The Art of the Collage

Do you remember making collages in elementary school? I remember making collages for everything. I cut up so many magazines to make collages for my favorite books, my favorite movies, things that made me smile, and so on. I honestly remember making collages for fun outside of school because I was a huge nerd, chopping up old catalogs and newspapers we had hanging around our house.

Now I did not keep a single collage I made when I was younger because I never really had any reason to. I may have hung a couple up in my room if I liked the pictures, but any time I cleaned up my room the collages were usually the first thing thrown into the recycling bin. Collages were fun to make, but useless to hang onto.

I would guess it’s been about fifteen years since I made a collage and suddenly, in the last few weeks, I’ve had a very strong urge to make a collage. What I want to make is a vision board, which is basically a collage, but with a purpose.

And I’m super excited about it.

vision board 1

Example! Mine’s probably going to be a little spookier, cuz I’m a spooky lady.

A vision board is a tool to help you visualize and focus on your life goals. You can use any type of surface you want, like a cork board, the front of your fridge, or even a Pinterest board. The only thing you have to do is put it somewhere where you can see it every day. A vision board is meant to remind you that you’re working toward something and to never give up.

Now, if I make my vision board, I want it to be on a poster board. Something that I can easily hang near my bed and see everyday.

I know what you’re thinking, Daniel. Why do I even want to make a vision board?

Well, because I recently found some of my personal ‘to-do’ lists and I have had the same life goals for the past few years and have made zero progress on them. Zero, zilch, bagel. Nothing to show for these goals I’ve had since I was in high school.

It made me realize that something needed to change. After looking back over the last decade of my life, I realize my issue isn’t lack of skill or time. It’s lack of motivation. It’s because, after a long day of work, I come home, sit on the couch, and zone out watching Netflix. Yes, in the morning, when I first get up, I might think to myself, “Today’s the day! When I get home from work I’m going to do those amazing things I’ve wanted to do for years and it will be amazing!” But after eight hours in the office, all I can think about it relaxing. About grabbing a beer and chilling on the couch.

Well, hopefully, a vision board will change that.

Now I realize a vision board is a bit of a cheesy idea. It’s definitely something young white women on Pinterest do and they fill their board with cliche sayings like, “Go on more adventures” or “Love my husband more.” But you know what, I might be a white woman, but that doesn’t mean my vision board has to be useless. I am going to put concrete, tangible things on my vision board so that every day I wake up and the first thing I see is my to do list.

Wait…this is the most type-A thing I’ve ever done….Oh well, if the anxiety shoe fits.

Anyway, some things I’m going to include on my vision board/life to do list are:

  • Write a novel. I’ve literally had this as a personal goal since I was six and, in the past twenty-one years, I have written zero novels.
  • Become a certified cicerone. This is something I’ve been toying with since I started getting into craft beer. Not only would it basically certify me as a beer snob, it would also open doors to freelancing for craft beer magazines and marketing for small breweries. How cool would that be?
  • Run a half marathon. Literally been talking about this for a year now and all of my attempts to stay on a training schedule have fallen apart.
  • Go back to school. My current job offers an employee discount on college credits and, when I started, I told myself I would take advantage of that. Well, in total I’ve taken two classes. Been here almost five years.

That’s just the beginning, Daniel. I have so many things I want to put on my vision board and I’m excited to get started.

What would you put on your vision board, Daniel?

-EMS

 

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For a Professional Writer, I’m Super Bad at Keeping a Writing Schedule

How long has this blog been going for? More than two years at this point? And in that time only one of us has earned a punishment, and that was me. Last time I felt like I had a pretty decent excuse. I got a sudden migraine the evening I was supposed to write and ended up in bed, waiting patiently for my eyes to stop throbbing.

Well, I have officially earned the second punishment in the history of Seven Degrees of Smudde and guess what my excuse is this time? Well, surprise, surprise. I have none.

Want to know what I did today? Well, I woke up at 11 a.m., hung out with the ferrets while I watched reruns of Gilmore Girls, read the novella “Cannibals in Candyland,” and then binged the first season of Netflix’s “Frontier” in preparation to binge the second season tomorrow. It was about two beers and four episodes into this Netflix binge that I remembered what day it was. At that point it was a quarter after 10 p.m. and, honestly, I didn’t really feel like pausing my show to write. I just texted you and said to start preparing a punishment because I didn’t feel like writing.

