Archives for October 2011

Thursday Ten: ALL THE TACOS ARE FOR ME Edition

1. This morning I saw a post on AdRants about an app that uses your phone’s GPS location to find all the taco places near you. Oh yeah, you know I downloaded that. Also thinking I need to arrange a pub crawl but with tacos instead of beer. Apparently there’s really such a thing…for people who ride bikes. But I don’t want to ride bikes. I just want to wear stretchy pants and eat tacos until I pass out in the middle of a sidewalk somewhere.

2. After several days of “Pumped Up Kicks” stuck in my head, I have decided I hate it. I have listened to another song by Foster the People and have decided I hate that, too. So if you didn’t know it, now you know. (And knowing is half the battle…)

3. I went to another seminar about social media the other day for work. Let me say this – I am afraid that there is no such thing as a meaningful seminar about social media that is geared towards business people. Basically, they teach social media as if you have been using smoke signals for communication up until now and you might be able to find Twitter if you can figure out how to start your computer. Now, I’d never call myself a maven (mostly because that word is freaking dumb), but, I’m fairly savvy-ish. So basically… I went to the seminar for the lunch. And the change of scenery.

4. Tomorrow is an exciting day! My sister will have her 20 week ultrasound in the morning – and while it’s a bigger deal for her and my brother-in-law, as a first time aunt, I’m pretty excited too. I’ll be waiting outside for them to come out and immediately taking some pictures afterwards – which is how they’ll announce to family and friends (via pink or blue) the gender of their baby. Can’t wait.

5. It was a cold gloomy morning so I decided to go for a walk for some coffee at lunch time. I didn’t realize until I stepped outside that it had started sprinkling. No matter, I didn’t melt. It was nice to get outside. The downside is that the cappuccino I picked up was so awful that I ended up throwing it away, half full. THEN, mid-afternoon, I ended up fishing it out of my trash and walking it down the hall to throw it away (again!) because the smell was grossing me out. #CappuccinoFail

6. Last Thursday night, I busted my fanny to make a video for a project for work. Video production? Not my wheelhouse. I did it, got it done, and it was kinda sorta not horrible… but… when your only production tools are Windows Movie Maker and iPhone Voice Memos (to record audio) – it’s a low tech endeavor that is somewhat painful. Oh well. Live and learn.

7. I am watching the Project Runway finale. The only show I’ve managed to watch lately.

8. Tomorrow the kids celebrate Halloween at school. Not Monday, which is ACTUALLY HALLOWEEN. But tomorrow. When did that start, that celebrating Halloween on Not-Halloween?

9. I am teaching myself DreamWeaver at work – because I need to and because I hadn’t used it in TEN PLUS years. I’m happy to say that in the Sarah vs. DreamWeaver throw down today, I emerged victorious. Thank god.

10. The Princess’s math homework had her in tears tonight. The kid can spell almost anything (her current spelling list includes “lexicographer” – and she picks her own spelling words!) – but occasionally she gets this block with math. Even if she understands the basic principle – the execution trips her up. It’s really awful to see, because things usually come easily to her, and yet she dissolves into tears and is truly miserable. Fortunately a friend had her math whiz kiddo call to walk me through some ways to help The Princess – and we got through the assignment but right now we both really hate prime numbers.

Thursday Ten: A Smattering of Stuff While I Procrastinate Edition

1. October, as you know, is breast cancer awarenness month. It’s a cause that means a lot to me, and one that I pay attention to twelve months out of the year – not just October. But some cool finds this month include the YOUR MAN REMINDER phone app (early detection, y’all, it helps – this video is hilarious). Also, you know I’ll be doing the 39.3 mile walk again. I’ll be in Boston next spring. Want to donate to support me? Click through and donate – every donation helps.

