Design Cravings, Part 2

This entry is actually only about a half hour after "yesterday’s" entry — which was in itself a misnomer, since it was written at about 1:30am.

I just got done surfing around my own (outdated) portfolio, and surfed off of it to one of my "inspirational" sites, PrayStation. God, I just want to cry. How did I manage to drop the ball? How can I feel justified in calling myself a web designer? I’m better than your average non-web-designer, sure, but can I run with the rest of my genre? Even just looking at Schavitz, I’ve long been tempted to say no.

Even just looking at, I feel inadequate. Would any of my pages ever end up there? No. What would I need to do to break through that barrier from mediocrity to coolness? I feel like my brain just doesn’t do cool. Some will say that this is a good thing, because I have a "classic" style and could design for more "conservative" clients.

Well, that’s just great. "Conservative" won’t get me a design job. Versatility might. Self-confidence would sure help, too.

As would actually looking for one.

Quit beating yourself over the head with your own inadequacies, Diana, and go to bed. *sigh*

Design Cravings

I suddenly have an insatiable urge to design something. Not redesign my website, but just make something for the sake of making it, à là Timmay. Something clean and modern with straight lines and interestingly stark graphics and a unique color palette.

I don’t remember how I found them, but there’s this group of friends who all went to school in New Jersey, I think. They all have blogs: Steve’s is Blind Spot, Garrett’s is Maniacal Rage, Shawn’s is Morrison Film, and Ellie’s is Something Normal. I found Ellie’s first, as I recall, by surfing from somewhere or searching for something… I don’t recall where or what, exactly. I might have been looking for mp3’s. Anyway, I liked Ellie’s design, so I bookmarked the page. Eventually I surfed to her friends’ sites and found that they were as design-conscious as she, and relatively well-spoken/written, too. If you’d like to do some random blog-surfing, as I sometimes do, start at one of their sites and just go. The results will be rewarding, IMO.

Anyway, it’s not meant as a slam to any of my friends, but these guys all have great design skills, and I’d be willing to bet that they inspire each other. I wonder if they were inspired by a certain class or professor at the school they attended. Only fly in that ointment is that Ellie graduated Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in Biology, not design.

On the other hand, I think they all use Movable Type, so that could have something to do with it, too.

I feel like some elusive Zen puzzle piece is missing from my life, and I think it’s the constant challenge of school. Yeah, college sucked, and yeah, I’m glad I’ve got my degree (and my $40,000+ worth of consolidated debt) and I’m out. But even just submitting my pictures to the Wood County Fair gave me a little of that old preparing-for-graphic-design-critique feeling. (And yes, that feeling is entirely different from preparing-for-photography-critique feeling. There’s less "craft" involved there — you print out your picture and pin it to the wall. In graphic design class, if you suck at mounting and matting your piece, your grade suffers.)

I know for a while there, I was taking a notepad to work and doing design sketches during my lunch. I’ve been trying to walk during my lunch instead, but maybe I could switch off or something. It’s rough trying to improve multiple areas of my life at the same time. Wash more dishes, clean house better, be more active, work my brain more… the list goes on. Aaron says I should start doing crossword puzzles or something if I feel like my brain isn’t working hard enough. I don’t know. I miss conversations with Amy and design pow-wows with Tim.

Part of me says, "What I wouldn’t give to be back in undergrad…" Another part of me bitch-slaps that first part. See, I think I’d love to have that whole experience again, except that half of the whole experience is your friend base. I wouldn’t want to make another friend base, and certainly not at this point in my life. That, plus the fact that you will never have a schedule of classes with non-moronic teachers, no busy-work, relevant subject matter, etc., etc. I guess what I mean to say, then, is that I can really appreciate the experience I had: living in the dorm, not having to work more than 10 or 15 hours a week, having great friends (and a swell roomie), sharing classes with people I jived with, having intellectual conversations (or so they seemed at the time), walking to Grounds with Amy, walking across campus at night with a cool breeze, sitting in the computer lab websurfing or working on design homework or staffing the lab, walking up to Donna’s room or Tim’s room or across campus to Beth’s room, late-night group projects… no, on second thought, I don’t miss those at all. 🙂

Isn’t it sad…

…when the fake swear words you use at work and in the presence of your grandparents become the expletives you end up using for real?

Exempli Gratia: Yesterday, Aaron left the serving spoon askew in the bowl of pasta salad. Just as I walked over to grasp the spoon and get my dinner, it fell out of the bowl and onto the floor. Did I use a righteous swear, like "dammit…" or "fuckin’…" or "sonofa…"? Nope. Instead, I said, "Poop!"


