Have you ever journaled?
Yes, right– cringeworthy, huh? Only Anne Frank really pulled that one off, even though I’m sure she would have wanted parts to be edited out (the parts Otto Frank edited out, for example, when the pubescent Anne was particularly negative about her mom).
Most of the journals I’ve kept have been wailing walls, and rereading them (if I dared) made me want to burn them all. Part of the problem is that if the author = the reader, we don’t try very hard and just self indulge and our self indulgence is painful and immature when we reread that shit with a cold clinical eye, years later.
So this is why I’ve decided to journal in public this year. With you watching and hopefully reading and following, I know I will have to do better and write something that will keep you engaged.
I started this blog “Uncorked” when I switched from higher education to tech as I had become “uncorked” professionally. Having written books and loving my students and the teaching at UC Berkeley at Cal, I thought, for a while, at least, that I’d be coasting toward retirement inside those buildings where, on the outside, the ivy prospers. Inside, there were other things that were prospering too, like sexual harassment, abuse of power and plagiarism… and then I’m not talking about my students but some of the “esteemed colleagues” I worked with. For real.
Love the Berkeley brand but the school has been haunted by scandal recently, and everything that has come out in the press has been an echo chamber of what I’ve seen… the thing is: universities don’t (and can’t) think like startups but are mired in the past, hierarchies, patriarchy, bureaucracy, power structures and a bottomline corporate thinking that is destroying the culture and the promise of what these institutions once embodied.
Something is rotten in the state of UC Berkeley and while incoming students will stay pay top dollar for a Berkeley diploma, I think my son is getting a helluva lot better education at Northeastern University in Boston, a school that has rebranded education by connecting the classroom with the industry through coops (internships), allowing students to actually grow professionally, and have a job before they graduate. That’s the kind of innovative thinking that’s missing in a lot of universities countrywide. Universities pride themselves on being rated by the US News and World Report but what good is a rating when students can’t get a job after graduation while having debts that are so sizeable you wish you could buy a car with that money or plop down a down payment on your first house? But I digress…
After ten years, I decided to quit and switch to tech where I had gained more and more clients over the years. I helped with the launch of LinkedIn, Netflix and Nextdoor in the Netherlands and while still doing lots of translation work, I’m now contracting with Nextdoor in their Neighborhood Operations Team.
Nextdoor is one of the coolest companies I’ve worked for — love the people, and the work is intriguing as I handle cases in the conflict and abuse queue. When neighbors fight on Nextdoor and report it/other members, chances are I may be reading your email to us. That said, I’m not going to say too much about the company (aside from the fact that it is one of the truly great startups that tries to do things differently– especially when it comes to bringing back civility in online forums) as I signed an NDA and I don’t want to get myself into trouble.
So Jan 3rd…
Were you relieved the holidays were over, too? I had a great holiday– the kids were home, Christmas was low key, a fire was crackling, I went for some nice bike rides, I worked and I pondered… and like everyone else, I felt a sense of dread. Don’t want to make this blog political as I bitch enough about our president-elect on FB and well, I am sure I have alienated enough Trump friends and voters who have all unfriended me on FB because I’ve been so outspoken… in a Dutch way; yes, it’s cultural, so really– don’t take it personal.
I worked yesterday, when most people had off, just because work is therapy and I needed to get my mind off things and get on with life, Trump or no Trump.
This morning, I commuted to San Fran in a BART train (sardines in a can), getting particularly annoyed by a guy who invaded my space, wouldn’t take off his backpack and stepped on my toes. Looking out the window, I saw a tent encampment under a highway overpass in Oakland: junk yards, really, getting wet in the rain– with homeless hiding in their tents… the San Francisco Bay Area is now one of the most expensive places to live in the country (because of tech) but the way we treat and/or care for the most unfortunate boggles the mind. We have officially become a banana republic, an oligarchy with vast wealth and income inequalities that would make the Founding Fathers turn in their graves. I haven’t written off the American experiment yet but it has become a survival of the most privileged. I’m part of the privileged, working in tech but we’re struggling, working till I’m blue in the face and I know for a fact that if I had stayed in Holland, where I grew up, I’d be working a lot less hard and be a lot less stressed out.
I got out at Civic Center Plaza, where Nextdoor is located in the Twitter building. Twitter is struggling for all sorts of reasons, not to mention it has become the sewer of the internet, but Twitter has gained a new notoriety due to the compulsive obsessive tweets of the Donald. Twice now, I have come out of that building, being met with the shouts and specks of saliva of screaming protesters who insist Trump’s account should get revoked. I disagree with that notion. Many lawyers have told me repeatedly to never put anything in writing, so I’d say, let the guy dig his own grave. I hope his tweets will be used in court some day soon. Someone should start an anti-Twitter company though: an old-soul haiku producing software app that lets you do haikus that actually contribute something new, fresh or truly constructive.
In fact, I wrote to a member today: social media has some great uses for sure, but civil discourse has been eroded by the way we interact online. In order to connect as a culture again, social media can be a tool but it should not be the way we connect exclusively. If we can combine social media with actual MeetUps and forms of organizing in person, we would make this world a better place. Pffffft. Tell that to my millenial kids. Even at dinner time, they can’t stop looking at their phones.
Jesus. This is much too long.
My concept was short entries, and now this is turning into verbal diarrhea…
My day: it was hectic. Lots of cases to resolve in the Twitter building where all the conference rooms are made of glass and wine is offered on tap. Not that I’m drinking at 11 AM.
It was a day of trolls. Mostly teenage trolls who seemed to taunt their neighbors with inane comments like (and I’m not quoting verbatim): “I had two moles removed from my hands and ass so who wants to come party with me behind the dumpster?” Needless to say, the day can be fun. It sure beat yesterday when we removed a comment of a guy who said he had started a neighborhood watch group for the tracking and relocation of Muslims. Oh yes, you read that right. I wonder who started that brilliant idea…
Now I’m back home, sitting in my bed, typing this blog. The kids have taken over the living room with some of their friends from high school. I’m not eavesdropping but my son seems a lot more sociable with his friends than he is with me. I’m not judgmental in any way but I miss the time when he was little and we were best buddies and he talked my ear off. Now I’m just an old lady who pays his bills. Read: generation gap? Whatever. I’m sure my mom said something similar about me in her journal. Fuck it. Life is good even though I feel like a big fat loser most of the time.
Or maybe I should rectify that. I was quoted in the Financial Times of the Netherlands over the weekend. If you can read Dutch, here’s the link: https://fd.nl/economie-politiek/1180164/ook-techtalent-moet-in-silicon-valley-vechten-om-baan.
It’s all relative.