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Look for the Helpers

I didn’t watch Mr. Rogers as a kid. He always kind of gave me the creeps. I had never encountered anybody that was that kind all of the time, and I doubted his sincerity. And now I need to add that to the list of things I should bring up with my therapist. Regardless, as an adult I have come to love and, in times of trial, cling to a quote of his: “Look for the helpers.”

helpers

There will always be helpers. There will always be hope. There will always be a way. I am still at a loss to fully express myself after the election. I sat down to witness history, and I did. Just not the history I had anticipated. I watched as an oft ignored part of our country declared in one loud, red voice that they would not be ignored any longer. That they would not let their way of life go quietly into that good night. They raged, and we all listened in disbelief.

To the rural Americans who feel disenfranchised because their America has been slipping away from them, I am sorry. I am sorry that we didn’t listen, that we didn’t care. I am sorry that we didn’t hear your cries and that even though everyone says you’re privileged you don’t feel that way living at the poverty line. I am sorry that it has come to this, and I hope that in the years to come your situation will improve. I truly do. We are listening now.

However, we need you to listen too. As evidenced by how close this election was, we are a country divided. A deep chasm exists separating one side from the other and because of that chasm neither side can hear the hopes, dreams, fears and wants from the other. And if we can’t hear each other, we have no hope of understanding or empathizing with each other. This is a problem. This country is big enough for all of us to exist together, but only if we can understand each other. The only way for that to happen is to truly listen and appreciate where the opposite side is coming from.

get-ahaed

I hold strongly to the belief that you don’t have to push others down in order to rise yourself, which is in direct conflict to the rhetoric of our new president. I respect the decision of our country to elect him, but I do not respect him or his hateful disparagements and I will not sit quietly by while they are said. I will not sit quietly by and watch rights being taken away from American citizens simply because they are different. There is room for all of us, and we can all rise together if we are willing to listen and try. And while we learn to do that, we need to have each other’s backs.

 

To the LGBTQ+ communities – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

To the people of color in this nation – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

To the women who seek equality and autonomy of their bodies – I am one of you, I am your advocate.

To the non-Christian religious communities – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

 

Now is the time for tolerance and acceptance. Now is the time for love. Now is the time for the helpers.

candle

 

This is a good resource talking about what to do if you witness or experience racism specifically, but the information can be expanded to other scenarios as well.

This is a good strategy to use if you witness Islamaphobic harassment. Again the technique can be used in other scenarios as well.

If you are LGBTQ and need a friendly forum to express your concerns or you need someone to talk to click here for an established community who are there to help.

If you feel that your rights are being infringed upon, please check out the ACLU.

If it all feels like too much and you are considering suicide, please now that you matter, and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for help – 1-800-273-8255.

Much to My Astonishment

I never used to smile at people. If somebody initiated contact, or said hi, I would be polite back, but I was never the initiator, and if there was a smile it was a weak one. I went through life head down (sometimes literally, but mostly figuratively) focused on my destination, or my goal. Amazingly, I rarely got the ever so prevalent, ‘Smile,’ which a lot of women get. Instead, I was called a bitch, or referred to as bitchy. I think that’s because I had perfected my ‘Fuck off!’ vibe. I sent out the aura wherever I went that I was not interested in any sort of interaction, and people must have picked up on it, because I was left alone.

The odd thing is that I didn’t do this to avoid interacting with people. Sure, there were days that I was feeling anti-social, but for the most part I actually craved interaction. I yearned for someone to say hi. To show a modicum of interest in me as a person. To see through my façade and realize how truly lonely I was. But the risk of rejection was too great to face, so instead I made the choice to repel the very people I wanted in my life. I didn’t smile or say hello, because in my head they didn’t want to interact with me. I was an albatross and it was my job to stay away so as not to burden other people with my presence. With my hello. Or with my smile. It was my job to exist as unobtrusively as possible until I reached some place where I had actually been invited. Then, and only then, was I allowed to take up space, interact and smile.

mother-teresa

I lived like this for years. I even bragged about the fact that I was able to navigate crowds of people without a single interaction. Then one day I realized how very sad that was. How many interactions and quick greetings did I miss out on? For all I know, I missed a chance encounter with my soul mate because I was so intent on ignoring every person around me. Who knows?