In related news, Aaron told me that he was watching a show on the Food Network about Mexican food, and it gave the history of the chimichanga. See, there was a woman who worked at a Mexican carryout-type fast food-ish joint in California, where the Mexican food craze began. It was late and she was busy, and she’d just wrapped up a customer’s burrito. As she turned to get something else, though, she accidentally bumped it into the fryer. She started to swear, but censored herself halfway — those of you who know your swears in Spanish can probably guess what swear word ended up morphing into "chimichanga." Aaron and I decided that "chimichanga" must be Spanish for "fudge-a-ma-dudge." 🙂

Turns out the customer wanted to try the messed-up burrito anyway, ended up liking it, and the rest is history.

You know, this webpage design has lasted almost a year? I think this is a personal record. Although I must admit, I’m thinking about changing out the yo-yo picture. Time for something (slightly) new and different. We’ll see what happens with that…

This is why I shouldn’t get a tattoo. 😉

Mission Accomplished

Last night I finished matting and framing my photos for the fair, at the expense of one fingernail. See, I was trying to affix the sawtooth picture hangers to the back of my cheap-ass Ben Franklin photo frames, and first Kris and then Aaron jumped in to help. Aaron asked me to take out the photo and glass that I had so painstakingly managed to fit into the cheap-ass frame, so he wouldn’t accidentally break something. I was kind of annoyed at having them horn in on my little project, so I was a little too rough with trying to remove the glass… and bent my left middle fingernail all the way back. Waaay back, and down in the cuticle, too. It bled. Quite a bit. Aaron felt kind of bad. It’s still sore.

After that, we went to eat at Junction (on the patio!) and then to the Cla-zel to watch 28 Days Later. It’s a new take on the zombie flick, and the print at the Cla-zel has the alternate ending after the credits. I personally wouldn’t go to see a second showing, but I’m glad I saw the movie, and I would suggest you see it wherever you can. Very thought-provoking twist on the genre. I might write a review later… though I have a tendency to think about writing reviews, and never quite get around to it. 🙂

After we got back home (narrowly avoiding the Rocky Horror crowd… yeesh), Kris and Mark left, and Aaron and I decided that trying to pound nails into the frames (esp. at midnight) wasn’t going to work. So, Aaron busted out the Super Glue and I glued the remaining hangers onto their respective frames.

In case you were interested, the flower picture (technically, the Rose of Sharon) is an 8×10 in a 11×14 matte and wooden frame. The other three are 4×6 photos matted in 8×10 mattes with black frames. The mattes are actually the colors shown below, in my last entry. (Ain’t I smart? *chanting* I am so smart… I am so smart… S-M-R-T… er, S-M-A-R-T…)

So, yeah. I was a little concerned about the verbage in the rules for whether or not I was supposed to have my stuff framed. See, the rules state: No Frames except for Division A (that’s me). Then, in the Division A rules, it says: Standard size photos up to 16×20 matted on double-thick matte board. Photos larger than 16×20 must be framed, wired, and ready to hang. So, I was a little confused as to whether sizes smaller than 16×20 were allowed to be framed, or if it was optional, or what. I ended up framing them and bringing my photo sticky squares with me today when I submitted my photos, just in case they became photo nazis and made me remove my frames.

But my fears were unfounded. They were very nice and polite and moved me right along, giving me my claim tickets and making sure to tell me that I’d need them later to pick up my projects. The only snag in today’s Fair trip was having to park across the street in the so-far-empty fair lot. There was nowhere to park on the Grounds. Holy crap.

I still don’t have very much confidence in my ability to actually win anything, but I think I may just be trying not to psych myself up too much, in fear of a letdown when I go to see what I won (or didn’t win). We’ll see how this goes — judging is tomorrow, and the fair officially opens on Tuesday, I think. If it goes well, I may try my hand at the TFOP show that Eric told me about. I think some publicity, seeing my art displayed alongside other works of art, might bolster my confidence a little. I might start considering myself an amateur photographer finally, instead of just a hobbyist.

Wish me luck…

The Fair and Stuff

Well, I’ve decided for sure that I’m not going to the Bluecoats show on Sunday. I’m just too damn broke, and I’ve spent too many weekends in a row away from home. I’ve already seen my boys (and girls) once this season, and I can’t really complain about having no money when I spent it myself on a new brain for my computer.

I’m working 10am to 2pm on Sunday, after which I’m taking my four photography entries to the County Fair. I’ve got two of them already scanned to show you… hang on, and I’ll boot up Aaron’s computer and scan the other two.

