i have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

Dear Internet,


Thank fuck for science.
The Wellbutrin is working and you have no idea how happy I am this cocktail (Lamictal 400mg, Wellbutrin 75mg, Risperidone 1mg) is finally giving my swiss cheese brain mental relief.
(I will refrain from giving the low down of my mental medical history suffice to say my usual 46 readers are pretty familiar with the origin. tl;dr if you’re new: I metabolize drugs quickly and always get the side-effects. The current cocktail is the first one years that is actually working for all the ailments.)
I started Wellbutrin two weeks ago, felt the good effects within four days (it usually metabolize is one to two weeks), had a few days of mania (which it’s known to cause), which tapered back down to the chill attitude I was experiencing before. The idea a drug can fix the feeling of awfulness about myself or the wanting to crawl into a hole to hide forever or any variant thereof is pure bliss.
It’s almost better than sex. At least maybe better than chocolate (it would be close).
The absolute concrete evidence, to me, it was working was checking out of Bath and Body Works recently, I didn’t slay the checkout girl about the email/phone number shenanigans they are forced to ask you. There may also have been some giggling during the discussion and a pep to my walk leaving the store.
Somewhere I wrote (where I have forgotten) this isn’t like mania happiness. I don’t feel compelled to BOUNCE OFF THE WALLS or feel overly hyper. I’m sleeping eight hours every night, which is a pretty sure sign it’s not mania. I just feel calm and not ever so angry. A tad cheerful now and then. Not only is it consistent but it’s stable.
There are a few other good effects other than the stabilization of the depression: My anxiety is not ramped up (which Wellbutrin is known to do); I am not as full of self-loathing or hatred for my appearance; I am setting very clear boundaries around people and things and keeping those lines well-defined.
Another sign that struck me things were getting better is that I’m not feeling as abrasive as I once have been. I mentioned to my shrink this week I am more thoughtful of what comes out of my mouth in what I’m saying and how I am saying it. I am not feeling so impulsive to say things that could be construed as being hateful or abrasive as I once did and if I am not sure how to not come off as a raving lunatic, I ask for help. I’m being more considerate towards other people rather than making myself the center of attention in discussions
Things feel easier now even though my life is always going to be a lot of hard work. I am always going to be working on keeping my brain healthy. I am aware this is not a one size fix all solution. I didn’t expect it to be but finally having feelings stabilized is brilliant.
This is exciting. I was thinking the other day how much of this I was feeling before Wellbutrin was added and to be honest, a lot of it was bubbling below the surface but the Wellbutrin is pushing it towards the sun. The meditation, the journaling, the yogaing, and all of the positive things I am doing to keep myself balanced and moving forward are beginning to come to fruition and as long as I keep doing the hard work, things will continue to unfold.
In drawing out how my life has been, I told my shrink, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;” because that is, right now, how my life is being sorted. I have this tick list of things that are continuing to move forward (smoke free: eight weeks, exercising: since mid-november;  silly pictures goal: six weeks; 248 consecutive days of mediation; seven weeks of gratitude lists) and as time passes, I add new things (tracking food to watch how I’m eating is now entering its third week), and those things also stick around. On one hand, I feel self-conscious because these items may seem silly but they are super important to me as I’ve barely been able to stick with anything over the years.
Plus I want my god-damed gold star sticker, so there’s that.
As I said the other day, I am going to bloom like a fucking flower.


What also has struck me in these last few weeks is the solidifying is my personality in the terms of who I am versus what people think I am. A few months ago I talked about the lack of self-image that is prevalent in borderlines. We take on someone else’s like and dislikes and make them our own. This is beyond being influenced by a friend or a lover, this cuts deep.
I also sad:

If you saw I was really a bookish, nerdish girl who would rather knit and read a book rather than get rowdy enough at a bar to get thrown out a bar (like I was at 21), you wouldn’t like me. No one liked me when I was a four eyed square in primary and middle school because I was different from everyone else (hoo boy, things changed when I grew breasts and got contacts), no one was going to like me now. Honestly? When I do show that side of myself, no one really expects it and think it’s some facade. What they can’t figure out is the opposite is true.
And the bitchy sarcastic cuntface continues to live supreme because that’s what people want, and I want them to like me, so it will remain so.

In the last couple of months, that particular flip has also switched. Somewhere along the way my subconscious decided it didn’t want to be a bitchy cuntface anymore (the sarcasm will always stay) and things got a lot easier. I could breathe more. I felt more at ease with myself and not so tired defending the gate of Lisa. The things I liked I’m enjoying with greater pleasure and intensity. The Wellbutrin is helping but it wasn’t just the drugs that is moving me forward, it’s the “…meditation, the journaling, the yogaing, and all of the positive things I am doing to keep myself balanced and moving forward are beginning to come to fruition and as long as I keep doing the hard work, things will continue to unfold.”
Yes, I just quoted myself with something I wrote earlier in this piece.
Ibid.
I also tend to say things like, “As we will forthwith be in Chicago this weekend, we shall start upon our return?” and “I have graphic novel versions of P+P and Emma but besoothe! There are more!”. Yeah, I sound like I drank the Engish major’s Kool-aid, but I’m reading Georgette Heyer at the moment along with Jane Austen pastiches, so we shant be surprised by the rearranging of my nouns, verbs, adjectives, and participles.
(And I freely admit to listening lately to nothing but soundtracks from Atonement, Pride and Prejudice (2005), and so on.)
Like so:


