Design: United in Color We Stand

Originally I started to draft this post for a client that I regularly contribute pieces about colorful experiences and how they impact our everyday.  Today, however, media is frowning against anyone talking about anything regarding 9/11 on a brand format.  Rather than face a media frenzy about it, I decided to not publish the piece for the client.  However, as I’m not a complete fan of censorship and feel that the piece still deserves light, here is a slightly modified version of the article not posted and my take on  design and its importance with relation to a major event in the headlines-

I remember that fateful day now twelve years ago, I want to put my heart out to all those who were lost and for the vibrant colors extinguished by the events that happened September 11, 2001.

In reflection of these events, let us turn to the colors that helped make headlines and assist into the impact of getting messages like “United We Stand.”

Color and composition are an integral factor of design.  Whether it’s showcasing a tragic event or otherwise, design execution can make your audience remember or forget.

Today we remember the events and the great design elements.  The presence of bold or muted colors or absence of color at all can make or break a design.  In examples taken from a wonderful showcase on http://www.poynter.org, we take you on a journey through time, color, and textual composition.

The first example above demonstrates how minimalist design can still be tremendously impactful.  Old Glory is hinted at as “The Desert Sun” drops its three bold colors into this powerful cover. The next time you look at a box of colors and only find a small sampling to choose from, do not fret as you may have everything you need.

Matching shades of a similar color can also convey depth in your design.  The cover for “The Courier News” piece highlights that in four shades of blue as each box present in the images represents the lost towers.

Lastly, “The Daily News” showed a bit more somber look at the decade past with their cover.  Using its bright orange and simplistic dark color contrast of the buildings, one could detect a sense of sadness.  Even without the words “We will not forget,” the viewer is taken back into a time machine remembering that fateful day.

How will you remain united today?  Will you be bold enough to stand up and show your colors in design and composition to greatly impact your audience? To those amazing visual artists and to those whom are commemorated today with these images, I salute you.  Thank you for being brave enough to use your talents to make an impact.. even if it is a controversial one.

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The book of Jena-sis: What’s God got to do got to do with it

And now for a reading from the book of “Jena-sis:”

Once upon another life in a land far far away from where I currently reside, I grew up Catholic.  My parents would like to believe that things I was taught by this exposure to ten years of Catholic schooling would be the best thing that they ever did for me. Some may say that’s part of why there has been as much “wrong” with me.

Religion has been popping up all over in my daily endeavors as of late.  As the book of testament would tell you to “Keep Holy the Sabbath” I figured what better day than a Sunday to talk about it?

There are quite a few reasons why “my path has been led astray” from what my parents attempted to instill in me all those years ago.  Many of them are based within the foundations I was taught by said religion is the very reason as to why someone should be religious in the first place.

Religion taught me about the bad people do as hypocrisy ran rampant amongst those who attended or found themselves “at the house of the lord”… almost as much as it did the good that resides in people.  That is, not to say that there aren’t genuine hearts that attend religious functions. But, like the rest of the world, I have come to understand that there are fewer and farther in between.  And, more so, that those who do good for others generally have an agenda a majority of the time.

Religion taught me there was very little that was actually wrong.  It showed me ten important things that were to serve as life reminders of the correct path… but that following these ten important “laws” did not matter anyway as all of the wrong I did would be quickly excused in a matter of moments as long as I sat in a box and told a stranger who technically couldn’t tell anyone about it anyway.

Religion did teach me some wonderful things that I wonder where I would be had I not gone to all those aerobic Sunday meetings of sit, stand, kneel.

Catholicism taught me about the real life application of the world itself being a stage.  (This was later re-confirmed as I found myself with copies of Shakespeare books.)  “Fame” was something completely attainable.  I could stand up in front of an audience and force them to listen just by being in the right place at the right time.  It also taught me about elaborate storytelling as talks about a man being swallowed by a whale heightened my imagination as I saw that so many people can actually believe things to be facts no matter how ludicrous things are.  One could argue that I therefore learned about marketing, manipulation, charm, charisma…

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In other words, religion taught me sin and how to get away with it without the worry of actual recourse for my actions.  There was very little I could have learned from attending church on a Sunday and receiving a sacrament that I honestly didn’t understand at that age anyway, that I couldn’t have gotten had I had parents that showed me… books, the news (not just Fox News although my father regularly watches) on tv and taken me outside a bit to different diverse neighborhoods to expose me to world experiences.

