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By the Skin of My Teeth

Dean's List

My first semester at Indiana University East: I made the Dean’s List!

Now I can collapse.

To All of You

…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!

And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.

Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. :)

PortabellasMJ

It’s Over

Josh and I have been having a bit of a party around here because my semester is finally over. Although I was aiming for mostly A’s, I think I got away with two A’s and 2 B’s in the end. For me, that’s slacking, but I’m pleased that I finished at all this round. I really haven’t had a break in over 4 years!

Josh and I are talking about saving up for our trip to Puerto Rico. I need two strong sales and that would cover our chalet in the rain forest, round trip flights- the whole shebang. But instead, we’re planning our vacation like everybody else: we’re going to save up $200 each for 4 months. I’ve been researching Puerto Rico for 5 year now. I spoke with Sue in the El Yunque rain forest and she has the cutest chalets there, in the jungle. A private waterfall lagoon that you can swim in is only a 15 minute walk away and the white sand beaches of Luquillo are 10 minutes away also; kisosks pepper the beaches that are loaded with tapas and such. Most importantly, it’s not too far away from Dead Man’s Chest island, which is a private island that houses an old abandoned lighthouse- a photographer’s dream come true.

By April, if we’re diligent, we’ll be able to fly out for a 4 night 5 day stay there. We’re not setting it in stone, but we’re certainly making plans for it. And now that school is out, I’ll be able to lounge around doing absolutely nothing at all but nomming on snacks, watching Netflix, reading biographies, playing adventure games and taking leisurely photo walks. Not a bad life. :)

Rain_794y2rpsbd_detail
Macro: raindrops on a window screen/SOOTC- straight out of the camera

TWC: You Rock! (And Latasha, you still suck.)

So I called my internet.cable/phone company in July to terminate my cable services, because:

a.) I can’t justify paying $35 per month when Netflix is $8. And
b.) I never watch it anyway.

Usually, I listen to Baroque or Big Band/Swing on the TV and that’s the most I have to do with it. The rep (back in July) that I spoke with, Iris, promised that she would “take care of me”. I’m not keen on special promos and ratings etc.- I simply don’t care much and so when she rebundled me, she swore that my rates would be lower and I’d be saving money in the long run. I still wanted to cancel my cable however ,so she snagged me by offering me a $300 Visa gift card that could be used anywhere. It’s not Monopoly money; it’s a real Visa. Ok. Sign me up! So she did.

But what she didn’t do is inform me that if I defaulted on my payment or was late even once, the deal would cancel itself out. Thanks Iris. So I waited. Weeks drew on and no Visa. I had called in to get a 6 day extension on my TWC account, which they gave me- which canceled out my Visa gift card. Guh.

Fast forward another month. Another round of phone calls to TWC (Time Warner Cable) and two reps and one supervisor later, I was told that my Visa would definitely be on its way. Still, they failed to tell me why it had been cancelled to begin with- they only made promises that the situation had been rectified. K.

Another month goes by- no Visa. Another round of phone calls and two reps later, another hollow promise of the elusive Visa gift card that had apparently been sucked into a big space of nothingness. Another month. Another round of phone calls- and still- no plausible explanation as to where the gift card was or why it continued going MIA! Maddening!

Last week, I spoke with a rep, Latasha, who was utterly useless and tacky to boot. I’m a former top rep and customer service is “my thing”. I know all about the top offers and sales tricks- I know every trick in the book- I speak the language. So, it’s really hard to get something over on me on the phone.. Still, I was left clueless and more frustrated with each phone call. I told Latasha how useless she was as a rep and manager because by now, it’s December and I’ve still got cable and have still been paying an additional $35 per month from trusting Iris.

I insisted that not only did I not get the $300 gift card, I now had spent an additional $200+ on cable that I didn’t want and had tried to cancel repeatedly. Latasha offered my a $45 credit to my account and offered to rebundle me for $120 per month- no dice. $45? That’s a joke! I told Latasha that I wouldn’t settle for anything less  than $150- $200. Period.

We haggled tirelessly like two Marrakesh street vendors in the market place; she wouldn’t budge and neither would I. I asked to speak to her supervisor and asked for her supervisor’s name. I could actually hear Latasha laughing with her coworkers. Party foul. Totally unacceptable. The call didn’t end well.

