Friday, October 10, 2014

Unplugged

I've taken to giving myself little "unplug" challenges lately. It feels silly. They're small. It's things like, "Get to the end of the next block without checking your phone." "Don't check Twitter for an hour." "No email until you've gotten out of bed and brushed your teeth." I usually fail. Or if I succeed, it's very difficult.

In the past, I've made "disconnecting" a New Year's Resolution and a Goal and an Intention, and it's just really fucking hard. It's embarrassing how hard it is. It feels silly to even want to disconnect sometimes. Isn't this the future? Isn't there something magical about connecting to strangers and friends on the internet? Having the world at your fingertips?

I work in tech. I'm active on social media. I love the internet. I'm around technology, "connecting" (and yes, sometimes Actually Connecting) to people all the time. It's amazing how much of my day is spent staring at a glowing screen, my fingers micro-moving across whatever keyboard I'm on. Pushing the pain of what's probably some sort of RSI or carpal tunnel or worse out of my head to just scroll a little farther, read one more article, type one more reply. Ignoring the actual world in front of me so I can connect to the world that's far away.

This weekend, I'm challenging myself (again) to a No Internet Saturday Morning and Afternoon. (NISMAA?) I'd love to say No Internet Saturday, but I know that's just setting myself up for failure. Last weekend, I said No Internet Saturday, and I was on my phone before I even got out of bed. So this time, I'm claiming the morning and afternoon as an internet-free zone. I can catch up with the world in the evening. But the morning and afternoon will be spent without the phone, social networks, and email that clutter my mind and tighten my fingers. Less multitasking, zero open tabs to flip through.

But how will I fill my time? Well, I'll be getting a flu shot, gardening, and purging my closet. Taking things to Goodwill, doing laundry, and unpacking the Target purchases from last weekend. Decorating the house for Halloween. Baking. There's so much I could be doing, it's no wonder I don't get anything done while I'm so distracted by technology. I'm looking forward to some forced dedicated time away from the screens, to make some progress on projects and goals I've been meaning to get to, and to move my body and mind in a way that doesn't involve typing, staring, or scanning.

How about you? Have you ever done a "technology sabbath" or an "unplugged challenge"? Do you think I'll make to 8pm without the internet?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Break

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in over a month. Or maybe you didn't, in which case, never mind, nothing happened, nothing to see here.

"Things have been busy" is always an excuse, and never a particularly good one, when it comes to holding myself accountable, I know. But you see, this last month was *especially* busy. I spent the last year and a half planning a hugely massive wedding (not mine, that was nearly three years ago), which took place about a week ago. We had a wonderful houseguest. I got promoted at work. And like I said, the wedding was a week ago. So the last month was a whirlwind of everything coming to a head all at once, and between that and my day job, and my side business, and, well, life...the blog took a little hiatus.

But I'm back, and I have a bunch of photos on my phone just waiting to be shared. Photos of harvests and house projects and pickles and weddings and #YoCP progress. Plus, it's just about that time of year for turning the front lawn into a haunted cemetery, and I've been clearing room inside in preparation for holiday decorating. The weather's turning colder (sort of; this is California, after all) and I'm feeling very nest-y and ready for holiday crafting. Now that I have time to document and share (not to mention time to actually enjoy the bits of spare time in my evenings), I'm excited to take on new things and share them here again.

In the meantime, please accept this slightly blurry, mid-September harvest photo, featuring three very gnarly white carrots. It was a very busy blog break, but I'm glad to be back in action. Talk to you soon :)


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Weeks of Harvests

I don't have much to say about this garden update, but I felt like sharing some photos.

Two weeks ago:

Teensy thinned carrots, radishes, padrons, lemon cucumbers,
jalapenos, tomatoes, and lots and lots of beans.
(beans being pickled in the jar in the back)
I felt like taking a pretty, artsy-like shot.
One week ago:

Tomatoes, padrons, and a lemon cucumber.
The padrons are currently being pickled with the jalapenos
from the week before. They smell awesome.
Today:

Padrons, tomatoes, lemon cucumber, radishes, a funky
little carrot, and assorted beans.

The harvest doesn't vary much from week to week, but it's amazing to me how much we're picking - the sheer volume is the main reason I feel the need to document every time we harvest. Compared to our city-dwelling friends, we're not exactly doing "small space gardening" with our luxurious ~50 square feet, but compared to our home-owning-friends, we're squeezing a lot into a small space. It's crazy how much comes out of our little corner of the yard! 

How's your garden? Do you garden in the yard? On a balcony or fire escape? On your kitchen counter? Share photos and story in the comments!

