A New Look!

It’s been a while. But I decided that since I work in digital marketing, I should make my site mobile friendly. So, here we are! A new, refreshed look. Same old content. With this election over, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do, how I want to move forward and hold myself accountable, so I may write more often. But for now, at least the site is a bit more pleasant to look at.

Site Migration 2013!

So, you may have tried to visit and not been able to get the site up and running. Or maybe no one reads. But I migrated my server, which ended up being a LOT more eventful than I had anticipated. Hrm. But after an incredibly aggravating last 24 hours, I think I’m FINALLY back where I started, with a working server, but hopefully a better one. The world is my oyster, or something.

I will probably be making changes to the way the site looks, just because I’m trying to learn some more development & programming stuff, and here’s the place I get to play, right? Very exciting times for me. It’s something I’ve really wanted to do for quite a while, and now I am in a place professionally where it makes even more sense. So. I’m super excited. Journey, let’s go!

Eve of My 26th Year

It is the day before I turn 26, completing the first year of my second quarter of life on this planet. And I’m feeling pretty reflective.

The past year has been pretty spectacular. I started running, ended the first real relationship that I thought would last, and re-started improv. And I have maintained the improv and running both for nearly 10 months, working on both of them gradually and with very little self-judgement about how quickly I’m improving; really doing each of them for fun, for the enjoyment of the moment. Tonight, I get to play in a Ladies Improv Event, We Might Just Kiss at the theater where I’ve been taking classes. I feel so lucky that I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had so far, and this is certainly one of them. I’m definitely nervous, but also really excited. Improv has I think certainly added more than I could’ve hoped to my life, and I’m so so glad I started taking classes. I’m looking forward to what more it will bring, socially, emotionally and artistically to my life.

Running has made me all around feel better about myself–my appearance, endurance, ability to push myself (but not too much!!) and my commitment to things, after successfully completing a half marathon. I’m pretty friggin’ proud of that, maybe more than I’ve been proud of anything else I’ve done in my life, because it was harder for me personally than anything else I’ve done. It took me committing, sticking to something that I most of the time didn’t really like, and even more difficult for me, not being mad at myself when I failed to reach a goal, but to just get back up and keep going. And I did it! So really really, I am proud of that.

Relationship-wise, I have just been trying to move on and distract. Never easy. I don’t think I’ve done an awful job of it, but it’s hard, and continues to be a challenge.

All in all, though, it has been a great year.  The first year I have felt really comfortable in my adult skin, I think, and settled into the idea that this is what adulthood is.  Not anything spectacular, but maleable.  I can make this something that I like.  And I can like what I make it.  I’ve recognized the importance of patience, and of listening to what makes me happy and responding to that, without judging it.

So Happy Birthday to Me, and onto another year, with more adventures.


Racism and Murder

Today at work, I was meeting and brainstorming with a couple of coworkers. Both are women. Both are black. One is Jamaican–we’ll call her B, the other we’ll call A. We were talking about another coworker, and whether I’d described A as a “little black girl,” which I told them I didn’t need to, since he’d known who I was talking about. I added that white people didn’t like talking about race, though, and A started to joke about hoodies, iced tea and skittles, referencing the recent events of Trayvon Martin’s murder. While some people are busy worrying about hoodies, it is interesting to have this conversation with people who are not white. B and A both immediately had stories where they had experienced some sort of clearly out of touch comments by white people–one where someone at a meeting claimed that on a federal report, blacks were identified as “negroid,” to which she (and to their credit, the rest of the meeting), collectively said, “huh???!” The woman quickly corrected herself. The other coworker had a story about reviewing charts at a different organization and finding documentation with race listed as “other: colored.” She brought this to the attention of a white director, who was astonished and shocked, so both situations, other people were clearly as disturbed as A and B, but it’s just further proof that racism is alive and well.

I told them that that was the reason, too, though that white people are afraid to talk about race. We’re afraid to say something that offends someone, and that we won’t even know it offends them. But we have to. Trayvon Martin is another reason why we must discuss race, however uncomfortable it may be. We have to be willing to be called racist, and know that in certain ways, we probably are, but that that doesn’t mean something about our character or intentions. I have tried to be brave and to not shy away from race, as a topic of conversation, as a part of a description of someone, etc. I do notice when someone is black, white or Hispanic or Asian, or anything else. I’m always curious about people. And sometimes, I will offend people. But if I’m not willing to be corrected, how can I ever learn what individual people are offended by? I won’t say it doesn’t still make me nervous–I still have a visceral reaction, and sense that before I describe someone as black, I should mention something else about them, or maybe that I shouldn’t mention their skin color at all. But I’m a lot more comfortable talking about race with people who are not white because I’ve practiced, especially with people who already knew me, with whom I had established a relationship, and who knew already that I thought of and respected them as people.

