The 2022 digital detox

I mentioned it in posts last year, but my holiday break wasn’t any old break. I took the three and half days at my parents’ house to disconnect from all social media and news and do literally anything else.

To be honest, the digital detox was the best part of my 11-day holiday break.

I’ve mentioned this before, but over the past few years I’ve had a problem with constantly checking in for new content online, always looking for the newest dopamine fix. That fix never lasts long, which means the hunt continues for the next big fix. There’s always another thing to be found. And another. And another.

I was doing this even in my supposed relaxing time. Even when I was having fun in my interactions, there was always an inner fear of missing something new, not being the first to find out something. FOMO, but for everything digital. It became a nightmare and the exact opposite of relaxing. It’s strange how zoning out can have the opposite effect.

Any attempts to improve my relationship with the internet and being the first to know everything required a hard reset, so I used the holiday break at my parents’ house in the middle of nowhere to perform that hard reset. The rules: no Twitter, no Discord, no news, no other social media. I removed Twitter and Discord from my home screen and replaced them with more productive pursuits (Duolingo, the weather). I didn’t go hardcore and uninstall the apps altogether so I would have a nuclear option if needed.

The purists might say that this wasn’t a pure digital detox since I still let myself use my phone and other electronics, but something strange happened.


Charlotte Pokemon regionals, or how I got gud in two weeks

I’ve played in Silph tournaments since PVP came out, where I’ve consistently reached Ace since season 2. I dabble in Go Battle League but have never tried to reach Legend for two reasons: one, because GBL is a commitment and I have other hobbies, and two, I strongly prefer pick six formats and chatting with my opponents over malding alone at pocket monster battles.

After going 1-2 in Orlando with zero practice and 2-2 in Knoxville with only a little practice, I had almost a whole month to prepare for Charlotte. Even though Toxapex was my MVP in Knoxville (and I felt justified with the rise of double fairy teams), it was also very hard to build around. I ditched my neon Bastiodon the week before Charlotte for a team of Medicham, Galarian Stunfisk, shadow Alolan Ninetales, Lickitung, Noctowl, and Lanturn.

The end result? 4-2 and finishing one win short of my stacked group’s lower bracket semifinals. That’s a significant improvement so let’s talk about the three big things that went into it.


Why the Eisenhower matrix sucks

I love productivity methods, and I’ve spent far too much time evaluating which one fits my lifestyle best.

Lately my problem has been that all the non-urgent things that will eventually be urgent if you don’t take care of them in a timely manner.

Then there are the things I want to do for home improvement at some point with no real deadline, like figure out how to make my closets a little nicer and hang my NaNo posters and replace the track lights in my kitchen and over my desk. (Step one: figure out what type of lighting to put there.)

The Eisenhower matrix categorizes items into four categories based on the answers to two questions:

Is this important? That is, does completing this task satisfy some goal of yours, short-term or long-term?

Is this urgent? That is, does this task need to be done as soon as possible?

The answers to these questions let you categorize your tasks into four sections, according to proponents:

Important and urgent – these are impending deadlines, a broken air conditioner in the middle of summer. These are the items to take care of ASAP.

Important and not urgent – these are long-term hobbies, personal development, substantial home improvement, and most of the “I should do this at some point” items. These are the items to schedule and do.

Not important and urgent – these are the urgency effect items, the notifications. In theory these are the items to delegate.

Not important and not urgent – these are the time wasters that in theory give you no real value. In theory these are the items to just not do.

There are dozens of articles out there singing the praises of this matrix in professional and personal life. This post is not one of them.

If you’re using this matrix in your professional life, this system might works fine, especially if you can delegate a lot of the unimportant stuff. But I don’t buy that a regular middle-class person can delegate their way through their personal lives, especially a single person without much social support or spare income. That’s because some of the categorization of regular life maintenance from productivity blogs is detached from reality.

Let’s talk about the “important but not urgent” category. This category contains a lot of regular adulting items that aren’t immediate but will become pretty damn immediate if they aren’t taken care of at some point. Not renewing my passport will become a real problem when I have to turn down a cool international trip for that reason alone. Not applying for a homestead exemption will become a real problem when property tax payment time comes and I have to pay a lot more as a result.

Hobbies that contribute to long-term goals are usually in this part of the matrix. The goal of this matrix, proponents say, is to spend most of your time in this quadrant, the long-term goals area. But that’s not realistic for many people, and not just because we live in the age of distraction.

