Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's ok to be alone

For my whole life, I'm not sure that I've ever been alone as much as I have this week.

Technically, I'm not really at all. I'm "with" CW, even though he's not here right now. I'm living in OUR apartment, and he'll be home on Saturday.

But it feels like I'm alone. I have to do everything for myself, like buy new filters for the Brita pitcher, unclog the toilet, clean the floors, plan the meals, make plans. It's weird to not have someone else I can call or text to ask "hey pick this up" or "bring this upstairs".

When I was a kid, there were 3 or 4 or 5 other kids running around my house. Plus my mom and dad. And then I was in school surrounded by people. Then I went to college and had basically no privacy. Then I lived at home again, then I lived with CW and MC (and the other MC for most of the time), and now I live with Chris.

Every once in a while, I'll have a few hours or an afternoon or even a whole night to myself, but during this past week, I've woken up, eaten most of my meals, and gone to bed alone.

I have been hyper aware and very careful to make as many plans as possible this week so I wouldn't be alone for any real length of time. I was afraid of being with just myself, at least I was for the first few days. Last Thursday night I consoled myself with disgusting pizza. I ran away for the weekend to Maine to be with my family. I cried on Sunday night after I hung up the phone with CW - that was the last I expected to talk to him until Friday or Saturday. (For almost 6 years, I've always been able to call him, no matter the time of day or where he was in the world; maybe there was a day or two at a time when we coudn't touch base, but never 10 whole days. In fact, I don't think I've been unable to reach someone I loved for that long in my whole life.) Monday I worked until 10pm, and Tuesday I went out to dinner and went shopping.

But then Wednesday, I woke up so happy. It was a beautiful day, I was so comfortable, I had a delicious breakfast. And even though I had plans with AG later in the evening, I didn't feel the need to schedule every minute to keep busy until I'd be with someone again. I puttered around the house cleaning up. I had a cocktail and read a book. It was ok.

This morning, I watched this video, which both put into perspective how very not alone I actually am, and made me happy that I was enjoying, to a certain extent, having the apartment to myself. In fact, I thought to myself, I ought to be alone more often.

Sometimes I spend too much time in my head, and I need CW, or someone else, to snap me out of it. But maybe if i let myself get lost in my own head more often, I'd be better at finding my way back out of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Confusion about Verizon and Net Neutality

Actually, I'm more confused about Google. Actually, I don't understand the whole thing. All I heard was that Verizon and Google proposed a payscale for the Internet, so people who pay more get their stuff pushed to the front and those who don't pay won't get found the same way they can be found now.

Which sounds like a terrible idea to me. So why is Google, my champion of Goodness on the Internet, signing on with this?

So what do I do? I google more information. Naturally.

This is where I found good explanation of exactly what Google and Verizon are proposing. Basically, it doesn't sound that bad. But none of the restrictions they are proposing apply to wireless? Which is, experts say, is going to become how we all access the Internet?

This source explains:
It seems that the prevailing logic is that there's simply not enough spectrum for this idyllic "play fair" scenario to truly work, so fewer restrictions would be necessary for the wireless internet space to blossom as the wireless side already has. Moreover, we get the impression that these guys feel the wireless space as a whole is simply too competitive right now to withstand any red tape.
I'm not convinced. A significant (and we're assuming growing) percentag of Verizon's business is in wireless, but they won't have to submit to any of these regulations?

And this is where I learned just how sneaky they are being.

Google...after all these years...why?

This article, on the other hand, says Google and Verizon have the right idea, saying they are only advocating "bandwidth shaping that is vendor-neutral but traffic-specific", which is important:
All of us involved in running networks pay attention to the types of traffic flying about on our lines. We wouldn’t be very good network admins if we didn’t ensure that traffic that needs to get through fast gets through fast and traffic that can tolerate some latency tolerates a bit of latency when it needs to.
But he goes on to say that his mom's Skype call should take precedence over her neighbor's porn downloading. That doesn't sound vendor neutral to me. He argues that we have to do something to prevent the giant traffic jams coming our way since the Internet is growing so fast. How about just developing more efficient ways to deliver more bandwidth, instead of rationing an arbitrarily small amount? I don't have the technical knowledge, but I'll definitely be finding out.

