03 November 2015

Pique A Boo!

Today's significance must be noted.

Today I must recognize a momentous occasion that has honestly had a profound impact on my life. 

Today Pique A Boo marks ten years on the internet. 

October 29, 2005
Excalibur Hotel & Casino 
And so it was, during a (probably) sunny afternoon in Las Vegas on November 3rd, 2005 that I started this blog. My first post was the epitome of basic. It took me days to even add pictures. I want to say I did that on purpose, that I didn't want the pressure of bursting onto the blogging scene with harsh stances and dramatic compelling stories. But I actually don't remember what I was thinking - other than I wouldn't let Ryan and Jesse upstage me at writing. 

I've exposed my thoughts and feelings and passions and frustrations via this site off and on for a decade. I've shared stories and I've kept secrets. I've hurt feelings and I've dealt with the repercussions. I've learned a lot from my corner of the internet. And I think that's remarkable. Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting. Thanks for calling me out by reminding me how little I write. It's actually all been helpful, trust me.

Happy birthday Pique A Boo!

02 November 2015

The early days...

Approximately a week after beginning my two challenges, I realized I needed a journal of events. My habits were trees falling in the woods. I needed them to make sounds. Yes, I more or less live by a "pics or it didn't happen" philosophy. I'm okay with that.

October 7
I put broccoli into a smoothie for the first time. I also added peanut butter, chia seeds, bananas, collard greens and some other stuff. The result was magical. Look at me surprised to be enjoying myself.

My lunch meal the first week was rice and a chickpea potato stew. The slow cooker, BTW, is the vegan's friend. I made scalloped potatoes and purchased veggie nuggets for dinner that week.

That's another thing I should note. I didn't want to eat a lot of fake food. Those veggie nuggets were delicious, but I'm not entirely sure what was in them. My goal was not to eat a bunch of pseudo food and pretend to be healthier. I wanted to push myself to cook. Store-bought nuggets were for emergencies. I just happened to have all my emergencies in the same week.

October 8
I wrote that I felt sluggish. It started the night before and might have been "hormonal," as they say when they don't want to say... Well you know.

I wondered if my blood pressure was too low. I wondered if I was missing nutrients or protein. I wondered if I just needed to adjust. I never tried to figure it out. But I did wonder quite a bit.

October 10
Veganism can be a carb trap. Carbs are generally safe and generally available. They're not terrible for you and they give you (or maybe just me)  the feeling of indulging in a guilty pleasure. Carbs are dangerous. Being a vegan increases that tenfold.

Fortunately, I developed a healthy fear of carbs early into the vegan challenge. I realized very quickly how easy it would be to overindulge. I put myself on alert and I honestly think it made a significant difference.

On the 10th, I was offered a bagel for breakfast. I stuck to my smoothie instead and I was proud of myself. It felt good to make the healthier choice. I mean I still had pasta for lunch... But the alternative was pizza. At minimum, it was a start.

31 October 2015

One month. Two challenges. Eating Vegan.

I didn't plan to do these two challenges at the same time. There is no relation. I didn't say "I'll have so much free time without Facebook! I should find a highly time consuming habit to replace it."

Challenge 2: Eating Vegan

I've thought about becoming a vegetarian for a few months now - mostly because of the drought, partially because of ethics and partially because of health. I waited because I wanted to do it properly. My brother was a vegetarian for a while. He ended up eating poorly because he accepted any quick option that didn't have meat. "Hello pizza." "Oh hey there fries." It didn't end well for him because he wasn't planning. He had enough options that he didn't have to plan ahead. 

Removing eggs limits those options. Removing dairy limits them even further. 

I chose a vegan challenge because aside from saving water and easing the strain on resources and eating healthier, I wanted to know whether I could consistently cook meals. I wanted to know I could plan and get groceries and cook them while still living my life. I wanted to achieve maximum adult status and leave myself very few outs. So I committed to a vegan diet.

I dreaded it from the start. It's a daunting task that had me focusing on the "no" of it all. No cheese. No eggs (which I mostly only like with cheese anyway). No meat. No chicken broth. No honey (I ignored that). No butter. There were so many things I couldn't have that I started this challenge feeling trapped. Smoothies liberated me.

