telling a story by what isn't there

everyone's heard the idea that ferris bueller doesn't actually exist, and that he's just the manifestation of cameron's frustration and what cameron wishes he was.

but someone actually made a trailer for it, and i would TOTALLY see the movie.
frightening and brilliant.

reminds me of garfield-minus-garfield:
Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the extential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep inot the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.


so good for the soul

it seems so sadly trite to have childhood problems, to be misunderstood, to have "teenage angst." people don't take it seriously when you're in pain if you don't outwardly show it - the very nature of self defense.

i saw this video on TED this morning and thought it brought a totally new and unique spin on how feeling like you're on the fringe leads to severe isolation and hope at the same time. i've tried to explain how i've come around in my life to let myself go and let the world in as a way to heal, and this is more eloquent than anything i've been able to say.

while race has not been my struggle, i have had others, and i truly believe that only by letting go of the self and our perception of self that we are freed to reevaluate what we can be, and are no longer tied to labeling ourselves. we are all connected, and we all have access to the eternal - meaning we can shift and evolve and not need to only be one thing in our lives. anyway, love this highly personal iteration of ego and the speaker's relationship with it.

a short storyteller's dream

the most amazing thing about the power of a short story is how much a few simple elements can resonante so deeply with the reciever. think about some of these challenges - postsecret. six-word memiors. texts from last night. it has a traditional beginning-middle-end story arc, though of course it happens in an ultra-condensed form.

someone once told me about Ernest Hemingway's answer to a challenge: write a short story in six words or less. his answer: "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn." my God. all the miles of emotion and heartache you can run though in ten seconds.

Michael Wolf's project inspires that same kind of humanity in his series "100x100. Photographs of residents in their flats in hong kong's oldest public housing estate: 100 rooms, each 100 square feet in size."


as you click through, you see all the variations on a theme - depressed, lonely, overcrowded lives shoved into boxes - but then you see glimmers of hope shine through. organization in chaos. photos of loved ones. you start to see the pride, and then you start to see that these are actual lives being lived. each photograph showcases the accumulation of a person, and the stories begin to write themselves.

el passion

Marc Gobé from puts forth ten perspective shifts in his book that will help you make the crossover from traditional branding to emotional branding.


1. from consumers to people:
consumers buy, people live.

2. from product to experience:
products fulfill needs, experiences fulfill desires.

3. from honesty to trust:
honesty is expected. trust is engaging and intimate.

4. from quality to preference:
quality for the right price is a given. preference creates the sale.

5. from notoriety to aspiration:
being known does not mean that you are also loved.

6. from identity to personality:
identity is recognition. personality is about character and charisma.

7. from function to feel:
the functionality of a product is about the practical.
the feel of a product is about the sensory experience.

8. from ubiquity to presence:
ubiquity is seen. emontional presence is felt.

9. from communication to dialogue:
communication is telling. dialogue is sharing.

10. from service to relationship:
service is selling. relationship is acknowledgement.

the little gods of modern life

"Brands are the little gods of modern life, each ruling a different need, activity, mood, or situation. Yet you're in control. If your latest god falls from Olympus, you can switch to another one."
- Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap.

think about this in the context of nike being the god of your workout, cuisinart being the god of your cooking, xbox being the god of your entertainment. what are your gods? who is the ultimate authority on an aspect of your life without you even thinking about it?

and why or how do they "get" you?

ps. did you know there's a Roman god of doors? his name is Janus. he's like Saint Peter, holding the keys to the kingdom.

a dissection of the word "superior"

Main Entry: su·pe·ri·or 
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin,
comparative of superus upper, from super over, above
Date: 14th century

1 : situated higher up
2 : of higher rank, quality, or importance
3 : courageously or serenely indifferent (as to something painful or disheartening)

consider that last part: courageously or serenly indifferent.
now, these are just impressions and random thoughts i'm having -
in no way do i mean to make a bold statement about these people...

Courageous: Ulysses S. Grant

Courageous: Ulysses S. Grant

that classic, historical, stoic pose of him, and so many former US presidents. i doubt he was going for "indifferent" but when i look at this photo and think that phrase, i definitely think, yeah... i get that. the man was a general, a warrior. but that cocked eyebrow just whispers that he doesn't give a good G*d damn what you think because he can squash you in your sleep like a bug under his heel.

