A Couple Rebel Top Gun Pilots Flying in San Francisco

It's been a rather exciting few months around here. We set up some homemade dynamite and turned our lives upside down, gave up the huge loft in the cushy suburbs and found an amazing (smaller) apartment in San Francisco. I should add that we NEVER have a hard time finding a place when we want to, but SF is an entirely different beast. I know everyone says that, but we went through everything to get this place. We lost $800 on an apartment and we spent our lives to get settled. It was FULL of challenges. One of the biggest challenges was fitting our giant apartment of stuff down into (still a large apartment for San Francisco but) a much smaller place. It was the most stressful and secretly exciting part for me. I love a design challenge and my life is my top design priority. Mariela was amazingly patient during the whole process. She talked to me about dining room tables until she fell into a daytime coma about it. Surprisingly, it was after the table was completely standing in our dining room! She really stuck it out with me. The most wonderful thing she did was to make a giant 11x17 to-scale printout of our new apartment floorplan. It really melted my heart. Most people would think, big fuckin deal. But it really showed how much she cared and how much she really knows how my crazy mind works about this shit.  She even painstakingly helped me make to-scale paper versions of our couch, bed, desk and fantasy dining room table options!!! That's love.

I went to work designing and planning like a madman for the next month. I reconfigured the layouts a million times and the day we moved in -- my plan was completely in motion. I knew where everything needed to go and it was brilliant. It IS brilliant. Our apartment is finally done and it's time for a party!!!

I'm sensitive to my surroundings. I can only get to my creative zone in a creative environment. I've worked myself stupid to achieve that. I never forget where I came from -- a tiny, crumbling shack of cockroaches. My environment is important, perhaps a little too much. But I firmly believe in living for right now because tomorrow may never happen.

Never dreamed that we would end up in San Francisco though! It feels like a dream and I'm scared to wake up. And then I wake up to floor-to-ceiling windows! I'm so grateful for the chances I've been given and the fact that I've leapt onto them at every opportunity. It's the one thing about my unstoppable Granny that I always didn't like -- she doesn't handle change well at all. She fights it tooth and nail. I've always tried to embrace change. I owe that to Mariela. She's the leaper in our family and she pushes me to jump.

We've changed so much during the 16 years together that we're almost unrecognizable from when we met. Somehow we always manage to change and morph around each other. Sure, there have been mistakes and veers off path, but we find our way back to the sea (as Stevie says).

 
 

So now our home studio is alive and well and I'm not fussing over bookcases and dining room tables anymore. I've been focusing my energy on an animation project that I hope to finish this week. But I always get upset and restless when I start to finish a project, like "what's next??" "is there anything else that I can do?" "where do I funnel energy now?"...

It's silly really, I have about 500 projects going at once right now at work. But I'm constantly looking for that path. I know I'll find it if I just keep going. Interests are not my problem, I have about a 100 things I want to learn right now. I just have a hard time figuring out where I should narrowly focus my attention because there are sooooo many things I want to do.

  • I want to get our podcast going again, like regularly.
  • I want to focus on photography again.
  • I want to edit our Europe footage together.
  • I want to tell more stories with animation.
  • So do I dive back into character animator? Maybe that's a great plan for the next stroll down memory lane...

I also need to dive into some code and fix this website theme, upgrade or move everything to SquareSpace...? I'm just not convinced that it can handle all the customizations of Wordpress. I always feel like it's a platform for people that have no idea how to code html or css. Obviously from everything that I've said just in this post you can tell I like a lot of control. :-/

Anyway, I've rambled on enough with this overall life update. These are a few of my favorite photos and events of the past few months, getting settled in San Francisco:

  • Roomba busted up the 18 year old RENT poster frame and carried around shards of glass for a few hours, thoroughly terrorizing the kitties.

