Monthly Archives: August 2012

Wrap Up

I don’t know what I want to write about. I’ve been reading some really beautiful blogs lately that have left me feeling like I’m not writing with authenticity. Buzz word: authentic.

I feel like I live surrounded by buzz words. Not that the term buzz words is even buzzing anymore, there’s another term for buzz words now. I sort of feel like buzz words. At one time I was the right thing but now I’ve been replaced by something more appropriate and branded. Branding, there’s another one of those words.

It’s been an emotional weekend. It’s been an emotional couple of weeks. The Truth has been shared with me a lot lately. Some of it starts out hard to take and ends up being amazing. Other times it starts out bad and stays bad. I’m finding solace in the shiny world, the Hidden Valley of Pintrest.

What do I want to write? The Truth. I want to tell you everything. Everything that has rolled through my heart over the last few weeks. But I don’t because I know people will say things. They will say things that will hurt or question and I’ll feel bad about myself. And all of that contradicts what I want to accomplish.

I don’t want to hurt anyone but I want to release my hurt. I want to let it go.


I was watching a documentary about Francesca Woodman, a photographer I discovered through a classmate in my photo foundations class last quarter. In 1981, Francesca, dissatisfied with life climbed to the roof of her building and jumped to her death. Very young, extremely talented, and like most extremely talented artists, deeply emotional.

But what saddens me second to her suicide is a comment her father made in the documentary. Already he and his wife had admitted that they probably were selfish people who were not necessarily into parenting as much as into doing what you were supposed to do in the 1950’s: have kids. But once they had them the Woodmans didn’t know what to do with them. Mr. Woodman says that they would give each child a notebook and plunk them on the floor in front of some art piece in a museum with instructions that the child remain there and draw what she sees, thus giving the Woodman parents time to browse the art on their own.

I just find that absurd and shitty, but apparently the Woodmans realized that they were more interested in their own art making instead of their kids, sort of.

It wasn’t until this moment that has upset me that father Woodman confirms my feelings about his parenting. He says that had Francesca not been interested in art, had she been more interested in her peers and the things those kids did, he probably wouldn’t have been quite as interested in her as he was.

Really? Because it seems all around that there was a lack of interest in her.

Nothing hurts more than finding out that your own parent is not quite as interested in you as you wish. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to be. But after awhile it gets tiring asking for reciprocation.

I think this has less to do with Francesca than it does me.

My 2012 One Word

If I could use only One Word to describe what I want from 2012, and thus far have been doing, it would be learn(ing). I feel like I’ve spent the last 8 months learning about myself, what I want, what I don’t want, what happens when I make a big change from what I don’t want to what I do want and how to handle that change.

I started art school September 2011. My first class was Drawing I. Then I noticed I had to take at least one more drawing class and two more design (lots of painting and drawing) classes before I could begin taking my major classes. I immediately said, “I can’t do this. I don’t draw. I suck at drawing. I can’t draw.” Sure enough, every time I said “I can’t” I couldn’t. But when I let go and enjoyed the process I could.

A couple of weeks ago my Drawing II professor, who has been with me through Drawing I and Design I (bless his heart! seriously!), had an advising session with me over the phone. The thing that resonated with me the most was something I seem to have to learn (there’s that word!) over and over again: I have to start thinking I can instead of I can’t. We talked for about 45 minutes about how this change in thought would make a huge change in my confidence and my output in my coursework.

There have been other ways in which I’ve been learning this year. I still need to learn time management. Mike and I, even after 15 years of marriage, are still learning how to be a couple and not “an old married couple”. I’m learning how to let my guard down and not let labels define me. I’m learning how to translate my talents into my work.

Learn. Learning. It’s a a pretty big word that encompasses a lot. It’s my word for 2012.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Let me explain a little something about my personality. As one of my smartest friends would say, “Bitch be cray cray.” This apropos  colloquialism is translated to, “That woman is a little off her rocker, watch out!”

Regarding Customer Service: When I tell you something, listen to me. Do not offer me anything. Do not ask me personal questions for why I want what I want. Just say, “Thank you, Ms. Miller, I’ll get right on that.” Don’t make me get all up in ‘yo grill.

Case in point: Mike and I have one of those bundle packages of cable, internet and phone service. We decided to cut our cable service down to the absolute basic to try to save some money. We want to keep the internet we have so I can keep doing my homework at home. Finally we wanted to get rid of our phone service because we don’t ever, and I mean ever, use it.

