My personal manifesto:

“What makes me happy? Being good to myself. And by that, I don’t mean pampering my body at the spa, exercising or eating the healthiest food all the time. I mean forgiving myself, not judging myself, letting myself live by my own rules, letting myself decide when and if the rules should change and knowing that ‘doing my best’ every day doesn’t mean being the best every day (or maybe ever).

Even if I fall short of what I expect, I don’t punish myself.

The knowledge that I’m on a journey and it’s completely my own, unique, completely average and, yet, enormously special and meaningful makes me happy. Knowing that everyone else, judging me, as they are, by their own journey’s rules, cannot know what’s right for me, makes me happy.

I spent what seems like a lifetime trying to live by others’ rules and abide by the world’s collective definition of being valuable, intelligent, capable, etc. Well, actually, it was the United States’ and New York City’s version of those things.

Now that I’m ‘defining myself for myself’ – to paraphrase Audre Lorde – I feel like I’ve walked out of Plato’s cave and discovered the ideal.

The Song of the Sannyasin says ‘thou art that’ and it means that we’re all part of one living, breathing life and are never separate, never more or less than that. I see that this is true and it’s this knowledge, and meditation on it, that, ultimately, makes me happy.”

Today, I had to make a choice – a choice about how I was going to value myself, my work, monetarily.

I’ve discovered I’m uncomfortable with making money (thank you, Tara Gentile!) I have always been proud that I don’t have much ambition when it comes to money. Yes, PROUD. This was me – “I just want to be comfortable, materially, so that I can thrive spiritually.” Um…wait a minute…what?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A couple of years ago, a friend of mine left her comfortable magazine job to pursue happiness. I had, without knowing it, done the same a few months before she did. Her blog, “What Makes You Happy?,” was a compilation of her old friends, new friends, and strangers’ answers to that question.

I did a post, and am so happy I did – because though I was going through one of the most transformative times in my life, I wasn’t documenting it myself like I wanted to.

The story – I quit my job at People magazine with nothing to fall back on (except 6 months’ severance pay). What I found was what diving into your deepest fear felt like (terrifying) – and though I tread water desperately for what seemed like forever (2 months), there came a point where I discovered, finally, miraculously!, that I could float.

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My girlfriend and I were eating breakfast today when an idea suddenly hit her (as they often do, those violent ideas):

“Babe!” she screamed. “I think in the future, the most attractive thing about a person will be the extent to which they are dumb about the world around them.”

I looked at her, vaguely interested, and chewed my sausage.

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By now it must seem that all I read is The New York Times. That’s not true. I mainly read the Times’ editorials and the reader comments (especially the reader recommended comments) because I do think that the editorials/op-eds are actually more informative and honest than “all the news that’s fit to print.” But that’s the subject of another blog post.

One commenter in particular* is the subject of my most recent “blog crush,” though she’s not writing a blog per se. Her name is AnnS and she’s apparently from Michigan and holds multiple degrees in social/historical/political/economic fields, with a specialty in The Great Depression. She responds to most of the articles that I read, and is one of the top recommended commenters on every post. She should be writing for the Times, but I think she might be too honest for them.

Today, David Brooks wrote a column in which he claims he explains one-on-one conversations he has had with people in the Obama White House about policy – specifically that he, as a professed moderate (really he’s a neoconservative) Republican, was concerned about all the spending and the resulting taxes, and Brooks says that these Obamatons (Brooks’ word for them) told him, privately, things that make them seem much¬† more conservative than I think most people view them to be.

Of particular interest to me in this article was the part in which Brooks claims that some Obama staffer actually told him that Obama is “extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending.”

Excuse me?

Obama is committed to reducing Social Security and health spending?

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UPDATE: I now realize that my real problem with Prop 8 and the whole “marriage equality” argument is that it’s all well and fine for those queer couples that have wealth and for whom existing economic systems work well.

What I mean by that is, it’s all well and good for those (largely gay white men) who have well-paying jobs with health benefits that their partner can take advantage of.

But what about us queers that are poor?

Why should I care about whether my girlfriend and I can marry and pass on wealth when I don’t have any wealth?

What about us queers that are targeted by the police state? How does being married help when all that’ll give us is the ability to have conjugal visits? (and probably be raped in the process, don’t get me started on police.)

What about us queers that aren’t legally allowed to be the gender we know ourselves to be? What about those of us who live outside the heterosexual-defined gender binary?

