Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The question of how I was going to define and recall this year came up recently, and I decided the most accurate word to describe the last 12 months was "transformative". Which is good. Not just because Transformers (tm) are cool, but because transformation is indicative of movement, usually either growth or decay. And I'm still alive, so I vote for growth. I am no longer the person I once was, but she is still me.
From my perspective inside my own brain, all of this seems trite; to feel a renaissance of myself swelling as I teeter on the brink of my third decade seems...contrived? At the very least, convenient in a deus ex machina kind of way. And yet, after a period of increasing and accelerating disorder, I seem to have emerged fresh from the fire, my old skin peeling off to reveal a new alloy composition, stronger and more flexible that my previous incarnation. And while my old form served me well and protected me through a cavalcade of hardships, and I excited to start walking around all the time in my new skin. I want to see how this new self I've managed to grow and forge drives.
Humans seem hell bent on finding and naming critical turning points: birthdays, anniversaries, various annual holidays. The return of Saturn gives people in their late 20's a three year window to feel a revelation of some kind, and yet here I am, googleing the exact cycle of Saturn. 29.4 years. That's right around the time when everything in my life broke, and I began to rebuild from scratch.
I believe that's why we have so many holidays and milestones, so no matter when our shift happens, when our big moment hits, we'll have a larger calendar to point to and say, see, it's special because of this!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs vs. The Real World

Yesterday Steve Jobs died. He was fairly young, and had struggled with cancer for some time. Luckily he had the resources to prolong both his life and his career, and did so with great relish. In the wake of his passing, the world that Mr./ Jobs had a hand in creating is vibrating with new insights and adulation for him, with people from every part of the world and every walk of life calling him a genius, one of a kind, generous, maverick. Comparisons to the bible and Leonardo da Vinci have been made.

But let's be realistic here. Steve Jobs was not the only person at the cutting edge of technology. He stood on the shoulders of his scientific predecessors, and had a whole generation of peers. And he is not solely responsible for every Apple product on the market. He gets credit for innovative and phenomenal brand-making, and great marketing, but that's not really scientific genius. He had a hand in a lot of innovation, but in recent years he's worked over and with literally hundreds of other very smart individuals who made the products people gobble up so effective. It's like saying wow, those pyramids are great, and they never would exist without Pharaoh. Yeah, that may be true, but really, other people helped.

He was prominent by choice, and for business reasons; when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, to bring it back from the brink of death, he brought some new technologies and new marketing strategies, and some savvy business techniques. But, like his decision to cut Apple's philanthropic giving (and never resume it), these were not wheel-inventions. They were great forward thinking steps in the ever-higher climb towards technological Valhalla, but really what did he do? The iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Mac Books are all great products, but they all represent brands of products that have been made by other companies, many times cheaper and better. What Apple excelled at, beyond creating a whole new class of genericized trademarks, was protecting the market share they won by viciously blocking any cross-platform interaction. As an outsider, with an mp3 player, smart phone, tablet and laptop, it looks a little bit like a high-tech gang, where you have to have something with an 'i' on it to get in, or you may as well take your ball and go home. Never mind the higher quality and lower cost of some non-i products.

So what is Steve Jobs' true legacy? It is undeniable that he has left a mark, and he participated in one of the greatest technological run-ups in human history. But lately? Lately he's been a champion of consumerism, of corporate person-hood, of making money and protecting market share, and damn the cost to small business, potential innovation, and individuals. In my mind, at least, Steve Jobs' legacy is slick marketing of a product line in constant flux because features and technologies are withheld for the 'next generation', where the brand name sneakers of two generations ago are replaced with several hundred dollar technologies that children are taught to covet from infancy (if you think I'm exaggerating, just search "baby iphone" online).

At the same time, The United States finds itself at a rare moment; The Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining momentum nationally, and people are standing up for human rights of corporate rights. The people at the bottom are finally questioning why the people at the top are getting so far away. But everyone has paused, to marvel at the passing of Steve Jobs. It is indisputable that Jobs left his mark on history, but I am more interested in the history being made now, today, on the streets of American cities, by the people who work minimum wage jobs for 28 hours to buy an iPhone, or 69 hours to buy an iPad. Steve Jobs helped create the personal computer, but he didn't do it alone. He did, however, make himself a household name. But I didn't think we celebrated people for becoming world-renowned former CEOs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Because I’m me.

Because I’m me, I waiting until the very last minute to go to the bathroom after drinking a diet coke and three glasses of water.
Because I’m me, when I got to the bathroom and saw the little tiny baby lizard, whose cousins have been making me smile all week, I tried to chase him out, afraid that he would either die trapped in the barren landscape of a semi-public restroom.
It’s not my fault that the little tiny baby lizard was stupid, ran into a corner, and accidentally got caught by me. I wasn’t trying to catch him, just corral him into the out doors, where he would be happy.
But, because I’m me, as soon as I realized I could pick him up, I did. And because I’m me, as soon as I picked him up I wanted to hold him, and considered keeping him as a pet.
Settling for the middle ground, I took the little tiny baby lizard back to my office, and tried to photograph him on my hand, which was difficult because the little tiny baby lizard moved further and further up my arm with every jarring sound or movement, of which there were many. Because I’m me.
After getting a couple of good pictures, I went to take the little tiny baby lizard back outside and set him free.
Because I’m me, I was more focused on the little tiny baby lizard’s feelings than I was on the presence of real live human people around me.
Because I’m me, I naturally forgot I was wearing the fitted skirt of the pseudo-professional, and squatted like a woman giving birth in the jungle.
Because I’m me, I didn’t notice until the little tiny baby lizard had moved to the relative safety of the near by tree that I was giving a full-on, clear view crotch shot to a pair of middle-aged women a few yards from me.
Because I’m me, and I couldn’t think of a demure escape, I simply walked back to the restroom and resumed my business. But, because I’m me, I still think I’m the reason they disapeared before I returned from the restroom.