Category Archives: Experimentation

Day 398: Getting Schooled by the Ladies

Reflections of a Waterfall I, Louise Nevelson

I am now a member of the press. At least the Seattle Art Museum thinks so. I was lucky enough to be included in a private reception for Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In the board room, we were given wine, snacks, and then asked to leave these things behind and be guided through the exhibit by a docent. I don’t usually go on Museum tours, I prefer to draw my own conclusions of the art, but this was different. It was a history lesson.

It was a history lesson that was sorely needed. I went to NYU and majored in Communications. I took as many art classes as they would let me without being an art major. My one art history class was “Painting and Sculptures in NY” I learned all about the collections of the Met, Guggenheim, MOMA, The Frick and others. Just living in Manhattan was an art history lesson.

During my college years I also made it to Paris and spent an entire day at the Pompidou. I mostly remember the architecture. Another embarrassment was that I didn’t leave much time to look at the Louvre, so I had to jog through it to see Nike before they closed and I had to go to the airport. I did spend an entire day in the Musee D’Orsay sketching Ève après le péché.

When in the hallowed halls of these famous institutions, I never contemplated the genders of the artists. I was always drawn to paintings and sculptures OF women, but I never looked at the tag and noticed a woman’s name. My hunch is that 95 percent of the artists I saw were men. Especially because there was not a single work in this collection, that made me say, “Oh I’ve seen this before!” For that reason alone, I think everyone should see Elles:Pompidou.

But that reason is not alone. The work is good. I am usually a bit bored by the work at Seattle Art Museum. It’s all pretty and fine, but rarely does it make gasp. This show was different. This was not safe art. It was not expected. It was disturbing at times, and riveting at others. It was exciting. Never in my time here in Seattle, have I been so impressed with an exhibit. And to think –  it’s only a fraction of the 500 pieces in the Pompidou’s collection of women artists.

I am not going to spend any time telling you about the works you will see there. I don’t want to spoil any surprises. Nor do I want to send you on some kind of scavenger hunt. I will recommend you take a tour. The extra information you get – beyond the words on the walls – is the real meat of what makes the experience worthy. We all need this education. We all need to know the names of these women as well we know the names Jackson Pollack, Keith Haring, or Roy Lichtenstein.

One artist’s name I recognized was Louise Nevelson.  After college, I took a sculpting class at a Lower East Side art center where she used to teach. She became a bit of a hero of mine. Many people I know have never heard of her, yet she was a giant in the art world. At the height of her career, a reviewer of her 1941 exhibition at Nierendorf Gallery stated: “We learned the artist is a woman, in time to check our enthusiasm. Had it been otherwise, we might have hailed these sculptural expressions as by surely a great figure among moderns.” It’s time to hail her work.

At the end of our tour the docent touched on the idea that people might not want to come to Elles because they think it will be disturbing or they will feel uncomfortable. She hopes they will come – not to look at pretty paintings but to be a part of the discussion. She believes museums are forums where people come together to advance new ideas. I was struck by this. Much of this subject matter doesn’t get discussed much. Most young women shy away from claiming to be a feminist. Perhaps we hope that if gender inequality is simply ignored, it won’t exist.

Don’t think of Elles as “Getting your woman on” as one of the gallery placards claimed, (something I found off-putting), but as a slap upside the head and a reminder that the conversation is far from over. We need to keep talking. As girls, we were taught that we would be treated as equals, but many of us have had rude awakenings to the contrary. Until history paints a complete picture, we never will be. Elles is a fair start on that painting.

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Day 364: The Seven Saints of Self-Discipline

Detail of Virgin Surrounded by Female Saints 1488
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

As I near the completion of a full year without a 9-5 job to report to, I have discovered to the secret to this lifestyle is self-discipline. (Applause here) A flexible schedule is a wonderful thing, but without self discipline it can be a disaster. When you have to get up at 7 am sharp every weekday morning to commute through traffic to get to a 9 am meeting with your boss, you cannot spend the evening before drinking a bottle of wine and staying up until 2 am watching Mad Men on Netflix. The repercussions are just not worth it. That is just plain discipline, inflicted by others.

