Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hello Holiday '09

Bad poetry about good things:
No presents this year, just lots of cheer.
I'll see my family, we'll have a beer.
When first we see snow, my eyes will tear.
The mountain is calling: come here, come here!

Crappy Christmas Crafting:
Today I made my first potholder out of fabric loops (thanks Amy M for bringing this project). I somehow missed out on this craft as a child. I think I'll give it to my Mom. :-D

~ Merry Christmas! ~

Although I'm officially "skipping Christmas" this year, I realized today that I've actually been missing Christmas entirely since elementary school.

My fondest Christmas memory is from Bellfork Elementary in Jacksonville, NC. For the Christmas of 1989, our kindergarten class made Santa Claus figures from red construction paper with cotten ball beards. They had long, accordian-folded dangly legs because he was meant to sit on the fireplace mantle and stream over.

I don't remember any of my presents, but I remember being very proud of my Santa.

We made them on the last day before Christmas break (it was still called that when I was a kid), and they were still too wet with Elmer's glue to take home on the bus. I wanted my Santa so badly that my Dad drove me to the school after he got off work to pick him up. Miss Brown, my kindergarten teacher was naturally very surprised to see us, but humored me, as a kindergarten teacher should. I breathlessly drug my Dad up and down the hallway of the school, showing off the sloppily colored Christmas trees and paper chain garlands my classmates and I had made. I was so excited to show him how hard we had worked on our decorations.

That's it, I don't remember anything else from that Christmas. What it was really about, from a five-year-old's perspective, was creating special things and sharing them with the people I love.

The feelings we chase but can't seem to catch in the holiday season: Peace, Love, Warmth, Closeness; these things have nothing to do with how many gifts we receive, or how many obligitory holiday drop-in visits we suffer though. We need to stop feeling like the holiday season is just another thing to check off the to-do list. We need to stop worrying that we'll ruin the holiday by not getting Junior an X-Box, or by forgetting the egg nog, or not making it to every holiday party.

Settle down, step back, and take a look at what we've done. We've taken a time meant for reflection, sharing, and appreciation, and made it into a competition where the best gift-buying, card-sending, tinsle-throwing warrior takes the top prize.

The holiday season should be about the people, and the people are not perfect, but that's why we love them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

Deck the halls with bags of money, fa la lala la, la la la...hold on a sec...did I rob a bank in my sleep again?! No, relax, this money is mine, and I saved it the old fashioned way.

Since this summer, I've been tricking myself into saving money by transferring small amounts into my savings account each month. That minimal effort, along with quitting fancy coffee, avoiding Target, eating out less...and oh yeah...skipping Christmas, has made me a mini windfall. We've still got a tree (and plenty of holiday cheer) but no extravagant gifts this year. Honestly, they will not be missed. We're only 8 days away from the holiday of the year and I've done zero running around collecting pricey reminders of my love for you all. I've sent some cards (purchased for 90% off at Spokane Discount last March), bought one $20 gift for a gift exchange, wrapped dog bones from the kitchen for the dogs, and sent Toys R Us gift cards to my little brother and sister (pets and 8-year-olds shouldn't be asked to skip Christmas).

Greg and I went shopping last weekend and bought small things that had been on our needs/wants lists for a while then we wrapped them in last years gift bags and boxes and stuck them under the tree. Of course we already know what's in them, but we do legitimately want what's inside. The part that makes this really fun is that our chihuahua, Spike, gets really upset when he sees people opening presents. He starts to cry softly, then he tries to come over and help open your gift, when he sees it's not for him, he barks and growls at your horrible trickery. And that's when we bring out the wrapped dog bones and watch both dogs go crazy ripping the paper off. I also like to hide treats in the pet stocking because Spike will stick his head inside and run around the house trying to reach them. Christmas joy is cruel sometimes.

So that's that. I am officially a Scrooge and loving every second.

The $30 pre-lit Wal-Mart tree that jumped into my car two years ago

Stockings! Guess which one is mine. Every year I tape cards to the back of the front door as we receive them like we always did when I lived with my Mom. It's a free seasonal decoration, and a reminder each time you leave the house that someone is thinking about you.

Spike checking for presents that we could be hiding from him

Spike and Lola "helping" to open presents

Spikes with his stocking

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Don't go there; it's uphill both ways.

Drenched in sweat and struggling to breath, I gripped the table edge and pulled with all my strength. We labored together, traversing vast spaces, porting our bounty, trusting our feet to guide us through the darkness.

This is what happens when your craft show booth is in the far back corner of the lunchroom, up a set of stairs, in an area with no lights, behind a booth that takes up two spaces with 8-foot-tall displays.

Crafting. Is. Intense.

Last week, I launched my resin jewelry website, Spike and Lola. I discovered resin this Summer in the stifling hot garage of a friend and was instantly hooked. Maybe it was the way she offered me popsicles in exchange for spray painting sprinkles...maybe it was the fumes...I try not to dwell. At any rate, I fell hard for epoxy and all the promises it held suspended in it's clear, chemical makeup.

So powerful was my zeal, that I signed up for my very first craft fair and spent the next few months measuring, mixing, pouring, sanding, and clear-coating in preparation for my debut.

...which brings me to the sweatiness.

My first show EVER was at East Valley High School this past weekend (December 5th and 6th). I over prepared and covered every detail, as is my custom. The only problem is that it was almost completely unnecessary. The crowds were small and they weren't buyin' what I was sellin'.

But in fact, they weren't buying what anyone was selling. Many of the vendors didn't bother to come back for day two after disappointing sales on Saturday, and the whole thing packed up early on Sunday. All told, I left with $160. Not bad for a weekend in which I would normally make nothing, but not quite in correlation with my wildest dreams.

I'm down but I'm not out. I love the way my stuff looks and I couldn't have been happier with my craft fair display. I'm sure I will rock another craft fair, but I'll be more careful about the venue so I reach the right people.

It's done. It's over. I have survived.

A view of a few bangle bracelets, necklaces, and magnets.

The booth. Note the lime green table skirt inspired by Jen's booth at the Ferris show.

Tiny Trees! Ity-bity resin trees with candy sprinkles or glow-in-dark glitter inside.

