Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"I've got a lot of problems with you people!"

In the spirit of Festivus, I thought I would recall the story of how it all began, as told by a Mr. Frank Costanza.

Many Christmases ago,
I went to buy a doll for my son.
I reached for the last one they had,
but so did another man.
As I reigned blows upon him,
I realized there had to be another way!
(Kramer: What happened to the doll?)
It was destroyed.
But out of that, a new holiday was born!
A Festivus for the rest of us!

And that, children, is how Festivus came to be. Happy Festivus, everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nobody belongs here more than you.

Okay, okay, this book has been out for a while. I am way behind. I've heard it more than once. But if you are like me, somewhat behind the times in readery, I suggest this book to you. It's called Nobody belongs here more than you. and it's by Miranda July.

The book is a collection of short stories, many of them somewhat twisted, but looking at life from a different perspective. There's something off about most of the characters, but when you think about it, isn't that life? If you have seen the movie, "You, Me, and Everyone We Know," the heroine is the author. And her style of writing very much reminds me of her in that movie. But so much better. At the least, sit down and read one of the stories at your local bookstore. If it's too weird for you, put it back. If not, take it home. After paying for it, of course.

But (almost) more importantly, take a quick second to check out her website. It really stands out as the most creative, simple, personable sites that I have seen. The entire thing is written on a stovetop. Well, most of it. You'll see what I mean. It does require some light reading, but I promise it is enjoyable. At the second page, you will want to click "the beginning" to know what is going on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I saw this necklace by Fringe Lore on Etsy and fell in love with it (don't get too attached, though, it's gone already). I found it under Steampunk and Noir. Steampunk is sort of the Victorian era meets the industrial revolution meets someone who likes to take things apart. Meets jewelry. I am digging it! I had no idea I was so into punk.

It took me forever to think of something to ask for this Christmas. I need things I can take with me in case Minnesota doesn't work out. (Everyone's getting fired, the competition is fierce!) Lo and behold, two days after I find this necklace, the perfect thing to ask for, it's sold out! Just my luck.

But hey, I am psyched to find this genre of jewelry! There seem to be a lot of steampunk cufflinks that I would like as earrings. I am hoping to see more sellers create more feminine pieces.

Small World!

Okay, so I was in an adventurous mood the past week, and for some odd reason, the more random things you do, the more you realize that the world is even smaller than you thought. The story is amazing, and I am going to attempt to tell it. If you get lost, give up there's no hope. Or, if you think you can handle it, start over. :)

It all started almost two weeks ago, Thursday. It was a Cocktails With Creatives night, something the AIGA puts on. One of my friends invited me to go see a local band, the Dollies, later that night, but I went out between then and wore myself out. Never made it.

On Friday night, I was pretty bored and glad the week was done with, so I walked to a little dive bar about a block from my apartment. I sat at the bar and instantly the guys next to me started chatting with me. One of them had previously been a graphic designer, and was also a musician. I told him that I sing and he invited me to this gig he does on Thursday nights (to sing). I wasn't about to do that, but I told him I'd come check it out.

Then Tuesday night is Books and Bars, an event I mentioned in a recent posting. I was a huge fan of it, and decided to introduce myself to the guy who ran it afterward. He was really nice, we talked for a few minutes. He told me more about the event and how it had started, I told him I just moved here, he suggested things to do, etc, then I left and told him I would join the Facebook group, and I'd be there again.

So Thursday rolls around and I go to hear the guy from the dive bar's group play. Of course, I know nobody in the bar, so I take a seat near the band while they warm up. I start chatting with the guys next to me. They're both really cool, they say they're musicians too, and they're playing tomorrow night at Mayslack's. I tell them I'm there! Somewhere along the lines, I mentioned that I had just been to Books and Bars, and one of the guys was like, "Oh, I know him (guy that runs it)." Whaat?! They work together to put on a random musician jam type thing at this guy's music venue that he owns. It sounds really cool, 3 musicians, never met, take turns playing songs each has written. So the others just kind of jam along.

Anyway, so I am good on my word, and turn up at Mayslack's the next night (which is famous for it's beef??). Both of the guys I had met were really great musicians, I will definitely be attending their gigs again. So these girls show up, also friends of these musicians. We get to talking while they're on stage, and it ends up one of them lived in Lubbock for a year! Really?? There were a lot of ironic things going on that night, but they didn't really involve me. The girls ended up knowing a lot of random people from a Halloween party, so they wouldn't recognize them at first. And one of the musicians knew both girls, but separately and didn't know they were good friends, or that they knew his friend. It just kept getting smaller!