Thursday begins the fifth annual sojourn to C2E2. The bitchy coven of librarian’s contingent is small this year — as far as I know, only Kristin and I will representing. There is a librarian dinner on Friday night with some local crew but as for the core #cmmrb group, it’s going to be one sad year.
The trip this year is funded by airplane miles and crashing with friends at the hotel. I only had to come up for cash and Uber/Lyft, which I did and viola! A vacation of sorts in the frosty days of March. (It’s been in the high 60s / low 70s here in L-ville these last few weeks. My winter coat is getting its first airing this winter — in March.)
I’m excited. I’m always excited for C2E2 weekend. It’s fun, I get to see people I haven’t seen in ages, I get to see pop culture stars (not to humble brag, but Kristin and I had our pic taken with Jason Mamoa. In the same trip, Kristin, Beth, Ryan, and myself had our pic taken with Hayley Atwell.).I get to buy a tshirt and eat crappy conference food.
I get to not have to worry about jobs, money, and status of my health. I get to immerse myself in a world of my own making outside of all of those stresses.
(And the lemon will be in play.)
You can follow me along on IG if you so desire.


The weekly fanciful delights and gratitude lists will still be posting this weekend as I prepped them before I left. Keeping it real.


Today I had a bit of melancholy hovering around. I’m not sad, my heart doesn’t feel hurt, I don’t have Morrissey lyrics floating around in my brain, and I don’t feel that overwhelming sense of despair.
Wistful is perhaps a better word than melancholy. Let’s go with that.
Flying is always going to hint around to the past and the irregularity of the flying is enough to tear at the heart strings when it happens. It is especially poignant when I step off the plan and saunter through the terminal as no matter where that plane may land, I’m always going to be on the look out for a 6’7 mohawked fellow with a coffee in his hand, waiting for me.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2013, 2003

50 Things To Do in 2016: 1 – 10

Dear Internet,
Earlier this year I wrote down 5 goals I wanted to accomplish:

  1. Get a job and all the accouterments that go with said job
  2. Continue on with the healthy plan
  3. Travel more
  4. Write more and not just in my paper journal. Write true, write what matters, write what you love.
  5. Per the graphic, Be Fierce

A lot of these are general things already in progress (healthy plan, writing) while others, like travel more, are often planned dates and times. I’m heading to Chicago in March to be with my #cmmrb crew for C2E2 and there are some other travel plans potentially on the horizon. And I’m being as fierce as I possibly can be. Have I mentioned I’ve signed up to play ladies’ rugby? Yes. Me. Rugby.
But what I need, what I believe everyone needs, is to plan for things and accomplish in the next year. Some of them can be quite small and others can be amazingly large. Earlier this year, Gala Darling posted an illustrated list of her 50 Things Things To Do in 2016 with encouragement for her readers to use this a jumping off guide for their own list. I’m taking her challenge and decided to do my own 50 list, 10 of which I’ll reveal over each day over the next 5 days.
You may note there is far more than 50 items on my list and I’ll probably continue to add more as time goes on. Can’t hurt to over shoot!
A couple of things you may also note in these lists: Nothing having to do with romance and no couple-y things. I’m on dating lockdown for at least a year. It’s all about me, baby!
One thing I totally want to kick ass at this year? Being silly. I’m goofy as hell but I need to be sillier more. It’ll help with my often crippling social anxiety.
(I may not believe in a god, but I do believe in woo-woo. I have a close witchy friend who does tarot and spells for me and I’ve got lots of friends who are pagan and druids. Even if my belief isn’t super strong in the woo, I like having something to believe in and a lot of the list is woo-woo)
50 Things To Do in 2016: 1 – 10

  1. See at least two music show this year
    1. I used to see numerous shows a year, local and national bands, and that has petered off significantly.
  2. Learn how to read tarot cards
    1. Yes, it’s true. Mock all you want but a few days before TheEx and I split, I saw a psychic. She told me he and I were going to break up very soon (we did two days later), I was going to be married twice (one down!), and I would not have kids other than the furry kind (See.). It could all be pure coincidence but learning to read tarot is not going to hurt anyone. So there.
  3. Write a letter everyday for a month
    1. This, hopefully, will be happening during the month of February.
  4. Wear false eyelashes for no reason
    1. I’ve been told over and over again I don’t need them, but why the hell not try them for a night or two?
  5. Volunteer time at a least one charity
    1. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, now that I’m in a city for some time, I should back up my talk.
  6. Commit to doing something physically challenging
    1. I start rugby in a few weeks. Hopefully I can keep up with it.
  7. Read a new fiction book a month
    1. The amount of fiction on my shelf and in my to read lists is staggering. Time to start cleaning that out.
  8. Read a new non-fiction book a month
    1. See fiction above.
  9. Buy and use more scented candles
    1. While gerbera daisies are my favorite, flowers make me sneeze. Here come the candles.
  10. Knit a sweater something complicated
    1. I need to move on from hats and scarfs. This has been going on long enough.

