Suspended Animation

By and large, I tend to be on the minimal side of the line when it comes to owning things; I cycle through things I have – digital and non – on regular cycles and then rid myself of those things I don’t have a real need for. The Goodwill, in spite of my best intentions, sees me every few months or so as I continue to pare down on things.

However, today finds me staring down a box of letters from a friend-become-girlfriend-become-friend-again and it feels like I’m in a crucible. These are crystalline moments of openness to each other and I am loathe loathe to be parted from them.

On the one hand, we are more the people in those letters than we have ever been and we are also different people than we were at the time of those letters. Which is to say, having those letters in the scheme of things is not important unless, of course, we never speak again.

On the other hand, these moments of openness with people are rare. I part with many things easily, but handwritten letters? In 2019? When will I ever have that again?

And so the two sides of me war every single time I look at this letterbox. Also in here: an old journal. It’s amazing how so much, yet so little has changed since that writing. Work has the same issues, but I have had many different experiences and that raw feeling of writing just as the adventure was fresh on my bones… how would I ever recreate that?

Maybe it’s just that tendency humans have toward seeking immortality, but ugh. I don’t even have another word. Just ugh.

Compassion in Content

In a previous post, I spoke about my frustrations with the concept of how we get along with spoilers on the internet and while I am still in my feelings there, I also had a number of other things I saw within the last week where someone said, “You’ve had enough time to watch this, so if you haven’t done it, get off the net until you do…”

What gets to me about this is the lack of compassion. I draw my examples from the rush of Game of Thrones, but I have a larger question of why it never occurs to us to pause mid-sentence and just go, “Am I really about to ask someone to stop existing for my comfort?”

Because as I said before, that’s what we’re doing.

These are just strangers on the internet. OK, but also, it’s a space everyone shares and we post on the regular about the disparities people experience in all manner of ways on economic, societal, and other levels. How do you push and advocate for that, but then fail to notice the thread of that pattern in things like this spoiler debate.

It causes me pain because I have had to unfollow people I like due to the amount of “I don’t care” posts I see on this. In a world where someone asks for something so small as to not have a story ruined for them – in a world that is literally and figuratively on-fire – would this one exercise of thinking and caring about others really dampen your experience of the show?

I don’t think it would, however, next Sunday, I will likely see this same wave again of people going, “here’s me posting without a care in spite of people asking for weeks on end not to do this. In spite of the fact that I’ve ended whole relationships with people over being spoiled on a story or major plot point on things I want to enjoy. I’m going to just… do it to someone else.”

Maybe this isn’t new at all in any way shape or form, but for all of that lack of novelty, the wound sure doesn’t seem to be any less painful.

Drowning in the Dead Sea

So as those following my account may be aware, I’m a fan of Tré Melvin. He is funny and insightful and sharp all at once. For example, see how he goes from funny to punch-in-the-gut serious here.

He announced his release of this song to the world and so I had myself a listen. I got the immediate Jhené Aiko vibe circa a freestyle from the Souled Out album. In sum: very relaxed. You feel the numbness settling in here as he keeps the same tone throughout the song.

What got me in this song was the imagery. Here we have Tré drowning in the Dead Sea and the person he’s relating to – likely in a romantic scenario – paddling through his Red Sea.

Here in this relationship we have the contrast between drowning in a sea known for being so salty it removes moisture from anything that it touches versus the Red Sea that the Hebrews in the Bible passed through into what would be their freedom.

Moreover, this person is paddling. Not diving. Not swimming. Not even trying to get the freedom that the Red Sea promises.

I expect there will be more to look forward to from him in the future, music or otherwise, and I’ll enjoy writing about that when it happens, too.

Spoiler Alert

To be very clear: this is a rant. Let’s start here.

Let’s start with the context. You are a fan of a series and are rightfully excited about its next episode of silver screen iteration. Fantastic. I’m happy with you.

In your enthusiasm to speak on your experience, you  have taken to the online world of social media to share. Alright. No problem.

Then in comes someone to say, “Hey, I haven’t gotten around to having this experience yet. Can you please hold off on sharing the details of your experience so I can enjoy that experience with the magic of not knowing how it will go beforehand?” and somehow – somehow – the best response we can muster are things like this:

Really? This is just bad.
I am certain you can hear my sighing in the halls of Valhalla.