The “not important but urgent” category also contains a lot of adulting items, the category that these blogs like to label as “delegate”. Some of these items are technically delegatable. You can get groceries and essentials delivered. You can hire a cleaning person. You can also just not clean. But at some point these items catch up to you, and delegating any of these comes with a price tag. Delegating all of these is for the wealthy only, and this is where proponents of the Eisenhower matrix start to show their privilege; after all, Eisenhower himself had a staff to delegate to. Not everyone has this luxury.

Besides, getting groceries does satisfy a short-term goal of mine: the one of continuing to be alive and healthy, doubly so since I usually walk to and from the store.

A more realistic solution is to batch these boring adulting items. My approach to batching is to meal prep so I have five or six meals in the freezer at once. I’m extremely lucky to have a Flex Friday every month that I typically use to batch errands and other boring maintenance so I can take advantage of regular business hours, but not everyone is that lucky. For most people (me included), the “not important but urgent” category is filled with notifications and social media updates and things other people want them to do. Unless that notification is from someone coordinating something happening soon, it’s probably not immediate.

And then there’s the “not important and not urgent” category. Items I’ve seen in this category include mindless social media scrolling (fine, this one can live here), sorting through junk mail (uhhh), and other items that give you no real benefit.

According to this matrix my Pokemoning adventures would go to category four, not important and not urgent, and therefore I should just delete it, but look. Sometimes we just want to have fun, and my Pokemon hobby has improved my social life, which is important to me. Living your entire life in the other quadrants obsessed with productivity and goals means never letting go and having fun, and that becomes a problem when you get burned out on those goals and hobbies. Trust me, I know I have. Look at how Wikiwrimo barely got updated for a couple of years.

Sometimes you have to live a little, you know? Proponents will tell you that there shouldn’t be too many items in any section so that you aren’t overwhelmed.

If this method works for you, great, but it’s definitely not for me.


So you wanna get a bisalp: The protips the pre-op doesn’t tell you

A few people in my extended social circles have asked me about my permanent sterilization experience, and I wrote so much that it turned into two posts. You can read my lived experience in the previous post here.

Let’s get to the practical parts, the frequently asked questions that no one ever seems to answer unless you go into the depths of the internet. I’m going to get down and dirty here.


The road to sterilization

There have been a few times when I thought about children, but those reasons are the worst possible. On the few occasions I found myself wondering what it would like to be a parent, I realized I would want to raise any child of mine to be a more accomplished version of myself, succeeding at all the things I wasn’t the very best at, giving them all the opportunities that could have turned my life around sooner.

Notice there’s nothing about having love to give a child, or wanting the experience of bringing up a decent human, or wanting to nurture a family.

And to be honest… I don’t like babies. They’re loud and disrupt your entire life and their crying is like squeaky chalk. Kids are fine when you can talk to them and have conversations in complete sentences. But you have to get through the infant and toddler years first and that takes way too much energy that I could be devoting to other interests. And almost all cases of having a child involve being pregnant, and that’s a major squick of mine.

On top of that, a hypothetical child now has to deal with political extremism, school shootings, and a planet that will look totally different by the time they’re old for reasons that have nothing to do with them. Republican lawmakers enjoy attacking reproductive rights even though the general public agrees that abortion should be allowed at least some of the time.

Before now, my primary method of birth control was abstinence. I haven’t dated that much, I don’t get the big deal about sex, and I’m this close to giving up on allocishet men altogether. I spent nearly ten years of my adult life with low job security and no health insurance, so obtaining birth control long-term was iffy at best. Up to this point I’ve been picky enough about who I date that I haven’t run into anyone who flat-out refuses to wrap it up. But as I entered my mid-30s and right-wing legislatures started enacting abortion restriction laws, I knew it was time for permanent voluntary sterilization. For uterus-havers the gold standard is no longer clipping or tying the fallopian tubes but straight-up removing them, also known as a bilaterial salpingectomy. So let’s talk about my experience and recovery.

Before getting started, I should acknowledge my privilege here. I’m a college-educated cis white-passing-ish woman with a job that makes me sound fancy and intelligent. I have good health insurance. I’m reasonably well-spoken. I knew the name of the most common procedure (bilateral salpingectomy, or bisalp for short). And the big one for this situation: I was 35 at my initial consultation, when age-related pregnancy risks start coming into play.

With all that in mind, here’s my sterilization experience.