Elizabeth Spiers

journalist & digital media expert

It Happened to Me!: Email Scam Number 208

I’ve had people impersonate me online before, but this one of the more bizarre ones: I just got an email from a woman inquiring about whether I had made her a job offer, and she rightly suspected that it wasn’t actually me. Below is the text of the email, and it’s coming from the domain, FossInfotech.net. So just FYI for anyone who gets email from the below and is Googling, I’m not hiring an “administrative representative assistant,” whatever that is.

From: <executive.director@fossinfotech.net>
Date: Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 10:17 PM
Subject: RE: Administrative Representative Assistant

Thank you for your submitted resume in receipt of your application for the advertised Administrative Support Representative position. I just reviewed your resume and believe that you have the relevant prerequisite to perform the duties involved the advertised position. You will be responsible for handling my personal and business errands at your spare time, though Administration experience is not necessary but enthusiasm is essential and you must be ready to learn with a dedicated spirit! You can take the job offer as a full time or part time job depending on your choice and the working hour will be between three to five hours daily which can be increased if you want and this will give you free time to go on with your regular job,
Below are the job descriptions as follows;
* Receive mails and process them
* Documentation of all incoming letters/emails.
* Maintain a high level of confidentiality.
* Run official errands
* Receive calls on my behalf
* Shopping on my behalf
* Book appointments on my behalf
* Flight bookings, E.t.c or any other reasonable duties that will be allocated to you.
* Respond to inquiries, concerns, issues, and comments regarding my services generated from incoming queue emails.
I am a Media Consultant & Journalist with variety of work and responsibilities as I have to research, write stories for national, regional and local press as well as news and political broadcast through associated media. My main duty is to cover effective news with proper evidences and send it to the news room where the news is being processed and broadcasted through news paper and electronic media.
My function, schedule is always extremely busy investigating stories before present it for publication which is the main reason I travel very often going to one location or the other. Consequently, I need an energetic, dedicated Administrative Support assistant to handle part of my schedule when I’m not in town due to the nature of my frequent traveling, Every instruction will be given to you via email and phone, thereafter meetapproximately every two week interval starting from the day you start the job.
Please kindly note that this position for highly motivated individual ready to join my team, the working hours are flexible scheduling at your discretion with remuneration salary of $27 per hour, benefits include are bonuses, health, dental insurance and Vacation. However, you are expected to answer the following questions below before we move further as your response would be used to evaluate your knowledge and readiness for this job offer.

*Give reasons on why I should hire you?
*How do you maintain/initiate a good relationship with clients?
*Have you been trusted with fund or information in the past?
* Have you ever worked as a personal assistant before?
* Are you taking this as a primary Job?
* Do you have professional reference(s)?
* What do you Understand by Privacy & Code of Conduct?
* Explain petty cash transactions?
*Your full names again?
*Your current place of work and Position?
* Are you willing to give your best shot while working with me?

You are expected to answer the eleven questions above and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any question.
I will appreciate your prompt response to confirm your interest in the position.
Yours Sincerely,Elizabeth Spiers

Hiring and New Launch

I’m back at work and gearing up to launch a new site for Flavorpill. Everup.com will be focused on personal development and cover a range of topics: productivity, creativity, wellness, skill acquisition and pop psychology. It will offer the usual array of tips and how to’s along with commentary, first person essays and longer form narratives about people and things that are happening in the space. Here are the initial positions I’m looking to fill:

Editor in Chief

Productivity and Leadership Development Editor/Writer

Wellness Editor/Writer

Social Media Editor

Interested candidates can apply via the links above.

Hello, World.



Update: Our son, Ford Philip Sederstrom, was born Tuesday, June 9th, clocking in at just an ounce under 8 lbs. He’s healthy and wonderful and we’re thoroughly enjoying our time off with him.

