Bourbon and time trade ups

Yes I have projects to work on right now and I definitely have personal branding which is obscenely out of date. I’m working on it. But at the same time with no pressing deadlines, I’m finding one of the most important things is to give myself some free brain space to process that work, and relationships of all stripes. All the things, everything that gets shelved when you are on a steady diet of deadlines and lack of sleep, those weeks on which survival depends on mainlining coffee.

I’m on Day 9 of starting every day with 10 minutes of meditation to start every day. Of the nine I had one very bad day after I had decided to try some red wine from Germany while drinking with the designers. While I already knew I cannot drink many red wines I ignored my better judgement. Apparently there is some issue with sulfides, my more booze educated friends tell me. Regardless I got everything I deserved for abandoning my one true spirit, spirit bourbon. Sorry about that and I won’t likely leave you again bourbon. Mostly because I don’t want to be one of those old broads carrying around a white wine spritzer. That just isn’t me.

As I am prone to do I digressed at length. In short I got up that day and meditated anyways. It went about as well you would expect with a gripping headache. I went back to bed an hour afterwards. The days following have been mostly positive. My next challenge is getting up an hour earlier so I can double the meditation time in good conscience and I can still manage all those bits I covered in paragraph one that pay my bills.

Here are the top 5 benefits I’ve seen in these few short days.

  1. It helps on those days I wake up with an anxiety. I used to go straight to my desk on those days and it was no good. I’d be discombobulated, make some panicky client calls and scattershot address emails. Now I feel a lot calmer when getting to my desk. And I take it one battle at a time.
  2. I’m definitely more aware of my self immolation to the work gods. Yesterday I had a project go south. In short a wordpress theme upgrade was mangled because frankly the developers are using dated infrastructure and still charging schmucks like me for an upgrade. I spent a full day when I’d budgeted no more than hour. I was not happy with myself. New rule, just like car repairs web dev can throw curve balls. Stop the work, call the client no more taking baths because someone else borked code.
  3. I am out of shape. There is this whole bit where they tell you to scan your body and take note of how you feel. In short I feel a couple of pounds heavier than I should be, probably dehydrated, my shoulders are tense from long hours at my desk. I could on but I won’t bore you. Again one battle at a time let’s start with drinking more water. I hear it told you are supposed to drink in the ballpark of a 3 litres a day. That’s like 12 cups right? That’s a lot. Why am I not a potato chip? Maybe I am… o_O
  4. You have the time just get off facebook. I am haunted by a hilarious Aziz Ansari skit. To whit I paraphrase him; Faceook is the WORST book ever, it has no plot, it has no end, it’s full of dumb content but you somehow cannot stop reading it. Truer words never spoken. It’ll also remind you that “oh hey there are photos of my friend partying with a dozen people on NYE, that friend who didn’t text me when they said they would and I waited for them until it was in all reality too late to enjoy the evening, (disclaimer: while I’m super grateful other friends took me in at the 11th it still turned out to be an awful NYE, where I got lost and cried on the freeway on the freeway home. I also take responsibility in that I should have made my own plans even though in fact I did have plans even if they were, staying home and watching the twillight zone by myself. I should trust myself and learn to say no). Cool.
    Facebook, twitter, insert social media client of the future here, can make you feel really bad. As if everyone is having a better time, making more money and more in love than you’ll ever be. Hogwash, I bet your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse is rad and your life is more like your facebook friends than you would guess. Don’t let the online illusion of someone’s happiness sour yours. Spend less time there. I have lots of awesome friends I should have been with instead that night and maybe so do you.
  5. I have a long way to go. I feel like at a future date that facebook moment where my friend was a total dick on NYE would roll right off me. And that will happen. I’ll also have a better handle on my anger because I’ll be doing more of what I should be doing not just taking a job because I feel bad turning it down. I went through the recession you know. That’s really hard to unlearn. All I know is I can totally do better, lots. And I will.

Your hard pressed to find a truly successful person that doesn’t practice some flavor of meditiation.

WAIT PAUSE! I just now got a message that friends secured Coachella tickets for us, right this bloody minute. I never thought I would go back. But LCD Soundsystem in the desert awaits. Now I’m going to bear down and make the monies to pay for it.

