Get Confident, Stupid! or How I Learned I Was Not Alone In The Sea of Suckage

In my circle of friends, I’m totally the weird brother in-law from The Hangover.

My friend, we’ll call her, “Jolene” (because that’s her name) and I spent a truly nightmarish amount of hours together while we were in school. We saw each other more then we saw our families for probably three months. Because of this, people seemed to think of us as a single unit. A woman in the student life office said, “In my mind, you guys are best friends, live in the same house, cook and do everything together!” So…she thought we were married? To each other? Maybe this is why that guy implied I was a lesbian in a job interview.

But the funniest was when our student group advisor wanted to talk to Jolene and I, but got pulled into a meeting. We’ll call him, “Dave” (that’s really his name, I’m bad at this pseudonym thing). Jolene and I had to leave, so I sent him an e-mail that said, “We had to go, but we’ll talk tomorrow.” A little later Dave calls my cell phone. I told him I was on my way home, but what’s up. He said, very seriously, “Is Jolene with you?” I giggled and thought, “Jesus Christ, do people really think we live together?” My inner smart ass became my outer smart ass when I said, “Now, Dave, Jolene and I do not actually live together.” Silence. Um…okay. Clearly Dave was not in a very Beth place that afternoon. I straightened up and put on serious businesswoman face. “No, she’s on her way home, too. Do you want me to tell her something for you?” For the record, he recovered and found me hilarious again the next day.

A visual representation of trying to find myself in the world after school was out.

I thought of this story when one of my friends was lamenting how much longer he had left in school and I gladly offered to change places with him because I loved school and miss it almost every day. He said he couldn’t relate, but asked why did I miss it? Honestly, no one had ever asked me that before and aside from, “it was awesome,” I didn’t know how to answer. Thinking about it for a while, it boiled down to being in a kind of insulated, supportive environment. Even on bad days, I knew there were a bunch of people who had my back and that I could turn to when things got rough. If nothing else they were there say, “Guuuuuurl, I know.” Then they’re just gone. Suddenly it feels like you’re floating alone in this big sea of suckage where no one gives a shit about you.

But then I started thinking, is that really true? I mean, just because I feel like it’s true doesn’t mean it is. I believe a lot of stupid shit, plus feelings are kind of dicks and lie. A LOT. Can I call up those same people, get advice, share victories, or just vent and would I do the same for them? Absolutely. I do it all the time (much to their dismay). They’re the people I want to do everything with and if we could move into a compound and hang out all the time, I totally would (no, I wouldn’t) (yes, I would).

So, just because we aren’t forced to be in a teeny room with each other for an ungodly number of hours every day doesn’t mean that there is less support. Yes, people get busy and have to do their own thing, but I know that I’ve got an awesome support system around me. I’m sorry it took me so long to realize it.

Losing 91 Pounds It’s Not What You Think (Or At Least What I Thought)

chloe

Chloe’s expression is my internal life when ever something good happens to me

I have a hard time believing things. I started a new job about a month ago and I refused to believe I actually had the job until then end of my first day. That came and went and I still refused to believe I had it until I got paid. Pretty much every time I walk in I’m surprised someone doesn’t say, “Didn’t so-and-so talk to you yesterday about not coming in any more?”

When I started this latest round of the weight loss merry-go-round, I didn’t really believe the numbers on the scale as they went down. Every week I’d weigh in and sarcastically record the numbers. “Minus 5 pounds. If you say so.” But over time, it became hard to deny that it wasn’t the scale playing an elaborate joke on me. It was actually happening. Then the day came when I not only weighed what my driver’s license claimed, but that’s when my bad at math self realized that meant I lost a grand total of 91 pounds off my highest weight.

