Heads up, this content is 10 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.
We are going to make it through this year if it kills us
May the bridges I burn light the way

Around this time last year, I kicked off a new project called Genderplayful — an online marketplace for gender-variant folks to sell clothing to one another. It was bigger and harder than anything I’ve done before, and we’re still working on it. It will launch soon. Really.

Shortly after that kickoff, I gave up seven years’ worth of freelance clients and got a real job. At an office. Where people work 9-5 and wear pants. It felt like stepping into another world — one I had never aspired to be a part of. It was the right move and it was worth it, but it required a whole new skillset and mentality from me, and I had to pick them up the hard way.

So when I saw this print by Mike Monteiro at 20×200 last March, I bought it and put it right above my computer in my home. We are going to make it through this year if it kills us. Amen.

The other print of Mike’s that I strongly considered picking up read, May the bridges I burn light the way. I liked it partly for its hat tip to the family business, but mostly because I felt like my past and my freedom were going up in flames.

It sounds crazy (most things I believe do), but it’s not an unreasonable view. By saying Yes to huge things, you have to say No to nearly everything else. You kill new opportunities before they can appear because you no longer have space for them on your doorstep. Daydreaming about how you want to change the world stops being a good use of time, because now you have a focused direction. You answer the question of  “What do I want to be when I grow up?” for at least the next year, and it takes the fun out of the game. You lose that hungry, creative edge that helped you survive in constant uncertainty because that part of your brain isn’t challenged anymore. (That was valuable! You needed that!)

But the truth is, I had built that creative life so I could get to this point, and dive full-body into what matters to me. I’ve burned some bridges, but those fireworks were a celebration. Sometimes the only way to step onto a new path is to remove the other paths, and I’ll be damned if those flames aren’t lighting the way. I know where I’ve been and I know where I’m going, and it’s worth it. It’s hard as hell sometimes, but it’s absolutely worth it.

I made it through this year and it didn’t kill me. Thanks, Mike Monteiro.

And thanks, Emma. Thank you Will. Thank you Melissa. Thank you Bill. Thank you Sannse. Thank you Jen. Thanks to all of the genderqueers on Twitter and Tumblr. Thanks to all the staff at Genderfork, and to the new staff at Genderplayful. Thanks to my parents. Thanks to Alan. Thank you, Kyle.

And thanks to 2011 for finally fucking ending and being relatively well-behaved in the process. You did your job exactly right.

Here’s to 2012!

Heads up, this content is 11 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Good morning.

In a couple of hours, I’m going to a wedding in Dolores Park, at which all of the attendees will be dressed in white, preferably bridal gowns. It will look a whole lot like a Brides of March flash mob, except in september, and with a real wedding involved.

Last night, I hosted the six-year anniversary Queer Open Mic with my co-organizer, Baruch, who is an unstoppable force of creativity and community passion. Last night was one of the first nights in a long time that we ran out of time before we ran out of “if we have extra time” performers.  It sucks to have to turn people away from a microphone, but my head was still buzzing from all the art for hours afterward.

The night before that, I went to the unofficial BlogHer Debriefing dinner (reflecting on a conference I actually played hookie from this year, but have a long-standing relationship to). I walked out with a belly full of enchiladas, two work requests, and the firm encouragement from Shannon Rosa and Jennifer Byde Myers still rattling in my head, telling me I can do this. All of this. Telling me I’m doing better than I think I am.

On Tuesday, I’ll fly to New England for a week of rest, work, family, and foliage. (Mostly foliage.) I haven’t seen New England peak autumn foliage since I moved to California 6 years ago, and I know that emptiness has been getting to me because I painted my apartment red, yellow, and orange.  (BTW, if you’re in New England, the best way to see me on this trip is to be willing to come to me. I’ll probably be somewhere in New Hampshire, excepting a few stopovers in Massachusetts.)

Oh, and I got a laptop last week. I’m no longer tethered to the desktop in my studio apartment, working entirely from home. I can co-work now. I can build websites from hotel rooms. I can make the city my office. (I just have to learn to use a PC again is all.)

And this is all a long-winded way of telling you that I feel awake again.

