Heads up, this content is 14 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

“Change is time consuming, expensive and rarely happens on schedule.”-Seth GodinI did something different this summer. Scratch that. I did a lot of things different this summer. But here’s the big one: I didn’t live at home. I could have, but I didn’t.nhI mentioned my month-long trip to New Hampshire back in May/June. That was the beginning of it. My plan was to shake out cobwebs, reevaluate how I spend my daily life, and return with new habits and perspective. It worked. Sort of. I spent the first 20 days of that month in detox from my workaholism, not really thinking or doing anything that related to my habitual daily grind. Then, right near the end, I attended a poetry slam and open mic full of more than 30 talented writers. It sparked my thoughts, and I took the long way home that night. At 3 AM, my brain was on perfect fire with plans for what I wanted long-term, and how I could affect my daily life to be more rewarding. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I spent it at a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts with a cup of coffee and a notebook, writing down every last detail. I was going to exercise before work every day! Attend literary events twice a week! Dance! Listen to business audio tapes with an ipod as I walked the city after lunch! Take a class in Flash animation! Read the Wall Street Journal! Stop drinking coffee and alcohol! Learn the subtle details of investing and accounting! Study small business law! Join associations! Attend at least one good networking event a week! Maintain perfectly-updated To-Do lists! Join a church! Become an active contributing member at BlogHer! Schedule time to be a valuable friend and family member! Practice yoga and meditation! And then, in my freetime, I would work. The plan was perfect!I spent the following morning explaining every last detail to a very good friend over breakfast, who kindly smiled and nodded and told me I was right on. I’m sure I looked like a raving psycho by that point, thriving on passion and no sleep, but it was worth it for the moment of clarity. When I got back to San Francisco, I was armed with a written plan for a new life. I dropped my suitcases, looked around my apartment and home office, and heaved a sigh of relief. “Finally! I can work 24 hours a day again! That vacation was way too long!” I called a former client for a web hosting estimate, and he asked if I could start working full-time on a project the next day. On-site. An hour and a half from my home. “Sure!”A week went by before I remembered why I needed to take that vacation in the first place, and what I had learned from it. Apparently I didn’t clean out quite enough cobwebs when I left town. sfbaySo when a friend of mine in Oakland needed a subletter for August, I volunteered. And to make sure I wouldn’t be lazy and stay at my own place, I offered my home to a friend on the East Coast, who flew out for the free vacation spot. In exchange, she cleaned and reorganized it for me, and helped me pick out some new furniture. She did a damned good job at it, too — thank you, Julia!While I was in Oakland, I downsized my workload and spent my time planning new business strategy. While I love doing freelance HTML work, I also have the skills and knowledge to take full responsibility for complex website projects that require complete teams. So I’m assembling a collective firm to have the infrastructure needed to do that. That takes research, discussion, and the wrestling of demons — things that are a lot easier to do when you’re already uncomfortable, living in someone else’s home. Change is about momentum. The big shakeup ended yesterday, when Julia left town and I found myself standing in my home office with suitcases once again. This time, there was a new desk in the corner. I make no promises to myself that I will now live in perfect harmony with my physical, financial, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. Or that I will proceed with my changes exactly as I planned. But I know myself better now.And that’s something.

Heads up, this content is 14 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

The booming personals marketplace can get you everything from a high-paying gig to a dental advice to a date on Friday night. But there are often more readers than posters on the site, and competition among responses can be fierce. My advice is this: drop your fear of rejection, and learn to post on it yourself.Here’s how:

  1. Try to offer something of value (like a job, or a free couch) wherever possible, rather than ask for something. You’ll get much better results and very good karma.
  2. Be very specific about what you are offering, and more importantly, what it are not offering. Assume you will get way too many responses for this valuable offer, so narrow them down right at the get-go.
  3. Be very non-specific about what you are asking for. If you want something from someone else, leave it open for interpretation and negotiation. Assume you will get no responses at all if you ask for your ideal. Save specifics for when you have the interested parties in dialogue, and just show genuine interest instead.
  4. Make it interesting. Use lots of humor, especially if you’re asking for something (like a job, or a sale). Do not be average.
  5. Always use the anonymous email address, unless you’re selling something in a way that you already do publicly. You don’t need the spam.
  6. Do not respond to disrespectful emails. If the respondent isn’t acknowledging your full request, they don’t deserve your time, or your real email address. This includes people who are clearly sending you vague form letters. They don’t care about you — don’t spend time caring about them.
  7. Do respond ASAP to any emails you care about. Craigslisters will quickly move onto the next opportunity if you’re quiet for more than a day.
  8. Follow the rules. Don’t post in the wrong place. Don’t try to trick the spam detectors. Don’t pretend to be offering something when you’re really asking. The community will lay its wrath upon you if they don’t think you’re being respectful.
  9. Be okay with hate mail. A sad but true fact about Craigslist is there are a lot of bored people out there who want to yell at you for stupid stuff. If you’re not breaking any rules, take a minute to silently pity their boredom, and then move on.
  10. Take a chance. The beauty of Craiglist is that you don’t have to pay for most postings, and the community decides what’s worthwhile. If you’ve got an idea that you want to throw out into the universe, do it, and see what kind of response you get. If you don’t get anything, go back to the drawing board, revise your game plan, and start again.
Heads up, this content is 14 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Here’s something that you may not be aware of unless there is a transgender person in your life: Not everyone wants to be referred to as “he” or “she.” There are a number of reasons for this, which we won’t get into here, but it really opens a big can of worms in our language. What do we call these people if we can’t say “he” or “she” (and no one really wants to be called “it”)?The answer: Gender neutral pronouns! What are they? Well, there are a a few proposed options floating around, but here’s the set I’ve heard used the most:ze (pronounced “zee”)hir (pronounced “here”)For example:Ze is at the park.I called hir last night. Hir dog is adorable.The cat is also hirs.Ze made hirself dinner.These are, or course, not in common usage yet. But can you just imagine how much easier they’ll make our language if we pull them into common usage and reach total comfort with them? Think of all the times you’ve wanted to say “he/she” or “he or she.” You either settled on the awkward but accurate phrase, or you picked something easier. Maybe you said “he” and pissed off a feminist. Maybe you said “they” and pissed off a grammarian. Maybe you alternated between “he” and “she” in your paragraph and confused people. Maybe you totally restructured the entire sentence so you didn’t have to deal with the problem. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have had a gender neutral pronoun on hand?It happens all the time in hypothetical situations, especially in writing. It’s also an issue when you’re talking about someone in particular and hir gender hasn’t been identified yet. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just refer to hir as “ze,” come across as totally cool and non-offensive, and get to the point without floundering on word choice?I would argue that this isn’t about politics, or gender presentation, or wreaking havoc on our current system in any way. This is about a problem in our language, and a solution that’s just waiting for us to pick it up. It may be too early to start throwing the pronouns around in your daily speech and expecting people to understand them. But it’s not too early to start talking about it. That’s how it needs to spread. Tell someone you know about gender neutral pronouns, and why they will make hir life easier once we’re all comfortable with their usage. Ze may thank you.