Archive for the 'Introspective' Category

Long Time Coming

Maybe it was Microsoft e-mailing me to say my subscription had been auto-renewed.

Maybe it was Mary Lou bugging me about it.

Maybe it was Amra’s frequent posting lately.

Maybe it was all of these. (probably)

Maybe none.

Certainly it was laziness that has caused this one year, one month gap in posting. It’s not for lack of things going on in my life I’m sure. I feel like I haven’t felt as contemplative lately. So I started thinking about things.

I still have opinions. Most are pretty self-serving. Narcissistic even. But at least I’m not a blob?

fivedollarscanihearten?thendoihearfifteen?fifteentwentytwentyfiveihavethirtycanihearthirtyfive?SOLD!

Some of my old posts make me laugh. I miss the Blog Wars for certain. Would love to get back to crafting writing challenges. I’m sure I have the time. TV is just easier I guess. Maybe I’ll be smarter if I read more, write more, and whine less.

So stop me if I whine. Or I’ll stop myself.

But here I am, remembering how to type.

I still have to look at the keys.

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On Music

benfoldsWhile the blog can be viewed as “the new resume” — another way for employers to get a look at who you are and how/if you fit into the culture of the work environment — can it also relate to an aspect of dating? Could would-be suitors find your writing pedantic and thus write (sorry, intended) you off as a prospective mate? With the prevalence of this so-called “social networking” and such news items as the scandals related to sixteen year olds finding older men on MySpace, it seems that online dating and its variants have become a social norm; one of the numerous acceptable modern versions of courtship.

How many people do you know that’ve had online relationships? Or kept up a long distance relationship via their Facebook and/or e-mail? Considering the amount of personal information we make publicly available through the various avenues of the InterHighway, is it a stretch to believe that a potential companion can write you off because you mentioned that you liked the movie Labyrinth? I don’t think so.

As I was thinking about the blog as the new resume and the social network profile as the dating equivalent of a resume, I combined the two ideas; what if a girl reading my blog decided that she liked me (or didn’t!) from what I wrote? Sure, she could go to my Facebook profile and read about the movies I like, music I listen to, and what I do in my free time. However, the profile only shows a piece, a vague overview. Kind of like how a resume only briefly covers your “accomplishments” without actually going over your specific role in any given project (or like a GPA shows how well you did, but not what you did well in and why).

The above, as it turns out, was just a long-winded seguing into something that popped into my head last week, so please bear with me.

One could potentially cheat, having never met me, look at my Facebook profile and see my “favourite bands” et cetera, and never really question it. But then all the fun of our first meeting is gone. Furthermore, what then would be the icebreakers on a hypothetical first date? All the basics have been discovered on Facebook. Here, again, I will reference my perceived similarities of dating to job hunting; the first date is like the post-resume (Facebook Profile) interview. Here, two people take the general information they have on each other and expound upon it.  Amongst music nerds, the conversation would probably revolve around your favourite albums and artists. But they wouldn’t just list them off to each other. One might attempt to explain why their favourites have achieved that status; to show a little bit about them as a person and what affects the decisions made in music choices (and from that, perhaps, one could make assumptions and inferences about their life outlook).

In that vein, I set about trying to determine my five favourite songs. Perhaps of all time, but at the very least, those which currently hold relevance. How did I define this? First of all, I thought they would probably have to be songs I’ve listened to many times and I still can listen to without being bored through repeated listenings. This did not yield a list of five. So I set about to do it systematically and came up with the following diagram.

As an aside, Christi called my need for charts and graphs “anal” but “endearing.” I find them helpful; from budgeting to deciding what netbook to purchase, I love lists, charts and graphs. I abhor math, but I like the visual representation of things in decision-making. Otherwise, I sit and ponder for hours and hours, stressing and never concluding.

chartFor the record, most comments henceforth will relate to this image and whatever’s going through my head. Very stream-of-consciousness.

Jets to Brazil, The Hold Steady, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (I still can’t get over swing and they do it so well), Belle and Sebastian and Damien Rice are clearly at the forefront of favourites in the artist category. Aside from holding the highest number of top songs (it was too hard to weed them out!), they are the bands that I can constantly listen to without becoming sick of.