I called right back, now in tears, and spoke with a different supervisor, Eric. Eric was awesome. By now, I was on a first name basis with most of TWC’s reps and Eric was super friendly who clued me in on what to do. Thanks Eric- you rock! Eric was able to put $45 back into my account- right off- and told me to wait a few days, and then call back and speak with customer solutions. They’re the ones who want to really keep you as a customer and are willing to wheel and deal (with $) in order to do just that. Sounded good to me!

So I did. I just got off the phone with TWC. Brian was the customer solutions rep I spoke with and he was just the best. Brian rebundled me so that my phone, internet and cable would be reduced to $93 per month- before taxes ($102 afterwards) and he would also increase our internet speed to “Extreme” at no additional charge- “it’s on the house”. But that’s not all! I told Brian that I would be willing to keep my cable if I could recoup some of my money that I’d lost over the past 6 months. (That was my bargaining chip and it worked.) Eric spoke with his supervisor and when he returned, he offered me a $150 credit back to my account. Ba tah bing! Triumph!

So then, in the past week alone, I’ve been able to recoup $200 back to my account and as it stands right now, I not only don’t have a bill at the moment, I have a $70 credit for next months bill, making my phone/internet/cable bill next month $30. That’s doable. :) For whoever may be reading this, if you’re with TWC and you’ve payed your bill for 3 months consecutively without being late, you’re entitled to a $300 Visa gift card. It’s yours, and it’s your right as a customer to have that. So go on and getcha some!

The moral to this story is: never give up. Always fight for what’s yours!

And Latasha, you still suck.

Time to Celebrate!

Usually, I don’t celebrate before my final exams, but in the past two days, I’ve just finished up my 5 page psych. paper (APA, of course + 5 peer reviewed journal references) + Cross Cultural Communication Powerpoint prezi (with audio) along with 14 forum postings. Whew!

So yeah, it’s time to celebrate. I only have 3 final exams remaining- I’ve finished my last homework assignment tonight. The worst is over! Everything else is gravy.

I’m really excited to begin a new chapter in my life and feed the artist in me that’s been dying to get out for so long. I’m venturing into new artistic territory by converting my RAW high quality photos into digitally rendered imapstos & gauche oils as well as watercolours. Here are two examples:

Water Lilies
Water LiliesMJ

And Joshua’s tree
JoshuasTreeMJ

Josh and I did the last one together, hence the title. Off to make green tea and feed my guy. Au Voir!

Monet: Museum of Modern Art

This is for you, Al. :0) I wanted to share with you my processes for the resulting canvas print.

I first started with an original print of museum-goers at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York, who were admiring Monet’s Water Lilies. I took the pic back in 2010 on a trip to Manhattan/Times Square with my youngest daughter, Brianna. I was admiring the museum-goers as they were admiring Monet’s Water Lilies, which were enormous prints that covered each wall around the entire room. So, I snapped their pic with a wide angle lens. (They never even knew I was there.)

From there, I converted it into a B&W and did a basic colour hue shift on Monet’s Water Lilies. They were originally blue and green, but I preferred pumpkin orange. ;) I incorporated several textures to give it a broken/damaged vibe (which I adore) and so the final result was this:

Monet_i8iussdk4v_detail

The people below aren’t the exact same, but the process is. (Only the group of people have changed.) From there, I ran it through various programs and tweaked it severely so that it would resemble a fauvist oil painting. I distorted the people a la Munch’s “The Scream” and gave the image bright, citrus Van Gogh colours. The final result became this:

monet

And that is the extra large (60 x 38) 5 foot canvas print that was purchased for $1,138. Once I cut out the middle man, I will sell the print right at $1,000 roughly and double my royalty, but as you said, were it not for the middleman to begin with! (Hope you enjoyed the art show!) x

Winter, Come

  Winter, Come [self portrait]

Winter Come_cezfe8n2fl_detail

I woke up this morning, checked my email and almost fell over. I sold an extra large canvas print (60×38) for a whopping $1,139. Gasp! My royalty is $405. I can’t wait until I can cut out the middle man and outsource the prints myself and keep 100% of the profits. It’s my work- I should reap the benefits rather than a company which prints and ships the art. Still, I’m incredibly grateful! The new printer I want is $550- refurbished it’s $350, so from this one print sale, I’ll be able to purchase the wide format printer so that I’ll be able to ship the large prints from my house, myself. It makes me both proud and happy that I’m able to put my money from my art work back into my art work.

