Friday, June 22, 2012

Last Summer Flashback

The dog ate all the cat's food and the cat had an accident on the carpet.

Come on, this can't be my summer routine.

I was feeling so optimistic about life, too.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Price Gouging Thursday

Today, I spent two hours serving as a parking attendant at work.  We are right next door to a high school, and today was graduation.  I sold parking spots for twenty bucks a pop.  A few people made snappish comments about "price gouging," but let's be honest here. I work for a nonprofit.  Either we say that our lot is "nature center visitor parking ONLY" and then spend two hours of staff time policing the policy, or we charge for parking, spend two hours of staff time selling spots, and put the proceeds towards our operating expenses.  Either way, we lose staff productivity, so we may as well do a little fundraising.  There's free parking all over the place.... four blocks away.  If you weren't wearing ridiculous platforms, the walk wouldn't be a big deal.  You drive a Mercedes (Porsche, Lexus, Land Rover, BMW, insert pricey car here).  You can swing twenty bucks to pay for the luxury of a short walk.

Let's see.... aside from being Parking Girl, what else did I do this week?
Saw a cactus with some really interesting flowers.  Just the right shape for a nectar bat's head, dontchathink?

My caterpillars are beginning to pupate.  He's gonna be a California dogface when he grows up.  I'm a proud momma.

I worked on my Native Plants kiosk.  This is Ribes speciosa.

This is the kiosk WIP.  Right now, it looks like a quilt.  I find it strange that I am using pastel blues and lavenders to make brown and gray "pop."  When has anyone tried to make brown and gray "pop?"

Had ice cream with this guy.  If, for some odd reason, any of you find yourself visiting me IRL, I will take you to Balboa Island.  It is a small manmade lump covered in hideously expensive homes all stacked right on top of each other.  The whole thing is less than a mile in circumference.  We will walk down the main street, and we will get Balboa Bars, which are blocks of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in whatever topping you're into.  We will walk around the perimeter of the island, looking at interesting houses and landscaping, and we will smell the sea, and we will eat that ice cream.  And then we'll round a corner, and this big scaly bastard will be staring down at us.  He's in someone's yard, lurking amongst the landscaping, staring at passersby.  In the daytime he's visibly in need of a paint job and some TLC, but at night he's somewhat unsettling.  Ice cream and dinosaurs is one of my favorite evening activities.  Rich people can be sort of bland and taupe, but occasionally you find a crazy one who thinks having a 12-foot raptor in his front yard is a good idea.  If I win the lottery, I'm getting five of these sonsabitches.  I'm not moving to Balboa, though.  The parking situation there sucks.

Anyhooooo.  Tomorrow I hope to get the kiosk's colors all blocked in, and start painting the details on the quail.  A full 8 hours at work to do nothing but paint- no parking attendant duty, no teaching, no animal cage cleaning.  It's all got me in a terribly good mood.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bat Fit- Taking Measure

Well, hey there, we seem to have made it to Le Professeur's 40th birthday!  What an interesting six months.  Let's see how I did so far...

#1:  Journal.  Yup, never got on board with this one.  I use an app on my phone to record what I eat (although, I fell off the wagon lately and whaddaya know, I gained a few pounds.  Huh.  Whoda thunk it?).  So that one was sort of N/A.

#2:  Dance.  Yup, never got on board there, either.  I am just too repressed and self-conscious to dance alone, sober, in my living room.  I walk the dog pretty feverishly, when she isn't wandering and sniffing the entire universe, so I'd say they're roughly equivalent?

#3:  Bad Habit/Good Habit.  I gave it a go- I attempted to replace Diet Pepsi with black tea.  It worked... until the weather stopped being chilly.  Then I dove right back into my vat of carbonated artificial sugar.  Well, hey, you can't win every time.  It'll get cold again eventually.

#4:  Be Good To Yourself:  I always am.  Hell, I love Me.  I'm rad.

#5:  Brag.  Yup, did that.  It's all still true, too.  See comments above.  I also have a file on my computer at work called "Toot My Horn" and it's just filled with photos of Things I Have Done That Are Noteworthy.

