Spyware (A Telepathic Blogger’s Haiku)

I know you’re reading.

I feel you each time you do.

But more when you don’t.

Culture, Letting Go, Memory, Technology, Writing

Disclaimer: I am not the me you think I am

In the days since the Justine Sacco twitter incident (which has officially been labeled a mob by the New York Times), I’ve spent a little time on a project that I’ve been meaning to focus on for a while:

Cleaning up my internet bread crumbs

You see: I’ve been at this a while. This thing I call “sharing of myself with strangers.”

I’ve been writing and posting opinion pieces, and uploading and approving photos of myself online since … well, at least since 1997. That’s as far back as I am able to trace myself though I imagine a stalker or a fairly good sleuth with a wad of cash with my name on it could identify earlier instances. Let’s hope that the first doesn’t exist, and the second never does.

For most of those 17 internet loving years, I stood firmly by the belief that sharing was good; identity theft was bad; and that since there was no way to stop people bent on investigating you or stealing your credit cards, why not position yourself in the light you prefer.

There was one little detail I didn’t pay attention to.

It’s that the light I want to shine in is ever shifting.

Even more so, there may come a time when I don’t desire the light. When I prefer to be hidden in the shadows.

Shadow me
Shadow me

If one day, a mob were after me, they’d find judgmental rants I am now ashamed of; they’d unearth unkind comments that were written on an off day; and they’d be able to amass a decent collection of really unattractive photographs of me in really unfashionable clothing (especially if they come across any from 2001 – 2003).

They’d find pictures of my kids that were cute in context, but now seem inappropriate. They’d stumble upon references to wacky dreams I’ve had or remembrances of drunken bodily performances. They’d certainly find articles written in a voice that is no longer mine; in a tone I no longer wish to express myself in.

I am not the girl you will find on a Google search.

I’m not even the girl who began this blog in 2011.

I’m someone else entirely.

In the cleaning up of the bread crumbs of me, I began by deleting or making private any online content I thought might embarrass my growing children. An effort of Herculean proportions that I will certainly never complete to their satisfaction.

Next, I tried to dig up the most obnoxious, off-the-cuff public statements I’ve made over the past year or two on Twitter or Facebook. Things I meant in jest, but might one day be held against me in a court of rash, cruel, public opinion.

But I know — even as I do this —

I know

That my efforts are nearly inconsequential.

Because what is appropriate now might one day not be. And what I see as an innocent or well-intentioned sharing of myself  could, at some point, be used to position me as anything from self-centered to irresponsible to crazy.

What do you do with that knowledge?

Do you unplug completely? Do you spit in the face of future detractors?

Or do you do what any good lawyer would tell you to do?

Add a disclaimer.

disclaimer jen




The day I didn’t break up with the Internet

My recent post about my disappointment in the behavior of the Internet (specifically as it related to a Twitter lynch mob against PR professional Justine Sacco) garnered a lot of traffic.

I asked myself, “why?” Sure, the post was opinionated and related to a trending topic. But I think the primary reason is because misery loves company and a lot of people are miserable.

We’re stuck in really bad relationships… With the Internet.

Admit it. You’re bored. Tired. Annoyed. If something better came along — like virtual reality or time travel– you’d totally consider walking away.

We know we’re tiring of the Internet. We’ve even admitted it! We’ve gone on breaks. We’ve dated other … media.

And yet, for various reasons — love, addiction, money — we can’t seem to walk away. Not yet.

Some of us really don’t want to walk away, even though we know we’d be better off if we did. Some of us want to get up, leave, and never look back, but keep making excuses as to why not.

I’m not sure which category I fall into (maybe both, depending on the day) but I do know one thing.

It’s time to detach.

This is my very trendy “one word” for 2014. It’s my teeny tiny bud of a resolution-to-be.


Not detox.


To become unattached.

Attachment, as those of us with even a minor education in mindfulness practice know, is at the root of fear, anger, sadness. When we allow ourselves to not be attached, or in my case, to detach when we become aware of just how attached we are, a whole world of peace and ease opens up to us.

Bye bye fear and anger.

Hello, possibilities.

I am seriously attached. I am way over attached. Ask anyone who knows me in real life and half the people who know me only through my blog.

I got me a serious case of the ‘tach.

So, I’m trying this out. Detaching.

What will my detachment from the Internet look like in real time?

I have absolutely no idea.

