taught me drishta dharma sukha viharin, a phrase I've never forgotten and might get tattooed on my body someday which means "dwelling happily in the present moment".

3. Queen of the Damned // Anne Rice -- Rice is maligned pretty much everywhere these days, but I buy her version of vampires. I like 'em verbose, beautiful, and full of religious guilt. This book truly celebrates Akasha, the baddest villainess in all vampire popular mythology. The book outlines the birth of vampires in Rice's world, the most compelling vampire origin tale I've ever read (and I've read a LOT of vampire books). I have a very beat up paperback copy of this book. If that doesn't say, "Book, you are good enough, you are smart enough, and gosh darnit people LIKE you!" I don't know what does.

4. High Fidelity // Nick Hornby -- I like my fictional characters in three simple varieties: a) a music-obsessed weirdo, b) a gay or gender-confused weirdo, and c) a goth and/or supernatural in a dark way weirdo. This book fulfills category A. I'm not sure what else to say about it. You've seen the movie...the book is better, but the movie is my favorite movie of all, it's pretty fucking good. Now I want to read it...

5. Hardcore Zen // Brad Warner -- This is my second favorite book about Buddhism told from the POV of a straight edge punk that loves Japanese monster movies and sitting zazen. If Warner hadn't pointed out how punk Buddhism is in this book, I might have had to do it...'cause Buddhism is soooo punk, yo. This book talks about Buddhism in plain language.

6. Love is a Mixtape // Rob Sheffield -- My favorite kind of nonfiction is a music memoir and this is the ULTIMATE music memoir.

7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies // Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith -- Ultimately, what I love about this book is the Austen part of it, but I have to admit that before this book caught my attention, I hadn't read Jane Austen. I know! Despicable, but true. I've since read the real "Pride and Prejudice" several times and damn if that isn't a classic!

8. How Not to Write, by Someone Who Doesn't // Delilah Des Anges -- Del is a dear friend I met in a vampire chat room back in the '90s. This book is the most frank and to the point writing guide ever and I really appreciate it. Just shut up and write, bitch! My output has been slightly larger because of reading this book. Go buy it.

9. Hunger Games trilogy // Suzanne Collins -- These books are probably the most powerful fiction I've ever read. I read them during the winter of 2011 after the tornado and I cried SOOO much while reading them. I'm not a big fan of tragedy, usually ever, but Collins' dystopia seemed so real that I couldn't walk away. Katniss is the character I relate to most of any fiction character I've ever met...except the bow and arrow stuff.

10. Ready Player One // Ernest Cline -- This book is just the most fun dystopia of all time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Year of no new electronics...

Like most of my goals for the year of 2014, this one was kind of broken when I,

a) had to buy a new phone in March when my iPhone 5's screen went all hot and bothered with pixels misfiring and general glitchy strangeness. Jill says that doesn't count because I needed a phone. I did buy the exact phone I wanted though --a yellow iPhone 5C-- because I'm extravagant like that.

b) bought Michael's old 3DS. M says that doesn't count because it's not new.

Buuuut, something interesting has happened:

1) I'm really really happy with all of my current technology without any plans to upgrade.

I love my phone (though as SOON as I can leave Verizon for Virgin Mobile/a plan that's 50$ less each month, I'm doing it!) a lot. The battery life is spectacular on the 5C and it's so freaking cute with its canary yellowness. The camera in it is amazing and it does everything I'd ever want it to do.

I'm really enjoying the 3DS with Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Mario Kart 7. Totally worth the huge discount my husband gave me on a great gaming device.

I appreciate my iPad mini and don't see that there would be any reason to upgrade it anytime soon.

Even my computer is now approaching four years old and I'm considering buying more storage and memory for it, but I don't want to abandon it at all.

The previous statements are SERIOUS progress for me. I don't feel that I need ALL the new things! The last several years I've talked myself into buying each new iPhone, several iPads and other various devices.

2) I completely forgot about the huge Apple Event today announcing the new iPhone 6 until Michael mentioned it to me at 930 this evening. I completely FORGOT. Usually I am glued to watching all the live coverage for Apple's events announcing new products and this year I FORGOT.

I'm officially considering my electronics addiction broken. There will be further temptations. When the new iPad mini comes out with a color-corrected screen (the current model has some issues with color accuracy...yes, I notice that shit) I'll want it. But I'll resist because I don't even need an iPad. Really, I don't. I have an ereader and I have a smartphone. Sometimes I go days without using my iPad. I prefer to read on my ereader and if my iPad isn't rightthere I use my phone instead.

