Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Head Above Water...Just Barely

I've been doing a lot of work on the Guys Lit Wire website, and that finally tapered off; but now I'm trying to finish up a site that's giving me some trouble because the clients want a very colorful design and I'm trying to keep it somewhat reasonable to my sensibilities (draft here). I'm rather proud of the image gallery, though...

I also had a flurry of potential new jobs (if two can be counted as a flurry), both of which did not pan out, but then I got an article assignment for a local magazine that's affiliated with the Stockton Record newspaper. I feel like it's fairly high-profile, and they've been great about communicating with me compared to the Modesto Bee and all the times I tried unsuccessfully to submit queries to them.

Anyway, there's that, and the poster design for the next play, and a bachelorette party this weekend in Portland, OR, and somehow Rob and I got comp tickets to this fundraising dinner for History San Jose on Thursday night, and my mom is coming up on Monday for a night, and I think we're supposed to go rafting on Sunday afternoon literally right after I get off the plane coming back from Portland. What the hell happened this week?? Did I mention that article above is due on Wednesday? How does this happen?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Test post - pay no attention

Yes, I'm still messing around with this crap. It's not as fun as it looks like.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hangin' on the Telephone

I may have mentioned this before. I'm pretty sure I have, since I have an existing tag called "I Hate the Phone." But yeah, I hate the phone. Specifically, I really hate making phone calls. My feelings about making phone calls vary, but they range from mild annoyance to sheer terror.

I had one of the (thankfully rare) sheer terror moments today. I have to admit, I worked myself up into it over a period of a few days. Here's the story: I responded to a notice on my grad school's alumni e-mail list--a fellow alum was looking for an editor to tidy up a novel manuscript for a friend. She was moving out of the area, and he was looking for someone who could help with grammar, syntax, and formatting, since English is not his first language (he's Italian) and he's also elderly (in his 80s).

I thought it sounded like an interesting project--a semi-autobiographical WWII novel called I Due Villaggi that's already been published in Italian. I called the alumna and she was very nice and encouraged me to give him a call. She said the guy is very sweet but a bit hard of hearing and difficult to understand over the phone due to his accent, so he'd probably want to meet in person to talk about it. He lives in Oakland. Fine. Whatever. I can go to Oakland.

But then the anxiety started. At first it was just the usual mild stress at having to make a phone call to a stranger about a job. Not that big a deal. As a freelancer, I have to do that periodically, and I find it stressful, but...working is good. Then I kept thinking and ruminating about the fact that he's in his 80s, and hard of hearing, and possibly difficult to understand; and I started having these horrible visions of not being able to make myself understood if I called, or not being able to understand anything he said, or having my brain freeze up and not being able to communicate clearly.

Normally, when I have to make a phone call and I'm anxious about it, I have to just eventually decide to DO it--and by the time I hit that "dial" button it's too late to NOT do it, if that makes sense. At that point I just have to suck it up and get it over with. But if I've managed to get myself overly anxious about it, I start to feel like the worst possible scenario I can think of will in fact pan out, or at the very least, my brain will implode. Today, I could hardly manage to convince myself to make that call. ONE phone call to a person I don't know for a job that I want, okay. TWO phone calls to people I don't know, one of whom might not understand me and I might not understand them--well, that's just panic-inducing.

Part of me almost would have preferred to call the alumna back and tell her I couldn't do the job after all, but the other part of me realized how utterly ridiculous that would be. I did manage to make the call. It took me a few hours to work up to it, and some considerable self-bribery with coffee and a long reading break and the promise of having gotten it over with.

As it turned out, I could understand the guy just fine 98% of the time. I mean, my mom taught college-aged ESL students for 15-plus years. I'm used to deciphering accents. Hell, a good portion of my family and stepfamily are from different countries and have accents. Evidently, in my anxiety, I had forgotten these important facts. Also, he seemed to be able to hear me OK, for someone in his 80s, for cripes' sake. I'm still anxious because I'm supposed to call him back in a couple of days to arrange an in-person meeting, but for some reason that stresses me out less than a phone call. Go figure.