Skull and Crossbones Necklaces glowing under the blacklight



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Better, Faster, Stronger

My constant quest for self-improvement has prompted me to get more serious (read: organized) about my workout schedule. I'm already a gym rat, but I don't keep very good track of my workouts to gauge my progress. If it wasn't for Liz's organizational skills, I would be content to run the same distance and lift the same amount every day, vaguely wondering why it wasn't making any difference.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with eating right and working out without working toward a specific goal. I've just reached the point where I'm ready to take the next step, and for me personally, setting a challenging goal is an easy motivator.


Let's go back in time for a minute...waaaaaay back....back to the spring of 1999. This is me: scraggly hair pulled into a thousand tiny braids, baggy wide-legged jeans and a Megadeth t-shirt, sitting on the couch eating an entire box of Wheat Thins dipped in salad bowl filled with melted cheese. It's pouring rain outside and I'm watching The Offspring's "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" video on Total Request Live. This is my typical after-school routine when I don't have golf practice, my wind-down before hitting the books.

Then suddenly, out-of-nowhere, I got bored.

It had never happened before. There was nothing in the world that held my attention better than the television and a giant bowl of finger food.
I felt antsy, like I needed to move. I was confused.

So I got up, grabbed an umbrella, and ventured out into the rain with my portable CD player balanced carefully in my pocket (so it wouldn't skip), and I walked for two hours.

I passed the familiar landmarks of Linda's house, the Fern Hill Library and about 50 Korean churches, finally ending up at the Fred Meyer on Pacific Avenue, where I bought a Mr. Pibb and a Cold CD then caught the bus back home. The next night, I did it again; and again the night after that; and again and again.

Then one day I picked up the pace a little, and I started changing up the route, and I started going farther. I was too embarrassed to run in public (no one wants to be the fat girl trying to run), so I moved into the backyard and began running tiny laps around our maple tree and patio set. Until the day my Mom noticed I was wearing a track into the grass, and made me move to the street in front of our house. Eventually, I was running 5 miles at a time, at least 3 times a week. It felt incredible, I was finally doing something, and I was seeing results.

At my largest, I weighed 190 pounds and wore a size 18. That was my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I have talked to people that I attended classes with all four years who honestly don't remember me being there the first two years. By junior year of high school, I had dropped to 135 pounds and wore a size 9. My eating habits were still horrible, but the exercise allowed me to maintain a healthy weight.

My weight was stable until I got my first apartment sophomore year of college, and promptly gained 20 pounds. I tried everything to get back to where I was, but I fell into a trap of telling myself that whenever I exercised, I deserved to go out to dinner or have some ice cream. Like: "I walked all the way to the McDonald's...so now I get a milkshake!" Any gains that I made by walking or riding my bike, I completely wiped out by eating like a six-year-old on the loose at an M&M factory. I took diet pills, tried detox/fasting diets, cut out foods that I loved only to devour an entire box of donuts after a few days.
But I lost weight, it dropped and climbed, but I was down to 120 pounds and a size 10 on a good day. I weighed myself every single day, sometimes a few times a day, I obsessed about everything I ate. As a result, I was jittery, malnourished and underweight, but still fat. I just didn't feel the same drive to move and run that used to be so strong.

One day in 2007, after moving into my house, Erin called and asked if I wanted to go to the gym at Eastern with her. I said, "sure," even though I didn't really feel like it. When we got there hopped on an elliptical trainer and suffered through the hardest 20 minutes I'd had in a long time. Afterward I was sore and sad, but determined to try again. We went to the gym at the Phase until her Fast Fitness class ended. Then, on her suggestion, we all joined the Oz Fitness gym in downtown Spokane.

The first thing I did at Oz was try to run on the treadmill, and I made it about a quarter mile before I had to walk. I was so disappointed in myself, I couldn't believe that I had let myself fall so far even though it seemed like I was constantly trying to loose weight. One of their personal trainers gave me a body fat analysis and set some goals for gaining weight (gaining!) and reducing my fat to muscle ratio.
He told me to eat real food and get at least 1,500 calories and 40 grams of protein each day. My weight gain goal was set at 135 pounds.

Having it written down, reduced to simple math and displayed in black and white, I couldn't help but be shocked at how simple it seemed. "Three months," he said, "I want to see you hit this goal in three months."

Here I am two years later: 135 pounds, size 5*, long distance runner. Once again sitting on my couch, but drinking a protein shake and getting ready to have a healthy sandwich with a bowl of soup.

*See that?! 15 pounds heavier than my lightest weight, but 5 sizes smaller. All muscle.

Here's what I'm up to these days:

Running Training Schedule
- 7 week cycle

3Rest53Restcross train
3Rest53Restcross train10
4Rest54Restcross train11
4Rest64Restcross train12
4Rest54Restcross train9
3Rest43Restcross train8
3Rest3Walk 2Restcross train13
cross train = elliptical trainer for 30 minutes or some other kind of aerobic activity
Also, even though the weekdays are set low for mileage, I don't stop myself if I feel like running farther. I also don't worry if I end up walking, the point is that I'm doing something.

Current Weight Training Schedule

"A days" and "B days" alternating on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday
"A days" have been renamed to "Fun weights day" and "B days" are now "Awesome weights day"

Fun weights - 50lb barbell, 3 sets of 8
Overhead Press
Bent-over Rows

Awesome weights - varying weight, 3 sets of 8
Bench: 25lb weights each side
Squats: 10lb weights each side
Pull-ups: start with zero assistance, do as many as possible, followed by 3 sets of 8 at 70lb assistance
Sit-ups: 65lb resistance

My goal is to maintain the 7-week-cycle running schedule above and run a 1/2 marathon twice a year (one Spring, one Fall). For weights, I want be able to add 5 pounds of resistance every 2 months until I reach my max, then maintain.

Diet Supplements

As a vegetarian, I constantly get asked, "But...how do you get any protein?!" Honestly, the average vegetarian gets plenty of protein from vegetables and meat-substitutes. In case you are worried, I became a vegetarian 17 years ago and have yet to drop dead.

If you are curious about your protein needs, check out the handy chart on this page: http://www.vegsoc.org/info/protein.html

As a runner and weightlifter, I do need to be more aware of my intake. This is true for any athlete, regardless of dietary choices. To get extra protein on top of what I already get from healthy foods, I drink a protein shake each morning that has 14 grams of protein (and only 80 calories!). The brand I use is Aria, it's supposedly "for women" but I'm guessing that's because it's low calorie. Since I began increasing my protein, I've noticed further definition in my muscles and less soreness after my longer runs.

So there you have it. I hope that this information is inspiring and helpful; or at the very least, informative. If you have a fitness goal, I encourage you to go for it, but make a reasonable plan and don't be afraid to ask for help. I was floundering on my own until I got real information from a personal trainer. Reaching your destination is easier with a detailed map.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I am wearing my business pajamas

There is less than a month left until the craft show at East Valley High School! I got down to some serious business today figuring out my product line and beginning work on my website. My dream is to be able to direct people to my site for special orders if I don't have what they want at the show. So far I've picked a name, set up a domain, begun design on a logo in keeping with my products (see below), and enlisted some friends to be jewelry models (thanks guys).

The business name will be Spike and Lola and it will live under the happy umbrella of my current business. I bought www.spikeandlola.com (there's nothing there yet so don't bother to click it).

Here's the logo so far. It still needs a "Spike and Lola" text treatment. I might add more detailing to it also.

(Side note: In between staining the trim in the kitchen, pouring resin, cleaning the bathroom, spray painting signs, and cleaning my brushes with mineral spirits; I suddenly realized that I'll probably be mad as a hatter before the age of 30.)

"Good lord, that's a ton of stuff, it's just a craft show, what could possibly be left to do?!," you cry.

Um...first of all, the bathroom just needed cleaning. But yeah, there's lots of stuff still left to do. Lots and lots. Let me tell you why:

Sometimes I commit to doing something, and I don't go all the way. I just kinda, like...try a little bit...but not so much that I couldn't later say, "It's cool that it didn't work out, I didn't try that hard anyway."

That era is over.

I'm going on the record as saying that I'm working really really hard on this, and I'll be disappointed if I don't sell anything, because I'm actually trying. Training for and running the half marathon has had a profound effect on my goal attainment process. I proved to myself that I could work hard and get real results.

Those of you who know me know that I make most things look effortless, and for the most part, that's because I'm not putting forth any effort. This is not a "look at me, I'm so damn awesome" statement. I only say that to illustrate a point: I am not in the habit of setting goals that I don't know for a fact I can reach. One of my favorite things to say when someone tells me it seems like I'm good at everything is, "Well, I can't dance and I can't play basketball." But...I don't actually know if that's true. I've never really tried to dance or play basketball because, in the back of my mind, I'm hoping that I'm secretly good at those things without ever practicing them. It scares me to death that I might not instantly be an incredible dancer, so I refuse to dance.

I'm gonna fix that.

Next weekend, I will attempt to exercise my dancing demons by getting down and funky at Liz and Jen's birthday, regardless of how silly I look. I will own up to the fact that being really good at Dance Dance Revolution is not the same thing as having rhythm.

And I will make an awesome craft website, and (hopefully) sell lots of awesome crafts that I worked really hard on.

All of this, in my Cheshire Cat pajamas.


A few days ago, I started reading the Facebook developer blog to see what new horrifying changes they were going to bring down on us like the Hammer of Awful. Who likes the new "Live Feed/News Feed" options? Really? You are stupid.

In that spirit, I found it hilarious that they mark their potential updates with this snazzy orange button (circled in blue):

Forget the "dislike" button, I would like a "mock" button

Mock this? Why yes, I think I will. *click*

Somebody please start a group for the "mock" button. I will join your cause.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting crafty

On a whim and inspired by the incomparable Jen, I recently signed up for my first craft show. Being in a craft fair is something I've thought about for a long time. I am one of those people who likes to go craft fairs to look, but never buys anything because I know I could make those things at home. A part of me always resisted getting a booth because I wasn't confident that I could make lots of awesome things that someone else would want to own. So, since this is the year of confidence, self-discovery and newness, I thought, "What the hell, let's do it!"

The show is going to be at the East Valley High School, December 5th and 6th. I've dreamt up a very elaborate collection of day-glo, plastic, 80's-style jewelry based on what I observed at the Warped Tour this year. I'm going to be selling resin rings, bangle bracelets and necklaces in neon pink, green, orange and yellow.

Here's a picture of a few of my first items. I'm still learning about working with resin, so there's been a bit of trial and error, but so far I've managed not to create any crazy chemical reactions or accidentally encase one of my chihuahuas in glittery epoxy.

Halloween Party prep is in full swing. Liz and Jen have graciously taken over the foodstuffs. It's a good thing because I've been seriously craving those vegan chocolate cupcakes. The idea of two baking masters working together fills my stomach with joy (then I cry a little because joy isn't as tasty as cupcakes). This year the party is going to be primarily indoors since it will probably be negative 1000 degrees outside. I'm setting up the basement as a game area with a balloon dart game, pumpkin toss, and few other ideas I found online. It should be rad, I'll post pictures when I get all the decorations together.

Since I promised myself I would make time to paint (time that I don't have), I chose to paint something that needed to get done anyway. This years' Halloween Costume Party invitation is done with watercolor on canvas board.

And here she is:

A couple other random things:

1. Here's the new logo I did for the Rings & Things Gallery

2. Today discovered that I've inadvertently saved over $550 by being enrolled in BofA's "keep the change" program. Automatic savings is seriously the way to go.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nothing but the Truth

Over the past month or so, our group of friends has been talking about telling the truth. Not "telling the truth" like avoiding overtly lying, but "truth" like how you really feel about something. Truth like, "Actually, I'm not fine," "I don't feel like going," "When you do that, it bothers me." It may be hurtful in the short term, but overall, it seems better to have it out in the open.

I'm choosing to write about this today because yesterday I got hit by a car on my longboard, and it was absolutely imperative that I tell the truth.

As the driver was apologizing and saying that she just didn't see me, I realized that the "old" me would have jumped in and said, "Oh, it's okay, don't worry about it." But it wasn't okay, and she should be worried, and she should be sorry.

So I did the "real" thing instead of the "right" thing. I admitted to being freaked out and upset, and possibly injured. I told the police officer exactly what happened, even though the lady who hit me was very nice, and I felt badly that she got a ticket. Why should I feel bad? It's time to stop being so damn nice.

Why do we say and do things that aren't in our best interests simply to preserve the feelings of others? If you are hurt you should say so. If you need something, you need speak up. It's a disservice to yourself to sit in silence. And in a way, it's a disservice to others. When you hold everything in and lead everyone to believe that you feel a certain way, then one day you suddenly tip over the edge and explode, you leave a blast-zone of bewildered people who don't understand what went wrong.

The other day I told a client that they were making a "poor choice" by picking one design over another. It felt weird to offer my opinion like that, and in such a blatant way, but I'm glad that I said it. Regardless of the outcome, I'm happy that everyone knows how I feel.

Here are the two postcard designs. I prefer #2 over #1, I feel that it is the more powerful of the two, and is more likely to leave an impression on the viewer.

So be warned. I am done agreeing simply for the sake of saying "Yes."

Lest you think this is only about being catty and evil, consider that it also applies to speaking your mind in general. When Liz and I first started talking about saying what you really think, I experimented with sharing the funny things that I think about instead of censoring myself.

For example, when I saw that the parking lot attendant at the mall had a giant bottle of wine and a sub sandwich at his desk, I said, "You really know how to bring the party." And we all had a good laugh. Good times. Now we all get to be amused instead of just me.

Another example from Liz: Liz asked the girl (Erin) who scans our cards at the gym why there were balloons in the lobby, and Erin said, "It's to show that we appreciate you today," to which Liz replied, "Shouldn't you appreciate us everyday?" And we all had a good laugh. Good times.

In both cases, we have made new aquantance-type-friends. Erin is now very happy to see us each time we go to the gym, and the parking lot attendants are equally enthused to see us. I'm sure they are thinking, "There's those funny girls, I wonder what crazy things they'll say next."

It's not going to hurt the random people you encounter to know what you're thinking. The worst thing that could happen is that they'll think you are a little odd. But honestly, you are a little odd, aren't you? Tell the truth now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Everyday could be a Holiday-Day

As I'm thinking about preparations for the 4th annual Halloween Party, I am also looking back at past holiday events. Holidays are very important to me. I love traditions and rites-of-passage almost as much as I like shaking-up those traditions.

Making special occasions out of every-day occurrences helps me remember the good times. Moments slip through my mind faster than I can capture them. My mental shutter speed is no match for a camera. That's why I try to take lots of pictures and write about what's going on in my life. It seems that our minds sometimes block out the good memories when the going gets tough, but I have concrete evidence that I do have a good time on a regular basis. :-)
Try it! Take a picture of yourself with a big, cheesy grin and put it up somewhere you'll see it everyday. When something horrible happens and it seems impossible to find the lesson or the humor, fake it. Write down something positive about it, even if you have to lie a little, it can help shift the way you are feeling right now...and it will definitely change the way you remember it later on.

If every single day could be a party, I would be the happiest person in the universe. I love the way people interact and experience something when they know it's time to relax and let go. Also, being a visual person, I love to make invitations and create atmosphere through lights, decorations and music.

Years and years ago, before my Dad shipped out on a 6-month tour, I created a "Holiday-day" event. I set up "stations" around the living room, each one featuring a different holiday, effectively cramming 6-months worth of holidays into an hour. We walked around to each area, sang the related songs and took a picture of ourselves with the holidays' decorations. It helped me to create a memory for each holiday that included our whole family. That way, when the actual holiday rolled around, I wouldn't have to feel like anyone was missing.

It's about escapism. It's very much about forgetting that tomorrow we get on a boat and sail away from the ones we love. Whether that's an actual boat or just the obligations in our lives that pull us away from what's important, it makes no difference, the feeling is the same.

Here some invitations I've designed that remind me of fun times and make me smile:

On a separate note:

This Sunday, I tried inner-tubing for the first time. I haven't been on a small boat in about 20 years and I never imagined that I would be comfortable on the water. But you know what? It was awesome.

The speed and the sunshine and the spray from the water is incredible. It was much more intense than I thought it would be.

My arms are crazy-sore today from holding on to the mesh handles. Keeping your grip isn't easy and hitting the water is like being struck by a train. I don't remember anything after hearing Aaron yell, "OH SHIT!" Then I was coughing and laughing and soaking wet and trying to catch my breath.

"Super-Awesome, Shorty-Summer" isn't quite over yet, but it could end tomorrow and I would be more than satisfied. The yard sale, the yard-sale after party, having my socks rocked off by Modest Mouse, being seriously piggy-ish at Pig Out in the Park, making a whole new look for my kitchen for just over $100, training for the Spokane half-marathon, and myriad other things have made it incredible.

Bring on the Fall!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So far, so good.

My money-saving kick is really paying off (ha!). I could actually see the difference in my savings account right away. Those $3 coffees for both Greg and myself every single day were draining over $2,000 from our wallets each year. Red's tiny coffee pot from school is the perfect size since we each drink two cups of coffee in our giant tumblers.

URM (cash & carry store) has tons of flavors for coffees or italian sodas. Our kitchen is now stocked like a full-service espresso stand and I couldn't be happier. No more hoping that I get the barista who makes the coffee the way I like it...because now it's always me...and I know exactly what I like!

Another success story: Super-Awesome-Shorty-Summer!
Thus far, I have accomplished the following summer/fun-related activities:
- Epic Skate Journey
- Gym like crazy - Seriously - Like. Crazy.
- Flying Irish fun running
- Rocket Bakery and neighborhood adventure - ate a yummy sandwich and ventured about
- Golfing for Nate's B-day
- Party at Erik's - dressed as a gangsta hottie in my kick-ass pin-striped hat
- Party at Aarons - trampoline! fire pit! alcohol! ...danger!
- Silly lunch with good friends - silly because the service was bad and the food was disappointing, not because lunch itself is silly, lunch is serious business
- Newman Lake for a family BBQ - still fun even though I was falling asleep in my comfy camping chair
- Marilyn Manson Concert - Greg and I rocked the mosh pit, the show was incredible
- Yard Sale! - this hasn't happened yet, but getting ready for it is eating up a lot of my time in a good way. Every box that I take out to the garage is more space in the house and more money in our pockets. If that's not good enough for ya, the yard sale will be followed by a BBQ at Cindy's, then a sure-to-be-rad Modest Mouse concert.
- Painting the kitchen and cabinets - a full makeover on the cheap that I have optimistically planned for Labor Day (before and after photos coming soon)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Let's try this again, shall we? - Super-Awesome, Shorty-Summer

Summer has failed me...or perhaps I have failed Summer. So I am starting over.

Selina's official Summer do-over kicked off on August 15th with the Warped Tour. I took a vacation day Monday and leveled my Paladin to 79. Pedro celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday and we all stuffed our faces with and incredible WoW-themed cake. Then Liz and I hit the two-thirds point for our "silly people like to run 7-marathons on treadmills at the gym" event. It got even more awesome last night when The Bleeding Edge played at The Grail in Post Falls. We had a killer time and booked two more shows with that venue. So far, so good.

I am going to concentrate on making each day of "Super-Awesome, Shorty-Summer" every bit as great as its name implies. Although I am short on time, I am long on ideas for maximum Summer impact.

Hear that sizzle and pop? That's the sound of a fire starting. It will continue to burn away fast and furious until Tuesday, September 22nd. That's a little under a month of seasonal activity.

Cindy says it can be awesome like the last 5 minutes of a fireworks show: extra-intense, bright and loud. An impressive ending that makes the build-up worth it. Everyone knows that the finale is the best part anyway.

(Just to be clear, my summer failure doesn't include my week of vacation that was previously chronicled in this blog. I would be lying if I told you that I didn't have a blast.)

Sometimes the best way to enjoy the time you have is to step back and take a look at what you were doing wrong before. I think I just assumed that if I waited long enough, Summer would happen to me and I would have a great time.

Now I am in pursuit of Summer, I realize that it will not wait for me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Attack of the 80's

Shutter sunglasses, pink and black tiger-striped skin-tight pants, lime green nylon hats and mustaches galore. Welcome to my 80's nightmare...it's happening right now...and I am wide awake.

This Saturday was the 15th Warped Tour at The Gorge. I am used to seeing punky-colored-hair, spikes, leather and ripped black fishnets. This year was completely different. You couldn't drunkenly stumble 2 feet in any direction without running into Cyndi Lauper and the Beastie Boys circa 1985. Last year we were fine, where did this entire generation of color-blind fashion victims come from?! Surely they remember watching their older brothers and sisters getting dressed up like that...the crimping...the hairspray...the horror. Why are we doing this again?

Ranting aside, it was a great show. We saw Bad Religion, NOFX, Senses Fail, Saosin, In this Moment, YB, Meg and Dia, 3OH!3 and a bunch of others. Maybe it was just me, but it didn't seem like the pits were as intense as they have been in the past. It was cool to finally see NOFX, it sucked that most of the people watching their set were just there waiting for 3OH!3 to come up next. Hopefully they appreciated the better band and will see the error of their ways (^_^)

It didn't rain, I didn't see any flaming port-a-poties and no one slept under a car (at least not anyone from our group). So I say, "Success!"

I didn't see as much of the emo kids as in years past. There were still skin-tight pants but they were more of an 80's style (neon colors or higher cut in the waist) than the usual 70's punk rock influenced style. Hair is going bleach blond with black roots, I didn't see a single person with the "chunked" hair color.

I noticed a lot of t-shirts with giant Helvetica text like, "THIS IS A 3OH3! SHIRT" in black ink on white shirts. No graphics, just text. There were quite a few different takes on that design. Some were in multi-neon inks, but most were just black or white ink.

The best thing to do now is to embrace this resurgence of ridiculousness. I missed out on the bad 80's fashion the first time around because I was too young to successfully dress myself (perhaps I still am). This is a golden opportunity to shine like a glittering neon beacon of awesomeness without even the slightest hint of irony.

Babysitters Club anyone? Where is my half-shirt?! It's time to party.

Monday, August 3, 2009

how I spent my summer vacation

August 3, 2009

by sEliNa - age 25

I am in pursuit of the perfect week...how do you think I did?:

Friday - dyed my hair orange, ate at Neato Burrito, went to a Sonic Youth concert

Saturday - Gym, finished reading "Good Omens" - awesome book, hilarious, went skateboarding with rad new board and saw Over the Hedge in the park in Liberty Lake

Sunday - Bare Buns Fun Run at Kanisku Ranch, I got 1st place for females ages 25-29

Then we attended the Royal Fireworks Concert in Riverfront Park. In my opinion, the fireworks display for the symphony was way more impressive than the usual 4th of July show.

Monday - Pullman adventure to visit Erin

On the way down to Pullman I saw phone booths! The only other phone booth I have seen in the past few years is the one next to the Shell station on Division that doesn't have a phone inside, but always seems to contain a homeless person and hundreds of burrito wrappers.
I got attacked by Freddy Cougar at Sella's. The delicious calzones made the bites and scratches worth it.
I toured Erin's extra-sensitive apartment
we did a little bowling and checked out the arcade. I beat Erin at every game...yes, Erin, I did...don't listen to her...she is a liar.

Just for fun: See if you can guess which of these sinks belongs to Erin, and which belongs to her room mate.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Tuesday - Played WoW went to the gym and got my new board ready to bomb hills

Wednesday - Played Wow some more and bought a killer new coat for the winter they tell me we'll be having as soon as the 105 degree weather ends...

Thursday - Flying Irish, gym, skateboarding, rocking at Club Edge (no photos from this show) Please enjoy a photo of me loving beer instead:

Yep, that's my 21st birthday. Not much has changed.

Friday - Went to see Harry Potter, then gave Greg a new hair cut and took artsy photos in the living room

Saturday - gym again (I am a machine!) + attended Mark and Jen's Awesome Wedding

Sunday - Chillin' at the lake with Greg's family

Trying to convince me to try wakeboarding, Greg says, "Doesn't my hair look awesome?! I totally face-planted and got water up my nose...it feels like someone punched me in the face!...but it turned out okay. Wanna try it?"

