Friday, December 31, 2010

The year two thousand eleven

It is almost 2011, which, according to the progressive rock band, Rush, means that we are only 101 years away from assuming control over the planets of the Solar Federation.

It is also the year of the run-on sentence, as evidenced by the previous lines.

At the end of January I christened 2010 "the year of new adventures," and I believe that it lived up to its name.

Here's a quick view of the major happenings from the year gone by:
  • Learned to rock climb
  • Bought a car
  • Took a trip to New York
  • Completed my first Triathlon
  • Quit my job
  • Started the Bomber Betties Longboarding Club
  • Longboarded 40 miles from Spokane to Cd'A
  • Had my first solo art show
  • Wrote a novel
  • Began teaching at ITT
2011 will have its fair share of adventures, to be sure. But I'd like to take a different approach to the coming year than I have in the past. I'd like to actually make some long term plans...and possibly even follow through on those plans...

2010 was a bit like running into traffic after anything that looked shiny.

This is an actual picture of me. I look good in black, don't you think?

2011 will be the year of goals and goal attainment. I will make a list of major things I'd like to accomplish over the next 12 months and work through them like a kind of list-checking-off professional of some sort. Yeah.

For the most part, these goals should be things that will be difficult for me, but I'm going to throw a few easy ones in there too just to keep my spirits up. There will be more to add, but this is my starting list:
  • Run another half marathon
  • Take a cross country road trip
  • Complete an Olympic distance triathlon (my first was a sprint distance)
  • Pay off my car (early)
  • Run the Spokane Marathon in October (the full marathon)
  • Get published
  • Read at least 10 books from the banned books list
  • Dine out once a week or less (unless someone else is paying, haha)
  • Make a will (I've been talking about this for years but have yet to do it)
I realize that setting lofty goals is a common activity for anyone celebrating New Years. But to be perfectly honest, I've never been one to make resolutions. I've never said, "this is the year I lose 20 pounds," or "this is the year I quit smoking," or eating chocolate, or slacking off, or whatever.

And that's not because I think resolutions are a waste of time, because I don't. Any effort you take to step back and look at what you're doing is not a waste. It's just that I don't normally wait for the calendar to roll over to decide that something needs to happen. I'm impatient like that.

This year is different. It just so happens that the traditional time of reflection has arrived at the station at the exact same time as my mental train. Things are in flux, whether that's for good or bad is beside the point. The point is that now is the time to take stock and move forward in the direction of my choosing.

I know where I've been, and hopefully, through setting goals, I'll also have a general idea of where I'm headed.

Looking back and looking forward at the same time is what January is all about. "The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new."

Less than 24 hours are left til the commencement of my goal attainment efforts, better eat all the chocolate and smoke all the cigarettes that I can right now! :-D

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Enhance That

I was tagging photos after a recent birthday party and got a kick out of how hard Facebook's facial recognition feature tries to find people. It asked me to tag the beyond-distorted wine glass reflection of something that may or may not actually be a face. The best part is that there were two real people in this photo and Facebook only grabbed the one in the wine glass.

Who is that?! Great question, let's enhance.

I had to laugh because it reminded me of the mash-up video of television crime dramas where they "enhance" photos beyond the realm of possibility to get information that would never be there in real life.

Surprise: A low res screenshot from a surveillance video doesn't suddenly become high quality just because you zoomed in really tight. Also surprise: a 2-D image doesn't jump into the 3rd dimension just because Gil Grisom requests that we rotate on the z-axis.

For those who aren't familiar with how image resolution works, the idea that you can just zoom in to get more pixel information is the same as thinking you can make more dogs by squeezing yours really hard. It just doesn't work that way.

As one commenter says:
BS! When a computer or a security camera takes a picture it has by definition only a limited amount of pixels given to you and that is it. Computer enhancement it's very unsafe and vulnerable to commit a mistake because it means that information has been ADDED to the picture thereby altering the real and only information that existed. This would not stand in a court case because artificial information was added by the computer. - ThoughtGazeCarlos

For my students if they are reading this: Adding pixels to an image is called "interpollation." This is done in Photoshop by leaving the "Resample Image" box checked in the Image Size dialog box when you increase the dimensions of your image.

Here's the video. It makes me chuckle every time I watch:

On another note, I've leapt into the Photoshop War going on through Facebook. The only real rule of engagement for this war is that you must use at least one photo taken from your opponents' Facebook page in your composite image. After each person has submitted a challenge, Facebook friends vote for the winner.

I chose to challenge Devon for this round. Here are the images I started with, along with the final composite. I grafted Dev's face onto Jane Fonda, removed the background using the pen tool, used brushes to create the trees, and cut out the ball to float in a few random spots. The whole process took a little under an hour.

Three Starting Images

Composite Image

I'm up for a friendly fight if anyone out there wants to challenge me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm a driver, I'm a winner. Things are gonna change, I can feel it.

There's something about delivering pizzas that makes me want to rip pens of out people's hands and run away screaming with them. You can never have too many pens.

Somewhere over the past few months, I've become someone who is prepared to ride out an accounting apocalypse /slash/ beauty emergency in my vehicle. I've got flashlights, chargers for electronics, paper, a calculator, five separate containers for change, an industrial-sized ice scraper, hair supplies, six kinds of lip gloss, MREs and a blowtorch (for realsies), and pens, did I mention pens? I have so many.