However, when the only time sensitive thing you have do the next morning is drop your daughter at preschool around 9ish, you can just turn right around and climb under the covers for a mid morning nap. The errands, the blog post, the dishes in the sink can wait until you feel a little better. What isn’t at the front of your soggy mind is that there are many many more things that need to get done that you are not even thinking of. It begins a spiral that results in having to get expensive  (in money and calories) takeout for dinner, use paper towels as toilet paper, and to stay up until 2 am the next night to meet a deadline.

“Self discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires.”

My willpower is fleeting. I found an article that nailed it. Sid Savara wrote about how your self discipline can be hampered by lack of sleep, stress, and even sugar. And if you drink alcohol (sugar) to combat stress and lose sleep because of it, your self discipline will get even weaker, and the cycle continues. The author talks about how you can exercise your self discipline to make it stronger instead of weaker. There are a lot of great tips there.

I need a way to remember ways to exercise my self discipline. Catholics have saints to remember all the ways they could be better Catholics. I have invented fictional saints to remember ways to be a better work-from-home mom. Because female role models are great for me, all my saints are women. If you are a man, you are welcome to replace the names with guy names and she with he and so forth.

I would like to introduce you to the Seven Saints of Self Discipline.

St. Aurora of the Dawn
Could there possibly be anyone out there who does not know the saying” Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” Well, Aurora was the one who got up even earlier than that man and made his breakfast. Getting up several hours before you have to be anywhere, and before your child wakes up makes an extraordinary difference in your day. It allows your mind to wake up and to think of all the wildcards for the day, preventing all sorts of stresses and disasters. To summon St. Aurora one must set a strict light’s out at 10:30 p.m. at the latest for at least three nights in a row.

St. Ramona the Runner
It is a proven fact that regular exercise increases your self discipline, there is no disputing that. The catch is that it takes self-discipline to exercise. Excuses are never more prevalent, when it comes to getting to that class or the gym. St. Ramona just runs. She can run anywhere, at anytime, and with the proper clothing, in any weather. She pushes you to go farther and up punishing hills. She knows that when you finish you will feel like you can take on anything. Someone even wrote a book about that. Run Bitch Run. To summon St. Ramona just lace up those shoes (turns out it doesn’t matter what kind), walk out your door and break into a run. St. Ramona is most pleased when you  run at dawn because she can talk shit with Aurora while you sweat.

St. Patricia the Planner
If you are ever feeling shiftless, St. Patricia is the one you need to call on. You can’t get anywhere without a map and you can’t get anything done without a plan. St. Patricia has calendars, to do lists, budgets and charts down to a science. She rings bells every time you are on-time and prepared to a meeting, have everything you need when it’s time to cook a healthy dinner, and every time you put a tick mark on your checklist. To summon St. Patricia make a list of everything you might be able to get done today. Then make a list of everything you want to eat this week. Then make a budget. For maximum results, do all of this at dawn after your run so that Aurora, Ramona, and Patricia can catch up over coffee.

St. Olivia the Objector
Our lives are full of temptations that, while temporarily satisfying, really don’t get us anywhere. Junk food, alcohol, media, toxic friends, are always out there trying to test our self-discipline. St. Olivia just says no. “No thank you. I’m not hungry thank you. Maybe next time. Really I can’t. Not even a bite/sip/taste.” She asks for a doggy bag when her meal arrives out of proportion with her appetite. She declines a ho-hum party invite when she really wants to go hiking the next morning. She makes up excuses when people ask her to volunteer for something that she has no time for. She is an elusive saint and it takes practice to master her. To summon St. Olivia say No to three things today.

St. Constance
Some say it takes doing something for 66 days for it to become a habit. Others say that to make better decisions we need to make life automatic. St. Constance can help. Self discipline is much easier when you can keep the momentum going. Do that thing you should be doing, and do it every day. The more you do it, with the least amount of interruptions, the more St. Constance will help you keep doing it.