Um...sure honey...I'm all over that.

I am now ready for my next vacation. Can I make it better than this one? I'm going to try.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

endless summer? I hope so

July 25th, 2009

My awesome board has arrived! It's a Rayne Hellcat with Randall R11 180 trucks and 75mm Orangatangs. The wheelbase is a little longer than the Big Red X and the board is a little wider. It is seriously the most comfortable board I have ever stood on. The trucks are incredibly turny, but still stable at moderate speeds. I'll need to tighten them up more for the big hills, but they have been great so far for riding downtown and hitting parking garages.

Look at it...it is glorious.

I love the queen of hearts graphic on the bottom (maybe it's king of hearts, but I'm a girl, so I say queen). It came with a roll of clear grip tape, but I've always hated how clear grip gets nasty and grungy looking, so I decided to go with black instead then cut a design to make it more personal.

Here's a couple shots of the finished design:

It takes while, but it's not too bad if anyone out there wants to give it a try. The trick is to flip the grip over and sketch out your design on the back (in reverse/mirror image), then cut it from the bottom with an exacto knife. Grip tape eats exacto blades for breakfast so have extras on hand. Getting the tape on without ripples can be tricky. I've found that it's a lot simpler if you start at one end and peel away the backing as you go down the board instead of peeling off the backing all at once then trying to get the whole sticky mess to cooperate.

After the grip is stuck down, use your fingers to push it down around the edges all the way around the board. Instead of trying to cut a perfect outline with your exacto knife, run a screwdriver around the edges to score them (use the metal shaft, not the tip). The friction will wear away the grain of the grip tape and you'll be able to peel away the excess leaving perfect edges.

I'm looking forward to another few months of good skating weather so I can break it in properly. It's not a coincidence that I decided to take a week off work the same day this arrived. (^_^)

Friday, July 17, 2009

tracking language trends on Facebook

July 17, 2009

I'm probably a little late to the game, but I've just discovered a tool on Facebook that will help me track the popularity of my "10 Nicknames" note. (Quick refresher: the "10 Nicknames" note is a fun little experiment I cooked up to see if I could knowingly create viral content on Facebook). The tool I'm going to use is called Lexicon and it includes a search function that creates a graph displaying the the frequency of discussion for a topic.

Facebook says:
  • "Lexicon is a tool to follow language trends across Facebook. Specifically, Lexicon looks at the usage of words and phrases on profile, group and event Walls. For example, you can enter "love, hate" (without quotations) to compare the usage of these two words on Facebook Walls. You may enter up to five terms, where each term can be a word or two-word phrase consisting of letters and numbers."

When I'm ready to take a look at the data for my note (probably in a few more weeks), I can just input the key terms into the search box and see if there was a spike in usage for related language.

Huzzah! That's so easy! I love it! I exclaim a lot!

Then, once I have my fancy graph, I can decide whether or not to release my second note test (a boring note instead of a fun one). Based on the data from both notes I can hopefully create a baseline for future tests.

Here's a fun example from some of their suggested search terms. It is a side-by-side comparison of "party tonight" and "hangover." Notice that there's a spike in chatter about parties on the days leading up to New Year's Eve, followed by an even larger spike in talk of hangovers on New Year's Day.

Good times.

You can learn more about Facebook's other marketing tools on the Marketing Solutions page.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

hair envy...you know you've got it

July 16th, 2009

I promised photos of crazy hair and the dress I made, so here they are:

This was my hair test to see if I could actually make large hair happen without hair-frying disaster...or accidentally getting AquaNet in my eyes.

This is Cindy and me all dressed up with somewhere rad to go. I managed to break my necklace during the show (too much jumping around), but the dress miraculously held together, and the hair didn't budge.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Paint it Black and Post it Up

July 14th, 2009

In honor of the awesome Reverend Horton Heat show I'm about to see tonight, I'd like to talk a little about rock concert posters.

I love rock posters. The in-your-face artwork coupled with clean lines and bright colors catch my eye every time. A lot of the posters that I like are screenprinted or made to look like they are using PhotoShop effects (like grunge erasers or brushes). As in my own art, I appreciate the blending of modern and traditional technique.

Here are a few from The Rev that I like:
Any poster (not just a rock poster) has to be evocative. It has to draw in the viewer and provoke a response, and it only has a fraction of second to do so. In my case, the poster on the far right in the photo was enough to bring me to a complete stop while skateboarding by The Knitting Factory downtown. It instilled me with a strong desire to drink alcohol and rock out. A concert poster has the to make the viewer feel the music and want to see the show, or in the case of collector posters, remind them of a show they've already seen.

If you are designing a poster for a rock show, chances are that you'll choose a black and red color combination. Just for fun, I did a little sniffing around online to find out why this is such a popular choice. I already knew that black has associations with death and evil, and red is associated with blood, passion and sin.

What I didn't know, (or didn't remember from Social Studies class) is that red and black are heavily associated with socialist movements and anarchism. The Wikipedia told me the following things (thank you wikipedia, for you are a kind and generous god): "After the rise of socialism in the mid-19th century, red was used to describe revolutionary movements. Red and black are colors associated with anarchism, and, specifically, anarcho-syndicalism. Also, Black and Red, was a radical Marxist printers/publishers group that Fredy Perlman was involved with." So it makes sense that rock and roll music, which was considered highly radical and subversive when it first emerged, would carry associations with other fringe groups (fringe like on-the-edge, not fringe like cowboys).

As a recovering a goth/punk kid, I have a predominantly black wardrobe peppered with plaid and the occasional shiny vinyl. I could say that I'm just naturally drawn to these things, but it's more likely that I've been socially conditioned to liking them based on who I choose to hang out with and the music I listen to. I blame Johnny Cash and the Victorians for the black clothes. I'm not sure where to place the blame for plaid, but someone needs to take the fall for a pattern that flatters absolutely no one. Anyway, now I'm off topic. In keeping with tonight's rockin' theme, I made myself a black polka dot mini-dress that I will combine with cherry-red accessories. I'll also be attempting giant, rockabilly, pin-up girl style hair.