I have only two weeks left of school. A few lingering assignments this week and then my finals next week. I still have a shot at making the Dean’s List. We’ll see!

I’m off to make Thanksgiving dinner # 2 (because 1 just isn’t enough)- complete with homemade apple pie and whipped cream. I’m absolutely beside myself with the canvas sale. :)

Happy birthday, Y! I love you, GF. x

Small Miracles and Big Thanksgivings

So I’ve just received my grade for my final exam in Research Methods for Experimental Psychology: 100 out of 100. Whew! We were given 10 scenarios in which we were to choose an appropriate research method  (out of 12 or so) for the situation and explain why we chose that particular research method. I discovered along the way in this course that I’m pretty good with dependent and independent variables and such so this was an extension of that sort of. The next two weeks will be basic revisions with the ability to improve my grade, which is a 94%. Even if I were to do nothing I’d still receive an A but it still improves my overall GPA so I may go for it. It’s so easy to slack off at the end of it all. That’s where a lot of people go wrong though. They think because they see the finish line that they can collapse, but really, it’s the time to push harder than ever and finish up strong. So, that’s what I will do. Push hard in these last two weeks (beginning next week) and finish up strong. I can collapse later.

Josh and I will be going out of town for Thanksgiving. Actually, we’re having two Thanksgivings. We’re going over to my Mom’s for coffee and to cook her Thanksgiving dinner that she’s having for her friends from church. Her friends are widows and my Mom’s just the sweetest woman in the world. She was thoughtful enough to ask them over because they have no families. My mother’s so giving. I like to think I got that from her. :) So, Josh and I will be cooking their dinner and then jetting out of town to- first to Columbus and then to Shelbyville where we’ll spend the weekend with his family. I love his aunts and cousins: those gals know how to stick together! They’re strong country (ish) women and I took to them right away and vice versa. We all share a very strong common bond, which is loving Josh. We all take care of him together. They’re just wonderful.

I’m absolutely quivering with excitement that I’m so close to being finished with school for the next two years or so. I have so many songs in me that are screaming to get out and so much art work that I want to produce! People hope to win the lottery so they can take it easy in life and travel, have fun, and do the things they want to do, not what they have to do. And so for me, it’s like I’ve already won the lottery. I’ll be able to travel and take pics, and take it easy for a change. Going to the “office” will be in my sunny kitchen with my fax machine and phone- building up my business. And, “work” will be going out and taking pics. Heaven!

I’m saving up to go to Puerto Rico. Most people want to go to the beaches, etc. but I want to go to the slums and shoot them. (With my camera, of course.) And the rain forest too. If I save up $150 per month, I’ll be able to go in May, and stay in a little chalet in the El Yunque rain forest. I’ve been wanting to do that for 4 years now but have been too busy with school. Now I’ll have my chance though. Time to get ready for my big day! I hope each person out there- whether you have family or not- has a wonderful day. And may you find something to give thanks for today! If you can’t think of anything else, be thankful that you have two legs to walk with and two eyes to see with. That your heart is still pumping and that you can still smile. If you’re reading this, then, consider this my Thanksgiving gift to you. I’m uploading a large file here [below] so that you can easily download it and submit it to Walgreen’s (online) or print it out of you like, I sell this at Redbubble for $60+ but you can print it out at Walgreen’s for all of $3.  [Reselling the print is strictly forbidden and I remain the sole owner of the copyright.] It’s a high rez. file and so, happy Thanksgiving! [click on the print twice to download the large file]

