I Don’t Have Time to Stop Procrastinating

If I were to sit down and make a list of all of the things I’m currently procrastinating about doing, it would be quite long, likely depressing, and definitely not fun, so I’m going to put that off… But seriously, why is it so hard to just DO things?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I have a few theories for myself and I suspect that different reasons come into play at different times.

I’m married and have two young kids, I’m still trying to gain fluency in Arabic after more than a decade of on and off study, I have two little side businesses that I’ve largely abandoned since coming out as an almost a year and a half ago, I’ve bitten off an enormously large book project, and I’m trying to manage a household, plus volunteer at school, learn everything I can to make up for the years I wasn’t trying to learn about the world and life as a non-believer, and I’m trying to figure out what I want to be “when I grow up.” Please excuse the run-on sentence, but it seemed to capture how I feel about all of it. Considering that I’m an ALL the irons in the fire sort of person, this leaves me with far more things that I want to do than I am capable of doing at any given time.

As a spouse and a mother, my family needs to take priority – I sort of signed up for that. But the monotony and small details of child-rearing and maintaining a household are frequently at odds with my desire to learn new and interesting things, my voracious appetite for reading, extreme need for socializing and my seemingly insurmountable tendency to not be organized in a physical space (my mind is good, but my desk, and the table, and my closet, etc. are not.)

First off, I am one of those people who performs well under pressure. I need deadlines. That’s why I take classes. I could easily lose myself in interesting books and articles for days and never pop up for air, but it’s like going down a rabbit hole: One thing sparks a thought, which leads me somewhere else, and then I’m popping over to check on something different and soon I’ve simply forgotten that I had seated myself at my computer to work on conjugation of Arabic verbs in Lebanese. But did you know that Ex-Muslim Imtiaz Shams of Faith to Faithless got to speak at the British Islam Conference of 2018 just last month? Or that Count Dankula (who I’d never heard of before two days ago) has just been given jail time for a joke in extremely bad taste? What about that silly fake news article that has started going around again about a bogus Dasani water bottle recall containing “parasites” (they used a photo of baby eels, by the way) – I need to stop the fake news that my friends are spreading on Facebook! And look, my good friend Rachel was just featured in a local news article because a spectacular shot she just took of a rare cloud formation in our town. Ah, and let’s see what Steve the Vagabond and Silly Linguist has been up to. You get it right? SO MANY THINGS I WANT TO KNOW!

Focus is definitely a problem for me when the topic isn’t interesting. Being uninterested is essentially a death knell for anything I’m supposed to do. But even when it is interesting (like Arabic, or my book) I struggle to focus when there are so many tantalizing topics nipping at my feet like my little dogs who are always asking to play. “Please, just spend a minute with me! Just throw the ball a few times… or for an hour.”

Practically speaking, a lot of procrastination on my part comes from a perceived (though not necessarily real) time mismatch. My mind says, “Oh, I only have 30 minutes, I don’t have time to get started on that. That’s going to take forever. I really can’t stop to do that now.” But, really, I could. Plus something else. Or, maybe it’s something that I know is going to take days, or even weeks, and the thought of having to do that same undesirable task is simply too overwhelmingly unpleasant to consider. Yeah – that thing gets placed at the bottom of the priorities list. My husband, even after nearly 20 years together, is still astonished at how I seem to prefer to wait until something is a disaster before tidying it, rather than simply spending a few minutes each day. He can’t see inside my head to understand that I’m always juggling, trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of the things I WANT to do, often at the expense of the things I SHOULD do.

I’m always living at the bleeding front edge of running late. In addition to procrastinating, I’m also what has been called a “time optimist.” I always think I have more time to get things done than I do. I don’t allow enough of a buffer to get ready in the morning, get lunches made, get kids clothed, dressed and out the door without being late, or nearly late, because the youngest has decided that she REALLY needs to have her armadillo Squinkie with her at school, but she can’t find it, and she doesn’t have a pocket in the leggings she was wearing, so she’s now in her underwear again rummaging through the toys in her room, as we are supposed to be driving down the street! If I would just remember to add those 5 extra minutes, AND remember to check on her instead of assuming all is well, then mornings would be a bit less fraught, and perhaps I’d also get breakfast before school starts. But I’m easily distracted. I should probably ban myself from social media before the kids are off to school. Whenever I burn something that I’m cooking, my husband calls it “Facebook toast.” I have probably only managed to cook tortillas once or twice in the past five years without at least one being burnt to a crisp. Considering that tortillas are a staple in our house, that’s a lot of crispy & inedible bread products.

