Sunday, June 19, 2022

unspoken rules

we've worked at home a lot over the past two and a half years. it's been both good and bad. we're mostly back in the office these days, but i do still work some days at home when i really have to concentrate. or because my back is hurting, which it has been lately. i'm having flashbacks to the back surgery in 2015 and hoping to avoid it happening again. though working at home probably contributes to it, as i tend to sit much more when i'm home - forgetting to take breaks or eat lunch. 

but it can also be weird being back in the office. a whole new set of rules came about while we worked at home. and many are unspoken and just understood. or not understood. and it's weird, since they're unspoken, to feel disappointed or annoyed when the rules are broken, but the fact remains that i find myself feeling disappointed and annoyed of late.

a couple of examples: 

1) calling on teams: when you call someone on teams, you send a message first to ask them if they have time. so it's super annoying and jarring when when someone just calls out of the blue. often when you're in the middle of a meeting, so they don't even pay attention to the little red bubble that shows that you're busy. 

2) meetings in an open office environment: during corona, we all sat at home and could therefore hold meetings out loud and not bother anyone but the cat. back in the office, it's an open environment and there are some phone booths for meetings where you're the only one, or there are plenty of meeting rooms if you're several people meeting with others on teams. however, i've noticed that some of my colleagues continue to hold their teams meetings in the open environment. they put on headphones and don't realize that they're shouting. one colleague actually had a meeting on teams with the person sitting directly across from him. hello? go to a meeting room, or just go around to the other side and talk to one another! by the end of the day, i was utterly exhausted from listening to his shouting during all his meetings and i was too mad to say anything about it. but seriously, has two years of working from home rendered him so unaware of other humans that he doesn't realize he's being utterly rude to his colleagues?

how is company culture formed? who decides the etiquette? and how does everyone agree on it without talking about it out loud? and when someone utterly violates it, how do you talk to that person about it nicely? i know for sure that you don't let yourself steam about it all day and get so angry that you know you won't be able to be nice about it. but then the moment passes and maybe now his way of just holding meetings with headphones and shouting has moved everyone towards establishing a different company culture than the one you thought was there. and it's all unspoken. and it makes being back in the office less fun than it should be, because it truly is nice to be around your colleagues again.

but i still think a combination will be best. i need a couple of days of being able to concentrate at home and a few days of being with my colleagues in the office. they're two completely different ways of working. and i like the variety, but i do just wish we all agreed on the culture.

Monday, June 06, 2022

corners of the garden

spent a blissful amount of time right here this weekend. weeding, watering, grilling, lounging, laughing, relaxing and even working. it was the last of the long spring weekends, but i am rested and ready to jump headlong into the week. 

Thursday, June 02, 2022

stitching together a lovely, messy, chaotic life

nearly a month after my disappointment at not getting hold of a kit that would enable me to participate in the dataspejlet community art project at trapholt museum, i was at a friend's house for a board meeting. i saw that she had a kit and i told her how sad i was that i missed out on getting one. i snapped a picture of it there on her side table, but that sense of sadness and being on the outside of something i wanted to be part of welled up in me again and i found it almost too painful to look at. i even thought the colors she had gotten were great and would have been so much fun to work with. she told me that her neighbor also had one and she would ask her if she was going to use it. i went away a little bit hopeful, but still mostly resigned to not getting one.

then, a week or so later, my friend sent me a message, telling me she'd left me something up in our creative group's workshop at the library. i crossed my fingers that i knew what it was and i was delighted to find that she gave me her own kit. i breathed a sign of relief. 

oddly, i didn't start stitching on it right away. i got out my data files and chose the words i wanted to work with and i drew a sketch on some graph paper that husband had lying around on his desk. and then, i went around pondering it in the back of my head for a couple of weeks. i'm one who always works best close to a looming deadline. and i wasn't doing nothing - i was pinning stitch inspiration on pinterest and thinking about how i wanted to express the words i'd chosen. i was also keeping an eye on the #dataspejlet hashtag on instagram, but not a lot of posts were being shared and i didn't want to have to open the dreaded facebook to go see what people were posting in the group. plus, i figured it was best to do it my way anyway, without too much inspiration/influence from others.

but during our long weekend, i finally got stitching. it was beautiful out in the garden, on the pillow-covered bench between the greenhouses. i started with the circle representing husband. it has a circle within it that represents sabin. 

i chose the golden mustard color for husband and pink for sabin - my colors were those, plus purple. i probably would have chosen other colors if i were choosing myself, but these were what i had to work with and i do like them. i decided to  completely fill those two circles with stitches, because they represent the two people who complete me. 

the next circles that i worked on were the overlapping ones representing time/reality and cats - funny that those overlapped, but i think the time/reality comes from posts i did about reading murakami and of course, cats figure heavily on my facebook page. i chose to leave more "air" in those circles, not filling them out completely with stitches and there, where they overlapped, i used both colors, plus i added the third color, to show that the interesting part is where my preoccupations overlap. 

