early retirement

i've been telling people that i'm going into freelance retirement at the start of the new year, but maybe "sabbatical" is a better term for it. i'm taking some time off, planning on 6 months beginning february 1... i have a couple of projects to finish off in january before i can make a totally clean break.

this will be a shock for a few people who know that design consumes me in a way that few things do, but there are a couple of reasons this is the right thing for 2007:

- i have a job that pays well enough that i no longer have to supplement my income AND can start putting money away each month. cash i don't EVEN NEED TO TOUCH. unreal.

- i've gone and gotten myself hooked into the Glue Network, which may or may not lead to me spearheading a mural project in our very own windy city. i will keep everyone updated, there might be news in january...

- there's a health complication that isn't dire, but does require attention and now that i've got some new friends at Northwestern Memorial's Wellness Institute, the attention is on its way. Hence the Feb. start date to my sabbatical.

- lastly. i'm looking forward to reading more. getting more done. often, as with the recent Braddigan CD project, things can go quickly and be totally satisfying, but that's the exception and not the rule. it can be really hard to work 10 hours, come home and put in 2-4 more, then "maybe" hit the gym but more likely hit up some dinner, some TV, some bed. i have such a massive body of work that i love to show off, but it was all to prepare me for what i do now. i don't need to work that way any more.

anyway. last night - perfect example. i should have been working on an identity system for a landscape architect, but there was a documentary about photographers in Cuba and their memories of the revolution, and how they think it impacted how they work today. it was stunning and made me ache for those days in 2002 when i was wandering Havana.

then this morning i got an email from AIGA that had to do with a US/Cuba designers collaboration and it's a great program. so being me,
i emailed and said tell me more.

maybe God's putting ideas in my head that will take me back to Cuba?
i hope so.


the cat's out of the bag

let's just get this over with: the fisheye camera is a little lump of coal in my stocking. you get what you pay for, it's a silly toy, it puts out useless pictures. [sheds single, disappointed tear]

that being said, i'm still bringing it to my cousin's rehersal dinner tonight and wedding tomorrow. GAME ON.


so i have this new idea and no idea how to shape it. there's something new going on. i've decided to give up all freelance after the new year. there are a couple of things motivating this decision.
• i haven't read a book for fun in YEARS
• i've never just gone to work and gone home. i would like to try it.
• suddenly there's a dependable, consistent source of income
• and a health thing that i won't get into but it involves insulin (i am not diabetic, thankfully) and it involves me wanting to work out five or six times a week instead of three.

so really, i don't see the need for a portfolio site that i never finished anyway. and now my registerfly account is due, and i'm like, what for?? and then i was like, your customer service is so lame. i'm going over to GoDaddy. so i did.

i have a new site. it's not built, it's not even well thought out, but it's my new idea and it's where i'll be posting articles. not like a blog, at all, not daily nonsense but researched ideas that i have about propaganda and marketing. almost no one knows that i actually have a legit fascination with propaganda, like i've actually put time into learning about it and am slowly building a little propaganda library. that i PLAN TO READ IN JANUARY. totally.

and i think it's a product of my generation and of design in general that i keep feeling a desperate need to include everything, to make public my body of work and artist statement and eighteen ways to contact me. that's so dumb. all i need to have is what i want to focus on, right? right.

"plus a links page."

ProgressiveConspiracy.com, coming soon to a monitor near you.



ah, the endless perks of selling out and going corporate. today is the office party, and that means two things: 1. lots of tipsy thirty-somethings i have grown to love and 2. minature golf. that's right, we're golfing around the office today. i brought in the fisheye, so we'll bust a move with that tiger and by God, WE WILL STILL HAVE PHOTOS ON THIS BLOG.

even our office party invites are designed and lovely :)

the other reason to party: FIXMAS and The Glue Network. yesterday the fine folks over at Glue sent me a care package with a press kit, tee shirts, stickers, and an amazing poster of their first mural project that i'm going to drop at kinkos and get mounted. more on that later. check out the links for now -

The Glue Network



the last photos i took the saturday after thanksgiving
(just before my camera poquito up and died).

jimy and kristy's engagement photos

austin and jeff at wise fool's pub.
if you've never heard how unbelievably hot one guitar + one cello is, educate yourself. [austin and jeff] or [matt nathanson and matt fish] are two such examples. discuss.