I find that I’m essentially running two minds at once. The mind that is concerned with the wellbeing of my family and the joy and happiness I experience with them when I’m engaged with them. And the mind that is a fledgling activist striving to make as much of a difference in the world as I can. That latter part of me has always been there, but it was buried for a long time, because I was a Christian, and I was “not of this world.” Once I realized that God wasn’t real to me anymore, life suddenly had major stakes that didn’t exist for me before. It isn’t enough for me to sit back and watch – I want to be in the middle of everything. (And being an off-the-chart extrovert makes it easy for me to go out and meet people, form relationships and network so there is no deterrent there to slow me down.) I joke, as many do, about needing a handful of clones to do everything I want. But since that isn’t possible, I live with a daily shifting of priorities, and I do tend to shift the things that are less interesting, or seem less important in the grand scheme of life to the bottom of the list. But sometimes the big important things are there too. Maybe they’re a little bit too scary to think about.

But these past few weeks I’ve started doing a bit of both. Today I am writing this blog because I completed a goal of doing 4 things I’ve been putting off. My bedroom is cleaner, I’m going to actually get back the items I left in a hotel room four weeks ago, we’ll all have clothes to wear tomorrow, and my bathroom counter looks less like a department store display counter and more like it belongs in someone’s residence. Bonus effects are a reduction in stress levels in my much more tidy spouse and the brief thrill I get by thinking that I might possibly be able to keep things in order. (I give it about 2 days max. It’s not because I don’t care – I really do. It’s just that there are things I care about MORE. And I SWEAR I have not been ignoring that pile on the stairs – I truly didn’t notice it!)

My brand of procrastination is a double-edged sword. When I finally do stop and consciously put effort into a task with the intent to complete it, I’m a bulldog. When I have a deadline, I’m killer! I work very well under pressure, and some of my best work happens when I have a deadline about to crash down. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush. Looming deadlines make me bury projects until I can’t ignore them anymore and then I typically smash them out of the park. (Not always.) I have a mid-term project due for Arabic class next week and I probably won’t start until Saturday. I’m not nervous. I know I can do it without too much difficulty once I sit down, but there are so many things I need/want to complete before spending time on it, that I haven’t really started other than making a plan in my head. But is the stress at the end worth it? I’m not sure. I think that I NEED that last-minute rush to keep me interested and keep me going. But logical, rational me doesn’t want to “need” that – I would like to finish things in bits along the way – but it seems so boring! (And damn that stack of paper that arrives every single day from one school or the other with parent “homework” and tiny tasks that add up to soooo many little tasks!)

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I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about being a procrastinator. It’s something I’ve accepted is part of my personality and who I am as a person. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try to shift it and make better choices. I would love to be that organized person. The Container Store is like porn for me. But I’m happy and I’ll be fine with a little more conscious thought put into how I organize my priorities list.

One last thing that affects my productivity and definitely seems to have an effect on how much procrastination is in my life: I do deal with anxiety issues – they are very well-controlled now – but sometimes will sneak in. I find that when I am putting things off for long periods, there is often underlying anxiety of some sort associated with that task.

Anyhow, do you know how long I’ve put off blogging as a way to get myself writing? Yeah, I don’t know either, but I think it’s been a long time – my spouse suggested it some time ago. It took a conversation on Twitter to make my thoughts bubble up until I couldn’t contain the ideas and needed to start writing. Now that I’m doing it, I see how easy it is to pour my thoughts and ideas out on a page, and the looming prospect of actually getting everything together for my book seems far more manageable than it did just a week ago.

