Aug 28, 2014

A Letter from My Future Self

I saw a few posts with letters to the bloggers' teenage selves (Specifically Jana Says and Life According to Steph).  It was a fun topic - who doesn't feel much wiser and more knowledgeable then themselves a few years ago?  So I was thinking about this and considering writing my own gem of maternal and condescending wisdom.  (The other posts weren't condescending, but mine was going to be)

And then I realized, "Oh shit.  My future self is going to think I'm a dumbass."

So what would my future self have to say to my current self?  I have no idea.  I could see it going a couple different ways.

Wishful Thinking Version


"Oh, Sweetheart.  You really need to chill out and stop worrying so much about cultural issues and self-improvement.  You and society won't end up much different either way.  Relax and enjoy your joints not aching.  It won't last much longer." -Kindly Old Lady Jenn

Considering My Current Personality


"You're not as smart as you think you are.  Your 'philosophical ponderings?'  Hardly earthshaking.  And you think your writing is good?!  Just wait until you've been writing for years.  Then you'll cringe to see the drivel you're producing now.  Get back to work, you've got a long way to go.  Oh, and get some exercise!  It's your fault I'm in such bad shape.  Just let me tell you about this hip replacement..." -Cranky and Bitter Future Jenn

Yikes!

And lastly...

Genetically Most Likely Version


"You remind me of myself at your age.  Ha ha h... I forget why that's funny.  What's the point of this again?" -Senile Future Jenn

Whatever my future personality, I can't help but think that all that extra knowledge and experience will make my current concerns and interests seem superficial, indeed.  Hopefully I'll have developed more tolerance by then, and can look upon my past (current?) self a little more kindly than I currently look upon my past teenage self.

And preventing that hip replacement would be good, too.

What would your future self say to your current self?  How do you picture yourself in the future?


P.S. I've got a long weekend at the DragonCon in Atlanta, starting this evening.  See you guys when I get back!  Enjoy your 3-day weekends!

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 26, 2014

Fracture Fashion - Style with Mismatched Shoes

Fracture Fashion - Style with Mismatched Shoes

I'm getting the cast off today!  As we speak (or you read).  And hopefully not replaced.  So to celebrate, I'm posting my first ever fashion post, which will hopefully also be the last post that mentions broken ankles.  (UPDATE!  I am cast free.  And boot free.  It took an hour to get my leg and foot looking presentable again, but other than a tiny limp and extremely slow pace I am pretty much normal.)

I've had a few questions about what I wear now that I can only wear 1 shoe, and most pants won't go on over the cast.  I'm not super fashionable, and I don't know any of the right terminology or trends.  I have a few basic guidelines to dress for my body type, and other than that I pretty much ignore what's currently popular (discovering empire waists was a critical point for my wardrobe).  But I did put some thought into the strategy behind dressing for crutches.

Outfit #1 - Casual




My office is pretty casual, so whenever I'm feeling lazy I'm free to throw on a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers.  I couldn't decide how to pose, but don't worry, this was really just the practice shot!  Shirt from Yosemite gift shop, sneaker (singular) from fancy shoe store at the mall, shorts from somewhere.  Oh!  And cast from Casscell's Orthaepedics (doodles custom drawn).

Outfit #2 - Medium



Since I only have a couple pairs of shorts (our office is pretty frosty so I tend to stock up on jeans), I ended up wearing a lot of skirts.  Since I choose comfort over fashion, I wore this awesome little bootie a lot, despite the total lack of matching!  Oh, and I'm doing a leg pop thing like the leading ladies always do in movies, but for some reason it doesn't quite have the same impact...  Shirt from Kohls, skirt and boot from Modcloth, wrinkles from sitting too long in the dryer.

Outfit #3 - Fanc-ay!



As you can see, I really pulled out the stops for this one.  I'm doing the "I'm so naturally posed and have no idea this picture is being taken."  I actually love this outfit because I bought the shirt and skirt from H&M in response to the 27 things challenge, and they were under $30 and are totally work appropriate.  The ballet flat is the first "nice" shoe I ever bought so... Kohls probably.

You may not have noticed the subtle things that make these outfits so hobbling-appropriate, so I'll elaborate.

Hair



I don't know about you, but I hate having hair swinging around when I'm jumping and hopping about.  Also I had to wear a backpack the whole time, and it had a metal clasp at the top that kept eating my hair.  So I kept it up for the most part.

Jewelry



Normally I do dangly earrings.  In fact, that's probably my biggest concession to the feminine side of me that wants to get all dolled up every day.  But, like the hair thing, swaying earrings just felt silly and annoying, and I didn't want one to accidentally fall out, so I did studs the whole time.  (Sorry about the ear closeup.)

Shoes



A closer look at the aforementioned super-old ballet flats.  Basically the point here is that one heel wouldn't have been practical, for various reasons, so my heels have been sadly neglected these 5 weeks.  For the most part the 3 practical shoes in these pictures are the only ones that have seen any action.

As you can see, I've really taken to the whole fashion shoot thing, so I'd also like to share some tips for any amateur fashion bloggers thinking about taking it to the next level.

Tip #1



Don't choose a rainy day for your fashion photoshoot.

Tip #2


Actually bring the backpack you want to photograph.  It's nice.  It's from Modcloth.  I'd recommend it but I can't actually show it to you.

I hope you've learned a little something on how to dress for your next fractured or broken bone!  And hopefully you never need that knowledge.


Here's a face I didn't know I made.  Charming.

What fashion tips did I forget?  What mishaps did you have on your first fashion shoot?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 24, 2014

Broken Ankle Diary - Week 4

Broken Ankle Diary - Week 4

Entries: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Finishing the saga.  Because I am pretty damn tired of being broken.

Monday

I wandered around the house completely crutchless most of the weekend!  I'm still using them at work, because the total walking is quite a bit more than our teeny little townhouse and I don't want to push it.  (By the end of the day Saturday and Sunday, I could feel the strain on the ankle - not pain exactly, more like a warning twinge, "What you're doing... stop now.")

At some point I discovered that the cast has 2 weak points: the rough top edge and the end of the wrap material.  Evidently these can be unraveled with only a small amount of pressure.  This is a dangerous discovery.

Tuesday

I'm walking!

It's awesome.  I can get hot beverages from the kitchen again (*sips tea*).

Exactly 1 week until the cast comes off!  (Permanently, I hope.)

Wednesday

Some positive thinking for today.

I have less than a week before...
  1. I can walk without a "swagger" (the cast impedes total range of motion and the bottom is round, which throws off my balance)
  2. I can carry my own damn laundry up and down the stairs without having trouble balancing (see #1)
  3. I don't have to tell the stupid dog park story anymore
  4. Going to the bathroom, or running an errand at Walmart is not a huge ordeal
  5. No more sore armpits!  Ever!!! (knock on wood)
  6. I can wear all the pants!
  7. I can start exercising again
Thursday

I've stopped using the crutches entirely.  I was expecting people to reprimand me, since they've been pretty free with their advice (knowledgeable or not) thus far, but no one's said anything.  I draw far less stares without the crutches and I'm reveling in my newly rediscovered almost-invisibility.  (Secret snack time!)