Out Of Office Until September

Admin note: I am scheduled to have a baby at 1:30pm on June 10th 12:30pm on June 9th. Our son, Ford Philip Sederstrom, will be arriving via c-section–unless he shrinks by a couple of pounds and simultaneously decides to move out of breech before then, in which case he will be arriving whenever he feels like it, or when the medical establishment tells me that his procrastination will no longer be tolerated. As the physical incubation of our lovely little urchin could not be easily outsourced or delegated to another [more competent] party, I will not be available for consulting work, brain-picking coffees, conference calls, etc., for several weeks after. Which doesn’t mean I won’t respond if you email me, but I can’t commit to working on anything that needs to get done before September. That said, I’m not fully committed for Fall at the moment (though I do have one new site launch scheduled already) so happy to talk about projects that start in Q4 or later–I just can’t start them until Q4 or later.

In the meantime, I will be taking involuntary lessons in sleep hacking, learning a new language (formal and colloquial Infant) and doing an independent study in the short term effects of various agricultural products and environmental variables on the consistency and composition of baby poop. I hope to learn much and am looking forward to it.

What Passes for Excellence

If you’re looking for housing in Silicon Valley, you may have come across the following listing for spots in a startup house/community of excellence outside of Stanford. Others have expressed thoughts about it, but what I think it’s really missing is a between-the lines interpretation of the requirements, which, according to at least one member of the house, are simply an amalgamation of the qualities “good” people in pursuit of “excellence” happen to have.

So to clear up any confusion about what infuriatingly vague words like “good” and “excellent” mean in this context, I have helpfully annotated the listing. Good luck, potential renter! Let me know if you get in!

[The original text of the listing is in bold type. My annotations are below.]

Welcome friends!

We’re building a community of excellence in one of the most impressive estates in Silicon Valley (125 Northgate Drive in Woodside). We believe that the right people in a place like this can make for a great environment, and geometric scaling of success for everybody.

You must:
– Have a top-class degree or job with a strong math/science requirementIf you couldn’t afford to go to a top-tier school because you didn’t have a full scholarship, your skills are irrelevant because we only care about credentialing. (Also, we’re all still in our 20s, so we naively think credentialing matters in the wider world because it’s the only grown up accomplishment we have under out belts at this point.)
– Exercise at least 15 hours in a normal week
We’re looking for people who are not “high maintenance”, by which we mean they only spend 2 to 3 hours a day exercising, as opposed to say, the full 40 or so professional bodybuilders spend.
– Commute by car less than 20% of the time (Bicycle commuter!)
If you have knee problems/disabilities/KIDS/asthma/a need to transport anything but yourself and a portable bag of goods anywhere for any reason most of the time, you cannot live here.
– Prefer organized systems and common rules We want people who value innovation… and conformity, as it applies to our house and what we want. But mostly conformity.
– Like petting dogs
Sure, you claim to be “allergic” but we know you’re just masking your obvious hatred of adorable puppies, you scumbag puppy-hater.

Why? Because we’ve been trying different things for a while, and these seem to be the common threads among ourselves, and the most successful and trustworthy people we’ve lived with before. We’re shooting for motivated and conscientious people. On the other hand, we also looked at traits exclusive to disappointing housemates.

This may not be the right place if you:
– Watch more than 4 hours of TV/movie/game entertainment per week

