Life’s a B..lur

We loaded up into ol’ Ruby headed to a neighboring town to interview for a college internship at a photography studio. We decided to make a road trip out of it and to get a jump start on next semester. It was our summer vacation, after all.. What’s work with no play? No fun, that’s what! The key to happiness is balance. My gal pal and I were attached at the hip: we worked together, had all the same classes, and even carpooled to save some dough! We fit the stereotypical college student roles perfectly: always broke, starving.. I mean, striving artists! We had to be creative to survive in this cruel world.

“Daphne, when ya gonna get your A.C. fixed?! I’m melting,” I complained again while staring out the passenger window.

“♪♫ Shyanne.. I’m working on it.. Ol’ Ruby needs some TLC-eeeee.. she’s an expensive Drama Queeeeeen! Just put your window all the way dowwwwwn ♬,” Daphne sang along with the blaring radio.

I didn’t wanna mess up my hair, but decided since I was already a hot mess, I might as well just let the fresh country air blow away the beads of sweat off my freckled face. I fiddled with the squeaky, manual window crank and with each rotation, felt my arm muscles spasm.

“Add a can of WD-40 to the laundry list for ol’ Ruby,” I stated as both of our butts lifted up out of the maroon front bench seat. “Hey! Take it easy on these hills.. You know I get car sick.. We ain’t hill hoppin’..”

“I can’t help it, I’m going the speed limit,” Daphne stated matter-of-factly.

“Do ya have a litter bag? Just in case?” I pleaded as my stomach gurgled.

“Yeah, in the glove box. Just make sure to slam it.. when you close it.. Ol’ Ruby is temperamental,” Daphne chuckled while patting the dusty dashboard. “Are we heading in the right direction, Miss Navigator?”

“Yeah, just keep West,” I replied with a cough and sneeze. I took a couple deep breaths in and out and closed my eyes. I surprised myself with a quick recovery. All those long road trips with my family semi-prepared me on how to deal with my car sickness. My dad would purposely give it the gas over hills just to churn my stomach. Anything for a laugh.. but I never laughed.

Daphne interrupted my thought, “Did you bring your camera?”

“You know it,” I squealed while unveiling my new digital camera like a Bob Barker Beauty.

“Yay! Let’s document our adventure,” Daphne suggested and wiggled in her seat. “Everything is so green!”

“It sure is,” I exclaimed as I wrapped the camera strap around my wrist and fastened it against my pale skin. I grasped the camera tightly, peered through the viewfinder, and snapped dozens of photos outside the passenger window. I adjusted the angle and zoom to capture a good variety. I tried not to get my reflection in the side mirror in every shot. That would be a totally amateur move!

I put the camera in my lap as I closed my eyes, stretched out my neck to breathe in the crisp country air, and to feel the warm sun upon my rosy cheeks. The radio changed to a commercial and it reverted me back to reality. As I was scrolling through the camera preview screen to see what I had captured, I announced with a frown, “I can’t seem to get a shot in focus or with the correct amount of exposure.” I let out a sigh.

“Well, that’s okay! Even out of focus and overexposed photos can be interesting,” Daphne reassured me. “Post them anyway, tag me of course, and maybe they’ll grow on you. Different always stands out from the crowd,” Daphne gave me a playful wink and smiled at her own advice.

I stuck my tongue out at her and we both giggled like little school girls. Oh, how I admired Daphne’s style; she really did march to the beat of her own drum. Her creativity was contagious and I was itching to be inspired. I had learned a lot from Daphne’s carefree attitude in and outside of the classroom. My OCD forced my artwork to color inside the lines. I relished the fact she could create an unorganized yet interesting piece of art and it still be professional! Such talent at such a young age. Daphne was a couple-ish years my junior, but seemed to be wise beyond her years. We were similar in that way. We both had our shit together: responsible, independent, mature women who loved expressing ourselves in a colorful way, which could be perceived as.. immature.

“Shyanne, I think I took a wrong turn.. I don’t see signs for Broomfield anymore,” Daphne muttered as she frantically read each passing road sign.

“Oh, man.. Okay.. Pull over,” I instructed while examining our Colorado state map. “Alright, we were going West and turned to pass through Westminster, haha.. get it?! West, Westminster.. What a co-inky-dink!”

“Very punny,” Daphne teased.

“Okay, we’re in Thorton; the city, not the gas station! Haha,” I looked up from the map at Daphne and she stifled a laugh. I continued, “Take 25 North, then get off at 128 West, and we should be there in no time!”

“Whew! I’m glad you’re the navigator,” Daphne admitted as she checked to rejoin traffic.

“You just gotta know how to read a map! My mom taught me,” I gloated while folding the map carefully.

