May 29, 2007

Drama drama drama

SO much has happened since my last post.

I flew to Rochester and joined my two best friends for a laughter-filled weekend. The occasion: S's wedding shower. We were worried the shower would be filled with tacky lingerie and raunchy jokes, instead it was the three of us that started with the off-color humor. Oops... We were good at the party, but let's just say there could be a bumper sticker reading, "My butt was smacked in S's bed!"

On the flight home I chatted with a guy across the aisle for two hours. DEEP conversation about walking away from church but not from God, living in the Bay area, teaching, dreams, long-term relationships. He was an amazing guy and suggested that we exchange email and phone info so that Jrex and I could join him and his partner in Berkely for dinner. I've never exchanged personal info on a plane before, and we haven't yet had occasion for a double-date with a gay couple. I've had lots of gay friends ('honey, some of my best friends are gay!') but never the double-date. I loved talking with him and look forward to meeting his husband (they got married in the brief window when San Francisco did gay marriages).

I found out this morning that Friday is my last day at the gaming company. Not because I've been Dooced or anything (fired for blogging about work), rather their work load is slowing for the summer and they don't want to pay for a senior designer. They told me they'd love to have me apply for the position, and I will, but the $13,000 pay cut isn't super appealing. I'm throwing all my feelers out and we'll see what happens. I'm oddly excited. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I love this chance to have a sample platter of jobs in the Bay area.

May 27, 2007


I think my main point in the previous post is that I wish there was some way that all those experiences could just show. Not so much in what I wear or how I talk. Rather, what if, instead of pale white skin, people could see my kalaedescope of experiences or something? I get bored trying to explain myself to new friends, yet also annoyed when people assume the inside matches the outside. So I take it out here in the blog-world. I just want people to KNOW and then ask me interesting questions rather than constantly trying to explain anything.

I guess the transparency system would have a few drawbacks though, what if my background included a prison stay?!

May 24, 2007

What Lies Beneath

I’m working on a front and back cover wrap for the New York Daily News featuring two of our games. While getting internal approvals for the ads I chatted with a marketing guy. This guy is in his thirties and towers above me at 6’6”. He wears XXX-size t-shirts and baseball hats strategically slanted to the side. He saw the ad and exclaimed, “My home town paper!”

“Where did you live in New York?” I asked.


“I’ve had fun times in Queens. I went to college in western Mass and often visited the city. One year I went down with a Jewish friend to celebrate the Seder,” I was about to continue but he looked confused, so I explained, “We went to a highly a-religious college, so a believing Christian was as close as she could get to someone to participate in a religious Jewish event.”

He laughed and nodded, “fair enough!”

“My other Queens field trips have been going to Flushing with my husband’s mother.” It’s the part of Brooklyn/Queens I know best since it’s the Korean Mecca: markets, soup shops, Korean barbeques, family-owned stores and Mercedes dealerships. “Every time we walk into a restaurant I feel like a huge, pale Amazon.”

He cracked up and nodded violently, “I grew up there and nobody knows what to do when this huge white guy comes walking down the street!”

I laughed, “In college, I took a class on homelessness and the crisis in affordable housing. We spent a weekend in the city and I got to wander around with another white girl. We’re both city kids, so we were fine. But Saturday morning we had to meet someone in Bed-Stuy. [The source and site of Do the Right Thing] We were early and walked into a Burger King to get breakfast. I’m not kidding you, everyone stopped talking and turned and stared at us.We got our food and nobody really cared but it was a tense moment.”

He laughed, “I bet! I used to go to a recording studio near there with my boys. I’d walk in the lobby and everyone would just check me out. But, you know, it’s cool. You say ‘hey’ and don’t get freaked and nobody sweats it, nawamean?” I nodded.

As I sat back at my desk I had to laugh at myself. That snippet of conversation pretty well sums up my under-the-skin culture. In college all my friends were either international or Jewish. Childhood + Baltimore = black like me, baby. And now? I read a book like this by Annie Choi and am wincing as I imagine my husband’s childhood, but am also familiar with most of the scenarios.

May 18, 2007

Slow Day at work

After two crazy weeks at work, today was a bit slow, so I created this cat.

Contrary to most people’s impression when I say I work for a gaming company, I don’t actually work on designing any games. Rather I create the box covers, manual covers and disc art for games we produce. We also create gift with purchase items and other promotional pieces: t-shirts, posters, hats and other assorted tchotchki.

Outside of my cubicle at work, there’s a magazine rack packed with ‘zines I’ve never read before: Details, Vice, Urb, Hardcore Gamer and yes, Playboy. We collect issues that feature any of the games we produce. Which leads to lots of guys exclaiming, “I’m just reading the article!”

Today I read Blackbook, which featured an article where 25 authors wrote a work of fiction in six words, no more, no less. The concept is based on a well-known piece by Ernest Hemingway: “For Sale: baby shoes, never used.”

Norman Mailer: “Satan – Jehovah – fifteen rounds. A draw.”

