Monday, August 11, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

Heart heavy with the news, I mourn the passing of yet another influence I never met face to face but welcomed into my home on a regular basis, the incomparable Robin Williams.

It's no secret, really, that I have a certain affinity for pop culture, especially surrounding all things on both the big and small screens.  We idolize these performers, these actors, the emotions they stir, the heroes and villains they portray.  They help us bring a fictional, fantasy element to our lives that spurs conversations, debates, addictions and obsessions.

However, the world we live in makes it easy to forget that they are people too.

For me pop culture wasn't just about knowing who was in what, but knowing more about the person - facts that made them just like anyone else, just with the idealistic job of playing pretend for a living.

Robin Williams was born in Chicago on July 21, 1951.  He went to Julliard.  He got his start in 1974 from a bit part in an episode of Happy Days.  He was a fan of both Dr. Who and Star Trek.  He had kids.

He was so much more than Mrs. Doubtfire.

The passing of a celebrity is a mixture of emotions for a number of reasons.

First of all, it's not your loss, it's the true loved ones that will feel the hole left behind the most.

Second, sometimes it is your loss too.

As a public figure, the job description comes with a lack of privacy, both literally and figuratively.  From the characters they play to the rare occasion when they can be themselves, these people open themselves up to be judged, loved and hated.  Their job is to make us feel, and if they've accomplished their goal, not only will they be missed, but they'll be remembered fondly - as a member of the family.

There's a number of greats over the years that have effected me strongly when they passed, and it's because the fictional lives they lived out upon the screen were something ever present in my life.

The first was Lucille Ball.  Despite being only seven, I have the image in my head clear as day: her portrait on the screen, carrot top hair and ruby red lips, with the dates August 6, 1911 -  April 26, 1989.

John Ritter was another biggie for me.  It was six in the morning and I heard it on the radio in the car.  So stunned, I ran a red light.  Shortly after I learned Johnny Cash had died that same day.  September 11, 2003.  It was a sad day all around.

With too many others to mention, to pay honor to, to give mention... with no disrespect, I fast forward to today.  To another person who has for as long as I can remember been a part of my life no longer being here.

I feel the collective loss of a man who could make an audience both laugh and cry in the same breath.  A man who as a child had few friends, and created voices to keep himself company.  A man who battled demons like everyone else, but unfortunately lost the battle.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a generation who had no choice but to know who Robin Williams was, what talent he was capable of and the legacy he had built with every role he played and every stereotype of himself that was defined.

He will always be remembered.

I read something recently that said Robin was once asked by actor James Lipton about what he would like God to say when he arrives in heaven.

Robin answered that "There is a seat in the front," in the concert of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Elvis Presley.

Rock on Robin, I'm sure it's the concert of a lifetime.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Bucket List & The Sublist

My bucket list has grown at an increasing rate the last few years.

In fact, I didn't even have one until a few years ago.

Rest assured, it's not an increasing realization of mortality that brings this about, but the freedom from an anchor holding me down that has made me realize that there IS so much more to aspire to, so much more that it was possible to want, to do, to deserve.

Unfortunately, every time I cross a monumental item off my list, it again is added with a renewed vigor.

The first true instance of this was my trip to New York for a collegiate journalism convention.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime to visit Manhattan, stand in Times Square, to pay my respects at the 9/11 Memorial.  I came home with irreplaceable memories, and a whole slew of things I need to next time I even have the remote opportunity to visit.

This past week I scratched off yet another milestone: Las Vegas.  It was a spectacular experience (with much fodder to write about in the near future, both for this one and my beloved foodie outlet - Accidental Foodies Blog), and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have had my senses overloaded with the wonder that is Sin City.

While big goals are awesome (and accomplishing them even more awesome), I find myself yearning for some of the little things.  Not necessarily things I have to do before I "kick the bucket," but simply things I want to do, because there's really no reason not to and I have no good excuses as to why these items aren't regular occurrences instead of wistful yearnings.

These aren't resolutions - because no one ever keeps those - and I'm not putting a time limit on any of it, because that feels like I'm dooming myself to failure.  These are... "why the hell not?" items on an ever growing to-do list that I should really pay more attention to.  Categorized simply out of a misguided need to organize my thoughts, here's my preliminary list:


I use this term broadly, a blanket expression with an extraordinary sub-list that highlights things quite often readily available in my immediate area and beyond.  It includes (but is not limited to):

  • Movies - quite honestly, this desire comes from being tired of having the same answer to the question "Have you seen...?"  I used to be a wealth of trivial knowledge regarding movies (seriously - I used to be awesome at the Kevin Bacon Game), but that's tapered for a number of reasons.  Quiz me on 90's trivia and I could likely still rock it, but I'm beginning to realize how that kind of knowledge can date me in every stereotypical way.
  • Concerts - from dive bar house bands to big names on big stages, there is so much I'm missing and experiences I'll regret not having.  While I'm not the biggest fan of crowds, the goosebumps that result from listing to some really good live music can be worth it.
  • Theater - considering I spent three years of high school excelling in technical theater (including an inspiring backstage tour of one of the theaters at Portland Center Stage and clear foreshadowing for my future career as a graphic designer via posters, programs and more), it's sad that I haven't kept up on the promises I made to myself back then - to continue to enjoy the art of live performances.  I used to be the type to check out and read plays from the library - for fun.  Really, what happened to that person?