Why, as a parent would I want my children to attend church to learn all these things rather than allow them to experience the world more naturally and learn these same lessons in the real world where they could then learn tangible approaches to these forms of people and… maybe actually learn that actions should always be accountable?

There are many other reasons as to why I’m opposed to the exposure of religion to youth.  I won’t dive into all of them with this entry as some items are…  a bit far away down the rabbit hole personal wise than I feel comfortable “confessing” in this box of text to strangers.  However, the main reason why I do not believe in following in my parents footsteps is that, with the knowledge I have obtained from personally going this path and seeing truth outside of it, it is that the mind is simply not developed enough to understand the complexity of a potential “higher being” whether its “God” or aliens, especially at that young of an age.

The word “God” is not a basic concept just as the word “love” is not.  Telling kids to read from the best selling book in the world and that these things are fact while a giant band plays on stage might make them excited and happy to attend but it doesn’t necessarily teach them things beyond using a scapegoat to get out of their actions the moment they do “wrong.”  Giving children material things or taking them to places like Disneyland (which I admittedly have done both of) doesn’t make or show a child the true meaning of “love.”  It is far more than that.

If anything religious could be said that could explain how I would even consider a religious context from a book being introduced to my children, it would be this passage found, ironically, in an interpreted version of suppressed text from the Gospel of Thomas, a text outside of the canon dictated by the Vatican:

“The Kingdom of God is inside/within you (and all about you), not in buildings/mansions of wood and stone. (When I am gone) Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift the/a stone and you will find me.”

If my children want to seek out some “higher being” as a purpose for their lives, I want them to be wise enough and old enough that they can understand its complexity.  I also personally feel that they will not find these answers without questioning the world around them… outside of a church.  You may believe that all the answers you desire are found within those walls but, as I have found, the only answers that matter or should hold any sort of weight are the ones learned from the within the heart.

Simply (my interpretation)-

“To find the world and all its answers, find yourself first and you will have all that you need.  Nothing will ever fulfill you like yourself.”

My son, the Future Ferris Bueller

better than gym

Last night was absolutely amazing.  This week has just been a whirlwind as well.  I’m pretty boggled by how everything is just dropping into place.  Truly, there is magic in the air.

Yesterday I had the privilege of writing a piece for a new client that included both a reference to one of my favorite childhood cartoon characters, splashes of color and… the movie I looked to for years as the pinnacle of awesome.

I feel, quite frankly, almost as if I am cheating at this whole “adulthood” thing.  But that’s another story.

I didn’t know it earlier this week but all of this would eventually tie into its own sitcom like bubble in its own time.

I’m writing on a blog that looks like a chalkboard and writing about school… It’s….

Speaking of which- I spoke to Ethan about how he started school this week.  He’s not thrilled.  He’s ten years old.  He doesn’t understand why his artist punk rock mom would be envious of his time at school.  Of why I started to brim over when I was approached by a potential academic writing client for a university project…

Dad called me the day prior to ask me what I was up to. He was the catalyst to the last piece of ribbon on the present of my present (and subsequent story).

“Hi [embarrassing nickname] what are you doing tomorrow night?”

“I don’t know right now. It really depends on [redacted]. What’s going on tomorrow night?”

“I was wondering if you want to go to the baseball game.”

“Yes! I would love to go! When is it?”

“It’s tomorrow night at 7. Can you get to the stadium?”

“Yes. Or at least Union. Could we potentially meet up at Union? It’d probably be easier for me and the bus goes right to the stadium.”

“Ok.”

“Who are they playing anyway? Is it a promotional night?”

“Yes they are giving away bobble heads.”

“Oh that’s great! I want to get some people to go with me for Hello Kitty bobble head night on the 9th so I get a couple for me and Sakura. Who’s playing tomorrow?”

“You can only go if you promise not to root for the Dodgers…”

“So… who are they playing?”

” …the Cubs.”

