3.31.2012

Casual Friday in a different city.

I had a very good day today talking about how to run a small business. A small tech business, to be specific, though I suppose that many of the things we covered could extend to a small bakery or bookstore or what have you. It was a good day because I had several conversations with some very smart and down-to-earth people and I felt happy about community.

Then! After dinner and drinks, I pushed through my jet lag and walked to Kathryn and Aaron's house, which was a delightful 7 minutes away from my hotel. The best thing about traveling to a city where you know people is popping in on them on a Friday evening for a cup of tea and a catch up. It was almost as if I lived here, as if our conversations about books and work and our cats were a weekly occurrence. Ah, that it were so.

I'll try to post pictures tomorrow. I passed so many adorable bungalows with blue doors and pink flowered trees today, but was too busy holding an umbrella and a hot tea to take any photos. I'll get on that, though. It's charming as hell.

3.29.2012

It's raining in Portland, but who cares?

I am here! I am in Portland, where it is raining but warm. I'm at a new conference (ShopTalk); it's the first time they're having it, so for the next two days, 15 of us are going to be sitting around and talking about running small tech businesses. (Um. I am jazzed.)

To top it off, it's being held at this AW.ESOME. hotel called McMenamin's Kennedy School, which is a converted old school. So each room has chalkboards with messages on them and there are fun bars with names like "Dention" and "Honors."

I am a weird combination of gross and smelly and hungry and tired, so I'm off to find some grub and then shower and probably sleep. BUT. I wanted to tell you that I read The Marriage Plot cover-to-cover today over the course of 9 hours of travel today and it was so good! Like, crazy good. If you have ever been an English major, you should read it. You will recognize yourself in it. Of course, that does leave me with a gap of what to read next since I had not planned on steamrolling through it...

Maybe there's a fully-functional LIBRARY at this school? I will report back.

3.28.2012

Packing and reading

I'm a little busy tonight, what with packing and not forgetting my iPhone charger. (I always do.) One of the last things to decide is which books to bring. Isn't this always the hardest part? I might just grab The Marriage Plot and then visit Powell's halfway through the trip to get my fix.

Here's Ollie hanging out with Chris' Kindle last summer... I haven't boarded that train yet, but I never say never.



More tomorrow from the West Coast!

3.27.2012

On renewable resources.

Tonight Chris and I walked down to Union Square before we got on the subway. It was pretty nice out and it was a good way to end the day together with a bit of exercise. We talked a little about our Life Lists and the kinds of things that might happen to us in our lives. I'm not sure if I can fully credit Camp Mighty for this (because I think there was a reason we were drawn to it in the first place), but I feel so grateful to be the kind of person who can look at a messy world and see possibility.

I was overwhelmed by opportunity in our futures today and I tried to put it into words. The closest I got was this:

I feel very lucky because there's a renewable stock of small hope seeds within me, tiny little sprouts that can be called forward at a moment's notice. I know that, no matter what happens in my life, I can count on these sprouts to appear, grow roots and bear hope. Even when I imagine potential difficult situations in our lives (living far from family, financial issues, trouble figuring out what I'm supposed to do), I'm reassured that there is opportunity to form a community and build a good life, no matter what.

Granted, I'm lucky enough to have a partner who also sees possibility in many areas. It's great to be with Chris because he is eternally optimistic too and I have a hard time imagining him getting stuck in his ways. Evolution, on a personal level, is such a life-saver, don't you think? Because when we are confident and open enough to evolve, we're well-positioned to be happy.

To top off this feeling of strength I had earlier tonight, I just finished watching an episode of Oprah's Next Chapter in which she travels to Fairfield, Iowa to visit the town that meditates. A million new thoughts pop into my head, ideas about waking earlier to meditate, ideas about Iowa, hope for a smaller city that will one day welcome us, hope for an education for our children that doesn't feel like a compromise. All that from a TV show!

