Monday, December 27, 2010

He Followed Me!! Why it Matters.

Hi all, 3AM here and I have to be up again at 5 to go catch my plane to TX. So hopefully I can say this quick and  pop back to bed.

Chris Brogan followed me back this week, and I am still celebrating. Early in my experience of this whole crazy twitter thing, I purchased a book by Chris & co-author Julian Smith, called Trust Agents. I downloaded it to my Nook and read it, just as I was getting started with Twitter and I was still in first stages of the learning curve, feeling quite lonely and isolated. The book promised that if I began to engage in a genuine way, to help others, & to create content, that my experience of social media would improve dramatically. It asked me to become a "trust agent" myself.

Now I KNOW Chris follows more than 100,000 people- someone joked to me today that they believe he follows back anyone who is "clearly not a bot." So it's not like I expect our level of connection to go up significantly by this act. But it was still an emotional, personal, and symbolic victory for me. This was a milestone moment and I wasn't shy about telling him (via two carefully NOT AUTOMATIC direct messages) and neither was I afraid to celebrate publicly with my Twitter friends. Tease me as they might, (some justification- I *am* a fangirl) there are good reasons why I celebrate Chris.

Here are some:

1) In the book, Chris & Julien suggest that the newbie go to twitter, create an account, and type in a status update that says "reading trust agents." When I did this, Chris replied to my @ with a "thank you." He has 167,000 followers, but clearly he either watches or pays someone to watch for him. Either way, he was one of the first people EVER to message me or interact with me directly, and I remember it made an impression.

2) Chris is the reason I participated in my first ever "chat," because he promoted it and I was curious. The experience was frenetic and intense, and it prepared me for understanding what I had stumbled upon later when I bumped into the #usguys for the first time.

3) When I was watching another chat recently, people began praising Chris & his book. When I teasingly told him they were talking about him and invited him via an @ message to stop by #cmgrchat  not only did he drop in, he dropped in to PASS the praise ON to his co-author, Julien. He also said hello to me- by name. In front of a lot of people. This made me feel great, and showed that he goes with the flow, pays attention to what's happening, gives credit to others, and knows how to treat fangirls ;)

and finally

4) I kept teasing him with opportuities to become a follower, and he finally followed me back right after Christmas. When I DMd him, he ALSO took the time to DM me back and thank me for connecting. Very, very few people have ever done this. This guy is the real deal.

As a result, Chris has a very devoted fan in me. I consider him to be a role model, and hope to keep following in his footsteps on this strange and fantastical journey.

A couple of other milestone moments this week: I also hit 500 followers around Christmas, and another mentor & role model, Dave Peck, also followed me back this week. Feeling very good about Twitter these days.

Love from your favorite insomniac, Jackie

Friday, December 24, 2010

Open Letter to Chase & Josepf and ...Heck I decided to let you all read it ok

Hi Chase & Josepf & Jon & Sam & rest of you,

I am in an odd space so thought I would include you all instead of having so many private conversations. I'm really NOT good with email so bear with me (I do email as a career but this is a different kind.)

OK. I joined the channel on Dec 1. I stumbled in by accident. I'm not a social media expert nor even trying to pretend to be one. Tribe welcomed me in with open arms. I am a jumper so I went with it. In short order I was having so much fun playing around & socializing with people that I was totally. in. love. People just walked right in to my life and the whole thing took my breath away. Sounds exaggerated, but I'm 100% kind of gal. If I'm in something, it's fanatical love & loyalty all the way.,

So then the other night something happened and I got my feelings hurt. I think you were all there, maybe not Jon. But he walked onto the scene while I was still crying. I am easy to hurt, but I would usually get over it just as fast left to my own devices. 

Enter Josepf and Chase. you guys clearly had some kind of disagreement to do with Hashable and it spiled over onto me. Now I dearly love Josepf after a few weeks of tweeting & stuff, and barely know Chase, let's be honest. Our schedules are different and so are our temperaments. I'm hyper and he's all cool. So while still angry and upset, I went and talked to my big J and my oldest twitter friend Jon and same night I went and made up #ifthen island. I burned my "doghouse" list and killed off @usguyssanta and deleted the "marry me" list, and wrote #usguys out of my profile. Yeah, I am an impulsive kind of Aries gal. 

So I did this because I love Josepf, BUT I quickly found I love the #bigtribe even more. CRAP. So then I tried to turn the #ifthen into a kinder, gentler kind of social-club spinoff group starting yesterday and tonight. I threw a virtual party tonight, and we rocked the house. It was so much fun I got twitterjailed. It was a nice thing and I want to do it again.

That's where I've been. So now I go and have a heart-to-heart with Chase. And more of, CRAP, I don't want to have to choose between Josepf+#ifthen parties and Chase+#usguys tribe. So I am in quite a double-bind here and my thought is, screw it, I'm throwing in the towel because I can't win this one. If I split the tribe and pull people over to play on my island without the sanction of the core #usguys members, I'm doing something that doesn't feel right. If I go back to the big tribe, I feel like I'm betraying Josepf and I also haven't been feeling at all welcome back on the channel as my usual jokester self. I left and the tribe seemed to go on just fine without me. Sucks.

The whole hashable thing is a total wash for me. I don't care what stats I have or how much hashcred. I just liked being creative with fellow tribe friends and the bonds that formed around coffee and beer jokes. (IRL I don't drink either coffee or beer v often, LOL, I get hot chocolate at Starbucks people ;)

So here's what I think. I'm shutting down the island for now at least until after the vacation. Easy to open, Easy to close. Done. If Josepf want to try and carry it on, he can. But I don't have the heart to do it anymore.

I'm going back to the bigtribe starting now. And I am going back to being my usual, high-volume, self-twitterjailing, social media addict with a penchant for a fast joke and a smart-aleck reply. And if anybody critiques me for it, I'll trust my #usguys close pals to give them the what-for. I should have before. Was caught off guard, having nothing but goodness from you all for weeks straight.

Finally, if we want to do a spinoff group from #usguys I want it official. After chatting with Chase, I believe I agree that the founding 5+ core team have a right to input, even if the tribe has now moved beyond control of so few people. Maybe it's time for something democratic- put things to the whole active and let them decide. But I don't want to be in charge cuz I suck at it. You guys decide what you are doing and I'll follow.

Josepf & Chase. Kiss and make up, dammit. If you go your separate ways you will utterly break my heart. You are both talented and amazing people. Find a common ground and get on it. Pronto. Or.. or.. I won't speak to either of you. No Jackie love 4 either of you till you make the tribe whole.

Finally, an appeal. Please, all of you, refrain from making me cry. I didn't know you could do it until you did. So stop it already. 



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rambles in Wonderland

Well, I went and tipped off the #usguys tribe that I'd attempt a post tonight. Saturday and the kids are sleeping, hubby content in own world of computer games, couple of glasses of wine, rain on my windows. Peaceful.

There's just no real way to follow up the last post regarding the #usguys discovery. Sorry to disappoint, guys, but not gonna try. It's brewing, but some things are so far beyond 140 that they are beyond words. So instead I will use the usual tactic of rambling about other things until whatever I need to say gets out. I've been on twitter so heavily this week that it feels utterly foreign to be able to use full sentences again. Adjustment period needed. 

