Success

May 24th, 2012

 Okay, this is the last time I’ll mention Monster Haiku (Maybe. Probably. …ish?)

A Short Recap

The books arrived from the printer at the beginning of April and we spent several nights after work signing and numbering them (and checking and rechecking to make sure everyone’s name was in there). Making the packaging special was really important to us, so we lovingly wrapped each one with butcher paper and a belly band that Josh screen-printed with “HERE BE MONSTERS”. Each belly band also had little bite marks in it; I might have giggled maniacally when chomping each of those with the die-cutter.

Mailing everything was a learning experience, and despite doing some research before-hand, we were wrong wrong wrong; and so instead of printing some sweet labels at home and then having a margarita, we spent 2 1/2 hours at the post-office kiosk doing each package individually.  And THEN had a margarita.

Then we held our breath for three days, hoping everything went to the right place. Thankfully, we only had one package that went to an old address, and it was easily rectified. Whew!

And I’d like to say right now that I love the internet! I have met some of the most amazing people through these tubes, and it was downright magical watching friends, family, and people I didn’t even know make enthusiastic comments and post photos of their packages on Twitter and Facebook.

Then, when all of that died down, we had an April 13th art show at Lawrenceville’s Wildcard. If you are in Pittsburgh and you’ve never been there, you are missing out — they have everything you need in the realm of sweet art and handmade goods. My personal favorites are the crass cross-stitching kits and the wonderful wall of greeting cards. The art show was a mad success in both attendance and sales — and we had cupcakes out the wazoo.

The End!

A LOT of people helped make this project a success and I am so grateful for all the love given to us before, during, and after the project.  And, once it was all said and done, we donated more than $3,000 to March of Dimes.

This Monster Haiku project has been the most rewarding creative project I’ve ever worked on. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to swing a Monster Haiku 2 in the future…

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Keepin’ it Rollin’

April 1st, 2012

Despite a disheartening setback with our printer — a delay of two extra weeks due to lost files??? — Monster Haiku Vol. 1 is finally set to deliver today. When I get home from work there will be a snazzy box of sexy little books! I can’t wait to see them. Once I can confirm everything’s the way it’s supposed to be, I will heave one giant sigh of relief.

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This week will be one full of packing and preparing. If you’ve ordered a book, we’ve got some plans to make it a special treat to receive in the mail.

If you didn’t order one, but would still like to get your hands on one, we’re having a party at Wildcard on Friday, April 13th from 6 - 9pm.

Monster Haiku - Final Countdown

February 25th, 2012

Monster Haiku pre-orders are in full swing. YOU GUYS, there’s only a week left to order!

Current calculations put the amount we’ll be able to donate to March of Dimes somewhere around… well, I don’t want to speak too soon. But there is a comma involved, so that’s a mad success if you ask me.

Dang, this has been an educational experience. Of course, we’re nowhere near finished. In fact, I daresay we haven’t even really started: people have given us money, but we have yet to deliver anything in exchange. Once the project ends on March 4, then the REAL work begins… getting things printed, packaging, mailing. Then, about the time we get all the pre-ordered items released into the wild, we’ll begin feverishly preparing for a show at WildCard in Lawrenceville featuring Monster Haiku. That’s going to be a blast.

Through the course of all this, we’ve learned so much, met some AMAZING people, and developed better relationships with people we don’t hang out with enough.

And at root of it is creativity and helping kids. Is there anything better?

Monster Haiku

February 2nd, 2012

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So Wednesday was The Day! Art (mine) and poetry (Will’s) have come together to help raise money for some babies. Josh and I have been working very hard on this project.

In 2009, I started 52ills - a blog dedicated to creating one illustration a week for a year. It was tough finding time and inspiration to keep at it all year long, but I made it to 2010 with 52 new drawings and a lot more experience.

Now, with help from Will’s awesome poems, I’ve grown some of those little drawings into full fledged book spreads.  It’s 54 pages of adorable, ornery monsters. Some of the captions from the original 52ills posts remain — they are not haiku — but most of the poems found within Monster Haiku Vol. 1 are by Will.

We started taking pre-orders at 6am on Wednesday, and every time someone buys anything I do a little dance. Also, I can see everyone’s address, which honestly freaks me out. I promise to only use this info for shipping, and not so show up on anyone’s doorstep. Unless of course they have pie, in which case, y’know, all bets are off.