Jets to Brazil were my favourite emo band back in high school (my high school self is yelling at me to clarify: they aren’t technically “emo,” they’re “post-emo indie rock,” but I digress). To this day, their first two albums are amazing, able to be listened to straight through with nary a missed beat. Top notch in their genre and definitely something I will continue to enjoy for years to come.

Christi burned me several mix cds featuring The Hold Steady. I listened to these, not really getting it at first. Craig Finn’s style definitely took some getting used to. To be honest, I don’t even remember when I decided I liked it, but I did. I unscrupulously obtained all their albums and then realized that I enjoyed them so much that I had to own the real thing. That’s how I can gauge my liking of an artist – when I like the album so much that I cannot bear to have just a burned or downloaded copy. I now own all their albums and listen to at least one straight through every week.

I break one of my own rules with Damien Rice. Though I love to own real cds, last summer I bought 9 via iTunes’ Music Store and only own the digital copy. Often times, I forget I own the real thing and that I really did spend money on it, but there it is, registered in my name. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing Damien Rice is. I saw him live with only a vague knowledge of his music and it was probably in my top 2 concerts ever (it doesn’t hurt that I’ve only been to 5 or 6 in my life though…) The man’s a genius. And he’s Irish to boot. Can’t pick a more winning combination.

Another band that’s been with me since high school: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. At some point during the big ska phase in my life, I dabbled into a little swing. I don’t know if it was the movie Swingers or something else, but these guys still ROCK. The swing lover in me just can’t get enough of them, and I dare you to listen to them without at least tapping your foot. It’s wonderful. Sure, they’re often “simple songs, about simple things,” but they are catchy, upbeat and incredible danceable.

Finally, we come to those twee Brits, Belle and Sebastian. Not so much two people as much as, like, 8, but a great, poppy band that has everything I like in music: British accents, guitars, harmonic melodies, catchy tunes, and the occasional horn and steel drum section. Mister J.Lauck gave me much of their catalogue and I’m in the process of purchasing The Life Pursuit and Dear Catastrophe Waitress. And by the way, I remember the exact place and situation in which I was in when I heard my two favourite songs off those respective albums.

My top five albums based on being able to listen to them straight through, not skipping a track (not in any particular order):

Regarding Damien Rice’s O: 9 cannot be disregarded as a wonderful, wonderful album either. It is freaking brilliant. Still, it’s a little harder (i.e. less mellow) and can’t be played in front of your mother. Also, I often skip a few of the tracks, making it slightly less of a perfect album to me next to O.

As far as top five songs go, it is REALLY a tough choice. If there was the dreaded hypothetical (what if you could only listen to five songs ever again) then I don’t know how my choice would reflect this. This really came from months of intensive research… Ok, so I looked through my top played list, then my top rated list, cross-referenced them, loaded my favourites onto my iPhone (bearing in mind an 8 GB capacity, I had to be picky) then chose my tops from there. By no means was it even slightly scientific, and looking at them, I can’t even say that these really are my top five favourite songs. At any rate, I will try to justify this is a similarly introspective way. (Feel free to click to another website, maybe one about kittens, at this point. I am doing this for me and me alone. Cheers)

I didn’t like Belle and Sebastian until I heard Sukie in the Graveyard but I listened to If She Wants Me on repeat one car ride down to Lansing and still love it. Plus I just think B&S are great.

Fired is the best Ben Folds song ever and I am proud to say, I am the only one who knows this. Honestly, I’ve never met another person who holds this opinion. He’s never (as far as I know) played it at a show and the only YouTube videos I can find are of people covering it (ok, so maybe people do like it…). Still, I love the tempo and the style and wish he played more songs like this.

As far as the Ben Folds Five go, I had never heard the Theme from Dr. Pyser until he opened with it in Alma; I was blown away. It was the perfect high-energy song to open an awesome evening. After that, I purchased the extended of Forever and Ever Amen just to get that song. It’s even set as my alarm tone in the morning every few weeks; that’s how much I love it.

I’m finding a lot of these songs (and artists and albums even) are favourites because of where/when I first heard them. What’s Left of the Flag was one of the first Flogging Molly songs I heard, over the PA system in Best Buy. I bought the album then and there and have bought every album of theirs since. I don’t remember when I liked A Praise Chorus first, but I know it was one of the first songs I really loved off this Jimmy Eat World album. Coming from loving Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity sound, this song and album took some getting used to, but I’ll be damned if “crimson and clover/over and over” doesn’t get me every time.