i drew up a budget yesterday to find out how i get actually get this new camera. it's gonna take some work, but i've been promised some help from Santa and my birthday is in february... until then i'll make some good use of another new camera that's a ton of fun. photos to come.


starfish and coffee

my digital camera finally broke. like, beyond repair, no amount of reproaching or threats to my little inanimate object will scare it into submission. after two solid years of nearly daily use, it's gone.

what i think i already miss most about it is the ability to let others in on the joke. i was sitting here just now having lunch when i looked at my chicken soup and black tea and i thought to myself, it's my own starfish and coffee. these things don't go together.

without my camera, i can't just post the photo and title it 'starfish and coffee.' oh no, i have to write it. and then it takes too long to tell, and the joke is over before it's ready to be over, whereas the photo would have taken a fifth of the time, making the joke funnier. which it needs, cause it was never that funny to begin with.

oh, camera. [sheds a single tear]
what this does open the door to, though, is the possibility of a Nikon D80. it's SO HOT. just give me a little time and we'll have fun soon.


come on, give a goat

World Vision's gift catalog: click here.

Gifts on the list (everything bought is given to a family)
- $75 / goat
- $14 / wheelchair
- $32 / educational support
- $100 / share of a deep well

and local: $25 / for $300 worth of necessities:
One of every six children in America lives in poverty. Your gift delivers critical supplies such as brand-new clothing, diapers, blankets, household and personal care items, and toys to strengthen families and help provide children with a sense of hope and self-esteem. Thanks to corporate product donations, your gift distributes 12 times its face value!

please share this link - here is the URL

where the h*** did november go?!

lots of links in this post - have fun

today is a slow day at the office, which is nice because i haven't had a slow day at new role yet. it's been crazy, and amazing, and so stimulating that i've gone back to my 2002 habits of not sleeping... we're talking average four hours a night. i've been up reading, working, writing (though not here). some huge ideas are brewing, and i can't talk about them all here but needless to say it's all got me pretty worked up.

i saw that war profiteer movie last wednesday and it's adding fuel to my fire. i sat with thirty strangers in a church that has a history of social justice work - they also turn out to be the only people i've heard reference Jubilee 2000 since i was in South Africa - and afterwards we talked about iraq and democracy and 9-11. i realized why i invest so much in other countries' work - it's so much easier to research and believe that what you find is true. i read books on che guevara by st. martin's press and assume they're factual... i read newsweek and assume it's not. kind of f-ed up, let's be honest, so i do what i often do when scared: i ignore the problem and look for something different to give me a sense of security.

but anyway, sorry, the point really is that i think part of why i've avoided getting caught up in america's business is that it's so much harder to gain footholds while you're on the inside and enjoying the benefits of well-fed ignorance (that link is just to show that my life is very good and easy, relative to the rest of the world, not calling anyone ignorant but myself). especially in the United States, especially in Chicago, where complacency actually gets you closer to the american dream. i don't rock the Chi-town boat, i really love my city, and i love that Daley does the LEED architecture stuff (LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ ) (wiki link) but we all know that Al Capone was not the first nor the last crook to manipulate our local system.

(i am not calling Daley a crook.) (seriously.)
yipes. lot going on in this little head of mine.

i'm cutting back on freelance work again. i've got three things going on right now aside from the Real Job and that's more than enough. without meaning to, i've become one of those people who are so invested in many things that none of them gets true attention, every last thing i claim to be committed to is fit in-between other things.

Mohammad said,
"do not dig many shallow wells.
dig one well and dig it deep."

well, crap.
things on my mind.
- i still can't believe i missed mandy's birthday
- jay's birthday is today
- he's in Hong Kong
- thanksgiving is next week
- i need to get Austin's site up
- if thanksgiving is next week, Christmas is in twenty minutes
- what's my budget like?
- how do i actually commit to anything?
- what actually matters to me?
- really. i want to know.

this is obivously how i'm up all night, every night, and wake up smiling. the wildness of life will never relent, always be as chaotic as i allow it to be, and i'm in the mood to let it fly, you know?



one more retropost

rocky horror was everything i dreamed and more.

