Who is the protagonist?

Look, we all know we’re living in some dystopian novel, probably written by Donald Westlake, but maybe Vonnegut.

So everything that is happening, is happening, as they say in LA, for a Reason.  (The Universe/God closes a door but opens a window?)  This is generally true because people in LA who say such things tend to live storybook lives with plots and things.

We’re in a plot and someone is being punished ironically.  Or is being given strife in order to have Character Growth.  Or maybe the universe is on its way to being destroyed so that they can save it.

But who?  Who is the protagonist?  And WHY?

I know it’s not me– my life is too boring and I no longer have enough cats to be a cozy animal novel (which I have decided after much pondering this question is my ideal novel to live in).  So it can’t be my fault for deciding to not only go to DH’s family thing this summer but to also have an actual vacation for our anniversary when we NEVER go on vacations that aren’t work or DH’s-family related.  I didn’t make the universe’s sense of irony do this, simply because I am not at all important.  My narrative is supremely uninteresting.  Nobody wants to read about me.  I’m a side character in someone else’s book.

Who do you think is the protagonist?  What kind of novel are you the protagonist of/a character in?

I don’t just seem like I’m perfect on the internet: Why being a crab in a bucket is really not the way to help your self-esteem

Grumpy Readers,

I am amazing. I truly am.  I have achieved more than I ever could have dreamed of as a child.  I try to make the world a better place.  I am continually living and growing and working and doing what I can to make my utility curve hit my budget constraint, wherever that is at the time.

YOU are amazing too.  I mean, assuming you don’t post racist memes or put kids in cages or donate to anti-LGBT causes because you don’t want people who are different to be happy.  (One would think that would be a pretty low bar, but hey, it’s 2020 and Trump is president.)  But there are other things about you that make you amazing, not just the absence of being a horrible person (horrible people sometimes hate-read, but they don’t tend to stick around, so we’re fairly confident in assuming you’re not one of them– if you are, maybe stop being horrible?).

Think on some of the ways in which you are amazing for a moment, and while you do it, pretend that the patriarchy doesn’t exist so when you start on the, “but..” part after the amazing part just shut that down and end it with a period.  There are so many ways– and they are all valid (unless they include hurting vulnerable people).

There’s research that shows that people are, on average, happier when they’re off Facebook, and that the reason they’re happier is because they’re not comparing themselves to other people as much.  But something hidden in that research is that it’s only true on average, and only true for a certain kind of people.  Some people are VERY affected by comparing themselves to others and some people are not affected at all.  And that difference has to do with personality traits, not things like income or types of friends (probably– there’s still more research to be done in this area).

I strongly believe that this need that some people have to feel better than others, high on the relative scale of worth rather than just high in terms of levels is one of the reasons that we have so many social ills today.  Some people are racist because they want to feel better than a group of people no matter how terrible things are for them.  They are sexist for the same reason.  They want to keep the poor from eating because people not like them are undeserving and shouldn’t eat.  Or from marrying because they themselves are not lgbt.  Or from being included because they consider themselves to be an exclusive sort of prosperity-gospel Christian and others are non-Christian.  From this viewpoint, there’s only so much awesome to go around and they need to keep other people from having it, particularly people who are different.

But that doesn’t have to be how it works.  Awesome grows more awesome.  Making the world a better place creates more benefits for everyone, except people who get off on being bigots.

And you, grumpy readers, are not those people.

You know that if you focus on relative awesomeness there will always be someone who appears to be better in one aspect or another.  That can’t be a healthy measure of one’s own worth.  It’s much better to plant your own garden and focus on your wants and your goals.  The argument that everybody has problems they’re hiding so you should feel good about yourself is a good way to keep people down.  The only way to win that game is to not care if other people don’t have problems, and instead to focus on yourself and make comparisons to yourself.  Learn from other people– don’t pull them down.

Grumpy nation, when someone on the internet or in real life seems pretty awesome, that doesn’t mean they have inner demons or a horrible family life or etc. etc. etc. that they’re just keeping hidden.  Maybe they’re just pretty awesome.  And maybe if you want to be like them, you can learn from what they do.  And if you don’t want to be like them, you can be secure in that choice.  Sometimes people have instagrammable holiday decorations because that’s what they value, and maybe that’s not what you value.

Where people end up is a combination of so many factors– structural advantages, luck, effort, preferences, and so on.  We can work to reduce structural disadvantages.  We can remember the importance of luck.  We can change our effort level, or remember why we don’t actually care enough to do so and be mindful of the things we do care about.  What we don’t need to do is pull someone down because they have something we wish we had.

