Archive for January, 2011

Amtrak Moments

1. Sunrise in Nebraska 2. Lonely farms 3. New reading 4. Knitting to Impress 5. Chicago Station 6. West Virginia 7. Knitting at Sunset 8. Delayed in Virginia 9. Delayed at Sunset

Perhaps “Transmogrification”?

A Sleeping Orchard

I can’t believe how many music artists/musicians have produced albums with names like “Metamorphosis” and “Rebirth” and “The Comeback.” I suppose their livelihood does depend on reinvention, but even us regular kids need to be renewed and re-imagined.

…Anyways, if I were a pop star, this post would be named something like that. This week I purchased a domain name and signed up with a web server, and I’m going to step back from blogging for a bit in order to spend time designing the new website. It will serve primarily as an online portfolio that I can use for job interviews, but I’ll be stepping my posts up in quality as well when I get back. Back with a brand new look, of course.

I do have a few posts up my sleeve that I’ll post here and there, so stick around!

Pick Your Own

When I gather articles to share it sometimes feels a lot like wandering through one of those Pick Your Own orchards. When I was a kid we used to visit the strawberry fields, and later blueberries, and towards October, the apple orchards. (For sunny childhood memories, I highly recommend letting your kid stain her or his hands in berry fields)

But oh boy, the internet is like everything in season all at once. And not just berries and apples, but also mangos and starfruit and Cava. The infinite choices, and the enormous wealth of apples–er, articles–give me two contradictory instincts: I want to grab every single article worth sharing--totally unrealistic, and pretty greedy as well–but I also want to search every single tree and find only the ripest, roundest, juiciest articles.

So I’m going with secret method 3, which is the various interesting fruits I’ve picked up along the side of the road from Colorado to Columbus.

Only The Juiciest Links

The Return of The Printed Blog via Cision Navigator

Time to Let Go of Social Clutter via Leigh Reyes

10 Best books of 2010 from the New York Times. Except–wait–the Early Word blog has been collecting all of the “Best Books 2010” lists. Like literally, every one that has been published. So if you need reading recommendations, they’ve got the motherload.

I love this list of the 10 Happiest Jobs from Mint.com blog, and their commentary.

Side Note: I really love the Mint.com blog. I always hesitate to follow financial blogs because all they write about is, well, money. They leave out all of the subtle non-monetary things that affect the economy and one’s finances. And yeah, I get that money is the bread and butter of a capitalist society, but frequently financial writers/bloggers/journalists just seem to have blinders on. Money doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and I like that Mint’s financial blog is thoughtful, ethical, and culturally conscious. Plus they always have great infographics.

Gender Analysis predicts the gender of any homepage, using… some sort of data, I’m sure. If I had the free time, I’d contact this website to see what their method for analysis is. (P.S. Thanks to FPNOkami for the tweet that eventually lead to me this!)

Hooray for inspiration! Slide show review of 2010 watercolor artists (via Brush – Paper – Water)

It’s never too early for wish-lists. In this case, from the new Exaclair catalogue (via Rhodia Drive)

The best articles from 2010 on art, marketing, and social media (via FineArtTips.com)

Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing than Typing (via Lifehacker)

A post on Fearless Creativity from the Etsy Storque. I could use a little fearlessness right now.

Psycho-technical Updates

Sure, my train may have been delayed six hours due to engine trouble, and we may have finally rolled into Charlottesville at 30mph. And sure, it’s scary as hell to drive through icy back roads in West Virginia with only front-wheel drive… but eventually, finally, I’m here in Columbus, securing an apartment and pumping up my ego to search for jobs.*

I won’t have time to get back to posting for another week or so, but in the meantime I’ve been updating some of my other online presences**, so check them out!

My Goodreads Bookshelf


* Any assistance with the ego-pumping is more than welcome.
** Okay, I admit that these might be time-wasting excuses to procrastinate the job search.

This Side Up

If only instructions for life were this easy: This Place Now. This Job Up. All Arrows To The East.

People often make overarching statements about the cultural differences between the West and the East in the U.S. – and generally, they’re talking about New York versus Los Angeles: one big city pitted against another.

But it’s not so easy when you’re comparing mid-sized Virginia towns to tiny Ohio villages to medium-ish Colorado towns. Or when the small Colorado town is one of the most isolated liberal bubbles in the state. Kind of a cultural blip.

What I’ve missed about Eastern Appalachian and mid-Southern towns: The kindness. The total lack of pretension. Lower food prices. Lower rents. Lower cost of living. Black people. Being able to rely on community. Generosity. Good hosts. The way people have a real sympathy for other people, even if they’re only acquaintances. The way people are really aware of other people, even if they don’t have sympathy. Mixed-income populations. Obesity. Ugly gardens. Ugliness in general. Conservatives. Manners. Better drivers.