2. New music this week. I was wrong last week, I HAD BOUGHT NEW MUSIC. DUH. New Ryan Adams album. And it’s lovely. This week I’ve also picked up the latest few songs from Chris Mann – which is totally Chris (and I love it all – even the song that’s not in English – no idea what the hell he’s singing, but he sings it so pretty). Also, this song from Lisa Hannigan.

3. I missed book club last week. They picked a book I have tried to read but gave up on because I hated it. So, uh. Yeah. I have to give it another try. I can’t just participate when they pick my choices. Sigh.

4. I’ve been sick for over a week and my one conclusion is: Zicam is stupid. It shortens the life of your cold, they say. HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG YOUR COLD WOULD HAVE LASTED WITHOUT ZICAM? Oh, I’m such an idiot, I fell for it.

5. I picked up the latest Rolling Stone magazine – Steve Jobs is on the cover, and I couldn’t help but morbidly think… how long have they had that article written, just… waiting? It’s sad, right? Blergh.

6. Ever since I got a workspace with a window, the sun hasn’t come out. THE SKY WILL BE GRAY FOREVER.

7. I spell gray with an A. I think it looks better.

8. I survived my 35th birthday. In fact, I feel younger today than I did on Sunday. How can that even be? Dinner with the family involved muchas tacos and a brownie sundae and I felt like I would explode. But so yummy. How can one be angsty while eating a brownie sundae? (You can’t)

9. Oy, the Halloween candy is starting to appear on the desks of co-workers. I am trying so so much to resist. I gave in and had an itty bitty tiny Twix today. It was SO DELISH. I love sugar.

10. Today is spirit day. I didn’t wear purple today (I forgot), but my support is with the cause today and always. Spirit Day is to show support of LGBT youth and to speak out against the bullying. Were you wearing purple today?

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my birthday. I am 35.

When it’s my daughters’ birthdays, I write them letters here. I fill this space with all of the things that made the past year special, all of the things I look forward to in the year ahead. I talk about their strengths, how much I love them, and the many ways they made me smile over the year.

For myself, I’m having a really hard time today.

It’s funny, because I’ve never been the type to get wigged out about age before. I’m not sure what triggered it this year – the errant gray hairs that stubbornly refuse to grow a little slower so I can at least attempt to keep up with covering them up with dye. Maybe it was the realization that I’m halfway to seventy. Or perhaps it’s because I’m now old enough to get elected as the President of the United States – some law made at some point decided that 35 was officially old enough to either ruin or make the country great.

I’m not sure.

I love birthdays – even my own – and so the fact that I’m mired with some idiotic sadness pisses me off. Today is my day and I’m supposed to be happy, and hell, I should even be wearing a tiara (and I’m sure I have one around here somewhere).

I hope this isn’t a sign of what is to come. I saw my mom celebrate her 60th birthday this year with as much enthusiasm as if it were her 20th, and I know that that is what I come from – a long line of people who love birthdays, love the celebration, and don’t really care so much about getting older, but love to have a day of their own – a day to celebrate the day you landed on this planet (sounds graceful, right? THUNK. From the heavens I fell onto the planet – from space to Illinois. Whoomp).

But I also know that changing the attitude is up to me, so, I could start by stop being such a horse’s ass about the stupid number, and just put a smile on my face and enjoy the day.


Maybe this is just early onset senility.

I hear that happens to old people.

I had a chaotic year, a crazy year, but I had a year where I got to travel, spend time with friends and family, meet some awesome people. I saw new places, old places I hadn’t seen in far too long. I lost a job. I got a new one. My hair grew several inches (some of those hairs were gray). I found out I’d get to be an aunt. I made cheesecakes that could make you cry, they were so delicious. I made people laugh. I made myself laugh.

I have no idea what 35 has in store for me, but I hope to quickly snap out of my funk to have my eyes open to what comes my way.


I’ll always love you though New York…

A week ago tonight, I had a belly full of New York pizza and feet tired from a day spent walking – exploring Central Park, walking miles to and around the park. Exhausted from our full day and an early morning flight, my mom and I were probably hanging out in our hotel room at this time, winding down and preparing to start all over again on Saturday morning.