Yeah, you probably aren't the only one surprised to find this topic on my list so let me elaborate.  I've never been good at sports (my ability to trip over my own feet probably have something to do with this), however I consider myself a stellar spectator.

First and foremost on my list is baseball.  While the details of America's pastime may blur by me in a statistical daze (RBIs, batting average, even the score for that matter), I enjoy sitting in those plastic seats - most memorably within foul ball territory - eating an overpriced hot dog, listening for the umpire's name despite knowing I won't recognize it (my uncle David would have most likely, having gone to umpire school), the telltale crack of a ball being hit out of the park, and rooting for the home team - whether they win or not.

The Angels have and always will be my team, no matter where I call home, but I wouldn't mind checking out what the more local teams have to offer while I root for my beloved team in spirit.

Following baseball would be basketball.  Living in the Portland Metro Area, it is near shameful to admit I have never been to a Blazer game, let alone a basketball game outside of my years in high school.  I've watched plenty of games on television, even had a peripheral emotional attachment to the outcome of particular games, but it's not the same as sitting in the stands hearing the roar of the crowd.

Also on my list believe-it-or-not is football (again, another sport that I haven't seen live since my days of getting into the game free with a student ID card), and hockey (stemming from a long ago wish to see the Anaheim Ducks play at the Arrowhead Pond - which is no longer the Arrowhead Pond).


I get too wrapped up in work, that's no secret, but I've been trying to take strides that will lead me to better enjoy the time spent not working.

For instance, for lunch I've began frequenting the local bar.  It's not alcohol that's the allure, but two other perks: socialization, and forcing myself to enjoy 60 minutes of work-free time that I would have otherwise spent working regardless of whether or not I was getting paid.  Time not staring at a computer screen, not stressing over clients, not obsessing over tasks needing to be done.  Novel concept, isn't it?

It's been an interesting experiment and I'm thinking it's time to expand its parameters.  I hear that (now don't quote me on this), that people go out after work and on weekends.  This is a fascinating phenomenon that merits further exploration on my part, though I fear lack of acceptance by the indigenous creatures will have me scurrying back to the relative security of a computer screen and keyboard.

(I exaggerate for dramatic purposes of course, though the truth probably isn't far off.)

In a lot of ways, I think this "goal" revolves around the urge to share these experiences.  I want to include people in my life who would like to enjoy these things too, mutually motivating and inspiring each other to do these things and more.

Overall, these aren't lofty goals and above all else require little more than motivation (both my own and whatever friends I wrangle into joining me in above mentioned activities) and a realization that it is okay to take a break every once in a while.

I work dang hard for my clients and always go above and beyond what is called for.  I put in more time, energy, consideration, focus, blood, sweat and tears into projects than necessary - because that's just how I work.  I worry about a lot, beyond my job title, beyond by job scope and responsibilities, beyond what is required.  I need to get it into my head that these goals aren't goals - they're rewards for that hard work I take so much pride in.

As my wise boss recently said, "You work hard so now it's time to play hard. Capish!?"

I think I'm finally starting to get it.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Blues

I'm quite aware of the fact that I'm in the minority when I say I'm not a fan of summer.

Of the seasons, it's my least favorite.  With it's long dry days and stuffy hot nights, each time the mercury crawls above the eighty degree mark I find myself craving the relief that fall carries in on its coattails.

Summer tends to bring out the best in most people (other than the complaining about not being outdoors), with bright smiles, parties and get-togethers, BBQ's, river trips, enjoying the precious vitamin D while it lasts around here in the Pacific Northwest.

10 day forecast for Portland, Ore. from Fox 12 Oregon
That's all well and good for social butterflies and nature lovers who soak up the sun like air, but I can't say I get the same thrill.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the sun, it's everything that comes along with it I can do without.  The uncomfortable heat, the thick air, the allergens causing me to sneeze, cough and itch, and of course all the creepy crawlies that thrive under such conditions.


When you're too hot, there's only so many layers you can remove (at least in polite company), only so many fans you can aim your direction, and only so many ice cubes in the freezer to keep your beverages cold.

Cold days on the other hand equal cozy layers and fuzzy blankets, fireplaces, hot chocolate... *wistful sigh.*
Even as I say this, I realize the irony that just four weeks from today I'll be heading to Vegas in the dead of summer, where I'll no doubt be met with triple digit temperatures and dry, arid air that will make me miss home-sweet-home.  For the record, I plan on spending as much time indoors as possible, and I fully intend on returning home thoroughly sunburned, relying heavily on the soothing graces of aloe.

As much as others would hate me for saying it, I hope summer zips by quickly.  With the exception of my much anticipated vacation, I'm ready to skip ahead to the change in the colors of the leaves, to cooling temperatures outside, to the house filling with the scent of sweet and spiced goodies.

I suppose I've just got a case of the summer blues - something that I am sure is statistically linked with those who do not own an air conditioner.

Oh well, time to beat the heat with another cup of coffee.  :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Strategic Anniversary

Three-hundred and sixty-five days ago, I was sitting exactly where I sit now, but in a completely different mindset.