There’s a poster in my kitchen that Hugh MacLeod drew on for me at at last year’s CrunchUp party. (That’s how he signs those posters. By drawing on them.) I told him, I feel stuck and stagnant and I don’t want to get up in the morning. Draw something that makes me feel awake. He drew this:

It took a year, but I’m feeling it now. I like getting up in the morning again. There’s stuff to do.  I have a team. I like my work. I have a new baby to feed, and it still has a long way to grow, but it already embodies everything I spent the last year trying to articulate.  I have a path now, and it’s not based on what people told me I should do. It’s what I found when I went looking for the things I care about.  And as far as I can tell, this direction didn’t even exist before (at least, not the way I want to do it). I made it up. That’s how I know it’s right.

And something completely freaking spectacular is happening to me because of this shift: I want to meet people again. For the first time in years, I’m interested in being social. I want to dance with everyone, to find more people to be close to, to listen to stories, to connect ideas, to engage.

When I felt lost, I disengaged from others quite a bit. On purpose. I couldn’t afford to fall into someone else’s agenda.

But now I feel unshakeable, and I want to keep walking.

See you soon.

Love,
Sarah

Heads up, this content is 11 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

It’s here — the holiday of all holidays — Geek New Year.  The intersection of the end of SXSW Interactive and St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone who made the annual pilgrimage to Austin, TX is wandering home, rubbing their eyes and thinking a thousand new thoughts about how the coming year will be. And drinking.

I skipped SXSW this year, and didn’t miss it much.  But apparently, 2009 Me took some steps to keep 2010 Me in the loop just so I wouldn’t feel left out.  I woke up this morning to an email I’d sent myself a year ago using FutureMe.org. The subject line read, “listenupmotherfucker.” (And I’m such a nice person to everyone else…)

If you’ve watched me twitter on New Years, you know I make a grandiose attempt to discourage everyone in the world from making resolutions.  Resolutions are often about picking something really hard that you feel guilty about, and throwing yourself at it drunkenly with all your might, only to fail in about a month. What does that really do, besides pull a few muscles and prove your incompetence?  We need better traditions.

Mine is writing a letter to myself a year in the future.  I include reminders, predictions, ideas, requests, and stories I want to carry forward.  It’s me having an ongoing, ritualized conversation between the past, the present, and the future, and I love it. I love watching my own story unfold in a correspondence with myself over time.

Except last year I fucked it up.

Last year I forgot to write myself a letter on New Years, and it bugged me for months.  So on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day and the end of SXSWi, after two weeks of traveling, I decided that despite being too wrecked to move, I could see the whole timeline of my life Very Clearly and had a LOT to say about it.

Here’s the letter I received this morning (with a few light revisions to make it more bloggable):

From: Sarah Dopp
To: Sarah Dopp
Date: March 17, 2010
Subj: From me to me, listenupmotherfucker.

Dear FutureMe,

It’s the last night of SXSW and I’m a fucking zombie. I’ve been traveling for two weeks — first a week in Portland and now this. Roomed with Melissa, Boffery’s a madman of vision, and Genderfork is exploding with passion. I want my Dopp Juice voice back. Queer Open Mic is getting its sea legs again, and occasionally I think about book deals and self-publishing. I’m speaking soon on gender and sexuality ambiguities, and in general, my life’s pretty fucking cool.

So why am I so stoned on exhaustion that I can’t even pack my fucking suitcase?

Okay, listen up. I skipped the letter from New Years so this one’s a few months late. Here’s the deal. You’re reading this in 2010, right? Shut up and keep talking. That’s my brilliant plan. Just do that, and you’ll be fine.

No, seriously, though. Here’s what you need to know:

1) Stop calling yourself an entrepreneur. It’s bullshit.

2) Don’t go back to school, even if you know you can. It’s bullshit, and you have better ways to spend your time.

3) If you forget the different between following your heart and doing what seems right, go read XKCD’s Fuck That Shit again.

4) If you get stuck, go read the Cult of Done Manifesto again.

5) Genderfork Book. Build the community. Meetups, volunteers, whatever.

6) Go talk to [redacted] about representing a community that you don’t see yourself as a complete representative of.

7) You can do this. You have to. You don’t know how not to.

Stay alive. I love you.

Sarah

p.s. I really like The Squeeze right now.

I must have been very tired, because I have absolutely no recollection of writing this.

I’m particularly fond of the line, “Shut up and keep talking. That’s my brilliant plan. Just do that, and you’ll be fine.”

And aside from that… yeah… this is how I talk to myself.

Go write your letter now.  It’s a new New Year.