#100DaysofPhotoshop: Falling Flat

I have to confess something that fills me with deep, deep shame: I failed. Yesterday, I completely skipped a day of my #100DaysofPhotoshop for the first time. I wondered how long it would be before I cracked under the pressure, and it turns out it only took 15 days.

The positive in this is that I’m not yet ready to give up. So I failed. It’s not a first for me, and certainly won’t be the last. I’m giving myself a free pass to say, “Ok, next time I’ll do better.”

The best thing this project has done so far is to teach me that some days, it’s enough to show up. I think I might have just confirmed everyone’s worst fears about millennials, but I’m not asking for a participation trophy. It feels reasonable to say that on top of the demands of work and friendships and a relationship and various projects on the side, some days it’s simply enough to show up and put in some work.

With that in mind, I’m learning to embrace the work in progress. Some of the things I’ve made so far in photoshop have actually been more fun as a snippet or a work in progress than a finished piece. And for someone who beats herself up to finish things I didn’t even want to do in the first place, it’s a breath of fresh air.

I’m hoping that the next 15 days bring more finished projects and fewer failures. But I’m glad to be showing up either way. In the meantime, here are a few of the snippets of half-finished pieces (most of which I did wind up finishing) from my #100DaysofPhotoshop so far, as well as some doodles and drawings that have distracted me from the task at hand–oops!

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The painted layer from a colored half-tone image I made of Coachella artists–can you guess who each is?

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The sweet in sweet tooth.

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Playing with brushes and layering painting over images.

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And the drawing distractions. Sometimes I have to step away from a screen and just doodle, write, etc until I can see straight again.


Sunday Reset

Day14_BlogQuoteLayout Homesick Sunday has struck again. It’s one of those days when I feel so far from everyone I love, and am worried this city will never cut it for me. Some days I can love being here, but today Nora nailed it: it’s just where I live.

I’m homesick, not just for Rhode Island, but for New York, and London, and cities I’ve never even called home.

So I’ve taken this weekend to do the things that make me feel whole and good—a reset, if you will. I drew cards and wrote letters. I binge-watched TV and folded laundry. I baked a cake, never mind that it was a failure. And I’m letting myself take today to tune out Twitter and Facebook and texts and emails to do more of the same.

Now I’m off to soak in a bath, bake another cake, do some work reading, and kick back for another Orphan Black binge. Enjoy your Sunday, hitting the reset button as needed.

(Image quotes pulled from Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck)

The wandering cowgirl’s grand adventure

Day 11 of #100DaysofPhotoshop

Three years ago I set out for California with a single suitcase and a one-way ticket. Or so the story goes.

I’ve told it a hundred times, pausing in all the right places to mention my lack of job or apartment and answer the typical questions:”Why California?” (Oh well it was this or NY and..) “Did you know anyone out here?” (There was a boy, but that was about it..) “Were you scared?” (Like crazy, but I knew if I didn’t do it then..). With time I’d work in the fact that I flew out on 9/11 because it turns out that’s a very cheap day to fly. Invariably the responses are peppered with words like “adventuresome” and “chutzpah.” Sometimes I’m even “brave.”

The problem is I don’t even know if it’s true at this point. It’s become part of my personal myth, the story that lets me explain myself in shorthand. With one story I can account for my presence on the west coast, dispel any misconceptions about my own capabilities (I’m still here, aren’t I?), and paint myself as the wandering cowgirl I’ve always wanted to be.

Yes, I did come to California from a tiny state thousands of miles away, one that remains home to my family. There was a single suitcase, and a one-way ticket, and no job, and no apartment. Those parts are all true.

On the other hand, there was a boy. A bed to sleep in until I got my feet. A bank account that would keep me afloat for a month or two. And parents who would gladly welcome me back if my grand adventures should fail. Every one of these omissions makes me feel like a fraud.

The problem with feeling like a fraud is it creeps into the cracks of everyday life and spreads without you knowing it. It’s the black mold of my life. On a particularly bad day in San Francisco I’ll convince myself I was never meant to be here in the first place, that the city is rejecting me on the basis of a false origin story. I swear sometimes a screeching streetcar will hiss “leasssst coasssst” at me. The city is taunting me to admit defeat, pack up my adventure boots, and head home. And I deserve it because I’m a fraud anyway.

