Monthly Archives: August 2012

Things that I’m pretty sure only happen to me…

Having two separate overdue library books both entitled Blackout.  Oops.


I am but mad north-north-west, but when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

I am but mad north-north-west, but when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

I’ve been holding onto these photos and parts of this post while I suffer a severe depressive episode these last couple of weeks. Touching the topic is so painful, like recoiling from a hot stove.

I want to admit that I have depression, that you can be smart and hard-working and depressed, no matter how hard you work not to. Hoping to help erase the stigma.

I don’t want to admit that I have depression, to avoid what people might think of me, my friends, my co-workers, my future employers. I’m pretty sure it’s considered bad branding to admit you have a mental illness; that you don’t wake up every single day with go and vive, full of energy and marketing insights.

I’m lucky – have decent insurance that covers my great therapist who works nearby and pile of meds, a super supportive husband, the experience of having gotten through one of these before, having depression and not a more stigmatized mental illness – and yet there are days after days that I drag myself through.

And there are days after days that I don’t. All of those things make me a healthier person, able to wake up with go and vive, happy for all the adventures the day might hold.

I can’t even imagine what would happen if that suddenly all disappeared on me one day. If I depended on this city-run clinic for my care, which was closed because of “lack” of funds. I would drown in the anxiety of such changes and I can’t imagine that these people aren’t.

And yet they protest. Chalking a building is such a simple thing, not so hard to do, but such a statement. This used to be our savior, now it’s just another empty storefront in our neighborhood. Chicago might be short of money, but we all need, we all deserve, to get help. Help to get us through the day without crying or panic, with the peace of the southern wind.

Part of what inspired me to finally write was this CNN article on going public with depression, and reading the archives of The Bloggess.

Educationally Greedy

I’ve always loved the back-to-school season.  Freshly sharpened pencils, un-bent notebooks, and the like. But what I’ve loved the most is the excitement of new classes.  Even in high school I would pore over the class catalog, despite that I didn’t have many options. Anything odd, though, I fit in – Latin, grammar class with diagramming sentences, independent study AP art.

College was a smorgasbord of choices.  I ended up as a Women and Gender studies major simply because it allowed me to take the widest range of classes.  I did the basics – stats, data analysis, introduction to sociology, psychology, and art history – but I never could turn down a class on dress theory or poison cults.  Looking back, I can’t imagine how lucky I was, that I had the opportunity to learn so much on so many things.

One of my few regrets in not continuing on to my PhD was that excitement of regularly picking and learning ended.  Enter Coursera.  I can sign up for anything?  And as much as I want?  As you can imagine, I’ve enrolled in nearly everything.  To do all of the classes I would have to pull constant all-nighters and stop working, talking to my husband, bathing.  I know I’ll have to evaluate and cut down, but the joy of “shopping” for education after so many years wasn’t something I could say no to.  I’m even excited about doing intro to stats again.

If you could take a class in anything, what would it be?  Why?


Walrus Workout

Wouldn’t you want to workout with a walrus too?

The Pressure of Presentation

A couple of days ago one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah from Pink of Perfection, said:

 Everywhere we look, it seems, is something to aspire to: a better wardrobe, a better dinner, better snapshots of that dinner, better blog design, a better home. And the effect isn’t inspiring to me, it’s exhausting. My life does not look like that, even at its best, we think. And more than once it has made me stop and look at the photo I snapped of a simple steak dinner on Saturday night and think twice about posting it to this blog.

 I’m fascinated by the concept of creating self on the internet so this really spoke to me.  Even though she knows that that’s the best of other’s lives, she can’t help but compare.  This is particularly interesting since she’s a veteran lifestyle blogger, someone who creates a presentation of a beautiful life.  If she feels the pressure, how does everyone else feel?

One take-away from this post that I think is important for everyone, bloggers and marketers alike is the urge for authenticity.  Sarah says it, her commentators say it; it’s the drive behind the meme “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You”. In a world of curated lives and slick pictures, we look for some sort of inherent truth.  Something that we can connect with, that feels more like our lives than a perfect photo shoot.

