Feb. 16th, 2017

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I'm going through a periodic recalibration of how I spend my time and energy. I find this happens every few years when I look at what's important to me and how I'm actually spending my time and try to realign my life so those match better. Some things that contributed to that this time around:

[personal profile] lakeeffectgirl went on a Twitter hiatus, and then I discovered how much of my Twitter interaction was with her. Because of that, I started reading Twitter only when I was at home. One of my rules for myself is that there are Twitter accounts I only read when I'm at work. Those are the accounts that tweeted and retweeted a lot of political things. I found that I was calmer and less anxious when I wasn't reading those all the time. Now I'm checking Twitter only once a day, and I've turned off retweets on or muted a few more people so it's manageable. Me constantly feeling anxious and upset wasn't doing me or the world any good.

I listened to this interview with Nancy Colier (a transcript is also available at the link). She's the author of a book called The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World, which my library has so I might read it at some point. What I really liked about her perspective was that it isn't "no technology ever!" but rather to be mindful about how we're using technology and how that affects us. That framing helped me to notice how I felt different when I wasn't reading Twitter all the time, and to think about how much time I really want to spend reading things I don't really care about that much on the internet versus doing other things I want to do.

A side effect is that when I'm not reading Twitter all the time and therefore (a) not hanging around to see what people might tweet and (b) less anxious, then I'm more likely to turn off my computer earlier and either go to bed early or go read a book and then better notice that I really am tired and ready to go to bed on time (or early).

I've been trying to remind myself on a semi-regular basis that I want to feel light, giddy, deeply present, and connection. Sometimes that's helping me put whatever's happening or what I'm feeling into perspective.

Some things I'm doing instead of compulsively reading about the state of the world:

Reading books. I belong to two book clubs now, both of which meet once a month. I'm trying to read about a book a week which means I read the two book club books and then two whatever I want to read books each month.

Writing. I had a really hard time writing for the first month or so after the election. There didn't seem to be any point. Writing fic seemed so frivolous. Plus, I had a hard time doing much of anything that wasn't trying to absorb reality. I saw a few things about the importance of making art in dark times, but none of them really stuck until I read this piece from Sophia McDougall. This was the thing that let me find inspiration: "But if they hadn’t been there? I thought, looking at my friend. Who was fierce and bright-eyed and smiling. Those useless satirists and artists and musicians pouring their spirits into their art and watching it land on the floor of history like that dropped custard pie? What if there was nothing to look back on in those times but a culture in militaristic lockstep, or perhaps worse, slumped in dead-eyed indifference?" There are a lot of things I can't do or change about the world, but I can write stories for other people to enjoy. I can do my part to make sure that the world isn't all despair. And I can do this easily because I find writing easy. "It's not enough. It's not enough," McDougall says. It isn't, and I'm not sure how much I believe art can really change the world for the better anymore, but the alternative seems even worse. And then there's this: when I'm having a rough time and the world seems bleak, fan fic is where I turn for comfort, solace, distraction, the vision of a different kind of world. I can be that for someone else. That seems worth doing.

Connecting with people. Part of my goal in joining the two aforementioned book clubs was to meet new people who might be potential friends. The first one I joined is run by our apartment complex social directors, and I liked it so much that I joined a second one, which is sci fi/fantasy book club through Meetup organized by a queer woman I also met at a local acquaintance's holiday party. I've been making more of an effort to reach out to and make plans with my two local friends. I've been sending more emails, both as part of a what we're up to on Twitter hiatus thread with [personal profile] lakeeffectgirl and as a practice of sending more frequent brief notes from whatever's happening in my life to our larger friend group. In doing this, I've been thinking about Gretchen Rubin's family's updates emails: "Our motto is 'It's okay to be boring.'"


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Ruth Sadelle Alderson


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