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El Amor en la Era de Facebook

17 Oct

En qué momento de una nueva relación se agrega a la otra persona en Facebook? A la medida que nuestras vidas se viven en línea, conocemos a gente en línea, y vamos conociéndonos mejor en línea también. A veces, tras conocer a alguien, uno (el otro) quiere agregarnos como amiga en Facebook. Para mí, se puede caer en esta trampa fácilmente. Es la trampa de creer que le conoces- porque puedes ver que le gustan los 49er’s, que asistió a UCLA, que le gusta ver The Walking Dead, que hace poco fue a Yosemite. Pero quiero saber esas cosas porque surgieron en el transcurso de una conversación, y no porque los vi en su Facebook.

Yo estoy totalmente a favor de no ser amigos inmediatamente. Quizás estoy viviendo en el pasado, pero lo veo como un atajo, una solución fácil de entrar en los vericuetos en la vida de uno. Si sé qué hiciste el fin de semana pasado, pues quiero saberlo porque me lo dijiste, no porque lo vi en tu perfil; las mismas fotos que vieron tu tía en Filadelfia y tus amigos del cole. Sin embargo, he encontrado en mi experiencia personal que a los hombres les gusta ser amigos virtuales inmediatamente. Les gustan los atajos, porque así se evitan momentos torpes. Conocer a los amigos de él? Ya es más fácil que nunca. Pero Facebook es un foro público. Lo que se publica se publica para todos los que se componen nuestra red personal- familia, colegas, maestros, ex novios, amigos de toda la vida y nuevos amigos, mientras que iniciar una relación se trata de conocerse de modo mas íntimo.

Cuando digo íntimo no hablo de sexo. Hablo de intimidad emocional, lo que viene de tiempo pasado juntos, y no de los personajes ideales que mostramos a los demás. Sí, en las primeras citas es así, presetamos nuestros lados preferidos, pero para profundizar la relación hay que empezar de cero. Empezando como amigos en Facebook, tomamos un atajo. Hay que ir mas lentamente.

Working with Millennials

29 Sep
World's best entry level employee

World’s best entry level employee

I work with several millennials, and one of them recently shared this Wall Stree Journal article with me. “Older Workers Should Think Young”, it urges. I really don’t know why she shared it with me, because as I read it all I could think was, these young brats need to stop thinking so highly of themselves and learn to listen to their elders.

I have read that millennials are considered to be those between the ages of 18 and 34. Well, I don’t know who came up with this estimate, but I am 32, and I definitely don’t consider myself a millennial. I feel closer to the generation known as Generation X, the kids of the Baby Boomers (my parents boomed late). And the reason why I don’t relate to millennials is that I remember a time before the internet. It’s as simple as that. But I think that there are some characteristics of the Millennial generation that set them apart. Thinking that the world revolves around them is one.

This is the generation that records every waking thought and perception with Instagram, Snapchat, iChat, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and whichever social network will come to replace them. For me social networking is about community and sharing; for the young twenty somethings it’s about me me me. So how does this relate back to the topic of working with millenniala? The WSJ article states that older workers need to learn from the twenty something millennials who surround them at work. Let their hair down, so to speak. But to presume that older, experienced workers need to learn from their colleagues with zero experience is rather arrogant. Yes, maybe older workers aren’t fluent in social media, but I respect professionals with experience, especially those who have managed to make themselves successful and relevant in this age of youth-obsessed work culture. If an older worker is still around at your place of work, don’t presume to know better than them. Listen to older colleagues, and you may learn a thing or two.  Yes, I believe listening to older people can be beneficial. I guess I really am not a millennial after all.

I’ve Got the San Francisco Blues

25 Sep

I have been spending some time in the East Bay recently, and spending time there, soaking up the sun, walking among families along tranquil, tree-lined sidewalks, I have begun to undertand the area’s siren song for fed-up San Franciscans. What do San Franciscans have to be fed up about? Plenty.

We are tired of the last San Franciscans being evicted from their homes for the building of condominiums. This is happening within blocks of where I live. And in the Lower Haight, studio apartments are being rented for $4,000. A commenter on SFist notes: They say that you shouldn’t spend more than 25% of your income on rent. At 4000K a month’s rent is going to cost you $48000 a year. That means you need to earn 192K a year to live within your means. Of course what this commenter misses is that we San Franciscans don’t spend a quarter of our income on rent. For me it’s more like 51%/ Just over half of my monthly paycheck goes towards rent so that I can live in this city. And for what?

