feedback, please!

Storytellers

Storytellers1

You guys. I’m just going to go ahead and apologize ahead of time because I’m going to be using phrases like, “I remember when,” and “Back in the old days,” and I’m very aware of how tedious and eye-rolly that can be. BUT.

Back in the old days (See? I wasn’t kidding.) when I first started online journaling in the late 90s, it was a brand new world where I could share a story on my computer with my family who lived miles and miles away. I’d post pictures and write what was essentially a monthly update about the kids and it was fun and it meant something personal.

And then in 2002 when Joe moved me to WordPress, my mind was blown with how easy it was to add posts and update more often and easily put in images and add headers and and and…

But it was the day he introduced me to Dooce.com and said, “Look. Here’s someone else writing about their life and sharing it with the others,” that I realized there was the possibility of a real community out there in the innernets.

Soon after that I started my sidebar blogroll and kept people listed there that I felt a connection to and I started my interview series to highlight interesting writers and photographers and “internet people.”

We had a smaller group then. It was 2004 by that time and more and more people were beginning to write their stories but it still felt like we could keep track of each other. It still felt small even as it was growing. I kept seeking out new bloggers so other people could find them and I loved it! And then at some point the world of blogging wasn’t about storytelling anymore. It was all about “Brands” and “Cultivating an Audience” and sidebar ads, which I tried out in various forms myself and have nothing against in the abstract.

But things changed over the next few years, didn’t they? We started having fewer and fewer storytellers and leaving comments on blogs became a way for people to make money. Traffic was king and everyone was being judged on their numbers. We could look up each others stats and decide if that person was worth knowing on or offline at a conference. If they were worth our time. If what they were saying mattered because other people said it mattered. Oh, popularity. Just like High School.

That was when I didn’t want to do interviews anymore and I shut my series with bloggers down. It wasn’t fun to get emails from people saying they should be interviewed by me because “they were getting 10,000 uniques a month and wasn’t that enough? Why wouldn’t I interview them? What was wrong with them?”

I stuck to Google Reader. I went in and read the websites I loved every single day and left comments when it struck me to do so based on their stories and not on their brands. I still felt a part of a community of friends.

When Google Reader went away, I really felt like I was being abandoned. (I’m still kinda upset about it.) The other options of feed readers were all lacking (for my needs) so I just dropped out. And I’ve missed out and I’ve missed you!

Storytellers3

I miss the real stories. They are still out there. I see some of my old friends are still blogging and talking like real humans without all the freshly pressed look of a fine magazine going on. Not that I’m dissing fine magazines. I like them. But I’m much less likely to leave a comment on a post that isn’t a personal story. That’s where the heart is.

I recently noticed that Angela has an old-fashioned sidebar blogroll (You don’t mind if I call it old-fashioned, do you Angela? Not you, it!) and it got me thinking. I should stop complaining about missing Google Reader and woe-is-me-ing and do something about it.

So here it is, finally, the request I have for you. If you know of a writer/blogger who is telling personal stories and not “crafting their brand for an audience,” would you let me know? I’d like to add them to my Storytellers page. I’d like to read them and connect with them. I’d like to cultivate a community again. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you! I know there have to be thousands out there that I’ve missed out on while my head’s been in the sand.

Personal story telling and this community is what’s helped me through some really tough times. Really feeling other people’s stories is what it’s all about for me. Help me find you.

Eco-Friendly Driving

I’m collecting ideas on how to be eco-conscious while driving around the country. Our van is not a small, fuel efficient vehicle and if we had the means to do it, we’d probably trade it in. Although, the van affords us space to sleep if we want/need to for a few nights here and there.

Besides trying to conserve gas by not speeding and not running the AC (easy since it’s winter right now), getting out to eat instead of idling at the drive-thru, recycling all our trash and using our own containers for water and coffee when we stop – what are we missing?

Other things we’re trying to do – not buy any consumer plastic crap goods, only buy things for give-aways that are handmade by local vendors, take fast showers and wear everything twice to save on laundry washing impact.

Please leave your ideas in the comments. We’d like to do everything we can to offset our impact on the environment.

Cross-posted at Reboot.