To paraphrase Michael Jackson, “they don’t really care about us.”

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I think I am turning into a dinosaur, because lately I’ve been extremely concerned about my privacy. Not that I ever truly had any. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion obliterated any privacy I thought I had when I turned 18 (or maybe it was when my mom put me on her store credit card, or when I got an SSN, I don’t know any more). But for a while, it was possible to actually make sure that only people/companies that I wanted to check my credit score actually did.

Here in New York, people lament the lack of public space. It is ironic, then, that what we used to think of as private spaces are increasingly considered, by the advertising agencies, to actually be public, in the sense that they can get in edgewise and pester our brain with “You need this! You want this!”

Allow me to explain. This article in The New York Times today troubled me. The article explains what’s up next in the realm of targeted advertising – cable companies accessing your financial data from the credit monitoring companies and sending financially-targeted advertising your way during commercials.

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Image via The Economist

Image via The Economist

Above: AP photo from the Greek riots of December 2008

I’ve been busy, and I’ve not been blogging! My good friend Sheena tried to remind me that I should be updating my blog more often, since print is dead and all.

But ever since leaving PEOPLE I’ve been busy trying to start my new online newsmagazine (coming soon) and writing for The Indypendent newspaper/website here in New York.

(Tangent: It’s not just because I want to curry favor among The Indypendent‘s editors, but the newspaper is a hotbed exactly the kind of of serious-minded yet fun-loving folks that everyone would be lucky to know. It’s got enormous potential.)

When I’ve not been writing, I’ve, as usual, been reading – and far too much of that, I might add. The news these days is almost all bad but is also really amazing in a lot of ways. Finally it’s okay to say that government investment in society is what we’ve needed for the past 30 years. Finally it’s okay to say that most news is actually making people dumber. People are responding to news articles by the thousands to let writers and editors know that they don’t always buy their glossed-over commentary. It’s getting more democratic out there in Internet-land.

But amid all of this excitement, there are still glaring voids in what’s being covered by mainstream media. There was nary a whisper on The New York Times website about the effects the collapse of Iceland’s krona and the IMF’s disastrous 18% interest on the loan they gave the country will have on its people.¬† This was a highly important development because Iceland represents the first primarily Caucasian country that the IMF is helping to destroy with its relentless free-trade policies, the same policies the country has, to its benefit, resisted for so long. A similar media black-out has been instituted for the same situation happening in Hungary (You can, however, find stories about how the IMF loan raised the country’s stock prices). I can’t believe that it’s just because there are no international reporters/bureaus that could report on these developments.

Also glaring was the scant in-depth coverage of Greece’s devolution into chaos and instability in the aftermath of the police murder of a 15-year-old boy named Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Now I’ve begun to understand that Greece has a history of rioting often, but that, to me, does not matter given the gravity of the current problems there that are the basis of these most recent riots and protests. Every day, Greek kids (and some adults) are firebombing businesses, looting grocery stores, even setting fire to police officers and in the midst of that chaos, the entire country endured a general strike related to economic policy and high rates of unemployment. Woah! This is big news!

But you won’t find the terrifying and also beautiful daily photos from all over Greece on most U.S. newspaper’s websites (one better site is Boston.com). Why? That’s up for discussion. The photos are nowhere near as gruesome as, say, pictures of murdered Iraqis from the U.S. occupation of that country. Nobody could seriously claim that Americans aren’t ready for the Greek riots.

Or could they? Is it possible that the MSM and their handlers are afraid of even mentioning a general strike in an entire country during this time of high dissatisfaction with our own economic situation and government?

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

I, for one, would love to hear an in-depth analysis with proper historical context of the economic conditions on the ground in Greece that helped to incite violence on the scale that is currently being perpetrated there. Oh, and hold the anti-anarchist propaganda, would you?

Update: GroundReport.com writer Ms. Railey has been analyzing the Greek situation in-depth and has a good perspective.

Today The New York Times‘ David Carr published an article in which he argues that newspapers’ firing of the most experienced staffers will lead to a drop in profits, a drop in ads, and an inability of those papers to do a good job.

It sounded eerily familiar. Like from a dream. I could have sworn I said that two days ago.

Will let you know what Carr says to my email asking, basically, if he read my blog. I can’t say the truth wasn’t apparent to all who had eyes, but I did write about it first.

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