Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Just Slack Me!

Slack! What are you? Forget text, email, iMessage. GoogleGroups, you’re all passé. When I heard of ‘Slack’ I was more than a little skeptical…but then I learned to love it! In late February, I headed full-time into a UX Design Immersive Class at General Assembly in my late 40s and my instructors said Slack was our communication tool. Not by email or by text, but by slacking each other. We also used Trello and UX design tech tools such as Sketch and Balsamiq. But what is ‘Slack?” and why does the word make me smile? Is “Just Slack Me!” the under-30 way to say “listen to me, talk with me, run it by me”? The people who make Slack describe it as “team communication for the 21st century, where you make a channel for your project, team, archive, anything.”

Is “Just Slack Me!” the under-30 way to say “listen to me, talk with me, run it by me”?

Slack — hysterical and so ironic. I can’t help but to think of the Slackers in Austin in 1990s.

I was one of those under 30 bohemian and misfits living in Austin and hanging out with many of the original Slackers who never made it in Richard Linklater’s film. It’s so fitting that the Austin hipster tech community has turned to Slack to communicate.

Just Slack Me!

I’m one to reinvent myself and in February I headed full time into a UX Design Immersive Class at General Assembly in my late 40s. I absolutely love the class and my classmates! I’m in the right place with a new family of friends, but it didn’t come without some major changes in my family’s life.

I headed full time into a UX Design Immersive Class at General Assembly in my late 40s.

I’ve worked for the majority of my life and our marriage and helped support John through grad school. But I was always in flexible jobs because he travels for his job almost weekly. I was ready for the new career plunge and so my family jumped in.

The class is only 10 weeks — 40 hours a week in 10 weeks. We can do anything in 10 weeks. Ten weeks is less than one trimester of pregnancy. This can’t be that hard. My husband and two daughters were gung-ho to pitch in. Grandparents, friends and carpools were prepared. Everyone was ready. Girls wanted to be more independent and we were not going to be Slackers. Well, when the rubber hit the road, there were some fires.

I got Slacked!

In the first few weeks, John had taken the girls to the doctor at least 4 times for strep, sinus infection, insane Austin allergies, a long-lasting cough, and a virus. Then, my strong, energetic mom was diagnosed with bone fractures and required to cancel a trip to Europe and be a shut-in at her house with in-home physical therapy for one month! One month — no errands, no grocery stores — that’s an eternity, and I can’t hang out with her and have happy hour like I used to. All along, I was getting Slacked with work, projects and a big client project. It was the bugs that really stuck it to us. John found a swarm of termites in the house and one daughter caught lice on a flight to Seattle in the same week.

Lice! Termites! Strep! Sinus Infection! Viruses! And my mom’s home-bound for a month! What week am I in? I have 20–30 hours of extra work on a client project on top of my 40 hours. Dinner has turned into fried rice and my daughter is stressed out about her SAT, AP exams and homework saying she has it worse than me. What was I thinking? She’s probably right.

Just Slack Me! Just Slap Me!

Life does not slow down when you go back to school full time. There were college fairs, lacrosse tournaments, horseback lessons, school trips, orchestra practices, SAT and AP exams, lice head checks, more lice head checks and many late nights with wine and early mornings with coffee trying to get it all done. I took the bus everyday downtown; it was my only down time and I loved that time to myself on Cap Metro. I read UX blogs and listened to Spotify. I even created a playlist called Cap Metro Zone. The tables were turned as I would wave to my daughter’s friends driving down the street. I was at the bus stop and this kid is carpooling a friend to school. “Mrs. Marler has gone back to school,” practically became a rumor. I missed a lacrosse game because I was at school on a Saturday working on my project — she said that was fine, that she actually played better when I wasn’t on the sidelines yelling and embarrassing her. She’s probably right.

Just Slack Me?

“Just Slack Me”…I can’t even say it with a straight face. Thankfully neither can my 26-year colleague and UX buddy, Turner. I thought it was just me that found the saying ridiculous. I thought it was a generational thing that made me crack up, but it’s not. It’s just a funny thing to say; it’s a great word actually.

Just Slack Me”…I thought it’s just a funny thing to say; turns out…it’s a great word actually.

Turner would look at me, point his finger while working on our project saying “I Slacked it.” and we would snicker. ‘Slack’ is one of those brand names that becomes a verb. The verbing of brand names; why do some brands get to become verbs? Maybe because they’re just great fun words in general. Google it. FedEx my package. Xerox that paper. Let’s Rollerblade and Photoshop my dog in. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind it. Slack is no longer a noun or a company to me— it’s an active verb being used by me and probably a million other people daily.

Slack is no longer a noun or a company to me — it’s an active verb I use…every day

One of my friends said Slack came up in her book club and some knew what it was and some didn’t, but everyone laughed. I had to ask if they talked about the Slack channels. I have too many Slack channels, too many user names, too many different passwords. Why didn’t I think ahead and only use one username and one password? Not sure. It’s like I was reinventing myself on every Slack channel. I’m just glad I have all notifications turned off.

I Am On Slack Now!

“Slack It” is my saying now about pretty much anything. It sums up the entire 10 weeks of school and life now. I lived every moment and feel so lucky to have been part of the UX classroom experience. I gave my husband a shirt for Mother’s Day. It was this summer Prana button down, and it turned out to be a total user-fail because the pockets are too small for his iPhone, but it’s the thought. All he asked was when I was going to make the grocery store a common stop again? Not sure. My daughter wrote on her Mother’s Day card to me that I was “an inspiration to all women, young and old.” That sums it up. My daughters slack me upside down.

I’m finishing up my portfolio and about to begin the job search. Ready for a new opportunity and perspective. All I know is I can’t wait to dig in and have fun solving problems and creating. Pinch my cheeks! Just Slack Me! This Slacker is Slacking!