Cable Lady asks if she can ask a few questions, and I say yes because, hey, what can it hurt? She asks the basic do you want more channels, what channels do we wish we could have, and then she asks, “Why do you need to cut your current bundle down to the bare minimum”.

What I should have said was, “It’s none of your business, please cancel my phone service and cut my cable to the basic package.” Instead, I said, “We are trying to save some money.” Hoo boy, that is the wrong thing to say to any Phone Customer Service Rep. For the next 10 minutes she tried to persuade me into adding channels, adding more phone services, adding, adding, adding. Oh she could give us a 6 month discount on this and that, “if it would help” me. Twice during this conversation I told her we had lost $600 a month in income and we could not afford everything we had previously. Twice! I should not have had to tell her at all!

She tries one more time for the hard sell, but I’ve had enough. Enter Ghetto Wendi who don’t take no shit from nobody.

Me: Lady, how many times do I have to tell you we lost $600 a month in income before you get that we can’t afford what you’re trying to sell me?

Cable Lady: Well, if you really want to go with the basic cable, I can do that for you.

Me: At this point, woman, I’m considering shutting off all my Cox stuff.

*crickets crickets*

Cable Lady: Okay, so you want to go with the basic starter package and keep your current internet. I’ll do that right now.

Me: Thank you.

Holy Mother of God! Why was that so frakking hard? I was polite at the beginning but then she started badgering and I ain’t got no time for that. None.

She finalizes the cut offs and says, “you know you can always call us back to get these things back once you get back on your feet.”

Are you shitting me? Are you SHITTING me? She doesn’t know why we don’t have that money anymore. She doesn’t know it was a choice and that basically things are okay and that there is no “getting back on your feet” because we’re not off our feet. The fake sympathy and the badgering were just too much.

When she started to say is that all I cut her off with a curt thank you, my mam taught me to be polite, and hung up. Yes, Cox will get a strongly worded letter from me.

Thanks to a fabulous suggestion by an equally fabulous friend, I called Cox back and filed a complaint. In the end we got another $20 knocked off our cable bill for six more months. So we’re going to save, now, $120 a month. But even that call there was some trying to sell me some stuff. Ridiculous!

Cupcakes, Pastels and Signs for Work = Major Change?

When I looked at the rest of the classes for my BA in photography at SCAD I realized how little I wanted to take them. The courses I wanted to take were medium and large format camera photography, study in black and white, study in color, the arty farty things. The five classes I had left were digitizing photos for print and digitizing photos for web. I don’t want to print my own photos. It’s too dang expensive. Plus I can take them to a pro printer and get them done really well on a variety of papers, even metal! I also figured that with graphic design I’d learn the digitizing photos and graphics for web development.

What changed my mind? Besides the sheer lack of photography jobs available? This:

ImageThis is the first time I’ve ever worked with pastels. First time. I think I did pretty dang good. The frosting was pretty neon…I’m not sure if I captured that enough. While I love the end product, I did love the journey. I enjoyed figuring out how to do this and then how to use the pastels. It was so much fun. Color! I’m finally working with color!! Lots of it! It’s all over my hands and my clothes. It’s fantastic.

Not that as a photographer I wouldn’t be using color, but I wouldn’t be making my own colors. Also, I really liked the final motif design I did for my Design I class. I am checking out books about fabric printing and design.

Then I had to do this:

ImageI’ve been tasked with making signs for new employees in my office. This one is for the Big Boss. I wanted the sign to look like a pub sign, a chalkboard sign. I’m really proud of the lettering I did and the ribbon at the top.

ImageI love those details and I’m really proud of myself. I saw a video about a designer who is known for her hand lettering. I was fascinated by it, I had no idea someone could make a living making signs!

I’ve started collecting a ton of advert postcards that the student organizations hand out. One of the women in my office is on the G’ville roller derby team. I’ve started a collection of those advert cards because they’re so cool!

This is me. I like to draw – O. M. G.!!!! – and I want to play with colors and letters for the rest of my life. I’ve always known this. I just always hid from it. Put me in a fabric store and I’m walking out with at least a yard of fabric in some insane color. The bead store is my haven. All the beads are displayed by color in ROYGBIV standard. While I do feel extremely at home with my photography I’m beginning to feel a similar way towards pastels and the designs I’m seeing online. I’m inspired.

