Me, Too

October 16, 2017

Standing in the middle of my boss’s office, I began to blush. He was sitting at his desk and discussing the quantity and quality of his digital pornography folder. Amused at my obvious discomfort, he made it his personal mission to push the limits—as an experiment, you understand—of what would and wouldn’t make me blush. The business, his and his father’s, employed four other women—all of whom were at least 30 years my senior—didn’t have an HR department to speak of, and ran their business like a boys’ club. Though I was often uncomfortable—my good looks (according to the owner, my boss’s father) were often noted with leers—I never considered my experience sexual harassment.

I wish I could say I eventually realized what was happening and did something brave, but I didn’t. One memory, in particular, has stayed with me despite having quit over two years ago. All of us—the five women, son and father—were sitting in the conference room, when the son began to recount a semi-recent prank he was particularly proud of: he faked months’ worth of sexual texts between himself and his friend’s underage daughter then confronted his friend with the “evidence” of their trysts. I began to blush, of course, which was soon loudly mentioned by one of the other women. Everyone turned to me and asked me what I thought of his prank, so in the lightest manner I could conjure, I said, “I think that’s pretty horrible.”

Everyone laughed.

In light of the sex scandals of continue to pour out, a movement has happened. Victims of sexual assault—women and men—are speaking up and saying, “Me, too.”

I’ve never been raped or molested, thankfully. How have I been so lucky? Especially considering these statistics:

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives. The National Women’s Law Center reports that a quarter of all women surveyed have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, adding that 70-90% of them did not make a formal complaint.

Sexual assault is not ambiguous, so why could I not see that I have been a victim—though not of a heinous, violent crime but a victim, nonetheless? No, sexual assault shouldn’t be ambiguous, but there is a definite misunderstanding of what it is.

On more than one occasion in my life, men have grabbed my ass. In public. In crowds. By strangers and seemingly phantom hands. And I was mortified and ashamed. It ruined my day, to say the least, but I brushed it off as the price you pay for being in public. After all it’s just a stranger touching my butt (not my breasts or worse), and I felt too embarrassed to say something, especially in cases where I had no idea who the perpetrator was. It wasn’t rape, so I felt like I had no reason to complain. No one crossed that line.

My first dalliance with sexual assault happened when I was 12 years old. At my junior high school, lunch period was not a break. We had assigned seats, were supervised by two policemen and a few teachers, and dealt with very strict rules—no bathroom breaks, no talking while in line, and no going to the trashcan until lunch was over. None of these regulations, however, hindered our vice principal from coming into the room and massaging the girls’ shoulders. When he came in, every girl would tense. Never knowing who was going to catch his attention at any moment, we all tried to look as small as possible and focused on our food. Invisibility was the only escape.

We were all uncomfortable, but we made light of his touching. We joked in the halls and bathrooms about it, but every day at lunch, we all braced and hoped to God it wasn’t our turn. Despite being in a room full of adults, rules, and actual policemen, a man got away with rubbing 12 and 13-year-old girls’ shoulders. It was the only unspoken rule of our highly regulated lunch period: the vice principal will massage you, there’s nothing to be done about it, and no one can or will help.

That is what sexual assault looks like. Power begetting inappropriate behavior while witnesses look away. None of my brushes with sexual violence assault and harassment have resulted in punishment or even acknowledgment from my perpetrators. It enrages me that so many voices can join the fray and say, “Me, too,” but if it brings power back to victims, then maybe there’s hope for change.

Friday five

October 13, 2017

ONE || Blade Runner 2049

Sci-fi meets noir, Blade Runner 2049 was a beautiful cinematographic experience. I haven’t seen the original Blade Runner, but that didn’t hinder my experience with the sequel. While it was a beautiful movie, I will say it was looong. Clocking in at almost 3 hours, Blade Runner 2049 takes its time. However, it didn’t feel like 3 hours while we were watching it.

I don’t really have much to say other than it was just fine. We saw it on Monday, and I haven’t thought about it since. If you’re a nerd, then you’ll probably enjoy it, and if you’re not, then go for the eye candy: the movie itself, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas (she’s very beautiful), and/or Jared Leto.

TWO || BYU Hip Hop Half-Time Routine

I have watched this video—the Brigham Young University dance team, the Cougarettes, and mascot, Cosmo, dancing to “Rolex“—an embarrassing amount of times.

Cosmo steals the show FOR SURE. It’s so worth watching. I don’t want to assume or stereotype because it’s BYU that everyone is Mormon, but still, that’s a whole lot of white folks getting down hard. Give them access to caffeine, and all inhibitions are thrown out the window.

