I know it's been quiet over here at this site for a long time. I've been busy behind the scenes transferring my domains from Germany and bringing my new site to life.
I look forward to connecting with you.
I know it's been quiet over here at this site for a long time. I've been busy behind the scenes transferring my domains from Germany and bringing my new site to life.
I look forward to connecting with you.
I'm so pleased with all the comments and facebook visits for my little give-away! I wasn't expecting so much enthusiasm since I haven't been blogging recently. It means a lot. There's nothing worse than hosting a give-away and then nobody enters to win. Worst. Feeling. Ever. (Not that I'd know, but I'm just sayin').
The results of the drawing are as follows:
The two winners of the Daisy Yellow Zine, Issue #5 plus small prints are Anne and Sandra L.
The two runners-up who have won prints are Eveline and Barbara I.
And the two third place winners who will receive some mail art love are Chris in St. Paul and Janet.
Thanks again everybody for the support! Please send me your mailing addresses and then keep your eyes on your post boxes! Enjoy a creative and inspiring weekend... xx tj
Seventeen large boxes are all that’s left of Studio Mailbox. They’re nestled tightly in a garage storage unit. I’ve been contemplating what to do about this and I still haven’t come to any conclusions.
I came across these photos which made me want to say goodbye to my old space. I’m pretty sure these are the last pictures taken there. I remember being very stressed while sorting and getting rid of things. I selected each and every tiny thing very carefully before deciding if I should pack it or not. I put as much effort into it as if I had been asked to save the human race. I worked among half-filled boxes, chaos and indecision for a long time.
Some of the stuff was really hard to let go of. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a hoarder, but I do make attachments to the strangest things. You can’t believe how tough it was saying goodbye to my paint cup, so much so that I clearly felt the need to do a photo shoot before I threw it away. Years and years of watery glue was stuck to the lip, which had a way of enclosing layer after layer of paint drips.
So now that you know how hard it was to let go of a cup, image how hard it is to tell you that I think I'm done here.
I've been kicking this around for awhile, and I'm pretty sure it's time.
When I moved to Europe all those years ago I waited anxiously for the container with all my worldly belongings to arrive. And when it got there, I had dishes that didn't fit in the cupboards and pans that didn't fit in the oven. I had sheets that didn't fit the bed and I had appliances that couldn't convert to the electricity.
Right now, this blog feels exactly like one of those things that isn't going to fit into my new life.
I'm letting you know because I think it's horseshit to disappear on people and not let them know what's up. You've all been so good to me, I'm not going to leave you hanging.
There's no question that I'll miss you.
"Tschuus" is the informal goodbye in German. It's not the dramatic, embracing, wipe tears away "Aufwiedersehen." It's just "see you later."
That's all this is, a casual "cheerio" until our paths cross again.
In the past, no matter where I was, I always made a ceremonious dinner of gratitude. Even the time the German butcher and I had a BIG misunderstanding between pounds-versus-kilos and he presented me with a bird I could not physically carry home. We had to break bones and tie it down to get it in tie oven, no joke.
I have been lucky enough to share my country's custom with many friends over the years, always with lots of laughter and love around our table.
But this year, it's going to be with my family. I can barely stand it.
One of the things I'm grateful for is the amazing autumn we've had since moving home. Up until last weekend, it was sunny skies and unseasonably warm weather. It really felt like Minnesota was welcoming me back and putting on her very best, just for me. So here are some random shots from my iPhone to share with you. A few of the moments where I gasped from the beauty of it all and how lucky I am to be part of this one crazy life, wherever I happen to be.
Minnesota is so pretty this shit should be illegal!
My best wishes to you and your families this Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for this year? xxx tj
Thank you so much for all the kind comments to my last update when I told the story of our broken Sony TV. I swear this really still is a creativity blog, yet the story is so tragically funny, I feel compelled to share.
Perhaps the rest of you have been enjoying internet TV for years, but remember... I lived in Germany where there was no such thing! So imagine my surprise when the hubby called me downstairs and in the middle of the moving boxes, and showed me this...
(and don't I look just way too excited to see my own Facebook page? I'm almost embarrassed).
No wonder my heart was broken when the installer couldn't put it on our wall!
So it was big-time excitement to get the new Sony Google TV finally installed on our wall, only to realize that the "S" in the word Sony doesn't fully light up on the screen as it should. We get one-half of the letter "S" next to a nicely glowing "ONY."
2 Sony Google Internet TVs. 2 Sony Google Internet TVs that are defective within ONE day of trying to use them.
Here's my question... would you keep this TV because it seems to work fine in every other aspect or would you go through the stress and hassle of exchanging it? How important is the darn "S" in Sony anyway?