I feel lucky to work with people of different backgrounds–who are not like me, and yet who are. And I am so proud that for the first time, when a horrific tragedy like the one that happened in Florida happens, we have a president who is able to say, “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” This shit is hard, but we have to keep talking.

Update on Things I am Doing This Month

I made a list of things I’m doing this month, and I wanted to quickly update.

I actually DID clean!!! Continuing to run has still been a struggle, but I’m doing it.  I really am.  Promise.  I am going to improv classes, and last night was brilliant.  I’ve definitely been tweeting. That’s been fun.  I have my Google Reader down to about 30, which is good, and started going through the Instapaper articles.  Still a project…..

Working on Downton Abbey, but it only comes out every week!  So far I’m on top of it.

Additionally, I had a wonderful conversation with my big brother and am really looking forward to some quality family time and awaaay from work.  Also planning a trip to Dominican Republic in a couple weeks?? Guess that “getting more shit done” will have to delay a month…good thing I’m doing so well on the others!

<3 Shan

Black HIV Awareness Day

First of all, I am LOVing this song:

Second of all, it happens to be Black HIV Awareness Day. Usually I don’t get all excited about the things we do at work, but we had an event today, and it really was refreshing and a reminder of how I can love my job, and see that we are actually making a difference, which is pretty incredible. We watched this incredible video here:

It’s a bit long, but it is seriously incredible. I think it does a fantastic job of providing some explanation about how this particular population has such a horrific infection rate, and why it is quite literally invisible at a higher political level.

I will say that one of the biggest differences between 2006, when this piece was filmed, and today is President Barack Obama.  He is part black, and that doesn’t hurt, but he has, for whatever reason, created a National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which is the very first of its kind.  We discussed today how Bush funded $48 billion toward the global fight against HIV, and any country receiving any of that funding needed a national strategy/policy in place; we in the United States never had one until 2010.  Incredible.  But really, I highly recommend the piece on AIDS in Black American–it’s really well done and informative.


Things I am doing this month

I made no New Year’s resolutions, so instead, I am making some February resolutions.

  • organizing & taming my articles

I have TONS of articles on Instapaper and Google Reader that I still haven’t read.  It’s hard to keep up when I get like, 200 every friggin’ day.  But I try.  So I want to cut down to those I really want to read, and read the ones I really want.

  • organizing & taming my passwords

I’ve been using LastPass for quite some time now.  If you haven’t used anything to store your passwords, it is pretty spectacular–it securely saves your passwords, personal information, etc in a portable (but secure!!) way.  I have a bunch of repeat websites and want to put everything into folders, as well as change some passwords that have been around for waaaay too long.  Fun times.

  • continuing to run

Running has still been going pretty well, but I need to maintain. That’s all!

  • taking improv classes


  • getting more shit done

This mostly pertains to work.  I just want to be on top of shit.

  • complete and submit my taxes

Nothing more to say here…

  • Visit NC

Next weekend, I’m going to NC to see my family, and pick out bridesmaids dresses for my best friend’s, Rachel, wedding.  Yay (?)! Also get to see one of my cousins, who I have not seen in 22 years.  Talk about a lifetime…PLUS I’ll get to go to a Carolina basketball game.  Spectacular!

  • Tweet

I’m really trying, in earnest, to make this Twitter thing make sense.  I’ve even attached it to my Facebook account (then you know I mean business, right??).  Follow along if you wish….

So. Amazing.  <3!!  If you haven’t watched, you should.  It’s definitely a little deliberate and slow, but hilarious and charming and pleasant.  Brilliant!

  • Clean

The apartment must be cleaned.  I don’t even want to express how ridiculous it is that that has to be on this list.  Whatever.  I buy toilet paper regularly.  That should count for something, right??


I am super excited about this most treacherously cold of months.  I feel so lucky that I have so much to look forward to, and have figured out a way to look forward to it.  Life truly is amazing.

The Up Side to Work

I bet you think I mean getting paid. Hah! No, you probably don’t. Because you know me. And you know how much I care about that [which is some, but not so much].

Last week, someone tested positive with our rapid test. He was extraordinarily upset. Almost fainted. I had to come in and calm him down, and he didn’t even want to get it confirmed because he thought his relationship was over and just totally and utterly destroyed. I calmed him down and took him to the lab to get confirmatory blood drawn myself. He was the first person I was directly dealing with who had just found out he/she was positive. It was not happy. But I managed to convince him to get it confirmed, and calm him down and we had a Social Worker come in to make sure he wouldn’t hurt himself.