THREE || It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Treatment

Whether your hair is dry and damaged, split ends run amok, or you use heat tools often, this stuffs makes all the difference. Even if you have thin, straight hair, it will help your hair hold curl and body. Seriously, this stuff loves hair. Use it before styling to combat damage or after to smooth frizz and lock in that shine.

If you’re prone to an oily scalp, like yours truly, spray it exclusively on the ends, and all’s good.

FOUR || 7 Tips to Photograph Fall

Fall is my favorite time of the year, and I’m always looking for tips to taking better photos. Artifact Uprising never fails. They have some of the best photographers around give their tricks of the trade to aspiring amateurs.

FIVE || Wildfires in Northern California

Another week, another disaster. Dry land, Santa Ana winds, and no rain in sight make for devastating wildfires. Evacuations have been ordered of whole towns, vineyards—a major source of revenue for NorCal—are being wiped from the map, people are dying or missing, and there are thousands of acres of damage and scorched earth.

There are many ways to help the victims of the fire’s damage, so here is a list of websites and organizations accepting donations.

If you’re interested to learn more about why desalination plants—industrial sites that pump out ocean water and remove the salt—aren’t being built to off-set the drought and dryness in California, here is a look into why. Basically, it’s expensive, difficult to find area to build, and a dangerous, short-sided solution that could cause more environmental damage than good.

10 Tips for Getting Hired on your Next Calligraphy Project

October 11, 2017

Whether for a client or an industry event, you need to get in the door if you want to be hired (and therefore paid) for your major talent.

Here are the top ten ways to see that you get hired on your next calligraphy project.

ONE // Use social media.

Maybe an obvious statement, but use social media to your advantage. You’re probably already following the experts and industry leaders because you love seeing your feed filled with beautiful calligraphy, but don’t let that be the end of it: comment your appreciation or questions, participate in the giveaways, join/start an Instagram pod, research calligraphy meet-ups and see if there are any in your area (and if not, start one).

If you use social media to connect — rather than to solely direct traffic to yourself — with your fellow artists, you’ll see a steady and authentic rise in engagement and recognition.

The online world’s smaller than it feels right now.

TWO // Plug into the community.

What a natural segue, right? There’s a big calligraphy scene here in central California, but what’s great about that is the “community over competition” vibe. It’s intentional. Once you start attending industry events or connecting online with calligraphers/artists in your area, build a natural community.

And it’s good to build a diverse community, not just with your fellow calligraphers. Florists, bakers, planners, photographers, anyone! If they know you and your work, they’ll be happily willing to recommend you for jobs.

Start/join Facebook groups, Instagram pods, LinkedIn groups, meet-ups, networking events. Make connections. Don’t just look out for number one, though. Be willing to show up and help others, first and foremost.

THREE // Practice.

Obviously, it’s important to keep your skills fresh. It’s my goal to practice for at least an hour every day, and hand-letter Sean McCabe says he practiced 6-8 hours every night after his normal day job.

If you want to get paying gigs, you need to be able to produce work. That means being comfortable and prepared.

FOUR // Prepare.

Speaking of being prepared, you need to:

  1. Have a website/online portfolio
  2. Have a body of work

Even if it’s only pieces you’ve created for yourself or friends/family, you need to have a body of work to showcase. People need to be able to see it to believe it.

If that means designing and lettering quotes, invitations, products, whatever you want to eventually get hired to create, then do it for yourself, take some photos, and put them online on your website. Better yet, barter with a photographer friend from your community, and get some quality photography

FIVE // Ask questions.

This is always a good idea (even after you get hired). Never be afraid of asking too many questions.

Before you have a gig, though, don’t be afraid to reach out to your favorite artists/calligraphers/industry leaders/anyone and pick their brain. If there’s something you don’t know, just ask!

Another opportunity where having a community comes in handy.

SIX // Over-communicate.

Getting hired is only half the battle.

Vendors often forget or underestimate the value of quick, thoughtful communication. It’s very important to make sure you over-communicate. Explain everything. Don’t assume anyone reads or understands anything.

That sounds harsh, but it’ll make everyone’s life easier!

SEVEN // Set goals.

This is so important.

When I first started, I didn’t set goals, so I got frustrated, burnt out, and directionless. Even small goals help keep you your eye on the prize, and helps you feel accomplished and successful!

EIGHT // Be kind.

It should go without saying, but if you’re constantly kind to clients and your fellow community members, you’ll be more likely to get hired. That’s not to say you should be a pushover, but practicing kindness is never the wrong decision.

NINE // Express your opinion.