This was a long-winded introspective, aimed at self-discovery. If I am to understand myself, surely my favourite music will help that. Well, it seems that all I’ve discovered is that I am eclectic and indecisive. I also discovered that, though charts are great, they do not work in every situation. huh.

So, now some questions remain:

Does not having a favourite band make me less of a person? Can I ever be happy with one job/life/routine if I can’t settle on something as unimportant as a band? Or is music so important to my life that I cannot limit my choices stylistically? Does the fact that a list did not solve my problem make me die inside? Am I still me?

These are questions I really don’t want to ponder. I just want to continue listening to music and writing meandering blogs to kill time. And so it is.

It looks like I’ve still got a lot of work cut out for me. My indecisiveness underscores my lack of female companionship; there’s not even anything on the horizon. Similar to the job market for me. Someone once said that good things happen all at once. That being said, I should probably go introspective a bit longer, focus on self-awareness before I can achieve self-fulfillment – in any area. After I’ve gotten that far, the ladies already know what I’m into.

On Shoes

shoes

I need a new pair of work shoes. Badly. Currently, the pair above are my sole pair (pun intended). They used to be one of my nicer pairs of dress shoes. Chocolate suede captoes purchased from either Penny’s or Kohl’s my sophomore year of college. I even lent them to a friend for a wedding as he had no dress shoes that went with his outfit. I maintained the suede nap with a suede brush and put shoe trees in them once I could afford to waste money on cedar shoe maintenance.

At some point, however, they were designated as work shoes. Perhaps at the beginning it was merely out of occasional necessity. I read on a forum that wearing the same pair of shoes more than one day in a row was a bad thing (can’t for the life of me remember why that is anymore). So these and my cheap tan boot-looking shoes (also formerly used as dress shoes) and a pair of black steel-toed low-top boots were in the work rotation. I think the reasoning for the style of them all was that, at the time, we were still required to wear “dressy” leatheresque shoes to work.

The suede made it into the rotation when I found a nicer pair of chocolate suede captoes at a thrift store for about a tenth of the cost of these. Hence, these were delegated solely as work shoes.

When I stopped wearing  black entirely for two years, the two pairs of brown shoes were the only two I’d use for work. Five or six days a week, for twenty hours a week I wore them. As these dark brown captoes were suede and considerably nicer, they were worn less often. Alas, and inevitably, the tan crappy ones eventually met their maker, becoming far too uncomfortable for even two hours at a time.

To say the least, that put a remarkable strain on those cap-toes. One could say, they had some big shoes to fill. No one should say that. Ever.

From the image, you can see that the suede factor is no longer an issue. the coffee, milk and salt stains are permanent. The lining: shot. Cushioning? Forget it. The numerous cracks and gouges in the leather are “character.” They need to be replaced.

Still, I can’t bear to get a new pair. Is it nostalgia? Now, we really haven’t been through any great experiences together. I am not enough of a girl to hold on to old shoes. I think it is a utilitarian thing. They still work. Though I wouldn’t wear them outside of work (read: in public) they look better than sneakers with the image I try to convey, even at the coffee shop.

The excuses I have for refusing (or at least hesitating) to get new shoes is two-fold. The first excuse, money, isn’t really a legitimate excuse. I can afford to buy new shoes. Sure, it leaves less money available for the things I actually want to buy, but it is very doable, and the things I want can wait another two weeks.

No, the real reason I cannot buy a new pair is more fear related. I am job-hunting. I just know that as soon as I buy a new pair, I will get a decent job and I can wear one of my 15 other pairs of shoes (pairs that I do not wish to get scuffed and otherwise fall into such a state of disrepair). However, there is the fear that if I do not buy a new pair, I may never find a new/better job.

Classic Catch-22.

It may seem superstitious, but it’s Murphy’s Law. Buy new crap shoes, get a new job. Don’t buy new beaters, stay with lousy job and have sore feet.

Maybe the money is worth being wasted.

On Friends

friends

A conjecture was recently made to me that I questioned and pondered. You can be one of three kinds of friends.