Oh, and one of the musicians, I find out, plays bass for the Dollies. And the story comes full circle. For those of you still here, thanks for hanging in there. I just had to share this. The twin cities area is just too large for so much, "I know you," business.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is It Possible?

I was browsing in Common Good Books tonight after getting some mail out when I stumbled upon a historical scandal, something very interesting, something that made me think. I love it when that happens.

This book was about a man named William Mumler, a man whose profession was in spirit photography. This was a practice in America in the 1860s that was very controversial. I'm sure you can see why, the effect is quite obviously something that could be achieved in the darkroom. But was it? Mumler proved his process to be true to James W. Black, a leading photographer of the time who oversaw the entire process of his own spirit photograph. Yet a figure still appeared with Black in the negative.

Of course, this does not disprove the possibility of a double exposure having been done prior to the sitting, but many of these spirits were known by the subjects to be dead. A Moses Dow had his spiritual photograph taken (shown above), and his deceased assistant, Mabel Warren, appeared with him in the photo. He had believed Mabel had been trying to communicate with him, and was told by a medium to visit Mumler. There is also a photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln and the spirit of her husband, good ole Abe, after he had been assassinated. It was also claimed by some clients that the spirits in their photos were of people who had never been photographed in real life. Then again, supposedly some "spirits" were found to be still alive.

Was this man a fraud? Did he get tips from spies like every other psychic? Was this just double exposure at its best? Is that even possible if there were no photographs of the deceased? Did he go grave-digging when nobody was looking? Or were these spirits actually there as the photographs were taken? The court eventually ruled that the charges were to be dropped due to lack of evidence. What do you believe?

Either way, the images themselves are just so captivating. I wish this man were still alive, I would love to have my spiritual photograph taken.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So Much to Do!

The Twin Cities is such a busy place. In a good way. There's always so much going on, it's hard to decide what to do! I'm glad I didn't miss these things:

Artist Mini-Golf Course. An entire mini-golf course, each hole constructed by different artists, at the Walker this summer. It was amazing, there were a lot of creative materials used. One was a huge pinball machine that you shot your golf ball into by pedaling an exercise bike, all made from materials salvaged from dumpsters. One hole took your ball through a maze of ramps, and you had no idea where it would come out. And, of course, one was completely impossible. Artists.

Wine Stomping. Yes, like in "I Love Lucy," and on Youtube when the lady eats it. I can see why, I definitely recommend holding on to something. I got a shirt that says something about my wine legs, and I got to take home a grapey footprint! Talk about an excellent Christmas present for somebody.

Zombie Pub Crawl. This happens every October. The zombie attendance keeps going up, estimated at just under 2,000 this year! Everyone gets really into the costumes, there's blood everywhere. Just be careful what you say, you don't want to anger a drunk zombie.

Books and Bars. This has quickly become my favorite thing to be a member of. It's a book club that meets once a month in a small theater in the back of a bar. It's put on by a small bookstore in Uptown, and they pick amazing books for each month. I'm guessing over a hundred people were there last night, and the discussion never died.

And this list is only a select few of shindigs that I've been to, and there are tons that I've missed somehow, including a fundraiser where people swim in a freezing lake, a movie on wooden type, lawn bowling on the roof of a bar, Saint Paul Art Crawl, weekly farmer's markets, Oktoberfest, apple picking, tons of live music, etc.

I'm impressed because of the way Minnesotans really get into things. There never seems to be an event that is a complete bust, people here love to get out and get involved. In most cities, that Zombie Pub Crawl would be a total of 10 people getting tons of weird looks all night. But the sense of community here is strong, even though we are in a city, and I have been so impressed with that.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Belated Adieu

I may never have mentioned this to you, but autumn in Minnesota is truly gorgeous. The colors are just absolutely breathtaking. But now it is definitely winter. There's usually a light flurry going on, the cold hurts sometimes, and the sun sets just after 4:30.

Today was the first real snow. I swear there was glitter mixed in with this stuff. It looked exactly like a snowglobe outside. I mean the snow in Lubbock never sparkled like this. This glistening white layer settled over everything, it felt like some kind of fairy tale land. How do I get to Prince Charming's castle?

So I thought I would officially bid adieu to autumn and all of its goodness. It's probably a crime that I didn't blog about it until now. Amazing colors, delicious apples (highly recommend honeycrisp if you are able to find them), and lovely weather. It was fun while it lasted.