I found a 21 day green smoothie challenge. It was aimed at demystifying green juices. I love green juices already, so that part was moot. But it provided seven recipes for a week and a weekly shopping list. Breakfast was handled. I figured I only needed two other meals a day, so really only cooking twice a week and living off leftovers. That's was my goal. It seems simple enough. But it's not. I've reached a point in my life where I can't navigate a grocery store. I don't know where they keep the food! It's harrowing. Doing this challenge meant spending a lot of time just figuring out how to get what I needed. (Do you know where the nutritional yeast can be found? Hmmm?)

I went into this expecting to try new things. The first new venture was chia seeds. You buy them, add them to something wet and consume them. They're good for you - according to the internet - and they're pretty cheap. Just ignore how they look.

Chia seeds attach to liquids. The smoothie recipes involving them called for them to be soaked, which isn't weird if you make almond milk (which is a thing I do). But where almonds plump up adorably, chia seeds build a gelatinous border.

By the time they're done, one tablespoon of seeds becomes a glass of crunchy jelly. It's sticky to touch and jiggly to shake. You can't strain them, because the water becomes part of them. Each individual seed exists in a bubble. It was a fascinating process to watch, but it didn't to much to make me feel better about trying something new. Wet chia seeds are gross looking. Fortunately, I couldn't taste them in anything. They're high in protein. The water skin helps the body absorb their nutrients. I couldn't taste them. Welcome to my life, chia seeds.

Again I meant to blog about this as it was happening. I took notes AND pictures. So - late or not - I'm about to tell you my vegan tale. At minimum, it will be interesting and at best, insightful. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think. And cheese. I'm looking forward to cheese.

One month. Two challenges. Closing Facebook.

I turned two decisions into "challenges" during the month of October. I intended to tell you about them as they were happening, but I instead let life get in the way. Still, I challenged myself from 1 October to 30 October and succeeded. It's a bigger deal than I anticipated, with the most significant takeaway being that I now know I can (and should) challenge myself to do more. It feels so good to succeed.

Challenge 1: No Facebook. 

Facebook began to annoy me more and more. Generally, I'm there for the humor. I'm there for the pictures. I'm there for the marking of personal milestones. I'm not there for the politics. I'm not there for virtual Mary Kay. And I'm definitely not there for the memes - because (and I think we can all agree) the memes on Twitter and Instagram are better.

I reached a point in September when I would scroll, scoff, scroll and scoff. I would close the app and feel annoyed. I was annoyed that I was looking to Facebook to entertain me. I was annoyed that Facebook failed to entertain me. I was annoyed that I kept repeating that cycle.

So I stopped.

I signed out of Facebook September 30th on all my devices. I challenged myself to not log in for 30 days. (I didn't want to miss your kids and pets in Halloween costumes).

It was difficult in the beginning. I had to find a new way to dawdle before getting out of bed in the morning. (Thanks Twitter!) I had to find a new way to dawdle before falling asleep. (Thanks books!) I had to find ways to keep up with my friends. (Thanks phone!) All of that happened easily enough. The most difficult part was actually breaking the habit of reaching my for phone and opening the app. I often didn't catch myself until I was prompted for my password. If I hadn't actually signed out - if I had just intended to stop checking Facebook - I wouldn't have made it a single afternoon. I'm not proud of that. I dare say I'm ashamed of it.

Let's be clear, I enjoy Facebook. I enjoy checking in and commenting and seeing what everyone is doing. I enjoy seeing that people are doing well or at least working on doing well. I like my friends and I take pride in maintaining even the simplest of relationships. At the same time, I've created some habits over the last few years that I don't consider beneficial or positive.

I didn't like checking Facebook multiple times an hour. I didn't like being so on top of my feed that I felt I didn't miss anything. I didn't like how important Facebook was to me for making plans or catching up with friends. Checking Facebook was more common in my everyday life than almost any other behavior or activity. That's not what I want for myself.

