goodbye facebook, adios instagram

Goodbye Facebook, Adios Instagram

I decided to remove myself from the vise-like grip of Facebook, Instagram, and Google permanently. It’s Lent, and Catholics typically give up something for 40 days as a sign of sacrifice and to test our self-discipline, just as Jesus did when He went into the desert before His eventual death on the cross. I decided to take it one step further and do something that’s been in the back of my mind for ages.

Cybersecurity should always be a concern, especially in 2021. How many times have Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook – and by extension, Instagram – let us down?

I’ll miss seeing cute pictures of dogs in my Instagram feed, and maybe a pithy status update from a distant friend occasionally, but I realized that I’ll be fine. I followed as many people as I could on Twitter, but I’m surprised how many brands aren’t there. Something to think about.

My decision to walk away came to the forefront when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. I thought I was still too addicted to let it go. I believed I was too deep in the mire to walk away. But I also began reading articles about people who gave up social media altogether. If they could do it, then why couldn’t I?

The most recent nonsense with Australia spurred me to really examine my place as a user of these services. I’ve always been of the mindset that if you don’t pay for a service monetarily, you pay for it in other ways.

That’s why I never really got away from maintaining my domains. I wanted a space of my own that I could use without fear of reprisal from outside sources. And if people wanted to connect with me, they will always find me here. I’ve had the gpacheco.org domain for almost a decade. I don’t plan on letting it go anytime soon.

I’ve done several month-long social media blackouts over the years. Upon my return, I realized I didn’t miss a thing. Nor did anyone miss me. It’s because the people who care will make the effort to reach out. A sad reminder that we lose our Selves (capital S) when we depend on social media for a connection.

So, if anyone squats on the writeropolis username on Facebook, Instagram, or Google 30 days after this post, please understand that it’s not me. It’s an impostor.

The only true ways to contact me from now on are:

  • Phone: call or text, my number hasn’t changed
  • E-mail: my provider has changed so use my contact form if you want my new email
  • Google Voice: 702-970-6873
  • Signal: personal messages, connected to my main number
  • Twitter: @writeropolis, the only “social” media I plan to maintain
  • Telegram: business inquiries, connected to my Google Voice

Are you interested in how I did it?

I started doing research, beginning with this Wired article. I never move forward on anything without researching it first. It’s a skill that comes in handy as a writer.

I also took it one step further. I’ve stopped using Google as my main email provider, document processor, cloud and photo backup, calendaring, note keeping, and browser.

My main email provider is Tutanota, which also handles my calendaring. I upgraded to a paid plan to access the calendar but I’m pleased with the service so far.

Zoho Docs is my cloud backup that syncs with my desktop. Porting my docs over from Google Drive is time-consuming as hell but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. I had to upgrade to a paid plan for this as well because 5 GB doesn’t go very far. Or maybe it’s just me.

Amazon is my preferred photo backup since I have Prime. I know Bezos isn’t any better than Zuckerberg but I pay for the service and it comes with certain protections. If push comes to shove, I can always utilize Zoho Docs.

iCloud holds my contacts, and I also use it to backup my notes on my iPhone. I’ve had very, very old versions of iCloud that I actually had to upgrade in order to use them! It briefly made me realize that I’ll never get away from Apple fully either. But at least I can sync everything safely.

I went back to Mozilla Firefox after being with Chrome for many years. I will continue to maintain my Google account because I have work stuff connected to it as well as my Pokémon Go account that I will lose if I try and delete it. But I’ll continue to check emails that come through there. But I’d prefer to use my Tutanota account if at all possible.

Anyway, I’m really excited about detoxing from the noise. There’s so much of it out in the world especially through that lens. I know there’s things I may miss – such as birthdays, as my best friend A pointed out – but maybe it’s for the best.

Icon of a hand, hoding a pen, writing love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean

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Paralyzed

“Honey, there’s something I have to tell you,” Gavin Matthews said gravely.

