I Create

Carín: “I make” in Quenya.

It may also be loosely translated to, “I create, one who makes, creator”.

These are the days where I’ll try new things to see what sticks. Can’t do a variation on a theme? Can’t give a nod and a wink to pop culture? Can’t participate in the zeitgeist of meme-dom? Am I not acceptably speaking your language? Fine.

I’ll speak another language.

I’m learning Quenya. Not because I feel the need to be COMPLETE chick magnet or anything…

That’s right, baby! I’m fluent in Quenya, Na’vi, AND Klingon…whaddaya say we ditch these losers at the Anime Expo and go back to my place and catch a Big Bang Theory marathon?

I’m learning it because I believe I can make something out of it. It’s interesting to look at and fun to write. Am I going to exclusively go in this direction and put this on everything I make? Not really. I view it as a way back; a possibility. Since I can’t be as free as I’d like to be in my embrace of popular references, I’ll go down the road less traveled and see where that takes me.

The above illustration translates to, “I make”. I thought it most appropriate as my personal totem. Perhaps in the future, I’ll use this in something like a t-shirt or a sign hung over my door or something. Maybe I’ll use this as the unofficial motto or logo of my company or have this tattooed on my shoulder. But for now, I’ll use it for my Favicon.

On Getting Knocked Down Seven Times.

“I  fall down seven times, I get up eight.” In Quenya
  1. I’m still unemployed.

Outside of some random, nameless employer actually taking the time out of their busy schedule last week to point out in great detail how stupendously under-qualified I am, I would have the opinion that no one is hiring at all, and every employer is posting want ads to fill some sort of quota.

     2. Establishing entrepreneurship when you don’t even have a mission statement…sucks.

I have learned that you just can’t start a business solely on the premise of making a buck. I know this because every other post on my Google+ page tells me so. In order to succeed, one must have a plan. I had a plan

…at least, I thought I had one…

~***~
So, I opened my store. It was something I was planning on doing for a while, all I need was more product to sell and I could officially open. That was my goal. Upon finding more time on my hands earlier this year, I decided to devote some time into doing so, and it was good. Honest work, applying new found skills to something that I like doing. For me. Not anyone else. For me.

A few weeks passed, and there was no time to rest on my laurels. I need more designs.

But what?

What other idea did I have for sale? It took about 5 seconds for me to stumble onto my eureka moment. “I know,” I thought. “I’ll finish up those projects I meant to finish last year!”

The project in question is this…

(Wow…sorry, looking at this now, I’m just taking note of where I was a few months ago to where I am now. Which is to say I’m still nowhere near pro… Give me a minute… I just have to shake my head a little longer.)

I’m online doing a Google Search, or I’m window shopping on Etsy. I’m shuffling down the aisles at my local Flea Market. I holding back the bile as I shop at Wal-Mart. It doesn’t take too much of a stretch to figure out that our society is based on plagiarism in varying degrees; Every idea is a re-hash of something that had already came before it. The whole Twilight phenomenon, for example. There are sections at my local Barnes & Noble devoted entirely to pouty, insolent, post-pubescent vampires, or some variation on the theme. Good artists borrow, great artists steal, and there’s no avoiding it. Sure, as a creator/author/artist, you could blaze your own trail and with a little luck, your idea might catch on in five years or so. Might. In about five years time, you may be able to reap the rewards or your original idea, but in the meantime, you’ve got bills to pay. Why not cater to the broadest common denominator? Why not sell out just to survive? People do it all the time. It’s not like I’m going to be doing it forever.