  1. You are the friend that is called when someone has boy/girl issues and needs an understanding and caring ear.
  2. I don’t remember this one
  3. You will be the kind of friend someone calls to tell they had a shitty day and will respond with “let’s go get drunk”.

Actually, those might have really been the only two she said. She claimed to be in the latter category, though it is not always crass. She isn’t the “touchy-feely” type who will talk about feelings. Sure, she’ll listen if you have a problem, but there had better be beer involved, because there won’t be any crying. Commiserating sure, but not crying. That made me wonder what kind of friend I am. I’ll go out for a beer if someone is having a bad day. Then again, I’ll also lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on if need be.

Then I got to thinking. Can we be a different friend to different people? Do different friends require different methods of consolation? And if so, and you modify your behaviour based on the friend you’re around, to whom do you turn when you have your own issues?

(sorry. My Name is Earl this week inspired me to do a Bradshaw-esque aside)

Joking questions aside, what kind of person are you when you change your methods based on your current company? Do you change who you talk to based on the situation you are going through? There are certain people I will moan about a bad day to, but few (if any) I would discuss very personal issues with. That may be the guy in me, but I do truly tend to keep my personal problems to myself.

What about you? Do you discuss personal issues with friends? If so, are they different friends than those you drown your faux sorrows in beer with?

My Web Home

A long time coming, this post should be seen as my way of “celebrating” nicolauswitchger.com. True, not a major overhaul of my wordpress. I could install it natively now, the ease of use is great as is. So, props to the WordPress.com team for making those of us who don’t know CSS comfortable!

In its various iterations, my website has taken MANY turns. This is where I currently am. I realized recently that, in order to have a good, searchable, user-friendly, speedy website, I will probably have to learn XHTML and CSS at the very least. Seeing as how designers are often expected to do web stuff as well, I believe it would be beneficial to my budding career. However, the web, as of late, is something I’ve only looked at, not coded for.

The first (and really last) time I hand coded was back in late Middle School/early High School. I don’t even know if the Web was 1.0 back then. All I had was MS FrontPage (1997?) and Notepad and I preferred Notepad. I took great pride in being able to do by hand what most people needed a WYSIWYG editor to accomplish. And mine looked just as good; bear in mind, this was in the days when websites were TERRIBLE by today’s standards.

I learned coding on my own, by “borrowing” code from websites utilizing the effects I wanted to achieve and modifying said code to suit my desires. I have a feeling this is the way I should try to learn CSS, though there are so many great tutorials out there.

nickorpLater on, when my father was taking Dale Carnegie and web design courses (two separate entities, not Dale + Internet), he’d bring home books on using MS FrontPage. After the “Beatles Imagemap” and the attempt at my “corporate” (nickorp logo featured to the left…yeah)  website, I utilized this for such brilliant sites as “A Tour Of My Room!” Armed with an old Sony Mavica (which saved images to a 3.5″ floppy disk) and FrontPage, this was created. Not brilliant, or even mildly groundberaking, but it kept me entertained and probably helped me to become the troubleshooting whiz I am today (working with Microsoft Software will do that to one). Post 2005, I gave web design a rest for a good ten years or so. Ok, so it was only three, but in WWW years, that is probably about ten, no?

It wasn’t until I graduated from College that the benefits of such knowledge could be an asset. Unfortunately, I was already ten years behind the standard. This, however, escaped my knowledge, and I went ahead with it anyway.

My first attempt at creating a portfolio website was a huge joke.

antislip_stats

I attempted it shortly after taking Dynamic Digital Design at SVSU which was basically a Flash class. Our final project for this class was to create a flash-based website for a start-up company in Saginaw. The goal of the website was strictly informational and meant to get the customer to contact the firm personally so they could give them the pitch in person (or at least over the phone) but they wanted to be “timely” and have a web presence, too. After research into what other anti-slip companies were doing with their sites, I came up with this. I was (and still am) pretty happy with it.

Taking from this experience the idea that flash was the web of the future (hell, Homestar Runner had been doing it successfully for years), I set about making my first personal website in years in Adobe Flash CS3.

Let’s just say, the phrase EPIC FAIL comes to mind almost every time I recall this monstrosity. I don’t know where I got the idea for the layout, but wow. W0W. It wasn’t pretty. And it was SLOW. Flash, man. It can be done well, but I learned from the spiteful rantings of one Gizmodo blog that Flash sites are unsearchable and that is a pain in the ass. SEO or something like that. That, and the fact that even with high-speed internet, a 20MB home page takes quite a while to load.