So I’m not going to say that it only seems like I have a charmed life but in reality there’s things going on behind the scenes… because really there’s not.  Each day I think of my blessings with astonishment.  As a child, I never actually believed my life could be this comfortable.  Or maybe you don’t value the things I value and value other things and that’s fine too (assuming you don’t value bigotry– then that’s not fine)!  Remember that when someone else brings perfect Christmas cookies, you get to eat the cookies without having put forth any effort to make them.  And that’s much better than feeling threatened by someone else’s perfection.

In this New Year, if I have any hopes for the grumpy readership, it is that you will think upon how you can use your awesomeness to make the world a better place.  Because there are people with so many disadvantages who are under attack because bad people feel threatened by them.  We have the privilege and the power to fight.  Let’s make 2020 a year of action.

Happy New Year!

What is at least one way in which are you awesome?  (Warning:  NO but/although/even though/etc. allowed.  Just put a period without a disclaimer.)  What are your hopes for helping the world in this New Year?  What are some suggestions for what we can do?

How do I adult?

I went to the grocery store. Now I have to cook, UGH. While I was at the grocery store, I wasn’t cleaning the bathroom or calling my mother or reviewing an article.

All I want to do is read books all the time when I’m not at work. Just because I have SO MANY great books and reading books is awesome and fun.

Now I need to go buy cat food and pick up a package but first I have to sit in this chair for 8 hours.

How do you adult?

For our peeps in grading jail: How do you motivate/reward yourself while grading?

I’m in the middle of grading final projects and exams and completely tuckered out.  And yet, I have to keep chugging.

I tend to work best when I set myself a reward like, “after grading each problem for all exams, I can watch a 4 min youtube video or read a part of a book chapter”.   If the procrasinatory mood is right, I might be able to “reward” myself with less pleasant things like switching out the laundry or loading the dishwasher.

How do you keep yourself going when the grading gets rough?  Non-academics, how do you motivate yourself to do long repetitive boring tasks that are frequently disappointing?

A remembered kindness

Trigger warning:  Middle school bullying

It is 3am and I just woke up from a nightmare about middle school.  Well, it was sort of about middle school and sort of about graduate school in the way that dreams are.  I was fumbling for money for the light rail and shades from middle school showed up to make fun of how I was in PE…

Middle school was extremely traumatic.  It has taken me decades to (I thought) mostly get over it.  But apparently I can still have anxiety dreams about it.

One of the worst bits (that #2 is tired of hearing about because the girl in question went to our boarding school too) was when a girl at my lunch table who I went to church and choir and Sunday school with and had all my classes with invited all the other girls at the lunch table (and in the G/T track) to her house for an overnight party and deliberately excluded me, complete with whispered not talking about it around me the next day.  The “don’t let her know” part was the worst, I think.  Really drove home that the exclusion was deliberate.  Later her mother was a teacher at boarding school– I should have asked how she let that happen (that’s an insight from 3am).

Once I was invited to an overnight party in middle school.  A very nice girl who wasn’t in my classes but was good friends from elementary school of someone at my lunch table (who both went to my church and occasionally invited me to her house in a “don’t let other people know I invited you” sort of way) and current friends with another girl in my neighborhood who was generally kind to me, invited me to a come as you are party.  A mini-van driven by her mother with a few girls in it showed up to my house, bundled me in, and we went around driving to pick more people up until we landed at her house.  People treated me normally, not like a social pariah.  It was fun.  They feathered my bangs.  We watched a Steve Martin movie on VHS.  We played games like twister.  I listened about boy crushes.  Everyone was nice.  In the morning we had fruit pizza with custard (which became my favorite dessert as of that morning).  She didn’t need to include me, but I was included, and I cherish that memory.

And I suppose I shouldn’t completely blame the girl who excluded me… In 6th grade the math/science teacher was a huge bully and the excluding girl and her best friend were his favorites while I was one of his victims (not an easy mark of a victim though– we had an exam where the instructions explicitly said to always round up in this situation, and he was berating the class as stupid for not rounding down despite what the instructions said.  That led to him saying if I was so smart why didn’t I teach the class and I said I’d be happy to, and then he asked how many people wanted me to teach the class.  I cherish the sole kid in the class brave enough to raise his hand.  I am still grateful to John K.  Sadly, 6th grade was the last year he was tracked into GT math/science so the only time I really came across him again was as a young adult when he was a cashier at Walmart.  Also my parents had complained earlier that year when that teacher gave me a B one quarter even though I’d never earned lower than an A- on an assignment and he switched the grade to an A after he could show no basis for the grade other than some blustering about how my lines weren’t completely straight in my graphs and I needed to better use a straight-edge.  He retired the next year.)  Prior to that year, the first girl had been nice to most people, even including the developmentally disabled girl who was the only person in school equally reviled to me (incidentally, said developmentally disabled girl saw me as lower on the pecking order and would call me names, but I never blamed her for that).  That’s a 3:30am mental connection.  Adults set the tone of school in ways that can have lasting effects.

