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happy birthday

i haven’t told you the birthday story yet. this story is from the middle of april and explains why, when my my fellow employees and i are experiencing a particularly high level of frustration or chaos we will look at each other and sarcastically exclaim, “happy birthday !”

during the middle of april, the thirteenth to be exact, two of the four people that i work with were going to be out of town for five days. the two people leaving were my manager and assistant manager. they were leaving for arizona for one of the biannual manager retreats that our company holds. this meant that me and my coworker nick were to be in charge of the store. he and i had only so much authoritative power since we were both, at the time, considered to be just clerks. when the managers go away to a retreat it is understood that they will be hard to contact in case of emergency since they are busy 90% of the time and much of that time is spent talking to the big wigs from corporate (who are actually all very cool people) and cell phones are likely to be off or silenced at almost all times. that said, we have seventeen stores nationwide and in the case of an emergency, we have sixteen other stores we could call for help if need be.

now, running an art store is no easy task when the manager or assistant manager is around, but between nick and i we both felt confident that we could handle any curve balls that were thrown our way. and to be honest ? aside from keeping the store running smoothly, the customers happy, and making money – nick and myself just wanted to make sure that the real basics were covered. as in, don’t set the store on fire, try not to get robbed, avoid serious injuries, and pray that no natural disasters hit during the five days that the boss ladies were out of town. it was just five days, how hard could it be to keep our ship from sinking ?

the first day was a wednesday. the store was opened on time, we made some good money, and everything went as it should. i like to consider that particular wednesday, april thirteenth, to be the calm before the storm.

on thursday morning i woke up around 7:30am to start getting ready for work to arrive at around 8:30 so that i could be ready to open the doors by 9:00. it just so happened that that was also nick’s birthday. he was scheduled to come in at 10:30 and i was prepared to get balloons and a card before work from safeway so that he’d have a little fun on his birthday at work.

at 7:45am with a bare right foot, i stepped on a glass pipe. it wasn’t mine, but i guess that doesn’t really matter. all that matters is that i stepped smack in the middle of a twelve inch glass pipe. it promptly snapped when i’d applied my full weight on it. the pipe itself was a dark color, as was the rug that it was sitting on – which was why i didn’t see it in the first place. not to mention the fact that i was a little sleepy eyed and i am also a professional klutz. i run into things all the time, but in my defense this was the first time i’d ever snapped a glass pipe in half with my foot.

when you step on a glass pipe and hear a loud POP! you may think that a serious amount of blood and pain will be involved – and it is – but not if the gash is well plugged. i’d managed to slice open the bottom and side of my foot, so i actually couldn’t really see the damage. i stopped dead in my tracks, looked at the floor, realized it was the pipe i’d stepped on, and promptly sat down on the couch that was directly next to me. i saw no blood and felt little pain, so i figured i was lucky. it was at that point that i twisted my foot just so so that i could get a better look. sure enough, there was a large shard of glass in my foot. without a second thought, i pulled the piece of glass out because really ? who wants to walk around with a piece of glass in their foot ? at the time, i immediately remembered the tale of the little dutch boy who stuck his finger into a dyke when he noticed a leak on his way to school. however, unlike the little dutch boy who kept his finger in the dyke and heroically saved his town from flooding, i removed the shard of glass from my foot and a river of blood began to flow from my foot which was now, by this time, feeling pretty darn sore.

a small pool of blood formed on the carpet and i pulled a small trash can under my foot so that i at least had a receptacle to contain the obscene amount of blood gushing from my foot. it was at this point that i called to the person who was with me (who had heard the POP! and asked if i was ok – to which i had first replied, “yeah, i’m fine”) and told him that he’d better come help me out. he saw the damage, gasped, exclaimed he saw bone (and so did i), and ran to his bathroom to retrieve gauze pads, a cotton bandage, and an ace bandage. i have to admit, if this had happened in my house i wouldn’t have been so prepared. i would have been lucky to find enough to paper towel or toilet paper to absorb all of the blood coming out of my foot.

while he frantically bandaged my foot (and props to him because he was on it like white on rice), i kept saying, “i need to get to work.. i have to open the store by nine..” – come hell or high water i had to make sure the store would be open by 9:00am, despite my current condition. he informed me that i would need stitches. i more or less scoffed at this because i wanted to consider this a flesh wound. there’s no good time to get stitches in your foot, much less when you live in a city that requires a lot of walking. much less a city with painfully steep hills that are a b*tch to climb when your feet are free of stitches. so, i called nick. and then i called him again. i called him five times. no answer.

