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.

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It’s About That Time, Kids

logoAs of last Thursday night, I’m about 95% done with school. Crazy, right? If you are ever considering going back to school, GO. It’s the single greatest decision I’ve ever made. I have a tendency to exaggerate, but I am serious when I say I have loved every day.

On “The Office,” Andy said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I’m lucky, because I knew I was in them when Mina and I would brainstorm for Jean’s class in Brian’s class. I knew it when Dave told me to talk to people who like things and drink more water. I knew it when Zach said, “Yeeeeaah,” in a way that meant, “Um, no.” I knew it every time Mareen said, “chocolate” with her adorable German accent. I knew it when Meghan and I got lost in an empty parking lot. I even knew it when I broke my nose walking into a solid glass wall (shut up).

Don’t get me wrong, there were shitty days. Days I wanted to quit and do nothing but lay in bed and cry (AKA, days I updated my blog so I could stay in my pajamas longer). Weeks where I was physically at school for 50+ hours. Times when just hearing my classmates voices made me want to go on a rampage. I’m generally non-violent and helpful, so my rampage would have looked like this:

Behold my wrath as I gently lay this chair on the ground!!!!!

Behold my wrath as I gently lay this chair on the ground, then cheerfully assist you in putting it back where it belongs!!!

But there were also days that I went so far beyond what I thought possible for myself. I have laughed so hard that my cheeks still hurt the next day. I went places, met people, and did things that were so amazing they hardly seemed real. It was all great and I would change virtually nothing (well, one Saturday, maybe). Sometimes I wonder if 2011 me would recognize 2014 me. Nothing I regularly do now I would have thought possible then.

I remember sitting in my first class, Drawing for Design, over summer session, and we were all quiet. You know that unspoken tension where you start to think, “Why is no one talking? Is it okay to talk? Did something happen when I was in the bathroom? Should I be the brave one who talks?” It bothered me that I didn’t speak up. Everyone seemed in a good mood, but no one wanted to be the first one on the dance floor, so to speak. That night I realized that I had a choice- I could either go on and keep being the person who waited for someone else to go first or I could be the one who stepped up and out.

scary path

Unfamiliar roads always look like this in my mind.

I decided that I was going to walk into class the next day and be the one who spoke up and was friendly and fun. If I didn’t take this experience as an opportunity to reinvent myself, then what would be the point of any of this? I don’t specifically remember that next day, which tells me that it went fine. When fall semester rolled around, I had to again make a conscious effort to let out my bubbly fun side, but it was a teeny bit easier.

Fast-forward three years and to our portfolio night after party and I told everyone this kid Joe, who is young enough to by my son if I was on some 90’s version of Teen Mom, was my secret boyfriend (he’s not). I told another kid he was going to take trapeze lessons with me, and told horrifyingly awkward stories to two of my teachers. Of course, by “told” I mean, “drunkenly yelled across a crowded bar.” I also vaguely remember making pterodactyl-like noises for some reason. So yeah, it’s fairly safe to say that I am much more comfortable in my skin or an obnoxious drunk (“The latter”- you. “Shut up”- me).

I still don’t know if I’m going to succeed or fail. But when I started school in 2011, I decided if i was going to fail, I was going to fail trying. My faith wavers, but giving up has never seriously been an option. Now I’m on a new path and it’s really scary and feels a bit lonely, but I know there are people who believe in me. Even if I can’t see what they see, I’ll just have to believe in their faith.

Some new things coming up that I will leave for future posts. Til then, have a great week!

Put your dreams away for now, I won’t see you for some time…

“Do The Work” or The Wisdom of Freddie Rumsen

Sometimes you hear what you need from the weirdest places. This one ends happy and is short, I promise. There’s even some bad language!

I’ve been walking around feeling incredibly sorry for myself lately. The intern/job search isn’t going as expected (yet) and getting all those, “Thank you for applying, APPLICANT NAME HERE” e-mails starts to wear on you around #10 or so. And someone, whose name sound an awful lot like Teth Trousil, may have made an ass out of herself crying her in favorite teacher’s office not once, but twice in one week.

