Thursday, May 31, 2012

Give It Up Already

Through shear determination, I used to try my best to finish books that weren’t very good merely because I had started them. Despite the bland or stupid characters or the inane plot points that made me roll my eyes in annoyance, I hoped things would improve because I had started off so optimistic; the book had a good cover, it received positive reviews and the synopsis sounded intriguing, so I wanted to like it. And 50 pages in, I was still waiting for the book to get good. By the middle of the book I realized this book wasn’t going to get good. And by the end of the book I wondered, “Why did I just waste my time reading this stupid book?”

So now I believe in giving up. Reading for fun is supposed to be fun; it’s not supposed to be a chore to read. If a book doesn’t capture me in by page 50 (okay, sometimes it’s closer to 10), then I’ll put it down and start a new book, because I don’t really want to waste my time with a story that I’ll inevitably give “The Sigh of Disappointment” to. (You know the sigh. Everyone has one. It’s that long drawn-out exhale sigh dripping with disappointment and perhaps laced with a dose of irritation or resignation. I use it often when I’m unimpressed with something—and a bad book brings it out…a lot.)

Gone are the days where I plow through a bad book in the hopes that it somehow gets better—because it doesn’t. It’s just an exercise in torturing yourself, and then all I’m left with is the bitter aftertaste of successfully finishing something that wasn’t worth finishing to begin with. There are so many other books out there. Better books. As soon as I realize a book isn’t for me, I have no qualms about giving it up. The sooner I can get rid of it the better, so I can replace it with (hopefully) a better book.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DIY: Used Calendar Placemat

I’m a packrat, and I’ll keep old wall calendars in the hopes that I'll use them in some way. With twelve months and twelve different images, I decided to use those calendar images as placemats. The placemats are easy to make, disposable and adds a nice pop of color to the table.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

So What Do You Want to Do Now?

Sometimes it drives me nuts when I'm in a group of people (whether in person or via email) and it takes forever to make a simple decision; people hem and haw because they don't want to step on anyone's toes or they just don't really care one way or another. This happens more frequently than I would like, where somehow it becomes a lengthy discussion about the various options of what to eat or where to go, and it seems to take more effort to make a decision than it would to actually do the suggested activity and be done with it.

I've lost countless hours to the innocuous question, "So what do you want to do now?" that is often followed by the most unhelpful answer possible, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" The vicious cycle of indecisiveness continuing on endlessly, where neither party wants to cave and make a solid decision. And often as a result, nothing is accomplished.

There are times when I can't take the long drawn out decision-making (or lack there-of) process, so I may narrow things down to a couple of options in the hopes that someone will have a preference (and this usually does help move things along). However, if my suggestions still don't inspire a decision then I may just make the decision myself, because once you make a decision, then suddenly someone inevitably has an opinion about it. [Sigh.]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thank-You Slow Decline

I had that moment of panic when I realized my computer was dying. It all came to a head when the spinning beach ball of death was looming ominously and I was unable to Force Quit applications normally. So I ended up manually turning off my computer, and when I tried starting it up again I got a flashing folder with a question mark on it instead of the normal Apple icon. [Pause.] Not a good sign. So I turned off my computer to let it rest and cursed myself about the files I had yet to back up. Suddenly I was quite religious, praying that my computer would let me access it one last time so I could transfer my files to an external hard drive. Luckily, my computer wasn’t quite dead yet (just mostly dead, like in The Princess Bride.)

Eventually I was able to gain access to my computer and transfer (although slowly) files that I definitely wanted to keep. I quickly came to the conclusion that a new computer was necessary, but I wanted to wait until the weekend to get one since I knew it would take some time to set everything up. So for the couple of days I still used my old computer, I treated it with kid gloves. I was paranoid of having it crash on me, so I did my best not to overwork it; I would only open one application at a time, and every two hours of work I did on my computer equated to two hours of it being off so it could rest. It made for some ineffective work methods, but at least my computer didn’t crash. [Half-hearted: yay.]

While my dying computer brought me much stress, I was grateful for its slow decline. If it would have just died suddenly, then I would have lost work that I would have had to then redo (which would have irritated me greatly). So if it had to die (as all things must eventually), I’m glad it was a long drawn out death because it was just much more convenient for me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More is Just More

As a kid, more was always better. More ice cream. More cartoons. More toys. More everything. This extended to anything visual as well. More detailed and floral a china pattern, the better. More lace and frills on a dress, the better. More pretty colors in a drawing, the better. I was all about a highly intricate, fancy and feminine style. (I’m sure I would have been a fan of anything Baroque had I known what that was as a child.)

I’m not exactly sure when things changed, but they did. I stopped being drawn to things that were grand and elaborate and instead was drawn to its antithesis; I began to like the beautifully simple. Whether it was architecture, furniture, dishware, clothing or design, less became more. I now swoon over clean lines, minimal colors and focused design with form and function working together effortlessly to create something that naturally draws the eye.

I think that’s the part that unconsciously won me over was the sense of effortlessness. I don’t want something that screams: “look at me!” and is blatant in its attempt to impress. It’s like when you meet someone (or I guess even watch someone on TV) and it’s just too much. They’re just trying too hard to be cool, or sexy, or smart, or nice or funny. And while it may not be entirely intentional, it can be exhausting to watch. My eyes want to rest; they don’t want to be assaulted by the overly done. [Pause.] There may be times when I appreciate the over-the-top and grand design that if done right, I think is beautiful—but overall it’s just not for me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Can’t Find What You’re Looking For

I’ve been on the hunt for ballet flats for a while now because the ballet flats I have loved and owned for a couple of years are just hanging on by a thread (which saddens me greatly). So I need a new pair of ballet flats to be replacements…yet I haven’t had much success. It’s not like there isn’t an array of ballet flats to choose from in stores, it’s just that I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for because none of them meet my requirements.

