Category Archives: Otherwise

Focus, focus, focus.


Last Tuesday, Kelly and I went ice skating downtown. I don’t think that this has anything to do with my intentions of “focusing” but, I thought that it was a worthwhile mention of me, having fun, out in the great, big world.

So, I was walking downtown this afternoon, on my way to see Lynda Barry speak at RISD, and I was suddenly concerned with the idea, while my biggest new year’s intention was to “Learn to focus, asshole”, I have no actual idea of how to make that happen. No syllabus. No rubric. No website where a pretty lady with a calming accent will freestyle encouraging messages over a video of her, say, reading a book without picking up her phone every 4 minutes and playing with the dog every 9.

On the other hand, I am trying to commit myself to this 30-day workout challenge thing. I think these things are are inherently lame. QED. But it does serve to make a vast subject a bit more manageable. There are a million workouts you can do but it’s easier to focus when the pleasant voice sez: focus on this one for this period of time. I’m really hoping that I can glean something from this experience. Besides fierce muscles. ‘Natch.

Sorry, hippies. You can try to convince me that meditation is the way and the light but I’m just going to turn the music up louder, bit by bit, until what I am doing becomes obvious. Namaste or whatever.

I’ve been really frustrated, lately. I feel like I spend so much time thinking about business and very little time working on business. And that feels not-so-good. But then, I take time to see go skating or spend time making eye-contact with a friend, and that feels….well. Good. But also like I am avoiding “getting shit done.” And no matter how many times I yell, “FOCUS, NOVAK!” I can’t get my butt in the studio and into the brain space of, what Lynda Barry was calling, “deep play”. It’s that zone that people get into that sometimes causes them to say things like, “Man. I was really in the zone.” I tend to think of it as being in a focused mindspace that has felt the same ever since childhood. One that is really lucid and I can move through with ease. Emotionally: very good. Check plus. On the downside, I tend to get majorly agitated upon snapping out of this type of revery. Sorry, Dave. BUT! Tonight, I got so charged up post-lecture that I overshot. Too much thinking about good brain space canceled out being able to slip into said good brain space. Oops. Round and round.


Speaking of, it seems that the vortex of the boardwalk is just too difficult to escape. The cars from the “Musik Express” ride have been washing up on the shore, one-by-one, returning to the land that nurtured them. Patience, patience, patience. Focus, focus, focus. (A teenage employee exclaiming, “Do you want to go FASTER?!” over throbbing techno music. The answer is always “Yes.” )

(Also, this week, I attended an antique bottle show and, in doing so, became a true parody of myself.)(Parenthetically.)



Looking like this.

Looking like this.

Crap. It’s New Year’s Eve. Already.

The last week of December seems to draw itself out so long that it’s end is kind of a shock, right? Like, it will never come.

Feeling like this.

Feeling like this.

Last year, my intentions for this year were brief: 1) Be better about working out. 2) Learn to take a compliment. Shockingly, the first was easier to accomplish than the second. Not that I’m ripped and ready for bikini season or anything, but I did manage to do some sort of vigorous physical activity at least 3 days a week for the entire year (although it was a little rough going during October… which was a month of illness, anxiety, and social-avoidance… which was, you know. A bummer.) I think that I didn’t really get good and serious about what I was doing until May or June, however. I went from being able to run only a few blocks to being able to, dependably, run 1 mile. A few times, I ran 2 miles. Once, I think I ran just shy of 3 miles. This is a really, really big deal for me and I’m trying not to let my brain diminish it. Every day that I ran, I was literally doing a thing that I had never done before. I took it pass/fail. And it was scary. So, so scary.

Since the onset of cold and dark wintery times, I’ve switched my attention over to It great because it’s short, free, and easy to do at home. It also really works those muscles and makes it easy to track your improvements. I mean, in my arms, I have a visible bicep muscle. You can see it. In both of them. Whoa.

Photo on 2012-12-10 at 21.43

Taking a compliment is difficult. I usually say, “Thank you.” or “Hey, thanks!” Whatever. It’s weird. It will always be weird. No matter how fly my hair color looks or how tight I know my outfit game to be. Special thanks go to the Jeep full of teen boys who yelled “Nice hair!” at me when I was crossing the street in front of them. When I turned to look, they all gave me double-thumbs-up, 8 hands sticking out of the windows and sunroof.