I want to beef up my computer. I want 500GB of hard drive and 8GB of memory...maybe while I've got Honeycrisp on the operating table I'll replace her battery as well. However, I have no desire to get one of the new Macbook Pros because they don't even have a disc drive and the cheapest model is 1300$.

In other news, the iPod classic (the last remaining iPod with the iconic click wheel) was quietly taken off the Apple website today. Sad. That click wheel made it just over ten years and is still one of the big reasons I became obsessed with Apple's design. I'll use my iPod classic I got in 2011 until the day it dies...probably even then I'll scour ebay for a new one.

Anyway, I'm taking a moment. It's a big deal for me to realize my 2014 goal of not buying new electronics has actually had the effect I wanted it to have. I don't check cNET every day anymore. I'm not up to date on all the new devices. I still follow Apple's new products, but I actually truly don't feel like I NEED to own all of them.

Yay me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I have no words.

Three hours of sleep last night.

The teens beat me down tonight, simply because I don't know how to raise my voice and set boundaries.

But it dawned on me earlier today that I AM the teen department while Cari is on maternity leave. I am IT and knowing it all has to be me makes me feel a little better.

But for now I am Jack smacking my face up against Karen's hand...

Monday, September 1, 2014


Back in the hopeful first days of January I decided that September would be a month in which I would blog every day...

I wrote a bit in my journal earlier on what became a dismal Labor Day and I hated all of my thoughts. I declared that I would journal every day in September, but I might not blog.

Now I'm wishing back from my meandering wash to think that maybe I'll blog AND journal every day in September. I'm going to attempt to call it success if I post SOMEthing, ANYthing...even if they are thoughts I've posted in some word order or another since I was 14. Because as I said above, I am SICK of my thoughts.

This year there are many more things on the DIDN'T do list than the did. I've stopped posting articles to The Current, Etc. I've posted barely anything in this blog. I've essentially stopped writing. I keep reminding myself that I have started a radio station and I have started a YouTube channel that now has 60+ subscribers, the bulk of which are people I don't even KNOW! But those two ventures don't take up the time that writing does.

I haven't even been reading much either. It has turned into a year of rest and I feel less guilty about it than perhaps I should.

Perhaps this month that will really change, though I've been saying that all damn year. Perhaps I'll manage to post some sort of bumbling detritus paragraph once a day here and maybe save the REALLY angst-ful stuff (it gets more angst-ful? Yes, sadly.) for my journal.

I long to fill real pages with scrawled thoughts again like I used to early in the millennium.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Acquisition vs Assimilation.

As I've been lamenting on all the social medias and my YouTube videos, all I can think about recently is the radio station. I seem to only have enough room in my greyspace to concentrate on the thing that is enjoyed by the least number of people. I've been very lazy about writing. I haven't done it at all since the last blog entry which was the first time I'd written...

Excuses aside, I still have my regular amount of philosophical thoughts. I usually babble them on my radio station now or to my Michael and my friend Lindsey instead of writing about them. I'd like to say that this will all change from now on, but likely it won't.

My year isn't going as specifically outlined by me in my little year goal notebook. Instead of ALL the writing I had planned I've started a YouTube channel and a radio station. I'm allowing myself to "go with the flow". I've given myself permission to focus on the creative projects that I want to focus upon, which don't involve writing right now. I still plan to undertake NaNoWriMo in November and generally write my face off as the months get colder...

but this summer I've been listening to music.

Listening to music is my favorite pastime of all time. I've been on vacation this last week and not having the money to GO on vacation, I've mostly stayed in playing Animal Crossing and listening to my iPod on shuffle. I "discovered" several gems shuffling my entire music library. That wouldn't have been possible 15 years ago. The way I enjoy music now is different than the way I enjoyed music then.

The difference, I now realize, is acquisition versus assimilation. Pre-iPod (2001) I would get a new CD once or twice a month and spend the entire time between each CD purchase pouring over the sounds within the newly-bought album. I'd memorize the lyrics and burn the images from the artwork into my brain. I had the time and space to integrate the new music into the rest of my collection. I had the time to get to know the music and where it fit into all of the many music schemas within my mind. All I had was the music I had acquired slowly over the years, and maybe the radio...or whatever mixes my friends made me in the spaces between new CDs.