 

  • The amazing dining room table that we finally bought on our 16th anniversary. I love sitting right next to my espresso machine, working for hours facing a floor-to-ceiling window. We've come a long way, together.
Bliss: Working so close to my espresso machine
SF is so dramatic, I love it.
  • Drag shows are our favorite past-time. We made Rupaul Drag Race Watch Parties a part-time job. Here are some hilarious pictures of our adventures. Talking to Eureka was probably my personal highlight. I love her because she's fierce and hilarious.
  • And I have to say, I was actually terrified at the final showing of Peaches Christ Showgirls! It took me 10 years to make it to a showing. She never disappoints. Only in San Francisco would you find yourself running from a drag show in fear! I love you, Peaches. (Please let me redo your website and work with you on media projects. ♥)

Coming Out of the Darkness with Art

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Website is busted, again. I like to think of it as another robot in my life...roomba, hue lights, sonos...wordpress! I'm not losing another weekend to trying to fix our portfolio. I have another site for that anyway. It seems to work flawlessly, thanks Tumblr. I'm proud of myself for getting our podcast feed working again! We're terrible about making them and that's the only way to be successful at it, I know. But that's not our goal. Each one is a success to me. This is all a longer story, put together in various pieces of media. I won't limit myself to one. --But I've been inspired, a lot lately by a few remarkable podcasters and that does make me want to do them a little more frequently. However, I am trying to get a really long video edit done before we leave for EUROPE! I want to finish it for many reasons. Namely, my travel hard drive needs to be free!

The edit probably won't happen though. I have about a million things to do before we fly around the world. The point of this post is that I want to say what a horribly hard couple of weeks it has been for many of us. I've only found solitude in art. I look to artists to say the things that need to be said and with our support, they will. So support local art and artists!Support public media and real news sources. I am so saddened by the recent Pew research that said most people get their news from Facebook that I haven't even been able to return. There has to be more for us. I don't know about you, but I don't want my news curated by childhood friends from my hometown. Do you?

Don't get me wrong, I really miss hearing updates about the people in my life that are scattered through time and huge distances. The separation has added to the darkness of the days. But I don't want my worldview shaped by a tech company setup to share college stories on campus. I lived #startuplife and it's not for me. (A wonderful life experience, but it ain't me.) I've enjoyed trying to immerse myself in local culture and art, as part of my job, but it's so fulfilling for my life. What an incredible opportunity. California is more than I could have dreamed and we dreamed about it for more than 10 years!

I'm a Capricorn though. I like to be absorbed in work and the more I work, the more it all becomes a melding of what I love to do with my days anyway.  Speaking of, I bought the best book about hand lettering recently. I'll write more about that later. It's kind of for work, but I'll be sure to share any horribly drawn lettering projects here! :) I am a sucker for an artists story--the passion, the drive, the determination to never give up. It fills my heart with drive. I need to fill my wallet with money so I can afford font making software...where's the open source!?

We attended an art event at the Embarcadero last night. Well, it was really a maker event -- people building really cool shit with crazy tools. It was terrific! We are so anxious to move to the city now. There's so much to do. The opportunities are endless. But I have some anxiety about leaving this gloriously soft life. It's a process that is going to take me some getting used to. Until then, I will continue to hack Waze to give me the rich people routes to the city. I'm serious. They route me to 101 every day, but I can beat their time by taking 280...stop pandering to the Teslas and let me drive! I'm Waze royalty damn't!

Speaking of royalty, if you're in the market for a good show about a woman's rise to power and a country that supported her, please check out Netflix's The Crown! That gave me a lot of comfort about the state of women (in other countries anyway). Great Britain has had something like 6 or 9 queens...I'm scared I'm going to love London too much...*God save the queen!

*whatever God that you may or may not believe in.

Strange Times

The point of this - the whole reason I’m writing this is just to tell you to get high and go see Dr. Strange.

 

After the most atrocious thing ever to happen to America, getting baked and watching a trippy film just sounds like a good solid idea, doesn't it? Really cuts through the “what did we do wrong, who’s to blame?, things are going to be the worst, what is he DOING?, maybe he’s alright, let’s give him a chance" soundbite journalism that has taken over our wretched lives.
We'll be raided again!

"A mean nasty republican town."

