After writing my last post about my chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue theories, a friend of mine messaged me on Facebook. I hadn’t talked to her much since moving from Seattle, when she was setting up her practice as a naturopath, and was bewildered with myself why I hadn’t asked her for advice sooner.
I heard the term Fabulously Lazy in a Franz Ferdinand song. (I base a lot of my life on song lyrics. I first heard the phrase “Sour Jane” in a song lyric as well.) I think the song is about a glamorous gal who gets people to do things for her, and isn’t the best connotation, but what I enjoy about it is the juxtaposition of some kind of “large” life combined with something decidedly mellow. I’m open to new name ideas.
But that is how my life goes. I have big ideas paired with an extremely low-key manner. I’m a mass of contradictions.
I have some severe issues with clothes and shopping, from the overpriced poor quality junk that passes for fashion these days, to the uncomfortable trends we’re made to feel we ought to conform to. I’m not teetering around on tiny spike heels, sorry!
Once again, after years of stubborn refusal, I’m back on the “trying to cook” wagon. I moved from my tiny studio apartment in San Francisco to a larger studio apartment in Oakland with a balcony. I planted herbs and resolved to cook with them, and you sort of just have to go all in.
Inspired by this post on becomingminimalist.com, I’m going to attempt to blog more.
- I like the idea that it can help me organize my thoughts to become a better communicator.
- I like that it can add greater intention to my life, organizing and prioritizing the issues I care about.
- I like the idea of a personal journal so I can look back at where I was and how I’ve grown.
I keep forming blog posts in my head. The trick is finding the time to sit down at the computer and make it happen. Topics will cover the lifestyles of the Fabulously Lazy. (I’m neither lazy nor fabulous, really. I’m always trying to find ways to conserve energy, simplify, and live a full life.) From eating habits, to getting dressed, to beauty routines, to budgeting. Living with intention and creating a system.
It’s been two and a half years since I wrote anything of substance here. Things have changed, things have stayed the same. I’m still living in the same apartment in San Francisco, but it doesn’t have much of a view anymore (more on that later). I still haven’t committed to window treatments, though I did do a temporary thing of tacking up some drapes and sheers from moulding hooks. I still haven’t gotten a bookshelf, but I stacked up some books in wine crates. I never had a housewarming party, but I have had people over a few times.
I just got back from SXSW Interactive, aka spring break for geeks, aka nerding man, and my brain is dazed. Perhaps a recap will help me get the thoughts out in a logical order, so they’ll stop swirling around in my jumbled brain.
People ask me what I learned, or what nugget of information I can take back for those who weren’t able to go. I learned plenty about me, who I am, and why I do what I do. The single nugget of information that stands out in my mind is this: “Technology is and always has been about storytelling,” said by the emcee of Fray Cafe, Kevin Smokler, “There is no other animal that can tell its own story.”
This is a beautiful perspective on technology, on everything we do. It hit home for me – I wrote my college thesis in 2002 on the idea of the Web as a community, inspired greatly by the work of Derek Powazek, who started the whole Fray thing and tells amazing stories. I can’t believe I’d never made it to a Fray Day or a Fray Cafe until now, because it’s easily the single best thing about SXSW, and that is saying a lot.
When people asked me what parties or panels I was most looking forward to at SXSW, I replied blankly that I wasn’t going to any panels and I don’t really like parties. “Then why are you going?” would be the next question. It’s hard to explain.
According to Twitter, Bruce Sterling recently said, “For 4 days, SXSW is the world capital of the Web.” For some people, it’s the panels. They bring excellent speakers and enthusiastic pupils. For some people, it’s the parties. The outrageous spectacle, the free food and drinks, the bands, the antics.
Because these things draw all these people to this one place, that’s why I go. For 4 days, incredible, interesting, intelligent, creative, beautiful people congregate in this tiny Texas town. Put a bunch of amazing people in a small space and crazy circumstances, and see what happens. If there were a recipe to manufacturing serendipitous, amazing experiences, this would be it.
I stayed at the SF Embassy. Take the recipe above, distill it into various ~10-person apartments (each sharing 1 bathroom), and that is the SF Embassy. The creation of this community was featured in Wired a few days ago. And that’s what it is, a little pop-up community within a greater community at SXSW. On one hand, you get to experience the serendipity and delight of hanging out with like-minded souls until 8 in the morning, witnessing things like “acapella oontz oontz” or an impassioned story about the role of living yeast in baking bread. On the other hand, you get the communal living of a bathroom that’s seen cleaner days, or a roommate who gripes about noise when she’s trying to sleep, then snores through the night.
I went to parties. When people say “party” they think of something really wild and fun. But what most parties really are is crowded groups of people standing around holding drinks, trying to hear each other talk over loud music nobody wants to hear. I’m getting old. Alcohol just makes me sick, my back hurts if I stand for more than five minutes, and the only conversations you can have are meaningless small talk over the noise. I want to find the deeper conversations, and I actually want to participate in these conversations without having to shout. There must be a better way.
I go to another party. It’s VIP, there are free drinks. To let me in, I first have to demonstrate some basic knowledge about their iPhone app. I pass the test. Then I have to show that I have it on my phone. I download it. They let me in. I delete the app. (Sorry.) There is a rooftop patio. It’s a beautiful night. We can hear each other think. Somebody comes looking for an iPhone charger. I have one in my purse. As collateral, he gives me his wallet. He charges his phone behind the bar, in a plastic cup. He returns the charger, I return his wallet.
I go to another bar. I run into friends new and old. Some ignore me, some hug me with joy. There is laughter and delight. Somehow we end up in a Dueling Piano Bar. Then we’re eating street food at 2:30AM. Circumstances are strange. It’s surreal.