Recently my mom was in town, and we talked about that story that’s come to be such an integral part of my personal mythology. I asked her if I was misremembering—it must have been less scary, more planned than I remember. Her reply: “That’s exactly what you did, and I was crazy to encourage you!” And slowly I started to remember the anxiety of sitting in the bed with the boy, terrified I wouldn’t find a job here. The exhilaration of my first few weeks exploring a city as foreign to me as any I’d been to. The roller-coaster gut drop I’d experience every time I remembered that this was my big leap into life, and there was no trampoline to break the fall.

Turns out the myth is real. Even if it weren’t it’s become so important in shaping how I approach my life. And so, instead of feeling like a fraud, I’m going to invest a bit more time into living a life worthy of the 21-year-old who filled a bag with her things and hopped on a plane to start a new life. I figure that way at least I’ll have a hell of a story when I go.

(Image is from Day 11 of my #100DaysofPhotoshop project; quote from Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck)

Reading Roundup

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Hello computer, my old friend. After a weekend of no computer and just music and dust everywhere I have to admit just opening my computer has left me a blue. The emails have piled up and tomorrow will be a typically crazy Tuesday at work.  But I’m trying to ride that great-music-no-worries high through the short week until I can collapse in utter exhaustion next weekend.

In the meantime, driven by my dread at the thought of actually having to write/make/do today, here’s a roundup of some of the articles, books and bits that caught my eye over the last week or so.

(Doesn’t that framed woman look like she could use a good reading recommendation? Picture from my trip to the Legion of Honor with my mom a few weekends back.)

The feminism behind Flawless, a great read from literary critic Parul Sehgal.

Don’t spoil it for me–I missed the GoT premier for Coachella! But I loved this roundup of all the on-screen deaths from the last 4 seasons.

“Tell Me Again How You Don’t See Color,” an ever-important response to calls for color-blindness from the amazing Marshall Gillson.

All the things you never realized were wrong with Goodnight Moon.

In Indio I finished The Power of Habit–maybe not a nonfiction masterpiece, but got me thinking about my own unproductive habits (as I stuffed my face with pizza and roast beef and noodles and..).

Up next? I’m dying to read The New Jim Crow and I’ve got Devil in the Grove queued up on audible. Y’know, light, fluffy reading.

Coachella Bound

Packing for Coachella

For the second year I’ve got my bags packed and I’m ready to run around the desert for three days sweating out of every inch of my skin in order to soak in as much music as possible. You guessed it: Coachella.

I’ve got a plane to catch in a couple of hours for which I can’t check in, my chargers are still strewn across my room, and because I love myself I just spilled a full cup of coffee all over my comforter and jeans. But by this time tomorrow I’ll be pitching a tent and drinking a beer with one of my best friends of 12 years. So it’s hard to get too worked up about anything.

The current issue at hand is making sure I’ve packed everything I think I’ll need. As you can see my suitcase is ready to go with nary a flower crown or crop top in sight, but of course I have the sinking suspicion I’ve left something out. But Molly, you’re thinking, if there are no flower crowns what on earth could you be packing?