So… thank you Emily, even though I can’t remember your last name.  I have remembered your kindness throughout my life and have tried to emulate it.  In high school and college and beyond, I have always tried to be inclusive and to never leave anybody out.  The more the merrier.  And I’ve encouraged my children to do the same.  Bullying sucks.  Exclusion sucks.  Small acts of kindness and inclusion can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Being breadwinner

can be stressful

Right now #2 and I are both breadwinners of our respective family units.  In case you were wondering about #2, after her FIL died, her DH got very depressed and is taking a break from paid employment.  There’s probably a bit more than that, but it’s not my story to tell.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been the sole income of the family– if you recall, DH quit his tenure-track job without anything lined up, so for a few months we weren’t sure what our income situation was going to be like until he got employed.

One of the first things I’ve noticed about being breadwinner is that I feel the need to increase my income.  Asking for raises, getting grants, taking consulting opportunities, all of these seem to be more important now than when DH is also bringing in cash.  Getting my research done and out so that I can be more attractive should we need to move takes on greater urgency.

Combined with this, I let DH take on greater responsibilities at home.  We already have a pretty egalitarian household, and when DH isn’t earning, he starts taking care of more of the daily and weekly chores, especially kitchen stuff and chauffeuring.  And I feel less guilty about him doing so.  I imagine this is how some women get shunted into home production even when things start out equivalent.  I do spend more time on our finances when I’m the only one earning, but it doesn’t make up for the time I’m no longer spending on regular chores.

I do like having DH take care of things at home, but I also like the stress of not being the only person earning money.  I think I like it best when we’re both enjoying our jobs and earning a lot of money.  I would like it least if I disliked my job but had to keep my job because mine was the only income.  My next least favorite would be being the homemaker if DH was the sole breadwinner and hated his job.  I’m not sure how I would rate hating my job vs. being a homemaker if DH was happy with his job.  I guess it might depend on how easily I could find a new job in that situation.  I suspect that I would rather have each of us make 150K than have DH make 300K with me required to make nothing.  I might prefer making 300K myself and having DH at home to either scenario though.  (Note:  I am happy to test any of these three propositions!)  Smaller dollar amounts would probably lead to different preferred combinations.

As we’ve noted before, this time we’re in a better position than last time DH stopped bringing in income.  As I look through that old post discussing what to do with finances, I am happy that we don’t have to move so much around.  There’s no mortgage to stop prepayment on.  No private school to save tuition for, no mother’s helpers to pay (though we do have summer camp and daycare throughout the summer).  No IRAs to fund (though if DH’s jobless situation continues, I will be eligible to contribute again).  And we have a nice cash cushion.  My plan is to convert this cash cushion into tax-deferred savings (by continuing to max out my 403(b) and 457, even as we dip into savings) with the thought that doing so will make us more likely to be eligible for financial aid when DC1 goes off to college.

I also don’t know how long I am going to be the breadwinner.  DH’s company is supposed to be getting back on track in July, but i’s have not yet been dotted nor t’s crossed on the contract that will put the company back to work for the next couple of years.  We can wait, as can DH’s direct boss, but much of the rest of the company cannot afford to take more than one month unpaid.  If waiting for the contract lasts too long, the company might just go under and the contract will fall through entirely.  My bread-winning this time around may end up being longer term than we had hoped.

Have you ever been the sole breadwinner of a multiple-person household?  How do things change?  Do you feel stressed?  Do you have a family income combination that you prefer (breadwinner/homemaker/dual-income, etc)?

Why DH is awesome even when he screws up

Also my sister is occasionally brilliant.

So…

DH and I made a list of all the stuff we needed to do before we got home from Paradise.  He put the list on his phone.

Item 3 was to set up the utilities.

DH was all, I’ll take care of it.  After all, he took off vacation days from work and I was rushing about to finish things before leaving.

