The other Savannah

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Amber and I had talked for a long time about taking a ladies’ weekend trip somewhere since we don’t get to see each other too often during the year. We finally made that happen in September. Back when we were brainstorming a trip, we considered all kinds of mid-size cities across the country, but we both ultimately were charmed by Savannah, Georgia, thanks to the rave reviews from our friends who’d been there and tons of random internet strangers.

And you know me and my thing for Southern gothic. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

So, we set off to meet in Savannah in mid-September and had a really lovely time. The weather cooled off just enough in the middle of our trip to make our numerous walks around downtown pretty spectacular. We both were hit with some pretty gnarly allergies while there (is it the junk hanging from the trees or what?), but we just Kleenexed our way through town and met lots of ghost hunters and seekers, and encountered more fantastic folk art than in any other place I’d ever traveled. I love a city whose inhabitants so obviously love and value the visual arts. And I love a place where the living residents cede so much of their narrative to the stories of the dead.

Here are some photos from the trip. Full album can be viewed here.

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The Wolf’s Bane

I am so excited to see the finished product!

Betsy crafted this incredible story and was kind enough to ask me to do the book’s layout. I adore her writing so I was happy to do whatever I could to be involved. Check out this mini documentary on the project as a whole.

COMING 2015: The Wolf’s Bane from Emily Beard on Vimeo.

I am super proud to be a part of this project and cannot wait to get my hands on a finished piece. I just want to smell it. Is that weird?

‘The motions of people who could find each other in a pitch black room’

Betsy Phillips signs her book

That there is Aunt B signing a copy of A City of Ghosts. And this here is Aunt B reading two of her lovely short stories. Even if you’ve never had so much as sympathy for the devil, you might find yourself with a crush on him after the second story.

Please read A City of Ghosts if you haven’t yet. I will loan you my copy. (Here’s a review/interview I did for The Commercial Appeal when the book came out, to give you an idea of what it’s about)

Gaps

Now when I see old friends and I get half an hour, an hour, maybe almost two hours with them, I can’t catch them up. There’s so much that’s happened that I’ve not had the time or the chutzpah to pass along in real time. Things I’ve kept to myself (what a concept), things I’ve hoarded, things I’ve protected, things I’ve squirreled away, things not meriting an incremental update. When I try to give the Cliff’s Notes version of my life in the past year, it doesn’t make any damn sense. Not to mention I don’t want to talk about my dumb stuff the whole time; I want their stories too. I haven’t seen all the tweets and the status updates and I’ve forgotten texts and emails. I’m not a great friend and I’m spread too thin, probably — my attention all over the place and my focus too fleeting.

I’m that lucky kid in the pool who has all these cool toys but who can’t keep her arms around them all.

This post is not about work!*

We hit a wormhole back there or something. I don’t know. How did it get to be the freaking sixth month of the year already? YOU GUYS, CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE, Target’s marketing department shout-whispered directly into your ear.

I think about blogging constantly and then I get on the computer and my work email pops up and before I know it, it’s four hours later and I’ve answered fifty emails and laid out three pages that someone else was scheduled to do but some editors REALLY REALLY NEEDED DONE LIKE RIGHT NOW PLEASE and I’ve worked on the schedule and attempted to make an illustration that doesn’t suck on rye toast and that’s all BEFORE I’ve even gone to the office. It’s kind of obscene how much I’m working lately. And yet that is sort of what I have to do to feel even close to being on top of my workload.

It’s kind of hilarious in a really sad way. I try to keep my dabbling in work in check at home while the boy is awake. I have to send out the daily assignments early in the morning but beyond that I really really try not to have my head buried in the laptop while he’s playing and could use some company and someone to teach him how to, uh, walk and talk and stuff. But when he goes down for a nap, all bets are off.

Hi, everyone. My name is Lindsey and I’m a workaholic.

I have friends who live fifteen minutes away who I have gone months without seeing. Five months. Seven months. Blink. How?

I’ve gotta cut this out. I’ve got to draw some boundaries. Got to get my social life back and I’ve got to write and take photos again. And make stuff. And play with my baby more. Shit, he’s not even a baby anymore. He’s a little dude and he is going to think that my face is a glowing white Apple.

*This post is about work

Shane McDermott, ###

Day 141: Captain Arnold

Yesterday, my former employer laid off one of my close friends and one of the most talented people I have ever met.

I remember when he was hired. It was a few months after I had started and the art director sent out an email to everyone telling us we’d hired a new artist named Shane McDermott, so be on the lookout for some dude walking around, wearing a beret. Get it? He was an ARTIST.

