Friday, January 30, 2009

Man, I need a filing cabinet

To make up for not posting yesterday, I will post two today(ish). Those morning hours are kind of iffy when it comes to assigning days.

I have thus far enjoyed the life of a freelancer, although day one probably has my body hating me. I'm still getting up early, but going to bed even later. I just put in about ten hours straight - my back hurts, my wrists hurt, and my eyes are barely focusing. Lunch was an apple with peanut butter and some cake, and dinner was chips, homemade salsa, and a few jelly beans that were close by (to end the jalepeno-induced mouth-on-fire sensation). Meals were eaten at my desk. My day also included two cups of coffee, one cup of tea and two packs of gum.

So, tomorrow will be better. I was in, out, digging my car out (it was stuck for 1/2 an hour), slushing through the snow. It's almost midnight and I'm about to start my fourth project of the day.

It's been fun, even though the stress levels get up there. I am lucky to be working with some great people, and it's fun to be able to make stuff again! I get to read magazines for research, gather images, and buy cool office supplies. On the other hand, I also have to read about managing the finances of a small business, figure out tax info, learn how to handle invoices, etc. while scheduling meetings and launching new projects. I am going to sleep really, really well when I finally go to bed!

Side note: Check out Caged Creatives - the first postings are up (mine is going up soon...)!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ready to travel, but better on snow days

I decided that if I wasn't going to play in the snow, I was at least going to out and dig out my car. Five minutes later I trekked back inside, unsuccessful. My fists and keys are no match for more than 1/2 an inch of solid ice.

My time inside has made especially fond of (read: in love with!) a few things. I feel the need to share.

1: Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate: This stuff is amazing. Think, Italy. Think, Chocolat. Think, rock your world and make you addicted. At only 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, and natural ingredients (there are only four ingredients), this is way better than anything I've found anywhere else.

2: Malin + Goetz bar soap in rum: I've switched from peppermint to rum and love this one even more. Lightly scented, this is great for guys and girls. The scent is great and lasts all day without being powerful. It makes your skin soft and leaves it feeling clean. Plus, it reminds me of one my favorite places and the good times spent there (and getting there).

3: Bert's Bee's Banana Hand Cream: Forget the hands and go straight for the lips. I'm not really sure if it helps hands, but I do know that it keeps lips soft and nice all winter. The banana scent is soft and goes away quickly, making it okay for those of us who don't love smelling like faux banana.

4: Field Notes Notepads: These little guys are great to have lying around. Under the couch, in a drawer, or on the desk where they *should* be, they look great and fit nicely wherever they end up. I love, love, love the mini-graph notebooks. Great for taking notes or creating your next illustration when you should be taking notes.
(In freelance world, they are incredibly handy when you are, say, working on the couch and a client calls with vital info.)

Just four today, but more to come. Take care of yourself out there!

And the snow snow snow came down down down

I'm going to try to write every day now. We'll see how that goes.

The snow came as predicted. Snow, ice, all of the above. At 8:00 I heard the laughter and screams of kids sledding outside my window. Despite the fact that it made my apartment colder, I opened my curtains and enjoyed the seemingly warm glow of my apartment.

When I was little, I lived in a big Victorian house that had the old, working radiators. In the mornings, their noise was the sign that the house was waking up. They would hiss and bang and I would run across the cold wood floors in bare feet (or slide across them in socks) until they warmed up. After a day of sledding, we would wobble in and have a mass undressing, laying everything out on the radiators. Everything would eventually dry, stiff and smelling like snow. In the evenings, I would lay pillows on top and lay there until I was almost asleep. Gas heat and electric heat, while sufficient, just don't compare.

My parents were always cool enough to let me have people spend the night if we were almost guaranteed a snow day. We would stay up late, giggly. We would make a tent in the living room, or laugh until my mom had to come in and tell us to be quiet. We lived at the bottom of a giant cemetery hill that was great for sledding. Some people were a little shocked that we would sled there (and this might be a part of my attraction to Tim Burton), but I always imagined that the people buried there liked to hear people laughing and shouting now and then.There was an innocence to it all. Life was simple. I think it would do wonders for companies to allow time for snow days now and then.