Friday

I ran errands after work that I've been putting off all week and was immensely proud of myself.

Saturday

When I'm sitting around blogging/designing/working it really doesn't even feel like I have a cast anymore.  Walking is kind of funny, because I'm so close to normal that I, and others, forget about it occasionally.

Example 1: I keep trying to step down with my right foot.  But my left ankle can't bend, so that angle doesn't work and I either have to hop awkwardly or pull my foot back up and hobble down the correct way.

Example 2: We've been out a couple times this week and Significant will be striding off without me.  Then he'll turn to see where I am, which is usually about 10 feet behind, and stop to wait.  Also, holding hands when your strides are so mismatched doesn't work very well.

Sunday

Only 2 days away!!!

Technically I've been in the cast for about 5 weeks, but I misplaced a week somewhere.  I think I've been really lucky to have not fully broken the bone, because my recovery has been a lot easier than a lot of stories I've heard.  This is probably the last week I'll post the "diary" because even if they put me back in the cast, the stories have gotten pretty unremarkable.  Thanks for following along and for all the support!

Would you rather break an arm or a leg?  Have you had a broken bone and how quick was your recovery?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 23, 2014

Challenge Complete - Taking On the #IceBucketChallenge My Own Way

So I suppose it was only a matter of time before the swarm hit and I too was nominated by someone to take the ice bucket challenge.  I had to think on it quite a bit before I decided what I was going to do.

I ended up doing it, but I did it my own way, and my donation is going to a charity of my choice.  So here's probably the only video of me that will ever make it on this blog.


(Couple thoughts on making this: I hate the way I look.  I hate the way I sound.  Not everything came out exactly how I wanted it to.  But after practicing my little spiel 15 or 20 times, I was so relieved to have it all out in one go that I wasn't taking another video.  I was so nervous for this, and I don't know why.  I almost didn't go through with it.  But, in the end, I thought it was more important to have my say and support a good cause in my own way, than it was to not share an unattractive video, or cave and do things the way everyone else was doing it.)

I did a lot of research prior to making this, and I couldn't talk about every single detail (let's face it, 2+ minutes is already pushing it for most people's attention spans), so, as per usual, I'm going to do that here.

Let's talk pros and cons.

The ice challenge has plenty of arguments on both sides.  Are you surprised?  How could a charity be bad?  Well, let's talk about whether or not it is.

Ice Bucket Challenge Pros


1. People are Learning About ALS

Some people.  Certainly not everyone.  But ALS is a worthy cause (as are most of them), and they're finally getting some recognition, awareness, and financial support.  Maybe this campaign will even have a lasting effect and some donors will stick around when the ice bucket challenge is over.  (Sorry to be cynical, but my guess is no.  We will remain more informed about ALS than we were, however.)

2. Reaching a New Pool of Donors

This is the first viral social media campaign I've experienced that's gotten a large proportion of my friends involved.  I think by going through social media and making a meme out of it, they've reached people who may have just never thought to get involved with charity before.  ALS may not have started the trend, but they were smart enough to jump on it.  They made it cool.  And that was important.

3. New Possibilities

Affecting a relatively small part of the population compared to other diseases, ALS typically receives far less funding.  In the wake of the ice challenge, they'll be able to take a deeper look at potential cures, increasing lifespan of those afflicted, and providing better assistance to families affected by the disease.

Ice Bucket Challenge Cons


1. Peer Pressure and Mindless Action

This is the thing I hate most about the challenge.  The majority of people participating seem to put little to no thought in their participation.  That gray matter in our skulls?  Why aren't we using that?  I don't think going along with or going against the majority is inherently bad.  I think doing either for the sheer sake of "fitting in" or "standing out" is bad.

So it bothers me that people are doing this without knowing why, or without having thought past "charity is good, right?"  And it bothers me that people are doing it for no other reason than to not seem like a bad person to others.  Does a good cause make peer pressure ok?  Isn't that just forcing others to adhere to our morals?

It just generally makes me a little uncomfortable, and I know several people that are getting involved out of a sense of obligation when that $10 or $100 makes a difference in the amount of groceries they can afford.

It's ok to say no!  Not everyone can be a philanthropist.

2. Donations are Finite; Extra ALS Donations Means Less to Other Charities

This one I thought was intriguing.  Will people really donate here, decide their good work is done, and ignore their usual charity?  William MacAskill thinks so.  It's hard to weigh charities against each other.  It's incredibly difficult to make what seems like a callous decision to choose Cancer vs ALS vs a hundred other deadly diseases.  Who should we help save?

And then there's the question of which charity is the most practical, which will have the most impact, save the most lives, use that money the most effectively.  Is that a cold way to make our decisions?  Is it better to just donate to whatever the current popular charity is?

My personal guess?  Maybe some people will donate here and not to their usual charities.  But I bet there are others who are donating in addition or who don't usually donate, so anything they give to anyone is extra.

The only way for us to know for sure is to see a comparison of every charity's income this year in comparison to previous years, and then compare that to ALS's huge jump.  I find it unlikely that we'll ever know for sure.

3. Slacktivism

I just learned this term!  This refers to those who are making these videos just to make them and not donating or providing any practical assistance.  10 seconds of discomfort = waves of approval from others and feel-goods about your own virtuous nature.

This might be true in a number of videos.  But there are a couple things to consider.  A) Not everyone can afford to donate.  B) Those videos do get the message across to others.

At one point I would have said B wasn't true.  I didn't get any kind of useful message from the ice bucket videos.  I didn't learn anything until I watched a video making fun of them.  And if I hadn't educated myself after that, I probably would have just said, "Eh, no thanks" when I got nominated. 

I'll reiterate what I've said before: the majority of these videos barely mention ALS, give no donation information, and don't mention the rules of the challenge (donate x if you do this or y if you do that).  Like Will Oremus says, the charity part seems more like an afterthought.

So how in the hell are they working?  I have no idea.  But they are.  $31.5 million dollars doesn't lie (wrote this on Wednesday, I'm sure the number's gone up since).  So I'll take all my objections and shove it, since I obviously can't tell the difference between effective campaigning and slacktivism.

4. Stem Cell Research

Here's one I just learned.  ALS uses embryonic stem cell research in their efforts to find effective treatment.  This is a topic that a lot of people have strong opinions on and/or religious objections to, but relatively few seems to know about since jumping on the bandwagon.

5. Wasting Water

This one is just silly.  Really?  Do you guys know how many buckets of water we use for water gun fights, sprinklers, and washing our cars?  Plus the hundreds of other wasteful things I didn't think of.  How about I spend 5 less minutes in the shower this week.  Problem solved.


I've read a lot of articles at this point.  Some countered the arguments against the challenge and called for people to participate AND donate to ALS.  Others were more moderate, just suggesting action of any kind.  I'd like to leave you with this:

Everyone has to do what's right for them.  Period.  But how will you know what's right for you if you don't know why you're doing something?  Think about your actions!


What's your take on the challenge?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 22, 2014

Enveste Energy Investment Website - Design Day Friday

Enveste Website - Design-Day Friday

I'm not sure how I never blogged about this one, but I'm glad, because I wouldn't have done it justice.

