I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
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Friday, April 25, 2014


One time I was laughing with my brother about "cool" and told him that he might not believe it, but some people think I'm cool.  "I think you're cool" he said.  Huh?  Shucks, thanks?  "But if you think about it you won't be cool any more, so forget I said it."  This was shortly after a conversation I'd had with a friend who told me that I was one of her "cool friends" in high school.  I thought that was really funny and said so.  After all, I had a sibling who spent those years telling me that I was an embarrassment.

The thing is, I never really cared much about what people thought of me.  Once in a while I might get embarrassed if someone caught me in one of my many eccentricities, but living in the woods mostly kept me from that kind of discovery.  Most people that live in the woods are eccentric anyway, so I guess I was "normal" for my environment.

One time a date commented "You know all the cool people".  I looked around at my friends and was kind of surprised to think about them that way.  They were just my friends, mostly artists and musicians.  My kind of people, therefore...?  What?  Maybe artists and musicians are "cool" just because of the types of people they are?

So I've thought about "cool" and what it is, and whether or not I've got any of it even though I think my brother is right in saying that thinking about being cool kind of kills it because that kind of vanity isn't included in the package.  It seems like creative types are inclined towards being individualists which makes them more interesting, and they frequently break the rules.  It also seems to me that most creatives have some life experience, often bad, that inspires the need to express themselves.

When I think about "cool" people, I think that there's a blend between vulnerability, creativity, individualism, daring, and anger.  Okay, I've had all of that.  Maybe I'm a little cool.  Definitely not like the clique in school who used to terrorize us little nerd children, but I'll own being more cool than some.  (Did my vanity just lose me points?)

We're told "be yourself", but often people aren't.  You want to be more cool, you've got to be yourself and not care if "yourself" isn't universally liked and admired.  Somebody will like you, and that's good enough to start with.  If nobody likes you including yourself, check your vanity and figure out why not and make changes accordingly.

We aren't set in stone.  Be whoever you want to be.  The hard part is figuring out what's really "you", what's family and what's society?  How much of what you do is because of or for other people?  Or your idea of what other people want or expect from you?

And since I'm thinking about cool, you've got to admit Pope Francis has got some.  That's why people love him when they didn't love his predecessor.  I had to draw him for work this week.  We aren't going to use this drawing because it's too similar to a stock photo I didn't pay for.  I'm going to try again this weekend because despite the fact you see the Pope all over the media, those photos are expensive.  (If someone's taken a good photo or painted a good painting, let me know and I'll pay a moderate amount for rights to print it.)

Now I'm going to go back to my regular reality which is a little TV and a good book -- which I know isn't all that cool at all on a Friday night, but that's the way I like it :)  To those of you who like magical fiction, I recommend The Name of theWind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


In the beginning I was a lonely wolf child in the woods with a father who made me eat trees and roots and stuff.  I caught dinner, killed it, cleaned it, cooked it, then washed the dishes and took the compost out back and buried fish parts in the garden. 

In my current life, my car was dying a painful death and I had to get a car fit the grown-up wolf child.  Here were my priorities:  American-made, affordable, simple, 2-door, hatchback, good on gas, 360 visibility, red.  This all seemed attainable until I went car shopping.  I started testing everything and hated everything... until that magic moment when I saw it and fell in love.

Okay, it's 4-door, but it's still a hatchback for the stuff I need to cart around.  I don't know what that stuff will be yet, but now the possibilities are endless.  It's on the "10 most American cars" list, with a Mexican engine and a Canadian something or other, but the rest of it's US and assembled in Michigan.  People laughed at me when I said I wanted an American car because they think everything is made somewhere else, but it just doesn't seem right to make a gas-efficient car then ship it around the world for me to start saving gas.

My Ford CMax is a hybrid.  I don't have to plug it in; it knows when it wants gas or electric.  So far it mostly wants electric, and my gas gauge hasn't moved off FULL even though I've been trotting around all over the place this week.  It's silent in electric mode and it gives me "efficiency leaves" for driving responsibly.  It recoups electricity from the wheels every time I brake and gives me credit for good braking too.  I love constant positive reinforcement with leaves -- it absolutely makes my inner wolf child very happy.  I think it's as "natural" as I'm going to find in a car.

And did I mention that it's red?  Not just any red; it's the absolutely perfect shade of red (ruby red metallic or PMS #201 metallic if you prefer).

I was sorry to let my old car go, but a bad transmission was the last sign that it was time for something new.  It was 10 years old, and a lot of those years were spent driving to the west side and back through Cleveland's rush hour traffic and some years when I didn't have enough $ for proper maintenance.  RIP or blessings in your new home.

I had to go through the old car for all my treasures before handing over the keys.  I put some of my lucky stones in the new car, but I'm a bit undecided if I should put my feathers in the new visor or search for new feathers.  I know I have to take my office out for a ride, so I haven't put the minnow bucket in the back yet with my nets.  My office mates don't know about my inner wolf child and I don't know if they'd understand.

Since the new car is bigger than the last, I'm considering putting the rest of my survival gear in too.  You never know when you'll need a tent and sleeping bag.  I have maps too because with 50 mpg, it seems like there are roads as yet untraveled that need exploring.  Aawoooooo!!!