I was anxious, nervous.  Hell, let's be honest, I was clueless.  

Just days before, I had undergone a job interview.  I showed up with sweaty palms and what felt like stuttering answers to seemingly simple questions, singing the praises of a degree that the ink wasn't yet quite dry on.  Faced opposite the owner - a snazzily dressed slip of a man with a winning smile - and the director of operations - a guru of technical know-how with a laid back Hawaiian mentality - I couldn't be more uncomfortable, but somehow I survived.  

In fact, I not only survived, I was called the next day with an eager "you start next week!" which brings us to a year ago today.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I had hope, aspirations and the drive to see where the adventure could lead me.  I was a greenhorn joining a well established ship, exploring a world I had a peripheral skill-set to prepare me for.

It was a risk, and I'm glad I took it.

Tomorrow I'll have been at my job for an entire year.

Can you believe that?  A year.

While it may have taken a little time and more than a little effort, I'm to the point that every day I get to do what I enjoy, what I'm good at.  Every day I get to learn a little more, grow a little more.  Sure, there are frustrations, it comes with any job that involves any sort of interaction with... well... rush hour traffic, finicky computers, inanimate objects (such as coffee makers), er.. people - but I still find myself pretty damn lucky.

It's a strategic anniversary I tell ya, and given how far I've come in the last three-hundred and sixty-five days, I really can't wait to see what the next year has to offer.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Looking For the Oscar to My Felix

As progress forever trudges forward, my living situation has become a topic of consideration.

My current daily commute averages 20-30 minutes, if traffic is in my favor.  It's not horrible, though slightly mind numbing, especially when freeway speeds crawl within the mid-20 mile per hour range for no apparent reason.

While it's tolerable, progress as we know it is pushing for a decision:  Face a commute at least double my current trek, or move out of a town that has been my comfort zone for too many years to count.

Aside from a near decade long stint in my sunny southern California home away from home, I've only lived in this town.  In fact, I was born just a couple miles from where I sit now typing these words.  I don't know my way around many other towns, quite possibly on purpose, so the new debate of moving to a city I'm not even entirely sure I've visited has me a little on edge.

Putting that wallop of a detail aside, there's the idea of my future potential roommate.

Over the years, I've had a lot of roommates.  Some good.  Some bad.  Some... indescribable.

The Odd Couple - Tony Randall &  Jack Klugman
The only reason I even consider it now, is because I'm pretty dang sure I don't want to live alone.  I want to share the responsibility, the worry, and I think I need the cohabitation, companionship.

I have some good things to offer as a roommate, really I do.

I have a steady job and pay my bills (fearing debt worse than a cavity, and I dread those).  I clean up after myself and often clean when home alone and bored.  I cook (my foodie blog should be an example of such), and when I do cook, I prefer to cook for more than just myself.  I'm quiet.  I pretty much keep to myself.  Despite being an only child, I have figured out how to share.  I share my video games.  I appear to be a decent go-to person for technical issues including setup and troubleshooting of home entertainment systems and computers.

Here's the thing, there's a few things that I require in a roommate.

They must have a steady job and pay their bills (come on now, that's not too lofty).  While I don't mind doing more than my fair share of the cleaning, slobs will drive me batty.  Though I might occasionally take on motherly characteristics, I am not a mother and do not feel obligated to clean up after anyone as such.  Consideration for others is a big plus - all it takes is a little forethought and afterthought, though it's quite often neglected.  Those with severe pet allergies need not apply - my feelings for my kids (at the moment 2 cats) outweigh my empathy for allergies.  Priority consideration will be given to those willing to kill anything with six or more legs (with or without wings).

So as I ponder my great leap to the other side of the river, I can't help but wonder - will it be possible to find not only a suitable home sweet home that will put me within reach of a tolerable commute, but also a worthy Oscar to my Felix?

I suppose I should start putting feelers out, because as I said before, progress keeps marching on.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Setting Goals & Reaching Them

I find I do a lot better with a goal in mind.

Throughout school, each term became a challenge, a chance to excel, until that last term when that walk across the stage to accept my diploma took precedence.

Along that educational path, I had a few other big aspirations pop up unexpectedly that were not only pretty dang awesome, but check-marks off my elusive bucket list such as a trip to Seattle and New York City via the perks that came being on the college newspaper.

After college, a job became the goal, one quickly fulfilled perhaps by luck, fate or sheer determination - I'm still not quite sure, but as I've said before on the topic, I'm grateful.

Once I started my job, the goal was getting into a position that fully utilized my skills.  That effort took all of three months - thankyouverymuch.  Yes, I know that's pretty awesome, but I digress.

Since then, I think I've been lacking that drive, that aim towards a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.  Sure, I have some long term goals in place, but it's possible a short term goal has been in order.

So what did I do?  I set a goal.  Not five minutes later (okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but bear with me), that goal - a bucket list item - became a realization.

I'm going to Las Vegas.

Come August, I'll have finally paid that infamous city a visit and so many great experiences await me.  Not only some amazing, drool-worthy dining experiences, but my FIRST ever visit to a casino (yes, I know, well past due), and the cherry on the cake, my first Broadway musical -  front row even.

How's that for awesome?

