Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Things: Thanksgiving Edition

It is Thanksgiving Day. I am sitting in Sheldon's family's living room in Missouri. I love being here, even though I sometimes feel homesick for my own family. I feel that way because Sheldon's family reminds me a lot of my own family and makes me miss them even more. I want to devote today's Three Things to Things I Am Thankful For About Sheldon. That is a very long and unwieldy title. Oh well. My plan today is to look around the house for clues into Sheldon's personality and find three things that make me glad to be his girlfriend. I to devote some small part of Thanksgiving to some sort of reflection and since I am in Sheldon's home it seems appropriate to assess some things I am thankful for regarding it. 

1. Sheldon's family has tons of books. There are two bookshelves in the living room and several in each bedroom. Why am I thankful for this? Well, my family has always had tons of books too. As a young girl I determined that I would only feel happy marrying a man who valued books and reading as much as I do. Now, the books at Sheldon's house are not all his. Most of them are his father's collection. But it still tells me a lot about the type of culture Sheldon was raised in. Even the fact that my family has many of the same books. This morning I was going through the children's books and found one I have never seen before called Miss Rumphius. I pulled the book off the shelf and instantly recognised the illustration style as that of one of my favourite illustrators Barbara Cooney. I grew up in love with her books, especially one called Hattie and the Wild Waves which is about a young girl who grows up wanting to be an artist. Anyway, finding this book felt significant to me because it means that Sheldon grew up in a house where this author was read and beloved. 

2. Sheldon's family is lovely. Sheldon is the fifth of seven kids. He has two older brothers, two older sisters and two younger brothers. As of this Thanksgiving break I have met all of them. They are so fun to be with. Even though we grew up in totally different places (them in Missouri me in Illinois and Czech Republic) we still somehow share a wealth of common cultural references. That means that a lot of the jokes and throwbacks are sourced form things I am also familiar with. For instance in today alone I picked up on references to The Princess Bride, Flight of the Concords and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Click on each one to be directed to my favourite clip from each. Watch out. at least one has the "A" word in it and one has copious amounts of fake blood. The Flight of the Concords also has at least one "F" word).

All of these are things that I love. Similarly to the books Thing above, it seems that sharing a love of the same films or comedy troupes feels so good. It feels like being at home when you find the people who like the same things you do. It also feels good to be with his family, because of how they love one another. They show their love through lots of gentle teasing, warm hugs given by the grown grandchildren to their grandma and acts of service such as dishes being done without grumbling. It thrills me to be on the brink of becoming a part of such a family. 

3. Sheldon's creations are everywhere. Sheldon spent his entire childhood in this house. Their family bought it when he was born. So being here feels like being in The Time Machine of Sheldon's Life. Or maybe The Time Capsule of Sheldon's Life. This is because there are photos of him as a child on the stairs and chairs their family has had forever in the living room. In the closet are toys that he played with and some clothes he used to wear. But best of all there are a few Sheldon art works on display. Almost all of Sheldon's siblings make cool art things. He has a sister and a brother that are photographers. Another brother is an animator. Etc.

So there is a lot of high-caliber kid art around here. When I came for the first time last Thanksgiving I revelled in wandering around the house discovering which ones were made by Sheldon. The answer is that the extremely precise stipple drawing of nine bugs on the mantle is Sheldon's. So is the Fimo fairy on the bookshelf. In the bedroom the hollowed our gourds painted to look like Sumo wrestles were also made by Sheldon. This makes me so glad. Even before I met him he seems to have been the kind of person who says to himself, "I have an idea of how I could make this cool thing. I think I will." I love how this shows that Sheldon has always been someone who makes cool stuff. The randomness of the things that Sheldon made as a young person suggests that he both had a lot of free time as a kid, but also that he was always interested in creating something fun and unexpected.

PR Announcement 
(I realise that PR is probably not the exact terminology I am looking for, but...whatevs.)

