Category: Writing

Late night rambles on the C-word

“I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.” 
― Mel Brooks

Samantha Bee used the C word to describe Ivanka Trump this week on her show and, like unto Roseanne Barr, it caused something of a kerfuffle. More in the links post tomorrow.

But in the meantime, and while I have this on the brain, do you know what? I HATE the C word. Hate it. It’s slung around in the UK like loose change in a way I never experienced in the States, and I haven’t gotten used to it in five years. I still feel a full body cringe at its ugliness whenever someone uses it. If TBS chose to reprimand or punish Samantha Bee like ABC chose to do with Roseanne, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d grudgingly admit it’s the network’s prerogative to make that kind of call.

I similarly think it’s the NFL’s right to try and set certain boundaries the speech of its players. I further think that deliberately defying rules is literally the point of a protest so we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples. Nevertheless, the Twitter wars rage.

The difference between a comedian and a president is that one of those people is expected, even encouraged to be vulgar. The other, historically, is expected to set an example to the nation state. One is expected to set standards, the other to push boundaries.vWhich brings me to the broad point I can’t shake.

Anyone who tries to defend the current political administration (the target of the comment in the first place) with the claim that vulgarity (as opposed to racism, for instance) should cost someone their job needs to have an intellectually honest conversation about the dude in the White House and how he got there. He weaponized vulgarity and rode it all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

You do not get to cheer a man who kicked off his political life by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, has a history of sexual assault allegations, and been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by their “pussy,” and then cry foul when an entertainer uses foul language towards one of his administration officals. One side does not get to say that Roseanne Barr’s statements on her twitter feed, filled with antisemitism and conspiracy theories, are jokes and then turn around and say that an unfriendly comedian’s jokes are beyond the pale.

Pick a lane. Either offensive jokes are acceptable more broadly or they are not. If you insist on your side’s right to be offensive, you should in turn be prepared to buckle up and be offended right back.

Here’s the thing. I believe wholeheartedly that the overall coarsening of our culture and public discourse is not a good thing. We’re all worse off for it. But spare me the moral hand wringing if your whole ethos and political strategy is built around “triggering” other people. These are your rules, it’s your game, and you’re in charge. Either toughen up and take what you sling out, or do your best to claw back the moral high ground if you can.

But to say that systemic and historically racist speech and vulgar speech are on par is a false equivalence. Both are bad. Both may incur consequences on the speaker. But one traditionally operates from the vantage point of power which could be interpreted as punching down, while the other is “punching up.” Ugly language may be frowned on but as a society we agree that there are places where it’s appropriate or at least acceptable. Antisemitism on the other hand, is not welcome. Unless you agree that there are “fine people” who believe in it.

Here. Someone smarter than me said it better.

Bank Holiday Thoughts: Long Term Goals

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” 
― Gloria Steinem

Gather round, ducklings, for a rambling post of a topic that’s been on my mind lately and that I did some thinking about as I sat in the (rare!) British sun for hours this past weekend.

Scene of the crime.

For someone who is a Grade A organizer and planner, I’ve come to the realization that thinking in terms of long term goals is not something I have ever been very good at. I can project about 3 years out at a max but beyond that is difficult for me to conceptualize.

I’m pretty sure this has to do with being a military brat who never lived anywhere longer than 3 years until I went to university. Growing up, my life was routinely segmented off by frequent moving dates and it’s only in my 30s that I’m understanding how this may affect my worldview. In some ways, it’s deeply positive! Barring personal or natural disaster, you can survive anything for a set period of time with an end date so I think I developed a robust ability to endure less then ideal circumstances and have a genuine attitude of “this too shall pass” to most challenges.