Fan Mail

I rarely reply to or post email here from people that send me hate mail or very strongly worded You Suck mail or You are a Liar mail. I don’t post it because I don’t like to dwell on the negative and I feel like giving them any time on this blog gives it more life of its own and the negativity grows and there are so many other things to write about.

However, I’m making an exception for this one. I feel like it is born out of misunderstanding of what I’ve written or perhaps I didn’t do as good a job of explaining my process or how I navigated DID as I thought I did.

I’d love any feedback you might have on whether I need to go back and rewrite parts of my bio for a better explanation. Of course, if you’ve read my book, you’d know much more about what I did and how I did it, but if you haven’t read it, than maybe my bio doesn’t make sense.

Here is the email with my reply following.

Hello Leah,

I am a 39 year-old woman with D.I.D, and I am a psychiatric social worker who is very well educated on this topic. (Despite the knowledge base I do not treat those with dissociative disorders) I am responding to your biography which you have posted on your web site. I usually don’t comment about such things, but something your wrote leaves me feeling compelled to respond.

You wrote:

“In May, I’m released to the care of my sister and accept the terms of having to attend therapy. The hospital sets up my first appointment and I mistakenly go to see Dr. Clancy who has stopped seeing people with dissociative disorders. After speaking with me for an hour, he decides to make an exception and take me on as a client. He helps me see that my kids may have a use for me in their lives after all. In July, my divorce is final. I complete the integration process.”

You started therapy in May, and you finished the integration process in two months???????

I’m sorry, and I don’t mean any disrespect, but that is total bullshit and a great disservice to those of us who have been working years to overcome the trauma and torment which cased us to be dissociative. You write earlier that you were not aware of some things that you did (sex with strangers). If one is dissociative to the point of losing time, there is NO WAY that in 2 months integration is achieved. That defies explanation and is controverted by ALL of the clinical literature. If you are familiar with treatment of dissociative disorders then you know that this (lengthy and arduous )treatment is done in stages, the first of which often takes YEARS.

I mean no disrespect (although I appreciate that this might be hard to read and not feel disrespected) and I in no way mean to dismiss or downplay your struggles, but integration in 2 months? Am I missing something? How can someone who has been tormented (in an ongoing, severe and unrelenting way) to the point of a dissociative disorder integrate years of trauma and torture in 2 months? That’s ridiculous. Either you didn’t have a dissociative disorder or you are full of shit.

Wow. Pretty strong. I would have appreciated a more inquiring type of email as opposed to an accusatory one, but I don’t get to choose what kind of people are going to take issue with me, so there you go.

In my bio I write about how during 1990 thru 1995 I went through years of therapy and I worked towards integration during the times I (Leah) was aware of what was happening. Also, in the 2001 year I write about getting serious about getting well and journaling from all the personalities perspectives. That was all work towards integration as well. By the time I met Dr. Clancy, I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. And I did it because all my personalities were on the same page and wanted the same thing. I can give you Dr. Clancy’s info if you’d like to contact him regarding my process, although I can’t guarantee he would talk to you even though you say you are a psychiatric social worker. In the foreward to my book he tells how things happened with him and that is was highly unusual for us to reach integration so quickly.

I suppose I could make it more clear in my bio and make sure and use the phrases ‘towards integration’ and such, but I like it the way it reads now and don’t feel compelled to change it because someone I don’t know and have never corresponded with and have no way of knowing who they are tells me I’m full of bullshit.

One thing I’ve learned writing my new book and doing research for the work I do on Tara is that no two people’s experience of DID is the same. Everyone has their own sets of experiences that made them that way and their own sets of solutions they come up with to cope. Some people go to therapy their whole life, never to work through what happened. Some people become integrated. And some people go through things faster than others. I would not ever tell someone that their experience is bullshit because it is different than mine. I’ve met too many people with their own stories.

Thank you for sharing your perspective.
Have a nice day.

I Ain't Got No College Degree

Finding a new job is hard for just about everyone. Unless you’re the guy who is being hounded by offers, I guess. I’m not sure who that guy is, but I know it happens. For me, finding a job entails lots of searching and networking and hustling. And also looking up in the thesaurus the difference between ‘excel’ and ‘proficient’ because good god that could mean a 5K difference in salary or an office with a view or one with just paper clips. It involves lots of sleepless nights and stomachaches while I remind myself how much I don’t qualify for anything and go down the list of If Only They Knew. And I’ve landed a few really great positions with excellent companies full of people that I hated leaving and wished I could work with forever. I know I did a great job working for/with them and I have a quiver of recommendation letters and references to prove it. But moving to be closer to my kids and being ill for a few months over a year ago necessitated changes in employment. I’ve tried to roll with the punches and embrace what’s next.