To be honest, I'm not sure I've had a vacation where I wasn't visiting family or had a journalism convention to attend.  I'll be meeting family there - but this is different, this is an actual vacation.  Beyond strange... but in a good way.

I'm positively giddy.

Sure, I know after this I'll have to aim for yet another lofty goal, but you know what - it's worth it.  I need something to push towards, big or small.  Until then, it's a count down - 56 days.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shooting For the Moon

Ambition is a funny thing.

By definition, it means a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.  In practice, more than anything I believe ambition requires patience.

Why is this funny?  Mostly because I'm notorious for a lack of patience.

For the past few years, I'm proud to say I've been very ambitious.  Went back to school, studied hard, graduated with honors.  Started a tiny little side business, took on an extremely wide variety of projects, gained invaluable experience.  Got an awesome job, actually use my degree, validated for my talents.  Pretty dang cool if I do say so myself.

So what have I been striving for lately?

To prove that there's so much more to my praised, mad skills - and I'll do so every time I get the chance.

In my time as a graphic designer I've created: logos, business cards, letterheads, tee-shirts, social graphics, website graphics, envelopes, product labels, greeting cards, memes, newspaper ads, magazine ads, website ads, tabletop ads, stickers, bumper stickers, pens, pins, hats, CD cases, zines, book covers, flyers, brochures, pamphlets, posters, banners, feather flags, trade show booth panels, even a graphic that ended up plastered to the side of a party bus.

Not too shabby, eh?

As a web designer, while I relish in and quite enjoy many of the technical, tedious and tiresome aspects of the job, it's the design - the visual and aesthetics, the look and feel - that will always drive me because no matter how much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears I pour into a site, it's the user experience that will keep people there once they've found it.

Bringing these two distinctly different but remarkably similar designer sides of myself together has always made sense to me.  I take great satisfaction in bringing a certain coherence and continuity to every design, and if I can bring that into not just a single design, but into a brand, I see nothing but potential.

I'm excited to be a part of a company that's growing, a position that's growing, that's enabled me to develop this side of myself.  I'm lucky really, damn lucky.

I learned several years back that's not enough to maintain status quo, there's no fulfillment in it.  I plan on continuously proving myself as an asset, continuously learning something more and striving towards something greater.  It's who I've become, and I'm pretty okay with that.

This is progress dear blog, progress and I gotta say, it feels good.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Aging Gracefully

Let's face it, despite the actual meaning of my name, I am anything but graceful.

I trip over my feet, I trip over my emotions, I trip over my words.

The only thing I've ever considered myself graceful at was falling, but literally and figuratively.

So just a couple days away from... let's not say birthday, we'll say anniversary of my birth... I find myself wondering if I can in fact, age gracefully.

While that may be a question better left up to philosophers, theorists and Jeopardy winners, I have decided that the upcoming year will be better than the last.

I have made some great accomplishments in the last year.  Accolades, achievement, advancement - I mean really, I shouldn't have a reason to complain.  I'm not complaining, per say, I'm just summoning courage to live up to the age old adage: "There's always room for improvement."

I'm going to grow more, learn more, do more.  I'm going to get out more, experience more, live more.  I'm going to let go of the bad, hold onto the good and embrace whatever progress comes my way.  That's not too lofty, is it?

Who needs New Years resolutions when you have birthday resolutions.

So bring on the next year, I'm ready for it danigt, and for whatever it may bring.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Flippin' for Inspiration

So I managed to stumble upon yet another thing there isn't enough time for in my day: Flipboard.

According to Wikipedia (which we all know is internet law now-a-days), "the app Flipboard was launched in 2010 by former Apple iPhone engineer, Evan Doll, and former Tellme CEO, Mike McCue. The duo set out to create an app that merged the simplicity and feel of a magazine with the accessibility and collaboration that technology provides. The app integrates news from media outlets from around the world and presents it in a magazine format."

Available across pretty much all platforms, it's an app worth checking out.

It's a nifty program that allows for integration from numerous social networks - more than most of these social hubs, some of which I haven't even heard of - along with RSS feeds from Google Reader and a ton of Fipboard's own "magazines" to choose from.  On top of all that, it's an easy to use "flip" interface that makes navigating through an endless abundance of information somewhat manageable and easy to read.

To be honest, I've had it installed on my phone for over a year.

So why mention it now?

Because I've fallen for the Graphic & Web Design feed.

Nifty statistics regarding WordPress, validation concerning my obsession with fonts, inspiring designs using parallax scrolling... watch my heart go pitter-patter!  I thoroughly wasted at least an hour of my morning this way, when I'm sure there was something more worthwhile I should have been doing.

But alas, it just makes me hungry for more.

What's more daunting?  I've only brushed the surface.  The Flipboard feeds holding treasures about marketing, social networking, and so many other applicable topics stand proud, waiting - but I'm afraid.  I'll get lost you see, I'm already looking for that 25th hour in the day - where am I supposed to find the 26th and 27th?

Ugh, what's a gal to do?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keeping Count

The other day I realized that I had surpassed the 30,000 word count mark on the newest story I'm working on.

There's a couple things that stand out to me about this.  One, how did I manage to not only miss, but pass that mile marker by over 3,000 words before noticing?  And two, why is that number so important?