I’m open. (See what I just did there? I detached.)

What’s your relationship with the Internet looking like these days? And what’s your teeny tiny bud of a resolution-to-be?

Modern Life, Technology

Why I am more appalled by the internet than by Justine

In the ongoing, yet soon to be old news saga of PR professional Justine Sacco, Gawker has surprisingly (not!) tarred and feathered a woman, and called it “reporting the news.”

When I saw the #hasjustinelandedyet saga in a friend’s Facebook feed over the weekend, I was drawn in. It was hashtagging at its best, after all. Alluring. Personal. Clever. With a hint of snark.

However, I was too busy monitoring a group of rowdy eleven year old boys shooting themselves with balls of paint in celebration of one boy’s birthday — my boy’s.  Smartphone occupied more by Instagram than by Twitter, I didn’t get as sucked into the online conversation as I might have otherwise, but feel compelled to contribute my two cents this morning after reading the Gawker story.

What’s really bugging me?

The majority — who assumes Justine is a disgusting piece of crap that doesn’t deserve to be called a human being. And the majority — who feels holier than thou enough to write about it.

And really? The disgusting piece of crap that doesn’t deserve to be called human?

It’s the internet.

The internet, which has determined that one really awful statement typed into a keyboard or a device registered to a human being determines who and what that human being is.

The internet, which in general, didn’t really consider the (albeit, unlikely) possibility that Justine was hacked.

Which, frankly, seems possible to me.  I’m a communications professional — one with a big mouth and strong opinions. The first thing to smell fishy to me about this was the idea of a PR person showcasing her racist side on her Twitter account.

It’s really, really unlikely.

PR people can be ugly and awful. But they’re usually really, really good at making the rest of the world think otherwise.

My first reaction, instead, to reports of Justine’s racist AIDS tweet was, “She’s either drunk, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, or she’s been hacked.” Call me level-headed (or, in the end, call me naive), but my first reaction wasn’t:


The second thing that’s getting my goat about this story is the “trial by twitter” era that we live in. Even if Justine is truly a racist, not just a stupid person or a drunk person or a person who made a bad, impulsive decision, I feel more sick by humanity’s reaction to this story —  fire her! excommunicate her! humiliate her! — than I do by the unacceptable remark made by the possibly stupid or drunk person who made it.

What are we rallying around here people?

Are we truly rallying around the fight against racism? Around our empowering ability to use social media for good?

Or are we just scared little animals waiting like vultures to pounce on road kill because pouncing makes us feel strong?

More than anything, this story makes me want to leave the internet.

I don’t want to be around to find out the truth behind Justine’s remark.

I don’t want to be around to hear her apology, or explanation, or the internet’s remorse when she hangs herself because she is so shamed by the very public and unfair trial she got on Twitter.


And then all of Twitter, with sorrow and regret in their hearts, will hashtag #nomorejustines.

I don’t want to be around to be the person the internet tars and feathers next.

Seriously, internet, I want to leave you on days like today.

I want to break up with you forever and forget about all the good times we had.

All the community building.

All the activism.

All the kickstarting.

Days like today make me sick of you.

Love, Mindfulness, Parenting, Philosophy

Guns are just a metaphor

This is not a post about gun control. It’s not a post about violence prevention in our schools or in our towns.

It’s a post about growing up — my growing up — as a mother.

And the single greatest lesson I have learned in my ten years, 364 days of parenting.


I know nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

If I look at myself now from the future, this will always be true.

Each day, as a mother, I am growing and learning and changing. And when I look back at the mother I was two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, I understand instantly how little I know. And in knowing this, I know everything.

When my son, who is turning 11 this weekend, was a little boy and started to amass little boy toys, we had a rule (my rule): No guns in the house.

As my son transitioned from dinosaurs to Playmobil, the rule shifted a little: No handheld toy guns in the house. But Playmobil policemen were allowed.

And as he grew, in a house that didn’t allow guns, he still played with imaginary ones, as boys do. I could’ve attempted to enforce a new rule, “No pretend guns with clothes hangers,” but by that time I started to realize, just a little, that I might not be able to prevent imaginary gun play and so I instated a new rule: No video games or computer games with guns.

This, I knew, would prevent my son from turning into one of those scary people on the 6 o’clock news; I just knew it. Video games and TV were really the culprits in the downward cycle of violence in America. If our children didn’t see it on TV or in video games, we’d all be safe. I was certain of it.

