Saturday, May 22, 2010

The book I could write, the iPhone app I want, and my art spliced in between to keep it from being boring

So I'm going to try to put down everything that I think may be helpful to people who just want to know one person's (my) way of how I've been able to seemingly get around and get as far as I've gotten... um... so far.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, get an ego, but hell, I think you'd want to hear what I have to say about getting 25,000 from not much money but a little bit of privilege and strategic planning. I mean it's not like I'm really going to write something about how you can get a million dollars overnight if you study my plan, I just really believe there's a lot of wisdom that i've either stolen or gotten from other people.

Here's the first nuggets of wisdom that I take with me everywhere. If you're not willing to accept all of them, take your own path, you may even wind up getting your own big cash prize doing whatever makes you the happiest, but I'm telling you, this is how I did it, not how everyone should do it.

Things that I believe helped to mentally prepare myself for the Kresge Fellowship:
  • do something everyday that is part of your dream job, do it until someone realizes that you're a dedicated person and will hire you for some menial shitty work, remember the bigger picture even when you could just as easily convince yourself that you're going nowhere and eventually you'll find out where you were meant to be. Unless you work really hard at something you won't really know if it was a necessary failure or the first step of many. Not trying very hard doesn't leave you with very much information to go off of whether it was right for you or not.
  • find the weirdest, goofiest, honest peers and make friends with them. they won't necessarily be someone that will always fulfill all the different kinds of relationships you need in life, but whenever I've wanted to have a deep conversation about the big questions in life they are wayyy better to talk with than someone who thinks even the littlest bit that they are cool. These people in my life have been technicians at my college, elderly people in my community, my girlfriend, past roommates, but they come from every socio-economic class, really weirdos are everywhere if you know that they important and you need to seek them out.
  • give up trying to do the big important thing and just take the pressure off of yourself by thinking about how to live without ever doing or having the big important thing ever, in my case, I gave up on girlfriends and then the next month Rachel asked me out, that's a long story too. It's like giving up looking for something and BAM there it is buddy. Stop looking, it's somewhere that will find you in good time, when IT wants to find you, not when YOU are the most anxious.
  • it's usually a good idea to have no expectations or the greatest expectations, it's also good to be skeptical of comfort. On a street smarts level, do you ever wonder why certain people have been mugged and others haven't? Being able to be aware is a skill. It has a lot of complexity. for example, how do you know when you are 'not doing anything' because you are a procrastinating perfectionist and when it's because you need a break and need time to refocus? Many 'successful' people take calculated risks, but I don't know if we really expect that everything is going to work out all of the time. I believe we just work through the discomfort knowing there will be something to be gained even if we don't understand it at the moment and it takes a certain level of awareness to accept and deal with whatever comes.
  • live the kind of life that makes you feel ridiculously lucky to be alive here and now, because it's half true, your luck, is another way of saying that you are privileged. It's something that everyone needs to admit, not just because you probably don't realize how your sweet little life is built on the sweat of other people, but maybe it will also give you a good reason to go and volunteer somewhere or do something that means that you are thinking of other people first.
  • everything has a balance, if you feel sad, but you're not sad about being sad, then you're secretly content about it because you probably need to feel sad, you were feeling happy yesterday so it would make sense if you weren't happy the next day or the day before that. which also means that if you are about to do something AWESOME you are also on the brink of total collapse and deep personal failure. unless you're not as dramatic as some people, like me.
  • less options means greater more efficient creativity, but vast options may mean more diversity in the process

as an aside, this is my STUCK LIST, so when I go into fight/flight mode or something like that, I have something to refer to. Yes, this word for word is actually behind my computer for when I get depressed or don't know what to do with myself.

  1. get AWAY from the internet. Away...
  2. Pick 1 thing to do in an arranged list of would do, could do and should do (see bottom)
  3. Have you checked/made your to-do list for today? (see bottom)
  4. Suck it up and just clean up after yourself.
  5. Some of your best work comes from wasting time artistically!
  6. Make food for the next 2 days
  7. Call a friend to hang out (use it as an excuse to dress up)
  8. Go somewhere via your bike
  9. Write a thank you / a note reminding a friend that it has come to your attention that a mutual forgetfulness about the friendship has occurred and can and needs to be corrected.
  10. Go 100% in the wrong direction, hit bottom
I later added this addendum