Catherine – his wife of fifteen years was at the stove, her back to him. She paused, her hand gripping the wooden spoon stirring their tomato soup dinner on the stove in front of her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, turning the fire down and willing her brain not to run the gamut of the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes when presented with such a loaded question. She placed the spatula on a plastic holder beside the stove.

“Justin and Audrey,” Gavin began.

The Watsons had been their friends since they had moved in across the street five years ago. Justin had been in a car accident before they moved in, a hit and run that paralyzed him from the waist down. It was no secret how much Justin despised the person who put him in that state. In fact, his homicidal threats were a joke shared between the two families.

Because of the accident, the Watsons couldn’t have children, something they had dreamed of since before they married. Justin always looked wistfully at the Matthews’ own 2-year-old son, Brandon. Audrey loved to babysit when the Matthews’ regular sitter was unable to come over. Catherine’s heart broke every time they saw Brandon with them. They had tried adoption, in-vitro, everything. But nothing worked.

“Do you remember my car accident five years ago?”

“Yes, of course. Our insurance went up because of it. Why?”

“I wasn’t entirely honest with you, or the insurance company. It was foggy that night. I-I hit something. Somebody.”

Catherine’s face contorted. “It was you.”

Gavin’s face remained stoic. “I was the one who put Justin in the wheelchair.”

“But I don’t understand!”

“Me either. Every time he mentioned the accident, there was something about it that got to me every time. When he mentioned the fog a couple of months ago, I knew – I just knew – it was me.”

“We’ve been friends with them for years! And you’ve known for months and never told me?”

Her husband nodded. “I know! Jesus Christ Kitty, don’t you think I haven’t agonized over this enough? I’ve known longer than you.”

“Should we tell them?” Catherine asked.

“Oh that’ll be nice,” Gavin said sarcastically. “‘Hi Justin. How are you? Oh yeah, I’m the one who hit you on that foggy night and left you to die.’ That’ll be a real cheery conversation.”

Catherine turned to pick up a sponge and absentmindedly began wiping the counters down. “Justin has to know.”

Suddenly Gavin became angry. “Why? Who’s that going to help? If we tell the Watsons, they’re gonna think our friendship was contrived this whole time. They’re gonna think we’ve been nice to them because we knew how he got into the damn accident in the first place!”

“Shut up!” Catherine snapped. “You could’ve killed him. What would that have been like?”

Gavin ignored that last verbal attack. “Think about it, Kitty. Does Justin have to know? He’s adjusted, gets around fine…”

“And harbors homicidal thoughts he’s not afraid to voice about the person who did that to him!”

Brandon toddled into the kitchen from his makeshift play area in the dining room Catherine had set up for him as she cooked dinner. He puttered over to his father, who scooped him up. Gavin allowed Brandon to tug on his short blond hair.

“I tapped him and I guess he went spinning. I didn’t see. It was icy, foggy, mid-December.”

“Now you’re just trying to justify your negligence? Gavin, grow up.”

“Kitty, you have to promise me that you’re not going to tell the Watsons.”

“No, I can’t. Audrey is my friend, one of my closest friends. I can’t not tell her who nearly murdered her husband.”

“But didn’t,” Gavin pointed out. “He’s still alive.”

“In a much smaller capacity. He’s a half a man, Gav.”

“Would you rather risk losing the Watsons’ friendship over something that happened five years ago? Is it worth it?”

Catherine didn’t say a word, dropped the sponge in the sink, and turned her back. “I have to finish dinner,” she said, nearly inaudibly.

Icon of a hand, hoding a pen, writing love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean

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When I Was Naive

We practiced our haibun in my grad school poetry class. This was my result.