But, as you probably have gathered by now and mothers more seasoned than I already know, my son grew older. He started to do things on his own — when I wasn’t around. He played shoot ’em up computer games at friends’ houses where rules didn’t get in the way, and watched Clint Eastwood movies on YouTube. And one day, last year, got a Nerf gun as a gift from his classmates for his birthday.

On that day, I had to choose: Would I rescind a parenting decision I had made 10 years prior? Or stick to my guns, so to speak?

I let the Nerf guns in.

I held up my palms to the air that day and looked skyward and said to someone (or no one) in that defeated mother’s voice:

“What, really, do I know?”

And an answer came down from somewhere or nowhere: You know nothing. And yet …

And yet, my son seems to. He seems to know something.

A year later, the kid has amassed a Nerf collection — guns, foam bullets, a vest.  And despite this, seems to know the difference between right and wrong. Play and reality. Seems to be able to function appropriately with peers — completely against my assumption 10 years ago about what happens to boys when they start playing with guns.

In a twist that feels unfathomable to me — a woman who once thought her sons would never handle a toy gun — my son is hosting 20 of his friends today at a paintball party. It makes me uncomfortable a bit; it does.  I find myself asking this morning: What does this say about my son that he wants a paintball party? Worse: What does it say about my parenting that I am allowing it?

And the only answer I can come up with is:

I know nothing.

This is my BIRTH-day gift.

This knowing does not release me from fear or from self-blame for whatever my son may choose to be or to do in the future.  But, rather, allows me to be free to love in the best way I know how … today.

I am certain that I will keep making rules for my children. Just as I am certain I will always be afraid for them.

But, I suppose, that with each passing year, as I understand more and more how little I know about what my raising them will ultimately lead to, I will allow myself to let go.

To trust them to raise themselves.

And hope that my loving them was enough.

Because really, I know nothing.

gun cake

Culture, Spirituality, Technology

Do your dreams predict your Facebook feed?

I’m entering dangerous territory.


Dreams — and how they figure into our waking lives — fascinate me. I don’t remember which came first —  my vibrant dream life or my wonder for that version of reality. But both have been with me since childhood.

What’s curious to me these days is lucid dreaming and predictive dreaming, both of which I seem to be getting better at.

The other night, for instance, I noticed I was in the middle of a super frightening nightmare, and I willed myself awake.  Not bad, I thought, when I woke up in a sweat. Now how do I start teaching myself how to fly?

For the past year or so, I’ve occasionally (a few times a month) experienced deja vu during the day in which I am certain I dreamt the interaction already the night before. Nothing momentous; in fact, regular every day occurrences that have a particular interesting twist. Not just the regular drop off at my daughter’s preschool, for instance, but one in which her classmate starts to speak to me in Russian.

I’ve read that such predictive dreaming is, in fact, not uncommon. Famous physicist Russell Targ (most well-known for his work with the military on remote viewing) writes about his own experience with precognitive dreams “predicting” newspaper headlines that he’d then read the next day.

But here’s a peculiar phenomenon I haven’t come across yet in reading on the subject of dreams, and I’m wondering if any of you have: Sometimes I dream my Facebook feed before it happens.

I have 851 Facebook friends. I’m pretty well aware of the 50 or so who appear regularly in my feed. So that when I dream of someone far away — who is not present in my day-to-day interactions and who is not one of the regular 50 people who appear in my feed — and that person shows up in my Facebook feed the next day, I am … to say the least … startled. Like, “Hey you, weren’t you just randomly in my dream last night? What are you doing in my Facebook face?”

Is there an algorithm to explain that experience? I say that only half-facetiously. There probably IS an algorithm to explain that. (If so, please share it, and if possible, in graphic novel format, which is how I best understand geek.)

In addition to dreaming about someone the day before they show up in my feed, I have, on multiple occasions, been talking about something with my colleague at work during the lunch hour — something seemingly obscure — only to find the topic being explored in an article posted by one of my Facebook friends in my feed when I return from lunch. As if Facebook was eavesdropping on our conversation.

Is there an algorithm for that? For overhearing a discussion on, let’s say, the ecosystem of the gut after eating meat or milk? Is there an internet worm crawling from our ears, our minds, and back into “the system?”

I know that readers of this blog span the spectrum of futurists believing we already live in the Matrix to religious devotees who believe the Bible literally happened. (And I appreciate that diversity!)

