Not a “prepper”… just prepared.

We’re getting for another wet weekend with a chance of hurricane down here in South Louisiana. And I spent my afternoon driving around town gathering water and canned food and batteries.

Growing up, I never worried about how we would manage through a storm. One, because I was a kid and it wasn’t my job to worry. But two, I always knew my dad had it covered. For the great terror that was Y2K, he had stocked enough canned food and water to last us through to Mardi Gras. You know, just in case computers, society, the internet, and every financial institution collapsed at midnight.

Now, every hurricane season, he double checks his cases of fresh water, gallons of gasoline, piles of chopped wood, and cans of red bean. He does it right. Stays stocked all year long. Rotates out his supplies. Keeps the water clean and the gasoline fresh. It’s impressive, and a little obsessive, but if you needed it, you would be glad he was there, ready to go.

I would joke in college, back when I was young and invincible, that the only preparation I did during hurricane season, was making sure I had at least half a tank of gas to get me home. Dad would take care of the rest.

Whenever I explain that to people, they call him a survivalist or a doomsday prepper. And, I guess technically, he may check off a few of the same boxes. But he knows he’ll be able to take care of himself and his family and even a few of the neighbors, when the next hurricane comes. And there is always a next hurricane. So I don’t see how it’s a bad thing.

Now that I have a house and my own small family… ok pets mostly if I’m being honest… I know I have to put more effort into my own hurricane preparations. It all comes down to me if the power goes, if the food is dwindling, if the water turns sour.

And it brings out the doomsday prepper in me. Every time.

Blend my love of post-apocalyptic survivalist fiction, with a yearly threat of hurricanes, and you get the perfect storm of over planning and green bean stockpiling. Add in a dash of learning from a father that has his shit on lock, and you find yourself feeling confident in your ability to ride out the end of the world in comfort.

Even if this time, it’s just a bit of rain.

Distill everything

How do you warp something as much as possible, but still make it recognizable?

That’s what I kept coming back to as I stood awestruck and questioning, in front of James Flynn‘s work at the Baton Rouge Gallery last month.

This was the first time in a long while that I just let myself experience art. Absorb it. Have thoughts and feelings. And not have to make small talk with the artist like you always have to do at the markets I am so used to attending.

Galleries let you just sit with someone’s work. And think whatever you want to think. And make all the faces you want to express. And stare for as long as you think you possibly can.

How do you translate something so completely while the original looms right there beneath the surface?

What language is so universal, that this level of transgression is rendered inconsequential.

How transcendent are the visual arts.

How strongly bound together.

Something had to happen

Hmm, so this is weird. Maybe this is what it’s like when you haven’t written anything publicly in like 9 months. Oh my god how has it been that long…. But also strangely feels longer?

After I quit… no, quit isn’t the right word. After I chose to stop making jewelry, I pictured a life full of other activities. And maybe I was right, but I was also wrong. That’s really not all that different or interesting.

Fuck. WHy am I even writing this? My brain feels busy. I want to create something new. Something with words and ideas. Not with pencil or ink. Not with hammers and paint.

Something is aching to get out but I don’t know if it’s a good idea or just a bored 30 year old with no more distractions. TV is boring. Instagram is boring. Video games are slightly less boring, but they make you feel hazy before bed. Books are less boring, and you’ve read a lot this year. But books don’t scratch the itch like they did 3 months ago.

The van is moving along… finally. After collecting pollen and spiderwebs for 6 months. And that is good for a couple hours or so maybe once a month because you can’t even stick with that.

And life just happens. My 2019 mantra was supposed to be “___ on purpose”. To live, create, act, be, on purpose this year. And I think that it’s just a remnant of my small business life, setting goals for the year and all that. Because what happens when you repeat a mantra day in and day out, is that it loses it’s power. It’s just meaningless letters on a paper calendar clinging to the wall with a few pieces of dusty tape.

It can’t change you anymore.

I also recently tried to trick myself into a 12 week workout challenge. 5 weeks down, and only ONE week went to plan. How… How did I used to stick with shit, and get shit done, and make progress, and move forward, and keep the momentum up?

Like, what the fuck changed with me?

