I deactivated Instagram in a fit of anger with myself a few weeks ago, but while I feel free from my feed and stories and posting, I wasn’t free from the guilt of renewing my blog domain and not posting here.
So I thought I’d just share a few photos of the nicer memories I have from the past few months, a bunch of moments that I considered writing entire blog posts about but was honestly a bit too out of it to follow through. Depending on how I feel, I might go back and do belated posts, but I’ve been blogging for 2 decades now so it seems unlikely unless something is specifically requested.
After a long year and change, and a weary ordeal trying to secure my appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine in New York City, and finally getting my doses…
I’m finally fully vaccinated against COVID-19* *many variants of it, at least
To be honest, I thought I wouldn’t be eligible to even enter the rat race for vaccine appointments until about now, but I like to think that New York’s Governor Cuomo couldn’t take California’s Governor Newsom announcing earlier 30+ and 16+ eligibility dates, which was why several Mondays ago he announced that 30+ could get vaccinated the following day and 16+ the week after. I had to wait until the 16+ date, but it was still a month ahead of when I thought I’d be able to even think about getting vaccinated.
And because I was mentally unprepared to even have a vaccine appointment, I quickly became really overwhelmed trying to plan for a post-vaccine life. Could I see my family? Could I meet friends in the city? Could I attend a wedding a month later?? After 13 months of not having to plan more than a few days in advance and calculating almost zero risk with other humans, I felt myself shutting down a bit once my appointments were booked.
But here we are, maxed on the vax. So here’s what my personal experience was like.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.