 

Instead of listening to any more junk journalism, just go to the movies. You’re much better off.

 

After this fiasco, LinkedIn really started a daily news feature and bogus stories are already getting shared. This is the current state of affairs: Headlines for you, courtesy of a job board-business card-networking in a box social site. It’s bad. So just ignore it.
[Cool news jobs in your area - just share this story!]

 

I haven’t gone on the big one since the election, shhhh. In the interest of full disclosure I did share some Michael Moore from another site and I think I shared a petition (but I might not have). So it’s officially been almost two weeks since I’ve been in the bubble. Feels good. On a similar note I’m on juice cleanse and everything is starting to feel better there too.
 juice-taste-warm

 

I needed the cleanse because we poisoned ourselves with gin on Tuesday. Everyone in America drank on Election night didn’t they? I don’t even drink (other than margaritas with food and the occasional fancy cocktail with ‘sour’ in the name) and I tried to keep up with F on Gin & Tonics as the states were called. Neither of us had eaten and things were looking grim on TV. Our only food was salad I had picked up earlier so I tried to eat it. Not great but I powered through. Things got bad in our house as they got worse on TV. F mysteriously disappeared during my prayers for Michigan.

She came back much later, but still before Michigan was called and she said she needed a shower, but she couldn’t use my shower? No, definitely not come upsairswithmeIneedaquickshower. So I did and Michigan and Pennsylvania still hadn’t been called and there was still hope for this country but there was no hope for my shower. My toilet was untouched and my shower looked like a salad shooter riot of dark pieces of kale and carrot sticks stuck to every surface. I started feeling sick from the gin and puked in the toilet. Before I flushed I looked at the scene - completely disgusting.

 Vom everywhere: a foreshadowing.

 

what have we done???

 

We passed out, woke up abruptly at 1am, learned the awful truth, bitched, went upstairs and left my shower until morning.

The only good thing that came out of the election was legalization of recreational marijuana.

And what better way to celebrate than to go on a little visual escape. F doesn’t generally do movies, but this was IMAX 3D and I basically spent $47 dollars on tickets a week before, so we had to go. I gathered up all of our weed: smokable, vapable, and edible and met her in the city. We ate cannabis cotton candy (see my secret weed tumblr where I review this awesome stuff) and cannabis chocolate espresso beans and I vaped Pax but F is still too paranoid to vape in the city because “it’s still illegal to do on the street."  No, I am not kidding you.

 

It’s still out. It’s still playing in 3D right now and if I had any friends that liked to do that sort of thing, I would go again and again and pay ridiculously high prices for seats that vibrate and compare the 3D to 2D and catch all the little easter eggs. But I don’t. So you should go see Dr. Strange and get really high. You’ll thank yourself.

 

3d-trip

especially if you can't emigrate right now.

 

Uber for the Rest of Us

Okay, it's time for some real talk about the uber infestation of the world.But first, let me go on record saying that I am all for the sharing economy. I love AirBnB, I take uber and Lyft as often as I can. I share my own creative works to be reused and spread around the world...

However.

Settling In-PR Dreams

Well life is once again a whirlwind and half the time I think I'm still dreaming, but then I wake up on the highway and realize I'm driving one of the most beautiful roads in the country on my way to SAN FRANCISCO...again!!! Yeah, I just finished my first month at...are you ready for this: a TV & Radio station! Don't worry I'm not on TV (yet) but I have an amazing new job doing what I love -- media production. But I'm not writing about my job. I just want to write about the fact that I was told not to chase my dreams in media production. It was never malicious or hurtful, it was real, solid, sound, careful advice that I should pursue something that would enable me to find stable work. The truth is, I wouldn't be here without that stable solid education that I will be literally indebted to until the day I die! But it was never what I wanted to do and that's okay too. It made me have to really work for my media making skills and I'm grateful. I'm grateful that I didn't spend 4 years studying a medium that would change by the time I graduated. I've seen too many "classically trained" filmmakers rest back on their education like it's a card to never have to learn anything new again. Well wake up, this is a digital medium changing faster than software. This isn't the history of the Ming Dynasty...No, I'm actually really glad I studied a whole range of stuff that still interests me. I didn't study one thing.  I spent the longest amount of time in engineering and the skills that I took from that are absolutely invaluable.  The systems and processes thinking and problem solving curiosity never leave. But all along the way I've been trying to tell stories with new mediums and I'm never going to stop.