Your opinion is part of what makes you you. It’s what makes you the right candidate for certain projects, or it is how you’ll know you’re not right for a project (which can be just as important). Just be sure to deliver your opinion with tact, respect, and empathy. Don’t confuse your opinion with a time to offer criticism.

TEN // Network.

This is all encompassing. The events, the social media, community: it’s all networking, and it’s all necessary. Comment on your favorite accounts, reply to people commenting on your work, don’t let emails go unanswered. Word of mouth is still a key in driving business, especially in a market as saturated as this one.

In my area, we have an all-encompassing wedding vendor community called The Wedding Standard, and it’s a place—invite only—where local artists, planners, venues, etc. can be listed and featured to help potential clients connect with them. Research around to see if anything like that exists in your area.

Listen Twice

October 9, 2017

I had a 6th grade teacher who had a mantra she enjoyed repeating, “There’s a reason God gave you one mouth and two ears: so you can listen twice as much as you yap.”

Aside from being a sassy broad, she had a point. It’s probably some of the best life advice I’ve been given. It seems as though the way to betterment is through the much avoid life skill of listening. More specifically, listening more than we speak.

If you want to be more empathetic, listen.

If you want to be more successful in your career, listen.

If you want to have happier relationships, listen.

If you want respect, listen.

If you want to remember more and learn better, listen.

Without distraction, just listen.

The best way to show respect, win friends (and influence people), and grow as a person—employee, spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend—is to listen twice as much as you talk.

Friday five

October 6, 2017

ONE || Battle of the Sexes

Emma Stone and Steve Carell is the cinematic duo I didn’t even know I needed, but Battle of the Sexes gave it to me. I really enjoyed this movie, but I also enjoy tennis, which is what this movie is about: Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, two tennis greats separated by generation and gender expectations.

Funny, intimate, and sweet, Battle of the Sexes is a great peek into the lives of tennis legends during a tumultuous period of equality rights for women. I thought it was interesting to see how far we’ve come as a society, and I hope movies like this remind everyone that we still have work to do.

TWO || Riverdale

Ok! Ok! Okay! I’m so pumped to recommend Riverdale to you guys! I binged it in one weekend (and there are 13 40-minute episodes, so… yeah).

The show is based (rather loosely) on the characters from the 1950s Archie comics—yes, Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge and Josie and the Pussycats. Updated for a 21st century audience, Riverdale is the eerie, moody teenage angsty drama you need in your life this fall. I never got into the comics, so I’m not a loyalist or a stickler for staying true to the original character. You might. I don’t know your life.

The whole first season is on Netflix, and the second season is premiering on October 11th (on the CW) with streaming available on Netflix the following Friday every week, which is freakin’ amazing.

THREE || 6 Tailgate Questions with Michiel Perry | Black Southern Belle

It’s that time of the year: football season! And while I couldn’t give two shits about football, I do love tailgating (or at least the idea of it) and half-time shows. This interview with Michiel Perry of Black Southern Belle is on the Draper James blog, and it’ll get you in the autumn spirit and pumped for homecoming.

Draper James also has some really cute school spirit accessories, if you’re looking for something cute for those college game days.

FOUR || Bethenny Frankel Goes to Puerto Rico

Bethenny Frankel, Real Housewife of NYC and Skinnygirl mogul, chartered four private planes filled with 20,000 pounds of goods—food, water, medical supplies, insulin, diapers—and EMTs to Puerto Rico. She stayed to help distribute the goods and loaded the planes with cancer patients and other people in need of medical attention back to the continental US.

She paid for it with a combination of her own money and donations to her charity, B Strong, proving you can be a wealthy reality star from New York and still be a good person. Maybe someone should remind our President.

FIVE || Las Vegas and Puerto Rico

I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you fall or how far apart that is from my own beliefs. We can all agree, I hope, that what happened in Las Vegas is a tragedy. Though I think we need to reevaluate our gun control laws and ban the sale of bump stocks—the mechanism that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire more like a battlefield machine gun, which were found in the shooter’s room—it won’t fix this national crisis.

Puerto Rico isn’t getting enough help, guys. Why? Puerto Ricans are considered others despite the fact that they are US citizens.

Friendly reminder: Puerto Rico IS a part of the United States. It is a US territory. Puerto Ricans have US passports and can travel freely between all of the states.

As a territory, the U.S. federal government controls all of Puerto Rico’s commerce, trade, immigration and naturalization, military affairs, mail, highways, natural resources, Social Security and federal taxation and maritime law. Puerto Ricans have been and are an integral part of the U.S. military forces.

95% of the island is without power, food, water, medical supplies, so why isn’t our government—the same that governs Puerto Rico—helping our fellow Americans?