An eye peers out from under a Facebook zipper hoodie.

Delete

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of deleting myself. Of somehow magically and methodically removing all traces of myself from the internet. It started with the news that Facebook is as terrible as I always joked that it was. 

The company, and its leadership, are probably even more terrible than you already think billionaires are. Oh yeah, and they also own Instagram which has increasingly become a stream of ads for me. 

Then Tumblr announced that it was removing all adult content from their site. And like…what are we doing being so concerned about “female-presenting” nipples? That’s the most ridiculous line I’ve ever read and honestly, among some of the most revolting faux-inclusive language. Damn near gives religious folks a run for their money. 

And lest you think Twitter or Reddit are great alternatives. I’ll just throw in a reminder that both have ongoing and prevailing problems with bots, Nazis, and bigots. 

Immediately the calls for abandoning the platforms came. People who have long-since left or never joined bragged about their foresight. For my part I felt a twinge a jealousy over this ability of others to let go somehow. To just give up this connection to…something? 

I spend a lot of my time online. Much of that time is spent consuming content other folks put out. Not surprisingly, I’m a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines, short stories, and more. But I often find myself staring at a screen wondering what exactly am I doing clicking on the 56th picture of a golden doodle in an hour. What does this add to my life experience? Is this fleeting tiny moment of joy from this one photo actually worth my constant scrolling? 

There’s something that feels like it would be peaceful about a life without social media in it. 

It also feels like it might be lonely. For the most part, I communicate with folks in online spaces. Text and email are used minimally and even less do I talk on the phone. (Dear god, please let me see your face in-person and do not make me speak on the phone.) 

I think of the ways I feel pressured to participate in activities, not because they are fun, but because they photograph well. Or the way, I sometimes feel compelled to cook and plate a dish just so because I think I may want to Instagram it. Or the way that I regret taking no photos at Thanksgiving, not because I didn’t have a good time or enjoy having so much family so close to my heart, but because I couldn’t humblebrag about the meal Z and I put together. 

(We crushed it for first-timers.)

I think of the way teenagers are more depressed, suicidal, scared, and paranoid. I think about how hard it is to meet people. I think of all these things, and I think I need to free myself from this life of constant scrolling. 

I just don’t know how exactly. 

There’s the risk of loss of no longer possessing the ability to connect with folks in limited ways. But I think I’m moving towards this idea where I need to keep things to myself more than I have in the past. And maybe a way to do that is to shut down some of the distractions and focus instead on the things that I can control. 

I guess too I’m wondering if some kind of social media break in my life means I’ll have more time to actively be doing things. 

I love the phrase “consume less, create more.” But I am personally not great at doing such a thing. There is so much great STUFF out there and I want to see and enjoy all of it. But it does seem to come at the cost of not actually creating my own stuff. And I want to make stuff. I think I’m creative. I sometimes call myself a creator. I tell Z he’s a maker and aspiring Ron Swanson, but how can we make things when we’re so distracted by the glowing screens in our faces. 

Maybe it is time to say goodbye to the constant buzzing and remove myself. Actually, it’s not time right now. But it’s coming. The more I think about it. The more I find myself wanting to find a way to make my life online more manageable and peaceful with my real life. 

The internet isn’t fun anymore. At least, it isn’t for me. So in the New Year, I’ll be taking a step back at least for a short while to evaluate my life living it less publicly than before. 

I’ll still blog, but right now I plan to leave most* other platforms behind. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll miss it. Maybe I won’t. But at least briefly, I can brag about living minimally or some such shit while I pickle onions. 

 

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Time for a rebrand?

8378The idea of change is not appealing to me now that I’m a bit more settled. I’ve grown into my ways or my ways have grown into me. I drink black coffee; I walk the dog; I do not watch horror movies.

I know who I am. I’m pretty solid in that knowledge. In fact, I feel so comfortable with myself I feel compelled to add this: I will always change. No matter who I think I am. That is my one constant.

However, sometimes change is unexpected. And one of those changes, I never really thought I would encounter in my own life, was marriage.

That may seem odd. How does a Mormon-raised, Utah girl grow to adulthood thinking she will never be married? Simple. I was never quite right as a Mormon girl. I never fit in. I could get close to choosing the “right” thing, saying the “right” thing, or wearing the right thing. But I could never maintain that “rightness” well. And I was very often on the fringes of traditional femininity throughout my childhood and early adulthood.

Marriage, I decided early on, was not for me.

Until it was. The time (apparently six years, a house, a dog, and two cars later) marriage was the right thing for me and Zak. Being married is. . . nice, actually it’s awesome. It’s a little weird how much I freaking love being married. I am appallingly disgustingly happy. (Younger me is flummoxed, current me is overjoyed.)