This year, 2013, I intend to work on my ability to focus. How? I don’t know, yet. Brute mental force, maybe? Hypnosis? Eating more local, organic vegetables? Something about my chi? The world is an interesting and distracting place where I can read blogs like Grey Cavalier instead of being a more useful human being who, for example, efficiently runs their own business out of their attic. My secondary intention is to amp my exercise up to 5 days a week. Fingers crossed and place your bets on which will be more successful.


Greetings from Christmas Island



(image is factually inaccurate to heading but, hey! why prevent such a good entendre from doubling?)

1/111th the Number of the Beast.


Dave and I are celebrating 6 years of non-married bliss today. We’re going to Boston to eat, relax, and see SWANS. In this moment, life is good. Smell ya later, y’all.


Thank you, Providence, Rhode Island for being my adopted home for the past 6 years.

Look at what a young, little thing I was!

You’ve changed, Providence, but I love you anyway. Here’s to 6 more! (Unless this economic doomsday infomercial I am watching is true and we are all destitute by December. Invest in natural gas and gold bars, they say. Invest in a bicycle-based economy, I say.)

It’s Been…

kind of a weird day. In vague chronological order:

-Dreamed that I was all jazzed to go to the Museum of Nuclear Fallout. Upon entering, I realized that I was actually dreaming and that my mind knows NOTHING about nuclear fallout. Therefore, the exhibits were limited to 1) “It’s Snowing in Places it Shouldn’t Be!” 2) “The Decontamination Experience” wherein you can choose to wear a suit and be the DECONTAMINATOR or get poked and sprayed as the DECONTAMINATEE. I chose “decontaminator” but woke up while standing in line to wear the suit.

Worked, more or less, efficiently.

Walked downtown. Ran errands. Saw a man made of circles and a mustache, spread-eagle, reading his junk mail, on a table.

Stepped on, and subsequently slipped on, the remains of a small dead thing. Just as some dude was going to ask me for change.

Anxiety attack. Grocery shopping.

Lots of crying. Weeping into the dog. Occasional breaks to take a bite of my black bean burger or sip of my root beer. Giant, hot, heavy tears.

-Quieted demons with “My So-Called Life” on Netflix and more work.

Impossibly well-timed massage.

Saw two  (2) leather daddies on a tandem bike ride down Broadway.

Martin caught a chicken then humped it in the gentlest manner.

Bonkers good dinner of grilled salmon and jicama salad with Vietnamese iced coffee (just as good as, but more refreshing than, their guerilla warfare.)

Bats flying around right outside the kitchen window!

Burn on arm got inflected. I’ve tried washing it and rubbing on ointment. I’ve tried eating an entire clove of garlic. Just to cover all my bases, what is the best healing crystal to place atop small burns received from a domestic steam iron?

Keep it safe, keep it sane, kids.

Focused Like A God Damn Laser.

Or, I am trying.


what the inside of my head feels like, all the time.

My ability to focus seems to be trailing further and further behind me in my daily life. My fervent work ethic, my type-a advantage, my singularly-minded attention: all fainter and fainter whispers traveling to me from an increasingly distant past. I’m getting older, my body hurts, I sat on the couch all night with the dog, and I’ll be damned if I can keep my intentions and actions straight.

It’s becoming a problem. I’ll start one thing, go “Oh!”, move to that other idea, punctuate that with another exclamation, do something else, and continue this cycle for hours. At the end of the day or week or month, I am surrounded by so many half-done things. Their half-done-ness causes a rising feeling of panic. That panic, the cheekily characterized little devil, is packing a whip, just for me- some good, old fashioned, self-flagellation.  “Gawd. I work so much but I can’t get anything done. Nothing! I work all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. But still, I have so very little of coherence to show for it. Obviously, this is because I am a shitty person who is also stupid. Stupid and talking to themselves while they type… probably mouthing along, too. God. What a terrible person.

This can’t be my life anymore. That thing about working smarter, not harder? It’s probably true.

So, after reading a post on habit development by Sarai M. over at the Colette Sewing Blog, I’ve decided that, in addition to constantly refining my lived environment, my possessions, my style, my goddamn living room: the craphole thorn in my side! – I must also refine my work habits and refining my work habits means learning to sustain my focus. And sustaining my focus means DOING FEWER THINGS. What a revelation. E=MC AWESOME.