I'll chalk up the first to a very stop-and-go writing schedule, being forever busy (quite often on purpose), and the current exploration of both a point of view and genre quite alien to me - but the second?  Hmph - your guess is as good as mine.

When I set out on my first novel, I had a number as my goal.


For some reason (yes, there is a reason - a quite nerdy one at that), I picked this number and told myself that if I could hit this word count I could consider myself legit - not just a writer, but a writer who could write a novel.

Yes, I'm quite aware it takes more than a word count to make a good book, but when you are the type of person who often gets in your own way, an arbitrary goal can be liberating.

Surprisingly, it really was.  As soon as I hit that target, it suddenly felt like the pressure was off.  I could turn and twist and refine the story any which way I pleased because half the battle was already fought.  (I realize now as the completed manuscript sits at just over 109,000 words that I had no reason to worry about hitting my target.)

Really, in a lot of writing there is a goal word count.

On my college newspaper, a news brief was supposed to be below 250 words, while an article should be between 400 and 800.  For work, a well optimized web page has at least 300 words.  Flash fiction should be less than 1,000 words.  With NaNoWriMo, the bulls-eye sits at 50,000 words (in a month no less!!!).

So again I ask myself, why is the number so important - when I'm writing for me, when I'm writing to write.

Well... why the hell not?

It propels me forward and gives me something to aim for, gives me a point at which I can relax, stop worrying (because of course I'll worry about something so why not let it be something arbitrary), and just write.  And isn't that the goal?

Eh, enough counting - it's time to write.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Perpetual Student

Do you know why I fell into web design?

Partly, because it's a brilliant mix of a couple things I hold dear:

1. Computers.

SimCity - The Original
(I even had the expansion pack!)
Despite my die hard affinity for PCs, my love affair with computers began with a Mac - A Macintosh Classic (named "Murphy") to be exact.  While my experience was limited to the Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego and above all else, the original SimCity, it was only the beginning.

2. The Internet

With my first PC I was hooked.  It had been a gift from my uncle, if only he knew what he started with that simple gift, because it wasn't long after that big bulky box was set up on the coffee table, that it was plugged into the phone line.

My first taste of the internet:  AOL 2.5.  Dial-up.  2400 bps.  Yeah.  Aside from that, it was a light bulb.  It wasn't just information at my fingertips, it was people, a connection.  To this day, I still say that's a pretty awesome concept.  (On a side note, it's AOL chatrooms I have to thank for my relatively awesome typing speed, not my 9th grade typing class.)

3. Art & Design

This trait runs strong in my family, most notably on the female side.  We're crafters, innovators, resourceful - from grand paintings passed down through a couple generations to modern day unmatched MacGyverisms, the women in my family tree are certainly something to aspire to.  

While I occasionally find the time to apply my skills to a more tactile medium, my artistic eye and the above mentioned left-brain addictions pushed me into graphic design further than I had anticipated.  My right-brain is satisfied by this combination so who am I to complain? 

The other BIG part that makes web design pretty dang perfect for me?  

I'm in a field that is forever changing, evolving and improving.  Even with everything I DO know, there's still a wealth of information out there that I haven't utilized yet that will only make my skills that much more valuable.  Combine it all, and I'm pretty lucky.  

I'll always have a way to improve, to learn and to contribute more.  

Gotta admit, that's pretty dang cool.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One Step at a Time

I've encountered more evidence - it's becoming harder to deny:  I think I may be an adult.

Not only do I have insurance, but I used it to visit the dentist.

I know, right?  Shocker.

The absolute best part?  (Aside from walking out without paying a single dime, of course.)  No cavities!  

Whether it be confidence from the above mentioned good news, adding another year to my age in a mere 23 days, or the optimism that comes from a Tuesday that didn't suck for a number of reasons, I took another big step:  made a doctor's appointment.  While this may not be a big deal to some, it is to me.

It's been a while since I've had a doctor.  To be honest, I don't like 'em much, they make me anxious, nervous.  The big words don't help, neither do a couple not necessarily bad experiences in the past, but experiences none the less that have stuck worse than gum embedded in the deep tread of an old shoe.

They say scent is the sense that has the strongest relation to memory, and I think they're right.  Green soap I can handle, even look forward to (tattooed readers will understand this).  However, whatever antibacterial chemicals they use in doctor's offices and hospitals is enough to put me on edge as much as the linoleum tile, no-pile carpet and early nineties monochromatic paintings adoring the walls.  Ugh.

So again, this is a big deal.  I've had insurance for months now, so it's about time I took advantage of it - despite my obvious reservations.  I'm proud of myself dangit.  The doctor I found is just a few years older than myself, with a background that reminds me of a cousin and she has a focus on women's health.  I think I'm going to like her, which in a lot of ways I think will be the half the battle between me and my healthcare-related anxiety.

Maybe it's just because I've accomplished a hell of a lot in the last year, but somehow I just need to keep this motivation going or it will fizzle and burn out.  These are big strides for me - even if they've only been taken with baby steps - though honestly I'm just glad to be heading in the right direction - wherever it may lead.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Fictional Self

The blinking cursor on a blank page is an obvious taunt.

It sits there, mocking, announcing it's readiness repeatedly as you stare dumbly at the screen uttering an internal  monologue of "uh... um... er..."