First, I’m not going to pay an excessive amount for a pair of fairly simple flats. Second, they should be comfortable (this means they can’t be made out of some super cheap material that makes me feel like I might as well be walking barefoot on the concrete). Third (and most obvious), they should be cute. The cute factor is what draws me into finding out if they’re then comfortable and affordable.

However, it’s been hard for me to find ballet flats that I actually like because they should be simple yet special. And it seems as though most of the “specialness” found in many ballet flats are attached flowers and bows or bedazzling. This is all way too girly for me. I don’t want to wear a pair of flats that looks like cheerleader pom-poms died on my shoes. It’s just too much. [Sigh.] And the rare times I found acceptably cute ballet flats there was something wrong with them. They weren’t comfortable. Or they were the wrong color. Or they weren’t available in my size. Or they were just close to what I wanted but not close enough.

It’s not as though I have an image in my mind of the pair of flats I want—I’ll just know it when I see it (which makes it like a really lame scavenger hunt). And it seems that no matter how many stores I check or how many times I check, I just can’t find the one item I want. I’ll find cute tops and skirts and wedges, but no ballet flats. [Sigh.] I think it’s one of those times where I just have to “give up” and not try so hard, because then I’ll just (eventually) stumble upon what I want. Perhaps months from now I’ll finally find the ballet flats I’ve been wanting, waiting for me as a welcome surprise. (At least I hope so.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

DIY: Used Gift Card Jewelry

I wanted to use used gift cards in creating jewelry since they’re pretty sturdy and waterproof. And while some gift cards are pretty as-is, most gift card design isn’t something I’d like to wear. Thus, I decided to paint the gift cards with nail polish because of the color selection available and the fact that the paint is waterproof.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nice Guys Finish Last for a Reason

Every so often I’ll eagerly anticipate a new (scripted) television show because the premise looks promising in its commercials and I hope to find a show that I’ll become addicted to. But more often than not the show that I had had high hopes for disappoints me and ends up falling into the vast mediocre category of television (where a show is just entertaining enough to be on in the background while I work on other things). The biggest downfall I find in most shows is the lack of characters to love.

If the main focus of television shows is to entertain, then the characters are integral in making the story come alive and can make or break a good premise. So for me to become invested in that storyline, I have to care about the characters themselves (otherwise I will roll my eyes at their love woes or scoff at their stupidity as they jump to the wrong conclusions). For me, characters I love to watch doesn’t necessarily mean likable ones, (they could be likeable, but it’s not a requirement for truly interesting characters); in fact some characters I know I would hate if I knew them in real life, but I love to watch them through the safe distance that is the television screen.

Most of my favorite characters are smart, quick-witted and have some quirks (that highly amuse me) and they feel authentic. Nice never makes the top reasons of why I love watching a character in a TV show. Nice is great in the real world but just being nice doesn’t cut it on screen. If nice is the first adjective used to describe a character then there’s a good chance that that character is boring. Nice is flat. Nice is bland. Nice brings to mind Dudley-Do-Right always doing the right thing…annoyingly so. There’s not much complexity or surprise in niceness.

Thus, “nice” characters need to be overshadowed by more intriguing characteristics if they’re going to be interesting. Just being purely nice isn’t as relatable or as true as characters that have some negative qualities; being selfish, vain, shallow, cynical, arrogant and insensitive can make a character not only feel more realistic, but also highly entertaining (if done in the right way). So what it basically comes down to is: Are you interesting? Because I don’t care if a character is "nice" or a “good person,” I care if that character is amusing to watch. Give me someone original and memorable and makes me smile if you want me to pay attention to your television show.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

DIY: Knotted Embroidery Floss and Jump Ring Necklace

Recently at a store I saw a necklace that added a nice pop of color, and while it wasn’t very expensive, I thought it would be fairly simple to make. So this is my rendition of a Knotted Embroidery Floss and Jump Ring Necklace.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Slap-Happy Circus

Many reality TV shows I would classify under the “guilty pleasure” category, but really, it’s come to the point where I find little pleasure in them and far too much guilt. I used to half-pay attention to some of the “people living their lives” reality TV shows, but eventually I found myself just not terribly interested in the “drama” of it all. And “love” competition reality TV shows I’ve always avoided like the plague (as contestants have a better chance of winning the lottery jackpot than finding love, marrying and staying married to the person everyone is competing for).

The main problem I have with a good chunk of these shows is the meanness of it all; I don’t want to watch people being terrible to each other with the name-calling, backstabbing and throwdowns (both verbal and physical). This is not a good time for me. [Pause.] But I guess it’s a good time for many people. A friend once told me that it makes her feel better about her life to watch the people in these shows, and I could see how it might make people feel smug and superior that that’s not them. But it doesn’t make me feel better about myself or about the world around me. It makes me feel sad. Sad that these people are acting the way they are. Sad that these people are on TV. Sad that people watch them on TV. And sad that people care.

I realize that not all reality TV shows have the slap-happy characters that I find so distasteful (some really are just fairly normal people living their lives). But I would hazard a guess that it’s the stupid, violent, rude, petty and mean individuals that people are more apt to watch—because people are always curious about the car wreck that is someone else’s life. I guess not much has changed over the centuries; the Romans had their circus’ where people fought to the death for the public’s entertainment—and we have reality TV shows. And while reality TV stars don’t actually fight to their deaths, their fifteen minutes of fame may die off—which may be just as devastating to them.