Now, I know I could try to impress you and just say "Oh, I have a client who's an entrepreneur" but I'd rather be straightforward, and also I'd like everyone to know that being an entrepreneur is not some magical thing.  Anyone who has the desire and the willpower to follow through can do it.  It might not be a glowing success (the high failure rate of small businesses is a sad fact), but at least you'll have given it a shot!

Here's the backstory: Soon-to-be-Brother (who was just "Sister2's boyfriend" at that time) had an innovative idea!  Together, he and a friend wanted to start their own company for energy investing.  They came up with the name Enveste, and contacted me about a website.

I was more than happy to throw together some designs for it, which I will show you shortly, and we were progressing right along, when some things happened and life got in the way.  Now, a couple years later, we're picking it up again, and I could not be more delighted!

The Project


When Soon-to-be-brother came to me originally, Enveste had a name, but no branding whatsoever.  When I have a website project, I usually throw in the logo, because so much more time (and money, usually) is going to be invested in something as big as a website.  Plus, branding is ESSENTIAL, even if my client doesn't see it that way.

So what I getting at is that the design process is a little different for this, in order to streamline what is actually a couple different projects.

The Process


Branding

So we need a logo, but instead of offering a whole page of them, I'll create one for each design option (usually about 3 of these).  I'll still design these first, and go through the whole fonts/colors/graphics process, but instead of presenting all the logo options to my client, I'll let them see how each logo looks on the design mockup it was designed for.

But between you and me, I do still usually start with a sheet like this.

If the client wants to customize, I'll present the logo sheet I'd done prior to the website design drafts

Design Drafts

For a logo, I'll provide a whole sheet of options.  For a layout/design, I try to limit it to 3.  Why 3?  Partially because any more work than that would pretty much ensure that the payment won't cover the time spent on it.  And partially because I think too many options overwhelm your client to the point where making a decision is more difficult.  And because it forces you to only display your best work.

Normally my pride prevents this, but for this project I made use of some of the Shutterstock templates I'd purchased in the past (making alterations, of course).



Semi-Final Project


Neither Soon-to-be-Brother nor I remembers exactly where we left off.  But upon our most recent discussion, we both agreed to use this design, which is the one I did from scratch and is by far my favorite!



Coming Soon


The timeline we've set to get the website up is the end of the month.  That's primarily for the design, and we'll be making edits afterward, both design tweaks and user functionality.  But I am absolutely thrilled that I'll be able to see (and show off) my work live on the web!  I honestly don't think there's a greater feeling.

Look for that update at the beginning of September, as well as an explanation of what energy investing actually is!  (I'm sure I'll have it figured out by then)

What's a project that you were really proud of?  Have you ever worked on a business project with a family member?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 21, 2014

Blogging About Blogging - 6 Reasons to Stay Small

Blogging about Blogging: 6 Reasons Being a Small Blog is Awesome

So, this blogging thing.  It's a lot of fun, isn't it?  At first I was so swept up in the excitement of the blogging community and all the possibilities for marketing and extra income, that I couldn't imagine NOT trying to monetize.

But after a couple months of writing, and thinking, and writing some more, I think I like where I am.  I have a couple regular readers and I'm really enjoying some of the conversations that we have.  But I can also disappear for a week for vacation and it's not the end of the world.

Maybe I'll monetize one day, but for now I like being small fry.  Here's just a few of the things I enjoy about it.

6 Reasons Being a Small Blog is Awesome

  1. No trolls.  Yep, not a one, despite writing the occasional controversial post.  (knock on wood)
  2. No initial investment or stressing about revenue.  You have to spend money to make money, or so they say, but once you've invested some funds into sponsorships or marketing, then you have to be so much more revenue focused to make it up.
  3. No pressure.  I can write whatever I want, because the numbers aren't terribly important, and because the small community I have will probably forgive me the occasional lousy post.
  4. No obligation.  I can disappear for a week (like I said) without worrying about any obligation to keep the hits up for sponsors.
  5. It's all fun.  It's rarely "work" because I do the amount I have time for and enjoy.  If I wrote something, it's because I wanted to say it.  If I joined a link up, it's because I really liked the concept of it and/or the bloggers involved.  If I included a title image, it's because I wanted to design something that day.
  6. I know my commenters.  Since I rarely get more than a few comments on a post, I have plenty of time to read and converse, and I know who they all are.  With the exception of a couple new readers.  Hi guys!  Looking forward to getting to know you!
There's another side to it, too.  So everyone likes to give blog advice (because, let's face, bloggers LOVE blog advice, myself included), and every so often I come across a "don't be that blogger" or "things not to do" kind of post.  For the most part, they're things you can figure out with common sense, and by seeing what things you yourself do and do not like.

It always bothers me when a blog seems like it's trying so hard to expand that it loses touch with those common sense things.  I don't like getting blasted with "follow me" messages, and "here's my new promo."  When a blog does a lot of sponsored posts, you know they've made it and they're getting some return on investment, and that's great!  But I'll be honest - I never read those posts.  I just don't trust that "honest opinion" once it's getting paid for.  And if there's more sponsored posts than regular content, I'll eventually stop checking in.

I've never really liked certain aspects of marketing, despite being in the graphic design field.  I'm always worried about annoying other people or being too pushy.  But what I most want to avoid is losing touch with the common sense part of my brain that tells me where the line is.

I also want to avoid burnout.  Kelli @ Just Beachy wrote a post (When A Blog Dies) that asks other bloggers for input on why they, or others, quit blogging.  The comments were incredibly insightful - many bloggers admitted feeling some stress when they put too much pressure on themselves to grow or impress their readers.  Here's some that really resonated with me:

"I think sometimes the "work" of it makes people stop. When it stops becoming a fun passion and becomes a chore and all of a sudden we realize we now have two jobs and only one of them pays." - Bonnie @ Life of Bon

"I love sitting down to write for my blog and I enjoy spending hours working on my design and buttons, but I can start to feel burnt out when I don't get comments or followers. That's when I take a step back and remind myself that I like to blog regardless of what the outcome is." - Elizabeth @ Southern Fitness

"I post when I can, about things that I want to post about. I think that's a main reason why so far I haven't wanted to start offering sponsorships. I feel like it would make it more about a business than just writing for me. Not that sponsorship is bad, but I've read enough posts from bigger bloggers about how it can get overwhelming." - Amanda @ The Lady Okie

So with all these reasons to stay small and not much incentive to grow, I'm happy where I am.  Don't follow me on Twitter, unless you actually want to.  Don't look for my new sponsorship options, because they don't exist.  And if you see me in a linkup, it's not for promotional purposes, it's because I genuinely want to write about and read people's thoughts on that topic.

Speaking of which, tell me your thoughts!  Small blog or large?  Do you do sponsorships and why?  Would you still write if no one was reading?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 19, 2014

Guilty and Guiltless Pleasures #GuiltyTotalSocial

Guilty or Guiltless? #GuiltyTotalSocial

There's not much that I feel "guilty" about.  Typically, if I'm interested in something, I'm not going to be made to feel bad for liking it.

Example: at work I'll occasionally get into a discussion with the IT guys about World of Warcraft, or tabletop RPGs (think Dungeons and Dragons).  One of the other employees will walk by and say something like, "Well, that's the [nerdiest/lamest/weirdest] conversation I've heard lately."

