Yours truly: signatures of various artists

“We were all betting on who had the neatest signature, but it was unanimous that it would be you.”  One of the most memorable  moments in my softball career was that very declaration from my coach after signing a waiver for a tournament.

I’ve always put a lot of thought into my signature.   It’s a representation of myself, and it has evolved with me: from variations of curly J’s, to hearts and open dots  over the i and an assortment of f’s.  I want someone to look at my signature and think that my life is just as beautiful and elegant as the cursive letters scrawled across the page.

So naturally the hardest thing for me to do is sign one of my paintings or drawings… it has to be perfect or the whole thing is ruined!  As a result of this insecurity, I found myself analyzing the signatures of the following artists while at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  This is how the masters do it:

1. The Amazing Claude Monet

Poplars at Giverny, 1887

2.  Paul Signac

3. Theodore van Rysselberghe

4. Pierre-Auguste Renoir

5. Edouard Manet

6. Edgar Degas

7. James Jacques Joseph Tissot

8. Adolph Gottlieb

9. Norman Lewis

10. Jackson Pollock: Sorry for the lighting in this one, I was so excited I didn’t even notice the reflection issue!

11. Stuart Davis: He signed the top of his paintings!  I thought it was exciting!

12. Camille Pissarro

Which signature is your favorite?  Which is most like your own?

Next post:  what your signature says about your personality.

Advertisements

The messy truth

In my family, the notoriously “messy one” is me.  It wouldn’t bother me, except that in their minds, being the “messy one” is a result of also being the “lazy one”.  Let’s outline a day in the life and see what you think:

6AM alarm: snooze til 6:30 when I actually get up to do homework, shower and get ready (and check my blog obviously).

9 AM: leave for school

9:25AM- 1:30PM: class with no lunch break. Boo.

2 PM: made it home, now let’s finally have some lunch before I leave for work

2:30PM: leave for work

3PM-10PM: working at the stupid pharmacy job that I hate… and am leaving soon

10:30PM: home again, homework, quick snack, bed

REPEAT, working my second job every other day instead of the pharmacy

So there it is. Full time scholar, part-time employee at two jobs. That’s what I do.  No cleaning mentioned because there is simply no time.  Dishes pile up.  Laundry piles up.   Nothing I can do.  I have chemistry homework and a lab to write.  That is my priority.  Do you think I’m a lazy, slacking, mess of a person?

To be perfectly honest with you, even if I did have the time to be doing those neglected chores, I wouldn’t do them.  I’d be off doing things that make me feel like I’m leading a fulfilling life: meeting up with friends, going for a walk and/or jog, reading, learning a new language, writing a pen pal (any takers?), learning to cook something fancy and new from my vegan cookbook…  the options are endless.

And I wouldn’t regret it.  If anyone reading this post right now truly believes that when he or she is  110, on their  deathbed, reliving memories and (hopefully) fulfilled wishes, they will dwell on the regret of not having kept a spotless house at all times, then I want those people to click the little red “x” at the top right corner of this screen and never return.  Because that is simply atrocious.

My family, as do other people, always judge neighbors and friends on how neatly they keep their house.  My mom came home from bringing the neighbors some of my sister’s hand-me-downs one time and said “Oh my God, that was disgusting.  I was embarrassed for her at how messy her house was.  She doesn’t even work, what is she doing all day?”

And my answer: living a much better life than those of us who slave away over the stupid details, as if the queen is coming over with her precious white gloves, or the photographer from Martha Stuart Magazine could show up to photograph our little ordinary suburban house any day.

My neighbor is probably a genius, inventing time machines and using them to uncover secrets of the past: how Stonehenge came about, how the pyramids were build, decoding ancient languages allowing us to understand more about our own history.

She really could be doing that.