God, listen to me. I didn’t feel like writing. I’m a professional writer. I get paid lots of money to go to work, sit behind a desk, and write things for eight hours. I’m also a pretty responsible and organized writer at work. I rarely miss deadlines and when I do, I let my team know that I’ve been delayed. And while I might not have a good excuse for being delayed, at least I know my schedule well enough to know that I’m fucked.

And yet, when I get home, I become a terrible writer. A terrible writer who sometimes forgets when things are due, like I did today.

I’m not exactly sure why I’m like this. When I was younger, I was always writing. I never stopped writing. You probably remember, Daniel, the way I always carried notebooks with me and would sit for hours writing in them. I always had a story I was working on. Granted, back then, I didn’t have any deadlines to meet, but I’m 100% positive I would have met my deadlines if they had existed. I would have met them because I always felt like writing.

Now that I’m older and I kind of have the writing job I always wanted, I don’t feel like writing. I feel like sitting and watching Netflix and reading trashy horror novels.

Sometimes I think it’s because I’m getting older and I don’t have as much of an imagination as I did when I was a kid. Sometimes I think it’s because I spend all of my time writing at work that when I come home it’s the last thing I want to do. Sometimes I think it’s because unless there is an immediately tangible reward or consequence to a task, I have no motivation to complete it, which is a common theme in my life. For example, unless I have an early meeting at work or I’m going somewhere fun, I cannot get up with my alarm in the morning.

Anyway, I hope you have fun thinking up my punishment, Daniel. Sorry for getting this up so late! I need to keep better track of myself. In other news, “Cannibals In Candyland” was just as ridiculous as it sounds.

-EMS  

 

My Go To Reaction Gifs

 

Dude, I wish you had written this post years ago! Your reasoning behind using gifs instead of writing out a reaction is perfect and I’m totally stealing it for the next time one of my colleagues asks me why we use gifs on social media rather than good, old-fashioned words. Our generation and our new-fangled internets is just so complicated and we need to explain ourselves!

Do I sound bitter about this? Because I am.

Anyway, reading your post got me thinking about how I use gifs in my day-to-day life. I use them like words, pulling out specific ones in situations to help convey how I’m feeling. It’s almost like our generation is building a whole new language out of gifs, a gif “vocabulary” if you will.

It’s like our own version of hieroglyphics in a way, which future historians are going to have a bitch of a time translating. Good luck parsing out our gibberish, future generations!

Anyway, over the years I’ve compiled my own gif dictionary in my head. I have a set of gifs that I use over and over to convey specific, hard-to-define emotions.

For example, when I desperately want something, I always end up using the same gif from the cartoon, Invader Zim.

giphy

Of course, I could just use words. I could say I really, really want something, but I prefer to use this gif because it conveys something I can’t easily put into words. It says, “I am incredibly excited about this thing, so much so not getting this thing would be a tragedy of epic proportions!” It also lets the person who told me about said thing know that I very much appreciate them sharing.

I recently used this in response to Oskar Blues announcing the release of a coconut version of my favorite imperial stout. I have a limited amount of characters to work with on Twitter so I couldn’t exactly type out all of my feelings about this delicious creation. That’s where this gif comes in.

Boom! Look how much time and how many characters I just saved by sending a gif rather than typing that all out! I am the master of Twitter.

Another gif I routinely use is this:

tenor

This one I always use in response to something cute and I like it because it’s aggressive. It’s basically saying, “that thing is so cute that I am going to be aggressive about it because I am very serious about my love for it.” I recently used this in response to a picture of a bulldog dressed up as an ewok. That picture was SO CUTE that I was angry about it, thus “hearteyes, motherfucker!”

And I can’t talk about my favorite reaction gifs without including this one:

tenor1

I use this one ALL THE TIME, especially when someone is playfully teasing me about something I love. Now, I want to let them know that they’re pissing me off, but I also want to keep it light-hearted so they know I’m not REALLY pissed off.