And as soon as that rude person is done interrupting us, the conversation picks right back up.  No shame!

But there are a few things that I'm reluctant to admit to.  So I made lists for both.


Guiltless Pleasures

Things other people seem to think I should be embarrassed by but I am not.
  1. Gaming - I like it, and if you don't stop me, I will tell you all about it.
  2. Children's Movies - Everything Disney or animated with decent music.  Plus Disney quotes and singing all the songs.
  3. Fantasy Everything! - I have a whole post about games themed like fantasy movies.  I've played and enjoyed these with other people, but they don't seem to realize you must also quote movie characters and discuss plot points while you play!  If you're doing it properly, that is.
  4. The Playground - "Take my goddaughter to the playground" really means I get to play on the playground.  How does anyone not understand this?  This also applies to Exbos, the inflatables party place, and the new trampoline place as soon as it opens.
  5. Renaissance Faire - I think we should all just agree that attending this instantly adds 10 points to your awesomeness factor.  12 if you dress up and baffle some gas station employees along the way.
  6. Internet Relationships - This is 3-fold.  I met Significant online (Geek 2 Geek, if you're curious), I'm starting to make friends in the blogging community (which Significant understands but my family finds odd), and even more recently I've signed up for Girlfriend Social, which is basically online dating but for friends.  Even Significant is skeptical of this one (he thinks it's secretly for lesbian dating), but I think there's a real need for it, and I don't see why there wouldn't be other people who are trying to find friends the same way I am.  I guess we'll see.  If any of my "friend dates" end up going horribly wrong, you guys will be the first to know!
  7. Conventions - I'll be attending my first at the end of this month (DragonCon), and I'm super excited about it!

Guilty Pleasures

Things I am actually embarrassed by.
  1. Book & Binge Fests - I'll settle in with a book and chips/cookies/a tub of ice cream/whatever and go to town.  This makes me incredibly happy, until Significant walks in and starts laughing at me.
  2. Twilight - it was so bad.  So, so bad.  But despite knowing that, I did get some enjoyment out of it.
  3. America's Next Top Model and Project Runway - I'm more embarrassed that I've seen Rock of Love and that I know who Tila Tequila is, but I didn't enjoy those enough to stay in the room when Sister3 put them on, so they don't count.  The problem with ANTM and PR is that there are just enough redeeming qualities to the show that I can enjoy them, while still plunging me into the midst of exactly the kind of scheming, back-stabbing bitchiness that makes me hate reality TV.  But no more!
  4. Candy Crush - My grandmother sucked me into this game by asking for help with a difficult level.  I told myself it was a good brain exercise because of the "strategy" involved, but there's no strategy anymore.  Just mindless clicking.  And cussing because the little owl fell over again.
  5. Weddings - I love the planning, and the themes, and intricate details of invitations and decorations.  But I hate the wedding industry and the wastefulness of it.  And it bothers me that I can't stick to my guns.
  6. "Romance" Books - I know the writing is terrible (see Twilight), but there's some little part of me that says, "Yes, the perfect man is out there!  And sex really is just like that magical 10 page description."
  7. Reddit - There's probably a lot of value to be had from the site, but I spend most of my time looking at funny pictures.
When I started, I thought I didn't have any real "guilty pleasures."  I was wrong!  And I cheated and added some after reading other people's posts, because this kept happening, "Oh yeah.  I forgot about that thing.  I do like that a lot more than I should."

What are your guilty pleasures?  And what are some things you refuse to feel guilty about?


Linking up with Helene in Between and Venus Trapped in Mars.

Venus Trapped in Mars

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 17, 2014

Broken Ankle Diary - Week 3

Broken Ankle Diary - Week 3 
Entries: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Continuing the saga.  Because being broken is my new hobby.

Monday

Last night we went to a friend's house for game night.  It was a good time and I finally got to try out my new Lord of the Rings Monopoly game.  (Awesome, in case you were wondering.  As is everything that is LotR themed)  However... it was not a crutches-friendly environment.  Baby gates, narrow hallways, things on the ground to trip over, rugs that slide.  I nearly died.  (I'm disabled, I get to be melodramatic if I want to!)

Oh!  The heel of my hand is peeling a tiny bit.  Because my skin is wimpy.  (In the past I've gotten blisters from canoeing, mowing the lawn, trimming a llama, just generally anything that applies pressure to my hands.)  But my foot is almost normal colored.  So, trade-offs.

I'm still sore from my not-so-lazy weekend so today my only goal is to move as little as possible.

Tuesday

I've done a lot of complaining and feeling sorry for myself so for today I'm just going to talk about the positives.
  • My toes are just about normal color, and it no longer hurts to elevate the foot
  • I've gotten a lot better at maneuvering with crutches, so going sideways/around corners are no longer the impossibilities they once were
  • My family has been really awesome and helpful, and I really appreciate what they've been doing for me.  Significant, in particular, has had to take up a lot of extra chores with dog walking and grocery shopping (which he hates).
  • I figured out the magical toes hanging off the bed trick, and can now sleep with only occasional discomfort
  • I found jeans that fit over the cast!
  • I've been using my foot a little bit (leaning on it, using it for balance, and even taking a few steps on it with crutches) and it doesn't hurt!!!
I'm hoping to start phasing my foot back into regular use this week, starting slow, of course.  Time for some baby steps!  (I was going to say "literal" because they'll be tiny steps, but then wondered if they were actually literal baby steps if they weren't taken by a baby.  Thoughts?)

Wednesday

Yesterday I didn't want to mess up my positive thinking, so I saved this little anecdote for today.  Yesterday I met up with Significant for lunch, despite the light sprinkle.  I was wearing my newly discovered to be wide-legged enough jeans, so I figured I'd just roll them down over the cast if the rain got heavier, which it did.  Right as I got back to work, the skies unleashed a torrent.  I thought, "Maybe I'll wait this out."

Nope.  The minutes ticked by and my lunch hour was expanding into a lunch hour and a quarter.  So I unrolled the jeans, assembled my things, and dove into the downpour.  As I was soggily crutching up to the door, a UPS truck pulled up and headed in at the same time, heavily laden with packages.  Somehow this kind fellow managed to hold the door open for me, despite having his hands full.  He began a story that I'll never know the end of, but it began, "Back when I was in high school..."

Why will I never know the end?  Because I chose that moment to place my left crutch into one of the small puddles dotting the hallway.  The world teetered back and forth as my left support went flying.  An unnecessarily loud, "OH SHIT!" may have escaped my mouth.  I did a double hop, realized I'd fall if I didn't put my other foot down, and caught my balance just in time, .

The UPS guy watched helplessly, unable even to retrieve the crutch for me.  In order to cover my embarrassment, I muttered something about needing to dry off the crutches and turned around to the carpet in the entryway, after picking up the offending item.  After hesitating, he continued on his way, and I felt a small surge of relief that at least no one else knew about it.  That feeling was short-lived, ending the moment I entered my office to see him standing there, and my boss signing for the packages.

Thursday

Progress report: I did some walking with about 60% weight on the foot.  No pain!