(Here is a “link” to the home page and portfolio page. I could not find a free web host that allowed 20MB uploads, so I was stuck using MediaFire again. Warning again, they’re unnecessarily large.)

The site was live for a while on the SVSU web server until I delved a bit deeper. Actually, I found the web portfolio (I am reluctant to link to a competitor, to be honest) of a high school classmate who graduated from MSU the same semester the same semester as I and with the same degree to boot. It was simple and nowhere near as flashy (pun intended) as mine. The beauty of its simplicity irked me. So, to stay fresh and competitive, I picked up Dreamweaver again and made this. To be honest, I still don’t hate this. Though I borrowed heavily from my classmate’s idea (with the simple 4 links and horizontal layout), it’s kind of visually appealing to me still. It’s not nearly as informative as it should be, but I suppose it probably would’ve gotten the job done.

I still wasn’t satisfied though. So I set about teaching myself Dreamweaver.

picture-11

CSS Attempt

It wasn’t great, as you can see. I set it up to work ideally on a 1024×768 monitor with complete disregard for (or rather lack of knowledge of) CSS. I used div tags not knowing what they actually did. I essentially tried to set it up as I would have a flash site, but in Dreamweaver.

After cross-platform testing revealed it only looked good on Firefox and SVSU took away my web privileges, I scrapped the idea.

I don’t know where I got the idea for WordPress, likely one of the numerous design blogs in my RSS feed, but here I am. As of now, it does what I need it to do and I am quite happy with the limited amount of flexibility I am given. Maybe some day I will actually learn to hand code again. Perhaps once I do not spend my non-working hours catching up on blogs and being frustrated with myself that I have not made sufficient to look for a real job. Still trying though.

In short: I’ve tried to have a web presence for quite a while. I did a lot of “research” trying to find on- or off-line copies of lots of my old web work, but only found the above. It should be said that since I couldn’t find a lot of it, it was not mentioned. This was intentional, since I could never remember everything I did and in what chronological order. So here, you have my best attempt to collect it. For my posterity and yours.

One month in.

It seems I again find myself in the proverbial “day late, dollar short” dilemma. Certainly, by following my budget, I have not truly been short on dollars, but my topic, though planned weeks in advance, is coming a bit after many similar articles. Still, it helps me to be personally introspective. If anyone happens to read this, I will ask you to do the same. How many Resolutions have we made? How many did we intend to keep? How many have we actually made progress on and/or stuck with thus far?

I’m having a harder time writing this than I thought I would. It may be because I don’t want to air resolutions for the world to see. They’re mine. My “demons” if you will. I cannot keep this concise without simply naming them off in succession, but I shall do my very best. I don’t want this to get too personal…

I’ve been keeping to them fairly well thus far. Sure, there are days I falter, but I’ve tried to balance that with doing positive things; ie. every time I break a resolution (or do something that deters me from achieving a long-term goal) I will write a blog entry or apply for a job or something else positive. It’s not a 1:1 ratio either; using joesgoals.com (mentioned previously) has allowed me to give more weight to more difficult achievements. A vague example being that easy things to accomplish/avoid get lower points and vice versa, so in order to make up for breaking a big one, I have to do something positive that takes a certain dedication of time and energy or a lot of small good things. Does that make sense? I feel like if you look at the sample on the site, it kind of explains itself.

So far, this method has been working for me. It is more of a daily checklist (and I do love my lists) than a few large goals (for example, losing 50 pounds – not a goal of mine) so I’m not sure how much it works as a resolution tracker. Perhaps I’ll call the site itself my resolution. Like “I resolve to use Joe’s goals daily.” I should probably even say “I need to have a score of +25 every month at least, with that value increasing by 5 each month.” That seems like a S.M. A. R. T. goal.

The main point of this entry was two-fold: (1) to take an introspective look at how I’ve been doing to hold myself accountable and actually do a self-assessment, (2) discuss a thought I had regarding vices, and (3) write a blog entry.
(ok, so that’s three. bah!)

