Hacked

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One day, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I wasn’t getting any emails to the account I use for my professional writing. I usually get so many emails, I have to put them in different folders just so I can find them again when I need them. But, I didn’t think too much about it. Maybe it was a slow day.

And then I tried to send out a newsletter for this professional association I work with. Not happening.

So I called the great people who host my website and email and asked them what the heck was happening. What was happening…wasn’t good.

I had been hacked.

Someone had gotten into my professional email and they’d sent emails to everyone in my address book. Everyone got something that looked like it came from me and it contained a link to a proposal I supposedly had written. I do write a lot of proposals, so that’s not beyond the realm of possibility that I would have sent that kind of email.

But, click on the link for the proposal? And, boom, you’re infected!

I decided I had to bite the bullet and send an email to all these important folks to tell them to NOT open the horrible email. You know, Dear person-I-want-to-impress: That email wasn’t from me. Sorry.

And that’s when it got worse. My email kept saying I couldn’t send the email.

Back on the phone with the tech folks.

Seems the merry hacker had left me a gift. First, he had written a rule that sent all of my incoming emails to the trash so I never got a chance to see them. That explained why nobody was emailing me.

That was a fairly simple fix.

And then Microsoft saw all those horrible emails from me and decided I was a hacker, so they suspended me. I couldn’t send emails because they thought I was a bad guy.

I imagined all those people in my address book getting infected because they had trusted me, trusted that when they got something from me it was clean. Because that’s the thing. I see now why they call it a virus. Getting hacked makes you feel unclean. Like you are Patient Zero in some kind of epidemic that stems from not washing your hands. You have the double shame of starting the epidemic and of having bad hygiene in the first place.

When you get hacked, you feel stupid, embarrassed and angry. And vulnerable. It’s like getting mugged.

Listen to the companion podcast. 

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Love Ya, Mean It

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I was on the phone the other day with a friend of mine, someone a few years older than my mother would be. As we finished up the conversation, she said, “Love you!”

“Love you, too,” I responded, but there was a little pause there that I hope she didn’t hear.

When I grew up, my mom always said that words mattered. You didn’t use words lightly, even the “L” word. Words had power and you didn’t want someone to think you were IN love with them when you just loved them like a friend. So, she taught me to use the L word sparingly.

Love came with obligations, kind of like saving someone’s life means you’re responsible for them in some cultures. If you loved someone, you were willing to do anything for them. Die for them. Or, at least go all the way with them. Nothing you’d do lightly.

My parents aren’t around anymore to tell them I love them. But I tell my husband. And my daughter. And my friends-who-are-like-family.

But I have stayed away from being someone who tosses the word around like it’s loose change. Love has currency. It is currency.

And yet.

The older I get, the more I find that love has shades. From light affection to dark passion, there is no one love.

And the older I get, the more I realize that the currency that is love…is scarce. I see so many giving away hate as though it is no big thing. We hate broccoli, this movie, that person’s politics, that person.

And the only thing in this world that seems to pop up every time it gets knocked down, like some kind of round-bottomed doll? Love.

There are times when only love will do. When it is the only appropriate thing, whether the timing or the person is appropriate. After the shooting at a gay club in Orlando in 2016, what mattered was not whether people loved someone of the same gender. As Lin Manuel Miranda said in his Tony acceptance speech after that shooting,  “We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer. And love is love is love is love is love is love is love, and love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

So, when my friend tells me she loves me? Next time, no hesitation. I love you too.

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Listen to the companion podcast, Keep it Juicy!