First, a sad story that has colored my week strongly. A young lady I know lost her newborn baby this week suddenly and tragically. I still have not had any details back, as my own family has had the flu, which kept us away from my husband's family. We learned about it from a call with his parents the other night. This tragedy was to a family of neighbors and longtime friends across the street from my in-laws, who live in the same town as us, close by. The lady in question is about my age and has other children, two of them roughly the same ages as my own. Her younger brother was my husband's childhood best friend, so although I was only slightly acquainted with the family I am just close enough to feel it pretty badly, and just far enough away to be utterly helpless do do anything to help. Awful, awful feeling. It just hit me pretty hard because my own kids are still babies themselves, really, and it's just one of those scary reminders life hands me sometimes, that says "you are not in control, you cannot protect the ones you love, you cannot predict what will happen, you are very small indeed, in the scheme of things." Maddening.

So that night in my first upset, I had a choice of places and people to reach out to. Of course, Matt (my husband) got the tears and the hugging and was my first and only real shoulder to cry on. But oddly, my next move was to drop a line right into the #usguys stream. A few minutes later, two different twitter "friends" were offering sympathy & friendship. I then spent a largely sleepless night. My two year old baby girl, Minnie, was also sick, and had thrown up just before bed, so I had her in bed with me and she was keeping me awake with her restless tossing. 2AM found me tweeting again. More warmth. 5AM, more tweets.

This was strange. Normally I would reach out to my "real" friends. Why didn't I call up my best friend in the world? She would probably have been awake. Why not turn to Facebook, where 99% of my connections are people from my "real life"? Why turn to twitter, which is a motley collection of strangers, many of whom have ulterior motives and hidden, or not-so-hidden, agendas? So on reflection, I do think it was a little odd. Online relationships have a strange magnetism.

I met one of my first boyfriends on the web, back in 1997. I nearly married a second boyfriend, in 1999, that I also met on the web. Neither of those relationships worked well in the end, but they had the same kind of intensity that is happening with my twitter experience.

My husband and I, on the other hand, met in person in college. He was seated at a table in the cafeteria with a collection of my friends. I was handing round party invitations to my birthday party. I handed him one, and he read it carefully. A moment later, he tapped me on the shoulder. "Um... Excuse me? I don't know you." he said. I just laughed and said, "I know!" and he was like,"Am I really invited?" and I said something along the lines of, "Dude, you're sitting with my friends, you are going to become my friend soon anyway, so why not?" That was the beginning of a relationship, too. So I guess all things begin with strangers, in some way.

Even so, the whole emotional tone of this week has been utterly strange. I am an alien wandering in an alien landscape. I can't tell you how many times this week someone has said, "Oh, yes, twitter. I don't see the point." I just look at them, and there Are. No. Words.

What can I say? I don't understand it, either.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

@jackinessity, @Twitter & #UsGuys: A Love Story

I’ve tried a couple of times this week to write something about this, but words have been failing me. As the picture indicates, today I am beginning to be sick with symptoms of the flu and am even less lucid than usual, but I am determined to leave this page open until this post is done.

A bit of backstory first, as I know when I share this it will be the first visit for many. I work in Silicon Valley, CA and am in the semiconductor industry. My company had a layoff in October of this year, and I was quite shaken by it, even though I kept my job. For one thing, my husband takes care of our young children as a stay-home Dad (by choice), so I am the breadwinner of the family. With our financial stability at stake, I decided to hunt for other work just in case.

In this awakening and subsequent job hunt, I began interacting with a few people using my previously dormant Twitter account. 

It started with in Palo Alto. I applied for a position, and as part of their application process, I was required to find the hiring manager and other employees in social media, wherever they might be, and to get to know them. 

 So, that got me started, and then I also followed people at other companies I was interested in working for. I followed people that I had interviewed with or spoken with about my job hunt. Then, I started looking at their “following” lists, and followed people who looked interesting or worked at local startup companies that also might be hiring. I was mostly listening, but had a few significant interactions that piqued my interest in the medium even more.

 I have been a heavy Livejournal user in the past, and switched over to using Facebook as my folks migrated over. But with those tools, I used social media as a tool to reach out to people I already knew. This Twitter thing was different. Most of the people I was listening to were total strangers.

At first I was lost in the “noise” of Twitter. Gradually, something gently shifted. I found out that I could talk to someone much more “important” than myself, and that if I was clever enough in my “tweet,” that they might say something back. I began to understand the conventions of retweeting. People thanked me for my retweets, and thus I learned that to RT was a compliment.

Through this gentle, slow acclimation, I found my first handful of twitter “friends.” These were people who I could talk directly at using their @username, and reliably count on a response. We began joking together, holding leisurely, day-spanning conversations back and forth in response to trending topics and news, or sharing useful and relevant blog posts.

I also experienced and participated in several “viral” twitter events, like the #iamspartacus #twitterjoketrial,  or @nerdyappleblossom’s blog post about her son’s Halloween costume.

I downloaded and read @chrisbrogan’s book, Trust Agents, and participated in my first ever chat, #mmchat. Basically, I got comfortable in Twitter and began to sense just how extraordinary the medium could be.

This is getting much lengthier than I intended, so let’s fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I was relaxing in my main “stream,” as at that time I didn’t have any other. One of the people I was following posted an article that interested me, about getting things done. At the end of his tweet was the #usguys hashtag. Now, by this time I habitually made up joke hashtags, so I thought this was just an off-the-cuff invention.

I gently chided the user, @IanMRountree, thinking that he was underrating women in only directing his useful article to what I presumed was a masculine audience. He cheerfully replied to include #usgirls, and that could very well have been the end of the story. But something made me click on the hashtag, and then it dawned on me that this was not just a throwaway, but linked up a whole group of people. I’m sorry to say that my first act was to scold them for the #usguys handle! (Little did I know.)

 So, needless to say if you are reading this coming from the #usguys stream, I was hit immediately with an enthusiastic #ringthetribalbell from @REALChaseAdams. 

 The next day I had at least 10 new “followers.” Not only that, but people were talking to me, people I had never talked to before. This got my attention, as it had NEVER happened before to me on twitter. (I was always trying to get someone ELSE to talk to me, before.) I was thinking, who are these people??  Soon afterward, I found Chase’s #usguys explanation page, and things started to make more sense.  

What can I say? I joined the tribe. More people talked to me. I made more friends. Some of my existing twitter friends joined the tribe. The next thing I know, I was offering to meet people in person, in San Francisco. Now I’ve organized at least four meetups, adventures yet to come.

#iamsohooked #whatisthis #whatsnext


Love, Jackie AKA @jackinessity

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upside Down

Things have veered strangely again. I am just holding on, trying to keep up. This past week I stumbled into a chat channel in twitter called #usguys. It's a fast moving, high energy adventure in Social Media.

My real job at work is unpleasant right now. My immediate supervisor has quit, leaving a hole in our sales team, and they got rid of my couterpoint on the tactical marketing team, leaving me in the full glare of displeasure of the tactical marketing director, who I don't interface with very well.

I can't keep up there, either. Today I came home very sick with a random fever. On the other hand, I'm still employed when I kind of didn't expect to be, given all that's been going on. All of my job prospects have fallen through, so I guess I just have to start over again from the beginning.

Christmas is coming. I just have to keep turning the pages for now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Midnight Thoughts, November Musings

It may not be evident from the posts, which are somewhat scattered and bemused, much like the tumultuous thoughts that created them, but I am on a journey. Quest. Thing.

