About theogeo

Cats. Typefaces. Bad jokes.

We had a wedding and everything went great

This time last year, I was feverishly developing plans for my upcoming July wedding. And not, like, elaborate plans, but things like “how many star outlines of different sizes can I effectively fit onto this many pieces of glittery cardstock?”

I designed and crafted my ass off and had a ton of fun doing it (depite my complaints of sore scissor hands at the time). You can read about those efforts here, as I have finally recovered enough to write about them!

‘Just remember, open up your mouth every once in a while’

I believe that if I listen to Hestina enough, spring will come.

Science/magic

It’s been cold lately, really cold. Near- or below-freezing temperatures have gone uninterrupted for several days to weeks. We’ve had single-digit stretches leading to massive electric bills causing communitywide panic. We even had to endure an entire week out of school thanks to icy roads. I was sick at the same time, so that was a really great week. It’s been a cold winter overall. Seems like the 50-degree days have been scarce.

On a recent very cold morning when I got into my car to head to work, I looked down to the console and saw my water bottle — a plastic Smart Water bottle I refill as needed — and was surprised to see that it had not frozen overnight. The temperature outside that morning was 29 degrees. But the water in the bottle was as clear and liquefied as ever. So I opened the cap, intending to take a sip, and watched as in the span of about five seconds I was treated to some science that felt like magic in my hand.

The water inside the bottle, as soon as I removed the cap, began freezing from the top down, right in my hand. The ice curled down the sides of the bottle in little spirals of frost, spreading downward and inward until I was left with a bottle holding a tiny iceberg, some unfrozen water left trapped around the sides.

I’d never seen anything like that before, much less held it while it happened.

Move over, Elsa.

Art-ing

I’m trying.

It’s never flattering, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Opening up your chest and letting people see inside and maybe take a swing at your softest parts, if they want.

I happened to see a last-minute call on Facebook for an open slot for love-themed artwork for the February exhibition at the Gordon JCC‘s art gallery. I emailed the curator my balloons-in-the-trash photo from a few years ago and asked if she’d be interested in it, even though it’s not, ah, all that lovey-dovey. She was more into it than I figured and asked me to bring both the black and white and the color versions. Fast forward to me frantically Googling how to frame/mount photos for gallery display.

When I delivered them — an 11×17 and an 8×10, both framed crisply — she seemed to think they were well priced and might actually sell. Stranger things have happened, probably. So, that’s something to look forward to this month. There’s an exhibition opening on Valentine’s Day, with snacks and wine and such. Pretty neat. Can’t wait to see the other works.

I wrote and submitted a poem to Nashville Review. I’ve got a couple other things I’m working on that I don’t feel are polished enough to submit yet. Truthfully, that one might not have been either but it felt right and the submission deadline clock was ticking and I was having an otherwise very productive day so I felt like “submit a poem for publication” was a reasonable things to want to get ticked off the ol’ to-do list so I just did it. Uncritiqued and everything. Yes, I know how silly and brazen that is. And still. I did it and I lived and I will also live if and when I receive a rejection. It’s the doing the thing that matters, right now.

Next month I’m attending a mixed-media collage-making workshop put on by Wayne Brezinka, who makes such beautiful things. I’m hoping to unblock some creativity. Get some things flowing. Think differently. Lose some fear. So forth and so on.

I’m also trying to fit some writing workshops and meet-ups into my schedule, although this part is a little more daunting to me than the actual writing stuff. My introversion wants to take over and tell me that I cannot possibly mix it up with strangers and show them my work or get anything useful from them — or offer anything useful to them — from them in return. But I know this is not true and that I must. And I will. It will get easier.

I’m doing a Project 365, but this one uses one second of video from every day of your year to make an end-of-year 365-second video. There’s an app to help, of course, and yeah yeah I have already missed one day, but who’s counting?

And then the biggie: I’m working on a novel. Two, actually, but the one I started the year working on has taken a back seat to the one based on this horrifying story from my hometown, which I have written about in passing before. I think about that story from time to time and mentioned it to my friend Olivia, who co-hosts a true-crime podcast that specializes in obscure and local true-crime stories. She did some digging in old news clips and put together an episode about the case. She and her co-host Thashana were kind enough to invite me on Something’s Not Right to talk about the murders from my perspective as a then-17-year-old high school senior. (Click here and select episode 33 to listen.) I hope it goes without saying that my contributions are unscientific and purely speculative, based on innuendo and rumor, so don’t @ me.

Anyway, that story has haunted me through my adult life and I’ve always wanted to write something based on it. So I finally am. I am basing my story loosely on the true events but with purely fictional twists. I started out thinking it’s a YA novel but the deeper I get into it, the less sure I am that that is the right fit, based on how depraved and dark it is going to be. It might be NA or maybe just plain old fiction for whatever age wants to dive into this kind of story.