Everyone says that having accountability helps. And maybe that’s what I am missing. But also, my deadlines are arbitrary. I know who set them and I know that a lot of the time, she is full of shit. Hopeful past-me thinks that future-me will set aside time every week to meal prep, when current-me hates cooking and is already tired just thinking about it.

Past-me is ever the optimist, while future-me never follows through. And here I sit, pissed at them both for not agreeing on one fucking thing.

Why is it that we think we know ourselves so well?

Do we even ever just sit with ourselves? With our current-selves. And just, explore inward?

Being bored in the age of the internet should be a disgrace. It certainly exposes a deep lack of imagination.

Maybe my brain itches so that I will actually take a fucking second to stop and see what’s going on up there. To find the itch. To scratch it. Instead of distracting myself from it. Mindlessly going from screen to screen in hopes to numb the itch instead of addressing it.

Maybe I’m meant to scratch it and see what words come running or tumbling or tripping out. To poke, and wait with a pen or keyboard and travel down the stream of consciousness that spills across the white page.

I mean, if you haven’t noticed by now, that is exactly what happened.

Meet Clifford!

LOOK AT MY VAN!

His name is Clifford, as in Cliff the big red Ford. He’s a 1970 Ford E200, with a small block 302 V8 engine, 4 speed transmission, and a sweet cherry red paint job. I bought him back in August, but I really didn’t start working on him until November (if you could even call it that… he got a new battery and a carburetor tune-up.)

Yeah, he’s a looker.

I’ve been dreaming about RVing, then #vanlife for the last 3 years it seems, so it’s weird to finally make progress on that goal.

I don’t have a really hard timeline. So for now, just look how handsome my damn van is.

And maybe check him out on instagram.

Photo Journal – Positano Italy

Photo Journal – Positano Italy

Long overdue. I’m in the process of going through a bunch of photos from old trips I’ve been on. While these aren’t the best photos. I mean, they are from like 8 years ago… I still want to record the trip here. 

This is a day trip I took while I was in Italy way back in 2011. I stayed in San Lazzaro, hiked down to Almafi, and took a boat to Positano, then back again.

Enjoy!

Looking Back at a Summer Spent Sketching

Looking Back at a Summer Spent Sketching

The summer I spent abroad in Italy is what kick-started my love of sketching. The trip was, hands-down, the move influential and transformative experience I’ve had in my life.

These sketches were all done over an 8 week period during the summer of 2011. Looking back at them now, I’ve fallen in love, and almost long to return to my early style of sketching. Little vignettes all over the page, running into each other, interacting in interesting ways, and with little notes as to what I found interesting.

I also can’t believe I spent an entire summer using almost nothing but pencil! I rarely use pencil in my sketching now, preferring to move quickly onto ink. But I am focusing on pencil, at least for the time being, in my #The100DayProject, so it’s nice to return to the medium.

On the first page above, you can see I made a note to “Read Mannerism” which was a passing comment/critique from my professor. A comment which I promptly forgot about for the rest of the summer and that I literally didn’t follow up on until I was writing this 7 years later. OH MY GOD HOW HAS IT BEEN 7 YEARS SINCE I WAS IN ITALY HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE JESUS CHRIST WHERE DOES THE TIME GO PLEASE STOP I WANT TO GET OFF.

…Anyway, mannerism was an art style “that emerged in the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520 and lasted until about end of the 16th century in Italy. Mannerism exaggerates such qualities, often resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant.”

After reading about Mannerism, all the rest of my sketches seem so obviously in that style. Even to this day, I find myself exaggerating perspectives or certain features of a scene. I would rather a sketch convey the feeling of a space, rather than be an accurate depiction, which all feels totally in line with the style. 

The first 3 pages are sketches I did on site early in the trip. I went back at the end of the semester and collected these sketches into one, more cohesive composition, above.

It was during this sketch that our professor walked past me, stopped, and remarked that I had made some serious progress. So while this sketch is simple and slightly boorish compared to later sketches and my current work, it’s a sign of progress, and for that I will always adore it. 

Trying to be a bit more realistic for the fountain above, but I always love a good diagram!

Getting towards the end of the semester. This was the first day of sketching that I really loved once it was finished. I adore all the little pieces, exaggerated perspectives, notes, and diagrams, that make up this page.

