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Tag: Attention

Threat Assessment

I remain convinced that heart of “self-care” is not pampering, per se, or spending lots of money — but giving yourself permission to listen to yourself about what will actually feel like rest and respite.

Not what other people tell you rest should look like. Actual rest, which is to say, your rest, which might not be recognizable as such to others. My partner got a massive deli-made sandwich for the first time in months and I watched it turn his entire week around.

Sometimes you just need to not do everything yourself, and sometimes you need to finally figure out what that smell is in the fridge, and sometimes you need to just delete those emails in your inbox of shame that have been haunting you for months.

your attention

I feel this. I feel this so thoroughly. My pandemic has looked like a blur. I have worked long hours every single day since March. I’ve learned Zoom. Not just how it works but how its APIs work, the changes that are going to affect the business. How to improve our interactions with it. I’ve even been reporting issues to the developers I’ve found. I’ve been neck deep in Zoom.

But that’s not all.

I’ve been doing the same thing for Webex. Compared to Zoom, it’s a lumbering beast with years of cruft and undocumented bits. Most I’ve learned by process of elimination and asking the right questions of the right support techs.

My wife and I have started getting all of our dinners through Mighty Meals. It’s a fresh delivered food service in the DC area. Instead of making the meals, all I have to do is decice what I want to eat and warm it up. The menu is vast and my only complaint is some side dishes aren’t seasoned well enough. They cook fish to perfection. They have a way with beef and brussel sprouts that’s unmatched. Their beyond meats and vegan options are superb. They make a peruvian chicken wing that will leave you wanting more. They have 100+ menu items so while we’re found our favorites, we try new things each week. If you’re interested in trying it out, use my code REFWYTV2ZY9F4 and get $20 off your first order!

Deciding what I want for dinner quickly became a game I grew exhausted of playing. So we gave up and paid to let someone else sort it out for us. I struggle enough with breakfast and when I can find time to take a lunch break. Food is an ongoing challenge. At least it’s one that’s fairly easy to solve.

I am exhausted.

Thoroughly and entirely spent.

I work in the office on a rotation with the rest of our company and every time I have to leave the house it’s a mental threat assessment. Do I stop for gas here? Do I walk into this store? Do those people look like they’ve been being safe outside of this moment? Can I pass by this group in the grocery store?

I’m thankful to live in a county that’s mandated masks in every store, office and building since March. I’m happy we are moving back to a more restrictive limit on dining inside. I see the numbers rising again and it terrifies me. Everyday is exhausting and I forget about why.

It’s not just work. Though work is exhausting on its own.

It’s the constant threat assessment. It’s deciding which family members I can see. And how comfortable I am with it. It’s trying to explain to people, nicely, they don’t meet the same threshold for safety as I do.

It’s already fighting my intense introversion and hermit tendencies. I don’t leave the house for days at a time and barely notice.

My self-care is:

  • Reading a good book on my patio
  • Watching the birds (especially those woodpeckers)
  • Looking at the family of deer that’s taken up resident in my suburban neighborhood.
  • Listening to music from my teens
  • Playing Destiny 2
  • Laying in bed and holding my wife
  • Writing with a pilot fountain pen on paper

Everyone has different self-care. Mine won’t look like yours. And that’s ok. We all need to do what makes us happy. What allows us to get through the days. Whether your days scream by or inch by with glacial slowness, we are all struggling. That can be hard to remember. But it’s always there. Sitting in the back of your mind.

Defriended

I have been off Facebook for a few months now. I have thought about it for a long time. I am friends with a lot of people on the site. There are a few people who I 1) care enough about to follow their lives and 2) can only connect with them through Facebook.

Some people have blogs. Others I can keep up with on Twitter or Instagram. For the rest, I do miss keeping up with them and their hijinks with their kids.

And I haven’t found a good solution for them.

I want to reopen my Facebook account so connect with those few people. If I do, I am going to go through my list and unfriend most of the people there. (Unfriend is such a harsh word. And they use it purposely.) We are not Facebook Friends™.

My biggest problem with Facebook is the endless striving for more! More people, more connections, MORE FRIENDS!

When I deactivated my account, its first solution was to suggest that I connect with more people. As if that was the problem… Not enough friends.

