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“Whose Wife Are You?:” The Problem of Being Artistic in a Traditionally Professional World

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So I have a new job which means I have new coworkers. And it also means getting to know said coworkers.  I have the interesting situation now of being extremely diverse in skill set and professional interests in comparison to my coworkers.  In the past, I was surrounded by a small core group of other creative types who I could call across the room to if I ever needed an opinion or help.  Now I work in an building with Economics faculty who, while impassioned and interesting people, are unlikely to know the answer to my problem of determining the best way to aesthetically animate line graphs in After Effects.  It’s a different setting for me to be working in so it’s taking some adjustment, but I wanted to share one anecdote that revealed a truth to me about the difference between creatives and most of the rest of the professional world.

On a recent weekend, the Economics department held their yearly Fall Gathering with the intention of alcohol flowing freely and introducing new faculty and staff to the rest of the crew.  Suffering from sometimes debilitating social anxiety, I was skeptical of going, but eventually decided to attend (even though I was getting over a cold and illness has always made a perfect excuse for bailing on social events) because I knew it would be good to socialize with my new coworkers in a non-work setting.  (Plus free alcohol and food. Who can turn that down?)

First, I learned that these people are amazing and have done some pretty cool things. Many of them have traveled quite a bit–Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Caribbean islands.  Second, everyone is fascinated by the entertainment industry.  So an easy talking point for me is movies, my film education, and if they’re on the technological up-and-up, YouTube and other online content.  All of this is to say, “Hey! They’re just like me!” With perhaps a bit more educationally-funded, exotic travel in their repertoire. How we differ though is usually in how we look.

I am an eccentric dresser. I love bright colors. I love trying trendy statement pieces. I love wearing something that makes my outfit POP!  And despite what one might believe, I don’t love these things for the attention these things sometimes bring me. (In fact, sometimes I wish I didn’t love them so I didn’t bring so much attention to myself).  I love being an eccentric dresser because the bright colors, the trendy pieces, the POP! of textile excitement brings me joy.  However, it usually sets me apart from your Average Joan.

At the Economics Fall Gathering, I wore a bright purple pleated mock-neck shift dress with southwestern-inspired embroidered heels.  I wore my hair in my signature “Victoria Secret” waves with some super-long, dangly earrings and gold jewelry.  I felt out of place the moment I walked in the room. (I hadn’t known if this was a classy event where we were supposed to dress up or a casual event. So when in doubt, I tend to opt for “Artistic Kaitlyn” which is LOUD and colorful and dangly.  It turned out to be a “wear whatever you want” with people in ties and dress pants and others in jeans and unbuttoned shirts over t-shirts.) But after a glass of wine and a fun conversation about the normalcy of people walking around dressed in colonial garb when attending The College of William & Mary, I had forgotten I was dressed any different or was any different professionally then they were.

And then the party came to an awkward halt when a new arrival looks to me and says “And who’s wife are you?”

(NOTE: From an outsider’s perspective, the situation I’m about to recount might sound very rude, but I will say it was entirely amusing from my point of view.)

The introduction of new faculty and staff (there are 3 of us) occurred at the beginning of the event.  The lovely and boisterously Italian woman who burst into the room an hour late had missed this announcement and she was the one faculty member who I had not met at all yet.  She first assumed I was the wife of one of the other male faculty members that I was standing beside at the time. He quickly corrected her, and so that’s where the “Who’s wife are you?” came from.  It was followed by, “You look like someone’s wife! And we haven’t met before so….”  I think at that point she started to see the horror on some of the other faculty member’s faces who were standing near me.

While both comprehending the implication of what she’d said (I look like someone’s wife not like a Economics faculty member who should be here of her own right) and trying to encourage a laugh with her rather than a laugh at her faux paux, I told her I was the new Learning Media Specialist for the department.  She later pulled me aside and profusely apologized in her very amusing Italian accent and demeanor (I mean, really guys, it was like someone pulled her out of a classic gangster movie). I told her I knew she didn’t mean anything by it. And in fact (though I didn’t tell her this), I completely understood why she would think I was someone’s wife. I certainly don’t look like a professor of economics! I might be able to pass for a professor of Art or Visual Media or something like that, but I generally don’t think I have the “look” of the average professor. Not that professors can’t be eccentric, of course. But I know that wasn’t what she was expecting when she came to the Economics Fall Gathering and she may  not have known there was a new staff member yet.