I mean, I’m not an animal.  I do enough to get by: I do laundry and dishes just often enough to make sure I have clean clothes to wear, and dishes to eat off of.  I also do a regular Spring and Fall cleaning.  Last Fall I tackled the Tupperware cabinet and recycled everything that didn’t have a matching cover, and eliminated everything in the  “junk drawer” to create a new and improved Saran wrap/sandwich bag/tin foil drawer.  This Spring I donated two trash bags full of clothes to make room for all my newer clothes that almost never make it into my dresser, and cleared off my shelves to make room for all my art supplies which had previously been taking over the house.

But I also find a certain safety in my own mess.

So the next time any one of you finds that little voice in your head judging someone based on how messy their house is, I want you to pretend it’s backwards day.  If the house is messy, this person obviously leads an awesome life.  If the house is picture perfect and spotless, how pathetic these people are.  Because while people normally think that with a perfect looking house comes a perfectly lived life…  in today’s reality, it’s impossibly time-consuming to have both.  Which one do you choose?

How to: Lovable looks for less

I love Marc Jacobs.  Love.  But I can’t stand his prices.  I would get sick, knowing I just spent what could have been an entire semester’s tuition, on one article of clothing.  I’m hoping anyone I know would too.  So here I have a bunch of designer items, matched with their budget friendly counterparts.  Enjoy and have a fashionable season!

Wicker chairs bags with a splash of color

The Marc Jacobs version ($188.00 shopbop.com)

Usually, with wicker bags you’re limited to the beach and/or poolside.  The leather straps on these babies allow for greater versatility, while the vibrant color gives a girly playful feel.  Although $188.00 isn’t bad (at all) for Marc Jacobs, it just isn’t in the cards for me… here are some college budget alternatives:

The colorful wicker and gold details in the clasps and chains give an even more sophisticated look. Still a bit of a splurge at $50.00, but if you don't buy them, I will! (etsy.com)

($14.99, Target Stores or target.com) Sold in a variety of colors

Only $10.00 + shipping and bragging rights: "No, it's not Marc Jacobs, it's vintage". Sold! (etsy.com)

The Maxi Dress

The Beyond Vintage version ($379.00 shopbop.com)

My legs are probably my strongest/ most complimented/ personal favorite part of my body.  But a people watching session on a warm day with my friends brought us a ton of cheeky outfits.  While I applaud these girls for their confidence, I feel that it is inappropriate for an academic setting.  And honestly, unless you’re a Victoria’s Secret model… I don’t want to see it.  So for this spring I’ll be concealing my legs, which should make their summer debut that much more stupefying.

This Maxi from Mossimo Supply Co. is like a blank canvas, perfect for embellishing with your own signature touch! Tie a ribbon at the neckline around the strap, or throw on a fabric flower brooch to add interest where you want it ($19.99 target.com)

This Forever 21 maxi is perfect for those of us who are less willing to take risks. The black is super slimming while the vertical floral pattern elongates any figure ($24.80 forever21.com).

A second Forever 21 maxi, with the same ruffles and shape as the inspiration piece, as well as the coveted tribal feel that keeps popping up everywhere! ($22.80 forever21.com)

This dress has the exact same feel as the inspiration dress, with the ruffles at the hemline and neckline. Put it on and your hair will instantly start billowing in the wind. I'm sure of it. ($79.50, victoriassecret.com)

I just love love stories, don’t you?

  These pieces allow you to wear your heart on your sleeve wrist, ankle or finger.  Just don’t go overboard! One love is enough, any more than that and people might start talking…

The Sydney Evan version ($860.00 White gold and diamond love ring sydneyevan.com)

The Jennifer Zeuner version ($121.00 shopbop.com)

You can spread the love, and keep the cash with these ones…

Ring ($10.00 keoops8's etsy.com shop)

Ring ($40.00 kohls.com)

Anklet ($25.00 beadxs's etsy.com shop)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

“I’ll never let go, Jack”

Last night/ early this morning marked the 100 year “anniversary” of the Titanic sinking.  (I use quotations because I think it’s horrible to refer to such a tragic event using the same word used to describe things we usually like to celebrate: wedding anniversaries, dating anniversaries, sorority anniversaries etc.)