The tsinelas on my feet do not protect me from the grains of sand. My mother's pale skin is a gentle reminder for me to protect my face from the sun, so I don't get tan like my ancestors. But the freckles sprinkled on my cheeks are my tell. I have no poker face here. A murder of cacti and bloopy tumbleweeds in wide, open spaces.
But that can't be true.
My childhood was the green grass that made me itch, the hand-me-down purple banana seat bike, and the depths of my imagination. Selling candy to go to Great America with the school band, driving to Chinatown in the City for siopao in the pink boxes, pausing briefly at Treasure Island, pointing out the house where Kuya broke his arm, the house where they used to live years before I was born. But that was never my home. It was theirs.
My house was in the Southside, cheap side, wrong side.
Driving over the lion bridge twice a day separating us from them,
Dreaming of cheesecake from the kitchen that I loved so much.
I cooked rice in that house,
I cleaned the toilets in that house,
I wept for the shards of my broken heart in that house.
But I am not home.
Not Filipino enough for the Filipinos,
not American enough for the Americans;
too Filipino for the Americans,
too American for the Filipinos.
But I am not American.
I am not Filipino.
I belong to both.
I belong to neither.
Brown skin and big nose
What is normal anyways
Crown Princess of Earth.
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The Seduction of Francesca Miller

I won third place at the 2002 Modesto Junior College “Celebration of the Humanities” contest with this story.

I think love is real and true when all those cheesy love songs on adult contemporary radio begin to make sense. My name is Francesca Miller. I am the product of an American fighting man and an attractive Italian-American. I’m twenty-four years old. I want to tell you a story about the One.

I first remembered Giovanni Paretti when his little brother Joey and my little brother Anthony met in choir class. The drama teacher at school had decided to do the musical, Picnic. That’s where their friendship grew and I got to know of Joey. Then I put two and two together. I realized that he was related to Giovanni and that Giovanni had been a teacher’s assistant in my sophomore English class. He was a senior at the time.

I did that whole turbulent “I’m stupid, fat, and ugly” teenage crisis during my freshman year. It didn’t take me too long to get over myself and grow up. During my second year in high school, I felt remotely self-assured and confident enough to stand on my own two feet, doing whatever puts a smile on my pretty face. Lucky (as people at school nicknamed him) never really stood out to me; he blended in with the woodwork. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. He was attractive, but not something I’d typically pursue. He was one of those clean-cut, friendly, easygoing, helpers of old ladies to cross crowded streets, and feed the homeless type of guy. I’m usually infatuated with a more streetwise kind of guy if you know what I mean.

Continue reading →
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Top 10 Albums That Inspired Me

This was a meme a while back. These are the albums that had an impact on and/or influenced me over the years. I kind of wanted to build on why I chose them as the original meme didn’t allow you to explain yourself.

Unforgettable with Love

(paid link)

I’ve written in the past about how much this album means to me. I love this album so much. It’s a part of the very fiber of my being.

No Strings Attached

(paid link)

I’m not going to lie. *NSYNC literally saved my life. I was in a very dark place when “I Want You Back” premiered. They were there when I needed them, and I can tell you where I was when their albums came out. I feel like my generation was the last to really live through the hype of what a successful physical album release could be.

Dirty Computer

(paid link)

I feel like Janelle and I would get along if we ever met. I’m heavily inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (as evidenced by her previous albums). Watching the Cindi Mayweather saga unfold is everything I ever wanted as a creative myself. Dirty Computer is the culmination of accepting who you are and celebrating it.

Cooleyhighharmony

(paid link)

Boyz II Men were such a massive part of my childhood. Right when this album came out and their singles were being played on the radio is when I first started carving my identity through music. I remember chatting to my friends at that age and bonding with them over the songs. Their harmonies still send me when I hear them after all these years.

Ghosts

(paid link)

Ghosts came out at a pivotal moment in my adulthood. Shiv and I are the same age. She was struggling with her identity as an artist during the making of this record (as well as her previous one), and identity is something that I focus on heavily in my own creative work. This was the perfect concept album of the struggles of a twenty-something right around the time when the Great Recession hit. She captured it perfectly in this record.

Hot Fuss

(paid link)

Another pivotal moment was when I first moved to Vegas. I was born and raised in Northern California and, again, my identity was in upheaval. I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted from my life. Hot Fuss helped me dance through my depression and I founded TKO: The Killers Online as a way to channel my fandom. I’ve found people on that forum that I’m still friends with to this day. I’m grateful that the Killers brought us together.