So instead, it all became this big globby mess of confusion and embarrassment and the realization that creative professionals, while just as skilled in their respective fields, almost always will feel like outsiders in the traditional professional world.  It’s in our general make up.

But that’s okay. I kind of like being the eccentric one.  It’s fun when I can forget and just be “one of the crew,” but I wouldn’t give up my “one of a kind” status for anything either.

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What Will Happen in the World of Fall 2016 TV? // Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, Jane the Virgin, The Mindy Project

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It’s that time of year again! We’ve waited months to find out what happens to our favorite characters. Will they make it through whatever awful trauma the writers put them through back in the spring? Will contract renewals and/or budget cuts factor into the story that we all know should happen but fear won’t? Well, I’m super excited for some of my favorite shows to be returning to their regular weekly schedule.  All my absolute favs ended with some serious drama so I’m wondering what will happen, but there are also some new shows I’ve been seeing promotions for that seem intriguing. What better way to get into the fall TV season spirit than to do a little recapping and surmising about the season to come?  Let’s do this! (But be warned, this post will contain spoilers for those of you who haven’t caught up on the latest seasons. Pin it for later, when you’re prepared!)

The Mindy Project

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I wanted to start with something light. The drama that The Mindy Project left us with wasn’t life or death, but our loveable and crazy main character was left in a sticky situation between having just slept with her ex, Danny, in an elevator and coming home to find that her potential new suitor Jody has bought her an entire apartment. Then there’s also the extra stressor of the audience (though not Mindy yet) knowing that Danny is getting married!  All in all, it’s not looking too good for anyone in this quirky love triangle.

I’m really interested in this season because 1.) I absolutely HATED Jody at the start of the season. He was such a male chauvinist stereotype. But slowly…somehow he became my favorite character. I had always been a Mindy and Danny shipper until the first half of this latest season on Hulu. I understood Danny’s Catholic quirks and his aversion to marriage after a failed first marriage and a rough childhood after being abandoned by his father. But once Baby Leo was born, his prejudices and assumptions started revealing themselves and I stopped feeling like he was right for our wildly independent heroine Mindy.  And Jody continued to surprise me throughout the season with his investment in Mindy’s fertility practice and later his friendship with her despite having vastly different personalities. So while I know Mindy will weather whatever relationship storm started brewing at the conclusion of last season with her characteristic optimism and craziness, I feel like this light-hearted show has raised some serious questions about women and our relationships with men and their ingrained ideas of masculinity and femininity.

Once Upon a Time

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I am the biggest Captain Swan shipper, and while I have my issues with last season’s Dark Swan and Underworld arcs (or at least their executions, I felt like the ideas were wonderful but maybe misused a bit), I’m so happy that Hook and Emma are finally both back to their old selves and no longer in imminent peril (for the moment).  For season 6, all the previews have been hinting at getting back to more of their season one style with new characters (Aladdin and Jasmine, etc) and flashbacks. My hope is that rather than the one-off episodes they’ve been doing with new characters recently (e.g. Hercules and Meg? That was such a waste of amazing characters!), we’ll start to integrate some new characters into the story and have their past/stories actually influence the plot of the season rather than serve as a vehicle for the plot of individual episodes. Aladdin being a previous savior is a really interesting concept, and I like the idea of delving more into the savior mythology. (At this point, we know a fair amount about the Dark One mythology but not its opposite, the Savior).  Also, I’d really like to see a struggle for Emma where she isn’t either debilitated (like when she first became a Dark One or when she was first understanding her powers in the Frozen arc) or too headstrong to listen to anyone (like the Neverland arc).  I want to get back to the Detective Emma of season one.  I love her loyalty and her passion, but I’m also tired of seeing her wear herself down trying to save EVERYBODY. I hope that the failed Savior history of Aladdin will help Emma realize she can’t save everybody. That it’s not her job.  She can certainly try to do good in her community and help people when she can, but not to the detriment of her health or the safety of her family and friends.