Given my current state of unemployment, I'm feeling a snowman (ice man?) creation is inevitable...

While I was planning a similar entry, I think
Mr. Smitley captures the idea beautifully (and
shares his fun, so bonus points!).

*Pictures t/c*

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yeah, it's okay

Day two of unemployment and we are nearing snow storm number three. It makes me feel a little better about being locked up inside for a few.

The past month has been slightly traumatic. I've kept most of it out of here, but there have been lay-offs, a random shooting, a wreck, and other traumas involving people close to me. It's really hard to see the people you care about go through these things and it's really easy to let it all get you really down. You're powerless to really improve these situations other than a phone call or best wishes. The world seems colder and a little less safe than it did not so long ago. It kind of makes you want to throw your cell phone out the window, too.

After a day of work and errands, I crawled into bed at about 1:00 and my thoughts caught up with me. Instead of taking me down, I found myself just being really thankful. It became this strange prayer: thanks for the bullet that grazed the chin, thanks for the cars that weren't in the other lane, thanks for the warning, thanks for so many people to be thankful for, thanks for the time I got to spend with them, thanks for the warm food, the car that is paid for right outside, thanks for the amazing people that i have around went on for quite a while.

I don't really believe in asking God to heal the sick (trust me, death happens), or make it rain (maybe someone else really needs a dry day), or grant certain jobs (although that one is tempting). I think he was capable of making a world that spins around fairly well. I do believe in asking for things like peace, and grace, and acceptance. These are things that are usually outside of my abilities, and they are things that even logic can't seem to grant me. I also believe in giving thanks when it's due, and sometimes that can be found beautifully in the really messed up times.

On a much lighter note, I have a new life goal: to be a part of a flash mob (this one is an ad, but there are great examples here).

Friday, January 23, 2009

And we're live

I just wanted to let you know that my new website is finally up! It's a rough launch and there are still a lot of changes that need to be made, but it's a start. You can see it here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I've done this before, so let's just sign the papers mister

You know that scene in some movies, where people are running away from something, and as they're running, they are picked off one by one? That's kind of what work was like for the past week.

I got the bullet.

I think I'm more angry that I had to walk all the way across campus than I am about being let go, even. If you're going to lay someone off, at least walk over to them. They were nice. I'd been through this before. You sign a few papers saying you agree to be laid off and that you won't walk off with a computer, and they act really sad the whole time. Afterwards, I went back to pack up my stuff. It's always the same, too. You feel awkward, and try to make it less awkward, but it just is an awkward situation. Everyone says sorry, it's been nice, goodbye, and then you're walking to your car at 2:00 on a Thursday. Door closed.

I can't say that I'm sad, really. It was never the right fit and I knew that. The first time I was laid off (age 22, publishing co.), I got to a pretty low point. It took me five months to find another design job. As tough as that was (20 interviews, not enough experience), I realize how strong it made me. I'm ready this time, and I refuse to be that person again. I'm visiting my Grandma next week and I couldn't be happier. I'm going to spend time with my family, and maybe even work in some volunteer time.  I'm also (finally!yay!) going to get my yoga license and hopefully start teaching classes soon. I'm actually really excited about what's ahead, and no corporate desk job has made me feel alive, ever.

Tonight, though, I am taking a bubble bath and getting lots and lots of much needed sleep! Let the vacation begin.

*The due date for the first Caged Creatives project has changed. Projects are now due Friday, January 30. Thanks, and have fun!*

Monday, January 19, 2009

And then I caught a glimpse of myself

Sometimes you just have to take a step back and watch the world move around you for a while. It's so easy to get caught up in your own little rhythm that you don't realize that the beat has changed. Life doesn't let you ignore it for very long.

