Month: April 2008

Stop! Sucking! Day 20: Stop and read

If I can get myself to do it, and the book will cooperate by being good, reading will stop me cold.

So far this trip, I’ve blazed through Steve Martin’s outstanding Born Standing Up, hit half each of John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing and Beth Lisick’s Helping Me Help Myself (both pretty good, in their wildly different categories), and spent a glorious afternoon browsing the quirky selection at the excellent Quimby’s. (I bought a couple of items to read on the way home, too, in case I don’t get an interesting seatmate this time around.)

If I can get myself to do it, I may give myself the gift of an afternoon with a book, and only a book, once before this trip is up.

It’s hard to do for some of us, because unless it’s assigned reading for a credit-bearing course, it feels so…optional. And if I’m not already exceptional in the ways I feel like I should be, how can I engage in the purely optional?

Of course, stopping is not optional. It’s the other half of going.

Just because something is easier to forget, doesn’t make it okay to forget it.

So…what’s on your stopping list?


Image by dhammza via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Stop! Sucking! Day 19: Stop and buy a damned hat

I’m no garden-variety L.A. idjit.

Born and raised in Chicago, she of the fickle weather, I learned the value of layers early on. And, when traveling between October and July, of bringing an umbrella. But a hat?

Who the hell brings a hat four days before May? Even to Chicago? Especially when one has an especially large head that looks profoundly ridiculous in hats?

It was in the high 40s today, and that was the high. So I walked and I walked and I stopped in every damned store that was a likely bet, looking for something other than a sun bonnet. Something that would keep the heat in my head.

When I finally found one, in a running store, of all places, for $32, I was a mile from my destination. $32. For a hat that matches nothing I’m wearing on this trip, and that upon my return to Los Angeles will most likely linger in my “winter” shoebox until I give up and hand it off to my friend, Lily, who looks good in all hats, damn her.

$32. To look ugly until the the weather turns.

I snapped the purple “no complaining!” wristband my friend (and frequent commentributrix) Mary Ellen gave me at lunch once against my wrist. And smiled. And thought of my wonderful chats with Mary Ellen and Heidi, and the wonderful soup that I would heat up in my wonderful midweek bachelorette crash pad, on loan courtesy of my wonderful friend, The Overly Talented Account Guy. And then I gave them my credit card, snipped the tags from my brand new $32 hat, and set off for the last leg of my day’s journey at least partly dry and vastly warmer.

Stop complaining. Buy the damned hat. You’ll catch a cold if you don’t, anyway, and then where will you be?

Stop. Before something else does the stopping for you.


(I wrote this last night, the 28th, and hit “save” instead of “publish.” Did I mention somewhere the importance of getting enough rest? Yeah.)

Image by benncapon via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Stop! Sucking! Day 18: Change of venue

I feel like I’ve come back to life in the past 48 hours, and not just because I’m finally well-rested for the first time in four days.

There is something about removing myself from the confines of my usual life, and the particularly tiny, triangulated footprint of computer/refrigerator/bathroom, that gets my juices flowing. I need structure, yes, and probably even more self-discipline, but I also need to get better at overcoming inertia (aka the tractor pull of my computer workstation), even when the inertia is productive.

I came pretty far to jog myself from a cranky daydream, but I’ve felt similar resuscitation taking a spin up to Ojai (especially when I can include a visit with my friend, Jodi) or even a walk around the block. I’m not sure what kind of reminder I can set in place to use when I sink back into productive torpor in L.A., maybe the 1-2 combination of a hypnosis tape and the discipline to use it.

For now, I’m content at the restorative qualities my little trip is having on me.

Besides, I’m sure some of you friendlies will have some great hacks for jogging oneself out of torpor…right, friendlies?

Image by emmiegrn via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Stop! Sucking! Day 17: Stop making it all about you

As sort of an other-shoe-dropping, sister-post kind of thing, I’m using my space and time today to point out some people doing some significant things.