M!ssundaztood

(paid link)

I think that M!ssundaztood is the last P!nk album that I was on board for, but again, as a concept album, she nailed it. She was struggling with reconciling her troubled past and trying to look forward to a brighter future. Get the Party Started was such a vibe, still is. Lonely Girl is that song.

Daydream

(paid link)

What a massive album. It was hard to choose between this one and Butterfly. But I think Daydream was the better album from front to back. Looking In still sends chills down my spine because that’s how I’ve always felt about my place in the world.

Tragic Kingdom

(paid link)

Gwen Stefani was my everything when this album came out. I used to sign my yearbooks, “AKA Gwen Stefani” because I wanted to BE her so badly. I haven’t followed the band or her solo career as voraciously. But this one will always have a special place in my heart.

Trip the Light Fantastic

(paid link)

Sophie is literally the perfect artist. She can inhabit different genres, even though upbeat pop is her forte, and make magic with every song. This album – I think – is my favorite of hers, and made me genuinely appreciate modern disco-pop. Obviously, Kylie Minogue originated it, but Sophie has a great vibe that comes out with each song on this album in particular.


If you had to choose 10 albums, what would you choose?

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Distortion

Where are you from, a person is often asked.
Where indeed? I have no answer.


My eyes are slanted, but I'm not Oriental.
I'm not a rug, don't tread on me.
My jeans are Levi's, but I'm not a stadium.
Don't play games with me.
My feet are blistered, but I don't wear high heels.
I can walk on broken glass.

I'm from California, I say, naive of the social cues.
No, but farther back, they insist.
What do you mean, I reply, and it hits me.

What's a brown girl like you doing in a desert like this?

I lock my jaw, squint my chinky eyes, and say,
I was born in Oakland, California at the Oak Knoll
Naval Hospital on September 18, 1983.
Cut me, I bleed red white and blue.

I don't understand how people see me, and every day
is a struggle to reconcile the world that I belong.
So I don't. Their struggle with me
is not my struggle.

I eat rice with my bare hands and I shoot guns in the desert.
I like superhero movies and pop music.
How you see me is not my problem.
I am who I am and I don't give a damn.
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Cover Me!

My favorite covers of songs made popular by other artists.

  1. After the Love Has Gone (paid link)” – Jay R
  2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (paid link)” – Dionne Bromfield featuring Zalon
  3. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now (paid link)” – Spice Girls featuring Luther Vandross
  4. American Woman (paid link)” – Lenny Kravitz
  5. Baby I’m Yours (paid link)” – Arctic Monkeys
  6. “Betcha, By Golly Wow” – Sugababes
  7. Cupid (paid link)” – Amy Winehouse
  8. “Jolene” – Sophie Ellis-Bextor
  9. She’s Out of My Life (paid link)” – 98 Degrees
  10. “So Sick” – Fall Out Boy
  11. “Sound and Vision” – Franz Ferdinand
  12. Sukiyaki (paid link)” – 4PM
  13. “Teenage Dirtbag” – Girls Aloud
  14. “You Got It All” – Britney Spears
  15. “You Know I’m No Good” – Arctic Monkeys

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Build God, Then We’ll Talk

She looked at him pointedly. Amidst the fervor of the green room of the Empire Ballroom, he got the hint. Only a few people knew of their love affair – and if the rest of them knew, they played dumb.

They left in their respective tour buses for the budget hotel the record label sprung for them on the tour. As always, she got her own room, being a solo artist. She unceremoniously dumped her Gucci valise and oversized messenger bag near the dresser and waited. It was excruciating. Luckily, the feeling was temporary. A soft knock echoed in her ears, as the blood rushed to her head.

Opening the door, he stood there, an unmistakable and familiar look of lust in his dark brown eyes. She drank him in, electricity crackling through her skin. She looped her left index finger on his black skinny jeans, and walked back into the room, never taking her eyes off of him. He shut the door behind him and allowed her to continue her walk backward.