Meditation didn’t make that happen but it is an awesome reminder I have great love and awesome people in my life looking out for me all the time. Thanks for that today, I’m also enjoying your rainy weather. Go on with your bad self.

So in any case as I was saying, successful people schedule time for themselves. They understand the only way to be successful is to have perspective and to have that you have to reflect. I am not good at that because I work all of the time. Work is my safe place where I can push everything else that matters away and feel justified. I get that. Work has saved my sanity but I’ve also sacrificed my well being for it. It has always done what I needed it to but now the goal is figure out how to expand it’s benefits by making the time to be healthier and more aware of what I’m avoiding.

You have the time, trade it for something that makes you feel better.

Open minds and the quest for a clearer vision

Resolutions are a set up for failure, or so I believe, ergo I am not waiting to make changes on January 1st. Today I started morning meditation and I’m going to keep a daily log to see if it impacts my work, productivity and overall well being.

I try and make a trip every December, but I don’t travel enough to manage my jet lag well. I reflect too much as it were, and I don’t take on a lot of projects before the new year so I have lots of messy brain space to sort out. So I got a late start today despite best efforts, holidays muck up all the bits in my brain. Despite the mush between my ears I had assured my better half I’d revisit meditation with dedication. Who knows he may even convince me to install that 7 minute exercise app for my phone too but I doubt it. I loathe traditional “gym” exercises as they give me traumatic flashbacks to being a poorly adjusted child. I’ve blocked most of the memories but I distinctly recall dreading that hour (half hour?) of Physical Education as it was called back in the day but I digress, my childhood misanthropy isn’t the point of this foray back into writing.

So I got up kept my blanket on and started the headspace app. I was aware of the cold, blankie or no and I felt the heavy ache in my limbs and my deep breathing wasn’t nearly as smooth as it should be for someone who’s well rested and doesn’t smoke anything. I lamented the extensive stacks of papers and unfolded clothes I haven’t yet had the fortitude to sort in front of me. It was quiet and despite the disarray I was able to keep my brain pretty clear. While an uneventful 10 minutes I do think this this reentry to self awareness can be nothing but good. I’ll keep you in the loop.

As an aside you’ll note I’ve used my ancient blog as a test ground for an updated look for the Axis. I have no grand ideas for updating the main website but there will be changes coming eminently. Perhaps with every moment of self awareness I procure I’ll also gain a clearer vision.

Mostly I agreed.

A few years ago I met a guy who was an old acquaintance of an old roommate. He joined our group of friends and all in all it was a very good time for a bunch of struggling creatives. Well he wasn’t as much one of us he was in sales was looking to move back to LA. I never asked why he’d originally left to begin with. I figure friends tell each other such stories eventually. And so we all carried on. For a time he expressed interest in one of our mutual friends but it didn’t pan out. They went to a few shows and had some dinners and keep it amicable, the 5 of us or so routinely circled each others orbit with my apartment block being the epicenter. One evening some time later he expressed interest in me and I was quite surprised, the thought had never crossed my mind but I gave it thought. It was clear he really did see something in me and I wanted that kind of attention. More than I’d ever care to admit. I wanted to be loved and appreciated, at the time I had something of a drought of that in my life. All in all the lot of us were pretty happy, mostly I agreed.

Shortly after he took an new job and an apartment not far from us, it all started to unravel. I had also recently taken a new job which kept me away from home often well into the evening. I started getting reports from my roommate, “have you talked to him today?, something is wrong, please talk to him”. Every time I talked to him it felt like I was talking to Jekyll to the Hyde I knew, it was verbally abusive and mostly fiction. He claimed to be ill and it took us a few weeks to figure out he was right but not like we thought. He’d started drinking, he was a recovering alcoholic no longer in recovery. None of us new, none of us had any idea. It turns out we were never close to him and that included me the girlfriend. It was like an atom bomb detonated in the center of my apartment. Friends did their best but I didn’t blame them when they bowed out, my roommate became increasingly frustrated with the situation and as much of a pain in the ass as he was, that he was justified in.

