Time Off

by Megan M. on April 9, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

It’s hard for me to grasp the concept of time off.

I don’t exactly know why. When the best damn creative productivity coach this side of the galaxy told me to think of a reward I could give myself for being on the ball, I couldn’t think of a thing. All I could think of was “stop working”, and I don’t think I even really meant it. I didn’t really want time off.

I just wanted to keep going.

A part of me is simply desperate to keep going.

I’ve convinced myself that I have to do this—that my life has to be this way until I have what I want. This is partly true, and partly not: You can bet your ass I’m going to keep plowing forward until I have things the way I want them, but that does not mean running myself into the ground. There are dozens of reasons, but the one I’ve pinned to my forehead is that it’s the least efficient, least effective way to get things done.

I won’t get what I want by destroying myself.

This is not the only reason I need to be reminded of, however. And in point of fact, hanging onto efficiency and effectiveness so hard might be worsening the problem. What about happiness? What about enjoying the journey? What about being proud of the process?

As Angel says (just take a look at the header), stop and smell the freaking flowers.

It’s shocking just how difficult it is for me to digest that. I will apply it to everyone but myself if you give me half a chance. I’ll tell you to give yourself a break, and I’ll go find something else that has to be done now.

I did take a break yesterday, by the way. A real one. My brain was completely shut off for hours. It was grand. When I came home and started talking about work, the impact of the stress coming back to me was absolutely horrifying. I’ve been living in that for how long? Weeks? Months? And I don’t remember the last time I noticed the difference, so it must be a very long time.

If I thought I was getting real downtime, I was wrong.

What do you think happens if I start taking real time off?

I bet I can tell you. I know because it’s the advice I give other people all the time. If you give yourself a rest, you rejuice. You function better. You get stronger. Your brain has time to process your experiences, reactions, confusions, organize them and give you back better solutions. Your response time improves. You feel lighter, happier, more on the ball. You heal better. You think more clearly. You make sharper, faster decisions. You laugh more.

Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it?

Dude, I agree.


Conversation, Anyone?

by Megan M. on April 7, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

There is one thing that consistently drives me nuts about reading TypePad blogs: I can’t easily follow the conversation. There’s only one way to follow comments on most TypePad blogs (if you know something I’ve missed, please let me know), and that’s to add a single post’s comment feed to my RSS reader.

This is all right for a single post, but oh my, it gets tedious if I’m interested in more than one. It keeps me from being heavily involved in blogs I might otherwise be following obsessively—because I’m not just interested in the posts. I’m interested in the conversation.

When I leave a comment, I want to know if anyone’s responded to it. I want to know if other comments reference it. I want to know what other people think, independent of my opinion. If it’s not easy to follow up on these things, I won’t bother. I’m not going to bookmark that post and check back every few days. That’s too much trouble. And you know what? After awhile, clicking through to add per-post RSS feeds gets old.

Eventually, I notice that it affects my interest in commenting.

I actually notice myself feeling discouraged from leaving comments when I know I can’t track responses effortlessly, especially if the comment itself is a very, very tiny part of my day.

I’ve deconstructed this process for myself, and I recognize it when it happens. But your users might not. How many of them are like me? How many of them become measurably more invested in a site when they can participate in the discussion?

How much more involved would they be in the things you say… if you made it easy for them?


School, and the Definition of You

by Megan M. on April 6, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

I used to feel obliged to let people know how bad I did in school. I never did my homework; I wrote stories and drew pictures through my classes, as much and as often as I could get away with it (and sometimes when I couldn’t).

I read paperbacks and comic books—it’s harder for the teacher to notice if you make sure to have a pile of textbooks on the front corner of your desk. (At least, that was my theory.) My grades were middling, because I had to keep them at a certain level to avoid too much trouble, and to avoid getting kicked out of the theater program.

Even in college, when I had chosen my own focus, there was a theme: All of my performance and studio grades were excellent, but I stumbled through theory and history classes, though I made a bigger effort now that I was an “adult”. I didn’t read fiction in those classes, but I did do business planning and ideastorming about things that had nothing to do with music. Don’t get me wrong, I was interested in those classes—just not the way I was supposed to be.

When I truely “applied myself,” I was brilliant.

But I didn’t do that very often.

I am no longer defined by my technical performance in school—not even college. I’m defined by what I’ve done, and what I go on to do with what I have. I’m defined by what I’m willing to learn, and how steadily I’m inclined to grow and change and help others. I’m not a failure because the schooling I had wasn’t quite right for me. My life is getting better and more amazing constantly. No one cares that my grades were lame. And even “school” isn’t what I thought.

School isn’t some series of institutions with structured exercises and grade point systems.

School is me. The most important school has always been me. I just didn’t discover that until after I was grown up.