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2015, 1999

year in review: 2014

Dear Internet,
Working at home today and getting supremely in the groove. Re-discovered that I used to do a round up, by month, of things that went on in the previous year as a year in review. This seems like a good idea to continue insofar as giving me a perspective for the year and helping me figure out what I need to improve or cut back on.
Previous years: 2000, 1997, 1996

Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish for 2015:

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.

It’s been a helluva a year. Here’s to 2015 being boring and slow.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 1999

Moving Part Deux

Two
Dear Internet,
Well, here we are again: I’m moving. This time Two Men and a Truck put what I pillaged from Throbbing Manor (thanks to the generosity of TSTBEH) into storage for a month while I’m out on the east coast; then they will move me into Valkyrie Estates (name may change) in mid-January. Then, THEN, work will start on my book(s).
My pillaging helps TSTBEH out as he would have had to either donate, sell, or take with him the remaining furniture he decided he did not want after the split. With the exception of a bed, I’ve almost completely furnished Valkyrie Estates. I’ve got a list of smalls I need to pick up when I get back (like laundry soap and toliet paper), but really, that is it.
This manic last two months, easier to give it a simple explanation when the explanation is really much more complicated, has been financially AND mentally expensive. Truth be told, if I wasn’t counting on the settlement from the selling of the house to pay off my debts, I may have reigned the spending in but that’s an excuse for my own folly. I must accept the responsibility of what I have done financially.
It’s now mid-Sunday afternoon and I’m camped out at a hotel. Again. This time the only thing I’m running from is sleeping on an air mattress in a house that is freezing. Between the consignment shop swopping in on Thursday and my movers on Friday, all that is left until Monday is an air mattress, a 50″ TV and related stereo equipment, dining room table and chairs, TSTBEH’s boxes, and the art deco hutch. In 3200 sqft. We attempted to sleep on the air mattress every night until the closing of the house on Tuesday but I just couldn’t do it. I gave in to my inner diva, left late Friday night for a hotel, and here I am.
And yes, I’m keeping track and earning points with all of this hoteling, flying, and other travel.
My entire life is now split between two suitcases and my messenger bag of electronics. There are a few odds and ends in my trunk but my worldly possessions are now in those two suitcases; it’s a freeing feeling and an exhausting one. Now that my mind is finally clearing and I’m starting to put things into better perspective, I want to nest. Now.
I have to learn patience, I have to learn that waiting is okay and things will still be there when I’m done waiting. Not everything is gossamer and clouds but water and dirt. Things are tangible, holdable, and lovable.  These are things I need to remember and need to not forget ever again.
So let’s move on to something other than my mental geographical quandary.
Part of ThePlan is bundling the previous years entries into an ebook volume and publishing it on Kindle and other eRetailers.
Today I finished the first draft of volume 1 and it clocks in at roughly 114 pages.
The plan is to take previous years (beginning, well, at the beginning) of The Lisa Chronicles, bundle them by year into an eBook version and see if I could shill it on Amazon (and maybe Apple) to make some passive income.
The idea was pitched to me about four years ago when a library school friend offered to go through these entries, edit for clarity and grammar, and help me format them for the Kindle. I was a bit trepidatious at first, for I often do not find myself to be that fascinating, I just happen to get into fascinating circumstances. But apparently there is a market for this type of writing and I had oodles of it already written at my disposal.
But I stalled, as I do, on the project when I was working full time; I started nibbling at the idea again when I started planning for my sabbatical. The process seemed simple enough: get the back entries of The Lisa Chronicles up online on EPbaB for completist sake. Then move the content over to Word for formatting and editing. Find a cover. Set a price. Write a forward and a description. Upload and BOOM. Book is on the Amazons.
But it wasn’t that simple, rather, it was much more complex than my simple plan. Two things were happening in parallel. First being I had to set up as a business entity to help with writing off things related to my sabbatical AND to properly handle any income coming in from the sales of the eBooks. Second, that I had to find the content (easy enough as I kept multiple copies), get it on to EPbaB so the archives were complete, then move it to Word. I knew how prolific I am, so I figured I’d break it down by year and each year would be roughly 50 pages of formatted book text.
Did I mention that year one is at 114 rough pages? And only from April to December 1998? So I was obviously wrong in my page prediction.
I consider 1998 to be the very beginning for the sheer amount of content, though I have pieces that were published much earlier. I have gotten 1998 and 1999 into the EPbaB archives, so the first two volumes of the eBook project are going to be easy to do. I’ll have to work in tandem with getting the later content up and editing the current project and writing the fiction book.
I’m going to be a very busy girl.
Getting it up on Kindle was not that difficult: I opted out of the KDP Select option which means the work would have only been sold on Kindle and I opted out of having DRM on the eBooks. I was able to, with the help of TheBassist and cmmrb, figure out the cover design (Amazon has a free cover creator). I have my EIN and LLC name (Skaldic Press), so everything on the business side was ready to go. It was just a matter of getting the content up, formatted, and edited.
So basically the hard part.
You know where you can find me for the next month.
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2012, 1999, 1998