Plus I want a Captain Swan wedding. I feel like they were hinting at that in the season finale with the Emma and Hook’s reunion kiss in front of bridal shop.  Although I do keep wondering about the feasibility of that hook as their romance progresses. I feel like sharp objects are not something you want to keep in your marriage bed.

There’s also the Regina/Evil Queen storyline which is exciting in it’s own right.  We can now get back to the awesome EVIL-ness of the Evil Queen without losing all of Regina’s character development. While I am still miffed about Robin being killed off (but honestly, he was just arm-candy at this point, another misuse of an amazing character), I want Regina to continue her journey of redemption to prove 1.) She doesn’t need a man/True Love to be happy/successful and 2.) She can overcome her demons.  But I’ll definitely enjoy all the destruction that the Evil Queen is going to cause in the meantime.  We need a truly evil and challenging villain for a change.

Jane the Virgin

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Is Michael alive?!?!?!  Man, Jane the Virgin is amazing at leaving a season with an extreme WTF moment.  Mateo’s kidnapping in Season 1 and now Michael being shot in season 2.  I will say that I’ve been a Rafael shipper since the beginning, but I fully supported Jane and Michael’s marriage and love for each other. I feel like Michael really “manned up” in the second season and decided that he loved Jane no matter what. In season 1, I had felt they weren’t a good match because he wasn’t ready for a child, or rather, he wasn’t interested in raising a child that wasn’t actually his and certainly not co-parenting with someone who your fiance/wife has obvious chemistry with.  But seeing Michael with Mateo this season really melted my heart. Whatever his original misgivings about the situation, you can tell that Mateo is just as much Michael’s child as he is Jane’s and Rafael’s. So even though I feel like a Jane and Rafael pairing would be wonderful, right now, Michael + Jane is obvious.

The previews seem to suggest that he didn’t die on site (which is good!) but there’s still the fear that he will die later. What if he’s stuck in a coma? What if he doesn’t wake up? What if he wakes up but has memory loss or has a completely different personality? (This is in the vein of a telenovela, you know).  Plus I just love Brett Dier (the actor who plays Michael) and I would hate the idea of him not gracing my screen every Monday night!

Then there are the other problems we were left with at the end of season 2: Petra is trapped in the hospital with a debilitating “disease” caused by her evil twin who’s now taking over her life and Xiomara has found out she’s pregnant with SOMEONE’S baby (Rogelio? Esteban?) While the question of Michael’s fate is the most pressing issue on my mind as the new season begins, I feel like Petra and Xiomara’s predicaments are far more interesting in terms of where the season will go and what impacts they’ll have on all the characters.

The Vampire Diaries

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And finally The Vampire Diaries with it’s heartbreaking final season.  We left season 7 with a return to the norm in a way (only really the core characters remain alive, Bonnie isn’t in anymore imminent danger, and the Huntress is gone for good), but with the empty space that Damon and Enzo left after having been consumed by the Evil Vault Monster in the Armory.  On the one hand, we know they’re not gone for good so no deaths to mourn.  But on the other hand, we know that we seem to be facing the ultimate Big Bad as Damon and Enzo (bad boys in their own right) have become minions of Evil Herself.  There’s not much we know about this upcoming season. It’s mostly just rumors flying about Nina Dobrev reprising her role for the finale and fears about whether they’ll really be able to bring Damon back from this final dark turn.