  1. Tickets. I cannot stress this one enough, and really I shouldn’t have to, but I checked about fourteen times to make sure i had the most important thing packed safely: the tickets.. Despite the fact that I’ve never lost tickets to any major event, I’m constantly double and triple checking because I’m so certain I’m going to leave these at home. Seeing as I have both tickets and the car camping pass, I would be in deep shit if I didn’t double check.
  2. Layers. Things I didn’t know before going last year include the fact that the sun will scorch your bare shoulders if you dare to taunt it with bare flesh, and yet by midnight in the desert if you don’t have a jacket you’ll be colder than a white walker freezing into a million shattered pieces. Nas brought out Lauryn Hill at the end of his set which was amazing, but just minutes prior to that I had been contemplating heading back to the tent due to insufficient coverage. I would have never lived it down if I had wound up giving in and missing the end of that set.
  3. Body suits & bathing suits. Ok, so I’m not lame enough for a flower crown, but I do have to get into the spirit somewhat. How am I gonna scream along with Drake in my regular everyday outfit? I’m a big fan of a body suit or one-piece under some shorts.
  4. Snacks, snacks, snacks. At music festivals I’m basically the mom who constantly has snacks in her bag, because you never know when hunger will strike. You’re surrounded by food, but you don’t want to have to drop $10 on a slice of pizza every time you’re feeling a little worse for the wear. So of course I tucked some granola bars and mini boxes of cereal in my bag. Last year I carried around cheesy crackers and granola bars all weekend, and convinced The Boy that we would want mini bagels and salami in the morning. I will forever consider it my greatest victory that he admitted I was right about needing food and snacks around.
  5. Willpower and an extra battery. The willpower is for when you want to send everyone snaps of how great Coachella is but you know your battery is gonna die if you do. The extra battery is for when your willpower gives out and your phone dies.

My bonus this year? I got a sun shower that I’m nerdily excited about because it means I can somewhat shower without having to wait in the insane lines for camping showers.

And of course, there are the things you can leave at home.

  1. Last year’s Coachella tee
  2. Wedges and heels (I want to weep when I see women in heels—you’re on a grassy field walking around for 12 hours!)
  3. Tanning oil (just a burn baby burn situation waiting to happen)
  4. Debbie downers
  5. Your offensive American Indian inspired headdress

See you on the other side, probably burned and slightly worse for the wear but happy as can be!



A is for Accountability. And boy do I need it.

Recently I rediscovered a creative itch that needs scratching. The problem is that with the demands of work, friendships and relationships, I’ve been dragging my feet on getting started on anything substantial.

For April, a few friends and I set some goals, and the plan is to hold each other accountable. They range in ambition, but by writing them down we’re all saying “I need you to punch me in the face if I don’t do this.”*

Today I also started in on the 100 Days Project—a way to force a bit of routine into the creative process, and another attempt at accountability. Led by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent, and inspired by Michael Beirut’s Yale class, the 100 Days Project has a simple premise: commit to doing the same creative act every day for 100 days. People take on various creative endeavors (a friend is doing font pairings!), but there are also projects involving cooking, keeping in touch with people, and being kind to other people.

I committed to 100 days of Photoshop, during which I’m going to do small projects, create silly things that make me laugh, and hopefully learn some new tools and tricks that apply to photo editing. As you can see from the images above, my Photoshop skills have primarily been deployed in creating pictures for Twitter. Ideally by the end of this I’d like to be able to better create things in Photoshop that feel like my style, and to develop some actual photo-editing and manipulation skills. I know a few other people participating, but it’s comforting knowing there is a whole community of people committing to filling these same 100 days with creativity.

I’ll be posting on Instagram with #100DaysofPhotoshop, but I’ll try to share here from time to time as well. I’ll include some updates on my other goals as well, which include some small amounts of coding, writing and Accountability, bruh. It’s a good thing.

*I do not condone violence. Do not punch your friends in the face.

California Thirst

Dekanimal Illustration

I don’t know if you heard, but California’s in the middle of a little drought. In the words of Tinashe: “We’ve been praying for the raining, it’s been months now since it came here to Califoooooornia.” And it’s officially serious.

Well, we woke up this morning to a tiny bit of Easter rain. The sound on my window was like soul food after a diet. I don’t get homesick as much as I used to, but that tiny, inadequate taste of rain left me aching for the heavy spring rains that melt the snow back east. And the cool you off, heat lighting summer storms. And the house-shaking hurricane warning storms that actually force you inside.

What can I say? I’m a weather lover.

I found myself browsing various illustrations that capture different aspects of the rain. With these illustrations as inspiration, I’m spending the latter part of my afternoon doodling, sketching and painting the weather I so dearly miss.

Do those of you on the east coast want to kill me when you see me lusting after cold, wet weather? Tough cookies, you too could live in a drought-riddled state.

Ryo Tekamasa Illustration

John Kenn Illustration

Corey Egbert Illustration


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