She sat on the edge of the bed, unzipping his jeans. Their lovemaking was slow, deliberate. She bloomed under his touch as she had so many nights before. He lost himself within her, forgetting who he was, suspending time and space, for just a moment.

They lay in each other’s arms on the covers of the bed, wide awake. He wouldn’t stay the night. It would raise too many suspicions.

He ran a hand over hers, enveloping it, squeezing it gently.

“Where do we stand?” he asked gently.

She looked up at him in surprise, willing her post-sex euphoria to remain high. “Why are you asking me this?” she asked, adjusting her head from its comfortable position on his bare shoulder to stare up at him.

He looked down at her gravely. “I need to know.”

“What the fuck for?”

“Because.”

“Don’t pull that childish shit on me.” She sat up like a rocket to stare at him. “What do you want me to say? I want you to leave Lisa for me? Write me a song instead, asshole.” She took his t-shirt and pulled it over her head as she made her way to the bathroom. She locked herself inside and sat on the edge of the tub to pout. She thought he knew where they stood. It was pretty obvious. It was just fucking. Nothing more.

Sighing he grabbed his boxers, shoving his legs into them, and sat against the cool wooden door. His back was still sweaty from their session together.

“Matilda. Open the door, let’s talk,” he tapped a drumbeat on the door.

“No,” she said haughtily.

“I need my shirt back you know. They’re gonna wonder where it went if I come back shirtless.”

“Just say you lost it in your walk of shame because that’s what I am to you.”

“No, that’s not what I said, and you don’t mean that. You’re more important to me than that,” he said.

“Am I? Am I really? So why the hell would you ask me such a stupid question?”

“Because I feel like what’s going on between is more than just sleeping together.”

“But I don’t want you to leave Lisa. She’s a great girl and I don’t mind sharing you at all,” Matilda replied.

“Why do you have to look at it that way?”

“Don’t tell me you love me, because I love you, but not that much.”

Talking through the door was being childish and ridiculous and she knew it. She unlocked the door and he couldn’t move away fast enough, he tumbled backward and fell at her feet.

“Hi,” he said, squinting from the overhead light.

“Hi back,” she replied, kneeling back down. He adjusted himself so his head was in her lap. “I’m sorry I locked you out. But it’s just sex. You have a good life. I don’t want you to ruin it because of what we’re doing.”

He sighed and looked up at her. “How can you say all that?” he began. “How can you look at it like ‘just sex?’”

She leaned over him to block the light from his eyes. “So it’s okay for a guy to be in control of his sexuality and fuck as many girls without thinking twice, stringing them along, and when a girl stands up for her, it’s not okay? It’s something that needs to be questioned? A double standard if I ever saw it.”

He sighed. “That’s not what I meant. You don’t have to be so damn analytical all the time.”

“Well, what did you mean?”

“I don’t know now.”

She leaned over and kissed the tip of his nose. “I think I’m beginning to. It’s okay. If you don’t want to see me anymore, that’s fine. I’m not gonna psychoanalyze you, or tell people about us. I went into this knowing I could let you go and not be hurt. Being your little secret is fine with me. I’m really not going to be upset.”

“That’s the thing,” he said, raising himself up to the sitting height to look at her face to face. “I dunno if I could.”

She leaned over to kiss him, wrapping her arms around his neck to pull him closer to her. Her kiss was gentle. “You better go,” she said, pulling away to take his shirt off, “they’re gonna start to wonder.”

He nodded and pulled her towards him to hold her tight as if to say goodbye. She rested her head against his shoulder and held onto him fiercely. They both knew it was goodbye. Touring together on and off for two years made the sexual tension unbearable; six months of sleeping together didn’t make it go away.

The love affair was immortalized in Love Split Mystery’s song “Astral Plane,” one of the last songs recorded for “The Autumn Years” album. It became one of their biggest hits.

Icon of a hand, hoding a pen, writing love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean

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Page 337

In response to Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ’s Bomb Crater Sky.