I spent my weekend getting everything in order for the "what if" right around the corner. I got Doctor appointments taken care of (and by the way, you definitely can give yourself a 2nd degree burn with a curling iron), brushed up on my unemployment options (I have only been with Sexy Co. for 12 weeks), and worked on my website some more (optimizing jpegs, slices, xhtml, oh my). I also spent time with people that don't allow self pity or illusions, thankfully. There's a strange sense of calm. Maybe it's all too familiar, maybe I realize all too well that there are bigger problems out there, or maybe I am lucky enough to finally get that things really are going to be okay, regardless.

Sometimes we lose the things we need. We can lose our faith, love, people that we depended on the most. Sometimes we lose the things we didn't need, like our lifestyles or our stuff. Sometimes we get the two confused. I'm beginning to think that the worst case scenario might not be that bad, and that maybe my rhythm isn't that great. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just embrace it

I know this movie is older, but I came across this while doing some research this evening and was reminded of how much I love, love, love the visuals. It's dark - embrace it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Who wrote that line, anyway?

Today I decided that there was nothing sexy or casual about layoffs. This is also true about wind chills of -25. Put the two together and you have a really bad Friday.

We were all called into the meeting area and informed that our company was going to "restructure", and that we would emerge a "stronger and better company". Who, exactly, are those words supposed to make feel better? As we left for lunch, a guy walked in front us carrying his box of stuff. What a long walk.

There is an art to the whole layoff process. I've had three jobs and so far, two (going on three?) have ended in layoffs (or the nearness of layoffs). I can tell you the lines you will hear from your boss, the different ways it might happen. There is the look you get when people find out and say they are sorry, and then there is the look you get when people find out and don't know what to say. Afterwards, time moves in weird segments: the first hour spent dazed and angry, the first morning you sleep in and feel optimistic, the first week of freedom. After that, the three week cycle: week one is bliss, week two is determination, week three is despair. Repeat that for a few months and then see how you feel.

For the next two weeks, we have to just wait for them to get to our building and then our department. Quite frankly, I'm the newest and most likely to go. I'm okay with that, though. I don't have kids, or car payments, or any other responsibilities that I can't handle. I've done this before, I can do it again. It's not fun, but things like this almost always lead to better things. So, best of luck to everyone out there - to those holding to what they've got and to those grasping for the next thing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sometimes you know right away how a day is going to go. Say for instance that your car doors freeze open. After ten minutes of unsuccessful thuds and a latch that refuses to catch, you realize that not only are you late, you are going to have a long walk from your distant parking space.

Or maybe you walk in the door to be greeted by the following sentences, back to back, from your boss:
"I can't believe I have to come in to work and listen to f*ing Ricky Martin." Ricky Martin sings in disbelief about La Vida Loca from the speaker above."I dance naked to Bob Seger." You don't even have to question that. You definitely don't want to think about it. You just know that maybe tomorrow will be better.

You have to laugh at life. You can analyze it, and complain about, and try to figure it out, but in the end it's still going to be moving forward. I've had in depth conversations with a lot of people this week, only to realize that none of us know what we are doing. We are trying really hard to figure it out, but we are just making guesses and empty plans for the most part. In the meantime, we work, shop, run on treadmills three times a week, quote t.v. shows, and eat out in cool restaurants to give this time some definition.

Every yoga teacher I have ever known has always loved their job. They sacrifice things like convenience and money because they love it so much. I have a friend who works at a nursery. She lifts trees and works in the rain, and she loves it. Another friend worked several part time jobs so that she could dance. Working in a coffee shop was probably my favorite job thus far. On the other side, I have plenty of friends who make good money and hate the 8-12 hours they spend working in their office every day. Oh wait, that's what I am doing. But why? Because money is so great? Sure it offers tons of benefits, no question. At the end of the day, though, it's just something to get rid of. Those of us in the office jobs define ourselves by how we spend our money more than we define ourselves by our passions, it seems. Maybe we have lost our passions while we have been saving up for our glorious futures.

I've been really challenged by this lately.  Maybe it will mean everything, maybe it will mean nothing. Even if it isn't always a dream, life is moving forward and it's completely absurd and funny most of the time.