St. Dorothy of the Deadline
There is no stronger motivator than a deadline. When I lost 30 lbs in 4 months (2004) it was because I had a wedding date set. Any project I have ever had to turn in has been better and more fulfilling when it has a strong due date. To summon St. Dorothy, make a goal and attach a deadline to it. Try some kind of race – perhaps a marathon. Then you can please all the other saints as well.

St. Trish the Tough
Everyone needs someone to call them on their bullshit. St. Trish can help point out when you are just making excuses. No, you don’t need to celebrate that little accomplishment with something bad for you. No, you can exercise even when you are tired and it’s raining. She pushes you to keep you going and reminds you that you are stronger than you think. To summon St. Trish, force yourself  to do that thing you have been avoiding doing because it feels like it will be too hard.

I hope these Saints help you. I will work on making little cards of them I can put by my bedside so I can remember that they are there to help me be who I want to be. If I ever do that, I will share them with you.

DAY 325: Thinking About Words with Friends. WordCamp Portland 2012

I am on writing this post from the North bound Amtrak train to Seattle from Portland, sitting next to my friend Laura Kimball who is working on her own post. We are returning from a perfect weekend attending WordCamp Portland. It was truly an epic weekend, but I will do my best not to make this an “epic post.”

This was a weekend of firsts for me:

  • Riding Amtrak Cascades
  • Attending a WordCamp
  • Sleeping in a Hostel
  • Riding a bike around Portland
  • Going an a girl trip

Yes, it’s hard to believe I have never been a trip with a girl friend. It took quite a bit of memory searching to confirm that this was true. I have gone on trips to visit girl friends. I have gone on school trips that included girls who were my friends. I have met up with girl friends while I was on a trip. I have driven to visit family with female family members. Yet I have never planned, and traveled anywhere with any friend, but my husband Tom.

Here are some of the reasons why this was a perfect weekend:

  • The weather was lovely.
  • I met a freakish number of talented, smart, stylish, easygoing, friendly people from all over.
  • I did not drive a car, and only rode in 3 taxis in 3 days, but I was all over East Portland.
  • There was more to learn than I could possibly absorb.
  • I was able to support a dear friend doing something that I am scared to do.
  • Every meal was super yummy, and I didn’t cook or clean a thing.
  • I got to write and talk to others about their writing.
  • There was never a shortage of adult beverages or cool people to share them with.
  • I got to hang out with Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress and make him laugh (at me, really).
  • We seemed to continually be in the right place at the right time – never late, never early, and never overstaying our welcome.
  • We bought some super cool clothing from super nice and helpful shopkeepers and paid no sales tax.
  • There was a perfect balance between planned activities and spontaneous adventures.
  • When you spend a weekend in Portland you spend less $$ than you would in Seattle.
  • Everything I did was something I wanted to do. Any stuff I carried belonged to me.

So now it’s back to reality of working and raising a kid. It’s easy to be wistful, wishing I could stay in this alternate universe where I have no responsibilities and everything is fun. As we sit facing forward on this train moving forward, I will look forward and do the following:

  • Pick something to focus on and dig in.
  • Influence others in my life to do the same.
  • Buy a bicycle and plan a day trip before the cold weather sets in.
  • Write for 30 days straight this November.
  • Develop a regular process/routine for promoting my blogs.
  • Create a talk on Blogging/Wordpress/Design that I could give at WordCamp Seattle next year.
  • Check out Jetpack.me so I can follow all the awesome blogs of the smart people I have a habit of meeting.
  • Also check out She Writes, Steve Krug’s new book, and make.wordpress.com/ui
  • Watch the State of the Word address.
  • Seek out people who are making more than blogs with WordPress.
  • Wake up in the morning and say, “What am I going to fix today?”
  • Go on a trip without my family every year, preferably with a friend.

Have you ever heard of anyone going on a girl’s weekend that was so productive? This wouldn’t have happened without the inspiration of my talented and brave friend Laura. Thank you Laura for being you and for liking me enough to hang out with me for 52 hours straight. Thank you WordCamp organizers for giving us a reason to get out of town. Thank you to my wonderful husband for being a single-parent for the weekend. And, thank you Portland, for being so awesome.

