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October 30, 2009

Oh Weekend, how I love thee

[image from the portfolio of my new favorite stylist, Twig Hutchinson]

The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty hectic, methinks, starting today. After work, Jase and I are going to go sign our new lease on life. Literally. We're moving in together! To a "soft loft" in Jack London Square in Oakland.

But first I have to find someone to cover my apartment because technically, my lease doesn't end til March. So many things to do! Last night I started packing for an open house showing TOMORROW. Eek. There are yellow stickies all over the apartment for things we HAVE to do before showing the place, like taking down fixtures I put up, and packing away the kitchen and wiping everything down. But luckily I am with The Most Patient and Calm person alive; we shall overcome.

As hinted in my previous post, this move is a big step for us in our relationship. The big step before this was me moving to the Bay Area. And before that, it was saying those three little words. We've been together for over three years and for the past year we've talked about this very moment as if it were an inevitable thing that would happen naturally, but not knowing when. And now that it's here I couldn't be more excited.

Happy weekend to all of you. Oh, and have a safe and fun Hallows Eve! Jase and I are going to a party as Waldo and Carmen from Where's Waldo and Where In the World Is Carmen SanDiego. Watch this clip -- acappella makes me smile.

Rescuing Love

[image from The Thinking Tank]

I haven't always been open to accepting wisdom from others. Sometimes I just want to figure things out myself. What can I say, I'm the stubborn middle child. My heart clenches when criticized, but still, I try to improve.

In my relationship with Jase, I've had to look in the mirror more closely than I've ever cared to look before. Thing is, I know that there's so much more to discover. That both excites and scares me, to be quite honest, so I take it in doses, working on what I can, when I can, and hope that it's for the better. Now that we're taking that next step (more on that later), I'm even more aware of what needs fixing before it's too late.

This time, it took reading Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletter this morning to realize that my relationship with Jase is going to change, and for the better. The newsletter is articulately written from three male perspectives, and  I wanted to share all these golden nuggets of wisdom with you, but also so I can call on it if (and when) I'll need it too.  Deepak Chopra touches on so many good points in his essay, but here are a few of the ones that spoke to me personally.

"Relationships are happy where love is nurtured. They begin to fray around the edges when love is compromised, and they end when love is gone."

"To rescue love, you first must understand what it is. Love includes affection but is more than affection. It associates itself with sexual desire, kindness, compassion, altruism, and mutual regard.  With those things in mind, many couples turn love into loving acts and loving feelings.  But such efforts are the effect of love, not love itself. You cannot turn an effect into a cause."

"Love as a cause goes beyond the individual. It's transpersonal or as spiritual teachers say, transcendent.  That's not the same as mystical. To transcend means to go beyond.  In this case, we want to contact love that goes beyond the ego. The ego is often put in charge of love. When love becomes what "I" want, then relationship is a negotiation between two selfish points of view."

"Instead of wasting time with the ego's version of love, return to the place of love. " 

"The differences between a man and a woman fade in the light of a shared goal that is bigger than any ego need or desire.  Every day becomes both a rescue and a surrender. Not a surrender to another person's ego, which can only feel like defeat. Rather, both partners surrender to the larger goal."
Actually, you know what, I think I'm way more excited than scared. Three years into this relationship, I know my ego still drives my heart more often than not. I won't beat myself up for that. I'm still working on myself and therefore still working on love. And I want to know that sort of love, more than anything. So, bring it on, Deepak. I'm ready.

Read all three essays on Sustaining Relationships here.

October 28, 2009

Fall Boot: Swedish Hasbeens

{left photo via Unruly Things , right from Swedish Hasbeens}

Oh dear. The price of these perfect fall boots just kicked me in the shins. I was hoping that 2495 SEK converted to less than $100 USD but no. 2495 Swedish kronor = 354.327425 U.S. dollars .

October 26, 2009

Discovery on the Net

How do you discover new websites? Maybe your homepage is set to CNN or GoogleReader and that's all you really need to start your day. You might be like me and have different bookmark tabs set in the Firefox menu, ready for my hourly rummaging (which, btw, makes for terrible productivity, so I'm looking to better manage).

Where ever your starting point, you may catch a glimpse of an external link that takes you to another product, another website, which intrigues you and has you clicking into yet another website, and by the time you realize your tea is cold and your eyes are bloodshot because haven't blinked in a couple hours, you're 523 websites deep and haven't even checked your email yet.