Survival tip:  Dealerships sell you more car (or house) than you can comfortably pay, so they extend loans for years.  If you pay extra towards the principal, you shorten your loan because your early car payments are mostly interest on the loan.  You actually pay for what you bought at the end, but if you add even $5 or $10 to your car payment at the beginning (clearly marked "for principal"), you'll get rid of years of interest payments.  If you get a tax refund, put that on the principal too and you'll save a ton of money.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I went to a birthday party when I was in high school and celebrated somewhat too heartily with 5 girlfriends who shared a birthday.  "Hmm", I thought, "birthdays might be worth noticing?"

Thus, I noticed astrology as something besides a punchline in jokes of the era and discovered an interesting way to sort people.  If you've read this blog before, you'll know I think sorting people by color is pretty stupid because it really isn't very informative.  Sorting by birthday on the other hand is completely logical -- even if I don't understand the logic.  I am considering someone else's theory that it's based on the food cycle and family activities at different times of the year.

So, now we're in Aries and I have a big clump of people with birthdays right around now.  I notice they've got some similarities and can decide whether or not I like these people, how best to get along with them, etc.  Sorting by the zodiac limits people to 12 signs, and I'm pretty capable of handling essentially 12 people, especially since I can cross off some I never willingly talk to in the first place.

It's made dating easier too.  Most of my significant relationships were born within a week of each other, even if in different years.  Sometimes I've viewed this as revisiting a situation until I can work out a solution -- though I did get fed up and branch out to Pisces men, who were born within the same week of each other.  I really didn't plan this.  It just happens, and I notice.  (Which all sounds like I date a lot and I don't.)

In my many years of noticing, I also discovered a lump of people in my life that were given to me instead of me going out and getting them.  Twin brothers obviously share a birthday, but what about what about having 2 serious relationships with men born 2 days apart who also have mothers born on the same day?  Plus that Pisces who has a son born on that day?

I could go on, but the inexplicable nature of what I notice keeps me interested.  I read my horoscope in the mornings, but I don't really take that very seriously.  If it says "keep your mouth shut today or you'll tick off your boss and get fired", well, I'd probably keep my mouth shut just to be on the safe side, but otherwise it all seems pretty superficial.

One time I took my chart and a brother's chart to an astrologer and asked why he and I can't peacefully coexist on the same continent.  Our charts are remarkably similar, but he has Mars or Pluto or something in a different spot and whatever it is made a world of difference to her.  I suppose I could take it to a Chinese astrologer and find out that Ox and Dragon are combustible, which actually makes a little more sense to me.

All of this is kind of like filling in Sudoku puzzles for me.  I keep trying to figure out people, and the zodiac gives me a filing cabinet to sort things.  I'm Virgo rising.  It all makes sense if you think about it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


I'm writing this on a Saturday after spending hours with work.  Part of me feels very crabby about it, and part of me feels I "ought to" be glad I've got a job at all.  I went without one for a long time after my last layoff and the economy tanked.  I've been laid off a number of times in my career.  When companies tighten belts, art is always the first thing to go.  I've been forced into learning a lot of survival skills...

1.  Live somewhere cheap.  Live with others if you can stand them and they can stand you.  Buy a cheap house when you've still got some money.  Forget about buying what will impress someone else.  If your fortune improves, you can rent out the cheap house and get a better one for yourself.

2.  Get an affordable car or live on a bus line.  If you've got a car, maintain it.  I don't believe in leases.  All you get is a bill and nothing to show for it when the lease is up.

3.  Don't charge stuff, or pay the bill in full when it comes.  If you've got a balance on credit cards, pay more than the minimum and call the credit card company for a lower interest rate.  Leave the cards at home when you're out.  If you really need something, make yourself go home and get the card to slow down your impulse to buy.  Especially, quit buying luxuries, and be honest with yourself about what a luxury is.

4.  Eat at home.  Restaurants are expensive.  Cook real ingredients instead of packaged, easy food.  The food is better and better for you too.

5.  Live with what you've got.  Odds are you already have a lot of stuff.

6.  Buy things second-hand.  I paid $5 for my winter coat at a garage sale and have worn it for years.  I got a $200 pair of hiking boots for $5 too.

7.  Turn down/turn up the thermostat.  Just a few degrees difference in summer or winter can make a lot of $ difference.  Do without the heat or AC when you can.

8.  Barter stuff and services.  If you don't have $ for something, find someone who has something you want who will trade for what you've got.

9.  Quit gifting or make your gifts.  (See #6)  The spirit of giving shouldn't put you into irreparable debt.  If people knew you put yourself in financial disaster for their baby/wedding shower, would they be happy?  (If they are, get new friends.)

10.  Admit your poverty to people who matter.  Pretending otherwise only gets you invited to things you can't afford.  Admitting your situation also opens up job opportunities and might provide new ideas and emotional support.

11.  Accept help.  We're happy to help others, but often terrible at receiving.  In a way, that's refusing to let someone else be happy in their giving, which is kind of selfish.

12.  Be grateful for what you've got and you won't spend as much time focused on what you don't have (which only leads to breaking any or all of the rules above).