#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.

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.

On Writing and Fear

I haven’t written here in awhile. In fact, I haven’t written anything of real substance here since I started my current job at <major tech company> over a year ago. Why?

I’m afraid.

This is the thought process that occurs every time I think about writing a blog post:

Oh, it’d be fun to write about X! But…

  • I’m going to do a bad job.
  • I’m going to get really hurtful comments.
  • People who’s opinion I value aren’t going to like it, and thus are going to realize they don’t like me.

If I don’t want to be hurt and lose my friends, I shouldn’t do it. It’s going to suck, anyways. I’ll just go bake something instead.

(as a side note, I’ve gotten really good at making bread)

I used to be better at overcoming this, but my shift to <major tech company> majorly compounded these fears. The media has a habit of lending unwarranted credibility to writings when they come from people employed by major tech companies. “Google/Apple/Amazon employee talks about controversial subject” is way more prone to attention than “some rando on the internet talks about controversial subject.” And when your new-job training includes things like ‘don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t be ashamed to see as a New York Times headline,’ well, it can make you a bit paranoid.

Additionally, re-submerging myself in mainstream tech culture meant re-exposing myself to stories of all the ridiculous bullshit that happens to women who speak up. Endless harassment, rape threats, death threats, people releasing their home addresses, people calling in false tips to police that cause SWAT raids to be sent to their house, etc. etc.. And even if none of these ‘extreme’ responses happen, there’s the standard stream of inane, often cruel comments, (often centered around a woman’s appearance) that are seemingly unavoidable on the modern-day internet.

And then, of course, there’s my insecurities.

Don’t be so full of yourself, the things you write will never be good or important enough to get that much response, be it positive or negative.

Even if you have good ideas, you can’t write well enough to fully articulate them and someone better than you will reply with a scathing argument and you’ll be shamed forever.

People don’t usually talk about these kinds of things for a reason. If you put these parts of yourself out in public, everyone’s going to realize how much they don’t like you, and all your friends will leave and you’ll never have sex again.

In short, the increased potential for attention plus the increased awareness of negative consequences of that attention (on top of my normal self-consciousness and perfectionism) have quieted me for a while.

Full disclosure, after I finished writing the above I put this article down for a few days, not sure I would finish or publish it. But here I am, writing again, and why?

Because despite the threat of abuse and criticism, despite daily reminders of what other online personalities go through, despite my own constant self-doubt, I still fucking want to.

I had intended to counter the first section with a list of all the things that I like about writing, but I kept second-guessing them and quibbling over wording and generally putting off finishing this.

But you know what? I don’t need to justify my own desires. It doesn’t need to make sense, to others or even to myself. Something I’ve been working on in therapy a lot is acknowledging and acting on what I want, as opposed to what I think other people want from me. Knowing that I want something is all the reason I need to go after it.

So I will write, and be authentic and put myself out there. I will make mistakes and say things I later regret and use words incorrectly. I will forget key points and prattle on about inconsequential details. I will sometimes be full of overly righteous anger and sometimes be foolishly insensitive, and I will have to deal with the consequences of all of that. But that’s ok, because the alternative is staying quiet and keeping my thoughts to myself, and that’s something I really don’t want to do.

Bad Boys of Boston: The Original Years

This weekend I received my copy of Bad Boys of Boston 2015, the 5th year of the pin-up calendar I started when I was at MIT. This year’s calendar is fabulous and I was very pleased to see they’ve returned to my “no one buys a calendar for the calendar” full-page vertical spreads. It made me nostalgic for my own glory years of calendar production, and I realized I’d never actually posted all of them in one place.

So for anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to get their hands on a physical copy, here in all their glory are the Bad Boys of Boston from 2011 and 2012:

(please note that most, but not all, of the photography is mine. I had some very talented friends assisting both years.)

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Meow-y Christmas!

Let’s just pretend this was posted on Christmas, yes? That didn’t happen because… reasons.

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This was my Christmas card from last year! (or, for my Jewish friends with a sense of humor, my ‘Happy Hanu-cat’ cards)

The original idea was more along the lines of the dramatic ‘disembodied head fading into background’ of meme fame, but when you’re working with cats you take what you can get. We started with some festive holiday costumes. (All photography by my friend Dan)

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I think these photos show what the cats thought of that…

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Although Sarah was rather fond of my hat.

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Eventually we got one decent shot with everyone looking at the camera and not looking pissed off. Even if I look totally ridiculous, but, well, that was the point.

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Print it, ship it!

