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For Caroline

I was in Boston last weekend and caught up with an old college friend who’s always been incredibly supportive and encouraging of this blog. I told her I was still having trouble getting back on it, and she said just start by posting anything – post that picture of a gate with googly eyes on it.

So, Caroline, this is for you. We’ll see how it goes from here!

#snurlough

This is actually form the last time it snowed. Right now there’s about a foot on the ground and I haven’t left my apartment in 2 days.

It’s a double shutdown day here in DC. The government’s in lockdown and the city’s under a foot of snow, with most things (including work) getting called off today.

Seeing a shutdown from the inside is a crazy thing. They look really different than when viewed from West Coast private industry. For starters, it is suuuuuper fucking complicated. It’s not just what departments are shut, and which aren’t – it’s which sub-departments are funded separately, and for how long. It’s which personnel are exempt and which are considered essential, and what exactly does essential mean. It’s even if your group is funded, if the group above you isn’t, is there going to be anyone around to approve and sign those paychecks.

The news has done a decent job covering the breadth of the federal employees out of work or working-without-pay, but one of the things that I hadn’t realized was how deeply it affects non-government people in DC. The baristas at my usual coffee place were saying how dead it’s been the last few weeks, and a lyft driver told me they have to work twice the hours to get their usual amount of rides. This city is to government what LA is to entertainment or the Bay Area is to technology. Imagine if every tech company in SF just shut down for a few weeks – how much else would change? The government IS the primary industry in this town, and that industry has just… stopped. It’s pretty bizarre.

Obviously, I have not had as much success getting myself to write here as I intended. Turns out ripping yourself away from all your friends and moving across the country to start a new job in a new industry without knowing anyone in town or having anything remotely fucking familiar to support yourself with is hard.

With that said, it’s been a wild and incredible ride so far, and I do not regret it in the slightest.

Ryan

The amount of time I spend behind a camera has gone down dramatically since I left college but sometimes a situation comes along where I can’t help myself.

This is my gorgeous partner Ryan, who recently came out as genderfluid. They did the drive out to DC with me and we took advantage of the bountiful light in my new apartment to do a little boudoir shoot.

Some photo opportunities you just don’t say no to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Week in DC

Ok, first week and a half. First full week. First work week. Whatever.

I am now an employee of the Federal Government in the United States Digital Service, reporting up to the Executive Office of the President, detailed to the General Service Administration to work on Login.gov.

Coming from Google, being a Government employee is a trip, let me tell you, and I’m taking notes for a later post. Right now though, I wanna talk about the fact that I live in a city currently ruled by Republicans and I technically work for Trump.

DC is definitely an industry town, where everything revolves around the Federal Government in much the same way that Silicon Valley revolves around tech or Hollywood revolves around entertainment. That said though, the city itself is incredibly liberal – DC went 92.8% for Hillary. (in contrast, San Francisco only went 85.04%)

In most of the neighborhoods I’ve explored the trappings of progressives are all around, from ‘you are welcome here’ window signs to ‘Obama 2012’ bumper stickers and rainbow flags galore. It actually feels a lot more active/outgoing/concentrated than SF. Perhaps this city is naturally more activism-oriented, or maybe they know the message is going to be seen by people who disagree with it.

Whatever the reason, it’s pretty great:

(That last is from a truly excellent store called ‘The Outrage‘ that you should all check out next time you need something to wear to a march. Or just in general)

So the liberals here are plentiful and vocal, but we all live cheek to cheek with conservatives who, if not as plentiful, are certainly vocal. I’ve seen ‘Blue Lives Matter’ shirts on joggers, a guy skateboarding around carrying a massive Trump/Pence flag, the Republican elephant worn on every piece of attire imaginable, and MAGA hats galore on giant groups of tourists.

I grew up in the American South and I’ve lived in the Bay Area, so I’m experienced in seeing the extremes on both sides, just… not all mixed together like this. It’s weird, and it’s disconcerting, and it’s also quite refreshing. It feels honest, and real.

No hiding behind conflict avoidance, or keeping the peace, or my favorite: the Silicon Valley why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along-and-be-productive-together. The disagreement is blatant and acute and raw, but we all live mixed up as neighbors and there aren’t fights constantly breaking out on the street. I can be walking along in a ‘resist’ shirt and pass a guy in a MAGA hat and everyone survives. Ok, maybe we don’t smile at or acknowledge each other, but we’re both being open about where we stand despite the opposing view being literally in front of our faces, and I find that weirdly relieving. There’s no worrying if everyone is going to find your particular spin on politics acceptable because you already know they’re not, so you might as well just be honest about your views.

