I'm Melissa. This is where I write things down and share new things. Sometimes I even post cute pictures of cats...
if you're looking for my portfolio,
it can be found here, or by clicking any of the links across the top of this page.
I just moved back to Ohio after living in the central valley of California for almost three years. People still mention that I'm all grown up and keep asking how being an adult is going, but I really don't know what they're referring to.
I'm officially a (self-proclaimed) curator -- OF GIFS. GIF CONNOISSEUR. Check it out. My GIF blog even made it to buzzfeed once.
ONE MORE CHECK OFF MY LIFELONG INTERNET TO-DO LIST.
Albums of note UPCOMING/2011/2010/2009
A list of albums from the year that had staying power. Not a top album list, because I haven't heard every album, so that just seems a bit silly to me -- the whole "of the year" thing... although I suppose in my own mind that's what they are...
a place where I keep things that are already memories and store things that are currently in my life that will inevitably become memories. Vague enough?
Vestiges of a Life Soon Forgotten
A photographic series devoted to images taken in and around my apartment where I lived for 3 years in college. I moved out for good in December 2009.
photobooth documentation of sketches i have done and/or found.
Monthly Self Portrait Series
This was a short-lived project that sometimes shows up without warning again on my feed, but definately cannot be considered an "on-going" thing.
My New California Life
What started as an essay series about my experiences living on the left coast turned into a general account of my life here -- through words, photos and other ephemera.
jef etters tips of the day
Jef Etters was a colleague of mine who gave me life tips on a daily basis via a telephone call from a rotary phone. I would then transcribe the tips and post them here for the benefit of all mankind. He didn't know what tumblr was (nor does he now), but he did want to share all his wisdom with the world. enjoy.
PLEASE NOTE: Jef did finally get free long-distance after 7pm EST and will occasionally call to give me tips to transcribe. Be on the look out, it'll change your life.
Funny and or poignant things I feel the need to share with the world via screen capture. This project carries on with the luck that the internet will continue to bring the lulz. I think the odds are in our favor.
Day 28: Email someone you admire but have never met
Day 29: Settle an outstanding argument
Have a conversation with someone 20 years younger or older
I decided that I didn’t have enough time to complete day 28 and 29 properly, but have plans to accomplish these tasks. I’ve had a hard time deciding who to email, especially when I can’t find the contact info for the person I am thinking of emailing. The outstanding argument settling will likely be done when I arrive in Ohio in November. I wanted to try and meet up with an old friend in Ohio in person and really hash some things out and get to a positive conclusion. We’ll see if my schedule and the other person’s schedule line up, but here’s hoping.
Day 30 fell on the first night of FUSE Fest. I was getting ready to head out on my bicycle to meet my friend Claire and just as I finished locking the door, a little boy and his mother were walking by with their tiny adorable dog. The little boy pulled his mom’s shirt and pointed at me. I asked him if he had a bicycle and he smiled and got really shy, hiding behind his mom. She laughed and told him to say hello. He peered around her and waved at me timidly. I told him to be good for his mommy and that I’d be sure to say hi next time I saw them. When I started riding away from the house, he yelled after me: “BYE BYES.”
I suppose I did a fairly good job with the challenges this month. In October, the challenges are based on getting healthy. They’re still daily and I’m going to try to keep up. I think I’ll only be posting weekly re-caps, but I hope some of you will consider taking part. The challenges are very simple, but make a big difference.
Call someone instead of texting or posting on facebook
Lend someone a book
Day 27: Introduce two people who don’t know each other
On Sunday we were meeting my aunt and family for brunch at a restaurant called Matchbox in Columbia Heights (DC). I’ve found over the years that much communication is misinterpreted via text message when it comes to my family, so I tend to make sure to call in as many instances as possible. Brunch planning was no exception. I’m sure I could have taken this challenge to a new place by going outside my comfort zone, but I find that in my current job I’m having to call people all the time and that’s something I’ve never really gotten comfortable with, but am getting there.
Day 26 would actually be a huge challenge for me. I think the only person I’ve lent books to in the last few years lives in the same house as me now, so I know I’ll see them again. I always had a problem when lending books, in that lending would always turn into giving. I don’t know why, but I’m kind of territorial about all my media: records, books, posters, dvds, etc. So I flipped this challenge around and made it into a challenge to finish the book Daniel had lent me for our trip. He finished almost 3 while we were traveling, and that motivated me to at least finish one.
He lent me The New York Regional Mormon Singles Dance by Elna Baker, and up until Monday, it’d been cracking me up with every page turn. I didn’t complete my challenge until the plane ride on Tuesday, but I was proud of myself. It’s a great read. If you’re in a rut, reading all kinds of drab non-fiction or historical prose, this could really break that spell for you. I highly recommend it. Elna is a gem.
As I just mentioned, on the 27th I was flying around in airplanes and at the Denver Airport all day. Needless to say, no introductions were made. I will attempt to make this happen over the next few days, which shouldn’t be hard since FUSE fest is coming up this Friday and Saturday.
Thank an old teacher
Go to a neighborhood business you’ve never been to
Thanking a teacher was something I was waiting to see on the challenge list. I’d read that in the description on the very first day and knew that would be something I’d love to do, and quite honestly should have done already. I decided to email Chris Ransom, a professor I had a Kent State my second semester as a Visual Communication Design major. His background in photography was very inspiring to me, and actually was one of the reasons why I looked into the possibility of double majoring, which lead to a school transfer the summer following my freshman year. I emailed and let him know he was one of the best teachers I had in my undergraduate career, and that I still have (and cherish) the two red tacks he gave me when I took his class. Red tacks from Chris Ransom were highly sought after accolades in the VCD program, and I have TWO.
Going to a neighborhood business I’d never been to was pretty easy, considering I was in a city I had only spent limited time in. Saturday my family was arriving from Ohio and Daniel and I went to meet them in Alexandria, Virgina. It was only a short metro ride to the station where we met up and proceeded toward a tiny diner I’d found on yelp called Jack’s Place. By tiny, I mean impossibly small. There was enough room for approximately 12 people to dine comfortably. Luckily another group was leaving when we arrived so there was enough room for our party of 5. We had a pretty awesome diner experience, if you ask me, having another customer pass us our plates when our orders were up and a regular pointing out the coffee creamer to us. Probably not a place my family would have chosen, but I felt like we were actually experiencing the community we were visiting, so I was very happy with my choice of breakfast place. Be warned, however: it’s cash only.
Leave a positive comment on a strangers blogDay 22: Ask for someone’s advice and take it
Day 21 took place on a little website called North Coast Zeitgeist. A guy named Joseph posts regularly to this site, and I’ve gotten to know him a little bit via twitter. He has a lot to say and I appreciate his work and inspirations equally. I let him know this by commenting on a recent post he made about a project by Nicole Meyer. I don’t know if he’s really necessarily a stranger, but I know we haven’t met in real life or ever had a conversation of more than 140-character back-and-forths taking place in the twittersphere.
Day 22 was today. I don’t usually update on these challenges day-of, but today was a bit different. When I finally looked to see what today’s challenge was, it almost made me laugh out loud. Today I took a trip to NPR to meet some of the people who work in the Digital Media Department, as well as the Communications (design) Department. I sat and talked with the Senior Interactive Designers for awhile and they were very friendly and eager to give me feedback on my questions. Both Max & Ben encouraged me to keep pursing things that I feel are important and to try and get within proximity to the jobs I would aspire to be working on. For example: try to be someone’s assistant or at least work on the same floor as the person who is doing work you would like to be doing. I am now in the process of rounding out my resume to apply for jobs that would be that exact scenario. It’s very exciting and I’m so happy I was able to make this kind of thing a part of my trip to DC.
I’m always happy to listen to the advice of friends and family, but when it’s coming from someone who does things that you appreciate as a consumer on an almost daily basis, it’s just so much more validating. I feel like I now know better what steps I need to take to have the kind of career I want for the long-term. It’s exciting, though it may be a few years off. It’s nice to have a road map, but even nicer to have a road map verified by the Rand McNally of the business. A special thanks to Alyson, Ben, Max, Betsy and Jennifer. (Should any of them ever see this, I very much appreciate all the time you took out of your day to talk with me and hope I will get to see you all again.)
Day 18: Cook Dinner for Someone
Send a friend 3 links they’ll loveDay 20: Give 3 Compliments
Day 18 didn’t really work out as planned. We were working on packing for our trip to DC at that point and I was hoping to make dinner for Daniel and I as well as a few friends to really make it an event. Perhaps the opportunity will come up when we return. I’m hoping to make diner for our friend Shannon who is watching our house for us while we’re gone.
Day 19 was really fun for me. I decided to send my former roommate some links because she’s working on her masters degree and I know she gets busy with school work. I also know she loves puppies, cupcakes and modern/installation art. I found her a link to adorable puppies, a link to specialty cupcake recipes and a link to one of my favorite art blogs. I really enjoyed giving her new options for procrastination (which is sometimes necessary and healthy) during her really hectic academic endeavor.
Day 20 ended up involving Jason and Cat, who we are staying with while in DC. I mostly made compliments about trivial things like their couch, Jason’s cool new shoes and Cat’s choice of blankets. They are wonderful and I am so glad we get to spend a week hanging out with them. It’s also Jason’s birthday today, and he’s one of my favorites, so you should probably go look at his blog and follow him.
Leave someone a thank you note
Teach someone something
For day 16, I strayed from the rules a bit and decided to just mail a thank you note to someone who always does things I appreciate. I sent it to my friend Mary Lou who lives in Kentucky. Mary Lou has known me since I was 14, and I wanted to thank her for helping me grow up to be who I am today. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized just how much of an impact a person can have on your life, regardless of how much time you get to spend with them. I’ve spent at least one week per year with Mary Lou since a fateful summer when I first attended camp over 10 years ago. My life has been shaped in many ways by the experiences I’ve had at camp and the people with whom I’ve shared those experiences.
So, she deserved hearing that I appreciate it on a random day in September. Mary Lou is pretty tech savy, so she just might end up seeing this somehow. I hope not before she gets my card though, because I just know she loves surprises.
On Day 17, I’ll be honest, I completely forgot to check the website to see the new challenge. I’d started feeling pretty sick and wasn’t really my normal self. By the time I did see it, I was so upset that I’d likely be sitting at home for the rest of the evening and hadn’t taught anyone a thing. Later in the evening I was texting back and forth with a friend from back in Ohio who kept sending me happy faces like this - :D
I know this friend has an iPhone and asked her if she had the emoticon keyboard for the iPhone and sent her back a little blushing happy face and a shooting star. She said “WUT??!” and I immediately pulled up the Emoji app in the app store and sent it to her. After about 15 minutes I got a giant text featuring hearts and fireworks surrounded by a multitude of little yellow happy faces followed by “YOU’RE THE BEST!”
I don’t know if I really taught her anything, but I shared something with someone. Does that count?
If you’re interested in participating in this challenge from #30DaysOfGood, find more information here.
Call someone you haven’t talked to in years.
Say Hi to three strangers.
Make something for someone.
My day 13 challenge got delayed. I attempted to call a friend from high school, but had a very difficult time tracking down his phone number. When the day had passed and I was unable to find any further leads on tracking him down, I decided to wait until Thursday to make a call to a company I used to work for on a day when I knew they would be working for 24 hours straight.
Thursday evening, around 8 pm pacific time, I called WhiteSpace Creative in Akron, Ohio. I used to intern there during my last semester of college. Every year they participate in Create-A-Thon, a 24 design marathon where they do a lot of work for local organizations and non-profits. It’s really amazing. They work hard, so I wanted to call them and say good luck and help lift their spirits at a late hour. It worked pretty well and I got to talk to a few of them… Maybe not entirely fitting of the challenge, since I talk to most of them regularly, but it was my second attempt so I feel like I still succeeded.
Day 14 was a little bit more difficult since I don’t usually see many folks in my day-to-day working from home. I decided, based on the challenge, I would make an effort in any errands I had to run to say hello to folks. The first person I ended up saying hello to was the woman pumping gas at the pump next to mine. She responded with a mere smile and nod. Then I said hello to a man who held the door for me as I walked into the pharmacy, he said “Hello, miss, how are you?” and I said “Just great, how about yourself?” He smiled and nodded and walked away. The third person I said hello to was waiting in line in front of me to check out. They just said “Hi” and then avoided eye contact. When did it become so strange for people to acknowledge each other in public?
Day 15 was simple. I worked on a project for someone that I’ve been meaning to finish. It’s a gift that I’ve been needing to finish for some time now and I’m still not completely done. I love making gifts for people whenever I can. I always appreciate when people take the time to hand write me a note, make me something or personalize gifts in some way. I wish I had more time to do things like this for people, but life gets busy…
If you’re interested in participating in this challenge from #30DaysOfGood, find more information here.
Day 11: Do something nice for a neighbor.
Give five high-fives.
I’ve been very busy the last few days. I’m preparing for a trip to the other side of the country, completed 5 photo shoots, worked on my internship and finalized stuff for a local music festival.
Long story short, I haven’t actually completed Day 11 yet, but I’ve got a plan for the morning and I will let you know how it goes.
I did get to give five high-fives on day 12 though, most of them to my friend Matt Gomes at the Avi Buffalo/Achievement House show at Fulton 55 while talking about Funk music. We even had a group high-five after a particularly intense discussion of the differences between Funk Rock and Funk Rock.
I also high-fived a very talented drummer from a Long Beach-based band as well as my bar tender. Don’t worry, I also gave the bar tender a tip and the drummer’s band sold a lot of merch, so I didn’t give high-fives in place of customarily monetary donations.
Video chat with a faraway friend.
Feed a homeless person.
Day 9 turned into an activity that occured on day 10. This is due to the fact that I’d decided it would be fun to video chat with a friend I’d made on Tumblr who I’d never spoken to (aside from on the internet). I decided to ask Shannon, a girl from Indiana who shares a lot of my interests. We ended up not being able to schedule our conversation until Saturday evening (after a re-schedule), but ended up having almost an hour long chat about our plans and what we’d been doing lately. I got to meet her two cats and she got to meet mine. It was really nice to get to know her a little better than I’ve been able to from just reading her blog. We even made tentative plans to meet up when I go back to Ohio at Thanksgiving.
Day 10 was a challenge I was looking forward to, and I knew exactly where I was going to go and what I wanted to do. After working all morning and being lucky enough to have been provided a delicious lunch, I headed North to the only Chick-fil-a in town. When I got off the highway, I looked closely at all the medians to see if a man I’d given all the change in my car to a few days before was there. He was. His name is Dave and when I gave him a few quarters and nickles more than a week before, we talked while I waited at the red light. He told me how he was trying to get enough for a spicy chicken sandwich (his favorite) at the Chick-fil-a across the street. He thanked me for my contribution as the light changed and offered a bible verse. He waved as I pulled away.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Dave for the next few days. When I knew this challenge was coming up, I wanted to try and get Dave his favorite sandwich. After I made it to the North side, and confirmed he was there, I headed to the parking lot. I walked inside only to realize there were many different ways people liked their chicken sandwiches, and hoped he wasn’t allergic to anything. I decided on the deluxe with a side of waffle fries, a lemonade and a slice of cheesecake. The person taking my order said what I’d just chosen was their favorite meal on the menu. I told her that it was the man standing in the intersection’s favorite sandwich and that I’d wanted to give him lunch that day. The woman paused and looked into my eyes and said, “You mean Dave?”
