Manual Rewind

Sometimes in order to move forward, we need to take a step back.

It’s easier said than done though, like most rewarding decisions. Pausing whatever it is that we’re doing in order to reevaluate the situation feels like quitting. Personally, I’m at a crossroads in my life where I can move forward with the way things are, or change my environment and focus on my priorities until I’m ready to figure out where to go next. The conclusion I’ve come to is that right now is an opportune moment for me to take a leave of absence from work to answer some of those questions.

With that said, the question came up of how I would use my time away from work. Since the moment I left Iceland last year I’ve felt those black sand beaches tugging at my heart, trying to pull me back. I felt at home in those other-worldly fjords, nestled in the conversations of people speaking an ancient language, telling tales of their unique brand of folklore. Iceland was a sensory overload for me, not just because of its natural beauty or surprisingly delicious food (not everything is pickled), but because I could tell from the moment my feet touched those lava beds that my heart was open.

Perhaps most importantly I recall Iceland as a place that can help facilitate growth in the 3 areas I want to focus on:

1) Unplug

The first condition I want to address is that of being “unplugged.” In 2012 I went to Israel and never used my phone or computer, as was the case with most of my fellow Birthright group members. I felt more present than I had in years, and as a result the friendships I made over those 10 days not only persisted through the years, but strengthened. I won’t be purchasing an international plan for my phone, and if I don’t deactivate Facebook, I hope at the very least that I can spend enough time away from my computer to lessen my addiction to it. I do plan on updating Instagram with pictures since Iceland is hella pretty, so follow me if a month without hearing from me is too much to bear.

2) Create

I see this leave of absence as an opportunity to focus on some of the projects that having a full time job leaves me too tired to address. My fiancé’s mom has generously equipped me with all the watercoloring supplies a novice sketchbooker could need, but for the most part they remain untouched due to lack of time and creative energy. My goal for this leave is to draw something at least once a day, like the below postcard I sketched after my last trip to Iceland.


I also intend to write every day, even if it’s just this blog or snippets of fiction.

3) Move

Whether it’s going on a hike to look for a good drawing subject or swimming in Iceland’s curiously popular public pools, I want to move for at least 30 minutes every day. Moving is good for the ol’ bones, so I’m going to give my bod a little bit of love. At the very least, I won’t have the excuse of San Francisco’s hills to keep me from running.

In making this choice, I recognize that I’m replicating the same first-world white-person nonsense as that Eat Pray Love book. Stuff’s not working out at home, so I’m going to run away to a country that starts with an “i” to discover 3 qualities about myself and then come back to find Julia Roberts has stolen my likeness. I’m sure I’m not the first person to experience their quarter life crisis in this way, but it’s my privilege and I’m sticking to it!

San Francisco Sex Positions (NSFW)


If you love San Francisco as much as you love getting it on, then try out this list of sex positions modeled after some of the landmarks, neighborhoods, and bits of culture that make SF the noteworthy place that it is. Like San Francisco, these moves are perfect for people of any sexual orientation, gender identity, or partner pairing.

Whether you’re on vacation and missing home, or maybe you’re just a little oddly attracted to the city itself (we’ve all been there), you can use this list and willing partners to start exploring San Francisco from a whole new point of view.

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Here’s another short story I wrote for The Bold Italic about crime data in SF reimagined as 3D-printed crystals.


That crystal in the image above represents crimes that have happened in San Francisco in a three month period. Really bad crimes (e.g. kidnapping) are represented by larger cubes and less severe ones (e.g. possession of drugs) are smaller cubes.

Confused? San Francisco artist Scott Kildall‘s project Data Crystals is a series of 3D-printed sculptures, generated algorithmically from open datasets for the public to use. Other cities all over the country are embarking on similar open data projects, but no one is visualizing these facts quite like Scott is.

The primary question that drives Scott’s work is “What does data look like?” We’ve seen maps, we’ve seen statistics, but using data as sculptural material – like clay, plaster, or steel – helps us see what’s going on in San Francisco in an entirely new, more tangible way.

I met Scott during his time at Autodesk’s Artist in Residence program, and got to check out his innovative work up close.

This crystal above represents the locations of SF’s civic art collection, or works that the city has commissioned. You’ll notice a lot of cubes running vertically, representing art near City Hall. The tail on the left represents the art commissions at SFO.

And this crystal visualizes construction permits in San Francisco. The cube size represents the building size – large cubes = large buildings with 300+ units.

Find out more about Scott’s work via his Twitter (@kildall) and on his website.