Last night Significant checked the mailbox for the first time in... well, a while.  It's all junk, right?  Not so much.  There was a letter that sent us into a panic: long story short, there was an issue with one of the credit cards we charge rent to, and we were already past the 5 day deadline before they could start legal proceedings.  Holy shit.

Today we fixed it, and it was no big deal, despite the scary legalese in the letter, but I had to hop all over the place today, and it was interesting to see the different reactions from people when I'm crutching on by.

Some avoid eye contact, I guess so they won't get roped into holding doors or because they're awkward, or because they hate people with crutches?  I don't know.  Others catch my eye just long enough to acknowledge that I'm broken and we exchange smiles.  These are also the ones that will hold the door when they're going that way anyway.  And a couple of super thoughtful beings have gone completely out of their way in order to hold a door and make my mini-odyssey a bit easier.  One of the maintenance guys in our building regularly does this when he sees me coming back from the bathroom, because he know which office I'm headed to.

Even if it makes me uncomfortable to be getting continual favors from people, it really is a day-brightener when someone bothers to do this.  I will say this, though.  Sometimes people are well-meaning, but it's not as simple as it seems.  They're opening that door for me, but they're on the inside of it, which means they have to stand partially in the doorway in order to keep the door open.

Aiming is hard.  And keeping the crutches that close together.  So I'm not entirely sure if this is easier than opening and hopping through on my own.  But I do still appreciate their kindness.  And if I ever see someone on crutches in the future, I will know to give them plenty of space!

Friday

My office chair steering is improving.

Edit: I totally forgot!  Some super nice stranger saw me crutching by, chatted a bit about broken legs and then offered me his old knee walker that he was no longer using.  I'm still a little blown away by the kindness of this total stranger!  (I didn't take it for 2 reasons: 1) I originally decided not to get one because I wanted to get some exercise with the crutches and 2) I'm almost to the end of it.  Cast is coming off next week!)

Saturday

So tired.  Walking on foot.  Feels almost normal.

Sunday

Being lazy.  I earned it!

Do you have any embarrassing injury stories?  Have you had people treat you differently because of an injury?


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Aug 16, 2014

Hand Blisters = Goats and Llamas

Goats & Llamas: Less Majestic than Antelopes

I'm reminiscing today.  Because I had blisters last week.  And because I'm bringing myself down with all the serious posts.

My grandparents all live in California.  My dad's mom is out in the remote ranch country on the California/Oregon border.  And when I say "ranch country" I do mean cattle ranches.  Not everyone has cattle (Grandma certainly doesn't), but just about everyone has horses and chickens.

Grandma used to branch out a bit more.  In addition to horses and chickens, she had goats and llamas.  Of the barnyard collection, it was the goats that had the most personality.

Out of some sort of quirk, Grandma named her goats Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.  They were sisters, but they fought constantly, slamming their hard little heads together.  As children we didn't understand all the implications of the names.  We just knew they were inappropriate and therefore funny.

When we'd visit, Grandma would have us take the goats for walks "to exercise them."  To make it fair, we'd also take the llama that she had at the time, Calvin Klein (for his black "tuxedo" patterns), so that each girl could have an animal to walk.  Despite having plenty of energy to run around their pen and head-butt each other, the goats didn't like walking.  We'd go halfway across the yard, and then Monica Lewinsky would be lying on the ground, refusing to walk, even when Sister3 dragged her a few feet.

Calvin Klein, on the other hand, was all too happy to walk, and even run.  This became apparent when he slipped his head rope and took off running onto the neighbors property.  We spent a good 45 minutes chasing him back and forth along the fence line, trying to corner him, while the neighbors dog had a hysterical meltdown.  (And who can blame him/her?  These intruders just would NOT leave.)

You can imagine that type of exertion really warming a fellow up, so out of the kindness of our hearts, and to protect Calvin Klein from the heat of the summer, we took to our scissors to give him a bit of a haircut.  What we actually ended up doing was cutting large swathes of fur in certain areas, and relatively none in others.  With the lighter, grey color of the inner layer of hair, Calvin Klein quickly became a lot less stylish with black, reddish, and grey patches.

While our llama haircut job was a little sketchy, I had done an excellent job of creating blisters all over my hands.  As you might imagine, llama hair is pretty tough and it takes a fair amount of force to close the scissors through it.  I'd like to say it wasn't just me, but I'm fairly sure I'm the only one whose wimpy hands couldn't handle the job.

And that is how I learned that I have wimpy skin, and why hand blisters always remind me of goats and llamas.

Have you ever walked a llama?  Do you know anyone with unusual pets?


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Aug 15, 2014

Mental and Physical Health - A Tribute and a Takeaway

Mental and Physical Health: Raising Awareness and Actually Doing Something With It

In the wake of Robin Williams' passing, there have been lots of posts and tributes, some more well written and thought provoking than others (hint: this isn't one of those).  I don't feel I have much to add, nor do I have a personal spin to put on it.

I would, however, like to reiterate the points that Jana's post made: depression affects so many more people than just celebrities.  Yet we tend to ignore it until something happens to someone famous.  She also mentions the hope that this event will open people's eyes to the broader problem of it, rather than remaining solely focused on one person.  And she briefly refers to the stigma associated with it.

That was news to me.  I've heard enough about depression in the past few years that I figured everyone was comfortable with it.  But then I read a post on Arkansassy about the vilification of mental illness, and I couldn't help but see some truth in it.

People do see sufferers of depression as "weak" or "selfish."  We think they can "snap out of it" if they really want to.  We think we understand how they feel, because we had a slump once where we were sad for a while.

In general, the majority of us are completely uneducated about depression and mental disease.

In a seemingly unrelated twist, I'd like to discuss Facebook campaigns.  Particularly the one for ALS that's currently going around.  Haven't seen it?  The participants post a video of themselves dumping ice water on their head, and then tag other people, urging them to keep the chain going.

Ok, but it's for a good cause, right?  Nothing wrong with people having fun and supporting charity at the same time.  Except... what are they actually doing for charity?  I had no idea what the ice videos were for and was completely ignoring them until one of my Facebook friends presented her own counter video.

It's a bit snarky, but it was fun.  It starts with her sitting a table with a bowl of ice.  She discusses her opinions of the ice challenge (not good), then proceeds to write a check instead, and presents 2 posters with information about the organization and how to donate.

It was pretty awesome.

But then, another friend mentioned that donations are up to 4x the usual, due to the ice challenge.  How could this possibly be effective?  I watched a few other videos, and while there was a brief mention of ALS, they don't explain what ALS is (I had to ask someone), and they don't all mention donating.

I concluded that I've developed social media campaign blindness.  After the barrage of "if we get 1 bajillion likes, we get a puppy" or "our mom will stop smoking" or "like this picture to help out this cause" I've completely given up on all social media campaigns.  There's too many bad, ineffective ones, so I, and probably plenty of others, just ignore all of them.

Alright.  Here's the part where I'm going to tie these things together in a profound and earthshaking conclusion (well, or try to).  The problem is that we see these internet trends and campaigns, and we take a stance on it.  Either we agree, we support it, it's great, or we think it's silly and overdone and really not very effective.  Whatever stance we take, it stops there.  There's no follow up.

