On living a fragmented life

Saturday night, W. and I went to the tour of Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy. If you like Final Fantasy, and it’s coming somewhere near you, you should definitely go. It was a magical evening. It’s a philharmonic with orchestra and choir on stage, and then three giant screens projecting scenes from the games. Arnie Roth conducted and bantered between sets; I think he’s delightful.

And the fans came out. There was that feeling of being among your people that happens at this sort of interest-based gathering. I have never seen so many cool t-shirts and gorgeous hair colors in one place before.

And then there were the cosplayers:

Nico Castillo on Instagram: ?Oh Celes… That is so… you! Traitor and trollop! @utopian_pigeon #distantworlds #finalfantasy #finalfantasyvi #kefka #celeschere??

Which reminded me that, oh yeah, about a year ago I said I was going to get into cosplay…


This summer, we went to North Myrtle Beach as a family. We stopped by Ripley’s Aquarium and saw their mermaid show. Leaving it, I thought, “Oh right! I wanted to take up mermaiding.”


My ambitions that aren’t obligations escape me, and I need to be able to achieve my obligations in fragments. This is life as a primary caregiving parent: any activity needs to be achievable in small bits of time, and preferably it shouldn’t be a problem if the activity is interrupted.

And let’s be honest: if the activity is interrupted, it might never get finished.


I left lemon juice on the counter overnight. I was using it to preserve apples for M.’s snack and lunch today, and I put the apples in the fridge. And my brain was like, “Okay! Done with this task!” I did the same thing with some almond milk last week after making a smoothie.


It might sound like I’m complaining. I’m not. I’m obsessed with my kid. I just was in the bathroom at our combo co-working space/Montessori, and the bathroom window looks out onto the play area, and I just watched him chase and pick up balls for a little while.

I love being with him. And in many ways, I’m most myself with him, more than I ever was before.

And in other ways, it’s really important to me to remember all the parts of me that are from before, because they’re all still here, and they need attending to, now and again.

I keep coming back to the idea that matrescence is like kintsugi, the Japanese art of using gold to repair ceramics.

Rural cooking pot repaired with Kintsugi technique, Georgia, 19th century. Photo by Guggger. CC-BY-SA

Having a kid shattered me. I still haven’t processed my birth story, and it’s been two years. I will. When I’m ready. I spent so many hours searching for resources on identity crises in the immediate post-partum period. But having a kid made me like this cooking pot. All the old parts of me are around. And I’m piecing them back together, slowly, with the new parts of me and the new parts of my life making everything more beautiful.

There are new pieces to come, too. I think the simile breaks down here.


This is life now. It will be different later.


Trends in YA Library Services

Some quick thoughts on my IndieWeb implementation.

Hi Internet friends.

I have been tweaking my website a lot this week and wanted to write a few notes about my IndieWeb progress.

In my early days, I tried to just implement a ton of stuff. Then I had to tweak a bunch of things to get what I wanted. I can be too rigid sometimes, and I think some of my IndieWeb implementation efforts have fallen in this category.

I’m in a life moment where my IndieWeb commitment needs to be eclipsed by, well, most of my other commitments. So here’s where I’m at right now. I’m using the IndieMark list to work through it all. This will get a little technical, so if it’s not interesting, please move on with your day.

  1. I do own my own domain, kimberlyhirsh.com.
  2. I think it’s set up for Web sign-in, but I sometimes struggle with the IndieAuth/Micropub plug-ins.
  3. My posts do have permalinks.
  4. Also they have h-entry markup.
  5. Robots can index my site.
  6. I’m pretty sure WordPress outputs my stuff in html.
  7. You can defs use the site-specific search in Google to search kimberlyhirsh.com.
  8. I have an h-card with contact info and a photo of myself on my homepage.
  9. I am currently posting two post types to my site: notes and articles. Both get syndicated to Twitter and Facebook as I deem appropriate.
  10. I have linear previous/next navigation between my posts.
  11. I have a search UI.
  12. URLs are auto linked.
  13. I can both send and receive webmentions.
  14. I receive backfeed from Twitter. (Facebook eliminated this functionality, sadly.)

