JC’s Confession #19

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.

JC

I am still on Facebook and feel guilty about it.

I’m confessing this now because it is top of mind after reflecting on Ellen Morris Prewitt’s post on leaving Facebook. Ellen is an amazing author, blogger, community volunteer, and former lawyer from the American South. She shares her insights on a range of topics and has recently published a number of powerful posts about race and racism. I urge everyone to visit her blog and subscribe.

I confess that, despite my dismay over Facebook spreading false information, their exploitative business model, and the vagaries of their newsfeed algorithms, I am staying with the platform for now.

I’ve tried to make my own Facebook experience as insulated from harm as possible. I use Social Fixer, which allows me to hide sponsored posts, political posts, and other parts of the page that I don’t want to see. I spend almost no time scrolling through my newsfeed and do not use Facebook as a news source. I do automatically send posts to my blog page and then link them to my personal timeline for added visibility, although I remain annoyed at how few people can actually see my posts due to the aforementioned vagaries of Facebook algorithms.

I admit that part of the reason I stay with Facebook is that there are people with whom I am connected only via Facebook and don’t want to lose touch with them. I also am one of the administrators for a private Facebook group for my college class and don’t want to abandon that responsibility.

I know those are personal excuses that in no way forgive my responsibility in participating with a platform that causes harm. I do favor policies and regulations that will make Facebook a safe, honest cyberplace.

I’m probably hopelessly naïve to think that that is possible.

But that is, perhaps, a confession for another day…

JC’s Confessions #14

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.

JC

After all the safer-at-home pandemic protocols, I’m afraid that it will be difficult for me to resume going back out to church, meetings, events, etc.

The truth is that I am both introverted and shy. It takes a lot of energy for me to be in a group setting and even more for me to actively participate. I much prefer one-on-one interaction, the exception being among family.

I wrote yesterday about the explosion of Zoom and other virtual meetings. I’m finding that these are also very draining and even more difficult to navigate than in-person meetings, because it is harder to gauge how/when to break into the conversation when we are each in our own little box.

I wonder if some of the group activities I used to do will even exist after a vaccine makes social interaction relatively safe again. While I had been mourning my lack of a chorus with whom to sing, now no one has a chorus available and may not for a long time, given that singing in a group is an especially dangerous virus-spreader. The spirituality group that I have facilitated for years at church is almost entirely people in high-risk groups and we don’t have the option to go virtual due to technical limitations.

Some organizations, like the Binghamton Poetry Project, will eventually have to decide if they go back to in-person meetings or stay in Zoom, which allows people who don’t have transportation or who live outside the area to participate.

It’s possible that there won’t be many groups expecting my physical presence when we get to the post-pandemic world, but there will no doubt be some. Will I be able to muster the energy to venture back out on a regular basis or will I just stay home?

I don’t know.

Settling in to Mass MoCA

I’m writing this from my spacious bedroom in our residency apartment with a view of Mass MoCA from my windows.

I arrived about four and we spent the next hour gathering and chatting. When we were all here, except one person who was set to arrive later, we started our tour by seeing our private studios. We have 24/7 access to our studios. One of our poets said that things get serious when you have your own studio – you really have to write!

Next we went to our apartments, which are kittycorner from the museum and on the second and third floors with businesses on the first floor. They are newly renovated with wood floors and substantial casings and trim. I am lucky to have a corner room with three windows, and lovely light blue walls. We also have a sitting room and a full kitchen and laundry. I don’t know if I will cook anything, though.

At seven, we gathered at Tupelo Press’s Loft at Eclipse Mill for pizza and Greek salad to get to know Jeffrey Levine, publisher and editor-in-chief of Tupelo, and Cassandra – and learn more about each other. We are a group of nine, eight women, although one had not yet arrived, and one (brave, younger) man.  Fortunately, he is a cool guy and not daunted by the company of so many women. He explained that he worked in a mostly female environment in his job, so he is used to being surrounded by women. He and I do have something in common though; we both grew up in this area, albeit in different towns and eras.

It is strange, though, because Monroe Bridge, my hometown, is so small that most people who live in North Adams or Williamstown have never been there, with a hefty proportion not even knowing of its existence. So, while I consider North Adams part of my home territory, where we visited relatives every week and where I and my sisters went to Drury High School, which was also where I met my spouse, there is this other side to my story which is unknown here in North Adams and complicated by how much the city has changed from the 1960s and 70s to the present.

One of the things we talked about was how we would like to balance alone time and together time during our residency/workshop week. It seemed that most people favored significant amounts of solo writing time. I didn’t even attempt to answer. This is all so new to me that I don’t know what I want. My gut feeling is that I will learn more from interaction than from being off by myself, although if I am writing from a prompt or working with a piece of art, I realize I need solo time to think and write and edit. Jeffrey is also open to us doing our own mix and changing tack from day to day as suits each of us.

I just hope I can figure out what is the right balance for me. As I had anticipated, I am on the less experienced side of the spectrum, so I think my goal is to soak up as much as possible from everyone here, even if I don’t understand it all right now, trusting that each thought, concept, and experience will lodge somewhere in my brain and re-present itself when I am in need of it.

I also hope to get some sleep.  Good night, WordPress!