Armchair Activism

As I predicted, National Opt-Out Day came and went, nary a blip on the radar screen of or collective consciousness. I’ve already discussed the reasons I thought this act of civil traffic slowdown wouldn’t go down as forcefully as the organizers hoped.

But I think another issue is at play here. That is: many activists of my generation rely too much on the web to take their stands.

The web is, of course, an amazing tool for putting out information and organizing for various causes. The problem is that it is almost too easy. I get an average of 3 “emergency petitions” every week: clean water for Haiti; stop fracking upstate, stop the new schools chancellor, abolish DADT, prevent tax breaks for the rich… The list goes on. I probably open about half of these emails and add my name to 1 in 3 that I read.

That’s it. It’s almost too easy.

Compare this with the folks on the street, hounding you to “spare a minute for gay rights-” a minute no one ever seems to have. Contrast internet action to door knocking campaigns and phone banks. All of these old methods of organizing are inconvenient. They put the issue out there when you may not want to deal with it. They force you to take time out of your schedule to listen, sign, act.

They also hold you accountable. You are forced to take a stand in front of someone. Saying no is very different from simply ignoring an email. They put you on the spot.

I fear we are becoming so reliant on the new model of armchair activism that we are starting to forget that change is hard. That it is inherently more difficult to take a physical stand than a virtual one. That doing so will probably inconvenience you a bit. And I’m worried too many of us are becoming to accustomed  to signing on, clinking a link and maybe on a difficult day, changing our Facebook photos to cartoon characters to do so.


Thirty Days

You know the rhyme:

30 days has September, April, June and November…

(I still use that one more than I care to admit.)

Here we are. Day 30.

I expected NaBloPoMo to be more difficult than it actually was. Yes, it took some organization and there were a few nights I went out later or came home earlier than perhaps I would have liked, but I managed. The act of writing every day isn’t so difficult when you tell yourself you have to do it and are beholden to a group doing the same thing you are.

It forced me to relax my assumptions a little bit about whether what I’m writing is good enough, or is something people will actually want to read. I’m not sure whether my concern was too many people seeing my writing, or not enough people wanting to read what I have to say, but getting past that and just doing it has been so good for me.

I didn’t attract a miraculous fan base. In fact, the most views I had on a single given day was 20. My most loyal readers (or at least, commenters) are my boyfriend who I see every day and my very good friend in Denmark who I see almost never. And that feels perfect. I like that this is a venue that the people closest to me, whether they sit next to me as I type or read my words 8 hours ahead of me on the other side of the world, can use to check in every now and then on my thoughts. Even when you’re there for all the action, it’s interesting to hear what people choose to tell or not tell. Thanks Chuck and John for  keeping me honest.

And while my closest friends were my most loyal fans, I did get a comment or two from other NaBloPoMo folks who stumbled across this little blog. It’s nice to know that I did reach a few new people, and to feel supported by other people having the same experience.

I don’t know what comes next for my writing. If I could spend as long as I do writing these entries on editing and polishing some of my older work, I might have some real stuff to work with. But then I remember–this is the real stuff. This is my life. Wherever it goes next will be wonderful.

El Gato del Muerto

Despite paying assiduous attention to this comic, I was totally unprepared for Sam to try to kill me last night. Sure, he digs away in his box, sprints out of the room all the time, loves to sleep on keyboards, and wakes me up by pawing my face almost every day, still I remained in denial about his true intentions.

He made his sinister plot known last night though. I was up on my trusty step ladder, trying to reach the top kitchen shelf. As I went to step down–without looking, of course–I stepped onto the back of the cat, who thought standing in the one square foot space behind my step stool was a good use of his time. I figured out what was going on in mid-step, tried to shift my weight, and ended up hitting the ground hard but on my feet. My arm was less lucky, slamming in to the corner of the countertop and developing an ample little black and blue mountain this morning.

Of course, it could have been much worse. The cat got away with nary a scratch, but I fear this may have been one of those test plots where he checks to see where the bugs in the plan are.

I’ll be sleeping with one eye open.


I know it’s been a relaxing weekend, because I took a nap in the middle of the day today. Once I’ve let my body unwind enough to sleep whenever and wherever it wants, I know I’m in good shape. Just in time to go back to work, I hit my pure vacation zone. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Anyway, I earned that nap today. We decided to close out the long weekend by cleaning our apartment. Next weekend a friend is coming to stay with us and we are finally having our housewarming party (6.5 months after we moved in) so it was the kind of cleaning that we wanted to make count. I was in charge of sweeping, mopping, dusting, linen changing, toilet, mirrors and counter tops. After our apartment was properly scrubbed down, we met some friends for a drink to celebrate the end of the long weekend and our hard work. Then it was more work–I took on Sunday dinner with maple-roasted brussel-sprouts and celery root au gratin. Have you ever eaten celery root? It’s a tasty, delicate little thing, but man is it ever ugly.

I’m ending the weekend relaxed, well-fed an in a clean, cozy apartment about to snuggle up to an episode of Mad Men. Did I mention I had so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? 2010 started out a little sour but it’s been a steady build. Hope your holiday was lovely.

Made it

4 entries to go before the end of NoBloPoMo and today was this first time I nearly forgot to write at all. Meant to do it this morning and got distracted by other avenues of the Internet. Thought about it this afternoon and ended up cleaning out the fridge instead. And now I’m out for the night–at a friend’s house meeting their new puppy Bruce Wayne, and then most likely going to a show tonight. Luckily, the Internet is everywhere, so I’m posting from my friend’s as Bruce Wayne, who runs like a bunny rabbit with long puppy legs, plays with toys all around me. We got him something made out of tennis balls and shaped like a jack, and it seems to be a new favorite of his.

It was awesome to wake up this morning thinking it was Sunday, only to remember that it is Saturday. 4.5 day weekend was just what I needed. Just under a month until I am off for another week, visiting the Ohio family for Christmas.

Anyway, this may be a little bit of a lame check in, but I’ve made it this far and dammit, I’m determined to finish. And now… back to puppy time.

Black Friday in Soho

Yes, I’m the crazy person who went there. I was planning to do a little work from home this morning, and when I opened my computer, I got a light show like I had never experienced. Picture fireworks on the screen. I couldn’t do anything. After about 10 futile minutes of opening and closing my laptop, I borrowed C’s and made a Genius Bar appointment.

I dreaded this appointment for 2 reasons:

1) It’s Black F-ing Friday in Soho

2) Last time I was having trouble with my screen, I took it in, and while they couldn’t replicate the problem, I was kindly informed that it would be $310 to fix if it was what it sounded like. ‘Tis not the season for me to have an extra $300 lying around.

Though the Prince Street station was literally overflowing with people, and Broadway was clogged with tourists and barely crossable, we waited almost no time to meet our assigned Genius once we got in to the store. He kindly informed me that, yes, it is the screen, and yes, it would be $310. Then he left me to stew while he went to see if there was a “quick fix” he could perform.

There wasn’t.

However, he said, since we’d already paid to fix this problem once this year (the same thing happened last spring before I bought the Mac from C) and I kept the laptop in stellar condition, APPLE WOULD COVER THE COST OF REPAIR.

Happy Thanksgiving to me!

T-Minus 20 To Turkey

Our pie is baked. Chatted with my family, drank tasty fresh press coffee and kept breakfast to yogurt and clementines so I’m all hungry. We’re heading p to Clinton Hill. I still need to dress in proper holiday attire, so I’m going to keep this short today. But it’s worth watching the presidential pardoning of turkeys Apple and Cider. No matter what you say about Obama, the man has a good sense of humor.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!