“Tell you what pops… if you bring me a shirt to wear, I can do that.. maybe.”

“Do you want to go or not?”

When I got in the car, there was a shirt waiting for me.  I was told that it was too big for Ethan.  I didn’t actually expect that to happen.  I guess he didn’t want me to cheer for the Dodgers that much though.  I was in such a happy glowy mood that I ignored the potentially passive aggressive move and just played along.

“What are you doing tomorrow during the day?”

“I think I need to be on site to meet with someone, why?”

“I accidentally bought tickets to tomorrow and realized that they were during the day so Ethan can’t go since he’s in school.”

I then sat there and tried to urge my dad to let Ethan have a Ferris Bueller ditch day and go to the baseball game.  It was all the makings of it.. right down to the Cubs playing.  Nonetheless, he didn’t go for it.

“I never took you kids out of school when you were younger so why would I start with him?”

“Because you’re grandpa now and you’re supposed to let him get away with a few things that I would generally not say ok about.  That’s why.  Besides, it’s the first week of school.  Just say that he’s “sick.”  He’s not going to miss anything…”

And then it happened.

“Mom I don’t want to go to the ballgame.  I want to go to school.”

What the heck just happened? Did my kid seriously just tell me that he didn’t want to skip school to see a baseball game?  Suddenly I feel like I’m doing something wrong here.  When did I fail at showing my son the way to be cool?

“Ethan you can’t be serious.  You told me the past two days about how you didn’t like school and were complaining about having to go. Shut your mouth and let me help you get the day off here already so you can enjoy the ballgame…”

My dad was in the front with the biggest smirk on his face.

“Mom I want to go to school.  I want to learn things tomorrow.”

Checkmate.

It may take a little while before he gets to the level of cool of his mother but… I’m confident that he will get there eventually.  But for now I’m going to just… go over here now.  I can’t really complain too much about it after all.  (But I’m totally going to…)

I failed

…because sometimes you just feel like this when stuff happens (sexy I know huh)

 

This weekend didn’t go quite as I’d expected.  It was supposed to go a lot more smoothly.  Today (or rather, now two days ago) you were supposed to come on here and find a brand new layout and all that.  It was supposed to be all shiny and pretty and full of zoom.

I failed.

I failed big time this week.

But sometimes when you lose, you win.

What is it about this city?  About this life?  About my choices that I fall in love and crash crash crash and then… find a way back to new plateaus of love even higher than I did before?

It’s… very Los Angeles.  The city and I… we are lovers and the best of friends and… the worst of enemies.  I think that’s part of why stubborn lil ‘ole me just won’t accept failure.

I totally still really failed this week.

I failed big time.

But sometimes when you lose, you win.

In full disclosure: I initially started this blog piece on July 15th.  And, while you can see that I have changed the layout (unless you are a new reader, in which case- welcome) at least, I haven’t really blogged personally in months like this post and some of my updates on my personal social media outlets would like to say to be ready for.  But that’s not the only thing that’s changed and, has essentially kept me from posting this before now.

Let’s go back to more of what I had drafted then though–

There are stories five years in the making that will be coming true  came true instead.  What I thought was potentially impossible was indeed possible.  They just aren’t weren’t ready to be going to be on a shiny new blog format… just yet.

As you might recall from a past blog, I mentioned that my ex husband had taken my kids and has done so much to keep them from me.  He believes this is for them, but unfortunately it seems otherwise.

As the visit has now passed with this latest edit, I wish that I could say that my initial thoughts on the subject are different.  They are not only not different but they are worse.  So much worse that I have committed my heart to push even harder for the cause: them.

So much has happened in these past weeks of not posting.  So many beautiful and wonderful things.  There are stories that cannot wait to be written… but will have to.  Rest assured your patience will not go without its reward.  I know that five years later through all of this, mine was most certainly not.

There is so much hope for today and tomorrow.  More hope and magic than I even imagined.  Things are happening.  It is a flood.  I want to both cry and shout out and humblebrag about it in thanks.

I’m trying to do little of either.

I totally still really failed this these past few week weeks.

I failed big time.

But sometimes when you lose, you win.

That said, I look forward to telling you more about my failures and accomplishments as the days come…

when I’m able to…

when I’m ready to…

and that’s just.. going to have to be ok.  Ok?

(Get used to it and love you all lots.  Thank you for reading. Happy Sunday.)

Point of No Return

Point of No Return by LastGlance

“I wanted to call you to tell you that I’m leaving LA today.  I won’t be coming back.”

He wasn’t leaving me.  I had left him months ago.  But his recent trip back here originally planned for work purposes turned personal and…

“I knew better in February.. but it was already too late. Interesting.” I’d tweeted a few days prior to that day.

None of this was a surprise.  None of it.  Even the bad things that transpired and came into light on that fateful night.  This had been unhealthy.  I had let it continue too long.  We both had.  And now the hurt had to… at least be put on pause.

“My dad cares about the baby.  He hasn’t been the same with me since you told him.  He’s been on my case about things.  He doesn’t like the situation.”

I had liked his parents.  We’d met briefly back in April on this two day excursion where they visited.  They had been very welcoming and had offered to help us a bit.  I didn’t tell them then I was pregnant.  He didn’t want me to.  But it had to come out a bit later.  After a phone call where he cried to me about how much he needed help (this was not the first time I had seen how he’d needed it but it was the first real time he admitted it) after I’d left that night.  I looked them up online and found the information.  He needed the intervention and I didn’t know who else I could turn to.

Since then he made a point to make them seem like they didn’t care about anything and that the whole thing between us/going on/his issues were just… something they’d rather not deal with.  My heart was very broken about it.  In particular after a conversation with his father where… things had gone particularly out of left field from a previous conversation where he not only agreed that his son had needed help but they had essentially given up on him since “he’s done this for 20 years”, he’d “done this before and will likely do it again”, and “had been given help in the past but that hadn’t been enough to change it.”  I thought that his family did not care at all about the baby.  Hearing Bear talk about otherwise was bittersweet.

I essentially heard the words “hopeless cause” and… it really tore my heart out.  I can’t imagine how hard that was for Bear to hear.  I can’t imagine how hard it is daily for him.  I… too wish I had been able to save him but at the end of everything, I couldn’t.

He’d left me a message on my phone apologizing after five missed phone calls the night prior, a suicide threat and 911 calls a few nights prior to that, and an introduction and talks with another woman whom he had not mentioned prior but had a brief “affair” with back in December while we were together and… was currently with again previously unbeknownst that dreadful drunken somber night.

After.

After.

After.

Alas this was the “after” after the “Happily” and “Ever” portion of our relationship.  It was sad and broken beyond repair.  All hope had gone beyond lost.  And months later, I was still obliterated.

Rewind to a week prior-

I got the ultrasound and had found out the sex of the baby. He seemed “back”.  He was eager and happy to be a dad.  He didn’t want me to have an abortion.

“Don’t you dare kill my son.”

It was a complete 180.

But things changed. Just as instantly as that picture had touched him and he’d felt connected, he disconnected again.  And even last week before he left he was finding him again trying to pressure me into getting an abortion.

I nearly considered it and I felt terrible at even the thought.

” I won’t be coming back.  What reason do I have to?  What reason do I have to stay at all?”

I shouldn’t have had to answer that.

It was wrong.

So very very wrong.

He doesn’t see what he did.  He doesn’t acknowledge the cheating.  He doesn’t care about getting mental help or quitting the drinking or “living higher than the poverty line”.  He only cares about himself… and protecting trying to salvage the relationship with the other woman who he had been with for six years prior to arriving in Los Angeles… a woman that… he had taken full advantage of her kindness and… loneliness.

(Another blog.  Another time.)

“I want you to be nice to me and I want to be nice to you. I am scared. I want to put my hand on your belly and feel the boy punch my hand with his little fist.”

I didn’t see him while he was here.  There had been talks about it but nothing had happened.

“Why did you tell me that if you didn’t want to see me?  Why did you tell me all the rest of those things if you didn’t want to work on things and come back?”

“I was drunk.”

“I wanted to call you to tell you that I’m leaving LA today.  I won’t be coming back.” he told me when I called him back after that message.