Now my attention is severely fragmented by the paradox of choice. I listen to Spotify. I listen to Songza. I listen to SomaFM. I acquire new music from Freegal (free library service--not available in Joplin, but in Kansas City) and Google Music weekly, sometimes even daily. I don't acquire new music because I'm sick of what I have already amassed, but simply because I can. I can have so many tracks that I forget to listen to albums I've had for years. I have albums I have NEVER heard in their entirety. I'm ashamed to admit that. Truly ashamed.

Lately I've been researching shoegaze, listening to Pale Saints and Slowdive and Lush and My Bloody Valentine. I thought I would make a mix for my radio show, but it wasn't coming. It wasn't coming because I was listening to the tip of an iceberg of a genre of music I wasn't already intimately familiar. I was seeking the kind of knowledge I only have of music I've known since the days of Assimilation, while in the midst of the distractions everywhere in the Age of Acquisition. I haven't had enough time with shoegaze, but I was assuming I could bang it out really quick.

I don't yet know how I'll do this, but reconnecting with my music library over these past few vacation days has convinced me I simply MUST take more time to assimilate sound. I will never be able to hear every new album from 2014, but that old Delerium record is sitting within the folds of my iPod needing just as much validation as anything in my "recently added" playlist. I have almost 10,000 songs in my digital music library. If I listened to each one of them, I would probably decide I didn't like at least 5% of them.

Doing the weekly radio show (every Friday from 7-11pm CST here) has opened Pandora's Box/The Tree of Knowledge for me. Until I started the radio station at the beginning of July, I hadn't sat still and listened to my music for four hours at a time since the Age of Assimilation. I needed it. Immersion into sound helps me sort out my emotions. It is assimilation that calms me into knowing myself, not acquisition. You can never hear it all, especially when you're clicking through to the next song before you've ended the one currently playing. Radio is reconnecting me to what's been within reach all along, and I am grateful.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Reconciling Invalidation...

I don't yet know how to accomplish this, is the short version.

The long version is that I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to put myself out there. I have this blog, I have my zine, I have the radio station, I have the YouTube channel...but I still have the same nagging feeling I've had my entire life. That no one gets me. That no one cares. I'm currently broadcasting my second radio show and I'm literally the only person listening. I put a lot of work into my playlist. I've spent lots of time promoting my radio show. But it's very likely that after three months of weekly broadcasts, I'll have to face the fact that no one cares, as per usual.

Yes, I realize this is an angst-y and self-involved way to look at things. It's unreasonable for me to expect my friends and family to spend four hours of their Friday evenings listening to me play music I like. It is. It's ridiculous. Every issue of Chickweed includes a mix. I usually make 50 copies of that mix. I think mayyyyybe 5 people listen to that mix, and that's a thing you can listen to anytime. So why would anyone listen to me DJing from my iTunes?

But I am trying. I'm trying to put my thoughts out there in the world, via blog, via zine, via radio, via video. Maybe what I have to say isn't interesting. Maybe I'm not self-actualized enough yet to be interesting. Maybe I never will be interesting. And why does it even matter, anyway? Do I need to be relevant? I've always told myself I don't care if there's a meaning to life, and I don't. But meaning interpreted by me has some validity TO me, if that makes sense. I'd like to feel that my efforts to express myself are heard. But I also think that's selfish of me. I have a small handful of friends that seem to consistently enjoy my work.

But what is that (this) work? It's self-indulgent whining a large portion of the time. Maybe I shouldn't be reinforced for that. I'm starting to wonder if that's all I'm made of, is the worry, I suppose.

My ability to relate to others is tenuous at best. I feel like my reserve of empathy is endless, but my projection of self is almost never in tune with those I'm trying to project myself upon. There are kindred spirits I've met in my path, but they are few and way too far between. But this is my fault. I don't reach out to people in the real way of having conversations and hanging out with others. I project in zines and on blogs and via radio. And I hope that someone wants to talk back.

My brain is so full, but I say so little. I'd love to be heard, but perhaps I don't have the stamina to speak as much as is required for that.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I came up with a plan...

but have yet to implement it. Looking over my idea journal I carry with me everywhere, I find that this is all too often how I (don't) do things.