I will be using stock photos today, this is because I need to got to bed soon and also if I used my own illustrations I would have to scan them. In order to scan the images I would have to climb over Sheldon's oldest sister Holly's head because she is sleeping on the floor of the room with the scanner. If she were my sister I would be like, "Hey Sis. I have to climb on top of you head now to scan some stuff. Deal with it." But given that I am not yet an actual family member I feel that I must still treat my relationships with Sheldon's family member with more delicacy. As a political gesture it would not be the greatest. The next morning Holly could wake up and announce, "Sheldon's girlfriend stepped on me in the middle of the night and didn't even apologise."

PR Announcement About the Above PR Announcement

Anyone who is reading this right now, has realised that the above announcement no longer applies. Sorry that you had to waste your time reading the lengthy announcement above. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Three Things: My New Job

I have a new job. I have not told you about it because it only became official last week. Are you ready to hear my new job? Yes? Are you sure you want to know? Ok...Here it is:
I am the new Graphic Illustrator for my college's newspaper The Wheaton Record
I know. "How perfect for Lucy Rose?!" Yeah. I am stoked. Wanna hear how this all came about? I will devote my Three Things piece for this week to telling you in three parts. My images for this week are three graphic pieces that I have created for the paper over the past few weeks. 

1. Part One: The Job Offer
So about six weeks ago I had some cool ideas for newspaper articles. I did some sketches of my ideas and eventually ran into the editor, Kirk*. I asked him to sit down and talk with me about my ideas. He  flipped through my sketches and seemed really interested. Finally he said, "Lucy Rose, the artwork you are making is really good. Would you like to be our Graphic Illustrator? We have never had one before but I would like to create a position at The Record specifically for you." I was so excited. I almost said yes on the spot, because it seemed like a job so specific to my talents. It combined illustration and innovation and it would look great on a resume. But I had to say no. 

2. Part Two: The Complications
"I am so sorry, Kirk. I cannot accept this offer, because I already have a five-days-a-week babysitting position. That would stop me from being able to come to the mandatory weekly meetings." Remember how I had that babysitting job, Readers? I wrote a lot about it over the past few weeks here, here, here and here. Kirk was like, "We could try to make it work some other way." We agreed to keep the dialogue open, but also pretty much agreed that it would be impossible. 

3. Part Three: The Acceptance
As soon as my babysitting was over I picked up my phone and called Kirk. I said, "Hey Kirk, guess what! My job situation has changed and I would love to work with you at The Record." So I accepted the job. I have been working with The Record for the past week. I am in love with my new job. I get to draw pictures to accompany articles and are then published in a campus wide paper. I love the process of brainstorming at our weekly meetings. I also love that the skills I developed in art school are becoming useful. I spent hours learning to use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and I finally see those gifts being useful and appreciated. I am actually one of the people on staff who knows the most about those programs. I have been helping teach other people how to do some things. As you know if you read this post I LOVE being an "expert". Honestly, though, who doesn't?

In conclusion: My losing my old job and gaining this new one speaks to me of God's provision. He allowed me to lose my job, but provided a new opportunity in the very same week. I would never have quit my old job, which means I never would have been able to accept a job at the paper. By getting fired it made room for me to be able to do something which a) plays to my artistic and creative strengths and b) will look great on a resume. 

Thanks for reading and celebrating this new chapter with me. Thanks also for being patient with my not posting for an entire week. I hate doing that, but things have been crazy with trying to figure out the balance of my new job. 

*Kirk is the son of my mother's college friend Elise. So I met Kirk Freshman year and my mom later told me who he was. His mom was actually in the Christian A Capella group my parents were apart of in college. So we have a strangely close connection. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Three Things: Moments of Rest in a Hard Patch

Photo Credit: Christopher Campbell

Dear Friends,
I have been an emotional mess today. It actually feels like I have been riding this roller coaster for the past four weeks. It started with my job loss, but it has also been a time of deepening my relationship with Sheldon. That has involved a series of difficult conversations late into the night. We don't get to see each other often, but it feels like when we do, one of us is in the middle of a some crisis, be it work drama, roommate stuff, school angst or spiritual confusion, or we have to wrestle through some kinks in our relationship together. We have been weary of spirit for a long time. Today I felt particularly easy to bruise. Do you know that feeling? Little critical comments from your friends, which on a normal day would have rolled right off your back, somehow stick into you like little darts. It is as though the thick, protective coat you usually put on when you leave the house was replaced by one of those disposable ponchos you buy when it rains at a sporting event--not very helpful and easy to puncture. That was my day today: full of darts. But I also feel like there were some patches within my day in which I got rest from the darts. The Lord provided moments in which He covered me with a force field and I was able to rest for a while. My Three Things Series for today will be a brief description of some of those force field moments. 