Courageous: Brad Pitt's depiction of Achilles in Troy

Courageous: Brad Pitt's depiction of Achilles in Troy

i'm more referring to Achilles in the first half versus the second - in which Achilles has reached the pinnacle of soldier achievement and has a basic 'whatever' attitude to anyone who tries to teach or lead him. he grows a soul in the second half of the story (nekked chicks do that for some men) and starts to care but it's interesting to consider in the first half the indifference brought about by his suspicion that he's got nothing left to learn or achieve.

Serene: Chevy Chase as Ty Webb in Caddyshack

Serene: Chevy Chase as Ty Webb in Caddyshack

for 85% of this movie, mister Webb coasts along in his reasonably content zen cloud. we can tell he's had to let go of a few things, he seems smarter than every other person in the movie, and he just plain old does. not. care. about what you think, about winning, about the big ol' checks he has not yet deposited that litter his apartment. and yet despite his low key demeanor, every person knows who he is and the rumors of what he can do. he's serenely indifferent, but is still everyone's hero.

so when is superiority a good thing?

we have the positive
...i think that person is just superior
...or that product is superior in its class

versus the negative
...he's acting all superior
...they think they're superior

yet mirriam webster puts a tension into it - courageous versus serene.
two kinds of indifference.

zen monk.
general pre-battle.
the calm before the storm.

what does this make you think of?

is there a term for this?

watching The Witches of Eastwick on netflix. reminded of The Labyrinth, and here's why:

*cue climactic scene...*

girl: what do you want from me?
guy: everything i've done, i've done for you. i want you to love me.
girl: but i didn't ask you to do what you did.
guy: but i want you to love me. now. see all the stuff i did?
girl: you don't get it.
guy: you're a jerk. i'm outta here.
girl: shrugs, sheds a tear and leaves.

i feel like there are other examples of this in movies, literature, etc. have any examples? media or personal? throw 'em in the comments.

american dream

was looking at a friend's photos of his little babies on facebook and iron & wine's "naked as we came" popped into my head - of course the tiny babes were in the nude! such gorgeous, stark pictures of new life :)

but one iron & wine lyric stuck with me - "one will spread our ashes round the yard"

and i was thinking about this father i know, he's from Germany and now living in southern California and he's got this beautiful wife and these amazing babies and i was thinking, that's so wildly Americana to think that any of us will ever experience what it means to have a FAMILY HOME, somewhere we grew up and our parents did too that we know undeniably as the homestead of our forefathers.

it's such a pioneer, westward expansion, land grab concept, and i always picture this kind of house somewhere just inside the woody northeast coast... the idea that there's a place with generations of history, where we have grandma's china, that kind of thing. where you actually could spread ashes round the yard.

i get stuck sometimes on the idea that i'm fairly rootless and i'm pretty okay with it. i'm second generation, my grandparents settled in Chicago suburbs, i lived in four houses before i went to college, and i've changed apartments at least every two years since finishing college in 2003. my dream? to live in my van for 3 months and go on a north American tour, doing branding workshops for nonprofits. a bleeding heart Jack Kerouac in a jeep.

will these naked babies ever live in a country where we can establish ourselves in a physical location? or has the melting pot become an ever-churning thing? or am i too urban to have a good sense of it? now i'm thinking about my good friend in Iowa, whose family has a farm, who is on the path of that northeastern idea i have in my head - there has been a family farm for two generations. how long will it last?

and does the permanence / impermanence tension even matter in the big picture of America?

Regina Spektor lyrics

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't

You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh

And everyone must breathe

Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself

You take the things you like

And try to love the things you took

And then you take that love you made

And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood

And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed

But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

Regina Spektor, On the Radio

mumford and sons behind the scenes

i have to think this energy, this joie de vivre, is what makes this band so great.

the accordians, the celebration of bandmates, the dreamy hilly countryside... all these things are what we dream they're like when we're not looking. and the first advice i usually give brands is to build a public persona that people would want to hang out with, something they can connect to in a characture or exaggerated way... and in this video, i'd say mission accomplished.

not sure how i feel about this

one of my favorite artists, who i have a huge amount of respect for, had a very intriguing tweet... but the first repsonse gave me another reason for pause.


on one hand, i love that these things exist, and i love the responder's desire to help... on the other hand, this respsonse - heartfelt as it may be - makes me cringe just a little with a "this is why terrorists hate us" feeling. our response is with capitalism. and as honorable as it may be, wanting to collect display art so you can tell the story behind it rings hollow, only because it appears this respondent doesn't quite know what she's asking for.