Very conveniently, I went on a field trip last week to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, MA to tour the facility and meet people working in the field of marine biology.   This included a viewing of part of the Alvin– the submarine that is most famous in biology for housing and providing the ability to dive down deep enough to discover the deep-sea hydro-thermal vents.  More interestingly (if you’re a girl, Leo DiCaprio fanatic or movie buff) the Alvin provided the diver who discovered a sunken half of the “unsinkable” ship, the ability to explore inside.  In addition to the excitement among historians, engineers and biologists, Hollywood found the underwater Titanic adventure to be very useful.  The images of the decaying ship is crucial in provoking emotion from the audience of the flick.

I also got a tour of the Knorr– one of the ships that launched the Alvin over the Titanic (where they bring old lady Rose to see her nude drawing).

Here are some photos I took!

This is the capsule that goes inside the Alvin, housing the underwater explorers. It was taken out of the sub in order to make way for a new and improved capsule that can withstand pressures at greater depths.

A life sized mock up of the inside of the capsule. Imagine fitting 4 full grown men in that thing! So cozy.

A classmate playing with the millions of buttons and switches inside the tiny vessel.

The Knorr. It was far too large, and anchored too close to get a full view of it.

Living alone: How to stop thinking there’s a man trying to break in and rape you

Sorry for the violent title, but being a girl with an imagination means that every night, there is some strange horror story threatening to test my natural animal instincts to keep myself alive.  And I have to think about this disaster in an empty house all night, usually only falling asleep minutes before the alarm goes off.

I am in fact a professional paranoid freak.  Professional.  Every night I run through different scenarios in my mind: what if the house catches fire?  How will I get myself, the monkey cats and my baby pictures out safely while wearing my favorite jeans and all jewelry of value?  What if someone breaks in?  What’s going to be my weapon?  Or should I just jump out the second story window and pray I have it in me to run far, far away after the sting of the pavement slapping my feet?  Is my pepper spray around here?  What happened to all my old softball bats?  Oh I better just run for it.  What if it’s a ghost, though?  Can you run from a ghost?  Won’t they find me anyway?… *BEEP*BEEP*BEEP.  Shit, class time.

Living that way for about a year takes its toll on a girl.  I started feeling really old, really tired and really sick.  So, here are a few things I figured out that help me battle the mental demons:

1.  Pay Attention to what you do before you go to bed.  Watch your hands lock the front door, say what you’re doing out loud if it helps.   This prevents you from bolting into an upright position just as you were about to fall asleep, in fear that the door has been unlocked the whole time (we forget things when we’re tired).

Also, make sure your keys aren’t in the front door when you lock it.  I’ve done this far too many times.

2.  Light a candle instead of just turning out the lights.  This gives you enough light to see your surroundings, without keeping you awake.  Just don’t forget to blow the candle out before you fall asleep.  No house fires, please!

You could also put on a movie you know the ending to (I recommend 27 Dresses), as long as the light from the television doesn’t keep you up.  Watching a movie you know well keeps you from feeling obligated to stay and watch the ending.

3.  Meditate.  And don’t listen to the weird clanking noise the heat is making (which, at night, is clearly a burglar/rapist/angry clown)!  Focus on your breathing instead.  I like to just listen to the natural rhythm of my own breath, but if you find controlled breathing more relaxing then go for it!

4.  Be creative.  Have a weapon close at hand but not a real one (no knives or guns, this can lead to devastating accidents).  Try a piece of sports equipment or anything small and heavy (piggy bank?  Imagine a mushroom cloud of pennies… now that is a distraction!).  I like to think of my messy bedroom as a very creative booby trap.  No one can navigate that place quietly and successfully in the dark except me!