What now?

I’m not adding any other post types just yet. For me, the inconvenience of creating replies on my own site and syndicating them outweighs the benefit of owning my replies, as my replies are rarely substantive. Occasionally, replies may inspire a longer article. But for now, I’m going to reply on the silos where I see folks post stuff. (That said: I will try to work out using webmentions to reply to folks replies that get backfed to my site, using my site’s comments. We’ll see.)

Similarly, posting photos here instead of to Instagram, events and RSVPs here instead of to Facebook, and reads here instead of to Goodreads is just not something I want to tackle all at once. So as I figure out which use cases I want to urgently own, then I’ll work that out.

But I will be posting links here instead of directly to Facebook or Twitter, so I may use the read post type for that purpose. Or bookmark. I’m trying to decide how I want to distinguish those uses.

I’m not really clear on how to make web actions happen, even though I have the necessary plug-ins installed.

I want to get back into documenting my own itches and participating more in the IndieWeb community.

But honestly, this is mostly just a post giving myself permission not to own my replies.

Not Being the Best Isn’t the Same as Being Mediocre

Not Being the Best Isn't the Same as Being Mediocre

I’m reading Emilie Wapnick’s bookย How to Be Everythingย and I got to this section header and felt like she was speaking very directly to me.

Several weeks ago now I was having a late night conversation with W. We were talking about how he would have fared at my high school, where he would have gone if he hadn’t gone to the local Friends School instead.

“I think you’d be okay. I mean, I was in the middle of my class, and I did alright.”

I was tenth in my high school class of about 300. I was in roughly the top 3%. And I perceived (and apparently, continue to perceive) that as the middle.

When my final report card came, my dad said, “Why didn’t you tell us you were tenth in your class? That’s amazing!” I said, “Well, you know, it’s not like I was valedictorian or salutatorian, so it’s not a big deal.”

I think my perception might be skewed.

It’s a very privileged problem to have, I’m aware, but I suspect this kind of thinking contributes to mental illness in academia.

Newsletter: You Got This

I have been really digging newsletters for the past several months. I’m planning to do a write up of my faves soon. But for now, think about these questions:

Are we BFFs? Should we be BFFs? Do you like to imagine we’re BFFs?

If the answer to any of these is yes, my new newsletter is for you. (Sorry, the two people who signed up for my old secret newsletter… This is a whole different thing. But it’s still for you.)

A really common exercise to help people decide how to spend their time is to ask them to imagine their funeral. What do they want to be remembered for?

The only answer I consistently come up with is that I want the people gathered to all feel, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I cared about them.

My brother-in-law got married this past weekend. My mother-in-law had to give a speech at the rehearsal dinner. She was self-conscious going into it. At the reception, she told me that as she stood there, she thought, “Well, Kimberly would tell me I can do this, so I can.” And thinking of that helped her get through it, and of course she did a beautiful job.

I want as many people as possible to feel that way. I don’t know what kind of reach this newsletter will have or where it will go. But I hope each person who reads it will feel like they’re not alone, like someone believes in them, like someone has their back.

I’m describing it as

Like a high five in your inbox. Platonic love notes and things that made me think of you.

If that sounds like something you would like to have in your life, you can sign up here.


Planning Microtasks to Match Your Energy (or Spoons)

I’m fairly open about the fact that I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome and that fatigue is my primary symptom for both of these. I’m in the middle of a Hashimoto’s flare up, and today I sat down and made a little table of the types of tasks I can do depending on what type of day I’m having: low energy, medium energy, or high energy.

This is a valuable table because often I think that, since I’m working on a writing project and a curriculum development project, I can only ever get any work done on high energy days. But that’s not so, because each of those projects is made up of smaller tasks. Writing up my literature review workflow really helped me set up this table. Here it is in list form, in case it would be valuable for anyone else.