(cue photo montage)

Colors are much brighter than they appear.

Alright, winter, show me what you're working with.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Historical Findings

In recent months, I have learned quite a few interesting facts about the Twin Cities that I thought I'd share with y'all.

1. Prince was from Minneapolis. Born and raised!

2. So was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote The Great Gatsby. The house he grew up in is not ten minutes away (walking distance) from my apartment.

3. As well as Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. There are life-sized Peanuts characters all over the Twin Cities.

4. Garrison Keillor (of Prairie Home Companion) also lives not ten minutes away from me. Not only that, he owns a small bookstore by the name of "Common Good Books," about a block from where I live. You know how I know it's a great bookstore? That was where I found Sagmeister's Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far. There are also a lot of independently published books, some with alternative bindings.

5. Nina's, the amazing little coffee shop above the bookstore, is named after the most famous madam in the history of the Twin Cities. Nina Clifford ran a brothel in the early 1900's that connected to the Minnesota Club, a club for the city's founders and "fine men," most of which lived right in my neighborhood.

I love my neighborhood.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Logo?

Lindsay's beautiful blog, My Design Voice, reminded me that I really need to make a brand for my freelance business. I was thinking about it, and this just came to me. Very rough sketch, cut out and taped together, but I think it'll work when I'm done. (Give me a break with the squiggly lines, ballpoint pens are ruthless!)

Pep was too short and over-used by everyone else in the world, and since my name is spelled like this anyway, I thought representing it this way would help it stand out. And the backwards 3 as the E really works with 3 P's! Am I right? Maybe not. Thoughts?


You should know, I am all about innovation. The only way for a design to really grab me is through the ideas behind the piece. Whether it's in the concept, the design, or the production, I want to see something new.

This is why I am loving this global warming awareness campaign launched in Amsterdam for MTV Switch, by Ogilvy Action. Of course, there's nothing new about the type or layout, but the concept behind the way they chose to exhibit the piece, and the execution thereof, is excellent. Pure brilliance!

(The hands are inflatable. In case you're like me and was wondering how long that person could hold his breath.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's Good!

So I was on my way home this evening, in a particular fit of road rage. Not that I actually get angry, I just swear a lot. :) But I was kind of down. It had been a long day, and the traffic being stopped along the entire freeway was making it hard for me to be little miss sunshine.

And this song came on. It's by Carbon/Silicon, it's a rock song. It had a nice guitar part and the rhythm was a bit peppy. I didn't hate it. And then the chorus:

Good morning here's the news
and all of it is good.
Good evening here's the news
and all of it is good.
And the weather's good! (Instrumental Break)

It made me smile. The words are so simple, but so beautiful! I mean, think about it. Really let those words stew. What if? What if that was actually true? Okay, never gonna happen, but what if we all chose that outlook? I mean, wouldn't it be nice to wake up every morning to that? To go to bed to that? Life might be better than how we're seeing it.

I think I'm going to make this my alarm.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Seriously weird.

Still trying to figure Minnesota out. This weekend has been our first weekend of legitimate snow. It's been coming down in flurries all weekend. Yet I look up in the sky, and what do I see? Seagulls. What??? I know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


(Yes, I put my "I voted" sticker on my official registration card. It's sentimental.)

The title of this post says it all. I don't even know where to begin. I have this overwhelming feeling that compels me to write something here, but I'm left speechless by the magnitude of the event that I have just witnessed. I think I'm making sense, but you might need an interpreter. You know that by now, though. :)

I voted yesterday. My location was actually right across the street from me, so it felt like I was in college again, rolling out of bed and walking across the street at 8:00 in the morning (ahhh, Coleman). Except this time I was awake. Extremely awake. And if you have ever known me at 8:00 in the morning, that really says something.

I can't describe to you what I felt, how important this process was to me. I have never been so sure of a decision in my entire life, so fully behind one candidate. I knew exactly what I had to do, and it felt so good to use the Constitution-given right to make a difference in a world that recently feels like it's spiraling out of control. I felt so proud. Literally (and I have to admit, this is the first time I am saying this in all seriousness, partially because it sounds kind of cheesy most of the time) proud to be an American.

After casting my ballot, it was as if a tremendous weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. No matter who won, the stress of the election was finally over. I felt like we were finally able to get on with our lives and actually stepping toward change, no matter who was leading us. For the rest of the day, it was as if I was light as a feather. I was extremely giddy, yet at peace with the world, as I knew it was moving forward.

(I know, I was loving the overhead, too.)