Recently BigCatDerek playfully teased his viewers about how “immature it is to participate in Halloween” and, being the spooky bitch I am, I was OFFENDED. How dare he say anything bad about my favorite holiday! I have lots of feelings about Halloween, none of which I’m really going to share with him because he’s teasing me, so I sent him this gif. It basically says, “I am about to go into full rant mode” without actually going into rant mode. A very simple gif for a very complex emotion.

Speaking of being a spooky bitch, there’s a gif out there that very accurately depicts what it’s like when new people enter my life:

tumblr_inline_nviqyctnic1qchs84_500

People get to know me and basically get ambushed with spooky. There’s no easing you into my spooky habits, I go from zero to “talking about my favorite serial killers” real quick when it comes to meeting new people. Of course, this is very hard to describe in words. Thank god for reaction gifs! Now I can give people a fair warning before they come anywhere near me.

Anyway, I want to keep writing, but I’m currently on a plane heading down to Texas for vacation so I’m going to wrap it up. Maybe I’ll keep building my gif dictionary in my next post.

-EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Ways to Figure Yourself Out

I don’t know about you, Daniel, but it feels like I have an identity crisis at least once per day. I wake up and think to myself, “Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Should I get up and do my hair or sleep an extra twenty minutes?”

Sometimes, I wish that there was a test I could take that would just tell me who I am and what I should do. Yes, when we were kids there were those career aptitudes test, but the one I took told me I should be a vending machine mechanic. Yeah, I wasn’t exactly impressed with that particular test.

Anyway, thankfully we live in the age of the internet and there are plenty of ways we can define ourselves using handy dandy charts and Buzzfeed quizzes. So, for today’s post, I went through and found out everything I could about myself. And let me tell you, it was incredibly informative!

Zodiac

Scorpios are determined, forceful, emotional, intuitive, powerful, passionate, exciting, and magnetic.

Let’s start out with my zodiac. I’ve never been big into astrology, but I do check my horoscope once in awhile and I love taking those stupid Buzzfeed quizzes that tell you what you should be for Halloween based on your zodiac or something like that.

I’m not sure I 100% relate to how Scorpios are describe. I’m not exactly powerful or exciting, but I feel like I’m a pretty determined and passionate person when I want to be. However, one thing I have noticed about being a Scorpio is that, for some reason, everyone thinks we’re evil or cruel. Whenever I see one of those Tumblr posts that categorizes people based on their sign, I ALWAYS end up being something dark or scary or evil. Which, as a horror movie junkie, I’m fine with, I just want to know WHY.

Is is because my sign looks like the distant relative of the Xenomorphs from Alien? Is is because my star sign includes Halloween? I have no idea, but there’s a trend.

zodiac hatred

Apparently I hate everyone and don’t try to hide it.

space elements zodiac

First of all, rude. Second of all, did Tumblr just call me fat? 

harmful zodiac

Wait, so I look harmful? 

zodiac norse myth

Death and the underworld. Can’t say I’m surprised…

zodiac star wars

I was born at the end of October and that means I’m Sith. Why? Because I’m a Scorpio that’s why! 

Tumblr is just fucking rude.

Element

Water signs are emotional, intuitive, creative, and empathetic. They cannot connect with people and have a hard time disconnecting from stress.

Now a person’s element is also based on their astrological sign and Scorpio just happens to be a water sign. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because scorpions spend a lot of their time near water, waiting for an unsuspecting frog to come by and give them a ride.

Did you get that reference or am I a huge nerd? It’s probably both.

Anyway, I feel like I relate more to my elemental sign than to Scorpios. I consider myself very empathetic and creative and I also have the HARDEST time connecting with people. I also never disconnect from stress. Hell, I didn’t even know that people could disconnect from stress until I was in my mid-twenties. I thought everyone lived in a constant state of panic, but apparently that’s just me.

Ivy: The Survivor (Celtic Zodiac)

People born under the Ivy sign have sharp intellects and are compassionate and loyal to others. They have the prized ability to overcome all odds.

