The Unfortunate Thing About Being Me. And Also, A Project.
First, I want to thank those of you who shared the things you keep around for when you’re feeling blue in the comments of yesterday’s post. They were touching, heartfelt, and most important, they made me feel like much less of a freak.
The unfortunate thing about being me sometimes, is that there are so many things I want to be, that there’s never enough time to learn it all, and I pretty much end up half-assing everything as a result.
I’m so terrified of writing anything “real,” like a book, or a polished magazine article, that I don’t even half-ass it. I no-ass it. I don’t ass it even a little bit.
But for everything else, I always just go part-way. I learn a little bit of a language. I learn a little bit about photography. I learn a little about cooking. About cleaning. About DIY projects and crafts. I can work on websites a little. Edit a little in Photoshop. Train my dogs to drag me only a little way down the street when they take off after a squirrel.
In my very first blog post, I talked about a career counselor I had in college who got angry at me when I refused to write a paper for him that detailed my future career goals. The problem is that I didn’t know what I wanted to be, so how could I possibly write a paper about it? Add to that my abhorrence of making plans, my compulsive need to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and my debilitating fear of commitment, and we have the ingredients for mixing together the indecisive, flighty, and noncommittal soup that is my soul.
I swatted away that counselor’s insistence like he was some pesky, know-it-all, gnat. I somehow knew that if I just followed the direction life seemed to be taking me, everything would work out as it should, and some dream career would eventually fall on my doorstep.
That didn’t happen.
Nor did I turn into a “master of all trades,” like I somehow thought I’d become. The thing is, becoming a master of anything takes time, determination, and commitment. (The exception, of course, being some sickening child protégé who only has to look at a piano before he composes his first symphony, but I’m not talking about that because frankly, it’s depressing and unfair.)
This is all probably pretty obvious to most people, but it’s taken me a bit longer to figure that out.
Mrs. Maetzold never gave me a “Speedy Learner” certificate, after all.
And now we know why.
And, as much as I’d like to think that I can just start making myself a schedule or a list of goals and everything will start falling into place, I’m pretty certain that once it’s thoroughly mixed, the ingredients of my soul soup can’t really be separated again. So I guess that would make it a compound — not a mixture — for you chemistry buffs.
So I’m going to continue to carry on, learning things bit-by-bit as I tend to do.
What’s the latest little project to catch my attention?
It’s making these:
You’re probably wondering what that is.
That is a map of the city of Malaga, Spain, that I printed on card stock and then cut out the streets to give as a gift to our hosts when we visited them there a couple of months ago.
See, since I’m out of work right now, we wanted to give them something nice-yet-inexpensive to commemorate the time they’ve lived in that beautiful city. Since I love maps, but nice ones are expensive to buy, I thought I’d make them one.
First, I used Mapquest.com to zoom into an area of the city I wanted to print. The closer you zoom, the more complicated the streets tend to get. Then I saved the image and used a photo processing tool (like Photoshop) to crop it to slightly smaller than the size of my frame (or the inside of the frame mat). Then I opened the image in MS Word or Publisher, reversed it, and printed it out.
NOTE: It’s important to reverse the image so it prints backwards. That way, then you cut it out, you can flip it over and none of the print lines or colors show.
The next step was tedious. I used a craft knife and a mat I bought at Target to cut around every road.
Sorry for the blurry photo — I took this with my camera phone. I went through a lot of wine and episodes of Sex and the City to get this done. And I might have thrown a mild fit when I set a new blade for my craft knife on the paper and some kind of oil that was on it seeped through and ruined my 75% completed piece and I had to start over.
But we don’t like to talk about that.
Finally, I put a piece of scrapbook paper behind it as a backdrop and stuck it in a frame.
Cut-out map laying on scrapbook paper.
Framed map closeup.
I’ve done some earlier versions, but the above map of Malaga is by far the most intricate.
Map of Austin, TX was made for Aaron and Bec, our hosts in Costa Rica who are finally realizing their dream of starting a life in Austin. (Sorry, photo taken with my camera phone.)
Map of Durham, NC where my friend Alaina and her husband are starting their family. This is in a see-through glass frame. (Sorry, blurry photo taken with my camera phone.)
And finally, Malaga, Spain.
I’d like to make some of these for our own home and the places we’ve traveled, and I’m sure I will be making more as gifts. The great thing is that it’s sentimental for the recipient, and they can easily change out the frame, mat, or scrapbook paper to reflect their own personal style.
Is this a project you think you’d tackle yourself? What kind of gifts do you like to give people? Also, if you’re interested in having me make one of these for you because you simply don’t have this kind of time, let me know because I do have the time and I do need to generate some income.
Is this something you’d hang in your house?
First of all the map idea is awesome and the fact that you finished it is commitment right there!! Secondly I think we have the same soul – except when I was told to write a career paper all I wanted to be was a mom. I didn’t plan on having a career – ever. She obviously didn’t let me write that as my career but put up a good fight!! She said it wasn’t a job – I said it’s hard work! She said you don’t get paid – I said you get paid in the joy you give to your family to live their lives and be able to do their jobs without worrying about anything else. Long story short – I am now a stay at home mom of a two year old daughter, I work part time doing child care from my home for one child, I make more money than I ever did working full time at a business, and I started an online business where I sell my crafts and do craft fairs for extra income.
The point? I am not a master of all traids, I like cooking, organizing, crafting, and spending time with my baby girl – and I make almost as much as my husband does. You can do it. You can makr a living doing ALL the things you are good at – even if they are a bunch of miscellaneous things.