Thinning

A few weeks ago, it was time for a little carrot thinning in the garden. This is our first time growing carrots, and the concept that you have to thin them out (and more than once!) was new to me. We thinned them at the beginning, but as they've grown, we've had to continue thinning to make room for the remaining ones to grow. Turns out, carrots need room to grow underground and if they're not thinned, they don't grow.

Before thinning: it's just a big bushy carrot top forest!
I forgot to take a picture afterwards, but it didn't actually look that different, despite removing nearly half the carrot tops. And since we were in the garden, we decided to do a little more harvesting.

Parsley, basil, assorted tomatoes, radishes,
padrons, assorted beans, and lemon cucumbers
Rainbow chard and red russian kale
Radishes and carrot tops
We tried to use the carrot tops for a pesto, but it turns out that they're a bit too fibrous...it was a straight-to-the-compost-pile concoction. Luckily, we'd made parsley and basil pesto first, and already had way more than we needed for our pesto pasta dinner. And some of the carrot tops had little teeny carrots attached - sometimes when you thin carrots, what comes out of the ground isn't really edible. But this stage of thinning produced some adorably tiny little guys!

Salad featuring the tiniest carrots known to man, as well as
radishes, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes and chard from our
garden. And yes, that's a glass of Westvleteren 12.
More garden updates to come!


Monday, August 11, 2014

ICYMI: Blogged at Disqus

In case you missed it, here's a link to my blog post on the Disqus blog about finding community at the BlogHer conference this year. Community is incredibly important to me, and working at Disqus is invigorating...working for a company that builds products to make better online communities and a better internet? Hell yeah. Working to make our company a great community of its own? Hell yeah. Connecting in real life (IRL) to communities I'm a part of online? Hell yeah.

<3

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Bloggiest

Well. BlogHer 2014. Ahem, I mean #blogher14. It has come and gone, and I'm still thinking about it. In fact, I have so many thoughts, and pretty much all of the feelings, that I'm having a really hard time writing about it. There were so many fucking fantastic women, all in one place, having conversations that were funny and irreverent and horrifying and heartbreaking and inspirational and well you can see why all the feels.

Because I'm still processing, and because I've already written one serious post (which is far more than I usually write), and one silly post, I guess this one is somewhere in between. So...here's Day 2 and 3 of BlogHer 2014, mostly in pictures. But with a little actual content at the end.


TwistedShotz. These are shots. Sorry, I mean shotz.
They are sugary sweet and three of them in quick succession will give you a nice little buzz.


Helen and I did the Yoplait Greek #tasteoff challenge, where you do a blind taste test of both Chobani and Yoplait Greek yogurt and see which you like better. I eat Chobani quite often at work (when we're out of Fage - so spoiled), and also I'm pretty sure I was solely responsible for Yoplait's success in the 90's, so it wasn't hard for me to tell the difference. I prefer a more sour Greek yogurt, so I chose the Cho. Helen preferred Yoplait, and also didn't know which was which, so I consider myself an extremely talented yogurt connoisseur. I wonder if there are awards for this.


Helen, educating me on the Kardashian game. It looks incredibly stupid, like it might actually kill your brain cells, and I cannot download it for fear of getting sucked in. Those Kardashians are good. They know what they're doing. They will rule us all.


We rocked out at the tiggly booth. I'm pretty sure that tiggly is one of those products that's made for kids but the parents secretly play with it once the kid goes to bed. Maybe if they're intoxicated, but also maybe sober.


Thanks to Bridgestone Tires for the Disqus-colored manicures!


Obligatory swag haul photo. This year, despite driving to the conference and therefore having nearly unlimited ability to Take All The Things, I tried really hard to only take things I would actually use.
Highlights include Monopoly, Trouble, Ziploc Gallon Size Freezer Bags, convertible coaster/trivets, a sturdy tote bag, a hell of a lot of Bona floor wipes, full size Pledge and Pledge for your floors, and a bunch of Efferdent (for Will's hockey mouthguard) and twenty four double size rolls of Angel Soft holyshit. (I know -- exciting!)
I had fun teaching Helen the "show up in the last 20 minutes of the expo and score big" game :)


Two hungry girls and their cheeseburghers at the closing night party.


Rocking out in the daylight to 80's-90s jams with DJ Run. As in Rev Run. As in Run DMC.
Yup.


I was going to say that the dance party really got wild once it got dark out, but this group of ladybloggers was going wild in the daylight too. It did feel less awkward after dark.
The Rev said such things as, "I swear to God I'm here to have fun!" and "I haven't smiled this much in a very long time." and "WHERE MY LADIES AT?!" (um, right here in front of you, Rev, maybe get those eyes checked out), which was pretty super fun. He was smiling a lot. I think he had a good time with us. Thanks, Rev.


We certainly had a good time.