makeup for tyler

quentin, tyler, me, emily, cassie

show finale, doing the can-can

oh, rocky horror. only once a year...

another post that should have been posted two weeks ago

listening to Nick Drake and worried about freelance. i have two web clients this month and web always takes a long time for me. the design drags and then suddenly i have this huge IDEA that WORKS but then i have to still build it. never fun.

i want mandy to be in town today really, really badly. more than the usual nostalgic "we could be at the beach today" feeling, like i'm homesick for her.

this is funny, i'm totally not in any kind of negative mood, i'm just a little sleepy after lunch and letting my mind wander. it's a confetti blur of owen and mandy and brad and a different brad and denver and minnesota and my design camp crush and a resurfacing of my original crush, remembering what that felt like way back in the beginning of infatuation. coasting on that warm fuzzy feeling for a while :)

a couple weeks ago after i got back from denver, someone from denver was in my town and it was kind of a big deal. i took a half-day from work so that i could do a half-assed super amateur photo shoot of brad corrigan's band, in town for a show.

things got off-schedule like the tend to do, so we took photos by walking around the block and finding things like someone's stoop, a green door, a brick wall to shoot against. i was apprehensive that it would be awkward but then it totally wasn't. sometimes i'm still timid after all i've been and done, timid that i'm an intruder, but they definitely let me in and feel like they were glad i was there.

so we took some good shots and i killed time with the guys in the green room of the beat kitchen before the show, getting some dinner and watching YouTube clips.

the show was wednesday night, and the crowd was different than usual: older, meaner, more drunk than ever before - but i chalk that up to it being wednesday. the show was great, the music was solid.

one of the best parts: rampant drum solos.


uh, so i went to denver

that was... two weeks ago. my friend katie was getting married, and i went with jenna and my parents to the land of mountains and hippies that are also preppies. organic / crunchy / pottery barn. if they can learn to all live in peace, then what are the rest of us doing?

added bonus: i spent my morning having coffee with my dear friend joe, who used to be one of my city urchins and is now domesticated (in a good way) with a fiancee and a dog. we took his puppy for a walk. very nice introduction to joe's life, one i've only heard about so far.

and let's be honest, any time i get to see the mountains i get excited. while i was here, and when i was living in california, i was amazed to just see mountains whenever i wanted, like, just find a window! they're RIGHT THERE! it's the only time i feel 1. like "a midwesterner" and 2. like maybe there is something the otherwise perfect city of chicago is missing.

katie's wedding was beautiful. weddings are always pretty, but sometimes they're transformative - like when the doors opened, she was lace and glitter and perfect.

the church itself was a fairly inspirational, even for a place of worship -

between the mass and the reception, we hit what was the original chipotle. like, THE FIRST. i feel it's worth mentioning.

the reception was as nice as the ceremony - katie had it in a wildlife center, so it was a wedding but also artwork, and museum-esque exhibits.

this photo is for anne, who wasn't there - jenna imitating a moose:

and a photo i took when jenna and i snuck onto the balcony overlooking the reception area

blind melon - better than coffee

i've read that when you have a song in your head it's like your brain is trying to scratch an itch. so when i get something in my head i try to listen to that song in order to get a move on, scratch it and get back to my day.

in light of that, it may (or may not) be of interest to some that i've had blind melon's "the pusher" in my head for, oh, almost three days. and when i play it, i get that guitar in the beginning, and it's like nothing else for the time being...


state radio in amsterdam

you can catch more state radio on a sweet concert site -
a full concert from their recent europe tour - by clicking on this link:

favorite. band. ever.

i've only recently jumped on the youtube bandwagon... i tried uploading a video last night - and it worked! - of my favorite band because i naively thought there wasn't much of them on youtube.

i was totally, undeniably wrong.
my video with its crappy sound and red tint (schubas doesn't spend much on lights, they're red and they don't move) was blown out of the water and down the street by this video of MY FAVORITE BAND EVER.

um. this video is mine. very amateur, let's face the facts.

i love having a favorite band. i love that somewhere there is something that is undeniably better to me than anything else in its category. it's not often that you can really pick something and say "this is the best, ever" and not have to justify it to anyone. just enjoy it for all it is!


