Thursday, April 17, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I've been hidden aboard a Tajik frigate for the last 5 months and only recently escaped by way of sheer trickery and merciless cunning. I'm slick like that.
With April Fool's Day still here for another hour or so, I just couldn't help myself, I had to post something.
I'm in Detroit today. Dearborn actually, but whatever. This place sucks.
I'd guess that most coastal people probably would think that all rust-belt cities must be the same. Well, just like every short guy can quickly point to a guy shorter than him, I know a bottom of the barrel rust-belt town when I see one. Being in a huge, spread out, depressed, crappy city with the worst roads I have ever seen this side of DaNang (circa '67) makes me long for my provincial, allergy-riddled, economically splintered, racially divided, Ikea-bearing, mid-western town.
See, that's the joke. It's on me! When you're in a place that sucks you dont dream of paradise, you just long for the place that's one notch lessy shitty than where you are. Sucka! (proclaimed while looking at myself in low-budget hotel mirror).
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I grew up never having really any pets of note save for the occasional gold fish. When I began dating my wife years ago, that was when I was really introduced to the whole concept of having an animal living in your home with you. Fast forward 11 years and now we have 2 cats which I couldn't imagine living without.
The chores associated with pets though have been a challenge for me to embrace. I wont clip cat nails or brush them and I certainly wont change a litter box. Ick! I do however feed them and change their water, though it took me years to lend a hand here. Mostly because of the smell. I used to find it just wretched! The poor cats would pace in front of empty bowls looking up at me longingly to keep them from starving to death and I would just walk away leaving them to wait for my wife to notice.
Somewhere along the way as i began to really accept and become quite fond of our cats, I caught myself helping out with the little things, eventually working my way upto feeding. Maybe it was a sign or something, but one day as I went to open the cat food bag (a task that I would otherwise hold my breath for until complete)suddenly smelled like french fries. I love french fries. The cats need not fear that I might eat their food, but at least they dont have to worry about starving anymore.
Friday, November 9, 2007
That sounds funny, "Guest Lecturer". I was invited to my alma mater to give a presentation to the second year design students in their professional development class, and I just did that presentation yesterday. Their professor called and asked me if I'd do this back in September, but naturally I waited until this past Monday to begin working on my powerpoint.
I didn't have a title and I didn't know what I was supposed to speak on really, so I basically figured, ok, I've got an audience of 60+ students to connect with, a third of whom may actually be interested and a quarter of whom I'll really affect. So really I was speaking to like 4 kids, but that's cool.
My main objective was to do marketing for my company. Seems that none of the students ever want to stay local at internship time, so this was my way to at least convince them how great we are and how valuable of a potential work experience we could be for them. First though, was my time to get 2 minutes of fame by a bunch of inexperienced 20 year olds. So like anyone, I talked about myself. All the wonderful stuff I've designed, all the great places I've worked and all the many magazines and 1 museum that have shown my work. Looking back, it probably seemed really dated, like if I showed like a portable cd player or a black and white crt tv. Oooohhhh, high tech....not!
Once that and my company pitch were done, I got into the good stuff which is my pontificating on what do design students really need to know while in school and especially when interviewing and ultimately in the workplace. Basically I tried to teach them in 40 minutes what they will never learn in 5 years at the University. I'm guessing if kids are anything like I would have been at 19 or 20, they probably saw me as some old, blowhard, with amazing fashion sense ('did you see how amazing his ass looked in those well tailored jeans?') that they were required to listed to in oreder to pass their class.
Techincal difficulties aside, I think overall it went really well. I had a few students come up to me afterwards and ask more questions and showed genuine interest in my firm. I really enjoyed doing it too and hope that when they get into that first job they have some a-ha moment (not like "take on me" a-ha) where one of my points hits them in the face and they think, 'huh, that guy wasn't totally full of shit'. Anyway, I tried to do my part for the students, the profession and for me (by ogling pretty college girls) and at the end of the day, all I can hope for is that I was at least better than listening to their professor or getting stoned to death in the quad.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
During my early childhood we were poor. Not like living in boxes and boiling shoes for dinner poor, but grad school, immigrant, resourceful poor. Having an older brother, hand-me down clothes were the norm for me too. Hell, I still have some of my brother's and my dad's shirts.
Being both frugal and creative, Halloween was usually one of my parent's times to shine. Costumes were a chance to showcase their artistry. That and birthday cakes, but that's another post. In Greece we didn't have Halloween, so that was sort of new, at least the tricks or treats part. Costumes however we were familiar with and back in the 70s it was still common place to - gasp!- make your own! This was before the ready made, pre-muscled, blood filled or severed silicone wonders you can get these days. Back then we had to actually think of something, plan and construct our own get-ups or else we'd end up wearing our gym clothes, pajamas or the dreaded sheet.