Even today, I am unable to get a grip on my emotions. Last night was phenomenal. When I showed up at the event I was attending, Obama was already over two-thirds of the way there. It was like a football game. I almost wanted to go home because I knew we'd won. (But then you never know if McCain had some of that Texas Tech miracle power, and might have come back in the last second.) The moment they declared Barack president felt almost surreal. I blinked and it was true. And all of a sudden, I couldn't believe that America had come this far. That was the moment I was rendered speechless.

The speeches from both candidates were extremely moving. I was thrilled to witness such a historical moment, Obama walking out on stage to accept the presidency. After growing up hearing about the terrors that African Americans have endured, and still do, I am beyond myself that such a positive change has happened in the first quarter of my life. And his slogan, "Yes we can," is so powerful. It is that attitude that will carry Americans through to a bright new world.

This election process reminds me of A Bug's Life, when the ants rally together and create the change they need. It feels good to belong to a colony. :) Seriously, though, I have never felt such a strong sense of community in such a big way. I am so excited about the following four years. I truly feel that Barack Obama will be the change we need.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween to All!

Isn't Halloween amazing?? I mean, it's one big night of performance art. I love seeing what people come up with to dress up as. I, myself, have come up with some doozies in the past. I'm sure many of you remember the old bachelor cake costume (girl-popping-out-of-cake thing). I've also been a Sanderson sister, a Moulin Rouge dancer, and a big baby in recent years.

This year was a bit last-minute, but I was still pretty proud of my costume. I went as (drum roll, please) Minnie Mouse. And I was freaking adorable, thank you. :) I made about half of the costume, and put bits and pieces together. I never like buying the store-made costumes, I feel like they're never done quite right. This way's much better. I mean look at those hands!!

I saw quite a few amazing costumes this weekend. One kid was one of those awesome home-made robots with boxes spray-painted silver and foil and pipes and weird buttons to push. (I don't think my run-on description quite does it justice.) When I went out later on, I also saw Thing One and Thing Two, Sushi, Peter Griffin, the Pope, Beeker (sp?) and his partner, the entire Simpson family, and a Walrus. Kind of amazing. And one of my friends had the brilliant idea to rent her costume from the Guthrie! It was one of those goth Victorian dresses with a corset on top and tons of velvet fabric and lace. Absolutely gorgeous! And what a good idea.

What about you guys? What did you go as? And what were the top 5 costumes you were so fortunate to witness? I'd love to hear!

BTW: If you're looking for a good laugh, read this personal ad on Craigslist. What can I say, I get a kick out of going through these things every now and then. There are some pretty freaking hilarious entries. Once I found one where the guy's pic was a professional photo of him and a girl (I'm guessing his ex) with her head cut out. LOL! Bitter much? This is a personal ad, remember.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It Was Fate!

Great news! I am related to Grim Natwick!! You know, the guy who illustrated Betty Boop, Snow White, and many other Disney characters? He's related to my uncle somehow. Ironic, isn't it??

(For those of you who don't know, in high school I was known as Snow White. The name was even on my letter jacket. I used to get that I looked like her all of the time. You know, skin as white as snow, black hair, absolutely gorgeous. :) It must have been fate that I turned out this way!)**

This guy is amazing. I googled him today, curious to learn more about the man, and the search results were full of pages that hailed him as the greatest animator that ever lived. He's a real animator's animator. People kind of worship him. He's kind of a big deal.

Honestly, I can see why, he was one of the most influential cartoonists that lived. I mean, just look at the pieces he's worked on. All new and exciting in their time, and most still out-do cartoons today, if you ask me. But I'm not biased :). Seriously, even before I knew of this relation, I really admired the style and simplicity of the cartoons back that I now know he was responsible for.

The great thing about this man and his cartoons is that, before simplifying the human body so drastically, he studied it hardcore for years. I've found some of his sketches from his studies in Europe online, very detailed and realistic. His cartoons work so well because of this intense knowledge of the body and the way it works, even though they are portrayed in the most simple forms possible. It is so easy to want to jump ahead in art without really studying and learning to draw things "correctly" first. But it pays off.

It is really inspiring to look at Grim's work, whether you are related or not. To see a few more images from Grim Natwick's drawings, try Boing Boing, a blog with a collection of his drawings. Or you could just Google the name. Do it.

**For anyone reading this who doesn't know me, the answer is no. I am not actually that full of myself.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Inspiration from the East

Today, I thought I might do what I said I would in my first entry, share what inspires me. As of late, I have become increasingly interested in Eastern cultures. It all began with a little girl who resembled the goddess Lakshmi.