Does all of this preparedness and guerrilla style run-around, just-take-your-pizza-and-let-me-keep-the-GD-change stuff make me good at math? Why, no. But thanks for asking.

If you're starting to think that maybe I've lost my mind just a wee bit, let me assure you that I'm not even half as nutters as some of the people I get to visit.

Here's a few examples:

A couple weeks ago I pulled up to a place that had no house number, but it was in the logical spot for the address I needed, so I took a guess on it being right. This house was way out in the way outs ('way over yonder' for those in the south) with no other houses around. As I drove up the driveway my eyes caught on something hanging from a maple tree in the front yard: A severed mannequin head, screaming and dripping bright red blood from the mouth and neck, with a sign that said 'No Trespassing.'

Oh...ha? I laughed to myself, thinking...maybe Halloween?

Then I saw the other signs. Everywhere. 'Keep out or I'll shoot.' 'You are now in firing range.' 'Stay the fuck off my property.'

I sat in the driveway for a minute or two, thinking about my life and how much I like it. Wondering if I should abandon the car that's probably now on surveillance tape, run off into the woods with this pizza, pick the meat off and eat it myself to survive.

Finally, I got out of the car and started to walk up to the door, pizza in hand. The door burst open and a man stepped out onto the porch, stopping and staring me down like it was noon at the OK Corrall. "Can I help you?" he asked, eying me with suspicion.

"Um..." I took a step back, "did you order a pizza?"

And he comes hopping down the stairs, and goes, "Oh yeah! Hey, here's twenty bucks, you can keep the change, have a great day!"

Just like that.

Seriously, dude? What's not giving me away here? Is it the ridonkulous green hat? Is it the bag I'm holding that says 'pizza'?! Is it the fact that a tiny blond girl drove right up to your palace of insanity with no regard to the signs??? omg, the signs.

Good times.

I'd like you all to pool your money and buy me this for Christmas so I can be prepared.

Here's another one about delivering, this one might be amusing or might be creepy, I haven't decided:

On the first day of our epic snowstorm, I took a delivery to a house over on the west side of town. When the guy opened the door, standing right behind him in front of the fireplace was a little girl, not wearing a shirt, stuffing her face from a giant bag of pretzels. I kind of did a double-take and she waved at me, so I waved back, and she shouts out, "My name is Teagan and I like to dance!"

"Wow, that's great," I said, freezing to death while her dad or whatever wandered off and took 15 minutes to find change (real safe, right?). "What kind of dancing do you do?"

She looked at me like I was the one not wearing a shirt in a snowstorm and she said, "No, it's not time for dancing now."

Then she started waving at me again.

Twilight Zone.

My last story for today involves being indoors (which you might consider 'safe' if you never worked at the Tacoma Taco Bell like I did):

Dude walks into the store and comes up to the counter to order a pizza. He's a big guy, maybe 6' 4," 250 lbs, but he looks friendly enough. I start taking his order and suddenly he reaches over the counter and grabs my wrist.

"What are these?!" he demands, pointing at the black jelly bracelets I've been wearing all summer without drawing attention from anyone else.

"Er...they're bracelets...?" I respond with that almost sarcastic, upward inflected question statement voice that I perfected as a teenager.

He kinda tilts his head and gives me the forward-leaning vulture face, still holding my wrist, and he says, "How old are you?"

I'm a little weirded out (no...wait...a lot), so I ask him to repeat; and yes, that is what he asked me.

And I say, "26..." you do

And he just let's go of my wrist and is like, "Oh, I thought you were 16 or 17."

Then he goes and sits down in the lobby. Like he's not the slightest bit psycho. Just a guy who wants a pizza.

The good news about this job is that I get lots of time to drive (which I love), and lots of time to listen to music (which I love love).

Here are my current top 5 favorite songs to listen to while driving (in no particular order):

Bombs Over Baghdad - Outkast
The Black Swan - Story of the Year
Shut Me Up - Mindless Self Indulgence
Far - Coheed and Cambria
LSD = Truth - Lords of Acid

Has working with public always been this weird? I have vague memories of my high school experiences working retail and fast food, but I don't remember it being 10 shades of bizarre every single day.

Does anyone else have some good stories about interacting with the world at large? Please share them with me. I'd like us all to have a customer service pity party.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Do you NaNo?

For those who are unfamiliar, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a fun event currently (and annually) sweeping the internet. It is a challenge to write a 175-page novel (50,000 words) by midnight on November 30th. The idea is to just write until you reach the word-count goal, or until your fingers fall off, in hopes of finally being able to call yourself a novelist.

Many people out there have dreams of writing a novel and will probably never get around to it. I was well on track to becoming and staying one of those people when I heard about NaNoWriMo from my roommate. Sure, I've always had the best intentions when it comes to my writing. An idea for the great American novel will come to me in the night all glittering gold and full of promise. And I'll jump on that idea and write like crazy until I get bored...about 10 pages in. Then I'll shut off the computer and make myself a snack, maybe go to the gym, open the mail, and completely forget about the fantastic idea and all my prior enthusiasm.

That's where this challenge comes in. It completely does away with the idea that I need to be excited about what I'm writing in order to write. The rules are just that I plug away until I have 50,000 words. They don't even need to be intelligent words, I just need lots of them.