So, on vices:

It’s a tough thing to do, giving up vices/habits. I myself can attest to that. It is difficult no to fall back into them. The fact that they’ve become habits attests to their strong power over us. But there must be a reason we wished to change these aspects of our personality last December 31. We realised that these were vices and without giving them up, we could not achieve the positive change we desire.

Though all this has been stated ad nauseum in other forms and places, I had a different thought the other week. Sometimes, is it possible that not giving up our vices, our flaws, our shortcomings, and instead embracing them can better us as people? What I mean to say is this;by recognising that which we wish to change when (or shortly after) we’ve faltered yet again, can we strengthen our resolve for next time? Can we discover the catalyst and replace the vice with something similar that is less negative?

Likewise, by recognizing said catalyst, can we find better alternatives to the vice? Instead of trying to change out bad habits, can we change the thing that makes us want to fall back into these habits? Can we go for a jog instead of watching tv and then drinking? Chew gum instead of smoking while driving? Go to a movie instead of the bar?

With a new day comes new resolve that is expent by evening. Why is that? The hangover reminds you that you shouldn’t rink so much, but in the heat of the moment, you remember why you suffer the hangover (extra weight, wheezing while jogging, etc.): you enjoy the vice. The habit is such because you enjoy it.

Now the question is, do you want the alternative enough to give up the bad habits to attain the end result?

I know not all of these ideas are novel in even the least, but they got me really thinking. I think a lot in the shower for some reason. Good place to zone. Really, I should have a pen and paper (or something..) in there sometimes. But back on track, personally, I am trying to make some better habits. One month in seems like a good time to take a cold hard look at this and maybe take a few more steps toward building a better you.

the Origin of Dapper

It all began with wanting to have an untied bow hanging from my tuxedo.

No, I’m sorry, that’s getting ahead of myself.

It began when I realized that thrift stores were good for more things than cool vintage t’shirts. My style today is very different from high school me. Very. Anyone still knowing me who had known me then (there are still a few), can attest to this. Still, pictures are worth more than words, so here:

"emo nick" or "little nicky tiny pants" depending on who you asked

"emo nick" or "little nicky tiny pants" depending on who you asked

To understand why I dress as I currently do, I figure I might as well do an entire history, at least as far back as I (a) can remember and (b) was picking out and largely purchasing my own clothes.

I middle school, I dressed. I blended in and had a couple of friends. That’s all. Nothing fancy, maybe one or two shirts that I really liked. Only one person called me out on wearing those two almost exclusively, alternating days. They were polo shirts that fit me well. I had always been given hand me downs and shirts that were far too large for me, so these well-fitting polos made me feel cool. I wore ties only to church and often with short sleeved dress shirts. Sometimes, I could be caught in a pair of black pants, a navy double-breasted blazer, a white short-sleeved dress shirt with a button down collar and the jacket unbuttoned. Atrocity. Pure atrocity.

Hanging out with a boy named Mark (who was several grades ahead of me and had his own car) got me more into punk and hardcore music. I began to dress the part more, mixed a little with what was cool (in my mind): JNCOs and Airwalks. To keep things simple, I kept my head shaved. As I got a little older and more daring, I started dying my hair regularly. I’d grow it out and bleach it. Cut it short and have bleached tips. Grow it out and bleach it then dye it red. Blue. Black. It was my thing. I also painted my nails black. Slowly, my t-shirts got smaller as did my pants.

No, I wasn’t getting fat. I was buying clothes that fit. Ish. They were often small, kind of like scene kids do today buying girl’s jeans.I don’t remember why or how, but I got more into emo. Maybe after I broke up with my first girlfriend. As I liked the emo scene I began to dress more as I saw they did. There weren’t a ton of “emo kids” at my high school at this point so I did my online research:

  • bought some Sleepytime Trio and Rites of Spring CDs
  • got a pair of fake glasses from Gadzooks
  • covered my book bag with patches and buttons (flair, as per the movie Office Space)
  • wore low-top, black Converse All-Stars
  • dark jeans with the cuffs rolled up
  • tiny band t-shirts and ironic children’s shirts from thrift stores
  • read zines
  • died my hair black
  • Et cetera

At some point during this transition, I found out about (or at least began to rock) pins and patches for my bookbag. It evolved slowly and I still own it today. I think my hero was Kelly. I didn’t know her personally, but she was a year older than me and had the coolest bookbag I’d ever scene (haha, play on words). She was and probably still is the most punk rock person I know.