at this time, nick happened to be staying at my apartment because he was between apartments. i have three roommates so i called one of them. then another. no answer. i called my final roommate, the one i figured the least likely to answer, and as luck would have it – he answered. eureka ! i asked him to wake up nick and give him the phone so that i could deliver the news and ask nick, on the morning of his birthday, to wake early and do what i could not do because i was a cab ride away from the nearest emergency room. and during this rushed phone call i completely failed to wish nick a happy birthday. i still feel guilty about that.

it was at this point that we called our manager to let her know what had happened. it was an injury and therefore fell into the “call the manager” category – manager’s retreat or not. and believe it or not, the store was open by 9:05am. go nick !

the E.R. happened and eight stitches later i rather awkwardly gimped out of the hospital and hailed the first available cab. instead of giving him my work address, i asked him to take me to safeway. i still had birthday balloons to buy, you see. my friends are my heart. i will never miss an opportunity to celebrate them on their birthdays even if i have fresh stitches in my foot. in the cab i called nick to let him know i was on my way. his only request ? “whatever you do – please make sure that i have a TIARA to wear.” done and done. thanks be to god for walgreens and their kid’s section which offered a princess glamour set. tiara and balloons were acquired. i limped to work with these items in my arms and received many stares. not good stares. but more like, “oh that poor crazy person” stares. i’m okay with that. at that point, i think i was crazy-person qualified.

i arrived at work with balloons and tiara in tow. nick was happy to see all of that, but he was a bit preoccupied. you see, the computers had decided to go down for the morning. there were about ten people in line impatiently tapping their feet because the register was not cooperating. because this involved money, we had to place phone call number two to our manager. happy birthday.

after two plus hours on the phone with tech support, the matter was resolved. by this time, a few deliveries had arrived and i’d already spent the better part of the day just ringing people at the register with my foot elevated. any and all deliveries were (and had to be) received by nick because i could barely walk around the store, much less up and down a flight of stairs.

thursday came and went, the silver lining being that since nick had opened the store (instead of closing it) that afforded him to leave earlier than first expected which meant he could begin drinking sooner than expected. and boy oh boy did he earn every cocktail he drank that night.

on friday morning i opened the store by 9:00am, elevating my foot as often as i could before nick arrived at 10:30. since it was his birthday the day before, he’d done a fair bit o’ partying and was a wee bit hungover come friday morning. just after noon a man came downstairs. we receive deliveries on a near daily basis. most of them requiring signatures. when he asked for mine i blindly signed it without too much thought before asking what kind of delivery we had. it was at this point that he informed me he was not delivering any merchandise, but rather a summons. as in, lawsuit. happy birthday.

because our old location was in a basement, we had no wheelchair access. a couple years ago the city of san francisco passed a law that stated that all retail spaces must be wheelchair accessible a.k.a. ada compliant. at the time the law was passed, we asked our building manager if we could install a wheelchair ramp (at our own expense) to an elevator we had in the back of the store. our request was denied and that was that. as i later learned, we were not the first person to be hit with a lawsuit from this particular person. who, by the way, also happened to be a customer. someone who we had, in the past, run baskets of supplies up to in order to accommodate him as best as possible from our underground location. so, with that, we placed our third (and final) phone call to our manager.

on this same friday, at 2:30pm, not one – but three – pallets of canvases and wood panels arrived. at our old location, large deliveries like that would be placed on the sidewalk out front so that we could bring them in over the course of the day. with only two employees working, receiving that many pallets was daunting to say the least. with only one employee capable of walking up and down the stairs and carrying all of those panels and canvases was just, well, absurd.

i am usually a trooper when it comes to things like that. i will work through the pain and get the job done. and although i did manage to do some lifting, i really did not contribute much. i just couldn’t walk. i couldn’t put any weight on my right foot and hopping up and down the stairs was out of the question. not to mention the fact that we had customers and i was the designated cashier (for obvious reasons). so, nick heroically brought in three pallets worth of heavy wood panels and canvases in a three hour window of time. if we gave out gold medals or purple hearts, he’d have one of each. he’s a total champion.

so. upon my bank fiasco that just took place in the last twenty four hours i walked into work this morning greeted by a “happy birthday!” from my fellow employees. and even in the midst of such an event, i have to laugh because at the end of the day i have this theory we have a choice to make when faced with all things bad and out of our control. laugh or cry. and i do believe there is always a time and a place for a good cry, it’s so much easier to laugh. so, to anyone facing a something stressful in their life, happy birthday ! trust me, you are not alone.