For those of you who have not seen this phenomenon, a little girl was born in India with a striking resemblance to the Hindu goddess of luck and beauty, Lakshmi. Why a phenomenon, you ask? The Goddess Lakshmi is generally portrayed with eight limbs, four arms and four legs. The mother had prayed to that particular goddess on the day Lakshmi (the baby girl) was born and had seen a sign, so thought the resemblance no coincidence. People would travel to come see the young goddess, to offer gifts and lay hands on her.

**Photo from website www.dailymail.co.uk

For those of you who are skeptical, this is not just a doctored photo. I saw this story on a TV show, where she was picked up, held and put down, and shown from all angles. Of course, there was a medical explanation for the extra limbs. Lakshmi's identical sister had been joined to her at the pelvis in the womb. The condition would have been life-threatening later on, so the child underwent surgery and is believed to be doing well.

My interest was really sparked by this goddess with eight limbs. What imagination! I began recalling stories I had been told from India, and remembering the beautiful artwork that accompanies most of them. I thought this would be wonderful inspiration, so I bought a book on the culture, rented movies based in the area, and have been googling related topics ever since.

Everything that I have seen so far has been amazing. I'm positive that you've heard of The Namesake, and if you have not seen it I do recommend it. Another film that I stumbled across and cannot wait until it reaches me from Netflix is called Water. It's about an eight-year-old girl whose husband (arranged marriage) died, and she is forced to spend the rest of her days in a Hindu temple for widows. Quite negative, but when you go to research a culture, you are bound to find faults.

The imagery that I have has all shown incredible intricacy and beauty, and the patterns involved really add a great touch. I like looking at the patterns used in Henna designs, and anything spiritual will always give inspiration. One type of image that I discovered that I had not known before is called Rangoli. Rangoli is one of the most popular artforms in India, made of colored sand/rice powder and often found outside homes or religious places. It is sort of a blessing, and patterns are often passed down through families. This particular Rangoli design really stopped me. It is for a festival called Diwali, and is much more extravagant than the everyday Rangoli.

**Photo from buckofive Flickr photostream

Anyway, for those of you seeking new inspiration, I'm telling you, this is the answer. The color usage, patterns, and style of illustrations from India and other Eastern countries are sure to inspire you. Google Rangoli, Henna designs, and Hindu gods/goddesses, and just see where it takes you. Best of luck!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lovin' The Walker

So I don't know how much I've told you about the arts here in the Twin Cities. For instance, did you know that famous sculpture of the big spoon and cherry is here? Yeah. I had forgotten, too. And the museum where it's located, the Walker Art Center, is pretty freaking amazing.

One of my favorite things about the Walker is that there is a huge outdoor sculpture garden (where the spoon is), which is always open, and always free. There are all kinds of sculptures there, abstract, surreal, realistic, and some that maybe don't really make sense. But that's art. One is really pretty amazing. It's an arrangement of bushes and mirrors that created a very weird effect to where you aren't quite sure where you actually are in the space. The one shown below drew me to it because of the amazing detail in the fabric and position of the jacket, and the interesting composition of the three pieces. There is also a lovely little garden. A perfect place for a nice little picnic, or just to take a walk and get inspired.

For more photographs of the Walker Sculpture Garden, visit my Flickr photostream.

Something that is really inspiring to me is what was shown in the latest exhibition at the Walker, Design for the Other 90%. It was an exhibition with projects showing what engineers/designers have been doing to help those in need. Every single piece cut back on energy, cost, or back-breaking effort on the part of the people using it. And a lot of them seem like such simple solutions that had just been overlooked.

For instance, one invention was this doughnut-shaped barrel that holds water. A worker can tie a rope through the hole in the container, and easily wheel it to the rest of the workers who need water. This is so much easier than alternative forms of transporting water, and so simple!

There were also a few brilliant housing solutions for those in need. One required no tools to assemble, and is made out of weather-resistant materials. It would be easy to ship, easy to assemble, and quite comfortable for a relatively small family. There was also some solar energy kitchen equipment. One of them was basically a huge satellite dish with mirrors all around, and a place for a pot to sit in the middle.

The invention that I was most touched by (shown above) was a straw-like thing that made it safe for people without clean water to sip on any surface water without contracting diseases. Sort of a pocket Brita filter, if you will. Something extremely necessary in some areas of the world.