Even if you work for a gaming company, digital entertainment company, or, godforbid, would like to see two or more decent movies a week because you value being a cultured, interesting person whose media consumption extends beyond whatever’s on Hacker News at the moment.
– Have more than 1 tattoo
Some forms of self-expression are simply not allowed here. Especially harmless cosmetic ones that in no way affect your ability to think, do your job, interact with other human beings, etc. Oh, you have your late mother’s birthdate tattooed on your ankle? Well, she should have thought about the potential housing repercussions for you before she up and died!
– Have ever attended more than 1 protest
Goodness and excellence have nothing to do with being socially conscientious about anything. If you feel strongly enough about a social issue to protest, your sense of civic engagement will obviously interfere with your ability to make gobs of money via our world-changing, life-altering consumer-facing quantified poop app. And sorry, grandpa, you’re not going to elicit any empathy from us for going to the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation that one time. That was 1993 and you could have been learning C++ instead. And you’re too old for this house anyway.
– Make more than three posts a week to social media
This may be difficult if your app/project/job requires that you interact in any way with social media, which 99.999999% of your users do on a regular basis or if Facebook is your primary method of communicating with your relatives in Small Town, Iowa. But we like to impose arbitrary meaningless rules because controlling every aspect of your social and professional existence is important to us.
– Listen to a songs with explicit lyrics more than an once a day
We’re not sure you can handle “adult” language, and the artistic value of it is irrelevant for us. Disney soundtracks are fine, though. If anyone has any particularly good covers of “Let It Go,” please share. But not via social media. We already talked about that.
– Wear make-up more than twice a week
We don’t want women in the house, and we have so little exposure to them generally that we think women wear make up because they’re self-absorbed and high maintenance and not because men like us routinely judge them as “not being put together enough” in professional situations if they roll out of bed and don’t bother to fix their hair and face, or simply because they prefer to look a certain way for their own reasons the same way we prefer a certain haircut, a particular frame of glasses or the hideous novelty t-shirt we’re wearing right now. We love the “natural look” — on Karlie Kloss. But not you, normal looking female who we’d never by the way date, because, well, that acne is kind of a turnoff, and if you exercised more and hydrated regularly you probably wouldn’t have it anyway. Our 15-hour-a-week minimum gym routine, strong feelings about tattoos, etc. have nothing at all to do with our feelings about our own appearance, by the way. Nothing at all.
– Own any clothing, shoes, watches, or handbags costing over $500
But we reserve our right to buy gadgets, bikes, miscellaneous wearables, fees for physical training regimens well over that price point because valuing material things is only bad if we’re talking about apparel and accessories. You know, things women like. (No fashion startups, please.)
– Have bills that get paid by somebody else
No matter what your personal circumstances are, or whether you have a partner who’s willing to subsidize your dream of building something great and making cool things while you pay yourself a salary of zero dollars and work for sweat equity. If you can’t do it all by yourself financially, and/or are not independently wealthy enough to support yourself during this period of entrepreneurial salary famine, you’re an asshole.
– Drive a vehicle that was given to you by your parents
Even if the Blue Book value of said vehicle is $0 and you’ve had that piece of shit Chevy Nova since you were 17. It’s fine if your parents paid for your college education, as ours likely did, but if they managed to help you commute and move from place to place during that time at no great cost, well, that’s just crossing a line. But we’re fine if they gave you a bike. BIKE COMMUTERS 4EVA.
– Get regular spending money or gifts from your parents
No birthday, holiday, etc. presents or thoughtful gestures that involve the transfer of objects, however sentimental and significant from your parental units. Independence is not about self-reliance, it’s about how much you can reject affectionate and well-meaning gestures from people who love you.
– Have more than one internet app date per week
Your personal life is completely unimportant in this context, unless we’re talking about social outings with your newfound roommates, which you will be expected to attend. If you consider having a human romantic partner a reasonable or desirable life goal when we’re only a few years away from sex bots with advanced AI, you have failed to fully envision the ideal future that technological advancement will bring us.
– Have a complex diet that requires lots of refrigerator space
Allergies? Keeping kosher? Have celiac disease? Diabetic? So, so sorry. But Paleo is fine. We’re all doing Paleo. And Costco-sized tubs of protein powder are fine space-wise because you don’t have to keep them in the fridge.
– Drink alcohol more than 3 drinks per week
We realize this may be difficult, Gary Vee, but this wine business is really just a distraction, right? Rules are rules. And everyone knows that 3+ drinks a week = severe alcoholic.
– Use marijuana more than twice a year
GATEWAY DRUG. Nancy Reagan said so when I was three.
– Have been prescribed anything by a psychiatrist more than once
Some of us are secretly Scientologists and view needing psychiatric help as a sign of moral weakness, or a general propensity for bad luck resulting in traumatic experiences that might warrant that sort of help. We’re worried that it might be contagious. Sexual assault victim? Veteran with some not-so-pleasant combat experience? Your dad beat the crap out of you as a kid? If you were smarter and stronger, let’s face it, you’d find a way to power through it without professional help. May we suggest some nice, therapeutic cycling? In fact, we read this a few years ago and wondered why everyone mentioned therein was not immediately banned from the industry. (And go fuck yourself, Brad Feld, you loser-y non-excellent bad person.)
– Use any other drug more than twice in your entire life
Curiosity about life experiences should not extend to pharmaceuticals under any circumstances because again, we traffic in arbitrary boundaries of control that are reflections of our personal prejudices and not indicative of wider realms of logic and rational thinking. If Steve Jobs were still alive, he’d be banned from this house. Just imagine how much more he could have accomplished if he’d never taken acid during those trips to India. The iWatch might have shipped earlier!