That's my history log right there, thank you Firefox for outing me.

Allow me to share with you what I discovered from 7:21 AM to 9:20 AM this morning.

  • (Facebook) My friends Shannon and Jason are now engaged! I left them a comment congratulating the beautiful duo.

  • (Brizzly) @kickstarter tweeted about a video that someone made about them. Watched it, admired the reporter's flawless overview.

  • (Brizzly) @design_sponge tweeted about two martha stewart blog posts about her wedding. Quickly flipped through those.

    • ...87 more Facebook links later...

  • (Cup of Jo) Joanna dropped a little link to a Flickr account about a red spray-painted chandelier. Here we go...

  • (abchao Flickr) Documented several interior remodels of her gorgeous home, and of course, I became obsessed.

    • .... 86 Flickr photos later, I take a break to check my Gmail, my bank statement, and head back to Flickr...

  • (abchao Flickr) In her photo captions she mentions GOOP, Gwenyth Paltrow's lifestyle blog, and I remember how much I liked it so I pay her a visit and watch her latest cooking video on roast chicken and fingerling potatoes. Now have dinner plans and a renewed respect for Gwen.

  • She also mentions a good book (bought two copies, one for me and one for my mother),  a pair of shoes, and her blog, which takes me on another spiral.

    • ... after76 more Flickr Pageviews between abchao and her friend 10cent's interiors...

  • (Max Wanger) I instinctively pay his blog a visit and he directs me to a cool ass user collected product blog. Mmmmm shiny things..

  •  (behance) .. which redirect me to a notebook that I like and remember that I'm in the market for one. Think about writing a blog post about it, and start looking for a variety of notebooks.

  • (Facebook) Saw a poster that reminded me of a friend and wanted to post the link on his page but got lost in 30 Facebook pageviews.  Back to Behance.

  • (99%) Accidentally clicked on a side link that turned out to be right up my alley. I spent all weekend studying leadership / business / organizing tools and 99% articles and tips cover it all. I even do a little research on their conference in NY in April.  Sweet Jesus.

  • *deep breath* I feel like I just confessed my sins to my mother. Except my sins are links, displayed shamelessly above. I wonder if you'll click on any of them, and go on a little escapade on your own. Can you relate to this insanity that is a little part of my life at a desk? I know I'm not the only stalker here.  =)

  • Anyway, happy Monday everyone.

    October 24, 2009

    E. E. Cummings Quote

    "I thank you God for this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes. "

    —e.e. cummings

    October 23, 2009

    To Pet or Not to Pet?

    What is it about people and their pets? What's so special about that relationship that make people coo and goo over camera photos and stories? I realize that might sound cynical, but please know that I'm genuinely curious and not trying to offend. I feel like a bad person to say that I can't relate to that mushy gushy love between pets and their owners. I can witness it and understand that it's real, but I just haven't experienced it for myself.

    Growing up we had pets. Nippers and Melody were rabbits, and Angel was a parakeet. We brought home the class hamster. Clover, a German shepherd/lab mix, accompanied with us for a good 11 years, but we had to put down earlier this year because of an untreatable tumor. I miss her, and regret that I never took good care of her. I always saw her as a misbehaved dog, and never opened my heart to her until much too late. I loved her when she was little and cute, and then I became a self-absorbed lazy ass of a teenager. What was missing from me that kept us from having a relationship?

    There are some days that I feel a longing for companionship, and a little puppy or kitten sounds like just the solution for my problems. But that's not very fair is it. I feel that it's not right to decide to have a pet out of loneliness and dependency, whether that pet be a mouse or a human. And on days that I feel good and solid, a pet would seem more of a responsibility than anything. Something is missing there as well.

    Is it because I see animals as animals, and not as humans? It's selfish to say, I know. I'm sorry... I'm just trying to understand. Am I being self righteous, and bigoted? I would love love love to have a friend to listen, to cuddle and run around with -- but it all seems so weird and experimental to me. I know of neurotic pets whose owners pull their hair out over, yet love them to bits. I know of calm and passive animals who become part of the routine, and aren't babied. I know of perfectly co-habitable cats and well behaved dogs.

