Happy gardening

Zappa liked the cooling, crumbling concrete

Actually I am not ‘the’ gardener, don’t have a green thumb nor the required patience…usually! 2020 was different. I discovered the joy of having flowers around and to take interest in rose slugs (sawfly) who were determined to eat all the roses I had planted. The little green patch in my yard had been a mess for years, waiting to be transformed. Well, this summer I finally had some extra time on my hands — thank you COVID-19 — and raised the motivation and energy together with my partner and we started buying plants, rose bushes, oleanders, lavender, hibiscus, bougainvillea, and others that I can’t remember the names. Continue reading

Laundry

I pride myself with being an early 2020 adopter as my 2020 suddenly turned to poo at the end of January.

As pretty much the rest of the world I spent a lot of this year indoors. I baked sourdough bread and pizza, looked outside the window, checked out the weekly fox fight, envied the small balconies in the building opposite to mine and admired the persistence of the second floor lady sitting in one of the aforementioned balconies, working on her suntan, 9 to 6, Mon to Sun, April to September. In the UK. Talk about optimism…
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Sisterhood and the joy of simple things 🐱🥑🍷👭👭🌳

My days of uncertainty began a bit earlier than the pandemic. In the May of 2019, my husband and I decided to move out of India, packed up our home in Mumbai, and started what turned out to be a very very long journey to Europe. We were initially hoping to move to Vienna, but encountered a lot of obstacles with the visa application and long story short, after spending five months, figured that wasn’t going to be possible after all. Finally in January of 2020 we decided to relocate to Berlin instead and Rob was able to get a visa in just two days! This seemed fantastic and we assumed we would be in Berlin by April, but little did we know… Continue reading

Flowers are so inconsistent!

I never disliked flowers per se, I just didn’t really understand the fuss. Sure they were pretty, maybe colorful, but I could never justify the expense. They don’t satisfy cravings like chocolate, and I find a bouquet of roses impersonal. Their worst offense, however, is that they don’t last.

At some point, I began to see flowers as an Adult Thing, a financial marker of having my shit together enough to splurge on something ephemeral and maybe a little vain (see also: manicures). My partner and I moved in together at the beginning of the pandemic and as a housewarming gift to myself, since no one else was going to come by anytime soon, I purchased a subscription to UrbanStems. A bouquet delivered to the lobby of our building every two weeks. I learned how to keep flowers fresh for as long as possible, how to handle them. And I learned to love them. Continue reading

Solidarity right now

Around this time last year, I accidentally got really involved in US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s unprecedentedly large texting program. When he suspended his campaign, 30,000 volunteers had sent 259 million texts, and among them were tens of volunteers, including me, who’d been spending tens of hours a week to help run the program: making materials, training new texters, answering questions on Slack in real time, double checking texts on the backend. And on that day in April, all of those people suddenly had a lot more free time. Continue reading

Finding my lessons to teach

A nearly full calendar year of mandatory work from home has been a mixed bag for me. I’m good at working from home, and have a long freelance career behind me, so that wasn’t really the tough part. Working at an agency, but from home, was a bit harder. In the typical office setting you’re collaborating, and you’re sharing a lot of the small stuff, the stuff that makes the work better in hard-to-measure ways. But at some point this year, I did start to try and measure those ways.

And what I found was, sure, the lockdowns and social anxieties are not helping my general mood, but there was something else that was eating at me. It took me a while to realise that, in the transition from a 50-colleagues office to a one-dog-on-my-lap office, I lost the little moments of education. The sharing of arcane design tool knowledge, the brief can-you-come-have-a-look sparring… the education. The teaching that we do, back and forth, while we work to answer design questions together. And suddenly a lot of my frustration made sense. I wanted to teach more than I could. Continue reading

London walking

Between the pandemic, dissertation writing, and a stint with crutches, I’ve spent much of this year at my desk beside a window, looking over the road in front of my flat. As lockdown progressed, I started recognizing the daily parade of people, dogs, and bicycles gliding past the window as they made their trek down my street. For myself, as mundane as it may sound, joining in with the daily procession of London walkers became an anchor in 2020. Continue reading

How it started / how it started again

My 2020 started with finding out that US and Australian crafters were “sharing” a calligraphic mandala I had created as a background pattern for a portrait.
I had quickly drawn it in Sketchbook Pro and thoughtlessly posted it on my portfolio.
No big deal.

It became a huge hit in the crafters scene. I found it badly traced, printed, cut in vinyl, laser-cut, stenciled, carved, and etched in glass. Not where I wanted to be, but there I was. Beware what you put out there, you might be known for it.

So my 2020 continued: fixing that mandala, hiking, creating more calligraphic mandalas, masking up and hiking, vectorizing them in Illustrator, keeping healthy, and selling the files on Etsy.

Laura Serra Designs

Calligraphic Mandalas

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Little moments of community

Something particularly cruel about this pandemic was being separated from people we love during the time when we needed it the most. But paradoxically, this isolation itself was something we have shared collectively, a communal experience.

What got me through this year were the moments of community that reminded me that, although we are isolated, we are not alone. I have selected three, in chronological order.
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