Hard for me to stay serious, and yet I am very much so. This week I received news that a good friend of my parents has esophageal cancer tumors which have spread to his lymph nodes. Previously we knew he had cancer, but of a different type and we believed him to be done with treatment. There's nothing quite like a shock to remind me that my parents, too, are aging. As are my grandparents, who are all still alive. I have yet to taste real loss and grief, but this is a reminder that it touches us all at some point. Suffering is part of life, and death is inescapable. Inevitable.

I hate to make this at all about me, but I have to say I am coming to terms with death. At this point I feel proud of my life thus far, warts and all. I know my husband, relatives and friends would do their best to protect and raise my children. I do not want to die! Neither do I believe in fate, or passivity in the face of it if it did exist. Aging and illness, on the other hand, still disturb me deeply. Suffering. I don't like to see my parents suffering from sadness and grief even as their friend still lives and gathers his spirits to fight for more time.

Like I said, I don't want to make this about me (even though I already have) because I am struggling now at what I very earnestly believe to at last be the turning point of a major path in my life's journey. No, not finding a new job. Not exactly to do with death or illness or aging, not exactly to do with age. Call this an intuition, or an epiphany.

I have been seeing a therapist for the past several years for what originally appeared as a vague anxiety and a procrastination block around grading student papers when I was teaching classes at San Jose State. The type of therapy he uses is called Narrative Therapy, and focuses on externalizing problems using language and then re-telling the story, using different choices and paying attention to things that the person is perhaps unconsciously missing. This is gross oversimplification, of course, but is enough to put what I am saying in the proper context.

Over the course of the two years, I have come to view this therapy as a journey that I am on from the depths of misery and loneliness, to the opposite place of happiness, inner peace, joy, and connectedness. Several months ago my therapist made some indications that he thought I was doing alright now, and asked me what I wanted to work on next, given that the original problem seemed to be gone. I have changed careers, no longer need to grade papers, and no longer suffer from the kind of fear, doubt, or shame about my job performance that originally drove me to seek help.

I surprised myself (and him, I think) by absolutely panicking at the thought that therapy might be over. Later I told my good friend, "Here is where I started. Here is where I want to go. I am only HALFWAY THERE." It's not enough for me to not be miserable. It's not enough to not be ashamed. It's not enough to be doing "Just OK." I downright, flat-out refused to settle for humdrum. I wondered if I wasn't just being melodramatic at the time, but at the same time I felt just the tiniest touch of pride. That's right, pride- the opposite of shame. Shame was at the root of my problem, and when I refused to settle for ordinary unhappiness, I think that was the start of truly changing direction. I am proud of myself for asking for help. I am proud of the work I have done thus far. And I will not back down halfway to happiness. No way, nohow!

So this was a couple of months ago, and yet, things seemed back to ordinary again. I'm doing my job, loving my children, staying connected to my husband, keeping up with my family. I've been reading books and writing in this blog and then in August I joined Twitter.

Nothing seemed to be happening. Nothing seemed to have changed at all, not for better, not for worse. Then something did start to happen, but it's been so gradual and imperceptible that I have hardly realized it was happening. The little touch of pride started to grow, and to turn a little more solid, day by day, week by week. It's like before I was standing on sand that kept shifting under my feet. Sometimes it would be still, and then without warning I would slip and slide. Now I feel like something has firmed up underneath me. There's this little bit of stability and every time I reach in and touch it, I touch joy, and peace, and happiness. Doesn't that sound strange? I can hardly trust it yet. I still feel a bit delicate, like I'm not sure any of this is for real.

But I was lying here listening to heartbreakingly beautiful music tonight, and something just happened. I looked back. I looked at where I was two years ago. I looked at where I am now. And I realized I am MORE than halfway there. I have successfully turned the ship and pointed the helm in a new direction. And you know what? I'm not afraid. Scared, but not bad scared, good scared. Butterflies in tummy scared. Stage fright scared.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that this is going to be easy! Wherever I am going next, it has taken me two years of hard, hard work to do this. This is what I am proud of. Not giving up. Not giving in. So I know the way ahead will be plenty hard. In fact, I think I am just about to start working harder than I ever have before in my entire life! Because I know now that this little fragile bit of stability is just the beginning. Now I have to take this little piece of self and jump right back off of it again to move past the self, through the pride, and on to reaching out to others. The sooner I have the full self the sooner I can find the strength to really change the world.

How's that for ambition? Good night, universe. If I'm going to start changing the world, I better start by getting  some needed rest!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Photo Moment 2: Story of a Mug

Well, here I am and it's a bit of a slow Friday afternoon. I was thinking of my realization that I might want to add in a few visual elements to my blog, given my tendency to use words only, and lots of them.

So, this is the story of a mug. The mug, pictured, is from Cooper & Chyan, a company that no longer exists, and was given to me by a coworker who has since left the company. Grey and unassuming, stained by daily use, it looks like an ordinary mug. It is. Even so, it's special to me.

Last year I was teaching summer school and working here at AATI as a temp part time. Working as a temp is always a strange feeling, being part of a company and outside of it all at once. What added to the strangeness was the fact that I had previously worked here as the front desk receptionist. In our old building, almost everyone came in the front door and walked past the front desk every day, and given that there were only about a hundred US employees at that time, almost everyone knew my face. I always felt like I belonged.

Working as a temp, on the other hand, I always felt like a visitor. My electronic key would lock me out of the building after hours and on weekends. I was half in and half out, and having to switch minds en route to each job. I would be teaching in the morning, on stage in front of lots of people and then in the afternoon would be here in a bare cubicle, alone with boxes of parts doing inventory management for the Engineering department.

I was also exhausted from stress and lack of sleep. My son was three and my baby girl was still only a year old, and I was breastfeeding at night. It was summer, and we lived in a second story apartment with no air conditioning. Our apartment kitchen had just been invaded by cockroaches, so we weren't eating meals at home, and we didn't have a washer or dryer, so we had to do laundry out at friend's houses or at the laundromat. Looking back, I don't know how we were holding it all together.

So because of the exhaustion, I was living on coffee. I would literally get up every few hours and get myself a free cup from the AATI kitchen, using the free disposable cups. One day I was in the kitchen filling my cup, when a fellow employee from my receptionist days asked me if I would like a real mug. He brought me this one from his cubicle. At the end of the day I washed the mug and brought it back to him, thinking it was a loan. He laughed at me and told me it was an extra, that he had gotten it for free and I could keep it.

It was a small act of kindness. But it also meant that for the first time since I had come on board, my cubicle had something in it that was mine, that belonged to me, personally. It made me feel like I belonged. It was a symbol of permanence in a chaotic time in my life.

Shortly thereafter I was hired as a full-time employee, but that's another story entirely.

It Really Wasn't Any of my Business, Was it?

A while ago I had written a post called None of My Business: A Friend Considers a Move in which I attempted to articulate the unexpectedly strong feelings I had in response to a good friend's decision about where to live. It's oddly comforting now to know that I was right at the time about being wrong.

My friend moved in to her new place this week, and loves it. I was given a tour of the empty condo last week, and I can see how well it suits her. So when I felt strongly that she was off track in the past, I think I was correct to intuit that my gut reaction said more about me than it did about her or what would be good for her, etc.

