An Invitation Is Not an Imposition

mini pumpkinThe other night I was chatting with friends over soft pretzels and beer at Frankford Hall about some of my anxieties around socializing. “I have this weird thing,” I told them, “where I won’t invite people to do things or initiate making plans because I feel like I’m imposing. It’s so weird. I don’t know how to get over it.” Totally unsurprised by my confession, Jenn nodded and said, “It’s an introvert thing,” like it was the most natural thing in the world. I instantly felt better.

A couple weekends ago I did something I’m not sure I’ve ever done before, at least not at any remarkable scale. I threw a party. Chad and I had been meaning to throw a low key housewarming party since we moved to the new place — in July.

I ran around all day getting ready: cleaning the apartment, digging out large platters that we hardly ever use, stocking up on wine, shoving cheese into my shopping basket, wild-eyed, and doing some last-minute decluttering before our friends starting arriving. Thankfully, I had a dear, dear friend who helped out a ton. I don’t know what we would have done without her.

I was nervous as the first people started showing up with really delicious things in tow. Crap! I have to entertain them now! What will I do when they get bored? But soon the apartment was full and warm and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! I somehow feel more settled now that our friends have helped us christen the new place, and I hope next time I’ll be less nervous about the whole thing.

Here’s what I have to remember: An invitation is not an imposition. It’s an offering. It’s a gift. Next time, I hope to feel a lot less apologetic and scared when I send out the invites.

 

Why Unconferences are Awesome

UnconferenceIf you haven’t had the pleasure, let me introduce you to the wonders of the unconference.

BarCamp is one of my very favorite things about living in Philadelphia. It was my first introduction to the tech community here.

The first year we lived in West Chester, Chad went by himself. I spent the day being bitter and sad, and I was mad at him when he got home because he had stayed for the afterparty and I wanted him to come home earlier. He tried to cheer me up by telling me how much I would have loved going. It didn’t work.

So the next year, even though he was fighting off a really ugly foodborne illness, we went together. There were talks on the schedule about computing for social good, how to host a food swap, gender in tech, links as language, and lots of other things I probably didn’t understand at the time. It was just all of these interesting people giving talks about such a variety of interesting things.

What is an unconference?

Unconferences are self-organizing; there are no planned talks ahead of time. In the morning, anyone can pitch a session and get put on the schedule for the day. There are lots of topic-specific unconferences, but what I love most about BarCamp is that sessions can be about anything, and so I always end up learning about things I’ve never thought about or encountered before. Unconferences, and BarCamp especially, are serendipitous. It’s a way to cross-pollinate the community.

In theory, they’re easier to organize than other conferences because there’s no need to recruit and plan for speakers or sessions ahead of time. The attendees are just as responsible (if not more so!) as the organizers for sharing great content. Unconferences are also incredibly democratic — anyone can pitch a talk or a panel or a roundtable or even an activity.  Because of that, there’s a low barrier to entry to speaking, so they’re great for new speakers or for testing out a new talk idea.

If you’re in Philly on November 15th, I’d love to see you at BarCamp Philly! If there’s a BarCamp in your area and you haven’t been yet, give it a try! Or, you could try to organize an unconference in your area. You never know what you’ll learn.

 

Fall Sounds 2014

Over the Rhine
At some point in late high school or early college, I realized that I associated certain albums with particular seasons. For example, most Tori Amos is winter or the height of a blazing hot summer night. Extremes. But, Tori’s Beekeeper was solidly spring. (I listened to a lot of Tori Amos during this time period.)

Last September, we were lucky enough to be in Chicago while Over the Rhine was playing at Park West with the Milk Carton Kids. The Milk Carton Kids opened, and they were really endearing and funny.

I had never seen Over the Rhine live before, and to sit feet from Karin while she and Linford played the entirety of Meet Me At the Edge of the World, plus a ton of other favorites, was incredibly intimate. It felt like bring privy to something that I shouldn’t have seen. I feel like they could conceive just by performing together. It’s probably the sexiest yet most magical and sacred show I’ve ever been to. And that is what I love about them.