I spend a lot of Saturday nights working on silly graphics and production workflows but I know that eventually it's going to give me exactly what I want:

  • freedom to work at home in my studio
  • a house with an amazing private pool (think Chelsea Handler's pool)
  • a new black convertible Porsche (911 Carrera, not a Boxster).

I know, it's the little things in life, right... --But wait. Before you go judging me just remember that I grew up an orphan in a cockroach invested shack in a terrible neighborhood. My grandma used to work her hands to the bone for pennies left from your pizza tables. We lived hand-to-mouth every single day. I'm not sorry for wanting more. I work for it. I'll never quit working for it.

By the way, here's the damn puppet that I worked on forever until one day I just decided I was going to write a script and produce something with it and I just did it! So glad I did.

http://vimeo.com/177238092

Supreme Decision

I was on my way to a marriage equality rally in DC in 2010. Our bus broke down in Ohio and we had to spend the night at a rest stop with 40 other gays and a man that was friends with Harvey Milk. We missed the rally in DC, but Mariela took a gamble on a candy machine. She said to a friend, "if I get the ring, I'm going to ask her to marry me." She asked me if it ever became legal, would I marry her? I said yes...and within the hour smashed it against the table during an exciting game of boggle (QUEER WED actually rolled on at the same time!)!!! Since then we've been civil unioned, domestic partnered and then finally married by the great state of California. We've been together since college. 14 years. I didn't think this day would happen. Now we can even live in Kentucky! :-/ PRIDE PARTIES NATIONWIDE!!

Stirring Around Our Workspace

I do this often. Stir the furniture in our apartment...I think it drives Mariela crazy. But it's how I was raised. My granny still moves her furniture around every few months. I just thought that's what normal people do! So I've taken it to the next level...and modified most of our furniture to add wheels. It's quite handy.  I think the needing to stir comes from our Native American roots. We can't move the tribe, so we shift stuff around. It gives a new feeling to a familiar place. Makes sense.  But she also kept a large knife stuck in the door because we lived around really scary people--within our house and the neighborhood.  So I've modified her model by using a magnetic knife rack by the door--but it holds keys, wallets, little dyke tools, camera remotes...etc. etc.

The latest stirring episode is because I've been frustrated with my photography lately. But I'm chalking it up to a few things: 1) I haven't really found my place here yet. Like a job or community involvements, but I know that will happen. Spring is in full bloom in Northern California and it's magnificent. 2) I'm used to photographing dingy urban stuff--usually weird & dark. Exactly the opposite of here. It's bright and sunny all the time and  much more suburban. I know that riding my bike on daily missions will kick me over into the groove again. And that will happen when I find my place/job, too. I just have to be patient and diligent with my own projects in the meantime.

The biggest projects we have going now:

  • pilot script
  • creating 2D puppet animations for storytelling
  • editing our cross-country move to Cali video

I've been hard at work on a video for my family that is finally complete! Mariela and I learned so many new effects and techniques, but the content is personal, but maybe I'll do a rough cut of some of the footage to share here. The time lapse of the family cottage is pretty terrific--if I do say so myself.  I had stayed up so late the night before--drinking wine at the dining hall, an unexpected nap, and then more ukulele playing and singing with the fam. But it was 4am and the sun was a'comin. I scurried to gather my gear and ran out to argue with my new time lapse settings in Magic Lantern. I got it. It's beautiful. It's quiet and serene. All the colony kids and vacationers fast asleep...I even managed to get the sun rising over the colony pool. Luckily, I had the forethought to get the cottage first and move downhill for the pool. So maybe a short cut to come soon.