Oh, did I mention that I’m also a perfectionist? Sigh.


Notes:

The image at the top of this post is from a Facebook group called Procrastination (@ProcrastioNation) with 63k likes.

Squinkies are tiny little character toys made out of a soft squishy foam of some sort. They are adorable, especially the armadillo. And they get lost all the time.

Update: My husband just reminded me about this excellent Ted Talk by Tim Urban of Wait But Why. Hilarious & poignant.

My Thoughts on “Charitable” Wishes for Stephen Hawking in Hell

My first blog post for Atheist Republic has just been published. It was inspired by a tweet & conversation with Richard Dawkins. He read my first draft & thought it was interesting enough to post. I hope you agree! 😜

Click on over and check it out! My Thoughts on Charitable Wishes for Stephen Hawking in Hell

What About Whisper Networks?

A new friend of mine, Anthony Magnabosco, tweeted this the other day:

This tweet hit me hard.

I immediately retweeted with a “Yes! This” and a string of my thoughts on the topic – contested by a commenter – which I’m going to flesh out here. I have long been uneasy about whisper networks in general, and have tried to avoid participating in them for years. They have sometimes (often?) seemed to be close kin to something else I’ve tried to avoid: gossip. Every single one of us has been involved in a whisper network, whether it’s been inconsequential chitchat or something very serious. They are everywhere in some form or another. In this post I’m writing about whisper networks that are intended to protect other people as a result of someone being treated in some sort of damaging way.

The context of his tweet is the situation surrounding Lawrence Krauss and the allegations of inappropriate behavior/sexual misconduct that have come out against him. There has been a whisper network about him for decades apparently. As the allegations have roiled both the atheist and skeptics “communities” – both of which I’m now part of – these thoughts have been on my mind for weeks now.


Let me acknowledge up front that I KNOW that sometimes whispers are, or seem to be, the only option for people who have been ill-treated, or worse. I don’t condemn anyone who has felt it necessary to start or be part of one – including myself – because I simply can’t judge the circumstances from the outside. The following are my personal thoughts on whisper networks in general, and it should be obvious that I am speaking idealistically and in broad, sweeping terms. I intend these thoughts & ideas to apply to whisper networks of ALL sorts, not just those surrounding sexual misconduct. They exist in nearly all areas of life to greater or lesser extent.


A brief & admittedly simplistic summary: Whisper networks benefit only a tiny fraction of people – the ones that hear the whispers. EVERYONE ELSE is left out of the theoretical protection of it. And when no one tells the person being whispered about that a problem exists then there is no warning to change course, and therefore no resolution to the problem. I say we, collectively as humans, have to change this. Bringing problems out into the open is why is important. From now on just say No to whispers and say Yes to speaking up!


I’m clearly speaking of eliminating the need for whisper networks a best case scenario. Obviously there are occasions now when it’s the only seemingly feasible option to seek restitution, or justice, or protection, or something like that. But if there is any way to safely avoid it, I say do so. I think we must prevent any whisper networks from forming that are not vitally necessary, in order to be able to make the changes that will make them ALL unnecessary.

I think we all know what whisper networks do, and how we feel they can help. And they do help some people. But what about the things they don’t, or can’t do? They don’t provide a solution because they don’t fix the problem and they don’t protect everybody – just a limited “lucky” network. They don’t put the problem person on notice for their behavior, and often any consequences are unknown to the person and therefore can’t serve as a deterrent or a warning. They are a stopgap measure – a Band-Aid.


They are a stopgap measure – a Band-Aid.


Victims of bad behavior of all sorts have their own prerogative to decide what they’ll do when something happens to them. I don’t think there is any “right” decision for someone ill-treated to make for his or herself. But there are decisions that are better for individuals, and decisions that are better for society. I strongly believe that each person should make a choice that tries to balance what is best for themselves with what is best for society – but that there is no way to know, or dictate, what that choice should be in any given situation. That will always be subjective. I never want to shame or blame a victim for the choices they’ve made, or might have been forced by circumstances to make, or needed to make for personal reasons, but to encourage people to consider the longterm effects of those decisions before making them.