What finally broke me out of this wasn’t any sort of conscious decision on my part. It was because of my dogs. It is damned near impossible to ignore people when you’re outside multiple times a day with the most adorable and friendly dogs you’ve ever met. Seriously, when the puggles were puppies, people would cross the street to come say hi to them. The managers that worked in the office of my apartment complex would stop what they were doing to come say hi. One of the managers even pointed the puggles out as a perk of living there, while showing prospective tenants an apartment one day. Everybody knew the puggles, and the puggles loved each and every person they met. This happened pretty much everywhere I lived.

Wouldn't you cross the street for these puppies? I would!

Wouldn’t you cross the street for these puppies? I would!

Eventually, the people that I would see over and over again, introduced themselves to me and I became Kat instead of simply the puggles’ mama. I began to smile, say hi and exchange small talk. I definitely wound up in a conversation or two that I couldn’t wait to get out of, but for the most part it was pleasant. It was nice to be recognized and to some degree welcomed. I’ve taken that to a whole new level where I’m living now, as I now consider several of my neighbors friends, and on days that my neighbor’s four-year-old doesn’t feed the puggles dinner, I generally forget until just right before bedtime.

my-bad

Despite this, it occurred to me a couple of years ago, that while I was very friendly when out with my dogs, I reverted back to my aloofness when by myself. Especially at work. Every day for two years I had walked down to the mail room to get the incoming mail at one and then back down to drop the outgoing mail off at five. I saw the exact same group of people almost every day, yet I didn’t know any of their names and had never said hi. So one day, I decided to do an experiment. I swallowed my awkwardness and started to say hi to these people. Much to my amazement, no one was awkward. No one cared that it had taken me two years to warm up and say hello. They all just said hi back, and now on days where I’m not super busy, I’ll even stick around and shoot the shit with some of the guys. It’s nice. And even more amazing to me, is that I have largely become that person who says hi and smiles at just about anybody. Even the ones giving the ‘Fuck off!’ vibe, because you never know.

 

 

My Book is Unintentionally Racist

My book is unintentionally racist. No, not my novel. That one takes place during the Civil War and is intentionally racist. It has to be to claim any sort of historical accuracy. I am talking about my children’s book, 10 Cheeky Monkeys. It’s a counting book that also teaches vocabulary words, and by happenstance because of current events portrays racism. At first I was content to sweep in under the rug and explain it away by evoking my white privilege of “You’re reading too much into it.” But quite frankly, I can’t do that anymore. I am revoking my white privilege and talking about the fact that it’s there. It isn’t something that I can do anything about at this point, I don’t have the money that it would cost to change it, but I can acknowledge that it is there instead of ignoring it.

You see, I’ve come to believe that one of the biggest problems facing us today in regards to race is everyday good people ignoring or not acknowledging racism when they see it. Or not even realizing that it is there, while meanwhile it is a constant thorn in the sides of people of color. Before the Civil War abolitionists had something to fight for: the abolishment of slavery. It was a tangible, worthy goal with easily recorded wins. Lincoln introduced the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War secured the last nail in the coffin lid of slavery. However, something that ingrained isn’t given up that easily. The slave codes were reworded and reworked and largely became the Jim Crow laws. I realize that this is an over simplification and what follows is also a simplification, but I don’t want to bore you with too much of a history lesson, so I beg you to stick with me.

Then came the Civil Rights Movement. Again, there was something tangible to fight against, something to direct the attack. Desegregate, overturn the Jim Crow laws, and end the violence and abject fear that was running rampant in the South. These goals were easily articulated and the wins were easily recorded. However, again, something that ingrained does not go away easily. And I don’t want to harp solely on the South here. There were race riots in New York during the Civil War. In fact, before the war broke out, one of the top proposals of the anti-slavery movement was to stick all of the freed blacks on a boat and send them back to Africa. They weren’t looking for equality, they just didn’t want slavery anymore. Same for the Civil Rights movement. There were plenty of people who were all for blacks having “equal rights,” as long as they didn’t move up north into their neighborhoods. Our country is entrenched in a history of racism, and while the Jim Crow laws were overturned, the sentiments remained.