Not to say it's all or nothing for me. That's not realistic. I need rules that I can follow - limits to my voyeuristic behavior. My first step was signing out. Over the next week or so I'll tell you what it was like. Bear with me. It's been a while since I shared. I might be a little rusty.

28 August 2015

Roanoke and my endless anger

The words this week are the same.
How are you?
The inflection this week is different.
How are you?
The meaning this week is clear.
How are you feeling?
How are you dealing?
This is the week Roanoke happened. 

It is a new age for television news, changed by the Internet in a way that no reasonable person could have imagined. I am sad. I am confused. I am worried. Now, after two days of processing, I realize more than anything, I am angry.

I'm not talking hostile or vengeful anger. I'm talking about that place after helpless and after exasperated. I'm in that space where you know there is no answer, but you keep trying to work the problem anyway - because it very much needs solving. I've spent two days looking for the lessons learned, trying to find any silver lining at all. But as far as I can figure, Roanoke changes nothing. That's infuriating.

I hate that this happened.

I believe there is something inherently altruistic about wanting to be a journalist. In the very beginning, I really think we all wanted to help people through storytelling. Yes, priorities change. The industry changes. And we all have to evaluate our individual roles as a result. But when we start - when we take that first job like Alison Parker and Adam Ward - we are hungry to learn. We want to be better and do good. Just like any newbies, we see opportunities, not obstacles. We have so much potential. They had so much potential. All gone.

I'm not so naive to think this won't happen again. Roanoke set a new level. I'm all over the Internet and I had never considered murder on live TV with accompanying social media posts from the murderer's point of view. On Monday, that was beyond the pale for us as a country. Now I feel like we're giving ISIL a run for its money. Roanoke is the epitome of "next level." At the same time, it's now already been done.

I hate that outsiders don't get it.

The TV news community is smaller than people think. My dad asked if I knew Alison Parker, because he knows - despite our age and location differences - it's possible. TV people swap markets and swap coworkers. We connect and reconnect along the way. We work the same shifts. We have the same raunchy humor. We breathe the same sigh when a loved one schedules a wedding in February, May or November. It's more than working in the same industry. The people on your shift become your family. Other crews at other shops are those cousins you only see at major events. You don't know them well, but your shared background is enough.

For two days I've been imagining witnessing the murder of a family member. I imagine it from where I used to sit - from where Adam Ward's fiancΓ©e was sitting. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I hate that it has to be political.

This will be debate fodder. I don't think it should be. It speaks to the vulnerability of crews that there doesn't appear to be anything that could have been done differently. The shooter would have passed a background check. He was fired from their station more than two years ago. Businesses aren't in the habit of keeping track of former employees' mental health. There is no realistic "if only" scenario that could have saved them from an industry insider who knew the perfect time to strike. So back off presidential wanna-bees.

I hate that he was black.

I do. I wish race didn't matter. But I have Twitter and therefore know better. I think dialogues regarding race relations are good, but held begrudgingly. The onus is always on the party with the perceived grievance to make the other party truly hear its issues. Basically black people have to say "we're pretty sure there's an issue with law enforcement killing us and lying about it" in terms that resonate with white people (read: less CVS burning, more police recording themselves killing people and lying about it) in order to get their buy-in. That's happening slowly but surely. Roanoke retards that progress. We might not want to admit that. But again, I use Twitter. I can see it.

I hate that there is no recourse.

There is nothing to be done. I can't donate money to a relief fund. I can't round up and donate supplies. I can't have my reporter and photog friends in house in perpetuity. There are no steps to take or petitions to sign. There are no politicians who can be trusted to make a difference. Not only is there no "silver lining," there is no way for me or people like me to assuage our feelings. We're just as helpless as we were Wednesday morning. We're meant to go on as if Roanoke didn't happen.

But Roanoke happened.

To go on as scheduled - to not change a single way of thinking or propose a single new practice - seems exceedingly disrespectful to the victims. I need an action item. I need a thing that I can do that can go toward making a difference. I have no idea what that thing could be.

I hate that this is what it takes to get me to write.