other disclaimer - i have NO IDEA who this respondent is, and am making no comment on her person or character.


one of the hardest things for a goal-oriented nonprofit to do is create perspective. what does $100 do for your goal? how many meals does it buy? how many bricks does it lay? how do you convey that to donors in a way that matters?

i saw this product yesterday and was blown away by how it took a simple concept and made it tactile. check out the want / need glass by alesina design:


if your cup runneth over, you need to plug the hole yourself to stop the waste - and start thinking about the blessing we have in our access to water versus the scarcity that exists in other places.

zombie apocalypse playlist

put your iTunes on shuffle.

1. overall theme of the apocalypse
i want you / kings of leon

2. song playing when you kill your first zombie
three little birds / bob marley and the wailers

3. as you get chased by a horde
dirt in the ground / tom waits

4. when you have to kill your loved one
insulin / chadwick stokes

5. when you find a group of survivors
suite for cello #3 in C major / yo-yo ma

6. when you meet a new love interest
life on mars? / seu jorge

7. when you have to make a final stand
big black hole & the little baby star / sean hayes

8. when you think you’ve survived it all
homeward, these shoes / iron & wine

9. when you discover a bite mark on you
pick a fight / danny and the ketchups

10. song playing over the end credits
ingots / kaki king

asymmetric insight

how facinating...


The illusion of asymmetric insight is a cognitive bias that involves the fact that people perceive their knowledge of others to surpass other people's knowledge of them. The source for this bias seems to stem from the fact that observed behaviors of others are more revealing than one's own similar behaviors.

Relatedly, people seem to believe that they know themselves better than their peers know themselves and that their social group knows and understands other social groups better than other social groups know them.

narrative lessons from pixar

Pixar story artist Emma Coats has tweeted a series of “story basics” over the past month and a half... guidelines that she learned from her more senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience,
not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

#3: Trying for theme is important,
but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it.
Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___.
Every day, ___.
One day ___.
Because of that, ___.
Because of that, ___.
Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours.
You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with?
Throw the polar opposite at them.
Challenge them.
How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.
Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect.
In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next.
Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like.
What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it.
If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind.
And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way.
Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions.
Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story?
What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of?
That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel?
Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character.
What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted.
If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing.
Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great;
coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike.
How do you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’.
What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it?
If you know that, you can build out from there.

lent, aka GOD I GET IT, SHEESH

i've never been really a lent person. i mean mostly because i'm not catholic... i get that it's a time of focus and spiritual cleansing pre-easter as we meditate on what Jesus did for us. so this year i thought, without much pre-thought i'll admit, that i'd give up something reasonably difficult for lent.

i landed on diet coke.

which has been much more difficult than it sounds.

i usually have 1-2 cans a day at the office, which isn't outrageous...
but it's consistent and caffeinating (is that a word?)...
quit cold turkey.

within 3 days, i was praying more. full disclosure: i was double-dipping on my diet coke fast. i was also using it as a way to strengthen my prayers about being single - i've been praying for God to either bring someone into my life, or give me peace with being single.

sorry - let's just cover this tangent and move on - i was single for the first thirty years of my life. i've had crushes, flirtations, but only one boyfriend. who ended up really not being who either of us thought he was. between the struggles of my adolescence, the medial fiascos of my twenties, the right mix of people who didn't treat me right or didn't adore me back - it's just never come together for me. and i resent the fuck out of it, this nagging feeling that every night i go to bed alone is a mistake the universe is making. why hasn't that one kind of love come out of the relief work i do, the churches i've attended, the love i've handed out? is it really so fucking rare, or am i so fundamentally flawed, that it's out of reach? hence my confusion. the one guy i ever tried to let in, really let be a part of my life, ended up leaving me high and dry last spring when my life fell apart. it's really confusing because when i was a kid, my solitude gave me strength, let me feel so capable - and it's shifted over time into something much less so. i worry i'm losing my strength.

back to lent... so every time i thought "i want a diet coke," i hesitated and thought, what do i really want? what am i really looking for? and i started to realize how much i don't trust God like i think i do. day three i was disappointed by a certain fella, and i marched into the garage and got myself a silver can. and i cracked it open, and i thought, see God? see what i can do? what are YOU gonna do about it?