feeling strangely fine

last night - TEN HOURS of sleep.

now: off to the gym,
then pay off some bills,
then dinner and a movie with cassie.
(little miss sunshine)

peace out for now ~


joke's on me

eating froot loops. remembering how when my sister jenna was little she said her favorite flavor of food was "blue, because that means it's fake and it's candy."

this week, i'll tell you what.
i was all set to go to Design Camp™ and have a grand old time, and i did - but just before i left wunderman made a counteroffer for me to not only stay, but go into Strategic Planning. like at 5:05pm. and i was shaking, i was so flipped out about it, but i had to take a deep breath and tell them i could only have an answer when i got back from minnesota.

here are some camp highlights.

(you CAN'T JUST LEAVE THAT TOPIC HANGING, right??? that's how i felt. the ten hour drive each way, the workshops, the bonfire - it all had a low-level anxiety underneath it as i thought out which would be better for me in the short term, the long term, the contacts, the exposure. so now you'll know how i felt - camp is so great but you just want to rush to the decision. and it's not that easy.)

highlights: making new business cards with a stamp i bought at office depot on the way up. they got some great reviews, being called super modern. that had me feeling like a super designer :)

staying in a log cabin

late nights at the bonfire

walking down to the beach whenever i felt like it

quality speakers

nerd activities like Pantone Bingo

the pavilion with the band and the bar
click here to see more.

so what happened then? every person i talked to said to keep the dotomi job. every last one but my friend ryan. which stuck with me, because i've always described his and my relationship as "our points A and B are the same, but our paths between the points have nothing in common." in other words, i trust his opinion like i trust my own, knowing that though he and i are totally different, i am very likely to reach the same conclusion in most cases.

but there was pressure from parents, co-workers, strangers weighing in. everyone said "you shouldn't stay where they wouldn't hire you without that pressure of losing you."

and then everyone said "it's great to have a choice."
and i was like "yeah, yeah."
so i got back home and decided to go with dotomi.

then i went and talked to a woman at wunderman with every intention of going in to say goodbye and thanks. instead she sat me down and made me accountable for why i was leaving. together we talked through all my hesitations, and then i realized what was really stopping me was that i was being told "you would be so great at this" and i had no idea what "this" was. so we talked to the planning women, and i found out that since i was "such a natural" they all assumed i already did know exactly what i was getting into. and the more we talked, the more it became so very clear that planning is something i didn't even really know about but it could not be more tailored to what is exciting to me about design. according to everything i've heard and read and asked and answered, this is my ultimate dream job.

on top of that is the fact that the other planning women are the first two women in a long time of whom i've thought "i want to be you in five years." and that's just as exciting. i love art direction, being a designer, but this allows for more ambition, bigger goals, a further reach. when i thought long-term, this role does outdistance the role i've been shooting for since graduating college.

so right now it's 4:36pm on friday afternoon, and i'm waiting to have the actual offer letter in my hands before i call dotomi and break some hearts... i feel like a jerk for accepting and then declining the offer, but i take a lot of pride in being able to say "it's not you, not the money or the perks or anything else - it's the work. the day-to-day work that would be different, and i can't deny this new opportunity."

so as of Monday, October 16th, i'm going to be a Strategic Planner for Wunderman! full time and everything :)


that's right

forgot my cellphone today. which is really, really bad. email me if you need my work number.



um, i put in my two week notice today at Wunderman because Oct 23rd will be my first day at Dotomi. i'm trying to wrap my head around my career this morning after talking to HR and my mentors in production and strategic planning...

what this change comes down to is that even though i found out that Wunderman had an intention to hire me before the end of the year, it would have been for about 10k less than what i make now and it would have been 75% administrative work for the first year. i had to tell HR look, i really appreciate knowing this, but i don't have that kind of time to invest any more when i could be choosing a career path right now. Dotomi will have me on as an art director from day one, and that's a career move.

the worst part of today: telling people.
the best part: their reactions.

everyone understood 100%. they've all watched me hang on for the past year and deliberate my own worth while working for three distinct groups internally and keeping up two freelance clients on my own time. i've been a nut for design, and it's amazing the recognition i didn't know i had around here. HR even went so far as to say they'll be calling me when a position opens in planning, probably in two years, and the head of Strategic Planning said she understood but is not going to stop trying to get me hired. possibly the most encouraging morning i've ever had, and it's the day i declare my departure.