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cartography and life behind the counter

i never knew a chicken salad sandwich would make such a delightful breakfast.

i’ve decided that learning things like this will be normal now that i work at an art store, but we aren’t your typical art store. we are not a machine buzzing with employee badge numbers. we are employee owned and operated and we are the opposite of all things corporate (phew!). therefore, we are not unhappy employees who cringe at the thought of their next day of work. we are happy employees who look forward to helping people find things like acrylic gouache (yes, it exists) and carbon pencils. and we have regulars. very happy regulars, in fact. regular customers who stop in just to chat and will, on the spot, make you a chicken salad sandwich (we had no cutlery, so a pencil was used to ‘spoon’ out the helping of chicken salad and hands were used to rip apart the slice of gouda that accompanied it). it was all so charming. this job is charming and i am adoring every minute of it as i meet all these customers, regulars, and sometimes even their very adorable dogs. (and i can’t believe i just googled ‘chicken salad sandwich’).

in other news, remember that t-shirt company i worked for in Seattle ? t h e i r b a a a c k . . well, not really. that company is wonderful and the people who own it are wonderful and the people who work there are wonderful – so, obviously, we’ve kept in touch – i would be an idiot not to, quite frankly. if you have no idea about what the company does – my feeling like their cartographer will totally confuse you. i’ll try to explain, in a nutshell :: Destee-Nation Shirt Co. seeks out local businesses. i’m talking about the ‘mom n pop’ type businesses that we all frequent. our favorite coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and so on – the small businesses of america who are trying their hardest to survive in this economy. the businesses that put their love and hard work into every drop you drink and every sandwich you eat. you know what i’m talking about and now you know why this company is what i consider awesome.

so, in an effort to promote these businesses, Destee was created. it was their way of giving back to the communities that had served them for so many years. it’s a t-shirt company that makes and sells t-shirts for all of these local joints and promotes them on their website, encouraging locals and tourists alike to frequent and support said businesses. it’s kind of a fool-proof business model – how can you not love that?

in order to reach businesses all over the country, a ‘Road Scout’ was placed in an old school suburban with an even more old school streamline trailer hitched to it and sent on his way. his name is Gabe. Gabe rocks – in a huge way and i only kind of a little bit (ok, fine, maybe a lot) hate him for this being his job. his instructions :: drive through america, seek out these local favorites, drop in, have a beer, chat with the employee(s), and see if you can’t get a hold of the owner so you can discuss the possibility of becoming part of the Destee club. and i only kind of a little bit (ok, fine, maybe a lot) hate Gabe even more because he is personable, kind, and a really great writer – he really is the perfect guy for the job. for every town he visits and every bar or coffee shop he drops into, he tells his story/stories. they are amusing and heartfelt and honest and you ought to read them.

as Gabe makes his way around the country, i’ve been making maps to represent his route. being a huge lover of maps in the first place (i’m a little bit obsessed wih the concept of mapping), this kind of project pretty much rocks my world ::

above is the final product that’ll be featured on their website as Gabe works his way back from Texas to Seattle. he’ll be on a brief hiatus and then will venture out to the midwest and beyond. yes, we love to hate him and we hate to love him.

[google images][sharpie & paper & digital application]


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cleavage, job, giants, & vinyl

happy halloween ! ok. i’m a few days late. i had an amazing costume, but have no pictures. i was She-Ra (Princess of Power). for those of you unfamiliar with one of the most amazing super heroes from the eighties, see this. it’s a long story as to why i don’t have pictures and i’d really rather not get into it, but take my word: the costume rocked. it was one of my best to date. and for those of you that really know me, that’s a bold statement.

i take halloween very seriously. i don’t think you understand. it is my favorite, and i mean favorite, holiday of the year. for an entire day (or usually weekend), you get to dress up as someone completely different and march around proudly in what is likely some form of your alter ego. like all things, bad comes with good. i believe in the homemade costume. the costume you make almost entirely from scratch. the costume you spend hours sewing, stitching, measuring, fitting, painting, spray painting, and safety pinning. in my not so humble opinion, halloween is not about looking absolutely perfect, it’s about the effort and the concept. now, i understand that She-Ra is a bit scantily clad – but i had on some nude tights and my hand sewn dress was not nearly as short as hers, and if you’ve met me – you’ll know full well that i am not the buxom blond babe portrayed above – and therefore will not be falling out of my dress. i, personally, have never had any interest in wearing as little as possible on halloween; unfortunately, i do believe that i am in the minority [of females] when i say this.