I've been missing my escape lately, consumed by that pesky thing called reality (i.e. work in one form or another) and I just haven't been able to throw myself into the story, even if only for a few minutes.  For the last two weeks or so, every time I switch over to the current story I'm working on, that damned cursor starts blinking at me and I get distracted - realize I have something else to do, something else to dominate my time, my attention.

Even now as I dedicate just a few minutes to rant, rave and ramble about my neglected pastime, I can think of at least four other things that I could be doing, should be doing.

But I have to have some "me" time, right?  You know what they say about all work and no play... right?
New York City - 3/9/2013

Time versus inspiration: at the moment, I'm only lacking one.  For me, when I'm working on a story, inspiration isn't really hard to come by - it all stems from what got me into writing in the first place.

Have you ever watched a movie or a television show, or even reading a book, and wished a twist had turned a different way?  Wished that something else would happen, that another outcome would occur - that a different hero would prevail?

Without a doubt, I have a vivid imagination.  I'm an only child and I was raised to read, raised to think.  Add that mentality to the digital age, an over consumption of information, communication, and interpretation at my fingertips... and I became the neurotic over-thinker you see before you today.

I end up getting a story, a scenario, a scene, a moment stuck in my head - one that I can change, twist, and turn into whatever I want... so... why don't I?

In an interview I saw years ago, a soap opera actress once said that it wasn't necessarily the stories that were compelling, but the people within those stories, their reactions, responses, the way it resonates - because each person is different and will respond to the same situation differently.

The concept stuck with me.

Whenever I'm facing that writer plague that will not be named (cough-writer's-block-cough), all I have to do is re-read a scene I've already written.  Before long, I realize these people - this world I've created - needs to continue in this direction or that, something needs to happen - no, that's not quite right - something has already happened, I just need to put it down on the page.  The fodder is there, I just need to figure out where it leads me.

It's frustrating at times, but I don't write in a straight line.

That would be boring.

While my fictional self is rearing to go - pawing at the ground in impatient anticipation while I just can't get the rest of me to commit.  It's a spattering of an ongoing assault to plastic keyboard keys in the pursuit of surreal excellence, and I miss it.  (Can you tell?)  In the meantime, I hold secure to a few solid truths.

I don't have to write the next great American novel.  Above anything else, all I have to do is let a story play out.  The people, the emotions, the resonance will follow, because everyone is different, even if the situation is the same.

Now...  if only I could wrap up everything else I have to do in a neat little bow so I could let my inner fiction writer out of her cage to play.

She's getting restless I tell ya, who knows what the fallout will be.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Heart CSS

I'm  sure there's a support group out there for me so I might as well admit it:  I'm addicted to CSS.

To others in the know of the Jedi way of the website code - yes, I know I have a problem.

To those who don't have this geeky privilege, it's a nifty part of website coding that dictates styles, i.e., design.

While I primarily consider myself a web designer, this lovely infographic (I also heart infographics, but that's a discussion for another time) depicts a rather conflicting message to me.

The obvious lack of a stubble-beard aside, unlike our web designer persona here, I would never be caught dead wearing skinny jeans or carrying a Macbook Pro.  I am un-regrettably a PC gal through and through, and while I don't bring my own keyboard to work, it's only because I have the EXACT same keyboard at work as I do at home.

(On a side note, I did take my own mouse to work, until my awesome employer bought me another so I didn't have to.  Let's face it, my boss is cooler than your boss.)

The esoteric tee-shirt is another glitch in my web designer claims.  Why I am a spectacular fan of esoteric humor, only the code-snob's "There's no place like" statement is the one that made me chuckle.

As for the fears?  Aside from Perl and server crashes, most of these rank a big "eh" on the worry-meter.

I'm not sure what all this says about my nerdtastic ways, but after having spent the weekend doing exactly what I spend all week doing (for projects outside of work), I can't help for it all to be running around tirelessly on that hamster wheel I call a mind.

I spend half my day (every day) bouncing back and forth between Photoshop and Illustrator, and the other half of my day lost in coding, most notably CSS (and of course HTML), with a dash or two of text documents, emails, databases, FTP clients, multi-tab/multi-window/multi-browser research and the occasional conversation on the telephone.

So what does that make me, a web designer or a web developer?

Hell if I know.

Either way, it's time to get back to work.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Shaken, Not Stirred

In fact, I know she does.

Gin martinis, over ice.  Two olives.

And leave the shaker to James Bond because that wasn't her style.  Instead she preferred a few olive-skewered toothpick swirls to swish in that dry vermouth.  Every day, a well deserved reward for a well lived life, a stubborn indulgence that went without compromise.  Classy, classic - perhaps the drink describes the person drinking it more than we think.

I have two cats named Olive and Gin, and it makes me smile.  I think it would make her smile too.

I miss her.

Am I the only one who before going away on a trip, gets that queasy feeling?  Just a general unrest that doesn't completely go away until a couple days after returning to the security of home?

Yeah, I've got that now and I'm not even traveling anywhere.  Too much on my mind and too many reminders.  Sigh.

Next week.  Next week will be better.

In the meantime, maybe I just need a martini.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Strategically Grateful...