Photo Credit: Jens Lelie

1. The first one was in my Shakespeare class. We watched a film of the David Tennant Hamlet for the whole two hours. The reason that my professor gave us this break from our usual schedule of discussion and analysis was because he has recently lost a dear friend. The loss of his friend, who was also a fellow professor, means that not only he, but also many at our school are in profound mourning and find it difficult to carry on as usual. So he played a film. All seven of us in the Shakespeare seminar sat together and immersed ourselves in the fantastic production. We laughed at Polonius, played by Oliver Ford Davies and felt deep, confusing feelings with Hamlet. It was somehow the perfect thing to do on this blustering, wretched day: sit in a dark room and watch this cathartic, dark play. It was lovely.

Photo credit: Lechon Kirb

2. The second moment of respite was dinner. I met Sheldon's younger brother, who also goes to Wheaton,  and chatted with him for a few minutes. Talking with Dylan always feels like talking to one of my brothers. His sense of humour and his wacky ideas remind me of the kinds of conversations I have with my own brothers. This evening Dylan told me of his idea for a restaurant in space which could have seating on multiple different gravitational fields. You could have seating on the ceiling, floor and walls but each person would feel like his ground was the real ground. Anyway, do you see why I feel at home talking with Dylan? He is an odd duck and I love it.

Photo Credit: Fred Viljoen

3. The third one was going to Target with my roommate, Sara. We needed eggs and milk, but you know how it is to enter Target: you can never come out without many, many things. In fact another way that Dylan impresses me is that one time he said, "Can we stop at Target so I can buy a notebook?" I purposefully left my wallet in the car so I wouldn't be tempted to purchase anything. But Dylan, who had his wallet with him, walked into Target and only bought one thing. I repeat: Dylan walked into a Target for the goal of buying one thing and he only walked out with one thing. Wow. Wow. Is that crazy to anyone else besides me? Anyway, back to my story...Sara and I helped each other pick out lipstick colours, choose a brand of sugar that we both like (that is me being a little sarcastic, because there were only two brands and we chose the cheapest) and helped each other lift the huge package of toilet paper we have urgently needed to buy since we have been using Kleenexes to wipe for a whole week.

Lucy Rose: Is that TMI?
Lucy Rose's Blog Readers: Um. Yes. Quit it.
LR: Sorry, Guys. Apparently my filtering system is a little out of wack tonight.
LRBR: That's OK. Just go to bed.
LR: Ok. As soon as I finish this post...

In conclusion, each of these events helped to sooth my harrowed bosom whether by letting me emerge myself in a fabulous piece of drama, enjoy a conversation with someone who feels like family or wandering through Target buying "necessities" with a close friend.

PS: You will notice that I have used stock images for this post, rather than my own drawings or photos. The reason is because although I usually love to produce my own work, I need to lean on other people tonight, for time's sake. I just need to go to bed. So I chose images that I felt expressed my mood this week. Thanks for understanding, Lucy Rose's Blog Readers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to Get Unplugged

Last week in my Media Studies class my professor showed us a video by Essena O'NeillThe video is of her sitting on a sofa speaking into the camera and telling the viewer about how she decided to disconnect from social media. She used to get paid to wear a dress from a fashion company, take gorgeous photos of herself wearing the dress and then post it on Instagram. Social media was her life.  She said that she measured her value in the number of likes each post received. Then she had a breakthrough. She realised that her whole life was fake. Her "candid" photos were not candid at all, but carefully calculated and manipulated until she achieved the perfect pout. She felt as though she were living a fake life so she disconnected her YouTube channel and her Instagram account. "I am free," she said in the video. That is amazing, but is "unplugging" really that liberating?