liège waffle

Dear Internet,
Right. New plan.
It began when I was muttering to myself in the ladies at the TA in Youngstown, OH. This was pre-coffee, post-medication. Mid-late afternoon last week.
I was muttering that if only Throbbing Cabin (which TheSoonToBeExHusband is keeping) was open and available for me to go live at during the winter (TSTBEH is a generous soul) while I did my individual thing. But we closed it for winter back in September; Leelanau County received 241″ of snow last year; heating would run millions since the heating infrastructure is absolute shit and lastly, I would be miles and miles away from the nearest town. I wanted to be alone, not Jack Torrance.
(It was a very long pee.)
Then the near perfection dawned on me: Get a studio in Grand Rapids! It’s cheaper than the east coast. TheBassist would be doing his thing on the east coast, TSTBEH would start his new life in Louisville. I get my payout from the selling of the house, pay off the cards, pay off Jeeves, pay rent for a year, pay car insurance for a year and I’d only have to worry about food, phone, and interwebs and write that blasted book I’ve been banging on about forever, plus a few other writing projects.
Fucking genius.
It’s all coming together.
As soon as I got into GR that early evening, after spending a cumulative 16 hours driving, I immediately launched into my plan with TSTBEH. He had told me, and I had forgotten apparently in the Asian land war of my brain, that I was only to show up on his door if I was serious about getting back together and yet here I was standing on his front door step telling him we were most definitely not getting back together.
He accepted my decision gracefully and I think, along with TheBassist, that something about my demeanor (or the drugs were stabilizing me) was different than before as both of them seemed more receptive to this plan over any other cockamamie schemes I had come up with in recent weeks. TheBassist requested, and I provided, a PLAN as a guide of what I’ll be doing in money/job, mental health, physical health, living, and relationships. I also gave a copy of the plan to the cabal that is CMMRB and they too, whom other than the two men in my life have been holding me up every step of the way, approved of the plan.
ThePlan, is more or less a check list of things to do in the upcoming year with a review at six months. I also added in a three year and five year addendum for shits and giggles. Each topic has a list of things that must continue (for example, under Mental I have a listing of continuing to see my talking therapist, Dr. P) and need to be done (get a referral for a local medicating therapist to monitor my drugs and seem them on a regular basis). Some of it is reminders (stop eating dairy) while others are nudges (walk more).
After that I said on Facebook,
It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been on the Lamictal/Abilify drug mix and I will say this:
Pros

  • When I get a million “to do” items in my head, I immediately create a ToDo list and work on it. Follow through on said items has been great.
  • I am prioritizing the ToDo list better.
  • Appetite is down and I’m not over eating at meals.
  • Daily tasks, like meditation, I have been diligent on.
  • I feel pretty good when I commit to a thing, I’m sticking with it.
  • The need to smoke is decreasing. Yay!

Cons:

  • Sleep is broken. I went to bed at 10:30 last night and woke up at 2, 4:30, 5:45, and finally at 7:48.
  • I cannot take SSRIs because I am one of the rare cases I’ll get suicidal thoughts though when on SSRIs, I obviously did not follow through. Now, I am getting destructive behaviour thoughts like when driving across the bridges in Pennsylvania, I wondered what would happen when I swerved into the medians. Using mediation techniques, I accept them as thoughts and let them come and then go and do not fight them. But it’s still slightly scary.
  • I am getting some relief and I don’t feel as yo-yoing as before. I have a long way to go, but I do feel like this is small steps in the right direction.

The big thing to note here is the ability to prioritize and accomplish tasks which, as someone with adhd along with the other delightful gifts, is damned near difficult to follow through. But so far, not really a problem.
That Friday I made phone calls/emails to six property management companies and referrals I found on Craig’s List. As of a week later, none of the property management companies returned my calls, but the referrals via Craig’s List did. I set up appointments, starting on Saturday, and took the first place I visited because it was absolutely perfect. Not a studio, but a 600 sqft one bedroom located in a 145 year old house that used to be a hospital after the Civil War. There are five apartments in the building, mine is a second floor walk up, and the amenities are out of the world.

  • Heat (gas) and water included. This is gold in Michigan since my last apartment I rented in an old house ran me $400-500 for heat a month during the winter, which combined with my reasonable rent, made it crazy expensive
  • Trash/recycle / snow plowing / lawn maintenance
  • Off street parking
  • Locked front door entrance
  • Pets allowed
  • All original wood floors, paneling, and molding throughout the apartments and building
  • 10′ ceilings
  • Same area as Throbbing Manor, so damned near perfect location
  • Big windows
  • Bedroom oversees the city landscape since I’m on mid-hill
  • Owner is allowing me to pay a year in advance, with 5% discount, and option that if I end up leaving before the year, monies will be returned once the apartment is re-rented (which shouldn’t be an issue)
  • Coin operated laundry in the basement

I signed the lease and gave my deposit three days later. So now I have a place, a budget, and a plan.
Right, to make sure we’re all on the same page:

  • TSTBEH and I are divorcing, finalizing probably in February
  • The house closes on 12/16
  • He’s moving to Louisville
  • I’m staying in GR to live the bachelorette life in my own pad and get my writing done
  • I have a talking therapist here (Dr. P.) and soon, a medicating therapist. My GP will be regulating my drugs until then