    I don't know what about me is being reflected in my opinion of animals. I do know, that until I figure it out, I can't ever have a pet, and that makes me sad to know that I'm missing out on something.

    October 22, 2009

    When Clarity Fails

    And vagueness prevails. I dreamt something very important last night.. epiphanous, even. Of course I can't remember what it was.

    October 20, 2009

    Brene Brown, will you be my guru?

    "Be creative.  There's no such thing as Creative People and Not Creative People -- there are only People Who Choose to Use Their Creative Gifts and People Who Don't.  Remember this:  the only unique things you will ever do in this world will be things which are creative."

    Talk about putting things into perspective. There's no excuse anymore.

    From her bio: "Dr. Brené Brown is a writer, researcher, and educator. She is a member of the research faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work where she has spent the past ten years studying connection - specifically authenticity, belonging, and shame, and the affect these powerful emotions have on the way we live, love, parent, work and build relationships."

    Check out more of what she has to say. I respect people with the courage to look deeply within for ways to happy living. On her blog Ordinary Courage, Brown spreads the good word through storytelling and her own life examples that are approachable and relatable. For example, having been a waitress myself for most of my teenage life and then some, I totally agree with her thoughts on respecting the service industry.

    I've got a LOT to learn and correct about myself, I am aware of this. I also accept that living the way you want to takes courage and it takes time. But if I could tap into her work one crumb at a time, I would feel nourished daily.

    October 19, 2009

    Monday Morning Meandering

    [image from The Thinking Tank]

    Monday 8 A.M. At the office early. I love it when the pigeons swoop by the windows in huge flocks -- I can't hear them but I see them out of the corner of my eye. Never quite turn on the camera fast enough.

    So far, this morning was full of the following:

    • An everything bagel with cream cheese and honey lemon tea. Opted not for the coffee that I think makes me highly grumplestiltskin.
    • Photographers Jonas Peterson and Mikael Kennedy make me ache for my camera and the outdoors.
    • My friend Justin invited me to Google Wave (!) so I watched two quick tutorials. So much to absorb. Huge learning curve if you're not already web app saavy, and I consider myself to be medium skilled. Regardless, I'm so stoked to practice using this collaborative tool with some friends of mine. Wave at me if you have it!
    • IKEA hack by one of my fav bloggers, for me, for you.
    • Collaborative column about being recently self-employed between Mint Design and Pitch Design Union. If there's one thing that's bittersweet about this economy, is the emerging potential for greatness and goodwill we are seeing in people these days.
    • Paper paper paper. Researching a possible visual identity for myself. Requesting some quotes for a thank you note card from a couple of letterpress stationary designers -- so far it's looking pricey but worth it!

    October 14, 2009

    Special Moments

    I really enjoy reading about what other couples bicker about. I know that it can be sort of voyeuristic of me to enjoy a peek into an intimate relationship, but it just makes me giggle! I found this from MightyGirl's blog:

    "Me (Margaret Mason): Yow. It may be time to trim those toenails.
    Bryan (her husband): No! They’re the source of my power."

    That would make me laugh.

    Jas and I hardly bicker. While we have dozens of great serious-turned-hilarious moments, we have dozens of arguments due to poor communication or bad moods. But I couldn't call it bickering. We're notorious for retreating into our own shells, but we've figured out a formula that works for us. It boils down to either 1) If either of us need to leave, let the other know- like last night, and 2) Do what it takes to keep moving forward, through distraction or talking- like last night.

    Ok so to preface, yesterday we rode the train home together after work yesterday in silence, and didn't quite reconnect. You know how sometimes couples energize off each other, and when one is down the other just needs to pick up the slack and fill that gap? I was tired and pissy from the day-long downpour, I guess, and didn't really have any energy at all. Oh, and it's definitely That Time of Month.

    When we got home, I immediately called a leasing consultant about an apartment I'd been obsessing over all weekend. While one the phone, Jas was crunching on tortilla chips REALLY loudly next to me so I motioned for to him to stop. It was an important call. When he reached for another chip I made sure to smile as I reached and gently pinched his lips closed, just in case he hadn't gotten my telepathic message to for-the-love-of-buddha--please-stop-eating-those-three-month-old-tortilla-chips-i-can't-hear-myself-think!!!