[deep breath]

so new place! it's in the lyric opera house, so it's the other side of town - but i'm actually going to be working exactly in-between where my two sisters work and next door to my former roommate. i start in about 2.5 weeks and it's a lot of things i like: casual atmosphere, hard working, collaborative structure, still get to wear jeans and pumas every day. plus training in boston!!! i get to go back east for a couple weeks. not sure when, but i'll post when i find out :)

i loved confessing to HR that i only kept my resume on the market half-assedly to cover myself. i didn't go out looking for jobs, i got several cold calls, i turned down a couple of jobs to stay here, and ultimately it looks like it has worked in my favor. being in a position of interviewing while i had a job i liked made me able to hardball things - - like how i actually said to Dotomi "i like my job, i like where i am and i'll only leave for something better." and then my new director turned around and gave me exactly that. and when i told HR woman i had said that verbatim, she hugged me.

[another deep breath]


poster idea

comments welcome!
click for larger view...
comments welcome!

my newest source of amusement


kristy's getting married

and she is so pretty.

beware, men, this is what we do - try on sparkly dresses in rooms covered in mirrors so we can all see each other's reactions.

and sometimes we try on more than we need to because what the hell, the dresses are sparkly and swish ever-so-lovingly around us, as though to whisper sweet nothings to our knees.


cubs day in the sun

update from last sunday - - went to see a cubs game from some rooftop bleachers with the Lawrence Hall group:

we had some meet & greet time to get to know the boys - some, like myself, only see them once a year at this event. it's always a little awkward at first, of course - like, that "how do i approach people again?" moment. you always worry they won't like you, but they always do.

we had some games set up - baseball bingo and baseball trivia games; every game had, let's be honest, an array of prizes. everyone had a goody bag and we conspired to have each one full.
the seventh inning stretch was led emphatically by the back row
but the boys seemed jazzed to just be there at all :) this guy in particular really liked my camera. this was the deal, that he could use it if i could take his picture.
i'd say the deal worked out in my favor when he took a nice one for me
i struck the same deal with anthony, but i had to catch him first:
he had some good ones too
this photo is titled, "another hot brunette in my family"

so it was an awesome day.
especially when cubs beat the reds 11 to 3.

and hey - link to Lawrence Hall, click here.


back to an old topic for me

i'm watching Fidel (the Castro Project) and it's astounding to see this particular perspective - most Cuban retrospectives are focused on Martí or Che. it needs a grain of salt - it even says on the Netflix envelope that it's "a somewhat uneven drama" - but after personally studying the revolution length i'm so impressed by the actors' portrayal both physical and emotional of Fidel and Che.

something is burning in my mind: in the movie they show the Cuban governmental offices when they found out about the withdrawl of Russian missiles during the Cuban Missile Crisis - then they turn on an American TV channel for information, aghast that they were left out of negotiations, and the American channel shows army men being kissed by girls in the streets, the 50s extreme optimism, the propaganda that was too young and sincere to be true propaganda. In Cuba, there was a struggle for the new definition of a humanist republic and we instead show human interest, happy people living well. Nothing in our mass media has changed. i won't bore you with that manifesto, though.

my biggest problem in this film is what they choose to gloss over. this movie is three and a half hours long and they boil down che's commitment to the Central American republic - bringing the Revolution to Bolivia and Chile - to one conversation. they cover the second half of Che's life in three scenes. the scene of Che's assination is pretty wrenching.

oh - oh -- it's ending now and it's unrelentingly cheezy. the end of the film: Fidel addresses the camera directly and calls America hypocrites for punishing those that don't follow the United States' rules, after three hours of watching Fidel jail or otherwise punish those that fell out of line of the Revolution. And thank you Netflix - the last ten minutes of the DVD are warped. Shoot. What a weird ending for a good movie. but at the end, here is my overarching statement about this flick: don't watch it unless you already know a lot about the subject matter. if this is all you know about the Cuban revolution, you're being irresponsible.

that being said, it was interesting and i'm very glad i got to see all but the last ten minutes of it... good acting, good music, questionable storytelling.



and just so you know what i'm up against here:
10 to 14 hour days of this:

1. Corte las alas en partes, a la altura de las articulaciones, para poder asarlas más fácilmente. Derrita dos cucharadas de margarina Fleischmann’s a fuego medio en una olla grande. Añada las alas y dórelas durante cinco minutos por lado.

