Lent 2021

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! With Easter Sunday comes the end of Lent, and at the last minute this year, I decided to continue my years-long tradition of giving up a bad habit, partially inspired by the fasts and self-denial of luxuries and vices of my observant friends and by a need to kick-start some better habit forming after 2 separate new year celebrations.

This year, I decided to try to give up one thing and add another:

➖ Twitter
➕ Daily journaling
➕ Daily meditation

As longtime readers may be unsurprised to hear, I did much better with giving up Twitter than I did with daily journaling and meditation this year.

Twitter

When I first joined Twitter over 10 years ago, it was primarily so I could enter giveaways that were exclusive to the platform. “Like and retweet for a chance to win VIP tickets to Kollaboration DC!” It was my least-used social media platform for a very long time.

I think when I severely reduced my Tumblr usage, Instagram filled that void but so did Twitter. Especially during this pandemic year, Twitter became one of if not the primary source for me to get news, memes, resources, and relief in the form of cute animals and babies. The vibes on Twitter more closely resemble Tumblr than Instagram has, and on top of that, I could interact directly with celebrities, journalists, political figures, and more.

During a year when the news about the pandemic was changing really quickly, my Twitter browsing became really unhealthy, so when Shrove Tuesday rolled around and I wondered what bad habits I had left that would benefit from some cold abstinence, Twitter was an obvious candidate.

The first week or so made it clear this was the right choice. Whenever I felt restless, or bored, or stressed, I found myself opening a new tab on my computer and typing “t-w-i-” before catching myself and stopping. I still got the news of the day, and not getting it the precise moment it broke was not as much of a problem as I thought it was. Nor was missing out on memes, or random Twitter discourse that didn’t quite amount to news or quite amount to memes. Sometimes I found myself wishing I could share articles or other links that I liked, but it’s been interesting to reflect on why I think I “should” or “need” to share.

Over 46 days, I don’t know that I necessarily want to return to Twitter, and its toxic messes that so often seeped into my Internet life. After all, people still post Twitter screenshots that are impactful or funny or cute to my other social media platforms, so I wasn’t even missing too much.

I did break a handful of times to look at specific Twitter accounts, like a coworker’s who told me it was her last day but didn’t tell me where she was headed because she announced it publicly on her Twitter account, or another person who I had spoken with over Twitter DM several weeks prior about interviewing at my company and I discovered had been hired. And two of those times, I did get lured in by the trending topics.

All in all, this was a really successful Lenten fast that I needed more than I realized. As much as I told myself that other people’s business and the news and even the hyperfast meme cycle did not stress me out, at least this year, it did, and unnecessarily so.

Daily Journaling

Unlike Lent 2020, daily journaling did not go very well this year. I was really hoping it would, because then my journal could come full circle from the daily habit of last year. But I often felt like I had nothing to write in my journal. The past few weeks, I’ve felt very numb. The days come and go, and before I’ve noticed, the sun has risen and fallen and risen and fallen and days and weeks have passed.

There were evenings I would think about my journal, visualize it sitting in my drawer, and feel guilty about not writing in it. I wrote in it more frequently than I did outside of a Lenten period but it was no where near daily. Still, I am glad to be continuing the documentation of this strange time in my life, and I’m glad that Lent encouraged me to write more. I don’t know what my journaling practice was look like afterwards, but I know it will continue even if not at the frequency I would like. I’ve been journaling for over a year now and see no reason to completely stop.

Daily Meditation

This was the biggest failure of Lent this year hahaha. I very rarely meditated at all during the past 6+ weeks and I don’t have a clear answer as to why. When I was meditating daily over the summer, I noticed a lot of benefit, but since then, it has been much more difficult for me to sit still with my thoughts and my breathing. During this year’s Lent, in particular, I often either felt too restless to meditate (yes, meditation would have helped with that and yet it does require an initial deposit of restfulness, doesn’t it) or I felt so completely zoned out already that meditation didn’t even occur to me, so away from myself did I already feel.

I know that meditation is a good practice and would benefit me a lot. I’m still trying to figure out a good way to let myself get into it more and better.


Did you give up anything for Lent?
Do you have suggestions for other things I could give up for future Lents or as a challenge to myself?

“carmen” by one of my favorite artists, Stromae – a great song and video about Twitter and social media

On missing… the stars

Last weekend, before Governor Cuomo surprised us by announcing that New Yorkers ages 30+ would be eligible to find vaccine appointments on March 30 and ages 16+ on April 6…

… I was having a really difficult time.

While I wasn’t sad all day, I felt a bit low energy and certainly wasn’t particularly cheerful. When I settled in to watch a documentary series about our solar system, a thought suddenly popped into my head:

I haven’t seen the stars in over a year.

This spiraled into other thoughts like:

I haven’t felt the wind or the warmth of the sun in weeks.
I haven’t seen a baby or pet a dog in over a year.
I haven’t held my parents in even longer.


But something about not having seen the stars… broke me a little.

It feels silly to write, and it felt silly having to explain to my husband why I was crying while learning about Voyager 2, but, naturally, I have always had a keen affinity for the stars. It’s strange how much my name has shaped me and my interests but I do feel something special when it comes to the stars and the cosmos; a kinship maybe?

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

– Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer

Again, it feels embarrassing that such a small and arbitrary thing could affect me like this, a year into the pandemic, but sometimes your emotions just ebb and flow and you can get knocked down by a simple realization like not being able to see the stars from the middle of an urban jungle, and not leaving that urban setting for over a year.