5.  Have a plan.  Sometimes the best way to get rid of the demons is to know that you could actually take on something that’s not imaginary.  Know your escape route in any situation.  You could even go as far as J.Lo and mentally map out your surroundings, while blindfolded, counting the number of steps it takes you to cross the room or get to a specific location.

Don’t you love it when…

This morning my alarm went of at 6:00 AM, as it does most mornings.   But anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not, by any means, a morning person.  I allow horrible things to happen to me in the mornings:  I decide that I locked my keys in my car, only to find out that they were just hidden underneath yesterday’s mail… after taking a ride from the boy, I leave my research paper at home… the one that’s due in ten minutes, I chose to wear sandals and remember hours later that it’s a lab day (for any science major knows from day 1: if you wear open toed shoes or anything cute you will be kicked out and recieve no credit).  These types of things have been happening to me so consistently lately that I just don’t want to get up any more.  What’s the point?  Everything’s going to go wrong.

So I snoozed until 8:00 AM, disregarding the fact that I couldn’t figure out my lab calculations and I promised myself I would do it in the morning.  I knew I had a group project meeting after my chem lab, and I knew that both group members were trying to ditch.  Another group solo project. Snooze.  Snooze. Snooze…

But I did get up, and experienced the best luck I’ve had in the longest time.

First

I signed into my email to find that my friend Kristen (the one with the scary ESP) had emailed me her calculations from lab because she asked the professor for help and knew she got them right.  I didn’t even tell her I was having trouble with them!

Then

My friend Diana came into class with the beautiful Starbucks cup pictured above, in all its grande-iced-green-tea-half-soy-half-skim-with-two-pumps-of-vanilla-latte glory.  And it was for me!  So happy!

Lastly

My chem lab was a bore but Kristen and I were done in about an hour and a half and were the first to leave, which meant it was project time.  Both of my group members showed up… with excuses including “last minute work meeting soon,” and, “have to pick my car up from the shop in half an hour”,  but we busted it out and it’s done!

Don’t you love it when life surprises you?  In a good way?

How to heal a hopeless soul

Hopelessness- n. the inability to learn, act, perform or work as desired.

How do you avoid feeling hopeless?  Don’t think.  Be careless.  Have no passion.  All easy things to do.  Much easier than thinking, questioning, caring, being passionate.  So how do you get out of hopelessness once you’re there?  This is something I have been trying to figure out for a long time now.

I think for me the cause may have to do with New England seasons: the lack of sunlight and therefore happiness inducing vitamin D.  But sometimes it’s not the weather or the seasons.  Sometimes it’s beautiful out and all I want to do is curl up in bed all day, no food, no human interaction, nothing.  Here are a few things that have helped me get the hopeless feeling to hit the road.

1.  Have a support system.  Being down in the dumps can be enlightening in that you find out who really, truly cares about you.  If your friends go two weeks without hearing a peep from you and don’t call you to find out what’s going on,  you need to find some new friends.  Sorry.

Having people who know you well enough to understand your behavior patterns is crucial during times when you’re feeling lost and hopeless.  My friend Kristen is the prime example of understanding me and my behavior.  In an almost scary way.  We’re always interrupting text messages to each other by calling each other.  On one occasion, while sitting down helping her fold her laundry, she looked up pointing at me and said, “You had sex last night!  I know it!”  And in fact, I was single and dating someone new and… uh… it was the third date-ish.. guilty.