and then i turned to the similarly overlapping circles representing ships and LEGO. i filled those out with little + signs (i should note that we were only allowed to use stitches that go horizonal or vertical, no side-ways or curves or french knots or fancy stuff). and i stitched three hearts in the space where they overlapped, to signify how much i do love both. they are both from my work life, but both have become something of who i am.

i really enjoyed sitting in the sunshine, stitching. when i needed a break, i'd get up and pull a few weeds or water the plants or plant a few seeds. and i picked myself a small bouquet of fragrant lilacs, my favorite flower, to have at hand while i stitched. i sat in the sun with my big sun hat on and enjoyed the meditative stitching, seeing where it would take me and what thoughts it would provoke.

i didn't get it all finished on the weekend, so monday after work, i started my second to last circle. this is the one where i chose a group of words from the data, as they all seemed related and harmonious together. they were: story, fabulous, beautiful, sunshine, awesome. and reality was in that circle as well. i think it's my favorite circle - the three colors complementing one another best. it was also one i stitched most intuitively, letting the colors tell me where they wanted to be and how many stitches and the length. it simply felt freer than the others, which felt careful and deliberate. i liked this one best.

it was getting a bit dark by the time i finished, but i took a picture anyway. i'm pleased with the result. and then on tuesday, i had only one circle left to do. the bad one. 

we were given white thread to use for stitching those bits that we wished weren't there or which we didn't want anyone to see. for me, that circle came down in the left lower quadrant, far from the other circles, which was good, as i hate to have this word touching any of the positive words. and the word for that circle was trump. i used couching, i think wanting to keep that embarrassing evil clown under control, limiting him and tying him down. that stitch came to me naturally and intuitively as well. funny how those last two circles were the most intuitive, like i had to have warmed up to the stitching before i could let myself go.

and i thought a lot about stitching outside the circles and i can see now that others have done so - stitching connections between them and such. and i thought i wanted to do that as well. but as i began - trying to make a joyful spray of stitches surround my favorite circle at the top - they came out awkward and not at all how i envisioned them, so i picked them up. i think it would have worked if i could have used french knots, but alas, they weren't allowed. so, i decided i was content to only show what the data showed and keep the rest of my lovely, chaotic, messy, awesome life for myself.

i'm so happy i got to participate after all and i'm very grateful to my friend for giving me her kit. it meant a lot and the meditative stitching time was just what i needed during a very busy time at work. i can't wait to see how my work will fit into the larger work that astrid skibsted puts together at trapholt this autumn.  it will inevitably be a dialogue with the many other embroiderers and the whole will be so much greater than the individual parts and yet they will be beautiful and unique on their own. and i'll bet it will be harmonious and lovely, messy and chaotic, just like all the lives that went into the data that went into all those stitches. and we will all belong exactly where we are in the work. 

this awesome, beautiful, fabulous life

i submitted my dataspejlet work to trapholt electronically today, so now, i only have to drop it off. i still need to write a post about how i got my hands on a kit, but i'll do that next. 

they have a form to fill out where you can write a 1000 character description of your work. that's a crazy small amount for all the thought and hours that went into it. here's what mine said:

i loathe facebook, but have been there for many years, so it made sense to use it for my dataspejl. interestingly, the data did rather accurately reveal what's important to me - husband (yes, i call him that, like it's his name) and daughter, their circles overlapping, very fittingly. the next circles, all very close in size represent other things i love - like cats and ships and LEGO. my #2 circle featured words like "time" and "reality," which surely come from reading and posting about Murakami books. i chose to do one circle in white, as the frequent word there is one i'd like to forget - trump. it's also an outlier on my grid - away from the others, which seems right. but to end on a happy note, the circle where i used all three colors in a crazy quilt sort of pattern was full of words like "story," "fabulous," "beautiful," "sunshine," "awesome" and again, "reality," - leading me to my title and to the realization that yes, my colorful, loud, messy life is rather fabulous.

submitted this process photo - as i thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sunshine in the garden, stitching away last weekend.

* * *

you also had to fill out which words you chose to work with and mine were:

husband, sabin (which i submitted as daughter, for the sake of anonymity), cats, ships, LEGO, time, reality, story, fabulous, beautiful, sunshine, awesome and yes, trump. 

so weird to boil my life down to 8 circles and a dozen or so words. it seems so paltry and yet still, it did capture something. i tried stitching outside the circles a bit, to indicate that my life is much more than just those 8 confined and sometimes overlapping circles, but took it away again, because it felt like it didn't capture it. instead, i chose to go with the snapshot those 8 circles offer and keep for myself the messy chaos of the rest of this awesome, beautiful, fabulous life. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

a royal jewelry box

a diamond daisy for queen daisy

the greenland crown

a more contemporary headpiece that fits the queen's up-dos. 

some of the many honorary titles and orders the queen has been given by various countries over her 50 year reign.

the pearl and diamond set that the queen often travels with, since the crown jewels aren't allowed to leave the country. 

a versatile three-piece set that the queen often wears.

