I am interested in paradoxes, contradictions, people, culture, and being human. I write and translate DE-EN | MFA student Non-Fiction. www.bettinahindes.com

On Breakdowns and Books

Photo of Penn Ave in Pittsburgh on an overcast day with mural of black bride in white dress on old brick building
Photo of Penn Ave in Pittsburgh on an overcast day with mural of black bride in white dress on old brick building
Penn Ave in Pittsburgh Photo by Author

In the autumn of 2017, I fell into myself. Humbly returning to my center with a flag of defeat dragging behind me like a party streamer after a summer storm. Collapse was inevitable. I had sought myself — and a home — all over the globe and in others for far too long. I became acutely aware of how much of myself I had pinned to the scaffolding of others as it came crumbling down. I sat for days in a borrowed meditation chair; I held a book in my hands again. …

How I learned that my writing skills are in high demand for digital content.

Pink sticky notes with different phrases from UX design and writing, hand holding sticky in foreground with phrase
Pink sticky notes with different phrases from UX design and writing, hand holding sticky in foreground with phrase
UX Writing is more than just card sorting

What is UX Writing?

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “What?” when I told them I was taking a course in UX writing and they gave me that look, well, I’d have a good chunk of change by now.

For the past five months, I have been participating in the UX Writing Hub’s online course founded by tech entrepreneur Yuval Keshtcher. This course teaches the fine art of micro-copy for apps and websites and shows by example and through practical exercises what the industry will eventually come to call UX writing.

This job is still called many other things like “content designer” or “technical writer,” or more recently “content strategist,” but generally the task itself can be called UX writing. The final word is not yet out on whether the title “UX Writer” will prevail, but for the sake of this article and the fact that I just finished a course on UX writing, I’ll keep using the phrase. …

Berlin Unicorns

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Unicorn-Teddy-Bear Tree in northern Berlin

I miss the gypsies feeding their children ice-cream and Coke Cola in the subway. The traditional, pink, flowery scarves covering half their round dark heads, and their dangly golden earrings add color to Berlin’s dreary winters. I could learn a lot from these women. Roma is what they are called now. They don’t give a flying hoot about what anyone outside of their clan thinks. With their 5“ slip-on wedge heels and chartreuse socks, long velvet-red skirts, huge fuzzy white tops with thousands of glittery tassels and rhinestones under contrasting vests.

They say that in Berlin you can wear anything — or nothing. They talk loudly amongst themselves in their language, as if alone in the metro. Willing everyone around them to take a stance. I wish I knew what they were saying. Wish I could be so confident. Germans are not loud. Being loud is reserved for a few things like soccer — Fussball — and the resident drunks who haunt the underground. Otherwise, keep your voices down, nobody wants a scene. …

Lived Through This

Finding my voice as a woman and veteran

Closeup silhouette of a female soldier.
Closeup silhouette of a female soldier.
Photo: Alina Linnik/EyeEm/Getty Images

When I was 25, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. During basic training, I wrote “It is a privilege to be oneself” in my journal. I scribbled those words under incredible physical and emotional distress, stripped of all indicators and standards of selfhood. Face-down in the muddy soil of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, I decided to kill myself. Interestingly, it was another woman — my female drill sergeant — who contributed to my decision that death was preferable to failure.

Her verbal abuse for my lack of manliness made me hate my attempt to be both female and a soldier. She told me my crying made all women look bad. She told me I was not cut out to be a soldier as I sweated under the Midwestern sun in the front-leaning rest position of ultimate submission. I couldn’t be GI Jane — who, for her total assimilation, might as well have been called GI Joe. …

Reflections on Enlisted Life on the Presidio

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Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash

Something happens when the full moon approaches and the fog from the Monterey Bay comes rolling in off the water, past the herds of deer and seagulls dropping scat on freshly polished cars, mocking the pride and joy of eager young Privates and Marine Corporals … the late-night madness comes floating in with that fog, oozing down from the full moon like some unhinging sound-effect, making the tears in our soul-fabric rip a little further, the chasms bore a little deeper into our psyche.

