One Big Thing: A Lot of Little Things

The day begins and I’m half-asleep and the half that’s awake would really like to roll over again and just go back to sleep. In the afternoon my feet ache and my throat’s sore from saying the same thing over and over again to a hundred different people–I could do this with my eyes closed, I tell them, and it’s true–and my eyes drift toward my closed iPad, longing for its internal delights–or that it might morph into a pillow for a quick nap.

It’s a little hard to see why these are related.

But once the connection is made, it’s amazing.

When I’m lying in bed, and wanting to sleep, it’s usually on account of a dream I’d like to return to. Dreams, of course, that I never remember once I’m fully awake. And what do I keep open on my iPad at work? Not video games, but the news. Yep, the good ol’ AP Associated Press. There’s something not too dissimilar in these endeavors, though: On the one hand, dreams are adventures where reality is stretched and new notions are introduced, and on the other hand, the news is all about the facts but can take you all around the world.

This boundless sense of awakening to new information always being an adventure is the same force that keeps me watching Linear Algebra and Biology videos at KhanAcademy.org and the same force that keeps me up late into the night on my Wii–not playing video games, but watching documentaries on Netflix.

This isn’t a post about knowledge, though, or information–it’s about their byproduct. With a wealth of ideas, with inspiration from every little thing, our minds are opened to a very big thing: Creativity.

It’s no surprise that this sixty-third entry in my series of one hundred things I’m thankful for would be creativity–at least not if you knew what I’ve been up to lately. I’ll be moving in on campus the end of next week, and the past few weeks I’ve been busy painting and, well, painting art for my new dorm room. It’s been a pain at times, and excruciating at others, but the ability to come up with an idea and then execute it has been thrilling.

It began with a conversation where I’ll be living with one of the RA’s. “Bring lots of wall art,” she said, “and if you need to fill any holes at the end of the semester, there’s toothpaste.” I’m against unnecessary property damages, and since I watch Holmes on Homes, I know if there’s a fix-it job to do, you should either do it right or get someone else to do it right for you. Toothpaste as spackle? Not my style.

This got me thinking, what can I use to decorate my new room? I didn’t want to bring all my art from home, though. Not only would I be afraid of the glass frames breaking during transit, they’re heavy, and I really want this new room to reflect something new–I don’t want to recreate “home” in my dorm. I want to create a space all its own, homelike, but not a clone.

My sister started my palette off when she got me a bunch of graduation gifts in shades of blue and brown. My mom joined in the collaboration with a sheet set and a comforter in matching colors. But I didn’t want this to be all I had–I wanted to add my own touch of style and flair to the room, too.

My first stop was the internet. I’d been told about removable wall decals last semester at school while working on an office project, and they seemed a viable and graphic source of artwork. Except they’re also very expensive, and I’m on a broke college kid’s budget. I kept thinking, and thinking, and after reading a few various pages online about how to make your own removable decals, I took the idea and ran with it in the opposite direction.

I acquired some quilting scraps at Walmart in various bright and bold colors and then drafted some designs on my computer that I printed in solid black on white copy paper. One weekend my mom squared all the fabric scraps, and then I was all set. Using a calculus textbook, a physics textbook, and a sheet of plexiglass we had lying around the house, I assembled a workstation and set to work. I placed the printed design on top of the glass, with the fabric on top of that, and then slid my iPad underneath–while it was turned to a free flashlight app. The brightness of the screen illuminated the design through the fabric, and after just a few hours–spread over a number of days–all six panels were almost perfectly decorated in complementary colors.

My next step was to convert the plexiglass into what I have always wanted: My very own dry erase board. I peeled back the protective plastic lining on the one side and then sprayed it with silver spray paint, and then some coats of white and acrylic sealer to finish it off. I do, in fact, feel bad for widening the hole in the o-zone with my reckless use of aerosols, but I’m almost finished, I promise. With the back covered, when I get on campus, all I’ll have to do is peel back the second layer of plastic coating the unpainted side and I’ll have an ultra-chic, ultra-modern silver dry erase board. For the cost of three cans of spray paint. And a slightly larger whole in the o-zone layer.

I’ll make up for it by using sunscreen, don’t worry.

My last project is also the most daunting.

Wanting a headboard, I couldn’t just stop at wall art, could I? I bought a length of canvas and me and my mom squared it according the dimensions of my bed, and already I’ve given it a first coat of champagne-colored paint. Except it came out darker and more bronzed than I’d been expecting, and now I’m stuck. I know I want to paint some aqua-colored lightning on it to pull in that color a bit more, and I’ve got blue, black, and white paint at my disposal, but I’m at a loss for how to proceed. My initial idea had been to paint a massive, off-centered, tilted infinity sign over the whole thing, but with how difficult that first coat of paint proved to be, I’m hesitant to try out such an ambitious plan knowing it’ll more than likely end up much less than what I’ve envisioned in my head. But what to do, what to do?

I effectively have this weekend to finish it. And mentally, I’m stuck.

I need inspiration…but where to look? With all this oppressive heat, easy-to-execute designs seem just beyond my fingertips, and trust me, it’s frustrating.

I want this headboard to be large, graphic, and bold. A definite statement to round out the rest of my room and tell guests, “This is who I am. Take it or leave.” It also wouldn’t hurt if this one-of-a-kind piece of art is envied by all those who see it, but I’ll stop at self-satisfied if that’s as much as I can get.

Of course, I haven’t yet said how all this is going to be nail-free, have I? It’s simple: Poster tack. I discovered this gem of material manufacturing last fall when I was looking for ways to advertise campus and club events in the very large, floor-to-ceiling windows at the SGA that open into the school’s cafeteria. I can’t say for certain how much publicity the poster hangings gave the events, but on numerous occasions I took note of people taking note, and with the display changing almost every few days, it was always something new–a perpetually evolving display of art and information. The premier marketing strategy. I loved it.

Anyways, I bought some more poster tack for myself. A little bit of this putty in all the corners, and all of my art should be good enough to go. Plus, it’s removable and reusable–as is all of this art–so not only am I creating something that I can use for years to come, I’m recycling the hardware that’s enabling me to use it.

By the way, did I mention I’ve also painted two lamps that my dad bought for me at a yard sale and we’re making custom shades to match? No, I didn’t? Well, I have been up to a lot lately. Being creative keeps you busy.

But that headboard still lingers. Maybe I’ll sleep on it.

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