this is probably a bad blog post because i know so few of the details of these pieces. i went to an exhibition at the amailenborg museum (that's the residence of the danish queen). it features the queen's jewelry. actually, the royal family's jewelry, not just the queen's. it is quite well done - you get a listening device that you scan along the way and hear the queen tell about the jewelry on display in her own words. my friend and i were speaking english, so the docent handed the device to us, set to english. the english voice was some snotty brit and hearing the explanations in her accent was utterly off-putting, so we had to go back and have them set them to danish. it was so much warmer and more palatable in the queen's own words. it was actually quite interesting, the difference that made. the brit imitating the queen sounded so condescending and the danish queen doesn't sound like that at all. 

and it wasn't all historical tiaras passed down from the russian tsars or the swedish royal family, there was also a pair of blue plastic earrings that the queen bought one summer in matas, a shop with an outlet in every town that features makeup, shampoo, nail polish and other personal care items. 

there's so much history and thought behind the pieces. and so much thought behind when they are worn and by whom. and who made them and for which occasion. it made me glad that i live my ordinary life, though it made me want to do so more deliberately. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

doing hard things

a moment of serenity in the greenhouse when i got home.

dang, today was hard. a very long project is about to come to fruition. a year and a half of work. and weirdly, today, one day before launch, we found ourselves in a holding pattern. there was a major bug and the development team was working frantically, and the rest of us just had to wait. finally, the decision was made to just roll back, without really figuring out what the hell caused the bug. and although most of the day was spent waiting and not really doing all that much, damn, it takes a psychological toll. i swear, we're all going to need therapy after this. i am completely wrung out this evening. i was going to keep editing and checking pages, but instead, i'm telling myself that no one will actually read all. the. pages. tomorrow when we launch in the first two languages, so, as the danes say, "det skal nok gå." (it'll be all right) and i'm taking myself off to bed after a long, hot shower and a rather large glass of wine. i'll put a cozy mystery (this time, the royal spyness series by rhys bowen), curl up with a cat and fall asleep. the hard part isn't over yet, but it will all be easier after a good night's sleep. and thank odin for good colleagues. 

Thursday, April 07, 2022

of data mirrors and a sense of belonging

part of the dataspejlet (data mirror) project at trapholt museum is small piece of personal embroidery. you actually download your data from facebook and your search history from google chrome and send it in to a model/algorithm that the museum has created for the project, and it returns a quadrant diagram with circles on it representing the words that appear most frequently. if you click on the numbered circles, the words change, so you can select the ones you wish to think of while you embroider and create your personal "data mirror." 

i think because the algorithm is surely set to danish, it has returned some weird words for me - like "lov" which is surely actually "love" in my posts and not "promise" if it were danish and the "ll" that's surely from "we'll" and "it'll" and other contractions. i have no idea what the placement of the circles on the quadrant means. 

the museum had kits available in set colors - you get two colors to use, plus white, which you should use for the words that appear a lot, but which you don't want to count in your stitched picture of your data. unfortunately, i didn't get my hands on a kit, not imagining that there were only a few available, but i suppose it makes sense since the artwork can only be the size it can be. i have felt more disappointed than is warranted that i didn't get a kit. i plan to work with the graphs on my own anyway and this way, i get to keep them. and decide to use as many colors as i wish.

and i am getting to participate in the woven part of the work, so i am still a part of the larger work. in my disappointment over not getting a kit, i realized, once again, that being part of a community is important to me. i wanted to see my stitched data mirror in dialogue with all the other stitched data mirrors - to have a visual depiction of how and where i fit in the scheme of things. to contribute to something beautiful that only becomes more beautiful in dialogue with everyone else's work. i feel genuinely sad that i don't get to be part of that. and it triggers that old familiar feeling of being on the outside (i really should get therapy for that).

i think i also wanted something beautiful to come of all that data i stupidly gave to facebook all those years. it was nice to think that something good would come it somehow, when they've used it for nothing but evil and nefarious purposes. 

my chrome history diagram is much less interesting since it's so full of work-related stuff like kitchens (in no less than four languages) and dashboards and the project management software asana - which i visit regularly. i wanted to submit my blog data, but their algorithm couldn't handle the amount of data. i don't think my google visits say that much about me as a private person, but they do say something about me as a work person. 

but i guess that whatever i make of it is for myself. and maybe that's ok. but i would have liked it to be part of something bigger. sigh.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

dataspejlet :: weaving community

i spent the weekend at the loom. our weaving group is part of an art project at trapholt museum. fiber artist astrid skibsted is working with trapholt on a project called dataspejlet. it's in two parts - one is woven and one is embroidered (i'll write more about it in another post). for the woven part, our weaving group was chosen to participate. we received all the yarn we needed in colors that were chosen for us and a warp that was ready to put on the loom. when i arrived at the museum on saturday, it was already nearly ready to start weaving. 

it's strange in a way to write about weaving, as it's something i learned in danish and therefore, i don't really know the terminology in english. so i don't know how to express the part of threading it and putting it into the comb. and on some level, i don't really want to even google it, as it's something that danish and i have together.  i realize it makes me sound like even more of a beginner than i even am (and after ten years, i still feel like a beginner), but that's just how it is. 