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge Mad Men fan. When I talk to people about Don, Joan, and Peggy, I’ve been told more then once, “Beth, you know it’s not a documentary, right?” Those people are jerks. So, last night we see our hero, Don Draper, at pretty much the lowest point of his life. Without going into too much detail, he got drunk in the office, a coworker, Freddie Rumsen (a recovering alcoholic) snuck him out and he passed out on his couch. Knowing Don is basically rebelling against the rules put in place by the company to keep him on the straight and narrow or get him fired (google it if you’re interested, I’m trying to keep this short), Freddie says to Don:

“I mean, are you just going to kill yourself? Give them what they want? Or go in your bedroom, get in your uniform, fix your bayonet, and hit the parade? Do the work, Don.” 

If I were wearing pearls I would have clutched them.

It made me think of the book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (which you must read and by “you” I mean, “everyone in the universe”). I’ve been so focused on the wrong things and letting my setbacks, which aren’t even really setbacks, define me. In the season premiere, Peggy locked her door and dropped to her knees with this cry of anguish and I almost cried, too, because, well, let’s just say I could relate.

But Freddy and Steven Pressfield are right: the only way out is through. You sit down, do the work, and you show them what the fuck they are missing. You show them why you are great. Not were great or could be great, but ARE great. Because no one else is going to believe it, if you don’t believe it first.

I’m kind of scared about what comes now that school is almost over. By “kind of,” I of course mean, “extremely,” because long-time readers know that I’m pretty much scared of everything. But I have to believe that if the universe has gotten me this far, that it wouldn’t abandon me now. Maybe I should think of this as the calm before the storm? Wait…that sounds a little awful. Hm…maybe I should work on my cliches while I have some free time.

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

Anyone Seen the Track???

gypsybug_withprayer

Our Lady of Forgotten Sorrows and Unwritten Songs
“O, our Lady of Forgotten Sorrows and Unwritten songs, pray for us sinners, though we are unworthy. May all our endeavors contain His graceful spark of creation while serving the highest good. Help us never forget that our sorrows are temporary and our ultimate glory, though a mystery to us, is well-known to our Divine Protector. Amen.”

I’ve been off track lately. I don’t even think I was in the same zip code as the track. But the worst part was, I didn’t even realize it. You know when you are walking with someone, they stop, but you don’t notice and keep talking and walking like they are still right there with you? Yeah, that was me, but whoever I was walking with stopped like 8 miles ago. After a shitty week, approximately 35 pounds of Halloween candy and a few sucky conversations, I finally realized I was not handling things as best I knew how. But the good thing about this life is that every moment is a chance to start again.

Last semester I was so stressed with my classes, intern search and other things. I let it get under my skin and let it interfere with life in general. So this semester I thought, “Well, I’m not going to do that again! I’m not going to be stressed out and I’m not going to let people get to me and I’m not going to let anything deter my awesome time.”   On the surface this sounds fine, but I realized what I was doing was putting a big ol’ spotlight on the things that I didn’t want and giving them my energy, instead of focusing on what I do want and giving that my energy. I was playing defense instead of offense.

Knowing what you don’t want is super important, but use it to create positive thing. Instead of thinking, “I don’t want to be stressed,” I should have been thinking, “I can handle anything that comes at me. I got this,” and putting my energy into that. If you’re making a cake and your eggs are expired, your flour has bugs in it and you dropped the butter on the sidewalk and now it has all kinds of rocks, glass and questionable substances in it- your cake is going to suck. My cake was sucking hardcore.

But there was one good thing that came out of everything! Well, more then one, but we are just talking about one right now. When I was in the midst of crap I wanted to channel it into something. I realized I hadn’t done a collage in a long time, so I searched my old-timey graphics, found these gorgeous bug illustrations, and that inspired the collage at the start of the post. I also used it for a pop-up card project in my 3D design class. The photo reminded me of a holy card, so I wrote a little story about her and that prayer to go with it. It makes a better illustration then pop-up card, but I’m pretty happy with it. To me a “forgotten sorrow” is something that seemed completely devastating at the time, but later we see that had the situation not unfolded exactly the way it did, we never would have been able to move on to something better.

Sometimes I’ll see these projects from my classmates and I’ll think that the project is so personal, that I almost feel uncomfortable looking at them. In my mind I’m thinking, “Oh crap. Danger! Danger! What do I do?? Where do I look??” It’s like walking in on someone in the bathroom. Usually I just say something like, “Looks great! Nice use of color!”, don’t think about it too much and move on to the next thing. I think this is one of those projects. Don’t analyze it- or me- too much. We’ll just move on to the next thing.

