artsy fartsy,  Life Lessons,  out out out of the house!,  photography,  spilling my guts,  The Desert,  travel

Hey, It’s me!


Hi! It’s been a minute since I have shown up here. Like fifty zillion minutes ticking away. But I’m back and I want to do better.  I want to be here more. Things have been happening lately. I finally saved up enough for a new camera! Remember how my old one got stolen in Italy? I borrowed my publisher’s camera for a while (so thankful to her) but it just wasn’t as good as my old one and my old one just wasn’t that good either. I’ve had my eye on a Canon Mack 5 forever (that costs an arm and a leg) because that’s what all the pros use but ended up getting a 6D instead upon advice from Toby. What can I say? Ex’s who are still friends do come in handy sometimes!

So guess what? It rocks! It is so so so so so so much better than my old camera. It focuses like lightening. It’s larger format so I can take pictures of a whole room without backing up into a corner. It’s easy to use. There are all kinds of cheater buttons that tell you what setting to use. This is handy for me because numbers (ie: f-stops and apertures always give me spinny ball brain fog). I just love it. Now I just need to book a bunch of photography gigs to make it pay for itself! If you are looking for photography, look me up! I don’t really have a photography website and it’s not like I’m going to be calling myself a full time photographer but you know I love it and I can always use more work.

What else is new? Well, I just got back from Alt Summit in Palm Springs.


How was it? It was good but it was hard for me.  I forced myself to go by myself and that was terrifying. I really needed a buddy to side-kick me through social situations. I get really nervous walking into a room and striking up conversations with people I don’t know. It’s silly but I always think they won’t want to talk to me and that I’m making a fool out of myself. I can do it and once I get started I’m really good at getting people talking (journalism background pays off) but the walking up to people is the hard part. I felt like I was back in middle school all over again, agonizing that my best friend was sick and I was too shy to make new friends.


I did see Joanna Gaines speak. That was pretty cool. I love seeing famous people who are just regular people. She was so humble and real. Her baby was in the front row and she talked about him often. It was really cute and fun.


But yeah, there were 2,000 women there. TWO THOUSAND! So you can see why I had some trouble with social anxiety. The wonderful thing is that everyone seems to also have social anxiety and everyone was struggling. When I did get up the guts to find someone to talk to, they were usually really really nice and wanted to help things be less awkward as soon as possible. I don’t know if that’s because it was mostly women or if creatives are just nice people or if I’m just cooler than I think I am and people really do want to talk to me.


First day I kinda cried in my room a little. You know how it is. But then the second day, Isabel, (my boss from alpha mom) showed up and she is the best side-kick buddy ever. Things got a lot easier when she was around. Though I didn’t attach myself like a starfish and parasite my way through the rest of the week. I forced myself to do my own things, only checking in with her randomly.


I think the highlights for me were of course the pretty hotel. It’s a lot prettier outside than inside. I think they recently changed all the lightbulbs to florescent bulbs in the rooms and it was super depressing inside. I walked across the street and bought myself a candle to counteract the depressing-ness of my room. I loved having a hotel room by myself but I also wished it could be a little less like Motel 6 painted bright colors. I also bought myself a plastic bowl, cheerios, bananas and milk. They had a mini-fridge in the room so I saved myself bucket loads of cash by eating breakfast (and sometimes dinner) of cheerios in my room. Sad, I know but I am trying my hardest to be frugal these days. I thought I was pretty clever sitting there watching Netflix on my laptop while I sat in my pajamas on my bed with my candle flickering on the nightstand near by. It was very rotic (romantic without the man).


Another highlight was seeing Garance Doré. I LOVE her. I have been a fan for ages but seeing her in person and hearing about her struggles with depression sealed my devotion and love for her forever. She really hit on a subject that had been bothering me the whole conference. These days it’s so hard to make it in the popularity numbers game of social media. It’s really hard to be in a room with 2000 women who all have followings of 20K or more. I love being around creative women like me but the competition is overwhelming. It’s crushing at times. I just can’t even try anymore. She talked about how she doesn’t go to fashion week anymore but prefers to go on 20-person retreats and that resonated with me. I can’t do ALT Summit again. I learned a ton and it wasn’t a waste of money at all but it brought up all my old fears and insecurities and I think I am just too old for that sh*t. I just need to make my art and not worry about what anyone else is doing. That’s aways what has been successful for me in the past. Why do I keep forgetting that?