so this is the ‘bad’ i was referring to and i will try and restrain myself from venting on the matter too much, but honestly? i can’t help it. i get so frustrated when i see silly bumble bees, witches, naughty nurses, or cats wandering around on halloween. you know the girls that i am talking about and i am sorry to offend those of you who do fall into this category because i am sure you know who you are (ouch, sorry). it’s these girls who decide that halloween gives them a reason to wear as little as possible, allowing their cleavage to spill out of their costumes and their skirts to be so short that you are left to wonder why they are even wearing skirts in the first place. they likely marched into some halloween store, picked out a costume a size too small, and decided it was perfect. it is likely that these are girls just looking to attract attention while marching around – and it works. all of my male friends will hate me for writing any of this lest it deter you females out there to leave some things to the imagination come the 31st of October, but so be it. these people have put zero thought into their costumes and though they might turn heads – they are turning them for the wrong reason(s). i rest my case and will hereby dismount my soapbox.

in other news, unrelated to cleavage, i got a job ! i was convinced i would arrive in San Francisco and become a waitress – which would have been fine since i was really only looking for a job that’ll pay the bills – but i got something so much better and i can’t even begin to tell you how excited i am to be working at my all time favorite art store ever. imagine a land where all the walls are painted different colors, every sign is drawn by hand, things like glitter and paint by numbers are celebrated, and new sample supplies may be ordered merely because they are shiny and that is the only justification needed to order them :: that’s where i work. it’s like a rainbow exploded in an art store and my fellow employees and employers are colorful, vibrant, kind, creative artists who understand my love of unicorns and why sometimes, at four in the morning, it is absolutely necessary to not only rearrange your furniture, but also slap scraps of fabric and paper on anything you can find because you have to make a collage.

now, about those giants. i’m not talking about really tall people or a certain sports team from New York. i am talking about the Giants, the San Francisco Giants :: the baseball team that just won the World Series. yeah, those giants..

i can’t say i am the world’s biggest baseball fan. i will admit that i only cared about baseball when i was younger – when i was on a softball team and the Seattle Mariner’s were actually a decent team (this is Ken Griffey Jr. era). so, it’s been about sixteen years since i gave much, if any, attention to the sport. however, having just become a resident of San Francisco – it was essentially unavoidable (if not impossible) to not show at least an ounce of interest in this team and their domination of the sport. it was even harder to ignore them because they were the underdogs and who doesn’t love to root for the underdog ? so i actually went to a couple of sports bars and watched a couple of the playoff games, drifting in and out of my attention span for what was happening on the t.v., but that’s not the point – i went, i kind of saw, and i even cheered. i have uttered, “Go Giants !” probably about a dozen times – most of which were to homeless people who were asking for money and upon denying them (there are only so many dollar bills you can give away in a day) their reply, for some reason, was usually, “HEY GO GIANTS!”

sadly, i was napping [accidentally on my floor] when the last game was played and won. this is just how committed i am to the sport, clearly. at around 11:30pm, one of my roommates knocked on my door. i bolted upright (you know, the whole ‘i-wasn’t-sleeping-on-my-floor-when-you-knocked-i-was-being-super-productive’ reaction one naturally has when they feel guilty for sleeping during the hours they feel they should be awake) and answered – they informed me of the Giants’ victory and invited me out to the corner of Grant and Green (the epicenter of celebration) for a celebratory drink. naturally, and in an effort to be a Good San Franciscan, I agreed and ended up sitting outside some random bar only to observe absolute chaos take place on the streets. honking horns, fire trucks, drunks, yelling, you name it. and there was even a massive parade this morning (which, according to my co-workers, completely stopped all traffic) that took place on one of the main drags in the city. i am also convinced that half of San Francisco, thanks to this victory parade, called in ‘sick’ to work today. so, yeah, GO GIANTS !

as for vinyl ? i found this amazing nameless music and record store – i adore the exterior paint job – and the record collection was ridiculous. the above photo is a fraction of their collection. the records are stacked from floor to ceiling in the basement and on the ground floor you are forced to walk through narrow gaps between record players, amps, stereos, and all things music – though, it does appear as if most of this stuff was stolen-  but whatever, i just had to share :: it was too amazing not to.

[google images, iPhone camera]



Filed under design, illustration (both acrylic and oilt), photography