[brief pause]

OK, here they are, in no particular order:

manual - black swamp arts festival, fall 2000 rose of sharon, spring 2002 cowtown, fort worth tx, summer 2003 wood county fair, summer 2002

Due to the fact that the fair’s categories are stoopid, I ended up entering in the Professional Division. I don’t think I’m going to win anything, and the best I could really do as far as prize money goes is break even on my entry fees, but I figured what the hell. The bike photo and the fair photo are classified as "photo journalism," while the flower and the building/skyscape are in the "landscape" category. Creative categorizing, I know… but I’d already decided which ones I wanted to enter before I knew what category options were open to me. Silly me assumed that it would be like any magazine photo contest, with a Portrait-Landscape-Humor-Digital-Blah-Blah-Blah entry system. But no. In the Professional Division, here are my choices:

  • Landscape
  • Children Portrait
  • Photo Journalism (colored)
  • "Ohio Pride" – Structures
  • Family Portrait
  • I chose the Pro Division because the Non-Pro Division had such categories as B/W Architecture, Digital Imaging – People, "Ohio Pride" – People, Digital Imaging – Nature, Panoramic, Children – Holiday, and Child – Special Event. So, yeah. They’ve got a pretty selective idea of what kinds of pictures they want displayed at Ye Olde County Faire. Maybe they try to mix it up each year so people will take pictures of different things during the year or something. Which would only make sense if you knew the categories a little more than one month beforehand, IMO.

    On a different topic, I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with Aaron this weekend. Many recent breakups (and almost-divorces) amongst my friends and acquaintances have really made me appreciate the friend and partner I have in Aaron. We’ve been together for over seven years, and I still haven’t tired of him. I’m still excited to come home early and see him before he goes off to work. Thinking of him still makes me smile. Sure, I miss the early days of giddy butterflies and shaky caresses… but I love even more the sure, steady support and comfortable intimacy we share now.

    I had no idea in my angst-filled youth that there was something like this awaiting me…

    You Never Know When…

    BAM! …depression will strike.

    Yesterday was good, for the most part. Got to kiss Aaron before he left for work. Got my new 1.8GHz processor via UPS, and successfully installed it and its heatsink/fan onto my new motherboard. Played some Civ III. Found out that my current power supply should suffice for my new motherboard. Bid on some DDR RAM on eBay. Yes, I was OK yesterday, despite the fact that a.) Sky accidentally charged me for my free employee checks, and b.) neither Garza nor Paul nor Donna can accompany me to Canton for Sunday’s drumcorps show — so if I go, I go solo.

    Today is somehow a different story.

    I went to balance my checkbook today, and discovered a math error way back in May. So… after I spent an hour trying to figure this out, I’m still off $50 — but at least it’s an even amount this time. After almost-balancing my checkbook, I discovered that I really don’t have enough money to make my little daytrip on Sunday. (Hell, I barely have enough to pay rent.) I know Aaron would loan me money, but I just bought a new motherboard and processor with the extra money I had, and I need to teach myself to check my checkbook before I go willy-nilly on eBay. Sure, I haven’t heard the Bluecoats play Autumn Leaves in the parking lot after a show since I aged out. I can wait another year, then.

    This monetary problem also means no new RAM until I get paid one week from today.

    I’m also still waiting for my new checks to arrive. The ones I ordered (and got charged for) on the 15th. Since I ordered them at the banking center, they should have arrived sooner than the standard two weeks. As it is, I may have to have Aaron write a check for my half of the rent, anyway.

    And, as usual, this emotional tailspin I’ve sent myself into has bloomed into a full-blown depression. Not the clinical kind, the kind that lasts two weeks or more, the kind I seriously think I had in high school. Just the evening-long woe-is-me-fest. The kind where I look around at my living space and call myself a slob, but don’t manage to clean. The kind where I grab my fat rolls and call myself a lazy bastard, but don’t bother to exercise. The kind where I wonder if I’m really good enough to get a web design job, but don’t go looking for one. The kind where I don’t want to do anything but eat and laze around and feel sorry for myself. And probably play several hours of Civ III. And then feel guilty afterward.

    Oh, yeah… I’ve matured tons. Pshaw, right.

    P.S. – Somehow I can’t make myself be happy that Uday and Qusay are dead, despite the fact that they were undoubtedly corrupt individuals. My sense of justice would have been better sated to keep them as prisoners, or something along those lines. Death is too easy, and too final.

    Sheryl just called and we talked for, like, 45 minutes. She read my entry and said it sounded like I needed to talk. I had been feeling particularly friendless, but I’m feeling better now. 🙂


    A friend told me today, "I feel more alive than I have in years."