Of all the things to be grateful for, someone surviving the unimaginable is right there at the top.

Every night on the news there's stories of people who are affected by tragedy, heartbreak and devastation.  At times, it's hard to watch simply because there is more bad news than good.  However when you recognize the name, recognize the face that flashes across the screen in association with one of those stories, it takes on a different light.  It's real.

Even if you expect it, your stomach drops, your mouth gets dry, you hold your breath when the reporter speaks.

Yeah, bad stuff happens, but it isn't supposed to happen to people you know.  It's not supposed to happen to people you respect, people you see every day, to good people who you have come to consider extended family - simply because that's the way they welcomed you to that family.

But unfortunately, it can happen.

It does happen.

Strength isn't something you do, it's something you are, and it's something I've seen a lot of lately.

"Normal" has taken on a new definition because as we proceed, things aren't normal, but we continue as best we can.  A ship without its Captain, we're a loyal crew with as much determination and perseverance for the whole as we do for each other and we'll trudge on until the Captain can return to the helm.  Why?  Because we have faith he will.

So to hear that this person who survived the unimaginable will heading home after over a month in the hospital?  I'm ecstatic.  I'm over the moon.  I'm so damn grateful he's a freaking superhero (really, there's just no other explanation - bit by a spider, mad scientist experiment gone wrong - there is obviously some greater power at work here, insert your own opinion here).

Home is a huge step in the right direction.  It's easier to heal from anything when back on home turf.  Things may be different, from behavior and aesthetics, to the day-to-day and the way you're regarded, but it's still easier.  Familiarity helps.  Normality helps.  Honest.  I know from experience.

Life goes on whether we want it to or not, no matter where that constantly redefined path leads.  Some days are going to be tougher than others - for everyone - in one way or another, but today... today I'm grateful, for a lot of things.

Especially for superheroes.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I've got a lot on my mind these days, and I’m combating it with pure determination but I can't help but think of the consequences. 

I’m throwing myself that much more intently into my work – so much so that I've actually lost count of how many projects I've churned out so far this month.  My to-do list has become a daily thing instead of weekly, a check-list that I bounce around more than a steel ball in a pinball machine.  I've got enough on my plate that it’s hard to prioritize, but gratifying when progress is made and things get completed.

Outside of work (and my non-work-work), writing has been the best escape.  It’s the best way I've found to stop thinking about… well, pretty much everything that is just going to add to any alleged gray hairs I may or may not have.  All I have to do is start reading through where I left off and instead of worrying about “this, that and the other thing” it becomes “hey, what if this happened...” and I’m off on a new wild tangent, telling a story to some far distant future reader who may or may not be listening. 

Over the last couple months, this impulse has led me 28,207 words into my latest story.  (I apologize to the other 3-4 in-progress works gathering dust during this process – I can’t be blamed for inspiration leads me.)

It’s a distraction, and a good one at that.  

If it's not one thing, it's another, but I certainly try and be optimistic.  Think a little less, do a little more, and not let my ever reliable comfort zone turn me into more of a wallflower than I already am.  

That's not too tall of an order, is it?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Doing Bob Barker Proud

Gin - 3 months
Today, this little guy turned six months old - oh how the time flies!  It seems like just yesterday I brought him home and welcomed him to the furry family.

Can you guess how we are celebrating this auspicious occasion?  Why the best way ever of course!

Tomorrow, we pay a visit to the vet (shh, I still haven't told him) and stop the growing flow of hormones that have him already acting like an aggressive little bugger.

As comical as it's been to see him try and play with his adopted big sister - 11 years his senior - as well as the family's not so tolerant aging chihuahua, there comes a point when it crosses the line from funny to sad.  At six months, this kitty is taller than the chihuahua and still growing - it's no longer a fair fight, especially since she rarely sees the black ball of fur flying at her until it's too late.  As part Bengal, I have absolutely no clue how big this little guy is going to get so I have no qualms getting him snipped and crossing my fingers that his adolescence can proceed with a little less of a terror lurking behind those innocent eyes.

The only thing I am not looking forward to is tomorrow morning.  My boy here has a spectacular inner clock, one that has me awake by 6:30 a.m. and has food in his bowl by 8.  Unfortunately, as of midnight tonight, he can't have any food or water and I can't drop him off at the vet until 9.  Hence the impending trouble.  Between 6:30 and 9 tomorrow morning, I am going to have one annoying critter on my hands.

I kind of feel sorry for the vet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flipping Switches, Switching Gears

Some of you won't find this too surprising, but I happen to spend a lot of time in front of a computer.

(I know, shocker, right?)

"Got anything special planned this weekend?"  Asks... pretty much everyone.

"Working," I almost always reply.

Mind you, I like being busy, but there's gotta be a breaking point, right?

At work, it's a fine line.  On the one side, I'll be just busy enough that it's not a matter of what to do, but what's in need of being completed first.  On the other side, I'll be just slow enough to let my mind wander - not necessarily to activities outside of work, but more I can do to in the grand scheme of things that will in turn increase my workload.  (Nuts, I know.)

Outside of work, there's much more gray area.  "Work" takes on a different meaning outside the hours I spend at my job, in the sense that on top of a few personal clients, I also have the occasional self-imposed writing assignment (or obligation) that glue me to the computer as much as any design project that comes my way.

