The Best Birthday Gift

Apparently, NYC school kids are on vacation this week. Happy birthday to me!

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Time Flies

81y4QXBpfkL._SY679_As I age, I am reminded that the saying “time flies” has some validity. I was hit with this realization last night, through the discovery of some expired products on our liquor shelf.

I am currently getting ready for an annual party we throw at our apartment. We bought the booze this past week and I went through our liquor shelf to get rid of anything we didn’t need anymore, so we could store the two handles of rum we brought home.

There were three unopened bottles of grenadine that I figured could be used for our hurricane punch. I checked the expiration date just to be sure but all three bottles had expired in 2016.

I purchased the bottles of grenadine in 2013 in bulk, because I couldn’t find grenadine in the neighborhood. Grenadine can now be found at the local Key Food so no need to buy in bulk anymore.

As I was dumping the bottles down the sink, the sticky red liquid reminded me of how quickly my life is flying by. I thought about getting excited to drink Shirley Temples while out to dinner as a kid and how adult they made me feel. Eating the maraschino cherry off a blue, mini plastic sword, feeling like a princess.

It’s a 30-year old memory, which to me, means an ancient memory. But, in the grand scheme of the universe, 30 years is just the blink of an eye.

Thank you, grenadine, for that gentle reminder.

Surname

95622a4caa69209876f744ed0049f0cfI decided not to change my surname after marriage and my husband didn’t challenge me on the matter. Why? Because he’s amazing.

After almost 6 years, I am still happy with my decision. We sometimes get mail that refers to me by my husband’s surname, but we also get mail where his surname is mine. Both of these mistakes make me laugh because it illustrates how society has a hard time handling non-conformity.

A friend of mine recently started the process of changing her name after her wedding and from my view, it is such a pain in the ass. She started her process by going to the social security office on Friday and when she got back to work she said something like, “As the woman (in a heterosexual relationship), you have to do most of the wedding planning and after the wedding, you have to do all of the work to change your name to your husband’s. He doesn’t have to do anything.”

Exactly.

I know my friend well enough to know that her husband did help with some of the wedding planning, but she is right. In this matter of name changing, he gets to go on with his life and she has to take time off of work to go to the social security office, brave the NYS DMV, stress about the timing of getting her passport changed with her travel schedule, update credit cards, bank accounts, and more.

I don’t judge women who change their surname. The great thing is that woman in the United Staes HAVE the choice to change, or not to change, their surname. As Americans, women haven’t always had that choice.

However, because I didn’t go through any of this, I have to say that taking the male route in this scenario by not changing my name was very freeing. It reconfirms my decision to keep my name and not go through this antiquated rigamarole.

Facebook

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Changes to the Facebook platform were reported in the New York Times this morning. It seems as Facebook is changing their algorithm to prioritize friends and family in the newsfeed over viral content.

I deleted the Facebook app and messenger app from my phone about six months ago and have limited my interactions by logging in once a day during the week and ignoring it on the weekends. When I log on, I tend to any messages I have, delete any memories I don’t care about, and check my notifications. Then, I log off.

I have threatened to completely leave Facebook in the past, but haven’t brought myself to actually leave the platform. After reading today’s news, I realized that prioritizing friends and family wasn’t going to pull me back in. Limiting my Facebook usage sprung from two other issues I have with the platform.

 

The first is logging on and immediately being emotionally bombarded about things that don’t matter to me. A good example of this would be a devasting post about a death of a young family member of someone I haven’t spoken to in 20 years. It may be sad, but in the grand scheme of my life, it’s not important. These “emotional bombs” were getting too much of my empathetic attention. The kind of attention that should be reserved for people who are actually within my real friends and family circle.

The second is the growing psychological findings that people who are truly unhappy post more on social media than others. In addition to this, Facebook “likes” act like dopamine in the brain so people who need mental validation to increase their emotional stability often post more than other users to get that positive high.

When I read about the above, I started realizing that some people I frequently see in-person, who are not happy with their lives for one reason or another, fall into the trap of constantly posting about how wonderful their lives are on Facebook. I often wonder aloud, “You literally just told me how unhappy you are, but yet you seem to be having the time of your life as per your Facebook page.” So, I started questioning a good deal of what I was seeing in my timeline. This realization of this highly curated content made the whole platform seem inauthentic, so I stopped constantly scrolling through my newsfeed as it was all starting to look like fake news.

I have found limiting my use of the platform has greatly improved the quality of my day to day life. However, my time away from Facebook hasn’t given me back a ton of time. I still find myself on Instagram wasting an hour, or two, of my day. But, I do walk away from Instagram feeling more positive and less emotionally drained than I would if I had spent the same amount of time on Facebook.