Read more on my post at Holy Kaw.
There must have been half a dozen times in the past few months when autumn cool has swept San Francisco, and I declared it a new season—time for scarves and hats and coats and boots and hot pumpkin lattes. But, just as quickly as fall arrived, summer would flush the air again and bring wind hot and heavy with heat and broad, generous sunshine. So is September and October in the Bay.
We had one of those heat waves a few weeks ago. Tom—our resident Midwest loyalist whose many skills include checking the weather—announced that it was going to be a beautiful Saturday, which called for bbqing in Mission Dolores Park. Quickly, we realized that none of us actually owned a hibatchi or had any time to get meat, so plans were adjusted for a potluck picnic on what was forecasted to be one of the nicest days in the year.
If you've never been to Mission Dolores Park, it is somewhere between a playground, the DMV, Central Park, a bark park, and one big bong. And it is totally appropriate for children. Frisbees, balls, and dogs fly freely, and all manner of people come out to sit on the green hills and do exactly whatever they want. Sometimes police vans arrive and sit at the foot of the hill and watch.
But for our part, we had planned an innocuous picnic, and I was happy to pick out two bottles of Italian soda, soft brie, blue cheese, duck pate, and a baguette.
Which all seemed to be a wonderful idea until we realized that none of those foods held up very well in the rogue summer heat. The brie became runny, the blue cheese got gooey, and the pate turned suspicious. Which is why our romantic picnic foods became a sorry idea shielded by a large shade tower made of Ruffles potato chips:
Oh well, lesson learned: No more soft foods on hot San Francisco days—unless eaten quickly. :-)
I love Bodum products for their sleek design and practical functionalities. Aside from my trusty, old Fresh press, I especially love my thermal cups — delicate, doubled-walled glass cups that keep hot things hot and cold things cold.
So it excites me to see this new hot chocolate set, which is — OK, OK — maybe not as practical as my thermal glasses. But it would seem to be a pretty sweet indulgence for the cold winter nights ahead.
San Francisco, 5:15 p.m.
It felt quiet in San Francisco last night. It was the first work day since time fell forward on Sunday and by 4, the cold edges of the evening were already creeping in. By 5, the city was growing blue with darkness. Temperatures dropped a few days earlier, and together with the light, the crowds downtown seemed hushed, almost preoccupied with themselves — sort of like when first snow falls and the whole world goes muffled from the covering; people walk slowly from the awe and from the fear of falling (though we don’t have any of this here).
It was cold — I could feel it in my fingers — and I watched people walk toward me in their light California jackets with their arms hugging their own bodies for warmth or with their hands dug deep into their pockets.
I look forward to these days in a similar way that I loved Chicago. It means coming home in darkness and hands numbed with cold. You’ll get a headache and realize that it’s actually your ears burning from the chill. But it’s so nice to be inside.
I think the beginning of fall (or is it winter here?) might be starting.
I had a dream last night that I was back in college. It was shady and cool out—maybe even a little warm, like when a temperate fall day is turning to dusk. Everything was still very green, the thick grass and the tall tress. I noticed that there was no snow yet, which made me feel it was the beginning of the school year, since snow is liable to blanket Evanston by October or November and stay as long as it likes, often well into the spring. I was walking back from Norris, the student union, across the heart of the campus between the language building and the library, and suddenly I realized where I was. I was still in college. I was still learning and taking classes. Just a moment ago, it seemed I was lost in thought and felt that I had some kind of job, but none of it was true, I realized. I was so elated by this discovery and so caught in the breath of life that I raised both of my arms in the air, like one would do in the very height of The Wave, and began running along the pathways of the Northwestern campus, feeling the cool air against my arms and admiring the buildings and the trees and feeling like I had embraced everything that I was living. I felt appreciation for my place in life bloom inside of me, like the air rushing between my fingers, and I was just so glad that I didn't take the moment for granted.
"Each channel offers a unique formula for engagement where brands become stories and people become storytellers. Using a transmedia approach, the brand story can connect with customers differently across each medium, creating a deeper, more enriching experience. Transmedia storytelling doesn’t follow the traditional rules of publishing; it caters to customers where they connect and folds them into the narrative."
