Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I Closed Down My Art Studio. So What Now?

No new products to announce today, just speaking and catching up. Earlier this year, I got the news that I'd have to shut down my art studio. Just recently, it happened, and I moved out. My  paint and canvases into storage. I wasn't completely bummed out though. My pop art commentary project that combined newspapers and magazines with painted game characters was about finished. From shows on Melrose in LA, to penthouses in Long Beach, to WonderCon in LA, and to PAX in Boston, I've had fun. I currently only have five Original Benja paintings remaining, and those are in my personal collection.

Even though my new home is more ready for painting than the condo I started painting in, I made a big decision when I moved out. I decided to go digital with this next set of ideas. There are some projects I want to try, and it required finding digital outlets.

As mentioned in previous emails, first up is Transcendent Press, my zine/story outlet. I don't want to say much about it. We'll just let it build organically. Anything beyond that would definitely be hype. (Did that sound like hype? Maybe I do like hype.)

Alright. I'm going to Target now. I need to pick up some soymilk, highlighters, and a dust mop. My creativity has needs.

- Mr Benja -

P.S. I haven't sworn off painting for good. And if you have some of my art, send me a picture! Thanks. :)

Monday, September 17, 2018

For The First Time This Month, I Didn't Keep It 100. I Only Kept It 75.

After a lifetime of adjusting my time management / organization / planning options to fit the current vibe, I have taken one step back and fallen into the arms of on an old friend that I thought was long gone...the plain paper wall calendar. Yep. This tried and true tool hasn't been in my house for ages and now I've found a good use for it in spite of my phone, planner, and reminder lists.

What's also something I never thought about is how the a traditional calendar would actually become a visual distraction. I'd be focused on something, and then I'd start thinking about two days from now, a week from now, or next month. Before I knew it, I start to wonder about something unimportant way down the line that really wasn't important. I have my digital calendar for that. (Hmmm...is it walnut season yet? Maybe I'll learn how to make banana bread for the holidays this year.)

So why did I bring the calendar back like this? Two reasons: Accountability and Completeness.  I made an earlier post about crossing off days of the year as a given task was habitually completed. This worked out well, but since it was an app, I could just turn my phone off, or not think about it. What about the notifications? I would just turn them off. What I needed was a tool that stared me in the face and made me work and maintain focus instead of distracting me with events. Because now? There's only one event for the day. And that is to keep it 100.

So that brings us to the second reason. I had to use the "100". Psychologically, the idea of "keeping it 100" resonates so much better to me than the common red 'X'. That felt to me like days were being checked off in prison or like I needed to cross the day out from memory. I suppose a check mark would have been suitable, but come on buddy, you know when you really didn't do your job and you just wanted your participation trophy. It's like when a kid tells you that the floor was swept, but only one dustball was pushed under the rug before the PS4 was back on. That's a check mark, but not keeping it 100.

So there you have it. Me getting things done by using an old school tool based on a new school phrase. 💯

P.S. I was actually pretty happy with the progress made on Sunday, so I felt good enough to call it a wrap at '75' and go to bed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I Went To Work When 9/11 Happened

(This is to the best of my recollection. I've never put these thoughts into words until now. If you were there at 3DO and have more to add or suggest, let me know. Also, I might update it slightly if things don't read properly. Thanks.)

It was the morning of September 11, 2001. I woke up one morning to get ready to make games for 3DO like I had done for the past year or so. I turned on the news while I got ready for work. At the time, it was part of my daily routine to hear the daily bustle of the world. The content really didn't matter, and I didn't ever really listen to what was being said. It was a form of white noise to get me ready for the day. So as usual, I walked into the living room and switched on the television before tossing the remote on the couch and returning to my room.

While I was putting on my clothes in the bedroom, I heard serious talking coming from down the hallway. Something major was happening. I can't remember what words prompted me, but the thought in my head was, "Oh shit...something major is happening." I scurried back into the living room and picked up the remote. I wanted to hear everything.

I saw a building on fire. It was one of the Twin Towers. I didn't know much about the Trade Center at the time, but I had heard of it. I never expected it to be shown like this. My heartbeat quickened.

My friend Hunter called. We were both wondering what the hell was happening. It wasn't clear. We were both a bit shocked. For me, I was living the rookie programmer life in Silicon Valley where everything was rosy, and my thoughts were pretty insulated from something so tragic and so real. I don't remember what we said, but we didn't talk long. The conversation was basically, "Holy crap. Ho-leee crap. Are you going to work? I guess so? See ya." We hung up. I watched the news a little longer before grabbing my keys and heading out the door.

I didn't actually want to go to work, but I didn't want to sit at home and watch those buildings burn either. I hadn't lived in the city for very long, and staying at home would have just made me feel lonely (which is not a feeling I'm usually worried about). I needed the crowd right then. Besides, it was also a very short commute and the routine felt reassuring. The short jaunt on the highway made everything feel normal for about ten minutes. I didn't turn on the radio or play music though. This time, I rolled down the window and listened to the city and traffic. It was the same drive I'd taken every other day: same blind turn out the parking lot, same weather, same trees, same taco shop, same underpass, same winding road, same waterfront, same office park, but it all felt different. I think part of me expected chaos to break out in Redwood City. I looked at every gleaming office building that passed a curious expectation of something being different.

When I made it to work, it was as expected. Everyone was standing in clumps reacting to what happened. There was fear, anger, confusion, and every range of emotion going on. There were also people that went straight to their work like nothing (or everything) had happened. I said some things to some people but I don't remember what it was. I called my parents. It felt like I was sitting at home with them around the dining room table sharing thoughts about our roles as Americans. Their sentiment was along the lines of..."Remember this. It's happening." We ended the call and promised to speak again later that day. They were calling all the other family members as they were apt to do.

Whatever we were doing in the office, it was short-lived. Management soon called everyone down to the cafeteria to briefly discuss what had happened and to announce that we were all expected to go home.

Well...we were all there trying to create games to make people happy, and it was one of the most surreal days in memory. Nothing had sunk in yet and nothing would until the full story started playing out on TV and on the Internet. After that day, things changed for me. I wasn't just some kid making games and living out life in Silicon Valley, I was a player in a world with many different forms of angels and demons. The context was forever altered.

I went to work when 9/11 happened.

Monday, September 3, 2018

On This Day, I Labor, and I Like It

This Labor Day, I decided to get up and get to working on something. I started off the first couple hours by doing some writing for Transcendent Press. (I'm still not in the habit of daily writing, but I'm getting there.) Then I did some light stretching. Next I ate breakfast (oatmeal w/ fresh fruit and nuts). After that, I started working on this blog post. After this, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I might get to "work" on figuring out a new chess opening or figuring out if that new coffeehouse down the street is a good place to draw. There's some website tweaks I can make (or a complete overhaul). I could also do some things to tighten up my social networks. I might even work on my anime studies by finishing my Soul Eater study. I may even do some learning from Udemy or Overdrive. I'll probably finish the layout for my next zine though. The next zinefest is always around the corner. Whatever it is, I'll have fun.

See, I actually like work. Not work-work like going to the office and doing whatever the corporate machine has told me to do. And not work-work like grinding away because I'm afraid of what people will think about my accomplishments. I mean that I like creating and making positive change in my universe and doing it how I want to.

I like to have fun in everything that I do, including labor. I celebrate it. It's better than celebrating laziness or getting pushed around by the winds of chance. Try it out one day.

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