Our house is Ugly

My parent’s house was built in 1973. Only recently has it dawned on me what this means.

Our house is ugly. Everything is wallpapered and carpeted (my bathroom is carpeted) mostly in beige and tan. The non-beige-y wallpapers are multicoloured clusters of tacky pastel patterns. The patterns don’t even match a  colour scheme from room to room. Oh, and my room is painted seafoam green which I’m sure was a lovely shade forty years ago but has faded somewhat and now it’s more of a Dead Sea-foam green. It’s a pretty easy colour to ignore though- you can just pretend it’s beige and get on with life.

The pastel wallpapers are pretty easy to ignore too until you hang anything on the wall or look too closely at the patterns. Move in too close to plug something into an outlet and -bam- your eyes are assaulted by the patterns, now up-close-and-personal and within prime eye-burning distance. Pastels are usually pretty calming, until they start getting together and looking like the milk left behind after a bowl of Froot Loops, which is then splattered all over your house about a million times until everything is covered in it. It’s “abstract”. It’s “vintage”. It’s ugly.

Now I have to be thankful that at least nothing is that nasty yellow, orange and brown combo that the designers of the 70’s seemed to love so much. Then again, this wallpaper may have been re-done in the 80’s when the people we bought it from moved in. Even back in the 80’s the couple would have been in their late 50s, so maybe they redid everything in calming colours (might also explain why everything except the kitchen and the garage is carpeted). If that’s the case, I’m afraid of what it might have looked like before they redid it.

They did do a few nice things with the place though. The sunroom we now have was, I believe, originally a screened porch and is now a fully indoor room with lots of windows and skylights. It’s probably the most open room in the house and serves mostly as a foyer since we use the side door as our main door (the “front” door is hard to open). I can’t remember anything else they did that didn’t eventually break…but I’m sure they did something. Nice folks.

If I had to give the house a style I’d call it country cottage with an 80’s renovation. All of the appliances (save the fridge we just replaced) are late 80’s era stuff. We have things like an intercom system, which doesn’t work and is no longer supported by whatever company makes them, which is also our doorbell/fire alarm/security system. There’s a gasfire place (converted from wood at some point) which we can’t use because it’s collapsing on the inside and a nice porch which has fallen into a state of disrepair due to a bunch of thistle trying to break into our house.

But I’m falling into the negative again. There are many features of the house that thankfully work just fine. The windows have screens, the screen door (and attached cat door) work, and during the winter we have replacement double-paned glass for the screen door. The heat and air work almost 99% of the time and we rarely lose power, even in the worst of weather conditions. It’s a big house, so there’s plenty of room for the cats to stalk around and be cats, but it’s not so big that a weekly cleaning is a huge chore. Most of it is vacuuming and dusting high shelves where cats don’t dust for us. My father insists that my mother and I don’t vacuum efficiently enough, so that chore is his alone. Most of the time I dust so my allergy-prone mother doesn’t have to.

All of this being said, the house is old and ugly and I hate it but I do appreciate having a roof to live under and a family to live with. Living here makes me feel tired, but at least I can sleep safely.

I am stuck on the 50’s!

With the arrival of games such as Fallout3 and L.A.Noire to my boyfriend’s PS3 (and the advent of TF2’s rise in popularity because it’s free-to-play), I have been really stuck on 50’s culture lately. I checked out several books from the library in the hopes of becoming inspired for a story rewrite I would like to do, but discovered that the era wasn’t really apropos to what I wanted (more on that later-perhaps). Instead I was left with tons of books depicting a romanticized world that I’m sure it would have been awful to live through but just looks so damn cool.

But what is it about the era that’s got me so excited? I could think of lots of reasons:

  1. Beautiful colour schemes– the 50’s adored turquoise
  2. The almost comically “futuristic” furniture. Chrome = yes
  3. Seemingly infallible family values (it’s a beautiful lie!)
  4. The positive attitude everything seems to take on
  5. Do-it-yourself mantras that make me feel like working on things
  6. Creative advertising- straight out lies, but with a smile!
  7. Catchy music (not my favourite era, but still good)
  8. Preppy fashions– oh, I want to dress like the ladies from the sexist ads!
Despite making my list and puzzling over which of these things really appeals to me the most, I still don’t know what it is! I guess I’m going through a phase- having a fling with a snappily dressed decade long-past. I just can’t help it though; this techie just wants to go vintage!
(but not post-50’s vintage– all form of taste and style disappeared after 1959)