Maybe it’s my reluctance to believe things, but I didn’t celebrate. I thought, “We’ll see what the scale says next week.” Like it was going to change it’s stupid scale mind and I’d say, “I knew it!” But I think I had all these wrong ideas about losing weight, like my life would fall into place (ha!), I’d get the ideal job (still working on it) be anxiety free (did you read the first paragraph?), be making millions (I’d settle for hundreds), and Ray LaMontagne would release his hit song, Beth (keep hope alive). But I just lost weight. That’s it.

Don’t get me wrong, being smaller is great! Going from a size 22 to a 12 is something I can’t even explain. I can walk into almost any store and buy something off the rack now. I’ll curl up in a chair and I’ll realize I couldn’t have done that while heavier. Several times I haven’t recognized myself in photos. But they’re all fleeting victories in the grand scheme of things.

You know that saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”? Maybe it’s because I”m not skinny (I’m still a good 15-25 pounds away from where I’d like to be and I still won’t be skinny), but let me tell you, that saying is pure, unadulterated, first class bullshit. Being a healthy weight is a good thing, but as good as really gooey pizza on a fall day? As good as a big plate of cheese fries? Nachos? Caramel apples???

hellno

Food is DAMN GOOD. When you lose weight, it’s still DAMN GOOD. There’s this misconception that all thinner people are health nuts and desire nothing but salads and fruit at all times. Wrong. They’ve just decided they want that healthy weight more then they want those cheese fries. All the healthier weight people are shaking their heads or thinking, ‘Well, no shit.” Yeah, trust me, it’s not that obvious to everyone. At least it wasn’t to me. I always thought that if I dieted long enough, that a switch would flip and I would instantly be purified from wanting less healthy foods. If that happens, I will totally tell you, but I’m not holding my breath anymore.

Cheese fries in a taco shell bowl! Where can I get this deliciousness???

Cheese fries in a taco shell bowl! Where can I get this deliciousness???

Being very overweight you get drafted into a club you don’t even know you’re in. When you see another overweight person, you automatically know at least a portion of their struggles and have this unspoken link. Going somewhere new, I would always think, “I hope there is another big person there.” Why? It’s not like we were going to hang out. Maybe if the healthy weight people decided to form a shame circle Twilight Zone style or stage an impromptu intervention, I’d have someone to go through it with? Being a part of that club was a huge part of my identity and I didn’t realize it until, just like I got drafted in, I got quietly booted out. I have this urge to tell people that I used to be heavier, to say something in a hushed conspiratorial tone. “You know, I get it. I’m down with the struggle, man.” If they didn’t think I was trying to sell them drugs and actually managed to figure out what I was talking about, they’d think I was a braggy dick. So this is one area I generally keep my big yapper shut unless it comes up and it usually doesn’t. I’m not even sure how it would come up. “Hey, did you used to be fatter?” is generally not something you ask people.

Adventures In Job Searching

Hey kids! Summer is over, the trees are bare and I sit unemployed watching Hoarders. If that’s not bad enough, I’ve seen this episode like 12 times already. Looking for a job is a really weird place to be. Like any other major life transition, your friends and family want to help, but they really have absolutely no freaking clue what to say or do. But one thing you should not say, “Make finding a job your job!!” Please make this a life rule right up there with not asking a seemingly pregnant woman when she is due, a tall person how’s the weather up there, and saying, “Cold enough for ya!” to anyone on earth. We’ve heard it. A lot. Our job is not throat punching people who say this to us. Sadly, it doesn’t pay well.

What all job seekers do in their head when we someone says, “Make finding a job your job!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People do want to help because it sucks watching someone you care about feel so crappy and loser-y. So people will tell you about jobs that in no way relate to your field or that you qualify for. “Hey, I heard you’re a graphic designer looking for a job. My neighbor is looking to hire someone.” “Oh great! What kind of job?” “Forest ranger.” Followed closely by the people who tell you about jobs in your field but in far away places. “I saw a listing for graphic designer.” “Oh great!” “It was in the Philippines.” God love you guys, because we know you want to help, but the Philippines is a little far to commute everyday.