In terms of things I’d like to see, if Nina Dobrev is coming back, I’d really like to see Katherine Pierce be somehow connected to the Evil Vault Monster.  She was sucked off into darkness instead of crossing over to the Other Side so her character still has potential to return.  However, I would NOT be satisfied if Nina’s return only came in the form of Katherine and not with at least one happy-cry worthy Delena scene to end the show with.  I’d also like to see Matt have a happy ending. He got SO CLOSE last season, but then it all got stripped away and he turned kind of bad which I wasn’t a fan of.  The one thing about Matt Donovan–the resident human of the gang–is that he’s inherently good. He’s always changing sides to try to help as many of his friends as possible. It’s made him do some questionable things, and you can tell that weighs on him heavily, but he’s the most loyal character I’ve ever seen.  And then there’s the hinted BIG DEATH that will happen mid-season, and I’m scared for that. We’re down to so few characters, and I don’t think I could handle parting with any of them.  For someone in this very small crew to die would feel like such a waste when the series is almost over!  They almost made it through!  I’m not even taking bets on who it will be. Imagining it being any of them breaks my heart.
So there are my favorite fall shows and what I’m feeling/hoping/fearing!  I felt like there were some really intense season endings in the spring so I’ve been anticipating this season renewal for a while!  What are your favorite shows and what are you excited for when they come back on this fall? Tell me in the comments! While I honestly don’t need any more shows to watch, I’d love to know your hopes and fears for your favorite shows!

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Adventures and Artistic Endeavors: The World of YouTube You’re Probably Missing

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This week’s Tuesday video (I really need a fun name for it. I guess I should be uploading on Friday so that it could be “Fun Fridays with Kaitlyn!” since that’s the general vibe I’m going for) hold a special place in my heart. It probably won’t be my highest viewed video (as my music videos and experiments in editing never rank as high view-wise), but I wanted to celebrate it on the blog today because I put a lot of hard work into it.

I’ll be honest, it’s much easier for me and has a much better payoff to film and upload videos of myself talking about getting your crush to like you or building up your self-confidence.  But my first love on YouTube–what I watch and always have wanted to emulate–are the experimental editors, the motion graphic artists, and the music video directors.  I like to see content that pushes the boundaries of video and music and storytelling and art. It’s what I strive towards even if it’s not necessarily what I create on my channel regularly. But this week, I made the effort to learn something new and create something beautiful that tested my skillset.

On the most basic level, “Summer Adventures” is just a travel-inspired music video with shots I’ve taken over the summer (and even some from the end of last summer!) artistically cut to music. I added some light leaks for a whimsical effect, but other than the beautiful scenery there wasn’t anything particularly awe-inspiring in that part of the process. Yet somehow I still ended up spending 6 to 8 hours on the project. Why, you might ask? Because I wanted to give it an extra “umpf” by creating a quirky title and lower thirds.

I had already been researching different types of clean lower thirds for inspiration on a work project and I ran across this tutorial by Mt. Mograph which I absolutely loved. So many people make simple tutorials drag on forever but Matt was able to create, animate, and explain well his piece in just over 5 minutes.  That’s a great tutorial!  I learned a few tricks to accomplish graphic movements I’d witnessed but only ever clunkily created with much more ease and precision.

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The time suck came from my desire to create “Write-On” Text for the title screen. I wanted a really quirky font and I didn’t just want a fade in. I wanted the letters to build themselves on screen. I’ve worked with “Trim Paths” quite a bit in After Effects and I knew the way to achieve the look I wanted came from drawing out each individual letter from watching this tutorial previously.  But that’s a lot of lines! And curves. Curves have been the bane of my existence, but after watching several wonderful tutorials on using the pen tool in Illustrator, I’ve found it much easier to work with in After Effects too. So I decided to go for it! I started with just the title and drew out each individual letter by creating paths in their shape and using a stroke to match the width of the letters. I could then animate the stroke using Trim Paths and it came out wonderfully! Each letter has to be in it’s own shape layer and it can feel tedious with the drawing and adjusting the curves to fit JUST right and naming each shape layer so it doesn’t get too confusing, but I did it!  And then on Monday I got the crazy idea that I should do the same animation for all the lower third text too!

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It’s a time-consuming process, but it does create a really amazing effect (I think especially with the particular text that I chose since there are all kinds of extra lines and curves.  So I ended up with a project that includes a few motion graphic elements that I’m REALLY proud of and in turn, makes me even more proud of the project as a whole.

