I’ve been asked why I don’t delete offensive comments – and I do publish them all unless it attacks another blog reader. Let me explain. This is my blog, yes, but I don’t really believe that it’s “my little corner of the internet”. I do believe that everyone is entitled to express their opinions because even though this is my blog, it’s published in a public space. Aside from the sometimes polarizing opinions around online censorship, I leave comments alone, no matter how harsh or personally offensive, as a reminder of this.
I think sometimes we might get a little too insulated in our own little blog bubbles. There may be this false sense of security leftover from the early blogging days back when our audiences were smaller (well, this blog has gone back to being small) and it really was a community of bloggers and readers who were just trying to figure out what blogging was about. The internet in the late 90s and early 2000s is vastly different than the internet today. There wasn’t as much noise or opinions or conversations. There was just less of everything. Blogging back then really did feel like a journal that you shared with anybody who happened to stumble across it, and even though there weren’t as many ways to promote your site, people did find you because they were seeking communities with the same interests; those communities were just only forming. At least that’s how it worked when I ran my Asian-American webzine and a few years later started a product design blog for new parents, both of which were one of the first sites to exist in their respective online spaces. I’ve certainly learned a lot from running public webzines and blogs for the past 14 years and I’ve made a few mistakes, but there are no regrets. How can there be? When you go into uncharted waters it all feels like an experiment. It’s really only in hindsight that you can draw conclusions on what you could have done differently because there was no precedent to learn from at the time.
We’re also the first (or maybe 1.5) generation of parents who are raising kids in the age of social media. The way in which we conduct ourselves online is essentially our road map to teaching our kids about being smart in their own online identities and interactions. I’d rather be the one stumbling my way around social media networks and learning from mistakes than my kids for now, though I recognize that I won’t be able to keep up with all the new and yet to be developed networks and platforms that are cropping up every day. But this groundwork informs what we teach them about using social media responsibly regardless of whatever app is popular.
The girls don’t have social media accounts yet, but I know that’s inevitable. It’s encouraging that our public school is starting to include internet safety in their 5th grade curriculum and I can only imagine that this will become the norm if it isn’t already. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen too many times, it can really be a matter of life and death. The gravity of that statement is overwhelming, but this is our reality.
I would hope, though I realize it’s probably too idealistic, that people would exercise basic courtesy, restraint and sensitivity in their responses and comments on any public website, but if you have ever read a comment thread on CNN (though interestingly enough they disabled comments to most of their stories), then you know that doesn’t always happen. I was dismayed to learn that my mom read a recent comment that was particularly judgmental, but we talked about it and it served as a jumping point to other related issues that we then discussed. The internet isn’t always the safe haven that we’d like to imagine it to be and these are just periodic reminders of that reality. But there’s always something to be learned, I think. I’ve certainly taken a deeper look at myself whenever I’ve been called out in comments, and I’ve grown a bit more careful about the things that I’m now willing to share. These are good things. Besides, I’ve never been one to craft a certain image or lifestyle on my blog. It therefore seems wrong to me, no matter how flawed that thinking might be, to prune and censor blog comments to read a certain way. So those blog comments that I sometimes wish I hadn’t read? It’s just part of the story.
Posted by Jenna | 13 Comments
Took a short road trip last weekend and was dazzled by Fall colors on the drive upstate. Just 2 hours north and it was like a different world, particularly since we came home to weirdly muggy weather for this time of year. Driving back home was like turning back the clock as we got closer to the city – greener trees and higher temps, but maybe the perception of time slowed down is ok. You know once Halloween hits it’s an accelerated rush towards the holidays and I’m not in any hurry.