Now, I hadn’t heard of the Celtic zodiac until I went searching for all this information. I thought I was a Scorpio and that’s it, but I’m also an Ivy. This one I relate to WAY MORE than I do to the description of a Scorpio. I feel like I have a somewhat sharp intellect and I am definitely compassionate and loyal to the people I love and care about. Do I have the prized ability to overcome all odds? That’s yet to be decided, considering the most trying thing I’ve ever experienced in my life was getting a C in my middle school science class.

INFJ: The Advocate (Myers Briggs)

Advocates tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this type are found engaging in rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the root of the issue.

The Myers Briggs personality test is probably the most famous of all the tests out there. It’s so common that I’ve heard of employers asking people to take the test to see how he or she would fit into the team.

I took it a while back and ended up being an Advocate, which at first completely threw me off. I’m definitely not forceful or aggressive when it comes to standing up for myself or for other people, so how in the world could I be a good advocate? Well, after reading the description, I kind of get it. I definitely enjoy helping people in need and I always try to find the root of an issue rather than just treating the symptom. I can see why I ended up in this category.

However, the test told me I would make a good nurse or healthcare professional and I just have to say fuck that.

Server (Soul Type)

Servers are accommodating, caring, nurturing, hospitable, charitable

Apparently my soul is a server, which just confirms that my results on the Myers Briggs test were accurate. I’m definitely an accommodating and caring person.

Still not going into healthcare though.

Type Six: The Loyalist (Enneagram Institute)

Loyalists are committed, security-oriented, engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.

Again, I feel like this test just proves that I am an advocate by nature. I’ve been told I’m an incredibly responsible person, almost to a fault. I’m also incredibly anxious and suspicious of anything new or different.

Basically, I’m a neurotic dog, except instead of destroying your couch or eating your shoes, I crochet things and pick fights with people who try to get me to do new things.

Melancholic (Four Temperaments)

People of melancholic temperament are introverted and thoughtful and are perceived as overly pondering and favoring routine.

Lavater1792

Wait? Is this what my face looks like? 

This is based on the incredibly old and medically-debunked theory that the body contains four humors: melancholic, choleric, sanguine, and phlegmatic. Hippocrates believed that our personalities and emotions were affected by these four humors going in and out of balance.

Well, according to this theory, I have an excessive amount of black bile in my system, making me melancholic. I have no idea how much black bile I have in me right now, but I 100% relate to the description of a melancholic person. I am incredibly introverted and thoughtful and I favor routine so much I’ve literally gotten into fights with people when they try to change my schedule. Next time I pick a fight I’m just going to blame all the black bile I have in me.

Neutral Good (Moral Alignment)

Devoted to helping others and doing good, without bias toward or against order.

alignment

I am 1000% okay with being Captain Mal. 

Yes, exactly. If I was a Dungeons and Dragons character I would be neutral good. I would be a neutral good wizard or something like that. Love it.

So there you go, Daniel! I’ve figured myself out with the help of strangers on the internet. I feel so much better.

-EMS

 

The Feeling of Sonder

SonderThe profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.

I feel like everyone is a little self centered.

Now, I don’t mean selfish. Selfish in my mind means lacking empathy toward the people around you. Self centered on the other hand means that you think of life as a story in which you are the main character, which is fine. I feel like if we spent all our time thinking about the big picture and how we’re just minor characters in a big chaotic story that has absolutely no direction, we’d all be in bed having an existential panic attack 24/7.

It’s okay to be self centered. That just means that once in awhile you’ll experience sonder.

According to Wikipedia, sonder was a word created in 2012 as part of the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I absolutely love this word because it’s definitely weird to think about how other people, people who have nothing to do with me, have lives just as fantastic and weird as mine. To them, the story is about them and that is just bizarre to think about.

There is a teenage boy who rides the bus right around the same time I do and he recently discovered Stephen King. He’s reading the Green Mile and we got to talking about King after he noticed that I was reading the Long Walk. I see him all the time, but never ask him about anything other than his current book. I sometimes think about him when I’m at home sorting through my bookshelf. Has he read this book? Does he like this author? Things like that.

Another familiar stranger in my life is a man and his four or five year old son. They will sometimes ride the bus with me in the mornings and they always stick out to me because of how cute the boy is. He always says goodbye to the bus driver and he loves to pull the cord when it’s time for them to get off the bus. Sometimes I think about them. Will the boy be going to school soon? Where does his dad work?