The next several months were this unending spiraling misery I do not have words for. Endless lies, hospitals, meetings, phone calls. All I remember is “hi my name is…” always being in my car and on the phone, a trip to the jail to pick him up in the middle of the night, terrified, absolutely dejected faces, and possibly the most difficult Christmas of my life watching him waste away and disappear in front of me, “give us the courage to forgive the trespasses…”. Finally one day towards the end I remember moments in slow motion I found myself at the kitchen table weeping uncontrollably. And he stood there looking at me, he didn’t reach out, he didn’t say anything, he didn’t even try and hug me. And I felt utterly alone and destroyed. I cried at that table all day and that’s all I remember. I ate very little and the strain jeopardized my work and health too. I felt like I was being sucked into the madness until the day I picked him up at the jail and drove him to his car where he’d taken to sleeping. I can’t remember the details but that was surely the day I told him he not to call until he got clean.

A year later this guy and I tried to start over. He was clean and I had forgiven but I couldn’t shake that day at the kitchen table. It haunted me. All in all for a time we did well, and it seemed we could recover the impossible. Ultimately we didn’t work out to the surprise of no one. It was a painful decision it seemed like I was throwing out so much hard work and the suffering was for nothing. I didn’t understand it all, how was I ever embroiled in such madness to begin with.

I’ve come to believe the only thing to understand is that good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people, good things happen to good people. It just is and we move on.

Beach Boys Fiction in the 34.0522° N, 118.2428° W

The thought of writing has crossed my mind many times in the last, oh say 8 months. But my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t ready to face the pen. Because there is no refuge from reality, the real nitty gritty, unless you are a fiction writer. There are times, at least for me, that reality is hard enough to live through much less write about. Which is BS as at no point have I been in a warzone or short of working plumbing.

In my defense it’s all relative. In any case I am not a fiction writer, ever, at least on purpose. I think this fact makes it utterly predictable that I live in and love Los Angeles. Chosen home of Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, and oh hai! George Takei and Leonard Nimoy Star Trek fans . Yes I’m being as the french waiter earlier this evening said a “very sarcastic American”. True story, that really happened (happens a lot). All sarcasm aside, equally predictable perhaps, I’m not a west coast native and can lay no claim to being Southern Californian.

Okay the confession is out there, it’s done, so let’s quickly sort out some misnomers right away. Let’s talk California, roll out every preconceived notion you ever heard or read about “Cali” (don’t ever call it that, unless you are a bonafide rapper) let’s start a bonfire and use the whole lot as kindling. Sure we can do it on the beach you’ll be glad to have a fire I assure you.

See Beach Boys all in warm toasty jackets! Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Pro-tip: A good piece of the pacific coastline, a lot of the year, is decidedly inhospitable for bikini baring. Fair warning the Beach Boys sold a whole warehouse full of fiction. The Pacific is as cold as a mofo a lot of the year. But oh boy when it’s warm and toasty the beach is the bees knees. However you can enjoy the relatively unspoken joy that nearly every month of the year you can watch a tourist in complete denial of this. While you sport your cable knit sweater and boots they’ll be bordering on hypothermia. I’m fairly confident that experience will never get old, however I don’t live by the beach so maybe you west of the 405ers are over that fun.

California’s southern questionable soily reaches nudge right up to Mexico like a drunken coed and might well be the polar opposite of it’s Northern recesses butting right up against Oregon (probably for extra warmth). Up north it’s extraordinary amounts of rain and fog and tech. The two lands are indeed diametrically different places. Lest we even begin a discussion of the places inbetween (cows, lot’s of cows). California is a stunningly diverse. It is both alarmingly divisive politically and socially, but somehow… like all natural wonders indescribably beautiful and horrible in nearly equal parts. Anyone east of Nevada is convinced I abandoned sound mind the moment I defected west.

God’s diagram so he know’s where to “break like a cookie and dunk into the ocean”

I get it, I grew up in Texas (also vastly diverse contrary to popular belief) and Missouri (decidedly less diverse – feel free to correct me central dwellers). The media portrayed the west as risk, artifice, vice and maybe even Babylon. The jokes flew about tree huggers, unwashed zoned out hippies, and fault lines that was surely God’s safety device to drop it into the pacific when he finally got weary of the nonsense.