Only a side-effect of all this wedded bliss, is that it’s possibly also time for another change–a new name. I’ve been on the internet using my real name publicly for over 10 years, which is something like a millennia in online time. For six weeks, I’ve thought about how to handle this name change and my (admittedly teeny) place in the world. (Trust me when I say I never though I would get married. My jaw dropped when Zak asked if I was changing my name because it literally hadn’t occurred to me that I might.)

I’m not really sure what I’ll do. Like getting married, it seems like the time to make a change. And why not be dramatic about that change? I mean it’s not like this little blog of mine is going to explode.

Maybe.

The new legal name is good. It really, really is. I kind of want to shout the change from the rooftops, even if it is a bit scary. But the idea of using a different name that isn’t so easily connect to the real me is appealing.

So I guess for now I’ll still be Krista Mae Smith. And hey, feel free to share your name change experience. I’d love to hear from you!

Health insurance and miracles

Today was one of those days when I realize that growing up poor also means growing up in a different world than the people I know now. Growing up poor means not knowing how insurance works. And today, I was shocked when a doctor’s visit and medicine were reasonably priced for no apparent reason other than a magical new card meaning something somewhere to someone.

Recently there’s been a barrage of bad days at work. So today, was naturally the day my body gave up. I woke up with inflamed gooey eyes and a sore throat. I’m falling apart. Period cramps, cuts on my feet, and a headache, it all piled on me this morning.

The sniffles with the stress and “boom,” go visit a doctor because that’s what you get to do when you have a job that allows for sick days and health insurance.

Actually, that’s nice. It’s a shiny bright spot in an otherwise gloomy day.

Then I think about it and I get pissed off. The conjunctivitis is a severe allergic reaction, but I never had health insurance growing up. One kid got sick and all the kids got the same prescription—there’s one doctor in three towns. And you hope to god he keeps up on medicine and takes care of his patients. Maybe he was a good doctor. I don’t know. I only remember going to the doctor once in my childhood, and then I didn’t make it to the doctor. The physician’s assistant saw me since the doctor was in a different town that day. (And yes, my brother who had the same cold took the same prescription as me.)

I feel lucky I have a stable job with a steady paycheck that allows me to pay my bills (the whole mountain of them) and health insurance, and sick days, because I haven’t had it. However a part of me resents it.

Why do I get that? Why doesn’t everyone? What have I done that makes me special enough to get help paying for medicine? Shouldn’t every job allow for paid sick days? Shouldn’t everyone be able to visit a doctor and afford the visit?

It’s such a relief to be in a position where I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can actually afford to go to the doctor when I need to go to the doctor. And yet that same privilege vexes me.

It’s exactly that actually—that American society thinks of health as a privilege, not a right.

Somehow I have to be “good” enough to have a good job that allows me time off to be sick. And, I’m left to wonder how I was lucky enough to land a job that will let me text in late to take a day off because I woke up feeling icky. I didn’t do anything special, and I wasn’t born as anyone special.

I realize the Affordable Healthcare Act is on it’s way to helping everyone get basic healthcare. But I’m starting to think that’s not enough. And we’re still debating this country’s deplorably low minimum wage. It’s not a debate. Minimum wage is far too low. No one who works a full-time job in this country should be living in poverty, yet millions are.

The realization that just one year ago a day like today would have derailed my budget, set me back a month, and most likely added to my debt, pisses me off. There has to be a better way. I don’t have to deal with that now because I’m one of the lucky ones with those “good jobs” that are in such short supply. So now I can think about how much the system punishes the poor for being poor while I drink coffee and shop for a house.

As an addendum, I have a great job–I love it. I’m usually pretty excited to see what new challenges await me at the office. Today was an illustration of problems within a larger system, not at work.

Second addendum, no photos today as conjunctivitis is disgusting and there’s not really anything else visual to go along with this rant. Sorry. Maybe you’ll get a coffee photo next time. 

A long hiatus and then this

At the end of June, something delightful happened.

I got a job! A grown-up, adult job with health insurance and regular pay. One of those kind of jobs. It’s been a nice change. An office outside of my house, talking to people, making new friends and learning new things.

Heck, I like it so much I’m surprised I didn’t break the news via FB earlier. But no, it’s special blog only type stuff like this that makes this place extra nice for the big news.

So the new job is at a local professional theatre. I work in development (raising money) and communication (selling tickets). It’s all kinds of fun reading plays, hanging out with actors and learning the world of non-profits. Every day is different. I work with a small team of wonderful people that make even the worst days in the office a ball.

I love my job.

And it’s so nice to love what I do that sometimes I forget to leave any free time for this blog and other hobbies I once had.

I haven’t read any books in too long; and I finally broke down and started baking at 6 a.m. just so I could make something new. Between the dog walks, the boyfriend and the job, there isn’t a lot of time for other stuff. Now that I’ve had a month to get into the groove a bit though,  I’m hopeful I’ll have a minute more of time for this online stuff. ‘Cause I lurves it and some of the coolest people I know are most accessible online. So I gots to stay.