Day 277: A Nose Buried in Books

I have been reading constantly. It has replaced my other vices. When I am tired at the end of the day, even if it’s only 8 o’clock I have been retreating to my bed in my pajamas with my teeth brushed and my night cream on to curl up with a book. In the month of June I finished 5 books and, with the exception of two major life events, I haven’t written a single word for myself.

I thought reading was supposed to help you be a better writer, not stop you from writing all together! It seems that I would rather hide in the world of fiction than examine my own. After finishing my most recent distraction last night, I realized that it might be time for a break.

So this serves as a wrap up and review of my cold and soggy June spent under the covers reading the following:

  • Ruth’s Redemption by Marlene Banks. Historical fiction about a beautiful and strong female slave in the South on the verge of abolition. It was a compelling and violent story, and I learned a lot about one of the most bloody slave uprisings in the South. However I was not expecting so much religion to be mixed in. I tried to speed read the bible references and conversion speeches, because they became tiresome and redundant after a while and did nothing to assist the plot.
  • The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. Renaissance portraitist Sofonisba Anguissola joins the Spanish court of Felipe II as a painting teacher for the new Queen, after she got caught having sex by Michael Angelo in his studio with his other apprentice. I loved reading about the court of Spain and all of the traditional painting techniques and processes of the old masters. The characters of the story were all historically accurate, and Sofonisba was one of the most accomplished woman painters in history. Don Juan also makes his mark on the story and made for some lovely imagery.
  • The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani. Set in 17th Century Iran, a young poor farm girl’s father dies, just before she is supposed to be betrothed. She and her mother, facing starvation, travel to the capitol city to live with a distant relative who is a carpet designer. The girl shows talent for rug making and designing and tries to make her way in a city where she has very little choices as a young woman with no wealth. This may have been my favorite. The sights and sounds and smells of that incredible city came alive and the culture was fascinating.
  • Cures for Hunger, A Memoir by Deni Y. Béchard. This was the only book that did not have a female lead character. It was well written but I am not much for modern day settings, or male adolescent coming of age stories. Luckily it wasn’t very long.
  • Island Beneath the Sea by Isabelle Allende. The story begins in Haiti during the bloody and cruel days of sugar and slaves. I realized that I previously knew nothing about the history of Haiti. I learned about how the power in the Caribbean was a constant struggle between Spain, France, England and America. The pirates, the slave traders, the voodoo, and the white flight to both Cuba and New Orleans were all news to me. The book was a magical and scary tour and the characters were deeply moving. I’d like to know more about Haiti and it’s history.

It was not intentional that all of the books (but one), were historical fiction featuring a brave and exceptional woman. However, I think it was what kept me hungry for more. As women we don’t hear enough about our sisters before us. I feel fortunate to have the peace and liberty I enjoy in this modern American life. If I were to heed their examples, I should get my nose out of books, stop whining, and do something impossible.

Day 170: My beer-free St. Patrick’s Day

Goodbye Guinness.

Last weekend every time I took my first sip of a pint of beer I sneezed. I didn’t sneeze through the rest of the pint, just after the first sip. For the last 15 years I have been joking about being allergic to wheat (and thus Barley and Malt). When it came to beers, I really only noticed it when I drank Heinekin, so I just avoided that.

It wasn’t until this past weekend that I got fed up with it. Who wants their first bite of breakfast – english muffins in this case – to make their throat feel like they swallowed poison ivy? Yuck. Now that we have this thing called the internet, I searched for “wheat allergy symptoms” and found – wait for it – wheatallergysymptoms.org. I recognized the first four symptoms:

  • Swelling, irritations and itching in and around the throat and mouth.
  • Formation of rashes and hives on the skin due to itching.
  • Nasal cavity congestion caused due to mucus. It happens mainly because of the release of histamine after the allergen takes charge of the body.
  • Problematic eyes with watering, itching, redness and frequent irritation becoming the order of the day.

