FOCs

Stop! Sucking! Day 17: Stop making it all about you

As sort of an other-shoe-dropping, sister-post kind of thing, I'm using my space and time today to point out some people doing some significant things.

Because (hangs head, kicks dirt with shoe) I'm ashamed to say that I've been thinking a wee bit too much about ME and how I can take ME to the next level and why aren't more people paying attention to/digging on ME and a whole lot of other annoying, self-involved tripe. And, I mean, all this while people are eating dirt and women on other continents (and possibly areas of this one) are having parts of their lady-areas hacked off and a million other human indignities that one could call "real problems."

Even if we shy away from the area of "real problems," isn't it still better to focus on what other cool stuff there is going on than to bemoan some imaginary, non-existent thing you think should be happening to you? Not that I don't want good stuff to happen to me, and not even that I don't think I deserve it or whatever The Secret-y thing you want to believe. Thing is, if I stop for one second to think about it, I realize instantly that I have an overabundance of blessings, that my (non-specific, agnostic-type) prayers have been answered over and over again, and that I've had so much help from so many hands, both seen and unseen, it borders on the embarrassing.

So you know, I pimp everywhere. I am kind of obsessed with pointing out good stuff. But I mostly do it in places like StumbleUpon or Clipmarks or del.icio.us. Or I forward it to my pal, Michael Blowhard, who has a much bigger audience and gets the word out far more effectively than I ever could.

But I've been wined and dined and guest-bedroomed by my wonderful peeps here in Chicago for a day now, and I'm filled with the spirit of giving and sharing. So...

Meet the FOCs (Friends of Colleen) and someday FOCs!!!

  • Grant McCracken writes one of the best blogs I know. A terrific mix of marketing, cultural anthropology and inventive thinking, there's always something great to be found there, and every great thing is truly different from every other one. Check out his greatest hits if you don't believe me.
  • Speaking of faves, my go-to blog for years now has been 2Blowhards. In fact, while I have changed feed readers many times, I have never, ever moved 2BH out of my "always read" folder. Even though they're (gasp!) conservatives!!!
  • People ask me all the time why the hell I'm on Twitter. I may talk a big game about the importance of social media and staying on top of the game, but the reality is that I love watching the wit of these three guys unfold in real time. Finally, they've gotten together and put on a show: You Look Nice Today!, A Journal of Emotional Hygiene. It takes a while to orient yourself to it, these guys are like an order of magnitude smarter than most smart, funny people working today. But just like watching Shakespeare, after a few minutes, you'll acclimate to the rhythm. And laugh your ass off.
  • One real-life friend has finally gone online with a public record of one of the more fascinating projects it's been my pleasure to track. Nick Offerman, a wildly funny and gifted performer, is also a master woodworker craftsman-type. And so, finding himself in NYC for a time (sweet boy is there providing moral support as his wife works on a little play), he decided to use it wisely and...build a canoe from scratch! I care as much about woodworking and canoes as I do football and trigonometry (not much), but I'm always thrilled to see a new installment in my inbox. Finally, the rest of the world can share that thrill.
  • Finally, because I'm getting a little tired of people who say that feminists aren't funny (haha) or that the patriarchy is dead (I wish), I give you Twisty Faster. Her writing has been somewhat more sporadic the past several months, but the archives are rich with radical feminist goodness.

For those of you who might never sign up for one otherwise, I also include Cool Finds of the Month in my free newsletter, communicatrix | focuses. And yeah, newsletters are kinda dorky and sucky, for the most part. Maybe mine is, too, just by virtue of being one. I mean, hey, it is a marketing tool. But for me, it is also an opportunity to write on one topic (best practices of great communicators) in a very specific way, i.e., without swears. If I'm lying, may my motherf*cking tongue fall out of my c*cksucking mouth.

See? Along with gratitude, insights and there will always be foul language here on communicatrix-dot-com.

Some things will never stop...

xxx c

Nerd Love, Day 14: Stealth Nerd, #2

gretchen rubin Let's review:

Obtains Ivy League undergraduate and law degrees. Check.

Clerks for U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Check.

Chucks it all to do nerdy research and write books. Check.

Yes, Gretchen Rubin is beautiful and polished and living a life of chic Manhattan mommyhood. Don't let that shit fool you! Not only has girlfriend written four books and spent a year researching happiness from all angles, which she is now writing a book about...

...she has a blog about it.

I call nerd.

xxx c

Nerd Love, Day 5: Score one for the Nerds

all my favorite Thanksgiving foods rhyme with d. lee Nerds with a secret are like little kids before Christmas: they cannot, CANNOT, I tell you, wait for the big day.

