Lately, I’ve been thinking about (the idea of) home.

One sentiment has stayed with me: “You don’t really belong anywhere. Not in a physical place, anyway. You belong to people.” You give pieces of yourself away to them, you take pieces away from them. Home is whenever you see someone and you know that somewhere inside of them there is a place for you.

I thought about this during my move to San Francisco. In the process, I shed more than half my possessions from my South Bay apartment. Originally it was because they didn’t fit into my much smaller space in the city, but for me it was also simply because, well, weightlessness is freedom. I spent this past year in eight countries, and still there are not interstates long enough for where I would like to go. I was not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land!

And yet.

While there has been immense joy in being single and free and unattached, I’ve also felt like I am in a constant state of transition. These days, everyone around me has been talking about establishing themselves, growing roots in one place. Annie, one of my dearest roommates from college, visited from Chicago and collaborated with my friends in SF to orchestrate an entire surprise party in my still half-furnished apartment. I came home and was immediately surprised by a flurry of balloons, cards, gifts, and people I love. This kind of thing only happens when you have a place to go back to.

Even though life is moving fast, I am struck what feels startlingly like belonging. This time around — I am happy. I can think of people who hold parts of me, and the parts that I safeguard that others have blessed me with. And that is home enough for me. ♡

My very first attempt at chalk hand lettering (in progress)!
I made this tonight after work as a surprise for my team. We’re doing a summer sprint right now, which basically means we’re in “Super Serious About Getting Shit Done By Back-To-School” Mode. All of us are holed up in a room away from our normal spacious, open and potentially distracting office. The seclusion has been fantastic for productivity and team bonding, but I thought it would be cool to give our little clubhouse an additional something to make it even more enjoyable to spend all our working hours here.
Already I can identify a ton of problem areas in this piece. I don’t have my pen tool handy, so micro-adjustments often require redrawing the entire stroke. Still, everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

My very first attempt at chalk hand lettering (in progress)!

I made this tonight after work as a surprise for my team. We’re doing a summer sprint right now, which basically means we’re in “Super Serious About Getting Shit Done By Back-To-School” Mode. All of us are holed up in a room away from our normal spacious, open and potentially distracting office. The seclusion has been fantastic for productivity and team bonding, but I thought it would be cool to give our little clubhouse an additional something to make it even more enjoyable to spend all our working hours here.

Already I can identify a ton of problem areas in this piece. I don’t have my pen tool handy, so micro-adjustments often require redrawing the entire stroke. Still, everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

I.

Spent some time after the UXLx conference winding down and strolling through Alfama, the historic neighborhood of Lisbon sprawling with Visigothic and Arabic-inspired architecture. Up cobblestone hills are houses, Fado bars, restaurants, museums and shops vibrant with colors and ceramic tile patterns — and a breathtaking view of red-tiled rooftops framing the ocean horizon.

II.

One of my favorite parts of traveling alone and without an itinerary is the freedom to be in a constant state of spontaneous discovery. I met up with one of the other conference attendees and we stumbled upon an entire festival within Alfama’s cobbled alleys, brimming with colors and grilled sardines and papier-mâché manjerico flowers and seafood and sangria and ginjinha. Later we learned, after striking up a conversation with some random travelers, that Lisbon was celebrating Festas dos Santos Populares — its biggest citywide celebration of the year.

The story behind this particular series of festivals, particularly the Festival of San Antonios, goes as follows: San Antonios is known today as the keeper of lost things and the marriage saint. Every year in Lisbon since the 1950s, young men and women have flocked to Lisbon to receive San Antonio’s blessing in one giant citywide wedding ceremony at the Sé Cathedral.  Lisbon holds a series of festivals every weekend in early June that culminate into the blessings of hundreds of couples. 

Just imagine, she said; an entire city dedicating so much to celebrating your love.

Spent the past two days at UXLx meeting UX designers from over 40 countries!

A few of my favorite highlights:

Mike Monteiro: (paraphrased) “There are people without access to healthcare and education and we’re here designing more photo apps. We used to design things to help us get to the moon; now we design things so that we don’t have to get out of bed in the morning. We need to do better. We are the gatekeepers of the web. Learn to say no. Destroy your ego; you are not more important than the problem you’re solving.’” Heard this talk before, and it’s still my favorite ass-kicking ever.

Dan Rubin: “Don’t strive for innovation as an end in itself; strive for solutions. Walt Disney never set out to innovate, he wanted to make people happy. His innovation came from the passion to please. Innovation was purely a side effect.”

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We are designers, developers, creative technologists, and multi-disciplinary communicators…[and] we are using up our time and energy manufacturing demand for things that are redundant at best, destructive at worst.

… There are pursuits more worthy of our dedication. Our abilities can benefit areas such as education, medicine, privacy and digital security, public awareness and social campaigns, journalism, information design, and humanitarian aid. They can transform our current systems of finance and commerce, and reinforce human rights and civil liberties. It is our responsibility as members of our industry to create positive changes within it.

I haven’t been exposed much to Latin American art, but every piece I’ve seen so far has been parody, bricolage, distortion. Artists have deliberately stolen and mockingly re-rendered European art history tropes — the reclining Venus of Urbino, the portrait cliché. Down here, it feels like everyone believes in art as a means of exaggerated escapism, contorting reality and fashioning social commentary into play and magic with the most mischievous of grins.