Not that there is always such a clear binary distinction, mind you. I was at the counter-protest for ‘Unite the Right 2’ this past weekend and there was a person there on our side of the fence wearing a rainbow flag cape and a ‘Trump 2020’ shirt. I talked to someone who heard someone talking to this person, and apparently they were anti-nazi, pro-queer, pro-BLM… and pro-Trump.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

21 Uses for 3M Command Hooks

If you’ve been to my apartment, you may have noticed: I fucking love 3M Command products (those hooks & hangers with adhesive strips that are easy to remove without damaging the wall). They’re perfect for the renter who wants to personalize their home, particularly if you’re like me and redecorate constantly. I use them for all kinds of stuff, including a few pretty creative uses, so I’m gonna document them all here before I move out of this apartment later this month.

(no, I am not getting compensated for this post – but if 3M wants to pay me in product, I will 100% accept)

 

Kitchen

 

1. Under-Cabinet Lighting

A temporary solution for illuminating your kitchen workspaces when you don’t own your place but like it to be lux anyways. :)

The medium cord clips are the perfect size to hold standard rope lights in place:

I coiled the lights around under the cabinets and spliced a lamp switch in to the power cord so I wasn’t constantly plugging/unplugging things close to the sink.

 

2. Scrubbing Brushes

An aesthetically pleasing way to keep your scrubbing options close at hand (they also air-dry cleanly when you’re done with them!)

 

3. Tablet Holder

Keep your online recipes close at hand but don’t lose any counter space or risk getting splatters on your precious electronics.

No matter what size of device you want to use, it only takes 4 small wire hooks to attach it to a cupboard door.

Easily insert the tablet by sliding it up into the top hooks first then resting it down into the bottom ones. It stays stable even when you quickly open and close the cupboard.

 

4. Coupons

Continue to make use of that cupboard-front real estate by hanging coupons where you won’t forget them when you go to the store.

Or hang whatever else you want! I don’t judge.

The straight-vertical hook of the ‘mini hooks’ make them really stable for holding things that are slidey and you don’t want to fall off when the mounting surface moves. Throw on a binder clip and you’ve got a ready-made, easy-to-remove hanger for whatever. (I’ve also used this combo for hanging calendars that don’t have holes punched in them)

 

5. Measuring Spoons

I bake a lot and find it very convenient to keep all my measuring spoons close at hand.

The wire hooks on these are hinged, which is nice in many contexts but is super annoying when you’re constantly pulling small light objects on and off them, so I used a few dabs of super glue to permanently hold them down to the base.

I suppose I could have used hooks that aren’t hinged, but I like the clear+metal aesthetic, plus there aren’t that many options with hooks small enough to fit through the spoon holes.

 

6. Pizza Peel Rack

Pizza peels can warp if left to dry horizontally, plus they’re quite fancy looking, so why not hang them vertically on your wall?

All it takes is two standard-size hooks. I used the ‘designer’ ones because I thought the curves looked nice with the shape of my peel, but anything this size would probably be fine.

 

7. Apron Hook

It’s a hook to hang your apron.

What? These can’t all be super clever.

 

8. Oven Mitt Hook

Just as simple but way more useful, keep your oven mitts out in the open and within easy grabbing distance of your oven.

 

Living Room

 

9. String Lights

…otherwise known as ‘christmas lights’ but I like to use them all the damn time.

My place doesn’t have overhead lighting in the living room but it does have one of those outlets tied to the primary switch, so I lined the entirety of 3 walls with white string lights and use them as a very diffuse main overhead.

There are lots of different hooks that would work for this, but I prefer the outdoor light clips that are specifically designed for string lights. They’re sturdy, easy to fit multiple wires into, take up minimal space, and best of all come in a whopping 32-clip value pack.

 

UPDATE: 8/20/18

Uh. Maybe don’t take my advice on this one, actually. The hooks came away clean, but the lights (which had been up in my apartment for ~3 years with daily use) left this behind:

 

10. Art

No I don’t have art made with 3M hooks (yet…) but I do like their picture hanging strips.

They’re essentially pieces of homogenous velcro – no hooks vs loops, all the same thing, but stick two of ’em together and you’ve got a pretty good hold. Great for mounting small or light pieces.

 

11. Keys

It’s a key hanger. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

12. Bread Reminder

That little purple bag hanging above my keys is an omamori I use as a bread reminder. When there’s something bread-related I need to do in the morning before I leave for work (feed my starter, move something to a proofing container, etc) I hang it on the door on a mini hook so I see it before I leave and remember to do the bread thing.

I suppose I could have also used a 3M hook to hang it in it’s non-reminder place, but… I didn’t.

