awesomeness overload: concerts, free stuff, summits, and VEDA.

So. Life? Hectic. I think we’ve got that.

I’ve been sick all week with some sort of cold-bronchitis thing* that’s been going around school. It’s meant crazy coughing fits and a raspy voice. Sexy, right? And of course, there’s the never ending work load from school on top of it. (Who got 80 logo sketches, color palette, 4 mood boards, 4 wrapping papers, 5 mocked up bag designs that I hand built, and 5 mocked up can labels all done for Thursday’s class? Oh yeah. Me. Were they perfect? No where close. But they were done. Next week I have 90 logos, 15 mocked up pieces, and a revised color palette… and that’s just one class.)

Anyway. This is all about previewing good news, as well as sharing some highlights of awesomeness.

Awesomeness that has happened:
  • I had maybe my best week in my typography class (even outside of finishing my absurd crazy “use a word repeated to create an image of an actual heart” piece.)  My instructor (whom I love) said one of my layouts was possibly one of his favorite pieces he’s seen that day, that it reminded him of something from McSweeney’s. Given that I struggled so. freaking. much. in typography last quarter, this was amazing for me.
  • I’m crossing off something from my life list. It has two wheels and is very pretty. (post coming soon)
  • I won a blog contest!** And then I get a tweet from the company of the product I won saying they’ll send me a second one! (post coming soon)
Awesomeness to come:
  • I’m getting a job at school starting next quarter which will take a chunk out of my tuition balance. (Still gotta get another job to pay rent/buy food.)
  • Mig Reyes is speaking at school on Friday. He’s amazing. He works for Threadless, is a former instructor at CPS (I hope he comes back so I can attend at least ONE class with him), and an awesome designer. If you’re in Chicago I suggest coming. It’s free and will be great–I saw him speak at HOW Design Live this year, and immediately told our school director he should do the same at school. And so he is. This Friday, August 19th at 5:30pm at the Chicago Portfolio School Annex (25 w Hubbard, 2nd Floor). Be there.
  • The 20SB Summit starts next Friday! I’m volunteering at the event and am looking forward to seeing so many of my blogging friends as well as meeting new ones. Are you going? Tell me so I can look out for you!
  • Mucca is playing that Friday night too. (Busy day!) Though I’m sad because this venue has their merch booth outside of the concert hall, well, I’m glad to be hearing my nerdy friends play again. I never get tired of these guys. Love them all. Hopefully having a girls night with a couple of them (and some girls from school) in the near future.
  • Monday I’ll be heading over to see Hot Grits and Ssssnake at The Hideout after class.
Other Awesomeness:
  • If you didn’t know, VEDA is happening. (Vlog Every Day in August) I sat down and watched a straight marathon of Nico yesterday. He’s just one of many amazing people participating. I’m not. I’m going to use my whole being sick and not having much of a voice as my excuse. (And did you see my work load for just my Thursday night class?) You should really check these people out and give them some commenty love.
That’s a whole bunch of awesomeness.
*My mom’s convinced that I’m going to get pneumonia since I haven’t seen a doctor.
** I’d love to do a giveaway sometime… but all I have to give right now is my love. Which you all win. (Seriously, someone hook a dork up and let me show my readers some giveaway love!)

that whole "job" thing…

So, with my plans leaning towards moving to Chicago… leaning so much I’m practically on the floor…  Well, there’s that whole matter of that “job” and “employment” thing.

I’ve never really understood how some 20-somethings have been able to do this whole “alternative/non-traditional” career life.  And I’ll admit, sometimes I wonder if some of them had been set up nicely by their folks.  I mean, if my family was well off, I’m sure they’d help me some too.  But yeah, never quite been able to figure out just how they’ve made it work, but I’m still struggling.

I mean.  I’m awesome.  Can’t I just snap my fingers and life be amazing?  Oh wait.  Yeah.  It’s life.

Anyway.  That’s neither hear nor there.  The fact is, when I get back to Chicago, I’m going to need a job.  Maybe two.

Since I’m pursuing my dream via school, I’m somewhat giving up on the idea of getting a job actually in my field or that would even utilize my creativity.  The goal at this point is for a steady income.  And that income has got to do three things: pay for school, pay for rent, go towards my debt.  Any thing left after that will be put towards food.

I’d love to have something that plays into my skills and passions.  I applied to a paid, part-time internship yesterday — with many thanks to Renee & BZ for sharing it!  My fingers are crossed like crazy for this one.  I cannot think of a better opportunity — a design internship while I’m taking design classes.  The learning will never stop, and that is AWESOME.