Job searching is like this really long series of blind dates. And I really, really sucked at dating. I had an interview where a creative director asked in a roundabout way if I was a lesbian. See? Just like a shitty date! The worst part is I had no idea what answer he was looking for. One of my friends said I should have answered, “Is that a problem?” That’s why she has a job and I don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday I got word that, after making it to the final round of the hiring process, I again lost out to other candidates. When I get that far in to the process, it’s hard for me not to take it personally. That jerk voice in my head says things like, “If I was younger, cuter, funnier, thinner, a better designer, etc. this would be so much easier. I’m just not good enough.” Logically I know it’s not true and it’s difficult for everyone trying to break into a new field. If it’s not for some people, well, I’m putting them on the “To Throat Punch” list.


If this life has taught me nothing else it’s never say, “It couldn’t possibly get any worse then this!” Because life has a way of showing you that yes, in fact, it can get way worse and then proving it to you. So despite how bleak I feel, I try to always count my blessings. I’m so grateful for the people who care about me and have called, texted, messaged, Tweeted, Tumblr’d, Facebooked, sent me silent good vibes, just listened to me bitch, let me cry and/or picked up the bill. If your kindness were dollars I’d be a billionaire. But it’s not, so Monday morning it’s back on the stroll.

Till we meet again, enjoy this super depressing Ray LaMontagne song, “Let It Be Me.”

Life Lessons From A Giant Spider Attack or Pull Yourself Together And Stop F’ing Crying

If you don’t know Anne Taintor, you totally should!

Let me set the scene for you, it’s a beautiful day and I’m driving to the gym. I decide to roll down the window. That’s when a spider the size of a small dog dropped down and was swinging in and out of the car right at my eye level. I tried to roll the window back up, but, of course, that trapped us in the car together. I pulled over. “Pulled over” sounds calm and rational. What I did was more like swerve wildly while yelling, “OH GOD!!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs until I eventually stopped pretty much in the middle of the street.

I flung the door open and thought maybe I could knock it down with my foot. Yeah, I hit the spider into the car and it started crawling in the window switches. Oh hell no. Big ass spider gets in, I get out.

Standing next to my spider infested car, I was completely clueless as to what to do. I was really prepared to just let the spider have the car, because clearly he wanted it more then I did. People would probably be understanding. “Hey, did you get a new car?” “Yeah, spider the size of a toddler wanted the other one.” “Oh, yeah. That happened to my cousin.”

Approximate size of spider

But I knew that wouldn’t work. So, I tried to calm my abject terror and opened the door. To my surprise, the spider wasn’t behind the wheel about to drive off. He was crawling next to the seat on his way to the pedals and I squashed him with my shoe. VICTORY WAS MINE!

So the lesson to me was: even though you think the giant spider is going to eat your face off,  if remove yourself from the situation for a minute and regroup then you can find a new way to attack the problem.

“Beth, did you ever get the opportunity to apply this lesson outside of this death defying spider incident?”

As a matter of fact, I did! So glad you asked!

Recently, someone told me that my goal of being a graphic designer probably isn’t going to happen like I expect and I should reconsider. I listened and smiled politely during the thirty plus minute run down of all the reasons why I was not cutout to be a designer all while going from dumbfounded to profoundly sad inside. They may as well have said, “You know all the time, the money, the sleep, etc. you sacrificed to go back to school? Totally wasted.” As the day went on, my feelings snowballed until I finally decided they were right. I was pulling the graphic design car over, getting out and letting the spider have it. I had been defeated and I was done trying. I kept hearing my teacher’s voice in my head telling me, “Don’t let them see you cry. You can cry here, in my office, but never do it out there,” and managed to keep it together.

It was sorta like this. “Look, Lisa. If you look closely you can actually pinpoint the exact moment his heart breaks in two.”