Taking care of the internet was a huge pain in the rear because the internet provider wouldn’t let us set up until our tenant had closed out, but the tenant couldn’t close out until the people who owned the home they just bought closed out and it was a huge mess.

I kept asking, is there anything I can do on the moving list?  What should I do on the moving list?  “I’ll take care of it,” DH would say.  Or I’d say, “Well, how about I change our address for providers” and then I’d go do that.

Since I knew he’d finally gotten the internet scheduled, and he didn’t ever mention that we still needed to change all the other utilities, I assumed that he’d taken care of those without hassle.  Because of course, electricity and water are more important than internet.  Also they’re easier to set up appointments for.  And our tenant had specifically mentioned that we were good to go with setting up our utilities.

We got home in the afternoon on a Friday.  I cranked the a/c to bring the temp down to the high 70s.  We went to Target to pick up necessities like toilet paper and cat litter.  Thankfully we didn’t go to the grocery store.  Because at 5pm all of a sudden the power went out.

Turns out DH had *meant* to set up the other utilities, but what with one thing and another had kept putting it off and then just forgot to do it.

Turns out that having the power off is not an emergency if it’s your own fault and the emergency power guy can’t do anything until billing processes your credit history and ok’s you.  Even if you had an account at the same place a year ago.  Even if you beg and plead.  Even if there’s a woman hysterically sobbing in the background.  Even if it’s 100+ degrees in the shade and WE COULD DIE.

Billing, of course, can’t process your credit until Tuesday.  TUESDAY.

DH’s first suggestion was to go to a hotel.  But we’d been in hotels for a WEEK and I wanted to be home and to unpack and to wait for the Pod and get stuff ready for the kids’ daycare/camp on and on and on.

His second suggestion was to stay at my sister’s in a city that’s an hour and a half away.  She texted me (via cell, since we didn’t have internet yet) right as he suggested that so I took it as a sign and gave her a call.  She obviously invited us to visit, but had a pretty packed weekend with her best friend leaving for an important job in a bigger more paradise-like city and a first date and a bunch of other stuff.  She jokingly suggested a generator.

How much do generators cost?   I asked.  $1K? she guessed.   I want that!  I said, wiping sweat from my brow.  Where do I get one?  Home Depot?

Turns out Home Depot RENTS generators and so ~$500 later we had a generator rental ($250 for a week), a window unit air conditioner (~200), and gasoline.  Only enough to power the guest bedroom (which is one of two rooms in the house that allow for a window unit).  But we didn’t have to reschedule our internet connection (which DID happen on Saturday, as promised).  The Home Depot lady was very nice.

Thankfully our water and natural gas both stayed on, so we’ve even been able to take hot showers.  Flashlight lit.

So what does this have to do with the title?

Well, DH screwed up.  He could have yelled at me (particularly after the, “I hate you so much right now” comment after he got off the phone with the electricity guy).  He could have gotten upset.  He could have given up and told me to figure out what to do.  He definitely felt bad about things– he always takes it really hard when he makes a mistake like this.   But instead he worked on things until he was able to find a solution.  (Something I gave him full credit for, but not until after the room temperature dropped to bearable.  I am NOT a good person when my basic needs aren’t being met.)  He went to Home Depot and figured out our options, he got gasoline to power the generator and filled it, he bought an air conditioner, he dug our extension cords out of the shed.  He even offered to spend his allowance and leftover birthday money on the fiasco, so the family budget isn’t out that $500.

Basically, he’s a hero.  A hero bringing cool breezes and internet.   I am so lucky.

Next time the to-do list is going to go on paper like we usually do these things and if I’m not in charge of the list, I’m asking more questions.

We are not Mr. Money Moustache

We got a link from mothers in medicine the other day.

The link was about how one of our DH’s has an allowance, but it also seemed to contain a misunderstanding of our financial selves.

In case there are widespread misunderstandings, we thought we’d clarify a few things.  We are not the FrugalWoods.  We are not Mr. Money Moustache.  We don’t think you need to spend nothing.  (Nor do we think you need to outsource everything!)

We have a strong belief that you should spend where your utility curve hits your budget constraint in a multi-period model that includes the possibility of negative income shocks.  We understand that each person has his or her own utility curve and budget constraint and probability of positive and negative shocks.  In other words, do what makes you happy in both the short-term and the long-term (so long as it doesn’t hurt other people).

What we do doesn’t mean that’s what you should do.  Our utility curves and budget constraints are probably different than yours.  Which is a good thing or Paradise would sink into the ground from too many people.