¡find the errors!

needlessly serious

the thunder rumbles on, and my sore ass is still here at the office. taking a minor mental break (fingers flinching, semi-poised over the key command to minimize the window lest boss-man disrupt me) mental break from updating the Spanish recipes on the Butterball site.

typing Spanish, proofreading Spanish as though it were my primiary language and not my tertiary. for those who don't know, that means third.

thunder again. had chipotle for lunch and while it's debatable whether my shoes were made for walkin', it is a solid and unredeeming fact that they are not made to walk in the rain. there is a thin layer of sludge where my heels rest. nasty.

so the shoes, their sparkles and sequins reside under my desk. away from my doting little piggies. my right eye twiches. twice. it's nearly time to go home. until i return tomorrow to solve new problems, overhear new conversations, possibly get more job offers.

that's right. you heard me. maybe more job offers. two more that aren't even from headhunter people. new people that found me on their own.

i will wear better shoes tomorrow.


lights on the highway

saw something very cool last night.

i jumped off of lake shore drive to get the photo - coming home from Tyler's place in hyde park (south side - 3 exits past the planetarium) and i wish the photos came out of it in the bigger skyline. but because i'm only so talented at taking pictures from my window while driving (i'm such a professional), i turned off at congress and kept driving and turning and driving until i was suddenly right up close to a very quiet, dark, simple memorial. i'm not all up in the 9-11 stuff today, but i'm remembering the memorial gary and i used to hang out by in downtown boston, one of those children's letters lacquered on cement type things. the first night we found it, we just read it for hours in the streetlight glow, taking turns pointing out one letter or another.

usually i'd go on a rant about global politcs and the MDC and third world debt right about here, but it feels really forced. this blog is an exercise in narcissism, but turning 9-11 into any kind of vehicle for my own viewpoints would be totally crossing a line.

also interesting: "Viewpoints: The world since 9/11" (click here). among those interviewed is the executive director of Human Rights Watch.


hiatus is OVER.

it's been almost two weeks since my last post because the last two weeks have included unheard of hours at the office. and fourteen solid hours a day at my desk without the spare time to get lunch or play with blogger going all XML (if you don't know what that means, it's very cool. if you do know, appreciate it with me: [sigh of relief goes here].

three big things have gone down in that time.
1. i went to michigan over labor day weekend with Betsy and Pam.

stayed at a lovely cabin

jumped in a pool

wandered around South Haven; shopped second-hand stores

came really close to getting some "new" vinyl

2. came back to Chicago and saw Pink Martini at the House of Blues - from an Opera box! and i finally made it to the Foundation Room, which was off the hook, as they say.

these peeps are my dad's favorite band ever. amazing live show

3. this one has no pictures associated to it... just cool news... i've been recruited by a couple of headhunters lately, and it's amazing because i'm in a really good position. i REALLY like my job, so i have the freedom to say things like i'll only leave for more money, or for full benefits, i only apply for full-time positions. it makes me sound all desired and hardball-playing being so frank, and it's really fun.

in that vein, i've also been doing some random work at wunderman for strategic planning. it's been mostly admin stuff, but whenever i find relevant links or articles i forward them around -- and suddenly last week i found out something i can't talk about yet, but there's a possibility of maybe, well, a career shift soon. i'm not getting my hopes up - like, do we remember the Target fiasco last february? my heart's not made to be broken, as the song goes, so i'm not gonna really try to believe in it yet... but it's like for the first time i've met someone whose job i actually want. when i was at Wunderman before and when i returned, both times i saw who i was working under and i didn't necessarily like where i was likely to move up towards. but i see what the Planning people's jobs are like, what they do and what they need to know, and we talk about living in lofts and dinner parties... it's all very attractive. i like the work and i like the team people as role models. so that's kind of a big deal to me... i'm excited. it also brings up the possibility of being hired full-time, which frankly makes me salivate.