We had a terrific weekend and really didn't get anything done on our projects, but sometimes it's nice to just enjoy the sunshine.  So we joined some new friends at Half Moon Bay for a fun day at the beach. I'm just still so stunned that the OCEAN is that close!  Luckily, my midwestern hickness is wearing off and I haven't referred to the Pacific Ocean as a LAKE in quite a while now. ;-)

 

 

 

Is My Blogger Broken?

I kinda hate writing again. I liked blogging for my previous job, but it just never felt like my voice. So, I have to ask, is MY blogger broken? Perhaps with Google trying to kill RSS--they are in fact sabotaging the little people on the Internets. The geeks, present company included, that setup their bedroom as a radio/tv station 8 yrs ago--a station/podcast that they could only dream of having in 6th grade, will be crushed by the lack of readership that comes from RSS publishing.  But I'm not one to get my panties in a bunch over the latest internet sensations.  I know that those of us with real stories & real skills will always have a place at the table.

In related news, scriptwriting is brutal. We're hard at work to finish our pilot script for a web series. However, our planned web series is about lesbians--but it's not a lesbian web series, per say. Yet some of the scenes absolutely must be graphic! Ha--it's hard to pitch the pilot without including the graphic parts in the first episode, yet it doesn't quite fit. Eh, if we have to produce it ourselves, we'll do what we want (animation if need be--and you'll all be glad for the graphic parts). It's the age old dilemma. If you let others in...they will likely take it OVER. But with the help of others, our stories can finally be shared.

Lastly, my iPhone is dead all the time now. If you know me, in real life--please don't hesitate to email me your phone/text messages. Yes, it's true that you can also continue texting--but only if you have an iPhone--cuz I'm an Apple whore like that. (I can still gettem' on my iPad.) And I'm no longer participating in the stalking pleasures of Facebook. People don't really share. They come to gawk. I'm not tryin to hide--I've always been right here. But when ignorance starts filling my day (people posting racist images, tormentors of my past showing up in "likes," then of course my judging of everyone else's lack of judgement, and all the other dumb drama) I just have to walk away. Sometimes you just need a break--to really see what it was doing to you.

And then it reminds me why I liked blogging in the first place!  I don't give a shit if someone clicks a like button, most of the time without even reading what I'm saying.  This is a place that I'm free to be me.  I can post what I want.  I don't have ads for ridiculous crap in my face. And further, the content I share can actually be reviewed, saved for scripts, or produced in one of our videos.  When I put stuff on Facebook...it might as well be added to a consumer database of what I like to do and then just immediately deleted.  Ain't nobody gonna go back and deal with FB's weird, controlling ways of showing you even your own content!

So I'm back to the bloggin board...where it's beautiful, ad-free, and just what I want it to be.

P.S. Happy Birthday M.C. I still think about you all the time. I read through some of our final stories together this weekend--you always knew how to laugh.  And you always believed in me.  I'll never forget that.

This City is Ab Fab

A few weeks ago, we were exploring in the city--stumbling over all the amazing newness of San Francisco.  We had a little time to kill waiting for a friend when we found Crepes on Cole...an adorable little crepe place that was open late with a nice, casual, neighborhood feel.  As we sat down we overheard a small group of women chatting away about Ab Fab.  One of the women was explaining all that is...PATSY.  She was doing a terrific job summing up her newfound excitement about this series we've obsessed over since the late 90's.  It was so refreshing to hear.  People talking about actually interesting things?  Hell, people talking at all is a huge advance from Chicago.  Everyone was so concerned with remaining invisible there--walking the streets with this vibe of please don't look at me, or even notice me.  I know, I know...we are a little over the top, so the difference was just so glaring. It just feels so right here.  I can't explain it in words... the friendly people waiting in line at the Treasure Island Flea...talking to you because why not

the courtesy driving--stopping to actually let you in

the way strangers instincts are to just smile at you

the way people dress and act exactly like they want, not looking for your approval...