    Which leads me to wonder: Do I feel "alive"? When did I feel the most "alive"?

    I think I can safely say that this is not the most alive I have personally felt. Secure — sure. Grounded — you bet. Normal — strangely enough, yes. But "alive"? Not so much.

    I felt alive at the wedding, and during the honeymoon. I felt alive (to an extent) at graduation. I felt alive while marching drumcorps. I felt alive in the dorm for the most part, even (or especially?) by myself that last year at school. I felt alive the summer after high school. Hell, I felt alive the day I got my hair cut. 🙂

    So, what do I do to get that back? Buy a house? Get a new job? Have a kid? Lose weight? Redecorate? Something isn’t right, if I don’t feel "alive". These are supposed to be the best years of my life. Newlywed, no kids yet, stable job, stable finances, at the beginning of a wonderful lifelong journey. Doing things right. Not getting knocked up. Not working at McDonald’s.

    This leads me to believe that I need to seize something. Do something different. Change something. — Change myself? How?

    On the topic of changes: since both Sheryl and Eric have announced this on their respective pages, I’m safe to tell anyone who doesn’t frequent their blogs that they’ve broken up. Were this a private journal for my own edification only, like I used to have before this whole blog phenomenon, I’d have a lot of personal comments and gossip to blurt out here. But as it’s a public document, I’ll keep most of my musings to myself.

    All I’ll say is… wow. I didn’t see this coming. I know they were going to move off to Toledo, anyway, but now I know I’ll never get to hang out with Eric, and only very rarely with Sheryl, which is too bad. In the past couple of years, I’d grown fond of spontaneous visits either from them or to their place, and had really begun to appreciate both of them more, both individually and as a pair. I know they’re not really going far away (yet) or going to die or anything else incredibly final… and I know I didn’t really hang out with them a lot, anyway… it’s just that things won’t be the same anymore.

    I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing.

    I Did It

    I finally did it. I got my hair bobbed. It is now just a shade longer than chin-length. I feel like a new woman. And I look like one, too. I can’t stop shaking my head and running my fingers through my hair.

    Damn, now I’m going to have to break out the round brush and blow dryer on a regular basis.

    So, today at work I got yelled at by the IT guy. See, we’ve been having these problems with the new fax program scrunching numbers or just plain eliminating columns of numbers from reports. So, someone’s report will say $1,115.79 when it should really say $15,115.79. This is ungood. Our clients very irately reported this issue to us, and we reported it to Andrew, and Andrew reported it to the IT department. And the IT guy mainly in charge of the fax software had a little bit to say to us about it.

    He storms in while Loni’s on the phone, and starts ranting at me, since I’m closest to him. "I cannot be held responsible for every fax," he announces, and shows me what we already knew: that there was a column of digits missing. Yes, yes, we know. But then he claims that it’s the client’s fax machine at fault. It must glitch while feeding paper at that point. I politely explain that when we fax these same clients manually, it goes through fine. This steams him even more.

    At this point Loni is off the phone, and tries to jump in. Her normal, interruptive conversational style isn’t working for her in this instance. (It rarely does.) She chimes in and says what I just said, that manually faxing works fine. Larry says that we can manually fax every client, then, and he’ll just get rid of the software entirely. Loni shoots back that we’ll have clients pulling out for lack of service, then, and that will be bad for Sky. She also mentions that BitWare (our old, Windows 95 compatible fax software) worked just fine. Larry yells back — over his shoulder, since he’s already started to storm out — that we can find fax software on our own and tell him all about it, or he can just put us back on BitWare, then, and be done with it.

    Of course, the red-faced yelling and pissed-off attitude doesn’t really come through in my little transcription here, but I think you get the point. As much as I hate to admit it, I share my mother’s dislike of confrontation, and I try to defuse every volatile situation I find myself in. From my perspective, we were just pointing out a bug in the software, and asking them to look into it. From his perspective, though, I’m sure we were personally attacking this project he’d spent months working through and perfecting. I can understand where he’s coming from, though I don’t think I’d react nearly the same way.

    After he stalked out, we told Andrew how Larry had treated us and spoken to us, and I communicated to him that I found it unprofessional, ill-mannered, and uncalled-for. Andrew talked to his boss, Ruth, and I’m sure she talked to HR. So, we’ll see what happens.

    Oh, Loni told me later on that this Larry guy has a reputation for having a bad temper. He got a talking-to from HR once for throwing a printer across a room. Yikes.


    I think that’s the term for when you’re backlogged with blog topics. Backblogged.