My Tour of Eastern State Penitentiary

Obviously, I’m not the first person to have seen the Ghost Hunters Eastern State Penitentiary episode and immediately want to go there. I might be one of the few paranormal supports to say “meh” to the idea of having horrible ghosts and negative energy haunting the place.

My husband, my best friend, and I went to ESP on the eve of Christmas Eve 2011. We got there just in time for the last tour of the day. It was turning into a stinging cold kind of evening, even at 4 p.m. We’d spent the day walking around the city in the wind and cold; and now it was time to go to ESP. It was even more exciting to think we’d be touring ESP in the near dark.

After passing through the gates we took a right and headed underground, somewhat, to buy our tickets and check out the gift shop (of course we had to get T-shirts!). Before going to the courtyard, we took a breather from the cold and watched a bit of video on the history of ESP in the former visitation area.

I should probably preface this by saying that I absolutely believe in the affects of energy, be it the energy of the guy standing in front of me in line at the grocery store, or the psychic energy of a historical building. Of all the places in ESP, this was truly the only room where I felt anything other than cold. My husband and my friend were off in search of the restrooms leaving me to hang out in the visitation room with the other tourists. The room was basically a long hallway separated in the middle by security glass. Every so many feet the glass had been taken out and a TV put in its place. I sat on an uncomfortable bench against the wall of the visitation room and watched some of the movie.

As the early history unfolded I started to feel bad. I later tried to explain it to my husband; but bad is the best word. I felt kind of rotten inside as if I had eaten a really bad lunch and was not only disappointed emotionally by the bad meal but felt physically disappointed too.

I can only remember two other times when I was so deeply affected by my surroundings, when every nerve in my body told me to leave where I was. One of those places was Dachau, a Concentration Camp in Germany. The other, oddly enough, was EPCOT at the Magic Kingdom resort. But these are stories for another time. (EPCOT? Really?)

When you think about it disappointment was probably the main feeling on my side of the glass of the visitation room. I can’t imagine a lot of families visiting relatives at ESP and feeling joy. The longer I sat there the worse I felt. Even when my husband joined me, I felt wrong. I knew I needed to get out of there. The courtyard of the penitentiary was a much more calming and serene place than the visitation room had been.

Luckily, my excitement overwhelmed the foul energy I previously felt as we began our tour in Cell Block 1. Because of the season most of the cell blocks were closed off to us. I hung back from the crowd some so I could take some pictures and not feel rushed, but also still be close enough to hear the history told by our guide. I ducked my head into several dark cells and took random pictures just to see what would happen. All I captured were crumbling floors and rotting walls, which have a certain intriguing beauty all of its own. It was a fun photographic experience, kind of like shooting from the hip with a toy camera.

We were encouraged not to let the group get too far ahead of us for safety reasons. After having my fun of trying to capture something on my SD card, I rejoined the group and had my second and last experience at ESP.

 Something tugged on my bag strap.

I nearly jumped out of my skin because it happened so unexpectedly. It wasn’t a malicious grab and go kind of yank as some might think; thieves had been housed at Eastern State after all. It wasn’t an angry gesture either. It was merely a tug. To be precise, two downward tugs. The tug almost seemed to be a kind of “hi ya” gesture.

I quickly looked around me to see if I had latched my bag on something or if one of my fellow tourists had maybe invaded my personal space. Nope, I was latch and invasion free. The door wall of Cellblock 1 was to my left. My husband was standing in front of me to the right. The tug was at my right shoulder blade. I reached out a bit to see what I might feel around me but all I could feel was the cold and wet of a December evening in Pennsylvania.

Because I believe that we can invite good and bad energy into our lives, I wanted to put out some positive energy, just in case all those ghost hunting shows were right about the supposed hauntings and evil energies in ESP. I thought, “Okay, I recognize that you’re here and I’m a guest.”

That was that. The rest of our tour was uneventful in the okay-that-was-weird department. The history of ESP became the thing I was most interested in next to taking pictures of the crumbling buildings. I chuckled to myself wondering how many “orbs” I would find. Later when I viewed my shots I found no indescribable mists, no floating balls of light, no shadows blocking faces, or anything odd or out of the ordinary.

My shots reflected what I discovered about Eastern State: Other than the negative feeling I got in the visitation room, ESP was not a scary place. It is actually quite a beautiful place with an interesting history. Maybe because I wasn’t necessarily looking for The Big Bad that nothing really showed itself other than in the visitation room. It could also be that since I projected positive energy I kept myself safe from what might have been lurking around.