 

13. Coats, Bags, & Umbrellas

The most classic use of hooks possible. 3 high designer hooks for bags and coats, one low one with an open wire hook to fit a thick umbrella handle.

 

14. Cat Toy Holder

  • 1 mini hook
  • 1 small binder clip
  • 1 cardboard tube or long thin box

A slight twist on the ‘mini hook and binder clip’ trick – attach a cardboard mailing tube to the clip and you’ve got a holder for those long thin cat toys. If I leave mine lying around in places the cats can get to they get bored with it, so this keeps them accessible for me and rare/interesting to them.

 

15. Phone Charging Rack

Charge your phone but keep it easy to see and access any messages or music controls.

The actual phone mount is a very specific iRing hook, but I use an outdoor light clip to catch the charging cable when it’s not plugged in. The bread twistie tie adds some bulk to the charger so it doesn’t slip through.

The black triangle there is just a pad of cardboard wrapped in electrical tape which keeps the phone resting at a stable vertical angle – otherwise the bottom gets pushed back against the wall when you tap it.

Honestly I’m not thrilled with this solution. I love having my phone turn into a wall-mounted music control panel when I’m home, but getting it plugged in and hanging is kind of a fiddly process, and the twistie tie tends to get mangled and loose. (plus I just ugpraded to an iPhone X and the iRing doesn’t adhere well to the backing material) I’ll be figuring something else out at my next place.

 

16. TV Input Cable

For those times when all of your wireless computer->TV devices are failing you, I like to have a good ol’ VGA cable ready as backup. What I don’t like is to have unused cables lying around messily, so I loop it up and hang it hidden behind the TV itself.

 

17. Temperature/Humidity Monitor

My thermostat is somewhat unsophisticated, but I can’t actually replace it because of that whole “can’t afford to actually buy my own place” issue, so I supplement buy attaching a better temperature and humidity monitor on top.

Just one set of picture hanging strips is enough to hold it in place while still letting me take it down and use it in other rooms on occasion.

 

18. Overhead Wiring

I mentioned I’m not a fan of messy unused cables lying around – well I’m even less a fan of cables running across the floor, even if they’re taped down.

These are the ethernet cables for my media systems, held up by more of the outdoor light clips. (remember that value pack?)

 

Bathroom

I barely have any in the bathroom actually. It’s not for any functional reason, like humidity being a problem for the strips or whatever, I just… don’t have many ideas for using them here.

 

19. Towel

It’s a hanger for your towel. Way more convenient than the awkwardly placed rod hanger that came with the bathroom.

 

Bedroom

 

20. Rope Lighting

Same story as the undercabinet lighting in the kitchen, but now running underneath my ‘cat stairs’ and framing the window. Provides a nice softer eye-friendly alternative to the glaring overhead lighting that came with the place.

I always start running rope lighting from where I want the end to be. It’s usually way better to fall short on the plug-in end than the decorative end.

This runs up each cat stair then down and around the big window, ending with a switch right next to the head of the bed for easy night-time access. Each stair has at least two clips to fully secure the lights from drooping and cat pawing.

 

21. Robe Hanger

It’s a hanger for my robe and occasional other items. Particularly nice for 3M strips because I have it on my closet door (which is hollow) so I wouldn’t be able to screw hooks in anyway.

 

That’s all, folks! It’s all starting to come down now as I prepare to move to DC. I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to get crafty in a new apartment, I must say. If you have any other nifty ideas for ways to use these temporary hangers, let me know!

UPDATE: 8/20/18

Here’s every single one of the above pieces, after taking them (cleanly!) off the walls of my old apartment:

So much possibility in such a small pile of plastic.

Big Announcement Time

I’m leaving Google and moving to DC to work for the Federal Government.

I’m going to work in the United States Digital Services department, an organization that rose from the ashes of the healthcare.gov debacle. It’s headline mission is “building a more awesome government through technology,” which – yeah, I can get behind that.

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing for them yet but, whatever the details are, I’m going to be using my considerable talents to help make our government better. It’s no stretch to say Washington needs that, especially right now. (technically I’m not entirely sure I even have the job yet, I still need to wait and pass a drug test within 30 days of my start date, but I’ve been clean and sober for over 7 years so I’m not too worried about that) [and yes, the government already knows about my history of substance abuse. Hello there, FBI agent doing my background investigation! ::waves::]

Some of you may be asking, as so many have when I’ve told them, “why the fuck would you want to leave Google?” It’s true the perks are amazing, the pay is frankly obscene, and my job in particular has given me the chance to travel all around the world (in style). You will be unsurprised to hear that none of that is true for my government job, but even when I started at Google 4 years ago I knew I didn’t want to stay there forever. It was a chance to build my career, stash some savings, do interesting work, and have some amazing experiences, but I always felt that eventually I wanted to move on to something I, well, cared about more. Something to do good for the world, if that’s not too cliche to say these days.