Something happens on the Presidio of Monterey where bouts with alcoholism, drug abuse, broken families, meth use, pot use, sex too loose which make Privates run around screaming “Suicide!” …

A poem about what matters in a pandemic

What Is Essential?

What actually matters in a pandemic?

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Photo by Sabrina Heinkeon Unsplash

Some things are not:

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp…

Memes galore

All cling like creeping ivy to the battered tree of me

Gradually strangling what little free space is left in my soul

The life blood of my attention drained away

But I can’t remember a time without them

Like those hairy vines with their shiny three-pronged leaves signaling danger:

— if you try to extract this one you will regret it later

— welts and blisters bubbling in remorse

Our dysfunctional digital lives make identification of distractions…

Mondays in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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Rudaki statue in Rudaki Park, Dushanbe -Photo by author

A reflection on my language study in Central Asia’s smallest country

The capital city of Tajikistan, the poorest of the former Soviet Republics is Dushanbe. It actually means Monday, and received its name because it grew from a village that hosted a weekly Monday bazaar, becoming the capital in 1929. There is still a lot of village left in this capital city though! I spent nine months living there in 2010–2011 while studying Persian and although things have modernized even more since then, I’m told there are certain experiences that remain the same.

The Tajiki language is a dialect of Persian, having been the northern region of the once great and vast Persian empire, but now they use the Cyrillic script, and most Tajiks still speak Russian and many also Uzbek. If you speak any Russian you will have an easier time picking up Tajiki, reading signs and figuring out what is on food labels. I had been studying Iranian Persian-Farsi with its Arabic script and was forever stuck between scripts and dialects. …

70 years since its publication—Pär Lagerkvist’s novel is as modern as ever

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Crucifixion by Lukas Cranach, 1546 Dresden Zwinger Museum. Photo by author

This is the book I wanted to write. I had a brilliant idea a few years ago to write about Barabbas and what happened to him after he was spared in exchange for Christ.

There is almost nothing mentioned about him in the synoptic Gospels other than that he was a criminal who the crowd called to be released instead of Jesus when the Passover tradition occasion allowed for one prisoner condemned to death to be freed by the Romans.

What kind of life would he have lived? What could be said about the man who should have died for his crimes, and about whom can be said quite literally that Christ died in his stead? Well, it turns out the book has already been written seventy years ago, and how! …

Women can be amazingly supportive in female professional groups on Facebook

My top takeaways from reading a year of posts in the Facebook Groups Female Digital Nomads and Freelancing Females.

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Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

I have been reading, lurking, and sometimes contributing to several professional groups on Facebook for the past few years, including Female Digital Nomads (56k members) and Freelancing Females (33k members) have noticed some overall themes emerging which I summarize below.

I also belong to several professional and personal development groups that are moderated by men and have a large male presence. After a year of reading those posts and interactions as well as the female groups, I am even more convinced of the need for a separate female space. The culture is totally different in majority female groups. There is less mansplaining (guess what, men do it to other men too!) less posturing, and bragplaining (wherein you complain about a small aspect of something to hilight your amazing work – a cousin of the humble brag, and sibling in the “First World Problem” family) and in female groups the positive, supportive mission is enforced in a kind way. …

What’s in it for me? The quest for self-knowledge online.

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The Temple of Apollo in Delphi, northern Greece. Photo: Bettina Hindes

No, I don’t think you should try online dating. But I also don’t think that you should not.

If you’re one of the few remaining people on the planet who has not yet ventured into online dating … Congratulations! In the U.S. alone 40 million people have tried online dating, which is almost the same as the number of single people 50 million. Tinder reports that the app has been downloaded over 100 million times. As acceptance grows for finding love digitally, and you are wondering whether to join in the fun or just curious like a friend of mine who recently asked, “Bettina, you have experience with online dating, do you think I should try it?” …

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