I have said before how much I love big cities – and NYC is no different. The love I have for New York is similar to the love I have for Chicago is similar to the love I have for San Francisco. All three cities are vibrant and radiate with a lovely chaos. The architecture, the landscape, the motion. But New York is different than Chicago which is different than San Francisco. And those three are probably in many ways similar to other cities across the country, and just as different.

(You with me so far: Things are alike but different)

I could have spent another four, eight, twelve, whatever days in New York and still not finished exploring all I wanted to see. We wandered through the Village, eating brunch in some random restaurant (waffles! yummy!). We found the Washington Square arch, and I took a picture of the Waverly Place sign for my daughter.

I love like a fountain
And it left me with nothing
Just the memories of walking through Washington Square
-Counting Crows

I took far more pictures of the Flatiron Building than seemed reasonable, but the shape and the unexpectedness of it, looming so high above just somehow pleased me and I couldn’t stop with the pictures.

Battery Park looking over the Statue of Liberty as the sunset, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building lit up like Christmas out my hotel room at night, the crowded heat of a subway station on a Saturday afternoon as trains were cancelled, rerouted and who knows what (probably old hat for the residents of NYC – but all new to the touristy folks trying to get back to Manhattan from Queens when all the trains we were “supposed to” take were cancelled).

For all my fear of flying, I am a surprisingly relaxed traveler. I don’t necessarily always need to know where I’m going. Subway switcheroo? No problem. We’ll get there eventually. My mom, she looked so upset with the uncertainty – but that never hit me that day. Maybe because I just figured, Worst case scenario, we get a cab. No big deal. WE CAN DO THIS. And you know what? We did. Sure, it took a little longer than we’d anticipated but… where else did we have to go? We’d get there when we got there.

The noise – the sirens, the rush of crowds? All of that. I love all. of. that.

And I was sad to leave.

This trip made me realize that I want my children to travel. When I was younger, my family never went on vacations – we just couldn’t afford it. That’s always the way it was and I never really realized I was missing out. Sure, my brother and I would fly to visit our grandparents in the summers but I started to learn the ropes of travel later, after college, during my first job when I would travel often for trade shows. My first trip for work was to Vegas and I arrived hours before my coworkers – I was so freaked out – because now, instead of meeting them all at the airport, I had to pick up the rental car on my own, drive in a strange city, and find the hotel somewhere on the Strip. I was a wreck.

It’s taken awhile to get a bit more at ease with travel. I don’t want it to take my kids that long. While our adventures may not be fully global (alas, that money tree JUST WON’T GROW), I want them to feel at ease traveling and not be intimidated by it.

I don’t want them to be upset by a rerouted subway schedule on a Saturday afternoon.

I was a tourist and I explored and then I put on my fancy dress, went to a wedding in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse in Queens and I danced until I felt my feet were on fire and the next morning said goodbye to a beautiful city to come back home to Michigan.

But I think I’ll be back.

Thursday Ten: I HEART NY Edition

1. I didn’t tell y’all I was going to New York last weekend, but I WENT TO NEW YORK LAST WEEKEND. Hard to believe a week ago tomorrow I was boarding a plane to spend four days in glorious sunny NYC, but I did. I love the energy of NY – and while I love big cities, they each have their own vibe and their own energy. I traveled with my mom (and lived to tell about it!) and saw so much of the city. It was fun.
Bow Bridge

2. Today at work, I moved to a NEW DESK. You wouldn’t think it warrants all caps, but it totally does. Know why? Because that new desk, while still distinctly cubicle-esque, is not at all like a fishbowl. I was pretty amazed at how much easier it is to work without the constant traffic of people around me. Remember, I’m used to working from home, and can go into hermit-mode while I’m working easily (and not mind at all). Bonus? I’m by a window now. If the sun ever comes out again, it’s going to be nice.

