April 29, 2008

Shavings of thought in the very late evening

-The show goes up this weekend. I only have four more things to design...
-Walkthroughs with the clients over the weekend. Involves me staying in SF's newest hotel. The hardship!
-Hoping no one decides we need to create new art as a result of those walkthroughs...
-Lots of thoughts about how work-schedule affects personality. Reflections back to Jrex as a resident. Many conversations with him that leave him gratified that I finally 'get it'.
-What's wrong with this area/my workplace that one of my coworkers was bemoaning the fact she couldn't work past midnight, "My body just shuts down".
-My biggest design 'triumphs' have been redoing some of the basic information design around the conference. Better maps, signage, pocket guides, security access cards: all the elements that are invisible if done right, yet AWFUL when done wrong.

Tomorrow morning I get to take the train up to the city and walk to the convention center (about 15 minutes). Along the way there's a great little hole-in-the-wall breakfast and coffee deli where I'll grab and egg and cheese croissant and a chai. I'm looking forward to the break in the routine and just being away from the office. We'll be inspecting all 20 of the banners before they hang them. Some are 11 ft high by 20 ft long. The inspection involves unrolling vinyl so smelly that the test strip fumigated the design studio for two days. This show is supposed to be 'grn' friendly, but the banners are SO NOT good. I need to research a company that takes that and makes bags with it. We can then sell them at next year's show. It would at least be a minimal level of grn consciousness in the midst of a sea of plastics...

April 23, 2008

But, I'm SO normal

I've been tagged in a meme on 7 weird things about me. I don't know HOW I'm going to think of anything...(the sarcasm is so thick it's like lava oozing all over the room)

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
  4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  5. Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged.
I haven't done one of these in a while. It's good to be distracted from whining about work.

1. I have really ugly toenails. In my mom's family, 7 of 9 sisters have these same toenails. It's a hereditary sucker punch to get fungal toenails. If I file them down and paint them, it looks like I have little wads of gum squished where toenails should be. A few years ago, one of the aunts started doing fake toenails over the bad ones, "What's the worst that could happen, I get a fungal infection in my nail!?" she smirked. I've been doing summer nails ever since. It's such a relief for my feet to NOT be noticed. When I don't have fake nails, adults notice  and then carefully look away, but little kids exclaim, "What's wrong with your toes!! Eeew!"

2. I don't like chocolate cake or ice cream.

3. I'm starting to get a laugh wrinkle that will extend from my slight double-chin up and around to the bottom of my nose.

4. I love swimming the breaststroke, but hate forward crawl/freestyle.

5. Jrex and I always analyze the food over dinner. No matter which of us cooked, we assess what worked and how to improve it. This frequently disconcerts our dinner guests.

6. I still bite my nails.

7. I put all the impressive books in the living room. In our bedroom we have a smaller bookcase that extends the width of the wall. It contains the romance novels, the intensively religious books ("Listen to me, Satan!") and the sci-fi/fantasy books. I don't really care what people think, but I figure we might as well make a good first impression before showing 'the freak side'. 

As for linking to seven other blogs, feel free to do the meme if you want (otr mama,...great white adventurer...ahem). If you don't have a blog, you could answer in the comments (anonymous/dad).

April 21, 2008

I think we may have made a strategic error...

The tall blond guy next to me grins as he asks, "So, how did you get roped into this?"

We're standing in the bright California sun, our hair blown by a nippy breeze. I hold a bag with four items and we both watch Jrex as he extracts two boxes from the trunk of our car. I quip something back to the blond guy and we're laughing as Jrex approaches with a huge grin on his face. Jrex shakes his head at us, "I don't know if I like that laughter!" Blond Guy and I laugh even harder as we cross the alley to a cinderblock building, painted brown, no windows.

Inside the air is cool and dark. Jrex asks the guy, "So, is that it then or do I need to come back your way?"

The guy smiles and points to the big sign that reads, "Don't forget your license". Jrex grins and nods, "Yeah, that might be a good thing to have."

Blond Guy leaves and Jrex walks down a narrow aisle. Wooden doors stamped with numbers tower over our heads. In the other direction is a pushable ladder-platform. Jrex sweeps open a wooden door with a smile, "Here we go!" He inters his boxes carefully and adds my four items. We collect his license and as we're driving away, I smile at him, "We were laughing because Blond Guy asked me how I got roped into this, I told him, 'well, my husband is pretty excited about his wine locker, so I thought I should be here to appreciate it'. I don't think he's heard anyone use that phrase before!" Jrex laughed, too, "Probably not. Still it's definitely a lot cheaper than buying a wine refrigerator that we don't have room for anyway."