I don’t know the first person. Denny is a cool guy in general. A fantastic one, even. However, this take going around on the internet of “F*ck you and your being upset about spoilers” is flaming trash from the farthest reaches of the void.

You’re telling people on a social medium that connects them to family, friends, news about the world around them, their favorite games about to roll out, and so on to just… not exist. To just not be on their phone until they can afford the time to watch multiple years of a show or hours of a movie marathon.

We have DMs. We have secret groups. We have services for watching things as a group and discussing what we watch, but somehow the better decision was to just tell people not to exist where their connections to the world are.

Are there filters? Sure. Can we mute things? Sure. Can we just unfollow our whole list of follows? Absolutely. Should anyone be demanded to do these things so that you are at your convenience to live tweet every scene of your favorite tv series or movies?

No. No. Why are we even considering this as a question? I can’t help thinking about the many other times over the course of my life that I asked someone for one reason or another to consider another perspective only to be told:

  • grow thicker skin
  • man up
  • move out
  • quit and find another job
  • wear different clothes
  • be more polite first

And here, to add to that list: f*ck you. Just uninstall your connections to a sizeable amount of the humans you know and network or commune with regard shared interests.

Is this really the take to have? Because it’s garbage.

We’re talking about people making arrangement we know we aren’t all at liberty to make. We’re talking about time that people aren’t at liberty to spend watching a single show for 8 years. We’re talking about people like me who didn’t get introduced or even invited to the fandom until recently and who, after being asked by a friend who wants to introduce them to said fandom, has to run the risk of not being able to live through those defining plot moments unspoiled.

So… f*ck them, too? Really? Is being able to live tweet the whole thing right then and there so important? Do we not have DMs? Do we not have facebook and Discord groups and group DMs and spaces hidden away from the general public we can use?

Because it sure is a lot easier to talk to people I know who have seen or experienced something away from the public eye than it would be for me to find a secret group to discuss social issues (for example) since the only way I have of knowing about them is to… you know… be in those many places and countries OR get on the internet.

It’s not that deep, fam.

Someone who clearly doesn’t value their edges, 20xx

It was that deep when you made three months of memes about people who didn’t watch your show or movie series. It was that deep when you made weeks of memes that I had to wade through to mute and block individually by the dozens. It was that deep 24 hours ago. It was that deep this morning.

So yes, it was deep enough to warrant this read. Now, go learn some compassion and good sense and don’t come back until you have.

Community South 2019

Honestly, that’s what they should have called this. A month and some change after I met the crew in Portland, it was time to meet the community in my own state.

Prior to this, Rogie (beautiful human he is) got me a ticket for Creative South 2019 and Mike Jones gave me so enthusiastic a welcome I could have shed tears; if I hadn’t made up my mind to go already, this would have been the tipping point. I’d come down a bit before the conference to meet Mike, then enjoy the conference itself to the fullest extent possible.

However, there is a yiddish proverb that reads:

“When man makes plans, God laughs.”

– a yiddish woman who is still laughing at me somewhere

The echo of God’s laughter came in the form of my car rental on Wednesday of that week. I had called Enterprise and made the reservation. The day was nice and sunny. Warm, even. I was ready for the blessing of this meetup. From here, a break down with titles because we like that organized aesthetic.

WEDNESDAY

I’m about halfway to Enterprise in a cab when the manager calls me to tell me there are no cars on the lot. I ask for options to then be told that there aren’t any; every single car they will have has been redirected to Atlanta for the week and they will have nothing until Thursday at 5:30PM at the soonest. I add myself to a waitlist, then call every other car rental place to the same effect. I call a friend to vent about it and I play video games to sate my sadness before texting Mike to tell him I can’t make it to dinner.

My friends tell me I should be able to rent from some other place that uses credit cards with my Visa debit card.

THURSDAY

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no. That was my experience going to the only place that had a car. They unceremoniously said they had to run some check and their system didn’t take my card, then told me to have a good day.

I just went home and got some chicken tenders for comfort food, then took a nap. Mind, the day before they said 5:30PM a car would be available.

I awake at 5:35PM and immediately check the phones. No missed calls. I call the front desk to be informed that no cars are available. I inform them that they should have a car and was then informed that they only had one car that was reserved only for people with a reservation. I then inform them I have a reservation and was told that I could come pick up the car as long as I came before they closed. Failing this, no car would be available until Monday.