On the other hand, things like 5-10 year plans have never really played a starring role because they have never been or felt relevant to my circumstances. If I was eventually going to be in another school, another state, or on another continent, it never seemed like a good idea to conceptualize things that required any kind of permanence. Again, in my early 30s, I’m only really starting to understand some of the connectivity of this to my life choices. And also again, in a lot of ways this is positive! It’s allowed me and my partner to dream big and take chances that we might not have had we organized our lives in more “traditional” ways, at least according to how we grew up. But it’s also meant that I’ve made a lot of non-strategic choices over the years, some of which have had long lasting ripple effects. Frankly there have been whole months and years that I felt like I was “winging it” as an adult. I still do!

But I’m feeling myself go through a mentality switch these days where I’m starting to be able to conceptualize a future a few years down the road. I’m doing work I enjoy and can see myself doing for a long time, Jeff is in a good (if still busy) place with his career as well. Knock on wood, but it feels as though we are slowly moving out of the “hustle and grind” phase of our work lives into the “work smart” phase where we will (hopefully) begin to build our savings and make the big decisions adults make around where to make a permanent home, what that home looks like, and who we want in it.

I’m still pretty present-focused in that I’m starting to feel like a lot of hard work is paying off. We live in one of the most amazing cities on earth, we’ve put the time and energy into our careers and it’s starting to pay off, our marriage remains strong, we’re healthy–all pretty damn good things. Let’s be honest, it’s taken a decade to get to this point and we’re still not as insulated from shock as I’d like to be….but we’re getting there.

And so, slowly, things in the more distant future are starting to come into focus. We spent some of the bank holiday weekend planning out the rest of the year in terms of work and budgets, and even did some planning for holidays. We’ve learned how important those are to us over the past two years and how grateful we are to live somewhere and in a culture that encourages us to take them rather than making us feel guilty for doing so. We picked some mutual goals to work towards, and I’ve got my own weird and fun projects going on in the background to keep me entertained and grounded. I’m looking forward. And at the moment, things feel good.

Anyone else gone through this particular transition? Any wisdom to share? 

Quick Check In

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
― Henry David Thoreau

In my 101/1001 list I have a number of goals that seem to fall into themes, and picking an overarching theme (“Money”) to write about publicly and focus on personally for a month has been a great way to jump start my creative energy towards some personal development. I’m on track to tick off a lot of these individual goals in January. Plus, it’s been fun! I’ve enjoyed putting together a series of posts on a single topic over a month tremendously. I’m thinking of trying to do this or similar projects often throughout year.

And so, SDS Nation, lend me your thoughts in the comments and let me know what you’ve liked about this project, didn’t like, or want to see more of moving forward on this and other topics. Health, style, more adventures in finance, what would you like to read and talk about here?

Emails With Friends: The Waiting Game

“I love how we are both so very quick to over-analyze silence. As if [agent’s] lack of check in email = so many rejections that she threw herself off the empire state building rather than even look at my email address again.”
“Wagner should have written some kind of opera about our writing emotional cycles.”
“DISSOLVE THE WORLD IN ASHES, I HAVE RECEIVED NO CALLS.”
“[sent gif below]”
“I am sipping red wine”
– Katarina and C.

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2017 – A Year of Less, But Better

“I don’t believe in a lot of baggage. It’s such a nuisance. Life’s too short to fuss with it. And it isn’t really necessary”
― Hugh Lofting, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

2016, you have flown by…and you know where the door is to keep flying straight on through. Bye! You have been an absolutely ludicrous year. But in spite of the crazy (and occasional heartache), there have been some high points too and I am grateful for them. Though the double whammy of Carrie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds was, frankly, a bit of a low blow to end on, don’t you think? Anyway, I’m willing to set that aside in the interest of the new year as there is a lot of work to do.

There’s a lot I want to accomplish in 2017. I’ve got work goals, life goals, weird and wacky goals, but on trying to figure out how I wanted to frame my thoughts I kept coming back to the idea of “less.” 2016 was a full on year with a lot of change, a lot of big emotions, big decisions, and big achievements. I’m not looking to undo or scale back on any progress, but in looking forward I realized that I want to consume less, narrow my priorities, and focus my attention to fewer things at a time.