The other four symptoms were pretty scary and I had never had anything on the level of vomiting. I think I would have diagnosed myself a long time ago if I was barfing after my bagel.

This sparked an entire afternoon of online research. What I discovered was what this gluten thing was all about. The first time I met someone with Celiac disease was at work two years ago. I was in awe that she had to avoid all bread products entirely. Now that I have left the office environment, I realize that it’s the ultimate nightmare scenario for someone who can’t eat gluten. What catered meal, snack, breakfast, or potluck in the office doesn’t include some form of bread?

Now I feel like Celiac is breeding like a bunny. It seems like everyone has it now. Who hasn’t noticed the giant “GLUTEN FREE!” labels on all the products in health food stores and restaurants these days. I didn’t get it. Now I do.

Today is day 7 of no wheat (you know how much I like counting days). It has been surprisingly easy to leave the bread alone. I like eggs on corn tortillas or grits for breakfast. And the plethora of rice noodle based restaurants has made eating out brainless. My motivation got especially strong upon finding the book Wheat Belly, at the heart of my research. If Dr. Davis is right, then my weight problems are wheat-related as well. According him, wheat has a similar effect on your brain to morphine. It makes you act like an addict, not just for wheat, but for all food in general.

So after a week of not eating wheat, in addition to less itch, I have a much easier time controlling my eating habits. It’s easier to pass up offered food when I’m not hungry. The beer calls to me a bit more. I can still imagine, and often do, the crisp bite of that first sip of beer. The creamy top on the Guinness. Then I remember the sneezing. Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I chose to wear green instead of drinking it.

Day 140: Boredom, procrastination, and other things you don’t want to hear about

20120216-152321.jpg

What do we do when we're bored? We ridicule our cats. Here, Johnny is playing the role of unicorn.

This could turn out to be the most boring blog post ever, but I doubt it. There is a lot of boring crap on the internet. In fact, I currently seem to be mired in it. Suddenly there is nothing good on TV, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, or (gasp) Youtube. There is nothing I really feel like doing. Forget chores, those are always tedious. The work I am doing isn’t particularly inspiring, but it’s easy and rhythmic to do, and I am happy to be earning. Some good fast-paced music gets me through anything with a deadline. It’s the things that should be exciting to me: networking, forging ahead on my dreams, and vacation planning, that I am procrastinating.

I feel it is a somewhat momentous breakthrough to acknowledge my boredom. I have had the thought before, “Hmmmm, I’m bored.” But it usually incites action, mixed with a bit of panic. My normal response to this thought would be to get on the phone, turn to my to-do list, make an elaborate meal, and/or start drinking. Lately, instead of those things, I have just been examining it, wondering, why. Why is this life boring me?

I heard an interesting piece on NPR a few days ago about procrastination. I didn’t catch the full segment, and there were sections I couldn’t hear over my family’s racket. What I did hear amounted to: instead of beating yourself about procrastinating doing something, think to yourself, “Is this worth doing?” They said procrastination was symptom of the conflict between two parts of yourself who disagree about wanting to do something. It’s was convoluted to explain, but basically they said you have to get both parts of yourself to come to consensus on the activity.

As I write this, I am realizing that the lack of time I have spent writing this month, may be at the heart of my boredom. My rationalization could only be that my life has been too boring to write about. ie “Nothing interesting to say.” My solution here is to write about how boring my life actually is.

I also now realize that my boredom is a mere contrast to the vast upheaval of the last six months. What could be more exciting than turning your life on it’s head and doing everything in a new and different way? Now that I have settled into a pattern, the rate of change has slowed. On one hand it’s comforting and restful. On the other hand “easy” is poison to my soul.

It’s time to pick the mirror back up and start writing more. I have a few posts that I have been procrastinating on, that I will need to take a hard look at the value of. If I can’t get myself to do them, I just need to move on. Meanwhile, I should keep writing about my boring life until it’s not boring anymore.

Day 125: In defense of @Disney – At our house, princesses love yoga and disco.