Our problem today, is that with the advent of cell phone videos and live streaming it is much easier to broadcast the stories of a select group out to a wide audience. And to quote Fannie Lou Hamer, a large majority of the black population is “Sick and tired or being sick and tired.” They are sick of the constant, insidious racism that they encounter every day and tired of it being brushed aside like it’s no big deal. It is a big deal, and unlike the activists of the past, the activists of today don’t have anything they can point to, anything that they can definitively fight against.

Sadly, for some that focus has fallen on the police as it is their onerous job to mete out a lot of this injustice. There are cities in this country that make hundreds of thousands of dollars off their poorest communities from fines and tickets. Guess who has to dole those out? The cops. If they don’t, they lose their jobs. If they do they become the enemy of the very people they have sworn to protect. EVERY ONE is set up for failure in this system. Yes, there are a select few in blue who use their power and position to unduly harass and prosecute the black communities that they are supposed to serve. They are a problem and they need to go. Racism and bigotry have no business in uniform. But even with all of them gone, it is the system as a whole that needs an overhaul.

Even if a fairy godmother could come down and snap her fingers to fix the entire system overnight, we would still have a race problem in this country and the activists of today would still be lacking a handhold for their fight. It is the hearts and minds of the general populace that need to change. But it is a general awareness that is lacking amongst a large portion of the white population that a problem even exists. That is itself one of the biggest problems, and it is perpetuated every time we see or do something racist and let it slide, because, “What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that this country abolished slavery 151 years ago, yet has still failed to systematically treat and address the black population as equal. Don’t believe me, go to Google and type in “Obama monkey.” That is the respect shown to our commander-in-chief. Yes, all presidents get made fun of, but that is not all-in-fun ribbing. Those images are racist. If you’re still skeptical that a problem exists, type in “Leslie Jones Twitter.” That’s just the blatant racism hurled at black people, the subtle, latent racism often sneaks by under the radar of whites. It makes me shudder that we have progressed so little.

So with that said, I am calling myself out. There is a portion of my book 10 Cheeky Monkeys that can be interpreted as racist. Here are the pages next to their inspiration.

Inspiration

I specifically asked my illustrator to add in the police car as a throwback to a piece I did in my portfolio when I graduated from college. I of course can’t find that to add a picture, but it would be of a white guy eating his pizza as fast as he can before the police can come and arrest him. Now here are the pages next to images that are more likely to come to mind with our recent news cycles.

News Cycle

Is it intentional? No.  Does it eerily mirror events that are popping up in the news far too frequently? Yes. Do I personally feel that it perpetuates racist stereotypes? Yes. Do I accept that as the publisher of this book and the one who requested the illustration change, that this is my doing? Yes. Does that make me a racist? No. Does that make my illustrator a racist? Absolutely not. Good, well-intentioned people do racist things every day without realizing that they are doing so. That doesn’t make them racists. However, it is time we started noticing how our words and decisions impact those of color. It is time we unlearn our years of privilege and learn to do better. Myself included.

 

 

F*ck the Hashtags, Give Me Action

I feel sick. In my gut, in my heart and in my soul. I have spent considerable amounts of time studying the backward thinking that caused the Civil War. The oppression that the suffragists fought against, and the stark cruelty and abject depravity of the Civil Rights movement. I wish I could stand back and look at our country today and marvel at how far we have come. But I can’t, because we haven’t gone anywhere. The racism is still there, the intolerance and oppression are still there, and it has got to stop. The indomitable Maya Angelou once said:

Maya

America, specifically white America, you know better, so start doing better. Black men are not inherently dangerous, or the boogey man lurking in the shadows that our ancestors would have us believe. Homosexuals are not backwards or trying to denigrate and ruin your so called family values. Immigrants are not destroying our nation by bringing in their foreign tongues and diverse cultures. So get over yourselves. White is not right, or better. English is not our official national language and Christianity is not our official national religion – because we don’t have either a national language or religion. Why? This map explains the language matter better than I can, and as for religion, the first amendment of our Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Our founding fathers did the best they knew how to create a canvas of tolerance. Sadly we have failed the test of tolerance from day one and we continue to do so today. This country has the potential of being a great melting pot of people and culture and religion, but we will never achieve that if we continue to allow those in power – ie white Christian men – to skim anything different than themselves out of the pot. We will never achieve that if we continue to allow the thinking to pervade that anything different than white and Christian is bad.

Justice

I have great respect for our brothers and sisters in blue who do a largely thankless and hard job. I believe that there are many who do outstanding jobs. However, with that respect comes a higher level of accountability, and it is time to lay that accountability on the table. Blatant racism and prejudice should have no home in a blue uniform and it is time to clean house. It is time that we as a people demand to know what the accountability process is for our local law enforcement. It is time that we investigate what kind of oversight is in place. Is it union-based or strictly in-house? If so, then it is time that we demand there be civilian oversight as well. Police are going to stand up and protect their own, as they should for the most part, but an outside check is severely lacking to provide the needed balance.

Priviledge

Write to your mayor, your governor, your city-councils and let them know that we the people, who elected them, want transparency in our police forces. Write to your representatives and tell them the same. Follow-up. If you sent an email, send a physical letter. If you’ve done both and nothing has happened, make a phone call. If you’ve done all three and nothing has happened, then vote them out in November. There are more than 400 congressional seats up for re-election and innumerable local government seats. Let it be known that this will be a topic not just for discussion, but for action and only those willing to act will get the votes. The time for hashtags is over. Now is the time for action.

Elie quote

*For additional reading, I highly recommend the following articles: What You Can Do About Police Brutality, Concrete Ways to Be an Ally to Black PeopleWhite Silence, The Next Time Someone Says All Lives Matter, What White Folks and Non-Black POC Need to Understand About Systematic Racism, and I Recorded the Racist Things People Did to Me.

Waiting for the Shoe to Drop

A friend and I got into a conversation the other day that has lingered with me. We were discussing how both of us have trouble relaxing and simply enjoying life when things are going well. Those moments when you realize that there are no crises, no fires to be put out, and all of your plates are spinning happily along. Neither of us are able to truly enjoy those moments because we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are waiting for a catastrophe to descend. Which is a pretty bleak outlook on life. And it’s not that either of us are pessimists, or suffer from anxiety. Far from it.

What we do have in common is that both of us had troubled childhoods where we were required to deal with situations way above our maturity level. And deal with these situations on a regular basis. Carefree is not an adjective used to describe either of our pasts. So it’s not that we are pessimists, it’s that our experience tells us that the other shoe WILL drop. Moments of peace and simplicity were often masks for something bubbling up under the surface that would blow at any moment. Therefore, neither of us trust ‘good times.’ In our experience, good times generally end badly. It’s not anxiety, it’s what life has taught us.

Charlie Brown

So the question becomes, how do you reteach yourself that good can be just that – good? Nothing more, nothing hiding underneath. In essence, how do you teach yourself to enjoy being happy? I feel silly even typing that. Who doesn’t enjoy being happy? I’ve come to realize that the answer to that question is, me. Being happy makes me uneasy. I’m sure many other people as well, after all, no human experience exists in a vacuum. So how does one go about the re-teaching process? I’m not really sure, but I came up with some ideas.

  1. Stop actively watching for the shoe to drop. One will drop eventually, but I don’t need to expend energy anticipating and planning for it. I have plenty of tools at my disposable for dealing with it, when it happens. No prep needed.
  2. Find things and do them simply because they are good for me and make me happy. They need hold no other benefit.
  3. Repeat, “I am allowed to be happy and I deserve good things,” on a regular basis.

In fact, I might just write that last one on my mirror at home.