The big day, in this case, was supposed to be closer to baseball season. Or at least post-Stupid Bowl. But I could not, COULD NOT, I tell you, wait one more second. Because I finally got my old pal, Tim Souers, the genius I blogged about a year and a half ago, to start a blog.

True, there are only a few actual "posts" up there. But he's uploaded two seasons to the image galleries, two seasons, people!!! Hours and hours of chewy, arty goodness.

Of course, the beauty part is, not only have I given this outstanding gift to the world (via, well, you know, Tim's time, talent and effort), but Tim is cool! He is a Cool Person!!! Who has started a blog!!! Which means...

I actually converted someone to the Nerd Side!!!

Bwahahahaha!

I will get you all, my pretties...

xxx c

A Song of Thanksgiving, Part 4: Jannicups

panda There are only two people I've ever met whom I believe to be capable of unconditional love: my paternal grandmother, who never even said a bad word about Hitler; and Jan Kostner, my oldest friend in the world.

Or, as Jan prefers to say, "my friend I've had the longest."

For a woman who's managed to move through the world at impressively high levels, Jan is jaw-droppingly guileless. I consider myself a fairly earnest fellow, but I am Machia-fucking-velli compared to Jan. Plus she's nice. And loyal. Holy crap, is she nice and loyal. I can spew the worst kind of bitch-venom around Jannicups and feel secure that (a) she will not judge me and (b), what goes in the moment, stays in the moment. Hell, she even puts up with me calling her "Jannicups."

Which is not to say Jan is above a good, chatty evening of gossip and Chardonnay; she's not. When I'm starting to feel a little butch, a dose of Jan sets me right up. When we meet to eat, it's usually for tea or cocktails (or tea AND cocktails) at some fabulous hotel bar. She took me for my first pedicure and gave me my first gift certificate to a Four Seasons massage (which, three years later, I still haven't used;I swear, they're going to take away my girl card if I don't start stepping up my game).

Legend has it that our mothers met when we were two, pushing strollers on Michigan Avenue. Neither is around to confirm or deny this any more, but it doesn't matter: Jan and I are long past needing reasons to be friends; we're family, and family, for better or for worse, is yours for life.

Jannicups? She's all about the better...

xxx c

A Song of Thanksgiving, Part 3: The Baby of the Family

l & c oink When I was about 8 and she was about 3, my sister bit me in the stomach. Hard. Not enough to draw blood, but then, she was too smart for that, even at 3. And when I complained of this filial abuse, our mother replied, "You're the oldest; you're supposed to be above that." Score one for Liz.

We had a rocky time of it for a long time. I was always older and wiser; she was always prettier and more adorable. Our paternal grandfather (the smiling gent in this snap) used to say, "You we had to chase around the room for a hug. Your sister? She was a big, fat, slobbering bundle of love."

The bundle of love is taller than me now, and thinner, and still much, much prettier, dammit. But these things are not what make her remarkable. What is most extraordinary about my sister is her willingness to try...and try...and try again. To overcome the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, to strike out past the safe but dreadful boundaries we were taught to live within, to bravely go where no Sexton or Weinrott has gone before: to the Truth, and the very heart of it.

She hauled my sorry, 'fraidy ass to the hospital when I was too stubborn to admit I was dying. She was there without question when the other kind of love crumbled to bits in my hands. She is my rock; she is my family-family, or all that is left of it when the rest have died or worse, left us to twist slowly and alone in the wind.

And so together we stumble and fumble towards a relationship that neither of us was raised to have but that both of us hope to achieve someday.

Somehow, I have a feeling we will get there.

xxx c

A Song of Thanksgiving, Part 2: The BF

Ten-and-a-half months ago, I woke up hungover from what I hope will be my last New Year's Eve alone. Not because I have a problem with being alone or even being alone for New Year's Eve, but because on January 1st, 2005, I was lucky enough to meet someone so wonderful and so brilliant and so perfect (for me), the only hope I have left is that I'll die before he does because the idea of a life without him breaks my heart.

I use the word "meet" loosely. I emailed The BF via The Onion personals; he answered via Salon's personals. I, you see, am a dork and a hussy. The BF, on the other hand, is a geek and a gentleman, far, far too polite to turn a lady (or even me) down flat.

Sometimes we joke-wonder about why we didn't meet each other 10 years ago. And whatever the reason, the truth is I wasn't ready for the likes of him, so gentle, so true, so tolerant and supportive. Do you need something? Do you need it now? Or worse, the Hollywood version of 'now', which is yesterday? The BF's got your back. I have learned to be careful what I wish for out loud around him, lest it show up on my doorstep, metaphorically or literally.

And of course it goes without saying he's in the 99th percentile when it comes to brains, sense of humor and sheer sex appeal.

