Remember December: I Lead Two Lives

I can’t believe we’ve almost made it to the end of 2017. There have been some dark days this year where I wasn’t sure we would get this far. Too many horrible things have happened. I’ve too often awakened to bad news, outraged, and thought, it can’t possibly get any worse. They have to fix it. But it does get worse. And they don’t want to fix it.

I feel like I’m living two lives. One, where the mad foul beast capering around in the big white house is sucking the life out of the planet and out of me. Some days, I become so overwhelmed by utterly preventable mass shootings and natural disasters made worse by the human factors in global warming and our rights being stripped away that I just yell at the TV or Facebook or the newspaper and often end up sobbing.

I dread what will happen when that blank-visaged, ice-haired second-in-command with the soul of a scuttling cockroach takes over for the orange demon in charge when that thing finally drops dead of massive congestive heart failure after downing a mid-morning snack of two Big Macs, two Filet o’ Fish, forty-eleven Diet Cokes, and six puppies. Monster Number Two is but a skittery beating heart away from building his dream homeland of conversion camps and women’s detention centers where he can house us all as breeders in Handmaid’s Tale fashion—except for that robotic shell of a mate he calls “Mother.” He has to have something handy to feed on when the sun goes down.

The life smothered by the daily awful is wretched and despair is ever ready to strike. But that’s not all there is.

Thankfully, there is this other wonderful life that gives me hope, that gets me through the night. The life I spend with my partner, my son, and the three spectacular cats that allow us to reside with them. The hours I spend doing work that I love among kindred spirits who have become part of my chosen family; my tribe.

Part of my work life is spent in talking to type designers, writing about their lovely creations, spreading the word on social media, using type in design projects, and whatever else comes along. It’s a pretty fantastic way to earn a living, and extremely fulfilling, especially when you have a super cool team of collaborators and sounding boards like I do.

There is this other part of my work life that is fulfilling in a very different way—planning events where type people gather. This is also a really fun thing to do, and it appeals to my theatrical side as well as my type fanatic’s heart. But it’s also extremely challenging, and can be very stressful. Making hundreds of people happy at once may not be the hardest thing I’ve ever done—dragging myself out of bed on November 9, 2016, takes that particular honor—but it comes close.

I’ve organized tons of type and design events, but for the last couple of years, I’ve been working on ATypI conferences. This September saw us in Montréal, a place I had never been but instantly loved. There are so many moving parts to conference organization that it takes a dedicated team to make the magic happen. And I could not have asked for a better team than the amazing folks who volunteered for ATypI Montréal.

There were so many people involved before, during, and after the conference, and I owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude. The local team, program reviewers, speakers, workshop leaders, moderators, sponsors, student volunteers, exhibitors, local cultural organizations and schools, the fabulous people who brought popup shops, the generous souls who did demos…Hard-working board members and committee members… Our vendors and staff at venues, and friends who called in favors, and printers who did rush jobs… The hotel rooms manager who bent over backwards to assist ATypI attendees… The identity designers, the writers, the editors, the exhibition managers, and the brilliant designer who handcrafted that giant red ‘A’ podium… The type designers who contributed typefaces to the identity… The photographers, the AV team, the videographers, the social media kings and queens, and the interviewer extraordinaire… Plus many more!

So many people are willing to contribute their time and talent and financial support. This is the kind of thing that really gives me hope. It takes ideas and muscles and tenacity and generosity. It takes a superhuman ability to forego regular sleep for a week, if not more.

And there are the attendees. Those wonderful people who come to learn and to share, to see old friends and make new connections. They are what it’s all about. And all the smiles and happy tweets, the product launches and collaborations begun—these are all affirmations that it’s vital that we bring our community together, where we can grow and keep moving forward together, especially during trying times.

The faces behind each conference change over time, as ATypI moves to a different country each year. But there is a constant—all those wonderful people who keep coming when they are able to make the trip, or cheerleading from afar when they can’t be there in person. Their kindness, their warmth, and their ability to make magic are sweet miracles in this crazy-for-now world. I am grateful for these people and for this life that is so good.

Type trumps hate. We’ll keep the good life and send that other ugly one straight down the garbage shoot of the universe. #Resist.

Dedicated to MC, CE, DG, LT, and BK. Matt Damon sends his love.