But really, folks, what we’re talking about here is character. We may be judgmental people with superficial standards that are ludicrously arbitrary and come from a place of extreme privilege (though we’d like to point out that our parents don’t write us any checks now — Stanford tuition doesn’t count in our book) and it may seem on first glance that we have no empathy for normal human beings who are not physically perfect and have onerous lifestyle requirements like weird diets, not being able to commute by bike, vaginas, etc., but excellence is really not about things like being a decent human being or producing high quality work or doing healthy rational things to address flaws and problems you do have.

We’d also like to point out that this is no way indicative of what some have characterized as a “toxic” culture in Silicon Valley that values superficial lifestyle choices and aesthetics, or “culture fit”, over baseline talent and worth ethic, and is so oblivious to the myriad of ways in which it is exclusionary and mindlessly conformist that it makes the stodgiest elements of the financial and legal professions look like egalitarian wonderlands of diversity, creativity and innovation.

We believe this because we are children who do not yet understand that the most impressive and innovative human beings are often precisely the ones who fail to conform and in many cases draw their strength from having struggled with and overcome personal flaws and challenges, some of them not even of their own making, because we view ourselves as having none of the former, and having so far avoided the latter. We’re also happy to be complete hypocrites about materialism in any form, touting the virtues of living in a place that we’re literally terming a “castle” while condemning expensive handbags in which we have no interest because we have penises, (and our Freitag messenger bag was only $300 at most and we’ve installed solar panels in it to charge our devices, so really, there’s utility there.)

We do want to buy a Tesla at some point, though. For the eco-friendly-ness.

Hiring: Casper

I’m working on a new site owned by Casper, the red-hot new mattress startup that’s based here in NYC. The site will cover all aspects of sleep and various nocturnal adventures and is helmed by editor in chief Jeff Koyen, most recently of Digiday, and formerly the editor of The New York Press during its heyday.

We’re looking to hire an editor with managerial chops, a couple of staff writers and a social media guru for the founding team, and job descriptions are below. Interested parties can send resumes and cover letters* to me at espiersATgmail.com. All positions are full-time, in New York, and come with a generous benefits package.

(*Do not skip the cover letter, or we’ll assume you loathe writing and are therefore not a good candidate for a job that involves quite a bit of it.)


UNTITLED NEW WEB PROJECT (UNWP) is an upcoming publication dedicated to the subject of sleep and wakefulness. As one-third of our lives, sleep informs more than just our time in the bedroom — it critically impacts our daytime, too. We’re hiring a social media editor to ensure UNWP’s editorial reaches the best audience across the right social media channels.

Sharing is central to our publishing strategy, but it’s more than just A/B-testing headlines. UNWP needs a sharp, creative individual who understands how to rework editorial in dynamic ways. An investigative feature, for example: How to rework it for Tumblr vs. Facebook vs. Twitter? You must know when to react to relevant news in the UNWP voice, when to surface our own editorial to add to the conversation and, perhaps most importantly, when to keep quiet.

