My Visit to Youngstown

Youngstown Visit

I visited my parents in Youngstown at the beginning of October, and practiced Shiva Nata every day on the huge porch surrounded by gorgeous living trees and bugs and birds and cool, crisp air. There was a huge rainstorm the first few days, and it was amazing to practice on the porch with rain falling all around me. I didn’t use the DVD while I was there, but I made so much progress and got so much peace of mind.

I played with the dogs outside while Dad did his daily walk, and Otto—who last visit had a boot—now had a bucket. A really mangled, chewed-on bucket. It was a freaking riot. “Otto and his boot,” Marty says. “Otto and his myriad things that he has. Otto and his bucket. Otto and his mail-order bride.” Yes. Any day now.

I got a great raw “cook”-book (Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People) and made awesome raw recipes for my family most of the time I was there. Guacamole and romaine wraps and chard salad and raw chocolate cake and fresh vegetable lasagne, crazy! It was so delicious. Mom gave me a Christmas present—a great looking book on food that I had to leave there for now because it wouldn’t fit in my bag to come home!

I launched the fabulous blog of Pace and Kyeli. It was really exciting! (The Usual Error Project has launched, too. I talked about it all in my project blog!)

I sang a great program for the Niles Gymanfa Ganu Association and hugely enjoyed seeing my friendly Welsh people again! The sun attacked my eyes, but I adjusted and all was well. (Geraint Wilkes was fabulous as ever, and the Shenango Valley Chorale sang fantastically!)

I successfully managed to videochat with Marty using iChat (we haven’t tried since he bought his new laptop!), but not until the last day of my trip. (Silly!) I had a revelation about parents and mindful purpose. I decided that I don’t want to fly anymore if I can avoid it (though I’m sure there will be exceptions).

And then I came home to my comfy red chair.

Printer Bliss

I finally have a printer that connects wirelessly to my network and prints when I’m in a completely different part of the house. The print quality is great. Plus, it scans — to USB stick, email, or FTP (dude). It’s got a document feeder. It’s huge. And it was insanely easy to set up. And the whole deal only cost me $200, which I originally expected would buy me a pretty mediocre machine.

It’s a Brother MFC-6490CW wide format all-in-one; the link is Amazon, because the OfficeMax price has gone up since I bought mine and Amazon is now less expensive. We’ll see how it holds up, but damn, I’m impressed so far.

I am one happy camper, I’ll tell you.

Parents and Growing

I was walking down the stairs at my parents’ house in Youngstown when I realized something monumental—something that perhaps I never realized before:

There’s no need for me to base my standard of success on my parents.

There’s no need for me to use their criteria to judge whether I’ve done well. It’s only my standards that matter.

The only person who counts, in judging my success, is me.

My parents have always been incredibly insightful and supportive, but (like any other kid on the planet) I’ve often felt like they kind of… don’t get it. Even now, at 27 (and maybe more than ever), they sometimes respond in perplexing ways. They’re just different people. More and more, I seem to want them to understand what I’m doing, why it’s wonderful.

But… I guess they don’t need to.

My parents are a little like the soil I grew in. The soil doesn’t have to be like the fruit. The soil serves a different purpose. If my parents were the fruit, I couldn’t have grown in them in the first place!

So it’s incredibly good that they are who and what they are. They have given me amazing things to learn from and work with, even if I get frustrated when they’re not just like me.

It’s the lot of every child in the universe, to be different.

Our parents don’t have to be like us.

It’s enough that they grew us, and that we are awesome.

Okay. I get it.

Seeing Again

Something pretty awesome happened this last week, and I have been spurred by that awesome thing to move some Virtual Magpie posts over here, to make my primary writing outlet. I came across a post I made over there—Seeing Again—and I realized that I didn’t want to just duplicate it here. I needed to talk about it.

At a 9-to-5 I will never be the person I am when I do what I love, whatever that is. At this job, at Virtual Magpie, I will never be the person I am when I do what I love, if I’m not doing what I love for the sake of loving it. If Virtual Magpie becomes my trap, my only way to pay the bills, it’s no better than working at the radio station or the magazine. It’s the same grind and I’m no longer the best me.