It doesn’t matter what you did before.

It only matters what you’ll do now.


Who You Are and Why You’re Here

by Megan M. on April 4, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

You know, I didn’t expect Wanted to be such a good movie. I thought it would be fun, but I didn’t expect it to feel so purposeful for me. I don’t know if you’ll see the same things I did, but for me it was very clear. What do you do when the universe speaks to you?

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being shit on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and a key to release it.”

Now quit considering this solely in context of the movie and just pay attention for a second.

You are an amazing complex machine—and “machine” doesn’t at all connote just how incredibly perfect you are. You are capable of absurdly amazing things. You can break bonds, divide oceans, move mountains. You can do anything. To forget that is insane. To take your life for granted is insane. To waste your innate potential is horrifying. It’s shameful. It’s… Dude, it makes me want to cry.

You have so much that you can do. There are so many people you can help—there are so many ways in which you can make a difference. Little ways, big ways. Add them up and you can’t even imagine the effect that one person has on the rest of the world. You can’t even guess. Why would you hand that power away? Why would you pretend you’re something else? Something… ordinary?

Why would you let life destroy you without putting up a fight? This is why I dig superhero movies, man. Because they’re fucking real. The story of any superhero is our story, it tells us how we get up off our asses and do something true.

Why would you stand around and be a victim of circumstances when you could be out there changing something?

That’s insane. And it’s sad. And it gets me riled up. It makes me angry. It makes me make faces, gesture wildly, it makes a big question mark appear over my head, ping, this is a Megan who is confused. Because I just don’t understand how any of us can waste ourselves that way.

I just don’t.

I can’t think of a single good reason. I don’t want to hear the same old excuses. But I’d love to know why.

Why, when you have the tools to do something different?

Why did you writhe out of the muck and sprout eyeballs? Why did you eat and grow and defend your little swath of mud and eat and grow some more? Why did you battle encroaching foes and procreate and drag yourself slowly, painfully up the food chain? Why are you here? Why is having arms and legs so grand? What’s the point of your big, complicated brain if you don’t use it?

What are we here for, if not to make things happen?

What are we here for, except that we can?


On the Subject of Me (-ligion)

by Megan M. on April 3, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

I realized after I posted last night that there are a lot of other reasons dot net resonates with me—way more than just one kind of “network” perception, though that was why I registered dot net first, way back when.

But it all links a bit into my worldview, so I guess I will tell you (a tiny bit) about that first.

I used to have a hard time when people asked me about religion and spirituality. I was raised Catholic, traveled through Wicca and ended up somewhere else (somewhere that, after reading The Story of B, I realized felt like animism from certain angles—and would be completely indecipherable from others). For a long time, awhile back, I called it “meligion”. Someone asked me about my spiritual inclinations this week, and I told them we could call it “Meganism”. Hey, works for me.

But these days, I notice that I tell the same story over and over. It only works in person, and usually I draw, or make dramatic hand gestures. Questioning it probably won’t get you anywhere (but I don’t mind if you try). Here is a nice picture I drew of my worldview once, a long time ago:

The Universe of Megan

I guess the gist of it would be that I’m the universe and the universe is me. That means that taking care of myself means taking care of you, too (and creates a hell of a swamp of delicately-navigable interpersonal boundaries, ha ha, we should talk about that sometime!). It means that I’m responsible for creating the world around me. It means if I want something to change, I need to take responsibility for doing something to change it—or I’d sure as hell better make peace with it, and quit complaining.

It means that my growth and change—and my positive impact on my surroundings—is possibly the most important thing ever.

So in a way, “worldmegan” is way of referencing that incredibly complex network of connections that is all of us, viewed through the lens of me. And especially from that standpoint, dot net is the most perfectly obvious decision in the world.

See what I mean?

I’m in the world and the world’s in me. God bless the world and God bless me!

(For my Dad: This didn’t occur to me before, but wow—Maybe the Night Kitchen had more to do with my ultimate spiritual development than one might at first expect…)


Dot Net

by Megan M. on April 2, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

“Huh,” Marty said earlier this week: “Why are you instead of I always wondered.”

Well, here’s the thing. I perceive dot com to be about commerce. I perceive dot net to be about connecting.

It’s not that cut and dry, and I know there are better interpretations than I’m aware of. But dot com is very business, and dot net is very network. And I’m not a non-profit (not really, anyway), so dot org, for me personally, isn’t quite right. This may not be a “network” in the usual sense, but one important purpose of this website—Personal Revelations of the Magnificent Megan M., that is—is to connect with other people. Writing about subjects that connect me to other people is important to me. Conversations in the comments are important to me. (Hell, that’s why I switched to Disqus.) And maintaining the connections I manage to make is important, too.