That's what media should be about. The Internet gets a bad rap for all the horribleness it reveals about the world, but it's also a huge resource for wonder and change. I'm glad that we're alive in an age when connecting with people very far away is not only possible, but happens all the time.

Also I'm glad to be alive when Oprah's alive. Man, do I love her.

3.26.2012

Galavanting in kindness.

Me and Kathryn. And Hieronymus the cat.
Well! I'm heading west again. I'm headed to Portland later this week for a work conference, then to Seattle for another one. Ican'twaitIcan'twaitIcan'twait.

After my work is done, Chris is flying out to meet me so we can spend a long weekend hanging in Portland. We are excited to see Kathryn and Aaron again (and snuggle their cats!) We're also excited to hang with Asha, a new friend we made at Camp Mighty. We've kept in touch since we met and now we'll get to see how life rolls on her turf.

Man, do I ever crave an airplane ride to read and think and nap. Only 3 more days to wait!

*

First off, let me just say this about you guys. You are nice. Really! The comments lately and the texts were so supportive over the past few days. But then today I got a letter from Abby, who thought I could use some cheering up. A CARD. IN THE MAIL. FROM A BLOG FRIEND. I mean, really.

Let's always remember how little time it would take to make someone's day. Sure, there are lots of elaborate projects that one can throw herself into - big, lofty, fun projects - but there are also some very small actions we can take to make the world happier. I'm going to send postcards from the west coast to three unsuspecting recipients just to celebrate re-learning this lesson. 

Thank you, Abby, for the kind words. And thanks to all of you for making this blog a strong little space with a metaphoric little beating heart. 

3.25.2012

Looking forward.

Sometimes when I'm watching 'Mad Men,' I imagine that my Mom was Sally when she was a kid. It's interesting to imagine my Mom as a 12 year old when African Americans were protesting for their rights. The American culture that we see in episodes of 'Mad Men' is, for the most part, foreign to me. Crazy to think my parents grew up in such a different America.

This is obviously how my children will feel about gay rights and marriage. Society moves forward, correcting social imbalances as needed. I'm not naive enough to say that we've solved equality with regard to race just yet (Trayvon Martin, anyone?), but I'm hopeful enough to say that my kids will grow up in a more open world.

And I can't wait to see the show that AMC puts out in 20 or 30 years to demonstrate the progress.

3.24.2012

Mentally abroad for the day

This article about the differences between French and American families (described in a book by Pamela Druckerman) was circulating a few weeks ago on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you saw it? I'm always a sucker for French culture books, so I ordered it from our local library and picked it up last night on the way home from work.

Fast forward to me spending the WHOLE DAY reading the book cover to cover. It was fascinating to read about the ways we pick up culture from our earliest days on the planet, and especially how French babies become, well, French people.

Tonight, sufficiently nostalgic, we got dressed up and headed to our favorite French restaurant in Brooklyn, Bacchus. The waitresses know us there and always speak French with me. It was a great evening; Chris and I talked about culture and discipline, how we grew up and how we'd like to take a trip to France next year.

French isn't a daily thing for me anymore, but I continue to be so grateful for the time I've spent studying the language and the time I spent living abroad. The whole "work to live" mentality is a much healthier model than New York's "live to work," and after a particularly stressful week, this was a great reminder for both of us.

3.23.2012

Navigating the Tweens.

Tonight we saw The Hunger Games. Obviously because it was opening night and because these books are technically Young Adult, we were seated among many teenage girl birthday parties. And the crying! Oh the sobbing! The scene when Rue dies prompted such wails! (This is not really a spoiler, as the whole movie is about killing).

It reminded me of the totally social awkward age when showing emotion is not cool one week and entirely popular the next. My Dad took a friend and me to see Philadelphia when I was in the 7th grade and I remember this friend cried through the whole thing. I also remember being concerned with how much emotion I should have been showing. I mean, yes, AIDS, drama, Denzel Washington... but I was too worried about the crying to actually feel any of it.