the last thing that needed doing was the fishing line along the sides. it's there for stability, but plastic fishing line is very different than the linen threads beside it, so we struggled a bit to get it right. luckily, there's a facebook group where everyone who is part of the weaving is helping one another and we learned that we needed more weight on the fishing line at the other end.  but on saturday, we didn't know that and we struggled with the fishing line and keeping it taut so it would lay nicely on the edge.

we were given a cream colored yarn to use as a test section. it's this very cool japanese yarn that's actually flat, rather than round. and it takes working with it a bit to get it right. and that fishing line teased us.

but on sunday, after following advice from others in the group, we put on more weight and we got weaving in earnest. our edges looked beautiful and i got to weave the whole first section. the whole pattern is prescribed and since we are quite a large group, everyone needs to have a chance. i did a small timelapse of my weaving. my phone was fastened to the loom and it slowly turned over the course of the timelapse.

as always, i feel like the loom teaches me lessons that i can't learn anywhere else. it's the most honest thing - you can't trick it or fool it or hide anything. it will show clearly any tricks you try to pull on it. it will always be totally honest with you - and show you clearly your mistakes. but when you correct them, it will also show you all its beauty. and when it does, there's really nothing like it. tiny threads, woven together, become something strong and beautiful. it rather takes my breath away. and to be part of a larger work that is the work of so many others gives a real sense of community. even solving frustrating problems is part of the story that we're weaving into the work and it will all be there in the threads when it's done. what a privilege to be part of it.

Friday, April 01, 2022

how we make decisions or how do we make decisions?

i started a new job nearly two months ago and two weeks ago, when i got the opportunity to return to my old job, i accepted it. i hadn't made the decision to leave lightly and when i made it, i felt it was the right decision. some very big things changed at the new workplace in the interim and when i got there, i discovered that it was very much not the right decision. i am privileged to be able to go back to my old job, where i know that i have great colleagues and where my work is appreciated and makes a difference.

i'm finishing up at the new job this week and trying my best to finish up all the projects i'm involved in. it's so disheartening to have the reasons that made me regret the new job underlined for me again today. the main person that i have to work with (not a co-worker, more the client) seems to be actively working against me. i've asked her multiple questions today and she hasn't answered any of them. i can't finish today's work without her answers. i even tried to book her for a quick teams meeting and she suggested a time tomorrow, even though she wants the article i'm working on today. it feels like she wants me to do a bad job so that she can be confirmed in her opinion that the agency i work for doesn't provide good work. 

i'm trying not to take it personally, but i really don't understand it.

* ~ * ~ *

and this stupid blow-by-blow timeline is boring the hell out of me. i should find a way to tell it in metaphor. or as a fairytale. if i did, it would undoubtedly involve a naive, well-meaning character who trusts too much and a dragon that turns out to be an ugly troll. and who will indulge in even more intense troll-like behavior the next day, though i didn't know that at the time i wrote the paragraphs above.

* ~ * ~ *

but it all has me thinking about decisions and how we make them. we make them with a combination of thought, cost-benefit analysis, and excitement with a bit of gut feeling thrown in. and in any decision, one of those will weigh a bit more than the others and be what tips the scales. in this case, i made a big list of pros and cons of each job, thought about it endlessly, discussed it with husband even more endlessly and then went with my gut, which told me to take the new job. but it seems my gut didn't know the whole story. 

but was it my gut? any decision is a complex thing. i got the new job through a headhunter who contacted me last summer. at that time, things were a bit rocky at my job, my boss was going down with stress and making himself and everyone else miserable and i'd spent that first year of covid doing a whole lot of things that were not what i was hired to do. and i'll admit, it's awfully flattering to be contacted by a headhunter. and i'm susceptible to that sort of flattery. it's always nice to be wanted. 

but was that it? i think it was part of it. the other part was some baggage created by the aforementioned stressed manager. he had done his best to convince me that he doubted my abilities, though how he knew what they were when he hadn't let me do any of the tasks i was hired for, i don't know. he even criticized me for how many tabs i kept open on my computer, as if that was any of his business. or as if it had any meaning whatsover. he actually wanted to use that fact to deny me the chance to actually start doing what i had been hired to do. he also spent half of my development talk waxing on and on about how awesome my colleague was. so yes, there was baggage. and despite him actually having left the company by the time i accepted the new job, it was still a big factor. carrying all that baggage around is hard work.

so what about my decision to go back to that job? that's a complex thing as well. it's partially the danish karen who was my main client at the new job and it's once again, a bit of flattery. it's flattering when your old boss calls and asks if you'd like to return. and if you're in the middle of something that wasn't what you expected it to be and you don't think it looks like you can actually do anything about making it better, it's that much more appealing. i'll admit that i was also missing my old team - we were close and it felt so comfortable and fun. i missed laughing and having a good time with them (hmm, i wonder if that's the most important factor in decision making? feeling like you belong?). and so i said yes.