She wants to get away from social media, yet the format which she uses to talk about all of this is a video which she posts online. My class discussed this irony at great length. We sat through the entire twelve minute video, because our professor thought it was hugely significant. Essena is telling us how she wants to disconnect from these all-consuming media outlets via a online video! She wants to break free, yet she still gets super excited when Elle Magazine emails her and when thousands of people responded to her confessional video. Our question is, "Has she truly disconnected even though she is just as big as she was when she was a model?"

Some people were on her side: "She is using the tools that she knows how to use, namely video-making, to tell a broader audience about her breakthrough. She is contradicting herself, because she knows that this is the only way people will listen."

Other people were a little more skeptical: "She tells us that she is not wearing make-up and that this video is totally candid, yet she is falling out of her sexy top and the background is pristine. What about this  is supposed to make us believe that she really has no interest in being fake?"These people were annoyed that Essena didn't go far enough with her plan. They wanted her to drop off the face of the internet entirely. "If she were really serious about this scheme of unplugging she would just drop off the face of the internet entirely."

My thoughts about Essena? I think she is sincere. She is a beautiful girl who would look stunning no matter what she did or didn't do with her body. By switching over to a website instead of social networking she will have more control over her content and be able to share her profound thoughts. I visited her site and thought it was full of interesting content. But my dream would be for her to get off the internet entirely for a year and write a book about it. It would be an awesome book, because she is a young lady who is already capable of speaking into the lives of many people. She already has a captive audience.

So what about us? Should we unplug? I thought about that while sitting in class watching Essena's video. Should I delete my Instagram and Facebook? Should I throw my smartphone onto the train tracks behind my apartment? Do I define my worth through a number of "likes" as opposed to my actual values like my mind, my kindness or my status as a human created by God?

I fall into doing that, yes. I confess that I am addicted to checking the stats right here on my blog. I check them all the time to see how many readers I have. If I don't get a certain number then I feel my heart drop a little. Even though I have good intentions of growing this blog into something of worth that many people read, I am too focused on numbers rather than just making good posts. My focus should be on doing my best rather than becoming "successful" in a numerical sense.

In order to help me do this I started fasting from checking my stats every Sunday. From 3 AM to 3 AM on Sunday I do not let myself look at them. It helps me to have greater peace during the day. I would recommend incorporating something like this into your week. Create space in which you do not have to check a device every ten minutes. Do it for and hour or a day. Read. Walk. Sit. Think. Unplug.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why You Should Get Rid of Netflix

I cancelled my Netflix account this morning. I have had one for the past two and a half years. One of my former roommates allowed a few friends to create profiles on her Netflix account so that we could watch for free. I have enjoyed the luxury fully. But today I thought I should end it. 


Well, I have been upset recently that I do not read as much or as well since I got to American college. I thought it might be the fact that now I am required to read books for school, but lately I have begun questioning other potential factors. I think that having a place where I can watch unlimited television and films is dangerous and severely compromises my drive to read and my ability to concentrate. 

It has only been one day, but I think I can already see the difference. When I had NEtflix it was always a temptation to turn on episodes of How I Met Your Mother as a reward for a long day and a wind-down technique. I don't think that that is wrong at all, but once you have it going it is so hard to wrench yourself out of television watching mode and get back into reading mode. I was also talking with a friend and we thought that the mere knowledge that Netflix is an option can be distracting. Whatever you find yourself doing you can always think in the back of your mind, "I could be watching Netflix instead of doing this..."

I think that without Netflix watching Television and films will not be impossible, but I will have to be a lot more intentional and therefore driven to do so. I still have a disc drive from which I can play DVDs and my family often buys films on our iTunes account.

My hope from this experiment is that I will return to being someone who really finds pleasure from reading. I want to be less plugged into a screen and more attuned to the things going on around me.

In conclusion, if you have Netflix I do not judge you. I love Netflix. It has a wealth of fun and inspiring things available. But I did find that it was hard for me to be a good student or artist when I had access to it.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Manage Museum Overload II

Today Sheldon and a friend named Summer and I went to The Art Institute. We got on a train in the late morning and arrived there at 1:30 PM. I was feeling very tired today, but it was lovely to be with these two people. The manner in which we perused the exhibits also helped me to manage my fatigue. I often experience extreme fatigue before my period. If you are a brave soul and would like to read more about my take on PMS click here, herehere or here. Our system of managing the hugeness of the museum made the experience fun and not too overwhelming. It was a lovely afternoon. All of these pictures are ones that I drew at the museum as we were looking. Read this post to find out how and why I make them. 