For all I know, I could be sitting with my great grandchildren in the nursing home who ask me about why the name on my 50 year old TV doesn't light up properly, and I'll shake my head and smirk before I start into it, "Let me tell you about the broken S..."
After I finally got used to the rental car, our new vehicle came on the scene which was promptly hit and run in the parking lot of an electronics store that sold us a defective TV. Of course we didn't recognize that the TV had metal marbles rolling around inside of it until the man who was going to install it on the wall came and broke the news. The hubs was in Florida so it was left to me to wrestle this giant flat monster back to the store that didn't have a replacement in stock. The moment the young man at the customer service counter told me that I'd have to go to another store was right when I realized I had forgotten my mobile phone. Suddenly it occurred to me that the preschool that my child is hating does not have any way to get a hold of me. This normally isn't cause to declare an emergency but since the move, my son has been going backwards in his potty training and in order to rescue him from the ridicule of the mean American children, I've been nearby and acting as if I'm on-call so I can swoop in for assistance if necessary.
So I'm sitting there in the electronics store and I lose it. I lose it as in tears pooling onto the counter and snot running down my chin. And the poor kid is like, "Ma'am it's just a TV." And it was right then and there that I realized that over the last 9 years I've gone from "Miss" to "Ma'am."
Suddenly I was hyper-aware of my gray roots that are coming in and the fact that I had drank wine AND plucked my eyebrows. My brows are now so thin that when the hubs returned from Florida he looked at me and made some karate sound effects. I have no idea what that means, but I'm thinking it might be a good thing. I'm sort of hoping I look so bad-ass that it's apparent to anybody who might mess with me that I'm going to reach into my pocket and pull out a fist-full of whoop ass.
My dad and brother came when our container arrived Monday. After several hours searching for the "bolt box" (literally the one box that contained all the baggies of bolts to put everything together) we found it re-wrapped and marked underneath the plain brown paper. Now who says Germans aren't funny? Thanks to the calvary, our big stuff is now assembled. Now it's mostly stacks of boxes everywhere.
Of course this is when the differences in my hubby's and my personalities kick in. We're in the 9th round and the time for jokes is over. I started out teasing him that I wanted to "carry on" my sewing machine when we flew here but now he's reached the point where he'd like to shove the sewing machine up my keester. I can't really blame him though because he wants to deal with the boxes by actually unpacking them and I want to deal with the boxes by picking up my tweezers and giving myself a new look.
There are a few rainbows in all this drama. Our new neighbors on both sides seem great. It's like we're the German jelly nestled between two slabs of nice American bread. Internet is now working at home. Our library card arrived in the mail. So have lovely gifts from friends (check out the little London bus on the table in the image above!) We've found a nice girl who wants to babysit. Everything is going to be fine.
But a sad twist in all of this is that a dear family friend is on her journey of passing over to the other side. I spent the day Tuesday making a short road trip spending time in the hospital with friends trying to catch up on what's happening to this woman we all love. And in the crazy way the world works I completely stopped caring about the injustice of the new dented car, the horrible quality of electronic merchandise and the fact that I look like an over-tweezed ninja. I can't stop thinking about how she was asking for her knitting bag. That at the very end, creating is what gives comfort.
So yesterday I brought my little man to an indoor playground where I sat at a table and worked in my Moleskin. Today I'm sitting in the coffee shop and trying to blog. I'm not rushing home to the boxes, I'm setting aside a little time to do what's actually important to me.
Thanks for hanging in here with me guys. All these personal posts are starting to feel a little self indulgent though. I'm pulling myself up by the bootstraps and bringing you some arty goodness sooner than later. Have a great weekend and catch you soon... xxx tj
I'm simply here to give my friends a sign of life and reassure you that I am managing to stay afloat despite the lack of regular internet connection.
Things are still crazy. We've moved out of the hotel and are now in an empty apartment. I'm having email problems. There was trouble changing things over from my old phone to my new phone. My domain is hosted at a German company called Evanzo and they are 7 hours ahead of us here which means in addition to another problem I'm having, we're straddling an entire workday between the correspondence with them. There are complications with our previous rental property in Germany & two boxes I shipped to Minnesota are still missing. Our container has apparently cleared customs but there's no word on when it will actually arrive on our doorstep. We are so sick of eating out but equally frustrated attempting to cook without our pans and dishes. The new appliances make no sense to me, and I'm inexplicably grieving my old German vacuum cleaner.