To watch as the mom and pop restaurants get replaced by crudo small plate gluten-free gastropubs, so that every last bar with character can be turned into a cocktail bar that serves libations in mason jars, where you can’t get a drink for under $12. Rather than be a city of young kids, recent college grads, families, and senior citizens, we are just a city of recent college grads. Mostly white, some Asian, but overall not too diverse. In a city known for being freewheeling and creative, I find myself more and more preoccupied with keeping up with the Joneses. This city’s vibrant residents have always made it unique, and yet I see a lot more sameness. My favorite bar, Bigfoot Lodge, once a dimly lit dive with kitschy decor and friendly if a bit rough around the edges bartenders, is being revamped. And I just read that Red Devil Lounge, just a stone’s throw away, is being turned into, you guessed it, a craft cocktial bar. Everything in this city now caters to the super rich, starting with housing.

And of course, a toast of champagne to Larry Ellison and his Oracle Team USA, who have won the America’s Cup. Huzzah!

Creating a Community of Single Women

11 Sep
Don't worry, you won't end up like them

Don’t worry, you won’t end up like them

The purpose of this blog post is to praise Mandy Hale and her efforts as The Single Woman. Much has been written elsewhere about the creation of communities online, how the anonymity and immediacy of the online space fosters community in a way that is impossible otherwise. Well, Mandy Hale has created a community of over 500,000 Twitter followers who read her daily affirmations for single women. Although the term single woman could technically apply to any unmarried woman of any age, the tweets have particular resonance to single women of, say, a certain age. Single women past their mid-twenties who face a barrage of “Why haven’t you settled down yet?” and “Why are you so darn picky?” and “Don’t you want to have kids”? find particular resonance in the words that Mandy writes that both commiserate with and cajole the reader to strive for more and to aim higher. It’s a reminder that even when it seems that we are the last single women on Earth (and trust me, I often feel like the last single woman I know), we are not. There are others out there living their lives and facing the same joys and doubts that we 30 something single women face. For me, reading Mandy’s tweets and the many comments they receive makes me feel like I’m part of a community of women who get me.

One minor note of discord: Mandy is very religious and peppers her tweets and new book with quotes from the Bible and prayers for single women. I appreciate that her religious belief is very important to her, but I wish she knew that she had followers who are not religious (I’m sure I’m not the only one). I also cringed when I heard that she would be appearing on The 700 Club, hosted by Pat Robertson, who stated that 9/11 happened because we Americans brought it on ourselves because of “the pagans, the abortions, the feminists and the gays and lesbians”. I shudder to think that someone I otherwise admire a great deal would appear alongside this hateful man.


R.E.M. “It’s the end of the world”

3 Sep

Michael Stipe makes sense of the crazy modern age- twenty years ago.

It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

3 Sep

Do you ever find that you feel a tad guilty when the headlines scream bloody murder and yet life at a microcosmic level seems to be going great? I often find this is the case. Our country is on the brink of war as we contemplate a strike against Syria, Egypt is on the verge of civil war, Russia is persecuting gay people, the economy is still recovering (although let’s get real, here in California and San Francisco things are pretty sweet), global warming is accelerating. And yet.

Life goes on. We should work like hell to make sure that, bit by bit, things are improved. Maybe we don’t solve the Syria crisis, but we donate to the Red Cross. We can’t stop environmental degradation single-handedly, but we can reuse canvas bags and drive less. Sometimes on a personal level life is on the up and up- the family is great, the friends are great, your lungs fill with sweet September air and all is right with the world. I walk home and look out to stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and feel very fortunate and blessed. There is suffering, all around us and at all times, but it is good to embrace life and be happy in the midst of the tumult of the world. So let’s not feel bad for feeling fine. Life continues.

