Anti-Social (Media)

I am taking a break from social media this week. No Facebook, no Instagram, no sharing, no liking, just pure ignorance about the blow-by-blow activities of all the vague acquaintances that I have acquired in the course of my young life and updates on dreadful news. I stopped Friday morning after waking up, rolling over in bed, and reaching for my phone to waste precious minutes of my time on earth learning that some person I met years ago and I don’t actually keep in touch with is on vacation in Greece. In case you ever want to feel jealous and unsatisfied with your existence, look at vacation pictures from Greece.

I have been trying to wean myself off social media through various measures for a while now, but nothing has worked, so I’m giving abstinence a go. There are some exceptions – Twitter, which I never really got into and doesn’t hold much temptation, I still look at for weather information. I’m also still logged into the Facebook Messenger app, because I’m a part of some group text threads, but again, it’s not something that I ever become more attracted to than straight up texting. Thank goodness I never took up Snapchat to begin with.

It’s the endless scrolling and desire to share random stylized moments of my life that I want to avoid. I don’t think that I would find Facebook or Instagram so evil if I glanced at them once a week or so, but right now it’s a central form of mindless procrastination that sucks away a lot more time than I like to admit. My dream is to live in a world where I spend no more than fifteen minutes each week using these platforms, and unlike my dream to live in Argentina half the year, I think this dream is totally achievable.

Study after study has found that social media can be bad for mental health. But more importantly, I know its bad for MY mental health. Life is rough enough without being able to instantly compare my life to the perfectly curated versions of ever person I’ve ever met, and I don’t feel like I’ve gained much being able to see what these people share.

Plus, when I think back to the best moments of my life, and the most meaningful ways I spend my time, social media never makes it on that list. I want to call and email people more, take the time to write in my blog, deepen connections with real people, and be more present. And I know I’m not the only one – even the Tech editor of the New York Times recently wrote about his experience taking about two months off from all social media and online news(!). My sister-in-law is on vacation from Instagram herself, and one of my best friends from college hasn’t been on Facebook for years.

I’m not sure I will ever pull the plug entirely on Facebook and Instagram, and I don’t mean to dismiss their upsides, but I’d just like get to the point where it’s a thing I use, rather than something that uses me.

(Anyone want to buy me a paper subscription to the NYT?)

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What May Be

Did I mention that May was going to be a crazy month? Last weekend I was out of town  for a wonderful birthday fete, next weekend my mom is in town (woohoo!) and the last weekend in the month I am back in California for work.

Given all the craziness, I’m trying to get as much done as I can in my free time, and writing a new blog post is on my to-do list. Unfortunately, I find myself rather uninspired today. I will blame it on the heat.

(Although what I should really blame it on is my own dissatisfaction with myself this week. Somehow I became a lazy, passive lump, stuck in my head, and inertia overcame my best efforts to be otherwise. This is not really the person I think of myself as or want to be, and as mentioned I was trying to break myself out of it, really truly! Today I resorted to drastic measures – I ran 5k, went to Pilates, cleaned my apartment, made/ate popovers, bicycled over to a practice tango with a friend, finally put my bike in the building’s bicycle room, and I have been doing my best to be mindful. But probably the best thing that happened to me today was the half-hour conversation with my mom this morning in which she gave me a great cheerleader speech and made me feel like I can do it, whatever that ‘it’ may be. I am such a lucky duck. Tomorrow will be better, and next week will be better. Huzzah for new days and for fresh starts.)

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The Good Life

One of the problems – many problems – with social media is that people can tend to highlight only the good and never the bad, leading to the incorrect assumption that everyone else is leading lives of perfect glamour, while lowly you is just trying to keep your head above water. I hope that I do not give this impression overly much on this blog.

That said, some moments in life really are that good.

These last few weeks have been a bit tough. I have been in job search mode, which is a process that manages to be incredibly time consuming, tedious, and nerve-racking all at once. Between running around trying to “network” and apply for jobs and take care of my day-to-day, I have been stretched at the seams. I saw the numbers on the scale go up due to mindless stress munching, and lord knows that my bathroom has not been thoroughly cleaned in a month. Ew.

But as of this week things are finally turning around. The weather has switched from endless chilly spring to 80 degrees with sunshine. I have a few inquires from employers regarding job applications that I sent out ages ago, I am remembering to eat my vegetables – not just ice cream – and today is the day that I finally deep-clean my bathroom.

