Letter (8) — You F*cking Died

Photo by Marcel Ardivan on Unsplash

To The Brother More Brother Than My Brother:

You weren’t supposed to fucking die.
I miss you. 
Daily.

We hadn’t talked since the day my dad died. Why is that? 

And then you died. You fucking died.
And I had so much still to say.
And I really needed to hear your laugh.
And I really needed a hug, but you fucking died. 

And I wanted to go with you. 
Some days I still want to go with you. 

We can be six year olds climbing old planted Christmas trees again. 

You can be the Luke Skywalker to my Chewbacca —
which isn’t the right combination of characters,
but our cast of tree climbing cohorts are all still here. 

They have fulfilling lives. 
They are happy. 
Social media says they are happy. 
They don’t want to go yet. 

You were happy. 
In the end.
After all the shit.
With your simple life, you were happy. 

I haven’t been happy since 1992.

I cowered from your contentment.
Even though I missed you, I recoiled.
I’m sorry. 

Daily.
It hurts.
You weren’t supposed to fucking die.

Connections

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

I first wandered into a chat room circa 1996.

The internet was different then — simpler. But, we were already defining a new way to connect and a new language (brb, ttfn, lol, wtf) that would carry humanity and our digital connections into a new age of what would become social media. 

I don’t remember a damn soul I chatted with in those early web days, but that didn’t stop me from trying again and again. 

I landed on MySpace in August 2006
… Facebook in June 2007
… Twitter in February 2009
… Spotify in July 2011
… Instagram in August 2011
… Tumblr in March 2013
… and LinkedIn in May 2013

Somewhere in there or between then and now, I took a spin on Google+, Vine, About.me and a handful of other networks, sites, or apps. Some defunct. Others — forgettable. 

And, of course, I blogged. For a good ten years, I waxed poetic, spewed my thoughts and cultivated connections through Living a Quotable Life, a now disabled (though absolutely backed up), personal blog. It was the height of the blogosphere. 

We all had something to say. 

It was also the height of connecting with like-minded humans on Twitter… before it got too loud, obnoxious, and political. 

I dropped a whopping one tweet and two retweets this year. 
In 2021, that total was a combined four — including this gem from Feb. 8, 2021:

*tap*tap*tap*

Is this thing on? 

*breaks Twitter hiatus*

I did not, in fact, break my Twitter hiatus, but I can’t help wondering if I’m missing out on something. 

After all, I have met and cultivated some incredible connections across cyberspace in this wild ride of technological innovation since the dawn of the millennium. Many of these individuals, I am honored to call, “friend.” True friends — not the pseudo-acquaintance can-you-see-me-in-your-feed Facebook friend. Some of us have met up in person. Others I hope to meet one day. 

Once we get past the predators, ghosting, catfishing — blah, blah, blah, new words for horrible people and their horrible actions, blah, blah, blah — scoffing at friendships or love matches found and tended in digital environments has become blasé.

Many of us cherish at least one other like human we have found online.

This week, after fifteen years, one of these humans made their way through the euphemistic “my neck of the woods.” Although, in my case, it’s not too far off.  There are many trees here. Time was short, but the connection was instantaneous. We were unapologetically open and anything but awkward. Our conversations never missed a beat.

We rambled on like old friends occasionally parted rather than virtual acquaintances newly familiar. 

This friendship based on similar life experiences, intellectual interests, and a seriously corny sense of humor has merit. It is real. It is as real as lifelong friendships grown from childhood, nurtured through tumultuous teenage years, and allowed to bloom in adulthood. 

And it saved me.

It’s been almost three years of all things pandemic. I’m broken and beaten down… numb… and alone in the crowd. Nurturing connections, old or new, is somehow more difficult and I feel pushed to the outskirts of almost every relationship in my life. I am a pretty terrible “out of sight, out of mind” friend. That’s on me. I know and I’m working on being better. 

After this week, I’m a little more awake…
all thanks to a connection I made on Twitter in 2007.

The Joke

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

A workaholic extrovert walks into pandemic isolation…

Somewhere in that phrase lies a joke. Four months plus along and it has yet to reveal the punchline, but I can tell it is still there. Like everything else in 2020, I anticipate it will jump out and surprise me when I least expect it.

Today is my birthday. It’s a tough year for jovial festivities.

Birthdays ending in fives or zeros always bring a bit of reflection and one year ago I might have admitted needing to slow down. This is absolutely not what I had in mind. I longed for a proper pandemic-free vacation that required a passport. A couple weeks spent anywhere-but-here would have fueled me for months to come.

As it happens, a couple weeks turned into months and anywhere-but-here became only here.
And here I am.

For the first six weeks of this global pandemic phenomenon, I stayed home. My car decided to get sick with the rest of the planet. I had no choice but to do the right and recommended thing. In that time, I interacted (in person) with three grocery delivery saints, my property manager, one coworker who dropped off my monthly prescriptions and another who blessed me with a vodka replenishment, as well as one pizza delivery dude.

I am a talker. I love people time. Seven brief in-person human interactions in six weeks is the absolute antithesis of how I prefer to exist.

I also love to work. Who’s ready for live events to resume? Even if this pandemic pushes my career in a new direction, I am itching to go to a concert or attend a convention. All of this “leisure time” is making me crazy. Since the age of 18, I have not had this much… time.

Idle is an unnatural state I learned to embrace — within reason.

Éowyn says, “Hi!”

I needed a project to manage and I chose my home.

The time and attention to detail I normally give my clients, I poured into my apartment. There has been much painting and redecorating and decluttering over the last few months. I am no minimalist. My style is very much global eclectic based on my childhood in Kenya and travel adventures.

On this birthday, I’m happy to be here in my home. It is a place I can breathe, rest, and renew.
The joke is most definitely on me and my wanderlusting heart.

Still, I am more than ready for 2020 to cease with its shenanigans. Aren’t you?

12 Sci-Fi Quotes for an Election Year

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

One of the prevailing themes in science fiction is that of the power struggle. Who will be in charge — of humanity, the planet, the universe? Who will prevail? What will it mean for the rest of us?

Here are twelve quotes to consider as we head back to the polls here in the United States.


“To permit irresponsible authority is to sell disaster.” ―Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.” — Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

“My great uncle emigrated from Earth. He missed it terribly. He used to tell me stories when I was a little boy about these endless blue skies, free air everywhere, open water all the way to the horizon… I could never understand your people. Why, when the universe has bestowed so much upon you, you seem to care so little for it?” — The Expanse (S1, E4)

“You’ve lost sight of the purpose of the law: to protect its citizens, not persecute them.” — Battlestar Galactica (S1, E6)


“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” — Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” — Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven’t run out of history quite yet. Your father called the future — ‘the undiscovered country.’ People can be very frightened of change.” — Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

“The best alliances are formed from necessity, not convenience.” — Dark Matter (S3, E8)


“John Adams was a farmer. Abraham Lincoln was a small-time lawyer. Plato and Socrates were teachers. Jesus was a carpenter. To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is, at best, insulting.” — Warehouse 13 (S1, E10)

“One of the most effective forms of… sabotage limits itself to damage that can never be thoroughly proven — or even proven at all — to be anything deliberate. It is like an invisible political movement; perhaps it isn’t there at all… over a period of natural time, with numerous small failures and misfiring- then the victim, whether a person or a party or a country, can never marshal itself to defend itself.” — Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

“God doesn’t take sides.” — Battlestar Galactica (S1, E10)

“The seed of doubt was there, and it stayed, and every now and then sent out a little root. It changed everything, to have that seed growing. It made Ender listen more carefully to what people meant, instead of what they said. It made him wise.” — Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game


Vote wisely.

Real-Time Evolution of the Events Industry

Photo by Heshan Perera on Unsplash

This is the number one question asked in event industry forums and groups across all social media platforms. Someone asks it almost every day. I know because I check.

“This is it,” I said to my director.
She looked up. “This is what?”

It was March 6, 2020. I know the specific date because it is the day Emerald City Comic Con pulled the plug on their 2020 event. I know this because a) I’m a big geek/fan girl and b) I was obsessively following Seattle-based events because it was, at the time, the only known COVID-19 hotspot in the country.

We had yet to cancel anything locally. There were no known cases of COVID-19 in our state. Rumors were just beginning to swirl about a petition to cancel South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX.

The storm was coming. I just didn’t know when; however, I wasn’t referencing the oncoming storm that day. I was looking beyond it.

“This is the shift. This is the moment when conferences go digital — where a conference of 1,200 attendees last year morphs into 900 attendees this year. The other 300 will stay home and get their conference fix through streamed general sessions and recorded breakouts.”

She blinked. “You think?”

“Yes.”

Large-scale international experiences, like SXSW, will eventually resume. There will be some modification along the way, but the crowds will return. It is the small- to mid-size meeting, convention, and trade show events that are evolving at a blindingly rapid pace. Lucky for them, the technology has been available for years. They just weren’t using it.

For the amount of effort convention planners put into coming up with new and better themes or general session interactivity, they have been remarkably resistant to utilize live streaming as a core conference element. Getting “butts in the seats” has always been the prevailing model.

Big tech has been utilizing streaming technology for years. Apple began livestreaming events (not just press conferences) with WWDC in 2012, albeit for a cost. How many Apple users attend a product launch in person? Not me, but I watched the September 2019 Apple Special Event when it went live on YouTube for the first time — along with 6+ million other people.

I am also one of the millions who obsessively follows any and all Comic Con content as it begins streaming, not always in real-time, out of San Diego. I did mention my overt geekiness. Due to my own event schedule, I will likely never attend Comic Con unless they hire me (OH! That’s an idea!) — once we all go back to work, of course.

Cue pandemic.

There are now multiple webinars on how to take your event virtual. None of them existed four months ago. Platforms are being tweaked or built to accommodate this evolution as it is happening. For small organizations with no budget, it’s Facebook live to the rescue! Everyone wants to know what is working and what is not, but the short answer is this: It is working.

Over the last eight weeks, every organization has realized at least one regularly scheduled meeting could, indeed, be an email. This is the same concept. Do you really need to meet in person?

There will always be a networking element to conventions. It is, without doubt, the single most valuable portion of the on-site convention experience. Professional development and course content are needed and important, but peer networking is the lifeline. We learn so much more from those who are doing the same we work we do. Virtual attendance, however, will provide the same opportunity for professional development — at a lower cost and from wherever people want to attend. Pants optional.

Parents won’t have to skip a convention in order to attend a child’s graduation.

Organizations who just lost their non-essential travel budgets for the foreseeable future will consider “sending” employees virtually.

Teachers can attend leadership or hobby-focused conferences that take place in the middle of the school year.

I was at a university event one time where a student had tucked himself as far away from the masses as possible — absolutely terrified. The event was mandatory and this student with agoraphobia put himself in great mental anguish in order to attend. Crowds are not for everyone.

For meeting planners, this is a good trend. You better jump onboard. Virtual attendance is a secondary income stream. It can grow the overall size of your event without the need for a larger, more expensive venue. You may also find you can downsize the venue and begin exploring smaller cities that would love to host your attendees.

For venues and host cities, this is an uncomfortable shift simply because we don’t know how it will affect revenue. Will a conference of 1,200 attendees downsize to 900? Or will it swing the opposite direction — bringing the same anticipated 1,200 attendees into the city and adding 300 virtually? What venues can and should do, if we haven’t already, is develop the infrastructure and equipment to support live virtual seminars, trade show walkthroughs, and the recording of multiple breakout sessions simultaneously.

Our clients are going to need it.

Like Comic Con or SXSW, convention attendance will, one day, ease back to normal — but virtual is here to stay.


This article was originally published April 25, 2020 on Medium. In 2020, I migrated that writing content to my personal webpage. 

My Great unRenaissance

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

No, you don’t have to learn a new skill in isolation.

Renaissance [ ren-uh-sahns]
noun: the activity, spirit, or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world.

My last commute from office to home was on Wednesday, April 25. For the next ten days, I continued to work from home before receiving the dreaded but inevitable furlough phone call. I work in the events industry. I love my career. I pour everything I have into my work.

Now what?

Consciously…

I gave myself a week to feel the feelings I needed to feel — anger, mostly. Then I shook off my wrath funk and started to come up with a plan of personal self-development. My isolation resolutions included deep-diving into leadership studies, home improvement projects, reading (So much reading!), podcasts, yoga, webinars, TED Talks, and everything else I never have time to fit into my workaholic schedule.

Unconsciously…

As hours and days disappeared into the blackhole of a time void, so did my resolve. It only took a few days to abandon my grand resolution plans. Oh, I did a few things, but mostly I was numb and immensely successful at finding low effort activities which aided in keeping me numb.

Eventually, the guilt of not-doing overwhelmed me. I had a few very dark and dangerous days.

All of us are COVID-19 coping differently. Being lulled into numbness was easy, but with it came zero focus. I was trying so hard to shut out the uncertainty and inability to plan for the next week or month that I also shut out the ability to pay attention to anything for more than five minutes at a time.

I had to consciously face four personal realities in order to quiet my raging mind. Then my Great unRenaissance began.

The Great Ego Check

In the two-week time span preceding pandemic isolation, I was passed over for a promotion and then deemed non-essential. Ouch. While I am confident in the workplace and know my value, I also know there is always more to learn. Still, this was a one-two knockout punch in an already unsure and ever-changing environment… and I had not yet dealt with it on a personal level.

The Great Grieving

Grief is one of the most studied yet still misunderstood of human emotions — and I believe most of us are in some form of grief management right now. Loss of lifestyle or employment is throwing millions into the grief process. Many must also add the literal loss of life into the equation. I was trying my best to skip this step. I don’t recommend it.

The Great Loneliness

Being an extrovert in isolation is torture. My children are grown and I live alone. My car also broke down as all this started (because, of course), so I haven’t left my apartment — even to go to the grocery store (Thank you, delivery drivers!). While I am accustomed to being alone when I am at home, I am not used to feeling lonely. My career in events means I’m usually surrounded by humanity. I am people-powered and my batteries have been drained. Don’t get me wrong, I rapid-cycle between lamenting being alone and grateful I’m not forced to share my space with anyone else — even if I love them. But, I am more than alone; I am lonely.

The Great Silence

In order to begin working through the temporary loss of my career, grief, and loneliness, I had to stop numbing every thought in my head with television or music. I don’t even sleep in silence. I rely on music or white noise to get through the night. I turned off the television. I stepped back from around-the-clock social media. I silenced the music and allowed myself to meditate or journal in order to reconcile everything happening right now.

Because I live with bipolar disorder, I also had a video-conference with my doctor. I work diligently at being self-aware and keeping my illness managed. I needed help.

Dealing with these emotions has made it possible for me to start living this “new normal.” Some of my well-intentioned resolutions have come to fruition. I aspired to relocate my personal library — so I did. I also began listening to some podcasts and reading some books on my list. Most notably, I began writing again.

Gone are the personal deadlines and pressures to do better — to BE BETTER. In their place is a naturally evolving process of healing, coping, and listening to what my mind and body need rather than forcing them into places they are not ready to go.

If you are in full pursuit of greatness during isolation and reaping the rewards of extra study, exercise, or creativity, I applaud you with all sincerity. I might also be a smidge jealous. The creators of music, theatre, art, and dance are dominating this transition as they did in the Renaissance — discovering new and innovative ways to feed our souls. I am as grateful for them as I am those on the front lines of this epidemic.

If, however, you are like me and you need a little nothing in your life — for a time — do not let the guilt of that nothingness burden you. Take pride in knowing you are doing the right thing by staying home. If you are longing for productivity and can’t seem to find it, look inward and explore unresolved emotions that may be nudging (or throwing you off the ledge) into depression. If you need it, ask for help.

Celebrate the small accomplishments of your own unRenaissance.
No one will judge you for not mastering Malbolge (Google it.).


This article was originally published April 24, 2020 on Medium. In 2020, I migrated that writing content to my personal webpage.