We are all Miley

26 Aug
Typical School Dance

Typical School Dance

Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs last night is all anyone can talk about today, and everyone seems to have a different angle: Miley as a disappointment to her parents, Miley as troubled child star putting her Disney past behind her, Miley as appropriator of black culture, Miley as trashy stripper. But I propose that the Miley we saw at the VMAs is just what is seen in sweaty high school gymnasiums all across the country. We American girls are all Miley now.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school, and yet I remember the way we would dance closely with the boys. We wouldn’t jam our butts in their crotches like Miley did, but we danced close. Face to face. And this was the mid to late 90’s. Later on, in college, and in my early 20’s when I would go out dancing, we wouldn’t do the Viennese waltz. We would do what you could consider a primitive form of twerking. The world of the strip club and pornography had already entered our dancing styles.

I won’t claim that no one danced this way in the past, but if they did it was not the norm. It was frowned upon. Whereas now, the transgressive is now what’s expected. The bar is raised such that the norm is dancing like Miley, at Homecoming dances, at bars and at nightclubs. So why are we shocked? Miley is just another American girl gone wild.

The Anti-Bucket List

20 Aug
I don't want to, and that's ok

I don’t want to, and that’s ok

I’ve just come across a short and sweet blog post by Rachel Weight at HuffPost called simply Creating my Anti-Bucket List. I love the idea behind it. We always hear about what we should aspire to do before we kick the proverbial bucket, and these lists serve a purpose, giving structure to one’s life goals, whether they are gravely serious (make amends with loved ones) or whimsical (learn to bake a blueberry pie). But it is good to know oneself enough to know what one absolutely will not do. It’s good to know one’s limits and respect them. With that in mind, and taking a cure from Rachel Weight (who made the list as part of a turning 30 realization), here goes my list:

  • I won’t own a giant dog. I am a life-long non animal lover. That is to say, I’ve always liked animals, but never loved them. I am coming around to small and medium-sized dogs, however, and will stop and pet and play with friendly ones I see on the street. That is a big change for me. And yet. I will not be owning a big dog any time soon. If a small child can ride it, it’s too big for me.
  • I will not travel to Pakistan. There is at least one place on each continent that fascinates me. In South America, that’s Brazil and in Asia, Japan. But Pakistan, with its sandy plateaus, acid attacks on women, honor killings, and threatening environment for Westerners and women in general, would be appealing if there were historical or cultural sites of interest to me. There are none.
  • No buggery.
  • I will not try to get through a book that feels like a chore (and yes I am currently in a book club). I’ve always said, life is too short for bad books.
  • I will never ever stay at a youth hostel ever again (even at age 25 I found that I was way too old for it).
  • I will color my hair, cut it, curl it, put pretty bows in it and alter it in many ways, but you better believe I won’t ever shave it all off.

Well, that was a fun exercise in knowing my limits. And it certainly got the wheels in my head spinning about what I AM willing to do. That will be for a future post.

What about you? What is absolutely NOT on your bucket list?

How to be Alone

5 Aug
Alone in the Big City

Alone in the Big City

Blogging on a Saturday night after a hiatus of, what, four months? Not exactly the triumphant return I hoped for. It may be a short post, but it’s worth writing. I just read Tracy Clark-Flory’s article on Salon entitled, simply, “How to be Alone”. I simply feel that I have to comment, as somewhat of an expert on being alone.

I live alone in a very “cozy” studio apartment. When I tell people this, they react in either one of two ways. Men usually tell me that it would drive them crazy, and women tell me that they envy having a space of their own. Yes, the space is small- I can see my refrigerator from my bed- but I love having this small corner of the big city that is mine and mine alone. And yes, I like living alone. It does not mean that I am a hermit with no family or friends. I see family and I see friends- as a matter of fact, living in a cramped space forces one to venture out more than one would otherwise, I think. So I make plans with friends- we meet for lunch on Sunday, for Happy Hour drinks on Thursday, perhaps for a movie on Sunday.

But I am single, and have been resolutely single most of my life, with only short relationships interspersed between the years. I am very used to being alone, but some of the experts quoted in the Salon article mention that one of the difficulties in being lonely is the perceived stigma. I can attest to this and say that it is the difficult aspect of living in a big city alone and single. I only care when others care. Meaning, I rate restaurants based on how they treat solo diners. There is one place near me where I ate once with my mother and had a lovely lunch. I then went back alone on the weekend to have breakfast, and had a horrible experience. I watched as families and couples at tables were greeted warmly and served attentively by the waiter, while I was treated like a leper. I have never returned.