It is so inspiring to see what is being done for the less fortunate, and it really makes you want to be a part of it all. If this exhibition comes to a museum near you, I highly recommend visiting it. Or you could always come visit and get the full effect of the Walker, the spoon, and the rest of the exhibitions here.

(P.S. To friends and family in H-town, my thoughts are with you this weekend. I hope you remain safe and unharmed by Mr. Ike.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008


So for those of you who didn't watch the news, the Republican National Convention was last week. And it was held (guess where) right down the street from me! Scary? Yes. Eventful? Mmmm yes and no.

So my first strategy was to hibernate. Who wants to get stuck in that kind of traffic? But when McCain nominated Palin as his VP, I realized I had to be a part of this. No matter who wins, this election is making history, and I would hate to tell my grandchildren that I was there, but hid in my apartment. It was also enticing to learn about the celebs in town - Susan Sarandon, Maggie Gyllenhal, Jon Stewart, and more! So I went outside.

To my disappointment, I ran into none of the above. If only I had better stalker skills! I did run into policemen, more policemen than I have seen in my entire life! There was one on every corner in downtown Saint Paul and Minneapolis, there was one waiting under every single bridge on 94 (and other roads, I'm sure), there were groups of them waiting in random areas, armed with bullet-proof suits and plastic handcuffs. I have never seen such anticipation in my life! And not once did I see any of them have a reason to be armed. It was kind of ridiculous.

I did see some interesting forms of protests - groups of bikers, concerts, signs. One blanket-sign in my neighborhood said, "More trees, less bush." And I saw one group of bikers who had paper-mached their bikes to be an elephant and a donkey, and on the elephant was written, "Forever in your debt." Probably the most extreme thing that I saw was a guy walking over the freeway dressed in a grim reaper costume, holding a black and white American flag. And there was a video outside of the Cathedral pointing out each Republican's flaws. People were rather creative!

Supposedly, close to 800* people were arrested this week. Some of them were even tear-gassed. I'm not sure there was always just cause. As I said before, there was a bit too much anticipation by the cops. For instance, I was walking in downtown Minneapolis on night, and ran into fleets of cops, cop cars and vans (and some News teams), waiting for a Rage Against the Machine concert to end. I waited there for 45 minutes while people streamed out, and I have to say I never saw a reason for the cops to be there (other than to direct traffic). In another instance, somebody had left a backpack on a bridge. They had barricaded the bridge with 40+ cops, and a few trucks and Hummers. People were standing all around the area, waiting for something to happen, but as in the earlier scenario, it was very anti-climactic.

(Only a small part of the pandemonium shown here. Imagine this times 5 on each side of the bridge. Quite an event.)

So my RNC experience probably isn't anything to write home about. Of course being here was pretty exciting, but I'm sure reading about it is a drag, as nothing ever did happen. The bars were all reserved for private parties, so it was hard to get in on most of the action. I did get interviewed by a German TV station! But besides all of the above, I saw what you all did on TV, and still haven't made my mind up about Palin. What do you guys think?

(P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos. I didn't exactly take my camera with me on my adventures. Smart, eh?)

Monday, August 18, 2008

At Home in St. Paul

I made it!! It's taken forever to get everything set up, but I am finally here, and I finally have Internet access. All I need is a dresser, and I am set!

And guess what is on the way up here from Texas. Kansas City. What does that mean? Hammerpress, Hallmark, and all kinds of kickass places!! The Hammerpress space is amazing. It was just inspiring to be there. Any artist or designer should try to make it there at some point in their career. And then you should drive on to Minneapolis to see me!! :)

For more photos of Hammerpress, visit my Flickr photostream.

My apartment is...let's call it intimate. It's a nice little studio space with small kitchen area and bathroom. It's perfect for me right now, and I'm very happy in it. It is true that there is no air conditioning, but I've put a few fans up, and it's really not unbearable. I feel like I get a look of pity from other people who visit, but I don't think they see what I do.

This place was built in the '30's, and not much has changed since. The windows, light fixtures, wood floor, etc. is all original. This means that the windows all stick and hardly open, and there are scratches and dings everywhere. I have to tell you, I love wrestling with the windows, and all of the scratches really just mean that I don't have to worry about messing things up. Nice for an artist.

The furniture is similar in that way. I've gotten most of it for free, "borrowing" everything from families who don't need them anymore, who are kind enough to let me use them. People say that I can get nicer things as I have more of an income, but honestly I'm perfectly comfortable here. I think I'll just save my money and satisfy my travel thirst.