Image courtesy of here

I got it in my head last year that I could manufacture a series of t-shirts that was based on the concept…CONCEPT… that every major kingdom in the FICTIONAL land of Westeros, as bloodthirsty and greedy as they may be, they may have had at one time, an institute of higher learning. Far fetched as it may be, it’s still a pretty good concept, and from what I see (and to back up my previous point) I am not the first one to come up with this. If you have a few moments, do a Google Image search on “House Stark” or any other house in this land made constructed by Mr. Martin, and you’ll see what I mean. Yes it’s plagiarism, but it has evolved beyond that. It’s an appreciation of form of art, which in this case is pop culture, by not imitating it, but by embellishing it, relishing it, and perhaps running with a concept. These are my thoughts, my mission statement in my head, as I take the better part of two weeks, gather up all of my notes and tutorials and web pages and sequester myself away in front of my computer to further my skills and perhaps, with any luck, to make some money.

Everything. On the page.

I don’t know which was the more challenging at times, finding and/or constructing the right vectors and designs, or the actual planning. It’s a routine that I was used to a lifetime ago in college, but it’s something I would have never thought I would ever to apply it to a livelihood. Years ago, I was entering the real world where they are more interested in numbers. I know it might be considered the grind to some people, and a fruitless endeavor to most, and I may turn crusty and jaded before too long, but I’m just starting. And even though I have yet to successfully get my name out there or make any money, for the time being, I finally like what I’m doing. I’m happy.

So, after applying my proboscis to a spinning wheel of stone for days, this is what I made.

 
Not bad, right? T-shirt worthy? I first started this thinking in terms of what kind of institution this is in relation to where they were located. For instance, for House Baratheon, instead of focusing on the obvious Stag-with-a-crown logo that every one else does, I instead decided to do research on the kingdom, like what does the population do, what is there main source of revenue, that sort of thing. Full disclosure: I never watched the show, and I’m only 1/10th of the way through the book so I have nothing tangible to work with.I would rather research the subject that I have no idea on rather than make stuff up. I had very little to go by other than the geography. They are a coastal kingdom, that’s pretty much all I’ve found. Coastal town equals fishing town equals maritime culture equals naval academy. Right? Not too far removed and not too far out that one would scratch their head trying to figure it out. I’m looking for originality. I’m looking for my niche in this world of one-offs and subtle borrowing. I am being careful by trying to be original.
Turns out, the company that I’m selling my work through doesn’t see it that way. It turns out that the company I’m submitting my work to, feels that blatant rip offs of intellectual property by an established, albeit independent designer, is more noteworthy than a designer who is just starting out who actually puts thought into his designs. I’m reading this email from the company as I’m putting color to my work so I could expand the line a bit; perhaps adding a bumper sticker or two would do the trick. I’m reading this as I’m taking more notes to remember the hex number of the colors I’m using. I’m reading this, and I whisper to myself, “keep going.”
All at once, I remember all the times that I stood up for something, anything, and…
  • was told to shut up
  • was beat up in a school yard
  • was told I was being immature
  • was informed that I didn’t know what I was talking about
  • was told that my services were no longer needed
  • was ignored and/or ostracized
  • had my life threatened

I remember all those times, and they just pass right over me. It would be right about this time that I would throw a fit, and go sulk for years.

But not this time.
Now is the time for getting up. In the course of writing this blog, I have discovered a handful of websites that would gladly take my business. Just because I’m unable to do what I need to do with them, doesn’t mean I can’t go through someone else. It’s not the end of the world.
I read the bad news email, I finish my project, and I stare it my page full of notes and sketches I remember every single time I was knocked back. Then I think to myself, “You know what? I’m glad they slapped me down. Because I know I’m better than this.” I’m better than all of this. Instead of pandering, I could have been spending all this time making something unique and different and genuine. I don’t need to rely on pop culture to get my point across. Collect what you did, remember why you got into this to begin with, take a deep breath, close your eyes and do the only thing you can do in this situation…
…Turn the page…

 

I used to fear the blank page. Now, I welcome it.

I have to remember, constantly remember, to look for opportunities where I would have seen defeat. As I was writing this, I’ve made another sale over the weekend.

I got knocked down, but I got up again…

…you’re never gonna keep me dowOOOOOHHH NOOOO! LOOK OUT!