Just so you know it’s not entirely altruism, I’ve also been pretty frustrated at Google lately – I feel like I’ve hit a point where I can either stay on the project I’ve been leading for two and a half years and keep working with the people I really like, or I can get paid what I deserve and get the title I want, but for political/bureaucracy reasons I can’t do both. (yes, I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about company politics when I’m leaving to work in the government)

Next Friday is my last day at Google. I’ll be around the Bay Area until the end of July-ish, so hmu if you wanna connect before then. I’ll be unemployed, which I imagine will be dreadfully exciting for a few days and then I’ll just be annoyingly bored and tired of packing.

I also intend to start blogging more (a low bar, since my previous post was about 2 years ago) so watch this space to follow my adventures.

Birthday Forearm Porn

What do you get the person that has everything? Customized porn of their partner, obviously! Actually, It’s a pretty good gift for other people too. ;)

A good friend of mine is really into forearms (it’s a thing) and one of her partners is a weight lifter. For my friend’s birthday we collaborated and made a photo triptych of her partner rolling up the sleeves of a dress shirt.

I’m super happy with the result. (She seemed pretty happy with it too)

forearm_triptych

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The Greater of Two Fears

I’m afraid a lot. I spend a lot of my time battling one kind of anxiety or another – I’ve written about it a little bit here. I’m afraid of saying something ‘wrong’ and having people not like me. I’m afraid of speaking up and ‘causing a scene.’ I’m afraid of starting an argument I’m not eloquent enough to win. Most of it boils down to ‘I can’t do anything to upset anyone or I’m a failure as a human and no one will ever love me.’

Irrational? Yes. Deeply ingrained and difficult to root out? Also yes.

This fear prevents me from doing a lot – from posting online to talking to strangers to sometimes just going outside. I’ve been getting better at working through it for the small stuff, but it still feels overwhelmingly stifling.

On Tuesday, something changed.

I had just returned from a week in Berlin, where I spent some time at the WWII memorials. There’s one in particular that’s basically dedicated to remembering every terrible thing the Nazis ever did, and the thing that struck me over and over (other than the terrifying similarity to conservative rhetoric I’ve heard recently) was the thought that these people were so fucking confident in their bigotry that they committed mass murder, while I’m going around drowning in anxiety worrying what strangers think of me as I walk down the street.

Their victims did nothing but exist and the nazis stripped their freedoms, their dignity, and then their lives, and I’m fucking scared to snap at a guy who’s ogling me on a nude beach.

It put some things in perspective, is what I’m saying.

Then I get home and the election happens.

Trump spouts this vile racist rhetoric all over the place and gets elected to the highest office in our government, while I’m afraid to get political on social media in case I accidentally say something “wrong.”

Trump is caught joking about sexually assaulting someone and his supporters brush it off, while I’m afraid of standing up to sexist behavior.

Trump claims he’s going to undo decades of environmental and peace-keeping politics, and I’m afraid to join in protests.

Well, I’m not ok with that anymore. I’m terrified of what is going to happen in this country in the coming year – even aside from what will happen in Washington, every single racist, sexist, or anti-science asshole in the country just got a huge flashing message that what they’re doing is ok. I can’t let that go, I can’t stomach staying silent, I can’t sit idly by, paralyzed by anxiety.

My fear of doing nothing has overcome my fear of doing something.

I don’t know what this means yet. I don’t know if it will last beyond this first raw emotional surge. I just know that I’m scared and angry and have more power and money and privilege than most people in this country, and god damnit I need to do something with that.

I’m not expecting this will be easy. But as Hillary said in her concession speech: “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Game of Fauns: Photo Shoot

This is the 2nd half of a recent fun shoot with some friends. It’s a bit different than the first part. ;)

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Faun party!!! :D

This one looks like an American Apparel ad:

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This one looks like a video game poster:

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…actually most of them look like video game posters. :)

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“Winter is coming.”

Big thanks to my fabulous models for joining me in ridiculousness!

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Photos of a Circus Artist

The first half of photos from a shoot I did with a friend who does circus art, including aerials and body contortion. The pictures already had a surreal quality from the poses and skeleton bodysuit so I amped it up with heavy split toning.

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Costume change!

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This one makes me think of an Evanescence Album Cover.

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Here’s a sneak peek of the next set of photos from this shoot. ;)

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