Comments off. (Comment inside ALA, where it counts.)
Girl. Dog. Night. Day.
I took my three-year-old daughter to her pre-school today. She did not want to go.
When we got there, she asked me to read Curious George to her. I did, then guided her to where her classmates were sitting and painting. The other parents had already left.
My daughter did not want me to go. She wanted me to stay and read more books to her. I told her I would read to her later, then I hugged her goodbye. As I left, she was beginning to paint with the other children.
She did not want me to go, and I did not want to go, but I went, because that is what you do.
I went home, met the artisan who was in our apartment, beginning to assemble our shelving system, then took our dog to the veterinary dermatologist.
Four years ago, when we found him, abandoned, on the streets of New York City, Emile was the sickest, most allergic dog in town. Much of his hair was missing; he smelled like a brewery; he was not what you would call a prize.
Four years later, he is our daughter’s companion, and one of the cutest dogs in our neighborhood, so long as you do not look too closely at the bits that resist healing and that have defied the best efforts of the best veterinarians in our area.
Although he is unrecognizable compared to the suffering creature we rescued, he has been in a near-constant state of infection for four years.
Today I brought him to one of the two veterinary dermatological experts in town. After an hour of examination and discussion, it was time to leave him for another hour or two of additional tests.
He is daddy’s boy, and he had had enough of the doctor. He did not want me to leave—at least not without him.
But there was no sense in my sitting there for two hours. I left because that is what you do.
I thought I would be able to get at least an hour or two of work done today, but I am sad and doubtful of achieving much.
For several nights, the dog and our daughter have woken us up by turns. I find it hard to fall back asleep after his unexplained and out-of-character late-night barking fits, and our daughter’s nightmares that turn into crying jags that end with us needing to move furniture and run washers.
As soon as I fall back asleep, another disruption begins.
There is so much to do, and I feel time slipping through my fingers.
An Event Apart, the design conference for people who make websites, kicks off its 2008 season with An Event Apart New Orleans, a monster, 19-hour, two-day creative session. Join us April 24–25 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside for two intense, 9.5-hour-long days of learning and inspiration, featuring twelve of your favorite web design authors.
See Dave Shea, co-author, Zen of CSS Design, explore what makes sites flexible visually, experientially, and code-wise.
See Jeff Veen, design manager, Google, explore how new thinking, born of creating the latest generation of web apps, is being infused into design practices.
See Robert Hoekman Jr., author, Designing the Obvious, perform slam-bang, on-the-spot usability reviews of sites submitted by our live audience on the fly.
See Cameron Moll, author, Mobile Web Design, uncover the differences between good and great design.
See Andy Clarke, author, Transcending CSS, explain how comic books inspire his award-winning web layouts.
See Stephanie Sullivan, co-author, Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3, explore practical, standards-based approaches and techniques to some of today’s toughtest design challenges.
See Aarron Walter, author, Building Findable Web Sites, explain “findability bliss through web standards SEO”
See Brian Oberkirch, Publisher, Like It Matters, review, catalog, dissect, and champion small design victories that daisy chain to create a delightful overall user experience.
See Jason Santa Maria, designer, Happy Cog, share techniques for maintaining individuality and brand distinction in a world of generic templates and design sameness.
See An Event Apart co-founder Eric Meyer, author, CSS: The Definitive Guide, present two new talks that shed brilliant light on the darkest corners of CSS.
As for me, I’ll be doing two new sessions on the whatness of web design (what it is, what it ain’t, and why it matters) and the whereness of web standards (as in, where we are with them).
It’s the longest, biggest, densest, hardest, coolest show we’ve ever done, and we’re doing it where Louis learned to blow his horn. Join us if you can.
Today was the day we were supposed to close on our new home. We were going to pack Sunday and move Monday. Then we were going to fill the Happy Cog New York office with furniture and computers. And then we were going to Boston to talk for 60 minutes, and to Washington, DC to listen for 90.
We’re still going to Boston and DC, but the rest of the schedule has called in sick. We can’t close today because we got a better mortgage from a nicer (but slower) bank, and the nicer (but slower) bank must produce a bowel movement in the shape of a swan before issuing our check.
The office move is connected to the house move. The house move is contingent on the closing date.
Chaos! We have furniture being hauled to the wrong buildings on the wrong days. We have deliveries to postpone and shipments to despair on. We have computers and tickets and widgets of all sizes being FedExed to doormen who will ring for us in vain, their lonely vigils mocked by blinking Christmas displays.
But it’s a wonderful life. For, no matter how nutty the next weeks may be, and no matter how many stay-at-home, can-of-bean meals we consume in the coming decades to compensate for the funds we have spent and those we are about to spend, at the end of this nerve-wracking knuckle-cracking tango with lawyers and brokers and bankers and movers, our family will have a home.
Have you ever bought clothes while traveling, and been unable to fit everything in your suitcase when it was time to go home? That suitcase is what my days are like now. For starters, The Wife and I are buying an apartment—or at least we are attending all the meetings, filling out all the paperwork, hiring all the attorneys and assessors and brokers and fixers, faxing and messengering and hand-delivering all the documents, auditing all the books, returning all the missed calls, sending all the e-mails, digging through spam traps for all the missed e-mails, rescheduling all the appointments, raising all the money, applying to borrow all the much more money, digging and refilling all the holes, and running up and down all the staircases that are supposed to lead to us owning a place.
Timing is the secret of comedy and an ungovernable variable in life. Our first-time homebuying marathon comes during one of The Wife’s busiest weeks at The Library, and amid a frenzy of new client activity at Happy Cog and the planning of next year’s An Event Apart conferences. In my idiocy, I agreed to speak at other people’s conferences, which means I need to create the content for those engagements. I am days behind in everything because completing the Findings From the Web Design Survey sucked nights, days, and dollars. It was our Apocalypse Now. The dog is sick and requires constant watching. The Girl must be taken to preschool and picked up and played with and loved and taught and put to bed.
My life is like everybody’s. I’m too busy and I’m grateful for everything, but I worry that I will miss some detail, forget some essential, give less than everything to some e-mail or document review or design.
I intended to write about the Findings From the Web Design Survey on the night we finally published them, but there was nothing left inside. I intended to write about them this morning, but instead I have written this excuse for not writing about them. During my next break between brokers, I will clear up one area of confusion as to the motivation behind the survey’s undertaking.
A gloomy, rainy September 11th in New York City. An eye doctor visit in the morning left my eyes dilated. For hours, I was overly sensitive to light. It was a perfect way to experience this city on that day.
In my apartment building, a woman boarded the elevator going down. About 60 years old, carrying someone else’s clothes to the laundry room. We were the only two passengers.
“Wet Tuesday,” she said. “Hot day, six years ago. Six years ago, my daughter was on TV, running for her life.”
In the doctor’s office, with dilated eyes, I siphoned bandwidth from an unsecured wireless network and read The New York Times on my iPhone, holding the handset close to my face. An article about Gen. David H. Petraeus’s testimony generated hundreds of comments. At least four of them were rational.
At 1:00 I braved a sudden monsoon in Curry Hill to meet a friend who was traveling in from Brooklyn. He told me he’d been somewhat concerned about coming into Manhattan on September 11.
At 3:30 I was home, hanging wet clothes from the shower rod and thinking about Iraq. I cannot stop thinking about it.
At 2:00 am I woke up. In my dream I had been trying to bring the soldiers home.