Josh and I set out to give a certain amount of money to March of Dimes at the beginning of the year. After some discussion, we decided we would reinvest that money into a project in the hopes of raising more than our personal finances could swing. As of 4pm on Wednesday, we had met and exceeded our original monetary donation goal. That alone made all the work that went into this project worth while.

But hey, aim big, right? Our next milestone is more ambitious, and we’ve got some fun things planned for the month of February to engage people and hopefully keep their minds (and wallets) open.

You can purchase Monster Haiku Vol. 1, along with posters, cards and original artwork at monsterhaiku.org. We’ll also be updating our Facebook on a daily basis with all sorts of goodies.

Getting It Done

January 8th, 2012

Getting all those little things done really is important.

Josh and I are working feverishly on a project* that will be revealed later this month, and knocking out all those small successes is a vital part of keeping us moving forward with enthusiasm and purpose.

I love lists. I learned a long time ago to break tasks down into smaller steps or I will find the big projects too overwhelming… then the dreaded task paralysis sets in and BOOM: I just watched all three Jurassic Park movies instead of doing anything I set out to do that day.

So now, for instance, knowing I have to do three loads of laundry, I will add this to the To Do List as:

  • Laundry
  • Laundry
  • Laundry

…and then cross out each one as a load is completed. Sometimes I’ll add something to the list that I already did and immediately cross it off, just so I give myself the mental credit for it when I consult that list in the future.

It’s not cheating because it gets me more excited to forge ahead and kill another item.

What are your tricks for keeping out from under the never-ending To Do Monster?

*omgomgomg I cannot even tell you everything that is happening right now but it is mega exciting and let’s just say I cannot WAIT for February 1st.

When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple

December 13th, 2011

Two recent discoveries are giving me pause lately.

One, a rediscovery, is Jenny Joseph’s poem Warning:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

And the other revelation-worthy discovery is a line I heard from Bob Parsons, who says,

“They can’t eat you.”

I like Joseph’s poem for the joyful anticipation she expresses of getting older and acting a little crazy; and that, by the end, she’s realized that now’s as good as any to start. Why put it off?

And Parsons’s quote of “They can’t eat you” is damn liberating. I’ve been replaying various life mishaps — dashing onto stage before my cue in a production of Paquita when I was sixteen, getting confrontational and mouthy with some strangers at an Old Country Buffet in 2001, and half a dozen of those say-something-embarrassing-when-the-room-suddenly becomes quiet instances — with never-yielding levels of  shame for years. Hearing Parsons’s words for the first time instantly washed away half the anxiety I still carry about those events.

And now, looking forward, I better understand that being afraid that you’re not doing it right — whatever “it” is — is silly because the older I get the more I understand most of us are just winging “it” anyway. And if things don’t go right? Whatever: they didn’t eat you. You’re still here.

Worrying about your failures (past, present, and future) is exhausting.

Therefore, I hereby declare the following. I will no longer be afraid of:

…Failing to know. If I don’t understand something or want to know more, I will ask. Even if I think I should already know it, and even if I feel dumb asking. It ultimately doesn’t matter how you acquire new knowledge, just that you get it in your brain.

…Failing to blend. Most of the time I’d like to be invisible. However, there are things I want to do in the upcoming year or so that might mean I have to stick out a little. Even though every internal alarm I have disagrees, sticking out can be valuable and even, dare I say, fun. (Probably.)

…Failing the first time, or the second, third, and so on. Between you and me, there are so many projects I don’t start because I know they won’t meet a certain expectation level in the beginning. If I don’t think it will get at least a B- grade, I usually don’t even try it. The reality is that the first website I build, real pillow I sew, or painting I watercolor are all probably going to be disasters. But putting the time and money into something you know isn’t going to turn out the first time isn’t a waste — it is an investment in your growth and education.

…I’m also trying to use the word “fail” more, because overusing a word you’re sensitive to takes away some of its power, right?

Trying to get into this mind frame won’t be easy or comfortable, but I think it will be a valuable exercise.

And anyway, “They can’t eat you.”

Here’s hoping you try something that scares the crap out of you.

Make, Make, Make

December 4th, 2011

Josh and I will be spending the time we took off work between Christmas and New Year’s in our dining room with our heads deep in a create-a-thon. We’re going to hole up with some good food and just make all the stuff we’ve been wanting to make all year — there will be writing, drawing, designing, painting, knitting… and possibly some sewing and basement screenprinting.