With your help, UNWP will own the conversation around sleep and wakefulness.

The social media editor will also write. You are expected to contribute ideas, both for yourself and to be assigned out. You will work with other staffers to shepherd their own stories from the pitch through publication, with an eye toward packaging from the assignment’s inception.

• At least four years’ experience as a social media editor, preferably for a news organization;
• Vanguard knowledge of new social media channels and, crucially, the strengths and weaknesses of each vis-a-vis editorial distro;
• The highest journalistic ethics and grammatical standards, and a fierce dedication to the stylebook;
• Ability and urge to work collaboratively on a small team;
• Hands-on skills with Photoshop and whatever other software you need to create social editorial (you are your own creative department);
• Complete confidence with analytics and the know-how to amplify on-the-fly; and
• Clean track record of not publishing a stupid personal tweet to the company account because you lost track of your Tweetdeck windows.

This is a full-time, NYC-based job with a competitive salary and wonderful benefits in a lively, energetic atmosphere. The UNWP team is ensconced within the Casper offices, where no one goes hungry for lack of snacks.
About Our Company UNTITLED NEW WEB PROJECT is a new lifestyle publication dedicated to exploring our relationship with sleep and how our daytime hours can be improved by examining the nights. It is published by Casper (casper.com), and edited by veteran journalist Jeff Koyen.


We’re hiring a senior editor to help manage the departmental workflow, and also contribute original reporting on a daily basis. This is a founding position on the team that acts as the editor-in-chief’s right hand.

First and foremost, you must be an experienced workflow master. You must have command over all moving parts, from outstanding copy to overdue invoices. Paperwork and analytics are to be tackled with good cheer and efficiency.

You will also write. Our work ranges from daily posts to longer features, and you must be comfortable publishing your own clean first drafts. You will generate ideas on a daily basis, and you know when to personally take on assignments and when to delegate. You edit others’ work confidently, and you live for the style guide, but you also protect the writer’s voice.

• At least four years’ experience as senior or managing editor with hands-on workflow/admin experience;
• Impeccable organizational skills, with zero resentment for the paperwork that comes with running an editorial department;
• Ability and urge to work collaboratively on a small team;
• The highest journalistic ethics and grammatical standards, and a fierce dedication to the stylebook;
• Confidence and skill to file clean first drafts quickly and on deadline;
• Wide-ranging media consumption with a knack for uncovering stories before they’ve broken too widely, and the instincts to add fresh spins;
• Love for analytics and good cheer when preparing weekly performance reports; and
• Grace under pressure.


We’re hiring a staff writer to take on “sleep” as his/her beat. This is actually the first of two or more staff writers at UNWP, and a founding position on the team. As such, you will have a great role in shaping our voice and determining how we’ll introduce UNWP to a wide audience.

You will be expected to post a minimum of four posts a day including one short reported/original content piece. Your typical workload might be: a short Q&A or reported news item (300-400 words, daily), two to three short aggregation/commentary posts (150-300 words, daily) and four additional posts over the course of the week, including one opinion column (800 words) and three short slideshows or lists. You will also produce one reported long-form feature each month (2000+ words).

Because we’re a small editorial team, you must be an idea machine with good news judgment and clean first drafts. You should understand when a subject warrants in-depth investigation and when it’s just a blog post. You have a clear voice, a sharp tongue and a good sense of humor.

Sleep is a wide-ranging, all-encompassing topic that can be approached from many angles. Accordingly, we’re looking for writers with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We need reporters to comb through scientific journals for fascinating insights, and also news fiends who can spot editorial diamonds in the rough. Don’t be afraid to say where you fit on this spectrum.