Recently, as I shined up the ol’ resume for a new go at things, I answered an ad which stated it required a 4-year degree. This is not new. I’ve done it many times before. I have no 4-year degree but, in past years, I’ve thought nothing of including in my cover letter something to the effect of, ‘You indicated a requirement of a 4-year degree. I have [X]# of years of experience and [X]# of references I could send to you by way of indicating my qualifications for this position in lieu of said degree blah blah blah.” To which I’ve never received a negative response. Until now.

Yes, quite possibly I’ve received no negative response because 9 out of 10 times, my resume went straight into the shredder. Or the recycling bin, as it were, since I was considered unqualified. And I’ve been OK with knowing that could be true. I’ve always held some sense of Universal Timing and felt in my bones that the right companies would still find me attractive and I would land the position I was meant to have when the time was right.

But never did I consider that I might be angering people on the other side. I didn’t feel that having to read through the first three lines of my cover letter would waste so much of the reader’s time as to do some type of permanent damage to their retina, as this last enraged reply implied.

Ms. Peterson,

You have no idea how insulting it is to receive you application for [this really awesome position] with [this slightly less attractive company] this afternoon. Our description said in very certain terms that we are looking for someone WITH a COLLEGE DEGREE. You DO NOT have a COLLEGE DEGREE. Perhaps if you had a COLLEGE DEGREE, you would not have wasted the very valuable time it has taken me to read your application LACKING a COLLEGE DEGREE and respond to you with this email. (Ed. – to be fair, I didn’t ask her to reply is she was going to be an asshole, just if she was interested in speaking with me. So I’m not sure that last part was accurate. But what do I know? I don’t have a COLLEGE DEGREE.) In the future, may I suggest you do not blunder in this way again and refrain from replying to job positions that explicitly require a COLLEGE DEGREE. A good way to smarten up – GO TO COLLEGE.

Very, very sincerely,
[Redacted] [Extremely less attractive company at this point]

And so, my friends, I’m smarting a little from embarrassment. I’d like a college degree, sure. But I don’t see me finishing 2 years of remaining school in the next couple of weeks. And I’m more than slightly worried about sending out more cover letters with the same information I’ve been sending out that so ticked off this woman with so little time, except just enough, to write me a stinging email. I do not want to burn bridges or get a poor reputation. I feel, in a word, stuck.

Will write stupid poetry as payment for constructive advice and helpful feedback.

So Then……

It was all going so well.

And then I remembered I was me. And since I’m me, I want to do about a bajillion projects at one time.

But seriously, let’s just say that there was this place. And when you went to that place, virtually, you could trade a handmade craft that YOU made for one that someone ELSE made of equal value. There would be no money involved except what you spent for shipping your own craft to the other person. Would you want to? Are you a crafter? Is this worth my time? Am I insane?

Well, let’s just leave that last question alone.

But I have to tell you, I have three craft trades of my very own lined up with her and her and her and I am PUMPED and loving this entire idea. Have you seen me pumped before? No?? You are lucky, Pumpkin, very lucky.

But I have a dream! A dream of a crafty exchange! Who’s with me? Unless someone already did this and I missed it. Because I did search, just so ya know.

My Ineptitude Is Astounding

Not once, not twice or three times, but four times in the past year, my friends, I have deleted the folder with all my daily read links in it. I love Firefox and would preach it if they asked me, but COME ON it would be nice to have a question box that asks ‘Are you really sure, YOU IDIOT, that you want to delete this entire folder you have been working on for months?’

So. Sigh. I am not going to remake the folder. Instead I’m going to do what I said I would never do because it seemed so dang hard. I made a link page on my blog. And since the links are there, there is no reason to have them on the side bar.

Because I am a delete-happy idiot, I’ve lost a good third of the sites I read. If you know that I read your site, please comment in this post so I can add your link to my page.