If you haven't gathered by now, I'm a person of rather strong feelings, and generally wear my heart on my sleeve. That said, I'm slowly gaining the ability to bite my tongue and let the other person have an opinion. Once the strong emotion fades away, it's funny to look back and wonder what the fuss was even about.

My husband would not doubt beg to differ on the biting the tongue bit.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Random Photo Moment

I've decided there are too many words here and not enough photos. For today, may I please present:

A strawberry. False advertising!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Zing, Zap, Zoom! Irons in fires. Too many?

Not all that long ago I saw a quotation about Aries [standard astrology disclaimer here]-- "Ready, Fire, Aim!!"

I have to admit that there is an element of this in my personality. I'm restless, and the more I feed the restlessness the more it troubles me. I'm just having so much darned fun with all these amazing people out there in the social media universe. But I had another couple of overwhelmed moments today, where I thought, "What am I getting myself into, exactly?" Too many irons... too many fires. Luckily, I am a fire sign!

My head is spinning. I have started reaching out, and the internet has taken my hands and grabbed me and pulled me in. I'm just waiting to see when the ride stops, and find out what the final destination will be. The weirdest thing is, I'm not sorry. Ever since I started hunting for a new job in a new way, my energy level has skyrocketed.

Here I am, the breadwinner of my family, the stable one, the one who can get and stay employed. I bring in the paycheck, run the finances, pay all the bills, plan for the future. My husband takes care of the kids and decides what we're having for dinner. It's like some kind of weird reverse fifties sitcom. Part of me worries that I'm gambling, now. I've thrown my lot in with a bunch of motley startups doing arcane things in the weirdness of a social media bubble. I can't even convince one of them to hire me, and even so, somehow I've gotten myself entangled in the middle of the network. I jumped in. I just couldn't help it.

Being a bit abstract, here, I know. It's just been a very odd week indeed. For example, I spent a deal of time today playing games with a total stranger over Twitter, in which we attempted to up my hit count so that I could climb in to the 250th spot on XeeSM's "wall of fame." Simultaneously, I arranged a phone call with a relative stranger (on the opposite coast, no less) who contacted me through twitter, and had a phone conversation in which I had to explain that I'm not actually a CEO-- yet. Yeah, that was interesting. I enjoyed it, but I'm definitely in uncharted territory.

Last night I had a phone interview with a startup so underground that you can't even find a shred of information about them on Google. Too strange to be made up. They don't quite have the funding to pay me yet, so we just kind of got to know each other. I found myself offering my husband's services as a film editor/creative artist.

This afternoon, I made arrangements to attend an event at [undisclosed mysterious location] to hear [interesting and intriguing person] speak about [past startup experience, mistakes, and successes] that will officially put me on my educational journey toward founding my own company. I even kind of have an idea about what it might be. So I RSVP'd to this event, only to have my RSVP email answered by [really cool CEO person of company I *really* would love to work for] That's right, the CEO answered my RSVP- and will be at this event. So I will have a chance to introduce myself in person, and *might* even be able to make a fast pitch. How's that for optimism?? If nothing else, I have his email address now... hmmm... haha!

Oh, and I haven't forgotten my calling to become a UU minister. That just comes later in the plan. My until-one-hundred-years-old life plan gets reworked this week. It's on my official list of things to do. (Along with reapplying to as a customer service rep :)

I'm on an adventure and I don't want it to stop. Am I just from some kind of alternate dimension, or what??

Thursday, October 28, 2010

About Fear, and the Job Search

I had lunch today with someone who has offered to help me with my resume and my Linkedin page, both of which need some serious polishing now that I'm so actively hunting. It is an uncomfortable process having someone critique the resume, even though I was 100% aware that it wasn't the best document in the world. It's not that I'm not committed to putting forth my best effort. I think it's more that it's hard not to get emotional about job seeking.

So she looked at my resume and gave me plenty of feedback and advice, which I really, really appreciated. For example, she suggested I move my education down and put my job experience first, which makes sense. It's amazing how much of my resume is a hangover from the days when my education was all that I had to be proud of on my resume. I also got some new ideas, like adding a "reading now" list to my Linkedin page. I jumped on that suggestion right away!

But the advice that inspired the above title was simply to remove the picture of myself hugging my children and replace it with a more professional headshot. Now, the picture of me hugging the kids was out of date (and before I started going to a salon for a professional haircut, to boot). It just so happened that I had replaced the photo already with a recent headhot, which I specifically edited to remove my daughter from the frame. I think there is something to the "appropriate forum" idea: Larry Winget said something similar about political campaigns: "I want to know your position, not that you can breed." Understood, and agreed. LinkedIn is a professional network, therefore, I should be using a photo that makes me look like the professional I am.

But a note entered into our conversation at this point that gave me pause. She advised me first of all to Google myself. (I have- nothing terrible comes out of it.) But then she asked if my Facebook profile is public. I wasn't sure. She advised me to lock it down ASAP. Basically, she said, you don't want to go into an interview where the interviewers know more about you than you can tell them.

Um. This blog is a BIG problem, in that case. So I have been thinking this over and wondering, am I oversharing? Chris Brogan mentions this in Trust Agents, as well. Being in public and using bits of your personal life to connect with your audience is one thing. Oversharing, apparently, is another thing. I can see this. It reminds me of my husband's grandmother when she was in her eighties, and I would sit down to talk with her. She would tell me all the details of her health issues, and what she'd had for breakfast, and every exchange of the last conversation she'd had with her sister, and so forth. She was utterly open and charming and I loved her dearly, but I really didn't want to know everything about her daily life.

Still, I am a mother and I have young children. It's impossible to pretend that that won't affect my future or my job performance, and impossible for me to write them out of my life, even if I wanted to. I don't. The best part of applying for a job at the other day was that I didn't have to HIDE my family.

I don't want to live in fear. This blog was begun as part of a project of radical honesty. I have this little core of people that I am able to be radically honest with if I want to. They include my husband, my best friends, and my immediate family. Outside of that inner circle, I wear a protective mask. Exposure feels like death. But do I really want to be hired into another place where I have to keep still all day long? No!

Fear and shame are closely related, and I've tried to tackle shame in this blog before. I am not ashamed of myself. I am not ashamed of my family. I am not ashamed of my past mistakes, sins, failures. I am thirty-one years old. I have done and said stupid, foolish things before. I have done and said things that I am ashamed of, but I am not ashamed to tell you what those things are. I learned from them. I endeavor not to repeat them. But I can't erase them, and hiding them behind a screen will only make me more fearful.

Still, this is a complicated problem. I want to get into customer service and social media marketing. This means my reputation will need to be stellar. I don't want people stumbling across this blog, or looking at my Linkedin or Facebook page, and drawing negative conclusions about me. But won't the truth come out anyway? If I am all over the internet, and Twitter and Facebook and everyplace, the good and the bad truth are out there. My failures are already out there. Why pretend they don't exist?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

@jackiness: The Strange Magic of Twitter Reply

Yesterday, a member of the Palo Alto Research Center posted that he was looking for someone to work 10 hours a week or so, paid social media training. I replied; no answer. I've gotten rather used to influential people ignoring my replies to them. I try not to overuse the function. I'll do it once, and it they ignore me, I leave them alone after that. But I have been exploring the potential of this new medium to see if I can join the conversation going on between these really awesome people.