So if you’ve gotten this far, and you haven’t quite understood what I’ve been talking about the in the last few paragraphs or so, thanks for sticking with it!  I’m actually quite the motion graphics nerd. I love After Effects and Illustrator tutorials, and I honestly could spend all day watching and experimenting with them.  I would suggest that you check out some tutorial channels if you’ve ever been interested in motion graphics or graphic design.  Sometimes I watch just to learn the keyboard shortcuts I still don’t know about, but there are so many talented individuals who make amazing tutorials for you for FREE. How often can we really get quality learning these days without paying a boatload of money?

Some of my favorites include ECAbrams, Mt. Mograph, and Kriscoart Productions (who I got to meet and become friends with through the YouTube NextUp program which was super cool to me because his channel was one of the first “tutorial” channels I found and fell in love with).  Go check them out! And go challenge yourself to do something cool and creative this week! There are so many things I’ve felt like I couldn’t do until I picked up my pen or mouse and tried them!

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Starting a New Job, Starting a New Life

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Changing my life has been a big theme in 2016. Well…I feel like it was a theme in 2015 too, but a somewhat failed one. Or at least, it’s just taken me a lot longer to change the general circumstances of my life than I anticipated.

Do you ever get frustrated feeling like the rest of the world is moving at this amazingly fast pace of change and mobility while you’re stuck at the bottom of the pit begging someone to help you get a lift up to at least the first rung of the adult life ladder? That’s the way I’ve felt for more than a year now. It’s not a pleasant place to be.  And no one can be blamed for it. We all have our own paths to follow and they progress at different speeds.  If only we could turn on blinders so we can’t feel like we’re all competing with one another!

Nevertheless, I finally got to take the “next step” I’ve been longing to take for two years now. I’m in a new job where I have more responsibility along with more authority to get done what has to get done.  I’m in a newly created position so I have more leeway in defining what the position looks like. I’m working in a new area of educational video so I can explore a whole new area of learning and “edutainment.” I also currently have more free time than I’m used to having so I can spend it watching and trying tutorials in motion graphics to expand my skillset.  All in all, I’m very happy to have made a step up on the career ladder rather than a step sideways or down which is what I had been beginning to fear was necessary for me to make a move at all.

Personal life-wise, I’m excited about changes. My desire to change jobs was more than just about upping my career prospects but it was also about living somewhere else–closer to friends, my boyfriend, and a creative scene more conducive to building a necessary network.  While Richmond isn’t exactly the most “glamorous” place I could move, in the last 3 years of researching and trying to find an area that would bolster rather than stifle my career, I found Richmond to fulfill a lot of my needs. So many of my friends moved here post-college. It has a thriving creative scene and a lot of young people.  It even has a small but passionate film industry with productions like Mercy Street and Loving having been filmed here in the last few years.  It’s not L.A., but the more I’ve considered it over the last few years, the more I realize I don’t want to have live in L.A.  I know it’s the entertainment industry’s heart and the hub of YouTube and online content innovation, but I just don’t think it’s what’s going to make me happy or give me the career I really want.  So for now, I want to take it one step at a time.  Richmond seems like the place that has all the things I want for the moment, and that’s a welcome change in my life.

So for me, it kind of feels like I’ve started a new life.  There are similarities and vestiges of my life at my previous job and in my hometown, but for the most part, it feels wholly new. As I was leaving work on my first day, I couldn’t help being overcome with a crazy smile because I realized I had accomplished all the things I’d set out to do: I was living in Richmond, I was working at VCU.  And do you know how hard it is to actually do the things you set out to do? Usually goals have to change and shift and be put on hold, but this time things actually worked out and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Much of this blog is about goal-setting–how to set goals, how to manage disappointments and setbacks, how to celebrate little victories, how to advocate for yourself and your goals to the discouragers in your life–so it is incredibly exciting to get to say “Hey! This advice I’ve been giving you isn’t totally insane, it does work eventually!” I think it’s important to celebrate every victory no matter how big or small of a goal it is that you’ve accomplished.  And this change is a time worthy of celebration and overflowing gratitude.