Downward Dog in the Princess Yoga Class

Downward Dog in the Princess Yoga Class

The Disney princesses (all of them) are big in our house. They are in just about every make believe my daughter concocts, and next to BoBo (her best friend lovey) is about the only thing she plays with. She knows all the stories, has seen most of the feature films, owns dresses her size that she can dress up in. She is about the identical copy of just about every 4 year old girl we know.

I don’t remember how it started, but I know it wasn’t because of me. My daughter one day decided her favorite color was no longer green, it was pink. Then it just hit like a Tsunami. I take every opportunity to tell her that it’s no picnic being cooped up in the castle all the time, being nitpicked for your behavior and that the clothes were really uncomfortable. She already knows that it sucks to be forced to marry someone (thank you Jasmine) and often works this into her drama play. The princesses run away together and never get married. At the same time, she says that when she grows up, she and her best friend, Alice, are going to be Princesses. I tell her that in order to do that you will both need to marry Princes and live somewhere far far away. She seemed fine with that.

I ponder a lot as to what the fascination is with being a princess. Sure, who doesn’t secretly want to be rich and beautiful. Still, I think it’s more than that. I think small children are attracted to magical things. Our modern world is so damn drab and boring. Mom’s dress in mom jeans and drive mini-vans, and everything is brown, gray, or tan. There is no sparkle, no drama, no ta-da! I personally would prefer to live in a world of fairies, intricate ballgowns, unicorns, breathtaking castles, lavish balls, wizards etc. Wouldn’t you?

I began to ponder even more yesterday when I saw this on Facebook:

Posted by George Takei (yes the celebrity) with the message: “This may be where it starts for little girls, Parent’s think about the messages your children receive”

There were over 34,000 likes and 6,000 comments. The comments were a mix of hatred for Disney and people who loved Disney and were sad to have their icons trashed in this way.

How do I feel? I think the captions are exaggerating quite a bit. I would love to know if they were written by a man or a woman. Was this person a parent of an actual little girl? Do they realize that many of these stories are in the public domain and not even cooked up by Disney? Does George Takei know any of this? Does he have a daughter?

I am no starry-eyed Disnophile either. I feel these ladies are too sexualized – they weren’t this sexy in the films. The coy head tilts and eye batting can get pretty disgusting. This was even more apparent on the princess section on Disney.com. The giggling and breathy pauses were more Marilyn Monroe than Disney princess, and they made me want to throw up. I think I even said, “this is awful!” out loud when Melody and I were trying to find some entertainment value there. She didn’t disagree.

Disney princesses, in the mind of a small girl also are changeable to whatever she wants them to be. In our house they like to do yoga and their favorite music is disco. They save each other from peril, they trade dresses, and never talk about men.

What would I do without the princesses? Cinderella is the model of a good work ethic – maintaining your good humor, hopes, and dreams through spite and drudgery. (I still cheer for her when she gets away from those bitches). Belle loves books, thought the hottest guy in town was boring, and was willing to sacrifice herself to save a sick parent. Sleeping beauty was in love with the guy who sang with her in the woods, even though she didn’t know he was a prince. Jasmine fell in love with a pauper, even though she had all the money in the world. Snow White was super nice to animals and adopted seven little ugly working class guys and took such good care of them that they fought for her life. And Ariel, who I almost like best of all, dreamed of places far away and forbidden and risked everything to be something different (she wanted to be human BEFORE she met the guy). And they didn’t even show Rapunzel or Tiana because they would be too hard to criticize in their current Disney form. Wait until they get a load of Merida from BRAVE.

These are all classic romantic stories of love, sacrifice, and following your dreams. That is why my daughter (and I) love them. I hear that the girls are going to grow out of Princesses and start loving horses and skateboards. Yes, they do move on from princess play. However, I am in no rush. I have never stopped wanting to dress up fancy, ride horses, dance with handsome men, and hang out in castles, and I never thought any of the things in those captions.