Good things

By Gemma Correll

A Tale of Two Days

Every so often I am reminded of how far I have come. How much more positive and mentally healthy I am. I had one of those stark reminders this weekend. My Saturday went to pot before I had even finished my first cup of coffee. Yet, by the end of the day, everything had managed to come around in my favor. Whoo! Even so, if I had had this day 7 or 8 years ago, the exact same sequence of events, it would have been a drastically different day.

Two Days

I don’t know about you, but I prefer present day Kat’s view on things.

Optimistic

Surround Yourself with Honey

While at a dinner party this past weekend, a friend and I got talking about the basic principle that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. In essence you can get more by being nice instead of an asshole. Then this turned to our observations that here in LA that when you treat some people with respect – namely those in the customer service industry – they are taken aback because the gesture is so completely unfamiliar to them. Both of us found this mind-boggling. I mean we’ve both seen it enough that we weren’t blown away by its existence, but just by the sheer fact that there are so many people out there who operate on a daily basis with such vitriol. Neither of us could understand that. I still don’t. Life is so much better when you surround yourself and work with kind people.

Kindness

Then as if the universe were sending me a test, I woke up the next morning and checked my email to find a rather disquieting message. Before heading out to the dinner party the day before I had sent several messages to publicists to try to get a better idea of what a publicity campaign for a book launch would not only look like, but cost. At first I was thrilled to see that I already had a response from the publicist that had looked the most promising to me. However, when I opened the email, I found this first paragraph:

“You’ve told me absolutely nothing about your novel other than its historical fiction due out in October. So I visited your website and there’s nothing there either. There’s really nothing to chat about at this point. It’s like sending a resume with no information about your job history and wanting to talk to an employer about hiring you. Maybe I missed something on your website but I looked around and could not find a link about your book. If your book is due out in October, now is the time to be contacting reviewers and bloggers. So not only should you be hiring a publicist now, your blog/website should have a lot of information about your book.”

Right off the bat, I had several concerns.

  1. I have no idea how she meant it, but it came across to me as confrontational, which I did not appreciate.
  2. The resume bit – last I checked I was looking to HIRE someone to fulfill a service for ME. I wasn’t aware that I needed to sharpen up my interview skills and prove myself worthy.
  3. If I’m looking to hire a publicist, then one might assume that I don’t know enough about publicity to run my own campaign. Therefore, how would I know that I already need info about the book on my website and that I need to be connecting with reviewers right now?
  4. “So not only should you be hiring a publicist now,” – that’s what I’m trying to do lady. Maybe give me some props for knowing that much?

Needless to say, I did not respond right away. To be completely honest, the email made me upset and I needed to cool down. Then an odd thing happened. I started to explain away and excuse her behavior. Maybe I should have included more information about my book in my initial email? Maybe finding a good publicist is competitive and I do need to compete for their business? Maybe I should have done more research on publicity before reaching out? Maybe I’m the one that screwed up in the exchange and her reaction was totally justified, after all according to her website she’s really good? Wait, what? I was actually thinking this shit! This person first made me upset, and then I made myself feel like I deserved it.

WT Actual F

How the hell did that happen? Wasn’t I just talking about how I didn’t understand behavior like this? Wasn’t I just talking about how I didn’t have room in my life for people that treated me this way? Aha! That’s when I had an epiphany. There are other publicists in the world, I don’t have to work with this woman if I don’t want to. I especially don’t have to pay her money to work with her. I don’t care how good she is, I don’t want to work with someone, or have them representing me, if they feel treating people in that way is acceptable. Not just acceptable, but a legitimate way to conduct business. No thank you. I can still learn from her – build out a page on my website for my book is now firmly on my to-do list – but I do not have to work with her.