For myself, when I am the victim of something bad (or the observer of something) my goal is to make a choice about speaking up or keeping silent that will minimize the risk of the bad thing happening to anyone else. I might not have been able to avoid it myself, but I sure as Hell don’t want someone else to have to go through the same thing. But I am the only one who can make that decision. For me, unless the consequences to myself – or really, my family – would be extreme, I want to always try to make a choice that will stop the problem. (Hey, I’m still an engineer.) That’s my goal and I think others share it.

So many people can’t safely speak up – so the rest of us who can? I think we really must at least consider it. That’s why I’m writing my book about being an atheist from an evangelical background – because I have the relative safety to tell the stories of people who are not safe, and the possible reach to help them be heard. (I’m talking mainly physical safety, though obviously there are other kinds.)

I feel it is a personal moral imperative, and it’s sometimes resulted in very awkward and uncomfortable positions, being embarrassed, and on at least one occasion, putting myself in potential physical danger.  In two cases I personally observed truly positive change resulting from speaking up (and fortunately no danger to myself materialized) but in others I might never know the results. I’m not saying that I’ve always been successful with my goal, because that wouldn’t be true. And sometimes it just takes soooo much effort to put myself out there on behalf of someone else and it can also be really scary.

Anyhow, after my tweetstorm, I chatted with Anthony. At one point during the conversation he said something I agreed with wholeheartedly: “Whisper networks are odd things. You don’t usually know you are being added to one until you have been, and then what? At what point do you have an obligation to do something? And what can you do? Then when things blow up/go public, it’s a potential liability to admit you were even privy to the whispers. So I am starting to think “members” of these networks need to do something proactive beyond propagating the network or staying silent, which is why I think attempting to contact the “whisperee” might be the best thing to do.” I feel the same way as Anthony was feeling when he wrote that.

When whispers are equivalent to low-level gossip, there might not noticeable real world consequences if they remain secret. But when it comes to dangerous behavior the stakes are higher. Someone “in” the network might know to never invite the person to stay at their house, or be around their kids, or how to avoid a situation that could be a problem. But what about the people who don’t know? How many people are put at risk because they simply don’t have any idea that there is a problem in the first place? How many people being whispered about don’t recognize their behavior is unacceptable? How many people are damaged by whisper networks where the whisperers have accidentally played a round of Telephone?  This kind of situation can really get you thinking about the pitfalls of whisper networks: their potential liabilities, possible disregard for the safety of others, and the conceivable possibility of errors.

When people first hear whispers they are given choice that can be really difficult – pass them on, keep silent, or speak out – or maybe pass them on AND speak out. When I hear about bad behavior, sometimes it is so far removed that my knowing has very little effect on anything and it’s easy to decide just to ignore it. Other times it hits closer to home.  IF it is something I deem serious, there still might be nothing I can effectively – or safely – do, but if there is, I really want to try to find it. The farther along you are in a whisper chain/network, the more your choices vary from those who are at the beginning. Someone who might risk overwhelming consequences for speaking up, or reporting might only be able to whisper, but those of us farther down the line might find that we are in a unique situation to help solve the actual problem.

What if you know the person being whispered about? If you tell them what you’ve been told – protecting details and identities if necessary – then if they’re guilty of bad behavior they’re put “on notice” and given an opportunity to correct their behavior. (This assumes the behavior under discussion isn’t criminal in nature – if it is, off to the police you go.) But, if they are innocent, or there’s been a misunderstanding, they have a chance to clear their name or sort out the misunderstanding.  As Anthony requested in his tweet – please provide people that chance. Whisper networks inadvertently remove both of those options unless someone takes steps to break the chain. That is a real problem.

Whisper networks by themselves can protect some people, but they don’t help everyone and they never stop problems unless we stop whispering and take action. I aim to never start a serious whisper chain myself. (I’m not going to promise not to gossip – who on Earth could keep that promise?) But I have promised myself to do what I can to help solve the problem & stop it right there. And when I encounter whispers from others, that remains my intent.