And then last night I stayed out too late tango dancing, I woke up early to have a lovely morning walk in the warm spring air to Pilates, and stopped by a favorite restaurant of Mark’s and mine on the way back to get a selection of miniature pastries and iced coffee, with which I was able to surprise and delight my sweet and handsome boyfriend who awaited me at home. These last few hours I know that life couldn’t possibly get better and felt like the luckiest woman alive.

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Margaritas

My goals for this year have shifted. I’m getting a new job! No idea what it will be yet, but it will happen! I’ve been with my current employer for ages, and I am simply ready for a new challenge of some sort. I’m also not sure when this new job will come about, but rest assured I realize that it’s going to take a lot of time.

In the meantime, I am busy achieving other aims. Such as using up the bag of citrus fruit that I bought on impulse for a good price at the grocery store. I goaded Mark into deploying his latent cocktail making skills and languishing tools to make some delicious lime-blood orange margaritas yesterday. I made enchiladas and flan to go with them, and the enchiladas tasted like my childhood, and the flan was dangerously good. We feasted like kings and queens and ate the leftovers today.

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My mother arrives next weekend for the DC march regarding gun control. I so excited for her visit, although I’m not sure when I’ll find time for the frantic cleaning spree that I really ought to squeeze in. Hmm. If only house cleaning were as tasty as Margaritas.

It was a long week.

It was a long week. Or rather, make that a long two weeks. New York totally drained me, my hazy career prospects have me feeling low, last weekend I was busy from dawn ’till dusk, and then this weekend I was busy putting away all the things that I took out last week so that my walls and ceiling could be repaired and painted. Today I did four loads of laundry, including washing both sets of sheets and the duvet cover on my down comforter. I am behind studying for the GRE and basic math still drives me to tears. I am on my last roll of toilet paper and need go buy mouse traps, because yes, I did see a mouse run under my oven late last Sunday. This morning I woke up stressed that I was late to work, and despite waking up on time, managed to be late to yoga and they didn’t let me in. No, I have not done my taxes yet.

However.

A) Mark took me out on my Christmas present last Friday- dinner and a Yo-Yo Ma concert. Such an incredible treat! Shout out to Mark for helping me move furniture, tackle boxes, and replace light bulbs yesterday as well. He also took me in last week while I was homeless due to the repair work. My hero!

2) My walls look awesome. I would take pictures except some slightly damp laundry is scattered about my rooms to dry. Also, I am pretty much DONE moving back in! (I gave up on organizing my closets properly and just ended up shoving things back in this afternoon – that is a challenge that will have to wait for another day.)

3) Thank goodness for tango dancing. It’s so nice to have a hobby that makes me feel competent, allows me to always be learning, and gets me out of my DC bubble. I almost always walk away from it feeling calmed and rejuvenated.

I am hanging in there.

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Blarg.

Between work and some social engagements I was going, going, going, this week until I dropped last night at 6pm. Since my drywall/plaster repair/painting folks arrive tomorrow morning, I had to get up bright and early today, too, to start boxing and bagging up my things. As a result, my external surroundings now mirror my internal chaos. Either physically or metaphorically,  everywhere I look lately I see something like this:

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Blarg! Back to work on all fronts…

Cozy

It is a dreary day. The weather is 34 degrees and it is raining. Yesterday it was equally cold (but no rain) and I made Carbonade Flamande, a beef stew made with dark Belgian beer. It takes ages to cook and the final result is ugly but incredibly delicious, and goes perfectly with the weather. I was looking forward to the Carbonade so much – and having Mark over for dinner to partake with me – that this morning when it was all over, stew eaten and Mark gone home, I felt quite bereft.

So I filled the void by making bread. A ridiculously rich bread that for me used up the leftover cream from last night’s chocolate mousse topping. I’ve made it before, and baker beware that this bread is way too delicious, but otherwise I recommend it. I just popped one loaf in the oven, while the other half of the dough has been shaped and frozen for future consumption.

Otherwise, all is well in my little world. Last weekend’s adventure to Ann Arbor for tango festival was restorative and soothed my soul, and rekindled my love of dancing over a bit of winter hiatus. This weekend all I’ve wanted to do is hibernate, which I have done with great success. I’ve been feeling lazy and day-dreamy and cozy, watching murder mysteries, finishing a book, thinking of Italy and wishing for home while I putter and bake. I feel unmotivated but utterly content. Some weekends are like that.

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