The ice campaign has been somewhat effective.  And it could be even more effective, as long as we remember what it's for.  Those videos?  They should mention the cause, provide some information, and ideally give donation information at some point.  The people who are participating shouldn't think, "Oh, well I'm raising awareness, so I don't have to donate."

If you care enough about this charity to make a video of yourself dumping ice on your head, then you care enough to send $5 their way.  Your Facebook friends?  Maybe they'll see it, maybe they'll care.  But maybe they'll have their own charities to donate to.  And maybe they'll be blind to it, like I was.

Your ice dumping is not providing any actual assistance.  Possibly someone else will see it, and they'll do something useful, like send money, but you can't count on that.  If you care, provide real substantial help, along with the "awareness" you're spreading.

How is this related to celebrity mental illness and suicide?  Depression is as big a problem as ALS, or any other physical illness, and yet there's a decided lack of social media campaigns about it.  Would donations even help?  I've never heard of anywhere asking for money to help mental illness (there actually are - more later).

But maybe money isn't always necessary.  Not everyone can give.  In the case of depression, I'd say the first step is awareness, and I think all the blog posts and tributes are a good start.  But if we don't take it further, if we just forget all about it in a week or 2, then what real good will that temporary awareness have done?

Here's my answer: educate yourself.  There's nothing we can do for Robin Williams, or for his family.  There's nothing we can do for other celebrities who are suffering.  But the people close to you are a different story.  Friends and family are essential in helping sufferers of depression acknowledge the problem, seek medical attention, and to continue to support that person throughout.  But when we're uneducated, when we vilify mental illness, or even support them in the wrong way, we're only increasing the frustrations inherent in the situation.

So feel how you feel about Robin Williams.  But then use that tragedy, and those negative emotions, and apply it to better understanding those close to you who may be suffering from the same thing.  Know what to look for and what to say.  Most importantly, know that it is a disease, and that your loved one is not doing this out of weakness, selfishness, or to hurt you.

The ice challenge, and the Robin Williams tributes seem like very different things.  But in the end, if you don't take some kind of action, neither one has much point.

Articles on depression I found helpful:
Education materials and information for donating to ALS:
Mental health organization you can donate to:
My chosen charities:
You don't have to donate to ALS or to ADAA.  I didn't.  But I did find charities that I liked and that my family was involved in to donate to.  In the end, everyone has to do what works for them and no one can do everything.  But everyone can do something.  And if there are causes you support and care about, remember that "liking" and "sharing" are not the same as actually doing something.

What charities are you involved with?  Have you ever donated because of a social media campaign?


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Aug 14, 2014

Mistress Shaming - A Misallocation of Blame

Mistress Shaming - a Mis-allocation of Blame

I didn't realize mistress shaming was a thing.  Even after seeing it happen a couple times, I just never put that much thought into it.  Then I read this article about the mistress shaming website that puts total blame on "the other woman" and completely ignores the bigger problem, the spouse that did the cheating.

Now that I've read more about feminism and been exposed to the #YesAllWomen movement, I realize this is just a symptom of the bigger problem.  We blame women for having sex.  But it's expected of men.  A promiscuous woman is a "slut" or a "whore."  A promiscuous man is just a man.  Even when a woman is attacked, harassed, and raped, we still find ways to blame her for the situation rather than the mind.  I won't elaborate, because I think you all know what I'm talking about.

I think mistress shaming is one of the perfect examples of this mindset, because it's a reaction that happens emotionally and instantly.  It's not something we think about logically and then decide is the best course of action (or at least I hope not).  It shows us what our illogical subconscious believes, and sometimes that is terrifying.

Here's a scenario for you

A man and a woman have been dating for a long time.  He begins to feel trapped and wish for a way out of the relationship, but is hesitant to hurt someone who has meant so much to him for so long.  Alas, temptation overcomes his noble impulses and he cheats.

Eventually he leaves his long-term girlfriend for the other woman.  While dating the new woman, he realizes his feelings have not been completely extinguished for the old flame.  So he cheats again, this time on the new girlfriend with the ex girlfriend.  Both women were aware that he was dating someone else, were willing participants, and even knew each other personally.

Shit hits the fan when the ex-girlfriend gets pregnant.  The new girlfriend is upset, outraged, emotional.  So what does she do?  She sends the ex-girlfriend angry, violent messages on Facebook, calling her a whore, accusing her of trying to steal "her man," how it's not going to work because he's hers now and she'll have a better family with him, and making vague references to the violent ways the ex-girlfriend could potentially be caused to lose the baby.

Ok.

Breathe.  Give yourself a moment for the anger to subside.  (That's really just for me; this is not my story, but it still infuriates me.)  What just happened here?

New girlfriend blames ex-girlfriend for the whole situation.  She does not blame the man, who is the one who actually violated the trust of everyone involved.  Why is that exactly?  If anything, you'd think she'd understand, because she did the EXACT SAME THING to the other girl.  But no, she's right, ex-girlfriend is a manipulating, evil slut.  The man is just a poor innocent who is swayed by every beckoning temptress and who cannot control into whom his penis enters.

Here's another

A man and his wife have a baby.  Things get a little rough with a new kid, and he starts to feel some things for someone he's met online.  His needs aren't getting met at home and he's feeling tempted to reach out for this other thing that currently seems more appealing.

It escalates, until finally he has sex with this other woman, who is aware that he is married, but doesn't personally know the wife or their situation.  It's a distance relationship, so who knows who said what to whom and who is aware of what facts (not great grammar, but basically we don't know all the facts here).

Another member of their online community finds out and disapproves.  So he makes some scathing remarks, calling out the poor conduct OF THE WOMAN.  He says nothing about the man, you know, the one who just broke the trust of his wife and new baby.

Ok.  Breathing some more.  (Yes, I have to do this for all these stories)

Again, the man is the one doing the actual cheating, and the other woman is getting the blame for it.  Well, obviously all woman are just immoral seductresses who don't give a shit about other women, right?  That's what I'm starting to think.

Last one

A woman meets a man through a dating site.  He seems nice, has lots of great qualities, has a job.  Really, she thinks this could go somewhere.  They have sex.  Shortly afterwards, he confesses that he's married.

Without even knowing it, she has become "the other woman."  She's devastated, physically ill even, and breaks things off immediately, despite his attempts to justify the situation.

Whose fault is it?

If your first thought was that she should have done more research to make sure he wasn't married, then you are the problem.

If you think it's not her fault because she broke it off right away, but it would be if she continued, you are the problem.

If you think any of the women from the first 2 stories are "temptresses" and are to blame for their situations, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

Not because you disapprove of people who are willing to be "the other woman," but because you are so focused on trying to place blame on the female participant that you've completely ignored that there are 2 people involved here.  One who may or may not have full knowledge of the other person's commitment, who is not committed to anyone, and who is not actually violating a bond of trust with anyone.  And one who is.

Can you figure out which is which?

For the record, I'm not absolving mistresses.  I don't think it's stellar behavior.  But I do think we judge them too quickly, without knowing all the details of the situation.  I think woman can be weak, just like men are, and make mistakes.  And most of all, I think woman should NOT be judged any differently than men are for their mistakes, just because it involves sex.