        11. Caffeine

Stuff that other people told me that are good ideas that I'm sure helped

  • know thyself, be true to thyself, accept your fate
  • writing down my goals on paper no matter how ridiculous, tell everyone your goals
  • fake it until you make it (someone else said there's a better term for it called a 'state of becoming'
  • love what you do and try to figure out how to get other people to pay for it
  • fear based decisions are usually bad
  • trust your instincts
  • know your audience

Ok now that you've suffered through reading all of that, here's way more tangible stuff that I did when applying for the kresge fellowship:

  •  I took a whole month off to 'freakout' about the application, I went to the FAQ, I went to a free grant writing workshop and I also made a list of who I needed to contact wayyy before I had to think about when I would submit it. I also told everyone that this was my future, and I had no other plans so um... I guess I only took this leap of faith because I knew I had some stuff to fall back on, i.e. teaching certification, working promotions, having parents that wouldn't let me be homeless if it got really bad. 
  • experts exist, you're not one of them, but that's totally alright, because you can surround yourself with smart people and that's a smart thing to do! I had 5 different people read my artist narrative (I'm probably going to share it with good friends, not strangers sorry) and made the best of my contacts that I had access to, at the time I was interning at MOCAD so I had a friend who wrote grants take a glance at it even though he really didn't have any time, so I made sure that he'd be the very last person to read it. I technically felt like I had a full finished draft 5 times, completely convinced each time that I was done with it and no more could be altered.
  • In order to cheaply find out if my digital colors of my images were correct I uploaded all of my work onto my website and asked people with different monitors, some expensive, some cheap to open up my website so I could see how it looked. I then wrote down notes like not contrasty enough or too blue and would make my image to be in the middle of all of those monitors.
  • All grant writing is restating that they are looking for X,Y,Z and you need to just be clear and direct and state how you do X, Y, Z and are the perfect applicant!
  • Do an art show before you even apply, that way you can think about all of your work in context of something more specific and really nail your artist statement and NOT do it last.

notes about how I use it (as copied from e-mails sent to other people):

explanation number 1 - first I separate everything i know that need to do into would could should, but it's a good idea to prioritize each list, overall I only expect myself to get 1 item accomplished in each list a day.
secondly I write all the distractions I know I enjoy doing in the rewards section and then figure out if any of them could be an appropriate reward for something I wrote in the Should column, whatever isn't already paired up in the should column, I try to come up with a fitting large enough reward.

explanation number 2 - 
Every morning I print this little dude out and I organize everything I can think of into could do, should do and would do.
If I know I'm going to do it anyways, I put it into would do, If I'm avoiding stuff, that definetely goes into the "should do" and lastly everything in the "could do" is like a brainstorming list for working smarter instead of harder. I prioritize what's the most important in each category, because if you do the list honestly, you should be able to do 1 thing in each category a day and feel pretty damn good about yourself. What helps even more is that each item in the should do list needs to be paired with an equally appropriate reward whether it means taking a walk, calling a friend or treating yourself to a nice meal out in a new restaurant. 

I'm still not sure why everything works so well for me, but I know that I found a system that works for me.
I use it to 
A. help put things in perspective
B. prioritize my time better 
C. keep myself from procrastinating
D. feel accomplished

This form of organization came from 3 combined sources: the creative capital workshops worksheet on rewards, Cezanne Charles' suggestion of would,could,should and advice from a friend to keep a to-do list. It was 'photoshopped' from a very pretty to-do list that I found at the Bureau of Urban Living. I even photoshopped out the quote and put in my own!

(Also this form is what I want to make an app for myself so that I don't have to print one off every day. If anyone knows how to make apps LET ME KNOW!)

Thinking about the power of images today... after a lack of sleep

Ever feel a little loopy on a mere 4 hours of sleep? At the same time does it seem to give a kind of ability to dance on the surface of reality, as if having slightly more perspective on the hard work and lifestyle choice that gave you those mere 4 hours?

Today I was enjoying that encompassing fuzzy feeling and realizing how much I really love when I look at images from the past and think to myself, I have never seen this before. This picture in front of me is completely new to me. Just when I think that I know where I'm going, I realize I still have very little idea about history. Well, maybe this is more novel to me because I have this theory that everything we need to know we already know, we just have to remember.

So specifically what brought me to these revelations of realizing how vast what I don't know is even in such an age of information?

I am not embarrassed to say, Sister Wendy's the history of painting, a picture in the New York Times of the  the Magna Carta and of course any conversation with Rachel pertaining to how much fun she's learning about stuff to teach her kids, errr students.

Like bonobos and their GG rubbing.

Geez, life is weird.