Uncategorized #13 – Definitely Do Repeat Yourself

March 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

Our foyer has become somewhat of a hot zone. Ok, we don’t really have a foyer. Giant suburban homes have foyers. They also have multiple entrances, mud rooms, back porches and garages. We have a door that opens up to the apartment. There’s a tiny area right in front of the door where we take off our shoes, hang our coats, umbrellas, the stroller, the dog leash, the plastic cover that goes over the stroller when it’s raining out, towels to clean up the wet dog, towels to clean up ourselves, unread mail, packages, boxes, the outgoing trash, the cart we use to take laundry down the block and back. It’s all in this one corner I call the foyer and it’s a hot zone. Hot because it’s where we emerge from the outdoors—contaminated. It’s where we prep to take on the world—it’s our extremely leaky airlock.

There is this feeling though, which we’ve both brought up on separate occasions, like the air isn’t clean anymore—unsafe for general breathing. Each time we head outside, bundled up, gloves on, hats on, sun-glasses to protect our eyes—each time we push the stroller out the airlock and into the lobby—about 50 feet to the building entrance, down three steps, through the door and down three more steps—outside. Something about the air isn’t right anymore. Everyone we see outside is a danger—sick, like a zombie, wandering the city—or going for a jog in the park.

We do this a couple times a day. There is a dog that needs to be walked, there is a baby who needs to nap, and there are two humans who need a little fresh air and legs stretched. So we do this, repeatedly, keeping our distance, pulling over to the side of the walkway so others can pass, hiding our eyes from the zombies. On the other hand we’ve seen some new areas of the park we hadn’t previously explored.

This week has been an exercise in getting into a groove. It’s just the second week of the lockdown and we spent most of it juggling who’s going to take care of the baby while the other person does a work call, how we time naps to focus time, and keeping the house in order and stocked. It went ok, I guess.

The repetition has been making me think though. The old “rinse and repeat” the old “don’t repeat yourself” the old “measure twice, cut once.” I’ve been thinking about repetition, and how critical it is in all the things I do. It’s not exactly a routine, it’s more a re-do of a thing. It’s a path to discovery. You do a thing, you do it again, and something changes, mutates really, like a virus would.

I’ve been thinking about how many times I’ve re-written projects from scratch. It’s not that they were badly done, it’s just a mechanism for finding a new something, that thing that’s waiting out there just beyond, just out of reach and out of sight.

In grad school our visiting artist told me about his practice, and how repetition was so important to his work. Drawing a line, over and over, letting it deviate, trying to control it, letting it shift, letting it mingle, pulling it back. There is no masterpiece, there’s only a never ending series of trials.

This week has been a series of trials, experiments, and us as a family twisting and turning, shifting around in our seats, a little uncomfortable at first, and then relaxed, and then out of it all, some sort of thing resembling a routine, until it’s not and we start again.

Meanwhile

I’ve just about finished my little website project. I’ve ported over all the old content, and am about ready to flip the switch so the two or three visitors to the old site will land on the new site. I’ve decided to openly share my one tracking and analytics dashboard. I’m using a tool called Fathom to collect a small amount of anonymized data about my visitors, and you can have a look at the current dashboard right here.

This has been a fun project. I have plenty more to do on it, but it needs to remain something I hack away at in the evenings when everyone’s asleep. The website is just another project I will continue to build from scratch over and over. I say this now, because I know it’s true, even though I don’t want it to be. I’d love for this to be the final_final_v10.psd website, but it won’t be. A couple years from now, I’ll tear it all down and do it all over. It’s a practice. There is real truth to that for everyone. Nothing is permanent, everything grows and changes and evolves into the next thing—even websites.

It’s made me think about a few old projects though. I created a “projects” are on the site. I only have a couple projects there for now. One I re-wrote from scratch so that it can live on my own website forever, independent of external APIs and services that are out of my control. It’s mine now, and it will just evolve and get re-written whenever it needs to. Another is a project I started back in grad school that no longer works for those same reasons. So, I thought I’d try and re-write it as well, replacing the part that doesn’t work with an entirely new idea. We’ll see.

There is documentation, and there is a new version and a version history. There is repetition and there is routine. The trick is to just keep doing.

I hope you have a great week!

Micah


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