If I reactivate my account, I am going to pair the list down to those few people. I know Facebook will continue to show me friends of friends and people they think I might like. And people who commented on a post they made one time.

I don’t care about their family members.
I don’t care about their friends.
I don’t care about their co-workers.
I don’t care about…

I care about the people I care about enough to friend. The End.

And that’s the problem with Facebook. There’s no money in it for them for me to keep my social network small. And that’s where we disagree.

Facebook is not important enough for me to fight that fight. It’s not worth my time to keep fighting Facebook’s interests.

Most importantly, I haven’t missed it. I haven’t opened the browser or downloaded the Android app since I deleted it back in October. It’s not a part of life I find missing.

Do I want to reopen that door?

The Cost of Paying Attention

I don’t know what to make of the world anymore. I don’t know where to direct my pain and my exhaustion. Everyday there’s something new to be horrified over. Everyday there’s some new terror to fear.

There are days I wish for the times before I was connected with the entire world. Before I knew of the hates and pains suffered by everyone all across the country, and the globe. Do I need to know of all this pain? Do I need to unplug and go back to a simpler time? I was thinking about this when I came across
The Cost of Paying Attention in The New York Times

Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed. And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think.

I think about this everyday. When I encase myself with headphones and tune out the people on the train, and the constant talking at work.

Silence is now offered as a luxury good. 

Luxury cars are sold with silence as a feature. The article talks about the luxury lounges in airports being an oasis of calm and quiet. It’s a world where the demands on our attention have never been higher. The talking never stops. The demands to engage and be sold to never go away. Silence is bliss.

Silence is sold as a luxury good.

I grew up in the country. I woke to mooing cows and crowing roosters. I couldn’t see another house from my own. We had green fields and tall trees surrounding our property. Now I live in a city. I live in a townhouse. I don’t even have four walls to myself.

But it’s not the noise that drives me mad. It’s the light. All hours of the day and night, bright lights piercing the darkness. The blazing lights penetrate my bedroom windows to illuminate a park, closed at dark.

But it’s never dark there. It’s as bright as daylight all night long at that park. I don’t know why we pay to keep the lights on all night long. Recently, the home owner’s associate replaced the lights with brighter bulbs. So now the night is even brighter and closed to daylight.

I still can’t explain why. I can’t understand why the light is required at night. When did the dark become such a terrible thing? I miss the night. I miss the dark. I miss the quiet.

Scroll On Scroll On: Saving Bytes and Brains Cells

How many times do you go hunting trough a list of applications in your Start menu? Why does it take you 2 minutes to locate the program you’re looking for on your portable drive? How many applications do you need?

It hit me today as I was scrolling through the folders of Tools on my USB key at a client’s desk. I have 25 sub folders and 16 applications for troubleshooting and fixing issues.

I built this “Tools” folder up over time. I tried to account for any situation I might encounter and have a tool ready for it. However, in truth I can’t think of the last time I ever needed most of them. I’m also pretty sure I have some tools I have never used.

How many times have I hunted through this folder for my anti-spyware tool or disk defragment utility? Why do I spend the brain cycles and time hunting trough a pile of files I never use? “Because I might need them one day and I want them with me,” I tell myself.

*No longer.* Today is the day I take a hard look at what I have listed and delete what I am not using. If I ever need it, I can always download it and if I find myself needing it often, I will add it back. Programs will have to earn their place in my Tools folder. No longer will I add them because they look cool or might be useful one day.

The same thing goes for my desktop both at work and at home. I have a huge number of applications installed because I love to try out the latest and greatest thing. However, I rarely adopt a new tool into my life or workflow. I also never go back and delete the pile of unused applications from my hard drive either.

Today that all changes. Today I open up Remove Programs and ruthlessly go to work on anything I don’t remember using recently or can’t remember what it does in the first place. ((Caveat being ONLY do this if you understand computers enough to know what it is that you’re removing. You can do serious harm to your computer by removing something important))

The same thing goes for my Tools folder on my USB key for work. Any applications I can’t remember using get the boot. If I need them, I will download them again.

Today is all about saving bytes and brain cycles. Hunting through unused folders and applications wastes time and attention. And those are my two most precious commodities.