and today, i started anew. and it really did feel like a fresh start. like i could leave the baggage of the old boss on the platform and start anew, on more secure footing and feeling like i was appreciated for what my new boss (who was the old boss' boss) knows that i can do. it also helps that i have a proper job description this time and that i find all the tasks in it to be right up my alley.

and so, it feels like the right decision. for a whole variety of reasons. and time will tell if they hold up. but for now, my gut tells me that they will. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

war in ukraine :: do what you can

i've been thinking a lot about my russian friends and how they must be feeling. i wonder what they're thinking? what news they have access to? what they believe? whether they have children who might be sent to putin's folly of a war. i'm friends with one on facebook, but she hasn't answered my message. she might not be able to now, if putin turned it off. so terrible what he's doing and how those who will suffer from his actions are the ordinary people in both ukraine and russia. such an amazing culture, with so much of the world's best literature and music and art.  

since i wrote this a couple of days ago, my friend in russia has answered. she's ok and though she's vague in her posts, she actually still has access. and she said we must all hope for peace. what else can we do?

i'll tell you what i did today - i bought some prints from a ukrainian artist. it's a small gesture and probably only significant to the artist who i bought them from, but it made me feel like i was doing something. and i don't want it to be in some fortunate western kind of way, but maybe it is. but still, i hope it made a difference. please support yulia if you can. her illustrations are lovely and she has a cat. you may have to print yourself at the moment, but honestly, isn't that the least you can do?

Friday, March 04, 2022

studying russian at the wrong time

on the train from moscow to kazan with my dad in 1994

the past week or so of russia's agression against ukraine has me pondering my past. i studied russian, mostly literature and quite a lot of russian history. of course i studied the language as well, but i was never a great talent. i could always read it better than i could speak it. but i did ok, and most importantly, i loved it. 

i studied russian at precisely the wrong time to actually get to do anything with it. i began studying in 1989, just as the berlin wall fell. it took a couple more years for the soviet union to dissolve, but dissolve it did. and by the time i finished my bachelor's degree in 1993 and my master's in 1994, academia didn't really know what to do with us russian majors. 

looking back, so many of my professors were former military, harry had been to the defense language institute in monterey and then princeton (possibly not in that order). the head of our department at iowa, ray, was also former military, as was kit, whose last name i don't remember, though polish was his specialty. later, at asu, the head of the russian department was also former military. they were surely all tapping people on the shoulder to join the cia or fbi or nsa. but that tap never came for me. perhaps because of the aforementioned not being a language talent, but i think it had even more to do with timing. i simply studied russian at the wrong time. fellowships dried up. slavic departments shrank and merged with other "minor" languages. i met a nice danish boy and followed him home and love sent me in another direction.

and i believe that today, we're seeing the result of that. putin and his cronies felt humiliated at the dissolution of the soviet union and now he's taking the first steps towards getting it back. and because no one kept studying russian and slavic culture, it seems like the world is rather blindsided by it all. maybe they should have tapped some of us on the shoulder after all, even if we weren't brilliant at russian, but just had a deep and abiding interest in it and the culture. 

as usual, at moments like this, i wish i could still sit across from my dad and ask him what he thinks about it all. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

we made it this far

what a weird week. already on tuesday, it felt pretty long, though in honor of the auspicious date, i was determined to look at everything from a positive perspective. then wednesday came along and it only got longer. it wasn't a great day. i got a reminder that when you switch jobs, you will be surprised and maybe even blindsided and you will have to adjust to the new situation. i also sent a silent prayer of apology to anyone from an agency that i had worked with and who i hadn't treated very well. i'm so sorry! but then i picked up the positivity again and reminded myself how much of a difference i could make if i looked at it from a different perspective. 

that's what changing jobs was about - learning new things, stretching myself, thinking in new ways, doing things from a different perspective. and that's what wednesday gave me, so i can't really complain.

and then on wednesday evening, i went to an amazing event in a small castle turned school that's in the area. i heard very interesting, experimental music from two up and coming young artists - one who performed in the beautiful setting of a church from the middle ages and the other, which was accompanied by a most amazing set of synesthetic visuals. and an established artist, teitur, whom i didn't know before that day. he's from the faroe islands and his songs all tell a story and he performed at a grand piano in an amazing room of the castle and was so authentic and down-to-earth and lovely and genuinely talented and it was bliss. seriously, look for him on spotify and definitely listen to the song called clara. he told the story behind it and it was lovely, but you'll get it even without the story. it's a song of our times.

for most of the day on thursday, i thought it was friday. alas, it was not and that was a disappointment. world war 3 started, for no reason that anyone can discern, other than that putin has gone completely mad. i'm certain he has issues at home that no one knows about. and i think the only way to stop him will be for the west to freeze all his bank accounts, take his yacht and his house(s) on the french rivera. make it hurt. but i fear many innocent ukrainian citizens will be hurt before it works.