My neighbors seem pretty interesting. The oldest tenant spends every day sitting out on the front lawn with her dog, sort of guarding the place and greeting passersby. There are some college students that stay here. One of the residents owns this ridiculous car [note the toilet on top]. It might be for a parade coming up, we'll see how long it stays parked in the lot.

(I wish you could get the full effect from a photo.)

The location is incredible, I am right behind a great local coffee shop called Nina's with free wi-fi, and a few restaurants and salons. There's also an art school on the corner, a park across the street, an old Swedish church on the corner of my street, and an old Cathedral a few blocks away. There are also a few pubs around, and a really nice street not far with a ton of small businesses and great locals to meet.

Did I mention that my complex has red doors? Just the cherry on top of an amazing place to live. Photos of the interior to come, I've got a few things to set up still. More about the Mini Apple and it's brother, St. Paul, to come as well. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Taking the Leap

So guess what, folks. I am moving up there. Nope, no job yet. Screw knowing how I'm going to have any income, I'm just going to do it. I have a studio apartment in St. Paul, right near the governor's house, right down the street from Garrison Keillor and a huge beautiful Cathedral. We'll see what happens, eh?

Okay, a bit more info. I've always had the travel bug, and I've always seen myself moving out of Texas as soon as I graduated college. I had always seen myself as a New England kind of girl, but my sights have changed to the Twin Cities. That's right, Minneapolis/St. Paul. Where, you say? Don't I know it's cold up there? Yeah, I realize. But I'm excited.

I researched a bit and the Twin Cities is exactly my kind of town. The theater scene is huge, music is big, it's practically a design mecca, and the average age there is in the early 30's. It's a young, cultured, fun-loving scene, and I think I will fit right in. They call Minneapolis the Mini Apple, as opposed to the Big Apple. It is a lot like New York, only smaller and cleaner and more affordable. And more Scandinavian.

Alright, that's basically it. I wanted to let y'all know I'm doing it, taking the leap. That's right, I still say y'all. I think that's one I'll keep.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Oh, Pep."

So, funny thing happened to me today. I tell ya, it's a very odd feeling to be trapped in a confined space. You may be thinking of elevators, where normal people get stuck. Nope. Think bathroom.

First I should tell you that I am staying at my aunt's house in Minneapolis at the moment, trying to find a job. So I am getting ready to shower this morning, and there was that odd moment when you are using someone else's shower when you wonder, Should I lock the outer door? What if someone needs to come in just to use the outer space? They know I'm showering, they wouldn't walk in here... The debate goes on, but you catch my drift. So I decide (yes, I made a decision) that I should just close the inner door. And I find that it locks! And then I find that it does not unlock and will not open. Mmmmm fun.

I took my shower, because if you think about it, they are more likely to go looking for me if they hear that I finished my shower and am still not out yet. Then I just sat and waited. I tried banging on the door a few times and yelling out names, but they couldn't hear me. I could hear them, but they couldn't hear me.

So I was just waiting until I hear someone walk up the stairs, and I am proud to say that I was rather calm. I rationalized that I wouldn't be stuck in there more than a day, someone would have to use that bathroom at some point. Plus, when you think about it, I was locked in the best place to survive for a long time. Think about it, you've got a toilet to use, and you've got water to drink from the bath faucet. You couldn't really eat anything in there, but you could survive quite a while in there. I was trying to think of something in there that would be edible, and I found myself wondering, What would Survivor Man do? I can just see it now. You know he would make it all dramatic. He would probably find some "extremely rare edible lotion," or wrap a damp bath towel around his head to keep cool.

I seriously did wonder about running out of oxygen at one brief point. Stupid, I know, but it was pretty humid and hard to breathe in there after I had showered. You always see them worry about oxygen in movies when they get trapped in a space. I wondered how long it would take to run out. It would be such a weird way to go. The paper would read, "Girl, 22, just graduated college and about to embark on the rest of her life, and had just arrived in Minneapolis to become a successful human being, died yesterday after accidentally locking herself in a bathroom." Life can be ironic like that. Have I told you I was hit by a Hummer a few days after my 21st birthday? Yeah.

Of course, it never came to that. I couldn't have been waiting more than half an hour before my aunt came upstairs and heard me. She didn't even have to call a locksmith or anything, she just got a screwdriver and jimmied it open. Anti-climatic, I know.

But hey, I can now add Trapped in Closed Space to things I have survived. When you think about it, it's interesting how much we live through. Sure, some hardships/dangers seem minor, but practically anything you do could be life-threatening. I mean, I've flown in planes more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. In the end, we do okay. It kind of makes you question fear, and the way we sometimes let it control our lives. It's a stretch, but my bathroom story comes with a moral: "The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all." Wise words spoken by the dad in Princess Diaries.