The Good News Has Arrived, But No One is Smiling.

*Click*
“Oh look! The job I just applied for a few minutes ago just responded back. This could be good news!…Let’s see here…”
*clickity-click*

“Dear applicant,

You have requested information regarding Job Order Number ****** Office/Accounting Clerk your Employ Florida resume should include the requirements below to apply and be referred to this position.
  • Minimum five (5) years of experience as a full bookkeeper
  • Proficiency with Excel Spreadsheets and Quarterly Reports
  • Best to have construction accounting knowledge, computer experience in QuickBooks, with a full understanding of accounting which includes accounts payable and job costing
  • Experience with Rent Manager or property management is a plus.

Thank you for using Employ Florida Marketplace…”

As I’m reading this, the headlines from cable news is leading off with the the good news that the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years. And cable news, being cable news, sort of left the subject at that. As if it was some sort of Friday pep talk. You know the ones? The ones that draw us out of our cubicles with donuts like animals at feeding time at the zoo. “Hey, everyone! Good news! America is back again! Unemployment is down so yeah!

‘MURICA!!!

I turn off the television because there’s only so much of the cacophonous obnoxiousness I can stand. I turn my NPR as an antidote (even though I live in Florida, I stream WBUR out of Boston. Nothing against the local stations down here, it’s just that the station coming out of Orlando sounds it’s operated by a bunch of people who just want to jump off a building into a pit of hungry alligators). Their lead story is of the current job market as well; “It seems that the unemployment rate is dropping,” says the anchor. And NPR, being NPR, will always look at the bigger picture and give the news, not the news that corporate overlords want you to hear. “It seems that the unemployment rate is dropping…BUT the report does not account for the people who have given up the search, and have essentially walked away from the job market.Which is quite substantial.

“…Why did the unemployment rate sink? Because 806,000 fewer people were in the workforce. Many retired or ended their job hunts. And fewer-than-expected people began looking for work…” –JOSH BOAK AP Economics Writer 5/3/2014

Mind you this is not news. This is a news story that is recycled on a regular basis and does nothing to change the landscape for job seekers. What made it different this time was the reporter ended the lede with “…economists are still baffled as to why.” Baffled in terms of why so many people are not going back to work.

Really? I thought that being an economist involves perhaps just a smidgen of taking a look at the bigger picture. What you’re implying is that people are just walking away from the job search because they’ve given up hope, while at the same time every job has been filled. While partially true, I think you would find the answer to your conundrum if you would focus your attention to why people are allegedly walking away to begin with. Your implication would allow the typical Fox News viewer to believe that everyone in ‘Murica is lazy and it’s all Obama’s fault because Benghazi…Perhaps you should shed a little light on why companies aren’t hiring the way they used to.

All one would have needed to do was to pay attention for the passed decade to at least get an idea of it:

  • Fierce competition from within and without
  • A collapsed housing market directly related to…
  • Rising college tuition.
  • A health care system that spends more time eating itself rather than taking care of people.

Couple that with outsourcing, an unwillingness to offer a living wage, a decrease in a sense of urgency to hire full time, and all but flat out criminalizing their employees for participating in the ACA, is there any real mystery at all as to why people are walking away? If you need more reasons here are some of the greatest hits every job seeker has heard before they walk away…

  • We’re not hiring right now
  • We’ve filled that position
  • You’re too young
  • You’re too old
  • You don’t have enough experience
  • You have too much experience
  • You have the adequate education, but no real-world experience
  • You have plenty of practical experience, but no degree
  • You’ve stated on your resume that you know how to do this, but that technology is too old.
  • You don’t know how to juggle while riding a unicycle (or, my favorite…)
  • We like you, and we want to hire you, but can you work for less than minimum wage with no benefits at part-time hours?

