Day one of 40x40

I’m going to jump into the sky. I will work on being able to keeping the newness and freshness I feel when I travel, in my daily.

Looking at things differently is a gift, and being able to accommodate lots of varying perspectives, including ones that might be foreign to me, is a critical step in communication.

Preparations for 40x40

The universe provides. I’ve always felt this.

Whether I’m at my wit’s end or my last resort — an extremely rare occurrence — or I’m at an emotionally tender and insightful juncture, my remaining atoms point towards a greater goo that keeps everything together. A good goo.

So I’m drinking tea, folding laundry, orienting a friend to those of my plants that need to be watered in the sink and those that are happy to guzzle on site, and learning about my new Olympus EP3 (most of which was intuitive). There are dozens of physical preparations and a few spiritual ones — the ones that the universe has just opened up to me.

I’m very much looking forward to being on a plane to Barcelona exactly one week from right now.

What’s next is soon.


It’s all coming together. My trip. The longest I’ve done. I’m taking 40 days off as I turn 40 this December.

I’ll still be connected to the studio — I’m bringing a laptop — but I’ll be working from the cafés and nooks of Barcelona, Budapest, Paris, and Amsterdam.

I’ve only two more facets of the trip to resolve, and then my itinerary is set.

Airbnbs, high-speed trains, cars, and flights.

Very exciting. I love to travel. It brings such perspective.

And that’s my job.

On clipboards & leadership.

When I was about 10 years old, I started a club for a few of the other kids in my neighborhood. But this was no ordinary club with a tree fort, nor one that met in a basement, or had a secret code, no. This was a club of organization. I gave each of my members clipboards (I, keeping the biggest one), and cut out their names from construction paper and scotch taped them to the top of their metal clips. Every week we would meet in my living room and talk about what needed to be accomplished. I divvied up tasks and gave each of my three members assignments. I would prepare these assignments and task lists a week in advance, and clip the white letter-sized paper to each of their boards. Our meetings were brief – maybe 15-20 minutes – but it was enough time to discuss the agenda and follow up on the previous week’s assignments. We met maybe 4 or 5 times before Danny Carney, the most senior member of the team at 8 years old, announced towards the end of one meeting that he was leaving because it wasn’t any fun. Shocked, I turned to my younger brother, who was only 5 at the time, for support. I found only his nodding in agreement that the eponymous club was boring. I searched my soul for reasons why anyone wouldn’t want to participate and get things done, but the club quickly stopped meeting soon after that. I can recall my disappointment in having to stow the stack of clipboards in my closet for another day, and another team configuration.

My people management and organization skills, I realize now, started developing at an early age. It helped that my Mom’s interior design business was located in the former living room of our house, above the garage. There were four big white desks, a drafting table, a brown IBM Selectric II, small photocopier with moving top, and a green-screen Compaq for the bookkeeper. Mom had drafters, design assistants, and secretaries working for her for years, each with their individual schedules.

When there was downtime and we weren’t invading the premises, or on a weekend, my brother and I would gather the stapler, staple remover, single and loose-leaf hole punch, glue, scissors, tape, rulers, white and sometimes construction paper (for variety, and to make it more fun), and sit on the floor and “play work-work.” We would assemble blank packets and booklets, put meaningless labels on folders, and draw lines and color in shapes. This was fun to us. It was endlessly intriguing and seemed like a totally normal way to spend our time. While there were always outdoor hikes and lots of other ways we’d spend our time, my formative years held these two activities in portentious regard.

These days, I still have an office products fetish and enjoy a well-organized supply closet. But my people management skills have moved beyond clipboards, and my task assignments are updated almost daily. I went to the Yale School of Management this summer for a taste of an MBA through AIGA’s Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders program, and my nearly 14-year-old business is up between 250-300% over last year (previously our most profitable). In many ways, I am able to see how the paths of our lives emerge to us, even though our daily choices do have a huge influence on our overall trajectory. I appreciate the gift of perspective just as much as I appreciate the gift of rationale.

A lifetime of things.

This has been a very productive weekend of unpacking my books, records, and ephemra — and deleting some stuff in the process — excluding old journals from the previous, oh, 22 years. A memory of a prescient entry on a flight back from Spain in January 2002 came to mind:

"Slowly, slowly. Thoughts come back to me as I re-enter my Boston life… We have spent all day traveling… When we left Barcelona the moon was waning and birds were beginning to chirip in the morning....... well, I can’t quite call it light. I’m ready to see the rest of the world. I’m ready to give up what I have here if it means I can go further elsewhere. I am ready to drop the bullshit completely, and deflect — not reflect — the image-conscious, exterior, impersonable, fake, trendy, piss-ant-quality-minded folk I sometimes encounter, and stick to my guns for some real solid work and play. And while we’re on the matter, it probably isn’t so far away that I get rid of more stuff — stuff I think I will one day need or one day re-use… With a sharp mind I’ll be able to rely on it as experience-minder, and not need the object-based heavy sentimentality that comes with carrying around a lifetime of things.”

(Not so) funny

I feel like I’ve spent half my life — almost to this moment — conveying my seriousness, my commitment to making the world a better place through design and other of my skills. Now that I’m perceived ever-so-slightly more seriously, I am feeling the need to integrate my fun-lovingness into my days and moments. So strange.

My first three lessons as a Jeep Wrangler owner.

I’m acquiring a friend’s ’97 Wrangler because it maximizes my outdoor + summer + fun experience. Plus it’s the only place I can play cassettes now. I’ve already learned three things in the first week of riding it around:

  1. With so much bouncing around, it feels like a core stabilizer exercise nearly 80% of the time.
  2. Acknowledging other Jeep Wrangler owners — all of a sudden I see a lot of them! — is as simple as a wave of the hand from the steering wheel. They wave back the same way.
  3. Windshield wipers don’t mean diddly when you forget to put the top up when there’s threat of thunder and you have rain on the inside of the windshield.


Liking is the new lugging

I’m curating my crap, preparing to move into my first real estate purchase, realizing how many of my physical possessions weigh me down. Papers, letters, taxes from ten years ago, planners from fifteen years back when I used to use an At-a-Glance Full Weekend datebook, even though I had way fewer things going on. They’re all heavy. They’ve all been accumulating dust mites in a four-drawer file cabinet, stuffed to the gills and never referenced. It’s only while looking at these things — in particular, some old letters — that I am instantly transported to the first time reading them. While I’d had no current headspace dedicated to them, by randomly pulling through the six shoeboxes worth, I fondly recalled them. This is not how I want my life (or my impending move) to grow. I’d rather rely on my brain and the mushy, fuzzy impressions of the people across the arc of my life, rather than having to carry around the physical memories of the minutiæ. Thus I find it fitting to be posting on my blog about this. How freeing are the digital possessions. They live online, they only accumulate RTs and likes.