The 70’s seen from the perspective of a child of the 90’s

When I think about the 70’s the word that comes to mind is “overbaked”. Everything is sort of yellow-ish (because they didn’t use acid-proof paper to store their photos on) and gross and there’s too many patterns everywhere. I start to think of it like this:

So, you have a tupperware– one of the old kind, from like the 50’s– and it’s got leftovers in it that you are fairly sure are still edible. Well, they’ve been back there a while, but you decide to microwave it first and then make up your mind on whether you can eat it. So, you pop the tupper in the microwave and hit the buttons to make it go.

Then you stand there watching the thing go ’round and ’round in circles, bathed in that same icky yellow light that you’re used to seeing everywhere. And you start to notice that the tupperware appears to be melting slightly- but that’s okay it’s old and you can throw it out later. Except as you watch your future meal turning, you notice movement. Yes, there’s definitely movement- the leftovers are moving. The food is boiling.

And that’s when you realize that the food isn’t boiling- it’s the tupperware that’s boiling and the melting plastic bubbles are causing the food to jerk around like it’s alive- and that’s when you decide that you should have something else for dinner. You stop the microwave, gingerly handle the remains of the melting tupperware and, unable to free it from the glass plate, pitch the whole thing into the trash because that’s just disgusting and it’s totally overbaked.

For good measure, you toss the microwave too because obviously this thing is too old to cook food properly. After all, it’s from the 70’s.

Some Thoughts on the Future

If I fail at Digital Storytelling the way I failed at Web Design, what do I have left to fall back on?

What else am I good at?

I picked web design because I’m semi-good at it and I thought that by getting better I could achieve a somewhat-workable balance between doing web design for a career and character design/concept work as a hobby. But then I discovered that the idea of doing web design forever was just depressing because I couldn’t put myself into it 100% and I’m the kind of person that has trouble doing anything if I can’t be passionate about it. So I decided that if I wanted to be 100% passionate about my career I had to pick what I was most interested in. Concept work, character design, storytelling- whatever you want to call it. I never liked the idea of doing what I love as a career, but I like the idea of doing something I hate even less.

But in the event that I suddenly become totally unable to do what I love- well, then what do I do? It’s a pretty depressing thought. I’m not really skilled in much of anything else. My creative abilities have been helping me stumble through every aspect of academia (which is why I’m terrible at almost every aspect of both Mathematics and Science). So, if one day it’s just -poof!- no more creativity, what on earth will I do?

Well, I thought about it long and hard and firmly decided that creativity doesn’t just go -poof!- so I’m safe on that front, but instead what goes -poof!- is something more along the lines of confidence in one’s own abilities. Now, I don’t have much of that to begin with, but I’m going to work harder to improve my own artistic self confidence so I can avoid that -poof!- and get on with life. I’m not really sure how to go about this, but I’m sure that it’s one of those learning experiences that after I’m finished I go “oh, I see what I learned there”.

As a Girl Scout of thirteen years I learned two things that have stuck with me for life: “always be prepared” and “use your resources wisely”. As cliche and overused as these statements have become I stand by them and apply them to every life situation, including my future career goals. I’ve found that as a university student I have resources available to me out the wazoo. Seriously, is there anything that you can’t get help with on campus? I doubt it. As a New Media student I’ve found that there is no greater fountain of resource knowledge than your own academic adviser. At the advice of my adviser (amazing how that works, isn’t it!) I decided to take on a minor in Marketing. DUN-DUN-DUN. Scary, I know.

At this point I want to take a quick break away from what I’m going to do and give you a into what I might have done, if circumstances had been different. I will share with you my secret love for…interior decorating. DUN-DUN-DUN. Oh, wait, sorry- that’s not really appropriate in this case. Well, in short if all other creative things in my life fail me I will probably become an interior decorator. Why? Well, I like colors and customizing things and I like to set a mood using aesthetic principles, so why not? The only reason why I haven’t gone crazy decorating my own room is because I’m too poor to afford to redo it and too lazy to get off my butt and do it in the first place. But I still love to decorate things in any way I can. My grandmother is an interior decorator and I actually picked up a lot of useful knowledge while staying at her superbly decorated condo, when I lived back in California. As it is, I already miss IKEA…maybe I should just move to my fatherland (Sweden, not Ireland) and I’ll be content.