Three or six months or a year later, who knows. But at least now I have ThePlan to follow.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day In Lisa-Universe: 2013

notes for cabinet particulier, part iv: draft of first chapter completed

Dear Internet,
It’s about 8:30PM and I’m sitting on the front deck, still in my jim jams from the night before. This is the second time today I have stepped foot out of the cabin, the first being this morning when after I woke and received a phone call from the Cedar postmaster telling me the post carrier had flagged where we can put our new mailbox and I had walked out to check to verify the location. After that, my butt was parked either at the island in the kitchen or in the chaise  (so very chic) writing and researching.
My book takes place in 1907 London that revolves around an aging actress who is  not terribly good but she is what matters most and that is she’s one of the most beautiful women of her age. I’m styling her looks after the famed American silent film actress from the same era, Maude Fealy.
maudefealy
As my character is an Edwardian London stage actress, I spent some time today gathering moar research on the theaters of the era and discovered a gem of a site that also had a handy Google map of theaters from the era, including play programs, photos, and loads more.
I also dipped into cosmetics and etiquette of the era, finding a boon of a book entitled Every Woman’s Encyclopedia, from 1910, which ran into a hefty 8 volumes and 6000 page. The book is intense. Here is a gem on how Edwardian lady should keep her eyes more becoming:
thinkingcap
Yes, let us not weary our poor optic nerves, shall we ladies?
I had the idea of how I wanted the book to open and numerous first lines had already appeared, so instead of working out a vague outline of where I wanted the book to go, I just sat down and wrote instead. Several hours later, I had 2100 words in a pretty good first chapter under my belt with ideas of where I was going.
Tomorrow I was to go kayaking with Emili, but I just texted her to beg off since I’m in the zone and needed to continue plowing through with my work. Kristin is coming up tomorrow evening for the weekend and we’ll be busy and I’m heading back to Grand Rapids on Sunday (can’t miss my Sunday evening telly). Next week is going to be busy as John is coming into town on Tuesday evening to stay at Throbbing Manor and we are heading to the Code4Lib Midwest conference on Wednesday/Thursday. Since many of my favorite people are going to be at the conference as well, there will be lots of socializing. Friday I head to Mt. P to hang with Kristin for the weekend and we’re meeting up with some of our cmmrb pals and then it’s back to the grind on Monday when I head back to the cabin for MOAR writing for a week and then the cmmrb weekend will be here and then it will be August.
Jesus fucking Christ. In the four days I’ve been up here, between blog posts, writing the chapter, and research I’ve cranked out 10,000 words. I am a mutherfucking machine!
On that note, I’m getting off the laptop and calling it an early night. I’m going to brush the fuzz off my teeth, wash my filthy body, and make a bowl of popcorn. Yes, yes I did indeed bring my beloved hot air popper to the cabin with me. I’m then going to curl up around my ipad and watch Downton Abbey, for you know, research.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2008, 2003, 1999, 1998

“There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.”

cmmrb get together, august 2013.
cmmrb get together, august 2013.
L-R Back row: Me, Sarah, Carolyn, Julie, Beth, Kristin
Front: Val
Missing: Anna, Sarah, Amanda, Kristi, Anne

Dear Internet,
It began a few years back when several of us were planning to attend C2E2, looking for hotel roommates to split the bill and then we started collecting other lost souls along the way. In the years hence, we’ve morphed into this incredible collection of women that have become my sisters who are not my sisters.
Our main online meeting place is Facebook. For months when I had been thinking about leaving social media, I was having a hard time reconciling leaving them — because I couldn’t. It would be awful, like my soul was getting ripped in two. But there are some decisions that have to be made, some that are painful to make. I knew Facebook and other online areas were giving me a lot of grief as time sucks and wastes of space. I had to make a choice and deactivating my account on Facebook was what needed to happen.
Every single one of those ladies rallied with me, emailed/texted me to make sure I was okay.  I found myself missing them a lot more, in the safe space we head provided for ourselves for dishing everything from our lives to harmless gossip about our stories, as the days went on. I found myself wanting to confide in them everything that has been going on, but couldn’t. I am not ready to activate my regular Facebook account, and truthfully, I don’t think I’ll be in that space for a long time. While I have been corresponding with them individually, I needed their love as a whole fill in the rough edges and comfort the difficult days.
I just needed them. Together, within arms length for me to love.
Beth twisted my arm to come back, even under my seekret Facebook account, which is what I did. A sudden sense of relief and happiness that I never knew was apparently hovering near the top, came over me once I saw all their shiny faces together in one spot. I almost started crying at my desk.
I am never leaving them again.
x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2008