In Ithaca we visited a big farmer’s market which I had never been to before. It was good to go someplace new in a town that has so many past associations. I spent a good deal of time here when we used to have long summer breaks in art school and I’ve camped out in nearby Finger Lakes National Forest. It’s beautiful out here with lakes, forests and waterfalls. Driving through the back country roads towards Ithaca where there’s nothing but farm country reminds me of those years when gas was cheap and we had nothing but time. Driving, for the sake of driving, with music blaring and windows rolled down seem like a luxury now. This part of the state reminds me of my brother too. He spent a decade attending schools and later working at Cornell and I used to love visiting him at the Vet School. He’d show me jarred animal organs floating in formaldehyde in the labs and we’d go visit the cows and horses in the barn. What I remember the most though was the barn cat. He had multiple toes, something like 8-12 toes on each paw, and he was a sight. I always point out the store where Ed adopted my cat for me to the girls whenever we’re up here. It’s a funny story, really, of the night that Tobi spent with him before he was driven down to the East Village where we were living back in ’97. He was tiny, just shy of 3 months old, and wasn’t particularly thrilled to be plucked out of the litter of cats. That night, my brother dropped a heavy typewriter in the living room a few yards away from Tobi and it sent him in a panic under the sofa where he stayed until he had to be pried away for the drive down to my house. Tobi was scarred for life and hated my brother since then. Cats, unlike dogs, can hold long grudges it seems.
For the past couple of years, our short trips upstate involve family and visits to a nursing home. It’s hard not to get sad during these visits no matter how nice the facility is and I find myself choking back tears whenever we leave. It’s a reminder of our own mortality too. We’re getting old alongside our parents and we’re all grappling with physical changes that we can, but also can’t see. Some things are within our control and we can change our lifestyles to shape our future, but it’s also just a roll of the dice with genetics and pure chance at play. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, but life isn’t always fair, is it?
Posted by Jenna | 5 Comments
The obligatory seasonal apple picking post. Comes around every year like a marker of time.
Today was the first day where I wished I wore a heavier jacket and a bigger scarf as I was walking around; it was legitimately chilly. But Fall in New York has been glorious the last few weeks like it always is every year – and the leaves haven’t even turned yet. Summer will always be enshrouded now in the memory of loss. The slowed down pace of longer days, the heaviness of the heat, the rhythmic buzz of the cicadas, and the feeling of suspended time will always remind me of a period of mourning. The change in seasons and hitting up all the Fall activities like we do every year feels like a reset on life. The crisp air signals that transition. I admit that every so often I feel a tinge of guilt for starting to move on. There’s more laughter than sadness now. I know that doesn’t make sense, this guilt, but maybe that is part of the process too. I know that he would want me to live my life. I never really believed in guardian angels before, but maybe I do now. It’s a nice thought, especially in regards to the children who were left behind. Whatever gets us through the days.
I feel a like there’s been a fairly big shift in my life right now and I’m not just talking about the job or my loss. Every once in a while that happens. You find yourself looking at a different vantage point and you realize that the people that you connect with and talk to everyday are suddenly a different cast of characters. If sort of feels like I was on one side of a Rubik’s cube and someone just picked it up, turned it one click clockwise to the right, and sat it down again. Everything and everyone that I know is still on the cube, but I’m suddenly on a new side, dropped into a different puzzle of colors than where I was before.
So maybe these yearly seasonal rituals like apple picking not only marks the season, but act like anchors. So we don’t float away and so we don’t get overwhelmed by all the turns that we take in life. The leaves – they’ll always change colors and the apples will always fall from branches. But they do come back every time.
Posted by Jenna | 36 Comments
There are days when I think I’m crazy for trying to do too much. I don’t usually get to everything that I’d like to do in any given week (close enough, however) and this is almost always a set up for failure, yet I can’t help myself. Maybe it’s a great quality to have – ambition and drive, blind faith that it will all get done – or maybe it’ll be my greatest downfall. Overcommitment. Crash and burn. I haven’t yet and this fuels the perception that it can always be done, so I push on a little more; pile more things on to the list; say yes to everything.
I will say that even though this has been a year like no other, I did accomplish a goal I set out to do, or at least the start of one. Back when I wrote this post about career change, I didn’t have a plan or vision aside from a sense that for the first time, I could make out a foggy path. Sometimes the universe does orchestrate things to open doors that were previously unknown. Or maybe I was fed up enough with stagnation that I willed things to happen. It could be a little of both.