I have an obvious bias toward this because not only is my official work title Storyteller—we're also spearheading corporate social media at work. So I can say with complete conviction that stories are at the center of good social media (and most good marketing, writing, and reporting, I believe).
I went to Napa last weekend and told one of the wine experts that I didn't know very much about wine. He said, "I used to be 'snobby' about my wine. I looked for things that were wrong with all types of wine. I only liked certain labels. But I got to a point where I realized there is always at least one thing thing good about every wine."
Seeing something good in everything. That, I think, is part of good living.
Because I want this to be a catchall for all my storytelling learnings, I indulge in doubleposting from my other blog:
Presentation Zen has a very good post on storytelling lessons from Bill Cosby, leveraging Cosby’s Carnegie Mellon commencement speech in 2007. The blogger extracts two significant key points:
“Don’t talk yourself into not being you.”Tell stories from your own life
Cosby’s main story began about five minutes in and is one anyone can relate to. All of us have talked ourselves into thinking we don’t belong or battle with self-confidence, etc. His point—which his true story brought out—is that we must not talk ourselves out of being who we really are. Cosby touched on the idea that being nervous (“but I was nervous”) or other such excuses that we often use get in the way of us bringing our true self to the job (or school, etc.). People do not care about your excuses, they care only about seeing your authentic self. As Cosby said “people came to see you” not some version of what you think they want or need. “I don’t care what you do,” said Cosby, “when you are good, then you bring you out.” “It’s not for you to stand around and measure yourself according to diplomas and degrees. You are you—and you are not to put yourself beneath anybody!”
People crave authenticity just about more than anything else, and one way to be your authentic self and connect with an audience is by using examples and stories from your own life that illuminate your message in an engaging, memorable way. Below are three more examples of Bill Cosby telling stories during stand-up or while being interviewed. Watch and learn (and try not to laugh…if you can).
I love these lessons because I think they’re so true. Personal stories are so powerful, and their effectiveness is grounded in the person you are. Stand up, and tell your stories! Because they matter.
You can watch Bill Cosby’s full speech here (does anyone else feel compelled to always say his first and last name?):
And be sure to check out Presentation Zen’s full post for more great insights and some sample stories from Bill Cosby, the master of charm himself.
Me: I found myself becoming a Chinese mother. I said to Josh, "What about law school? Wouldn't you like that? You could learn all about reasoning. Have a good job."
Sonja: You totally became a Chinese mother.
Me: But I'm too young for it.
Sonja: But it happened. It happened.
I live in one of those tall apartment buildings in SOMA. I think it's technically called "affordable luxury" because it has a pretty good view and a guard who sits at the front, but it doesn't have its own private park or olympic-sized pool or Korean sauna or heated roof cabanas or fancy gyms that require your fingerprint for entry. Personally, I like to think about it as "makeshift luxury," partially because the concept of "making do" has always appealed to me (thank you, Hatchet!). But the other thing is that I can look out my window and look into the windows of hundreds of other brand-name apartments and fancy hotels.
Truth be told, I'm crazy thankful for an apartment like ours. But it was the exercise of constant looking that bothered me. Living in SOMA is a seemingly continuous meditation in what you have and what you don't. It's partially what happens when folks of such extreme economic diversity live in such close quarters. You can find some of the fanciest hotels in the city. And you can find homeless people sleeping on their sparkly sidewalks.
That's I started to think about that the Biblical concept of not coveting.
I will analyze anything. And when I notice someone I admire or like, that's what I do. What exactly do they do? How did they get there? What is the difference between them and me? How can I do what they do?
But now that I think about it, it doesn't seem particularly healthy. You can still be good at your job without constantly comparing. You can still reach your goals. You might even execute more confidently. And you might be a better, more generous person.
My proposal to myself is, for one week, not to wish I had anything anyone else does. Friends getting engaged? Nicer apartments? Cushy jobs? I will make a mental note and not waste time on it.
The clincher to everything is that there is so much to be thankful for. An amazing city. A job that I love. A fantastic boss who, until now, I didn't believe existed outside the annals of HBR. Very kind friends. And a very caring best friend.
Note: I already know that I will be editing this more tomorrow. But so it goes. I think Anne Lamott calls these "shitty drafts." Also known as my blogposts. :-)
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.