I have a vagina, watch me use a computer

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde

Dear Internet,
The New York Times recently published an article in its economy section about the status of women in technology. The perspective of the article is much like what has written about this topic before: Women are poorly represented in computer science fields, we’re less likely to obtain a computer science degree for X reasons, and if we do end up with a CS degree and work in the fields we’ve just trained for, we’re going to be underpaid in comparison to our male counterparts for the exact same job.
None of this is news. In fact, much of what was written could be hauled out and regurgitated for just about any other male dominated profession when pitting women against the men.
As I was reading this, I began taking umbrage with a lot of what the author was inferring, stating, and implying. It is not necessarily much of what she was writing about was incorrect or nonfactual, there are some points she’s made that I agree with, but her piss poor research model, her inability to look outside of the traditional path for education, and her broad stroke generalized comments got, as TheHusband would say, my vagina in an uproar.
As English majors round the world are often known to say, let’s unpack this shit.
“Writing code and designing networks are also a lot more portable than nursing, teaching and other traditional pink-collar occupations.”
I won’t disagree computing is a portable skill, but I would argue it is not more portable than nursing, teaching, or “pink-collar” (who actually says this?) occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers are only projected 12% growth by 2020 while nursing is at 26% and teaching is roughly at 17%. The projected growth is an estimate of how fast the profession is growing, the number of jobs available, and the sub career paths being created as new job markets open up.
The other part of the problem I have with this is that computer science is much more than just writing code and designing networks and yet almost every article I’ve ever read that brays on this topic, regardless if it is about gender in tech or not, narrows their discussion to just those two options.
“Yet just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they intend to major in computer science.” “Today, just a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women.”
I have a particular problem with this corollary because not all who go into computers are their main career choice obtain a traditional education in that field, and this applies to men AND women. I’m not strong in maths by any stretch of the imagination, but her figures don’t add up. You can’t lead with shocking claim that less than one percent of women are going into computer science as their preferred major  and yet jump  to 25% of Americans in computer related occupations are women.
When I worked at UUnet in the late ’90s/early ’00s, maybe 1 in 15 had a degree in CS. Almost ALL, men and women,  were college educated with a major in something else (mainly liberal arts degrees) and were either self-taught or learned on the job. This does NOT discount certification, which is different since certification is very specific to a particular hardware or software. And many, many employers were and still are more interested in your certification then your undergraduate degree program. A decade later, many of those I’ve met who work in a computer science field of some kind, almost all did so by the aforementioned method: An interest turned into a passion, which became then the new career path.
When I was talking about the NYT article with TheHusband, he echoed comments I’ve heard from men and women in the field: Those who have CS degrees are less likely to be good at their jobs than those who do not. The reasoning is that seemingly many CS degreed workers do not learn how to hack, explore, and troubleshoot, or even think outside the box, which are super critical skills in this field.
As I was going over my post this morning with one of my BFFs, Kate, who works as a systems admin for a large corporation. Kate admins UNIX, Linux, AS400, and storage servers and she forwarded me an email she received from her DBA recently:

To: Kate
From: DBA
Subject: Error when doing SSH to DB
Could you look into it?
ssh dba@yermom
The authenticity of host 'yermom (10.0.12.8)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 0e:d8:df:31:26:2b:90:f1:75:51:7d:2e:a7:5a:bd:d0.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

(All identifying information has been stripped.)
The above example illustrates WHY it’s important to learn how to troubleshoot and discover. Now I’m not advocating against getting a traditional education, but I am saying the computing industry is very much a hands on experience, willingness to go outside your comfort zone and get dirty job which will go much farther in advancing your career then just a four-year degree.
You don’t necessarily need a traditional four-year degree to break into the field either. The diversity, hard and soft skills, and availability of career pathways, with the fact most of the technology is still so new and constantly changing, is what makes this field exciting and easily accessible.  And the help available on just about anything from coding to engineering to network design and everything in-between is easily accessible online or in print, and there is always, ALWAYS websites and groups built around the support of self-study. The internet is the largest purveyor of study halls, ever.
Ergo: hack your education.
One of the biggest challenges, according to many in the industry, may be a public-image problem. Most young people, like Allen, simply don’t come into contact with computer scientists and engineers in their daily lives, and they don’t really understand what they do. 
This statement is so damn generalizing – again, could be applied to many professions like my current one: librarians. Personally, I don’t come into contact with people in every field every day, and there are large swathes of fields and industries I didn’t even know existed until well, I found out about them whether by meeting someone who works in that field, coming across something I read, or something else entirely. Yet I can’t help think this is true for most people as well. But this isn’t necessarily a public image problem, but an information literacy issue.  If we teach people how to research and to discover, the propositions of what they know and don’t know will shift.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science.

You cannot, seriously, make connections that computer programmers are thought of as Dilbert, a cartoon that is widely popular, and then go on to say this. That’s just incredibly stupid.
Computer culture and nerd culture are not mutually exclusive, but there is A LOT of shared similarities. You will almost always find a computer geek who is a nerd and a nerd who is a computer geek. But let’s start talking about this “no pop-culture corollary for computer science” and how it’s absolutely proves the author of the article could not even be arsed to Google.
By no means a complete list, shows/movies with where computers/inteneting/related fields are near a primary focus:

  • The Big Bang Theory – Highly popular TV show about male geeks who hack and love along with their fellow female geeks
  • The IT Crowd – Cult hit UK show that is widely revered in the US about two geeks and their non-geeky boss at a vaguely evil corporation
  • Veronica Mars – Cult show in the US about a teenage Nancy Drew meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who’s best friends with female  hacker
  • Whiz Kids – 1983 TV show about young group of computer experts, including a girl, who play detectives. I LOVED this show.
  • Wargames – 1983 film starring Matthew Broderick about a young genius who hacks into a Pentagon-like network and almost begins WW III
  • The Social Network – 2010 film about the founding of Facebook
  • The Net – 1995 film starring Sandra Bullock about a female computer programmer whose life gets hacked
  • Tron – 1982 film about a hacker transported to the digital world where he needs to fight for his life in a  gladiator type game
  • Antitrust – 2001 film with Ryan Phillippe that is a thinly veiled look at Microsoft
  • The Lone Gunmen – Failed spin-off of the X-Files about well, The Lone Gunman, Mulder and Scully’s personal geek squad
  • Matrix 1, 2, 3 – Did you take the red pill or the blue pill?
  • Hackers – 1995 film starring pubescent Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie as young hackers in love
  • Millennium Trilogy / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Both the original Swedish and US versions are excellent. Central plot around a murder that may or may not happen, but the show is stolen by Lisbeth Salander, the ultra hacker to end all hackers.

Fictional female computer geeks/hackers in film/tv/comics. A Google search came up with over 95M results and the top results list site after site of current articles compiled by big, popular sites such as The Mary Sue and Flavorwire:

I trolled the internet and got lots of other great responses of fictional female hackers ranging from comics to anime to movies and TV shows. Are women under represented in geeky pop culture? Without a fucking doubt, but they do exist. However, to say there is no general pop culture connections or to say there is no fictional outlets to discover female computer geeks is egregious.
I also want to point out many of the above movies and TV shows are popular not within the circles they wish to emulate, but widely watched by variety of different people.
Lastly I noticed the authors quotes were either anonymous, “People in the industry say…,” or were mainly from men. How can you seriously write an article about women in technology and use penis bearers as your definitive source of information on what is happening in the field and expect to be taken seriously? How?
A couple of weeks ago, I proposed lots and lots of ways to start moving past the ballyhooing of the issue and start fixing the issue. I would also add

  • Buy female hacker positive materials such as the TV shows and films listed above as well as books, manga, and more to illustrate that female computer geeks do live in the pop culture world
  • Start a zine aimed at young women and girls as another

The only way the perception and culture of women in computing changes if we start actively making those changes we want to see. We need less of the, “oh woe is us” and more “what are we going to do to fix this damn problem.”
Keep the conversation moving forward.
x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 1998

Librarians, Gender, and Tech: Moving the Conversation Forward

"Woman teaching geometry" Illustration at the beginning of a medieval translation of Euclid's Elements (c. 1310 AD) via Wikipedia CC.
“Woman teaching geometry”
Illustration at the beginning of a medieval translation of Euclid’s Elements (c. 1310 AD) via Wikipedia CC.

Dear Internet,
Nearly a year ago, there was a small explosion over a post I had written on why men should not write about gender and technology, which stemmed from conversations that were being held simultaneously over several similar mailing lists and blog posts.  At the end of the post, I had proposed in the following to help keep the conversation flowing:

  • Donate to the Ada Intiative.
  • Start/chair an interest group for women in technology in LITA, the technology arm of ALA
  • Start a GeekGirl Dinner in your area.
  • Use Meetup.com to start/find groups in your interests (there were loads of Women in Technology interest groups on MeetUp).
  • Depending on where you work, what you do; start off-site initiative for women to have a hack-a-thon
  • Find local hackerspace communities to start a women’s initiative
  • Use professional conferences to propose panels/groups/discussions to get more people aware but also to pay it forward
  • Create a women in tech book club at local bar/coffee house
  • Donate time to do mentoring to high school and middle school girls
  • Donate to or become a sponsor for a nearby women’s conference, like GeekGirlCon

In keeping with the spirit of my suggestions, this week I presented with a load of great people on gender, technology, and libraries at Internet Librarian.
Twenty four hours later, I was publicly sexually harassed. Like I said, the irony was not lost on me.
Now that the conference is over, I am home and I have had a few days to simmer on the events of the week, I’ve decided to take up the mantel permanently on the topic. My reasoning for this is layered, but primary cause is I don’t think we’re doing enough in the profession to bring this to the forefront of our mind. I only tend to write about it when something has happened either to me or I’ve become impassioned for another and my opinion must be heard! I’ve noticed that others seem to act the same way, thus the discussion tends to dip and rise depending on what is getting peoples ganders up at the moment.
I was curious as to how others are discussing it within the profession, so here are a few examples of how we’re not addressing this topic:

  • A search of “sexual harassment” in American Libraries turns up only 23results, most on opinions on events occurring in the late ’90s and on public court cases
  • A search of “gender technology” in American LIbraries Magazine turns up 27 results, much on the concentration on gender in the classroom
  • ITAL, the journal for LITA, has no results on “sexual harassment,” and two results on “gender,” one of which about the financial disparity between men and women and discussion on the roles of women in technology, which is low, in a profession where the role of women is high
  • Code4Lib Journal has no mention of “sexual harassment” in its journal, and “gender” brings up conference reports on forums on inclusion and diversity. To be fair, a lot of the big discussions happen on their mailing list, but that doesn’t entirely erase the fact there is no discussion happening in their journal
  • As far as I can find, until now, there is no known topic or panel of women, technology, or gender that have taken place on local or national forums in terms of panels, posters, or discussions at conferences
  • There was no known Code of Conduct at ALA Annual 2013, or any other ALA related conference. When I asked and asked, I was constantly told this was a “topic of discussion” stretching back for many years but no one was actively working on it because it was assumed it was not needed. Thanks to Andromeda Yelton, who rocks my little socks, and others who helped get this out of the discussion period and into the actual tangible thing. Hopefully this will be taken up by other arms of ALA for their future conferences.