Going to movies alone is fine, as many in the theater are alone as well, and moviegoing is a communal experience any way (besides, I can’t stand going to the movies with people who want to chit chat. Let’s discuss who that actor is after the movie, please!). Going to concerts is something I cannot do alone, as that is an experience I believe has to be shared. However, I once went to a concert alone- my favorite band at the time, Dandy Warhols, was playing, and I couldn’t miss them. I ended up running into a dear friend from high school in line and we enjoyed the concert together, and went out afterwards. Serendipity.

It’s tough out there for a single woman in her 30’s. I often feel as though I am the last single person on Earth. It seems as though everyone I know is either married, engaged or in a relationship. I am quite used to being the third, fifth, or seventh in group outings. And because I’ve always felt that it is better to be happy alone than miserable in a shitty relationship, I am quite happy living my life until the next guy comes along. This doesn’t mean I don’t feel the occasional twinge of loneliness. But I try to make myself responsible for my own happiness and not mind if others are uncomfortable with my single status. I live in a great city, San Francisco, where it is hard to get bored, and where I prefer to enjoy all the city has to offer whether I am alone, with friends, or with the rare boyfriend. Even if it means a brazen public display of singleness.

And this should make your day: How to Be Alone, by poet Tanya Davis.

In Defense of a Humanities Major

8 Apr
English major

English major

STEM careers seem to be all the rage. When we read about China’s ascendance on the world stage and America’s fall as a world power, we often read about our lack of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  It is true that many of the cerebral muscle powering innovation in Silicon Valley comes from abroad, and I have been told by friends in these fields that there is indeed a lack of preparation by American college grads to work in these fields. But does this have to come at the expense of preparing young people in the humanities, arts, and social sciences? To some, the answer is yes.

After reading Michelle Singletary’s recent Washington Post column, “Not all college majors are created equal”, I had to respond. This recession has been hard on everyone, and I have had discussions with friends about this very topic: namely, do we regret majoring in something like history, geography, Spanish, visual art? Do we even think college is necessary in this day and age when so much is being replaced by apps and outsourcing? It is a precarious time in which to be a college graduate, when a degree does not lead instantly to a job and 401K. A major in engineering may be a sure bet in this climate- it instantly leads to a high-paying job, whereas a degree in psychology or sociology may not. But I think it is worth looking at what a college education is for when looking at the value of one major against another.

As a literature major, I know that I will rarely need to cite my senior thesis on how two Caribbean poets reconciled politics in their work, while a lab biologist will have to use her knowledge of chemistry every day in the lab. But in addition to learning certain facts and figures within our chosen field of study, we should walk away from college, regardless of major, armed with the knowledge of how to think and solve a problem. Biology majors apply the scientific method to the study of the natural world. Hypothesis, experiment, recalibrate, repeat. Psychology majors use the methods of the social sciences to set up studies of human behavior, constantly refining their findings in light of new evidence. And us literature majors? Ideally, we learn to read critically and write clearly. As a professor of mine from graduate school stated simply, “Clear writing comes from clear thinking” (naturally he never read some of the literary theorists I read in college). And as a family friend who is a successful defense lawyer said recently, the best major for a young person who wants to pursue a career in law? English.

Learning a discipline that will teach you to think, and think critically, is essential to a career in the professions- those careers pursued by young people who go to college in the first place to advance their chances of entering the middle class. Are STEM majors the only way to go? I certainly hope not. We need these students, yes, to develop the technologies of the future. But we need business executives to fund them, politicians to craft policies that support them, journalists to analyze them, and more. Steve Jobs spearheaded the biggest technological advances in recent memory, and yet it can be argued that his emphasis on design helped to make Apple what it is today. The look and feel of Apple was influenced by Jobs’ admiration of calligraphy, based on a class he took at Reed College.

I think that colleges need to do a much better job at preparing students for life after college. I know that my alma mater had a dismal career center when I was a graduating senior: I recall being disheartened by seeing a job posting for a manager at a retail store at the local mall. All this work to graduate, I thought, and they want us to go work at the mall? Nevertheless, career services at my university must have improved over the intervening years, because I recently participated in an alumni event to help students prepare for post-college life. I regret that I only worked one summer during college. I would advise students to work, volunteer or travel EACH summer during college, as well as seek out internships to know if a given career is a good fit.  But I would advise a student inclined toward majoring in the humanities to pursue what they love both during and after college. It will truly pay off.