The next day when I was removed from the situation, something inside shifted. I went from profound sadness to anger. I turned into one of those girls on Maury Povich shouting, “Whatever! You don’t know me! I do what I want!”  This person does not get to tell me when to give up. It’s not like I want to play in the NBA or become a ballerina (but you better believe I would rock the shit out of the Nutcracker). I’ve only been out of school for 3 months, so of course I still have a lot to learn. I may never be Stefan Sagmeister or Louise Fili, but I will keep learning and improving. I will get where I want to go, because I am either too smart or too stupid to stop and I absolutely refuse to hand the keys to my ambitions over to someone who doesn’t deserve them. No one but me gets to decide when I am finished.

Truth be told, I’m always happiest and at my best when I’m fighting against something. So, Captain Bringdown, thanks for the motivation and, one more thing before I go:

BOOM.

Swanky New Website

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.06.49 PMHey guys! I know it’s been about 500 years (approximately) since I updated, but I have not abandoned my blog. I’m about two weeks out from finishing school and this semester has been insanely crazy busy. The behind the scenes drama should have been recorded and put on Bravo for their new show, The Real Students of Graphic Design. There would be hella wig-snatching and lots of bleeps on the reunion show. Then I’d get famous and go on to host my own late night talk show where my guests and I would say mean things about celebrities, discuss horrible Lifetime movies, and I’d flirt with Keanu Reeves, who I’d have on every week.

Wait…what was I talking about? Oh right! My new website.

Since I’m about to leave school, the world of work is calling my name. Actually, it’s not. Much like Keanu Reeves, the world of work does not know my name or that I even exist. So I updated my website, so people can check me out, download my resume, and even connect to my LinkedIn. Okay, can I gripe about LinkedIn for a second? I never know ANY of the people it says I may know. A couple of weeks ago it said I may know someone named, Zikpi Kokou. I’m pretty sure if I knew someone named Zikpi Kokou I’d remember. You don’t forget a Zikpi.

Anyway, check out my site and keep your fingers crossed something awesome comes my way!

-Beth

We’re Always Networking

IMG_20130727_114631I know I write a lot of posts about networking, but I have a good reason- I royally suck at it. I go to these networking events and end up hanging out by the free alcohol, which you would think would grease the wheels a little, but it totally doesn’t. All that happens when I drink is I believe I’m a criminal mastermind who absolutely MUST engineer a mustard bottle heist (while maniacally giggling) and I (badly) lip sync to every song whether I know the words or not. Oh and I’ll probably tell you this one story about dancing on hay bales just so I can do the hay bale dance. These things are mildly entertaining (at least to me), but they don’t make a good networking strategy. So, I’m always striving to be a better networker- reading books, articles, and painfully slowly trying things out.

One thing I read that really struck me is that we’re always networking whether we realize it or not. Just interacting with people is networking. How your present yourself on a day-to-day basis is so important and so often forgotten. I know I forgot it for a very long time. I don’t mean how you dress or anything. I mean just being the type of person you would want to work with. You know that saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world”? Well, be the type of person you would want to help out.  No one is saying you have to be super freaky happy all the time or a constant damsel in distress. Then people just start to think you have a drug problem or are trying to convert them to your religion. A guy at my old job was super freaky happy all the time. Turned out he was stealing things out of people’s lunches. Be genuinely you, because you’re awesome. Being genuine, helpful, and hard-working- and not stealing from the fridge- go a very long way.

I think we all know people who are extremely good at what they do. Sometimes those people are nice, flexible and it’s a joy to work with them. Sometimes they are anything but those things and you’d rather jab your eardrums with a rusty nail then work with them. Now let’s say you are in a position to help someone career-wise who are you going to help? Fun and Flexible or Eardrum Jabber? Even if their skills weren’t quite as good as Eardrum Jabber, we’d all probably rather help out Fun and Flexible.