and now it's friday. and we made it. and the weekend is ahead. and despite learning that an old colleague is unexpectedly a trumpanzee, and world war 3 has begun, and gas prices are skyrocketing, we will go on. and i will get up and go for a long walk and then i'll settle in to work. and maybe do a bit of sewing and or weaving. and probably feel like crap about the lot of it, because of the aforementioned ww3. what can we do? if i knew, i'd do it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


it's one of those auspicious dates. at least according to the internet. and since 22 has always been my number (thanks to my birthday being march 22), it does genuinely feel like it might be. all the woo woo folks on tiktok (there is something i love about how buttery and reassuring this woman's voice is) are saying you should send your wildest dreams out into the universe today, because on this auspicious date, the universe will be listening. i'm not sure i really buy that, but it does seem worth a try.

what's makes me think there might be something to it is that when i went out to feed the chickens and the outdoor kitties, it was sunny and there was a hint of spring in the air. the birds were all twittering like they could feel it too. 

i think what i most want to manifest on this day is positivity. it can be so easy to fall into negativity and complaining, especially when you're a person who says sarcastic or cynical things for a laugh. but i want positivity in my life, so it seems like the best thing to manifest on this auspicious day. so i'm going to be positive and spread positive vibes. when i would go for the laugh with a negative wisecrack or say something shady (also for a laugh), i'm going to be positive instead. sending positivity into the universe will surely bring it back to me - and with it will be all those other things that people manifest, like success and wealth and health and love. and who can't use more of those things? in any case, it's worth a try. 

what are you manifesting today?

Saturday, February 19, 2022

occasionally (not often enough), when i feel down, i visit the daily delights on darrel bristow bovey's website. they make me want to price tickets to athens and get my ass down there. i especially loved the one from february 5. i wanted athens to be my favorite capital city all of a sudden. i've been there once and enjoyed it, but i'm not sure it's my favorite capital city. that's probably copenhagen, which seems a bit lame, given that i actually live in the country of which it's a capital. 

but copenhagen really is wonderful. it's colorful, walkable, beautiful. there are art museums, history museums, design museums, the oldest amusement park in the world, the #1 restaurant in the world, the best burger joint ever (gasoline grill)...i could go on. 

i was gobsmacked yesterday when someone i know, who is danish, said she hadn't been in copenhagen since 2016 and had, in fact, only been there 4-5 times in her whole life. i expressed surprise, perhaps too vehemently, and she got a little offended and said, "what would i need there? it's expensive," which is admittedly, true. but still. it's wonderful. though i didn't mean to offend her. i just can't understand that anyone wouldn't appreciate copenhagen. 

before i changed jobs, i was going more or less once a week. and i'm definitely suffering from withdrawal. that must mean it's my favorite capital city. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

those weird feelings you can't put your finger on...

i have the weirdest feeling when i go to our creative group's atelier up on the top floor of our local library. something about being there just makes me feel prickly, negative and a little defensive. i think it's been going on for awhile, but i only just was able to put my finger on the feeling last evening. i don't know why, but knowing that is a step towards figuring that out. 

i can feel that i put up a wall around myself. and that the wall actually prevents me from being present and open. it's like it appears without my knowledge and i find myself behind it, feeling a bit negative and out of sorts. 

or maybe it's just that i'm sensitive to negative energy. and there's loads of negativity there. i'm not sure that i've always felt it. at the beginning of the pandemic, i spent a lot of time there, as the library has a good internet connection and ours at home was iffy at best. so i worked there many days during the time we had to work from home. maybe that's it. some kind of corona-induced anxiety kicks in when i'm there. but why would that make me defensive and negative? 

it's also the scene where someone questioned how i was raised because i had wanted to send flowers from our group to the funeral of our group's founder's father. the other members of the board were against that idea, by the way. i'm still wondering how on earth that makes me the one who is badly raised. but i live outside my own culture, so perhaps it's just one of those things that's impossible for me to understand. but perhaps i associate it with the place. 

but how do i shake it off? i can feel that it prevents me from enjoying getting together with women i genuinely like in a place that's made for creativity. do i need to burn some sage up there? exorcise the demons? how do i get rid of this feeling so that i can enjoy being there again and be present for the people who i like being with? 

i don't mean to imply that i don't take responsibility for this feeling in myself. i just don't know the source of it, nor how to get rid of it. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

officially living the right life for 23 years

23 years with this guy. we're older than we were back then (though not so much in this picture, it's from last november), but he's still completely and utterly the one for me. i would have totally lived the wrong life without him. but with him, even when things get weird, it's always the right life. so here's to the next 23 years. and hopefully even more. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

recovery time

as i get older, it seems to take me more and more time to recover from the big events. back at the end of november, i gave my notice at my job after a tumultuous almost two years of working during a pandemic in a branch that experienced exponential growth because people were sitting at home, working and homeschooling from their kitchens and thinking, "damn, i need a new kitchen." that resulted in a lot of crazy mad ambitious projects that were legitimately "business critical," (though i hate buzzwords like that). 