Here stands the official point of no return.  As of 22 weeks, Planned Parenthood will not perform an abortion on you in the state of California.  Last week was the last official time I could potentially go through with the procedure.  I think about how much has happened from that first message, ages ago when he told me he loved me.  From all the terrible correspondence that has transpired after many bouts with his erratic behaviors.  With my struggles to keep myself as composed as possible while going through everyday.  With…

There is no more returning to that sadness anymore.  That life is gone and a new one is officially going to be here in a few short months.  I don’t have much more time to prepare but… that’s too bad.  Life doesn’t stop even if your heart does… at least this way.

Editor’s note: I recently made a completely dedicated audio blog.  From there you can listen to voice mails left from Bear to me (for purposes of this entry) as well as found sounds and other miscellaneous dialogue from my adventures in the big city.

He knows- My grandfather’s brave struggle with Alzheimer’s

This morning I woke up physically ill to the point where I had to push back a meeting originally scheduled for this morning to tomorrow thereby making tomorrow’s task list.. a doozy to say the least.  But at least a lot got accomplished and is in process.  Life is an ever evolving (hopefully) series of self processes.

After I went back to bed I woke up only a few minutes later to a phone call from my father:

“Do you want to talk to your grandfather?”

At not even 8am I knew that dad must have finally made his vacation to visit them.  Despite the illness, I obliged… always ready and happy to hear anything I can from my grandparents especially at this most delicate time.

“What are you doing right now?” my grandfather said.

“I’m in bed right now..”

“Is the sun shining?”

“I think so.  Pretty sure.  But I’m in bed right now what are you doing?”

“It’s early there huh?  You don’t sound well.  Are you sick?”

“I’ll live.  What are you guys up to?  When did dad get there?”

“We’re at a graveyard visiting people.  I don’t know when your dad got here.  I don’t remember..”

“You’re where?!”

I got frustrated.  What the hell was my father doing taking my dying grandparents to a graveyard?  I understand the desire to pay his respects to those lost and now in their plots back home but…

and my grandparents, as well as my dad, already have their spots waiting for them.  Potentially in that graveyard.  It made me feel more ill and upset when I even attempted to stomach it.

I would have to talk to my dad about it later.  Just another gap in a huge communication issue.  I couldn’t say anything about it to grandpa.    And even if I did, he probably wouldn’t be in a position to really hear it to understand.

“It’s sunny here and it stopped raining.  We’re just visiting people for a few minutes.  Do you remember Pat Cole?  She played the organ at church.  I remember that lady.  I don’t remember much these days but I remember her.  Or I think I do.”

Pat Cole was ancient when I was a kid.  What I remember was her house being a cluttered mess and always smelling of smoke and formaldehyde.  I remember as a kid that I used to joke that she was already a zombie.  I couldn’t tell grandpa that either though.  I didn’t want to come across as being rude.

“Now we’re in the car going to get your cousin some clothes.  She doesn’t have enough.  We’re going to get her some more…”

I could go onto a tangent about this cousin and that part of the family alone but that’s another one “for another blog”.  Let’s just keep things at my grandfather for now.

“How are you enjoying Ethan being there?”

Grandpa laughed.  You could hear his smile through the phone.  Ethan is his first grandson.  You can almost tell he has a special spot for him.

“He’s a really great kid.  Really really great kid.  Smart little bugger.”

“How are you and gram doing?  Is dad taking you to doctors and things?”

He then went down another path.

“My memory isn’t what it used to be.  I can tell.  I know that something just isn’t right.  I can’t remember what I used to remember easily.  I don’t know why but I just know it’s not right.  All I can do right now is try and make the most of what memories I have and hope these ones I’m making stay put.”

I think about the things my grandpa has told me over the past month over the phone.  Of the phone call I had when I was crying because I felt there was no one I could turn to that could get to my dad like they could… and him floating off into another world where he.. knows he’s barely here anymore.

I don’t know if all men or people in general go through that “knowing” period like he is.  There is a part of me that wonders if this will be my fate as well.  If all the magic that I learned about my grandparents was nothing compared to the magic and wisdom and honesty and compassion I am seeing coming from them in these, possibly their last years.

I don’t want to think about the visits to graveyards with end dates now placed on my grandparents’ headstone.  