My very last sketch of the semester, and my absolute favorite! We were somewhat guided for this one, with my professor suggesting about halfway through the session, to try drawing a “worm’s eye view”. I love how all these little pieces come together to create a single understanding of the space.

That principle is something I want to more actively adapt to my sketching today.

#The100DayProject – Sketching Plants

#The100DayProject – Sketching Plants

After seeing instagram friends of mine participate in #the100dayproject, I decided this year to jump on the bandwagon and work on my sketching. The challenge runs from April 3rd to July 11th.

I chose to focus on “plant sketching” for a few reasons: I perceive it as a week spot in my sketching ability, and they add so much depth and energy to a scene, I want to be able to do them justice. 

If you’ve never heard of #the100dayproject, it’s simple, make art (though I’ve had friends practice writing and meditating) for 100 days and post it on instagram with the tags #the100dayproject, and a tag you make up that is unique to your challenge. I’m using the tag #elisketches100days for mine.

I want to focus on drawing plants realistically. Even when doing abstract sketching, you have to use a basic framework, and I believe knowing and understanding the framework only comes from drawing realistically first. It’s like how knowing the basic proportions and joints of the human body can help us draw a belivable person, even if the style is abstract. 

favorite Sketches (so far):

Little Eli is Dead. Long Live Eli Makes Things.

Little Eli is Dead. Long Live Eli Makes Things.

Basically, I woke up one morning in 2018 and decided that I’m not doing jewelry anymore. After launching an Etsy shop in 2013, and becoming an LLC in 2016, one January morning in 2018, I decided that I just didn’t feel like it anymore.

It’s crazy, but also reassuring, how things change.

I’m writing this to address the questions that I assume are coming. And to address the feeling I’m having. And any possible confusion, on your part or on mine.

I think a little of backstory is going to be important for this… As I was reviewing 2017, to start planning for 2018, I uncovered a few truths about myself.

TRUTH ONE. I am good at doing things once. Whether it’s taking an exam for my professional career, or building a new brand around an idea for a blog I had, or spending one month making something new every day. Doing things, no matter the size, just once, is easy for me. The flip side of that is, that doing things, no matter the size, consistently, is incredibly difficult. Studying daily for that exam, writing consistently for that new blog, making something new every month. That’s the stuff that trips me up.

TRUTH TWO. When I look 3-5 years down the road, I want to be traveling more. I want to live with less, and spend more time exploring the country. Jewelry, in the early draft of that goal, was going to be the vehicle in which I could afford to travel. The progression looked like this. Make jewelry > grown jewelry business to support yourself > take jewelry on the road > live in an RV while you traverse the country. But after talking with my boss at work, I learned that I wouldn’t need to quit to travel like I wanted to. So now I didn’t need jewelry to support my travels. And being realistic with myself, I didn’t need to wait to take a year off, I could start sooner, with something smaller like a van rather than an rv, and go on long weekend trips instead of taking months and months off work. Making that goal more attainable, made me reevaluate everything else I was holding to be true.

TRUTH THREE. I want the freedom to evolve. I wanted to grow, to learn, to experience more this year, and every year after. I like putting my head down and getting things done, but I also love changing my mind. I love reinventing myself. I love adding things to myself. I love the thought of becoming more. I spent 2017 wanting to do more, but having to do jewelry instead. This year, I don’t want to hold back.

When I laid out all that I wanted to do in 2018. Get in shape, read more, travel more, draw more, drink rum, get licensed, further my career, get married. All of that conflicted with the time and effort I would have to spend on jewelry. If I had to keep up the business, if I had to release new jewelry every month, if I had to attend an art market every other month, if I had to take product photos and stage photo shoots, if I had to post to instagram and write newsletters. I was left with “had to” conflicting with “want to”. I had to only look back at myself, and my motto, to know what I needed to do.

I do what I want.

You can borrow that by the way. And if you ever want my advice on anything, it will almost always be that.

Ok, so now we are up to speed on my thought process behind this seemingly huge switch, going from a jewelry designer to a lifestyle blogger. Going from someone with one purpose, to someone who finally embraces and all her passions.

I spent less than a week talking it over with my friend before deciding to just make the switch. I decided to fully embrace my instagram handle and be more than just jewelry.