In our household, the heirloom costume was the executioner's outfit my mom made one year. We did the Greek tsolia once, but the ridicule my poor guinea pig brother dealt with that year was enough to denounce candy for good. So, my mom made him an executioner the next year. Let me paint a picture of what this looked like. Starting from the bottom, we had black pilgrim style shoes, naturally worn over a pair of my mom's black panty hose, which were strangely comfortable. Then, we had a pair of billowy, elastic waisted, purplish corduroy shorts. Then a black turtleneck with black gloves. Topping it off, our headgear was a black conical hood with eye holes, reminiscent only of the kind of hoods you might see in dixie (it was the 70s, so it wasn't weird at all). Finally we'd finish it off with a scythe we'd shape out of a cardboard box and color with crayons. At the time this seemed as authentic as an executioner's outfit could be. Looking back, I cant really picture a real executioner wearing the purple shorts. Anyway, it was truly a sight to behold.
My brother wore that costume for about 4 years, while I patiently waited for that wonderful torch to be passed on to me. I remember clear as day the Halloween that I finally got to wear the executioner suit. It was 1979. I was 7 and stoked! All day I waited eagerly to get home, get changed and get out to scare the bejeezus out of the neighborhood kids. That evening, after struggling to get into the panty hose, my mom making last minute mends to the hood and gloves and my dad fashioning my corrugated beheading instrument, I was finally ready to depart and collect my sugar-filled booty. I opened the door and to my horror, it was raining! My dad ended up driving me up and down the street, while my mom and I, with umbrella in hand, would go door to door, trying to find a house that was still open for business. There's no such thing as a rain day for Halloween folks! So much for my big chance.
The next year I got to wear the costume again finally in nice fall weather, like I had hoped. As the years went on though, the purple turned pink and looked a little less executioner and a little more Fredrick's of Hollywood. The gloves and hood frayed and finally I just outgrew it. We never threw it out though. It's still in an old suitcase in my mom's basement along with baby clothes, baptismal blankets and select articles from deceased grandparents. Secretly I'm waiting to have my own child so that I can resurrect it for one last go. Now if only it were adult sized!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Why is it that the older we get, time seems to go faster? Well, I see time sort of like water. In a wide, deep river water moves lazily towrads wherever it's going. Now you throw some rocks in and maybe cut the depth and see how that water starts turning into rapids. Well my friends, that's the story of my life. I only have 24 hours a day to work, live and sleep. The more activities I throw in, the quicker time moves past me, to the point of not being able to do any of them. Before I know it, I have capsized in my class 5 life.
I work a lot. I am not a work-a-holic, but I really invest myself in my work, and I've sort of created a life of seemingly seamless work-life integration. This leaves little room for much else. On an average day I will wake up at 6:30am, shower, dress and go to work. I will stay at work until 5:30 or 6pm then go home. Once I get home my wife and I will stare blankly at the fridge trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. After we eat I have basically 2-3 hours to budget the balance of my personal time before bed. So, everynight I have to make really difficult choices. I want to paint, study French, read, watch some television, write on my blog, hang out with my wife, see a friend....and the list goes on and on.
I have come to a sad realization that anymore I have to pick and choose which 1 - 2 things I want to spend time bettering myself with everynight. I have also come to realize that working is the culprit in chewing up my valuable time. I mean, I could just sleep less and not eat, but sadly those are necessities. Therefore it seems that it is work that's where I am spending too much time. If I could do like at restaurants and say work half the time for 2/3 the pay, that would be perfect. Seems that half my day I'm just sort of waiting around for things to happen anyway. My good friend Matteo had the right idea. He quit his job, packed all his stuff into storage and moved to Paris. He's got all the free time in the world. We agree that we dont understand how so many people dont seem to know what to do with themselves without the structure of a job in their daily lives. Myself, I have never been bored in my life.
Friday, October 12, 2007
You know, I've never been sold on the idea of working. Dont get me wrong, I'm a gainfully employed professional and I have had a lot of success in my career thus far, but could I give it up in a minute? Try me.
When I was young my parents weren't concerned with me working as they wanted me to focus on my studies. As the years and summers came and went my friends had been getting summer jobs and I did not. I didn't have many needs financially and not because we were rich - quite to the contrary - I just lived with less and efficiently managed my allowance. Well, one summer - I must have been about 16 or so - I was in my favorite store browising and got to talking to the owner. I shopped there frequently so she knew I had an affinity for her products. Anyway, one day as we got to talking, she ended up offering me a job, which I happily took.
Excitedly I went home and told my parents that I was finally going to be working. "Doing what?" they asked. "Well..", I started, "I will be working as a salesperson at my favorite store, the vintage clothes shop up the street. "Perfect!" they exulted. Finally, he'll be making some money and doing something he likes. "Well...", I started again "not exactly...". "What do you mean, not exactly?!?" they inquired. "Well...you see, I wont actually be getting paid. I mean I will, just not in actual money." They stared at me puzzled. I continued "no, it's really cool actually, I'll be getting paid in store credit! That way I can get all the cool free clothes I want!"
My parents weren't overjoyed, but I did work there that summer and ended up with quite an arsenal of shark-skin suits, fedoras and mohair cardigans (BTW, that was during my mod phase). Some days that still sounds like a pretty sweet gig.