I hate to break it to you middle lands, sure we have our share of alternative medicine loving tree huggers, and perhaps a spare few more per capita smelly zoned out hippies, we also have everything else. That includes those people that drummed up that social network facebook you can’t seem to stay off of. And oh say that company that made that iphone/ipad you or your kids might be so enamored with. We harbor some of the world’s greatest minds in our workforce, and schools; USC, UCLA, Stanford, Berkely, Art Center, Cal-Tech, trust I could go on. I really do have friends that are scholars, master painters, lauded photographers, tech experts and startup risk takers. I also have friends that bust their bums as waiters/waitresses, actors, artists, and at desks. People are people, geography matters not, maybe the only thing that separates this coast from other pins on the map of America is we fear risk less. What’s more risky than being a biped with crippling nearsightedness like me? In the natural order of things I’d argue very very few.

Now I’m going to tell you what every other west coaster will tell you, that is unless they don’t want you anywhere near our lovely state. The weather, yep it’s true, eleventy times better than yours. Roughly 340+ days a year you can drink your coffee outside. You will never have your feet ankle deep in snow or conversely ass drenched in sweat. True story. Even in San Francisco you can throw away your ice scraper. Keep the scarf though, you’ll need that. FINE pedantic, keep the ice scraper! Only if you are going to be regularly skiing mind you. Yeah that happens out here too, or maybe walking along the beach… oh wait you are more into the desert. Yeah we’ve got that too. While we are conversing on outdoor pursuits we also have a stunning amount of hiking, biking, surfing, kayaking, sailing and yes that muscle beach business is still there. But it’s not nearly as endearing as the vintage photos, fair warning.

Come visit I’ve got a million more insider tips.


Show your guts… ok maybe not if you are a suit.

If I could be anything professionally but what I am now, I would be a writer. The words of others have changed my life. Well written words, deeply emotional words or the very rare combination of the two… In a way I strive for the latter every day in my own fashion. I am not a writer, but when I do my own creative work, I’m hoping for that divine intersection in the Venn diagram between well executed and emotional. I consider it my “hedge the bet” plan. Right or left brained be damned, odds are there is something in there that will work for you.

I mean of course I don’t pull out my guts and smear them all over the business orientated enterprises. I don’t need people getting overly emotional over a tech document or search module. That’s just patently unnecessary if not deeply improbable.

If it is all yours though and it’s creating for creations sake. Just go all out, let it all out, get it all in there. This is how people will remember you one day when you are long gone you know.

Besides you might just help out a maladjusted kid like I was one day.

Let go and be lighter

There are problems in my life that are bigger than what I can fix alone. I don’t like that one bit but I am learning to accept it. What more can be said than that? I am also trying to remember that when I am sure I have run out of resources both within myself and around me I am always wrong. It isn’t worth staying in bed, it isn’t worth being angry, and it most certainly isn’t about feeling failure. It’s about finding what you need, to do what needs to be done. I’m learning to take a long hard look at such seeming insurmountable problems, maybe said problem isn’t worth trying to solve at all. Maybe it’s just time to let it go and move on to something you can work out.

I just imagined I was a fisherman who struggled for hours to land the perfect catch. But it slipped away just as I was dragging it into the boat. A flash of anxiety and frustration seemed certain to leave me ill-tempered for the rest of the evening. But the water was so clear in that in an equally brief moment I watched that perfect fish swim away as light from a late day sun glittered off the water and the clouds started turning purple. I paused, and was in that moment awed by the fish, and then the landscape. My arms were tired, my back sore but my head was clear.

How not to be a rattletrap or Why baling twine and duct tape will only get you so far.

It had been so long since I had logged into my blog I couldn’t remember my own password. But after several stabs I finally got it right only to find myself now at the early end of the second month of the last year on the Mayan calendar. Frankly it’s a lot of pressure and I sincerely hope that they just got bored mapping out future calendars in favor of catching some Tlatchtli over at the stadium down the way. But I am not hear to ponder the ways and means of the Mayans as interesting they certainly are.

