April

Reading is Fundamental

Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, Neil Hughes

Professional WordPress Design & Development, Brad Williams, David Damstra, Hal Stern

Big Sur, Jack Keroac

Work & Projects & Stuff

It’s Spring, and that means Spring cleaning. The screen print studio needs a thorough overhaul. Too many old boxes and useless junk laying around. It’s time to spiff things up again.


[ongoing] I’m creating a movie catalog web app for our family. I’m using PHP connected to a local MySQL database. I want to make it easy for us to find the movies we already own, see what we haven’t watched, if it’s a DVD or on our shared drive. I know I could do this fast and easy using WordPress, but I want to code it by hand and see what I can do.

Quote of the Moment

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Mood

Easing Off the Pressure

I made two promises to myself in the last couple of years that I have been failing to keep. The first was that I would only write blog posts or newsletters when I really felt like I had something to say. The second was that I would publish on a regular schedule.

Maybe you can see how those two promises are like peanut butter and pickles. They were never meant to go together. So I’ve been over here flailing around, desperately trying to stick to a schedule and also write super meaningful things.

Lately, when the little reminder thingy pops up in my calendar that tells me I need to publish something, I’ve started asking myself, okay, but what? And the more important question, okay, but why? And a more existential question, who is doing all this scheduling in my calendar?

I mean, obviously it’s me. But the overly (annoyingly) optimistic me who creates the schedule and the lazy, easily distracted, pessimistic me who reads the calendar are not on speaking terms. And while I can’t change these two mes very easily, maybe I can get them in a room and help them work out their issues. Maybe the first thing to work on is easing up on all the pressure.

I already have a writing gig where I’m obligated to publish new content each month, and there are other people depending on me. And that’s fine – no, it’s awesome. I have a great editor and other writers who help me with my content, keep me on track and hold me accountable.

Here it’s just me. Or mes. Us? More existential questions and I’m getting off track here.

At one time or another (maybe always), we put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish goals, be something great, get to a perfect place in our lives. Sometimes I think it’s necessary and good. Otherwise, we would sit around all day in our underwear eating whatever we could easily reach in the cupboard (peanut butter and pickles come to mind). Other times I think we can afford to ease up a little bit on ourselves.

March

I Can Read!

Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, Neil Hughes

Professional WordPress Design & Development, Brad Williams, David Damstra, Hal Stern

The Joy of PHP, Alan Forbes

Work & Projects & Stuff

I’m sanding another wooden table rescued from the alley. It’s amazing the perfectly good stuff people throw out.

Creating a movie catalog web app for our family. I’m using PHP connected to a MySQL database. I want to make it easy for us to find the movies we already own, see what we haven’t watched, if it’s a DVD or on our shared drive.

Quote of the Moment

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” – Douglas Adams

Mood

Febrewaryish

I Can Read!

Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, Neil Hughes

Ask the Dust, John Fante

Death With Interruptions, José Saramago

Stuff From Last Month I Didn’t Do

I abandoned my trumpet-playing reboot. Don’t look at me right now.

German. You know it’s bad when Duolingo stops reminding you.

Work & Projects & Stuff

My first comicarticle is up on puttylike.com. I’m officially a contributor!

I’m working with more WordPress clients. Yay!

I’m fixing up a cool table I found in the alley with my son. Except my electric sander broke and neither of us wants to do it by hand.

New Tricks

The touch-typing is going well. I hatdgly evwr even liok anympre.

I recently learned how to query a mySQL table using PHP. Oh, come on, don’t pretend like you already knew how to do that.

Quote of the Moment

Your intelligence cannot be measured by a number. It is defined by your willingness to learn, solve problems and try new things. You are more than just a number. Develop your skills. Share your brilliant ideas. Your skills are more valuable than your grades.”Richard Feynman

Mood

Old photo of a woman guzzling a bottle of wine.
I lost my straw. Oh well.

I thought I wanted a job. I was wrong.

This past November, I celebrated thirteen years of being self-employed. Thirteen seems like a weird number to celebrate, but I actually celebrate every year.

And when I say celebrate, what I mean is that I freak out on a semi-monthly basis over the state of my finances and wonder why the hell I don’t have a full-time job for chrissakes.

On a recent freak-out, I convinced myself that I didn’t want to start another business, this time building WordPress websites. As much as I love working in WordPress and creating web sites, starting a new business means that I’ll need to hustle to get projects. That part, I don’t love. I’m already hustling enough in my other work. Instead, I decided to look into a bona fide j-o-b using my WordPress skills.

I figured that I may as well start right at the source, so I looked at careers at Automattic, the company that created WordPress. It’s an amazing company, one that I could actually see myself working for out of love and not just for a paycheck. I found a job called Happiness Engineer and it fit me and my skills perfectly.

Unfortunately, Automattic did not agree, which was a humbling experience. While I can apply again in 12 months, I don’t think that I will. Rather than becoming soured on WordPress, I felt a sort of renewed energy for creating on the platform.

