Ego Tripping

 

 

So I bought some new shoes the other day.

I love to shop, but sometimes buying eludes me. I’m notorious for being indecisive in the area of my wardrobe. I often wind making unwise purchases in a last-minute rush as the store closes. That means I’ll be back shopping again soon, after I realize the outfit I put together is really pathetic.

Even when I can make a decision, there has to be a catch. Like the last time I went shopping for shoes. Big decision–shoe shopping is the bane of my wardrobe-building existence. One of my feet is half a size smaller than the other, so one shoe of the two is always going to be either cramped or loose. For this reason, I’ll put off purchasing new shoes until even I am ashamed of the old ones.

What a coincidence, at the very time I made my decision, the department store was offering shoes for sale. I couldn’t in good conscience put off the necessity any longer. I broke down and began looking.

So there I was, trying on shoes. Boots, to be precise. Since I needed footgear anyway, I decided I wanted a pair of stylish boots, with a good-sized heel. However, despite my resolution, my notorious shopping reputation was with me that day. When the afternoon drew to a close and I was still walking around the department store in stocking feet, I began to think it wasn’t in my destiny to own shoes that looked good and were comfortable at the same time.

Then, suddenly, I laid eyes on them. Brown leather ankle boots, with a nice tall heel. I tugged them onto my feet, wondering to myself if this was the day that would actually find me making a successful shoe purchase. Ah ha, no such luck. The boots looked great. Problem was, one foot was uncomfortable. Yes, I know, no surprise, right? But I mean, this was really uncomfortable. It was like…all bunchy. I walked around in those boots for half an hour, while I looked for my other options. But there weren’t any.

Then I heard the familiar call–“Ten minutes to closing.” Driven yet again to making an adrenaline-inspired purchase, I decided to take the boots, telling myself what one usually tells oneself when buying shoes: “They never feel right in the store, anyway.” “I’ll try them at home with different socks.” “They’ll conform to my foot…eventually.”

Newly confident in my self-delusion, I removed the boots and headed to the checkout. It was only when I was standing in line that I happened to look down inside the boot I was holding. I reached my hand down into the footwear and pulled out a clear plastic form, which hugged the entire inside area of the boot and extended up the ankle. It was meant to keep the boot’s shape for display. I’d been walking around the store with that thing in my shoe for half an hour.

I put the boot back on, right then and there, WITHOUT the plastic form.

You know, those are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned.

My ego, however, still hurts.

 

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Chris’ Large Calling Card

@Kellyd has asked for details on the stained glass window I designed, so here they are!

Time: 1996. Place: Tinley Park, Illinois. St. George Catholic Church was doing a renovation, which would include a new, 10-foot-tall stained glass window in the children’s area. My parents donated two windows–the children’s window and a crescent-shaped etched glass window. I was picked to do the design for the etched glass window (one of my first public speaking experiences, giving that presentation to the committee…nervous? Naaaahhhh….) and chose to donate my services.

The window was to depict Christ standing with His arms outstreched, welcoming the viewer. How to draw the Lord? That was a challenge, an awesome one. We always think of Him as a “carpenter.” I did some research, and discovered that the original Greek word we translate as “carpenter” was “tekton”–a term which describes a person who is not only a craftsman, but a scholar, an architect, a construction engineer. A tekton would do more than work with wood; he would design houses and temples, hew the stone, cut the trees, cart them to the site, and build from his design. Emaciated figures from iconic representations were entirely inaccurate. A tekton would be pretty buff…for lack of a better term.

Keeping this in mind, I created a drawing that I hoped was as realistic as possible–feeling my inadequacies every step of the way. But I drew strong hands and muscular arms–a Savior needs to be strong. I tried to give Him a lean, intelligent face; and my Mom requested a bit of a smile, since the Lord of the Bible stories always had a sense of humor. Once I had the drawing as right as I could make it…

I erased it.

Sad part of graphic design, it wasn’t possible to translate the details of a pencil drawing into etched glass, so I simplified it as much as I could while still keeping the impression I hoped to capture. The drawing was full-size, four feet high. (Apologies for the scanned photographs–poor quality)

Design for Etched Glass Window by mousewords

Here is the final result of the window:

Etched Glass Final

At least they kept my design for the hands…Well, moving right along.

Some time later, when the design for the children’s window encountered some problems, the church asked me to do that one, also.

The extent of my stained glass design experience was drawing fan artwork based on Disney’s incredible designs for “Beauty and the Beast”; but I was up for the challenge. I undertook the research project into the window–and for us, this was pre-internet, so it was like the dark ages. Like…I had to read books and things.

I also studied every stained glass window I could lay eyes on. I studied the construction as well as the design–the placement of rebars, the capabilities of detail. I dove into my drawing head-first, figuring that what the company needed from me was a basic design. I thought to myself, their engineers will fix the rebars later. But of course, I still did my best to make them as close to accurate as possible, working from the designs of the other windows in the church, among other resources.

The window was to depict Jesus and the children; my parents had ideas on what they wanted, but left the rest up to me. I thought back to my childhood–how, during church services, I would spend most of my time staring at the beautiful colors of the windows, while the sermon blended into words in the background. I thought to myself, a child may not be listening to the message of salvation in the sermon; so let’s see if he can find it in the window. I put myself into my childhood, and tried to depict a picture of Jesus as the Bible describes. Not distant and iconic–warm, friendly, caring, strong. Someone a child would want to be close to.