But more importantly, about a month ago she called me out of nowhere and said, “You’ve been crying all night, I can feel it.  What’s wrong?”  And she was right.  Sometimes my life can be overwhelmingly negative.  I’m a biology major who hates biology.  I have a job that I despise with more passion than I have the energy to emit.  And that’s just about all I have time to do (this blog is my salvation).  So that leads me to my next hopeless soul helper…

2.  Make a plan.  Make a list of things that make you feel like your life is hopeless.  Figure out which items or situations on the list you can control.   Here’s my initial hopeless soul hate list:

  • I hate biology
  • I hate being a pharmacy technician
  • I hate being poor
  • I hate that I don’t have the time to study for the classes that I hate

I took that list and used it to determine what it absolutely necessary in those hopeless areas of my life:

  • I need to graduate in the next year, so I need to stick with biology
  • I need to have a job
  • I need to make more money
  • I need a schedule that is flexible enough to give me time to study

So now I have a list that gives me a better idea of which situations have to stay,and more importantly, which situations can pack their bags.  I have to stick with biology as my major in order to graduate and move on.  I don’t however have to remain working a job I loathe.  Looking at the last three bullets on my list, I realize that when I babysit, I make more money per hour, doing way more enjoyable things (get paid to play Angelina Ballerina?  yes please!),  and when the kids are put to bed, I have time to do homework and study.

This list is not new in my life.  I knew before I wrote anything down what was making me miserable.  I just didn’t have the financial ability to quit my job.  So since I realized that hating my job is something I’ve chosen, I’ve been working and working, and paying more than the minimum payments on my bills so I have more financial freedom.  I’m giving the pharmacy my two weeks notice on Saturday!  No number of exclamation points can convey…

3.  Avoid negativity.  Some people only contribute to your hopelessness.  I know from many experiences that I cannot talk to my mom about anything involving school or my career plans.  We’re just too different and she doesn’t understand the things I want and need in life.  A “real job” can never and will never define me.

There are also some girls in my program who are not so nice to talk to.  They’re always complaining about something.  even when they have nothing to complain about!  They look for things:  the ceiling is so gross (duh, welcome to a public university!), my advisor doesn’t know what she’s doing (yes, she does or else she wouldn’t be here).  These types of people you want to avoid when your soul is hurt!  Avoid them like the bloody plague!

4.  Help someone else.  It may seem hypocritical, (and it may just be me) but when you’re feeling down, you come up with the greatest advice for other people.  Or find some way to help them out with their hopeless situations.

Even though I hate biology, and I hate doing all my class projects, I LOVE helping other people with theirs.  It’s the reason I ran for (and won) the secretary position of the Biological Society at my university.  I LOVE sharing the wisdom I’ve acquired through being a miserable student.  And if it helps someone else after me in any way, that makes me feel loads better.

5.  Take a Hopeless Holiday.  Allow yourself to just feel.  Feel hopeless sometimes.  Take a day, or two.  Call in sick.  Watch movies that make you cry.  Refuse food if you want.  Or demand all of it if that’s more your style.  Then, when you’re done crying, paint something, write something, dream something, run through the streets naked!  Whatever you say goes on your Hopeless Holiday.

6. Write.  Write what you’re feeling down a piece of paper.  Get as many words out of your head as possible.  The more clutter there is bouncing around inside your brain, the more likely you’ll spontaneously combust.  If you need to send your feelings to a certain person, do it.  And don’t regret it.  If you need to say it to him or her out loud, you’ve now had some great practice.  If you’re more the symbolic type, grab a pot and some matches and light the hopeless sucker.  Because you’re not hopeless, and you never were.

I need your opinion!

I’ve decided to submit photos to my school’s foreign language department photo contest, the problem is, I can only submit two.  TWO!  The rules: photos must be my own (duh?) and of a foreign country.  Let me know which two are your favorite by leaving the corresponding numbers in the comments section!  Also, I’m not a professional, so if you are a professional- I am always open to critique!  Here goes…

1.  The gardens in Monaco

 

2. Cute couple in Cullera, Spain

 

3. Walking back from the Forum in Rome, Italy

 

4. Tuscan Vineyards from San Gimignano, Italy

 

5. View from the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

 

On a different note (if anyone had the patience to scroll down this far):  I am planning on starting a regular posting schedule soon.  Mad-for Mondays, How-to Tuesdays and Fashionably late Fridays are in the making!  Hope you had a magical Monday!