Over the Rhine

That album will always be fall and spring to me. It’s what’s been getting me through these dark days, when it’s all I can do to keep going after the sun starts lowering itself, roundabout 4:30 when I’m still at work. It’s featured heavily on the playlist I’ve been working on most recently.

 

Over the Rhine It’s a reminder that wildflowers, though dying now, will come back around. It’s a reminder to leave the edges wild. It’s a reminder that there’s still magic in the failing fall light, even though there’s less of it today than there was yesterday.

Over the Rhine is released a new Christmas album today (!), and will be playing in Philly at Underground Arts on December 6. I will be there, hands clasped, eyes wide, holding my breath and not wanting it to end.

If you’re not ready for Christmas albums (and really, who can blame you?) and you just need some fall jams to carry you through ’til after Thanksgiving, I’ve got you covered over on Spotify.

Happy Campers: A Personal History of Sneakers

CampersI used to be a total jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers girl. But for the past few years, I just haven’t been able to find the ones, you know?

Aside from sparkly pink things with fluffy shoe laces that I’d drag through mud on the farm, the first sneakers I remember specifically wanting were Adidas All-Stars, circa 2001. I was so excited when I finally convinced my mom I needed a pair of them with the silver stripes. Those took me mostly through middle school, even though I hated how they made my feet look when I wore shorts with them.

After looking a little bit clown-footed with the Superstars, I discovered faux skater culture via PacSun in early high school, resulting in some seriously cute white and navy Roxy sneaks that made me feel just edgy enough. Like I was cooler than the Ambercrombie kids because my shoes were so not mainstream. And I could wear them with a skirt to my after-school job at a Mennonite craft shop without feeling overly frumpy.

camper6My Roxy phase was greatly outlasted by what came next: Saucony. First it was the Jazz Originals in olive and black. Then, it was the Bullet in Whisper and Forest Green. Times two. I was in love with these shoes and wore them to the ground, then bought another identical pair.

Those Saucony Bullets were my last real sneaker love. I haven’t found anything to fill their spot in my rotation until now. Behold, the Campers.

I hadn’t heard of Campers until my semester in Spain when someone complimented me on some 14 euro flats I bought at a corner store. She asked me if they were Campers. I didn’t realize how flattered I should be until much later. When a Camper store recently opened in Philly, I thought I’d take another stab at them. But they still felt too expensive and just a little to European for daily wear.

But when we were in Spain, I may or may not have popped into the Camper store in every city we stopped in, until I found the ones. Turns out, they’re cheaper in their country of origin. So, after 7.5 years of wistfully thinking about those fancy Spanish shoes I’d probably never get, I got them. Don’t worry, they were on sale.

campers3

Dress: Zara

Shoes: Camper

Necklace: Stitch Prism

Earrings: Sultana Maria

Lunchtime Reads 10.22.14

Lunchtime Reads

Saturday was A Book, A Blanket, A Day Without Work! Did you participate? How did you celebrate? Despite a super stressful week, I was able to spend some time in the park and then curl up with my spiked cider & some Marilynne Robinson for the afternoon. It was perfect. I’ve been really craving a return to printed fiction. Nothing better than pages in my hands.

In spite of that, here’s what I’ve been reading around the web lately. Happy lunchtime reading!

Often, ambition is considered a good thing. But what if it starts to eat at you, whispering that you should do more or work harder and longer?

Do you feel like an adult? Do you think you ever will? Is feeling like an adult a myth?

What do you actually want to do? Being famous or inspirational are not  actual goals. You have to actually do something.

Politeness inspires empathy: “I am often consumed with a sense of overwhelming love and empathy. I look at the other person and am overwhelmed with joy.

“For every well-written bio, there are dozens of mistakes – judgment errors, missed opportunities, wrong intentions. And yet, we press on. We move forward.” If your wrote your real bio, what would it say?