Day 110: Oh my god, what just happened to me? Startup Weekend. #swsea

Startup Weekend

Sometime around lunch on Saturday. That’s me in the blue hat. Photo by Dwight Battle. http://blackartdirector.com/

Where do I even begin? I guess about a month ago. That was when I got a Facebook message from Kyle Kesterson. I’ve known Kyle for years now. Long before he became well known, doing things like interviews with Geekwire and traveling all over the country, excuse me, world. I am not even sure I knew that Kyle was doing those things when he asked me to attend Startup Weekend, “Rise of the Designer.” I was flattered that he remembered that I was a designer, and proud that recruiting women to attend the event was important to him.

I had never heard of Startup Weekend. I think maybe I’ve been under some kind of rock, because there have been hundreds of similar events around the country for a couple of years now. It’s huge. The basic premise is to get a bunch of people in a room for 52 hours and get them to build viable products and possibly start new companies right then and there. I am not sure I beleived it was possible. But trust me, it happens.

If I had never quit my job, I am not sure I could have committed to something like this. I had to make sacrifices. Everyone does. Not only did I sacrifice sleep, comfort, hydration, and my sanity, I had to go three days without seeing Melody but for a few minutes in the morning (and that was because I was ok with being a little late). I am so glad I had plenty of energy saved up was in a position to do this. It was one of the most thrilling, educational, and worthy things I have ever done. I met spectacular people, connected with a bunch more people on Twitter, and even made a new friend I’ll actually hang out with soon.

It’s really too bad I couldn’t have blogged live from the event, but frankly I was too busy. I left each night at close to midnight and my eyes were ready to fall right out of their sockets. I also would have loved to have written a recap yesterday, but I was barely able speak I was so exhausted and Melody wasn’t letting me out of her sight. After Melody went to bed I had several hours of paid work to do (yes, I do that now). Top that off with Melody’s pre-school closing for “snow” (not one bloody flake) today, and we arrive at post bedtime blog writing almost two days later. The good news is that I gave some extensive on camera interviews that hopefully will make it into Kyle’s video of the event – I’m gonna be famous!

What do I have to show for it? Well, there is a landing page for starters. My team was “Hungry, Thirsty, Bored.” Eric Butler pitched a mobile app that allows you to meet up with your friends in the moment, and skip all of desperate broadcasts and the back and forth trying to rally people to go out now. I always find myself in this kind of situation and I sincerely wanted, and still want, to see this tool become a reality. It got built this weekend – mostly. My main contributions were some icons, the logo featuring an ID monster that I drew, and a lot of moral support. The other designer on the team designed the app, and the developers made it work. We were very focused, and there was remarkably little drama, especially compared to other teams.

Unfortunately I think sometimes the drama is the birth pains of true inspiration. It means you are going beyond your comfort zone. It means you are doing something extraordinary, and that can be tremendously stressful. I think as a team we sold ourselves short. Eric came in with a very specific and simple idea (including wireframes) and pushed back whenever we challenged him to add more. Everything but the basics was “out of scope.” This resulted in a team who wasn’t really invested emotionally in the final product because there was very little creativity involved – just execution. Out of the 9 people we started with, at the final presentation was Eric, myself, and someone who just wanted to see the other presentations, but hadn’t spoken a word to us for two hours prior. Eric’s a great person, a talented developer, and more of a designer than he gives himself credit for, but he is not a leader – yet.

The weekend left me contemplating what I could have done differently. If I had pushed back harder (risking drama) would we have turned a corner and bonded? Or would we have completely self destructed like another team did? Would I have had more fun on another team? Or would I have had even less to contribute? The only way for me to find out is to do it again. I can’t believe I am saying it and Tom will probably make me wait at least three months, but I will go back and I will pitch – I already have an idea. It’s possible my idea won’t make it past the first round and I will end up on another team, but at least I will have tried. I want to see what happens when I get a crack at leading a team. If I do I will let them push back on me in return I will inspire them to build something they never in a million years thought they could do, let alone in a weekend.

Day 98: Domestic Distractions

My dashing husband in the hat I just finished for him

One would think that, during the final countdown to Day 100, you would be seeing a blog post per day with all sorts of stunning insights and revelations. Sorry, I’ve been knitting.