Our first strategy was to talk ahead of time about what each person wanted to see most. Summer wanted to see Impressionists and European artists. Sheldon wanted to see Japanese prints and I wanted to see the art of School of the Art Institute Alumni. This helped us to focus on a few key exhibits rather than floundering around waiting to be inspired by something. It helped us to focus our limited time before our train and to not waste precious energy.

Our second strategy was to plan a coffee break in the middle of the time. Sheldon told us that he likes to go to the museum cafe and have a cup of coffee and then return to browsing. This helped us to break the time of standing and looking in half. When our energy was flagging we knew that it was time to make out way to the cafe. We found three seats even though it was packed and were able to sit down and chat for a long while. This was one of my favourite parts of the day, because we had fun getting to know one another a little better. I also used my black Sharpie to draw a fake tattoo on Sheldon's neck. He walked around in his suit jacket and collared shirt and a neck tattoo for the rest of the day. He said it was an interesting social experiment because people kept staring at his neck. I thought it looked great. The rest of his appearance is so formal and clean-cut, but the neck-tattoo added just the right amount of rebellion. It felt like I was dating a cool former motorcycle gang member gone square. I also used the time at the cafe to draw the sketch of Summer at the beginning of this post.

The final method we employed for not getting Museum Overload was to sit down. Standing around looking at things can take it out of you, even though it sounds like it shouldn't. But I would get very tired suddenly. Instead of just managing it and carrying on I told Summer and Sheldon which bench I would be on and that when they were through looking at the exhibit they should come find me. This helped, because it did not stop either of them from browsing and it helped me to manage my fatigue. I  didn't feel like I was missing out on paintings I rather felt like I was gathering energy in order to better enjoy the next ones I would get to see.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Three Things: Notebooks

Today was the last day. I will never go back to my babysitting job. It has been a month of hardnesses relating to the closure of this job, but now it is over. I described the experience of riding my bicycle away from the house to my roommates as an emotional roller-coaster compressed into a ten minute ride. My first thought was to tell myself to stand tall and look confident as I walked past the windows of their house, in case they watched me leave for the last time. My second thought was, "Whew, this month of stress is over." My third thought was, "I spent over a year investing into the lives of three boys whom I will likely never see again." 

I told you in this post that I wasn't ready to talk about the details of my getting fired. I still won't go into minute detail but I will say this: I made two major organisational mistakes in the space of three days. Neither of the mistakes in and of themselves would have been that big a deal if a) they had not been made so close together and b) if they had not caused the mother severe worry. No children were injured or abused, it was just two foolish, forgetful mistakes on my part.

The strange thing is this: Up until this one week I had never made any such mistakes. My track record was great. I had been afraid of making these mistakes the whole time, but the Lord somehow always protected me from my own tendency of forgetfulness and losing things. But this month He allowed the floodgates to open.

In this other post I talked about the ways this has brought me closer to knowing God. It has been a heart-rending experience to leave, but it has also felt right. I never would have quit this job on my own, even though it was taking up a huge chuck of my study-time. I would never have quite even though I wasn't doing anything that ostensibly involved my art-skills or my teaching skills (I did attempt to incorporate them into the job as I talked about here). Although it has been one of the most prolonged and painful things I think that this opens up time and space for me to seek out drawing and story-telling opportunities.

What are my Three Things for today? They are the three single-folio notebooks I made for each of the boys I babysat. I skipped a class today (Shh! Don't tell!) in order to make them. I ran home at 2:00 PM and sat at my desk. For a solid hour I folded, measured, cut and drew. By exactly 2:55 PM I had finished. The end product was a simple, blank book with a drawing of each boy's favourite video-game character or pet. The photos I took of the books are very bad, because I was rushing to get to the job on time. The boys loved them. They were sweet and kind in their goodbyes. I presented one to each and told them some things that I see as valuable in their characters.




