This is hard


I’m really, really bad at writing anything about my own life these days.

I looked back and realised I’ve posted less than ten pictures of myself in more than two years on social media.

It’s like I’m trying to delete myself from the world.

I’m not, I don’t think. But I’m not the wild-eyed traveller that I was before, and I’m not able to buy into certain narratives anymore. It’s like since 2016 my wings are clipped. I don’t journal, either.

But I do photograph things from time to time. Here are some pictures from the last few weeks, and from using the newest version of Lightroom (I like it). My photos of everything else have gotten much better, but my photos of myself have disappeared.

It’s hard being in one’s 30s.

I see a lot of the same things that I did when I was younger,played out in different tones. I’m not sure if someone who is 21 or 22 counts as Generation Z, but I can tell you that the differences in terms of attitudes, desires, and societal training from the teen years onward are different enough to make me feel like a crotchety old nan at 32. Sometimes I get irritated that these folks think they invented the current state of the internet, when it was us. We blogged on Xanga and Livejournal. We invented Yahoo answers. My generation created Reddit, and then lost it (and the life of the founder) in the din of the later Internet. It’s not great to be proud of our collective entrainment to the global web, nor to the certain spiders that live within it now.

It’s hard to figure out career things.

Someone very close to me with lots of experience and qualifications has taken a job baking bread for the supermarket of our childhood. It’s temporary, but it’s indicative of the long-term, slow-roll economic crisis that never truly went away. “It’s all fixed now,” my parents told me in 2012. “You can come home. Everyone has jobs.”

But does everyone have enough to get by? I think I saw a headline that raising the minimum wage just $1 save thousands of suicides. I’m sure that the methods of the study and its conclusions are suspect, but I can’t help feeling the resonance in my own bones. I fear a future of living in a Walmart parking lot if I can’t get and keep a job. That wasn’t the way I thought I’d spend my 30s. I thought I’d be a PhD graduate with two small children, nursing one of them, radically, in university classes because obviously by the time I was 32 maternity leave and breastfeeding wouldn’t be an issue that was controversial anymore. I’d be published in journals and be on tenure track. I’d probably own a house.

My dreams as a 22 year old sound ridiculous now, but at least I had some potential to do it. I hear the younger ones I know saying they will become a fighter pilot, an astronaut, a world-class artist. Dreams of elementary school children. And bizarrely, our students (the actual elementary school children) spout reasonable, middle-class jobs. I will become a dentist. I will become a librarian. I will become a clerk.

I’m so, so, so uninspired by both phenomena displayed there. adults spouting aspirational nonsense. Children aspiring to abject mediocrity. Is the damn world upside down?

It’s hard to teach these days.

My students yesterday got angry at me for the horrible crime of trying to teach them English. They shut the class down and I refused to allow them any games until they did a simple sorting task with words. They don’t like grammar, but their parents keep threatening to make them quit if they don’t learn more grammar. All that wrapped into the veneer of professionalism and overblown excitement from a company dinner this week. One team, one dream, amirite? Except that it’s only your fault if the parents never speak a word to their kids and think they know better than you what grammar is in English, anyway.

Honestly, I’m just so tired of it all. It’s no surprise that I’m not in my own photos anymore.

It’s hard to write these days.


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