Until next time!

-Beth

The Butterfly Mobile

IMG_20130930_210100You can tell things aren’t great because it’s 6 AM and I’m updating my blog. Usually the only thing I do if I am awake at 6 AM is bitch that it’s 6 AM and I’m awake. Things have been a little crazy and recent days have been even crazier and the last 36 hours the craziest yet. Things will calm down soon, though, because I am removing a huge responsibility from my plate. It really sucks when multiple projects you believed in can’t reach their potential because of factors outside of your control. It’s one of those things I’ll tell you about some time over a manhattan and french fries (I’m classy like that).

Anyway, because of the general suckiness of the state of my affairs lately I thought I’d talk about The Butterfly Mobile! Doesn’t “The Butterfly Mobile” sounds fun and whimsical? Like a butterfly garden on wheels that stops at your house. I imagine the driver wears old-timey clothes and talks in Dr. Seuss-like rhymes with a cockney accent. Sadly, it’s not (hmm…now that I’ll have some time on my hands….), but I did make this mobile out of velum, some doll house parts and fishing line.

This was a project for school that somehow I got full points on even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet the objective. The project was to make polyhedra shapes into a cohesive 3D design that was either narrative, illustrative or about texture and/or shape. I made butterflies. Out of paper. And wood. So yeah. But, hey, I got an A!

Anyway, a couple of my teachers had each independently said I needed to find a way to blend my photography and my design work. That’s what sort of kicked off the idea. Each pair of wings is created out of one of my nature photographs printed on velum (for those who don’t know, velum is a semi-transparent cardstock-like paper). Let me give you this tip about printing on velum, since it’s kind of plasticy, it doesn’t really absorb ink like regular paper. So when you are printing, put the settings to something like “draft quality” or “fast quality”, because you want the least amount of ink possible. After the pages were printed, I used vintage illustrations of butterflies and moths as a template and cut them out with an exacto knife.

IMG_20130930_104247That was one hurdle, but then I had to find something to attach their little disembodied wings to. I tried rolled paper, but it wouldn’t stay rolled. I took a trip to the hobby store and found dollhouse moulding. Cut it, sanded it, and painted it. Found the craft glue and the butterflies had bodies! But how to get them to fly?

I thought this would be the easiest part- just tie some fishing line and we’re done. However, when I tried that my butterflies all looked like they were attempting to walk upright or swinging on the gallows. It didn’t help that it was 9 PM and this project was due at 10 AM the next morning. So I looked around for what I had on hand and found some jewelry wire. It’s thin and flexible and was perfect. I just wrapped it around the top of the body and the mid section. This way I could bend the wire and get the butterfly to hang exactly how I wanted. Another little drop of craft glue to make sure the fishing line didn’t come unknotted and we had lift-off. No rhymes or old-timey clothes (but I do have an accent, but it’s a Chicago accent and only comes out with I’m really, really mad), but the butterfly mobile was done. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Until next week…eh…week after…um…let’s just say I’ll update again before 2014. Probably. Maybe.

Dandelions and Crappy Days

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 9.25.44 PMShort post this week because if life has taught me anything, it’s don’t update your blog when you’re in a crappy mood. It’s just been one of those days full of one miscommunication and frustration after another. A second thing life has taught me is never say, “How much crappier can things get?” because life will always answer, “Super crappy! Wanna see?” Tomorrow is another day. Allegedly.

Just in case I didn’t bring you down enough, I made a little video. Um…that didn’t really come out right. Anyway, for my new media class we learn video and computer graphics techniques. I’ve never animated anything before, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t really too tough. It you know Photoshop at all then taking the leap to animation isn’t that difficult. The most difficult part was finding a subject. My teacher told us make a movie 30 seconds to 2 minutes long. That was it. Three-forths of the project was me trying to figure out what to make a movie about.

I don’t know why, but when I upload it to any site, it loses some quality in the type. I swear if you watch it directly from my file it’s not choppy looking like it is on You Tube and Behance and really everywhere else online.

Without further adieu, I present, “The Dandelion.” *deep bow, backing off the stage*

P.S. I guess some people might see an ad under my video (I’ve had a report of “The Capt’n Crunch Show”). You Tube put it there, not me.