Really sweet string lighting and a whole lot of dancing women. It was a nicely decorated party, and I can appreciate that.


Those burgers and fries taste so damn good late at night after a few beers. Jury's still out on Gogurt.


Oh, and then this happened:


WHAT.


On our way to brunch on Sunday, we passed the parking lot where a mere 10 hours before, we had been eating junk food and jumping up and down to songs we danced to in middle school. 
Quite a transformation.


Post-BlogHer brunch requires three drinks.


I'll be honest: after Chicago's somewhat lackluster performance, I wasn't entirely looking forward to this year's conference. Chicago felt too big, too empty. I was worried that the BlogHer conference had jumped the shark. Oh, how wrong I was. This year felt lovely. It was cozy and warm and full of energy. The 10x10 speakers were (for the most part) wonderfully articulate, inspirational and thoughtful (yeah, maybe don't watch this one at work). The Voices of the Year almost all made me cry (just found this recap of quotes featuring moi - fun!). The mainstage keynotes were fucking fantastic. The food was pretty good too. 

I met some rad ladies I'd only met on the internet before this weekend (hi, Ginger Warrior! whaddup, FireMom?). I hugged women I haven't seen since last year (oh hey there, Tabatha). I sat next to Elise Bauer at lunch. I decided that I really want to talk to Kara Swisher in person and make her be my mentor, and I still regret that I wasn't able to hug The Bloggess and thank her for that post about HR. I met some brand reps that were really cool, and who I hope remember me when I finally email them several weeks after the conference. I basically accosted BlogHer co-founder Jori Des Jardins for the second time in four years, to thank her for starting this thing (sorry, Jori). I basically lived in #BlogHer14 for three days. And I went to a party that I'm not allowed to talk about.

One drunk night I started typing this blog post. I wrote, "blogher is nothing if not a place to encourage yourself to put yourself out there." And I think that's what this whole BlogHer thing is all about, really. 

If we met in San Jose this year, thanks for taking the initiative to follow through on our "Oh, I'll check out your blog! Here's my card, too!" interaction. I really did like your dress, and I really do hope I'll see you on the internet (like when I finally get it together to go through the biz cards and visit all of your blogs). It was really fun to meet you. I mean it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why I Don't Write About Race

There were some really great conversations about race and privilege at BlogHer this weekend. It's not something I write about (or even talk about, frankly) very often, but these conversations have gotten me thinking. And as Feminista Jones reminded us, we should all speak up. We should all claim our experiences, and honestly? My privilege is one reason I don't talk about it. I don't need to talk about it. It doesn't affect me. Except that it does. It affects all of us. It affects us as a community, as a country, as human beings sharing one planet. And not speaking up because I feel like I don't have a worthy enough story myself is a really shitty reason to stay silent.

My experiences with "otherness" are not much to write home about. They are very white, in the most socioeconomic sense of the word. They are steeped in privilege, which is a word I'll just apologize now for overusing in this post. When I was in elementary school, I was not popular. I was made fun of for liking books, for listening to country music, for being Jewish-looking (not that I was in any way an *actual* minority, guys. I just hadn't grown into my nose, and my peers had, I guess). I ate lunch in the library, and yes, I felt like a big ole loser nerd much of the time, but eh...I had bigger concerns, like how many library books the librarian would let me check out at once or when I would be allowed to wear pointe shoes. In middle school, some girls threatened to steal my clothes in the bathroom once, but that was an anomaly - I don't think they even knew who I was aside from some random kid to torment. I grew up a theatre kid, which for many people is synonymous with otherness, but I actually had a wonderful group of friends and went to a high school where the theatre kids were more beloved than the athletes (or at least we felt that way), so no stories of being stuffed in a locker or bullied there. Sure, I grew up on "the other" side of Ventura Boulevard, not in Hidden Hills or Calabasas where most of my classmates lived...but I didn't live as far as where all the signs were in Spanish, either. I was right in the middle - sometimes uncomfortable, but squarely settled in my own assured privilege. Full of teen angst, but most definitely in a stereotypically privileged way.

The first time I was confronted with feelings of racial difference was in college, when I volunteered with Equal Opportunity Productions (EqOp) - a non-profit arts outreach program in Los Angeles. We visited schools whose arts programs had been taken away, mostly in East LA, and provided free classes and workshops in self-expression, storytelling and improv. We took a group of kids to a cabin in Big Bear for a week one summer (looking back, how the hell did we do that? A lot of parental trust.) to write and produce their own play. It was a transformative experience for many of these kids, who didn't really know how to put their many pre-teen angsty feelings into words. Who didn't feel comfortable expressing their feelings in public. Who hadn't had experiences that allowed them to be crazy, silly, creative kids with a voice. Who hadn't before been listened to and told that their voices mattered.