Anyway.  You can bet your ass I’m going to also put my name in for all those jobs I’d prefer not to have.

Like I said… fingers crossed for the internship.

Merry Christmas; We're letting you all go.

Well, I’ve danced around this for a while.  This new job of mine has been a bit of a roller coaster.  First our main product line pulled out, leaving us without a brand to carry/sell.  Then we had to court potential buyers.  And then as of last week, or officially yesterday, our buyer with the highest potential backed down.  So, now our entire company — a company that is a hair away from it’s 60th anniversary — it’s all being liquidated.  They’re closing everything down.

I’m now in the ranks of the funemployed.  And unfortunately, no job = no apartment.  I am still moving, but well… it’s unfortunately out of Chicago.  I will be in the middle of corn fields in Indiana.  Living with my father, stepmom, 4 younger half sisters and a foreign exchange student.  Yes, I will be the 8th person in the house.  I will be living in part of the basement — where my father’s office is, and also where my cats must stay.

This is completely temporary.  My mom’s house is too far from the city to have a productive job search.  And my cat that lives there, Bear, would probably eat my cats.  My brother’s house is also too far, and his landlord is very strict on the “no pets” rule.  So it’s dad’s house.  Until I can find another job in the city, it’s dad’s house.

I’m going to keep working on my art, and apply to as many jobs as possible in the mean time.  I’m going to visit the city — as often as I can.  And, hopefully, if I can work some sort of magic, I will be doing some traveling.  Maybe Seattle.  Maybe Miami.  Maybe DC.  Not sure yet.

Besides seeing the people I’ve grown to enjoy these past three months have to leave their jobs too… I think I’m most upset about losing my health insurance.  With no changes to my condition in 5 months, surgery is becoming more of a reality.  Which means, I’ve got to get this taken care of before the end of the month.  (Well, either that or get it taken care of with Cobra.)

It’s some big changes, but overall, I’m not terribly worried.  As I look towards the next few months, the next year — I see so many possibilities.  I’m extremely excited.  Anxious for the next thing to come, and not really wanting to move into my dad’s, but still excited.

If anyone knows of some graphic design, print design, social media, or entry-level marketing jobs in Chicago, PLEASE hit me up.  I’d be very grateful.  I’ve got an ever growing portfolio at Behance.

I was never good at hurdles.

All that excitement about June and starting projects and fresh pages…. yeah, things don’t go so smoothly when a few days into your oh-so-awesome month you run into obstacles. Personally, I’m just trying to avoid hitting a wall.

I’m still excited about my projects — and looking forward to Josh’s return to Chicago.  He’s sort of been my key sounding board and source for more inspiration and ideas lately, if you haven’t noticed.  (It’s hard not to be completely woo’ed by him.)

However, I find myself in that familiar place where work isn’t fun any more.  Where I’m not excited to go there.  And I work in a freaking toy store.  This is just wrong.  There is a little bit of personality differences, where I’m butting heads with someone… but obviously I can’t really go into that here.  Anyway.  I’m trying to keep myself from doing something rash, like just up and quitting, the next time I run gut first into one of these hurdles.  (Although, a lot of times it feels like maybe I’m just running too close to the field throwers and getting hit by their shotputs and discus  discs.)

So, the goal now is to attempt to salvage and scrape up the pieces of enjoyment that I used to get from my job and see where I can direct them so I can still have gainful employment until something better comes along.  I like the owner of the store, but I don’t really feel that she can offer me the type of job I’m seeking.

Anyway, I’ve got yet another open to close looming in front of me.  So I should grab my lunch (yay roomie! she cooks.), and head out the door.  Probably going to have a conversation with the voice of reason — aka mom — on the walk over.

it’s not starting over… it’s just starting.

June’s finally arriving, and I seriously cannot wait.  Lovely‘s on her way, and thanks to some super awesome friends, almost all of my stuff is in my new apartment with just one last trip or two needed today.

Though I don’t really need a “starting over” in life right now, I am treating June as a new page.  It’s a lot easier to attack life full force if you’re starting with a fresh canvas.  It’s a little intimidating for some, but really… there’s a lot I want to start and want to do, and well, I’m just going to do that.