Free Thanksgiving Print

HappyThansgivingWordpress

The Chill Zone

In the past two days, I’ve finished a 10 page/slide Powerpoint presentation (75 pts. out of 80- I’ll take it!), a Powerpoint conference poster, a final exam in Research Methods in Experimental Psychology, two chapter tests in Cross Cultural Communications and 10 forum postings. I’ve just finished up and I’m officially on vacation for a week! Josh is feeling much better today. I’ve been taking good care of him so he can return to work tomorrow. He’s sitting in his chair here in our room pivoting between playing the guitar (and singing the Blues) and his game, Gary’s Mod. I’ve just installed a new Nancy Drew adventure game and am getting ready to make a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I can’t believe I have seven, long, glorious days in which I can do anything I want. I’m ecstatic. Brianna’s been thinking of moving out soon. Twenty years we’ve been together! She’s my little sidekick and I’m already missing her terribly. I woke myself up last night- twice- crying. I’d had a dream of her (which I can’t remember now) and when I woke up, I had a tear rolling down my cheek and I was weeping like a child. It was the strangest thing. When I went back to sleep, it happened again. All of my kids are special and they all have their own strengths. Heidi’s strength has always been her love. She’s nurturing and warm and selfless. Brian is so funny! He’s always cracking me up. He comes across as not caring so much sometimes but really, his strength is his compassion. He’s a giver too. Brianna has a quiet strength.  She’s not a touchy, feely, huggy person and she’s not overtly “warm” but she’s reliable, considerate, and real. I don’t think she’s even capable of being fake. She’s just got good sense too. They’re all incredibly smart! I’m so proud of my kids. :0) Brianna is my baby though. She’s always been here at home and so her moving out is bittersweet. It was so hard to let Heidi go initially, because I’d waited so long for her to come home. I cried for days when she moved away a handful of years ago. And when Brian moved out, it took months to adjust to his absence as well. It felt so empty here! It’s gong to be tough getting used to Brianna not being here but her guy treats her really well and is so good to her. That’s all I can ask for as a Mom- that my kids are happy in life.

I’m so glad Josh and I are still together. After all these years! He’s truly my hero. No other man has weathered so many storms with me. He’s my rock. And, I can honestly say that we’re still best friends.

SnowTree (Thanks for that, Gav. :0) Helios 44-2 film lens/natural lighting

SmowtreeMJ

(Almost) Home Free

PurpleSkyHelios film lens 44-2/back porch

Josh is really sick. I’m feeding him garlic capsules, multivitamins, a nip of a Phenergan, acidophilus, milk thistle and lemon & ginger tea with fresh squeezed lemon. He woke up this morning feeling like crap, burning up with a fever. This is his second bout of sickness in less than a month. Luckily, I haven’t been sick in years; I attribute that to the many herbal supplements I take regularly.

I’m ecstatic because I have all next week off for fall break. Doesn’t make much sense that we get an entire week off for “fall break” with only three weeks left to go. And while I’m at it, it really sucks that most professors decide to make students do twice the work the week before fall break! Yes, double the workload in every class. This is really quite unfair to the student because it renders fall break utterly meaningless as a result. Still, I’m pretty happy that I’m only two assignments away from having an entire week off from school. I can finally clean my house! I pretty much bombed my 15 page research project (final paper) in Research Methods for Experimental Psychology, but by no small miracle, I’m at 92% still (after bombing the paper) which is still an A. (How I pulled that off, I haven’t a clue.) So, if I do well on my PowerPoint presentation, conference poster, research exam and then my final- I can come out of this thing with an A still. I don’t even care about making the Dean’s List any more. I would love to, sure, but things are in their proper places now and my priorities have shifted dramatically. My identity as a student is being squeezed out by the artist in me who is not taking all of this lying down for another minute! I feel alive again. And I’m happy again. :) I’m going to get to do what I want. Take pictures.

I’ve just finished up a 10 part PowerPoint assignment and so I’ve only got my multimedia conference poster to finish along with a research exam and then I’m home free! After fall break, I’ll have my finals and a few odd assignments and I’ll be finished. I really can’t wait to start building an entirely new body of work (photography/art) after the semester’s out! it’s all I think about anymore and it’s most definitely where my heart is. Off to make more tea and get to cracking on my PP conference poster. Ta-ra!

Helios 44-2 film lens/ISO 100/f/2.0

EverWinterMJ

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