Note: I realize all my examples are men cheating on women, and that the reverse situation also occurs.  I don't have any knowledge of or experience with that scenario, so I don't know how people react.  Regardless, I think the examples I do have make my point about our (collective) specific view on "the other woman" and the fallacies involved with it.

I don't have a question for this one; I just hope I've given you something to think about.  Opinions welcome!


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Aug 12, 2014

The Forces that Shape Us - Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

The Forces that Shape Us

Sorry to get all existential on you, but... (you know what that means, right?  "But" is basically like saying "I'ma do it anyway")

I've been wondering how I turned out the way I did.  How did I get so opinionated and when did I start questioning every damn thing?

It wasn't my parents.  I had this conversation with my mom and she said, "You can't question everything.  There's not enough time."  My father, on the other hand, finds time to question things, but his questions are mostly, "Why didn't you do it this obvious and normal way?"  Kidding, somewhat, but he tends to define success by being successful in other people's eyes.  And my sisters, while open minded and supportive of whatever choices I make, don't seem to have the loud-mouthed zealousness that I've found within myself recently.

So I looked to the other people around me.  Who else cares about these issues?  Who else adamantly insists that female name change is antiquated, and wedding customs grossly overblown, and traditional gender roles exist only to be challenged?!  No one.  Within my intimate circle of friends, that is.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  My friends, like my sisters, are open-minded.  Even if they tend to be more traditional than myself, they listen, and we exchange ideas.  And I think that's one of the best qualities you can have in a friend.  Not to be the same person, but to both be willing to agree to disagree.

So at this point in my musings, I was confused.  Did I just turn out this obnoxious all on my own?  But no.  A faint memory flickered.

"Default is always wrong."

"Question everything.  If there's not a good reason for it, don't do it that way."

Graphic design classes.  I remember how mind-blowing those lessons seemed the 1st couple semesters.  "There's nothing wrong with black text, but don't just use it because it's the default.  Use it if it matches your color scheme."

Our instructors taught us, not just how to do something, but how to think for ourselves.  They taught us to challenge everything, to learn where the box was, so we could decide exactly how far outside of it we wanted to go and in what way.

I don't know if these lessons were intended only as part of our graphic skill set.  I don't know if they realized how far-reaching this way of thinking could become.  I don't know if they realize that at some point I've internalized these lessons and use them to analyze my daily life and make more informed decisions.

It's kind of insane to think that these people who have shaped my life so profoundly, I don't know well enough to know if they challenge the rules in their daily lives also.  But it doesn't matter.  Regardless of intent, I am immensely grateful for this lesson that shattered my view of things and taught me to choose the person I want to be.  That person might be strongly-opinionated, and those opinions might not be things that everyone else approves of, but I like that person and I'm proud of what I've become.

So even though they aren't in my life anymore, and even though I don't design every day, I'd still like to thank the Visual Communications professors at Deltech from the bottom of my heart.  Because your lessons were far more all-encompassing than I ever realized they would be and the most important one is this: I like me.

Thank you.  (my friends and family thank you too, but maybe in a more sarcastic way)

Bonus: My Favorite Lessons from DTCC

  • Papyrus and Comic Sans are wildly overused and abused (also HoboStd)
  • If something is quality, it's worth paying for (in reference to stock photos - freebies only get you so far)
  • Graphic designers don't need math (except when they do - I had a paneled pamphlet design with each page a slightly different length and I struggled to figure out exactly what width each page would need to be.  Finally Sister3 wrote an algebra equation for me)
  • Every rule has an exception
  • But you have to know what the rules are, in order to break them properly
  • Credit your sources.  Which is what today's post is all about.

Who or what has had the biggest impact on who you are?  What important lessons did you learn in college?


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Aug 10, 2014

Broken Ankle Diary - Week 2

Broken Ankle Diary Week 2

Entries: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Continuing the saga.  Because being broken is my new hobby.

Monday

So apparently Casscells Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine doesn't feel like answering their phone or calling me back.  I would like everyone to know whose fault it is if I die of deep vein thrombosis (Casscells' fault - to be clear).  If, however, it's just a calf cramp, then I'd like you all to forget that I posted this and instead be impressed with how stoically I handled it all.

Tuesday

They called back (4:02pm), and I had an appointment today.  Overall, it felt very silly and unnecessary.  I'm slightly more at risk for blood clots (because birth control) so despite my lack of "excruciating" pain (evidently blood clots would be excruciating) they ordered an ultra sound.  But not of my calf, where the non-excruciating pain is.  Instead the thigh.  So now, several hours later, I know that I am safe from blood clots in my thigh, which has no symptoms and has never had any symptoms, and that a blood clot is unlikely in my calf, but if there is one there, it's not a big deal unless it moves to my thigh.

Yep.  A productive morning.

On the plus side, I got a really good workout crutching the long hallways of the medical center.  They offered me a wheelchair, but really, how much exercise do I get?  Besides, gotta circulate that blood and prevent clots.  :P

Wednesday

A side effect of the doctor's visit was increased conversation about my leg, and people staring at my foot, and after some admiration of the hues of blue and purple, IT collectively decided that I would from now on elevate my foot at work.  At first my boss/supervisor was trying to get me to put my foot on my desk and I said, "No, I won't!"  And then they gave me the ottoman from the sofa in the lounge area, so I had to give in, because there's no good excuses anymore and to refuse someone's ottoman is just insulting.

This morning the foot is much more normal looking, and now they're totally justified, and I will have to continue elevating even though it is quite frequently uncomfortable (the blood rushing back into your foot when you put it back down can actually be painful, which makes mornings unpleasant).

11pm: We went to a baseball game with the company today.  Go Phils!  Because of the amount of walking involved, I was placed in a wheelchair, manned by my father (I work with my dad, btw).  Despite the wheelchair, there was still more crutching than my norm and I was tired and sore by the time the game ended.  My father, on the other hand, was well into his cups, not tired at all, and rapidly approaching the loud and less mentally/physically acute (but more happy) stage of drinking.  This was not unusual, because many of my coworkers were also loud and happy.  However, they were not the ones steering my wheelchair.

Since my father is chronically impatient, we had to leave before everyone else, ended up taking a different elevator, and getting completely misplaced from our group.  While not terribly traumatic, I can tell you that not having control over where I'm going is not a pleasant experience for me.  I'm a bit of a control freak, and I hate giving that control over to someone who might have different goals than myself, or who won't listen to my input.

The rest of the night was great though, and I got to commiserate with a couple other previous bone breakers, and share my not-so-epic falling at the dog park story, and eat chocolate covered pretzels.  In case you were wondering, if you ever need to get on my good side, chocolate covered pretzels is a great start.  The whole night could have been miserable and I'd still be happy as long as chocolate covered pretzels were present.  But it wasn't miserable at all, and the Phillies won, and now the night is late and it's time for bed.

Thursday

So much soreness.

I wanted coffee, and to use my crutches as little as possible, so I rolled on over to the kitchen in my office chair.  People laughed, but I filled up my water, got coffee, AND 2 delicious mini muffins.  So I win.  Oh, and I ran into someone's desk.  My steering is not terribly skillful.

Friday

Hooray, it's Friday!

I like my job, I really do, but the past couple weeks I have been thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week, and Saturday/Sunday provide some much needed recoup time.  My palms, armpits, back, and triceps are soooore!