I’m not ruling out some day trying to write a nonfiction retelling of the real story, but that will require taking time off to do proper research on site in Hardin County, and I haven’t been able to commit the time to that. I want to, though. I feel like a sabbatical from work to write a book is a rite of passage that I would like to experience some day.

Career change

How do you reinvent yourself?

I keep thinking of a career change as a moment where you’re riding in a car and the car door opens and you have to lean out of the door and keep rolling as you fall. If you roll just right, you will have minimal injuries and you might just be able to stand up and walk it off.

A few months ago, the career I had been building in visual journalism ended. It was a weird, anticlimactic ending. Some people leave journalism through an ejection seat — SPROING, you’re out! — but my departure was more like my sidecar pin was removed and I just had to spend the last bit of the ride anticipating the separation. It was instigated by the company I worked for and engineered to take a couple of months. My whole department got the boot but we were all encouraged to reapply for some remaining jobs in other divisions of the company.

I had just celebrated my fifth anniversary at the studio, and was about to close out my third year as creative director. A lot was good but a lot was bad, too. I can’t and won’t get into it all here. I’m sad that it had to end — that we couldn’t keep trying to improve on what we were doing — but if I’m being totally honest, I’m glad to be out of the media grind. It’s such a fickle, demanding, cruel master. It took a lot and gave back very little.

I chose not to reapply for a job. I guess I wanted to take a chance on a change of pace and direction in my professional life, even though I had no clue what that might look like at the time. I was fortunate enough to land a new gig that let me roll out of the car and begin walking again with some semblance of grace. I’m grateful for that.

But who am I now that I am no longer doing, no, living the thing I always assumed was central to my identity?

Turns out I’m free.

I’ve realized that the thing I thought I was passionate about was siphoning time and energy from my own creativity, leaving me feeling a bit empty and resentful.

There are lots of upsides to the change.

Now I can be a news junkie without having to log in or haul ass to the office anytime major news breaks. The holidays feel much less frantic and it is expected that I will take some time off. I can speak freely about political issues and participate in activism.

The big thing I’m confronted with here at this crossroads is what do I want to do, long-term, with myself? With my time?

The other day Holden asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t hesitate. “A writer and an artist.”

In some ways, saying that feels like a kind of revelation. A career coming out. It’s something I’ve always flirted with, always loved, but never actually believed could be a career. That’s in part because I’ve never given it serious time and attention. And in part because I’m terrified of failing.

So, this year I am writing. Here, but also not here. Part of the key to writing for a living is not giving away every little morsel for free on your own website, apparently! This year I am going to submit my work in earnest. I plan to start small — magazines, journals — and work my way up from there.

I’ve got ideas kicking around for picture books and YA/NA series mostly. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about writing and publishing. I’ve got to reach out and get critique groups and beta readers. Attend workshops and conferences. Put the time in. Rewrite and revise. Rethink and reframe everything I’ve experienced in my life and use it.

It’s exciting and scary. But the thought of going for it feels more comfortable and exciting than any other grand ideas I’ve had about who I am and what I’m meant to do.

From the mouths of babes, January 2018

Without any prompting, ask your child these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say.

Holden, 6 years old:

1. What is something mom always says to you? Stop getting in Sandy’s face.
2. What makes mom happy? To listen and get out of Sandy’s face.
3. What makes mom sad? When I don’t listen to you.
4. How does your mom make you laugh? By saying I’m gonna poop in your face.
5. What was your mom like as a child? I think you were a genius.
6. How old is your mom? 36
7. How tall is your mom? I think 45 pounds.
8. What is her favorite thing to do? To be a artist.
9. What does your mom do when you’re not around? Works.
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? I think a Power Ranger.
11. What is your mom really good at? Building lightsabers.
12. What is your mom not very good at? Putting really hard puzzles together.
13. What does your mom do for a job? Works!
14. What is your mom’s favorite food? Pomegranates
15. What makes you proud of your mom? When she does what I tell her what to do.
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? Ventress!
17. What do you and your mom do together? We play.
18. How are you and your mom the same? We talk the same words.
19. How are you and your mom different? We look different.
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because I lived a long time with her.
21. What does your mom like most about your step-dad? He’s really funny.
22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go? Home.
23. How old was your Mom when you were born? Ummm, six?

What are you going to do with your life?

My budding mid-life crisis is apparently that I want to do all the things.

• write and illustrate children’s books
• run a cute farm, like one where there’s a corn maze and people come to pick out pumpkins
• be a travel writer/photographer
• move to a small town and run a photography business and unite the town with spirit-boosting photographs of their lives
• become a letterpress printer
• freelance design part time, have more babies and be a stay-at-home mom
• make jewelry
• move to a mountain town and open a gift shop where I make and sell art and gifts
• write short stories
• get paid to blog and do it better than I do it now, obviously
• work for a social-justice nonprofit
• work on political campaigns and bury Republicans for the next 40 years
• be a trust-fund kid
• make wine
• teach design
• flip houses and retire early