#6:  Try A New Vegetable:  I wasn't able to find a new vegetable, really.  I tried okra that was not fried, though, which was lovely, and I ate more broccoli than I would under normal circumstances (I don't like it, but I am an Adult, and Adults Eat Broccoli).

#7:  Conquer your fears.  I'm not sure I did this one out loud, but I'm afraid of social interactions.  I'm just awkward, and I seem to have lost the ability to talk about appropriate subjects in public.  I am still afraid of social interaction, and none of my non-work-related forays into the World of Others served to alleviate my fears.  I had people over to the house a few times, though, and I talked to people at the dog park, so hey, work in progress.

#8:  Get Outside.  I work outside.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

#9:  Listen To Your Body.  Mostly, I have listened to my allergies chew on the inside of my head.  I switched meds, and it seems to help.  Does that count?  I seem to be developing heel pain, and I keep switching shoes.  I have yet to make an appointment with someone who knows about feet, but it's on the radar.  This one is a "sort of," I think.

#10:  Just Do It.  I dyed my hair purple a few weeks ago.  I bought stompy boots and wore those bad boys to work.  I have attempted to give as few fucks as possible.

#11:  Buddy Up!  Well, there's y'all.  I'm still a hermit.  The dog says hi.

As for the future:

I'd like to keep getting smaller.  I didn't quite hit my "30xSomeoneElse's40" mark, but I did get down to 173 from 190, and my pants are loose.  I had to get rid of a lot of clothing.  I'm on the precipice of having to get rid of a lot more.  I imagine I can get those last ten off if I get back to the food logging and stop eating all the damned cookies that are strewn about my office.

I'd like a muscle or two.  That would require working out.  I should get on that.

I'd like to get my house in order.  I am using the first two weeks of July as a working vacation.  Not going to work, but I'm not really on vacation, either.  It's time to finish moving into this house.  It's been a year and a half.

I'd like to plan a real vacation.

I'd like to have normal human interactions.  I swear, I'm becoming Amy from Big Bang Theory.  That's not fun.  Spouting trivia and telling stories is all I know how to do anymore.

I'd like to find out why my hair is falling out, and do something about the fact that my skin is slowly sliding off my skull.  A dermatologist is probably in order.

I'd like to finish everything on my yearly goal list at work.  It would be nice to do my year-end review with everything checked off.

I'd like a massage.  That's a little more immediate than the rest of this list.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Details, details

I have some mild OCD (diagnosed by an actual professional, this is not hyperbole).  I am also a person who makes things.  As such, I am something of a detail freak.  My work doesn't often show sketch marks, knots, wonky seams, or glue gun strings, at least not if I can help it.

It has been suggested to me that I should be less detail oriented, and look more at the big picture, for the sake of timeliness and whatnot.

Ask the fish to be less wet, basically.

I cannot allow my work out into the world if there are sloppy edges and uneven lines.  A certain degree of slop will naturally occur, because I am not a robot (contrary to popular belief).  It will not be perfect, because I am human.


I can get awfully close.  Why would I be okay with a color that's not quite so, if it is within my power to get it spot-on?  I can't erase brush marks completely, but I can get the color right.  Let's not let sloppiness creep in where it can be prevented.

It was also suggested to me that I could maybe get it to "pretty good" and then go back and fix things later, so as to get things done in a timely manner.

If I have to go back and fix things, then it was never really DONE, now, was it?  What's the point of rushing things if you have to go back and revisit them?  I understand that some things need to be DONE by certain dates.  I get it.  I do.  But if the deadline is somewhat arbitrary, how is it any better to get it up on display only to have to take it down and fix details at a later date?  Why not do it right the first time?

In any case, I have been working on an informational kiosk for work.  My last kiosk panel was a bunch of charts and graphs and text boxes, which are a pain in the ass to hand-paint.  It conveys the message it needs to convey.  This kiosk, however, is going to be education disguised as art.  We're trying to get people to fall in love with locally native plants.  I'm going with an Art Nouveau theme (although, with my penchant for sharp corners and symmetry, it's creeping ever closer to Art Deco), with a large central image of a quail among poppies against a medallion of butterflies (think of an Alphonse Mucha poster, but replace the girl with the diaphanous gown with a quail).  The sides of the panel will be individual illustrations of flowers, bordered by pictures of the birds or butterflies that depend upon that particular plant.  The only text will read "Native Plants- Save Money, Save Water, Save Wildlife."  It's all blocked out, now I'm getting the plant illustrations squared away before tackling the center.