Take care x

What would you do if…?

I don’t quite have it in me to start going into my thoughts about the recent spate of anti-Asian violence. There are a lot. Even in my journals, I struggle to articulate how I feel and what I want in the midst of everything, on top of, you know, the pandemic that is still happening.

I have been scared of anti-Asian racism since February of last year, before the shutdown reached the United States but after Asian businesses started suffering as a result of racist coronavirus rhetoric. After spending over a month without stepping foot outside my apartment building, I emerged only to get an antibody test, and instead of enjoying the beautiful weather like my partner wanted, I begged to go home as fast as possible, because I was scared that someone would spot us – 2 Asian people, wearing masks – and, at best, yell at us.

There have been… too many photos and videos and stories of anti-Asian incidents in the news, especially right here in New York City. With each one, I can’t help wondering:

What would I have done if I saw this happening to someone else on the street?
What would I have done if it were happening to me?

Honestly, after some hard honesty with myself, I don’t think I am mentally prepared to handle either of these situations, and I would go home feeling guilty and bad and a whole storm of negative emotions.

That’s why I was very glad to sign up for the free trainings offered by Hollaback in partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Free Bystander Intervention training to stop anti-Asian/American and xenophobic harassment in the wake of the coronavirus.

https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention

Today, I went through “How to respond to harassment for people experiencing anti-Asian/American harassment training” and I am signed up for “Bystander intervention to stop anti-Asian/American harassment and xenophobia”.
Hollaback also offers trainings that are not specific to Asian/American harassment that I recommend as well.

https://www.ihollaback.org/harassmenttraining

In the training I attended today, 91% of attendees who responded to the in-session poll reported identifying as women. Many people in the Q&A expressed a desire to see more men in attendance. I hope that more men are in attendance at the bystander intervention training, as men often have more power to prevent or stop or de-escalate harassment incidents.

If you are interested in one or more of these trainings, or know someone who has expressed a feeling of “I wish I could help, I just wouldn’t know what to do”, please take a look at the dates available and share with the people in your life. It is a free Zoom webinar, where you do not have to participate or show yourself on camera; there are optional polls that you may respond to if you’d like.

It can be difficult to make the time for a training like this, so if it is difficult for you, I recommend starting with Hollaback’s bystander resources, which covers their 5 Ds: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, Direct. There are many great infographics on this page, as well as many on Instagram that share the same information. The bottom of the first link above also has many great links to resources.

https://www.ihollaback.org/bystander-resources/


Please stay safe out there, and take good care of yourselves.
Take a break from the news. Drink lots of water. Wear a mask when you leave your home.

If you have good news, cute animals, or funny memes to share in this difficult time, please do! I could really use it. 🙂

BEDA 2021…?

Last year, I successfully completed Blog Every Day April, BEDA, for the very first time, after many years of attempts dating back about a decade.

This year… I don’t think I’ll make it.
I barely wanted to post today, on day 1.

My heart just isn’t in blogging anymore, and as more time passes between blog posts, I feel this mounting pressure to write something significant and worthy of my long absence. I keep paying for this blog domain and really hate giving up on or quitting things, so this isn’t a dramatic goodbye. It’s just a tempering of expectations.

I’ll try to blog more this month. Even though I do feel a lot of pressure to write something good on here, as I have grown and the cobwebs around here have grown, BEDA has always been a chance for me to let quality of writing take a break. Done is better than perfect, and published is better than good?

Maybe because I’m an extrovert who frequently finds my thoughts falling more neatly into place as I articulate them out loud, a year of not talking as much to different people has made my thoughts feel more jumbled, more halting, less nice to write out. There are a lot of feelings tumbling around in my brain but they don’t all feel like fully-formed thoughts just yet.

Maybe over this month, more of them will be.


An unplanned habit I have been doing this year is creating monthly playlists of every song that randomly popped into my head. Here’s the playlist for March:

One Year of Working From Home

I’m so lucky, and privileged, to have even been able to work from home for the past 365 days. I understand that I am only able to do so because other people are not, that I am only able to have groceries and dinners and office supplies delivered to me during a year I rarely left my building thanks to the work of people who are not paid enough. I hope that you will join me in supporting the people and businesses that have sustained us throughout this year and who brought us joy in the time before… and the soon to come time after.

A year ago today, I set myself up to work from my dining room table after taking my laptop AND charger home from work, at the behest of my husband. The day prior, I was just getting settled in the office after a theme park visit (!) and a cruise (!!), but he was very worried about the news about the virus while I was much more nonchalant about it, so I humored him and packed my bag as though I was planning to do work over the weekend, which I hate and never do. That day, I remember tracking which office buildings near ours had confirmed positive cases: the building next to ours, a building owned by the same company, a building ours was connected to. The head of Port Authority was confirmed to be positive for the novel coronavirus after conducting visits to nearly every major airport, train station, and bus terminal. I went home early to avoid rush hour, but the trains were still full, and we couldn’t avoid feeling both in want of masks in such close proximity to other riders and consciousness of the stares other people of Asian descent got for wearing them. I asked leadership if we should expect to be back in the office after a week or maybe a month.

My office would ask employees to work from home one day after I began doing so. Later that evening, after “commuting” from the side of my dining table designated for work to the side of the table designated for eating, we would learn that Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks tested positive, the first celebrities who did at that time, and that the NBA was cancelling their season after Rudy Gobert tested positive. A day later, Broadway announced shows would be cancelled, and the majority of New York City offices were closed.

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