immediately i put the can down, fell to my knees, and surrendered in prayer:
i'm so sorry i'm not strong enough.

i was rebelling against God with diet coke. telling the creater of the universe that if He didn't make this boy love me, i was going to give Him the finger.

and pausing in that crucial moment showed me a new truth in myself - that i'm NOT as strong as i want to be. i have been in so many ways over time, but like all characteristics: it mutates. some days are stronger than others. we can't count on our own character flaws or merits to stay the same over time. in different parts of our lives, we need different things, and that's what i learned this week.

that i'm afraid of myself - both of my strength and where it fails me

that i don't trust God to provide, although i have always believed i did

that these little dreams i had for myself - of a man, an apartment, a dog - are still illusions

there are no guarantees, and the rub of life is that there's no resolution to that except forward motion

nothing a little rubberneck can't fix

so i'm figuring out why i'm more prone to wallow in frustration when i'm alone at night than keep myself perky and upbeat.

it's because it's easier to imagine it.

it's easier to imagine being left out.
it's easier to imagine being broken hearted.
it's easier to imagine being unrecognized.
it's easier to imagine being adrift when you're alone with your thoughts.

psychology tells us that our negative experiences stick with us more than our positive ones - that all the high fives we get from someone might be threatened by the one angry glance. sometimes all it takes is a kick to the emotional foundation for us to question the entire navigation we've built for ourselves.

somehow, just that realization makes it much easier for me to tell those voices to chill out. if you'll excuse me, i'm going to go crank up some Toadies and dance around the room. even if no one else is here, and i'm just biding my time until i get to move back downtown, and i'm bored and feeling a little sorry for myself that life right now is a waiting game...

there's no reason to be lonely. it's a good, quiet night.

so the past eight months or so

i'm wearing motorcycle boots and my hair is long again.
i'm at a starbucks waiting for an informational interview with the new CEO of Thresholds...
which all means nothing, really, but i'm feeling like myself again.

i've come a long way since last june when my life fell apart, and this blog got seriously neglected.

in one weekend:
i got laid off.
broke my lease over it.
also broke up with that dude i was dating, the one i called a keeper.
moved back in with my parents.
looked for work.
had my car broken into.

it was not the best chapter of my life...
i've been slowly rebuilding ever since.

but i did some good stuff in that time too:
spent most of my free time last summer in a kayak
worked on segmentation for Gatorade
did some more formal work with a great firm in the northeast loop
spent three weeks in india
got more engrossed in my church

i actually got back to a scary place for a few months where i really stopped caring about the future in a very literal way. thankfully that phase didn't last long, but it was interesting. when you stop caring, there's a short benelovent period where it's enough accomplishment to get out of bed in the morning. show up on time. write the report. go to bed.

for a while, i was much easier on myself than i usually am. and with the help of some therapy, some slowing down, and some prayer, i started to realize that i am really hard on myself. in some ways that are totally unfair, like how i worry i'm going to die a cat lady because i need a break from everything social for a few months.

so much happens in our friends lives every day - a few months feels like so much when you start to reintegrate yourself... i had really become afraid of doing the thing i needed to feel normal again.

i'm not known for acting, or being, afraid. i've done some crazy shit in my time and i'm not about to stop. but sometimes there's just a shadow on the edge that is still unknown and it's startling to ask yourself very suddenly: what happens when i shut down?

well, that's what my year has been. i've been saying left and right: AGE THIRTY WAS CRAP. the universe handed me a deck that was stacked against me. and then i found myself saying, you know, when God wants to test me these days, he really gives me a sucker punch. i trust God so completely that to knock me off my feet and remind me of that, man, i get knocked down hard.

and then i get back up again, stronger.

fuck thirty. thirty one is coming up in a few days (thursday). today i've been thinking about the goals i had a few years ago that were all put on pause, and i think it's time to revisit those. but armed with that whole thing i've learned about not being so hard on myself, maybe?

like moving back downtown - I HAVE A NEW JOB! STARTING TOMORROW!
and learning portuguese
getting to more kayak classes
volunteering more

just a couple things that can be done. and will be. and if they're not? who cares?
i have friends who have missed me, and who i love.

thirty one is going to be much better. i can feel it coming like the warmth after a shot of whiskey burning my throat. here comes the part where i lean back and feel it soak in, social and relaxing.