Photos should be up tomorrow for those who like a good laugh.

Further reading:
Rockpostercollector.com is a fantasical site to check out tons of collector-quality posters. If you are just interested in looking at the artwork and not in owning an original, there are some great poster anthologies available at most bookstores. Check out The Art of Modern Rock or Swag 2: Rock Posters of the '90s and Beyond.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You, by any other name.

July 7th, 2009

This is a social experiment of sorts.

A while back, I filled out a "25 things about me" note on Facebook. Unlike the countless surveys and product questionnaires that come through my mailboxes (real life and internet-based), I was excited to do it, I wanted to sit quietly for an hour and think about my responses. Each thing that I wrote meant something to me, and I wanted it to be exactly right...then I forgot all about it.

Until a few days later when I noticed something strange: Every person on my friend list had also filled out the note, and each one had obviously taken a sizable chunk of time to really think about what they would say.

Big surprise; we didn't all flock to fill out a note about Pepsi or Coke, we didn't rush to join groups for good causes (even if we believed in them), and we didn't clamor to suggest new flavors of chicken for KFC (at least I didn't); I filled out the "25 things" note because it was about me!

We love to make things about ourselves. In fact, (and this will blow your mind) sharing information about design and advertising is not why I like to blog. I like to blog because it's about me! Who's picture is that over there? Oh my gosh, IT'S ME! I love the internet!

I love to create online personas. I love to fill out the "About Me" section on a social profile. I love it when people comment on my silly status updates. If you aren't paying attention to me, I want to know why, and I want to know now.

...and I bet you'd want to know too.

I also bet (because I'm obviously the betting kind) that whoever created the "Farm Town" Facebook application is kicking themselves for not branding the experience. I'm surprised that no one thought to sell advertising space on a game that allows users to create tiny versions of themselves and live a virtual life. Virtual lives call for virtual products, and my Farm Town avatar would be just as happy to plant Del Monte sponsored corn as it would to plant generic corn. Perhaps my avatar would even pay a little more for the privilege of planting organic corn, if the option existed. However, if Farm Town added advertising now, I guarantee there would be an uproar, because you can't change the rules after the game begins. When corporations started moving into games like Second Life, users started moving out, or at least letting it be known that they weren't happy about the commercialization of the game.

Another popular game, YoVille, is branded to the hilt (300 yocash for $50, what a deal!). But it can be, because it started out that way. You can't walk your avatar two steps in the virtual world without tripping over a product or being bombarded with requests to invite your friends (and send them gifts with your virtual cash that's not so virtual when it comes it comes out of your real life bank account).

Work all day at your game, then trade your real money for fake money. Makes perfect sense, right?

Why do people put up with that level of advertising in a game? Because it's about them.

If only I could find a way to make myself about you...then you would be about me too. So here's a start:

Just for fun, I'm going to start a note on Facebook that asks people to share a little about themselves and watch to see if/how it spreads. A few weeks later, I'm going to start another note that asks about something that isn't personal (not sure what it will be yet), and I'll try to measure the difference in response to each topic (no actual science will be involved, I might make charts and graphs, but they'll be made from macaroni and Elmer's glue). So there's me, taking an active interest in you, in hopes that it will prompt you to take an interest in me (via my blog, or the band's webpage, or whatever).

I know absolutely nothing about what level of information other people are willing to share with the world, though it seems they will share anything (judging by what I see on most blogs and social networking pages). In order to make as accessible as possible for a large number of people, I'm picking something common and unoffensive (not "how many sexual partners have you had" or "what's your grossest habit"). Nope, nothing like that, I'm asking about nicknames.

All I want is a list of nicknames you've had over the course of your life, who gave you the name (if you remember), and the significance of the name. Simple, and all about you.

I'm going to try to observe and report the results by staring at my facebook feed and seeing who's posting, and maybe doing some Google searches (again, "selina science" - not science for realsies - science for winners).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

getting animated about illustrating

July 2nd, 2009

Lately I’ve been thinking about getting back into illustrating books. The two books I’ve worked on so far were really fun projects, but I didn’t actually have to work to land the job. The first book was part of my college credit, then we all just decided to stick together for a second book.

I’m very excited about getting into illustrating as of right now (that's how it usually goes when something is new), but I'm not sure how aggressively I want to pursue it in the long term. I might not have the stomach for this kind of adventure. Working with a client is very different than drawing for yourself, or even drawing for work at my day job. The scope of a project and the expectations of the client aren't always as clear with freelance work as they are with a 9-5 position. The procedures and task management systems in place at R&T make it pretty clear when work starts and ends, what the task is supposed to be, and what is expected of each team member. Freelance work is more like free falling off a cliff into a canyon of pointy deadlines. No one told me how to pack or deploy my parachute...in fact...I'm not even wearing one.

I might go ahead and illustrate my own book then try to shop it around to a publisher. I did find some great tips on getting started with children's book illustrating on this website.

My book idea is an illustrated poem. It's somewhat of a nonsense poem, but it does have a message and I think it will be really fun to create the artwork. Since I've just started learning to work with acrylics, I'm going to try to do these will paint instead of my usual colored pencils or digital work. This is a great opportunity to push myself because I have nothing to lose.

I learned online today that a standard children's book is 32 pages because the pages need to be a multiple of eight to work best for the press (this is the same rule we use for our catalogs at Rings & Things). That's a whole lot of art.

My goal is to complete the first draft by the end of the summer (by September). Only time will tell if I actually stick to that goal, but I'm hoping that putting it in writing will give me extra incentive to stay with it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

i miss you, Anime Cafe

June 27th, 2009

I really do. So much.

Today I was thinking about my old neighborhood back in P-town and everything I miss about it. Unfortunately, a lot of the things I miss no longer exist, including the Anime Cafe.

The Anime Cafe was the coolest place in town. Possibly the coolest place anywhere. I used to put my chihuahua, Charlie, in my backpack and walk there after school to look at the manga, and the t-shirts, and wish that I could afford the action figures and the movies. They always let you look at the comics even though you weren't really supposed to be taking them out of their protective wrappers and putting your greasy hands on them (^_^)

Why would I miss a store? Aside from the fact that it was part of my exceptionally nerdy, coming-of-age/formative years, my nostalgia owes a lot to the authenticity of the place.