It was 5:40PM and they close at 6PM. Here I am in my third cab now to get to this place at which I arrive with 5 minutes to spare to get, not the economy car I’d requested, but a mini-SUV. Who cares? I’m just ready to go. I wait out the traffic and I start the drive down.

It is the night of the Bridge Party. It is also 10:45PM and the party started at 7PM or so. Who knows if anyone is still up? I’m irritated at life and I just want to lie down… except I don’t know where that is going to happen because I didn’t even think about this in the middle of DAGNABBITWHYISTHISHAPPENING?!

I call every hotel on the list to find that most of them going out for up to 45 minutes are booked to the brim and reservations are coming through by the hundreds. I sigh, then go to hotels.com and get things settled. I think of texting my friends at the event, but at this point? I hate everything. Tomorrow morning will be better. I go to sleep.

FRIDAY

I wake up empowered. I have determined that the challenges in getting here must mean that this conference and the people therein will be the singularly most amazing thing I’ve experienced in 2019.

Upon my arrival and finding parking, I walk in and introduce myself to the staff at the front desk. “Hm…. we don’t see that name here, but tell us how you ended up here.” I then told them how I’d ended up at the event and the next phrase was, “So we’re making an executive decision. Here you go.”

The frustration of the many days before melted from my being and I got to watch the first speakers. Meet the staff and students and other attendees. Picked up t-shirts. Ate food. Met Mike and took pictures.

To be sure, a highlight (if not the highlight) was being able to see Chris and Ryan and give them soul-melding hugs.

I talked to people throughout the day asking who they were and how they ended up here. Everyone I spoke with – to a person – was friendly and kind and more than willing to share a word or two even if it ran into other speaker time. I hugged necks and shook hands and collected cards. I bought clothes with messages I liked and then joined people for drinks and dinner.

Neverminding a small bit of hotel room shenanigans, this day was perfect. They even had free 24-hour parking.

SATURDAY

I said comfort and I meant it.

I. was. not. joking. when I wrote this tweet. I think I spoke with more people in an hour than I had the whole day before just on principle because who wears onesies to a designer conference.

Answer: me. I do these things. Honestly, I should consider a modeling career, because…

Could your fave ever? The answer is no. Your fave could never

Photo cred: Jordan.

I had lunch with everyone I hadn’t gotten to have lunch with the day before. The speakers this day touched on more than a few subjects I am quite passionate about and so I soaked it all in. As the conference wrapped up, I was on that mild high that I am sure everyone shared of just being with people who get it and share that passion that runs through all of us in design to make things better. Never perfect, but better for our having been there.

That said, the most intense part of the conference wasn’t in the conference at all.

THE CALL TO ACTION

You can’t just leave the scene of good design without something to do and this conference wasn’t going to be any different it seems. Sitting around a table at Metro Diner, which was the move that day, we talk about our experience and it comes up that, by trade, I’m not a designer.

Now, in case you’re wondering what it is that I do: here is a nifty video about it. However, we starting talking about what I want to do and this is where things get somewhat scary. With every word, I feel like my volume increases. Product design. I want to take all of these problems I want to see and fix them. I see design as a way to do that. To make things that are beautiful to see and easy to understand.

About 15 minutes in, they ask what the obstacles are and I share them and to a person: bruh, ux design is what you should be doing. WTF?

To have people that are successful doing what you want to do telling you you should be doing what they do… how do I describe that? How do I describe the feeling of a desert turning into an ocean? Into a garden? To everyone that spoke to me that day and to Damian who saw me at the end of Saturday night and said, “Hey. Take the advice, man. You have people who are cheering for you.”

Thank you.

I wish I had gotten time to say this to Mike so he could see my facial expressions, but I hope these words will do.

EPILOGUE

I went home, unsure of how to even follow up with all of you properly, but I will. I also went straight to my HR department and laid my passions on the table. I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m not sure of how this will go but I have good people who want me to prosper.

And now, I need to make sure Figma and Illustrator are up to date and learn these tools and make things. If for no other reason, than I have hope in my chest and now that I do, I have to see it through.

I also have to come back for the next one of these Creative South meetups among others like this one in June.

One more thing: f*ck the Masters. Golf is the devil.