Current Smarts: Global Warming (and the imminent demise of the human race)

Global warming discussions are everywhere. There are those that believe it doesn’t exist. There are those that believe it exists but that it isn’t due to humans. There are those that believe if we change our output of dangerous gases, we can alter the atmosphere to such a degree that we can reverse the damage. There are those who believe that probably, there is nothing we can do.

Is it wrong for me to think that it might be a tad on the egotistical side to think that us humans 1.) are the major cause and 2.) can stop or reverse it? It reminds me of when people say there must not be life in outer space because we haven’t seen it, as if we, the humans on earth, are the most important and smartest beings in the universe.

Maybe the earth is just going through the cycle it’s supposed to go through. Maybe humans are meant to be here for a finite amount of time. Maybe we as a people are careless and hurt Mother Earth and use our resources too quickly but maybe it won’t make a difference if we don’t. I don’t think the dinosaurs were concerned with what crop they would be eating in 10 years. They woke up, lived their day and did the things that were natural for them to do which included eating what they found and living where it made sense to live. And maybe that’s us: we wake up, improve our lives, explore science and new technology and output whatever that entails and keep living our lives the way that makes sense. When you put us all together, we are a living, breathing organism on the face of the earth, causing whatever damage we cause in an effort to sustain life. And when earth no longer affords life, we won’t live.

Nihilistic? Not really. I do believe we have value and contribute to whatever the greater good is. And I definitely think there are ways to slow the impact of what is happening to our earth by shopping and eating locally, reusing and recycling and the like. I definitely think we should all be living conscientiously and trying our best to be good stewards over what we have been given. But I must admit that I have little to no faith that any changes will occur to the degree and with the timing that would be necessary to stop global warming and the greenhouse effect. There was nothing we could do to hurry our turn to live here and I don’t think there is much we can do to prolong our stay.

Current Smarts: Voting

My dad is Patriotic. Wait, I should have written it like this: CAPITOL P-atriotic. He used to read excerpts from newsletters written by Dobson and Schlafly at the dinner table. He sent me to John Birch camp. He gets tears in his eyes when he talks about the founding fathers. No, I’m not saying you have to be a die-hard Republican to be patriotic. I’m just saying my dad is both.

I can’t tell you how many times we talked about how great America was because it was a democracy and the people got to make the choices that shaped the direction the government went. And I believed it. Pretty much all of it. Until something happened. I turned into a teenager. And because I associated my father with being Republican, and based on that alone, I couldn’t support them anymore. I started watching the debates on TV and I didn’t like them. I turned into a Democrat just to be rebellious.

Somewhere in my mid-twenties, while married and living abroad, with my (then)husband fighting the wars and skirmishes that I had no control over (even as a Democrat!) I spent a year or so hating Clinton and wishing for a Republican president. The Germans didn’t want us there. We didn’t want to be there. As far as I could tell, we weren’t doing any good there and I didn’t understand what took so long for us to downsize our presence there. And then, we were downsized and it sucked even more than before because we had to drive twice as long (2 hours in no traffic) for just about any military type service. There was just no pleasin’ me. But, as I understand it, we still have a presence there and probably always will, just like we will in every country we put our people in. We are the friends that don’t know when to go home.

Somewhere during the 90s, I got a bad taste in my mouth about our government and how it worked. Or, didn’t work. I didn’t like the futility I felt in wanting anything to change. I didn’t see how anything could be changed. And I just kind of turned myself off. It didn’t seem to matter who was president or running the house.

In the late 90s, I had a very personal experience with our healthcare system when I tried to get help for my waning mental condition and found that in order to get well, I’d have to move out of California and continually debate my way to proving that I was incompetent in order to qualify for help. Which I eventually did. But it was dehumanizing and for months my depression was mostly about not feeling like a whole or worthwhile person after repeating just how incompetent I was day after day after day. Thankfully, I got the help I needed and am one of the lucky ones. However, my anger and frustration with our government and its Systems is pretty overwhelming. And then you have this war. And Bush being reelected. And why do I even get out of bed in the morning?

All of this is to tell you: I’m not a voter. The last time I voted was in 2004, and I hated it so bad that I immediately tried to purge it from my memory. It feels so WRONG and CONDESCENDING to find out at 1pm that your state has already been counted for one candidate or another when you haven’t even VOTED YET. Futility. But, I still went and cast my vote for the losing team.

