Living Socially

I was talking to a recent DC transplant a couple of weeks ago and when she asked me what it’s like to live in the District I replied without even thinking:

“It’s like living inside LinkedIn.”

And it is. The inevitable first question you get upon meeting someone here is: “So, what do you do?”

This question is so ubiquitous that it’s clichéd to even comment upon it’s preferred status. Professional networks are the gears that move the DC social scene. So, this fair city is the real living version of LinkedIn – also, people are most frequently seen in awkward professional wear, so there’s that too.

This realization got me thinking…what other cities do our favorite social networks match up with? Join me as we wander down a path of gross generalities and types de stereo.

New York City = Facebook

Large and crowded, everyone visits at least once.

Los Angeles = Flickr

So prettttttttttyyyyy.

Detroit = MySpace

Once booming and now empty. Always hankering for a comeback.

Seattle = Instagram

LA with hipster filters!

Nashville = Spotify

Where the music lives, except for Metallica, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

Boston = Google+

Everyone! Stay in your circles!

San Francisco = Pinterest

Have you seen this new cool thing on the Internet?

Chicago = Twitter

So much to say, but no one pays attention for very long.

Brooklyn = Yelp!

Everyone’s a critic.

What do you think? Did I miss any? Get any totally wrong?

Austin = Foursquare (courtesy of Faye)

There are cool people everywhere if you know where to look.


The Pirate Ride

The Pirate Ride
Photo credit: Neal Jennings

Last week I read two articles that were trying to say something about life and how we should live it.  One was about the advice life experts (aka senior citizens) have for us young ‘uns. The other was about how my generation is stuck in a morass of confusion about what success means in these modern times.

The first article struck a chord with me in that it captured much of what I try to achieve in life: live in the moment, prioritize your relationships above overtime, travel as often and as far as you can. The second article struck a chord too, but more because it exemplified why it’s so damn hard to follow the advice in the first.

According to the second article, the path past generations have followed to mark and achieve conventional success, “college→good_job→marriage→house→ family→cushy retirement,” is no longer a guarantee. But do we even need a path? Do we need something to constantly judge ourselves against? Maybe letting go of this conventional approach is the best thing that could happen to us.

I think it’s the mentality and expectation of finding a clearly defined “success” that keeps us in a cycle of disappointment and frustration. Even when we reach some of these markers, after the glow wears off, we’re stuck with a feeling of emptiness and confusion. We’ve checked all those boxes, our parents are proud…why are we so unhappy?

I call it the pirate ride because it feels like that carnival ride where a boat swings like a pendulum. We feel a short high at the crest of each swing before our stomachs drop on the way back down.

Perhaps we feel that sense of dissatisfaction after we reach the next step because we’ve ignored the advice culled from the experience of generation after generation. By thinking about the next thing, we miss the beauty of the world around us. We are sacrificing vacation days and travel opportunities for that next promotion. We are so focused on achieving that next success that we’re ignoring the people we love.

So – let’s let it go.

Let’s choose to get off this ride, the tracks are getting rickety anyway.

Let’s remind each other that success is finding what makes us happy and pursuing it, prestigious or not.

Let’s encourage each other to get out of our bubbles and see the world.

Let’s be there for each other and for those we love.

Let’s be the generations with more fond memories than regrets.

“Your dog is beautiful!”

A defining fact about me, one that makes me stand out as a Katie/Kate amongst millions of Katies/Kates is that I have a dog. And she’s pretty.

Isn't she lovely (for a dog)

That’s Matterhorn (Mattie). She gets more catcalls than I do, which is not something I am complaining about. She’s a Bernese Mountain Dog rescue who is almost 4 now. She likes long walks, sniffing other dogs’ butts, and eating anything (ANYTHING) resembling food off the sidewalk.

Having a dog in a city is, among many other things, a lot like participating in a 10-18 year long social experiment. Dogs force you to go outside and interact with other people (mostly strangers). Constantly.  I’ve found that these strangers fall into a number of categories (this list is not intended to cover all categories):

1. Dog park people

  • a. People whose people names are known to you
  • b. People whose dog’s names are known to you
  • c. People who never speak but are visually familiar
  • d. People without dogs (?!?!)
  • e. People with children (subset: People with children who have toys that my dog will destroy)

2. Pedestrians

  • a. People who try to pet your dog
  • b. People who act like your dog has a force field of evil around it
  • c. Russian ladies who are scared to death of your dog
  • d. Fratty (drunk) guys who scare your dog to death
  • e. People who tell you “Your dog is beautiful!”

While each category has its own required script for interaction (“It’s finally warming up, huh?” “Awwww it looks like Eli’s gotten into the deer poop again” “I’m sorry, she’s just shy around tall drunk people!”). The last category (2e) is the one that represents a constant challenge to me. In my best moments, I mumble “Thanks!” and move on my way without doing anything awkward. In my worst I…

  1. Try to explain that I’m not actually responsible for how she looks, because, you know, though people like to call me her “dog mom” I’m not actually genetically related. The compulsion behind needing to explain this distinction is indicative of why I got called “weird” a lot in school. And sometimes still today. Moving on.
  2. Immediately compliment their dog. Even though it’s licking its butt. And has a snaggle tooth.
  3. Launch into a description of the proud Bernese breed, and how they actually all look the same, so Mattie is not that special.
  4. Offer to let them take her home. She just ate something weird off of the sidewalk and will probably have gastrointestinal issues all night. No one ever takes me up on this.
  5. Grunt and walk briskly away.

I like to think that facing the constant challenge of responding to this question is strengthening my character. It’s teaching me how to emote such feelings as bewildered humility, awkward gratitude and inappropriate eruditeness.

That, my friends, is all part of the fun and games of having a dog.

This is my bloggy thing

Everyone I know has a blog. Seriously.

They cook, they eat, they travel.
They drink, they analyze; they host parties.
They take pictures, they critique fashion, they raise children.
They analyze their travel while experimenting with cooking their kids’ favorite local recipes and making a martini with a super hipster shaker.

It’s all pretty damn amazing.

I’ve had a blog or two in my day. I always struggle with format, deadlines, and transitions…oh, and discipline. Writing these things is hard, which is why my peer group’s commitment to the medium is both inspiring and perplexing. So many of us are throwing our energy into creating an online identity for ourselves. Why?

I can’t speak for my friends, but I can tell you, oh people of the internet, what it is that brings me back to ye olde wordpress.* Let me enumerate the list with full honesty:

1) Writing is fun
2) Everyone should hear my thoughts because they are amazing
3) I need validation from the internet that my thoughts are amazing
4) I love a good conversation (or, if there are no comments, I love a soapbox)
5) I’m tired of living a half life on the internet — trying to convey my world wide web self via profile pictures, photo albums, status updates, shares, or clever 140 character phrases.**
6) Being in your 20’s can be lonely and directionless, blogs give us a creative outlet to share the energy and passion that may or may not be expressed in our professional lives

So, I will have this bloggy thing. On it I will observe, rant, ramble, and share more than I probably should with an online audience. Most of all, I will do it imperfectly, hypocritically, and with frequent bathroom breaks.

*both of my previous blogs were on blogger. Fine.
**my tweets are never clever.