Then there is always the other side of sexual harassment — the side of men being harassed by women. I had a conversation with a male librarian while at Internet Librarian who regaled me of stories of sexual harassment occurring towards him while at conferences, meetings, and the like. Now what is interesting is social convention states that as a male, he’s supposed to not only take it, but be flattered by the attention. Why are we also not discussing this?
Another intriguing thing about this topic is the fact the discussion seems to be happening all over and around librarianship, via national outlets and personal blogs, but not within the profession itself. Some good examples of these conversations that give a lot of food for thought are:

Now some of the above writers are librarians, others are not, so when I say “within the profession itself,” I explicitly mean within professional journals, organizations, and conferences.
Now this post is meandering all over the place, but lets add more on what to do to keep the conversation going:

  • Started near the end of 2012, I formed LibTechWomen with Becky Yoose, Bohyun Kim,  Andromeda Yelton, and many other awesome people as a way to create a safe space for women and their allies to talk about these and every other issue under the sun. You can find us, mainly, via Facebook, Twitter as @libtechwomen and #libtechwomen, and GoogleGroups.
  • A national summit, Leadership-Technology-Gender, is happening at the end of Electronic Resources & Libraries conference in March, 2014. Great start, but we need to keep this at  local level as well
  • Start doing panels, proposals, forums, Q&As at at library related conferences, local and specialized
  • Use this topic as a launch pad for discussion in your classes. (Thanks, Nick!)
  • Start implementing a Codes of Conduct1 at your conferences, meetings, and other large gatherings
  • Start writing on this topic on a regular basis both in personal blogs AND professional journals, most specifically NOT just when something happens
  • Push this topic on Twitter using #libtechgender

Over on my professional site, I’ve started to curate all of this into a page of its own. You can track the updates by subscribing to the tag here when I write a new article or checking the page manually or subscribing to the page’s RSS feed to get updates when the page itself is updated.
As always, I have obviously not covered everything so if you have an article, link to an already happened or upcoming panel, or whatever, please feel free to drop a comment below or contact me.
I also encourage discussion on this topic from all perspectives, as more voices the better, whether here, your own blog, or on Twitter using #libtechgender. But please keep it civil.
xoxo,
Lisa

1. I’m going to be writing more on this topic at a later date, as I think this is just as important as talking about sexual harassment and women in library technology

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012

receives wicked men after their death

Houten badpakken / Wooden bathing suits
Wooden bathing suits, supposed to make swimming a lot easier. Haquian, Washington, USA, 1929. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,
I don’t have much time this evening to write as I’m due to leave in about 15 minutes to pick up Beth from their airport. Tomorrow morning, she and I will head up to Throbbing Cabin where five other of our friends will meet us for a long girls weekend.
Seven girls.
All librarians.
Drunk.
In A Cabin.
In the Woods.
What could possibly go wrong?
Don’t be terribly surprised if communication from me is slow this weekend, namely here on the blog. And I’m not quite sure what the protocol is to tweet from jail.
(If you’re into that kind of thing, you can always follow me on the twitters or instagram to keep up with the antics.)
I was feeling pretty focused on work today, but some of the problems with MPOW’s website upgrade is trickling down to me and that is causing me some frustration. The frustration stems as student report vague web issue to library staff, library staff reports that to me long after the student has left so I can’t trouble shoot or fix the issue. I’ve been dragging my own laptop in to test the complaints but I can’t apparently duplicate them and as the student has long gone, I can’t work with them directly.
See. Frustration.
The problems all stem from students who have their own devices, and I have been walking library staff through asking a series of questions to narrow down at least the general problems but something in the communication either from me to them or from them to the student or somewhere else is getting broken. I just feel like I’ve been repeating myself A LOT.
Today is day #3 of no sleepiness and to test out my theory, I refrained from caffeine long after my morning Red Bull was gone. I drank water for the rest of the day and felt fine. Later in the afternoon I had a ritual Coke slurpee while I ran errands as I needed the extra push to make sure I was up when to I went to pick Beth up.
Much later.
It’s long after midnight and I’m still up. Beth’s plane was late by an hour, which turned out to be a boon to me as I was able to complete some packing and writing before I needed to leave. I smushed  her face off when she came out of the gate, whisked her back to Throbbing Manor, gave her the abridged tour of the house and finally got her tucked into bed.
Mood ring says: Feeling pretty good. Pretty even. I’m gloriously enjoying the lack of sleepiness during the day. I’m also absolutely luxuriating in my morning routine, which is now including reading a short story while I eat my breakfast.
And if there is anything I’ve been discovering these last few weeks, the little things are everything.
x0x0,
Lisa (Day #14)

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012, 2012, 2012, 2012, 2011, 1999