So, this morning I noticed that the CEO of ZURB had posted yet again that they are hiring for Customer Service. I immediately responded with: "@ @ I still think I would make a fab CSR for you guys, but didn't make the first cut. Maybe in a few years!"

I didn't expect a reply since he's clearly a very busy guy. But lo and behold, a few minutes later: "@ Thanks for reaching out! There was an incredible response- it's always difficult to cut talented people."

The guy took a few seconds out of a busy day to respond to my tweet. This completely made my day. I am continually surprised by the in-the-gut reaction to the social exchanges we make online. Oddly, "Thanks for reaching out" is the same response I received, word-for-word, from the HR person at Ning, last week. Even the language divides the in-speak group from the out-speak group!

Likewise, I have continued to read Chris Brogan's book, Trust Agents, which is taking me much longer than it usually takes me to finish a book. This is because it's more of a guidebook or manual packed with information and tips, and every five minutes I end up putting it down and jumping over to the computer in excitement to try out one of his suggestions. This is an awesome book for N.A.D.D. (Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder) people like me.

Midway through Brogan's book, he suggests that readers put the book down and go to a service like Twitter and update their status. His suggestion is to write "Reading Trust Agents," because it's short and simple. He also says that this will enable him to find you, because he will be listening. So I did. I put the book down, went and updated my status to "@ Reading _Trust Agents_ :) Thank you for the first commonsense guide I've found to this strange new world!" And you know what? Within a few minutes he had tweeted back to say thank you. How cool is that? He really does what he says he will. It knocked my socks off.

It's something to remember. These little exchanges have a lot of power. I have to figure out how to use this force for good when it comes to customer experience.

I had a perfect case this morning, in a pleasant phone call with a customer. I've been itching to move on so badly that I forgot there are still things to learn where I am.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When the Going gets Tough...

I’m stronger than I give myself credit for! On Friday I got my rejection for my #2 company and my biggest hope. I guess there’s no need to be coy at this point- the company is in Palo Alto, and I had passed an initial screening, so I had my hopes up a bit. I received my rejection email and was feeling a bit despondent. Then, on my way home on Friday, it hit me that the HR person, who I had started following on Twitter, had just tweeted about a different opening for a Recruitment Coordinator. I had recommended a friend, but the position was full time and my friend was only available for part time work.

So I was driving home and I thought, “Wait, why not write back and ask if I could be considered separately for the other position?” I’m organized and good with people, and these people had already seen my work, so they knew what I could do. SO I did. Friday night. Saturday I got another rejection, but only because she was already close to closing the deal with someone with actual recruitment experience. Door closed! But oh, how proud I was of myself for bouncing RIGHT back. What do I have to lose, anyway, by putting myself out there? I know my own value.

Saturday night, I applied at another startup- no response yet. But there I was putting self out there again, and I intend to keep it going. Sunday I met a UI designer for a very well known company in San Francisco. It’s a little far for me to go, but I don’t care- I asked for her contact information and applied for the Community Manager position. So two more irons in the fire, and an inside contact, to boot! I also made friends with a lady who offered to pass my Linkedin information on to her friends. Opportunities are everywhere once I start really looking.

Sunday when I was shopping for baby shower cards, I ran across the “encouragement” section of greeting cards. I picked up one for a friend at work who is having a rough time of it lately. But I also bought one for myself. It reads, “You are talented, You are needed, You are Valued, You are loved. (Inside) Sometimes we just need to be told- and I am telling you, with all my heart. I left it blank and will keep it for someone else in the future who is in a similar place, where they will need to be reminded of the same. But I bought it for myself. From myself, too myself. Is that strange? It makes me think of the Dalai Lama and _The Art of Happiness_, where he points out that we must have compassion for ourselves if we are to have compassion for others.

I’ve been thinking of my experiences with all of these startups lately, and I may begin profiling them here (after I am eliminated as a candidate, of course.)

Now I've reached out to another friend, and she's responded by offering to help revamp my resume & linkedin page. I am so grateful for all the love in my life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Missed Opportunity Redux

Ok... I was braced for rejection from my #2 company choice, but I didn't expect to feel it quite so much. Man, it just hurts every time, doesn't it? Feels like I've been punched in the gut. It seems I have some more work to do before I can move on.

This brings my pending opportunities down to none. Time to pick self up, dust off AGAIN, and go back to work. I'm giving some thought to starting my own business one of these years. Every time I go through this search process it just increases my resolve. I'll keep my eyes open for unfilled needs.

In the meantime, grateful for current job. I could be out in the cold, like so many people. It may not be exciting, but I know how to do it and do it well, and my managers are good guys. Things could be so much worse.

I still have my new interest in social media, so now I have nothing to lose. I intend to plunge back in, starting this weekend. Last weekend was devoted to job-hunt projects. This weekend is all mine.

Edit: Good friend just texted: "They don't know what they're missing!" Totally needed to hear that.

On Relationships, Honesty, and Trust

Another thought on the note of family appreciation, but also about relationships. I have continued to reflect on what I have to offer in the world of social media. The next step in my journey is to begin contributing and teaching others. Despite my background as a Professor, I haven’t been considering my potential to educate other people. I’ve been wanting to help others, but sometimes it’s seemed like the best I can do is just stay out of the way.

I started thinking about what I have to teach, and one thing that is coming to mind is that these social media platforms are all about relationships. I have good relationships. I have been married for coming on 9 years. I’m still close to some of my childhood friends. I have good connections to people at work. It’s not that I’m always outgoing or extroverted. I have a tendency to let things drift, and I can be quite reserved. But I understand the value of trust in relationships.

This leads me to an example. About a week ago, I had a video project that I wanted to do and in my typical determined way, I jumped in feet first. The first day on the project, I waited until my children were in bed, set up the camera as best I could, and started shooting. I don’t know much about film, but I was committed to follow through on this project and I knew that the sooner finished it the sooner it could be out communicating to others. I just focused on getting there. That night I struggled for several hours to figure out how to connect the camera to my computer, to update the software, understand the help guide. Mind you, this was after a full day’s work at my regular job, and my job as a mom, and I was darn tired. Night #1, and I fail to solve the dilemma of how to get the videos from tape to digital. Finally at 1AM my two year old daughter woke up, and I took her back to bed and gave up for the night.

Night #2 was a Friday night.  The kids were happy to spend night at Grandma’s house – 1st time Harmony has ever done so. (They live 1 mile away- I love being near family!) So I had a very most unexpectedly kid-free evening. This made me 110% determined to finish the video clips, as I could have equipment set up and no little ones to interfere. With my husband’s assistance, I solved the mystery of how to download the tape to the computer. He had done this before, so it helped that he knew where to look. I downloaded the clips, found my thumb drive, transferred them to the computer that had Windows Movie Maker, (ah software incompatibility issues) and with a quick tutorial from Matt, my husband, I was editing away.

About an hour later I had my first edited clip to show for all the work. I asked Matt to review the clip. He took a seat at the computer and hit “play.” Now, I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I was actually quite proud of this clip. I had worked very hard on it and was feeling pleased with myself. So what happened next quite literally burst my bubble.

Matt said, “Honey, this video clip sucks. You need to do it over again.”