“And.. you know how to correctly fold a map! I mean.. you’re a freak of nature,” Daphne joked. “You sure you’re not an alien from outer space?!”

“Ya caught me!” I confessed as I put up both hands. “We’re headed to a spaceship where me and my alien comrades are gonna beam you up to our lab and probe you!”

“Okay, but don’t give me too much laughing gas because I’ll cry laugh and I’m an ugly crier,” Daphne pleaded with her big hazel puppy dog eyes.

We finally looked at each other and just lost it. We had a non-stop giggle fit for a solid minute. “Fun fact,” I giggled in between words, “Area 51.. is in.. Lincoln County.. Nevada.. which is like.. 10 hours away.. hope you.. got enough gas.. to get.. ol’ Ruby there!” I pulled out a US map to examine for comedic effect.

Daphne poked the map into my nose. “Girl, you are something else! I’m getting kinda hungry, you wanna stop off somewhere?”

“Do you really have to ask?! Oh! There’s a Mickey D’s!”

“Why isn’t there an Unhappy Meal for adults?” Daphne asked with a straight face.

“If there was, what would the toy be?”

“A mini bottle of alcohol! Duh!”

“Oh. My. God. Yeesss! Let’s pitch them this idea and we’ll be bazillionaires!”

“After we pay off all of our student loans, we’ll have just enough money leftover to buy.. an Unhappy Meal!”

We lost it again. Our giggle fest continued. We heard one of our favorite songs on the radio from a band we just bought concert tickets to see in the fall, so we just had to stay in ol’ Ruby to rock out until the very end of the song. I played air guitar while Daphne drummed on the steering wheel. We dramatically serenaded one another while holding hands during the last verse.

“We should cut a record!” Daphne exclaimed as we were walking across the parking lot. She glanced to me for approval, but I shook my head. “We could sing back up!” We both shook our heads and continued walking. “I got it!” She stopped, so I stopped.. and we glared at one another. She paused for dramatic effect.. “We could be hype girls!”

“Yeeeeeesssss!” We danced all the way into the restaurant and stood in a long line to order.

“Shyanne, check it! There’s a vending machine over there! Wanna get a temporary tattoo?!”

“Oohh! Well, I mean.. we gotta look our best for the interview!”

We scrounged up just enough change. “On the count of three, let’s open ’em together,” Daphne whispered.

We counted together, “1.. 2.. 3..”

“I gotta flaming guitar! What’d you get?!” Daphne asked.

“I gotta spider in its web! Where should we put them?” I asked.

“Hmm.. I don’t know.. Oh! I know!.. On our necks! We gotta show ’em off! We’re hype girls! We gotta look the part..”

“Risky. Wild. Daring. I like it. Let’s do it! After we eat..”

“Duh!”

We found a booth near a window facing a quaint little court yard. Daphne went over to save our seats while I went to fill up our cups at the soda machine.

“What do you want to drink?” I asked over my shoulder.

“Hi-C with a little ice!” Daphne excitedly replied.

“You got it!” I skipped across the dining area and sang what I was doing, “♪♫ Fill this cup with a little ice. Yeaahhh.. Pour some Hi-C. Oohh.. Overflooooooooow ♬”

“You gotta nice voice,” a police officer commented as he grabbed a handful of napkins.

“Uhhh.. thank you,” I muttered as my cheeks turned beet red. Oh, how I blushed! I quickly cleaned up my mess from the spilt soda on the counter and hurried over to join Daphne, “That copper just complimented my singing,” I whispered. “I was just being silly.. Guess I sound better than I thought..”

“Girl, I’ll sing backup for ya,” Daphne blurted out.. a little louder than she intended. She instantly noticed the other diners glaring at us.

I giggled quietly, “You gotta audition first.” We both dipped our french fries into the same ranch dressing container. “Hey, I like your nails, where do you get them done at?!”

“Oh, I do ’em myself!” Daphne shoved her perfectly manicured hand in my face. “I just slap on the polish and let the paint fall off my fingers when I get a shower the next day..”

“Sounds like a foolproof process right there,” I declared in awe. “I’ll have to try that sometime. What color is that by the way?” I stuffed half a dozen fries in my mouth at once.

“Burgundy Sunset Bliss,” she dramatically quoted with a wave.

“Really?”

“Hell if I know. Sounds like a color to me.”

“You should submit that to Pantone!”

“I just might,” Daphne mumbled through a mouthful of her double cheeseburger.

We made a couple pit-stops along the way as we walked down the street to the photography studio for Daphne’s interview. We captured some Kodak moments: Daphne posed in front of a white picket fence with her Mickey D’s cup o’ Hi-C. I posed leaning against a brick wall in an alley because my alter ego grew up in The Outsiders.