If these so-called “Job Creators” are such sacred cows, then why aren’t they holding up their end of the bargain? Granted, I knew I had not one chance at being hired for the job I started this blog with. I know I have very little chance at every other job I apply for as well. That’s not to say that I’m a complete idiot and have never worked an excel spread sheet before. On the job training has turned into a liability. No “job creator” wants to invest the time and effort into someone they want on a temporary basis anyway. There is no more “Learn as you go”. A degree is no guarantee, and the skill set to do something that is essentially mundane busywork is over the moon. Nowadays, you do need a doctorate degree to be considered to man the fry station at a McDonald’s. Am I exaggerating? Not really.

If these so-called “Job Creators” are such sacred cows, then why aren’t they holding up their end of the bargain? I have yet to hear of one job that was created by these people that didn’t involve guns or a casino. The American Dream has packed up and moved overseas leaving the rest of us to polish the brass on the Titanic. If there are so many good jobs out there, where are they? If the good news is that unemployment is lower than it has been in years, why isn’t anyone happy?

This is the reason why I’m trekking out on my own. I consider it madness to try and shoehorn myself into a job that I might have experience in, only to not be satisfied with it. The chances of me finding something I might be compatible with are drying up. Pretty soon, I’ll be one of the ones who are walking away.

You Like Me! You Really, Really Like Me!

I was so busy yesterday, that I couldn’t keep up with my emails. When I finally had the time to sit down and go through everything, I noticed that I have been nominated by +Michelle Stanley  for The Liebster Award. It was only after I rented my tux and put a security deposit on a stretch limo that I figured out that A.) It’s only an “award” given to the bloggers who have been blogging there little bloggy hearts out for years, but have less than 300 followers, and B.) more importantly, there’s no monetary prize involved. Not even so much as a Pulitzer Prize-type medal that I can show off on my mantelpiece…

In any case, it is a lovely social vehicle; it’s a decent way to say “hello” to all the bloggers that I follow. It’s also a pretty good way to draw attention to the bloggers who deserve more followers than they already have. Granted, it’s in the form of a chain letter, and it smacks of that old Facebook gimmick where if you “Like” something, you automatically saved a baby, or cured cancer, or captured some obscure war criminal, but it’s a welcomed distraction.

It sounds like I might be a little too hard on this, but actually it’s kind of fun. If anything, it got me in front of the keyboard and start typing. It also forces me to do something else I’m not that good at…

…Network…

My biggest problem was going through all the bloggers that I know/follow that have less than 300 followers. Luckily, after a few moments of circle-jumping, I have found a handful that truly deserve your attention.

But that comes later. First, to the blurb….

The Rules:

  1. Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.
  2. List 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate.
  5. Ask them 11 questions.
  6. Do not re-nominate the blogger who nominated you.
  7. Go to each blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination.

11 Random Things About Myself:

  1. I like to cook. Any given night can go somewhere else, but thou shall keep Saturday Night sacred as Home Made Pizza Night.
  2. I think sea cruises are overrated.
  3. I’m a Browncoat.
  4. I drank tea for two years straight, until I remembered how much I missed coffee.
  5. I was a vegetarian for six years straight, until I remembered how much I missed meat sandwiches.
  6. I was a smoker almost thirty years, until I remembered how much I liked breathing.
  7. I started writing rather late; in Jr. High School. Even though I never kept up with it, it has always been patient, waiting. Waiting for me to come out and dance.
  8. I love chess, I’m just not that good playing it (same goes for WoW, D&D, golf…most ball sports).
  9. I can’t stand musical theater, and yet I’ve memorized every song from West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Misérables.
  10. I’m not a fan of Buffalo Wings. There, I said it.
  11. I’m a huge introvert, but I will not hesitate to speak in front of large audiences.