I know many people will disagree with me, or say that I’m being naive or unrealistic or ignoring the plight of victims. (See my caveat above.) But I think we can make a change if we all say No to whispers and Yes to speaking out on behalf of ourselves and others from now on. 

i-do-not-whisper-i-roar-1
When I was searching for quotes about whispers, this image came up & I loved the fighting spirit of the woman whose blog it was attached to: https://kittomalley.com/2017/09/07/i-do-not-whisper-i-roar-take2/

Notes:

If you want to see my original thread on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/moolecular/status/973424792350048256

If you want to see the blog of the strong woman – Kitt O’Malley – where I found the lion image: https://kittomalley.com/2017/09/07/i-do-not-whisper-i-roar-take2/

Blogging for Atheist Republic

I just submitted a blog post to Atheist Republic – it will be published soon. My thoughts on “charitable” wishes for Stephen Hawking in Hell… Includes a brief email exchange between me & Richard Dawkins, who I am pleased to call friend.

Update! Find it here: My Thoughts on Charitable Wishes for Stephen Hawking in Hell

Arabic, German, ASL … Klingon?! Oh my!

This popped up on my Facebook yesterday and I admit that my heart did a little dance:

http://www.startrek.com/article/qapla-tugh-tlhingan-hol-ghojchohlah-hoch

The Official Klingon Course: Duolingo x Star Trek! I clicked on the link, downloaded Duolingo and soon after I happily messaged photo to a fellow Trekkie friend Bob Novella of Skeptics Guide to the Universe. I discovered the Klingon Dictionary at the book store in the late 80’s/early 90’s and used to spend as much time as I could perusing it and trying to absorb a few phrases because I couldn’t afford to purchase the book. So I’m delighted that my childhood dream will be much more accessible! As of just now, there are 18.1k users who have started learning Klingon!

Since childhood I’ve studied – to various levels of proficiency – the following languages: French, Spanish, German, ASL (American Sign Language), Scottish Gaelic, Egyptian, Modern Standard Arabic and now Lebanese. (Egyptian and Lebanese are spoken “dialects” of colloquial Arabic) and now I’d love to add a smattering of Klingon to the mix!

You are probably asking “Why?!” My language learning history is long and a little convoluted.

I’ve loved to learn languages for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure why, but when there was an exchange student at school, I was usually the first to introduce myself –even though I was extremely shy as a child. I wanted to know about another places! When I was about 7 or 8 years old I discovered that there were French language learning records & pictures books at the library. I wanted to learn and I took them home with me. I can picture the setup in my room right now.

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I wasn’t able to learn a language at school until 7th grade but I signed up for French and loved it. I continued into high school and I excelled (until we got into the language immersion style classes – anyone else remember Mireille?) I realized that reading & writing in French was not the same as understanding spoken French – there is a slew of silent letters! I also discovered stage fright.)

Anyhow, as soon as I started high school as a Freshman I signed up to take Spanish concurrently with my French classes. The teachers gave me a bit of slack when I accidentally took quizzes in the wrong language and I was really happy. I stopped taking French when I moved from Pennsylvania to New York, but I continued with Spanish until I graduated, in Connecticut.

When I started at RPI the only language offered was German, so I took that and liked it even more! (Spanish had an advantage over French for me – the letters all had fixed sounds & were pronounced! German just seemed more fun. Three genders? Yes please!) I ended up taking a couple more Spanish classes at a local women’s college down the hill in Troy, NY – Russell Sage – just for fun, but I intended to get a minor in German and go into technical translation after graduation. To that end, I applied for a new foreign exchange program and was accepted at a technical university in Chemitz to study engineering there for a year, in German. I never got to find out how succesful I would have been because the exchange very sadly fell through.