We can’t just wait until we’re ready to make some kind of change to decide, “Oh, okay, I think I’ll stop being a jerk now that I need help from people.” If you are going to be a jerk, then own that, but realize you’re probably going to go it alone. Some people prefer that and it really isn’t a big deal to them. For me, though, I’ve found that it’s a much easier road if you’ve got some people who genuinely want to help you out.

Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to be happy when good things happen for you. People are going to try to undermine you and some people you’ll be friendly with just because it’s better then being their enemy. But they’re the exceptions. Most people are nice and kind and want to help others out just because it feels great to help people.

One of my favorite quotes is from Conan O’Brien. “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Now enjoy this unrelated musical interlude from The Beastie Boys. I’ll be over here doing my hay bale dance.

New Paper Cut!

IMG_20130530_202330Okay, you’re gonna want to stay tuned until the end for this one, because I might be revealing some provocative information and LOTS of pictures!

So, I thought this week I’d walk you all through a paper cut from start to finish. Back when I first started taking Exacto to paper I showed one of my teachers and she said, “Before you know it, you’ll be designing your own.”  “Haha!” I scoffed, “Not bloody likely!” Then two months later I designed and cut my own. Go figure.

The first step is planning it all out. If you’re going for a kind of “window” effect, then you’re going to need to make sure your design touches the edges of your paper. It sounds obvious, but someone whose name sounds like Reth Rousil didn’t realize this the first time she did a paper cutting. I know! What a dumb ass! So I thought I’d mention it just in case.

Now what I do then is scan it into the computer. This way, you can keep that particular design for future use without damaging your original. Plus, because I am not always smart, I can block out the areas I’m going to cut avoiding any future disasters. tree-drawing

Here is the scanned drawing with the areas to cut out in grey. Apparently I upped the contrast a lot and there are some notes about another project bleeding through. So glad it’s not something like, “Oh dear God. Are her shoes prescribed for orthopedic reasons??” Not that I’d ever write something like that (I’d whisper it). Moving on, print out the now blocked out drawing, because it’s now our template.

Anyway, I didn’t get any pictures of the next part, so we’re just going to have to wing it. Get a self-healing cutting mat, a number eleven Exacto knife, some art tape (one roll will last you the rest of your life), the paper you want to cut, and the template. Tape down your paper, then tape your template over that. If you want, you can also tape down your mat so it doesn’t move. We’re ready to cut! Just go slowly. You can always go over an area again if your blade didn’t go all the way through.

Maybe get a kitty friend to help you!

Maybe get a kitty friend to help you!

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And eventually, we’re done! In this case, I layered it over a piece of grey paper and a cut a circle out of cool textured paper for the moon. Between every layer I glued little squares of foam core board to give some dimension.

Eh, I guess I owe you guys some provocative information? Sometimes I say and do dumb things (that was not the provocative info, just fact). If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that I’ve had a little ongoing joke about what I actually look like. My favorite is a toss-up between the people in a llama costume on the beach and the mugshot of a random person of indeterminate gender.  I’ve also told you guys about my 70ish pound weight loss. Well, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and share my “before” picture and current shot.

This is a little tough for me (and by “a little” I mean “a lot”) because my “before” picture is super embarrassing and not just because of my work pager and Jesus sandals. I thought I looked so cute that day and was MORTIFIED when the miracle of digital photography showed me instantly how big I had let myself get. I lost about 60 pounds with Weight Watchers, but by the time I enrolled back in school I had gained most of it back. I was only about 13-14 pounds less then that picture. About a month ago I showed some of my friends who didn’t know me then and they were nice about it (my friends are awesome), so I thought I would bite the bullet and take it public. You can always tell when I’ve restarted watching Mad Men again, because I have to let out my inner Joan Halloway via pencil skirts. Oh and the second one is in the bathroom mirror (ignore the litterbox) and that’s why my tattoo jumps legs.

weight_830

So that’s me. I’m not sure if I’ll have the courage to leave it up, but there it is. Have a great week!
-Beth