Such angst! On our walk home tonight, Chris mentioned how annoyed he was when all the teenage girls laughed AT THE WRONG MOMENTS. Like, when they show the other love interest, Gale. I pointed out that, at 11 years old, you have no idea what a relationship is and the best you can do is assume the opposite of love is pure hatred. And then laugh nervously!

One day they'll grow up and realize the opposite of love is sometimes confusion.

Moral of the story: the movie was GREAT. The books were great too. Four thumbs up from this household!

3.22.2012

Small things.

Some days are better than others. Today I'm having a hard time keeping the faith. (Code: sometimes the problems I try to help solve in the world seem un-dent-able. Do you ever feel this way?)




Here's one problem that existed in the world that I did help solve: adopting Ollie. It's been almost a year since he came home with us and I feel happy every day knowing that he's not in a shelter anymore, but at home, with us, getting plenty of snuggles.

3.21.2012

Freakin' social media campaigns always get ruined.

(IMs at work)

Me: what the.
Me: the KONY dude was found masturbating in public.
Chris: Crazy
Chris: I heard that so much of that stuff was called out as a sham, I never got a chance to watch it
Chris: Pretty sad
Me: Yes.
Me: Esp because we have a media kit being mailed to us.
Me: and tee-shirts.
Me: and posters.
Me: (I went a little crazy and paid $30 for a kit)
Chris: If we keep them in mint condition, a hipster will buy them in 2022.
Me: btw it wasn't a sham!
Me: people are horrible and can't be optimistic for 4 minutes!
Chris: I don't know the facts either way
Me: even if a small part of it was, we need to BELIEVE!
Me: btw you down for some church'in on Sunday?
Chris: I think I could church it up.
Me: put on your Sunday best
Chris: I'll get out my tee-shirt with the nuclear explosion on it.
Me: haha great
Me: I'll wear my KONY

3.20.2012

Five tips for watching your friends run the NYC half marathon

A few months back, I was intent on running the NYC half marathon. Life happened and I didn't train. But all along the way, my buddy Kelley was training. She was spending her Saturdays running lots of miles and her Thursday nights training in Central Park.

It was inspirational to say the least.


Here we are after a 4 miler last summer in Central Park.
So when the day of the race came, it was obvious that we were going to be there to cheer for her as she completed the 13.1 long miles. What an emotional experience! I cried at least twice, overcome by the individual struggles that everyone who passed us were going through. We high-fived complete strangers and cheered as loud as we could.

There was something about hearing my own voice say things like "You can do it! You're doing great!" and "Good job! Almost halfway there!" that got me all choked up. How often is our support of others silent? We type the words or we write them in cards or we give hugs or we compliment others quietly in conversation. But to loudly yell our support? Barely ever happens.

And when we finally saw our runner girl, we whooped it up and sent her along towards mile 6 with as much energy as we had in us.


Waiting for Kelley. Searching all orange tee-shirts.

THERE SHE IS!

Leaving us in the dust...

More strangers at mile 10, where we missed Kelley. 
Happy champion, via Kel's Instagram.

Know someone running the NYC half marathon next year? Here are our lessons learned:

  1. Don't be late. These races start super-early... and regardless of how tired you are, leaving 30 minutes earlier is going to save you stress later on when you miss the Mile 4 marker and have to settle for a spot near Mile 6.
  2. If you're late, don't take a cab. The city is on LOCK-DOWN and the cab driver will freak out. 
  3. Sign up for text messages about the runner you're tracking with NYRR. We found out when Kelley passed the 5k, 10k and 15k markers and could predict when she'd be passing our spot. Very helpful.
  4. For a 13.1 mile race, it's probably unrealistic to try to make it to two spots along the course. We tried for miles 4 and 10... and only made it to one in time. Those runners move fast!
  5. Be prepared for the insane amount of motivation you'll have once it's over. You'll want to be there next year! And with a little luck, that's my plan.  

3.19.2012

Reuniting.