The chemist has been let loose! The explorer for hidden treasure has found untold gems in the Santa Cruz mountains south of us. Napa...Sonoma? Nah. We'd rather discover little family-run vineyards that are still experimenting. And now we have somewhere to store the treasure.

I don't know if moving to Northern California was a good idea...

April 18, 2008

Sign o' the times

On Wednesday night, Jrex called me. I was home, but working.

"How are you holding up?" he asked in a concerned tone.

"I'm good! I just needed some food, but I've got my second breath."

Pause. Me, racking my brain cause I know that's not right, but cannot find the right word anywhere in the dense fog inside my head.

"You know what I mean, the thing. What's that thing called?"

Jrex, laughing, "Do you mean 'second wind'? Cause I don't think you have it!"


We just uploaded the last of the show banners. I've got more to do next week, but the deadlines all feel manageable now.


This weekend, second breath for sure!

April 14, 2008


Both last weekend and this one I was rested and refreshed by the time Monday rolled around. Each time I vowed to have a good attitude in the midst of the hellaciousness at work. Last week it all lasted until 2 am Monday night when I finished my first day. This week it might actually last through most of the week.

We brought up a guy from our LA office to be my dedicated production artist. It's been awkward using my fellow designers as production people; they are used to owning projects and being creative. So they redesign stuff and it takes two or three rounds to just do it like I told them. This guy specifically said today, "I just want to be your wrist. Tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it." Phew!! He looks like a deer in the headlights if I say, "Lay out the logos in alphabetical order" but if I say, "here are these mockups at 10 percent, make them work for printing and upload them to Detroit", he looks happy.

This morning, I actually sent an apology letter to my client, "Dear ____, I owe you an apology. I ended up working over 70 hours last week and by Tuesday/Wednesday, I was overtired and therefore oversensitive and reactive. I'm sorry if you experienced any of the fallout from that." Was I really sorry? No. However, she's a game-player and since I called her on her bullshit, she became very unresponsive to my questions or files that needed approval. Since the apology? She's giving me what I need. Stupid head games!

Wait, positive attitude...My client loves me and I love her. We're coming toward the finish line and it will ALL work out. Of course it will be SO ugly, but hey, what's the loss of three weeks of my marriage in comparison with producing a show we can all be ashamed of? Don't worry, I'll post some pictures when it's up so you can appreciate the wonderfulness of it all.

I called Mom K on Sunday afternoon. She was SO happy to hear from me. Through the language barrier, I gave her a very simplified version of the last few weeks. I told her that all of a sudden, I understand why Jrex used to act the way he would on his days off. As a resident, his weeks were capped at 80 hours of work, and that was considered humane! On his days off, I was ready for us to go out and have adventures, and he just wanted to lie around the house and watch TV. It drove me crazy. Well, these last few weeks I just want to lie around and read a book.

She laughed at me, "Maybe God knew you just need to understand Jrex more?! I understand. In Korea, used to be the husband worked six days a week. All week the wife think on the weekend she go out and not have to cook. Have fun. The husband think all week about being home and having good, home-cook food. Now you same!"

So, there you have it, I'm going through all this so I understand my husband better!

April 11, 2008

News from the four-legged front

Totally off topic from my work related rants, I've been playing head games with the mutt this week. We saw a PBS special in which two problem dogs were adopted and transformed into working dogs. One of the new owners worked with a dog who tended to attack animals and turned him into a sheepdog. The very first day, the dog kept trying to pass her as they walked. She kept stepping in front of his nose and forcing him to walk behind her. First rule of dog alpha world: only the leader walks in front.

So I tried it. I walk along like an older Asian gentleman with the leash behind my back. Every time she tries to pass me, I tighten the leash and step in front of her. She's always been a leash puller and has had a hard time with 'heel'. Now, in five days of this experiment, most of the time she's trotting along just behind my knee. Wow! And, inside the house, this independent dog now follows me with her eyes most of the time. Wherever I go, she's nearby. It's really interesting. It feels like I learned to speak the language on it's most elemental level and all of a sudden she can hear me.

