What color would you say my eyes are?

My driver’s license says “brown,” but it’s a lie. My mother taught me my eyes were “hazel,” but over the years I’ve learned that “hazel” just means “a hard color to describe in one word” and actually carries no consistency across faces. One of my close friends in high school gave up on trying to answer this question and just started calling me “the girl with kaleidescope eyes.” But let’s not cop out here. I’ll give you a hint: my eyes are green and amber with red flecks and brown highlights.

I make an effort to look people in the eye when I talk to them, and I’ve been noticing lately, that I’m not so alone in my kaledescopiness. I’m seeing my own eyes show up on more and more people, and more often than not on creative professionals — those rebellious independent folk who create their own careers and answer first to themselves. So I’m now asserting a theory: green/amber/red/brown kaleidescope eyes are a sign of a creative, ambitious individual who probably has issues with authority.

This theory will likely be proven absurd and fall by the wayside, as my silly theories often die. (For years, I’ve been trying to prove that everybody named Amy is a lesbian and that no one actually lives in Montana.) But, regardless, I am collecting evidence now. If you have some, please send it my way.

I’m squinting as I write this. Behind my head, the muggy sun is setting over Lake Michigan and forcing a glare across my laptop screen. I’ve commandeered a picnic bench about thirty paces away from the GM-sponsored rooftop cocktail party (where there is still an impressive wi-fi signal), and I’m jealously guarding this brief opportunity to be a webby introvert. It has been a long day.

I’ve been trying to log my significant notes over on Twitter as they come up. Here’s the recap:

  • My goals for this conference are different this year. I’m not actively looking for tips or tools, I don’t feel ambitious about networking, and I don’t need work. Instead, I am here to reconnect with the most important themes in my life: feminism, writing, and technology. I am here to be regrounded, reenergized, and refocused. I am here to rediscover meaning and purpose within these themes. I am here to be “one of us.”
  • I am staying with a dear friend from Bard who now lives in Chicago. She has provided me with incredibly generous accommodations, and I am utterly grateful.
  • In the Personal Branding Panel, what I took away was this: Decide what you stand for, be honest, make it specific, stick to it, and describe it in 5 words or less.
  • In the Speaker Training Panel, what I took away was this: Decide if you care more about cash or strategic exposure. Women need to ask for the gigs they want.
  • The Intolerance Panel got me thinking: Do communities always come with exclusivity? What’s the relationship between exclusivity and intolerance?
  • The Blogging Workflow Panel was overwhelmingly useful, and the tool recommendations are compiled here: http://bloggtd.pbwiki.com/ (Seriously, check it out if you want to be more efficient with your web work.)

What do I think of it all? BlogHer is a wonderful event and I am in the right place. And it’s worth noting… for a girl who traveled to Chicago all alone for a conference she didn’t plan ahead for, I sure know a heckuvalot of people here. It’s comforting to see familiar faces — they tell me that this Web Techie Community has some consistency, and that not everything about this industry is fleeting.

Before I rejoin the festivities, I want to talk briefly about the internal structure of this community. Last year, there was a cohesive group of Mommybloggers (women who blog about their parenting experiences) who seemed to dominate the conference. This caused a bit of a rift within the community; some of the non-Mommybloggers, including myself, felt excluded from a lot of the social energy because we didn’t share that intense connection.

I am supportive of the Mommybloggers — I believe they are a piece of an important radical movement that is changing the social landscape, and they struggle against a lot of adversity. They have only found their identity as a community within the last three years, and their intense bonding is important. Their networking was like a big red heat spot in the map of BlogHer06. It was brilliant and it was beautiful. And it left some of the other conference attendees feeling cold.

This year I’m seeing a lot more equality in the community. Other networks like food writers, tech writers, and women of color are showing more cohesive exposure in the panels. The big red Mommyblogger heat spot has either cooled off a bit or been outweighed by the increase in attendance. It feels a lot more comfortable.

I’ve had a few conversations with other non-Mommybloggers about this, and we all agree that we have to watch ourselves. We have a bit of a chip on our shoulder from last year, and we’re trying not to be snarky about it. It’s a new year, it’s a fabulous conference, and we are here to be here right now.

Thank you Lisa, Elisa, and Jory, and everyone who listened, and everyone who made this happen.

Cheers!

Tagged:

Dear Lazyweb,

I’m looking for an unbiased 3rd-party comparison review of the FastTrack, OmniPlan, and Merlin2.

I know someone has examined them all, figured out what their strengths and weaknesses are, and come to conclusions about their comparative effectiveness for various project management scenarios.

I am just hoping that someone has a voice on the web.

I will give you a cookie if you find the voice for me.

Thanks,
Sarah

p.s. It will be a tasty cookie.

Get this: I actually received internet fan mail about my hair. A gentleman named Peter, whom I presumably have not met in meatspace, wrote me and said:

"I think your website is very good! About your hair: My personal opinion is that the shaved head look was the best! The shorter the better! It reflected the uniqueness and confidence of your personality. Will you ever shave it again?"

The truly beautiful part is that I received this letter two days after I had decided to shave my head again. That’s right. Sarah is again hairless.

Why?

Let’s be honest here. Having hair just doesn’t work for me.