Facebook, of all things, is criticizing this in the interest of openness and fairness. Really, Zuck? But more importantly, really Google? Facebook is in a position to criticize you for this?

I hope this gave you guys a little bit more clarity on the issue; it helped me understand it better. I'll be following this though, so check back for updates!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Getting sleep and reaching goals

There is a pretty cool thing going on called the 30-Day Personal Revoltion Lifestyle Challenge. I was reading about it, checking out peoples' "bucket lists" for the upcoming month, following the Twitter conversation, and getting kind of excited. I could totally do this: publicize my efforts for the next month to accomplish all the goals I keep setting for myself but never complete.

For those who are new:
  • exercising every day
  • taking my dog Maddie on a long walk every day
  • eating three healthy meals each day
  • and flossing.
But then, after I made this list, I realized. The last thing I need to accomplish my goals is another list. I write lists like there's no tomorrow, people, ok? And I've tried the getting-the-public-to-hold me accountable thing. Frankly, that's not your responsibility. Who wants to do that?

Then I was reading Peneleope Trunk again, just re-reading archived posts because I like reminding myself of the little nuggets of wisdom she has that resonate so much with me, and stumbled across one about sleep. And how you don't necessarily need 8 hours, but they reccomend 6 or 7, and if you don't get enough, that grogginess you feel is the equivalent of yu after four beers.

(All of that is linked to in her post, I just can't find t now. Besides, I think you should go poke around on her site anyway.)

And I thought: what if I just stopped trying to make myself get up after 6 hours of sleep and exercise? When I get 7 hours, I don't need to drag myself out of bed.

It's important when you set goals to also set yourself up to succeed, not undermind yourself. How often have we heard or read that? But there I was basically doing that.

I keep saying 'I exercise more reliably when I do it in the morning.' And although whenever I do work out in the morning, I feel great, I DON'T ACTUALLY DO IT. EVER. So what the hell am I talking about??

Penelope also had a post about how, when you insert self-discipline into one small area of your life, it creeps into others on its own. I've already decided the real goal I need to have is to be more disciplined, and now I have the perfect way: just get 7 whole hours of sleep every night.

That means going to sleep by 1130pm and getting up when my alarm goes off at 630am. Then going on a 30-minute walk with Maddie, eating a healthy breakfast, taking a shower and going to work.

(Is there something wrong with me that I need to spell that out for myself?)

I can always exercise in the afternoon when I get home when I'm alert and have energy And 30 minute walk in the morning is both not challenging and exercise, to an extent.

Awesome: the key to reaching my goals is more sleep!

Friday, August 6, 2010

I just read a really fascinating article from The Atlantic published June 2009 about the Harvard Grant study, which “followed 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age” to try and answer the question: “is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life?”

It depends on how one defines a good life. If there is one single thing you aim and strive for in life, be it money, fame, children, whatever, then you're missing out on the MIX part, the balance that I think is necessary to be happy.

If the definition of a successfully life is a long one which, at the end of it, one feels generally happy and feels generally well, then here’s what you have to do:
  • Use mature adaptations (more on that below),
  • Get educated,
  • Maintain a stable marriage,
  • Not smoke,
  • Not abuse alcohol,
  • Get some exercise,
  • Maintain a healthy weight,
  • And maintain good relationships, especially with your siblings.
Note the importance of the verb maintain there. I didn't do that on purpose, that's just how these things have to be written if you want to make them an actionable command. These are things that you have to work at over time - your whole life in fact.

The funny thing about the article is, after so many years of tests and surveys and research, the results are very simple and straightforward. I suppose it's the putting them into practice that is the hard part. When asked what the secret to a good life is, psychiatrist George Vaillant, who has been the chief curator of this study for 42 years, essentially said two things:

“That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
“What we do, [as in our work] affects how we feel just as much as how we feel affects what we do.”
For me, that means people, to be live a long, happy, healthy life, need a purpose: work that keeps them busy and means something, contributes to the larger world in a positive way and good relationships with other people.