Let me tell you this: I don't generally go in for corny sentiment. I'm generally a guy's gal, the kind of tough, hard-talkin' dame that makes John Wayne look like Jake Gyllenhal. But when my friend, Vic, inquired as to details of this fine romance, I replied without hesitation: The BF is the answer to a prayer I didn't know I'd been praying.

A-fucking-men.

xxx
c

A Song of Thanksgiving, Part 1: L.A. Jan

smoke 'em There is the family you are born into, and the family you choose. The lucky few find as much joy, comfort and solace in the former as they do the latter.

Me? With the exception of a slim few (you know who you are) I'm all about adoption.

Meet L.A. Jan.

Writing partner, oft-wet shoulder, best audience I've ever had, bar none. She will be the first to downplay her myriad abilities, protesting ignorance, stupidity and all manner of other ridiculousness. And then she will excuse herself to offer directions to the nice French lady who seems to be lost. In French. Which she taught herself in Paris...where she moved to live, on a whim, in her 20s.

Jan is a Jew from Kentucky, a real actress in a land of glassy-eyed posers, a bit of a kvetch, a constant source of light and delight and inspiration. You think I'm brave? Ha. In her 30s, this girl flew to Jamaica by herself to collect the remains of her fiancé, who'd been murdered at random whilst vacationing there. She fought her way back from a disease ten times more painful than mine, and progressive, to boot. When I countered her challenge to collaborate on a screenplay with a challenge to write a comic play about our diseases, she stepped up. Even after I added music.

She is the first to laugh at me, which drives me crazy. She is the first to laugh at herself, which always humbles me.

When I was in the hospital, too weak to fend for myself, too naive to know I needed to anyway, she was my advocate. Now that I am stronger, she has the grace to let me help her when she needs it. I stand in awe of her strength and courage and goodness every day of my life.

For this, I am truly thankful.

xxx c

P.S. All Frima and I want for Christmas is for you to quit smoking.

Quotation of the Day: "Me, Too" Edition

I'm inspired by new people every day, certainly, but most of all by artists who are living out their dreams and constantly creating and thinking and offer as much by their example of how they live their lives as their work itself." , "lustylady", in the comments section of a Lifehacker post on who inspires you

Me & the Zen Mistress of Business

evelynI got to meet one of my blogging idols yesterday, and I'm delighted to report that the smart and talented Evelyn Rodriguez is every bit as terrific in person as she is on the web, plus way cuter. And yeah, there's kind of an online-datey feel to the whole thing that's sort of trippy: you're surfing and clicking through to a narrower and narrower set of specs when all of a sudden, wham!, you stumble upon what seems like a like-minded soul, or, as I like to call it, someone with whom you share Significant Areas Of Overlap. You eagerly devour statistics, stories and other wares that your Shiny Object has laid out for you to view. Then, if you're me, anyway, you project yourself into a fantasy world where the two of you seamlessly slip from talk of business ethics to sociopolitics to favorite experiences at sleepaway camp (and finally, if your point of entry was nerve.com, into dessert, the sack and a fabulous little Craftsman bungalow in Echo Park that you painstakingly rehab together in perfect harmony).

Meeting an online presence in the flesh yesterday, there was (for me, anyway) that customary, brief loss of equilibrium at first as I adjusted to a real, separate human being who moved and sounded and even looked slightly different than the 2-d version I had in my head, but after a little chit-chat about traffic and turkey dinners, we were off to the races and I couldn't stop talking. (Well, I stopped to let Evelyn talk from time to time, but only because she is very smart and interesting.)

Suffice to say it was a thoroughly energizing and enjoyable meeting, with the bonus-extra goodie of generating new blog entry ideas for (I think) both of us. Not that we couldn't email and post and IM back & forth to create a dialogue (well, no IMing, because it gives me heart palpitations), but there's something about meeting in person that kicks it into a higher gear, I'm a big fan from way back of the epistolery novel, but eventually, you want those see those scribblers meet up and watch the sparks fly. It's why I don't think cities will die off anytime soon (and I'm not alone: go here for lively discussion on urban splendor or the lack thereof). We're social creatures, even us crazy-geeky hermit types, and cities are a great way to keep us in proximity to one another. (According to an interesting article in The New Yorker a ways back, dense, old-style cities, like New York, may also be the most ecologically sound way to collect us, but I can't cite the source because in an insane cleaning frenzy, I pitched that issue. I am an asshole.)

So Evelyn, and any fellow bloggers (or, um, online dates) I might like to meet, here's to the next time fate throws us together geographically. And until then, let the Internet do its magical work.

xxx c

P.S. Evelyn, even though the other photo had better light, I had to use this one. The starbust-halo effect just seemed like some kind of summit endorsement from on high.