Literature Review Tasks

Low Energy

  • Literature search

Medium Energy

  • AIC review
  • concept map
  • revision

High Energy

  • synthetic note
  • memo
  • outlining
  • writing

Curriculum Development

Low Energy

  • identify resources
  • format documents

Medium Energy

  • outline

High Energy

  • write


Internet like it’s 2001

Me, February 2001

I’ve owned my own personal domain since 2001, though it’s a different domain name now than it was then. For the past year or so I’ve been trying to remember how I internetted in 2001, because I’m super nostalgic and think that was my favorite Internet time, and then I remembered that the Internet Archive has my back. So I visited my own domain on the Internet archive and have implemented a few things here inspired by that.

Here they are so far (probably more to come):

  • A “Currently” widget to let you know what I’m enjoying right now
  • A shoutbox widget where you can say hi
  • A “Speaking” page about where you can find me in meatspace
  • A “Following” page full of links with fun annotations

It’s my birthday.

I’m 37 today. It’s a number that sounds grown up. I think I felt more grown up at 27, though.

Maybe I’m Benjamin Buttoning. (Making that reference dates me. The fact that I’m pretty sure I’m repeating a joke I think I’ve already made on this blog and don’t care is also proof of my age.)

It only just occurred to me that reverse Benjamin Buttoning is just normal aging.

I have neither read nor seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I find myself craving inspiration in the form of people sharing their stories with humility. I’m over gurus and authorities.

I long for stories of vulnerability and authenticity.

I miss distant friends.

Yesterday I found out that my thyroid is out of whack again. I’m trying to remember everything I learned before, not just about how to heal, but also how to cope.

I feel despair often, but then there’s this:

My kid is giggling in the tub right now and there’s no better sound in the world.

I’ve forgotten how to feel better.

Most of my adult life has been impacted by chronic illness. I’ve got two: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome. (I also have depression and anxiety, but they seem to be symptoms of those two physical illnesses, because when those are well-managed, the mental illnesses are barely noticeable.) I spent many years learning to manage them, and they were fairly well-managed before I got pregnant and for the first two trimesters of my pregnancy. Most importantly, I developed several strategies to use when I feel like absolute garbage.

I can’t remember any of them.

Breastfeeding is a funny thing; it basically takes whatever you knew about your hormones – whether they were affected by PCOS or not – and makes all of that invalid. Now your estrogen is suppressed, you’re producing prolactin, and when it comes to menstruation, all bets are off. So you might, for example, find yourself having your period for 4 or 5 weeks in a row, then not for a week, then again for several more days.

Which might, purely hypothetically speaking, leave you feeling fatigued, lightheaded, and with a sensation of pins-and-needles in your feet.

Perhaps from anemia.

I have, in fact, found myself in this situation, and I have seen my doctor, and she has assured me that yes, this is probably related to breastfeeding, and we’re doing blood tests to figure out next steps in fixing my symptoms, even if the menstrual wonkiness persists. So I’m doing what I can, medically.

But let’s say she puts me on an iron supplement tomorrow. (Likely.)

It’s still going to take some time to feel better. And I don’t know what to do in the meantime, because I can’t just retreat from life.


Now: July 2018

Here’s a complete list of everything I’ve got going on right now. And by “going on,” I mean a level of intensity ranging from “thinking about maybe doing it” to “seriously working on it.” (Categories come from the Integrative Nutrition Circle of Life exercise.)




  • Reducing grocery spending via using my Soda Stream, freezing leftovers, and eating out of the pantry/fridge/freezer



  • Working on the Makerspaces section of my comprehensive literature review
  • Developing workflows that will allow me to chip away at the other sections while im still writing this one.


  • Visiting my doctor for my quarterly follow-up
  • Focusing on hydration

Home Cooking

Physical Activity

Home Environment


  • Celebrating my 9th wedding anniversary

Social Life

  • Planning birthday celebrations


  • Watching GLOW
  • Playing video games
  • Delighting in my kid’s ever-improving communication skills