Lovely’s a lot better with the plant analogies, but I’m going to be planting a lot of seeds this summer — various ideas and projects will take shape and hopefully bloom into something beautiful.  From the small: eating better; to the medium: finishing a strong portfolio; to the large: applying to grad school, attempting to make steps towards a career I can be passionate about; to the OMG I’m really going to take that on: an interesting venture which will have me going to New York to get this started.  It’s going to be a full-on garden of awesomeness.

I’m still not really certain what’s going to happen in some areas.  I’m not sure I can stay at the Toy Store if I want to push forward with some of these things, just based on the amount of time and energy it demands — it doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but the owner wants us to support the store first, to put her dream first.  And I just can’t afford to do that right now.  But I also can’t leave myself without some sort of financial stability.  (I’m almost considering becoming a waitress again.  At least I’d get tips.)

Regardless.  I’m going to push forward.  (All those motivational and inspirational talks from Josh really have sunk in.  The boy’s a good one.  Truly is.  I can’t wait to see his own dreams come into a reality.)

jobs I would rock:

  • anything that involves InDesign & Photoshop
    (I can give you a list of people who’ve called me a genius at those programs)
  • writer. (Duh.)
  • mythbuster assistant. (LN2, explosions, nerdiness, science! = awesome)
  • event planner & coordinator (even in terms of marketing & PR, et cetera)
  • associate producer/editor (or editorial assistant) -> print/program director
  • interior designer (ish)
  • book + paper arts artist
  • educator:
    – wildlife
    – creative writing (after my MFA; possibly literature, depends on after my degree)
    -communications (media stuffs, journalism, pr, broadcast stuffs. need a faculty adviser? me.)
    – social media, internets, blogging, basic design for web
    – book + paper arts
  • cupcake expert
  • blogger. (another: Duh.)

That’s the smallish list I created last night.  The majority of these are obtainable in some way or another.  And a lot of them are really more than jobs, they can be careers.  But most importantly, I can definitely and confidently say that three of those bullet points involve very strong, deep rooted passions.  (I’m going to go a head and make them bold and pink. — if you’re wondering about the first, it’s because it holds true to “strive to do something creative every day”, plus I rock those programs and thoroughly love working with them.)

Now there are two others I could have thrown in there but that fraction of hesitation to include them in that first batch kept me from doing that.  (Which is why they’re just bold.)

Anyway.  The main point is that a lot of these are obtainable.  Meaning I need to get off my complacent butt and get working towards these.  I don’t hate the toy store, but it’s not the right place for me — and I’m starting to feel that every time I’m there.  I am grateful for the job and the promotion, but the reality is I don’t want to stay in retail long term (or even through the next holiday season) and even though I did get a good raise, I’m really not earning enough.

Even though I’m generally exhausted (which, yes, the toy store is a large factor there), I’ve got to actively be working to start doing something I love.  I mean, yes, I’m am indeed throwing this out to the universe hoping to speed up the process.  But I can’t just put this on my blog and hope something just magically falls in my lap (or inbox).*

So.  Here’s to it.  I’m not happy in my current situation.  So I need to do something about it.  Let’s see how this goes.

*Although don’t let that stop you.  You should totally hire me — just contact me (erini {at} erinichristine {dot} com) and we can talk, you can check out my portfolio**, we can meet over cupcakes.  Trust me.  I’m awesome.
**Unfortunately a lot of my writing and design was lost… bad archiving systems.  But you want a sample that relates to your business, just ask and I’ll show you want I can do.

my life compass might be broken… or at least slow

So, going to take a little bit of a break from all the gushing OMG Jaron is soooo great posts — which, by the way is still very much a fact… But I thought it was time to check in on what I’m doing to live my dreams.

Honestly, some days it feels like a whole lot of nothing.  I get up, go to work, come home exhausted, dick around on the interwebs, then pass out anywhere between 10 and midnight, only to do it all over again.  I spend my days off lounging around the house with the cats.  So seriously, how do I expect to accomplish any goals or reach for any dreams if I’m just sitting on my ass?

You should know that I let the deadline for the MA in Zoology slip by without applying.  Why?  Because I was surprised with a promotion at work and thus began working 45-50 hour weeks.  Doing anything beyond surviving that and just enjoying the down times wasn’t really on my radar.

More and more I’m finding that I’m back in that indecisive about what I want to do stage.  I’m waffling.  I still feel strongly about wildlife education and conservation.  But I’m starting to feel that I’ve neglected my writing for too long.  That I need to continue to work on my craft.  That maybe I should attempt to get my portfolio done and apply for grad school at the end of the year.  And then I go and redesign a blog and create a new one and rediscover my love for all of that!  (Don’t even put me in front of audio, lighting, or video equipment, it might doom me.)

