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.

Showers and Sanity

A week or two back I had the thought that perhaps a therapist visit would be a useful and helpful thing to have. At the time, I was in the shower and the thought came unprompted. It got me thinking about the importance of being able to make that statement as a normal sentence without feeling bad about it.

Bonus: I didn’t feel bad about having this thought.

In the day and age we are in where any form of social media I read is uncovering more and more of varying levels of pain and injustice people are finally able to speak on, it is hard to go for longer than a few hours without running into things that make me want to run from my laptop.

Behaving as if I am unaffected by seeing this stuff near-constantly is danger and poison, so I let the thought enter and pass. Who knows? I may very well take that trip. Today isn’t that day and that day may be a while in coming, but first, I need to finish writing yet another thread on why racism is still a bad idea.

Building Hauses

Our story begins with the day that I read a tweet from Rogie King and replied thus: 

His response, mere moments later, left me staring at the screen for 30 minutes. 

You’re enough now.

I don’t think I’ll ever be express the whole of that feeling, but to say it hit like a truck would be a criminal understatement. A few exchanges later and I was in a DM group for a meetup that I could not have been prepared for.

Fast forward a month or so to the upcoming flight. I’m sleep-deprived. I have some pads and paper and not one single business card in sight. I wrestled with that feeling for a week only to come back to, “No one asked for those. No one cares. You were invited as-is, so go as-is.”

7 hours of planes and a few tacos later found me in Portland, OR on my way to a Nike store and full of tacos from Stella’s. Rogie and Zack met me soon after getting there and we walked to Powell’s where we talked and asked questions.

I’m really doing this. I’m out here and I have no idea what’s going to happen. This is f*cking awesome.

“This week is going to be the week of ‘YES’, OK?”

My first “YES” was impulse book-buying from Powell’s right after meeting the rest of the Haus crew.

The “Within” book from Scott and the enamel pins from Darian were not bought at the bookstore, but I love them all the more for that.

Everyone was funny and upbeat. I determined I’d like whatever this week would turn into as Quentin and Chris skipped up the street.

DAY 2

I mentioned that it my birthday was the next day, so I was given eggs benedict and coffee in bed and I’ve never felt less deserving of anything all my life. I will hold Ryan responsible for this forever because he was the only person I told I even liked that particular food.

Reminder: I had not met even one of these people until the day before.

Let me tell you, there are good people in the world. They’re apparently in Portland designer meetups. I went to Multnomah Falls and took photos while avoiding certain doom with Jesse and Drew. 

Most of my time was spent listening and then asking about things. We got some Lebanese food and returned to what we called the Designer Haus for a bit of a nap only to wake up to a gentle invite downstairs where there was a birthday cake waiting for me.

Another reminder: I had not met even one of these people until the day before.

It was cake and horror movies and trivia, but beyond all of that… care. Like care. At this point, I’m already lowkey resenting the whole idea of going home. At this point, Savvy pours out a puzzle and we start working on it. Light amusement turns into intense focus and we demolish it, cursing and laughing the whole time.

It’s 2:30AM. I need to sleep.

DAY 3

This is my last day. I ask myself really painful questions and write the answers in my journal. Afterward, I ask people how they became the cool designers they are. The answers have good and funny stories. I am alive with possibilities for things. Rogie asks me if I want to go to Creative South.

Listen, Rogie. At this point, I’m going anywhere you suggest, OK?

After a while of writing and plotting things out, I head off with the boys to have good Indian food and weird ice cream with Cacao fruit jelly. It’s delicious. I’ll work up to the Pear and Bleu Cheese ice cream some other time. The lady at the counter tells me that this scoop is on her and that I’m brave. I believe her. I believe everyone.

I listen to Jim, Chris, and Ryan talk. I could listen to them talk forever. They care so much about so many things and it makes my heart happy listening to how much they care about things.

We walk about for a bit and meetup with Scott for a chat and oysters, then it’s off to the Dribble meetup with the Haus crew. It’s fun. I talk to people about the things they do, they ask me how I ended up in Portland and I tell them that Rogie told me I was enough, so I went with it. We reminisce about 90s music in the car. The driver gets in on the enjoyment. We’re a car of laughing people crossing some indeterminate amount of bridges.

How does this city have so many bridges?

I still can’t believe I’m here and doing any of this. I’m going to hate flying home, but we keep the party poppin’ for the rest of the night. I talk to Scott and he tells me that I should take more risks. Darian gives me an enamel pin and lets me know I can talk to him any time. Jody and Rogie talk for a bit and give me hugs.

Eventually everyone sleeps except for me. I write a thank you note and hope they find it the next morning.

I’m awake until the Lyft comes to carry me to the airport. I’m high on this whole experience. I miss everyone and I’m still in Portland watching the sunrise. I have eggs benedict at the airport. They have a lot less love in them, but still taste good.

I need more of this. A lot more. Thanks for telling me I am enough, Rogie. Thanks for everything.