So I've accepted this challenge, and I'm making it public to keep myself on task.

Here's a synopsis and an excerpt from what I'm working on:


A few years out of college and still working in a dead-end job, Sarah Moon (26), is aimless and bored. She has yet to figure out that her feelings of loss and abandonment stemming from the death of her father are holding her back. She has done nothing in her life but run away from people and relationships.

Told half from Sarah's perspective and half from that of her mother, Ann, this is the story of Sarah's cross-country journey following a rock band and finding herself. Through Sarah's writing about her travels and Ann's memories of Sarah's shortened childhood, the reader comes to understand how our feelings about life and death color every part of our lives.


His favorite thing was to scoop up Sarah and toss her into the air like a miniature acrobat. He'd tell her that one day the whole family would run off to the circus together. It was something she'd read in a book and always wanted to do. She didn't understand that when children run away to the circus they are running away from home, away from their families.

Sometimes I imagine them when I'm doing dishes, looking out the back window into the yard. Chuck, with his huge form blocking the autumn sunlight streaming under the chestnut tree, while he swings Sarah around, creating crazy shadows dancing across our kitchen walls.

At the end, this 6' 5" weightlifter who tipped the scales at 225 had shrank down to 160 pounds. He shook constantly and could barely lift a water glass to his lips. I could see in his eyes that he didn't want to live another day, but sadly, he did. It went on that way for the longest time. He fell away completely, he barely noticed when we came to see him.

It was as though he didn't just die, he broke into a million pieces. The hospital became my puzzle box, full of tiny fragments of my husband that would never fit together again. As he sank further into depression, I continued to try to reach for him, though it became clear toward the end that my gestures were meaningless. What do you say to someone who's physical life is everything when they are breathing their last in a plain white room? He told me once that the only thing that would make him happy again would be to pick up me and Sarah and walk right out of the room. Apart from that, there was nothing else.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dare to Dream

It's day four of the napping experiment. Like a scene out of Sleeping Beauty's castle, three dogs, a cat, and a girl with long blond hair slumber in dormancy through the day while the loud, waking world spins on outside their walls. Of course, instead of roses or magical fire, my bed is surrounded by dog toys.

Demographic studies from the Pew Research center state that an average of 34% of the adult population in the United States will take a nap today. Oddly, napping is prevalent among the not very affluent (those making under 30k annually) and the wealthy (those making over 100k annually), but not so much among the middle class.

Check out this nifty chart from the Pew Research Center article by Paul Taylor (it's a little pixelated, so click the link if you'd like to read their entire article and see it larger):

The Wikipedia article notes that a "power nap" of anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is most refreshing because the person wakes up before entering the normal sleep cycle. Waking without completing the sleep cycle can cause the napper to feel groggy and disoriented.

Need more proof? Here's an excerpt from an article on about a University of California, Berkeley sleep study:

"The findings came from a study performed by the university in which 39 “healthy, young adults” were divided into two groups. Both groups were given a rigorous learning task at noon which utilized the hippocampus where they performed at comparable levels. The groups were tested again at 6pm, but one group was able to take a 90-minute siesta at 2pm. The group that took a nap showed improvement in their capacity to learn while the non-nap group showed a drop in their learning performance." - Brian Osborne

Judging by the encouraging feedback on my last post, there aren't many who dispute the benefits of rest.

We all know it's good, we just don't make time for it.

Just like...*gasp*...exercise!!! If you'll notice in the graphic above, there is an eerie closeness in the between the percentage of the population who nap (34%) and the percentage of people who exercise (37%).

Here are my napping and exercise stats for the week so far, specially designed to make you cry in shame:
  • Monday: 1 hour nap / 3.5 mile run
  • Tuesday: 30 minute nap / 7.5 mile run
  • Wednesday: 1 hour nap / weights, 30 minutes stair climbing, 3 mile run
  • Thursday (today): nap TBD / 3 mile run, 0.5 mile swim
I'm not gonna lie, it's hella hard to stop what I'm doing and take a nap in the middle of the day. Pretty close to how hard it is to get my butt off the couch and throw on my gym clothes.

So far it seems to be having a positive effect. When I wake up from a nap it's like I'm starting fresh and it seems easier to organize my thoughts and get going on a task. The feeling is like the cache in my brain has been cleared, and now I'm ready to take in and categorize new things. I almost feel like I've added extra days to the week.

I think napping is one of those things where you just need to make an honest assessment of whether or not your body needs it, and if it does, do it.

To help you on your way, I'm going to administer a large dose of sleeping kittens from The Daily Kitten:

There now, don't you feel better?

Monday, November 1, 2010

You are Getting Sleepy

Over the years, I've seen a lot of evidence that taking a mid-day nap helps productivity and brain function. This is evidence that I categorically ignore because it's just not normal for folks in the busy-busy-run-run United States to take naps, even though many other countries see napping as a standard occurrence and not at all a sign of laziness.

I resist. I refuse.

I stomp around like a two-year-old yelling "I'm not tired!" up until the moment that I pass out from exhaustion.

Napping and I have a long history of not getting along.

My Mom never made me nap when I was little. In fact, she discouraged me from sleeping during the day because she wanted me to go to bed at 8 and sleep through the night so that she could sleep too.

