When tragedy wiped my sense of self clean, I reconstructed an identity from scratch. So what left and what remained?

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I read a lot of Silicon Valley Twitter these days. Masters of the tech universe have interesting points of view, to say the least. Recently there’s been growing chatter about self-optimization, the process of turning your body and mind into an efficient machine, accomplishable by a technique known as “shedding limiting beliefs.” Reprogram your limiting beliefs, these tech Gods say, and you will have the secret to success. Banish the self-sabotaging parts of your consciousness and reveal the empowering Self that remains.

This topic — the deliberate culling of Self — has been a pertinent issue for me since 2016…


We’re ready to make money moves

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Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

Perhaps you’ve heard of cryptocurrency. It’s been in the news a bit lately. You may have heard it hit $500 billion* in valuation earlier this year. Or that it could top $1 trillion by the end of 2018.

In the Bay Area, you could say we’ve heard of crypto. Or more accurately, you could say we’re obsessed.

Like Godwin’s law for online discussions, San Francisco now has a Satoshi Law — within 10 minutes of the start of any conversation, crypto will be brought up in some capacity. Stroll down Market Street on a weekday and you’ll overhear talk of…


Stories allow us to see the world as it is now, envision a better reality and take steps to make it happen

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Credit: Wired

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

When I was seven months pregnant — the first of three pregnancies to make it that far — I went to a class about childbirth. It was held in a yoga studio in an idyllic part of Brooklyn, and the room was filled with women and their partners chatting about everything except the one thing we all had on our minds: fear.

Every one of us had heard horror stories about giving birth…


I’m new to the Bay Area, but after 13 years in New York City I know how to find a juicy conversation. And this past weekend, there were too many to count. BBQs and parties were abuzz with discussions of the firings and resignations of multiple Silicon Valley power players following reports that they sexually harassed female entrepreneurs.

In the discussions I witnessed, I noticed a few patterns. Many men, most of whom either knew the male actors involved or knew of them, expressed a mix of shock, dismay and confusion (“That’s not the guy I know” was a common…


To beat the cynicism and prove its social commitment, the site will need to put its pageviews where its mouth is

You have to hand it to Upworthy. Never before has the Internet been so conflicted as to whether a website is the key to modern integrity or the centerpiece of digital-age cynicism. While sites like Buzzfeed may inspire the same level of ire (while continuing their steady rise in pageviews), no other site has upended the online media landscape quite so fast, or with such a fervent declaration that they’re doing it all for our own good.

There’s no denying that the brand has reached scary ubiquity, with its writing style that evokes a thousand “smarm” cries, heartstring-pulling videos, and…


The New York Times has devoted many a headline to How Women Act Now. Most recently, the paper dispatched reporter Kate Taylor to interview sixty or so female students at the University of Pennsylvania about their sex and/or relationship lives (rarely did the two seem to overlap). The students, almost all of whom spoke anonymously, talk about how there’s very little dating and lots of hooking up, and plenty of dissatisfaction with both. Some of the women are ruthless in their determination not to let a relationship slow down their rising GPAs and resume-building. The star of the story is…


Weiner and Spitzer, Spitzer and Weiner. Since the notorious Love Gov announced his candidacy for comptroller this week, Eliot Spitzer and his just-as-disgraced peer, Anthony Weiner, have been portrayed as a solid unit, a set of evil twins in the New York electoral landscape. One is seldom mentioned in the press without the other — despite the fact that they’re running for different offices that have almost nothing to do with each other. The mayor of New York is, well, the mayor of New York: There are few higher profile and higher impact jobs in the country. Comptroller, as Frank…


I’m one of those people who gets attached — to my neighbor, to my friend’s dog, to the guy with the cowlick I see on the subway every day. And, especially, to my coworkers. I have no ability to keep business, “business only.” I cannot be happy in a work environment unless I’m surrounded by people to whom I feel a sense of attachment, connection, and loyalty. As for the people I don’t get along with — well, I get attached to them too (sometimes even more so — twisted, I know).

Unfortunately, the stepladder in my profession does not…


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Horror movies are beset with misconceptions, the greatest being: “How can you watch those things!? They’re all fatuous violence and gratuitous boobs!” Which is kindof like saying, “How can you read those feminist blogs?! They’re all alluvial deposits of man-hating penis envy!”

The truth is that the horror canon, like any other film group, contains a vast spectrum of work ranging from smack-somebody awfulness to transcendence. The only thread holding it all together is that every horror film DEMANDS something of you — that you abandon the safe, bucolic cognition of your daily reality and confront the darker aspects of…


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When you’re making a horror movie, the hard part is always human diversity — you have to trigger fear for the largest number of people, which is tough since we’re all a slightly different brand of crazy. Sometimes filmmakers go too specific — targeting agoraphobics, or those random people with papaphobia (uncontrollable fear of the Pope) or even the weirdos who shriek at the sight of wet bread. This tactic always fails. The trick is to find an element of the human psyche that’s ALWAYS ready to be freaked out. Which is what the Paranormal Activity series has done so…

Melissa Lafsky

Burned to the ground. Rose from the ashes. Took a long shower.

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