The article explained adaptations as defenses against emotional challenges we face, large and small, every day. There are four levels:
  • Psychotic: “like paranoia, hallucination, or megalomania, which, while they can serve to make reality tolerable for the person employing them, seem crazy to anyone else.”
  • Immature: “acting out, passive aggression, hypochondria, projection, and fantasy. These aren’t as isolating as psychotic adaptations, but they impede intimacy.”
  • Neurotic: which “are common in “normal” people. These include intellectualization (mutating the primal stuff of life into objects of formal thought); dissociation (intense, often brief, removal from one’s feelings); and repression."
  • And mature: altruism, humor, anticipation (looking ahead and planning for future discomfort), suppression (a conscious decision to postpone attention to an impulse or conflict, to be addressed in good time), and sublimation (finding outlets for feelings, like putting aggression into sport, or lust into courtship).”
It seems like all the people who drive me nuts, that I very much dislike, and can't stand generally, exhibit immature adaptations. Isn't that comforting?

I didn't understand the intellectualization adaptation, which is why I looked it and most of the others up and linked to their Wikipedia articles. I think I didn't fully understand it because I use it. I don't feel to bad though, because Bones uses it to a much greater extreme than I do.

Maybe because I'm a virgo, but I had a lot of fun looking to see where I fit into all of this.

I have pretty good relationships with my family, and I have good friends who are important to me and I think I'm important to them.

I'm well educated, I think, and plan to be more so.

I don't exercise enough and I probably drink too much. That doesn't bother me at the moment, but I'm beginning to think I ought to pay more attention now, in my young-and-healthy-20s. So that's something I know I need to work on.

I'm getting married in September and I couldn't be happier about it, so I although I know we need to work at maintaining our relationship for the long haul, I'm optimistic.

And as for adaptations, I think I use humor, anticipation, and supression effectively, but opt for projection and intellectualization than altruism or sublimination. But it was also comforting that the study showed, over time, nearly all the subjects gradually adopted "mature" adaptations and shed the lower ones.

This led me to think: what about when I KNOW I'm acting out, being passive aggressive, and projecting as a reaction to some emotional unpleasentness, and that there's a better reaction, but react that way anyway? Is that just immaturity that will go away with time; just me being 23 and taking advantage of the opportunity to sort of get away with it? Or is it truly immature behavior that I need to work on? Honestly, sometimes its more satisfying to slam a door or whine or blame the weather than take responsibility for myself, even when I know its wrong, if only for a little while. I suppose it is for everyone.

Maybe, being an "adult" in Gen Y is about striving for the always doing the right thing, but, unlike other generations, being ok when you don't make it. As long as you're honest about the process.

New Project

I aim to educate myself about education in the US to form a more accurate assessment of what, if anything, is exactly wrong with American education and how to educate Americans better. I have a lot of opinions about this, but no formal training or knowledge, so I've devised a process to gain that. Ultimately, I want to be in a position to bring about change and improvement in American education,
It needs work I know, but that's the gist. My purpose going forward. Basically: I want to be a teacher and think I'd be a good teacher, but also think that the way teachers are trained today is pretty bogus and that the education system itself is severely flawed. I understand, however, that there is much I don't know about the whole thing, so I've come up with a way to learn.

This is my process:
  • Find resources,
  • read them,
  • also read critiques or praise of those sources,
  • at the same time, keep up with current events by following a wide variety of education blogs etc.,
  • and then form opinions, brainstorm solutions, share them, and generally add to the discussion.
I haven't decided if I'll just updated this blog as I go along, start a new blog solely devoted to my progress, or a combination of both. What few, cherished, readers I have here might not be interested in this sort of thing, hence the idea of starting something new to catalog everything.

I guess we'll just see how it goes!