I realized on the way home from work today that I spend an average of one hour a day (my commute) without the internet, and that's only because I was conservative enough NOT to use my 4G.  I'm not sure if this is a sign of the times or a sign of a problem.

Within 15 minutes of being home, the computer was fired up and ready to go with no less than three browser windows open - a combined total of a minimum of 35 tabs (while a number of which are simply because I chose to "restore last session" it is still a good indication of my habits) in addition to two Adobe products (Photoshop and Illustrator), an FTP client, Microsoft Word (three documents) and Notepad++ (just in case).


I'd like to say that I'm not a computer addict, but I'll tell ya, back in my younger years my mom knew the best way to punish me was to change the password on the internet (AOL in those days - good ol' dial-up).  It worked way better than any sentence of being grounded would have - hats off to that one Mom - and looking back on those times, it really is no wonder I ended up in a field that is severely cut off at the knees without internet access; I quite suitably gave myself an excuse to not be able to go "disconnected."

I'm not entirely sure I actually have an off switch when it comes to work in some fashion.  I think I'm always on and just toggle between work time and my time, sleeping whenever fuel gets low.

This isn't complaining, it's an understanding.  If it was a complaint, I would shut off the dual screens of computer and enjoy "The Big Bang Theory" in more than just my peripheral vision.  But alas, that time has to be worthwhile and I'll be damned if I can't multitask.  Not only am I female, but I'm a Gemini: I was built for this shit.  (Excuse my French.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why are Mondays so... Monday?

Let's just face it, Mondays are brutal.  There's just no getting around it.  After a couple days of doing... well, anything but your weekday routine, there's a certain hurdle involved in getting back to the grind.

It starts with the alarm clock.  After two days of just your body telling you to wake up, that Monday morning jolt to alertness comes entirely too soon and no matter how many times you hit snooze, it just isn't enough sleep to motivate movement (unless you are one of those bizarre "morning people" I've heard about - I shudder at the thought).

Next, traffic.  Somewhere between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, roughly half the population out on the road forgets how to drive.  Between two highways and a freeway, there's no reason why my 13 mile commute should ever take 45 minutes, however if it's going to happen, it'll happen on a Monday.

Walking into work, my main Monday comfort is that everyone (well, almost everyone) has started off their morning pretty much in the same mindset, making a beeline to the coffee before being willing to form coherent sentences.

The workload on Mondays is always daunting - or at least appears daunting after being away from it for two days.  There's everything that perhaps wasn't completed Friday due to the "WEEEE, WEEKEND!" feeling at the end of the day, plus everything that trickled into the inbox while the office sat quiet and waiting for the hustle and bustle of the work week.

I kind of think there's no avoid it, but I sure can ply on enough caffeine to trudge through it with only minimal discomfort.  Once over the Monday hurdle, it's really all downhill from there.  Gather enough momentum and Monday's a thing of the past because Friday is barreling your way - just in time to start the whole process over again.

Fun times.  Bring on Monday!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brushing Off the Dust

I'm still a designer.

I'm still flawed.

Not entirely sure why I let this blog fall off the map, especially considering I rededicated myself to it more then once in the few posts I managed to spare time for.

Alas, here we go again.

Catching Up

A lot has happened in the last year, some of the best and worst experiences I can ever hope to encounter and I can't help but realize the irony that it is almost a year to the day since my last post.

Right about now last year, distraction was taking forefront in a major way and it's likely the reason this outlet of mine that was buried at the bottom of the priority pile.  Don't worry dear blog, you weren't the only beloved self-imposed writing assignment that fell to the wayside - NaNoWriMo met the same fate.

No, I haven't given up writing - far from it in fact.  I have no less than four fiction stories in the works, each at the "novella" stage and aspiring to be novels.  I'd have a second completed novel by now if I didn't keep getting swept up in the different stories, but oh well - I work on whatever one inspires me most that day and eventually I hope to have something worthwhile.

While I can go on and on, I won't.  A writer writing about writing?  That has the potential to be an endless circle and that's a lofty goal for a "rededication."  For now, I'll stick to the broad strokes.

From Classes to a Career

Long story short of what you missed:  Graduated college, with honors.  Hired a week later, the day after my second interview.  Promoted three months after that and I'm now a full fledged web designer and copywriter.  (Seriously, that's my title and everything!)

I know, I know - who would have guessed that after three years in school studying web design and working as an editor on the school newspaper would have led to this awesomeness?  Not me, that's for sure.

I managed to find a home at a company that has not only welcomed me with open arms to the family (you know - like those family members that only occasionally embarrass you in public), but has also provided me with the opportunity to work with businesses of all kinds from coast to coast doing exactly what I spent the last few years prepping for and more.

Again, awesome.

On top of that, I still have a couple of treasured website and graphic design clients of my own who tend to keep my otherwise unoccupied time rather busy.

While I'm still trying to figure out how to incorporate the long lost, forgotten art of a social life, if you were to ask me five years ago where I would be today, I would have never guessed this.  I didn't dream enough for myself back then, though I should have.


Now I have no reason not to dream and I'm looking forward to seeing where the stars take me.

If I don't post again soon, it's been good seeing you again dear blog.