When the other children had to go inside for nap-time, I would stay out and climb trees or run laps around our house (seriously). Such was my energy level at the age of 5.

I was the only child in my kindergarten class who refused to nap.

While the other students lay their towels out on the floor and took a snooze, I would sit bolt upright with my kitty cat beach towel around my shoulders like a cape of resolve.

That's right Ms. Browne, naps are stupid, and I don't need one.

As I write this, my standard mid-afternoon tension headache is just beginning to settle along my temples and at the back of my neck. It's something that I normally ignore, or quick-fix by chugging a cup of coffee, then get on with my day.

Today is different.

It's sleepy-time, Spokane.

Every day this week, I am going to take a nap, and I'm not going to apologize for it. I know at least two people, one of whom being the incomparable Liz Blodgett, who nap regularly and are scary productive in spite of (or because of?) the time off to rest.

Special thanks to Erin for pointing out the napping conundrum to me yesterday. We all know it's good for you, but no one wants to say "I need a nap" even knowing that they'll regain that 20 minutes and more upon waking.

I will post some links and quotes about the benefits of napping later in the week, but right now, I'm off to bed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Paint on Old Surfaces

As you may or may not know, my family lives in a house that was built over 100 years ago. In 1905, someone stopped in what was probably an empty field with no buildings within throwing distance and said, "Yep, this is the spot."

A lot has changed in 100 years. Families have come and gone from this house. These walls have seen workers rights movements, woman's rights movements, and civil rights movements. There is new paint, new furniture, and new faces.

A lot has changed.

What hasn't changed is the basic structure. It's still wood and stone, built on a solid foundation.

When I think about social progress, this is how I see it, we are solid. An end to racial and gender inequality has not brought our society crashing down around our ears. We can move forward and change without losing our values, our basic structure.

Today I attended a counter protest outside the Gonzaga University campus. Seeing the messages of hatred on the signs of the Westboro Baptist Church protesters made me think about the times I've been wrong about people I didn't know.

How many times have I looked at a stranger and made judgments about their lifestyle or their character? How many times have I been wrong?

I may never know the answer to that question, because I won't have the chance to ask. I can't go back and find out the truth. What I can do is change my point of view.

It's so easy to hate. It's so easy to push someone aside and say they're worthless, evil, or wrong. What's not easy is to really get to know them, then say those things.

I don't know anyone from the Westboro Baptist Church, and they don't know me, it would be easy for me to say that they are evil people, but I won't. I will say that I think they are misguided, and I hope that one day each of them will come to know a gay person or a soldier, or maybe even someone who is both, and realize that they are not so different from any other American.

One of the many messages of the WBC.
Also popular: "Thank God for IEDs" and "God Hates Fags"

Most of the time I'm a little too serious about human rights...if you believe that's possible. I was reminded by a friend today that it doesn't all need to be furrowed brows and clenched fists.

Here's a short video I put together of Jason dancing in a gorilla suit at the WBC counter protest, I hope it brightens your day:

I think I started this post talking about how the house has changed before I was sidetracked by the big picture. Funny how that happens.

Our bathroom has undergone a minor transformation that makes a big difference. I've painted out the yellow in favor of a bright white that makes the room look a little bigger and enhances the natural light.

Here are a few shots of the old color:

Old, light yellow bathroom color

Mellow Yellow

And here's the update to a cleaner look:

Shiny "new" bathroom

So there you have it. Everything old is new again.

Time marches on, the world changes, and we change with it, but our structure remains.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Need costume ideas? May I suggest "networking vampire"?

Being funemployed has got me thinking a lot about meeting new people, not just meeting people for friendship, although that's nice, but "networking" as those crazy kids are calling it these days.

Networking has never been my thing, not least of all because I'm almost entirely face-blind. I have no trouble remembering names or details about the people I meet, I can just never figure out if this brown haired guy at the bus stop is the same brown haired guy from the gym about whom I know those things.

At the point in the conversation where I'm supposed to say, "Oh, right! Because you're a cliff diving concert pianist, it makes perfect sense," instead I say, "mmmm," and nod because I'm not really sure if that was you.

I'm the type of person who could name your grandmother's childhood goldfish, but probably couldn't find you in an elevator.

Actually, it would be very helpful for me if everyone I know or semi-know would wear a bright red top hat with their name on it. That way, when I saw you coming toward me on the street, I would instantly know that I'm supposed to recognize you, and your name would help me remember why. Maybe you could make me some flash cards to jog my memory. That would be helpful.

Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the end to my networking problems. You see, the main problem I have with networking is the idea that introducing yourself to someone makes them obligated to help you.

For example, I could walk up to you at a restaurant and say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so," and tell you a bit about myself and ask about you...and now I know you, and now I can tell other people I know you, and I can call on you when I need something.

Is that what you wanted? It doesn't matter.

Your new contact is like a vampire. You've said they can come into your house and now it's all over. By merely reaching out and giving a firm handshake, you've agreed to make special allowances for your new friend. Pretty soon you'll be flapping your tiny little bat wings beneath the full moon when you'd much rather be home on your couch watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

Even if you already know the person, it still sucks (ha! vampire joke) when they ask you to help them if you weren't planning to already.

I'm curious about the point where a friend starts to become a nuisance, or an acquaintance oversteps their bounds with their requests for a boost.