Thus, to improve business, instead of rushing to change branding and packaging and a website and advertising and one million trillion other things to work on, I’m going to choose, like, 2 WITH CARE projects to work on each month. That’s it. 2. But in exchange, those 2 things will be really, really well done. Sure, other fiddily little things will probably sneak in (a la all that resin currently setting up on my bench as we speak) but I’m really looking forward to allowing myself the mental space and time to be devoted to working out ideas, putting them through their paces, and ending each month with something pretty amazing.

My sketchbook is lousy with ideas, pages all starting to fall out and over written to a pulp. I’ve sat myself down a spent entire Mad Men episodes banging out ideas. In a way, I feel like I’m giving back to the state of New Jersey. Look! I’m using my education that you gave me! Thanks, Garden State public school system. Tonight, I reinstalled my wireless printer/scanner. This month’s objective will require some of both and this is the first step to getting it done. I feel good. I feel good, good, good.

Hands up, who has adult on-set ADD?

The Prodigal Bicycle.

If you love something, let someone steal it from your back hallway during the daytime, when you are home. If it comes back to you over two years later, put a better lock on it.

That is, two years ago, my beloved 2008 SE Lager (year/brand/style) was stolen from our back hallway while I was busy watching one of those Twilight movies (“Only God can judge me!” “But? You don’t…” “Exactly.”) I was really sad and mad and all that stuff that happens when someone comes into your house during the daytime and steals your main mode of transport and best friend. But, with the help of nicer, fancier, cooler bike, I got over it and moved on, literally. Zing!

But then, last Monday, I got a call from a friend saying that they had found my bike at a small shop in Woonsocket. It never even left the state! I came by the next day, gave a positive identification, and toted it home, worse for wear and covered in ugly stickers.

This week, I used all the knowledge that I had learned from my Recycle-a-bike mechanic course and put a new life on an old friend. I still have some things to do, like a new chainring to replace the mashed-to-heck one on the front, but, I think things are looking really good.

I had been considering the purchase of a new around-town bike for a while since my sturdy, multi-geared bike is often too much like riding a tank and my fixed gear is fun but can be tiring and has no room for racks or baskets. It’s more like riding an idea than a bicycle. The brown bike splits the difference for now. Only one gear, but it’s fairly easy. Not only can I add a rear rack, but there is plenty of room for my nice, handmade panniers. Mmmmm. It’s kind of weird for me to think about how, when this was stolen, I couldn’t have done any of these alterations by myself. Now, given the proper tools, some time, and enough curse words, I could strip this bike apart and rebuild it within a couple of days. I wonder if taking that first ride on brakes that you have adjusted yourself ever stops being nerve-wracking.
Big thanks to Jess, Christian, and Dick L. of Quality Used Bicycles for helping in its safe return.

Odds and Ends.

The biggest odd and/or end is that finally works! Ya hoo.

Maybe you noticed that little bit of blazingly exciting information occupying your navigation bar this past week. Kudos to anyone who did. Truly, if I am ever hit by a car or mugged by a crook or forced to kill someone with my bare hands, I hope that you are there to be an impartial witness. Also worth witnessing are the new header images both here and one the Etsy shop. Thrills abound.

Those are some behind the scenes images from a small wholesale order that I worked on last week. Watch out, Portland, OR. I’m coming at you.


This is the neighbors’ chicken coop, located outside my studio window (and down three floors). Last year, it was rather tiny but this year it has been turned into some kind of chicken Club Med. Lots of food, lots of drink, some statuary, two roosting boxes and yet, those assholes still try to make a run for it and investigate the native lands at least once a day. Enjoy what you have, chickens!

This past Saturday, I went back down to New York City to hang out with 2/3’s of the friends I made at college that I still talk to on anything vaguely like a regular basis. Saturday ended with a 2am Astoria, Queens karaoke sesh. It was helped along by the $12 champagne special. I didn’t take many photos outside of this one (to prove that I actually attended a karaoke bar) and a low-quality video of my pal, Dan, doing Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. Since I doubt he would be too happy with me for posting that up here (and would surely retaliate with a video of my rendition of Yazoo’s Don’t Go), I’ll post the other photo I took during this trip: the painting of majestic ponies stampeding against the storm. It’s hung in his apartment hallway.

And to round it up, here’s the lost carnival roller coaster that I was stuck behind today while running errands for work.



And the Winner Is.

Congratulations, Samantha Krause!!!! You’re the winner, kid! I’ll be in touch with you shortly.

Biggest of thanks to all of those who entered. I’m envisioning a beautiful future of more give aways and fun.

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