A Jolt of Inspiration

It’s not often I see something in web design that makes me want to rip up everything I was doing and start again. I felt that urge today though.

A lot of the work I’ve seen recently has been flashy. It’s clear that this trend in web design was about pushing what the web was capable of, having the audience expect more from a site and be wowed by the experience. But they rarely used the web naturally. So much of the “best” work in recent months simply hacks the browser to show print and motion graphic work. It’s not what the web is good at, and it’s not a good experience for the audience.

The Bloomberg.com redesign is a stunning example of how to play to the web’s strengths while pushing design forward in a fresh, bold direction. And it does it with ferocity.

This site is about scrolling. Fuck the fold. This site is about beautiful type that’s meant to be read not skimmed. This site is about boxiness. They don’t try and soften everything. They engage the web as a medium, not an obstacle to be overcome.

I am thoroughly impressed and inspired by the work. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the wake of this redesign as people copy, consider and iterate on what the team at Bloomberg has done.

A really weird walk home

I have a pretty vivid memory of being ten or eleven and sitting on my stairs in a cold sweat just turning my head back and forth. It felt like I was moving in slow motion. When I talked aloud, my speech seemed lethargic. My Mom asked me what was wrong. I presume I told her about whatever was going on in my life—oh the stresses of being a ten year old. Being the helpful, caretaking type Mom is, she calmed me down and said that I was anxious. That was the first time I heard about anxiety.

I didn’t have many more childhood episodes like that. But as I got older and my life became more complicated, I did feel stressed a lot more often. I researched anxiety at one point but ended up feeling that my own experiences were trivial in comparison to others. It wasn’t until a discussion about mental health at Brooklyn Beta that I finally let myself say that I had a problem with it. I heard about other people’s experiences of stress, depression and anxiety. I understood that denying its existence, or downplaying its significance wasn’t helping me.

I decided to write this post because, while I was walking home last night, I had a strange experience. It was the most extreme reaction to stress I’ve ever had. I should also point out that I am just fine now.

It was about half twelve at night, walking up Queen street in Toronto and I started to feel an overwhelming need to cry. I knew I had been bottling up some serious emotional junk and I was at a breaking point. Thinking of that Louis C.K. bit from Conan a little while ago I decided to just let it happen to me, stop fighting the feeling. But it was much stronger than I expected and instead of crying I started to dry heave. I can tell you now it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. I was talking quietly to myself saying “what the fuck is happening to me?” in between retches. I thought talking it out with someone might help, but I didn’t feel comfortable getting in touch with anyone so late. I decided that gigantic breaths would have to suffice until I got back to the apartment.

Even with the breathing I got overwhelmed at some point and I went to throw up in a side street. Nothing came out of me—I was trying to puke an emotion. I just wrapped my arms around my stomach and leaned against the wall, hunched in a ball. I calmed a little and began to walk again. I had about 18 blocks to go so I just started repeating the phrase “I will be okay” to myself.

As I repeated the phrase over and over different things were popping into my head like: Was it the food from earlier?, You’re just keeping this going because you want attention, Don’t talk about this online cause Mom will get super worried, This is going to be an interesting song someday. I smiled briefly as my brain did its normal overthinking thing. Then the feeling came back and I focused on the words, now shortened to “I’ll be okay”. I finally calmed down about a block from the apartment. I drank some water and crawled into bed feeling pretty freaked out about what had just happened.

The cause of this attack, or episode, whatever it was, isn’t much of a mystery to me. I’ve just moved to a new country to start a new job and I had been fighting as hard as I could to only talk about how great everything is. I’ve not allowed myself to think about the negatives. At all. Every time an idea would creep into my head like: You’re going to miss people, You have no idea what you’re doing, or the classic What if you get fired, I just forced them down. Which, surprise surprise, isn’t healthy. My head needs these things to be addressed and it was naive of me to think that pretending they weren’t there was going to solve anything. So to that end, I’m sitting on my bed after a great night’s sleep and getting this off my chest.

This is as much for me as it is for other folks who feel the same way. Maybe you, dear anxious reader, always push the feelings away, convince yourself that your levels of anxiety are way less than the other peoples, that you should “just get over it”. That’s not helpful. It does make things worse. The sooner you give it a name, stop being dismissive and start talking about it, the easier it will be to overcome.