it was fun and i had really great colleagues, but it was also really intense and hard and in the autumn, i fell prey to the thoughts that many people are having these this really what i want to be doing? do i want to write about black friday deals and affordable prices for the rest of my career? i am approaching an age where i have to think about these things. because soon it will get more difficult for me to switch jobs. even though age is just a number. and with basically 0% unemployment (ok, it's 2.8%, but that might as well be 0%), things aren't that bad. yet. but still, it gave me pause. 

i'd been courted by a headhunter since the summer holiday and i'd turned them down once, but they approached me again in the autumn as fatigue set in. a very big project was dragging out, a boss that went down with stress, tried to come back, couldn't accept the changes that happened in his absence and then left, leaving that very big project in one giant mess and with no one at the helm, made me say yes the second time around. 

but before i said yes, i had a day with the new team, basically interviewing them. it's that kind of job market these days. and i really liked them and it felt like the right thing to do, so i said yes. but i agreed to give my old job an extra month (in denmark, you tend to give you notice at the end of one month and you finish at the end of the next one). i owed that to those good colleagues and we'd been through so much together. and i also felt that i'd poured so much work and caring (i always care too much a great deal) and thought and sweat and tears into the project, that i wanted to leave it at a milestone, rather than just leaving in the middle of everything.

and hit that milestone we did. confetti canons and all. and i felt grateful and privileged to have worked so hard with such a group of talented people. and although i've gone on to that new job with an undoubtedly talented new group of people, damn, i miss them. we went through the hellfire together. we laughed, we swore (some more than others...and by we i mean me), we inspired one another, we leaned on one another, on occasion we had a few too many drinks, we got mad, we yelled, some of us mansplained (you know who you are), then we made up and got over it and got to work again. and it was special and awesome and although i chose it myself, i'm sad it's over. and i miss them so much. 

and it all makes me realize that it's possible to be sad and happy at the same time. i'm excited about what's ahead and so happy to get to know a whole new group of colleagues, but the transition is hard. you don't just get over such an intense period of work in a day. and you have doubts and grief over losing the daily contact with those you shared it all with. guys, you will all have a very special place in my heart. and there will always be a g&t waiting for you if you drop by. but be sure you wear a t-rex or guy riding a chicken costume, because damned if you aren't going to end up on tiktok with me. that's the only way we're going to recover from the danes say (and you're all danes), "you only have the fun you make yourself." i had a lot of fun with you and it was a privilege. thank you all. 

here's to brighter days ahead. 🥂✨ 

we will recover from this, it will just take a little time. so let's give ourselves that time. 

Monday, February 07, 2022

the beginner's mind

a recent episode of the ezra kline show was one of the best podcast episodes i've heard in a long time. he interviewed writer ruth ozeki. i wasn't familiar with her work before hearing the episode, but now i've ordered a couple of her books from the library. she's a zen buddhist priest as well as a novelist and i loved her views on writing and well, life in general. she talked about writing and meditation and the connection between the body and the mind and the body and writing. it's so good and so packed full of profound thoughts that i've actually listened to it twice.

she talked about the buddhist notion of having a beginner's mind. she said that the possibilities are endless when you have a beginner's mind, because you meet everything you encounter with curiosity and openness. i have a beginner's mind right now, as i start a new job. or at least i am trying very hard to do so. it's so hard to shut down the part of my mind that wants to assess and categorize everything and make judgements about it, before even knowing the story or even the outlines of it. but to do that shuts off so much potential...for other stories, for other points of view, for openness and curiosity. as ozeki said in the interview, not knowing is so intimate, it give us an intimacy to the world around us, because we're open to it and to experiencing it and can thereby be more IN it.

so i'm working hard to just be IN my beginner's mind. and taking long walks in the cold, crisp air, to at the same time be IN my not-so-beginner's body. and to breathe deeply and be open and start just experiencing without judgement. and to stop second-guessing myself. and to just experience the thrilling experience of learning new things and getting to know new people and seeing where it leads. 

i miss my good colleagues from my old job, but i genuinely don't think i made the wrong decision. it's possible to feel sad and to miss my friends and the level of comfort and camaraderie we had together, but to feel that i made the right decision. i can hold all these things in my mind and yes, in my body at once. because we humans are full of contradictions and there's room for them within us. the world isn't as black and white as we've tried to make it over the past couple of decades, it's full of shades of grey. and we should be more curious about our own minds and feelings, be better at sitting with them and experiencing them. it's not too late to have a beginner's mind. 

Saturday, February 05, 2022

beautiful things

absolutely loving this beautiful collaboration on the marginalian. an animated version of emily dickenson's bloom with music by joan as police woman. it's breathtaking and it was exactly what i needed on this dark, cold, rainy february day.

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heather moore (of skinny la minx fame) is doing a great noticing project #theattentionproject on instagram. in january, it was weeds, now it's "just before you let go." i definitely noticed a lot of picturesque weeds on my january walks. now i need to take a closer look at the things i'm about to toss (or should be tossing).

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loving the @dear_white_staffers account on instagram. they're giving me hope for the world. or at least for the country of my birth. still hoping not to be stateless. 

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have you binge-listened to the trojan horse affair yet? it's so, so good. like first season of serial good. we need more podcasts like this in our lives.