And for me, it was surprisingly eye-opening. Not because I'd never been exposed to poverty or class divisions, but because for the first time, I was deeply involved and working closely with a diverse group, first-hand, in a way where I had an active role in Making A Difference. And in my own 20-year-old-with-a-heart-full-of-passion way, it was there that I experienced otherness in a way I hadn't before. See, out of our group of 15 or so kids, there were two who were white and Jewish and lived comfortably above the poverty line. When the time came for the program's director to pair us "adults" with kids to mentor, naturally I was paired with the ones who looked like me. And I get it. It's important for kids to have mentors they can personally connect with, and especially for young minority kids to see strong, grown up minority mentors they can easily see as their future selves. And I fucking loved working with those kids. But I also resented our racially classified mentor/mentee relationships because it was less about pairing me with the white kids and more about not pairing me with the ones who were black or brown. In dividing ourselves based on the color of our skin, weren't we part of the problem? In telling these kids that they should learn from those who look just like them, weren't we closing ourselves off to diversity and shared experience?

I will never know what it's like to grow up as a young, black girl below the poverty line in East LA. That will never be my experience. And so I understand why an organization would pair that girl with a mentor who has been there and lived it. And I do believe that it's the right call. I hate (hate hate hate) stories that look like "white person comes in and saves the poor black kids". That's not the story I want to be a part of. But to be told, without further discussion, that "well, obviously" I would be paired with the brainy Jewish kids made me feel strange. I felt like I was being put into a box I didn't know was mine, told that my experiences were as one-dimensional as my looks. That I shouldn't worry about relating to the kids who didn't look like me, because someone more qualified was going to do that.

I have never experienced systemic prejudice. I have never been excluded from a place of privilege because of my race. My experiences as a Jewish woman growing up in the San Fernando Valley do not in any way qualify me to speak on behalf of minority groups who face real adversity, and I do not wish to be any sort of savior. I just want, in my own naive, sunshiney way, to relate to each other on a human level. And I want to feel like I am making some sort of impact, to do something, however small, to make a world where our humanity is all that matters.

There were a lot of talks this weekend about what it means to be an ally. How to support without appropriation. How to speak up, but not speak for. I don't have answers. I only have my experience, and my heart. And a lot of the time, my heart hurts so much for those I don't know how to help that I dissolve into a pool of helplessness and just freeze. I don't want to freeze anymore.

If you have a story you want to tell, please share. Please link to your blog in the comments. I won't use my friends as my teachers - the internet is out there, and there is no shortage of stories to tell about the systemic abuse that exists in this world. I cannot claim, and will not tell, your stories as if they were mine. But you can tell them. Please tell them.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hello From BlogHer!

It's that time of year, friends. Time for thousands of bloggers (mostly ladybloggers) to convene in one place for some "IRL" community bonding. Yes, it's BlogHer season. This year, the conference is close to home, in San Jose, which means that for the first time ever, I drove to BlogHer. I'm going to take the lessons from BlogHers past and cut back on my swag intake...just because you have room for it doesn't mean you should take it! (As my therapist says, "just because you can doesn't mean you should" - amen, sister, I'll try to remember that one)

This time, I have the honor of sharing my BlogHer experience with my coworker Helen...this is her inaugural BlogHer experience, so it's exciting times indeed. If you met us tonight, we were giddy with freedom (hey, we left the office at 3:30pm! and aren't going in tomorrow!) and high on blogger energy. If this is your first time over here at Kim's Kitchen Sink, say hi in the comments! Nice to meet you.

Starting our evening off right with Eppa Sangria at the
Sundown Sangria Soiree.
The invitation said to wear yoga pants. So. Obviously.
It was very hot. There was an ice luge for the sangria.
Attempting to take a selfie for #selfiebration (ugh that word)
Helen attempts a selfie as well. It was hard
to get the picture just right. Involved a lot
of maneuvering.
Late night dinner at Johnny Rockets for nostalgia's sake.
Jukebox was broken. Womp womp.
Area Woman Reports Smiley Face Ketchup Still a Thing.

I didn't take many pictures in the expo hall because I was too busy exhaling (and tweeting) and making mental notes for tomorrow and Saturday (drool over fancy Samsung appliances? CHECK!). Also, I got my fingernails painted Disqus blue (thanks, Bridgestone Tires booth, for the mani and the massage!), so even though I'm not here reppin' Disqus (unless you're an engineer and you want a job, in which case, come find me), I'm still reppin' the blue.

Maybe I'll post every day throughout the conference, maybe I won't...Thursday night is always the calm before the storm. If you see me wandering around with my face in my phone, poke me and say hi!