3. Pumpkin has been home from school for a few days with a fever and a cough. She’s on track for going back tomorrow (fever free for 24 hours – WHOO!), but those days when she was sick and sleepy and mopey? That was tough. Know what else is tough? I’m getting her cooties now. Bring on the popsicles.

4. So, I was one  of the bajillion people downloading iOS 5 last night. Took awhile, but I’ve got it. Seems pretty okay so far. I even set a location based reminder to myself this morning – so when I left my driveway and got about a mile down the road, my phone told me “Go to work!” Awww, man… do I hafta?

5. My sister’s 20 week ultrasound is scheduled for two weeks from now – two weeks! Can’t wait to see if the baby cooperates and I can find out if I’ll be having a niece or a nephew. I’m also very excited to be part of the plan to surprise the rest of the family with the baby’s gender — I’ll be going along to photograph my sister (with something pink or something blue) immediately following the ultrasound. We’ll then hurry up and print pictures so they can deliver them to grandparents-to-be. SO. EXCITED.

6. I wore a super fun dress to the wedding in NY this weekend. It was a sassy sequined dress from Express. What I didn’t anticipate about this dress? Sequin wounds. The skin on the underside of my arms is scratched and in some cases scabby from the sequins rubbing against my arms all night. WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK IT? (Well, you will…now)

7. Today on my cappuccino cup, it had the standard writing “1/2 S, 1/2 N” and “C” and then…. “WC“. Uh… no whip? Who puts whipped cream on a cappuccino? Anyway, the drink was right, but – I’m not sure when someone will tell the new girl that she doesn’t have to specify “no whip” on a whipless drink.

8. ArtPrize is over and done and much of the art is gone too. The streets are quieter, less congested, and my phone gets better reception downtown than it has IN WEEKS.

9. And, again – no new music. What is your favorite song this week?

10. I’ve just barely managed to finish this before Project Runway comes on. You know I can’t write a blog when Project Runway is on.

Thursday Ten: Mournful Edition

1. There’s nothing much I can say that hasn’t already been said more thoughtfully or eloquently already – but I am saddened by the death of Steve Jobs and honestly, I’m surprised how sad I am over the death of someone I never met. I admired his creative mind though – and his products and his vision made a huge difference in the lives of many (she says as she types a blog post with her iPhone not a foot away). Consider the universe dinged, Steve.

2. The winner of ArtPrize was announced tonight. While I’m not at all surprised what won, I don’t love the piece. I’m disappointed, but it could have been worse.

3. I forgot Pumpkin’s picture day this week. School pictures are overpriced and usually poorly done, but I always buy them. I hate that I forgot.

4. After just over two months of work, I am finally to the point where I turn in the proper direction when I get off the elevator. This seems like it wouldn’t be that tough to remember… but it is.

5. Starbucks occasionally has these cards for free music and I always pick them up (I’ve earned them with my cappuccino habit). Recently, one of the songs was Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss”. I always download these free songs – you never know. This song is such country-tinged pop, but the melody gets stuck in my head constantly.  Can’t help it.

6. The Princess’s pinky finger is pretty much healed the way it should. Whew.

7. I wish caffeine made me feel more awake. I like cappuccinos, but, I don’t feel particularly any more awake once I’ve had caffeine. Today, I had a pain reliever with caffeine, a cappucino, and a mug of tea and I just wanted to fall asleep at my desk, except… I felt like my heart would explode. Whoops.

8. I got to go outside during my lunch hour today – what a beautiful fall day. Mild temperatures and blue skies. THIS is my favorite time of year.