P.S. This post should have originally published in August 2013. However due to “technical difficulties” (sometimes called laziness) it has not been published until now. 

Wow. Umm…wow.

Michael Hastings died in a car accident Tuesday morning.

I don’t expect most of you to know who he was. He was a journalist. Most of his work was in Rolling Stone and on Buzzfeed. I never knew him at all. But I loved reading his stuff. He was one of the good ones. You could tell in the words, between the sentences, he was the kind of journalist all the reporters should want to be.

A hard ass and an ass kicker.

He probably had more enemies than friends.

It should be noted that the Los Angeles coroner has not identified the body.

This sucks. I’m going to keep his Reddit AMA in mind today.

Okay, here’s my advice to you (and young journalists in general):

1.) You basically have to be willing to devote your life to journalism if you want to break in. Treat it like it’s medical school or law school.

2.) When interviewing for a job, tell the editor how you love to report. How your passion is gathering information. Do not mention how you want to be a writer, use the word “prose,” or that deep down you have a sinking suspicion you are the next Norman Mailer.

3.) Be prepared to do a lot of things for free. This sucks, and it’s unfair, and it gives rich kids an edge. But it’s also the reality.

4.) When writing for a mass audience, put a fact in every sentence.

5.)Also, keep the stories simple and to the point, at least at first.

6.) You should have a blog and be following journalists you like on Twitter.

7.) If there’s a publication you want to work for or write for, cold call the editors and/or email them. This can work.

8) By the second sentence of a pitch, the entirety of the story should be explained. (In other words, if you can’t come up with a rough headline for your story idea, it’s going to be a challenge to get it published.)

9) Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting. Like it’s more important to you than anything else in your life–family, friends, social life, whatever.

10) Learn to embrace rejection as part of the gig. Keep writing/pitching/reading.

Personally I can only hope to be the kind of journalist Hastings was, I am too much of a people pleaser and way too comfortable with authority. But people like him prove journalism matters. He will be missed.

All the right ways

I hate myself for wishing for change, or at least, I regret it…a little.

There it is.

It comes like night. I could see the dusky light, I could feel it coming, the wind a little cooler as we waited, breath held, for that change.

It’s here now, an emotional shift brought on my physical pains. Nothing will be the same. Growing comes with changing, but does it have to hurt?

I’d like an easy challenge next, please. Maybe one with a definitive set of instructions, a map and a guide. Just one of those things would be awfully nice. I no longer know which way to go. The life map lines drifted into “there be monsters” territory ages ago. I need a new one.

The compass stopped working long ago; sometimes I forget it exists. In the rare moments I remember the magnetic direction, it pricks my heart. It hurts.

I hurt, too.

Perhaps I can find another.

I can’t look to the stars anymore: blotted out by city lights, smeared across the sky, coated in the gray skies of pollution. They might still be there. My memory can’t be just a myth, can it? I need to get out of this place.

I need the map, the compass, the skies, all of it–the toolkit to bring me back to life.

I’m drifting along in this raft, and sometimes you drift with me. But still I feel lonely. Alone.

I can’t swim yet. I keep trying. You’re pulling me along. Not always as patient as either of us might wish. I pant and writhe in the water. I’m scared of drowning. I concentrate so hard on staying alive I forget to move forward. Fear pushes into my mind slowly at first like a black dawn then it takes over rushing into every part of my functionality filling me with blackness. I stop thinking; I’m reacting, trying to keep my head up.

If I can just breathe, this will soon be over.

You watch me struggle again and again. I can see the love turning into loathing. It must be hard to see someone work so hard at failure. Eventually you will turn away from me. It’s a pattern. You won’t be the first person to give up on me and probably not the last.

The last will be me when I’ve had enough, when I’m ready to go. Maybe by then, I’ll know how to swim. I’ll be brave enough to go on without the tools I’m waiting for. Maybe by then, I’ll build them myself.

At least, I have a pen. Now where the fuck is that paper?

I’m going to take a nap now

I posted earlier today that I regret nothing about my decision to stay up all night reading “Gone Girl.” It felt decadent sipping sangria and hanging onto every word Gillian Flynn wrote in the sadistic, suspenseful, painful novel.

The story is fucking mind blowing. Just like everyone says.

And I loved it. I am also exhausted to the point where thinking hurts, my eyes burn and a puppy might just die.

Seriously, it’s the best book I’ve read in what feels like forever. It was thrilling to stay up all night sucked into a fictional world like I haven’t since Harry Potter. Glorious. Nice. Nostalgic.

And terrifying.

I’m still stressed from Game of Thrones and now this? How do I know I’m not an Amy? Or a Nick? Can’t we all be? Just a little bit sometimes? Man, the lies, the manipulation, the deceit the insistence that it is all just a game even at the cost of life.

Blood chilling to think about and fascinating. Thankfully I’m a sound sleeper rarely troubled by dreams.