What you see now is a more word-friendly site. Something more focused on the blog side, rather than the shop side. The jewelry will still be there and the shop will still be open, but I don’t know when I will be making any more jewelry.

Right now I’m letting myself drift from hobby to hobby. I don’t have a posting schedule or any real plans.

I’m doing what I want, and you are invited to come along.

Reading List – 2018

Reading List – 2018

Towards the end of the year, I plan my next year of reading. So, at the end of 2017, I went through my notes, my podcast recommendations, and my goodreads saves, to put together a reading list for 2018. 

In 2017, I was just trying to get a hold on what was happening to this country, and I was trying to broaden my reading horizons. I ended up reading 21 books, but looking back, I don’t remember most of them. I remember enjoying what I was reading, but the heavier reads just didn’t stick.

My 2017 reading list included White Trash by Nancy Isenberg, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Some pretty great books, but I wasn’t able to retain or learn as much as I really wanted.

So for 2018, my goal was not to “read more” it was to “learn more”. As I made my list, I also added the goal of starting a book journal, where I write summaries and takeaways from each book once I finished it. Hopefully, this will help me retain more information, and assist me in actually incorporating parts of what I’ve read into my daily life.

I don’t plan on writing those notes and findings here, but maybe at the end of the year, I’ll give a quick takeaway from each book and a rating.

Anyway, here’s what I’m reading in 2018 and why:

  1. White Rage – Carol Anderson (To learn about the history of the racial divide in the US and to try and understand where some common misconceptions came from)
  2. Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance (Recommended by a close conservative friend to try and understand the rust-belt and the class and cultural divide)
  3. The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood (Part 2 of the MaddAddam series that I started in 2017)
  4. Dark Money – Jane Mayer (Highly recommended by Tommy Vietor and Pod Save the World)
  5. The More of Less – Joshua Becker (Been in a minimal mood lately. Hopefully I can really stay inspired with this read)
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (I love a good dystopian fiction story)
  7. Fantasyland – Kurt Andersen (An interesting podcast suggestion, an analysis of American history to see if we’ve been socialized from the beginning to believing ridiculous things)
  8. The United States of Fear – Tom Engelhardt (How fear tactics have gripped the American conscious and if we can do anything to stop it)
  9. American Gods – Neil Gaiman (I loved the tv series and I want to read more about these characters)
  10. Why the Right Went Wrong – E.J. Dionne Jr. (To understand the evolution of the Republican party over the last 60 years)
  11. Listen Liberal – Thomas Frank (A podcast recommendation to understand the evolution of the Democratic party, seen from the outside and as told by a conservative #nevertrump-er)
  12. Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler (I love a good dystopian fiction story)
  13. The Age of Acquiescence – Steve Fraser (When did American’s stop revolting against the ruling class? Why have we surrendered to a dog-eat-dog capitalism that renders so few winners?)
  14. Symphony for the City of the Dead – M.T. Anderson (Podcast recommendation. Seems like a sorrowful and beautiful read)
  15. The Sheep Look Up – John Brunner (A dystopian “classic” I’ve never heard of)
  16. Ravensbruck – Sarah Helm (Women in War as victims)
  17. They Fought Like Demons – DeAnne Blanton (Women in War as fighters)

You can follow me over on goodreads if you want!

UPDATE: I changed book 5 to The More of Less by Joshua Becker since I could not find Why Not Socialism by Gerald Cohen in my local library system.

Photo Journal – Cuba

Photo Journal – Cuba

I’m so excited to document this trip and share these photos. Cuba has such a laid back attitude and tropical aesthetic that I just vibe with. 

Tell someone you are going to Cuba and you are either greeted with excited/jealous faces from people who truly appreciate this sleepy little country, OR you get serious side-eye because you are going to be visiting a communist country and communism is the DEVIL if you go you will be BRAINWASHED! You will bring it back and infect the entire country OHMYGOD HOW COULD YOU! U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.

But, I mean, mostly it was the first response. Cuba is fantastic. Suck it.

I also tried to sketch some during our trip, but our pace was just too fast for me to sit and sketch. I’m going back and filling out my Cuba sketchbook little by little. I’ll be happy to share that when I’m finally finished. 

Anyway, on to the photos!

viva cuba!