Here is the final result–ten feet high, my large calling card:

Chris' Large Calling Card

Being a writer, I also wanted to tell a story in the window. The service, after all, lasts about an hour, and colors can only hold so much attention. So I put as many curious details into the design as I could, so a child could imagine a story about the scene. There are also different ages, so that any child can relate. One youngster is playing in the sand at Christ’s feet; the littlest one is safe in His arms, playing with His hair, as babies do. The teenager has his hand on the Lord’s shoulder; a younger boy is sitting nearby, listening; a young girl is giving Him a hug.

Stained Glass Window by mousewords, St. George Church, Tinley Park, Il.3

Shortly after I completed my design, I moved out of state. I never saw the completed windows until ten years later.

When I walked into the church and saw that towering window aglow with afternoon light, it was unreal. That was my drawing. I could see my hand in the style–I knew the way my fingers turned, made lines. I was looking at a representation of something very personal to me–my art. I wondered if that’s at all similar to having children–to look into another face and find signs of yourself. The window company had basically just photocopied my design–rebars and all. They used my lines to the exact detail, and it actually WORKED. It hadn’t collapsed. Oh, my. The edification…

Even though I had done my research, I wasn’t aware of the full capabilities of stained glass. So when I drew the faces, I made them very abstract, not realizing that details could be painted directly on the glass. The company used my drawing as an outline, and had one of their artists paint details into the features. This artist did an amazing job.

So that’s the story. My calling card. Thrilling in its inspiration to me. A bit too big for a business card holder, however…

 

Night of Stars

 

Night deepens. The world sleeps in quietude. Balmy air moves softly–carries the gentle sound of waves touching the shore somewhere beyond.

Humanity stands in the silence, and reaches outward. Soul yearning for what is as deep and real without as what is within. Yearning for purpose, explanation, identity.

Eyes are drawn to the night sky.

The panoply of sky answers in return.

The Pleiades sparkle with ephemeral grace. Sisters, blue diamond jewels on black velvet. A string of precious gems, the garland of queens. Glowing with the ageless wisdom of forever, the peace of eternity. Quiet eyes shining bright with secrets unknown. Hung in the sky as a reminder of the innate beauty of femininity; the inheritance of royalty as daughters of Creation’s King. Beauty to be worn with exultation and fearless joy. Placed in the universe to shine, to glow from the light within. A priceless gift to be treasured by any to whom it is entrusted.

Orion watches over them in the towering night sky. Heroic symbol of manhood, kinetic with action, purest depiction of strength. A very Son of God. The imprint of the Creator is his form. The most beautiful mysteries of the universe dwell within him, shine from him. Expressing hidden fathoms of knowledge, awaiting discovery. His shape spreads across the panoply of sky like that of a man mountain. Overwhelming beside the delicacy of the string of sisters. Yet armed as protector. Strength that rules the night; nobility and kingship that evoke admiration. Honor that saves.

Painted into the canvas of the night by the hand of God. Knowing that yearning within the human soul would draw the eyes upward. Aeons before the question was asked, God answered with stars. Here is the identity of humanity. Grace and strength. Beauty and mystery. Wisdom and knowledge. Thou art made from the stuff of stars. See thy face in the rapture of the heavens, and know that it was painted by the hand that ignited suns at time’s birth.

Know that you are holy.

And your inheritance is as the sons and daughters of Heaven’s King.

 

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

 

Yesterday it was my lateness, combined with the slowing effects of a brand-new cold. Today it was because the power went out when I was painting, and stayed out till it was too late.

So, loyal fans, PROJECT MERMAID: SERIES TWO will air at an unprecedentedly late THURSDAY time slot. Can it be unprecedented if it’s only the second week of the series? I guess so, since the first episode aired on time. Well, not really on time, it was late, as well, but at least it aired on Tuesday. But this works out well, after all, since next Tuesday is Christmas Day, and who will be browsing online then?

So—hang with me here—Project Mermaid Series TWO will start THURSDAY and end NEXT THURSDAY. Series Three will start next Tueday, as it should. Overlapping schedules, but we do what we need to do.

Apparently we need to be drinking way too much coffee and eating too many chocolate chips at an unconscionably late hour, prompting us to speak in the third person and spend more than the usual amount of brain cells pondering fish folk and writing about events that never existed…yet make it seem as if they did…but I’m a writer, so I can do that, right? Right. Okay, so go read the recap of this past week’s episode and see what the imaginary characters have to say for themselves.

I’m having way too much fun with this series.

Wait’ll you see the next installment…I spent way too much time painting them, too.

 

Technical Difficulties

Okay, this is to the nine people who are paying attention.

I’m experiencing slight technical difficulties, and tonight’s new episide of “Project Mermaid” will be postponed until tomorrow.  Sorry, guys.  You can go home now.  No stampeding—single file, please; the parking lot may be a madhouse, so just take your time…

See you tomorrow!

Project Mermaid: Series 1 Ends Tonight!

 

 

Project Mermaid: Series One: “Found Objects” ends tonight! The poll closes at 7:30 pm PST! So swim on over and vote for your favorite mermaid fashion—today’s winner will make it into my new mousewords calendar, and will go up against the winners over the next eleven weeks to determine the champion!

Which fish-ion designer/mermodel team gets your vote?

~~Designer Clay and mermodel Penelope with “Caught Looking Fabulous”?

~~Designer Sasha and mermodel Andrea with “Sea Wed”?

~~Designer Coralie and mermodel Raine with “Pearls Before Swim”?

~~Designer Sharky and mermodel Carmen with “Coral Fire”?

Just a few more hours to decide…until the poll closes and the NEW episode airs tonight! Tune in right here to find out what Challenge Two will be!