When I'm dead and gone and my family has to decide what of mine to donate to the researchers studying my life, my journals will paint a morose picture. I began writing as a way to forget. I would write about what I didn't like - the things that were wrong. Writing helped me come to terms with the things I felt I could not change. It took potential conflicts and prompted me to consider other points of view. My words brought me closure, allowing me to leave the wrong behind and be fully open to what came next. So to read my handwritten writings is to read all the sadness of my life and very little of the joy.

My blog helped me change that. Sharing experiences meant I could share the good along with the bad. But I got caught up in the mistress that is social media. I began instantly sharing the good and holding on to the not so good. I reverted and turned to my journals only when I was troubled. There are awe inspiring people in my life. There are laughs every day and genuine smiles. There is so much love, it's staggering. And I hoard it. I bring you my mental congestion. I scribble my angst. But when it comes to sharing what's most special, I basically pay public lip service. I'm not proud of that. Every day I hope to find a reason to change.

In the interim, I'm here.

And I am so, very angry.

24 July 2015

02 March 2015

12 January 2015

Five Things in 2015

1. Clean my oven every six months

I began coming up with my official resolutions while doing my year-end cleaning, specifically while cleaning my oven. It was gross in there and totally unnecessary. I enjoy baking. I admit I like seeing a well-used oven. But there's used, and there's dirty. My oven's interior was dirty. And I had to clean it twice to really get all the stuff out. The fact is, my oven would be a lot easier to clean if I cleaned it more than once a year. So. I'll clean it twice a year. I'll call that "progress."

2. Cook meals

I'm such a merry baker!
I love to bake. Baking is great. You mix your stuff. You pop it into your (dirty) oven. By the time you're done cleaning up, you have a yummy manifestation of happiness.

I do not love to cook. Cooking is preparing and approximating and just generally active. When you're done cooking, you have a meal and a mess. The leftovers might be just as good - depending on what you've made. Also, when you're done eating a meal, you still want something akin to a baked manifestation of happiness anyway. So why not just skip to the end?

Because health. The health is in the cooking. It's not just in vegetable juices and it's definitely not in baking. (Trust me.) I ate out a lot in 2014. I blamed my social calendar. I blamed my job. I blamed being single. But the reality is that I didn't cook because I don't like cooking. And my health has suffered. So it is with a grumpy heart that I announce in 2015, I'll cook.

3. Write everyday

I feel it's what I'm meant to do. There will be blog posts. There will be journal entries. There will be letters and there may even be essays. I love writing. I wrote for a really long time, and then I stopped. At the time, stopping was easier than writing about uncertainty. I've since learned uncertainty is constant. And fear is not worth abandoning something that's an essential part of who I am.

4. Dance

When I was kid, my dad would play music in the basement. I think he did it because he loved music. In my kid-mind though, he did because I loved to dance. I would dance in a corner by myself. And I always had a blast. I still love to dance. So I'm going to dance.

5. Go home... Quarterly

From the last trip home...
I'm going to visit my family more often. I thought to move back to the east coast, but realized the Bay Area pushes me to be my most successful self. At the same time, I want to be more present with my family. So I'll make more trips home.

Those are the big ones - the goals I'm going to challenge myself to meet. I assure you, skeptic, the aforementioned tasks are more difficult than you think, especially considering the following points.
  • Don't underestimate how much I don't like to clean my oven. It's certainly going to take more energy for me to do that than it will for me to abandon unfulfilling relationships or work for success in a new career.
  • I would rather take up running again than cooking. And running hurts me physically.
  • Vacuous social media posts come at a lower personal cost than sharing what I'm really thinking / feeling / wondering.
  • The idea of dancing in front of and / or with other people hasn't gotten me excited just yet. It actually makes me slightly nauseated.
  • Being home more brings the risk of being involved more in things that honestly shouldn't concern me. It's easier to preserve my personal space from 3,000 miles away. But distance also makes it easier to miss moments that matter.
I think my resolutions do what good resolutions do. They challenge me. They fill me with a little fear and a lot of daydreams. It's no secret that I was not a fan of 2014. It feels great to have reasons to look forward.