Because (hangs head, kicks dirt with shoe) I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been thinking a wee bit too much about ME and how I can take ME to the next level and why aren’t more people paying attention to/digging on ME and a whole lot of other annoying, self-involved tripe. And, I mean, all this while people are eating dirt and women on other continents (and possibly areas of this one) are having parts of their lady-areas hacked off and a million other human indignities that one could call “real problems.”

Even if we shy away from the area of “real problems,” isn’t it still better to focus on what other cool stuff there is going on than to bemoan some imaginary, non-existent thing you think should be happening to you? Not that I don’t want good stuff to happen to me, and not even that I don’t think I deserve it or whatever The Secret-y thing you want to believe. Thing is, if I stop for one second to think about it, I realize instantly that I have an overabundance of blessings, that my (non-specific, agnostic-type) prayers have been answered over and over again, and that I’ve had so much help from so many hands, both seen and unseen, it borders on the embarrassing.

So you know, I pimp everywhere. I am kind of obsessed with pointing out good stuff. But I mostly do it in places like StumbleUpon or Clipmarks or Or I forward it to my pal, Michael Blowhard, who has a much bigger audience and gets the word out far more effectively than I ever could.

But I’ve been wined and dined and guest-bedroomed by my wonderful peeps here in Chicago for a day now, and I’m filled with the spirit of giving and sharing. So…

Meet the FOCs (Friends of Colleen) and someday FOCs!!!

  • Grant McCracken writes one of the best blogs I know. A terrific mix of marketing, cultural anthropology and inventive thinking, there’s always something great to be found there, and every great thing is truly different from every other one. Check out his greatest hits if you don’t believe me.
  • Speaking of faves, my go-to blog for years now has been 2Blowhards. In fact, while I have changed feed readers many times, I have never, ever moved 2BH out of my “always read” folder. Even though they’re (gasp!) conservatives!!!
  • People ask me all the time why the hell I’m on Twitter. I may talk a big game about the importance of social media and staying on top of the game, but the reality is that I love watching the wit of these three guys unfold in real time. Finally, they’ve gotten together and put on a show: You Look Nice Today!, A Journal of Emotional Hygiene. It takes a while to orient yourself to it, these guys are like an order of magnitude smarter than most smart, funny people working today. But just like watching Shakespeare, after a few minutes, you’ll acclimate to the rhythm. And laugh your ass off.
  • One real-life friend has finally gone online with a public record of one of the more fascinating projects it’s been my pleasure to track. Nick Offerman, a wildly funny and gifted performer, is also a master woodworker craftsman-type. And so, finding himself in NYC for a time (sweet boy is there providing moral support as his wife works on a little play), he decided to use it wisely and…build a canoe from scratch! I care as much about woodworking and canoes as I do football and trigonometry (not much), but I’m always thrilled to see a new installment in my inbox. Finally, the rest of the world can share that thrill.
  • Finally, because I’m getting a little tired of people who say that feminists aren’t funny (haha) or that the patriarchy is dead (I wish), I give you Twisty Faster. Her writing has been somewhat more sporadic the past several months, but the archives are rich with radical feminist goodness.

For those of you who might never sign up for one otherwise, I also include Cool Finds of the Month in my free newsletter, communicatrix | focuses. And yeah, newsletters are kinda dorky and sucky, for the most part. Maybe mine is, too, just by virtue of being one. I mean, hey, it is a marketing tool. But for me, it is also an opportunity to write on one topic (best practices of great communicators) in a very specific way, i.e., without swears. If I’m lying, may my motherf*cking tongue fall out of my c*cksucking mouth.

See? Along with gratitude, insights and there will always be foul language here on communicatrix-dot-com.

Some things will never stop…


Stop! Sucking! Day 16: Stop thinking it’s all about you

You know I get panicky, PANICKY, I tell you, at the thought of going back on a promise to you.

A promise like “I’m going to write 21 posts in a row, and put one up every day, and ain’t nothin’…nothin’ gonna stop me.”