This story doesn’t have a traditional beginning, middle, and end. It just abruptly stops.. because unfortunately.. my friend’s life abruptly stopped. I decided to highlight the good times we had together while she was a part of my life. Life’s a B..lur. The world is moving at such a high speed.. that every once and awhile.. I just gotta stop.. and enjoy it.. and appreciate it for what it is.. before it’s too late.

I enjoyed traveling down memory lane, thumbing through my ol’ photo albums, and sharing an inspired by my true experience with y’all this week (an excerpt, if you will). I hope the next time you feel your head spinning and your life becomes a b..lur; that you’ll take a second to slow down to savor each and every precious moment, and cherish them while you can. I guarantee you’ll feel better about whatever life throws at ya. Please share any merry-go-round moments you’ve had in the comments. I can’t wait to hear about them.

Once Upon a Blog

I received a random message early in the morning from my college professor that prompted the creation of this blog:

Allison, I remember you as being a creative witty person with a wry sense of humor. Have you ever thought that you might be a good writer? Even part-time. With the right amount of perseverance and patience I believe you could be very successful. You have a unique view of things and you are able to express it well. Just saw a recent post from you and it “triggered” fond memories, especially your graduation speech which was brilliant! Do you keep a journal? Maybe you could write a blog? One of my sons has a friend who writes a sports blog and he is making considerable cash. Take a look back through your journals and you may find a theme that reflects your spirit, your wit, your attitude toward life. You’ve been through a lot and here you are, wiser, stronger and still you! Don’t know what got me on this this morning, but it’s good to touch base! Talk to you later!

I let this marinate for a couple weeks. I tried not to force any ideas because I wanted my blog theme to be organic and somewhat.. original.

There I was.. driving into my hometown and peacefully enjoying the view of a beautiful green field (I decided to take the rural scenic route). No sign of civilization for as far as the eye could see. Just nature thriving.

Where Millville Ave and Walnut Street meet

I thought to myself: “Wow! Now, that is a picture worth a thousand..ish words. I could put a frame around this and have quite a bit to say about it. Wonder if anybody would read it?

Out of nowhere.. BOOM!!! Inspiration struck! I had found my theme.. or rather my theme found me! I think this theme will reflect the attributes my college professor recommended that I highlight very well. This theme will incorporate my love of photography, graphic design, and creative writing!

I first fell in love with writing in elementary school. My English teacher wrote a journal entry prompt on the board every morning for us to start our day off right; by exercising our most important muscle.. Our brain! Such journal entry prompts were a simple or philsophical question, random scenario, or abrupt storyline that needed to be finished, etc. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to create with the written word, reading it back, watching my teacher and classmates hearing me read it aloud (whenever I felt confident enough, haha). I quickly learned that reading and writing go hand in hand, therefore this fueled my interest in reading and dedication to improve my vocabulary.

My English teacher took notice of my obsession with learning and the sudden anxiety that struck my core when the school year was about to come to an end. In the years previous, I would “play school” all summer! I was fully equipped with a retired student desk, outdated/donated textbooks from my mom’s teacher friend. I would role-play as the teacher, take attendance, assign seats, create syllabuses, hand out assignments, grade them, and give out homework. My English teacher kindly communicated her concern with my parents and the school decided to award me a free “scholarship” to summer school so I could keep my structured scholastic schedule all year round throughout my entire elementary career.

I saw Nickelodeon’s Harriet the Spy summer blockbuster movie with my dad, which electrified my interest in writing! I bought a Composition notebook, just like Harriet’s, to record all my “secrets.” I turned out to be a horrible spy though (haha..) so I just kept with the writing part. Oh! I even bought similar shoes as Harriet’s. Tried to find her orange pants to no avail. The setting of the movie is not exactly clear, however with a little research I discovered the book of the same title was originally published in 1964 by Louise Fitzhugh, therefore it explains the vintage fashion style, absence of technology, and classic vehicles throughout the film. In hindsight, Nickelodeon and Paramount were smart to stay true to the era in which Harriet grew up in in the book. I found it to be charming because they kept it simple with no outside distractions. Just good old-fashioned spy-work and back to basics writing.

In high school, I took a Creative Writing elective class with another one of my influential English teachers. His freestyle teaching motto was: let it flow and see what happens. We were assigned to write various styles such as: poetry, short stories, songs, etc. I leaned towards more of the shorter writings because I had to be honest with my-high-school-teenage-self: I didn’t have the time, attention span, or motivation to write an elaborate beginning, middle, and climatic end. I accepted it and stuck with what I felt comfortable with. With the urging of my English teacher, I entered a couple poetry contests. I placed and was published in a book called Impressions of Youth, along with all the other placed and winning entries (I have a copy but couldn’t find it anywhere online to share with y’all). The teacher realized there were a fair share of us that were shy about reading our pieces out loud with the class, so he allowed us to select a brave classmate to read our pieces on our behalf. In hindsight, that was very cool and kind of him. Oh! We could bring in snacks, some kids brought in coffee, and it felt very much like an open mic night at a local cafe. We even snapped our fingers instead of clapping after each piece was read.

