Along for the ride / What is this thing?

Last year, concerts were my vehicle of choice for combatting my comfort zone. Well, they served me in that way all throughout college, beginning with my first real concert: tight standing room in teeny Chain Reaction in Anaheim for The Rocket Summer, Classic Crime and Joe Brooks.

This year, that comfort zone key was a pretty simple decision -- I also kind of lost steam on the concerts lol -- and "simple" is an adjective like a pebble dropped in a pond, pulled straight down by gravity.

Cameron's Books, Portland, OR. January 2018.

Cameron's Books, Portland, OR. January 2018.

So as March closes the first quarter of the year, it seems like a natural time to ponder the progression of 2018. Each month has brought some sort of tectonic change.

Instead of mapping out safe, musical prods at my comfort zone, I decided I would face whichever ones came my way like a friend and not a stranger -- not so dazzled by the good that I would not step up to serve the privilege of it, and not so alarmed by the difficult that I would count it unrecognizable or uncharted.

I'd like to say my West Coast travels so far (Portland, Berkeley) have been the next level up from concerts, but really those have been surprises I have been along for the ride for, and I am too quickly trying to pick up the pattern.

Strangely, the first signal of this hastiness is that to mirror that past experience is boring. Room has to be left for the unintentional, serendipitous, uncharted, and well, sort of better. Absolutely better.

So it's natural to look ahead and wonder, "What's next? Where is the next hold? What will convince me to extend my legs all the way from where I stand now?"

Recently I've been studying the web portfolios of artists and other professionals I admire, and one thing they nail is conciseness.

I am... not concise. I am long-winded and circling and I pull at the edge of a tablecloth of experience, ironically filter-feeding as I slowly knock all of a table's dressings from its edges. Toppled candlesticks and forks leave their mark in my story and may roll radially away and then swerve back, but I pull, and gather, and glean and I forget how in my mind that takes time. And words.

Mostly I don't want to miss out. But it really helps me breathe when I trust the peripheral vision lent to me by my friends.

It boggles me a little bit to see how quieted, resolved I look in this picture taken by my friend Lawrence in Portland this January. It's hard to deny a through-line of Life's faithfulness when somehow peace and joy still surprise you.

I don't always have sense or understanding, and that's good -- to know that and embrace it.

In a picture of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, perhaps that is exactly the strange middle in which I lie, running hard to one side and then the other, hoping the bouncing energy in between that keeps either side from winning out is what will keep me humble and human.

Home versus away, institution versus hooplah, silence versus noise, security in composure versus trust in patience.

So on pondering January to March 2018, perhaps it is all too soon to tell what's to come... aside from a future that seems to smile first and unflinchingly at this dare I've given myself -- to smile back.

Anyway, I suppose I am more grateful than confused (or I hope to return to that north star...), and at the end of the day, this win is enough -- to exhale in the kindness of the friends so carefully placed in our lives, who let us know that Faithfulness is still by and on our side.

Photo by Lawrence Yong

The Book Art Card

I was rummaging through childhood things (read: junk) some time ago when I came across a folded piece of printer paper with the insignia to the left below.

Fast forward to now in the future, I can make anything into an icon with a tap of Adobe Capture on my phone. So I saved it. To the right is about how I write normally now.

I had to have been about 5 when I signed my name the first way, and even as a child I had kind of a designer's deep weighing of the permanence with which I chose a method to sign my name, my mark. Every new glyph a statement of identity. Anxious child!


Numerous chalk pastel paintings from my childhood are signed "MAL" with a sun arching over my initials. Very funny considering MAL means "bad" and at least one definition of Melanie is "clothed in darkness." As a summer baby, I like to think of myself as "sun-mingled."

I often wonder if there are things we will "always be" and how hard throughout our lives we will fight that. Or love that. Or never know that.

I titled the SVG file Capture saved as "The Book Art Card," which I think was written inside that printer paper folded half way. Can't fight it. Kind of love it. Might never remember why I thought to write that.

Fall Formation

We are so close to finishing the winter magazine, that I have to relish having my Persona ladies for fall in formation on Darling's social channels.

I get to be involved from the top to the bottom of this place, and, roughly, if I know how to do something, it's my job to do the thing or at least be becoming an expert in it. So it's a little surreal to have had these designed without much participation from me: simple, standard, placing me amidst our many incredible artists who have contributed to the magazine over the years. It's really an honor.


The banners for Facebook and Twitter are probably the closest I'll get to a billboard (if I've ever wanted one..? lol) and it's pretty sweet. But the best part is how sharing all of this has allowed so much motivation and confidence flow from such a supportive community. I've you've dropped a little red heart or written/said a kind word, THANK YOU, it means more than you know.

Peep the self(i.e.) trailer  here !

Peep the self(i.e.) trailer here!


You Don't Know TRACE

I'm usually office DJ at work but I looooove when someone else takes our Sonos for a spin. Last week Rebekah delivered some good stuff.

"Who's on the Sonos? Can I play something?" she asked across the room.

"Me, it's just your Bon Iver radio," I replied. (I'm back on it.)

"Ok, I'm gonna play Trace's new single."

YES. Trace's music is always made of the coolest sad girl vibes. While I'm pretty sensitive to melancholy lyrics, I do love her stuff and her new single, "You Don't Know Me," is a deceptively light-hearted stroll to the conclusion that the one she's with isn't "the one." Heavy stuff. Did someone say Heavy Shoulders?

ANYWAY. I was sitting at my desk looking at the cover art for the YDKM single and thought, That looks fun to draw...

I've been on such a roll with portraits, I don't want to stop. Let's keep it fun, you know? So here's TRACE!