This has been an interesting year. One that I feel I should document by giving thanks. I think of these events daily, so don’t think this is simply because Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I dislike that idea as much as only telling our loved ones of our affection on Valentine’s Day. Rather, this is a convenient time for me to reflect. So here goes.
I was notified that my work-in-progress paper was accepted for CHI 2010. This is a big deal, you guys. My adviser, Shaowen Bardzell, told me I was the only masters candidate to be accepted at my school, and the only other paper accepted was a 4th year PhD student. She told me to stop freaking about the future and accept the fact that I have represented myself and the school well. I am very thankful I have women like Shaowen Bardzell in my life for being an exemplar of a professional woman, yet approachable and willing to force perspective into view.
I began interviewing Steampunks of all sorts about how and why they became involved in the culture. I’m so thankful that nine people took time out of their busy schedules to speak with me to inform my thesis and help me realize who I am as well: A Maker.
I presented a sample of my work to the IST Conference at my grad school, Indiana University – Bloomington, and even though I broke all the presentation rules taught to the IST students, I got really positive reviews. Funny story: when walking past some professors I heard one of them talk about how symmetrical I was. I took this as a compliment, thinking he was talking about my presentation logic and flow. No indeed. He was talking about my genetics. He thought I was an attractive young lady and that the symmetry of my face played a part in that. I am thankful for the awkward stories that make me laugh when I think about them later.
My red glasses broke around this time and I bought a new set from Zenni Optical. I am so thankful that the internet makes it possible for me to afford new glasses at a steep, steep discount.
We began ramping up the Super Secret Meetings for our Super Secret Project for the professors. I am thankful that I found like-minded, assertive people like Chad, Lynn, Dane, Lorelei, and Yujia to help organize an entire cohort of people to make an amazingly heartfelt series of books for our professors.
Have I mentioned how thankful I am that I had a roommate like Lynn who could make me laugh with the ridiculous things she found on the internet? I’m going through old emails and am just cracking up. I should make a book of all the crazy stuff she finds. Just brilliant.
I am thankful I got to be a part of Shaowen receiving the teacher of the year award, and her first keynote at the local Women in Computing awards banquet. I had nothing to do with the selection, but I was happy to support her, especially after how she supported me with my thesis and doubts and suspicions I wasn’t nearly as smart as everyone had duped themselves into believing.
I am thankful for my friend Heiko (who I called “Teddy”), for following through with his promise to give me hugs whenever he saw me. That simple kindness got me through some tough times in graduate school.
I am thankful for my friend Matt who continued the role of older brother to me while I was figuring out some existential-crises-type moments.
I am thankful to Yvonne Lopez, who worked with me and the CHI admittance board to make it so I was able to afford to go to CHI, especially since I was a work-in-progress paper. I sent her a thank you note because I knew it couldn’t have been easy for her. She found my roommate, Lynn, at CHI just to tell her that my little note had made her year. I am thankful for the little things.
I am thankful that the professor books arrived and looked as gorgeous as we hoped. All of that work paid off, and I’m so happy that even with the slight hiccups that come with a group of passionate designers who come together, we were able to make an amazing product.
I am thankful my academic crush Daniel Fallman answered my email about the Bricoleur as an inspiration for my Maker conceptualization. It’s very gratifying when a known academic engages you intellectually.
I am thankful that even though it didn’t work out with PinPoint Logic, I made contacts with awesome people that I am able to keep up with through Twitter. I love meeting creative people.
I am thankful the room was standing-room-only for my capstone presentation. So many people who I never expected to come see my talk came, and if I hadn’t been about to present, I probably would have cried from the love I felt in that room.
I am thankful Allison allowed me to crash at her place while I tried to see all of my friends’ capstone presentations. I had no place to live in between my lease went up and the day I actually moved home.
I am thankful that my parents welcomed me into their home after I was unable to find a job right out of graduate school. Not only that, but they encouraged me to find a local swing club again, knowing that I needed to stay active to keep my spirits up.
I am thankful that Brandon put my name in the hat for my current job. HCI kids gotta stick together, and I am glad he thought of me.
I am thankful I have enough financial wherewithal to save enough to buy a used DSLR as a graduation present. I still love it.
I went to the motherland, Nigeria, with my entire nuclear family. Two weeks of international travel with little sleep, little actual food, and more experiences than I can attempt to describe. I am thankful for the opportunity to gain insight to my father through his culture. I am thankful my family was able to afford the journey, that we got there and back without any illness, and more. An experience of the lifetime.
I’m thankful when I sent out my masters thesis to the Steampunks I interviewed, they were very supportive of my work. I was so worried of disappointing or misrepresenting them!
I’m thankful Adrienne moved to Columbus so I could have a friend in town who I just really jive with. We are what my mother would describe as “fast friends.”
I’m thankful to have the opportunity that I do at my current occupation. I felt welcomed by my new co-workers and two generations of HCI folk. It was like coming home.
I’m thankful I took a risk and went to the local Swing Columbus dance. How I had gone months without dancing… I have no idea. I’m thankful an academic wanted to use my sketchnotes to illustrate his point in an edition of Interactions (even though later my sketchnotes were not chosen for whatever reason). I’m thankful I have lived 25 years.
I am thankful that my car broke down, forcing me to re-evaluate the importance of writing to me. Turns out writing is incredibly important to me. So much so, that I start up a Kickstarter to gather support so I can publish my second book. I am thankful for the support I received, monetary and otherwise. No one can attempt such a venture alone.
I am so very thankful that the Kickstarter project went through, but most importantly, I am thankful that I was able to prove to myself that I could write a solid book in four months, have it edited, do the interior and exterior layout, etc. I am thankful that I have a network of people who enabled me to do it on my own. I am thankful that I was able to have a successful book launch thanks to the help of Sugar Inc Cupcakes and Tea. I am thankful I met Ava and had the opportunity to build two websites for an amazing tea connoisseur.
I am thankful for the HCI Alumni weekend. I met amazing alumni and current students, one who has become such a dear friend. I am thankful to have such a new dear friend in my life.
I am thankful that I have remembered to be thankful. Because there are times I do, but don’t give myself credit for all that I do. And sometimes I don’t, and allow myself to be low. I am thankful that I have highs and lows, good times and bad, that life has complexity which keeps me guessing. I am thankful to you for having the patience to read this entire thing, if you have indeed.