I can't find light switches, the rental car got returned and I'm trying to figure out all the buttons on the new one. I have no idea how to recycle or sort my trash. I don't know which electric toothbrush to buy. I get in the ketchup aisle and face so many choices I start to hyperventilate. I stand in line to pay for an item and I notice the woman in front of me is very uncomfortable. I realize I'm standing WAY TOO CLOSE by Minnesota standards and casually back off before she breaks a sweat. A man in a store asked if I was from New York! (I took it as evidence that I'm clearly observed as "not from here" yet people can't quite put their finger on it).
The city has changed so much over the last decade that just when I recognize where I am, I'm confused again within one or two turns. It's SO BIG compared to our old village. I wait at the light while my son goes wild over all the different cars surrounding us. We spot a pimped out Caddy painted in gold flake. It looks like a bowling ball on wheels. The rims still spin while it's standing still. I'm guessing the thugs driving it probably can't scratch two nickels together and I'm totally in love with how they express their creativity through their car. It's so impossibly cool we forget how hard everything feels at the moment.
We miss Germany, we equally love America. We know it could be worse, it's just going to take some time. For now, signing off #500, tj
While we're in transition over the next weeks, I thought I'd share with y'all some blogs I enjoy that are related to German culture. They're mostly by other expatriates, and I regret that I never got to know these bloggers better. All these years into it, I do regret my lack of a blogroll.
So help me out. I need to know if this is valuable to you or not. I may never figure out how to format my sidebars in some fancy blogroll thing, but I could dedicate an entire page to the blogs that I follow. Would you like to see this? What are your thoughts and feelings about blogrolls?
So let's start with this, in my hope to give readers their fix of "Germanness" in my absence. And if there's any other "German" related bloggers that I've over-looked please speak up in the comments and I'll update the list pronto!
No Ordinary Homestead - Tiffany has a HUGE dog, a sweet little girl and is an amazing gardner. She hosts terrific give-aways and has a great site.
Fiona Gray - has a great blog, and is a hilarious writer. I love her posts. Not only is this woman raising two kids and blogging, she also just so happens to be an amazing artist. Check out her awesome Facebook page!
Skytimes - site is sometimes sad because she's grieving the loss of her child. Yet she manages to post brave, raw thoughts and I really enjoy her creations and mail art! Skytimes is the only blogger I've ever met in "real life" and I"ll have to share some shots and laughs from our wonderful visit soon!
The Artist in Me - Anke IS a German! Woot woot! She posts a lot of photos. Enjoy her lovely images to make you smile!
Resident on Earth is an awesome writer who uses beautiful photography to illustrate her posts. She already works in Germany and shares her experiences through her posts.
Frau Dietz - writes a hilarious blog, and once I'm pretty sure she got a care package with OPI nail polish. I was so excited about it, I feel like I actually know her despite the fact that I don't.
German Gems - writes short, sweet and funny posts. I think she's having computer troubles but keep an eye out for her because she's a great gal.
Click Clack Gorilla - is a fascinating site with lots of posts about dumpster diving of all things!
So my friends... I think I've covered a bit of everything here. It would mean so much to me in the next weeks if you could take the time to go visit some of these sites and see how great they are for yourself.
As for the artwork above, it's a sneak peek at what I've been up to in the last weeks while packing the studio. I promise I have a lot of photos to share soon, I've cranked out an amazing amount of work that I'm really excited to share once my living situation is stable enough to be on the computer regularily. For now, don't lose touch and most importantly, keep on creating!!! xxx tj
PS- I've been having email problems for awhile now. Send smoke signals or post on my FB wall if it's important.
Yesterday the container was here and 3 movers loaded it to the gills. I really don't think it could have held one more scrap of fabric because the driver taped the top flap of the backside down when it wouldn't hold on it's own!
So hey, here's a double-fist pump for Udo because he rocked our boxes and somehow made our entire life fit into a 20' container. (Don't worry - not only did I tip him, I slipped him a pack of Peppridge Farm cookies and told him America loves him).
The night before the pickup, I sewed until 1:00 am. I was so tired after packing all day, but I wouldn't quit until I got enough work ready for the upcoming exhibition. The radio disc jockey wished the listeners a "guten morgen" and I thought? WTH? Have I slipped into a time-space continuum? Then I rolled up the smoking hot presser foot and clamped the cover down on my machine. The English "step-down" unit that converts the electricity along with the German adapter to accommodate the plugs is now sitting abandoned in the corner of my studio. Goodbye sewing in England. Goodbye sewing in Germany.
For now, I've got to crank out some backgrounds. All my paints and adhesives are still here because I didn't want to deal with exceeding the limit of what I could bring back to the US.
We're eating on our garden furniture (indoors) and sharing three spoons between us yet I'm thinking about how much fun it's going to be to use up all my paint! You can't help but get a little excited about the thought of working like the world is coming to an end.