09 January 2015

Staying Power

The debate over staying in the Bay Area became less "internal" throughout October and November. I explained my plan and my rationale to the usual suspects and the results were mixed. Christine pouted into her Brussels sprouts. Cate said "you gotta do what's right for you." Jesse said "oh, so you don't like living here?" Kristen - who was in a similar situation - said "it's so hard, isn't it?"

I didn't want to move, but I thought I had no reason to stay.

My personal effectiveness class changed that thinking.

We were asked during our first class to look at the things that had made us different from other other people. We were asked to think critically and assess the impact our personal diversity had had on our professional success. We were also asked to look at how we were currently taking advantage of our uniqueness to continue achieving.

In the case of Danie, being in the Bay Area has allowed me to pursue opportunities I would not have been able to pursue elsewhere. The Bay Area pushes me to be more competitive. I would not have gone back to school had I not been around so many people with advanced degrees. I would not have worked at startup if I hadn't been able to somewhat observe and experience the culture. I would not have taken coding classes had Bridge Troll not existed. I've felt comfortable pursuing the interests I've pursued because I live in an area where it's okay to do that.

On the other hand, being involved with my family and its drama subtracts from my professional success. Time spent handling problems that are not mine is time I don't dedicate to pursuing what's important to me.

Bottom line: the data suggested moving back home would hurt (or at least not help) me professionally. That was not acceptable. I began entertaining the idea that I would stay. At the same time, I questioned whether I was grasping at excuses. So I took a couple weeks to procrastinate think.

I purged. Cleaning declutters the mind.
7 December 2014 
Yrama and I decorated.
Washi tape is the business.
I used your Christmas cards as
part of the holiday decor!

I woke up one day and made scones.
11 December 2014
A photographer friend of mine came over to observe me doing something typical.
12 December 2014
This is my baking head.
I had a very fun holiday party. These people were there. A lot of of other people were there too.
It reminded me how much I love hosting. How could I leave this? Why would I?
13 December 2014  
A lot of my pictures from the second half of December are of food. I had a lot of party leftovers to eat and pot luck offerings to prepare. I also had to wrap up my last two classes with written reports and an oral presentation and a PowerPoint deck. I had to bring the blog up to date and I was determined to head into 2015 with a clear sense of purpose. The time for indecisiveness was over. I finished school. I made good progress on the blog. I decided to stay in the Bay Area. Abby phrased it best, saying it sounded like I wanted to move east for other people instead of for myself. And considering none of those people had actually asked me to move, it was easy to accept the decision to stay.

My family ended the year better off than we had started it. Medical emergencies can apparently be a strong rallying point. I began 2014 without any strong goals and was ultimately both forced and allowed to decide the things that were really important to me. I learned to value my experiences and to continue to set myself up for success. It's been a long time since I've felt so optimistic about whatever is up next. The year had plenty of minuses, but there were a lot of pluses. But I never gave up and I'm thankful for every experience. 
Dear 2015, 

Bring it. 

- Love Danie

Because Birthdays

As children, we were taught there were four seasons. As a child growing up on the East Coast, I witnessed those seasons. Today, I submit to you a different reality. I posit there are actually only three seasons.

Selfish Season | January - June

The first six months of the year are when we adults are able (allowed and even encouraged) to be selfish. This is time when you can put your health first, meet your goals and pursue your passions. 

Social Season | July - October

During these four months, we get really social. We go to barbecues. We skip some of our selfish routines to accept invitations and go on vacations. 

Sharing Season | November - December 

Two intense months of loving everyone who has had a positive impact on our lives. We host parties. We attend parties. We buy presents. We gift people with our time. We swap stories and share germs. We accept every invitation and run ourselves ragged - because we know Selfish Season is just around the corner. 

03 November 2014
I get into Sharing Season mode immediately after Halloween. I check my goals for the year. I begin planning how I'll celebrate the holidays. I begin sending and accepting invitations. November 1st to me symbolizes the start of a sprint that lasts until the first Monday after my birthday. I wake up after Halloween thinking "it's go time." And I am prepared. 

08 November 2014
We celebrated Christine's birthday with popped bottles, singing and dancing. Christine always has good birthday parties. I've been going for the last four years and have yet to be disappointed. Also, I really like her friends.