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Bad Boys of Boston 2014 – Pre-Order now!

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(teaser photo stolen from the BBoB Facebook page)

I am incredibly pleased to say that the 2014 edition of the Bad Boys of Boston Calendar is coming soon, and you should all go put your pre-orders in now! All proceeds go to a very worthy charity, and you get to have half-naked men on your walls. Win-win!

Order Your Calendar Here!

If you don’t already know, this calendar is a project I started in 2010 while I was at MIT. It’s an all-male pinup calendar featuring MIT students, and all proceeds go to an excellent charity. I produced the 2011 and 2012 calendars, but when I graduated I wasn’t sure it would carry on without me as the driving creative force. I was deliriously happy when the 2013 calendar came out without me being involved at all! Today I found out the 2014 calendar comes out soon, and people in the Mission probably mistook me for a crazy person as I was skipping down the street towards the coffee shop, grinning like a fool.

Obviously I’m very happy to have a Bachelor’s degree from MIT, but starting this calendar is probably the thing I’m most proud of accomplishing during college.

(Oh, and if it’s not obvious, I didn’t take the above photo, no matter how much I wish I had)

My 2nd Porn Appearance! …kinda

I made a big deal about my first appearance in porn, but my 2nd one was out for over a month before I remembered I should post it here. My bad!

Well, I think you’ll actually understand – it’s a bit less impressive. This time I was only a background extra in a bar scene.

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If you look reeeeaaaaally closely, you can see the dark splotch of my brass rat.

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Boom. MIT pride!

Today I was making coffee in the employee lounge when I glanced to my right to see an extremely sexily clad woman walking down the hall towards me followed by camera crew. So I think my 3rd porn performance might be imminent, as long as they don’t cut me out in post. :p I’ll be sure to let you know!

So what’s it like to work for Kink.com? – Part 2!

My latest posts have been rather heavy, so here’s another light-hearted look into office life at Kink.com.

In case you missed part 1, go check it out!

First off, my business card! :)

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aaaaand, the back:

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Fancy, no? Although I personally prefer looking at the cards from Naked Sword. No idea why. ;)

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And while we’re talking about graphics, the Armory has a ton of paintings on display throughout. Most of them are of screenshots from our videos – lots of intricate bondage positions or particularly appealing moments. Here’s my absolute favorite:

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Most of them are way (way) more explicit than this. There’s one in particular that caused me to stop and stare for a few minutes the first time I saw it. Anyone want to guess why?

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Here’s why: It is the most detailed painted penis I have ever seen. (and, um, I’ve seen a lot) Let’s look closer:

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I love how the guy’s chest muscles and thighs are broad swathes of soft color gradients, but every single bump and wrinkle on the dick has been lovingly recreated in oil paint. Even the faces aren’t that detailed.

One painting that’s always popular on the tours is one that was originally rather PG. Here’s what the painting looked like before we had it: A perfectly respectable, if rather dull, painting of a gentleman rider.

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…and after:

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Because I like to end on a SFW note, and to show that it’s not all dicks ‘n whips, here’s a delightful poster that hangs in our customer service department.

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I just did a really not-racist thing, but got accused of it anyways.

Sometimes, like last night, I’ll get called out for racial bias and agree with it and then get very upset with myself.

Sometimes, like tonight, I’ll get called out for racial bias and be like “nope, you’re just an asshole.”

I was walking back from the gym and this guy was approaching from the opposite direction. As he passed he started cat-calling me, and then turned to walk backwards so he was facing me calling “what’s your name, girl? what’s your name?”

I then made the mistake of actually telling him my name. Because, idk, when someone asks a question my instinct is to answer. I should work on that.

At that point he started walking towards me again and was all “hey, you know, let’s talk girl,” at which point I flipped into ‘holy shit get the hell away’ mode and sped up, saying “no, I gotta get home.”

He did promptly give up (phew. they don’t always.) but said loudly as he was turning away “I see, you don’t talk to black people.”

At which point I, being still just a little bit keyed up and sensitive from last night, turned around and yelled “no, I don’t talk to STRANGERS” and then kept walking. He started cussing me out at that point, but I was too far away to really hear, thankfully.

I don’t care what race you are, you do NOT get to make me feel guilty or ashamed for not wanting to talk to you when the only thing I know about you is that you make suggestive comments to women on the street. I have zero obligation to talk to you, and you have no right to expect it or accuse me of racism when I don’t.

I assure you, I attempt to escape as fast as possible 100% of the time when a stranger tries to chat me up on the street.

You, sir, are just a sexist asshole.