So why a move from authenticity?  I think she really got it when she mentioned professional blogging.  So much of the social media community has become about selling – yourself, your “brand”, someone’s product.  It’s commoditization of the personal, and on the surface I can see a lot of the appeal.  Who wouldn’t want to make a living being ‘themselves’?

However, to be successful you can’t just be normal person, something has to bring the readers and followers and thus the money.  So you buff and polish to make yourself the most attractive of all.  And it is all a numbers game.  Multitudes of classes teach aspiring bloggers how to get more hits, improve their SEO by linking and tagging.  Social media is lousy with “follow me and I’ll follow you”, link-bait, and even buying followers.

Of course we all want to be liked.  There’s a reason why I write these thoughts online instead of in a paper journal, that I post links and comment, but I think for a lot of people it’s gotten beyond that.  When your life is your job (or you’re trying to make your life your job), everything gets a lot more complicated.  To (generally) be successful, you have to focus on the image/brand first, reality second.

I think this urge for authenticity will lead to a greater refinement of presentation of self – just enough imperfect to be relatable, but not enough to be unpolished or unmarketable.  There’s a really great discussion on the snark site GOMI on how many bloggers used “Thing s I’m Afraid to Tell You” as a way to polish their image instead of being actually revealing.

Some Stats on Stats



I wanted to make a scatterplot full of points to represent my confusion, but it always looked too sensical.


Hard time getting going this morning

Hard time getting going this morning


Tragedy of the Commons: the new Gawker/Jezebel commenting system

Originally the grazing land in the middle of a town or village was free for all to use.  Then it got corded off, for the use of the few not the many.  Public space became private.

Jezebel and the other Gawker blogs were never technically a public space.  They’ve always belonged to Nick Denon.  Despite that, people created their own community there, apart from Gawker’s goals, a place of communication and connection.  It was, as some might say, a safe space policed by community norms and connections, cherished by its members.

That all changed recently with new policies on commenting.  From rewarding controversial comments to allowing anonymous burner accounts, Denton changed the entire norms of the community.  In essence, it was a digital tragedy of the commons.

Not surprisingly, this was devastating to many of the members.  No longer was it a place to connect and have what felt like intimate conversations.  Denton had said

The real tragedy: the triumph of mediocrity. People with time on their hands drown out more valuable contributors. We’ve all designed discussion systems with the most avid commenters in mind. We’ve given them stars and moderating powers and allowed them to develop cliques and a sense of ownership that shades into entitlement.

But is controversy or ostensible quality really more profitable than community loyalty?  Than strong and intimate relationships?  (Thinking on the billions spent to build brand loyalty, I would think not).

One thing I wanted to pull from this is that, although the internet feels like public space, it is almost all owned by someone else.  Everything we use from Gmail to Facebook isn’t ours and isn’t a non-profit.  Someone is making money or trying to on our intimacy, from puppy pictures to our bank information to gossip about that girl we know from college.  This isn’t to paint all internet companies as evil or a giant conspiracy, merely to note how invisible that ownership is when it comes to online spaces.

Why I don’t like Twitter

My husband put our (my) french press away in the wrong place and in my despair I almost thought about using Twitter:

My husband put away the french press in the wrong place.  This is the meanest thing he’s ever done to me.

Other caffeine deprived will feel my pain!  But then I realized that I didn’t want to deal with the replies I would get:

Oh that sucks  

If you hired our MR company we give you coffee

French press 60% off

Oh that sucks

So envious you just got up!  I get up at 4 for a 10m run and then sooooo much work


I realized that what I really wanted was one person responding That’s what you got for marrying a tea drinker followed by a 20 minute conversation on trying to  make my own paper filter for my press because making coffee without a filter increases cholesterol and for some reason I care even though we don’t eat animal products in our house anymore because my husband has high cholesterol and vitamin D is significant for stuff.  Also the weather because that’s important to talk about in the Midwest.

And then s/he’d come over with more coffee and contraband donuts and I’d make some pretty charts and edit my friend’s stuff and maybe get some help with the  html tags for this post and  maybe we’d watch Honey Boo Boo while cringing.

To me, Twitter is a way of being there without being there at all.

So Many Ideas Bouncing Around My Head

This is the most brilliant, cohesive story on the joys and cons of having a highly-popular personal blog.