During my undergraduate years at RPI I was part of the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) at NASA Langley for three summers in a row. The first summer I made some friends (whole I am still in touch with on Facebook) who began to teach me American Sign Language (ASL). Of all the languages I’ve studied, ASL is the only one that I learned in a natural, conversational setting, and it is still the only one I can use easily, even if not fluently. I spent three summers with the opportunity to hang out with students from the NTID (National Technical Institute of the Deaf) at Rochester Institute of Technology. It was an amazing experience and I might have gotten a fairly close up look of a B-52 bomber on the nearby Air Force base by going for a drive with Deaf friends who were able to use communication problems to slide out of a reprimand when caught going where we weren’t supposed to be. I learned to carry ear plugs with me at all times because some of those friends really liked loud music with deep base so they could feel what they couldn’t hear. (Also, Deaf people vary greatly in how much they use their voices. A Deaf party can be a raucous affair with loud music and a lot of voices – it could be a little overwhelming on the ears for a hearing person learning to sign!)

After I graduated with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, I went to the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland to study materials engineering as a non-graduating postgraduate student. (I received a scholarship from the Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York. It wouldn’t cover an entire program so I took a few classes and enjoyed my time!) I spent 10 months there, and in addition to developing a very fine generic British accent and learning a lot of Glaswegian expressions, I also studied Scottish Gaelic while I was there, though I never got to use it outside the classroom.

When we (my husband Tom – then boyfriend) moved to California, I began studying to be a sign language interpreter at El Camino College while I was working as a materials and processes engineer at TRW Space and Electronics in Redondo Beach, CA. I made it more than halfway through the program before injuring my forearms at work (remind me to mention another time how I came to own an ergonomics consulting biz) and never completed the course. But I learned a lot about translation and got good enough at signing in ASL that when I met up with one of my NASA LARSS summer friends about 13 years later, we were able to converse fully in ASL – something we’d never been able to do as friends previously. I still hope to get certified in ASL at some point. In any case, it’s a language that still pops up regularly whenever I try to recall vocabulary in my current studies… I used it in my Arabic class the other day!

A number of years later when I had gone back to work as a Materials and Processes Engineer at Northrop Grumman Corp (formerly TRW) I took an Egyptian Arabic class at UCLA one summer, on a whim. I had visited Egypt years earlier, in 1998, and had thought Arabic was a beautiful and interesting language. When I completed the summer, I realized that UCLA Extension had a Certificate Program in Arabic Language and Culture. For a several years I took Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) classes every weekend and some nights after work and earned my certificate in 2006. I spent a month in Cairo (more pics here) at the International Language Institute after I earned my certificate, in order to get some colloquial Egyptian practice. (Tom joined me for two weeks and we visited Alexandria and Luxor while he was there. I made him take a beginners class in Egyptian.)

After that trip, a few years passed, then we moved and I was able to take a couple of Arabic classes at Saddleback Community College and eventually found my way to California University of Pennsylvania’s Global Online B.A. in Arabic Language and Culture. I spent a few years working on that degree and received my B.A. in 2015, though I’m still not fluent in MSA or any dialect, but I can read and write and understand a lot (particularly when I’m not rusty.) During my internships for the B.A. program I had the pleasure of working at Access California Services for Director Nahla Kayali, and my then-supervisor Rida Hamida and many other wonderful men and women providing social services in the Anaheim area. (Rida Hamida was a driving force between establishing the designated Little Arabia section of Anaheim’s business district a few years ago.) I worked with elderly Iraqi (and other) refugees and learned so much about the resilience, heart and stamina of those who have to flee their countries and settle in a new place and often start from scratch, with nothing, to build a new life.

My Arabic studies have spanned more than a decade and it’s been a bumpy road, but I’m still determined to become fluent in at least one dialect and eventually be able to use the language with sufficient facility to do humanitarian work, or help with interpretation and translation. It’s a long road, but I’m sticking too it. I’m back in class again right now, at Saddleback College, studying colloquial Lebanese conversational skills and I’m loving it! I’ve just downloaded this app to check it out: Keefak.

