Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ciao Ciao

Packing. 10 days, 5 cities, 1 backpack. Go.

Tomorrow I leave for Italy.  Precisely and I will spend 10 days riding trains, sipping espresso, swirling wine, eating pasta, and visiting some people we love who are living abroad.  We'll probably also spend a considerable amount of time gesturing with our hands and pointing as neither one of us speaks Italian.

I'm thrilled to go to Italy. I'm thrilled to hug my sister, and eat pizza with crust as thin as crackers, and wander down alley's that are somehow considered streets. I'm also thrilled with my packing job for this trip, which just might be my best yet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When the Scary Stuff Happens.

There's a lot to be scared of while starting a business.

So far, in my involvement with Thread, the excitement, the passion, the learning, and the fun has all out weighed the scary.  And then a scary thing happened.

The thing where I am leaving my day job, a bit earlier than I had originally anticipated, and am taking the leap into Thread. A leap into a time period of an unreliable paycheck, part-time work, and having to be very aware of how I spend my money, and how much I have left.  Which, hey, from what I understand is part of the whole start-up thing at some point.

Luckily, I'm in decent shape.  I supported myself as a student, and I can do it again. And the encouragement of my family and friends and colleagues as I made this decision has been nothing short of wonderful.

What really surprised me is that unemployment has loomed as big scary threat since I joined the ranks of the working world. What if the recession catches up with me, what if the non profit I work for doesn't get funding, what if I lose my job?

And then when the actuality of not being salaried stared me in the face, I took a deep breath (ok, first I panicked a little and then took a deep breath), and, made a plan. I emailed contacts, set up interviews and part-time options, looked at all of my accounts, and realized it was going to work out.

Because I'm not losing, I'm gaining. I'm gaining the opportunity to focus on what I want to do with my life right now, rather than having to shove it to the back burner until after work hours. I'm gaining the joy of waking up to go to an office I can't wait to get to, where I spend my day surrounded by smart, brave, funny people.  I'm gaining the chance to really make this work. And if it means living like I did as a student for a little while, than so be it.

I'm grateful that I have something in my life I feel this passionately about, that I'm willing to take a risk for.

So sometimes, the thing you thought would be so scary happens, and you realize that its not actually that scary at all. And then, there's no limit to what you can do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Living in a building whose front door and steps, are on a the main street of the business district of your neighborhood, AND right next to/across the street from popular bars, means that there are often strangers sitting on said step; getting some air, having a smoke break, and generally looking shocked when I step around them, keys in hand to unlock the door.

"You live here?" they often ask, as if they can't believe this is a real possibility.  I'm always tempted to answer with a "No, I just like to unlock front doors of random buildings I have the keys to."

Unfortunately, the inebriated don't often pick up on sarcasm, so I usually sigh, match their tone of surprise and say "yea," shutting the door behind me before the conversation can carry on.

Since the front stoop is a popular hang out on the weekends, it also means that stuff gets left there for me to find the morning after.  Usually trash, empty bags from the Wendy's and Get Go nearby.  While some people might be annoyed at having to step over garbage on their way to brunch, I like to think of myself as an optimist.  As such, I make the best of the situation by smiling at the remnants of the night before, and calling them "offerings" left for myself and fellow building-mates to find.

Offerings can be any number of objects.

Sometimes its milk bottles.

Sometimes its broken drumsticks.

One time, it was a traffic cone.

Last evening though, an amazing thing happened.  I was given an offering in person, and its something I would actually want!

See, I was unlocking the door after coming home from work. I had my headphones on, and eventually noticed out of the corner of my eye, as I pushed the door open that a guy on the sidewalk was gesturing to me.

I pulled my headphones down, "Sorry?" I asked.

"Would you like these Klondike bars?" He asked, holding out an unwrapped box with 2 individually wrapped Klondike bars still in it.

I stared.

"I know it's weird," he said. "But they're going to melt.  And I can't eat them, so if you want them..."

"I mean, ok." I said taking the box. Because, I did want Klondike bars, they are delicious!

"Thanks," I said and he walked off.  I went upstairs and put the offering in the freezer.

So, I mean, I know we're not supposed to accept candy from strangers. And if this was any other city, I probably wouldn't have taken my headphones off to find out what he wanted in the first place.  But in a town like Pittsburgh, someone could honestly buy a box of Klondike bars on a spring evening, not want to eat all of them, and offer them to a perfect stranger they walked by unlocking their front door instead of letting them go to waste.  And that, is just one more reason I love living here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some incredibly non-stressful events that stress me out to the point of a panic attack. Or, some insight into the crazy part of my brain.

Irrational fears are fun, right?  For the most part, I would argue that I handle stress in my life well.  That actually, I seek it out, because without the pressure of multiple deadlines, and a meticulously timed schedule, I will not find the motivation to do much of anything.

With this nice ability to be able to handle a fair amount of responsibility and challenge myself however, comes times when I am doing nothing of consequence that absolutely make me freak out.  This includes...

1. Waiting for my checked baggage to roll down onto the baggage carousel.

There is almost nothing more stress inducing than watching bag after bag come out on the conveyor belt and none of them are yours.

I have no idea why this causes such panic.  Until I see my bag, I am convinced that it has been lost, accidentally put on another plane, or picked up by a stranger who didn't bother to read the luggage tag.  Realistically, were any of those things to happen, it wouldn't be the end of the world.  I've had my bags delayed before, and delivered by the airline the following afternoon.  I have my contact information on the bag, so that it can be returned to me.  And I rarely pack anything of substantial value for the very fear that it will be lost, so it could all be easily replaced. Doesn't matter. My fists are clenched, my teeth grind, and my heart pounds until I see my bag.

2. Announcing myself on conference calls.

Ok, this one makes a bit more sense.  I already suffer from the millennial generation imposed fear of the phone, which I have learned to deal with, or avoid entirely with the internet. But conference calls, which ugh, are the worst, bring out the awkward, shy, middle schooler in me that was too nervous to initiate conversation with strangers.

That moment when you dial into a conference call, and they tell you to announce yourself, and then you know there's that dinging noise announcing that someone new is on the line? That moment is awful.  I have to pep talk myself up for conference calls.  No problems with speaking in public, but having to say my name on the phone to a group of people makes my stomach drop.

3. Being convinced that I am suddenly going to faint.

Look, I used to sing. And anyone that sings in choirs knows all about fainting, because it happens. And if it doesn't happen to you (it did), then it happens to the person standing next to you, or to 14 kids over the course of an hour while standing for a staggering 3-hour-Welsh-Oratorio (true story).  Any good choir conductor tells you what signs to be aware of, and to leave the stage, or at the very least, sit yourself down so you don't crash and knock over any of the other kids.  This hyper-awareness of how lightheaded I may or may not be feeling however has come to haunt me in my adult life as a completely paranoid, fictional, affliction.  There I will be, standing on the bus, when all of I sudden I find myself wondering, "Do I feel lightheaded? Have I been locking my knees? AM I GOING TO FAINT IN PUBLIC ON THE BUS?!?

Were this to happen it would be pretty embarassing. And the fear and very thought of being that chick that fainted on the bus, sends me into a blind mode of panic that causes me to hold my breath until I realize that I have talked myself into feeling faint by forgetting to breath.

You've been warned in the event that I ever have to be on a conference call, while standing at baggage claim.  I'll probably faint.