Sabbatical

It’ll be my five-year anniversary at my company, Automattic, this fall, and I’m eligible to take a three-month paid sabbatical — a benefit I’m very grateful for. It feels funny to compile a To Do list for time off, but a bit of planning will help me make the most of it.

Here’s a list of things I’ve thought of, so far, that I’d like to do:

  • Go to the gym at whatever time I want, even — or especially — those awkward times like 10 and 11 am.
  • Spend more time one-on-one with my three nephews and niece, who are growing way too fast.
  • Spend time in our soon-to-be garden, which should be planted by mid-summer, pending this still-rainy weather.
  • Cook a lot and try out new recipes, expanding beyond my comfort zone (aka my beloved Le Creuset dutch oven). Start baking.
    – Take a soft pastel class. Or get back into watercolors, which I enjoyed in middle school.
    – Take a surfing lesson — somewhere in California, if possible. (I plan to take a class in Hawaii this summer — this may be a better opportunity.)
    – Do a self-directed silent retreat at a Trappist monastery up north.
    – Attend a yoga and vipassana retreat in Marin County.
    – Continue with my taiko class and practice my form.
    – Restring my violin and take private lessons.

I’ll try to squeeze in visits to New York and Los Angeles to visit close friends and family, but for the most part I want to travel as little as possible — and enjoy being and doing right here at home.

Piercing through the fog

Shared this on Instagram and Facebook last month, when I got another tattoo:

For most of my life, I’ve been drawn to Sutro Tower, which sits atop a hill in San Francisco. While it’s iconic, it’s often overshadowed: not necessarily pretty, and certainly not golden. For me, it has a presence much like the fog, which is ever-present and something I’ve always felt connected to—and in my mind, one could not exist without the other. When the fog rolls in, it covers the city, yet the tips of the tower are often visible, piercing through the haze. Of all the structures that rise into the sky or span across the bay, Sutro Tower is at once a relic, representing what I once loved about San Francisco. And yet, as an antenna tower, it’s also a mark of now, of the future. Continue reading “Piercing through the fog”

Classics

Today, while hunting for longreads, I came upon “Classics Never Die: What It Means for DJs to Grow Old,”Pitchfork piece by Jonny Coleman from 2015:

François K got lost when he got really caught up in dubstep and commercial techno,” Englehardt and Paul Nickerson write in an email, referencing the 61-year-old house mainstay. “Unfortunately a lot of the music he plays just doesn’t have the depth or emotion he says it does—it’s all very superficial and you can feel that when he plays now.

“It happens because calculation takes the place of inspiration,” they continue. “When you first start out, it’s all fresh and that is your driving force, but as time goes on see you see that everything is just someone rehashing something that was done better 15 years earlier. It can make you can become bitter quickly. So people like François K make a calculated decision to try to stay relevant, and that is a big part of why music is so terrible right now. Instead of speaking out against the mediocrity of everything, these ‘legends’ assimilate themselves to the current situation and lie to themselves that these new half finished, do-nothing tracks are what people like these days. Whereas 20 years ago, that same person would have said this shit is wack and pushed themselves to go further.”

Yes!

Also: EDM sucks.

The cursor

The cursor is many things:
a megaphone,
a friend who listens,
that space deep inside you.

It meets the blank page:
where you ignite,
and change,
and feel your power.

A tool to share your joy:
your highs displayed for all to see,
your lows swept off the screen.

Through it your selves appear:
the enlightened,
the wistful,
the proud,
the vain.

Such a slender thing
through which we are born
over and over again.

Ready for spring

After going on trip after trip after trip, my husband and I always say we’ll stop traveling for a time, so as we entered 2017, we had clear, travel-free calendars through the spring. And then somehow, I agreed to go on a work trip to Salt Lake City last week. And in a few days, we’re driving up to Lake Tahoe for the holiday. Then I’m off to Nashville for a team meetup in April and then a bachelorette weekend for a dear friend in May. That takes us into early summer, when we’ll be off to the Mediterranean.

This is what a travel-free 2017 looks like. And I’m not complaining, but it’s just funny how traveling just happens. There is no need to plan.

* * *

I’m looking forward to spring — these Northern California storms and atmospheric rivers from the Pacific have been surprisingly severe, and while it’s great we’ve gotten so much rain in the past few months, Mother Nature has dumped it on us all at once. Part of a tree fell on our house during one of the first big storms in January so we had to fix a hole in our roof, and we also dug a temporary trench in our yard to divert floodwater from our neighbor’s property. Fortunately, though, our little lot has held up relatively OK compared to all the damage we’ve seen throughout Sonoma County, caused by massive flooding, downed trees, and mudslides.

I’ve started a few posts here and there over the past month that I’d abandoned — mainly about how we adopted two adorable cats last month, or anxiety over the state of the US and the world, or the familiar feeling of apathy in my “professional” life, and whatnot. It’s gotten harder to string sentences together for a blog post, and I’ve noticed I don’t feel that urge to share my thoughts — or my life — online, with both people I know and don’t know. When I sit down at my laptop to post something, whether on a blog or Facebook, it increasingly feels like I’m in a phony, forced moment — like I’m siphoning what’s left of my thoughts, and the words that appear on paper are residual.

I have never really felt this way with Instagram, where I post regularly, which — I suppose — is a testament to its instantness. But even there I find my habits evolving — growing bored with pretty travel and tiny house snapshots and opening up to sharing simple moments around the house and during my week. Perhaps those more frequent mundane shots are a way to fill in the holes created by my thinned blogging presence, I don’t know.

Gold mine

This is bliss: digitized mixtapes via SF Disco Preservation Society. There’s an archives for the ’80s, but I’m reeeeeallly excited about the ’90s mixes.

It’s unfortunate that all of the trance, jungle, breaks, and house mixtapes I’d kept from these years were damaged when I lived in my first apartment in San Francisco. My toilet had overflowed when I was on vacation and I returned to a home, quite literally, full of shit. I would’ve loved to send in these tapes to be added to these archives for others to enjoy.

Binge material

Today, I asked my husband: what shows are in your top 3? Top 5? Top 10? We tried to narrow down our own favorites — we could consider a series in its entirety, or even a single season of a series. It’d be hard to choose from all the shows I’ve ever watched, so I’m limiting this list to dramas I’ve watched in the past five years.

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. The Americans
  3. The Leftovers (mainly season 2, which we recently finished; season 1 is notable, but it’s hard to say I “liked” it — it was incredibly bleak and very hard to watch at times)
  4. Homeland (definitely season 1, but I also got back into it in season 5, set in Berlin)
  5. True Detective, season 1
  6. Game of Thrones
  7. Carnivale (so unique — it’s a shame there were only 2 seasons)
  8. Westworld (absolutely love the premise, but in season 1, I didn’t like some of the forced exposition in parts)

I’ll stop there. I’ve enjoyed other shows, but they don’t necessarily belong on the list:

  • The Night Of
  • Mr. Robot, season 1 (couldn’t get into season 2)
  • Orphan Black (mainly season 1 — after that, it pretty much loses its freshness)
  • Boardwalk Empire

Any recommendations for what to binge on next? Black Mirror, Stranger Things? Try to watch The Wire (again)? While these are all dramas, I’m open to comedy, too (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Peep Show are my favorites.)