So tell me:  what do you think? Does this ever happen to you, too?

Is it more common than I think,  this transmission from mind to physical matter (our computers) and back again?

Or am I naive to think of “the internet” as matter, at all? Isn’t it, too, mind?


Letting Go, Mindfulness, Modern Life

Happiness is a warm, crisp chocolate chip cookie

It’s pretty cold for Israel. Damp, too, and muddy. We’re in the middle of a patch of rain and about to get hit by a storm that will likely bring snow to parts of the desert. Just the right kind of weather to put me in a bad, bad mood.

But I’m not … yet. I’m working from home today and feeling really, really thankful for that.

And because I’m working from home, and because we still have electricity, I did two loads of laundry and made chocolate chip cookies. I’m a prepper, after all, and I wouldn’t want to be stuck with a power outtage and no cookies.

As soon as the cookies started to bake and I could smell “home” wafting through the house, I started to feel thankful again.

In the sudden sea of gratitude flowing through my life this morning, the makolet was open (when I thought it would be closed) and milk was in stock (when I was certain there would be none.) The rain stopped for five minutes as I made my way to the store, and only really fell down again just as I was getting back to my front door.

A smile broke through my face, just then;  just as the sun pierced the cloudy sky; just for a moment.

Gratitude is like that:  a chain reaction waiting for a spark.

Inside, I lifted a warm, crisp cookie to my lips — fresh out of the oven — I thought I was going to melt from pure happiness. It was the best cookie I’ve ever had.  I am not exaggerating. I have been on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe for many years, and I have finally nailed it.


Now brace yourself for cliche.

It occurred to me that, even in the middle of a storm that was bound to put me in a bad mood, happiness could be found in simple things.

Like working from home and the best chocolate chip cookie ever.

This is my blessing for you today, whether you are in stormy Israel or somewhere sunny, but facing an inner storm: May you find joy in simple pleasures today. May you be wise enough to notice them.


The space between dreams

Fevered dreams
Unfulfilled chills
Can’t shake ’em off.

The space there
between awake and asleep
Hot outside
Cold inside
A mystery understood only by the archetype of me.

If I could write the space there
between awake and asleep
it’d be a bestseller.

The book of the month for vampires and demons
that dwell inside the space
between dreams.

Letting Go, Parenting

Life Lessons of Learning to Ride a Bike (Part II)

Who knew what a wealth of life lessons teaching your kid to ride a bike would provide?

(Who knew, actually, what a wealth of life lessons parenting, in general, would offer. Not me! Can I have my money back? Just kidding… sorta…)

Three years ago, I remarked on the magical moment of “letting go” a parent and child both experience when the child finally decides to ride a bike solo.

But what about when a child approaches an unexpected corner, a little too fast, and starts to careen around and down a steep hill?

What about when said child starts to scream, “MOMMY – I CAN’T STOP!” and said mommy is a good three blocks away, completely incapable of doing anything but watching and screaming back?


Unexpected life lessons. 

Thank you, bike.

This lesson ended happily, without injury, but with a harsh wake up call for mom and son.

There will be times when I simply cannot help him.

There he was — the seven year old, the one who tends to need me the most — screaming in panic for help.

Far away, I watched the bite-size version of him descend the steep hill in our neighborhood. I didn’t even run. I knew instantly there was nothing I could do to protect him; to keep him from heading full-speed on his brand new bike onto the prospect of oncoming traffic (worst case scenario) or a major wipe out on the concrete (best case scenario).

In slow motion, I took in my surroundings. My daughter behind me, stopped atop her own bike, watching the scene play out. Another parent, to my far left, previously relaxing on his back porch reading the newspaper, now standing — also concerned and also powerless. There in the distance … my son.

What would happen?

How would it all end?

And then …

Time stopped. Or my heart stopped. Or they both did.

Most important,he stopped. He found the strength to stop.

On his own.

Later, when I reached him, he would tell me how scared he was; he would tell me about his own moment of realization — that mommy couldn’t possibly come to his rescue; that he would indeed need to help himself.

He told me that in that very moment he said to himself, “You can do it. You have to.”

I told him that I had said the very thing in my own mind. This was the message I sent to him from too far away.

In that moment, we both let go of each other.

Understood that this was something that had to happen sooner or later.

This letting go. This not-so-blind trust in the process.

This love. This faith.

This long distance relationship.

oliver rides