It's extremely exciting to MOVE to a place you've never been!  It's a constant surprise.  I was so over living in the city (Chicago, that is).  I just didn't want the dirty filth of negativity covering me anymore. The sidewalks like treadmills of people looking straight down, ready to run right into you, and often times stepping right into your shoes!  I didn't expect to love San Francisco, not like this.  I mean, I knew we would find amazing adventure in it.  But this is pure love.  I didn't expect a city park that could dwarf a small town--the wilderness and life so blooming everywhere.  I honestly don't know what took me so long to make it here--other than my own fear of leaving home.  And yes, I miss everyone.  Everyone.  But I know that this journey is just beginning and each day that passes, it becomes more and more home.  I love building it here.

A few of our recent highlights, exploring the city with our new Zeiss lens:

We were lost in the Presidio, enjoying the smooth-vibe, driving of SF. The tunnels, the lights, the wilderness in a city...and BOOM--there was The Bridge.  We took an exit and there she stood, like she was waiting for us.  Quiet and still, nothing going on...but a beautiful spot to enjoy the Bay.

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of just seeing the studio where Stevie Nicks recorded Rumours.  Mariela and her outstanding sleuthing and navigating, took us right to her doors.  It was a small victory, but it just felt like we were finally here.  Amazing.  As I opened the windows and sunroof and kicked up my stereo playing the demo tracks from the Rumours outtakes, it was like you were transported to 1977 and Stevie was wearing her big headphones singing her heart out and the sounds filled the thick forest of trees in that little cove in Sausalito.  I'm sure Mick's drums filled that canyon, now covered in multi-millions dollar homes...

Sorcerer, Stevie's song, was actually demo recorded before Rumours, but we felt it fitting for this shot. Maybe our California plate will be a Rumours track! They are all fitting: Dreams, Never Going Back Again, Don't Stop, Go Your Own Way, The Chain, Gold Dust Woman...hahaha.

So as the weekend draws near, I get antsy anticipation to just breathe the air of San Francisco and I look forward to finding our way into her gates again...

 

And remember...it all drains to the bay around here.

Frame BY Endless Frame Time Lapse

I started thinking...what has been my favorite thing to film? I mean, so far. I have to say that filming time-lapse in Maine on vacation with my hilarious extended family. Sure, maybe it's because it was such a quiet, clean, calm morning at the colony--one of my very favorite places on earth.  It was my love of purist, photography --brought to life with motion. It's superb, while not true "frame-by-frame." So zooming in for higher resolution isn't an option! Fast forward to this week, I started in...fighting with Magic Lantern on my Canon 60D again. The problem has been audio with my Zoom h4n using the Sescom cable. I found the breakthrough that I needed (this helpful audio forum) and we set out for Treasure Island to record actual frame by frame time lapse (using the intervelometer of ML)!

It was the perfect end to a perfect day @ the Treasure Island Flea.

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We Shipped Our Hearts to San Francisco

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Whew! Starting out on my own freelancing is a big undertaking.  We've crossed so many barriers to get here and I'm glad to report that we are finally "settled" in the San Francisco Bay Area!  My only regret is that I didn't come out here sooner.  It is truly a magnificent place. I've lived a lot of different places and I've never called them home.  This...this is our home.

Please be patient as I get our new site up and running.  I have loads of new projects coming.  Shipping our storage pods across country was a bit of a puzzle to put back together.  But we're here...we're buying the equipment that we've spent years preparing for and I can't wait to show you what we can do with it.

If you've never shot with a Carl Zeiss lens, I highly recommend it.  We upgraded to a 35mm F2 and I cannot take it off my camera.  It's amazing. Lights? Who needs 'em with this fast of a lens. (Which is fortunate since one of my bulbs crashed to the ground and broke during a shoot at work before I left Chicago!)

Also on the horizon is a new Leash & Capture from Peak Designs. I'm thrilled because I carry my camera everywhere.  Surprisingly, I want to do weird things like hike and climb mountains now that there is just so incredibly much to see...

And last, but certainly not least...we're anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Rhino Carbon Slider!!!  I love photography gear Kickstarters, what can I say.

I can say: I love you San Francisco. Every single part of you.  You were worth the wait.