I think about how much my grandfather seems to know what is happening and… how brave he is being throughout all of it.  Grandpa is known for being a bit of a cry baby at times… like when he was young and his semi truck got stuck going under the underpass and they had to let all the air out of the tires to get it through and he cried like a baby the whole time.

This wasn’t that guy.  This was… someone different.  Hell, maybe it was a guy who actually learned something throughout all of it.

Grandpa’s strength knowing this gives me hope.  Perhaps knowing and being scared isn’t as terrible as one may think.

Perhaps he already knows that he’s going to be immortal anyway…

Perhaps, because, he already is.

“You need to start listening to other people more” part1

A phone call this afternoon bid the remark in the title of this posting.  As a person who works with communities and does this as a job, I found it interesting that someone would even say something like that.  And then you remember how diametrically opposite some of our personal lives are in comparison to our professional lives.  How many of us fight with that inner struggle of this form of multiple personality disorder?

Analyzing things further: I laughed at the statement.  Because, frankly, it was pretty accurate.  In the recent past I have not listened to my friends in their warnings about Joshie Bear.  People warned me back in the beginning stages that he was a bad idea.  Back in November when he started on… and in December when he was gone for the month visiting family (read: cheating on me with another woman but none of us knew that until recently) or in…

Well you get the idea.

I look back even further.  To my parents.  To my rebellious punk rock days and what not.  About how the fashion and the ideas have continued to flow even after all of that… not completely changed but… evolved as I stepped away from that lifestyle and created another and yet another.

I know that in the past I might have essentially had a similar conversation with my parents.. well… if I had stayed in Illinois and things were a wee bit different but you get the gist of it-

Stevo: Wait, time out. I just wanted to ask real quick, if I can. You believe in rebellion, freedom and love, right?

Mom: Absolutely, yes.

Dad: Rebellion, freedom, love.

Stevo: You two are divorced. So love failed. Two: Mom, your a New Ager, clinging to every scrap of Eastern religion that may justify why the above said love failed. Three: Dad, you’re a slick, corporate, preppy-ass lawyer. I don’t really have to say anything else about you do I dad? Four: You move from New York City, the Mecca and hub of the cultural world to Utah! Nowhere! To change nothing! More to perpetuate this cycle of greed, fascism and triviality. Your movement of the people, by and for the people got you… nothing! You just hide behind some lost sense of drugs, sex and rock and roll. Ooooh, Kumbaya! I am the future! I am the future of this great nation which you, father, so arrogantly saved this world for. Look, I have my own agenda. Harvard, out. University of Utah, in. I’m gonna get a 4.0 in damage. I love you guys! Don’t get me wrong, it’s all about this. But for the first time in my life, I’m 18 and I can say “FUUUUUCK YOU!”

Dad: Steven, I didn’t sell out son. I bought in. Keep that in mind. That kid’s gonna make a hell of a lawyer, huh?

Mom: Yeah, he takes after his father. He’s a son of a bitch.

Dad: Well fuck you dear.

But now, years later (I mean that movie is from 1998 for chrissakes) even after that whole speech and ultimate conclusion of one of my favorite movies of my teenage years, perhaps the message and culmination was telling me more than I knew.  More that…

For the longest time my family and friends have been saying so many things about my potential career path.  Marketing, although that is where my home has been and continues to be when clients surge (btw: Muse for Hire currently- comment here to connect about your projects) it wasn’t the two places I’ve been told I should essentially be since birth: writing and law.

I have stopped my world from evolving with my previous choices in lesser men.  I’m not blaming them.  I made the choices too.  And you can look at even the postings about how much I stopped my world again the last time for this… stupid guy I fell in love with.

I gave Bear so much shit about pushing forward and pushing harder.  He in turn gave me that same “sell out” argument above that… well I had over ten years ago.  He told me recently that he never said he was a grown up but he was trying to be, at thirty five years old and counting he said he was “just a little behind…”  and then he’d made fun of my arguing and corporate tendencies again.

So maybe Bear was right about that initial statement.  Friendship wise.  Career wise.  Life wise.  But not for the reasons he likely thinks.  At the end of the day I guess this likely just makes me a… well, watch the video below and you’ll know the end punchline.