Has anyone out there ever been in a situation where someone asked too much of you and used your friendship as an excuse to suck you dry?

How about the other way around? Have you ever befriended someone for the purpose of getting ahead?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

it gets better

On September 23rd, 2010, Dan Savage wrote in the Seattle Stranger about the suicide of a bullied gay teenager.

Savage writes:

"Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body." - Dan Savage, Seattle Stranger

Savage launched a YouTube channel and a Facebook page for people to connect with each other on this issue, calling the effort the "'It Gets Better' Project." In less than a month, the channel has gone from one video to thousands. Their channel has over 1 million views and the outpouring of support is incredible.

I'm not in the business of telling anyone what to think, but when I read about someone taking their own life rather than endure daily torture, I have to stand up and say, "What are we doing?"

Why are we telling our children that it's acceptable or even encouraged to tell another human being that they deserve to die for being different?

I have to believe from what I've read, heard and feel in my heart that the Christian message is not one of violence and hatred. I can't even wrap my head around why anyone would care more about who their neighbor chooses to love than they care about worldwide hunger, genocide, rape, human trafficking or domestic violence.

Seeing the videos and reading the supportive comments from viewers has made the knot in my stomach release a tiny bit.

But here's the thing: It doesn't always get better.

Gay children and teenagers become gay adults who are equally ostracized.

Couples are told that they are not able to raise children, even though a single parent with no job and a crack addition is deemed perfectly fit. According to a report issued by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, a paltry 63% of children in the United States grow up with both biological parents - the lowest figure in the Western world.

Seems like we could make that better.

Gay couples are told that they devalue the institution of marriage, when any drunken pop star with a few hours of free time can have an a marriage and an annulment just for kicks.

Seems like we could make that better too.

Soldiers in our military are told that they can't serve if they are openly gay. They can't tell anyone because it could mean loss of job and rank, or something much worse like the torture our teenagers experience. This means that they go into battle, to get shot and killed, alongside people who they can't trust.

Could it be better? Yeah, I think so.

Again, I'm not telling anyone what to think, but I would like to see a world where our actions reflect a desire for everyone to be loved and treated as equals.

Let's make sure it actually gets better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Odd Jobs


When you work for yourself, you are never done working, but nothing ever gets done.

With the exception of the days I've spent immobilized on the living room floor with my messed up foot, I've done little sitting still for the past two months. It's all hard running without moving forward, like sprinting on a treadmill and expecting to end up somewhere new.

Building a solid clientele for a graphic design business is like herding cats. Everyone has heard about the benefits of having good marketing materials and a website, and, oh yes, they definitely want to get that done, but, oh wait, no, don't come any closer...feed me...let me,, outside...

In this strange transition period into being the master of my own destiny, I've been fostering a tiny, pointy, underwater-mine-like, back-of-the-mind freak out about not having a guaranteed income (mortgage payments will do that to you), so I began to peruse Craigslist for a part-time gig.

Worry is like a playful Naval mine

Over the past few weeks, I've sent my resume to every type of business or individual you could think of: barista stands, auto shops, sign makers, typesetters, sandwich makers...really anything, anything at all. And you know what? Nada. Not a single successful lead. You have failed me, internet.

So I turned to the people I know for realsies and managed to squeak myself in as a weekend driver for the Pizza Pipeline. It's not much, but it turns out the job is pretty fun, and the outfit makes me look even more elfish than usual:

Will enchant for +20 spirit with large 3-topping pizza

Among the other things that have been keeping me busy are craft fairs and art shows.

The Ferris Craft Fair is coming up in two weeks, and I'm sending a selection of my jewelry and magnets with a friend to the barter faire at Tonasket.

My very first solo art show opened last Friday at the Brooklyn Deli downtown on Monroe. It will up until October 31st.

I also had a sculptural piece in the Kinetic show at the now defunct Lorinda Knight Gallery.

"Potential Versus Actual" at the Kinetic show.
This piece is intended to be rearranged by each new viewer so that it is constantly representing the movement from a potential event to an actual event. There is no correct way to arrange the blocks. Even when they are put together as the artist intended, they are still not "right."

Cindy arranging the blocks at Kinetic

"Upstream" at the Brooklyn Deli

A wall of paintings at the Brooklyn Deli

Overall, this self employment thing is weird. Sometimes I am making good money and I feel confident, other times there is nothing and that pointy sea mine comes floating toward me again. But feast or famine is the life I've chosen and I'll make it work.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 4: a change in pace

If you've been following my blog for the past month, you know that I've been picking one thing to give up each week. The purpose of this experiment is to force myself to pay attention to how I live my life, and find out where I can make changes for the better.

Week one was the week without bread, week two I made no purchases, week three I attempted to give up all caffeine, and this week I had intended to not throw anything away.

So far, it's been a real eye-opener. My week without bread caused a significant change in my mood, energy level, and my pants size. Going a week without buying anything gave me a new appreciation for the things I already have and made me realize that I sometimes use purchases to "reward" myself even though I forget that I've bought something within a few hours. Special Starbucks "coffee treat" quickly becomes "coffee routine" becomes "coffee requirement." Quitting caffeine for week three was an epic failure of headaches and irritation but I certainly learned something: Not worth it!