What I’m going to miss about Boulder: Sunshine every day. The total lack of self-consciousness. The beautiful gardens. The beautiful houses. Not living anywhere near a Wal-Mart. Or a CVS. Intentional living. The intellect. My favorite coffee shop from over the summer. Big skies. Being able to hike at a moment’s notice. The big forbidding metaphorical mountains.

Anyways, I’m going to on a train for the next few days, and then driving for another, so I won’t be posting until I get settled in on the other side.

Wish me luck!

On Resolutions, Goals, and Playing Cards

“We must imagine the possibility of a more just world before the world may become more just. That’s something that poets do well.”

– Martin Espada

In the progressive artsy sector of the internet, it seems pretty well-accepted that New Year’s Resolutions are over-simplifying things, at the very least. Even Oprah thinks that keeping a journal is a better method for self-improvement than making some spastic once-a-year goals (and I agree). I also like Stephanie’s (aka Biffybeans’) guidelines for making manifestations instead of resolutions.

There’s something about Boulder the United States the Holidays that leaves me exhausted. And maybe that’s why people find the idea of New Year’s Resolutions so refreshing, like a deep cleansing meditation after a bad hangover. But the general sentiment from friends and fellow bloggers is that a feeling of “stuck-ness” is more than a matter of internal motivation. Unfortunately, there really are external factors that affect your success – a shitty economy, for one. A highly motivated, optimistic, and qualified individual is not guaranteed a job, at least at the moment. In fact just such a friend of mine is currently on food stamps.

One of my big-picture goals has always been to bring these larger systems up in conversations, especially with people who believe that the individual is 100% responsible for his or her fate. Having tried to live as a low-income person in a high-income city for the past few months, I can tell you that positive attitudes and initiative can only take you so far. Chance has a lot to do with it, and so does the willingness of luckier people to reach out to you. There isn’t a lot of outreach here in Boulder, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities for poor folks to mingle with the rich folks. Let alone different racial groups.

In 1994, the KKK held a rally in Boulder. When Boulder residents vehemently protested, a KKK leader gave a speech in which he identified Boulder as a model city for the KKK because (contrary to the image of being one of the most progressive cities in the nation) “it is impossible for a lower middle class family with multiple childeren to live here.” In fact, he congratulated Boulder on achieving 90% white demographics. It took a member of the KKK to give the city a wake-up call about privilege, to show them that no amount of Buddhist meditation groups and African dance lessons will create real diversity.

Having said that, I’m no fatalist when it comes to success and happiness, and I don’t think The Man can keep you down forever. Re-examine the cards you’ve been dealt: the privileges and the opportunities, the options and the limitations. There are a lot of people who don’t have the opportunity to save or invest money, and will never have the financial padding to move to a different city or switch professions. So heck, I feel real good about being able to miserably pinch pennies in order to move across the country (yet again). Miserable, sure, but lucky as hell.

I propose we think of the new year as reshuffling your deck. See if new patterns emerge, or if you’ve been trying to play the wrong hand for too long. (Is this metaphor still making sense?)

My Hand This Year

  1. Do whatever it takes to avoid being overwhelmed by job-searching. Take a day off to rest my brain, and ask for help if I need it. Indulge in self pity if necessary, but don’t be crippled by it.
  2. Fake the enthusiasm that I don’t always have. I know that my tendency is to curl up alone and read or paint, but that certainly isn’t going to make me friends or get a job.
  3. Spend money in ways that enhance my life. I will not feel guilty about going out to a restaurant if it helps me get closer to a new friend. And I will not feel guilty about ordering lunch, if it helps me bond with my co-workers. Sometimes not spending money can isolate you and prevent you from connecting with your workplace or hometown.
  4. Be strategic with the Great Flow of Information. Because damn, it’s easy to get lost in the internet. Instead of zoning out on forums and looking at infinite other artists, use that time to read tutorials on job-searching, or better yet – to actually paint something myself.
  5. Seriously consider whether graduate school will make me happier or more marketable. And if the answer is yes, get going on that.

Painting for a Beekeeper

I painted this for a friend’s mother who’s planning to keep bees this year. Watercolor on Arches CP, 12″ x 17″

I’m experimenting with image processing in case I ever want to produce prints. A big dilemma is the texture of the watercolor paper, which shows up in both photographs and scanned images and makes the final image seem much less clean. The tutorials I read recommended the Smart Blur filter in Photoshop, but I’m still getting the hang of it – especially with a painting like this which has little splatters and lots of texture. This one in particular still seems a little dark… back to the ol’ Photoshop I guess..

 


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