We eat food together. Much of the days and nights revolve around basic survival, finding food and water. Sometimes we find a place to sit down over a delicious meal. Hopefully we have a conversation, in between moments where everyone’s noses are in their phones, checking to see what they’re missing. If we’re lucky, we don’t have to wait in line for too long before getting the table. If we’re really lucky, maybe that table is on a patio on a beautiful day.
We go see a concert because our friend is friends with a friend of the band. The music is good. We hear a rumor of a surprise secret Girl Talk concert in another venue, but when we get there, it’s just a party where they’re featuring the band’s latest album. We walk the streets. We stay in touch, trying to figure out if there’s somewhere important we need to be. We check the Group.me feeds and the Twitter timelines and the Foursquare check-ins. We forget what day it is. We miss plans. Any schedule we made for ourselves is long forgotten. Time has no meaning. At any moment, we might find ourselves on an RV, singing karaoke while driving through town.
We run into people everywhere. We talk about our intimate lives and passions with people we’ve just met and will never see again. Other people become our fast friends. We share advice, knowledge, pass on tips, get in fights, share stories. We dance, we laugh, we take a lot of naps, then wake up knowing we’re missing something. We’re exhausted.
Then suddenly I get off a plane, and it’s not we anymore. It’s just me again. I’m home, and it feels good, but my head is spinning. Did all that just happen? Did I get anything out of it? What did I learn? Where are the soundbites? Where is my documentation? Will I remember anything? Was it all a waste?
It wasn’t a waste. This is my documentation. It isn’t much, but it is. Maybe I won’t remember everything. Maybe I won’t remember next year to book a direct flight, or insist on a room instead of a snore-amplifying loft. Maybe I won’t remember to plan a better food situation next year. I probably won’t remember the name of the company that got me free watered-down drinks, or the app that subsidized my towncar ride to the airport (sorry.) I’ll remember the important parts. Deeper inside, I’ve been shaped by the experience. I’ve been a part of something. For a while, it was we, not just me.
There was a photobooth at a wedding. There were props and a backdrop and wine was flowing. It was great fun. For no particular reason, after a series of photos with friends, as we were all walking away, I grabbed a random knit hat from the prop shelf, threw it on my head, stared at the camera blankly, and hit the foot pedal that takes the photo.
This was one of the photos I uploaded to the Facebook album of my favorite shots from the wedding photobooth. Some friends started chanting “profile! profile!” in the comments of that photo. It’s a funny photo. People seem to like it. It soon became my profile photo for most my social network accounts.
When the beta-at-the-time site about.me finally let me create a profile, I used the hat photo. I was reworking my personal site at the time, and liked having a page with a nice URL (about.me/sourjayne) where I could direct people to the various places around the web where I post things. I wrote a short bio about being a UI designer and liking cheese, and called it a day.
As soon as about.me launched publicly, they were bought by AOL. AOL wanted to promote their new pet. They brought in an ad agency, flipped through profiles, and the ad agency liked mine. I got a direct message from @ryanchris, one of the founders of about.me, who I’d met once or twice via mutual friends. He said he wanted to talk to me about a random promotion thing. I replied, “Oh, sure, everyone loves that damn hat photo.”
Turns out, he was asking for permission to put my profile on a billboard on 101 S. outside of Redwood City, CA. AOL has two of them, and decided to dedicate them to about.me. The other profile featured is this amazingly striking web consultant from Africa, next to whom I look about as interesting as a mushroom. I guess they’re showing they’ve got range.
I told him it was fine by me, but to check with Kevin who owns the wedding photos from the photobooth, just to be sure. I didn’t hear from him for a while, so I didn’t really say anything to anyone. I decided I’d believe it when I see it.
About 5 days ago, Ryan sent me a link to a photo another founder of about.me posted on instagram of the billboard in real life. All of a sudden it was real.
So that’s how I got to check “my face on a billboard” off the bucket list. I have yet to see it in person, but every day I get a message from someone who’s seen it. Friends say they do a double take and nearly slam on their brakes. I hope it doesn’t cause any accidents 🙂
Over at Apartment Therapy, a blogger goes after my own heart in “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Living without Piles and Clutter.”
Catrin Morris starts by reconciling “several competing personality traist” like abhoring clutter and being a little lazy. Boy does that sound familiar.
I just created a decluttering system that actually works with — rather than against — my lazy tendencies and organizational idiosyncrasies…
Her secret lies in storing items behind closed doors, which seems to work well for her. Instead of piles on visible surfaces, she keeps pile drawers and collection baskets. It’s great.
I wonder if something like this could work for me. I have one other organizational idiosyncracy: Being a visual person, I prefer things where I can see them. I tend to leave things I don’t want to forget about in places where they won’t be out of sight, out of mind.
She addresses this, of course:
The reason people keep piles of papers on their countertops is that they fear that if they put them out of sight they will forget about them. But unless your pile is only 2 pages deep you are likely to forget about the stuff at the bottom of your stack, right? Visual reminders are no longer potent if they are lost in a crowd of clutter. You may as well put the whole stack in a drawer and call it a day.
I’m not entirely sure I agree that’s the best solution, but maybe it’ll work.
Also, she talks about her “landing strip” being behind a closed kitchen cabinet on a high shelf. Isn’t the point of a landing strip so you can drop off the things in your hands right when you come in? If I tried to make myself put them in a cabinet on a high shelf, they would end up on the closest surface to the entrance anyway.
I do think I need to put a few simple baskets around to collect things that pile up. And I have some paper piling demons that need to be confronted immediately. Maybe I should try clipboards: