let’s light it up…

3030870582_9f8d023c76_zFor something that is a tremendous part of my life, I don’t talk a lot about my relationship to events. But rest assured, they are there. Sometimes like the telltale heart. Beating.

I live and breathe them. I may not be at conferences, talks, and sessions all day every day but events, their organizers, and their details fill my days and often invade my nights.

Events are my work and I love them. But oddly,  it’s not often I get to lead an event in my own back yard — especially one that has such a special place in my heart.

So when planning started for the inaugural Portland Startup Week, I was absolutely thrilled at the idea of bringing back some of the classics to celebrate the history of and progress within the suddenly vibrant Portland startup scene.

While many of the events focused on what we’re doing in startups, in technology, or in business in general, there was always one unique event that — in my mind— focused more on people. On their passions. On what makes us each unique.

That event? Undoubtedly, Ignite. It’s an amazing, fast paced, and inspirational format.

And uncomfortable, did I mention uncomfortable? Like slow dancing at your first middle school dance uncomfortable.

Not so much for the audience, but for the speaker who is exposing a part of their soul as they give you a glimpse at who they are and what really drives them.

Nothing brings people closer than being awkward — unexpectedly awkward — together. Maybe that’s why middle school dances are so important?

But I digress…

I think this is why Ignite has lived on in Portland (and throughout the world) in so many iterations.

4414489127_1e6aa8b3e2_zI’ve spoken at Ignite. (NOTE: Bonus points for those of you who notice the foreshadowing. HINT: WordPress shoutout!) I’ve embarrassed a reporter by talking abut my cleavage at Ignite. I’ve talked about Ignite on podcasts and on my blog. I’ve even hosted a food drive at Ignite.

But none of that — even talking about how to bluff your way through shit — made me think I was ready to be anything more than a participant.

So I was more than a little proud when given the opportunity to pull one together with some of the most inspiring (and quirkiest) Portland personalities I know.

Who? Well jeez. Hold your horses. I’ll tell you who. We’ve got speakers. They’re like speakers and stuff.

With all this in mind I hope you’ll join me at the Empirical Theater at OMSI Thursday February 5th for a very special Ignite Bridgetown – part of this first Portland Startup Week. Have a beer. Listen to the stories. Connect. See you there?

Photos courtesy of Aaron Hockley, did I mention he’s my co-organizer?

And while I’m mentioning things? Huge thanks to Blaze Streaming Media who will be there to record every moment and OMSI for providing a great place for us to play!

the more you know, iPhone health edition…

IMG_9336I’m easily entertained. Easily delighted. And often get overly excited about the smallest things. This, as my loved ones I’m sure would attest, is both a good and bad thing. This evening as we were messing around with our phones and some new devices I picked up I had health on my mind.

In a moment of irritation I recalled the “Health” app that was added in one of the recent major updates. I opened the folder marked “Necessary” on my home screen. It’s a catchall folder for things I don’t know what to do with and things I don’t want but apple won’t let me get rid of. I pressed the little white icon with the littler red heart to take a look at the app that, previous to that moment, I had treated with complete indifference. I had been pretending that it didn’t exist, mostly because I saw no reason for it.

That all changed when I surveyed the icons at the bottom of the app. In the bottom right corner there’s a “Medical ID” tab. I’d go to great lengths to explain it, except it is pretty much just what it sounds like. It allows you to enter medical information to be used in the case of an emergency. You can add as much or as little information as you’d like and there’s an option to make the information viewable from the lock screen. That’s all awesome and well and good and I added information about my high blood pressure, my medication, and my blood type. But this is the clever, the thing that made me turn it on and made me want to write this post. You can add an emergency contact who can be reached while the phone remain locked.

Now I’m not going to get all preachy. I won’t tell you that if you were my loved one I would want you to activate that function just in case something happened. I don’t care. It’s your phone. Your life. Do what you want. Except that I totally think you should turn it on. I’m sure there are any number of excellent reasons you should, but the two that stand out to me?