It’s going to be a creative free-for-all. Please join us. I love the peer-pressure that having people around brings, and we might have donuts. I’ve got quite a To Do list growing for those five days, and if I accomplish half of it the entire adventure will be a grand success.

Some creative ventures are on-going. I’ve got some work posting on garageleague.org, which is run by the writing group I’ve been a part of since February. It’s helping me stretch my boundaries. Don’t get me wrong — of course I’ve written about kids’ summer trips and a shop that changes its address each day and a cat that’s possessed by a ghost. But I’ve also written about more personal pieces and adult relationship stuff which, while less comfortable for me to produce, has been delightfully well-received. A current success.

Another project in the works (well mostly finished) is a collaboration with the talented DJ Lunchbox. Full details will emerge in Spring of 2012. We believe it will be worth the wait, so stay tuned.

And I am always editing my trilogy. I’m combing through Book 1 and 2 this week to refine some points and inspire completion; Book 3 is approximately 1/3 of the way complete. The plan is that I’ll digitally publish the first two in 2012, and then release Book 3 in 2013.

But who knows what the future will bring? As my cousin said last week, “She’s a writer. Allegedly.”

Thanksgiving

November 29th, 2011

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it more than Christmas, more than my birthday. I love to cook, and the group we gather — whatever the size — is always special and full of good feelings. And wine. Lots and lots of wine.

Anyhow, here’s some of the dishes we prepared to general acclaim this year. I wanted to share these on the basis that a) you can try them and b) I won’t have to regoogle them next year.

Baked Mac & Cheese

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Turkey Brine:
Homemade vegetable broth

1/2 Cup Brown sugar
1 Cup of Salt
1/4 peppercorns
2 Tbs all spice
Some fat sprigs of rosemary
Some fat sprigs of thyme
Some leaves of sage

We broke down the turkey and brined it in pieces overnight. There wasn’t any room in the fridge, so it did all its business on the porch (at approximately 40 degrees) while my friend Alethea bravely guarded it from raiding racoons. Out of the brine and into a gentle olive oil massage, then into the oven, breasts first.

There were also croissants and an apple tart from Jean-Marc’s in Millvale, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, some excellent gravy, a delicious pumpkin pie, homemade cranberry sauce… and about a case of wine. The food was great, even if it wasn’t all that fancy — and the company was even better.

The weekend and leftovers meant a big pot of turkey soup and turkey stock; and there were muffins and pie and tart for breakfast every morning.

Thanksgiving is best day of year. I think that’s what I want for my birthday — another Thanksgiving in May. Watch for it.

Life Updates

April 20th, 2011

I joined a writer’s group in the hopes of growing and making new friends, and that seems to be working out. It is amazing how being around other people that do what you do (or want to do) can light the fire of inspiration. The last and, admittedly, only other attempt I made in participating in a writer’s community was years ago, and its attendees were an exercise in self-absorption. In contrast, everyone in gl(ow) seems eager to grow and experiment with their writing, and thus far critiques have been helpful and not the least bit vicious. I am optimistic.

So what if we all skipped this week’s assignment and ate hot dogs instead? That’s art, maaaaaan.

My goal to finish my last batch of books by the time I’m 30 is… crazy, but I’m trying to do it anyway. I am 33% done with novel #3, and I’ve got 24 days to churn out 120 more pages. Don’t do the math, it’s too painful. Before Daylight Savings Time, I was getting up at 6am every weekday to write before work. That has fallen to the wayside and, coupled with an ambitious-for-us home renovation project, writing has hit a lull. Strangely, this is okay. I am more concerned with finishing this series in a satisfactory way than the timing of crossing that finish line.

And hey! Speaking of impending failure:

I’m participating in this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. This is hilarious because, wow, do I hate running. If I’m not being chased by a bear, I just don’t see the point. However, Josh wanted to set up a relay team, and I like him more than I hate running, so I volunteered to be a part of it. So I’m trying to… train? It is pretty darn horrible. But doing stuff you hate builds character, right? If my knees continue to hold out, I think my determination will too.

Also, I really want to dye part of my hair pink. I can’t figure out if this is some kind of surprise “omg-thirtieth-birthday” panic bubbling to the surface, or if the anxieties I’ve been recently working on peeling back are leaving me unafraid to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was sixteen.

It’s True

October 9th, 2010

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You can’t argue with science.