Robert Olen Butler: “Saigon Hotel. Decades later. He weeps.”

Jamie O’Neill: “All her life: half a house.”

Augusten Burroughs: “Oh, that? It’s nothing. Not contagious.”

Me: "25 authors, only two women. Grr…"

May 15, 2007

Too many stories for one post...

Some weekends we do nothing but sit around the house and take the dog to the dog park. Other weekends are packed with houseguests and events and leave us drained. Since moving here, we’ve only had a couple weekends full of events that are refreshing rather than draining. This weekend was one of the rare ones. Depending how much free time you have, there are two posts below relating just two of the weekend’s jaunts.

International Complications Conversations

Friday night we joined Jrex’s labmates for dinner at an Italian restaurant. I sat next to N, I knew he was from Turkey but was delighted to find out he’s Kurdish. One of my best friends just spent 6 months in Iraqi Kurdistan, which meant I knew intelligent questions to ask (rather than my previous knowledge base—they got bombed by Sadaam and now one of their people is president of Iraq). It turns out his father had been a member of Parliament as a moderate in the Kurdish party. Unfortunately for his father, the government cracked down on the Kurds during his term. Many of his colleagues fled the country. He was threatened with the death penalty but ended up with a suspended one-year prison sentence. N told me that he experienced more culture shock moving from Kurdistan to a major city in Turkey than he had when he moved to the US for graduate school.

Another man in the lab is Mormon. We caught bits of a recent PBS special on the history of Mormonism. When asked, he said he’d found the presentation to be fairly well balanced. I would love a chance to really dig into a conversation with this guy. It’s hard for many of my friends to deal with my Christian faith—too many far-fetched notions and too many social issues. I know part of their struggle is how an intelligent person can believe any of it. Obviously I can give you a thorough defense of my faith, but Mormonism seems like a real challenge. Here’s a scientist believing in a faith with no archeological evidence to support it. A faith with a history of difficult ‘revelations’ like polygamy and perfect obedience. I don’t want to try to dismantle or convert him or anything, I just want to understand how he holds it all together in his head. So far we haven’t had that chance, but it was fun to at least get his perspective on the series.

I also had a wonderful conversation with an Indian woman, S, about The Namesake. I’d enjoyed the movie but she’d been aggravated by it. She is Bengali and the actors in the movie are supposed to be Bengali but are Hindi and spoke with a bad accent. I jumped in with, “Oh, it sounds like the same reason most Koreans hated M.A.S.H.” She looked inquisitive and I was about to launch into the explanation when I realized the Japanese student next to her was also listening. I fumbled around with, “Well, they had a lot of non-Koreans play Korean parts,” without getting into the reality that they had Japanese actors as Koreans—which was very insulting to the Koreans of Jrex’s parents generation.

He's too good looking to be a cartoonist

Saturday we walked down the street, ‘picked up’ another couple from church who live at the end of the block, and wandered to Keplers. As one of the largest independent bookstores in the country, they have a stream of amazing authors who come to lecture and do book signings.

This time the speaker was the creator of Bloom County and Outland. Berke Breathed (Burke Breathe-ed) spoke about the children’s book he’d just published, Mars needs Moms. During his lecture he spoke of how a cartoonist’s job, especially a satirist, is to deconstruct. To find something hypocritical and tear it down. The natural job hazard is to become profoundly cynical. On the other hand, a children’s book is naturally constructionist. You want to leave the kid feeling better than when they started. He’s found it to be a nice balance, esp now that he’s a father. And yes, he named his son Milo, after the blond kid from Bloom County…

Here are a few tidbits that came out during Q&A:

  • He was fired from four jobs at his college paper cause he always embellished stories. They finally put him at the cartoonists desk and told him to embellish away. He didn’t grow up reading comics and was never trained to be a cartoonist. He quickly consumed all of Doonesbury to learn satire and all of Peanuts to learn heart. As a result, he didn’t realize he kept breaking the rules. No one had mixed talking animals and humans before. No one had characters break from the script and talk to the audience. No one else stole four of Trudeau gags and used them for his own nefarious purposes. Apparently Trudeau has never forgiven him and they aren’t on speaking terms.
  • When someone wondered if Gary Larson or Bill Waterson would ever come out of retirement, he doubted it. He sees no future for cartooning in this country. “The median age for newspaper readers in this country is 58. No kids grow up reading the funny pages.”
  • He called on a boy who’d raised his hand. The kid piped up, “My Mom made me raise my hand so you’d call on her.” The blushing blond woman stated she’d gone to high school and college with Breathed. He gasped, “Did I date you?” As everyone laughed he continued, “Cause that’s happened before on this tour. ‘Sure, of course I remember you!’ But I didn’t date you? Whew.”
  • An Opus movie was in the works for 5 years at Miramax, but the president just couldn’t grasp the talking penguin premise. “He’d never read the strip, of course. I was overjoyed when the whole project fell apart. I don’t think you’ll ever see Opus in animation now. I’m done.”

May 10, 2007

A rose by any other name?