Apparently Dave eats at Chick-fil-a at least once a week when he can get enough money. Another employee told me that he always makes sure Dave gets some extra fries, even if he didn’t order any. They both agreed that he’s a pleasant man who likes to talk about his faith and never makes a fuss or leaves a mess when he visits the restaurant. I asked for a $10 gift card and put it in the bag as well. I took a few ketchup packets and napkins and headed out the door. The woman who had taken the order smiled and told me she wished more people would do such simple things then asked me to please come again.
I was planning to drive by and hand him the food out the window, but I had this overwhelming urge to walk up to him and deliver the bag of food and drink. He can’t be very old, maybe 45 or 50 with salt-and-pepper hair. His skin is dark and wrinkled, like he’d spent many years out working in the sun. Though it was hot, he wore a flannel shirt and jeans with work boots and a cap. I pushed the button for the cross walk and waited. Dave was focused on the cars approaching from the freeway exit as I stepped from the curb and into the street. I came up behind him and said “Excuse me, Dave?” He was visibly startled as he turned around. I handed him the lemonade first then he put down the cardboard sign he held to take the bag from me. He looked confused and asked “Do I know you?” I said no, but that I’d talked to him here last week and that I wanted to make sure he got his sandwich. He was quiet.
After a long pause, he simply said “God bless you, I appreciate this very much.” I told him to be careful and hurried back across the street before the light changed as he turned back toward the great heard of automobiles before him.
I’ve worked with homeless people before, and have found that most of the time when someone takes a moment to speak to them and look them in the face, it helps them feel like a person again. I’ve spoken to several homeless people who’ve told me they felt invisible and useless because no one even acknowledges them. It is uncomfortable, and sometimes frightening, but it’s necessary that we help our neighbors remember that they’re not second-class citizens because they’ve fallen on hard times. I feel this is a very important act and try to be friendly and giving as much as I possibly can.
This has been my favorite challenge so far. I think I’ll try and do things of this nature on a more regular basis.
Email a Twitter Pal
I decided to take this opportunity to let a fellow illustrator/designer know I appreciate all his work and his recent(ish) project “Freelance Ain’t Free.” My email wasn’t long, but I made sure it was longer than what I could have said in a tweet. I don’t know Mikey Burton personally (and even calling him “Mikey” seems strange given that fact), but I appreciate his work and think he should get to hear that every once in awhile. I don’t know if he’ll respond, but my only hope is that my message reached him and didn’t get bounced into the dark recesses of a spam folder somewhere.
When’s the last time you told someone you look up to thank you? Have you ever even thought about doing so? It’s so much easier than when I was a kid and had to hand-write a letter to Dr. Seuss then find his address and beg my mom to take me to the post office and buy me a stamp.
If you’re interested in participating in this challenge from #30DaysOfGood, find more information on day 8 here.
Buy a friend a gift for under $5.
This challenge could have been very simple, but I chose to make it something meaningful. I chose a friend who I admire greatly, but don’t get the opportunity to see that often. I decided I would purchase little things for her that she could potentially use regularly and that hopefully they would remind her that people love her. We all need those little reminders.
So I have the treasures, but I haven’t given them to her yet because, like I said: I don’t see her that often. There is a chance she could see this blog though, so I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I’m going to attempt to go out of my way to deliver it to her this month so I can show you more details. If that doesn’t happen, don’t worry: she’ll still be amazing if you ever meet her (or know her already) even though you won’t know that she’s the person I bought my gift under $5 for during the #30DaysofGood Challenge.
If you’re interested in participating in this challenge from #30DaysOfGood, find more information on day 7 here.