• At least two years’ experience as a staff or freelance writer;
• Ability to file clean first drafts quickly and on deadline;
• Ability and urge to work collaboratively on a small team;
• Nose for uncovering curious, odd and otherwise compelling stories from unexpected sources;
• The highest journalistic ethics and grammatical standards, and a fierce dedication to the stylebook;
• An understanding of the most commonly used analytics (or at least an eagerness to learn them); and
• Did we mention a good sense of humor?

Still Here

So I didn’t give up on blogging, nor have I fallen off the face of the earth. But I’ve been hibernating for a bit.

First of all, the last two months have been been tough. In mid-February, my younger brother Philip died unexpectedly at the age of 36 of a heart attack. I process grief slowly and largely by distracting myself with other things so I don’t confront it all at once. In my case, that generally means burying myself in work or outside projects and dealing with it piecemeal.

And I already had a pretty big distraction: as I’ve mentioned here before, pregnancy has been a bit of an ordeal for me, and I’ve felt physically terrible for most of it. There have been new (pain in the ass) symptoms nearly every month, most recently a gestational diabetes diagnosis that’s largely unexpected because I have absolutely no risk factors for it. (The last thing that sent my glucose levels soaring? A quinoa salad. QUINOA.) Fatigue and nausea have been constants, and I’ve had to learn how to manage my own energy levels and not be in denial about what constitutes overextending myself when my body is incapable of doing what it could 8 months ago. Last week it landed me in labor & delivery with early contractions likely caused by overexertion and dehydration–and by overexertion, I mean I had my usual 4 or 5 meetings a day in three different locations and the subway travel that entails–which to non-pregnant me would be a piece of cake.

So I’ve had to backburner some stuff I want to be working on, which is hard for me to do temperamentally, and as someone who values autonomy and independence more than almost anything, grudgingly admit that I need help with some things. And blogging is one of the things that got backburnered, as I narrowed focus by necessity.

That said, I’m working on a new site about sleep with Casper, and have some hiring needs there, so will post about that in a bit. And I’m also changing up my consulting mix in the fall and creating a practice that focuses on training and developing young managers (which is a large part of what I do already). I’m excited about that, and will talk about it here when the plan is a little more baked.

And I’ll probably give blogging a try again when some of this blows over.

DIY Your Own Indie Pub

Quick link: I had a long conversation on Friday with an acquaintance about what it takes to start a lightweight indie pub and pointed her to ModelViewCulture co-founder Amelia Greenhall’s post “Start Your Own Brand: Everything I Know About Starting Collaborative Feminist Publications.” It’s comprehensive but digestible. Not everything is strictly necessary (working outside of your home for example, is a “nice to have” but not a necessity in my opinion) but it covers all the bases, and is largely applicable to any kind of indie publication, collaborative feminist or no. The business models might differ a bit if you’re a for-profit enterprise, but it’s a good setup for a low overhead operation.

I don’t think everyone should be an entrepreneur professionally, but I recommend doing something entrepreneurial at some point in your career. It can be deeply satisfying, and running something you own is very different from having any sort of traditional job, even if it’s one you love.

How Do You Feel?

When women who’ve had kids find out I’m pregnant, this is the first question they ask. It’s appreciated, because after you read small libraries’ worth of pregnancy literature about the myriad of things that can go wrong and the damage the whole process can and does inflict on your body–all with the caveat “it may be a little uncomfortable and possibly life-threatening for you, but don’t worry, the baby is fine“–you start to feel a little dehumanized. Sure, you feel like death warmed over, but congratulations, lady, you’re doing fine fulfilling your primary role in life, which is physical incubator. All of these things that would be taken seriously as health issues were you not pregnant (or that would at least engender a modicum of empathy) are things that “can happen”, and the general prescription is to suck it up.

Of course, hearing that the baby is fine is wonderful, and as an eternal pessimist I’m pleasantly surprised at every test that comes back reporting that our son appears to be completely healthy and normal. I attribute this to my own caveman-like mystification that my body is capable of incubating another human and even seems to know what it’s doing. Or at any rate, it’s muddling through enough that the baby is developing properly so far.