Shane sat over and away from the rest of the design department on a little cube island with the art director and the other artist. Yes, folks, in 2005, The Commercial Appeal had TWO graphic artists, one of whom made maps and downloaded stock and weather graphics for a living. Can you imagine? I didn’t speak to Shane very much but I remember that first Christmas, he came around and dumped a little pile of chocolates on everyone’s desk. Obviously, we were destined to be good friends.

We also worked together like gangbusters. When I had my stint as assistant art director/Sunday Viewpoint designer my favorite part of the whole week would be when Shane and I got to sit down and talk about his illustration ideas. He would always come over to my desk with his sketch pad in hand and go over the intricate thumbnail sketches he’d come up with. Then I’d make a face and he was always really good at reading when I wasn’t into any of them. Sometimes he’d have something that was just perfect. Sometimes we’d settle on a combination of two thumbs. Sometimes we’d brainstorm a totally new but freaking brilliant idea, sitting right there at my desk. He’d go back to his desk and scan in the thumbnail and I’d place it on the page and design around it. He’d stay up all night making an amazing piece of art that would be printed in the Sunday paper and eventually end up in people’s trash or at the bottom of their birdcage (herf derf, we newspaper people love hearing that joke!). It’s so fleeting, making art for newspapers. You get one shot to make it count. Shane was fantastic at knocking it out of the park, visually, in that one shot. I have so many portfolio pieces with his work on them.

Shane’s art made The CA better. So much better. His touches were all over the paper. When they laid off the graphic artist responsible for doing maps and stocks and weather, Shane picked up those duties on top of his already substantial illustration load. I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled to be spending some of his hours making locator maps, but it was something he did with skill anyway.

Having Shane on staff made the paper more colorful and more engaging every single day. When the holidays rolled around, you could be sure there’d be a sweet story that would unfold in his advent calendar. And he could take a two-dimensional concept and turn it into an entire (and adorable) papercraft franchise. One of the few things I carried from my old desk to my new desk here in Nashville is my CA newsbot. It sits proudly beneath my monitor, looking pretty busted because it’s taped together and not glued, but proud and fucking rad nonetheless.

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Day 180: Independence Bot zombot2

And having him as a work friend was the shit. For a long time I saved almost every email he sent me at work because they were all hilarious. We worked in this surreal space where there were nosehorn trumpets and foot stompers and people humming and clearing their throats and clicking their fingernails on keyboards and sing-song yawning, and had I not had him there to make incredulous faces at and field my frustrated emails, I never would have lasted as long as I did.

Shane is an incredible talent and a damned great person. It shows the desperation of the company if they are getting rid of him, frankly. Shane’s artwork helped set The CA apart from and above other news outlets. It makes me so incredibly sad to see the paper — which gave me my first job out of college — go this route. Several other people I admire and respect tremendously lost their jobs yesterday in the same round of brutal layoffs. I’m so sick of being a part of an industry that just keeps cutting and cutting with no end in sight. It’s heartbreaking.

The good news is that Shane will be fine. He is going to be plenty busy and I hope it’s with stuff that doesn’t involve a LICK of school mergers and politics. Because he’s illustrated enough of that stuff to last a lifetime.

Shane, my friend, seeing that picture of you loading your stuff into a shopping cart made me cry and laugh at the same time. That is entirely you. Absurd and funny and wacky but always with a baseline of utterly heartbreaking sincerity. You will be missed by an industry that didn’t even know what it had.

Dear reader, go visit his blog, where I hope he’ll be updating us on what’s in store for him.

Spontaneous potpourri craftiness

I have to brag about this.

Last weekend I was a bridesmaid in Kristin and Lonnie’s wedding, where I accidentally ruined every picture by making having a stupid face. Anyway, Kristin sent me home with my bouquet and a piece of hers. Sadly, the few hours the bouquets spent in the car in the scorching 100+-degree heat when I ducked in to Opry Mills pretty much sapped them of their ability to stand up and be pretty and quasi-alive in a vase. But they did start to have that delicious dried-flower smell on the drive home. I don’t know if Kristin picked the variety of flowers she picked with their decay qualities in mind, but I would not be surprised if she did; she is very clever.

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Anyway, today I was trying to figure out what to do with my lovely, dying bouquets, and I couldn’t stop smelling them. But I had to dismantle them because my fat orange cat was making insane noises trying to get at them once he realized what they were. He is plant crazed. So I got one of my huge wine glasses (a gift from Ashley K many years ago) and set about plucking out bits of the bouquet and arranging the pieces in the glass.

There was enough foliage to do two but I knew that would be tempting cat fate, so I just did the one. I think it turned out really nicely.

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