I still plan to go ahead with the trash experiment, but it may need to be postponed for three to six weeks because...well...


"This" is my sprained or possibly broken foot.

Welcome to the weeks without walking.

Greg and I were longboarding on Friday, trying to get better at sliding, and I had a little accident.

Not a cute "little accident" like a puppy, unfortunately.

I've been trying for a couple weeks to learn how to do a pendulum slide since I've gotten pretty good at shutdown slides and now I want to be able to speed check instead of foot braking on a fast hill. I made the mistake of wearing unsupportive shoes and ended up rolling my foot under the board then coming down on the board with my full body weight and crushing the foot sideways.

The foot did not like that. Not at all.

Extra-awesome news to add to the foot fun is that this weekend was the Maryhill Freeride where I was supposed to spend two wonderful days zooming past wheat and windmills in scenic Goldendale, WA.

We still made the drive, an eight hour round trip journey through central Washington. It was a blast to see some of the girls from the Bomber Betties ride Maryhill for the first time, but it was a little hard to keep my jealousy in check. I guess that just means I'll be that much more excited for the next Freeride.

Two riders on Maryhill

Riann, Erin and Barbara watching the action



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Summer of Awesome - A Retrospective

"More and more as I delve deeper into the "adult" world, I find myself a different kind of tired. An aching tired that comes with stress and worry and the pressure to maintain order among people and things that have no desire to be organized.

I'm not saying that I've had a bad time the past few years; far from it. But I've moved away from the carefree good times of childhood and focused too hard on forcing others to have a good time. This life is one big decision, I will decide what to do with it and how I feel about it.

This summer is for me."

Selina, April 28, 2010

As that familiar Fall chill creeps back into my fingertips and slips through door and window cracks to seize my toes, I look back on a Summer that was mine.

26th Birthday - Ever Neverland

Trip to NYC - Coney Island

The Bomber Betties Womens Longboarding Club - Established May, 2010

Performing in Riverfront Park with Tony

Biking at Riverside State Park

Cindy's ninja rings at the Garland Street Fair

My first triathlon - Wunder Woman at Medical Lake

Camping at Lake Gillette

Camping at Lake Gillette

Rings & Things' new Graphic Designer taking over my old cube

Liz's going away party - 80's Prom

I'm originally from the 80's, you know

The Palouse in mid-Summer

Making slide gloves with the Bomber Betties

Green Bluff - Devon buying fresh corn on the cob and apples for the week without bread

Green Bluff - short people need short horses

The Spokane Interstate Fair

Looking back through the photos from the past few months, I can honestly say that I don't feel like I missed out on anything this Summer. I took stock of what I was doing with my life and reset my priorities.

I've discovered that everything is a choice, no matter how much it seems like it's outside of our control. These days, I'm devoting more time to my art and spending more quality moments with my friends and family. This means that finances are tight and things may need to change to reflect that, but the benefits outweigh the risks.

The older I get, the less I care about money or status. Summer coming to a close, the weather cooling off and the kids heading back to school reminds me that growing up is a state of mind.

We get to a certain age and we stop being fascinated by the world. We stop exploring. We focus on getting by and making a good life for our families (nothing wrong with that), but we push so hard to make a good life that we often forget to spend some time enjoying it.

There's no reason to stop learning and discovering. My actions are my own and I choose not to stay still and accept a mundane existence.

This is my adventure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 3: No drinks but water, checking in

Failure Failure Failure. No caffeine = horrible idea.

The death headache that began around noon on day 1 didn't show any signs of backing off. It was the kind that starts out having a booming bass techno rave behind your eyes, then, just for fun, smacks you in the back of the head with a hammer at random. Add to that the nausea, muscle aches, fatigue, inability to concentrate and general bite-your-head-off attitude that I'd acquired, and I'm sure you can imagine that I was a joy to be around. Much like a cheery little ray of sunshine that travels through a magnifying glass and lights the forest on fire.

Anyone else out there tried to quit caffeine? I talked to a few people about my journey this week and the response I got was an overwhelming, "Why would you try to do that? Are you crazy?!"

The answer is yes. That was a bad idea.

Symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine (officially classified as a psychoactive stimulant drug along with amphetamine and antidepressants among others, btw) are not so weirdly similar to symptoms of "hard" drug withdrawal like heroin or cocaine. Depression, anxiety, paranoia, nausea, fatigue and muscle aches are some of the shared symptoms of withdrawal from both caffeine and heroin.

Check out these eye-opening statements from the interwebs:

"Kuhar explained that caffeine blocks receptors in the brain that can dilate blood vessels causing headaches. "Withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 to 20 hours after your last cup of coffee and peak about two days later and can last about as long as a week," Kuhar added.

It is not just coffee that can lead to caffeine withdrawal. While a 6-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, tea and cola have about 40 milligrams each, a bar of milk chocolate has about 10 milligrams and hot chocolate has about 7 milligrams." - CNN Health

"...caffeine is the most widely used behaviorally active drug in the world...Average daily intake of caffeine among caffeine consumers in the United States is about 280 milligrams, or about one to two mugs of coffee or three to five bottles of soft drink..."