Questions Asked¹:


     1. Name 3 Secrets You never told anyone.

  • I played Dr. Frankenfurter in a live stage show of RHPS…that’s right…I can work it…
  • I once smoked grass while watching Refer Madness (which, in my opinion, is the only way to watch it).
  • I prefer my Strawberry Pop Tarts…UNtoasted! (these aren’t really secrets, I just don’t have that many)

     2. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you’d do?
            Invest. Put that money to work! Then, pay off some debts.

     3. Looking over the last ten years, what is one goal you have achieved, and goal
      you have not achieved?     
            Achieved: Do something worth while. Not achieved: Make a living out of it.

     4. What are your plans for retirement? And will you travel? If so, where and why?
            What is this “retirement” thing you speak of? I presume some traveling will be involved, perhaps to              Europe. I would love to spend some time in Brittany, or the Amalfi Coast.

     5. Favorite Drink on a Friday Night?
            It’s usually a Diet Coke because I’m burning midnight oil making pizza dough for the next day. But if  
            all my chores are done, and there’s nothing left to do and the house isn’t on fire, then it’s a whiskey
            on the rocks.

    6. What do you think the secret to a good marriage or relationship with a significant other is?
           Not really sure if I can answer this question with any sort of accuracy. Being divorced and a veteran
           of several failed/doomed relationships, I prefer to plead the fifth on this one. However, from what I
           can ascertain from the relationships I see work, I believe it has something to do with communication
           and a bit of sympathy; the ability to know where the other is coming from.

     7. Name three words that describe your personality.
           Stubborn, Nerdy, Passionate

     8. Home cooked meal, or take-out?
           Home cooked, just about always. And I don’t mean something you throw in a microwave. I mean
           something that takes more than 30 minutes to prepare, and involves dirty dishes. It’s much more fun
           to do it yourself, and I believe it holds a family closer together.

     9. When was the last time you blogged and what was it about?
           It was 2 days ago, telling people that there was more blogs in the works. It’s 2 days later and I’m still
           not finished.

     10. What do you think is the key to happiness?
           Well, I don’t think I could put it any more succinct than Monty Python:

“…Well, it’s nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations…”

     11. Who is your favorite poet and why?
            It has to be Richard Brautigan. He will always rise to the top of short listed favorite poets that I have.
            To me, he is someone that will always ride that fine line of the beautiful and the profane; like Tom
            Waits.

Right. Now on to my nominations for the Liebster Award…

Patrick Marsh                   http://greenlanddiary.blogspot.com/
Jenn Flynn-Shon               http://www.jennflynnshon.com/
Ginni-Lee Naylor              https://plus.google.com/u/0/106047553485605555646/about
Alana Harbison                 http://writingmylife79.blogspot.com/2014/04/illusions-and-lies-chapter-8.html
Victoria Addison               http://thecharminghermit.blogspot.co.uk/ (at the time of looking for nominees, she
                                         was well below 300 followers, as of today, she is well above.)

¹I’m not sure how this works, but just use the questions I was asked here.

      May 2nd, 2014: A quick update

      Mah goodness. SO many things to get to today.

      This morning, I was all set to blog about me being nominated for a Liebster Award by my friend, the busiest wordsmith in the Blogosphere, +Michelle Stanley. I was all set to dig in for the rest of the day and work on my acceptance speech and such (yes I know its a nomination, but you can never be too prepared).

      No sooner did I start on that then something else grabbed my attention. A story on NPR that reflected my current set of circumstances and as such, started an inertia that is almost impossible to stop, so I put the other thing down first, and directed my attention to this thing.

      No sooner did I start that thing is when something ELSE happened that kind of ate up most of the afternoon and is still in the process to take over my weekend. I assure you, that what I’m talking about right here is nothing big or Earth shattering, but it is blog fuel and I intend to use it soon.

      Also, speaking of Earth shattering, there is something that will happen soon that puts all these to shame and rest assured, I will be blogging about it.

      So, just wanted to let you know that I was intending to blog, and I will starting after this. Just wanted to keep you all in the loop.

      Watch this space…