Returning to my original topic, I am in fact not in California or Sweden but Indianapolis, Indiana, which I still haven’t decided whether I sort of like or just hate with a passion. I think the only part of Indy that I enjoy is school…so I think that pretty much sums it up right there. Once I’m out of IUPUI I’m outta’ here, no question. The real question is outta’ here to where? I have no long term goals in that category because I’m the type of person who prefers to float along with the current rather than fight it. Maybe I’ll move back to Texas or California; maybe I’ll set out for Oregon or Seattle; maybe I’ll just forget the USA and move to Denmark or Finland, who knows? Not me, that’s for sure. But for now, Indianapolis. IUPUI. School…Oh god, school…

Sorry I can’t work chronologically at all…maybe I should go back and put things in order?

…Nah.

The Paintbrush versus the Toolbar

This will be a short little ramble on how I feel about the separation of Art and Technology within my own major and the world in general. From this short piece of prose I hope to get some inspiration on two things:  One, the topic for my History and Theory of Digital Media paper;  Two, the themes I want to include in my next big composition “ART =/= TECH“.

To begin with, the first thing that always comes to mind when I discuss art and technology is the difference between digital art and what is now referred to as “traditional” art. Traditional art meaning that the medium chosen by the artist is something tangible and not digital and digital art meaning any form of art where a computer aided in the process. I have gotten into a bad habit of saying specifically that I am a Digital Designer, when in fact I do my designs in all sorts of media from pen and ink to Photoshop and Illustrator. That’s not to say that a large amount of my production time is not spent on the digital “side” of things, but it does mean that I don’t do everything on that “side”. I usually do most if not all of my planning and sketching on regular paper with a regular pencil or pen. I also do quite a lot of my writing on paper, even though I can type much more quickly and efficiently than I can write. The reason for this most likely lies in my own personal comfort zones.

Even though I have been using Photoshop for almost a decade now, I still feel the most comfortable with a pencil in my hand and a paper on the table than I could ever feel with a tablet pen and a screen. I love the effects of digital production and the fact that the limitations are almost entirely based in your own artistic limitations and not the limitations of the media itself. Still, for me this seems like a second step not a first step, in the process. “Traditional” media flows much more freely and quickly than digital media, without a doubt; so when those first little bits of inspiration shoot through my head I am always in a rush to get them down as quickly and clearly as possible. It’s usually a messy tangle of scribbles and mistakes, but that’s all it takes for that initial idea to come to life. I’m sure many artists feel the same way- at least, I assume that they do. Because we all started out with crayons on construction paper- nothing fancy- where you go from there depends completely on your interests and passions. I grew to love digital art from the first time I used M.S.Paint. Some people could never imagine completing a whole illustration on a computer screen.

There is another comfort-zone factor that I think exists within this debate between digital and “traditional” art and that is the tangibility, or lack-thereof. I can think of at least three friends who would never trust three or four hours worth of work on a piece to their computer’s hard drive. Being in complete control of where your work is at all times is definitely a comfort issue. If you’re more of a techie like me, then you may have some trouble getting through your head that someone would not trust their own computer to save information for them; especially since that is technically what is was designed to do in the first place. But there are some people who would rather risk carrying around their work in a plastic sleeve than ever save it to a hard drive and leave it there. Maybe it’s the idea that what you are creating on a computer screen is not really there, but just a representation of what could be there. What you are really creating when you open a new document in Photoshop and start slapping down paint strokes is a series of zeroes and ones that just happened to be arranged and aligned in such a way that they display exactly what you want on the screen. From you- the Photoshopper’s- point of view, you’re just creating the way anyone would. Step by step, working with different materials and producing different effects, but what’s there isn’t really there. It’s never really there until you make a physical copy of it, at which point it becomes tangible and therefore we once again gain total control over it’s existence. (This is probably why some professors feel more comfortable asking for “hard copies” of work than requesting it only sent through the OnCourse sharing site.)

I feel like I should be saying something far more enlightening, but this is all I have to work with for now. I think, as far as rambles go, this one is a pretty good start. I’ll need to do more in-depth research to gain more knowledge and opinions on these things though. For now, the ramble is a ramble.