When I got home from my roller-coaster bike ride all three of my roommates were gathered and ready to offer hugs and listen to everything. Leya had left a note and a small gift for me on my desk. It was a tiny plastic Minecraft figurine in order to remind me of playing Minecraft with the boys. All four of us got dinner together and it felt like a celebration of a job well done, which is finally concluded.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Learning to Love Hamlet

 We are reading Hamlet in my Shakespeare class. My first exposure to Hamlet was seeing a production put on by a troupe of travelling players at an inner city school in Chicago. My dad was student teaching at the school and so over the weekend he brought us to see the production that was being put on for the students.

My second exposure to Hamlet was when my dad was the sixth grade homeroom teacher for my older brother Patrick. My dad directed three adaptations of Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet. Patrick was cast as Hamlet. (For those of you who are worried that my dad was playing favourites, please rest assured than whenever my siblings and I auditioned for production in which our father had directorial influence he always removed himself from the room during our auditions so that he would not be biased.)

My second exposure to Hamlet was when my dad was the sixth grade homeroom teacher for my older brother Patrick. My dad directed three adaptations of Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet. Patrick wasssured than whenever my siblings and I auditioned for production in which our father had directorial influence he always removed himself from the room during our auditions so that he would not be biased.)

Patrick at age 12 was a stunning Hamlet. Yes, he was a foot shorter than Ophelia, but he was brooding and tortured. He delivered his lines with passion and skilled diction. I remember walking up to him after the performance and feeling strange about talking to the man who had played Hamlet. At age 9 I had trouble separating what was my brother and what was the role he was playing. I thought it was odd how from my seat his eyes had looked normal but up close his eye makeup made him look like an Egyptian pharaoh.

On account of Patrick's having to memorise Hamlet's To Be or Not to Be soliloquy my younger brother, Paul Hugh age 6, and I also had the speech pretty much down. We went around exclaiming over the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune".

A couple of weeks ago Sheldon and I went to see Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the cinema. The show had been live recorded in London and was then broadcast to cinemas around the world. It was an odd way to experience a play. During the intermission the camera was set on the London audience. Sheldon and I sat in our cinema seats and watch one Londoner who appeared to be entirely unimpressed with the goings on. She was in a fleece jacket and spent the entire intermission texting. Sheldon and I had dressed quite nicely, even just to watch the broadcast from thousands of miles away!

So why am I talking about Hamlet today? I guess it is because I have been relating to him a little bit lately. I feel as though I am trapped in a work situation in which I have very little recourse and therefore must internalise and soliloquise. Hamlet gets to soliloquise to an audience of playgoers while I get to soliloquise to you all here on my blog. I have really felt the catharsis of the play in this week of reading Hamlet. My "slings and arrows" are much less dramatic, in fact they are quite hum-drum, but reading the way that Hamlet processes his afflictions aids me in processing my own. I am currently in love with the line in which he says:

"Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! (1.2.129-130)

I know how it feels to wish that you could melt away. How much easier would life be if you were a puddle instead of a human being?! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

When You Need a Change

Sometimes I get restless and need a change. That could be a change like taking a different route to class or wearing a colour of nail-polish which is outside my usual colour preferences (for instance I am typing this with metallic, purple-tipped fingers). Recently I have needed to change where I sleep. I have been sleeping on the college-issued sofa in my college apartment. "Lucy Rose, wouldn't you be more comfortable on your college-issued bunk bed?" Yes. But I need a change. 

I have been kinda vague about some of the things that have been hard for me in the past few weeks, but I think I have shared that I have beens struggling. The main thing is work. I have one more week at my job, but each day feels like an eternity.

I wake up in the morning and the first thing in my mind, "I have to go to work today. Bleeeerg." Isn't that horrible? Especially since there are so many good things in my life. I wish this work did not overshadow everything else in my life, but it does.

That is why I have taken to sleeping on the couch. It helps me to wake up in the morning if I am in a different spot. The lighting in the living room is different. I face the sun immediately upon opening my eyes. I go to sleep with the sound of the trains through the open window. Waking up there feels somehow different from waking up in the room I share with Leya.

The change helps me to deal with mornings a little better. I have other "antidotes" to mornings. I have written about some of them before like coffee or prunes. These are things that help me feel happy about being awake and starting a day, even if that day is leading up to something that I am dreading.