Super late at night: a couple friends came over.  We laughed, we drank, we became drunk, and we made an emergency run to Taco Bell.  Much abuse occurred to the casted leg.  Pain anticipated tomorrow.

Saturday

Minimal pain!

For whatever reason, I mentally psyched myself out about how difficult it was going to be to run errands (car appointment), so I got all tense for no reason.  It wasn't (obviously), and logically I knew it wasn't, but I didn't relax until we got back home and all obligations for the day were over.  Side note: we went to the movies and learned that they'll let you through without a ticket if you're clearly disabled and say you're waiting for someone.  Also, Guardians of the Galaxy was awesome!

Sunday

Not as much sitting around as I would like.  Don't you people understand?  Laziness is at the top of my priority list right now!  (Technically it's mostly of my own doing.  But while laziness is at the top of the priority list, taking responsibility for my actions remains firmly at the bottom.)


Have you ever been drunk on crutches?  Does this count as drunk driving?


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Aug 9, 2014

What Marriage Means to Me

What Marriage Means to Me

I know there's been a lot of marriage posts lately, but I promise I'm getting it all out of my system this week and then I'll be done for a while.

I am not married. That's probably obvious to my regular readers (the few who aren't family).

So why does my input matter and how can I possibly have a relevant opinion on a topic I haven't personally experienced?  I'd say that fact is exactly why.

I'll take a step back. Significant and I have been dating for 3 years. Long enough for our friends and family to start questioning, "When is it going to happen?!"

To be honest, there have been times (numerous) that I've questioned it too.  But I'm glad it's been 3 years. And I'm glad we're not rushing into marriage. Because it's given me so much time to question EVERYTHING and form my own thoughts and opinions. It's also been great to see the thoughts of other people in the same boat (great relevant post over at the Daily Tay).

The fact that we're not engaged yet after 3 WHOLE YEARS (heavy sarcasm there) is one thing that causes people to doubt our commitment. At least 10% of Americans doubt mine due to my desire to hang on to my own name and identity. And there's also the fact that we're not joined at the hip (do you sense an anecdote?  There's totally an anecdote).

On my recent trip to the west coast, my sisters and I went 3 days without any kind of internet or cell signal. By the last day, Sister2 needed to check in with Soon-to-be Brother to make sure he wasn't worried, and he had already sent an email asking her to get in touch. And I think most people would agree that's normal.

But when we finally found our Wi-Fi haven to check back in with the real world, I didn't have any great need to reassure Significant. In truth, he probably hadn't noticed any particular absence. When apart, we frequently go a couple days without talking, and then we'll check in when it's convenient.

And to all of those things, it'd be very easy for an outsider to look at us and say, "Oh, it won't last." Or "You must not be very committed to your relationship." And it has been said. But I think that's bullshit and here's why.

We haven't rushed into marriage. Instead we gave it space and a lot of thought. We're adults, and we make logical decisions. Why should marriage be any different?

To me, marriage means being on the same page. It means we want the same things for our future, have decided to commit for the long haul and not just because there’s not really anything better going on right now, and have respect for each other and each other’s values. To me, that means time, especially if you're young and barely know what your own values are.

I think of marriage as a promise, not to enjoy a life made easy by some magical true love, like in the fairy tales, because that doesn’t happen, but to work through the tough times with the thought “How can I make this better?” on the forefront instead of the thought “How do I get out of this?”  I think the primary difference between marriages that last and marriages that end in divorce is how people approach problem solving.  And it's taken me these past 3 years to stop coming up with boundary lines and ultimatums, and to choose to stick with it for the long haul.  "This is just a disagreement and we can fix it," is an attitude that I have just discovered and, for me, radically changes everything.

People often say that marriage changes everything.  I think a good marriage should change nothing.  Because deciding to get married should mean that you have something that works, that you’ve accepted it for what it is, and are willing to deal with these things in the long run.  It means you’ve talked - about what is and what will be, it means you’ll continue to talk and you’ll do your best to be honest and set fair expectations based on these discussions.

There’s nothing magical about marriage and the elegant, sweeping weddings we all yearn for tend to set things off in the wrong tone.  Marriage means a lot of things, but it shouldn’t entail anything your relationship didn’t already - it’s only a symbol of what you had already.  And maybe, for me, and for others of us, it takes a little longer to reach this realization and to be ready for the work that is entailed in a real life marriage entirely unlike the story books.

What are your thoughts on marriage?  In what way does your relationship not follow cultural standards?


Note: I had a couple great conversations spurred by this.  Long story short, I'd also like to direct you to this post at Just Beachy about choosing not to get married at all.  I focused on the things that marriage symbolizes to me, but the fact remains that you can have all those things without marriage.

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Aug 8, 2014

Bachelorette Party Event Image - Design Day Friday

Design-Day Friday - Bachelorette Party Invite

One of my sisterly duties in Sister2's upcoming nuptials is to organize the bachelorette party.  Sister2 is going pretty non-traditional: emailing Save the Dates, and skipping a lot of the additional parties that seem to cling onto weddings like a parasite, demanding ever more money, attention, and gifts.  (Whaaat?  I love giving people gifts for their engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, AND wedding all in a row.  Traditions are awesome.)

Anyway, I approve heartily, as you may have guessed, and the slimming down of the festivities allows Sister3 and me to do what we do best: go all out.  Rather than having 3 pre-wedding parties, we'll just have one really good one.  Which, of course, means we have to go to New Orleans for a weekend.

We've got all kinds of ideas and are super excited about planning this trip, but it's still almost a year off, so the only thing we really had to lock down was the bridal party's availability.  In order to do that, we made a Facebook event with dates and ideas, and we'll fill stuff in as we go.

The Project


To (finally) get to the point: a graphic designer can never simply create a Facebook Event.  There must be an appropriate event cover image to set the tone and clearly communicate what the event is.

The Process


Graphics

For once I dove straight into graphics without bothering to ponder fonts and colors.  I'd made this image for a friend's bachelorette party about a year ago (and I really love it!).


So I opened up this file and everything faintly bachelorette related (Btw, spellcheck does not recognize "bachelorette" and keeps wanting to correct it to "bachelor."  Spellcheck, do you know what sexism is?).  I actually almost copped out entirely because I like this image enough to reuse it.  But then I thought I should come up with something new and more New Orleans-y.

After some googling, I found this amazing image from Shutterstock.


If this was a client project, I would absolutely purchase this, because even though I changed it, I stole the concept.  But since no money is exchanging hands, I drew my own city silhouette and piano keys.

Fonts

I didn't get too crazy here.  The same script as the save the date, and a simpler one to go with it.

Final Product


To make it even more jazzy, I drew a simplified saxophone (or whatever.  It looks like some kind of brass instrument, right?).  Then I dug through my stock photo collection and put some partying ladies behind the city silhouette.


If I do any more bachelorette parties, I'll have to break away from pink, but for only 2 I think the repeat color scheme is permissible.  I'd also like to allay any potential concerns that I might repeat my previous bachelorette party planning errors.  There will be no strippers.

Have you ever planned a trip for a group of people?  What bachelorette party mishaps have you experienced?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design