Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Category Archives: My Life & Thoughts

One Month In

We bought a house. A really nice one. I can’t believe I’m sitting in it. Awake, late at night in a quiet kitchen surrounded by our stuff. It doesn’t make sense. Some people know I have a hard time sleeping. I can wake up at the drop of a hat, or like tonight, an unidentifiable thump in the house that still sounds unfamiliar. When I heard that thump, I immediately imagined the “real” homeowners were coming home and I needed to get out before they found us sleeping in their beds. Strange? Not really. Not after you’ve had the kind of 5 year run that my family has had.

We lost our house when Detroit sank into the Great Lakes due to automotive companies being frozen in their tracks as a result of the Wall Street financial crisis. I thought I had a good job, a good house, and the stability of working with clients that have been around for 100 years. I was wrong. The minute after I realized I was laid off, I immediately went into fight mode and launched into a country-wide job search. I spent absolutely zero time reflecting on what happened. I hopped planes interviewing for jobs all over the country while none were available in my home state.

Our whirlwind ride through Kansas City and then back to the SF Bay Area has been nothing short of freakishly fast and violently disorienting. I would like to thank Whoever You Are Above that my kids were small enough to not get too damaged by the constant shuffling. And the fact that our incredibly supportive families made regular appearances in our lives like emotional spackle – and I mean that in the best way imaginable. We could have easily lost our minds, gotten divorced, or worse — become hateful, ugly human beings full of rage at the world. But we didn’t. Well, kind of. We had our moments. We may not look very tough on the outside, but we can keep things together better than most.

We began watching the show LOST well after it was off the air but stopped once they were rescued. We related perfectly to the plane crash and survivalist mode, but not the rescue. While they could escape, we were still emotionally stuck on an island that wasn’t home.

Fast forward to one month ago. I had the good fortune to tell people that we finally bought a house (again). I was appreciative for their enthusiasm, but inside I was trying to not collapse. To us, it was a logistical obstacle course that we’ve run too many times: 15 moves in 16 years. Not every move was a cross country move (4 in all), but they all count. We’re more than familiar with moving companies, moving estimates, move-in/move-out cleaning services, scrounging up boxes, self-editing our stuff, packing and resetting rooms in record time.

Today it’s a little over one month since we’ve moved in and the house looks like we’ve lived here for years. We smashed our own moving records because this just felt right. We also didn’t want to linger in the “moving phase” any longer than necessary. I’ve heard of other people who after one month still have boxes everywhere and very little unpacked. Not us. We selected our interior paint colors for the whole house in a matter of hours. Scheme, not color. Each room had it’s own color. Kids rooms, bathrooms, family/living/foyer, etc. Hours. I could hear the fear in the painter’s voice when we told him that we’d get him the colors by end of day so he could start the next. Once it was finished even he said, “I’ve seen tons of bad calls over the years but damn, you guys did a great job with these.” I’ve met people who can’t decide that shit for months or years.

We also knew exactly where almost everything was going to land in each room. Our new neighbors popped over about 1 week after we moved in and they were floored. They couldn’t believe we put it together this fast. They also didn’t know how many times we’ve had to make the same decisions over and over again. We’ve spared them the details. Sure, we’ve compiled a long list of things we would like to change in the house, but when we sit down to talk about it, the only thing we can manage to do is sigh and slump into our couch.

Every day, this house is helping us feel better. We’re comfortable. We love how bright it is even with all of the blinds closed and lights out. It’s also wonderful to be surrounded by our things again. No storage units on the other side of the bay, no looking at other people’s furniture, no nothing. Just our stuff — and our family — right where it should be.

On Preventing Errors

The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things.

– Ed Catmull

Ben Gibbard on Writing Lyrics

“Events in my personal life might lead to assumptions that some pronouns refer to certain people, but 99 times out of 100, they’re dead wrong,” Gibbard said at the time. “When a songwriter uses the first person, the immediate assumption is that the lyric is telling a personal story, but it’s storytelling. I don’t try to be overly confessional in my work. We live in a world of oversharing, and writing a song is different from writing a tweet.”

Light and Insightful

Ironic how Mike Wallace, the most impressive interviewer, and Thomas Kincade, the least insightful painter, both passed away on the same day. I also can’t believe how he is being referred to as “the painter of light.” Have we not heard of the Impressionists, people?