Monday, January 31, 2022

printmaking and the fog of living in a global pandemic

i learned a new sort of printmaking this weekend - collography. we used cardboard, rather than copper. i loved the elusive nature of it, though it felt like it took a couple of prints before i got my head around it and obviously i still have much to learn. it's different than linoprints. i also loved that each one only makes one or two prints. there's something appealing about it being a monoprint. i feel intrigued by the fact that there's only one chance.

i have cacti on the brain, so i made two. and i ended up feeling that what i really need is a scalpel that i can draw with. curves are a bit difficult. i also came away feeling that i need a press. you definitely need one that rolls the print through to do these, as just pressing down, like you can get away with on a linoprint, is not possible. there's always more art supplies that you can acquire.

i've been seeing people on instagram that are doing collography using packaging as the base. i took the packaging from my burrata and i really love the result.

having linocut experience, i hollowed out the small spots to make them, forgetting that they'd fill with ink and actually end up black. the instructor said i could cut out small bits of paper and make them be white. i like how that turned out. 

i did a quick last print, just before the end of the day, drawing a small bowl and decorating it with a couple of leaves. i actually made two of this print. i kept it simple, thinking that i'd maybe do some stitching on it or add a bit of my old favorite payne's grey. 

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january seemed so long. like it was the longest january ever. but i made it to today, the last day. it was also the last day of my current job. i reluctantly leave behind my very good colleagues, but i am looking forward to starting something new tomorrow, something that's perhaps a bit more up my alley. i love starting something new and i'm very much looking forward to jumping in with both feet.

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and speaking of never-ending, i've been thinking a lot lately and talking to people about this whole pandemic thing and what it's done to us. i don't think we even know. i just wrote a completely ragey letter to the church where sophia, the twin we lost, is buried. we renew the grave once a year and i somehow missed the first letter about it. so they send a reminder that horribly threatens to dig her up and throw her away. not quite in those words, but not that far from it. and even after 21 years, it upsets me greatly. i feel like i missed that first letter in the fog that has settled upon us with the monotony of the pandemic. tomorrow, all the restrictions are lifted here in denmark and i don't really know what i think about that. three colleagues today announced that they have tested positive and one more was sick as well, though i never heard a test result. i had a negative test yesterday, which i got on a whim because i saw that there was no line at the test center and i was there anyway. so, i've escaped the virus so far, but not the fog that has settled over all of us.

an old friend has been pondering the pandemic as well. read her take here.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

a creative treasure trove and a reminder to live life to the fullest

one of the members of our local creative group posted on our facebook page that she was giving away her batik supplies, including a number of cantings (tjantings), which i've long been looking for (they're the little "pens" with a vessel to hold the hot wax). i wrote to her and said i'd love to have them. lucky for me, i was first. she lives only about 10 minutes away, so i arranged to stop by this afternoon to pick them up. i took a bottle of wine, since she didn't want to sell the supplies.

i had met her a few years ago at one of our exhibitions, but she's not a super active member, so i didn't know her well. stepping into her home, i loved how creative it felt...the entry hallway was covered in a collage of wallpaper samples. it's always wonderful to step into a creative home. next up, was a wall of book shelves and two comfy chairs. so inviting and wonderful. she had the things all out on the table and invited me to sit down. 

like the treasure trove another friend gave me last year, she had her extensive notes from her art education, with all the exact formulas of all the colors. she had highlighted some of the most key instructions for me. and it seemed important to her that i could read and understand them. i felt, like i did last spring, so privileged to be given this treasure. i also fear that there is no longer such an education, where you really learn everything there is to learn about dyeing fabric. 

she also gave me her color samples, on which she had carefully noted her exact formulas for achieving the colors, sometimes with multiple color baths. when i look at them, what i see is a quilt. a beautiful, rich, colorful quilt. 

she looked different than when i last saw her. her hair was very short, but i hadn't realized that it was because she had been through chemotherapy. and that that was why she was giving away her batik supplies. she has an aggressive breast cancer and at her last appointment, her doctor told her to think about how she wanted to use what time she had left. what that must feel like. it takes my breath away.

it was sobering to talk to her and her husband about what it's like to have a terminal cancer diagnosis in the time of corona. and even though we only scratched the surface, all of us with tears in our eyes, it was very moving and intense and i felt privileged to be part of the moment, even as i can't even imagine how it must feel.

i can't imagine what it's like, but there, in the moment i could, for just a second, even though it isn't my story. and then i understood the feeling i got that it was so important to her to share her notes on the colors. 

we all want to leave something behind. we want to have mattered. we want to create something lasting. and i want to create something lasting from the fabric she dyed and from her supplies. so i'm going to learn how to use them, even though they require learning about caustic soda. i have her carefully-written instructions and i can ask her for help, as she only lives about 10 minutes away. 

we have to live our lives while they're here, seize the moments while we can, and not waste a single one and leave behind all the beauty we can.

i am so grateful to have her samples and her supplies and i will think of her every single moment as i use them to make something beautiful. it's the very least i can do.