Needless to say, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. For a second I felt like saying something impolite. I was hurt and angry. But, I have been with my husband for over 10 years now. I knew that he always tells the absolute truth. I knew that he studied film in college. I knew that he wanted me to succeed.

I also knew that if I asked him for help, he would tell me how to do it over and do it right. So I said, “Help me. Tell me what I need to fix.” And he did. My framing was off. My lighting was wrong. I hadn’t used a script. I had said “um” too often. The cuts were awkward.

15 minutes later, Matt had the camera framed properly for me, had adjusted the lighting, and made a few suggestions for the script. He went to bed. I stayed up until three in the morning re-shooting and editing my clips. They still weren’t exactly professional quality, but they outmatched my original by a factor of about 3:1.

My husband is not always nice, but he is always honest, and he is often right. I trust him to tell me when I’m doing something poorly. It’s cliché, but a good marriage is in part about knowing each other’s strengths and leaning on them. So, I guess I might have something to say about relationships. Maybe something to teach, too.

Middle Night Thoughts

It's been an intense couple of weeks. I'm great when there's actions to be taken and things to be done, but not so much when it comes to sitting back and waiting. Continuing adventures in twitter, and still having the time of my life. I am more and more convinced that my next move is into social media, but still working out the details. I've continued to read Chris Brogan's book, Trust Agents, and am processing it in the background while I go about my daily life.

I'm balancing a lot right now, and behind the general fog of exhaustion this week, trying to keep my priorities straight. Yesterday I took my four year old son to the dentist. The last time he went he climbed right into the chair, full of confidence & trust. This time he unexpectedly shied away from the overhead light and then wouldn't take his hands from his eyes. Even after they offered him a child-sized pair of sunglasses, he kept scrunching up his body in the chair. I could see that he was getting upset. Luckily this is a pediatric dentist that specializes in children with difficulties, so they took this behavior in stride and didn't make a fuss.

I held my son and wrapped my arms around him protectively, and I could feel how small he still is and how he needed reassurance. The hygienist suggested that I lay in the dental chair with my son on top of me, and we put the sunglasses back on. This time with Mama as his dentist chair, he relaxed and let her clean and examine his teeth with no further difficulty. How many dentists would have let us do this? Big gold star recommendation for Dr. Natalie Vanderkamm in Cupertino.

He's been getting so big and independent that the moments when he is vulnerable like this are getting to be fewer and more subtle when they do appear. My beautiful son is growing up. In the middle of all the stress and scramble lately, I really valued this moment with him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Missed Opportunity

Rejection is no fun! I heard back from ZURB today, and even though it was the answer I expected, it still unexpectedly hurt. I feel like the old days of dating when I would ask people out and they would turn me down- sometimes you just don’t get a satisfactory answer as to why. I always kept asking, though!

“We received your resume and wanted to thank you for your interest in working with us here at ZURB. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like ZURB is a fit for you at this time. Please keep in touch, as our needs are always changing.”

OUCH! I just had another rejection earlier this week. I know the right thing to do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep on going. I just haven’t found the right door yet.

Still, it has been a disappointing set of results. I might have to go back to square one and start fresh.

I just know that I am valuable- I am bright, creative, determined, energetic, motivated, ambitious, educated, and experienced. If they can’t pick that up from my resume or my email, it really is their loss. But it’s my loss, too. I want to work for the best company I can find- this one was at the top of my list, and I didn’t even get to the phone screening, so I didn’t get much of a chance to show what I am like or what I can do.

All I have is the determination to make something of myself. I keep sensing that the opportunity is out there, if I can just grab on to it. But which direction will it come from?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What do I know? What can I share?

I'm fairly tired from a packed weekend full of projects and family activity, and little sleep. I'm proud of my hard work, but impatient. A close friend told me at lunch yesterday that she believes there is a purpose to each of our lives and that the disappearance of one opportunity in life simply means that a better one will come along later that was meant to be. I don't believe that my life is predestined or that I have a purpose, other than those created by myself and other people. Fate is something that I don't trust and don't believe in. Neither am I fatalistic, as I actually do agree with my friend that I believe the future holds better things ahead and have a generally optimistic outlook; if none of the companies I've applied to extend me an offer, I will think of something else to try. Nevertheless, I see no benefit in sitting back and passively accepting disappointment. I want to make my own destiny if I can.

I've changed my profile setting on Twitter. It now reads: "Former Professor, future CEO. The middle part = work in progress." So that gives you some clue where I now think I am headed. Why aim low? After all, I want to change the world. I'm tired of pretending otherwise.

I am reading a book by Chris Brogan called Trust Agents at the moment, which is helping me reframe my sudden passionate interest in social media. Brogan talks about the power of the internet and in particular, suggests helping others through blogging and other tools. His suggestion in the book was to find topics to share that would teach other people, and to build on my own expertise in order to become a "trust agent."

This has me thinking: What do I know? What can I share? How can I help other people?

I know I started this blog with a piece on breastfeeding because I successfully breastfed my children, and I believe my experience could help other women to do the same. So originally I had intentions to help others through writing.

Writer and speaker Larry Winget has said before that people should stand up for their convictions. He has no respect for people who stand for everything and nothing. What are my convictions? What do I believe in? How can I share these things with others in a way that would make a powerful impact on the world? And, most of all, how does the internet fit into this picture? These are the questions that are on my mind tonight.

Friday, October 15, 2010

In Which Jackie Goes Questing

I pulled out of my mild slump with a vengeance about a week ago when I made the decision to focus my attention on hunting for a new job. No sooner did I begin to look than my energy level began to return. I feel energized, delighted and excited.

This actually started a couple of weeks ago when I followed a waft of interest in entrepreneur Caterina Fake, one of the co-founders of Flickr. Her current venture is, and I joined and created a profile. This was the first new social media website that I had adopted since the advent of Facebook, which itself had basically replaced my previous use of LiveJournal.

So I started late one night and within a couple of hours found myself completely absorbed in navigating the social landscape of the site. It was fascinating. And since I had just been thinking about Fake and her connection to startups, and since I have been thinking of hunting for some slightly more challenging work, I thought I would check for job listings on the site. However, it turned out that they are located in New York. No good, as I don't want to go from one crazy-high cost of living world to another with worse weather, to boot. That's assuming I could convince them to hire me.

So then I had the thought, why not take a look around for startup companies closer to home? A few search queries later, I had landed on, a web design startup in Campbell, CA with possibly the coolest benefits package I have ever seen in my life (free drycleaning-free housecleaning- I'm sold!) AND a current opening, currently listed, for a Customer Advocate position. Nearly fell off my chair with excitement. This was a strong clue that it might be time for me to move on.

My company has treated me very well, and it's no shame to them that I'm going slowly but surely insane from utter boredom. Excel spreadsheets have their place, mind you, but I like to have a goal in mind and need food for the intrinsic motivation to reach the kind of heights I'm dreaming of. I do a good job, but out of duty and respect, not out of love.

I spent four hours on my application letter. Afterward, I lay awake for most of the night. I'm not kidding when I say that I have strong passions about things.

A few days of incessant obsession later, with no word from Zurb (not even a form letter- you guys break my heart!) I figured out that there might be MORE cool companies to work for in the area. (I know I pride myself on my intelligence, but sometimes certain ideas take time to percolate ;) Also as part of my application to Zurb, I included the URL to this blog, and decided it might be time to be a bit more active on Twitter, as it was one of the components of the listing. I've been aware of Twitter in a distant way for some time now, but hadn't really figured the whole thing out.

Yes, here I am just dipping a toe into the waters of web 2.0. Jackie, who has been active on the internet since the mid 90's, has fallen behind the early adopter curve.

Job hunt stage two began, and I pulled another all nighter.,,,, and are just some of the miraculous things I discovered popping up all around me. I also applied at LinkedIn, SRI, Quova, etc. Of course, to be qualified for any of the open positions, I needed to be familiar with the products, so I signed on and started creating. Here I am a week later following 60 people on Twitter (having only been active on it for a few days) and having the time of my life. I'm excited to go back to working on this blog. I might even start having readers one of these days!

I've had two phone interviews this week already and both were fabulous (but I won't tell you who, shhhh!) and I feel completely alive and energized again, even though I have stayed up half the night two nights in a row attempting to create, download, and edit my video clips for YouTube (how could I forget~ I now have an active YouTube channel as well). Really happy. There are smart people out there in the universe, and apparently I can listen to them anytime I want- on Twitter. I can learn from them- on YouTube. I can read things that they say - on their blogs and websites and social pages. Utterly amazing.

So, this job search may pan out or may not. Either way, I'm still employed, so feeling pretty upbeat. I feel really qualified for a lot of positions now, with both education and experience to back me. The random passing interest I had in programming might even return now that I see some of the development possibilities for all of these social media websites.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Speed of Social Media

As people are starting to trickle in (other than XeeSm employees, who I did at least expect) I thought I had better post a quick update to the blog. A visitor has just pointed out to me that the “adult content” warning was still in place on the page, and I have removed the restriction.

To anyone else who wanders in, welcome. I started this blog in an effort to polish my writing skills and to have a forum to develop ideas and experimental writing. I intended this to be a place of total honesty, and deliberately did not advertise its existence until I was confident that I could sustain the project. My ideas are partially related to the book _Radical Honesty_ by Brad Blanton, , which I had recently read in the San Jose State Library collection. I wanted to experiment with writing on topics of interest, related to my personal life, but not necessarily in a diary format.

I have taken this blog public (in the sense of having actual readers rather abruptly and therefore expect the tone and content to shift, given the presence of actual viewers (and potential employers!) and my new fascination with social media. I’m not going to change the basic principle of honest content or take down any of the increasingly personal musings I was delving into thus far. The internet is what it is!

Welcome to whoever you are, and feel free to say hello.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weclome to XeeSM

Dear XeeSM,

Welcome to my experimental writing project. I recommend the following entries as my favorite to date:

A Small House

Longer, and Probably Still Incorrect

I really hope I get the chance to come and meet you. If not, I am sure we will cross paths some time in the future. Thank you for your visit.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Reading Journal: Intro to Occasion

I'm going to work my way through this one, in an attempt to jump back into the literary scene. (These are working notes, so excuse me in advance if obscure or boring).

The introduction begins with a quotation by C. P. Snow, from The Two Cultures, 1959:

I believe the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two groups. When I say the intellectual life, I mean to include also a large part of our practical life, because I should be the last person to suggest the two can at the deepest level be distinguished.... Literary intellectuals at one pole—at the other scientists.... Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding.... This polarisation is sheer loss to us all. To us as people, and to our society. It is at the same time practical and intellectual and creative loss, and I repeat that it is false to imagine that those three considerations are clearly separable.
I've never heard of this guy, or his book, but I can see from its prominent placement at the top of the page that this is probably someone important. So I think before I can go further, I might want to go find some basic information about who he is. I also note that this is a quotation from the end of the 1950's, so this tells me I'm jumping into a conversation that has been going on for some time. I might not have a good sense of the /kairos/ as I understand the term from my old English 1B textbook.

I've gone and looked at the wikipedia article on this, (if you're an academic, you can feel free to cringe now) but if it's accurate I get the general idea that Snow was British, a scientist, and that the quotation in question is probably from the published version of a "Rede lecture" (which also seems to be something important and influential that I should know about, but don't) and he gave the lecture in question in 1959. Further reading through wikipedia would indicate that the lecture/publication/subsequest follow up sparked a larger discussion in the literary and scientific communities, and that the "two cultures" phrase is often used in discussing these ideas.

Ok, I get the general idea that there's some context here that I might need to know in order to fully understand, and that this issue of Occasion is going to address an ongoing and existing dialogue.

The second quotation is by E. O. Wilson, Consilience, 1998:
If the natural sciences can be successfully united with the social sciences and the humanities, the liberal arts in higher education will be revitalized.... The future of the liberal arts lies ... in addressing the fundamental questions of human existence head on, without embarrassment or fear, taking them from the top down in easily understandable language, and progressively rearranging them into domains of inquiry that unite the best of science and the humanities at each level of organization in turn.

Another wikipedia search and I note that (if accurate) he was also a biologist, this time writing in the late nineties (which I at least have the advantage of having lived through, so that helps.) He also seems to be talking about a desire to unite, or "marry" is the word that comes to mind, the humanities with science.

OK, so we are beginning with two different quotations, one from the late fifties/right before the sixties, and one from the late nineties/right before the (what the heck is this decade called? the early tens?? Millenium?). Just went and searched online for what to call this decade. I'd settle for the British "naughts" ;) but the consensus seems to be the 2000s. Yuck. (And a really loooong decade). I guess numerically, it should be the zeroes, right? The tens will be the next decade. No wonder everyone likes the twenties and never talks about the tens except as "turn of the century."

Anyway... back to the article.

The essays in this inaugural issue of Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities,
So this is the first issue of the journal. And given that this is meant to be an interdisciplinary effort, I can see why they would pick this topic as worth addressing in the first one. Let me look up interdisciplinary:

accoring to merriam-webster free online dictionary, it's "involving two or more academic, scientific, or artistic disciplines." I also had a nice detour into finding out what the word "Sanctimommy" meant. Ah, the web!
are precisely focused on confronting, head-on, the idea of “two cultures” via a sustained interdisciplinary conversation
So the essays in this journal will "confront" (which seems to mean something like "face" here- only more agressive overtones- they will be confrontational?) and "head-on" also implies more emphasis, something like "directly." They will directly confront an idea. The idea they will confront is the "two cultures" idea (by which I think they mean the larger, ongoing discussion implied in the wikipedia piece, not confined to the actual words of the first quote). These essays (and by extension, the authors of the essays) will take on, confront, the "two cultures" idea, by a "sustained" conversation. I guess that means an ongoing one? I'm not sure what the sustained word implies here. But a sustained, or ongoing, "interdisciplinary conversation." I don't know if this means a conversation between authors from different disciplines? I guess it must, since I don't think they are just talking about the content being more than one discipline.

I'm tired and I'm only through a few lines at the beginning! These essays will talk about the idea of "two cultures" by directly facing the idea, using talk that will go on over a period of time, between people from different academic disciplines. I think implied here also is that the different talking people will be some from science and some from humanities, since those seem to be the two main "cultures" talked about in the quote.