Well, fine. But something actually did. A trip I’d had planned for a while. To Chicago. Which I actually extended since, for the first time in a few years, I’m going when the weather is reasonable-ish. Besides, I’m usually there such a short time I have to cram everyone into a few gatherings. And while it’s fun to get your worlds colliding, and it’s great to have a party, I miss the one-on-one time I used to get with many of my old, Chi-town peeps.

So this post you’re reading? It was written (gasp) on Thursday. Because I had a hunch that between travel and plans and Where’s WiFi?, I might not squeak one out on Friday.

I worried so much about what you’d think of me for doing this. And then I realized: you probably won’t. Probably wouldn’t have even if I didn’t post at all.

Because it’s not all about me. And it never was.

Funny, how you find these things out…


Image by mass distraction via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Stop! Sucking! Day 15: Good enough for guv’ment work

I like to do things up right. And by right, I mean “meticulously.”

There are times when meticulous is good: brain surgery leaps to mind, along with piloting aircraft, dentistry, riding a bicycle in L.A. and certain kinds of baking. Careful readers will note that none of these, or anything much like them, are among my duties, and it will be a cold day in hell before I put my ass on a bike in this town.

So most of the things I do, while they should be done well and even better than just “well” as time and energy permits, do not have to be done meticulously. Like, for example, a last-minute design job for a friend that I’m squeezing in before I leave town as a favor, and that will likely be discarded when we do the real job upon my return.

Like that.

The BF has learned to work quickly and well, spending as much time in TV as he has. They just don’t have the time or budgets to do things meticulously; as a service provider, you’re forced to get down with the concept of “good enough.” At one point, I’d expressed some interest in doing more work for television-land; The BF gently pointed out that my price per hour would probably be better at Starbucks. If the UPM didn’t kill me first.

Today, I stopped at good enough on a job. And I’m stopping at good enough on this post.

What can you put aside as “done” today?


Image by levistone via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. You’ll notice that I even stopped short of finding a “perfect” picture: after five minutes of looking, I realized the irony of passing on this one for a post like this because it was a few pixels shy of my usual stringent requirements.

Stop! Sucking! Day 14: Stop…and look back

I’ve saved all my old journals.

I’ve also saved my old emails, versions of résumés (both “regular” and acting-flavored), college papers, old-skool correspondence and of course, every post on this blog.

My cocktail-party-joke reason is that I want to make life easier for my biographers. Similarly, I have been known to tell people to “save that letter” or original, limited silkscreen print, because someday, it will be worth a fortune.

Truthfully, I save things for me. There’s a little bit of hoarder in me, born of loss. Alcoholic mom, lots of moves, lots of precious losses. That’s why stuff like this is so precious to me. I used to groan at my grandparents’ obsessive saving of everything, but now? I’m grateful.

Still, if it all went up in smoke…or down in flood, or disappeared into the space-time continuum, it would be okay. Really, they’re just visual aids for the real exercise: looking back.

The nostalgia part of looking back is fun, in an escapist way. There’s no denying that escapism plays at least some role in the looking-back process. In the same way I’m obsessed with certain movies or TV shows, I’m obsessed with deconstructing certain photos: what were my mom and dad thinking when this was taken? Did my mom think of me as me here, or as a blob of genes that looked like her and her new husband? Or even, “Was I ever really this happy?”

And, as my friend, Peleg, and I were discussing this morning, saving old stuff can make you feel immensely better about where you are now. Because it’s easy to forget, in the day-to-day, month-to-month, even year-to-year seeming monotony of incremental change that yes, one has made significant progress, even if it can’t be measured in yacht-footage or bank-account zeros.

I’ve started doing some consulting work, and Peleg suggested, actually, insisted that I get a digital recorder and start taping my sessions. Because there is so much information flying so fast, it’s important for the person on the receiving end to be able to go back, listen again, and catch the things she’s missed. And to see how far she’s come.

I figure it’s pretty important for the people on the receiving end of the coaching, too…


Image by useful_fiction via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.