First, if you lose your phone the person finding it will be able to call your emergency contact and return it. Let’s face it we’ve all misplaced our phone at some point even if we haven’t lost it entirely. This really could have come in handy a few months ago when my kid left her phone at the train station. It was picked up by the staff who had no way to contact the owner and someone had to endure a long ass lecture upon picking it up. Not because the phone was lost, but because it was found and they had no way to contact me.

Second, and clearly most important, if you wake with total memory loss not knowing who you are or the identity of or your relationship to anyone else on the starship on which you’re zipping through space at least you’ll know who to trust in an emergency.

Hey, it could happen.

always listen to your fortune cookie…

IMG_9271I had a long day of travel on Friday, and at the end of it I was back home in Portland. But being gone for a week means there’s still too much to do once you get back to home base. Once my parents picked me up from the airport and we picked up my daughter I was starving and because I’d been gone for a week I was also totally out of groceries. We stopped for some Chinese food near the grocery store and laughed as we ate and sipped our tea. I was tired. A little punchy. And I was really happy to see my daughter. And about the pork fried rice. At the end of our meal I cracked open a fortune cookie and smiled at the curious fortune.

“Focus in on the color yellow tomorrow for good luck!”

Yellow is not my color so it really struck a chord with me. The next day every where I went I noticed the color yellow. The bright sun. Flowers. Cars. The bumpy yellow coating on sidewalk corners. Yellow traffic lights. Crossing signs. Products in yellow packaging. Bananas. Pineapple yogurt. I even thought I should wear yellow clothing or jewelry but since I don’t have any I skipped that. Even at the craft store I focused on yellow. Looked at yellow sketchbooks and paper. Picked up a felting kit. Smiled at some cute erasers.

Pushing away the distraction of the color yellow I focused on the reason I was there, a new embroidery hoop. I looked at the wooden ones and then a yellow plastic hoop caught my eye so I pulled it off the rack, examining it. Turning it over and around in my hands. But you know, I don’t really like yellow all that much so I scooped up the purple hoop that had been behind it. I grabbed the few other items I needed and took them to the counter and, distracted by my kid’s impatience to get out of there so we could head over to Comic Con, paid the clerk for my purchases. When we stopped at home I set my bag full of craft store goodies on the side table and there it stayed until we got home that evening.

As I settled down on the sofa to unwind for the night I pulled out my new embroidery hoop  and as I started to check it out I realized it was missing the little nut that helps you tighten down the outside hoop.


Maybe I should cut the color yellow some slack because if I’d listened to my fortune cookie I’d be embroidering a tea towel instead of writing about a scrap of paper.

*Update: I totally went back and exchanged it for the yellow one…

a picture is worth a thousand posts…

I went to Hawaii last week to meet my team and managed to wedge in a couple days of fun at the beginning. I don’t have the words yet, so here’s 39,000 words worth of pictures…

a time to yell at those damn kids, or not to…

IMG_9043I find that when I’m traveling for work, no matter how amazing the destination, I get a bit grumpy in the evening. And maybe a little withdrawn. And antisocial.  And homesick for my people.

When that happens I tend to wander off to my room, close the door, get ready for bed no matter the time, and hop on my computer. I start to unwind. Decompress. Breathe. I catch up on all the social medias. I chat with my guy. Sometimes I do a little work, but not if I’m frazzled.

Tonight is just such a night. It was an awesome day of work and fun team activity wrapped up with a nice meal and a soak in the hot tub while talking with teammates. Not a bad way to spend the day, but tiring none the less.

So as I sit here in bed reading twitter, chatting away, and trying to wind down I am still agitated. Upset. Annoyed. Irritated.

I glance at the time on my laptop. 10:30pm. It’s 10:30 at night and there are kids down at the pool having a party. A damn pool party! There’s hooting. There’s hollering. There is joy and the joy is loud.

I slipped my feet out of bed and dangled a foot over the floor, pausing to feel my toes on the cold hardwood. It took me back to my afternoon in a small boat out in the ocean, my foot trailing along, skimming the cool open water as we pushed further out to sea.