Wow, thank you so much for the encouragement! See, the difference is that you DID know what you wanted to be. And shame on that counselor for trying to tell you it’s not a job — if I thought being a parent wasn’t any work, I’d BE one by now. ;) You have all of my admiration for doing what you do, and most important, for loving what you do.
Maybe one day I can get there, too! :)
I absolutely love this idea and will possibly take you up on getting some of these for gifts! Thinking I could even use one in my house… I’ll be in touch my friend!
Thanks, Rachel! :) Are you still loving your place??
We love love love our map Katie. It’s so unique and personal and each has a story to tell. I think you could totally sell them!!!
Good! Because the only reason I made 2 more after yours is because you told me you loved it, so you better not have been lying.
Thanks, Bec. :)
Um, PLEASE sell these so I don’t have to sit down and make one myself! :) Brilliant idea, and they look fabulous!
If anyone really wanted one, we could talk. :) I would just have no clue what to charge — it’s not like the materials are expensive (depending on the frame), but the time? Oh, the time…
Katie, I was TOTALLY looking (wistfully) at these on Etsy just yesterday – for literally $1100 a pop. I smell a business opportunity….
Wow! I just looked those up, and they are amazing!! Mine aren’t nearly that big — just what I can print on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet at home, but I suppose I could do a bigger one if I went to a professional printer. Looks like hers are hand-drawn, too. That would definitely add to the time commitment! :)
Oh, for sure, but who really needs to know that? ;)
Those are cool! I bet you’d have luck selling them on Etsy.
I never felt very strongly about my career choice. I became a teacher (in part) because I didn’t know what my other choices were. I don’t think this is my forever job, but it has made me happy (despite some gray hairs courtesy of a few tough students) for the last few years.*
Thank you! I’m happy to even just sell them right here on the blog if anyone wants one…
Well, one thing I’ve learned is that if you have something that pays the bills, don’t quit until you actually figure out what you might want to replace it with. ;)
Wow these are awesome. I will definitely be trying this out, though on a nice hugely-zoomed-in map because I’m pretty sure all that detail work would make me murder someone. ;)
But when I fail miserably (which, let’s face it, will happen – see previous comment about detail work), I will be looking you up on etsy. I expect you to open your shop any day now, yes?
A little tip: You could also zoom waaay out (like the map of Austin) — that still looks cool and shows much less detail. For the Malaga map, I was zoomed right to the spot where a bunch more additional roads show up. (If you’re zoomed way out in Mapquest, they “erase” all the minor roads so you only see the major ones; but if you zoom in far enough, the minor roads show up as well.)
Don’t say you’ll fail! Sure, you might mess up… I mean, I had to start that Malaga one completely over and I definitely might have cried a little. But try to be patient, stick with it, drink lots of wine, and put in your favorite movie — you can definitely get through it. But if for some reason you can’t, shoot me an email or a comment on here and we can talk about me making one for you — and I promise I wouldn’t skimp on the detail. :)
This is SO COOL!!! Other than that, I’m pretty speechless, but planning to try this. Don’t pin me down to when…
Haha, a good time is whenever you find yourself watching t.v. (if you ever have time for that!). Just pull this project out and work on it at the same time!
wow. Just came across your blog for the first time. This post is cracking me up. I, too, am a half-assed master of none. I keep thinking I’ll run into someone who knows the parts of everything that I don’t (Photoshop, how to really, really use a dslr camera, how to actually cook the food and not just tear out and save magazine recipes for years…) and that someone and I will create beautiful projects together. Not happenin’ so far. But blogs like yours inspire me to try, fail, and try again. I love that you started all over again when your first effort was ruined. Truly inspiring. Thanks!
Thanks for the comment, Barb! That was a really great way to describe our personality type. I hadn’t thought about it before, but you’re right — maybe I was half-assing in hopes that I’d eventually meet someone who could pick up my slack. But, I’m glad my post encouraged you to try on your own anyway. In the meantime, it won’t hurt to keep hoping we eventually find the yin to our yangs. ;)
This is pretty cool! No way would I ever have the patience to do it myself, but I might purchase it from you :) I’d have to identify a city I like the most to do it. I’m kinda blah about most places I’ve been :)
Sounds like you need to do some traveling. ;) In the U.S., I’d recommend Seattle and San Francisco. Hop to it!
Dude, you are telling me. I’m currently daydreaming about a trip to Costa Rica…if I can get the guts to book a trip all on my lonesome!
This is a fantastic idea!
I absolutely Love this! My husband and I have lived in a few different states over the past few years and have now come back home to New York. We miss being back in Kentucky especially and this would be a great way to have a keepsake for our blossoming family. I cant wait to try this out.
I’m so glad you found me! I wish I had more art background so I could figure out a way to improve this project even more – like maybe spraypainting the street cutout when it’s done and using some sort of mixed media technique to turn water bodies blue and maybe some kind of elevation map in the background… I don’t know – lots of possibilities! If you do this project, please share a photo on my Domestiphobia Facebook page! :)
Barbara Sher describes people who dip in here and there as “scanners” in her book Refuse to Choose, and she shows how to harness that skill.
The best thing I learned from Refuse to Choose was this: bees buzz from one flower to the next. They don’t feel bad about not going deep on each flower. The world needs bees to pollinate in this way for food production. Similarly the world needs YOU with your scanner qualities of many interests and the ability to relate things that seem disparate.
You can help those other poor souls who prefer to specialise (and sometimes become a little isolated in their specialisation) to make links they’d otherwise not make.
All the best with the gorgeous maps. Or the next thing you’ve found joy in :)
I love this! I’ve definitely moved on from making maps since this post was written, but I very much appreciate your thoughtful comment, Sylvia! Thank you for reading. :)