A close friend recently shared with me that he felt it was harder to quit caffeine and cigarettes than it was to quit methamphetamine and cocaine. That's just one person's experience, but it's interesting to consider what's different about quitting something that is socially acceptable, readily accessible, and so ingrained in our daily lives. Wake up, drink coffee. Eat lunch, drink soda. Have dinner, drink tea. Relax before bed, drink hot cocoa.

Caffeine is also contained in many things we wouldn't think of (like yogurt and Excedrin), so even if you think you haven't had any, it's possible that you are an unwitting consumer.

Observations during a double-blind caffeine withdrawal study showed that although some subjects experienced mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, a few had complete break downs of daily function including missed work, errors at work and inability to care for children.

Honestly, I don't even want to think about caring for children without having had a cup of coffee or two.

You may be interested to know that the only reason I'm not screaming and crying while sitting in my sunny spot on the couch, staring at my glowing computer screen, while my neighbor mows their lawn with the loudest lawnmower ever, is because I've had two cups of coffee this morning.

I find myself sitting up straight and tall, researching effectively, confident about the day ahead, a perfect example of a functioning addict.

So weigh in on this for me. Who out there is addicted to caffeine? Is it a problem or is it a solution? Do we live in a society where this sort of pick-me-up is necessary?

Should we be worried when we haven't heard much from the scientific community about negative side effects of caffeine addiction?

Tell me what you think.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 3: No drinks but water

No coffee, tea, or soda for the entire week.

I briefly thought about lying and saying I was doing this but not actually doing it. The throbbing pain at the back of my head is proof that I went through with the plan.

This morning I awoke and stumbled into my kitchen on a lurching path toward the coffeemaker as per usual. Then I drifted slightly to one side and ended up at the sink instead, where I poured myself a glass of water and emitted a cry of frustration somewhere in between an angry t-rex and a scared pig.

I feel a bit like both.

If you have ever owned a chihuahua, or know someone who does, you know that they NEVER. SHUT. UP. Somehow, this had completely escaped my notice until today. Normally, my dogs bark and I pop my head up from behind the computer and yell something encouraging like, "Nice job guys!" It's not because I like to hear barking, it's because I'm equally excited about distant noises and the six cups of coffee I've consumed have me shaking harder than tiny, two-pound Lola in a snowstorm. I'm READY!

Bark Bark --- Shake Shake

My dogs are LOUD. These drivers SUCK. That sun is BRIGHT. It's gonna be a LONG week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 2: Purchasing Freeze, checking in

This week has been a rough one.

None of my friends are encouraging me to spend. Not a single person has laughed or chided me when I've said I'm not spending money this week. When I say, "I can't go out," they say, "that's cool, let's stay in," or "let's find something free to do."

Do you realize what this means?!

It's my fault

Here I am, surrounded by wonderful, supportive people who don't give a flying frick if I can pick up the tab, and I've been completely oblivious.

The problem with not spending any money for one week is that it makes you realize that you shouldn't have been spending money in the first place, at all, for any weeks.

Instead of running to the store every five seconds for things I thought we needed, I actually took the time to look for the things we already have, and to see if we had something that could act as a substitute.

For example, I was making lasagna and we were out of the ground soy stuff I normally use. Instead of falling to the floor in a crying heap, I looked in the fridge and found some soy "sausage" links to chop up. Turns out, fakey-fake sausage lasagna is delicious.

Yesterday as we were leaving the gym, I was hit with the almost overwhelming urge to walk across the parking lot and "treat" myself to a frappucino at Starbucks. You know...for being so good about not buying things...

Why is that? Why is that a treat at all? What's so special about not-enough-coffee blended with too-much-ice by a stranger? favorite...?

Not only is that a silly thing for a "treat," it's a hollow reward for keeping my paws off the debit card. Here is something that tastes good but not great, lasts about 15 minutes, isn't made for sharing, creates trash, and has no positive effects after the initial buyers-high.

So instead we went home, reheated some awesome lasagna, and all sat together in the living room hanging out and taking turns playing Resident Evil (that's a heartwarming, family scene if I ever saw one).

Aside from the motion sickness that came on after watching Greg run around on a super-spin-spin-camera zombie killing spree, I felt great.

I didn't feel like I needed anything else. To be honest, by the time we had turned the corner off 57th to head down the hill from the gym, I had already completely forgotten about wanting a crappy coffee.

I wanted something that actually matters: good times with my friends.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 2: Purchasing Freeze

Last weeks' bread fast has come to an end. I've learned a lot about how I eat, when, and why. Turns out, I'm more likely to crave bready things when I'm tired or slightly sad. I desperately want pasta when I feel like I need an excuse to crash on the couch and do nothing. Even when I eat bread for the appropriate reasons, I eat waaaaaaaay too much, just because it's so easy to do.

Eating fruit is hard. I can't just push it into my mouth and gulp it down and be done with it. It must be chewed. It demands to be peeled, or sliced, or pitted. Fruit likes to make itself difficult.

I'll be happy to reintroduce bread to my life this week, but it won't be making a full on, Madonna-like comeback.

Indeed, bread is back, but it's back like visiting relatives.

Maybe it will roll though town once in a great while, and maybe I'll go see it and have a great time, then I'll laugh about how we should get together more often, but I won't really mean it.

Bread makes me exhausted in the afternoon, sluggish, hot when I'm trying to sleep, and um...fat.