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My all-time (so far) favorite method of acquiring conversational speech in another language other than getting to be immersed in the language environment is the Pimsleur Method. Hands down my favorite. Check it out here: Pimsleur Language Courses (Ebates gives a discount for purchases, btw. I do NOT get anything for mentioning these – they are just my personal favorites!) For Egyptian Arabic, I’ve found Rocket Arabic to be the best for me as some of the style is similar to Pimsleur, but there are a lot of online parts as well. I do not recommend Rosetta Stone for Arabic – I had to use it in my degree program, and it teaches an extremely formal version of Modern Standard that is hardly useful for conversation and very difficult to use even for advanced leaners.

Anyhow, my love affair with languages is really just beginning – so much farther to go and so many more to learn!


Notes:

The Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Operation: Annihilate” was filmed at TRW in the Cafeteria building. I’m convinced that recognizing the location of my interview did much to give me nerd street cred during my interview there years ago, when the managers took me on a tour of the campus.


I’ve been told quite a few times that my Arabic handwriting is lovely and I hope that is true! I write in the Egyptian style because that’s how I first learned to write.


I had the pleasure of assisting Jörg Elbe with a bit of this German translation of Kenan Malik‘s excellent article: Rethinking the Challenge of Anti-Muslim Bigotry

My small contribution was in helping to find ways to express the concept of “bigotry” in general and also specifically the case of bigotry toward Muslims. The term in English is used to cover a wide range of meaning! It was an enjoyable and satisfying task. Here is the full article auf Deutsch: Die Herausforderung der Muslimfeindlichkeit ueberdenken

Just Getting Started…

It’s easy to shoot thoughts out into the Twitterverse or write long comments on Facebook, but gathering those thoughts into something coherent? Yeah. That’s another story.

My name is Melissa Krawczyk. (Sounds like “krof-check”)

Nice to meet you. I’m not sure how you got here, but I hope you’ll stick around for a while, or pop in and out. I’ll be writing whether anyone is reading or not.

I’ve been working on and off on my book – Losing Your Life to Save It – for a little over a year now and I have found it incredibly challenging to actually sit down and write during the brief bits of uninterrupted time that I have each day. (Young kids, dogs, classes and interests galore) It’s easy to shoot thoughts out into the Twitterverse or write long comments on Facebook, but gathering those thoughts into something coherent? Yeah. That’s another story. A lot of the topics that I write about on social media are related to the topics in my book, but I haven’t found a good way to harness that work and tie it into my larger project. (If you know me in person, you’ll know that I rarely stop moving and I have many irons in the fire at all times.)

So. Here we are. I am starting a blog! I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while, but it just seemed like SO MUCH WOOORRK. But who am I kidding? I can easily spend an hour or more on Twitter conversing with a random person (or a good friend). Why not mine those tweets and turn them into something far more useful? Something without a character limit.

The plan is to become more disciplined and use what I write on social media and in conversations with friends and colleagues to flesh out the chapters of my book-in-progress. Much of the book will be stories of other people, but there are still many areas where I have to weave my own thoughts and experiences into those stories. I NEVER imagined that I would become a writer. I spent high school fending off those suggestions from teachers, and pursuing science instead. I even used the lack of a writing requirement as a criterion for selecting a college! Back in 1994 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) didn’t make you take a single English class if you passed the expository writing exam. I passed with flying colors and spent the next years doing the kind of writing I enjoyed – technical writing! But times have changed and I no longer look at writing with dread, because I have realized in the many years since then, that it is a wonderful way to express ideas and share them – and compare them – with the ideas of others. And now that Richard Dawkins is advising me on my book, you’d better believe I want to do more than a half-assed job. I’ll tell you more about the book soon, I promise.

I want this blog to reflect my thoughts and capture my ideas. I imagine I’ll share my opinions on whatever catches my attention – current events, news, social media. But I’ll also write sections of the book and ask for input from anyone who finds themself reading what I write.

Feel free to stop in and read a bit, leave a comment, suggest a topic. Even if no other eyes see my work, it will still help me write & that is the point.

See you soon!

Melissa

P.S. See how far away that tiny little glowing sun orb looks in the picture below? That’s how far I feel I need to go before I reach my goal. I hope this blog that is starting out like a life raft eventually turns into a strong sailing ship. Fingers crossed! (Nah – I don’t believe in luck anymore.)

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