I know that's a very bad breakdown, but I am trying to get this. Oh, I'm not even done with this quote yet.

surrounding a key object—human behavior.
So the object
Deemed by many to be the most powerful tool for understanding human action, rational choice theory has been the subject of extensive debate in the social sciences, in particular, in the fields of economics, psychology, sociology, and political theory. Embraced by some as a normative tool and others as a descriptive one, rational choice theory can be linked to what I will call "rational choice thinking," a term I use to name the assumptions that undergird rational choice theory and find even greater mobility than rational choice theory within and without the aforementioned fields and disciplines. These suppositions that grow out of the belief that human choices and behaviors can be evaluated in a way that transcends (or subordinates, at least) particular issues of history, culture, gender, class, and race have colored, it seems, a broad range of intellectual activities and, indeed, have become a key element in discourses about globalization, which relies on certain notions of translatability, if not universalism.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Books in my Nook


by Dan Barker


Added: 10/01/2010


by Paul H. Wender


Added: 09/29/2010

It's Nobody's Fault

by Harold Koplewicz


Added: 09/28/2010

The Invisible Gorilla

by Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons


Added: 09/28/2010

The Book Whisperer

by Donalyn Miller, Jeff Anderson


Added: 09/23/2010

Cognitive Surplus

by Clay Shirky


Added: 09/23/2010

How Pleasure Works

by Paul Bloom


Added: 09/23/2010

Being Wrong

by Kathryn Schulz


Added: 09/23/2010


by David Eagleman


Added: 09/23/2010


by John Allen Paulos


Added: 09/23/2010

The Greatest Show on Earth

by Richard Dawkins


Added: 09/23/2010

The Grand Design

by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow


Added: 09/23/2010

Vegetarian Myth

by Lierre Keith


Added: 09/15/2010

Breaking Night

by Liz Murray


Added: 09/13/2010

The Price of Altruism

by Oren Harman


Added: 09/08/2010


by Andrew Morton


Added: 09/03/2010


by Dean Ornish


Added: 08/31/2010

Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

by Edgar Allan Poe, Benjamin F. Fisher


Added: 08/30/2010

The Genius in All of Us

by David Shenk


Added: 08/23/2010

The Pain Chronicles

by Melanie Thernstrom


Added: 08/19/2010

The Murder Room

by Michael Capuzzo


Added: 08/16/2010

Sentimental Education (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

by Gustave Flaubert, Claudie Bernard


Added: 08/13/2010

Madame Bovary (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

by Gustave Flaubert, Eleanor Marx Aveling


Added: 08/07/2010


by Kitty Kelley


Added: 08/02/2010

Wuthering Heights (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

by Emily Bronte, Daphne Merkin


Added: 07/30/2010

Getting Things Done

Medium Raw

by Anthony Bourdain

The Joy of Living

by Yongey Mingyur, Eric Swanson, Daniel Goleman

Strength in What Remains

by Tracy Kidder

Added: 06/25/2010


by Daniel J. Siegel

Unseen Academicals (Discworld Series)

by Terry Pratchett


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Irritating my Friend and Gaining a Calling

Tonight was my usual discussion night with my friend, but things were a bit out of kilter. For one thing, I'm coming out of a period of inaction, which has been troubling me. I sometimes get frenetic bursts of energy (even more so than usual) and create massive to-do lists and resolve to get my life and my act together, or choose some difficult or distant goal to work toward. Then I go through a brief active, fertile period, when I plow through several challenging items at a time or socialize more than usual. Afterward, I get overwhelmed and slow down again. I get tired and go into a kind of slump, during which I escape from my problems instead of tackling them head-on. It's a cycle I go through on micro and macro scales, and I try lately to just accept that and be forgiving of my fickle moods.

So, despite a huge amount of mental activity lately and a brewing and mixing up of strange cocktails of ideas, I haven't been doing a whole lot. I have been going to work and doing enough to get by, keeping my household running, and meeting my family obligations. Just keeping up my daily routine is enough work, when I let myself settle into it. But it's boring for me and after a while I get that restlessness again.

So I started discussing things with my friend, who is ordinarily almost heroically patient with my need to think out loud and to plod over familiar ground more than once. She wasn't feeling well, and was a bit more short tempered with me than usual at the beginning of the conversation. I started to feel that I was irritating her when she started offering me solutions to some of the problems I had brought up, and I started to feel defensive.

I have several close friends that I confide in, and of course I have my husband. Whenever I do confide in these close friends, I let many of my walls down. Not all of them, of course, but in trying to share the contents of my mind, I must verbalize, and in verbalizing my innermost thoughts, I make myself vulnerable to hurt. I don't always enjoy opening myself up in this way, yet at the same time, to talk is to experience one of the deepest and greatest pleasures that I desire. The friends that know me the most and the deepest and the longest over time are the ones I most trust. Even so, sharing leaves me open to that innermost shame that I found so difficult to express a few posts back. What if others see into my heart and reject what they find there? What if they don't love me? Will I survive? It's always a shock when I run smack into that deep-seated fear and anxiety.

Because she's my good friend and because we have built this relationship of trust over time, I know that my friend gives me the benefit of the doubt when I say something foolish, when I am inconsistent, when I am irrational, and when I allow myself to be vulnerable. So I also gave her the benefit of the doubt, and tried to listen. The conversation continued, and I felt hurt, but did not bring the walls back up. I just stumbled and then kept going, and my friend was graceful enough to let me continue in my own course. But her criticism was accurate and valid: basically, she wondered if my never ending quest to pin things down and label them, to understand them in the context of a framework and endlessly analyze them, was preventing me from actually taking action to solve the issues.

I guess this is the same as the line I used on my husband last week, which was "I think my problem is that I think too much." He thought this was quite amusing, since I was thinking about thinking too much. I was hurt by that, too. It's hard being oversensitive. I'm just really in earnest about this stuff. It's not that I don't have a sense of humor, because, come on, I'm ridiculous and I know it. But I'm also vulnerable. The problem with really caring is that I really care. The problem with really feeling deeply is that I really feel deeply. I say these things that come out so silly, but in my heart of hearts they aren't silly. They are deeply felt. I know it's hard to understand because I don't understand it either.

I have a deep place that feels deeply. When I speak from this place, I speak the truth as I know it. It's what my heart desires. When I speak from this place it is serious, it is in earnest, it is with passion, and it is with deep and terrible fear and pain and vulnerability. I most often expose it unintentionally, while thinking out loud with a close and trusted companion. The opening up of this place and airing out and clearing out is always refreshing and a relief. Sometimes I really can laugh at it afterward. I guess there's not necessarily anything rational about this song from the deepest heart of my being. It's difficult for me to even put all this into words without being sentimental or romantic. Words like yearning and longing and desire come to mind. I guess these are all romantic ideas, so I do have to be skeptical about all of this that I am expressing. I wouldn't want an unkind observer to this writing experiment. I'd be eviscerated in moments.

Anyway as usual I didn't mean to write anything at all like the above at all. I swear something just comes along and takes over my fingers every time I sit down. A committment to total honesty hasn't fixed whatever it is that ails me.

The conversation with my friend continued and got lighter and more fun. I mentioned that I had been daydreaming about starting a church in my new hometown, and I was oddly touched by my friend's supportiveness of the idea of my someday becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister. So in the same evening, I was hurt by her honest opinion and comforted by her honest opinion. I guess that's just another way of saying that I really value this person's opinion! And in case she ever reads this, you know who you are, and I'm glad you are my direct and honest you. I even trust you with the wacky stuff I try not to tell anyone else.