My favorite moment from the PBS special was when the owner commanded the dog down. They were in the middle of a field. She turned and raised her arms as she walked back toward the camera, "I'm the boss!" As she crowed, the dog was creeping up behind her. She turned and he dropped down immediately, but it was hilarious. She shook her head, "Most problem dogs are really just very smart, independent and stubborn. But he'll learn."

We are.

April 10, 2008

The straw is still above water even if I'm not...

This whole week I've been much better about prioritizing the people around me and letting the work get done when it gets done. The balance has felt MUCH better. Besides, with this client, it doesn't matter how much blood, sweat or tears I've invested, they're still going to sucker punch me.

Today's fun:

The badge inserts that were sent to the printer ahead of schedule and all according to my design were halted today. They finally decided they'd add some drink tickets. All along they've whined about keeping costs low, but now that the show is nigh, they're panicking and the money gates are opening. Never mind months of asking, "Are you SURE you don't want drink tix?" No, let's wait until we literally have to stop the presses.

My main contact at the company is from a design background. She supervises look and feel. Since they've pulled the Look/Feel internal she's been the one linking their design department and me. Today she pulled some shit on me about how the process has broken down and she's getting pieces thrown at her that she didn't know about. This was on speaker phone with High Intensity, our company's VP in charge of the show. I came right back and said, "That was all included in the Design Instruction document I gave you at the beginning of this whole process." (which I took two and a half hours to create and has likely never been seen by their designers...)

She responded in a really nice voice, "Oh, I'm not blaming you at all, OTRgirl! I just need dates associated when you send me things." This was all about Entrance Units and Impact Units that were due for production today. She claimed she never heard about the Impact Units and I hadn't been clear about them being different than the Entrance Units. BULLSHIT.

After finishing up and sending some other stuff to her tonight for morning approval, I sent this email (cc'ing High Intensity):

I thought I had the Production drawings with me at home, but I don't. On 3/31 at 9:22 pm I sent you an email titled "Drawings for Entrance Units/Impact Units". The three pdfs are there including one titled "Impact Unit".

For some reason, webmail isn't letting me forward sent mail with attachments, so I can't just send it to you. Sorry!

Hope that helps.

I'm so ready to go back to a boutique design agency and work closely with smaller companies and decision makers! This company is a STUPID seven-headed hydra that won't stay tamed!!! (Don't worry, Jrex, just venting. I'll stick with the 401(k) for a while longer.

April 5, 2008

Some musings (with apologies to grammar and spelling police, I'm too brain dead for such things)

On a quiet Saturday, with a husband in lab, a dog asleep in the sun and a laptop open when it should be my journal, I saw this over at Rev Gal Pals:

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road. I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently.

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

1. Book
This isn't recent, but it's what jumps to mind. Three years into our marriage, there was a Sunday morning when I was ready to leave Jrex. I was figuring out places to stay, thinking out an exit strategy. I went to church wanting the Lord to tell me stay or go. Through a friend He told me instead, "You're stronger than you know. Keep clinging to Me." Not the answer I was looking for. At home, Jrex was watching TV. I wanted to just avoid him, but when I prayed I sensed I should take my new book and just sit next to him and read. The book was The Sacred Romance. As I read, I was reminded about the difficulties of life and how much God wants to shape me through them. I stayed and kept hanging on and kept praying. I can't believe how different what we have and who we are today is from what little we had then. I'm grateful for that book being the reminder from God for me at a huge crossroad in my life.

The Mission is such a tragic movie, and a reminder for me of the tension I always have of defending myself, pushing, or trusting the Lord to defend me. And a reminder that in this life, sometimes none of those choices lead to happy endings. Yet the world is still worth loving and there is still beauty in it.

3. Song
There's a Matt Redman song with words, "Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise. When the road's marked with suffering, and there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your Name." And then the bridge is, "You give and take away, you give and take away, still my heart will choose to say, blessed be Your Name."

The time I experienced the Lord most profoundly through that song was at a wedding. The man who was getting married was a pastor. His mother was dying of cancer. They'd actually bumped the wedding up two months to make sure she could be there. His Mom was on oxygen, sitting in a wheelchair. Hair and makeup perfect, her Korean hanbok worn with pride, she was there. And they sang that song as part of the service. At his wedding to a wonderful woman, his mother panting behind him, he sang with tears, "You give and take away, still my heart will choose to say, Blessed be Your Name." The whole church was sobbing through the song.

