No Half-Steppin’

Do you remember what it was like to have the energy to pursue any half-assed idea that tickled your fancy? I know I had that kind of energy once, but somewhere along the way it packed its bags and hitched a ride to Tucumcari, New Mexico, where it was last seen working at a roadside diner. It unbuttons an extra button on its uniform knowing full well it’s manipulative as shit, but you have to do what you have to do when you work for tips.

There was a point here, and I’m trying to deflect with humour. The thing is I don’t think I’m clever enough to make it interesting, so I’ll just put the emotions out there and hope that the sentences make sense.

Did you know I wanted to be a writer once? When I was an apple-cheeked youngin’, I wanted to write for a living. I either wanted to write for the Children’s Television Workshop, because Sesame Street skits were the ne plus ultra of comedy1, or I wanted to work in advertising, writing ridiculously absurd copy for the kinds of commercials people would remember for decades to come. Remember the Miller Lite Evil Beaver commercial? Those were the kinds of ads I wanted to have as my legacy.

I never really told anyone about wanting to write, but I remember writing about it under duress for my twelfth grade English class. Mrs. Rudolph made us keep a journal our senior year. I don’t remember much about that journal (except the sheer mortification I felt when my mother found it and proceeded to read excerpts at a family holiday gathering). I remember how vulnerable I felt to admit that I wanted to matter, that I wanted to be good at something. I ran with a group of spectacular underachievers in high school, each beautiful, brilliant yet misguided in their own ways, and each of us deeply committed to acting like we just didn’t give a shit about anything at all, except maybe Britpop and having parties in hotel rooms.

The point I’m trying to make is I had a dream once, and I got in the way of my success. I do that a lot, and I’m trying to unlearn this behaviour. At forty-mumble, maybe it’s too late, but I have a fierce belief in “Better late than never”. If I didn’t believe in it, I’d probably be dead or locked up somewhere by now.

I want to matter. And if that sounds self-centered, or self-important, or any of those other hyphenated self-words people use to call someone a narcissist, then so be it. I don’t have children or a partner; what I do have is some semblance of a professional life and a modicum of influence, and I want to learn to build that influence into something. Less a shrine, maybe more of a roadside attraction of pithy observations about life or the state of librarianship, or why Duran Duran was the most important band of the 80s (fight me). I want to leave this place in a little better state than I found it, but I can’t do that because I can’t get out of my way.

I’m stuck.

My life is a series of half-assed attempts at mastering various things, whether it be photography, learning to code (shakes a fist at Ruby), picking up a foreign language that I haven’t studied since seventh grade, or trying to teach myself to crochet. Each of these hobbies/skills/lifelong learning attempts was started in good faith, and each one was quickly abandoned the minute they got too hard. I say I love a good challenge but what I think I love more is talking a fair amount of bullshit and being a bit of a journeywoman. I love picking up bits and pieces of information, just enough to feel informed, but the idea of mastery, of being confident and competent lays me out flat, and I run screaming like my head is on fire.

But I still want to matter. Not just professionally, but that’s all I have going for me at the moment, and what with living with a chronic illness that saps what little energy I have, it’s probably my best shot. There’s a nagging voice in my head that says none of this librarianship shit matters, that I’m wasting my time, that I’m tired of Twitter wankery, and there has to be something more out there for me to do. I’m meant to do more, to be more, but how can I do that when I can’t see it, and how can I do that when I’m afraid to fail, but even more afraid to succeed?

Anxiety is a trip I wouldn’t want to lay on anyone, and I know that my anxiety has had a death-grip on my mind since about, oh, age 21, but that grip has felt a lot more tenacious since I had my knee surgery. Something needs to change, and something needs to change soon.

So for now, I write little pieces like this, showing a few more of my scars and being a little more vulnerable than usual. I can’t and won’t share everything, and I have to believe that’s okay. Not everything is meant to be aired, and sometimes the best writing isn’t tailored for an audience. It might be that I’m only meant to matter to myself, and if that’s the case, then I think that’s a pretty worthwhile goal.