Dad served two tours in the war,
a media circus of Ohio hippies and
escapes from Saigon via helicopter
Lit by the fireworks on the nightly news,
gilded in the blood of the conscripts,
photographed by Leica.
Building roads as a Seabee,
cleaning the mud caked on his boots with gasoline
The kids around the airfield
would bring active landmines
Held tight like teddy bears to their chests
Goofy grins on their toothless mouths
Knowing the GIs would give them chocolate
Your anxious, wakeful sky
sends shivers down my spine
My footfalls want to echo your restraint,
Tuned to a radio station only we can hear
Dad's diabetes eats away at his vision,
Takes away his license to live
My ateh said the diabetes was aggravated
by his exposure to Agent Orange
'Cause he served under the man
who first deployed it.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning,
A day you will never see,
Inside your earthen crater.
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Artwork from the Song Diaries era

The Song Diaries by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Of all the pop girls that I’ve listened to from the U.K., she has consistently put out high-quality music since she went solo from her band, theaudience, in 2001.

Hit after hit.

My favorite song of hers is If You Go from the “Trip the Light Fantastic” album. It’s sonic perfection.

There isn’t anything that she’s put on her albums – and I’m talking deep cuts like Let’s Get Physical – that haven’t found a space in the jukebox of my heart. That’s how much I love her.

Just as I was going through serious withdrawal after the release of Familia, she announced her pregnancy with Mickey and then hit us with the news that she was releasing The Song Diaries (paid link), orchestral versions of the hits from her back catalog, and a few surprises.

I watched her Instagram with bated breath, as she kept throwing out teasers of her in the studio, and her promo tour. I can’t wait to see her live. I’ll be one of the only Americans in the crowd screaming the lyrics!

The final tracklisting is loaded front to back.

(paid link)
  1. Groovejet
  2. Take Me Home
  3. Murder on the Dancefloor
  4. Move This Mountain
  5. Music Gets the Best of Me
  6. Mixed Up World
  7. Catch You
  8. Me and My Imagination
  9. Today the Sun’s on Us
  10. Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)
  11. Bittersweet
  12. Not Giving Up on Love
  13. Young Blood
  14. Love is a Camera
  15. Wild Forever
  16. A Pessimist is Never Disappointed
  17. Love is You
  18. Take Me Home (orchestral disco version)
  19. Murder on the Dancefloor (orchestral disco version)

You don’t need to be a fan of Sophie’s previous work to enjoy this album. I feel like it’s even a good introduction to her stuff. You get a little bit of every album era, but with the fresh sheen of an orchestral version.

Her vocals absolutely SHINE on every track. I could seriously sit here and tell you to listen to the restraint. She knows her strengths lie in her vocals, but she doesn’t lay it on thick, which is the trend in pop music.

Her creepy songs, like “Catch You” and “Love is a Camera,” are fantastic with the orchestral backing. That’s another thing that I love about her. She deeply explores stories that you don’t see in pop.

I love the spookiness and ethereal this version of “Move This Mountain” sounds. The original is an atmospheric love song, but the orchestra elevates it. I almost wanted the strings to be bolder. When they pause before the bridge (“take this chance/I won’t repeat it”), I wanted a cleaner drop before Sophie kicked in her vocals. The backing choral style vocals towards the end are pure frisson too, whew.

I love that she tackled “Love is You,” the disco track that was the sample for “Groovejet.” Her interpretation fits perfectly too.

I was surprised by how restrained “Bittersweet” sounded in this style. I think it’s the perfect yin to the uptempo disco yang of the original.

Her additional orchestral disco versions of “Take Me Home” and “Murder on the Dancefloor” are instant classics.

I Feel It Coming by Sophie

Her cover of “I Feel It Coming” by The Weeknd in the same orchestral style was such an inspired choice to promote the album too.

Fan or not, I encourage you to check out The Song Diaries (paid link), let me know in the comments if you will! And if you already have, what’s your favorite cut?

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Icon of a hand, hoding a pen, writing love, peace, and adobo grease, Guilliean