I obsess over knitting. Once I start a project I can’t put it down. It’s like a page-turner. I just want to get to the next step – just one more row. I stay up way too late, until my eyes are crossing and twitching. I remember my first project. I think I even played hooky from work so I could sit on the couch all day and knit.

In the last 100 days I did a bit of knitting here and there. I finished the sleeves on a humongous sweater. I knit myself a hat, as shown in one of my self-portraits. I had lost the previous hat last spring and was pleased that I could recreate it with yarn I got 2 birthdays ago. I did a Barbie dress for Melody’s dolls – seemed sane when I started it, but the end of it I was cursing myself. I also did a series of washcloths because I didn’t know what else to do. I even took my knitting on my trip to the South, and brought them with me to Melody’s play dates so I would have something to do.

I can’t knit when Melody isn’t occupied. She comes over and pulls on the yarn ball (a terrifying feeling for a knitter) and says “I wanna KNIT!, Teach me to KNIT!” I tried once to teach her to knit and it was pretty futile. Three year-olds just don’t have the hand eye coordination required. It’s ridiculous that I ever thought otherwise.

Tonight I finished Tom’s new hat. He was still wearing a hat I made him two years ago with ear flaps. It was my 3rd project ever and was a bit too small and not warm enough. On Monday I picked up a knitting book at the Library called Knitting on the Edge. It’s the coolest book full of all sorts of fancy borders. As I was oohing and ahhing over it’s photos, Tom reminded me he wanted a new hat. I dove in immediately that very night. If I hadn’t finished the new hat tonight, I probably wouldn’t have written anything here. Where are my priorities? With domesticity I guess.

Turns out I love all things domestic. You name it: cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting, embroidery, mending, decorating, organizing, child rearing, shopping, well… sometimes, laundry… no wait, I hate that. Never mind – I just love the creative parts of home-making.

Part of the reason why I was in such a hurry to finish the hat is that I may be starting a part-time contract on Monday – the first possible day I can take paid work. The schedule I described on Day 92 was read by someone who wanted to put it into practice. I will have a lot less time for little domestic projects as I move into the next phase of my new life. I am about to be a very busy lady, and I am really looking forward to it.

Since I am going to be catching up with a dear friend tomorrow night, I will not be writing on Day 99. I will however be posting the longest and most thorough entry of this entire saga on the fabled Day 100. At that time I’ll let you know a little bit more about my new venture. Time to go and clean up my knitting basket and put it away, at least for a while, until I have time to start on my next project: socks for Melody.

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Day 93: 12 predictions for 2012

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This photo was shot just before midnight at Locol. I was able to post my draft and add a photo from my phone at the bar. I love technology.

 

It’s that time of the year again. This is the time of the year when every single media outlet (including and especially blogs) count down the top ________ of ______, or resolutions, tips, predictions for the coming year.

I wrote a post at the end of 2009 on my first (and very unproductive) blog that chronicled all the wonderful things that had happened to me in that decade. I feel like I have done the recap thing enough. At the very least, I have covered the last quarter of this year in great detail.

I choose now to be future focused. I will not dwell on the past. I will not make resolutions – which aren’t even promises. Here are my personal 12 predictions for 2012:

1. Building Ipad apps will be added to my skill set.

2. Tom and I will take Melody on her first trip to the Big Apple, and she will not want to come home.

3. We will rebuild our chicken coop and add to our flock.

3. Tom will get a raise.

4. Melody will learn to write her full name. Right now she is “Moly” and she’s fine with that.

5. My vote will be for Barak Obama and he will get re-elected

6. I will make at least 5 new friends.

7. I’ll turn 36, and this birthday will not feature a body landing on the street in front of me.

8. We will go on at least two camping trips and one of them will not include rain.

9. The 1% are going to get even more nervous.

10. It will become popular to temporarily deactivate your Facebook account, and I will try it.

11. My new Iphone will be a temporary obsession.

12. The planet will not self destruct, but it will continue to get suckier to live on.

Happy New Year!