It took me about a day and a half to figure this out, and shortly thereafter I received another email from her that was much less confrontational and asked question about my book and actually told me a little bit about what she does. In other words, this should have been the first email she had sent, and had I not had the epiphany, I probably would have written her back and had we wound up working together, the entire experience probably would have been like those first two emails, over and over again. Instead, I responded back to her that I had decided to go a different way with my publicity needs, and I thanked her for her time. Done and done and holy crap did I feel better afterwards.jerk whisperer

Not two hours later, I received an email from one of the other publicists I had contacted. Mind you, with the exact same minimal information as I had provided to this first lady. This new publicist’s email was warm and inviting, thanking me for my interest in their firm. She provided an attachment that detailed different book publicity packages that they offer and said that she looked forward to speaking with me and possibly reading my material in the future. Huh? The exact same information with two polar-opposite responses. Yep, I definitely made the right choice. Thank you universe for that affirmation. Needless to say, I’m talking with this second firm.

Surround yourself with honey, people. Life is too short for vinegar. Not to mention, vinegar has sulfites and I’m allergic to that shit.

Outbreak Monkey

I informed one of my co-workers earlier today, that she was the outbreak monkey of our office. At the beginning of the year she returned from a vacation sick as a dog. She was so sick, she had to go home at lunch, but she was right back the very next day coughing all over the place and breathing everybody’s air. Thus began the outbreak. Ever since, this plague has been passing from one person to the next in our office, which isn’t all that surprising since I don’t work in that big of an office. So far out of 14 employees, 7 have gotten sick and missed work. 7!

Monkey

At first I thought I was safe, because I’m in the lobby which is separated from everyone else. I felt great, and I did my dead-level best to avoid talking to anyone with a sniffle or a cough. I was in the clear . . . until now. Now I have the plague, and I blame the outbreak monkey. Despite my bitterness about this, I did realize something though. While I am clearly sick – my nose is running like a faucet and I’ve got a cough – this thing hasn’t wiped me out like it has everybody else.

Everyone else has missed at least one day of work, because they were so sick they physically couldn’t get out of bed. I’m on day three, and getting out of bed hasn’t been any harder than usual. I mean I would have preferred to stay for a couple more hours this morning, but it wasn’t a necessity. I also haven’t been running a fever, I’m not achy, and my lymph nodes aren’t that swollen. My immune system is actually fighting this sucker off!

Okay, this might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Okay, this might be a bit of an exaggeration.

For the first time since I started this god-awful allergy elimination diet, I’m actually glad that I’m on it! Normally a bug like this would have knocked me flat. Instead, since my body isn’t in a perpetual state of allergic reaction, I can fight off a cold. Whoo-hoo! It’s the small things that make life worth living. Oh, and for those who have asked for an update – asparagus, bananas, and peppermint have been moved to the permanent DO NOT EAT list – coffee, honey, pinto beans and garlic(in small amounts) have been moved to the YOU CAN EAT list. Only 28 more foods to test . . .

Winter Cleaning . . . Because Spring is Too Far Away

Over the past few weeks, I have been on this crazy mission to clean and organize everything in my apartment. My roommate, God bless her, has tolerated my mania and even joined in to take care of her areas. I love me roommate. Well last night I finished . . . okay 95% is done. There are still a couple of little projects but those involve reorganizing something that is already in its proper place. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, I finished last night.

As I looked around my dusted, vacuumed, organized, color-coordinated, alphabetized – just kidding, I didn’t alphabetize anything . . . yet – this profound sense of peace settled over me. I even folded a fitted sheet neatly, that is how Zen I was.

Sheet

I LOVE being in a neat and tidy space. It makes my heart happy. My grandmother would be so proud, I definitely get this from her. It’s not that it has to be sparse, it just has to be neat. A place for everything and everything in its place. I feel like I should cross-stitch that on a pillow or something.

My living space hasn’t looked this good since I was a kid. It’s always close, but there’s always something amuck. Some area that is a disaster area, and I have done this on purpose for years. Growing up I felt as if I had no control over my life. My mother was sick and our lives were ruled by her sickness. Therefore, I found myself something that I could control. Namely, my bedroom. It was pristine, at all times. Everything had a place, and I knew if someone had moved a tchotchke even half an inch. How did I know this? Because I kept such a tight rein on all of my belongings that I would be driven to distraction until it was returned to its correct place. It was the only thing I could control, so half an inch was that important. I can only assume that my friends picked up on this, because when they came over they either put things back exactly where they got it, or gave it to me to put away.