I was on the right track then. I wouldn’t be in this state of mind, right now, if it weren’t for that first corner I turned more than a year ago. But the more that I was looking for then is something I feel I have a tentative grasp on now: We’re not talking about Virtual Magpie. We’re not talking about the work I do. We’re talking about MY LIFE.

And the best me will still pay the bills, all the while knowing that the bills aren’t the point. The bills stop mattering, because living my life is what matters, not complaining about it. Not finding new ways to be miserable!

So I’m working on it now—my life, I mean. And my projects will still be a huge part of that. But everything’s about to change, just a little, and it’s going to feel ssoooooo good.

No matter what they tell you, it’s not about paying the bills. It’s not about having a job. You will hear it from everyone but it’s not true. You are the best you when you’re doing what you love, because you love it. You are the best you when you’re learning and growing and making and building. You’re the best you when you love life and move forward. That’s the point.

Spiral Complex

I read The Story of B, and I’m obsessed with spirals.

If you’ve read it, you might know why. It’s just a little thing, but so big! And spirals are important for many reasons. But before I even started to speculate on those reasons, I was feeling drawn to spirals everywhere. Automatically. Without thought. The perfect solution.

So I bought pendants at AnimeFest from the booth we shared with a jewelry vendor—all spirals, on silver chains. Single spirals, triple spirals, all different stylings. Once home, I dug out the silver flasks I’d picked up in Dublin, with (serendipitously) the same design.

I discovered Havi Brooks and then Shiva Nata—and ordered the DVD for daily practice. It isn’t even here yet, and I’m already learning spirals (because Havi’s starter kit is just that awesome.) I can do the first set forward easily, so I’m practicing backward. It’s much harder, but that’s okay. Challenge is the name of the game, not mastery, and oh, that is so good for me right now.

In a dream I drove backwards down a spiraling hill road. (I hit another car. It was white. I wasn’t watching. Oops.) And later, I wanted the answer to an important question, but all I got, disconnected, out of nowhere, was Shiva Nata. A dance based on energy flow increased by spirals. You should do that dance, Leif said, for all you’re worth. He’s right. I got the answer I was looking for.

Kyeli took me grocery shopping, and I bought Tinkyada rotini. (Or is it fusilli? I feel pretty fusilli tonight.) Now I’m eating them. They’re far more delicious than other Tinkyada shapes. Can a shape be delicious?

I posit yes.

Early Morning Oops

I half-awoke this morning (two hours later than I’d intended, oops), grabbed my glass of water and stumbled sleepily into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Except the glass bumped the edge of the counter and slipped out of my hand, and shattered into a million pieces on the bathroom floor.

What a way to start a morning. I’m systematically destroying our day-to-day glassware. Pretty soon there won’t be anything left except wine and martini glasses!

Although I guess I can try to drink water out of wine and martini glasses…

Dueling Pianos

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anais Nin

“Today is my day to blossom, like a majestic chestburster erupting forth from the ribcage of an unsuspecting cosmonaut!”

~ Marty Whitmore

The Usual Error Project (Plans are afoot!)

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Usual Error in a long time. There’s a reason for that.

I’ve been helping out instead. ;}

Syntopic Destiny and Book Design

Not long ago I ordered three tomes on book design, and two came immediately in the mail. I’ve been waiting (for more than a week at least) in the hopes that I might read all three together in an appropriately syntopic fashion, a la Adler (and Scheele). This morning I had just decided, well, to hell with it—I’ll read the first two syntopically and add the third when it comes. So I headed down to the gym with my big heavy books, and without really thinking about it I stopped at my mailbox.

Guess what had serendipitously arrived for me!

So now I have three gorgeous books on design for publishing (plus a book about beautiful website design, for good measure). And I’m feeling pretty good about my spontaneous corner of the universe.

Our picks (Pace helped), in case you’re curious:

The Elements of Typographic Style (Bringhurst)
Book Design and Production (Masterson)
On Book Design (Hendel)