Happy December!

hello-december

Happy December, everyone! I don’t know where November went. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like it went by very quickly. I can’t believe 2016 is almost over.

It’s finally starting to get cold where I live. Even on Thanksgiving, it was actually quite warm here. (Though it became very cold during the days after Thanksgiving.) I had some time off work, which was nice. Now I’m back to blogging—look for the November Writing Report and Wednesday Music later this week.

Why I’m Thinking Of Quitting Twitter

Should we just say no?
Should we just say no?

After much thought, some of it prompted by the election, some of it not, I’m contemplating giving up Twitter.

I got Twitter in 2008 and loved it for years. I “met” lots of random awesome people, especially Russian speakers, and enjoyed tweeting in bad Russian and sharing articles related to Russia. Once I even managed to get then-president Dmitry Medvedev’s aide Arkady Dvorkovich to tweet to me, along with hawkish Russian nationalist politician Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin and I actually had an entire conversation on Twitter and it was awesome.

Then a couple of things happened. Twitter went public, which meant it wasn’t just a cute website with the occasional ad and venture capital funding as a way of earning money. It was now beholden to shareholders, which means there’s an expectation to deliver positive growth quarter after quarter. The company had changed and the site just wasn’t as fun anymore.

Or maybe I changed. I’ve written before about how combative and nasty Russia-watching has become. I didn’t just mean in the blogosphere. A lot of the nastiness I experienced was on Twitter.

Still, I stuck with Twitter. Maybie it was out of misguided loyalty, but a writing group I was a part of congregated on there. I enjoyed interacting with fellow writers and giving (and receiving!) encouragement. Writing is a very solitary process and it’s always nice to connect with like-minded people. Then the election happened and—well, let’s just say a lot of those people weren’t who I thought they were. I’m in touch with some of them still, but over email.

Basically, there’s nothing left for me on Twitter anymore. If I want to meet writers, there are better websites out there, plus I have some Twitter friends who have become email friends. If I want to speak Russian, there’s iTalki. I recently reactivated my account and hope to actually learn how to use it this time around. And if I want to network with other book lovers, Goodreads has always been way better for this than Twitter.

I doubt I’ll delete my Twitter account anytime soon. It can be a great resource for connecting with some indie authors I like. (Though now that I think about it, I have those people’s email addresses too!) I just… don’t really see the point of Twitter anymore. I don’t dislike it strongly like I do Facebook or Snapchat (I have proudly never used the latter); I just feel neutral about Twitter. I don’t genuinely like it the way I do Pinterest.

In general, I do think cutting back—way back—on social media use is a good thing. I saw we bring back blogging. Blogging may have been the “original social media” in that it had comments, which let people interact with each other, but it has largely fallen by the wayside since the advent of social media. That’s too bad because blogging allows for more substantial analysis and discussions than social media does.

What are your thoughts, readers? Have you soured on social media and cut back? Or never used it at all? Let me know in the comments!

What A Week!

As you’ve probably heard, we Americans had a presidential election almost two weeks ago. Between trying to stay away and see who won—I only made it to one in the morning or so, which was before they called the election—and reading the news more in the past ten days than I have in the prior year, well, readers, I was exhausted. Much too exhausted to blog, unfortunately. I actually deleted the Twitter app early last week so I could have some peace and quiet to do some reading.

Before I deleted the app, I did a mass unfollowing of people I followed on Twitter. In the aftermath of the election, a lot of people I thought were nice suddenly revealed themselves to be… not so nice. I didn’t unfollow them because of disagreements in our views. I just have no desire to unfollow people who enthusiastically post and retweet a photo endorsing a disgusting act of violence against the future First Lady. As a result, my Twitter feed suddenly has a whole lot more Russian in it. And more Russian is never a bad thing. 🙂

Anyway, I digress. Blogging should return to normal, pre-election levels shortly. I also hope to resume Wednesday Music—I’ve actually completely forgotten about it for the past weeks!

I’m Back!

Yes, I know, I had another semi-unplanned blogging absence. Two things happened: I got lost in some reading (what else is new?!) and my best friend came to visit last weekend. We had a lovely time together, though I wish she could have stayed longer. We ate out at some restaurants and then she spent the night at my place, which reminded me of the sleepovers we had when we were younger.

As for reading, I’ve been immersed in many, many books. It’s actually sort of ridiculous: I’ve read, according to Goodreads, over a hundred books this year. And while that is kind of awesome, it’s also putting a big damper on my writing. At this time last year, I had written many more words than I have this year. I’m going to try to slow down my reading in English, read more books in Russian, and spend some more time writing. I also have a certification exam to study for, so there’s that to deal with too…

Sometimes I wish I could take a month-long sabbatical from work so I could catch up on other aspects of my life. Like blog writing, writing, violin, and this certification exam that is hanging over my head. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone at work would approve of my idea, so I’ll just have to keep trying to stuff everything in and hope that I manage.

There is one way to forcibly stuff writing in, now that I think about it: NaNoWriMo. Remember how I participated back in 2013? (When I was in grad school! I must have been crazy! A part of me still can’t believe I did that.) Well, my writing schedule has aligned (through luck, not through my own doing) so that in theory, I could do NaNo this year. Whether I want to put myself through the punishing schedule that NaNo entails, I am not sure… I will have to think about it further as I outline my next writing project.

Thank You!

I want to thank the person (people?) who shared my post about language learning that I wrote last week. From what I can tell, it’s been shared on Facebook (on Sunday, I think), which resulted in quite a few visits to said post and this blog in general. Seriously, I really appreciate it when my readers share things on this blog. Unfortunately, I can’t tell every single time someone shares something—it doesn’t usually produce the huge spike in traffic I recently had. But no matter how many (or how few) people visit the blog as a result of something shared on social media, I do appreciate it.

Thank you! / Спасибо! / Дякую! / Хвала! (I think that covers all the Slavic languages I’ve studied at some point in time!)

Contentment.

Украина // Україна // Ukraine
Украина // Україна // Ukraine

Today, while researching something (I can’t remember what I was looking up on my phone during the lunch break), I found reference to the fact that there’s an entirely new government in power in Ukraine. Apparently, President Poroshenko fired Arseniy Yatsyenyuk, the previous Prime Minister, and appointed someone else. Along with a new PM, there are other new ministers, too. Natalie Jaresko isn’t the finance minister anymore. (I don’t know much about her, but I’ve always been rather partial to her because of her name.) The most amazing thing about this is it happened back in April and I had no idea about it until today. Even more amazing, it doesn’t bother me that I had no idea.

Even a year ago, this whole idea would have been shocking to me, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with not being a Russia watcher anymore. Years ago, I never imagined I could be this content while not being a Russia watcher, but… I am. It’s surprising, but a good kind of surprising.

No Words

It’s the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks and I’m not really sure what I can say anymore.

Source
Source

Towards the end of last year, I went to New York for the first time since the attacks took place. I stayed in a hotel near the site where the Twin Towers stood. The memorial there is very nice. So much time has passed that I feel like we’re a completely different country sometimes. There’s an entire group of people in school now—including my own cousin—who don’t remember the attacks at all and don’t fully grasp their significance. I can’t relate to that. I may not remember the Berlin Wall coming down or the Soviet Union collapsing, but at least I still recognize the significance of these events! It’s a bit demoralizing that some people don’t fully get what happened. Of course, this isn’t limited to young people. Some adults who remember the attacks still don’t get it, either. Will they ever get it? Time will tell, I suppose.

Вечная память.