Yes, for our sins, we are doing just fine with our finances.  How do we know?  Our use of money aligns with our values.  We’re on track (or getting on track) with retirement savings and so on.  We have contingency plans and emergency plans and so on.  We’re going to be ok in most scenarios (and have, so far, been financially ok when life throws curve balls).

No, we’re not planning on retiring early.  No, we don’t think you need to pay off your mortgage (or even have a house at all!)

We spend a ton of money.  Are we frugal?  Well, if frugality means spending in accordance with our values, yes.  But we’re frugal conditional on making a ton of money.  What we spend these days wouldn’t be frugal for say, us even 5 years ago (even 2-3 years ago), because we didn’t have as much money then.

Yes, we’ve sacrificed in the past which means we can spend more now.  Yes, savings and other kinds of cushions have helped immensely when job plans have changed and we’ve been grateful to our previous selves.  Savings has meant that one member of each of our family units has been able to escape terrible jobs without a new job lined up.  Money really can buy freedom and peace of mind.

Are you doing ok?

Well, we don’t know.  If you’re complaining a lot, then no, you probably aren’t.

Otherwise, that’s something only you can answer.  We recommend checking out financial calculators and maybe the balanced money formula and so on.  Make sure you’re doing the basic good things with your retirement savings (ex. low fee index funds).  That sort of Money 201 stuff.  If you’re not doing ok, then it’s time to rejigger the Money 102 stuff, or possibly even Money 101.

We’ll only judge your spending habits if you’re perpetually bragging about how much you make, complaining about all your debt, bragging about all the luxuries you spend on, and talking about how nice people who make less money than you do are continually buying you necessities because you had an emergency but spent all your money on luxuries.  We find high income people who complain about the consequences of their bad choices and treat other people badly to be irritating.

But otherwise, you buy whatever lattes or fancy vacations or nice cars you can afford (given on-track savings) if that makes you happy.  It’s your money!

And what *we* do is irrelevant to your financial well-being.  Either you’re saving the right amount for your situation and spending on the right things for you or you aren’t.  What we spend or don’t spend isn’t going to affect that.  So even if we were the Frugal Woods, that wouldn’t matter for your bottom line.

Still, we’re not.  And we like it that way.  :)

Do you feel judged by other people’s financial choices?  Also– did you think we were super-frugal low spenders?

Live-blogging my cyber security awareness training

an IM chat with my partner.

ME: and now, for sauce, an hour-long video training on ‘cyber security awareness’.
WHY WHY WHY are there so many videos I HATE VIDEO TRAININGS
just write down the things that everyone under 50 knows, and it’ll take 5 minutes to read.

[#2 notes that Grumpy Rumblings does not endorse tired age stereotypes about technology knowledge or lack thereof.  Workers over 50 ALSO know this stuff.]

PARTNER: not all employees are under 50 :)

ME: “Don’t answer phishing emails” DURRRRR
durrrrrrrrrrrr
don’t share passwords durrrrrrrrrrr
Partner, did u know that phishing emails are common?
This ‘cyber attacker’ is wearing google glasses

PARTNER: they do that!
ME: do they???
PARTNER: no

ME: hey if a stranger calls u on the phone and tells u that ur computer is infected and u need to go buy this software to fix it… durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
“Simply hang up the phone or ignore the email.” This is some quality sh*t.

PARTNER: well, taunting them wouldn’t be very professional

ME: hey another unit about email
DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT
also the ‘cyber attacker’ is a man of course
o wait, this one’s a woman– also wearing google glass

here’s a hint: your bank’s not going to ‘deactivate’ your account.

This envelope is vibrating. I wouldn’t open that.
“Browsers are one of the primary ways we interact with the internet.”

PARTNER: good to know
ME: right?

“Should you heed security warnings?” gee what a hard quiz

“social networking websites are one of the most exciting technologies on the internet!”
this is definitely written BY 60-year-olds, FOR 60-year-olds.
oh no that guy got a fishing hook through his FACE

[#2:  See above disclaimer.  60 year olds who work have gone through more of these security trainings than #1 has.  They are aware of social networking.]

PARTNER: ow
ME: your friend doesn’t actually need you to wire money to him in Romania
PARTNER: I dunno, sometimes my friend is in Romania
ME: and they can only contact you via facebook?
PARTNER: well, probably not.

ME: also this video has bad grammar.
ooooh kidnapping your child, that’s definitely the item choice I’m picking.
I thought we were going to learn about encryption there for a minute, but no. That would be much harder than “don’t click that link, yo”
“Not only can you call anyone IN THE WORLD” using your cell phone… go figure.

