First, here’s the final mock-up of the display my unit put together for the Recyclemania-Year of Sustainability kickoff event at the library:
I lost the little cut-out people from the first sketch. People are difficult to render in recyclable materials without being cheesy. Also, I feel that they would have been redundant. The display depicts life-size models of a recycling bin and a trash can. As you approach the display, you feel almost as though you could throw a piece of waste into one of the mock bins. You silently go through the decision making proces — “Does this bit of refuse go in the blue box or the gray box?” The observer becomes the little cut-out person. Therefore, no need to reiterate that in the design.
Also, the message: simple, straightforward, you don’t have to read a lot to get the point. The banner is made out of old pullslips which we use here in interlibray loan, but I think it turned out well despite the crinkley-ness. The boxes got switched around during assembly and that’s why the arrows are pointing inward instead of outward. I think this made it a little confusing visually, but it’s still a solid design:
Overall, the display kicked ass. Sustainable ass.
One of the best parts of coming back to work at the library is that you get to do art projects here. Whether it’s decorating for a holiday or for someone’s retirement party, there’s generally a call for some artistic expression every two to three months. Next Tuesday, the library is having its Year of Sustainability kick-off events which includes a bake sale, a silent auction, and a display contest in which each unit of the library is supposed to produce a display which promotes some aspect of sustainability. The kicker is the display must be made entirely of recycled stuff from around the library or stuff brought from home. Nothing from the supply room. Nothing purchased. The displays will be put up in the lobby of the library and whichever unit has the best display will win food and a sense of superiority.
This morning we had a department meeting where we were supposed to discuss ideas for our unit’s display. I didn’t just come with an idea; I came with stick figures:
During the meeting, lots of loud people had lots to say. Ideas were thrown around, some of them good, some of them good but guaranteed to offend (the “smoker’s cage” was brilliant, if bitchy). I sat and bided my time. Then, with a flourish, I pulled out my stick figures and explained my idea. To every concern, I had a quick explanation as to why it would work. I explained how we would use 3-D to make the people-cutouts pop. I explained how we would use tape instead of glue so that the entire display could be dismantled and recycled afterwards. I explained how the overall concept of bringing one’s recyclable to work appeals to both a person’s guilty side AND their lazy side. I brought so much evidence to the table that when it came to decide which idea we should go with, there was really no decision to be made.
I’m being snotty. I know that. But when it comes to being “artsy” (not to be confused actual artistic ability like painting a realistic-looking basket of fruit), I have mad skillz. I’ve made a cake which looked like a can of diet Pepsi. I tastefully decoupaged the walls of my desk unit with pictures cut from an old calendar and it looks fabulous. I sew bitchin’ Halloween costumes. Further, I have a solid understanding of visual presentation especially if the concept you’re trying to present is preachy and/or boring (and I would consider encouraging people to recycle both preachy and a little boring): keep it simple. If it’s not simple, people will not put forth the effort to figure it out.
Left to their own devices, the people in my unit would either opt out of creating a display altogether or create one so crammed with words and ideas and bad artwork that it wouldn’t stand a chance against what I imagine will be V’s totally boss contribution to the contest. My unit needs someone like me, someone who’s artsy and pushy and willing to cheerfully disregard the input of others to lead them to victory.
My first job was teaching theatre to elementary school kids. The second was a stage hand in the recital halls of Texas Christian University. The third was in the tiny box office at the Ft. Worth Japanese Gardens. The fourth (my first significant employment) was as a decorator at the Cookie Bouquet. The fifth (held for four and half glorious years) was at the library at my current university. The one unifying factor among all these jobs is that my supervisors were either women or gay men. Not a heterosexual male in the bunch. When I got my most recent job, all this changed. Not only did I work for two men, I was surrounded by an overwhelmingly male department.
At first I thought this would be fun. I generally have a jocular rapport with male co-workers. They gossip but they don’t get emotionally involved. It’s easier to conduct witty banter with them because they don’t want to hear how your kids are doing or whether your allergies are bad this season. But then an situation came up, the kind of situation an innocent like myself associates with a less enlightened time, the kind involving a male employer, an under qualified young female applicant, and a newly created position with indeterminate responsibilities and an exorbitant salary. It’s the kind of situation which inspired in me a kind of disgusted awe. You see movies where this kind of thing happens, but to see it happening around you, to be called upon to be complicit in it, was another matter entirely.
It made me feel angry and helpless and, after some thought, I realized why: I am not — and can never be – a bimbo. Bimbos are younger than me, skinnier than me, more conventionally pretty than me. They have an air-headed perkiness that I cannot summon. They inspire something in older men, be it mere loin-aches or be it a glimmer of lost youth, that a woman like me, a Girl Friday, does not. In a department run exclusively by men, Girl Fridays don’t get exorbitant salaries. They get a pat on the back and more work. Basically, I have no leverage in a department in which bimbos get all the breaks.