So yes, there are other reasons I write. Just in case you wondered. ;}

PS. Yeah, you may have noticed that brings you here, too. I just didn’t want anyone to run astray because of my little preference. Silly, huh?


(I know I said I’d do this several days ago. Aggiecon was more time-intensive than I expected, and Austin has beseiged me with allergens. But aren’t you just bonkers excited that I’m here now?)

I’ve bought prints in the past, mostly when I was trying to make my 9-to-5 office an enjoyable place to work. Other than that, print buying isn’t really something I do. A print at an art show has to resonate with me powerfully for me to want it, and it needs a certain additional degree of excellence for me to actually buy it. (I’m sure a lot of people function the same way.)

What did I promise again? Intrique? Woe and introspection, right? Morose… princesses? I don’t remember. Tell the story, Megan.

When we arrived at Aggiecon 2008, last year, we found ourselves in the unique position of having to go through Marty’s display art and censoring nipples. No nipples were allowed in the art show, so they gave us a roll of blue tape and we, uh, taped ‘em up. Marty’s artwork had plenty of nipples to censor! We were a little peeved. We talked to the show staff about it, and they obviously weren’t happy with it either—they showed us some really beautiful mail-in work that they couldn’t even include in the show, and more that they bikinified so that they could still display it.

Don’t get me wrong; I think bikinification with blue tape is very funny as a general rule. But I don’t think it’s funny when it’s censoring and effectively destroying the effect of a really nice piece of artwork. The blue bikini’d artwork, in this case, was Sarah Clemens’ St. Labia trilogy: Three nude incarnations of “St. Labia, the patron saint of pornography.” Each piece was wrapped and matted and contained the same lewd gesture, and the effect was really striking: Beautiful technique, unorthodox theme. Even better, I thought they were funny, and poignant, and just plain neat. Worth seeing. (If you want to see them, here’s Sarah’s nude prints page. Buy stuff from her. She’s awesome.)

The blue tape bikinis covered up the usual suspects, but they didn’t cover up the titles (“St. Labia” is fairly straightforward) and they didn’t cover up the lewd gesture. I wasn’t offended by any part of it, but the fact that the censors were picking and choosing was particularly absurd. Even if we bypass the whole argument about natural bodies and sexual denial, this was a stupid situation, and it was probably going to affect the artists’ ability to sell their work. We had put tiny pieces of tape on Marty’s artwork, just barely covering the “offensive” parts—but the blue bikinis on St. Labia covered too much. Who would buy them now, I wondered? I walked around the entire con talking about how shameful it was, how unfair to the artist, and how insensitive it was to her hard work. This offended me—not the freaking nudity.

Aggiecon 2008 went on; Angel instituted blue tape censorship of all willing con-goers. I bummed around the dealers room and found nothing I wanted. I was disheartened and grumpy about it. Nothing called out; nothing spoke to me. Nothing said “BUY ME.”

And then I realized that wasn’t true.

St. Labia had to be protected from their censored fate, and I was going to protect them. I was going to rescue them from blue tape bikinis. And once I’d bought them, I could show them to whomever I wanted.

Take that, censorship!

Victoriously, I paid the art show people and we peeled the bikinis carefully off my new prints. A cheer went up as they reminded me that the prints were no longer under their purview, so I could wave them around like a pro-sex heathen if I wanted. (I won’t say I didn’t have the urge.) I heard a rumor that one of the staff had bought a piece called “Dragonplay” (on this page, and nsfw, obviously), having felt bad that they couldn’t display it and not wanting the artist to suffer for it. As for me, who cares whether I would have bought them in a different situation? I felt like we had triumphed over evil. Save St. Labia, save the world.

I took my prints home and gave them pride of place on my bedroom wall, feeling silly in some ways and brilliant in others. They resonated with me because I wanted to protect them, because they represented a not-always-welcome artistic and sexual expression that I think we all need more awareness of.

In 2009, Marty was christened “The Boobie Guy” for his part in all of this. (I guess if it sticks, at least it’s accurate—he draws enough of them.) “You’re the reason we have that room,” the art room attendant told him when he arrived, explaining that now the nudes were left uncensored and displayed in a separate area, requiring them to check IDs. Three of Marty’s canvas prints were displayed in the public area, and three more—sans censors—are displayed in what has apparently been dubbed the Dirty Old Man Room. (If this catches on, it’s Marty’s fault.) We still think it’s a little silly for the nude work to be separate (and I guess that’s really just the kind of folks we are), but it’s a hell of a lot better than taping it up or not displaying it at all. The staff members we spoke to were obviously happier with this solution.

Also in the quiet sanctity of the Dirty Old Man Room (you guys know by now that no link in this post is work-safe… right?) was a fourth incarnation of St. Labia, newly released this year.

At least, it was there until I bought it.

It seemed only appropriate!