Well, not really fat, but puffy. Puffy like a puff pastry

After seven days of no bread, here are my measurements compared to last week:
  • neck: 12" ------> 12"
  • bicep: 11" ------> 11"
  • bust: 36" -------> 35.5"
  • waist: 30" ------> 28"
  • hips: 37" --------> 35"
  • thigh: 22" ------> 22"
  • calf: 15" --------> 15"
Notice that the parts of my body that have very little fat made no changes in measurement. That's good news for me because it means I haven't lost any muscle. My weight has gone from 140 at the start of this experiment to 138.5, not a huge drop, probably just water weight.

The running regiment hasn't suffered at all from the reduction in flour. I'm still trudging along at 8 minute miles for my one hour runs, and averaging 9:30's for my two hour training festival of fun.

I even managed to make it through the Spokane Interstate Fair without feeling sugar-sick or being mistaken for a bovine. Don't worry though, I spent plenty of time chewing, I wasn't out of place. Instead of my typical Fair food favorites like fry bread, onion petals, pizza, mini doughnuts and gyros, I enjoyed a corn on the cob and a caramel apple. Believe it or not, that's still a vegetable and a fruit, even when coated in butter and sugar. Better still, I feel completely satisfied with my Fair experience without also feeling completely regretful.

Check out this list of calorie content in common Fair foods from an article by John Brewer about the Minnesota State Fair

  • Caramel covered apple (1 order): 347 calories
  • Cheese curds (1 order): 759
  • Corn on the cob with butter (1 cob): 179
  • Cotton candy (1 bag): 323
  • Flowering onion with ranch dressing: 980
  • Funnel cake/ Elephant ear (1 each): 452
  • Mini donuts (1 bag): 622
  • Pronto pup (1 each): 350
  • Taffy (30 piece box): 557

  • Soooooo, for those who are like me and look at numbers like they are beautiful poofy clouds in the pretty, but not able to be touched...let me break this down:

    Selina's regular Fair Fare: 2,054 calories for a funnel cake, doughnuts, and fried onions

    Selina's reasonable Fair Fare: 526 calories for corn on the cob and a caramel apple

    A savings of 1,528 calories.

    To recap: still The Fair, still fun, still smelly like horse poopy...minus the 1/2 pound weight gain.

    Please don't try to pet me, I will think your fingers are carrots!

    Tiny horse!!!!!

    Mutton Bustin' - children dressed as tiny linebackers clinging to stampeding sheep

    Sick individuals who enjoy watching children getting thrown into the dirt by sheep

    Desi rockin' the fried potato on a stick

    Corn on the Cob...not nearly as terrifying as I've made it look

    Hi Greg

    This week the hammer is coming down. Hell and wallets are freezing over. The bank of Selina is shutting down. Cliches are coming down like mana from heaven.

    A big part of this weeks' "without" will be determining where my money goes, if I really buy things because I need them, and if my spending habits are affected by the company I keep.

    I'm hoping to come out the other side of this seven days with my new, smaller waist intact (no purchases means no restaurant eating), a budget for the remainder of the year, and a new appreciation for the things I already own.

    Wish me luck and dollars.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    The Weeks Without - Part 1: Bread, checking in

    Today is day 3 of the week without bread. So far, so good. I haven't gone on a bread truck hijacking spree or held up a Cinnabon. With a little luck, I shall remain a law-abiding citizen at least until I pass the mini doughnut guy in Riverfront Park. Watch your back, doughnut guy.

    There has been an adjustment period, a little more thinking than normal when I wander into the kitchen, but I think I can get into the groove before the week is up.

    Erin came down to the basement at 9 Monday morning and asked if I wanted to go to the gym. And of course, I said, "Yeah!" with my excited face on. I wanted to go for a run, a loooooong run, then I remembered I hadn't eaten anything yet (except coffee, which is not a food, no matter how much I think so). So I went upstairs to make myself some peanut butter toast...




    Luckily, we had some apples sitting next to the bread in the fridge, so I just let my hand drift slightly to the left and picked up one of those instead. Apples slices with peanut butter on them are the shiznit. I never would have known.

    It's strange to sit through a meal and not be constantly reaching for something in the center of the table. It's extra-weird to feel like making a sandwich then preparing and eating sandwich innards instead. But the craziest extra-extra-weirdest thing is's not really a problem. My body isn't screaming "abuse" and shutting down without flour and yeast. I don't feel tired or hungry. I'm not a flaming ball of energy either, but feeling like that is a rarity reserved for I-just-had-eight-cups-of-coffee days.

    Usually I feel like taking a nap in the afternoon. An actual nap is something that rarely happens, but I almost always wish I had the time to doze off for at least 30 minutes around 3pm. All three days of this bread-free week, I have sailed through the afternoon with the same amount of energy I typically have the rest of the day.

    Check out a side-by-side color comparison of what I ate the day of my bread ephiphany verses day 1 of this week:

    Bad Bad Beige Day

    Beige Day breaks down like this: Coffee with soy milk, bagel, pita and crackers with hummus, tortilla chips, garlic bread, pita (yet again), cheese raviolli.

    Variety Day started with the serendipitous peanut butter apples for breakfast, followed by veggie sausage salad for lunch, yogurt, stir fry, corn on the cob, and baked apples with brown sugar topping.

    Variety Day!

    Bread may not be invited back, at least not to every meal.