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

Caramel Apples For Peace and Happiness

Aerial Silk Artist 2I like fall (this is going somewhere of substance, I swear). It just doesn’t expect as much from you as spring and summer. Spring’s weather is too unpredictable, like that friend with big plans, but only follows through 10% of the time. You’re about to walk out the door when that  flake Spring calls. “Dude, my brother in-law couldn’t get the tickets.” Then Summer is like that cool friend who is ALWAYS doing something super fun, but it’s exhausting and expensive to hang out with them. Fall doesn’t care if you want to lay on the couch in your pajamas until 3 in the afternoon. “Let’s put on a cozy sweater, eat caramel apples and watch something scary!” says Fall.

What is always weird for me though is how gently shocking the seasons are. When it’s winter and the trees have no leaves and the grass is dead or snow-covered, it’s as if I can’t remember what they looked like when green and full of life.  Obviously, I know what that looks like, but it’s like the other memories paste over the incidental things like seasons. When they get here, it’s like, “Oh, right. Of course that’s how vivid the grass is after a storm.”

That, “Oh right,” feeling was the same one I had while researching this week’s post. I wanted to work in this story (I forgot why) I read years ago in a book called, The Zen of Eating and I wanted to make sure I remembered it correctly. The story was this guy living a in cave and one day he came home to find all these demons. So he was like, “What the hell? This is my cave/house! Get out!” A few left, but most didn’t. He tried everything to get them out- getting physical with them, yelling at them, praying them away. Nothing worked. Finally he said, “Okay, jerks, if you aren’t going to go, I guess we’re just going to have to find a way to live together.” It was then that the demons faded away.

That book changed my life. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still ate super bad and gained about 3 billion pounds (approximately). But it introduced me to the concept of mindfulness. It was so easy that I thought, “Why the hell not?” As I remember it described in the book, mindfulness is being present in a moment, paying attention to your breathing, hearing the noises and feeling the sensations that surround you for just a moment. That’s it. Try it. I’ll wait….

*filing nails*

You’re instantly calmer and your head is clearer, right? So anyway, as I was doing my hard-hitting research (a Google search) trying to find this story, I realized that I haven’t been practicing mindfulness nor keeping in mind any other Buddhist teachings. I’m not a Buddhist, I don’t pretend to be and I’m not even that smart, but I do know that when I remember to practice mindfulness and keep in mind the 4 Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path to the best of my ability, that my life goes smoother. I’m not going to recount all of their principles here, because if you are interested, there are about 8 millions (approximately) books and documentaries  out there and even a movie with Keanu Reeves, Chris Isaak and Bridgette Fonda (it was the 90’s, she was in everything, it was in the Constitution).  But here is my uneducated interpretation of a few things.

The first noble truth in Buddhism is that there is suffering. As shitty as that sounds, it kind of nice that someone acknowledges that yep, life is pretty sucky sometimes instead of seeing all these internet posts attempting to convince us that everyone else’s life is ten thousand times more perfect then yours will ever be and making you feel bad about feeling bad. The second is that the suffering is caused by attachments and clinging. I always add “expectations” in there, too. Feelings and situations are constantly changing, but we expect them to stay the same forever or a certain outcome that we rarely get. The way out of the suffering is the 8 fold path. It’s not like the 12 steps of AA or that I will need when Whole Foods stops selling caramel apples in a couple of weeks. Once you know about the 8 fold path, you’re on it and you just follow the guidelines as best you can all at once. You can follow this link if you want more info, but the gist of it is, don’t be a jerk, which is the basic principle of most religions. This life can be hard and we should all try and find something non-destructive that eases our way a little.

Here’s a fun song that has nothing to do with Buddhism, but it sounds kind of Indian/Asian and I like it.

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.