The question of “what do you want to be when you grow up” is still apt.  I mean, holy hell.  What do I want to do?  Everything I’ve liked is so varied.  I’ve never felt like anyone needs to limit themselves by becoming so focused that it does allow the freedom to explore all of your passions and interests.  But have I become so broad that choosing a direction is such a daunting task that I’m shutting down?

I still love working at the toy store.  I’m settling in to my new role in management.  My boss is tapping into some of my talents, and that excites me (just as much as getting awesome new toys — yes, I am a giant kid).  I have no real answers, but I am not taking this lightly.  I’m not going to stop just living and enjoying everything life’s thrown at me thus far just so I can get some direction… But I am working on taking steps towards paths with might lead me somewhere awesome.

paid to be a big kid.

So, if you’re not following me on twitter (@erinichristine), or are lucky enough to be my friend on Facebook… you might not know this…

You know how I briefly mentioned that I had a job interview, and then a second interview… well…
I got the job!

In fact, yesterday was my first day.  It was crazy, and fun, and I came home very exhausted and pretty much just slept until about 10a this morning.

I’m working at a local toy store, it happens to have two locations (and I’ll be working at both) and a small staff.  I’m not going to give out much identifying information about it, but I will just say, one of the locations is close enough I can walk to work.  In fact, taking a bus might be silly.

Working retail for a small business means I’m doing much more than just selling toys.  I’m helping with inventory, pricing things (well, using a price gun to put price stickers on things), organizing displays, cleaning, taking out the trash, and even picking up lunches.  In fact, besides for cleaning and actually doing inventory (though I carried a lot of stuffs up and down stairs), I did all that plus feed the frogs and paint some blocks during my first day.  Oh, and got to say hi to a pretty chill dog who visited the store.  (Yeah, we allow dogs in our store. I get my toy fix and my puppy fix? Um, awesome.)

I think the highlight of my first day was when I was organizing the animal figuring display, and a young girl came up to check them out and I got to talk to her about animals.  I got to teach her about how humpback whales sing to each other and about horseshoe crabs…  I love wildlife and want to instill that passion in others — seeing her get exited about it made me more excited.  It reinforced my desire to want to volunteer at Shedd or LP Zoo.

Anyway.  I’m really excited about this job.  Even though it’s “just retail” it’s going to be very rewarding.  And dude, I work with toys all day!

Seriously… OMG WE HAVE LEGOS! OMG DINOSAURS!!!!!  yeah, it’s like that every day.

I survived!

This was going to be day 5 of no internets.

But it’s back on, and I am scrabbling to catch up with everything… while doing that I’m also trying to get ready for my second interview for a job I really want.

As I noticed on twitter, a lot of people I know are interviewing or have just gotten jobs (congrats! — and good luck) … and I’m hoping that some of that awesome luck will rub off on me and I’ll get this job.

Anyway, I’m back!!

Oh! A List!

Here are some things going on right now:

  • As mentioned in the previous post, I went to the Gals Guide Summit.  It was really good!  Very fun and informative.  Well organized, and some great swag! Seriously, free Dove deodorant? um, yes.  Also: pizza, chocolates, cookies, cupcakes, and vitamin water!  Plus a lot more.  Jenn’s review (in that last link) covers more of it.  She was there and I was pleasantly surprised to see Rabbit Write (aka Rachel W.) there!
  • I had an interview for a job on Thursday.  It went well, and the store owner wants me to meet with the manager (happening on Wednesday).  I believe the phrase she used was “If you’re serious about this job, you should schedule a meeting with the L. Ave store manager.”  Um. YES.
  • I got to go to Shedd for free.  I won tickets to the aquarium and to see their new Oceaniarum show, Fantasea.  3 hours of fishes.  Mennogirl and jrosei came after work to join me for the show.  It was a little over the top for me, but I know some young girls who would probably LOVE it.  We then ate at Uber Burger, and walked around downtown for a while.
  • The kittens have started waking me up early again.  It’s either by walking on my face or by dive bombing the bed from the top of the window.  They’re either preparing me for a new schedule I don’t know about yet or they’re punishing me for buying crappy food.
  • I’ve been hanging out and talking with someone I haven’t seen in a while.  And have thoroughly been enjoying it.
  • Once I find out about this job, good or bad, I’m going to take a few days and go visit my dad, stepmom and sisters.