I sort of think that faith isn't really faith until you're tempted to give it up but choose not to. That's when it matters. When it's the thin thread holding you through intense darkness. We all believe in God in some form when we stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon or on a mountain in Tahoe, but in silence or in a "No" when you are desperate for a "Yes", faith is an extremely difficult choice.

4. Another person
I can't even count the many amazing people who have been Jesus with hugs or words or prayers. Lately though, it's been through Jrex. Who loves me in the midst of all my flaws and who chooses to extend me grace. I know for a LOT of women they've chosen to stay with men and the investment hasn't paid off. I'm humbled and awed at the marriage we have today. And the fact that we both know how differently life could have turned out just adds to the depth of gratitude.

5. Creation
Thursday morning I woke up early and actually spent some time with the Lord instead of rushing off to work. I lit my candle, but turned to face the sliding door to the patio. Outside in the navy dark of the sky there was a sliver of moon clinging to the round of it's shadow. Somewhere in the quiet of that time, I felt like a pool of rest and order was restored in my soul.

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!
Honestly, having this whole show taken from me has been really good. I was starting to get driven and arrogant about my abilities. Somehow this has reminded me that it's much more about the people I work with and for. They're always more important than any project. This show is destined for garbage, but each person matters for the rest of their lives and beyond. And that's where I need to invest. The show will get done, but not at the sacrifice of the people I care about, even the ones at work.

April 4, 2008

Not quite a bed of roses...well, I guess the thorns are there

The last two weeks, I've worked 58 and now 61 hours respectively. Let's review the part where the client said they were taking the look and feel internal and were going to provide me production ready art... In their definition, that just means that they don't have to review it for more rounds of approval.

I just bought two programs (Genuine Fractals--for blowing images up from 22 inches to 11 feet--and a trial version of Fluid Mask--for cutting people out of backgrounds). They're going with a look and feel that seems to involve psychotic looking models grinning at various computer devices. I've cleaned up pimples from a guy's stubble, trimmed around hair, erased nose hair, all for 'production ready art'.

We went from clean, elegant, rounded to huge plus signs everywhere. Taken out of context, they look like crosses. Or red cross symbols. Or an HP ad. The information booth looks like a huge first-aid counter. The overall feeling I have is that I've still-birthed a child and am now being commanded to raise someone else's mutant.

Today my client raved about how she thought things would look great on site, very fresh. She asked what I think, "It will look new!" I responded in a chipper, lying through my teeth way.

April 1, 2008

Radio Silence Alert

As you may have guessed from my relative absence from the blog world, this show is kicking my . . .

Of course the client has only given me 2 out of 40 deliverables. Production files (i.e. READY TO PRINT) are due on Friday. Call me crazy, but I bet the in-house designers at Client from Heck aren't going to set things up properly. I'm promised files by Friday. UGH.

All that is to say, I may not be able to check-in very often. I'll be reading, but not really able to comment.


On a Facebook, trivial note, one of my buddies from high school 'found' me. I had two distinct crowds that I hung with back in the day. One group was from the Honors core classes. Though not the geek crowd that evokes--we were at a total college prep school, so that was the popular crowd. My (now gay) Sadie Hawkins date was from that scene. The other crew huddled around the tables in the art room. We wandered around, swapped backrubs and concert stories, showed sketches and were the alternative crowd. It was the '80s; black was required. Dock Martins. Men's shirts worn baggy over peg-leg jeans. This friend was from that crowd.

The funny thing to me now is that by his last name I know he's Japanese. I also know that in high school I didn't think about his ethnicity at all. I was joking with Jrex that for most caucasians, Asians are 'the other white meat'. If there's no accent, an Asian isn't perceived as any different. Knowing what I know now, I look back and wonder what his life has been like from an Asian framework. When he wrote and asked about my "Most Common Korean Last Name", he mentioned he'd married a Korean woman. I wrote back in shock, "How was it possible for you as a Japanese man to end up married to a Korean?!" He also ended up as a CAD jewelry designer for Tiffany. I'm so much more curious about family support (or lack thereof) for a career in the arts. So many questions! It's strange to see what I knew then superimposed with what I know now.