But I will say this, five months in: if there were some alternate way to safely and healthily incubate a baby besides growing one in my uterus, I’d probably opt for it. I’m not convinced that we are so evolutionarily evolved that every part of this process is both necessary and beneficial, much less totally optimized. But I don’t think that’ll happen in my lifetime, so we’re back to suck it up, mama.

So here is how I feel: like crap a lot of the time. Less crappy than I did four weeks ago, when life consisted of minutes dragging by while I willed myself not to vomit–which is living in the moment in the worst sort of way. But the supposed second trimester return of energy, appetite, etc. isn’t really happening for me, which is apparently not that unusual. Non-stop nausea has been replaced by exciting new side effects–most recently, out of nowhere blood sugar drops and near blackouts that mercifully have not yet resulted in me bashing my skull against anything. Plus an assortment of other physical symptoms that I don’t even want to go into.

I don’t think my experience is that unusual, though I know plenty of women who had bliss-filled pregnancies with no morning sickness and normal if not surplus amounts of energy and no issues. But I’m struck by how taboo it is to just acknowledge that it’s not going that way for you. That frankly, it’s not very pleasant at all and you’re not particularly enjoying it. And I feel like I’ve dodged a lot of bullets so far. I didn’t have this, and don’t have this or this. I also have a supportive and empathetic husband who’s done his best to try to understand the essential weirdness and potential unpleasant ramifications of walking around all day with a live human being living in your body–and perhaps because he has the imagination to do so, says that he’s also very grateful that he will never ever have to do it himself.

But when other women have confessed to me that their pregnancies were difficult–and in more than one case, that they absolutely hated being pregnant–it’s always in whispered tones and with an air of apology. There’s a lot of cultural pressure to put on a happy face because why would anyone be less than ecstatic about this process, which so obviously ultimately results in … a baby!

The implication seems to be that if you don’t find pregnancy itself a wonderful experience that it’s somehow reflective of how you feel about the baby, or the responsibilities and implications of motherhood. Don’t find every minute bliss-filled and blessed? You must not want a child badly enough, or be grateful enough that you’re getting one.

There’s a bit of a cultural notion that women have to be martyrs to be good mothers. This is stupid and demeaning. Suffering is not inherently virtuous, and embracing it does not make you a better parent.**

As an adoptee, I’ll even go a bit further and say I don’t think physical pregnancy is necessary at all for healthy mother-child bonding. Maybe it creates pleasant memories for some people, but I don’t think that’s a given. And anecdotally, I don’t think my parents love me any less than my two brothers who were not adopted simply because they didn’t participate in my physical gestation. (Maybe this is a happy delusion on my part, but I genuinely believe it.)

So I’m just going to say it: I don’t like being pregnant. Most days I feel like I’m recovering from the flu after a two and a half month severe hangover. And I’m thrilled that we’re having a baby and grateful that he’s healthy. These things are not contradictory.

Shorter “how do you feel?”: like shit! And very excited! At the same time!

So here’s an offer: if you happen to be pregnant right now and it’s painful for you, feel free to email me and get it off your (probably recently and possibly painfully enlarged) chest. I will not view you as a walking incubator or imply that you should just suck it up. In my experience, just being able to say “I am not enjoying this” helps a tiny bit.

Pregnancy can also be very isolating and it’s good to know that you’re not alone when parts of it are difficult.

** As a lapsed Southern Baptist, I’m inclined to think this is a particularly Judeo-Christian notion: suffering is noble, character building, etc. But I’m inclined to agree with Meghan Daum and the Buddha: suffering is often pointless and should be avoided.

VIP (Very Important Plant) Update

Four months in: The money tree is still alive and I’ve only managed to kill one of the succulents. (Apparently, you have to water them more frequently when your radiator heat is drying out everything in the house, including yourself, your husband and your cat.)