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August 2006
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October 2006

Can you just nix Pluto and add an Ocean?

I learned something new in school today.

Teacher in hall: "Yeah, but he still believes Pluto exists."

Me: "I don't get it."
Teacher: "Pluto's not a planet anymore."
Me: "Says who?"
Teacher: "You haven't heard that?"
Me: "Who gets to decide that all of a sudden there's no Pluto? How can there be no Pluto? I didn't see any emails about that. Who's in charge of that stuff?"

Teacher: "Well you'll love this - there's a fifth ocean."
Me: "Really?"

Teacher: "Yeah, the Southern Ocean."
Me: "Man, I'm writing a letter. Who do I address it to? United Textbook Makers of America?"


This working for a living is really cramping my style. I've barely written a word since I started back to work at the end of August. I am working on figuring out some kind of routine that works - striving for balance. But if I can't have balance, I want the see-saw tipped in favor of what feeds my spirit. I came by this cool website yesterday. It might be totally illegal to share this clip with you; but I'm giving credit and referring you to her inspiring site, so hopefully it's okay.

Ten Ways to Infuse Your Work with your Personality
by Keri Smith

1. Document what you are responding to regularly. *journal/sketchbook, blog, listmaking, photo journal, bulletin board collage, internet bookmarks, Allow yourself to go deeper into an idea. Find influence outside of your field. Consider that you are ALWAYS working for yourself.

2. Start to challenge yourself on a regular basis to try new things, (not just for work. *i.e. new foods, colors, processes, classes, travel, become a guerilla artist, etc. Your hobbies are your greatest source of play.)

3. Go back to your childhood, (the formative years). What were your favourite things to do? In this lies some clues as to where you want to focus your energy as an adult. What makes you burst with energy?

4. Do something that is not for money. For your own enjoyment. (Your greatest work will come from here!)
-x-mas card
-product concept
-gifts for friends.
Design for yourself. *See handout on guerilla art.

5. Use sources that are based on your daily life. Your life IS your art. What are the things that are most important in your current life?

6. Become a collector. Collecting allows us to look at one thing in a contemplative & mindful way. Giving you new insights and perceptions. Examples: Maria Kalman -purse contents, Steven Guarnaccia -shoe sole
rubbings, Ian Phillips & Grant Heaps -Lost & Found pet posters, Mark Ulriksen (former art director) -misspellings of his name, Charles & Rae Eames -toys from other countries

7. "Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain." Ignore what other people are doing. It has no bearing on your existence or vision of the world. The times we feel the most discouraged are usually due to the fact we are comparing ourselves to others. Most times reading awards annuals, and industry mags only serves to make us feel inadequate. Try cutting it out entirely. Designer Bruce Mau recommends not entering awards competitions. His reasoning, “Just don’t do it, it’s not good for you.”

8. Don't promote to target your audience. By all means send things out into the world, but don't think in terms of "promoting to get work". Send stuff out because -you're proud of it, -you want to share something with the world, -it's fun to get mail, -to have good karma, -you want to spread your germs, -you like licking stamps. Try sending a postcard of something you made for fun, (i.e. directions on how to make a finger puppet). When thinking of subject matter for promotions look to your current life. If you deal with topics that are important to you a piece will have much more life to it.

9. Take a lighthearted approach (Don't take yourself too seriously). If you feel stuck, you can always reinvent yourself, (re: try something else).

10. Study other artists or creators who followed their own vision. Research

Picture Day


(1980 - you can spot me easily, right?)

The amount of tardy notes I got this morning citing "picture day stress" as a reason should've been my first clue that today would be a little chaotic.

My personal favorite picture-day related tardy note was "X. decided to give himself a haircut this morning." The handwriting was angry. The kid who sheepishly handed me the note was sporting sort of a mullet-mohawk.

Then came the call after call to handle picture day details. Here's a sampling:

Dad of student: Yeah, my wife had me fill out the form and I did it wrong. Is there any way you could get that form back from my kid and fill out B1 instead of C2?

Little boy walks into office with wild hair (think bed-head gets electrocuted) and says "I forgot my picture thing" I call dad. Dad says: It's picture day? Um. I'm half-way to work. Does he look okay? Me: um ... yeah. I hang up and usher kid to mirror, wet my hands in the sink and start trying to pat down his hair as the lunch money line grows. I can't wait to see how that one turns out.

Kid gets hit in face with football at recess right before getting in line for pictures. He comes in with dirt smeared all over his face and shirt. No call made home. Retakes are in October. The yearbook will show him as "kid who got hit in face just before pictures."

Overheard: (Recent middle school graduate comes down from the High School to say hello)

me: Hey! How's it goin' up there?

him: it sucks

me: Really? I thought you'd like being in high school, having more flexibility and all

him: Oh, it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than here.

Dear Diary: Back to School 1987

Dear_diary_82487 Monday 8/24/87

Dear Mel,

Hi! How are you! I suck. Let's face it my mom hates me! O.K. Mom said I should invite Laura over so I did! Now she says she can't come over because she'll be gone.

9-6-87 Dear Mel, School starts soon. Oh no! I can't ? ...

Dear_diary_102287 Friday 10/22/87

Dear Diary:

Sorry: today you won't believe what happened at school today! Someone spread a rumor about me liking someone I don't even know! I'm so embarrassed!

I love Mike C. and Corey B.

Couple things: Flipping through these old journals answers why I still cringe at over-use of exclamation points!!! It must have been so frustrating to be the mother of such a drama queen daughter - so help me God if my kid is like that - actually, so help Matt since he'd be the one dealing in Hardy's House of Drama. And then ... I have to face the fact that I was so damn fickle and shallow. I didn't even know those guys. They were just cool. And I wasn't. So therefore they must be great, right?

As I'm helping kids (and parents) deal with back to school anxieties and questions, I'm in Flashback City remembering how scared I was before the first day of school -- after the rush and delight of organizing my new school supplies for the zillionth time wore off of course.

And yes, I was going into sixth grade with a Cabbage Patch Diary. It's not like I took it to school with me for Christ's sake!!! And really, Cabbage Patch Kids were cool. Especially my Mala Suzy. More on her another time.

Back to School

Back to School ... my daily word counts this week can be summed up in emails and to- do lists. Maybe I'm just kidding myself but I really, really think this will be a much better year. Awesome, even.

I've been instructed to "post something for the love of God" so here's something ... Does anyone ever feel balanced? Or is maintaining the best we can hope for? I got a day's work in, finished half a project at work and handled a zillion details, went for a walk, hugged Matt, paid one bill, made dinner, cleaned up half way, cursed myself for not being a neater [read that: better] person and that pretty much sums up my evening.

... But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

Life is made of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen. We have to teach ourselves how to live, really live ... to love the journey, not the destination.

- Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to  Happy Life