The confirmatory test came back the next day, which, as it usually does, meant that it was nonreactive. But he was high risk (says one of our providers–I was a bit skeptical, but that’s a conversation for another day). So the provider ordered another test that would tell us, definitively, whether the patient had been infected at all, including if it were recent (days–the other test doesn’t say definitively whether someone is negative until 3 months after infection). The test came back on Thursday, and it turns out he is not infected. !! This is super exciting. Today, I got to tell him myself. And he was so relieved. And now he knows that his boyfriend would accept him, even if he were positive. Which has got to mean something about their relationship, and he probably actually feels MORE secure in it. AND he asked for condoms today. So, he’s trying to be safer. Yay! The whole story makes me so happy–from calming him down, telling him it would be alright, and then him turning out to be definitively negative. It’s so happy, and something that we rarely see. It’s so much more often where the person is upset, and then spends all this time trying to accept their status, and it causing all sorts of issues in terms of medication adherence and stuff. So it is really fantastic to have a happy story. I felt for this man (boy? He’s 22). He was so distraught about what this meant for his relationship. And I am so so so happy for him that this is behind him. It’s great to be able to say to someone, Hope to NOT see you around! Lovely.

Otherwise, I’m exhausted. DC this weekend, and I need it. I get to see family and my friend Cayley. Hopefully it’ll be warmer. And I’m taking off Friday and Monday to be able to go and have a relaxed, full weekend.

I Save Lives

I’ve been hanging out with lots of film people, as I mentioned. This has been a fascinating experience. On the one hand, these folks are more similar to me in background-like ways. They are upper-middle class in upbringing. Often from other states, so far away from their families, and not afraid to move far away from their families. They’re well-educated and thoughtful. They are white, privileged.

But their life choices are quite different. They have chosen to follow their dreams, dreams that surely some people told them they were crazy to go after. And they all just act like it’s normal. Given, these are mostly Tisch graduates, so far away from the uncertainty of freshman year, when I’m sure it was simply refreshing to find other people who believed in their “crazy” dreams and making them a reality. The people with no talent have been weeded out. These are the chosen, in some sense. Sure, they still have to work their butts off to make it, but the attitude is not star-struck. They’re just living their lives and making their dreams happen. You know.

I’ve realized that there is a (little) part of me that is way jealous. These people are going after something that is damned near impossible. And sort of succeeding. It’s like everything I never thought could happen. My roommate, Catrin, pointed out, though, that they’ve all given up a lot to be there (including money), and she added that when she arrived, she was so relieved to be around people who weren’t telling her no, weren’t telling her she should give up on her dreams.

And it’s made me realize that I really am living my dream–I wanted an interesting, challenging job in public health in New York City, to work with data and quality of service. I am totally doing all of that. How is has made me realize that is seeing people who work in this star-studded field be so whatever about their work. Not that they’re not excited, or that it isn’t awesome, but it has become normal, because anything that you do regularly becomes your norm.

My roommate Sam always tells people that I save lives. And technically, it’s sort of true. I coordinate a program that finds sick people and helps them find a doctor and other services that have the ability to prevent the disease they have from being fatal. That’s saving a life, since otherwise, they’d die of this disease. Additionally, people who don’t know they’re infected with HIV are much more likely to pass it on. So I’m saving their partners as well.

But it feels so silly when he says that, because it’s just what I do every day. And because I am mostly just making the program possible, not actually testing people. I guess, though, that actually does more, since I’m allowing testing to be available to more people (especially considering my role in our integrated testing initiative).

What I always tell Sam and other film people, though, is that I also need them. I need the entertainment that films and television shows provide. We all play a role in the world as we know it. And it’s funny, I’ve felt this since I started with AmeriCorps and people had this similar, “oh, wow! You’re such a Good Person” reaction–it makes me so uncomfortable! I guess because it feels like praise I don’t deserve. I’m not trying to be a good person. I’m just doing something interesting and helpful. And part of it I suppose it a judgement about other people. It upsets me that what I do is so good, instead of just normal. I believe it should just be what you do–you just help people. You just expect justice. I am no longer so naive as to believe that that is reality, at least not consciously, but part of me I suppose holds onto the belief that if I just function in a way that is noble, without looking at it really as noble, and if I just expect others to be positive and create justice in their lives, it will create a culture of “good” and justice.

My intention is not mainly to influence others, but I do expect to. We are, after all, social beings, and whatever we do regularly (and see regularly) becomes our norm.