9. Competitive gymnastics season starts next month for The Princess – it’s a fun thing – but I hate the unpredictability and last-minute-nature of the schedule. All compete dates are listed as “Saturday or Sunday” for their given weekend, and often we don’t find out until the week of which date it is. SURELY they could come up with a better system than this. (It drives me crazy)

10. Painting your nails before starting to type a blog post is a stupid thing to do. Don’t do that.

The Thing About ArtPrize

West Michigan is a kind of okay place. There are a lot of people who love it, a lot that don’t and many who are somewhat neutral about it. I am, for the most part, quite neutral about it here – and find that the saving grace of west Michigan is ArtPrize.

Art Prize, 2011

I make no attempt to hide my love of ArtPrize – I love how the streets are filled with people and with art, and I love wandering around with my camera capturing what’s out there. I love it. I love every moment of it. And when one year is over, I look forward to the next year. This is its third year, and I was even more eagerly anticipating ArtPrize this year than last.

So why am I so mad right now?

Well, I don’t know. And I do know.

The Top Ten for this year was announced Thursday evening and it was… mostly disappointing. I say mostly because there were a few pieces in the Top Ten that I love. One of them being the one pictured at the top of this post. One being this one right down there.

Rain By Lynda Cole


There are pieces in the Top Ten that have me scratching my head wondering what the hell people are thinking? And I’m not the only one. And because so many people are outraged, there’s talk of the “elite” – the art critics who think they know better than anyone else what constitutes art, and that this outrage over the popular vote is implying that somehow the population of West Michigan is just not bright enough to be trusted to vote.

Art is tremendously subjective. This I know.

I love ArtPrize because it takes art, in so many different media, and makes it accessible to everyone. Those of us who don’t go to museums the rest of the year (admittedly, I am not a frequenter of our museums), may be more likely to go during ArtPrize. I love to see the lines outside of the museums – and the families walking around looking at the various pieces. I love taking my kids to see the different venues and talking about art, and what we like and why, and how do these pieces make us feel.

ArtPrize is a conversation starter. It opens up a dialogue that we might not otherwise be having.

And that’s great.

And because it’s so subjective, is it really for me to say that those pieces that are in the Top Ten that I loathe (yes. loathe) are not art? Are they less worthy because I don’t like them? Do they have less merit?

I don’t know.

I just get so frustrated when I think of the amazing pieces that fell through the cracks.

That once again photographer Ryan Spencer Reed’s work was not recognized. His series on the Sudan left me sobbing in the hall of the convention center where it was displayed. His work last year – photographs of the ruins in Detroit – were equally breathtaking, haunting, and phenomenal… and yet, somehow some piece of driftwood gets the recognition that these photographs are not? {There are other examples – though Reed’s photographs are the first that come to mind – and you really should take a look because they are amazing.}

023 | 365

None of these exhibits are on equal footing and I think that’s the fundamental problem with ArtPrize and the voting process. Not all venues are created equal. Naturally, pieces displayed at bigger venues are going to have a bigger audience.

The museums didn’t open until noon – and so it shouldn’t surprise me that many of the pieces selected were not pieces displayed in museums. Surely, it creates a logistics problems for the museums (who are already facing a higher volume of traffic – and not charging admission), so I get it. But… apples to apples or apples to kumquats.

LADY OF DANCE by Kim Rudolph

Ultimately, I guess that while I’m not thrilled with my Top Ten choices, there is definitely one piece that stands above the rest for me, and I will vote for that piece and I will cross my fingers that that piece wins and not some “crazy crap” (thanks for those eloquent words, o ye king of ArtPrize).

I hope that changes take place before next year’s event. I hope that maybe there was a bit of growing pains that they can work through to maybe level the playing field for the artists somewhat. What the answers are for that, I don’t necessarily know.

While I am frustrated, I am ultimately still head over heels in love with ArtPrize. There’s really nothing else like it here, and whether or not everyone else takes the time to really walk around and look, really look, at what’s out there… I do. And I love it. I love it, my kids love it, and I promise to hold off on being a hater until I see what next year brings.

It’s a great thing for an okay town, and it needs to keep being great. I hope it will be great again next year.