Then after the summit Isabel and I went on a mad trek to find Desert X. Spoiler: We didn’t find it. I almost got my car stuck in the sand instead and it was quite thrilling to have adrenaline pumping through my veins as I maneuvered my way out of a sand pit. But we did it! We walked for a mile or so and saw nothing. Just an old abandoned washing machine, a disgusting dirty bed with dog poop on it and a homeless camp. We turned around and went back. But not defeated! It was fun! I love spending time with Isabel. And really, spending time with a good friend is better than getting that perfect picture for instagram that everyone else has already taken.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want to go back and find Desert X. It seems amazing and I really want to take pictures of it. BUT…


I feel quite fine settling with this photo as well. I heart my new camera!


(Do you guys need links? Desert X.. Alt Summit, Garance Doré…? If so I can go back and put them in. I just liked flying under that radar since I didn’t have all good things to say.) done!


  • Tamara

    Thank you for sharing the real side of the summit. I’ve been a DesignMom reader probably as long as I’ve been a SAJ reader, and I’m pretty sure she would be okay hearing about the items that you’ve found to be less than ideal, as you did a great job of sharing them in a positive/constructive way.

    It’s funny to me…so many people talk about how overwhelming/lonely/soul crushing the popularity contest is at these events…but the events themselves haven’t really embraced a way to help people break out of their shell and meet people (that I’ve seen anyway.) and I get that they already have a ton to do running these conferences. But I think if you found a way to do this, people would flock.

    Anyway, I’m glad that you feel like you got your money’s worth, and that you came to understand yourself a little more. I’m working on releasing my own expectations of myself that just don’t align with me, and it’s tough. This feels kind of like that for you. ??

    • SAJ

      I think they really have worked on this issue. There are even sessions called something like “How to rock Alt” and they are just about that. And lots of people talked about it. There was a ton of love and acceptance and inspiration… it’s just that these conferences attract these kinds of people. We are visual. We are curators. We are critical… you know? It’s easy to be those things from your corner of the internet as an introvert but put in a room with 2000 people that might be better than you and curating you as harsh as you know how to be yourself. We end of being crushing to ourselves. And I know better!! That’s what drives me crazy. I know better than to let this situation make me go into myself. It just happens when I am weak. I read the best quote: Mind your thoughts when you are alone. Mind your words when you are with others. I think I just couldn’t control my negative thoughts when I was alone in my hotel room… you know?

  • BeachMama

    I only wish I could have been there with you. I know what it is like to show up alone to a conference with a gazillion people at it (I went to PPA, a photography conference, ALONE, in NEW ORLEANS!!!!!) but sometimes you meet really amazing people when you are alone. I met a fabulous woman in New Orleans and we are still friends today!!

    As for not going again, it may be that you don’t go every year, but you pop in now and then, I took a couple of years off of conferences to regroup, and I realize now, I miss it! I miss seeing what is going on outside of my own world and I always get inspired when I go. So next, year I am signing up.

    And.. (I’m writing a novel in your comments, HA!) I just listened to someone speak about the whole 20K followers thing and here’s the thing. They may have 20K followers, but they have no true connection with those people. Sure they may know a handful in person, but social media is supposed to be about connecting with others and with 20K people following and commenting, there is no way that they connect with all those people. YOU connect!! You are amazing and awesome and we all love you! Look at me waiting for your post to catch up on your trip!! Just know that you are enough, just as you are. You are enough that we all love you and follow you and are inspired by you!!

    OH, and YAY on your new camera!!!

    • SAJ

      You make a good point. I didn’t go last year and I did miss it. Maybe I should go big one year, small the next (really fantasizing about Garance’s 20 person retreat…not that I could ever get an invite but maybe I could create my own!).

  • JB

    “Rotic” is hilarious. And yes to the links. I have no clue what Desert X is – nor a clue about Garance Doré. But I guess I could always google. I’ve long been jealous of your talent. Your drawings, and your photos. I love that you cause me to look beyond the obvious and see the small details.

  • Gingermog

    Hi , I’m glad you got a new camera that you love, I mean its your accessory ! you cant have a SAJ doll without its camera for essential photography. My Cintique is mine (unportable boo) and now my Lemy ink pen, I think they are a German & awesome, smooth ink flow, never a scratchy nib.

    I’d never heard of alt fest, I wish I could have gone with you just for the experience. I could have used my British accent to good use :) I’m glad that you came to the conclusion that you should keep on rocking just the way you are. I feel your dilemma, for years I created graphics and animation in a certain look and feel, which was on trend but so not me… I ended up with a portfolio that totally unrepresented who I am and was far from original. The past few I’ve been working on my own style… I always admired you had your own definite style.

    I’ve been told is old fashioned by one agent, too educational by another… funny how we hang onto the criticisms & not the positive. I see myself improving slowly, but I don’t think my work is that eye grabbing when I compare it to the scores of wonderful art work on Instagram every day. I’m plodding onward, slowly working towards my goal in my own unique way and I know this is my route, it just takes time. Keep the faith !

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