OCD

Sounds pretty OCD, right? That is because I had OCD, a mild case thankfully, but OCD nevertheless. I had to cope with mess and disorder everywhere else, but in my room, everything could be perfect. And there is the reason that I’ve always left something messy as an adult. After leaving college and getting my first place on my own, I discovered the downside in needing things to be perfect. Perfect is a dangerous word, because it is un-achievable and will only make you crazy. Over time, I broke the OCD cycle and have never let myself be completely organized since.

It was earlier this year that it occurred to me, that I’ve come a LONG way since I was that depressed, OCD kid looking for an outlet. A LONG WAY. I no longer need things to be organized, I like them to be organized. Therefore, I decided that it was high time that I love the space I live in. It was high time, for everything to have a place, and for everything to be in its place. A milestone had been reached. To celebrate, I cleaned and organized my entire apartment. I know how to party.

Get Off My Lawn!

I seem to have picked up the habit of not only resisting technological advances, but complaining whenever I am forced to catch up with them. For example, I recently had to upgrade my phone, because not even an old priest and a young priest could fix my old one. Despite the obvious necessity and the fact that having a phone that actually worked was a bonus, I fought the change. I put it off. I complained on social media (yes, I realize the irony of that). And when I was complaining, I adopted the hashtag – #GetOffMyLawn. Because despite the fact that I am in my thirties, I totally feel like the old guy yelling at the neighborhood kids whenever I get all uppity about updating my tech.

114074-Get-The-F-Off-My-Lawn

Flash forward two weeks, and I absolutely adore my new phone. It’s faster, has a longer battery life and the swipe feature still blows my mind. How the heck does that thing work? I have also realized, that since I now have a phone that works I am using it a lot more. Not to call or text people, that has remained the same. The amount of time that I now spend on email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or searching the net has skyrocketed. To a certain degree that’s a good thing. I write historical fiction and historical biographies, that entails a lot of time on the net. I also have to keep myself present and engaged on social media. But I was doing that before, when my phone didn’t work. So clearly, this extra time that I am spending isn’t productive . . . and if it’s not productive . . . then it must be wasteful. Yes?

I mean, how many times does someone really need to check their email in one day? To check their Facebook account? How many times in a day do I get something that needs immediate attention? Ummm, never. I can’t think of a single time. Now I get things that need attention before the end of the day, but I can take care of that by checking my email 2-3 times a day. A couple of hours isn’t going to make a bit of difference. Let’s face it, most of the time I read an email and then ignore it for a couple of hours anyway. Facebook or Twitter? Same thing. I can’t think of a single time that I got something that couldn’t have waited a couple of hours. Therefore, what the hell am I doing checking these things sometimes 4-5 times per hour. Seriously, that’s ridiculous!

lamp-shade-iphone

How much time to I waste everyday by obsessively checking in on all of my accounts? Let’s do the math. I have two email accounts, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Let’s say that I spend one minute on each, each time I check, which is realistic if there’s nothing new to see. So five accounts times one minute, times four times per hour. That’s twenty minutes per hour minimum. If I sleep eight hours a day (ha!), that’s 16 hours awake, which is a little over five and a half hours per day checking to see if there is anything new on social media. That is almost an entire work day! What is wrong with me?

And that doesn’t count the time that I spend playing Mahjong, Yahtzee and Scrabble. No wonder, I’m not as productive as I’d like to be! Therefore, I have new goal. Hence forth, I will be embracing the grumpy-old-man-get-off-my-lawn side of my personality. No one needs to be on their phone that much, so my phone is going to get real cozy with the phone pocket in my purse. At home, it is no longer going to live right by my side. I survived growing up having to get up to answer the phone, so I can as an adult too. I’m tired of feeling chained to the damn thing. Therefore, get off my lawn, and don’t expect to get an immediate response from me. I’m disconnecting.

Disconnect