"It's about 300 pages," he said, when we were talking about the project. "Does that scare you?" "No," I said, laughing. And no, it doesn't--it doesn't scare me nearly as much as having had to make that stupid phone call.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive...

B-E, A-G-G, R-E-S-S-I-V-E. (Name that band...) I had this weird idea tonight. Granted, I drank wine and stuff. But anyway. I was thinking about an art project. A completely honest art project in which I pull no punches about anything I'm thinking, have thought, or have done.

For instance, if I was preoccupied with, say, the Walnut House era when we lived in Berkeley, partied a lot, grew not-entirely-legal plants, threw insane parties, etc. then I would have to tell those stories. Or if I were feeling resentful about art school and wanted to complain about certain professors, or if I were feeling philosophical about life or political about issues, I'd have to be honest about that. This sort of follows in line with an art project idea I had that would be entirely immersive, in a way--a taxonomy of ME. A taxono-ME. It would be online and free-form and would contain writing and artwork (both digital and non-digital).

Or maybe I'm just being ambitious (and/or tipsy). But I really have an idea that I need to do a project that's really ambitious. Really BIG. I don't know. I'm still thinking about this.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In the News

A couple we vaguely know--friends of Rob's sister and her husband--were recently featured in the Home section of the Chron. The article's mostly about their home decor, but my favorite part was this:

The couple is house-hunting, hoping for more space and a garden. Not to mention, Wong Jackson said, her condo neighbors tend to be students who "all still think I'm going to Cal as an undergrad and ask me what my major is!" Clearly, it's time to move on.

I have to say...I've owned a house with a garden for the past six years and people still frequently ask me if I'm a student. Heh. Anyway, the article reminded me that we will never be featured anywhere for our home decor because we still haven't put any pictures on the walls. I am not kidding. It's a long, stupid story. If you know us well enough, you'll know that Rob has a weird thing about putting too much visual clutter in the environment.

The other problem is, evidently anything we hang on the walls in here requires drywall anchors, and I'm waiting on Rob to show me how to attach the drywall anchors so that I can put stuff up. Theoretically, I'd also like his input on where to hang stuff, but it's been six years and there are very few non-utilitarian items on the walls: 1) a sushi clock we bought in Japan; 2) a love spoon we bought in Wales; 3) a bulletin board in my office (which is partially utilitarian as it is). But I do wish I could at least put up my signed Edward Gorey lithograph, and maybe a few of the framed etchings from Rob's late grandmother's antique store.

Rob was mentioned (albeit obliquely and namelessly) in the local rag in an article about a building fiasco at the college where he works. Evidently, however, he's been relegated to the role of disgruntled employee by Mr. Anonymous Concerned Taxpayer With No Actual Knowledge of College Politics.

By the way, in this opinion piece, where it says "Some students and faculty wanted to preserve the quad at MJC, so President Richard Rose and a college committee chose a location just north of the Art Building," for "some students and faculty" read "One stubborn administrator with zero concern for the health, safety, noise, or other hazards created by slapping up a building right next to Art." For "We believe the student services center needs to go on the main campus, the one that people think of first when they think of MJC," read "We evidently are not concerned enough about the tax dollars we've already spent on the huge, empty, waiting-to-be-built-upon open spaces still available on the newer West Campus."

Art Therapy

I just wanted to drop in and proudly note that I spent a good few hours working in the studio tonight, and it felt GREAT. I made a VERY SMALL amount of progress on the painting I'm working on, but I'm still excited about it, which is good. It's weird working in acrylic again, but it's reassuringly fast--if I wanted to go back out there now, an hour later, it would be plenty dry enough to work on, though I have every intention of putting on comfy clothes, brushing my teeth, and lying in bed with a good book (Doomsday Book by Connie Willis) before falling asleep.