And not having hair does.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written on My Baby* right now are two lists. One is titled Frogs and the other is titled Fruits. Believe it or not, this is how I figure out how to spend my day.

frogs and fruitsAs far as I’m concerned, there are two different plans of attack for any to-do list. The first is called Low-Hanging Fruit — I identify everything on my list that can be taken care of quickly and easily, ambush it, and get it out of the way to make space for the more important stuff. This is most useful when it feels like I’m looking at a lot of clutter. I’m also very impressed when I see that my to-do list has gone from 52 to 10 in less than an hour.

There’s a second approach, and it’s called Eating the Frog. If the first thing you do every morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that that’s probably the worst thing that’s going to happen to you today. Translated into time management, that means I pick my hardest, most challenging, most important, most likely-to-be-procrastinated task, and I do it before I do anything else. When I do this, I find that my days are all downhill from there, and I become chronically impressive. There’s a book written on this one if you want to know more.

In my world, everything is either a frog or a fruit– a difficult task or an easy task. Frogs need attention and determination and are best handled alone. Fruits need sharpness and momentum and are best grouped with other fruits.

Some days, though, I get really ambitious and try to go competitive frog-hunting. Frogs are funny creatures. They’re slippery, but if I can get a few of them grouped together, sometimes I can eat two or three at once. And then, sometimes, I’ll go eat another two or three, just to make them go away. I won’t lie; they taste awful. And it certainly helps if I can sweeten the meal with rewards for myself at the end. (And while fruit is nice, it’s often not enough to get the taste out of my mouth… blech!)

Some days, too, I do enough fruit-picking to make jam for the entire tech industry. If the fruits aren’t making me think too hard, this is best executed with loud dance music in the background. The result, if I’m not being careful, is a condensed remaining to-do list that feels totally impossible. Why? Because I’m left with a handful of frogs. And frogs tend to spoil the fruits.

They have to stay separate — the fruits and the frogs. They’re both important and they both require attention, but they can’t be handled at the same time. And really, I should wash my hands between touching them. And go outside to change the air. And call a colleague to announce my victories. And then go get coffee with that colleague.

Because there’s more to life than frogs and fruits, no matter how you slice them.

* My Baby is the 3’x4′ whiteboard in my living room.

I am determined to make today beautiful. You should help me.

First, go to They’re Beautiful and send a random friend flowers for free.

Then, go to Orisinal and play the bumblebee game.

Then, go to the Jackson Pollock website and click around.

Then, go to CSS Zen Garden, click the links on the right, and geek out about how beautiful standardized code can be.

Then, go to GoodGraffiti.org and muse on the controversial awesomeness of guerrilla art.

Then, go to StoryPeople, browse for a story that makes your chest melt, click “Send eGreeting” in the left-hand menu, and create a free card for a random friend (but not the one you sent flowers too — someone different this time).

Then, go to the Snowsuit Effort and look at faces being real.

Then, go to SSAHN and look at faces being art.

Then, go to the Writ Workshop and read some fresh poetry by an emerging writer.

Then, look at the Flickr tag group for Harajuku.

Then go to ScrapBlog and make a page about what you’ve appreciated today.

Impulsive Sarah: Close your eyes, plug your nose, and swallow. You’ll thank me when it’s over.

Without checking in with my rational side, I just bought plane tickets and conference tickets to BlogHer 2007 — a weekend conference in Chicago at the end of this month. I’ve been before and I know it’s amazing, relevant, inspiring, and valuable.

Rational Sarah: But I’ve taken two trips in the last three months already!

Impulsive Sarah: I don’t want to hear it. We’re going.

Rational Sarah: But I have work!

Impulsive Sarah: It’s a *weekend*!

Rational Sarah: But I can’t afford it!

Impulsive Sarah: Nonsense. It will improve your productivity this summer, it’s relevant to your work, and it’s tax deductible. And besides, I think you’re lying.

Rational Sarah: But… but… !

Impulsive Sarah: Who’s the rational one *now*?

Rational Sarah: Um… Uh… Can I at least spend the flight conceptually restructuring my office workflow?

Impulsive Sarah: Deal.

When the Internet became widespread, everything changed. Suddenly you could answer any trivia question in less than thirty seconds. You could send a letter and receive a response to it in the same day. You could market yourself to an international audience for free. You could carry on real-time text-based conversations with anyone anywhere in the world without long-distance fees. You got carpal tunnel syndrome. You became impatient. You forgot to go outside.

When cell phones became widespread, everything changed. Suddenly “being on call” for work or family no longer meant being tethered to a landline. You could get quick roadside assistance when you got a flat tire, anywhere. You could leave personal voicemails without fear of the wrong person hearing them. You could have a conversation with anyone anywhere in the country without long-distance fees. You hated rural areas because you couldn’t get a signal. Your lover became obsessive about checking in. You became obnoxious in public.

Now, cell phones with Internet are becoming widespread, and everything is changing. Suddenly you can check your email while you are crossing the street. You can blog (and post pictures of) what you’re doing while you’re doing it, and get immediate feedback on it from friends across the planet. You no longer need to ask for directions. You can answer any trivia question in less than thirty seconds while out for dinner with friends. You can have a voice conversation with anyone anywhere in the world without long-distance fees. You get into more car accidents. You perceive a half-hour delay in communication as a sign that your friend is tired of you. You stop paying attention to what’s actually happening right next to you altogether. You justify this by saying that you can’t be expected to do everything at once.