So in addition to running our business and freelance designing, this part time summer job thing got a little more permanent (though what job is secure these days, right? I’m still a little cautious, I guess). This means that I’ll be spending more time at this job, and less time freelancing while I finally attempt to steer my career into a different direction.
The thoughts that sometimes keep me up at night? That I’m crazy to take all of this on. Managing our business while freelancing often pulls me in different directions because I’m essentially running 2 businesses that consist of multiple clients, customers and accounts, so am I crazy to add a third in the mix? Maybe! But I also don’t want to walk away from an opportunity to create something with a smart team of people. With all the risks involved in an early-stage tech startup, I know that there are no guarantees for anything and the likelihood to crash and burn is high if you pay close attention to statistics. It’s a rollercoaster ride, but one that I apparently want to be on.
So why would I want to join another company when I should probably focus on growing my own business rather than someone else’s? I ask myself this all the time, especially since I had all but made up my mind to do just that earlier on in the year. I can’t say that I know the answer, but sometimes you have to go with a gut feeling and trust that it doesn’t let you down when something else crosses your path that compels you to make a decision. Our business is such that it runs fairly smoothly and we know what to expect every year. What we’re not really doing is growing or expanding and we probably won’t unless I turn more of my attention towards helping to make that happen. I’m fairly sure I will at some point in the future, but for now, this other thing feels right. I don’t know if the events this summer steered me towards this decision because I badly needed a change; it was symbolic of how I viewed life now – before and after my brother. I certainly wasn’t looking for a job that I had to commute to (and indeed, the commute a few times a week is the worst part. Getting dressed for work, on the other hand, doesn’t suck despite the fact that the incubator space we share with other startups is mostly guys in hoodies), but I’m enjoying being part of a team that is sort of like family now. This dynamic is something I haven’t experienced in a while. The next 6 or so months should be interesting. I really have no idea what the picture looks like for the first time in a long time. But that is sort of exciting, is it not?
Posted by Jenna | 8 Comments
Do you know how sometimes among friends it can be hard to collectively agree on plans? Everyone throws out ideas and then you do this back and forth dance until a decision is finally made. It ends up sounding a little something like this:
So what do you guys want to do today?
Do you want to go to a museum?
Do you want to go to the street fair?
Do you want to go to the East Village? I think there’s a traveling circus performing today.
Do you want to go to Dumbo? There’s an art festival there.
I don’t want to go to Dumbo, I don’t want to go anywhere.
When your kids get older and start expressing their opinions about weekend plans, it gets much harder to motivate the family out of the house sometimes because there’s always that one person who disagrees and throws everything off when you have 4 people trying to make decisions. Sure, we can exercise our parental powers and make all the decisions – and we often do otherwise we’d be going to Coney Island every single weekend if they had their way – but we do like to give the kids a vote on how we spend our weekends sometimes. But holy hell! It can be a painful process.
When we finally got out of the house in the afternoon on Sunday after much group deliberation, Dumbo was already teeming with people. The Dumbo Arts Festival is an annual three day art event with exhibits, open studios and plenty of tables and supplies on the street to make your own little pieces of art. Despite the crowds, it was one of those weekend days that made the effort of getting out of the house quite worth it. Sometimes crowds can be draining and other times it can be energizing, and Sunday was one of those days where it felt good to be out in the city amongst other New Yorkers, looking at art, getting inspired and enjoying what is probably the last of the lingering summer weather. NY was full of energy last weekend; so many different kinds of events happening all over the city. And thank you to those who stopped by our booth at the Chile Festival on Saturday. If we appeared frazzled, I apologize. It’s always our biggest event of the year and this year proved no different. It isn’t often that I’m at these events, so it makes me really happy to hear people come back to say that the Chocolate Curry Fudgsicles were the best thing they had at the Festival or that they had never tasted this flavor combination before. And to that man who enjoyed the Massaman Curry Peanut Butter Sandwiches so much that he saved the last bite in a napkin to enjoy later because he didn’t want the cookie to end – you made my day.
Posted by Jenna | 3 Comments