You should already know I love birthdays. I especially love celebrating with people who also love birthdays. There is a certain level of ridiculousness that becomes the standard. Anyone could say "I want three celebrations," and that would make perfect birthday sense. 

Christine goes for quality over quantity, generally have one fun & fancy event. Cate (whose birthday I missed because of the last minute trip home) prefers flexibility. She'll have numerous celebrations to provide the most flexibility for the guests. 

Basically, there are no rules for your birthday. And really, that's my favorite part. 

10 November 2014

I finished my most intense class. It was grueling and pushed my adult student self harder than any other class my adult self had taken. The purpose of the class was to learn how to both build and lead high performing teams. The techniques I learned put me on a path that would genuinely change my life. When it was over, some of my classmates and I went to a restaurant where I think some expected we would have drinks and a raucous good time. But we mostly just sat and stared at each other while repeating "it's over." In case you're wondering, yes, I'd do it again.

My amazing class inspired me to take the advanced class, which was focused on personal influence. The professor promised it was only a tenth of the work of the first class, and I decided that to be the right amount of work I could handle as we were getting deeper into the holidays. Also, I was still thinking about leaving the Bay Area. Taking the advanced class immediately following the first class meant even though I was adding a new duck, I would still have time to get him in a row with the others. Taking the advanced class also meant I'd be taking two classes at once, and that a lot of the free time I had planned to have during the Sharing Season was no longer free.

I mean those two meet procreation criteria...
Exempli gratia: Melissa's birthday party. It was on a Saturday and well established in my calendar before I became so deeply inspired to learn. Originally, I wanted to make more of a day out of it, but by the time I got out of class, into a car, on the road and up to Sacramento there were only a few hours left in said day. Obviously, we made the most it, laughing and guessing what the future would bring.  (The answer: babies. The question: whose? Note: I am not in the running.)

Happy birthday Melissa (observed)
15 November 2014

Dinner Damage
16 November 2014
Yrama was also born in November and also had a birthday party. Hers was a lot more physical. It started out simple enough with a giant breakfast. Afterward, we rented bikes and biked down to and over the Golden Gate bridge. We rode into Sausalito, took a ferry back to SF and returned the bikes before inhaling a lot of delicious food at +Tony's Pizza Napoletana. It was a full and amazing day and even though there were a few times when I thought my heart was going to explode, I enjoyed myself.

The birthdays were disrupted by Thanksgiving. I observe Thanksgiving from the fourth Thursday in November through the following Sunday. I think that's pretty impressive for someone who has never cooked a turkey. 

Paula & Tyrone hosted the main event.
I love the junk out of this picture.
27 November 2014
28 November 2014

I had a migraine the day after Thanksgiving, which forced me to skip one of my planned events. Cate basically forced pills into me so we could go to the late dinner with Christine's family. I'm really glad she did. Thanksgiving with friends is fantastic. But Christine's family made it feel more like home.
29 November 2014

The third Thanksgiving was with Courtney & the physicists - which is an actual group of people and not a band.

I used to work with Courtney. She's what Andria calls "Hipster Martha Stewart." She and her husband make delicious, pinnable things using plants and herbs grown behind their house. It's a #ClassicBayArea thing to do. Cate, Andria & I descended on her fine fare like a pseudo civilized pack of wolves. It was the best we could do. By the time we got to dessert, I'm pretty sure we were moaning. I don't really remember, so strong was my food coma.
Friendsgiving. The icing on the Thanksgiving cupcake.
30 November 2014
Cate decorated her apartment and put up her tree while the rest of gossiped.
30 November 2014
On the last day of the month, there was only one birthday left - Angie's. We're not good at big on giving gifts, but I there was obviously one thing I could give her. I'd had the thought in October and worked on it throughout November. By lunchtime on Angie's birthday in New Zealand, blog posts from our trip to South America were blowing up her news feed. I mean we were approaching a year after the trip. It was then or never. I chose "then."

Ang was pleased. I was pleased. Those curious friends who remember this blog's heyday were pleased. 'Twas a miracle right in time for Christmas.