  1. I mean, come on, this is hilarious. 

How Not to Behave in Traffic: The Stupid Taxi Driver Edition

  1. Don’t pull behind a smaller, more vulnerable vehicle1 and ride their bumper.
  2. Don’t get so close to the vehicle that you can’t see the brake light (or hand signal) that the person ahead of you has used to indicate that she is about to accelerate now that the light has turned green.
  3. Definitely don’t lean on your horn, because you could startle the vulnerable driver and cause a life-threatening collision.
  4. Don’t speed past the vehicle at 30-40km/h with less than 3 feet of passing room.
  5. Don’t beg said driver for mercy when she catches up to you at the traffic light, asks you to roll down your window, and says “I HOPE YOU LIKE GETTING REPORTED, YOU ASSHOLE.”

Shout out to the big burly cyclist who pulled up between me and the cabbie and asked me if I was OK, and who didn’t pull off until I told him I was.

  1. This means if you are in a car, don’t do this to motorcyclists, bicyclists, people in wheelchairs, pedestrians. Basically, don’t be a dick

Mind Grapes: Stuff I’ve Consumed This Week

Learning Regular Expressions the Practical Way – Hugo Giraudel’s tutorial will take about 15 minutes to read through, but will probably take much longer to master. It’s worth the effort.

Keeping the Faith – Layshia Clarendon of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever shares what it means to her to be an LGBT person of faith:

Only when it comes to LGBT activism is there a moral stigma. When we’re talking about the gay community, that’s when people want to start talking about right and wrong. This isn’t about sexuality or God. This is about social justice.

Lessons from a Code of Conduct – The Design and Content Conference was one of the best conferences I’ve attended for a number of reasons, not the least of which was their decision to open the conference by making it clear what their expectations were for everyone — attendees and speakers alike. Steve notes that even when you talk the talk, it’s easy to slip up and not walk the walk:

My foot-in-mouth moment pained me, but I learned something: when we’re winging it, it’s easy for slip-ups to slip out. And that’s why our code of conduct mattered. Sure, I still made a mistake—but because I’d invested in writing our COC, discussed it with the team, and built a plan for enforcing it, it was a million times easier for me to recognize my wrong and course-correct.

S.S. Librarianship Episode Sixty-Five: “…really amazing things can happen.” – Alli and Sam had me on as a guest for the S.S. Librarianship podcast. I talked about Korean Dramas, my path to librarianship, and what it means to be a Sparklepony. It was a fantastic experience, and they were clever, witty, gracious hosts. The title of today’s blog post is borrowed from S.S. Librarianship.

This tweet makes me laugh so hard.


Using Regular Expressions to Muffle Tweets in Twitterrific (iOS)

From the “using a hammer to hit a screw” department, I spent some time today working on a regular expression to mute any mentions of D*n*ld Tr*mp in Twitterrific, the (fantastic) Twitter client for iOS.
Regular Expressions1 can be difficult to write. I found them intimidating, and I’ve been mucking about with programming for years now. There are numerous regexp tutorials available on the web, but Google’s Examples of Regular Expressions was the only one I’ve used that made sense to me.

Without any further ado, here’s the pattern:

And now it’s time for a breakdown:

Character Description
() Groups all the words together
\W Matches any character that isn’t a letter, digit, or underscore and prevents the expression from matching anything that comes before or after the phrase you want to match
\⎮ Indicates “or”, so the pattern matches any of the words in the list2
^ Matches at the start of a string or a line
\s Matches a space character
$ Matches the end of a line

You’ll want to test your pattern to see if it matches the desired characters while ignoring others. RegExr is a web-based tool that helps you learn and test regular expressions. The next step is adding the pattern to Twitterrific. Bring up the sidebar in the app and select Muffles.

This image shows the interface for adding muffled or muted phrases to Twitterrific, a Twitter client for iOS.

Select “Tap here to begin” on the next screen, and then add your pattern by writing it out like this:

Name of pattern :: pattern characters

On my phone, that looks something like this:

This image shows the interface for adding muffled or muted phrases to Twitterrific, a Twitter client for iOS.

Click the Done button and voilà, no more mentions of that garbage human (or any other annoying content) in your timeline!

Sure, I could have achieved the same end by entering this person’s exact name to my muffles3, but if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have learned anything, and I would still be intimidated by regular expressions. Now I’m…less intimidated, which counts as a win in my book.

  1. Also called RegExp. 
  2. Did you know you can’t escape the pipe character in tables in Markdown? You have to use Unicode or ASCII. I KNOW. 
  3. Muffles is Twitterrific’s term for muted words and phrases.