Not bimbo material.
This is why I long to return to a primarily female workplace. In a department in which all the managers are women, the bimbos have no leverage. The leverage goes to the suck-ups , and anyone, regardless of gender, can be a suck-up. And this is why the world would be a fairer place if women ran everything.
Love is the fart
In every heart,
That when kept in pains the host,
And when let out, pains others most.
So this won’t tell you how to find true love. It just tells you what happens once you do.
My daughter is in kindergarten and her homework usually consists of a math or vocabulary worksheet, some practice sentences (this is her big money-making scam wherein I pay her one penny for every letter she spells right in the sentence — she’s making a killing!), and a take home book that we usually read together. So last night I’m in the kitchen making a green chile casserole for Friday’s dinner and helping Lola with her homework. I’m in the assembly stage of the casserole when she opens her take home reader and she starts reading the book outloud. She’s on page two before it sinks in: Holy crapamole! She’s reading that book! She’s reading it by herself! And this isn’t an easy book. It’s got a plot (little boy is frustrated because his new baby sister can’t play with him); it’s got a character arc (he gets over his frustration when he realizes what he can play with his little sister); it’s got a poop joke. And it’s twenty pages long. And she read the whole thing!!!! Ohmigodohmigodohmigod!!! My little girl is reading! Yippee! Go. Go tell the world! Lola reads books!
Denouement: After the book was read and the phone calls to interested parties made, Lola informed me that she was able to read the book because she is a robot. She even showed me her oil can. I thought it looked like a bent paper clip but she assured me it was an oil can. She drank from it and everything. It was nearly as impressive as the reading. Nearly.
For a kid, this picture amounts to no less than heaven itself. For an adult, there’s two ways to look at it, both of which occured to me as I snapped this picture in the garden center at the local WallyWorld. First I thought, “There is so much joy sitting there, neatly lined up, ready to be bought and hidden away until Christmas morning.” My second thought was, “Wow, Walmart’s gonna make so much money selling those to people who’re going to have to take out title loans to afford Christmas this year. How crass and disgusting. Commercialism is the death of the true Chrsitmas spirit.”
Both of these thoughts are true and both have some value. Yes, the joy of a child receiving a present on Christmas morning is a beautiful thing, just as the intrusive, exhausting commercialism of the season is an ugly thing. But I’ve decided that in order to preserve my enjoyment of the season, I am going to ignore the whole “free-trade capitalism is evil.” Capitalism gave us Rudolph. Capitalism gave us Santa Claus as we know him (a morbidly obese old man who loves Coca-Cola). It’s a reality which is not going away any time soon and what conscientious consumers can do is simply choose not to go nuts on the shopping and do a percentage of your gifts and decorations homemade.*
*Please don’t make the bicycle one of your homemade gifts. It probably won’t be up to ASME safety standards. No offense.
When I was a kid, Grandma worked at the Tarrant County Junior College (later upgraded to Tarrant County College) in the Registrar’s office. She hated it. But the worst time of the year, hands down, was Registration. Those were the nights that Grandma didn’t get home until 9:00 p.m. and when she finally did get home, she was bone weary and hating life. In retrospect, I wish I’d had the wherewithal to tell her to kick up her feet and relax while I prepared a cup of hot chocolate and treated her to a foot massage. But I was dumb, self-involved kid, so I didn’t. (Of course, Grandpa and Dad weren’t dumb self-involved kids and I never saw either of them giving Grandma a foot rub and hot chocolate either. I’m just saying.)
Being the selfish person that I was, I kinda liked Registration week because it meant my dad had to cook. And that meant a switch from the extremely healthy fare Grandma lovingly prepared every night. Dad’s repertoire was small, but it was also delicious and hugely fattening. We’d have beef stroganoff one night, teriyaki chicken wings with butter noodles the next, thin cut t-bones and Brussels sprouts in butter then next, and at least once we’d go to Perruli’s Pizza for pizza and a half stick of pepperoni which we would gnaw on the way home.
Why am I going on like this? Because now I work at the administrative end at a university and this week is Advising and Registration. Sure, I don’t have it as rough as the people over at the Registrar, but goddamn! We’ve been busy today and I am freakin’ beat. What with the constant up and down, the maddening laziness of students as they try to sidle their way into the advisor’s office even though they don’t have an appointment, having to deliver the same “first you need to fill out the course request card, then you need to figure out your schedule, then you need to blah, blah, bleh” spiel every five minutes. I just wanna go home and have some beef stroganoff and fall asleep in front of the TV.
Some hot chocolate and a foot rub would be nice too.