For the record, I cheated on these a bit (for the sake of timeliness, actually).  Five of my reference pics are from very old botanical illustrations.  The other three are from photos I found on the internet.  I printed the images, and then went over them with a Sharpie to find the lines, transferred the lines to the panel, and then filled them in with color.  I'm not sure where the ethical line is drawn when using reference material- what I've done is probably shady as hell.  Because I essentially traced the images, I wouldn't feel comfortable selling any of these things.  Perhaps in the future, on my own time, I might create my own illustrations of these plants, and then I could truly feel comfortable calling this my own art.  As it stands, they're highfalutin coloring pages.  I bet I could alleviate some of my weird feelings if I took the reference photos myself- then it's just self-plagarism, which is probably okay.  I will not take me to court for copyright infringement.

Of the eight individual flower paintings, I have completed four.  I'm not super happy with the penstemon, as I think the linework is a little wonky, but I can eyeball it tomorrow to see if I'm not just feeling crabby about receiving constructive criticism.

Mimulus guttatus

Viola pedunculata

Lupinus nanus

Penstemon spectabilis.

I still have to finish the gooseberry, the milkweed, the seaside daisy, and the ceanothus. The longer I look at that penstemon, the more I think the leaves and stems need some darker greens to stand up against the obnoxious cobalts and pinks.  Yeah, it really does look like that in real life.  California wildflowers are a trip, yo.

In any case, this thing should be pretty once it's done.  And I am not going to apologize for how long it takes- because I am not a photocopier, despite my method of using reference images.  It takes time to brush paint on wood.  If you don't want me to spend so much time on these things, then stop building kiosks and asking me to fill them.  Nobody looks at them, anyway.

For the sake of comparison, here are my other kiosks.  The graph one is paint on a panel, and is somewhat permanent. The others are felt cutouts.  Felt is the only thing that will not fade horribly in the sun, and can be easily changed out.  It's not my favorite medium, but we must work within our limitations.
I later fixed the spacing between the letters and added a large QR code to the empty corner.  I did those letters freehand, and you can tell they were my first foray into the felt-cutout world.

The camp kiosks have interchangeable seasonal decor.  These letters look nicer than my first attempts.
The February camp has a felt hummingbird instead of butterflies.  Winter has a snowman (not pictured).  This hummingbird has an inner-ear disorder, and cannot tell up from down.
This one is underneath a large solar array.  Our facility is 100% solar powered, as you can see from this handy graph.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hard candy shell. Soft marshmallow interior.

I am an unemotional, generally stoic person.  This trait is often likened to a hard candy shell.

It protects a soft, marshmallow core.  I am frightfully soft.

Today, I overheard my boss on the phone with an unhappy teacher.  I knew that she was talking about me.  My boss deflected most of the complaints this teacher voiced, and said that the teacher had been unpleasant and snippy from the second she arrived on the property, so I know she's not holding it against me.  She knows I'm very good at what I do, and that some people are just never pleased with ANYTHING.

I am curling up in a little ball inside and dying.

For weeks, I have been reminding my coworkers that they are not responsible for other people's demons.  If I get crazy angry at someone, it is not really because that person deserves it- it is usually the result of having been reminded of a thousand other times I had felt a feeling, and that it's my own demons screaming about past hurts.  When I was volcanically angry at my roommate for not measuring a curtain before painting it, thus making it impossible to hang in the space without cutting off part of the painting because it was too big, I was not angry at her.  I was angry at every time I had ever made a similar mistake.  My demons are not her fault.  She was the catalyst, but not the cause.

NOTHING would have made this teacher happy.

I did NOTHING out of the ordinary.

But I'm still feeling awful.