I had been thinking about opening up the door to my lanai overlooking the pool. I had been thinking about stepping out there. About looking over the railing and scowling. And then yelling. Yelling at those damn kids

“Quiet down! People are trying to sleep!”

But I stopped. Because I don’t want to be that person. I’m in Hawaii. A magical place. Everyone should be enjoying themselves. And they are. My need to not be annoyed should not be greater than my compassion. Than my hope that everyone is having a wonderful evening.

Also I realized that my computer is still on Portland time and it was only 8:30. So there’s that.

a mother’s tale…

My life for the past few years has been a tale of the carefully redacted. There are those who share all and damn anyone who doesn’t want to be written about – and I get that. It’s your life too, get it out there. But something I said years ago has really stuck with me.

The private lives of proper nouns.

The privacy part, it’s important to provide that to your proper nouns. Not so much the cats. Or K’s long dead beta. But those human proper nouns whose lives could be touched by what they or others read online. So I don’t tell some of the stories. My victories. My defeats. The funny interactions. And it means a big part of my story goes untold. Sure I could change the names to protect the innocent but that doesn’t go far.

As the mother of an infant, a toddler, a pre-schooler, a child in elementary school I had so many stories. Grand tales about new experiences, words, revelations, highs and lows, new lives. They weren’t all my child’s. Many were experiences we shared together. Some were just mine. Others shared by many. But the stories about her when she was little, those were mine to tell at that age otherwise they would have been forgotten. Even now she doesn’t recall the epic Chia Pet debacle of 07. Now? Well we’ve reached the age of storytelling consent. I don’t share her life, her revelations, her stories – embarrassing or otherwise – without checking in with her first. Every tale I tell or photo I post involving her here, on facebook, on twitter, or instagram I’ve received consent. I’ve asked to make sure she’s comfortable with whatever corner of the world may stumble across my words or images sharing in the ongoing story of her life.

But what about the hard times? The days and nights, or even weeks or months, when things are just too difficult and it starts to take its toll. Where I am weighed down by the heaviness of her tales or the tales of other proper nouns and I long to work out those thoughts in story. To tell the tale of a single working mother, who although she has all sorts of privilege in this world, still struggles day to day to make all the pieces fit together.

As the mother of a nearly teen I have a new story: I have a kid. We do stuff. Sometimes there are issues. And then we have chocolate. 

It’s either that or something that reads like a CIA report marred with black lines through 90% of the text. For now I’ll take the chocolate.

once upon a time – or – dear santa…

Once upon a time (4 years ago) while at a giant chain store looking for something super important (I have no recollection of what that item may have been) we stumbled upon the sunglass section. There were hundreds of frames. Big. Small. Medium. Dull. Bright. Blue. Black. Yellow. Silver. Gold. Red. Purple. Rainbow. I’m sure there were some with cats on them. Or maybe there were some cats  might like to wear. They had them for adults. They had them for kids. Some had cars and princesses. Some were even rose-tinted.

In that section of that store on that day I found the most wondrous pair of sunglasses. They might not have been wondrous for you, or him, or her. They probably weren’t wondrous for anyone in the world but me. But to me? To me they were the perfect sunglasses. And reasonably priced at $16.95 if I remember correctly.

They were silver, and mirrored, and big but not too big. And part of the arms and the earpieces were a bright glossy red. And I loved them. And so of course we got them and I wore them and I was happy. Eventually they broke and I was sad.

And you would think that’s where the story ends. But it is not. I mean it totally should be where the story ends but no.

Dear Santa,

I was going to ask for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle but I don’t want one of those so instead could you please find me an exact replica of my silver framed, mirrored, aviator sunglasses with the bright red arms and ear pieces. I promise I will be so careful with them. And they will not get broken like the last pair. And I won’t let my kid borrow them again. And the cats won’t get to play with them. And they won’t put my eye out.

Oh and may I please have them this week?

What? Oh…

In related news I’m on the lookout for a cute pair of sunglasses.