    I don't know, maybe it was his way of cheering me up because he noticed I was quiet on the train, or maybe it was the teenager in him retaliating my motherly demand, but seeming like he got the message, he went into the other room, turned around, and shot his fists into the air while beaming as wiiidely as possible. As if to cheer me on or something. Cute, right? Yeah, I thought so too. But then remembered I was on the phone and hadn't been listening to the leasing dude at all (did I mention that this is a very important call about an apartment that we BOTH love!?). I gave Jas a "question?" look and he pumped his fists into the air again. Okay. That he is messing with me has just been confirmed.

    I turn my attention back to the phone. Jas comes back into the room, no, scratch that, BOUNDS back into the room as if he had something urgent to tell me. I look up, and he's cheesing in my face. Normally cute, not so much when I'm trying to secure our FUTURE HOME. I won't tell you what he did next to make me turn completely backwards on the couch, but I will tell you that it had something to do with his slapping his butt. Here's a visual for you. I'm not sure how to illustrate how I felt at the time but rest assured, I was FUMING.

    After I got off the phone, it was obvious that Jason knew I was annoyed and that he felt bad, but I was unable to become UNannoyed. So I steamed for a bit while he went to the gym, but the gym's power was out so he came back and I sulked some more but he stuck with me. Good man. In the end, he picked up some dinner and we ate while watching Mad Men. oh, 3) Eating a good meal always helps. After eating we were alllll good.

    But yeah, bickering? I can't really think of anything in specific. =)

    Anyway, I am almost certain that IF we bicker it's 100% initiated by me. I admit my main neurosis is to have things my way - which of course makes me bossy, but he seems to absorb it well seeing as how his personality is much like the rubber skin of Mr. Fantastic. I really love that about him. So much that I really try be aware and keep my crazy to a minimum so that I don't abuse or take him for granted. Next time I'll know, he's really cheering me on for NOT choking him the ONE time he won't let me have my way.

    Do you have silly arguments with your friends or significant others? I'd love to hear your stories.

    October 13, 2009

    First Rain

    [View from my 4th and Market Street office, San Francisco, 7:15 AM, 9/13/09]

    The city is anew. All through the night, rooftops pour old droppings down the faces of buildings, tires knead the spittage and dirt from crevices. Only people who really want or really need to be here show up at a time this early. In this morning, normally dim, all the streets glisten happily into the distance, into the dark.

    October 5, 2009

    Who says print is dead?

    "...Biggest one-day bloodbath in the publishing company’s 100-year history."

    It's all over Twitter. With today's announcement of Conde Nast "axing" four of its titles, the world of print is trembling in their paper boots.. I'm writing to tell you to have a little hope! Be a little innovative! Sure times are rough, but all the more reason to look for those little opportunities.

    I stumbled upon MagCloud this morning, an online-submit print-to-order magazine publishing tool. Along with hundreds of other photographers, Derek Powzawek took advantage of the eerie dust storm that covered Sydney last month to create a 40-page publication in 31.5 hours. Uh-amazing? Mostly because I could do that too? And so could you? Yeah.

    At 20 cents a page, and print to order model, it's pretty affordable and capable of high-volume. Got a story to tell, and 48 hours to spare? Publish a mag! Read about more benefits and how MagCloud works here.

    In the same vein, have you seen the new issue of Lonny Magazine? Of course you have, it's all over the blogsphere. Published by two ex-editors of the highly mourned Domino magazine (also closed by Conde Nast earlier this year), Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline, this is new ground for home decor publications. They've laid out the magazine format over an online platform, making possibilities endless, complete with clickable retail/shop links when you hover over images, zoom and a print option. I don't know how this mag is going to make money, but it's going to get a heap of page views!

    "OUR MISSION is to reopen the doors of accessible design. By embracing an online platform we provide inspiration at the click of a finger, directly connecting our readers to their favorite products and resources. Our freedom from page limits means that we can share more content in each issue, delivering an intimate look into the way people really live." - m.a. belle

    One complaint I have is the decision to stick to an 8x11" page format -- it doesn't translate on screen and every time I want to read something I have to zoom in. I suppose it's not a website, and encourages printing, but it seems a bit grey to me.

    Anyway, alls I'm saying is keep yer chins up, print peeps. There are business models and new technology for the taking, we just need to realize it. If we think of ends as beginnings, maybe it won't seem so sad...