PARTNER: well, usually I can’t call you, actually.  [This is because #1 is the only person left in the US without a cell phone.]
ME: in the WORLD, Partner.
hahahaha “never jailbreak your own phone”

PARTNER: then teh haXX0Rz will pwnz you!
ME: don’t go to http://www.EvilAntiVirus.com — I bet you shouldn’t click on that link
PARTNER: Firefox can’t establish a connection to the server at http://www.evilantivirus.com
ME: sad
the section on passwords promises hilarity
oooh passphrases. Use numbers in place of letters. Are you listening, 60-year-olds? [#2:  60 year olds probably have as many passwords as the rest of us non 60-year olds]
PARTNER:  31337!
the password ‘p4$$w0rd’ is totally uncrackable!
ME: hey don’t use your banking password for youtube
PARTNER: but then how will I remember my youtube password?
ME:  o noes
never share your password, Partner. It is a SECRET.

PARTNER: Keep it secret. Keep it safe.
ME: Enable “Hobbit-level” security.
Don’t send important secret work information to your personal email

PARTNER: but how will I get it home?
ME: Don’t log in as root unless you need to…
this guy seems to have an RFID chip embedded in his clavicle
that seems… not-ideal
PARTNER: ow

ME: don’t install software that has the Jolly Roger on it.

PARTNER: but I really liked Assassin’s Creed 4
ME: me too!
“These steps should be applied in a way that is consistent with our policies.” no, really?
argh, grammar.
hey that loud-ass bird is back, the one that likes to sit outside our window and look at us. What’s up, loud bird?

PARTNER: tweet
ME:  “Which of the following is a typical step that an attacker will take after compromising a system?

A. Installing Microsoft Office on your system.”
ha!

“If you believe your system has been compromised, you should: A. Continue using the system so the attacker does not become suspicious” — YES, YES, pick that one

WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY

This data management policy is laid out like a football play. Am I the running back or the tight end?

“We hope you enjoyed your security awareness training.”  NOPE.

PARTNER: thaT DOES NOT CHANGE THEIR HOPE THOUGH

ME: hahahaha
“Remember, our goal is not to scare you from using the internet.”
“Technology is a tremendous tool that enables you to accomplish amazing things.”  Ok, Grandma.  [#2:  Most grandmas are well aware of facebook and skype etc.]

[end.]

Later, my co-worker started the same online training and spontaneously burst into giggles.  “Welcome to the 21st Century?” she asked.  “It gets worse,”  I told her.

#2 notes that her IT training just switched to slow and stupid.  No skipping to the quiz anymore.  No just reading the slides and fast forwarding them.  Nope, you cannot move ahead until they’re done talking.   And it’s an hour and a half with a huge amount of useless prologue.  UGH.  So, of course, instead of actually paying attention, I’m just letting it run on my secondary monitor, clicking next whenever I notice a slide has finished (there are ~150 slides).  If they want me to learn something, this is not the way to go about it.

What’s the dumbest training you’ve been to?  How can we all be less ageist?

What is the path to perfection?

Sometimes it seems like people think their lives will be some sort of perfect ideal, for example, if I can run marathons or keep my house clean or organize the crap out of every minute of the day… or whatever the latest fad is.  (I guess those fads were several iterations ago… as I finish this post it’s minimalism and Frugalwoods-style frugality… can you tell we’ve been finishing up and scheduling old drafts?)

But these internet fads aren’t magic bullets.   Some people love marathon training and some people don’t.  Some people enjoy cleaning and some people don’t.  Some people need more organization than others or have situations that make compartmentalization necessary or optimal.  It’s great to try these things out, but if they don’t bring the solutions you were looking for, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with *you*.  Even if they work for someone else whose blog you read, especially someone who is trying to sell products along with that perfect lifestyle.  They are they (them?) and you are you.  Different strokes.

It’s important to realize that choices are choices and not referenda on what your values are or maps to what other people should be doing (unless that map inspires you).

Enjoy the journey, and reach for the destination, even if you never get there.  Or if you like where you are, enjoy that too!

Be who you want to be.  Find *your* bliss or just live out your life — not every life has to waste time worrying about bliss or optimization.  Make your choices your own and don’t be bound by what the patriarchy or society or your parental unit has been telling you all your life unless you want to be.

And of course, “an it hurts no-one, do what you will.”  There’s limits to freedom, even in touchy-feely posts.