The more I thought about finding a full time job, the more I found myself reflecting on the past thirteen years of independence. When I first struck out on my own, I often felt like an unemployed loser. In my head, my family was a hair’s breadth away from starving to death in a shanty town, reduced to selling cheap trinkets made from our toenail clippings. Over time and with some success, I was gradually able to think of myself as a business owner. We never did starve, and our toenail clipping trinkets are made just for our own pleasure. We’ve had to get creative at times (the Oregon alpaca farm comes to mind), but somehow we’ve always made it work.

The other magical thing that happened to shoo me away from a full time job search was that I suddenly got extremely busy. Big screen printing jobs mean long hours of pushing a squeegee, a writing gig means lots of coffee-filled outlining and collaboration, and I also landed my first WordPress gig. Not bad, considering I had convinced myself that a j-o-b was my thing only three weeks before.

Last week, as I was pushing ink onto my 200th sweatshirt, I suddenly realized that had I been hired at Automattic, I would be scrambling right now trying to figure out how I would be able to show up for everyone, every day, with my brain intact. Forgoing sleep and injecting the coffee comes to mind as a possible solution. But whatever, that did not happen and my brain is still (to a fair degree) intact.

What I also realized is that over thirteen years my brain has also been rewired. I’ve trained myself to work the way I work, meaning that I structure my time in the way that works best for me, rather than an employer deciding that. I’m able to put my energy into things I love and when I need to move on to something else, I just do it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes push deadlines to their absolute limits. Huge deadline tightrope-walker, me. And yeah, there are days I wonder how we’re going to pay for those little frivolities, rent and food. I don’t enjoy the financial roller coaster. Who likes credit card debt, raise your hand. You, in the back, with the foil hat, you can have mine.

The thing of it is, I don’t want just another “job.” Been there, done that, I literally have the t-shirt. If I take on full time employment, I want it to matter. I don’t need just a paycheck. I need to work with amazing people. I need to work on challenging projects that make a difference, that add something positive to the world.

Maybe that’s a tall order, but I’m going to keep looking until I find it.

Januaryish

What I’m Reading

Rose Madder, Stephen King

Ask the Dust, John Fante

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Alain De Botton

No One Understands You And What To Do About It, Heidi Grant Halvorson

Music

I’m looking for some good jazz. Improvisational jazz. Suggestions?

Work & Projects & Stuff

Zines! Zines! Zines! I’m making zines! Want to get one?

Looking to help people with their WordPress sites. Need help?

Starting to play trumpet again!

Teaching an Old Puppy New Tricks

I’m currently doing a new course in PHP, specifically how it relates to WordPress. I am picking up on my German again. I’m also learning to touch type with https://www.keybr.com/.

Quote of the Moment

Ask yourself, who do you want to be? Figure out for yourself what makes you happy, no matter how crazy it may sound to other people.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Mood

Woa?!?

How the Bullet Journal Saved My Brain

Note: This is a re-blog from my other site. Used with permission because, well, I wrote it. I said it was cool.

I have a long and weird history with analog organizational products. Starting around age seven, I developed a mild folder fetish, spurred along by gloriously shiny document holders with The Muppets on them. Then there was that year I asked for a Trapper Keeper for Christmas. My mother simply blamed it on my Virgoness and indulged me. I think my father wanted me to see a doctor, or at least a little league baseball coach.

Continue reading “How the Bullet Journal Saved My Brain”

Decemberish

Bookshelf

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Alain De Botton

No One Understands You And What To Do About It, Heidi Grant Halvorson

The Vampire Armand, Anne Rice

The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart

Music

Van Halen, 1984

Tones and I, The Kids Are Coming

Work & Projects & Stuff

Working on a screen printed zine

Getting WordPress Help site up and running

Starting to play trumpet again!

Studying

I’m currently doing some courses in CSS and javascript. I am picking up on my German again. I’m also learning to touch type with https://www.keybr.com/.

What’s up?

How can it be December? Already?

I just became a staff writer for an amazing group of people: Puttylike.com

Looking for a stocking stuffer? I have one for you. Pants!

Quote-ish

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker

Mood

You’ll have to guess which one.

A Very Minty Thanksgiving

My very special journey with Linux Mint

About an hour ago, I went for my first post-Thanksgiving run, where not only did I play Frogger crossing The Big Street (sorry, Dad), I got a ton of ideas of things to write about. Then I got home, fired up WordPress and my mind went kablooey:

Not as clever as I had hoped. It will come back to me eventually. In the meantime…

Pandemic Thanksgiving happened on Thursday and I was not too surprised to find that it was exactly like non-Pandemic Thanksgiving, with the exception of the Macy’s Parade Lite we witnessed. I was happy to be peeling potatoes.

Continue reading “A Very Minty Thanksgiving”

Art

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

– Andy Warhol