Going to Guatemala was in some ways one of the best things I’ve done for myself. I left with new yogic configurations, an appreciation for meditation that I never knew I had, 19 more impressively smart friends, and fresh feeling of ease in my heart. It’s still just as hard as it ever was to write and my words still falter and sound foreign, but still I go. Writing parallels any other art-making practice, it feels itchy and hard at the beginning but only through persistent output will this feeling improve. My task is to carry on this practice in as many ways I can think of. The task of doing some writing or non-computer, non-client art every day seems monumental some days, but I’m not judging myself if I can’t make it happen every day. I’ve been getting up early, doing 10-20 minutes of meditation (shout out Headspace app!) and here I am re-capping the week like usual.
To be in a remote place entirely removed from American culture, with limited internet, and even still the news of Mike Brown and the absent indictment punctured through. It was the night we held a Mayan fire ceremony at dusk, an event with thousands of years of history behind it. With a modern day shaman’s incantations, spices and tinctures in the fire surrounded by crystals and talismans, we opened a portal to the ancestors and I whispered Ferguson into the flames. After the coals have been snuffed out, flowers are taken and thrown into the lake, to seal the intentions and offerings, a final plea that the ancestors might hear. I think of this every time I see another story about our country’s injustices, which has been often this week. It seems we are at the base of this mountain still, but I have to believe we are ascending. Listening, sharing, supporting to hasten the process.
+ Imani Amos is a Chicago-based photographer and model, and her project 50 Shots, Humanizing America’s most hunted needs donations. It’s a photo essay showcasing 50 black men in Chicago and what they bring to our community, visual way to show that black men matter. It costs $20 per print and there’s only been enough money raised for 16 prints so far. Please share and donate.
+ My friend Mairead Case, who is a writer and teacher of all peoples, including teacher of poetry at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility has penned words about Ferguson that have left me speechless. This is the only race related piece written by a white person that I have read to completion. Mairead, you are among giants and I’m proud to know you.
+ So many guys out there (looking at you Aziz Ansari) often get being a feminist ally wrong, like head-pats for their efforts or making it about them and not the cause. Worse, they call themselves a feminist while acting out some other decidedly anti-ally, defensive, or dismissive behavior. It’s so nice to see a Terry Crews, who on the outset follows a typical masculine identity, but contributes to feminism and does it well. See his words here. More of this please!
+ More about talking to teenage daughters about sex. I will add to this a mention of how important it is to ask beforehand if it’s okay to hug, tickle, or pick up young kids, especially little girls. This teaches them autonomy over their bodies and that *they* have the power of consent, from the earliest days. And if they aren’t in the mood for a snuggle, or decline any touch for whatever reason, comply happily because they need to know that’s okay and supported too.
+ Researchers have found the difference between men and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math, aka fields that aren’t traditional roles for women) was larger among white students than black students. As a whole, white women are much more likely to associate these professions with white men than anyone else. Which means that black women are less likely to internalize male stereotypes about STEM careers. So interesting! There’s a bunch more information and some hypothesis on why this might be in the full article.
Aaaaaand that’s all for now folks! More updates next week coming at ya!
+ HOLEEEEY MOLY so far 951 people have signed up for my new Skillshare class. This is still small, at least by online class standards, but I seriously thought like 30 people (aka friends and family) would be the only ones to sign-up. So you can imagine my overwhelm and gratitude when something different happened! I’m now crossing my fingers that it’ll still grow to 1k, because, I like even round numbers. Massive thank yous to all who shared and reached out because of this, it will alway make my day to hear your feedback. :D
+ I read this essay earlier in the week that I haven’t been able to get out of my brain. It’s equal parts one line zingers and real talk about the pressures on girls and women to look stylish and appropriate at all times, even from very young ages. And how even an extra 15 minutes of grooming per day can really eat into time spent learning/doing other things. Or how all the time and money it takes to keep up with these constantly changing standards, and since we’re still getting paid less than men, we are that much poorer for it. This dovetails nicely with this other article explaining the sorts of chastisements women receive if they are too feminine or too rumpled in our appearance in professional settings. However, while women spend more time on our personal care habits, we also live longer in general, and that can’t be entirely coincidence. If there was a way to meet in the middle, with less judgement on women and girls, and a little more effort from the gentlemen, I imagine we’d all be happier, richer, and living longer together.
+ Starting a business or new venture? Feeling like you’ll never catch up? Well, you are not late.
I think that’s enough for now! Next week you won’t be hearing much from me, I’ll be doing lots of yoga and writing at a retreat center on lake Atitlan in the mountains of Guatemala. I imagine it looks kind of like this:
I’m not 100% sure what location is in this photo, but it’s a free stock photo from this awesome site, Unsplash that posts 10 free high res photos every 10 days. Anyway, I’m sure you won’t miss me through your turkey coma, or Black Friday mania. Whatever it is, I hope you get to do you!
Why hello there, first blog post of 2014! What have I been doing, besides not publishing stuff on the internet for 8 months? Aside from participating in a tech summit at the White House (yes, that White House) on the prevention of campus sexual assault, I’ve honestly been enjoying keeping a lower profile for awhile. Because it’s safe and easy and I’ve been able to maintain steady work without it. In reality, maintaining a business isn’t the same as growing it. And not making writing a priority is all excuses disguising a rip-roaring case of impostor syndrome. Am I over this? Am I cured? If not forever, at least for now being able to type these words indicates yes. And I have to thank WMC Fest as a major factor in this development.
Happening in precisely one month, in Cleveland, this’ll be my third consecutive year being involved in this event. The first time I went, I gave my first major public talk and to this day it’s still the best talk I’ve ever written and this post about it is still receiving regular traffic. Last year, going as an attendee was magical for other reasons, namely how awesome it is to be on the sidelines rooting for my creative friends on stage. I don’t think people give that support role enough credit. Without it there would be no festival to speak of. And this year, I’ll be on stage in a different capacity as co-host with my comrade Stewart Scott-Curran. We also curated the speaker line-up as well, which we’ve been planning since January. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to have this role. I can’t wait to see this all happen again IRL.
Here’s some specific things I’m excited for this year:
+ Beyond single speaker talks, we’ve put together two panel discussions and a formal debate. This’ll guarantee some legit Real Talk™ about the race, gender, and class issues in the creative/larger world. Our moderators are pros and will ensure the discourse is balanced and productive. They will give us all clear take aways to build more equality in our day to day lives.
+ I made a WMC inspired Spotify playlist! With songs that either talk about Ohio, the Midwest, or by groups who are from Ohio/Cleveland. There’s also a few songs from bands playing the festival this year, as well as some random summertime jams that are good for car trips and plane rides. Even if you can’t join us this year, you can enjoy this in spirit of the event!
+ Anna in the Raw vegan and vegetarian café is catering the festival. This’ll be a good balance with Happy Dog, another attendee favorite spot, which is just up the street from the venue, the Cleveland Public Theater. Not that their hot dogs (veggie or beef options) which come with a massive array of unexpected toppings and tots on tots on tots aren’t delicious. They are, and I can safely say would topple almost all of the dogs in Chicago (scandal, I know! Deal with it). However my belly appreciates some fresher food as well to, uh, keep things moving.
+ This is a given, but seeing old friends & colleagues from previous years, as well as meeting a slew of new folks. I haven’t subjected this to rigorous intellectual testing, but I’d wager WMC Fest has much a higher rate of return attendees over other similar design or creative conference which says a lot about the programming and the vibe. Events like this do something a little different for everyone, so it’s hard to define what the result will be for you. But, if my own experience is any indication, there will be cumulative results. Might be a bit of surprise what they are exactly, but regardless, they will be awesome.
+ Another difference is that all of the events are in one location, which makes for a more immersive experience than other conferences. Obviously, I’d love for the whole world to come to the talks and panels, but it’s fair if you want to check out the Rock ’N Roll Hall of Fame (recommend this, it’s insane!) or Great Lakes Brewing Co., or the charming Ohio City Farmer’s Market, get it done. There’s also locally owned coffee shop, Gypsy Beans, two doors to the left of the theater which’ll more than satisfy the joe fiends out there.
+ Check this twitter list for all WMC Fest speakers, panelists, musicians, comedians, and sponsors.
+ Hosting! A good host is like good design. If it’s well done, it works without calling attention to itself.
+ Also new this year: comedy! Sunday night’s a solid line-up curated by Cleveland Stand-Up Ramon Rivas.
+ Other things I’m hoping to squeeze in if I can: a visit to the historic Cleveland Public Library, which is across the street from the swanky Hyatt Regency which is also a historical landmark. Also: Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art!! They are showing an exhibition on graphic design legend and one of my hugest design influences, Sister Corita Kent in August.
So, will I see you there? I sure hope so. And, even if you won’t be able to make it and you’re reading this anyway I’d be thrilled if you said so. Just knowing that this transmission has made its way through the internet tubez to a real person would make my day.
I should just write. I should. Stop over-thinking it. Just….do….it. Okay, go. Now. I’m going. I’m starting, picking up the thread not knowing where exactly I left off or how to start or fill you in. Life doesn’t follow such a tidy narrative though, so I guess it’s okay if blogs don’t either. In an email from my friend Kate Singleton of Buy Some Damn Art / Art Hound said, any blog posts are good. Even if they are sputtering and sporadic.
I came down with shingles in August, with my recovery lasting well into September. The only explanation for why, in my case, was months of prolonged stress. While the virus wasn’t terribly painful – I was lucky in that respect, but it did cause 4 days of temporary blindness in my right eye, many doctors visits (thank goodness I have insurance), medicines, and strict orders to take it easy. Very easy. Okay message received, universe: clearly it’s time to make some changes. What changes exactly, I’m still thinking about, but I’m happy to report that I’m physically back-to-normal. After taking a significant break from maintaining any kind of personal work – ie this blog or anything else, I’m finding my way back to it. I get some flickers of inspiration here and there, lukewarm at best, so I know I’m not totally broken. But I knew travel would speed things up, and it just so happened that Chad & I had booked crazy discounted tickets to San Francisco way back in the spring so the timing was perfect.
The biggest reason for the trip was Tony & Kat’s wedding, but there were also self-assigned work: museums, galleries, literature, hiking, a golden visit to the Pacific ocean, a tour of artist Lisa Congdon’s studio, and coffee with Makeshift Society owner, the masterful Rena Tom. Our adventures took us all over the Bay area, on Bart, MUNI, ferry, car, bicycle, streetcar, taxi, and of course on foot. We saw more organic produce at the Berkeley Bowl than I’ve ever seen in one place before (Whole Foods included), drove legendary Highway 1 at sunset, noshed on a late night In-N-Out burger – animal style, dove into rich gourmet bowls of mac ‘n cheese at Homeroom, desserted at Tartine, and marveled at the highly technical event that is parallel parking on SF’s steep hills. And so much art – art, and people doing interesting things it was a feast for my brains too.
Thank you, California friends, new and old. The way you brought us so generously into your lives was all of the soul fuel I could’ve asked for. I’m looking for all the reasons I can to make my return and see some more of you soon.
1. Muir Beach Lookout. 2. Awesome logo on a Bay Ferry boat. 3. San Francisco’s literary festival, LitQuake plays hosts to comedian/novelists, David Handler and Andrew Sean Greer. Recap of the event here by my friend Margaret Edith Maggie who also kindly lodged us for a few nights. 4. I got chills seeing this couple unknowingly mimicking a massive Margaret Kilgallen painting at SFMOMA. 5. Woodland elf? Nope, it’s photographer Ben Speckmann in Muir Woods! 6. Lisa Congdon fans my already major lust for Scandianvia with tales her three week solo trip to Iceland, Sweden, and Copenhagen, and how it’s inspired her work. 7 & 8. Lettering inspiration dialed up to 11 at highly traditional custom sign-painting shop Golden West Sign Arts in Berkeley. 9. The ocean was so cold my toenails turned blue! Ah!!! Okay, not really. Just seeing if you were still paying attention.
All photos by me or Chad on iPhones or the Canon S100.