Check it: Song of the week.(Thanks, Tracey!) Playlist coming soon...
Also, check out these quotes from My Dinner with Andre - one of the strangest and best movies I've seen.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'll just sit at the kids' table

Despite my weekend of enjoyed seclusion, I did venture out for a few social events. It seemed like the healthy thing to do at the time, and it's hard to explain to people that you have no plans but no, you don't want to hang out.

I watched
Baby Mama one night (don't judge me) and it was a strange night. My wardrobe matched Tina Fey's almost exactly. She was a single working woman, content to be single. And the kicker? I had just had the conversation the night before about how it has been my plan to start the adoption process at age X with or without Mr. Man. I was unsettled, and then the weekend came.

On Friday night I went to a casual get together with about 20 friends. These are great people and I am thankful to have them in my life. That said, the only other single girl in the place was a sophomore in college. In that house full of people my age, everyone was in some state of engagement bliss, honeymoon bliss, marital bliss, child bearing bliss, or the bliss of being the wise one who is out of bliss mode and can offer sage advice to those following. I listened to honeymoon stories ("...and then they pulled him up on stage to hula dance!"), baby stories ("he's doing the funniest thing right now"), pregnancy stories (there were three pregnant girls, so I don't even know which blip would be best here), and I left in the midst of ultrasound stories and how to work and be a full time mom.

The next day, I went to a friends' wedding, where I ran into all of my married college friends. The singles list is ever so short now. I can provide a full rundown of wedding types, music, pictures, slideshow ideas, food options, and activities to provide during the reception. For what it's worth, my wedding is going to be awesome (namely because I plan on eloping).

I am not jealous. I am not sad, or lonely. I do not hate men. I am not hunting. I think this throws people off. They pat me on the back and tell me that I will find "him" soon". Here's the thing: I am happy! I am okay! I enjoy being single right now! There is still so much out there for me to do and see. When Mr. Man comes along, great. Until then, there is plenty of life to enjoy.

I am thrilled for my happily married friends, and I am cool to talk about all of the parts of their married, babied life (seriously, I love your kids). That said, I have very little to offer to group ultrasound conversations. Maybe my life will end like every cliche chick flick where Independent Single Woman is swept off her feet in the last twenty minutes, right before she gives up completely and returns to her empty apartment and ice cream. Maybe I too will join in on the ultrasound fun. Until then, I will be continue to be fine, and I guess I will eat at the kids' table.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

"...held breath is the ultimate withholding; you're not taking anything in, you're not putting anything out."
--Ann Lamott

I have spent the past two days in a self-induced exile from reality. This has included sleeping in, baking, reading magazines, watching movies, and watching the rest of season one of Pushing Daisies. I stayed in my pajamas all day on Thursday, which is just as rare for me as sleeping in. 

I do not enjoy being lazy. I don't like sleeping in because I feel like I have lost an enjoyable and important part of my day. I don't like crashing on the couch for hours because usually, nothing productive comes from it. I like to be dressed, even if I'm not going anywhere. I like to feel like I have used my time and lived it.

These past two days have been about recharging. When I tense up or get too busy or lose myself a little too much, I hold my breath (literally and figuratively). I go on a mental autopilot. It becomes harder for me to really invest in relationships and give people the time and energy they deserve. My creativity levels hit rock bottom, and the motivation levels take an equally hard hit. I think a lot of us kind of go around in this stage and I think our culture makes it easy to exist this way for quite a while. We are neither giving or taking.

Inspired by the creativity of others (Pushing Daisies is one of the smartest, most creative things I've seen in a while)(Tina Fey has a nice way of balancing dry humor), I feel like I can breathe a little easier. For instance, I have rediscovered a few things that I really like: very certain shades of green, vintage dresses, dark red lipstick, really dark, dry, biting humor, patterns, fixing botched recipes, being on "the career track" and not "the marriage track" at the moment, being girly now and then, black and white films, friendly strangers, simplicity.

These past two days have also been a wake up call. It's time to snap out of autopilot and, as my friend would say, own it. Own all of it. My quirks, loves, and flaws. Then, do something with those things. Share them, use them, make something with them. Write more, paint more, bake more, love more, rest more, breathe more.

Check it: 

Real Time Web Analytics