I had a follow-up thought about the house-guest dilemma. What if we change the label on the second bedroom? What if, instead of thinking of it as MY office/studio, I thought of it as the Elijah room?

In the Bible there was a woman who set up a room on her roof so that the prophet Elijah could have a place to crash when he wandered through town. Also, for the Passover meal, the Seder, it's traditional to set a place at the table for Elijah. To create an awareness that an unexpected stranger might be a prophet, an angel, or a Savior in disguise.

I told this brainstorm to my husband and he laughed at me (in a very loving way). "I get what you're trying to do, shift your expectations...", he just shook his head, still laughing.

I'm laughing at myself. It's still a small apartment, but I think it might help me feel more welcoming of sojourners. I mean, what the heck, we even have lines in our wedding vows about welcoming sojourners. When we wrote it, I meant foster kids, but it's still true of house guests, right? Right?!

OK. Fine. Everybody laugh. But I'm going to make a sign for the doorway. Just to remind me to stay flexible.

Where have you shifted expectations to make things work better, even if it's just in your head?

May 8, 2007

Is it cool or just crazy?

Just found out about thesixminuteproject. It's a "collaborative photo project in which people upload 24 hours of their life, six minutes at a time". Basically you take a digital photo every 6 minutes for 24 hours. Frankly, most of the photo albums are really boring! The challenge would be to create art from the mundane. And to stay creative every six minutes. Yikes.

May 5, 2007

Missing Home

I have been missing our house in Baltimore. Sure, I miss people, but those relationships feel renewable, or at least, eternal. Our house though, it’s gone. I can’t call it to ask how my trees are growing in the back yard, to check if the new owners stained the trellis, to hear morning birds in their frenzy or watch hummingbirds and monarch butterflies visit as they migrate through.

Mostly I’m missing our house because here, in a two-bedroom apartment, having house guests feels crowded and stressful. In Baltimore we had an upstairs guest room and a finished basement with a half bath. With four floors, a front porch (with Sky Chair), and back yard with hammock, it was easy to feel alone in a multitude.

Here? Not so much. Even one more person feels like a negotiation of emotional and physical space. It’s frustrating because every person who has come to visit us has been welcome and enjoyed, but we’re burning out. The guest bedroom is the office. When guests come, we bring my computer, the bills and assorted digital devices and plugs into the bedroom. We blow up the airmattress and lose access to that bedroom’s closet. We share one bathroom, one television and one floor.

I hesitate to write this post because many of you who read this would be and have been welcome visitors. My point is more that we had this many visitors in Baltimore, but it didn’t impact us the way it has here. It just reminds me how much we gave up to move here. Which puts a LOT of pressure on life here to have glories that far outweigh our sacrifice, and so far? Not so much.

For me, that house was really the gift of Home after losing my family home. Since it’s the mom that makes a family house a home, losing her meant losing Home. In Baltimore it was easy to imagine Jesus waiting for me in the window seat, wanting to talk and hang out. I could go down to the basement at any time of day or night, close out the dog or my sleeping husband, and bang on my djembe and just pray and cry without thinking of anyone hearing me. In that house I could feel cared for just by the physical space. It’s hard to lie in a hammock under the gentle branches of a weeping cherry tree and not feel the presence of Someone loving me. I know my relationship with God, with my husband, and with our friends is bigger than a setting, I just hate how squeezed all three feel in this apartment.

Wistfully yours,

May 4, 2007


Jrex spoke to him and I suspect Mom K did as well. No biting, less 'forceful play'.

Lots of post thoughts while I walked the dog this morning. I compose my best blog posts walking her and then promptly forget about them as the day progresses. As a reminder, here's a list of potential topics:

1. The mystery sidewalk dog pooper with the negligent owner who leaves it. It's a mine field I tell you! Old ladies see me coming with the mutt and start yelling at me about picking up poop! People are leaving threatening notes on pieces of cardboard. Our block is a war zone.

2. Getting rid of the editor in my head and how blogging has created a new one.

3. Learning not to care what other people think and how blogging has played with my brain.

4. Surprising things my MIL said while she was here.

5. Why there are no flies in California.

May 1, 2007

I hear paw patters of impending doom

With the in-laws here, Muttolah gave me a look of total anxiety and sadness this morning. She's been a bit on the 'loose' side digestively speaking and I doubt Dad K is very patient with her when he walks her. In fact, I'll be shocked if we get through this visit without her biting him. He likes to play with her, but he goes too far. He grabs her head and shakes it. He pinches her ear. He shoves a toy into her face and insists she play. This morning he patted her head as he walked by and she snapped the air after he passed.

Most days she sleeps under our bed. Yesterday they shut the bedroom door. A whole day trapped in accessible areas of the apartment! This dog was a 'rescue' from the Baltimore SPCA. She started out very timid with a ton of separation anxiety. She's calmed down ALOT and I'm going to be furious if she ends up reverting because Dad K is too rough.

Only two more days...

(In fairness though, for all of us adults the visit is going very well.)