By the time a party-approved candidate gets elected to any government position they have made so many promises, accepted so much money from special interests and scratched so many backs that it just seem so altruistic and naive to believe they are still working ‘for the people.’ How could they possibly? And if my only choices are two people that have been ‘party-approved’ and I don’t believe in them, where is my recourse? Why is it always the guy I don’t like or the guy I don’t like more?

I’ve been so ashamed to talk about this. Partly because of the way I was raised and partly because I do so appreciate living in a country where we have a certain amount of freedom. And I think the thing that my soul bridles against is that it feels to me that this whole voting thing we do is a charade, a game, a way for the powers that be to placate us (the little people) into thinking we are doing something, anything, when really we are just spinning our wheels. I also believe that if you are going to complain about something, you better be prepared to do something about it. Stop whining and change it. But in this case, I can’t figure out how to change anything, which has created some kind of immobility on my part. But, if the entire country was filled with people like me, nothing would ever get done and there would be no hope. So doing what I’ve been doing, not voting, can’t be the answer.

I went looking online to see if I was alone in this. I mean, I know that one of the main refrains we hear is that half of America’s people don’t vote and a close second is the youth of today don’t vote. Remember Sean Combs and the Vote or Die/Rock the Vote campaign? He got an additional 4 million voters in that demographic to come out and vote but everywhere you listened, they talked about how that campaign did no good and it was a waste. An additional 4 million votes were a waste? Then what good does my one vote do?

This guy thinks that voting is actually un-American. This guy is celebrating not voting 42 times. . I can see their point, but I don’t agree. Author Jane Haddam has some interesting views in her series. James Clingman wrote something wonderful in the Baltimore Times Online. A few years ago the Center for Voting and Democracy held an essay contest. Here is what the ‘youth’ had to say about why we don’t vote. Steven Hill, in 2002, writes that the youth not voting has nothing to do with them being apathetic, since the trend is for them to be more involved in the community than ever before. This article/class outline talks about how important each vote is going back as far as the election in 1824-25. Here is a frustrated Conservative. Proving that this is in no way a new problem, here is an article from 1976 which includes a nice breakdown of percentages for the time. Also, I didn’t realize that you were fined in other countries for not voting. Australia had a 97% voting turnout (in 1972) in part to avoid paying a $15 fine each. Youth Noise is trying to entice the younger voter. Apparently you can text your friends with voting messages. And they have edgy taglines:

“These are edgy attempts to raise awareness and bring young people into the site and get a better understanding of why it would be important to vote in the midterm elections,” said YouthNoise CEO Ginger Thomson of the ad campaign. By edgy, she means taglines suggesting young adults don’t vote “Because I like rich, old, white men telling me what to do,” “Because I like 90% of my paycheck going to taxes,” and “Because I’m so homophobic I can’t even touch myself.”

There is good information on the AARP’s Don’t Vote site by state. And if you live in California, Easy Voter has your info.

Do you vote? Why or why not?

Oh Golly, Miss Molly

Alright, friends. It is that time. I’m finally ready, willing and able to put together that writers group we all got excited over a few months back.

Here is what I know so far:

I DON’T

1. want to be the president, vice president, secretary or treasurer of anything.
2. want anyone else to be president, vice president, secretary or treasurer of anything.
3. want to be paid or pay anyone else.
4. want strong or critical critiquing
5. want to feel pressured to perform at each meeting.

I DO:

1. want to show up on a bi-weekly to monthly regular basis.
2. want to drink coffee/brewskies.
3. want to spend a few hours per meeting with like-minded people.
4. want to have it be a relaxing and fun environment.

I DON’T MIND:

1. if I’m the one to set up the meeting place.
2. if I’m the contact person.
3. if we have writings prompts or themes as long as they aren’t mandatory.
4. if you buy me a coffee or brew.
5. if we have an official name of some kind like ‘Writing Creatives’ as long as it’s not stuffy or dumb.

Thoughts and ideas welcome. As soon as people let me know they are interested, we’ll find a location that is central to the most people. If you have any items to add to the lists above, let me know and I’ll update accordingly.