Some of their staff was volunteer, they had no air conditioning, advertising was by word-of-mouth and handmade signs, projects were always halfway done because everyone was too busy reading the books and discussing the movies to paint the walls or organize the shelves.

The carpet was dingy and the lighting was all wrong, but they made up for it by plastering the walls and windows with the newest, cheeriest import posters. Smiling faces with giant eyes hawking strangely shaped candies and overlain with enormous neon kanji characters called out from every surface.

Workers were genuinely excited about the product; they were super fans; otaku in a good way. I had hoped that their dedication would keep the place alive forever, but these days, a hair salon stands in its place.

What I'm driving at with this post, in my round-about way, is "authenticity." What makes a business authentic? Is it the specific product being sold? Is it the way employees feel about the business?

Does the business have to be struggling to be authentic? If so, what happens when a struggling business finally develops its wings and begins to take off? Does it suddenly become fake?

Or is authenticity simply a product of marketing? Is it possible to pretend your way to an "authentic" business? This is something I think about when I buy an ice cream cone from a Ben and Jerry's store. Judging from the marketing materials I've seen from the company, I feel that they are an "authentic" company. But I don't really have a verifiable reason to feel that way. I've never been to their parent company, I've never worked there, I've never asked any of their employees how they feel about the company...and yet, with their brochures and their signs and their slogans about recycling, they have me convinced.

Whatever that secret authenticity factor is, the Anime Cafe had it. That authenticity is something that my adult life is often lacking, and it leaves me longing. If only I had the answers to my barrage of questions, I would infuse my life and my work with authenticity...or perhaps I already have it...maybe I just need a brochure that says I do.


The anime art style continues to influence my work. I often utilize bright colors and exagerated figures as a result of the Japanese anime art I was exposed to through my friends in high school (Thanks Kym and Linda).

If you are interested in learning about this art style, you can read more on The Anime Project website.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

hospital trips may require pre-medication

June 25th, 2009

Today was lost in hospital hallways. Corridors, a maze of beige, twisted and stocked with crazy characters; like Labyrinth, but without David Bowie to make it awesome. This place captured us for ten hours. I had been tricked. "Where are the tight pants and creepy puppets?!" I cried. Alas, there were other plans for us.

For those of you joining us late, my friend Tom was assaulted this week. His jaw is broken in two places, the muscles supporting his eye have been ripped, and he has permanent nerve damage. This morning, he went into surgery to have a metal mesh screen put under the skin beneath his eye and his jaw reset with a steel rod to hold it in place.

First thing, we received a stash of prescription bottles affixed with perplexing icon stickers instructing the user with images that I could only discern to mean, "do not to spin in circles while wearing clown makeup", "enjoy flan", and my personal favorite: "here are some birds dipped in chocolate."

Here are birds. Also: "Papaya!"

They put Tom on a gurney and gave him a blanket that was three feet too short. His bright blue socks made him easier to identify in the pre-op waiting room. Then we all went for a dizzying walk through the building to ensure that I would never be able to find my way back out. All the while, our escort kept my attention by repeatedly assuring me that "someone" would tell me what was going on.

In the next waiting area, Tom's nurse couldn't understand how to put together the plastic tube that he needed to breath through to get anesthesia into his throat. She did it wrong twice before getting lucky. Later, I was treated to a discussion on property taxes between two male nurses who should have been describing the procedure to me; or even better, describing it to Tom.

After being shown yet another waiting room by no less than four different nurses (who each told me something conflicting about where to wait and how long it would be) I was greeted by a fifth person whose job it was to write the names of people waiting and remind us about the free coffee.

I'm not really sure if she had an express purpose other than that. I can't imagine that many homeless people make it up past security and up to the third floor just so they can camp the coffee maker and watch Regis and Kelly on a 15 inch screen.

But anyway, she wrote my name on a list and expressed intense dissatisfaction that I had brought my own coffee. Basically: "Oh, I was going to tell you that I made coffee...but I see that you've gone ahead and brought your own. Yep. You just went right ahead and brought some in with you."

Oops, party foul.

Guess I should have been more concerned about her feelings and less concerned about being awake to drive a friend to the hospital. Fortunately, a whole mess of messy, coffee drinking, loudmouths promptly entered the room and took her focus off of me. I ended up moving to the second waiting room (about 20 feet away) when the first became to loud for me to read my book... and Mrs. Clipboard followed me...and asked me if I was there to see someone in surgery...and wrote my name down again...which led to yet another stimulating session of disapproving glances at my coffee cup.

Lucky for me, no one else felt the desire to break from the safety circle of the communal coffee pot, and I was able to finish reading in peace. It was almost relaxing. Little did I know that more adventure awaited, just around the corner...in the bathroom!

Here, I am greeted with even more helpful nonsense. This time, a torn, acid-green sticker on the soap dispenser wants to help me prevent the spread of disease by improving my hand washing skills. It instructs me to, "Hold hands in downward position so as to prevent water from running down the arms." I'm not sure how effective it was, you probably shouldn't shake my hand today.

Upon leaving, we were given a multi-page printout questionnaire that was supposed to have been filled out by the doctor with instructions for continuing care at home. All of the questions had been left blank until the very last page, which had abbreviations for each of the prescriptions in 8pt type with the Cliffs Notes version of the dosage instructions. Tom couldn't read any of these things with his eyes swollen shut, and nobody bothered to help him, not even a badly drawn stick figure.

Thanks, hospital.

These medical graphics, overall, do not impress me. There has to be a better way. There has to be something better than illustrations by two-year-olds and impenetrable walls of text on Astro-brite paper. It's hard to believe that these are the communication channels we rely on to help the sick.

----- Scary picture warning, do not scroll down unless you have a stomach of steel, or are a highly curious person-----

Tom is doing better. He says he can swallow now without intense pain. His jaw is held shut by rubber bands and he will have to be on a liquid diet for the next few weeks, then move up to only soft foods in a month or so.