(If you continue to keep up with me, you may look forward to hearing many stories like this. I tend to get myself into weird situations. My friends in Lubbock would respond to a story like this with an "Oh, Pep." They're used to it.)

Friday, May 23, 2008


I was lucky enough to get some freelance work while I am in Sugar Land. A friend of the family contacted me to design some logos and a mousepad for his clients. I am so grateful for the work, and it is always good to get experience, but prepare yourself for a short rant.

The client wanted a gradient. They want a logo with 3-D Times New Roman or something boring. With gradients all over it, of course. I think they think it looks professional. I see dated. They're lawyers. They would probably win the argument.

On top of that, the Extrude & Bevel option in my Illustrator wasn't working right, so I did every gradient on that thing myself. And it looks damn good for being so ugly, thank you.

Did I mention there's a star? There's a star. Because we live in Texas.

I am terrible, I shouldn't be ranting about this. This is what I do, I give the client what they want. Even if I disagree. Can I help it if I disagree?

This is an age-old problem for designers. We know what we're talking about when it comes to design - most of us have studied or practiced it for years - yet rarely does the client really take full advantage of our design sense.

I think I'll allow myself this rant. Just this once. I swear. :)

I may be lying.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Drive Home

The drive between Lubbock and Sugar Land takes 8 to 10 hours, depending on your road personality. I usually get looks of pity when I mention this fact to friends; however this drive is something that I am really going to miss. It's like I was telling a friend of mine yesterday, you just kind of have to accept that you are about to spend an entire day on the road, and give in to the experience. I am not very Texan, and have never felt that I really belong in Texas, but over the course of these trips across the state, I have fallen in love with it.

There are only about 15-20 small towns you drive through along the route that I take. They are all adorable and quirky in their own way. One town, Hamilton, boasts the slogan: "What a Hometown Should Be." And it is. Then there is Gatesville, where some of my friends are from, a town known for their high-security prisons. I also pass through Fort Hood. And there is one landmark I will never forget, which marks the halfway point in my trip. Believe it or not, this little ranch in the middle of nowhere just outside of Comanche is called Deep Shit Cattle Co. No joke. Don't blink or you're bound to miss it. There are also tons of antique stores, Dairy Queens, and town squares along the way (surprisingly few Starbucks), but none of these places take more than 5 minutes of your trip. The rest of the day is filled with open land and sky.

Thus, if you are driving this alone as I usually do, the majority of the trip is spent in your own little world. When you are not stuck behind a huge semi going 60 and trying (unsuccessfully) to stifle your road rage, you are left to your music and your thoughts. I went through about 7 CDs this last trip, a few of which I had not listened to in ages and brought back memories from high school, and one of which was "Learn to Speak Italian." This particular CD poses somewhat of a dilemma, as it supplies all of the names and locations for you. Thus, when someone asks me my name and where I'm from, I just know I'll answer, "Mi chiamo Maria Santoni; sono di Dondra," which means, "My name is Maria Santoni; I am from London." That's false, by the way. But I am learning more with every trip.

Other than that I thought a lot about my future. I just graduated, and I'm at this odd point in my life in which I have nowhere to go and nothing to do, but I could go anywhere and do anything my heart desires. So what does my heart desire? Too many things, I can't decide. I'm dying to travel, I have a degree in graphic design and am going to use it (how, I don't know), but I would also love to learn to cook, and maybe open my own shop somewhere, maybe teach somewhere down the road, and I definitely need to start that band. I figure I'll work it out along the way, for now I just need to choose one direction and go with it. I'm a big girl now, and if I find I am unhappy with what I am doing, I can always change it.

Anyway, I highly recommend this kind of drive to anyone and everyone. If you are ever presented with such a long "boring" task, dive in headfirst and embrace it. As with every other experience, you may get more out of it than you thought.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Welcome to Peptalk!

As I mentioned in my About Me section, I admit I am a bit odd. I am one of those people who sees and experiences the world differently than most. This comes out a lot in my design, but I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. I know that, if only you could step into my head for one second, you could join my train of thought. But this is probably the closest you can get. Here you will find random thoughts, inspiration, moments, design, music, and everything that interests me as the days go by. This can be a good place to keep up with me and my life, to learn new things, to ponder different issues, to get inspired about what you do, or just to look at the world through new eyes.

I do hope you enjoy!