Don’t expect extreme deprivation, I’m not looking to make a contest in asceticism out of this thought exercise, but I am going to try and be more considered in my consumption of stuff and my commitments.

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I did the first of three shopping bans last year as part of my 101 in 1001 2.0 challenge at the end of last year. It came to a close just in time for Black Friday…and I ended up getting a grand total of two jumpers and a couple of beauty purchases. I didn’t really want, much less need, anything else. I’ve never been an emotional shopper, but I really feel as if the ban was a bit of a reset button for me and clothing in particular–which was already under pretty good control.  The truth is, it’s taken a few years of thoughtful effort, but I’m pretty happy with where my wardrobe is. There are no major gaps and no major needs, both for a personal or professional life. Ditto my makeup stash which has also taken a while to put together and edit, but with which I am really happy. I use and wear everything I own regularly and don’t feel anything is wasted. I will indulge the odd purchase of something that is simply wanted, but don’t expect any major spending this year in the looks department. Less stuff, better quality will continue to be my watch cry.

On that note, I want to be more mindful of my day-to-day spending and consumption. Making my morning coffee at home rather than catching it (and paying for it) on the run, prepped lunches, sticking to grocery lists, not tossing that unplanned item in my basket when at Boots, exploring different travel options in the city, walk more, etc.. I’ve got a few posts lined up on this topic this month, so stay tuned.

Food wise, we now have the thing we’ve wanted for seven years: a proper kitchen. And I am going to be better about stocking and using it. Obviously this will require a bit of spend to get the things we need (we currently own a single small pot, for instance), but I think that committing to cooking more and eating out less will be a good thing. We aren’t overindulgent at the moment, but do give in to laziness and cheap, less healthy food more than we should. I want to be less lazy and more intentional about eating this year.

In the related field of health, the decision to consult and freelance was a good one in that it (surprisingly) reduced the amount of professional stress in my life. A freelancer always has to hustle and I’m certainly making less than I was, but going back on the freelance grind has allowed me to regain a sense of control and purpose that had slipped from my grasp a bit. I want to take this more balanced work mindset with me moving forward, whatever I do. Less unhelpful stress, more intelligent career growth.

Less fretting. I’ve developed some low level anxiety in the past couple of years that I want to get on top of. Things like changing up my work have helped tremendously, but whether through wellness or other means, I intend on letting go of a lot of baggage that I seem to cart around needlessly.

Less time online. I actually want to branch out on the site this year, try a few new things, blog more frequently, and a few other experiments, so never fear about me vanishing from round these parts. But in terms of time wasting, it’s alarming how much time I lose just mucking about on the internet while not actually doing or accomplishing anything. I’m not sure how to roll this goal out, but I’ll try and put some more intelligent thoughts together.

Overall, I think if I can come up with a theme for 2017, it would be, “Less, but better.” I’m curious to see what form this takes.

How about you, kittens? How are you approaching a fresh year? Do you have any resolutions, or other ways to frame it? Talk to me!

 

Highlight Reel

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
– Benjamin Franklin

I am on record as being one of the many who believes that 2016 was rough and occasionally worthy of the moniker “dumpster fire.” But looking back, there were some amazing personal highs that I wanted to revisit in looking forward to 2017. It’s going to be a big year, but it also is going to have some big shoes to fill. What were some of your highlights of 2016? Let’s have a victory-sharing and mutual pat-on-the-back session to get the new year rolling!

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Reckon I earned a few of these this year.

We went to New York City to see X.

We also went to Spain for the first time.

We also spent several long weekends with unbelievably charming friends and hosts.

Jeff got me tickets to Beyonce’s Formation World Tour.

I turned 30.

I wrote some of my most personal posts in nearly a decade of blogging. I actually didn’t write nearly as much as I should have or wanted to this year for a variety of reasons, but I’m already making headway on rectifying that moving forward.