I loved college. Well, the first year I hated it. But then I loved it, so much, that sometimes I still think about how happy I was walking around Muhlenberg's campus, living within a mile of everyone I thought was amazing in the world. It's still hard to believe that much awesome was around me any given day. Coffee with a professor, then brunch with Leigh, then a walk to English class with Skersh. (I could go on and on.)

So it was a totally amazing thing when this past weekend, the English department held a reunion. Anne, Sarah, Skrocks and I caravanned down from Brooklyn and stayed overnight on Friday, then spent all day Saturday reminiscing and reuniting with fellow lit people.

A highlight: we attended a short story class with Dr. Rosenwasser, one of our favs of the department. For 75 glorious minutes, it was really like reliving college. We made smart points about the work, listened to each other, and made a mess with an Irish story.

The afternoon was warm, so we skipped a session and walked around campus. We sat around Parent's Plaza and I asked everyone what they would change about college if they could go back. My answer was that I wish I would have found my major sooner; I wasted a couple of years in the Education program and when I think of the lit classes I could have taken with that time... well. I just wish I'd gotten there sooner.

But that's one of those life lessons, right? That it takes you however long it takes you to get where you need to go. And I'm very appreciative that Muhlenberg was the place I became who I was going to become, even if it tok me a tiny bit longer than I would have liked.

Pix of the weekend:

The lovely Peggy spoke about going freelance.



Skrock poses under her sculpture.




MO! I finally caught up with Mo after 8 years!

3.18.2012

Sunny Sunday

You know how sometimes you get into a lazy routine of sleeping late and just watching TV and eating junk food? And one day you wake up and think THAT'S IT. I'M GETTING UP EARLY AND EATING SALADS. That's where I'm at with this here blog. I wasn't posting on here a bunch and then it got more infrequent and then it stopped. For eleven days. I mean, I REMEMBERED that I had a blog, but I've just so busy doing life things and out and about and sleeping in that it just never seemed like the time to sit down and write a post.

NO MORE, I SAY. I am back. And for the rest of March, I'm committing to a post a day. Not because I'm doing a social media experiment or NaNoWriAnything, but because I want to get back in the rhythm of sharing things.

First up, some news. We are... going to Japan! We have tickets booked. For 12 days in the month of May, we'll be way over on the other side of the world, eating sushi and petting tame deer. Well, Chris will be eating sushi. I, myself, do not like fish. I will probably be on a quest for the world's best Ramen noodles.

Is that exciting or what? Now that we have tickets, I'm knee-deep in hotel reservations and buying tickets for the bullet train. It is going to be a crazy time, let me tell you. We'll be hitting up Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Takayama... so if you have words of advice or places we MUST see, the comments section is yours.

I leave you with photos of my mentors of late. Now you can understand why I've been so lazy!


3.07.2012

Readability launch and Camp Mighty Reunion. (Yes, we're tired).

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. We've had house guests the past few weekends and work has been IN.SANE. Last week we released Readability's iOS app... which is currently the app of the week on iTunes! Go grab it! It's free!


I haven't written much about Readability on this here blog, but it's an Arc90 product and Chris is the CTO for Readability. This explains why he's always coding on the weekends. Or reading tweets on his iPhone. The dude is dedicated. And I've rarely seen him more excited than last week when all the hard work paid off and the team was recognized for the app in iTunes. Exciting stuff!

He's out in California for a week at a conference, so it's just me and the cats at home. Last night they slept on both sides of me, a feline straight jacket. They've been dealing with a lot of change lately, with so many strangers staying here and a lively party on Saturday night. We were lucky enough to host a Camp Mighty reunion with some local NYers and a few out of town guests (hi Erica and Rebecca!).

Halfway through the party, I thought "man, I know the most interesting people." Love these guys.



These past few weeks have been a funny blend of re-seeing old and new friends. I just love the experience of meeting new people and connecting with them... at times it feels like you've known them for years when it's actually been minutes.

This is incredibly reassuring when we think about leaving New York in the future... I feel sure that we're going to have a great social life no matter where we go. Cheers to inspiring people!