In the thick of it, I've been receiving the most beautiful mail art! Thank you all for the generosity and for thinking of me. And I'm sorry I haven't been able to get in here and post more. For the next days, please don't expect much. Maybe just some pictures of how things are looking.
Our evenings have been spent getting spoiled by all our neighbors and friends with good food and cold beverages. Last night I was gutted thinking about leaving these amazing people we've come to love so much in my adoptive home. It's all winding down and doesn't seem real. Except for sleeping on our shitty guest bed. That feels real. I'm getting too old for transitory adventures, and it's extra fun with a 4-year old who wants to "camp" in his Winnie-the-Pooh tent. *Waving white surrender flag...*
What are you guys up to? Sorry I haven't been on your blogs. There are hundreds of posts in my Google Reader. I'm so behind it's sort of hopeless at this point. I'm going to have to let it all float by. But if I'm missing something big, leave a comment and fill me in on what's happening! Miss you guys... until later, xxx tj
They ask for two questions, why you would want to attend and who you would pick to take with you. And since It doesn't mention anything about this being a random drawing, I'm hoping that someone might actually read this because I really believe I could win!
It's absolutely unrealistic for me to attend this when we will be leaving Germany and arriving sometime at the beginning of September. We have no cars, no apartment and not much of a plan. So that makes it even better. I want to attend even if I have to knock a caterer over the head, change into their uniform and slip into the back door like you see in the spy films. But since I don't want to spend my first days in America incarcerated, it would just be easier if I could win the tickets.
So here's my response and I ask my awesome readers to cross your fingers for me.
Dear Creative Connection,
I want to attend your conference because I've been blogging for years from my home in Germany, completely removed from society except by internet connection. I've often said that although I'm geographically in Germany, my heart and mind live in Blogland.
Nobody read my site for the first three years except my dear arty friend in Hawaii. Then one day, I noticed somebody was checking my site regularly and I was excited at the prospect of an actual regular reader! After a few weeks, I was crushed to realize that the new reader was actually myself checking Studio Mailbox from my new iPhone. Although amusing now, at the time it was completely defeating. It was like looking for your glasses for hours only to find out they were on your head the entire time.
I kept blogging anyway. I am the Bridget Jones of the blog-o-sphere. A little chubby and somehow always managing to just miss the bus. The biggest mistake I've made from the start is failing to connect properly with other bloggers. Because I had so many unanswered questions, I was scared to make mistakes or break laws that I still don't understand. Even today as I tried to watch the video that was posted with testimonials from last year's attendants, it didn't work in Germany.
If I could attend the conference, I would imagine that I would learn some blogging basics that I have missed along the way. I would meet other bloggers and gain a network of people. These connections would in all likeliness lead to collaborations and opportunities over the coming year. I would also get to see industry movers and leaders in the US and how things are happening.
This of course is the idealistic lah-dee-dah-ding-dong version of how things could go down.
In the real world, here is what is more likely to happen if I don't attend the conference. Our family will find a dwelling and transportation, I will find a school for my child, I will get offered some sort of employment and I will probably take it because I have been out of the work force for 9 years now. I'll consider myself lucky in this shitty economy to get a job. My time and energy will be eaten away with work and family obligation and my blog will inevitably die a slow death. I'll always make art but it will be "on the side." Like a little packet of french fries.
But hey, I'm really hoping for the first scenario.
As for who I'd bring along with the second ticket - I have no idea. My only blogging friend in MN is already a panelist so my immediate reaction is to offer the ticket up to another lucky winner. Heck, I'd even throw in the hotel stay - who wants to sleep at time like that anyway?
Please pick me Creative Connection. The other month I looked at my stats and saw 2,500 visitors. I have no idea if this was the same visitor, obsessively looking at every page of my site or if it was 500 visitors stopping by 5 times. There are a lot of people who say without SEO, social networking sites and programming knowledge that you're not ever going to amount to much. Call me old fashioned, but I think writing something decent and sharing what you're passionate about can be unstoppable. I might not have the MOST readers, but I'd be willing to bet that I have the MOST LOYAL readers.
If I could attend, just imagine what would happen to Studio Mailbox if I actually learned something about blogging! And since CONNECT is my main word for 2011, it feels like this is meant to be.
Plus if you pick me I'll shamelessly blog about every moment of the experience and will have my head so far up your ass you couldn't dream of a better promotional opportunity. Seriously. Think about it.
*Note on the photography - during my German professional photo shoot I actually checked something on my laptop when she snapped this. This was the springboard to her posing me with the laptop for a series of shots, but this is the one that I really like. The shadow and the leg of the light stand don't matter. Neither does the fact that I don't actually blog looking like this. If I get to go to the conference, I will finally have a reason to pack the skirt!