Anyway, the plan is this: once a week, probably Sunday, I will observe "Analog Day". Analog day will be a day of less smartphones, tablets, and internet. Specifically, the way I will define analog is by living that 24-hour period as if it is 2001. In 2001 I had the internet, but only on computers. In 2001 I had a cell phone, but could only make calls and text? I think I had texting capabilities, though people weren't really doing it a lot yet. With my limited verbal skills, texts would still have to exist on Analog Day. However, I don't want to use the fact that I'm "allowed" to text as an excuse to be preoccupied with texting all day...sooooo generally this day will be a day that I go out and enjoy the world outside, leaving my phone at home.

In 2001 I often left my phone at home. In 2014 I'm worried I have it at my side too often. I check it for mundane bits of information too frequently.

Our digital surroundings can easily become a crutch when you use them instead of doing more creative things. Creativity is usually more analog than digital. Writing in a blog could have been done in 2001, for example, while checking Facebook could not. Reading a book in a waiting room could have been done in 2001, while playing Bejeweled on your phone could not...not the Nokia I had, anyway.

2014 is the year that I have read the least in my entire adult life, I think. It could be an incorrect assumption, but I fear this is mostly due to a shortened attention span caused by a click-fast culture of checking statuses of things (weather, texts, emails, facebook, etc). Too much of my time spent online is re-upping information that doesn't mean anything. Have I checked Instagram today? What about Tumblr? While some sites genuinely engage me (Tumblr, Forever Young Adult, Jezebel), most provide bland scrolling and mindless entertainment (Facebook, Instagram). Where are these distractions pulling my life? I think the answer is sideways or down or nowhere at all. I feel that books and blogs and radio stations and going outside take me much further into a future of attention, intelligence, and meaning.

However, I don't at all condemn our new shiny objects of distraction. I love the world at my fingertips, but I would like to learn that I don't have to access that world every time I use my fingertips. It took me awhile to learn that having a cell phone, even if I have it on me at all times, didn't mean I had to be accessible to everyone all the time. Now, only 4 years after purchasing my first smartphone, I've found it is my time to learn that although the world's information is almost always available to me, it doesn't mean I need to access  it all the time. 

This brings me to my mild disdain (ok, maybe it's more like a medium simmering disdain) for Facebook. On the one hand, I am completely all for everyone being in the same space online and being able to organize my entire social life from one location. On the hand that I'm more often holding, I recognize that posting statuses on Facebook has become a placeholder for real interactions with others. When I talk to friends and family, I would like to know how they're feeling about their lives. Often when I have "catch-up" conversations, they are punctuated by, "Didn't you see my Facebook status?" or even conversations continuing from online "conversations" that were simply a friend or family member posting a status. For example, someone in my immediate family is currently in the process of moving. It didn't occur to anyone in my family to tell me about this event, because it was on Facebook. I think the next step in socialization now that so much of it has migrated online, is simply to remember that not everyone sees everything you post on Facebook.

I'd like to clarify that I don't mean conversations you've had with me online can't migrate to in person. They absolutely can and SHOULD. I love conversation through any medium and across all platforms. What I mean is when a person assumes an online status update is like a telepathic transmission to all "Facebook friends". It isn't. Maybe I don't use Facebook the way regular people use Facebook...which makes sense because I don't socialize the way others socialize. Namely, I cannot withstand the stimulation of knowing what everyone is doing at all times. To keep up with a couple hundred friends on a website would take all my energy from me, so be kind and don't assume we all know what you're doing because you posted pictures of your son's wedding in Albuquerque. Chances are, I didn't see those pictures.

I realize this is all a new venue of etiquette we as a society don't yet know how to navigate. I dislike being interrupted with "Yeah, I saw that on Facebook" when I'm talking about what's going on with me as much as I dislike others answering "How are you?" with..."You didn't see my Facebook?" Much of what I mean when I ask someone how they are is how are you right NOW? How do you feel today? What are you excited about? How are you coping with your life at this moment in time in front of me right now? What are you into, man?

Odd for me of all people to be requesting a more traditional style of socialization. Me of the only-text-never-answer-phone-calls fame. Me of the "I prefer to socialize online" battle cry.

I think I just figured out what I dislike about it! Back in the '90s, online communication was one-on-one or chat rooms of a few people in real time or via direct communication like email. Now it's more indirect megaphone-style life updates. What I really want is to actually talk/type to people I like.

Anyway, Analog Day. I'm doing it...starting next Sunday.