I’m here to unload a suitcase maybe two of baggage, not all willy nilly of course I’ll try to launder and fold a few things along the way. In fact laundering and order is somewhat a good intro because I’ve been thinking a great deal about quality of life. For one the fact that I’m patently terrible about holding on to it for long. It eludes me partly because work is my sanity. Ideally at the most stressful personal times in my life I have also had a full plate. I reason that’s mostly because it’s very hard to wallow when you have said full, plate. What I always miss is the time to recover. As I advance in years I have come to realize just because the weather clears, doesn’t mean you should leave the umbrella at home. Just working all the time is like building a toolbox filled with a dozen of the same crescent wrenches. You’ll be able to fix a few things it’s true, but when you really breakdown you are going to need a hell of a mechanic who does have the tools at the very least a neighbor or friend who will lend you the tools so you can do it yourself. But really, it’s okay to leave the big jobs to a professional. For all of you that hate analogies or find them just a way to obfuscate layman talk. It’s simple really, if you need help ask for it and while you are at it learn how to help yourself. If it’s medical it’s the doctors, if it’s mental it’s the doctors and the therapists, if it’s professional seek out the successful. Build a full toolbox it’s likely going to be as painful as getting your last car repair bill because you will have to be honest with yourself. You’ll have to ask what’s missing or what you are avoiding fixing and why and find the right tools. That cracked exhaust manifold is a big deal really and if you haven’t already broken down it’s coming. Trust me, done that.

How not to freelance in your skivvies

To be blunt a lot of the so-called advice for successful freelancing you’ll read online is utter crap. A good piece of it is full of generalizations in the most useless form of vague. At best it’ll be rife with platitudes. At it’s worst freelancing advice is chock full of unrealistic sunny disposition extolling the merits of wearing pajamas to your office desk. Can we please by the way STFU about not getting dressed to sit down to work. Nobody finds this business like or admirable so keep it to yourself. I’d argue it isn’t even that awesome and mildly anti-social. Because yeah why not work the day away with sweaty pits, uncombed hair and wrinkly jammies. That’s what every life partner looks forward to right? That piece of advice is a freebie, slacker chatter about how how you finally showered at noon for your 1:30 meeting. This will not make you friends with the 9 to fivers.
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2011 is awesome

Momentum and the making of things

I like this time of year, it’s full of possibilities and I don’t know about you but it makes me feel bold. I feel like I can make decisions that eluded me in the meandering late months of the year prior. As if I have a responsibility to, yes you knew it was coming, turn this year up to 11. So maybe that means you give that douchey x his walking papers finally and tell him/her never to call you again. Maybe it means you’ll finally tidy up that train wreck of an external drive you’ve been meaning to catalogue or start a new project to fill an entirely new drive.

I think to classify this type of activity as “kept new year resolutions” is bunk though. “I resolve to call my mom more”, I resolve to put the dishes in the dishwasher after I use them”. None of us think that formally, okay that’s a lie someone thinks this formally Read more

Popular Science Vintage Cover

It’s out of your hands

Something you poured your guts into, all of your skill into will one day be dismantled. Maybe it’s an art director that’ll do it, or a client, maybe the technology you built it for will become outmoded, or maybe you’ll do it yourself so you can move on for whatever reason. Often the process is painful, and disheartening. Recently I read (and I wish I could remember the source if it sounds familiar please help me out) that building for the web is like building a sandcastle and waiting for the tide to come in. Wash and repeat, that’s just how it goes. And it is true. But design has always been this way, commercial work is for the masses, often for the moment, and it won’t be uncommon that it’ll be at the mercy of someone who doesn’t know their ass from their head.

So it goes.

Relationships change, business models change, technology changes and so will you. As long as you are still taking useful knowledge away from the experience you are doing it right. If you didn’t well then… you should be re-evaluating the choice to work on it to begin with. And you should probably stop doing favors for people. That’s what you did didn’t you? Yeah I thought so. It smarts and I’m sorry if you feel bad about it when it happens. I send an interweb hug to you I feel you my friend. Take heart you will make many, many great things and I look forward to seeing them. I hope the feeling is mutual.

Popular Science Vintage Cover

It's okay let it burn.