I know that I’m a familiar stranger in their lives, too. One day, I wore contacts to work and the little boy pointed it and told me I looked very nice. Another day, I stood up on the bus before it came to a complete stop and the little boy told me we weren’t supposed to stand up while the bus was moving. I sat back down immediately. When a little kid tells you you’re breaking a rule, you don’t argue.

It’s encounters like that that get me thinking about all the different versions of me out there in the world. Like you said, Daniel, there are people out there who remember us and probably wonder where we went when we leave. Those little kids at Big Al’s will always remember you as Dan the Man and nothing else. The woman at Petco will always remember you as Kyuzo’s dad. And, because of their memories, those versions of you will always exist, despite the fact you’ve moved on.

There are so many versions of each of us out in the world. It’s crazy to think about.

A few years ago I made the mistake of having a few too many beers at a bar and got sick in the parking lot. It’s very likely a stranger saw me and now I exist in that person’s mind as that drunk, party girl. They might never see me again, but a version of me lives on in their mind. Hell, I might even be an anecdote they share when the topic of alcohol comes up in conversation, despite the fact that I’m really not a party person at all. 

But I am in their mind.

Another example would be my third grade teacher, Mrs. McCoy. She knew me for an entire school year so, of course, she got to know me a little better than the stranger in the bar parking lot. However, after I left her class, that version of me became stuck in her mind. Somewhere out there in the world, there is a woman who only knows me as a little seven year old girl who likes to read and doesn’t speak up a lot in class. If she met me now, heard how much I swear and saw all my tattoos, it might blow her mind.

It would also kill the version of me that lives in her mind. Kind of morbid to think about, right?

There must me hundreds of thousands of versions of me out there, living in people’s memories. Someone saw me slip on ice and now an incredibly clutsy version of me exists. Someone saw me crying on the bus and now a very sad, helpless version of me exists. Someone saw me out for a run and now an athletic version of me exists.

It’s bizarre to think about, isn’t it?

-EMS

What a Terrible Week

Obviously my post this week is going up late. I wish I had a decent excuse as to why, but it really all comes down to the fact that I’ve had a crappy week.

It all started on Monday when I was dropped off at the airport.

The morning had been pretty easy. I got up, packed the few things I would need for my work trip, and then had a friend drop me off at the airport. We left about thirty minutes earlier than we needed to because I wanted to buy him a cup of coffee as a ‘thank you’ for driving me to the airport. Michael had a pretty nasty cold so he didn’t want to get up early and take me, which was fine. However, that side trip to the coffee shop took about a third of the time I had thought it would, so I ended up at the airport an hour and a half before my flight.

Now, you might say, “An hour and a half? That’s barely enough time to get through security!” Well, that is one of the many benefits of living in a small town like mine. Our airport has only one security gate and it takes like five minutes to get through it. You could get to the airport thirty minutes before your flight and still have time to use the restroom and get a snack.

Anyway, I wasn’t too worried about it. Being early is better than being late, right? And that just gave me more time to work on my laptop. No big deal.

Well, the WiFi wasn’t working and I did have a few urgent emails to send before we got to our destination. I thought to myself, “well that’s crappy, but oh well. I can work when we get to our first layover.” Little did I know that the day was only going to go downhill from there.

About twenty minutes after I arrived, I found out the flight was delayed by an hour so I was actually almost three hours early to an airport that had a grand total of two gates. Did I also mention that you walk directly out onto the tarmac to get to your flight? That tiny.

So I settled in to do some reading while I waited on my flight and then noticed something interesting on my flight itinerary. My first layover was only about forty five minutes, which meant that this hour delay in my first flight was going to make me miss my connection.

Well fuck.

After some finagling, the flight agent managed to find me another connection down in San Francisco. However, the flight was a red eye and I would be getting to my destination at 6 a.m. the next morning. My meeting started at 8 a.m. the next morning so, if everything went as planned, I would get a grand total of two hours to get to the hotel, shower, change, drink as much coffee as humanly possible, and then head right to my ten hour meeting.

Well fuck.