I first fell in love with photography in high school when I took a couple Darkroom Photography elective classes. I found it fascinating that in order to capture an ideal shot, you need light; whether it be natural or artificial; however, the initial preparation process and development end process needs complete darkness! Yin and Yang process. Every step has to be precise, delicate, and balanced:

  • Cut the film and roll it into the canister in complete darkness
    • Take photos
  • Extract the full canister without exposing it to any light
  • Whilst in the darkroom: cut the film again to place it onto the mechanism to shine light through it onto the photo paper below
    • Duration could vary, depending upon the exposure type of photograph you’re trying to achieve
    • Double exposure photographs are fun and trippy!
    • Could add a stencil to frame images such as stars, hearts, etc
  • Soak the photo paper in chemicals
    • First bin was a specific time
    • Second bin was a different, specific time
    • Third bin was a different, specific time
  • Hang to dry

Before high school graduation, I distinctly remember a speaker (of some kind) came to explain the three avenues, one of which we were destined to take: College, Workforce, or Military. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t even know if my folks could afford college because all my siblings went straight into the workforce after high school; therefore, I presumed I’d do the same. A Brown Mackie College Admissions Recruiter came to speak to my English class. Their pitch went the same as all the rest of other college admission recruiters, however their class structure was different because instead of taking multiple classes at once over a period of multiple semesters during a school year; this school offered one class course at a time for an entire month. She explained it as: “Easing yourself into the college life.” My-high-school-teenage-self thought: “Hey! Now, that’s a good way to decide if college’s right for me. One class for one month at a time? Sure. Didn’t sound like too much of a commitment!” So, I decided to check the box on the comment card that I was interested in learning more about the college, but I couldn’t bring myself to check any of the listed majors because I wasn’t interested in Accounting, Economics, or Paralegal.

Soon after, I had a meeting with a different Admissions Recruiter, they gave my mom and I the grand tour of the campus, explained each and every major they offered, but I was hesitant because I still wasn’t interested in any major yet. My mom suggested I bring my darkroom photography and creative writings to show the Admissions Recruiter and see if that could help determine which major could incorporate both of my interests. They immediately spit out: “Oh! You’re an artist! Let me introduce you to our new neighbor, The Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati, and their Admissions. I think their Graphic Design major would be a great fit for you!” The more I learned about graphic design, the more I felt like this was something I could see myself doing every day. Being creative. I learned as a graphic designer, you have to wear many hats: writer, photographer, typographer, etc. I’m a variety type of person so this fits me perfectly because I don’t like doing the same thing every day.

The rest is history! I graduated top of my class, was on the Dean’s List with a 3.5 Grade Point Average, I was voted Graduation Class Student Speaker, was Awarded Best in Show at the Graduation Portfolio Show, and was a Regional Finalist for the Art Institutes’ National Portfolio. I felt on top of the world! The famous reporter question to any winning athlete is: “You have just won the [insert tournament name here], what are going to do next?!” Yep, you guessed it.. I went to Disney World! I went for a paid college internship, whilst there I took a Creativity and Innovation Class at their College of Knowledge. I even received my Ducktorate! Haha.. I proudly showcase my Ducktorate at every interview. It always gets a good laugh! Interviews can be awkward because they’re forced interactions so it helps ease the tension.

My first out-of-college-adult-job was at a small commercial photography studio as a Production Assistant, which was a creative, multi-tasking position where I directed the photographer, took photos in their absence, pre-edited the photos, edited the photos in post, took inventory of photography equipment in the studio and warehouse, etc. I worked there for a couple years until I was recruited for another job, which paid more. Hey! Money talks.

For the past five years, I’ve been desperately craving a creative outlet because my day job, while it has great benefits and flexibility, is at an IT company that I find monotonous; however provides me the luxury of ample spare time to express myself outside of the cookie cutter IT world.

I had privately protested photography for the past decade-ish because everyone became instantly equipped with a camera in their cell phone, which mass produced an unforeseen amount of self-proclaimed “photographers.” I quickly became uninterested and unmotivated in photography because it seemed to dull the originality and creativity for me. Took me awhile to realize that I shouldn’t worry about what other people are doing and that I should do what makes me happy; regardless of what is #trendy. With my mentor’s and my significant other’s encouragement, I have decided to reignite my love for photography, design, and writing! A thousand-ish words and countless scrolls later.. my blog is born.. TA-DA!

Thank you Duff and thank you Jaimie, for I dedicate this post to you both.