July 17, 2010
I’ve been a member of drupal.org and a Drupal professional for approximately four years. The Drupal project is a huge part of my life. My professional life is currently largely based on this project. A large part of my social life is tied up with Drupal too… Many of my very best friends are people I met via involvement with Drupal. I love the Drupal project and I love the people of the Drupal project. Being involved with Drupal has brought many positive things to my life.
Professionally, I identify as a Drupal themer. My resume of stuff I’m worked on generally impresses people.
My identity in the project probably falls more along the lines of Drupal socialite. I’m reasonably well known by people, but less for contribution and more for the fact that I’ve knitted a Drupal hat and a Druplicon, and I sported Drupal blue hair for about a year.
I’m in a place right now where I’m not particularly happy with the way my professional life is going.
In terms of everyday working life, I’m feeling a little bit stuck. I’ve been working on essentially the same project for two years. I’m tired of it, I’m not learning, and I want to move on.
I’m not happy with my identity within the community. I’m ashamed of the fact that I hit my four year Drupalversary last month and I’ve never committed a line of code to the project itself.
However, I seem to be stuck.
I’m in a position right now where my everyday work doesn’t require me to do a lot of heavy lifting. The platform I’m working on is already built. It has some irritating idiosyncrasies to work around, but my day in and day out pretty much boils down to views configuration, block placement, CSS and the occasional views tpl override.
It’s been over two years since I had any involvement in site building. Things have changed a lot since then.
Looking for a new job when you feel like your skills have atrophied significantly isn’t easy. I worry a little that the fact that I’m being openly honest about that is going to reflect negatively on me and I won’t be hired anywhere, and the fact that I don’t know this stuff like the back of my hand doesn’t really make me feel very confidant about striking out on my own.
I also have a really difficult time reaching out to ask for help. I’ve been around the Drupal block, there’s an assumption that I know my shit. It’s difficult to swallow my pride and admit that I don’t know what I’m doing, can someone walk me through this so I’m going down the right path? I find myself kneecapping myself a little too… Instead of taking opportunities at Drupalcon and DrupalCamps to be a student, I find myself running around being a social butterfly…. largely because I find myself so frustrated by the fact what I’m learning can’t be immediately incorporated into my day job.
I’ve been trying to figure out ways to get me out of this rut I seem to be in.
My idea today was to maybe give porting a theme that was originally designed for WordPress to Drupal, but I all of the sudden hit the fear wall. What was the “right way” to get started on this? I went digging into Drupal’s getting involved documentation and started feeling flustered instead of empowered. Not because anything that was said there was difficult, it was just that I had a gripping fear of “doing it wrong”.
I start thinking a bit along these lines…
Okay, so before I apply for a CVS account and start a project, I need to make something… Fair enough. But how do I start? What’s the best practice for developing something like this? Should my test bed have some version control? How do I even set that up? Good god, I don’t even know how to check anything out from CVS to install it. Someone’s going to tell me I need Drush, I don’t even know what that is other than it has something to do with the command line. I hate the command line. It scares me. I’m still using FTP for my personal stuff. Everyone says that’s doing it wrong. When I do this professionally I have someone to do this stuff for me. What do I do? What do I do? Oh fuck it, I’m just going to go take a nap instead.
I find myself wondering if I’m doomed to this pattern forever and if I wouldn’t be better off becoming a waitress.
Has anyone else ever been through this? How do you dust off the cobwebs? How do you not get overwhelmed and frustrated with the things that you don’t know and feel yourself fighting against knowing? Thoughts appreciated.
June 21, 2010
Amanda Palmer is one of those artists that I ended up getting turned onto a little bit late. By all rights, I should have been a fan of The Dresden Dolls in the early 2000s. A large portion of what was in heavy rotation on my computer and CD player at that point in history was Boston and indie… but for some reason The Dresden Dolls didn’t really pop up on my radar. I know I knew they existed, but for whatever reason I never sought out any of their music when they were active. Not really sure why.
Instead, I was introduced to Amanda Palmer by some internet sharing.. First from an Australian friend, Fiona who had shared a link to her Oasis music video and second from my friend Darius who had written a blog post at one point to the effect of not really caring for the punk cabaret aesthetic and had linked off to Amanda’s Leeds United video.
While I was certainly drawn toward the music, I have to admit… what captivated me the most about her is that she’s just another person off the street… a creative one that’s figured out how to do what she wants in life and just fucking does it. That I find admirable. It’s evidenced in her online presence. When she blogs, it’s open and honest… and quite honestly, no different than any other regular Joe blogger I know. She just writes about things like her experiences on the road, she responds to criticism publicly, she’s been transparent about the business aspect of things.
So, why am I suddenly talking about this?
I had the opportunity to see the closing show of the Evelyn Evelyn tour at House of Blues on Saturday evening.