Everything did end up going as planned from there, but I’m not going to lie and say Tuesday was a good day. It sucked. It sucked so much. I was able to sit through my all day meeting, but I had to get up and move around every twenty minutes or so to make sure I didn’t fall asleep where I was sitting. I also hadn’t thought my wardrobe through and brought heels to wear to my meeting. Thankfully, I did not fall on my face.

The meeting was two days, so I did manage to get a decent night’s sleep at the hotel. However, the next day I had to pack up and head the airport right after the meeting because I had another late evening flight to catch. If I had known I was going to end up taking a red eye in the first place, I would have never agreed to such a late flight.

So, in conclusion, I got to my destination at 6 in the morning and spent a grand total of about thirty six hours there before I had to fly home.

Well fuck.

So I got home and slept for about ten hours before heading into work to catch up on emails and check in on a few projects. During my very brief day, I got a phone call saying I had been denied on a very awesome opportunity, which I will tell you about later, Daniel. After that I went home, opened a beer, and climbed into bed to rewatch Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time because when you’re depressed, there’s not much else you can do.

After a few episodes, Michael managed to cheer me up and I finally felt energized enough to write my post. And then, boom. I got hit by a migraine.

Well fuck.

After taking aspirin and sleeping for another ten hours, I was able to get out of bed and go to work this morning, where I frantically tried to catch up a project I missed before I was kicked out of my office for an event. Still have a bit of a headache, but at least it’s manageable, right?

Right.

Anyway, here’s my post. It’s a little pointless and has no deeper meaning, but at least I got to bitch about my weekend. Maybe next time I’ll have something meaningful to write about.

-EMS

 

I’m Never Prepared

Dude, I feel like I’m never prepared to write for SDoS. No matter how well I plan out my week, I always end up writing my post during my lunch break at work, struggling to brainstorm a topic in between my meetings and work projects. Logically, I know that if I just take a few hours to brainstorm and outline my thoughts, my SDoS posts would be so much better, but it’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to put a lot of effort into something when I’m not feeling particularly inspired.

I think that’s the root of my problem. I think I’m in the same place that you are, Daniel. I’ve run out of ideas and it’s hard to find more things to write about when all I do is work, crochet, and chill at home. I’ve written about all of those things. I need something new.

Earlier this week you asked me to teach you how to be inspired and I jokingly said you need to stand on your head and drink kombucha, neither of which I will willingly do. But the more I think about it, the more I like the analogy. Finding inspiration is like standing on your head and drinking kombucha: physically tasking and not appealing at all.

A lot of people seem to think that I’m a creative or inspired person, but in reality I rarely feel “inspired” anymore. Yes, I crochet and I write and I sometimes craft things, but in reality all of the things I create don’t magically appear, conjured by a flash of magic inspiration. In reality, I crochet things I see on Pinterest, write things based on parameters given to me by my boss or a writing prompt, and make things to fill a need in my life rather than to satisfy a whim.

My creativity isn’t spontaneous, romantic thing that sweeps me off my feet, it’s more like a task on a to do list that takes time and energy.

Inspiration is like standing on your head and drinking kombucha. You’ve got to take some time and get yourself into a headstand and then you have to force yourself to do something you really don’t want to do, like drink gross kombucha or write a bunch of garbage until something wonderful happens.

There’s a quote from Stephen King that always comes to mind when I finally force myself to sit down and write my SDoS post:  “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Sometimes I wish Stephen King could just follow me around, poking me with a ruler and reminding me over and over that if I want to write I just have to sit down and do it. Don’t loggy gag, don’t sit around and use the “I don’t have any ideas” excuse.

Obviously this post is more a reminder for me than it is for you, Daniel. You are a very inspired person and just listening to the way you talk about the blogs and your roleplaying campaigns, I know that you’re a way better writer than me. I really should be asking you to teach me to be inspired, not the other way around.

I guess I’ll end this post with another reminder to myself and any other writers out there on the internet who stumble upon this post. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is, what matters is you wrote something.

Writing is like going for a run. It doesn’t matter how fast you go or how long you run for, what matters is that you went for a run. Same goes for writing. I hated my last three SDoS posts and my last two WMR posts, but at least I sat down and wrote them.

-EMS