March began with quite an interesting affirmation.

I was talking to my sister, angry with myself for not having moved out of my parents house. I was tired of my own excuses: Travelling made getting a lease seem pointless, the prices were crazy so I wanted to wait, I wanted a room mate, I didn’t want a room mate.

None of those were the actual reason though.

“Meg, why haven’t I moved into Dublin yet?” and without a pause I answered my own question.“It’s because I want to live in New York”


Dissonance in life and music

I press play on Unluck, track one, side one of James Blake’s self titled album. As the song progresses I begin to feel the tension building in me. The notes and chord progressions are just off, so wrong. As the dissonance washes over the office I feel the need to turn it down so as not to upset my co-workers ears. The interesting thing is that, I’m using them as an excuse to turn it down. The music is making me uncomfortable. It’s such a departure from the clean, syrupy-sweet perfection of modern pop music, or modern music in general. It makes me squirm, like watching people argue in public or hearing a baby screaming its lungs out on the bus. These things break the quiet status quo that I’ve become used to. Habits form quickly, and don’t break easy.


We all get there in the end

I get easily frustrated with myself when I can’t do something that, as I see it, everyone else can do. One of the most common sources of frustration is my difficulty with programming. I had a moment last week which I want to mark. I think it was important.

On Thursday I came across a really minor problem in Tito which involved IF/ELSE statements. Looking at the code I realised that with a slight tweak I could probably fix it. I made my changes, did some testing and was right. Problem solved!

This is so important because I tend to forget the struggles I’ve gone through learning new things. There was a time when looking at rails code was completely overwhelming. There was a time when looking at CSS or HTML was the same. So the fact that I understood enough to fix a bug means I must be getting better.

The frustration I feel is pointless. It’s simply me being impatient. I have proven to myself time and time again that I am incredibly capable. I just forget that on occasion.

So if you’re like me, and you beat yourself up for not being able to do something, consider what it took to get you to this point. You’ve overcome a lot, you’ll do it again.

Ask for help

As a child, when we decided to have a night in and rent a video from our local Dublin spot—RIP, Xtra-vision—I used to wonder why my family would spend time searching through the shelves for the film we wanted. At some point I decided to stop searching and began asking the employee behind the counter if they had what we were looking for. It was great. They could immediately tell me whether the video was in stock; if it wasn’t, they’d usually give me a good recommendation for something else. And no matter what, we were always finished a lot more quickly than if we’d kept looking ourselves.


To all of my people

For the couches you let me sleep on
For the crazy nice things you said about me
For the conversations that lasted until the morning
For the jokes that made me laugh ’til I was sore
For the things you said that changed me for the better
For the warm welcomes
For the heartfelt goodbyes
For the best hat ever
For the help bringing my ideas to life
For the hugs when we hadn’t seen each other
For the belief in me when I had none in myself
For the advice when it was asked for
For the advice when it wasn’t
For the kiss when I took a chance
For the trust when it really mattered
For the support when I broke down
For the dose of reality
For the best year to date

Thank you

Site redesign

“Looks like I need to start again…”

And so began a slow process of internal argument and questioning. Why is it that every time I try to design and maintain a personal website, I fail?


Coming Home

I have been travelling around North America for a little over three months. To say it has been fun is an understatement. My experiences during this time have genuinely changed my perspective on the world and how I can have an effect on it.


The Great North American Adventure – Part 1

The plane touches down in Toronto, on time and in the dark. I’m calm now but there was a time earlier in the day that I wasn’t.


Einstein Was Right, You Guys!

The actual passing of time versus my experience it is such an interesting thing to me. I’m quite a punctual person and the moments leading to me getting somewhere on time run away from me at speed, yet when I’ve arrived everything immediately slows down as I wait for the other person to turn up.



I wrote this about 3 months ago but had no where to put it. Now that it has a home, it’s great to re-read it and feel just as confident in my ability to learn new things and improve as a designer.


My music library is big, maybe too big

After coming back from Canada and restarting my freelancing I’ve ended up having a little money again. It’s not much, but enough to start back doing something I’ve neglected for a long while and that is buying music.