    Mom wants me to take a road trip with her to Denver next summer. She says it would be fun. I say we would probably kill each other halfway there. Although, now that I see that the 2004 DCI Finals will be held in Denver, I say maybe I could put up with Mom if she could put up with a weekend of drum corps.

    After going to the Dekalb drum corps show with corps alumni buddy Paul and his sister (who was my seat partner in ’95), I’m more seriously considering joining a senior corps before Aaron and I decide to have kids. Only thing is, I don’t think I’m ready to spend all of my summer weekends away from my honey-muffin, and I certainly don’t want to make a five-hour roadtrip one way just to march senior corps. (BTW, senior corps is like what I did in Northern Aurora and Bluecoats, except you can be any age from 15 to 60-something.)

    Of course, then Paul (who sings barbershop) suggested that I find a chapter of Sweet Adelines to join. Sweet Adelines are like barbershop quartets/choruses for women. I did discover that the Pride of Toledo is the best group in the region, and I fired them off an email about membership. They rehearse on Tuesdays at 7pm in Toledo, on Holland-Sylvania, which is doable as far as getting out of work goes. We’ll see what happens.

    I would also like to say that nothing quite compares with being berated for receiving accolades that were deserved by more people than just you.

    See, a couple weeks ago, we received a payment for someone’s water bill that was astronomically higher than what they owed. Like, $15,000.00 for a $150 bill. The person who was prepping the work caught it, and brought it to Loni, and asked if that could possibly be right. Loni knew that the client banked with Sky, and knew their personal banker, who then said maybe we should make sure that was correct. So, Loni called the phone number on the check and left a message. Of course, Loni left work before I did that day, so when the client returned the phone call, I took it. He was soooo grateful that we caught his accounting error — his software had printed the wrong amount on his check, and had it been processed, it would have bounced a lot.

    So, the next morning, Loni had me write him a note and mail the erroneous check back to him. I located some Sky Bank stationery on the intranet, typed the note on it, printed it out, and sent it off. I felt pretty good about myself, but mainly because I got to do something different. Something other than stomping a footpedal, typing in invoice numbers, and hitting return.

    A few days later, Andrew hands me a card he got out of an interoffice envelope. It’s a "Gotcha Card" — Sky’s version of RCC Performance Points, or any other company’s relatively meaningless rewards system. The client’s personal banker had heard from him, and she thanked me for providing such outstanding customer service to Mr. LaRoe. I felt all tingly in my bum until Loni shot me down with "And who was it that caught it in the first place?" Not only Loni, but the prepper who did catch it in the first place both gave me shit for being the one who got the credit.

    Hey, it’s not my fault that the last person to touch something is responsible for it. Take the credit or take the blame, but it’s always the fault of the last person to touch it.

    I grow progressively more disenchanted with my job — if, indeed, I was ever truly enchanted in the first place.


    photo by Carley AugustineThings seem to be settling down around BG, finally. The city and university are working to clean up the storm damage, most people’s power is back on, and life is returning to normal.

    In case you missed the 11:00 news…

    Channel 13 has photos and RealVideo coverage of the carnage in BG.

    (Photo at right is of my street, two houses down from ours)

    BGSU’s website has a "Campus Storm Update" link off the main page.

    Got home from work today and all the clocks were blinking (except the VCR, because it rocks). Seems the power must have gone out today sometime between Aaron leaving for work and me coming home at 7:15pm. Probably had something to do with the nice city workers removing the tree from the power lines (photo above).

    As for how this affected others you might know… Beth’s blog indicates that even in Columbus, the proverbial shit hit the fan. Apparently, her power was out for a while, too, though she says that having the roof blown off a nearby gas station sounds a little more traumatic. Eric went out with his BG News posse and took some photos of the insanity. (Would that I hadn’t chosen these few weeks to have my camera serviced. I missed both the Fourth of July and the kickass storm of the decade. Though I’ll be looking forward to having a leak-free, recalibrated camera.)

    And if more people would update their blogs, I’d have more to report. Blah.

    Seems that campus got pretty fucked up. A wall was blown out of the Field House, a tree fell on the Death Center, the roof blew out of the Moore Musical Arts Center (right above Kobacker Hall, if I’ve heard correctly), giant trees have been uprooted… sounds like a damn mess. I’d been planning to walk around campus this evening to survey the damage, but I opted to stay home like the lazy-ass that I am.

    You know, I’ve been in BG for… shit, eight or nine years now… and this is the worst storm I’ve seen yet. I’ve been in a couple of tornado warnings, but nothing like this. And this one didn’t even qualify as an honest-to-god tornado.

    Shit, imagine that.