She found my style "overly comedic."  >I use humor to hide my vulnerabilities, because if they're laughing at me being funny, they can't laugh at me being me.<

She didn't like that I "talked to the students like they were teenagers."  >I found childhood to be very humiliating, and don't like to remind myself of that feeling by speaking to children the way adults spoke to me<

She found my timer annoying.  >I have ADD, and I need a timer to keep myself on schedule.  When people criticize my adaptive behaviors, it reminds me that my mental status is generally considered to be NOT OKAY, and that makes me feel ashamed and inept.<

She thought the butterfly house looked "ratty," and was pissed that there weren't enough butterflies.  >I am in charge of the butterfly house, and I'm not going to lie here- she's just fucking wrong on this one. It was overcast and cold, and butterflies don't fly when it's cold.  There were a shitload of caterpillars and eggs and chrysalids, you dumb bitch, I don't control the weather, and those plants that looked dead were just dormant.  It's nature, stupid.<

As I swirl around in my feelings of inadequacy and shame and anxiety and fear, I remind myself over and over and over- you interact with hundreds, if not thousands, of people every year.  Some of them just won't like you.  This does not mean you are bad at your job, or a bad person.  You are bound to get some complaints.  You will remind someone of their own demons, and they will not recognize why they are upset.  They will make themselves feel better by complaining about you.  You must accept this.  Nobody is universally liked.

Even the Dalai Lama is on someone's "asshole" list.

It is okay to be funny.
It is okay to talk casually and conversationally to children.
It is okay to use a timer (although, I wonder if there's a way to have a vibration timer go off every 10 minutes or so without having to reset it or turn it off- like a wristwatch sort of gadget that just buzzes once and then resets itself).
It is okay for plants to look dead if they're fucking dormant.
I do not need to feel these feelings, because I am okay.  My coworkers know I'm okay.  It was just my turn to have a complaint.

I wonder if she mentioned my purple hair.  What the fuck ever, I cleared that shit with the director before I did it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Getting my hurr did

So, my hair is thinning.  Not sure why, but the whole front region is becoming ever more sparse.  The doc said it's not my thyroid, so my next stop is a dermatologist for a second opinion.

The thought crossed my mind that it might just be normal aging, and this is my reality now.  This might be the most hair I will ever have.

As such, I decided that life is too short not to fuck around with it.  So I dyed it purple.  It's just Manic Panic, so it shouldn't damage what hair I have left, and it should wash out rather quickly, since I didn't pre bleach or anything.  Just threw some Purple Haze over my usual brown.  For kicks, I decided to mix it up, and the back half is MP Raven.  Raven, it turns out, is extremely dark greenish-blue.
This forehead is the reason I wear bangs, and the reason that thinning hair terrifies me.

Huuuuuuge spaces between my hairs, plus a purple scalp.

Eventually, my scalp will be less purple.

It's hard to photograph.

It also REALLY requires makeup.  Alas, I am very tired, and I couldn't be bothered.

The Raven part is rather greenish.
 Last night was my place-of-employment's 40th Anniversary Fundraising Event Thingy.  I had to go and look nice and be personable, and afterwards clean up tables and chairs and whatnot.  As such, my clothing had to be dual-duty.  I wore a black dress and my 20-hole Docs.  I opted to tart up my boots a little with purple ribbons and some costume jewelry.  I didn't have any pics of the total look, perhaps someone else at the party captured me on camera?

In any event, I discovered two things yesterday.  Firstly, I discovered that it's a HELL of a lot harder to wash out MP dye with a low-flow shower head than with a standard one.  Secondly, I discovered that I have no idea what to do with my hair if I can't augment it with fake stuff.  Honestly, I was clueless.  I am sort of dependent upon my hairpieces if I want to have a presentable "do."  I had to wear my standard two-bun look with a flower crammed in it, and it just looked anemic.

In any case, the purple is proving fun.  I'm sure that after I shower tonight, it'll be almost unnoticeable.  My big fear is that it will highlight how wide my part is getting, since it contrasts more with my scalp.  Perhaps it will be the impetus for me to actually make a doctor's appointment?