Let’s back up for a minute to explain a few things. First of all, who/what is Evelyn Evelyn? Conjoined twin sisters that are characters that were created and performed by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley with a rather tragic story. The Evelyn Evelyn project raised a considerable amount of controversy, in my opinion due partly due to the fact that Evelyn Evelyn was introduced to the wider public as a real people that Amanda and Jason had discovered rather than a character that they created and partly due to the fact that their story was so outrageously dark and depressing. Amanda and Jason were accused of being exploitative and insensitive in the choice of using conjoined twins for their character. I read a great deal about the Evelyn Evelyn controversy, but in the end largely abstained from making much of a comment about it until I was able to see it for myself.
When Evelyn Evelyn came to New York City the week before last, I was too broke to afford tickets despite rather wanting to see the show. One of the things that Amanda often does with her shows is to give away tickets on Twitter, so on the first night I entered the contest to win some… and won a ticket. Trouble was, I misread the time that the show started and it happened to start shortly after an already scheduled appointment I had… and there was no way I was going to be able to get there on time. So, disappointingly, I had to tweet back to pass them on to someone else. I entered in for the next few nights shows, and not surprisingly didn’t win them. So, at that point, I’d given up hope of seeing the show before it closed.
However, I was in Boston this weekend for Drupal Design Camp which coincided with the last show of the tour. I entered in to the contest for the Boston tickets, and quite surprisingly won a pair. I managed to convince DJ to come with me, despite vocalizations of his skepticism that this was going to be any good.
The show opened with Sxip Shirey, who immediately became one of my new favorite performers. His music is mainly made up of harmonica and other assorted random things that make sounds… things like, a marble in a bowl. His music extremely odd but quite beautiful. He opened with stories of Brooklyn and I Live in New York City, which for obvious reasons I loved, despite feeling incredibly awkward that I was in Boston and in a venue that was across the street from Fenway Park. Admittedly that’s a bizarre way to feel considering that I doubt much of the crowd cares about baseball and Brooklynites have typically been Mets fans ever since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Sxip Shirey’s set gave way to the Evelyn Evelyn set, which was a quite impressive feat of watching Amanda and Jason play piano, accordion, and guitar… each contributing one hand to playing. The set didn’t lay out the entire story of Evelyn Evelyn (for that, listen to the album particularly the tragic events tracks), but it laid out enough for someone new not to be entirely lost. Since the set was more focused on the music, and less on the story… it was decidedly less dark than I’d anticipated.
There was a brief intermission, then Jason Webley came out and performed a few songs on his own, then Amanda joined him and then she did a few songs on her own, and they closed with an invitation to an afterparty and a drinking song.
All in all, a really awesome show. I just wish I had the money to buy some merchandise and give back toward all of their efforts… but for now, all I can say is thank you for the tickets to the show. It was a wonderful experience.
May 3, 2010
This is what happens when you leave me home alone on a Friday night in New York City. I start proposing crazy shit. So, Drupal is a pretty unique open source project in the sense that it has this community of individuals around it who are very passionate people. They’re passionate about Drupal itself, they’re passionate about other things too… family, community, art, politics to name a few things that I’ve seen Drupal folk be passionate and excited about.
One of the things that I absolutely love about Drupalcon is what happens socially. Sure, we’ve all gathered to talk about hooks and theme functions during the day, but invariably we end up talking about things that are important to us… about our families, about politics, about music and the arts, about video games, about love, about philosophy… and one of the things that’s so beautiful is I get to talk about other stuff with people who I don’t have to explain what this Drupal thing is and why it’s such a big part of my life. This is something I found I missed a lot in between Drupalcons.
How do we keep the spirit of Drupalcon alive year round?
For the most part, we do this with various sorts of meetup structures…. whether that be something informal like Worldwide Drupal Happy Hour, monthly Drupal meetups or DrupalCamps. These are all excellent things to have as a community, but they’re a little limited by geography. Not everybody lives near a city that has a regular meetup. I was thinking about ways to bring that spirit of getting to know each other and lighthearted fun and intelligent discussion into an online space. It’s at least been my experience that sometimes the only thing I talk to Drupal people about online is Drupal.
So, here’s what I’m thinking… either a podcast or a video cast, but I’m thinking a podcast because it’s easier to patch together audio from multiple locations that way… a host with two guests, everyone brings with them an idea or two of things to talk about… a current event, a thought about something, a funny joke, whatever… and we sit and have an intelligent discussion about these things. Different people every episode. The whole purpose is to get to know people in the community.
Thoughts? Feedback? I don’t really want to invest any time into it if there isn’t an interest in the idea obviously.
March 7, 2010
I think I’m going to call the Project 365 thing I’ve been doing a fail…. I’m not going to stop posting photos, but doing the photo every day thing gets a little demanding, and as stressful as the past couple weeks have been I just haven’t been in the mood for focusing on taking photos.