Hello! I’m not sure if it’s the prolonged pandemic, the new year, or my recent birthday — probably all three — but I’m still deep in resolution and reflection mode over here. Below you’ll find some thoughts on being <insert cringe emoji here> a Very Bad Texter and the ways I hope to improve.
Also, I had to share the hilarious way my dad bought my sister her Christmas gift and five links for you (including a new word game Matt loves). Enjoy!
PS: We have so many friends and family coping with COVID. ICYMI, here's how we handled it when my other son tested positive.
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Over the weekend, I celebrated my birthday with a homemade cake from Matt and a flurry of text messages from friends. The missives rolled in all day; it was wonderful and heartening to hear from so many women I adore. As I read them, I had a nagging thought: I need to respond. Now. If not now, then soon!
Because here’s something I am deeply embarrassed to admit: I am a Very Bad Texter. Specifically, I am very bad at texting back. Right now I have 117 unread text messages in my phone. Gah! That includes spam but does not include my worst offenses: The texts I’ve received, read, deeply appreciated…and left unanswered. I’ll often respond in my head and WOW, that is worthless, isn’t it?
This isn’t a blanket thing — sometimes I text quickly or quick-ish — but on the whole, I am objectively bad at responding in a timely fashion. I texted my friend Erin, who is a Very Good Texter, that I was writing this newsletter.
“Hahaha,” she responded.
So, yeah. It's bad. (If you are a texting friend of mine and you are reading this, then you know. Please also know I am sorry! It’s not personal. It’s just…me. I’m trying.)
My shame over failing at something so simple is wrapped up in a bigger issue: I worry it makes me a bad friend. I know what it’s like to text someone and get an immediate response. The connection in that moment is the best! Since moving to California, and certainly with the pandemic, I have a lot of friends I don’t see very often. Texting is one of the primary ways I keep in touch with loved ones. Add to that all the wonderful new people I’ve met in Los Angeles. You know what is a very natural, low-stakes way to begin connecting with someone? Texting. And you know what sets an awful tone for those new connections? NOT RESPONDING.
My problem is three-fold. First, life with three small children and not quite enough childcare means time seems to evaporate. I white-knuckle the day from dawn until bedtime, racing from one thing to the next, putting out whatever fire is rightinfrontofme. I preemptively worry that responding to a text will mean another text and then a full-on back-and-forth will ensue. Sometimes, it’s *so* welcome! Other times, it’s distracting.
Another hang-up I have is the time difference living in California, too. When my kids are in bed, a.k.a. I have a minute to breathe, it’s three hours later on the East Coast and two hours later in the Midwest, where many of my family and friends live. I worry about waking them up.
But the biggest thing is something else I’m working on: Spending less time on my phone. Professionally, I spend a lot of time posting and responding to DMs. Personally, I love to take pictures of my kids and fall prey to scrolling mindlessly on social media (less of that, please). My goal is to be on my phone less, not more.
For all these reasons, my heart sung last year when I read Glennon Doyle’s thoughts on texting in her blockbuster book, Untamed. “This, this, THIS,” I shouted when I read the following passage (page 113):
For a minute, I went with this mantra, using it to free myself of the guilt. But truth be told, it didn’t feel right for me. I love my friends and value the connections we have. I want to get better on texting — but also put boundaries on it. So! My two-step plan is to:
Respond as soon as I read a text. Not as soon as a text arrives, but as soon as I read it — which could be awhile, as I am working to leave my phone in a different room (while writing this newsletter, for example). If it’s something that feels like a longer response is needed or it could result in a back and forth, then I will offer up a quick placeholder: “More in a bit.”
Set aside a few minutes a day to write back more thoughtfully. I think the only way forward for me is to carve out a short but dedicated time to respond. That might be after bedtime, which might mean a late-night text. I am letting go of that worry! I trust my friends and family put their phone on Do Not Disturb mode.
Ok, your turn! I need your texting thoughts and strategies. Do texts matter to you? If so, what tips do you have that could help us Very Bad Texters? If not, I would love to hear about how you let go! Please hit “Join the discussion” at the bottom of this email and leave a comment on my Bulletin page.
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Five Things To Check Out This Week
READ / Robin Givhan’s cover story on Janet Jackson offers a new look on the pop star and all the rich context needed to reflect upon her career. (Allure)
LISTEN / Did you know the Golden Globes were on Sunday? It caught me totally off guard — so many questions. The Daily podcast has a fascinating explainer on the rise and very steep fall of the problematic awards show. (The Daily from the New York Times)
PLAY / A suggestion from Matt that I’m trying this week: “Who knew five green squares could be such an accomplishment these days? If you didn't catch the NYT write up, Wordle is my new favorite way to start the day and get my brain moving. It's the best, simple puzzle: six tries to guess a five-letter word — and a win to start your day.” (Wordle, New York Times write-up)
READ + SUBSCRIBE / So much to think about from Mari Andrews’ latest newsletter, where she suggests picking a word of the year. And she picks such good words! I’m in awe. (Out of the Blue on Bulletin)
DRINK / I had an ah-ha moment in my water consumption journey: I prefer a regular cup with a straw over a water bottle with a straw. I've been using the plastic one my son’s kindergarten teacher gave him for graduation that reads FITZ in large letters. Ordered an upgrade this week, will report back! (Yeti)
Note: I use affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase I may get a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work.
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I will see you back in your inboxes on Friday with a royal news recap. Have a wonderful week.