Shout out in the comments or send me an email. Let’s shoot for a first meeting the first part of November….?
xo

Current Smarts: Online Gambling

Have you heard of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act?
Facts
Pro
Con

I started paying attention to the goings-on because my husband’s new job is with a payment company. Most interesting thing to note: his days off do not coincide with the rest of the world because those days are high shopping days and he must be at work to monitor things etc.

In any case, the large majority of their business is with retail but they do have a solid amount of companies that do wallet transactions, meaning, they remove money from your account and ‘hold’ it until you use it and then deposit it, in this case, at the gaming site. One of the main reasons these wallet companies exist is for online gambling.

Should online gambling be regulated or outlawed? What is wrong with the way things are right now? I’m not sure I see the problem. But if there is a problem, it makes much more sense to me to regulate and tax the gaming than to prohibit it. Didn’t we learn anything in the 1920s?

I hate Vegas because I can smell the desperation 30 miles out. It is a law in my family that we DO NOT STOP in Vegas no matter if you have to pee like a racehorse or if you are starving. I am not a gambler. I can count on one hand the times I have inserted a quarter, pulled a level and kissed my money goodbye. I have never signed up on an online gambling site and I have no plans to. I do not enjoy it and I do not see that changing any time soon.

However, I do see the propensity for problems with gambling. I am aware that there is a large amount of senior citizens in Vegas that gamble their entire SS checks the minute they get them every month. I understand that it can be an addiction. But to argue your point saying that 1 in 4 college-aged boys gambles online weekly and that we need to save them from themselves and then move from there to making it illegal makes no sense to me.

I think my main issue with the idea of making online gambling illegal is that this bill doesn’t actually do that. It is set up to penalize the ‘wallet’ companies that hold your money. This bill makes it illegal to be that company and do that act. The gambler will not get in trouble. But, the gambler may lose the money deposited in his account when the company he uses to hold his money gets nailed. If he does get it back, it will be after a long time.

My second issue is the hypocrisy of having a Lotto here in California that supports our schools, that is advertised on television and radio, that our government COUNTS on to subsidize costs to educate our children and then on the same coin passing this bill. So, it’s ok to gamble, but only if you do it the way we want you to. Is that the message? And if so, then regulating and taxing still makes more sense than prohibiting it.

Do you agree or disagree? What am I missing?

Why Do I Listen?

I can never get enough of public radio. I know where all the stations are in my area. I know when my favorite shows are on. I sometimes sit in the car for an extra 5-10 minutes after reaching my destination just to finish listening.

The end result of this is that I’m kind of sort of informed about a wide variety of subjects. A connoisseur of tiny tid-bits, if you will. I can carry one side of a conversation with someone that knows more than I do pretty well. It’s when I try to tell someone that has less knowledge than I do, about any certain subject that has caught my fancy, that we find ourselves in trouble, people, since I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I have, some people might say, just enough knowledge to be dangerous (and/or annoying).

What I notice, however, is that my feelings on the subject are not proportional to the amount of knowledge I have. For example, if I know 20% of all there is to know about immigration, shouldn’t I be 20% on the scale in how strong I feel about it? This is theorizing that there is a way to quantify the amount of knowledge on any subject that is to be had. But instead I find that I get passionate about some things right from the start and I want to ‘share’ my feelings and point of view with others. My small and puffy mind wonders if this is a problem for other people as well. Do the people in the public eye know more than I know? Do they spend the time to really know their subjects well, front and back, before formulating an opinion and going out on the path to support Pro-Choice or Pro-Life? There are times when I’m completely hot under the collar and spewing strong opinion and passion everywhere only to find out a few days later that I’m actually full of crap.

Since I am by nature an impatient person as well as slightly lazy, or at least drawn to comfort and ease as opposed to being driven, for the most part, to spend my days researching politics and current events, and because I have this public format that I am free to use any way I wish, I might as well spill my over-saturated, passionate feelings about subjects I don’t actually have all the facts for here. I need a name for these new recurring posts.

In this series, I will not even try to pretend that I know everything about the subject at hand. I will merely state my current opinion and hope that you, dear reader, will agree or not agree in my comments so that I can actually get a well-rounded and more full knowledge base on said subject. Look for the first installment this week.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Tuesday.

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