One day, walking through the hall, she stopped me and bowed to me, like one used to bow to princes or kings. She told me that the was so impressed with how awesome my bookbag was. She was my bookbag idol and she told me how awesome mine looked! SWEET! We became good friends and ended up going to homecoming together (see photo).

This whole time, my style remained similar. When I joined the theatre department in 2002, I maintained the black hair and bookbag, the small shirts and jeans. However, by senior year, I had toned down on the hair changes. Those theatre kids, ironically, mellowed out my inner punk. (I say ironically because theatre kids are insane)

With the theatre department came a plethora of new friends. One in particular, Mary, was the theatre goddesss of sorts. She was a huge flirt and tons of the guys thought she was God’s gift to Men. We hung out quite a bit. She introduced me to the finer points of thrift store shopping, and it was with her that I purchased my black pinstripe suit. Having this in hand, I realized that I should probably go to prom again: I had gone the previous year and discovered I had a penchant for Tuxedos with Tails. However, this suit was purchased at a fraction of the cost of renting a tux. I knew I’d look like a baller, so I secured a date and attended.

Two proms led me to realize that dressing up was kind of fun. Though I was discouraged from wearing suits regularly, I found special occasions to wear them. Choir concerts, theatre productions, fancy dinners out, homecoming the year after I graduated. I discovered the amazing power of thrift shopping and EBay and amassed a superb collection of outfits. With Mary at my side, I became a clothes shop-a-holic. She was basically my personal assistant, getting me cargos, cords, sweaters and dress shirts.

She hated ties though. Suits too. So I had a great “dressy-casual” look. Thant changed when I picked up the Queer Eye book at B&N and subsequently watched the show with her regularly. I began to think for myself. Then, once I’d graduated and we hung out less, I broke free of her opinions and wore what I want.

The bow ties began with the desire to wear a tux but stand out. I was regularly reading The Style Forum and Ask Andy at work at SVSU and learning a ton. They made me go in another direction entirely, buying clothes I never would have desired and throwing out (donating) a lot of stuff that I never knew was wrong. I followed them to the letter and thus knew if I ever wanted to wear a tux again, I must learn to tie a bow. I can’t remember with any certainty when they became more regular, but I feel like people have always associated me with them. I only owned a few at first, mostly buying them in bulk from Ebay estate sales. However, wear something as eccentric as a bow tie more than once, and people will begin to expect it. In fact, I could wear one one day of the week and get asked the other six about the lack thereof. I guess you reap what you sow…

As a final thought, at long last I was able to find at least one of the old (2005) posts I used to explain my reasoning for my style. Let’s see how it’s held up through the years:

…reason for me to wear suits. Oh, I haven’t made that list here yet? Great! Now if you ever hear me spout this off, you can politely zone out!

1. They offer little exposed body making mosquitos[sic] look elsewhere for sustinance.[sic]

2. I’m never underdressed[sic]

3. They add mass and make me look bigger disguising the fact that I am, simply put, scrawny.

4. (not sure if this is true but someone once criticized me for this so I’ll put it) False sense of superiority. That leads more or less into 5:

5. I know I look decent, so I have one less thing to fret about. ie. I can focus on grammar, posture, breath, etiquiette[sic], without worrying if I look presentable. When dressing “up” is second-nature or commonplace, you carry yourself with more self confidence and are not uncomfortable in nice clothes.

Definite downside: What the hell does one wear to dress up? I have kind of solved that by purchasing a tuxedo and morning suit. Unfortunately, the morning suit is all but completely outdated in the US (Prince Charles and co wore them to HRH’s wedding however, and looked incredibly dapper to boot) and mine needs alterations. I’m lazy though, and cheap. My tuxedo too, has things to be dseired[sic]. Like being proper. After I bought it, I became anal-retentive about styling details, but, since it hardly sees the light of day (haha- it is meant as evening wear!) I am not concerned. It is mostly for fun now. Again, though, dressing up for a wedding bings[sic] these two pieces to mind but I would not want to be dressed similarly or better than the wedding party (think prom tuxes…YUCK!). My tux is not classic by any means but it also doesn’t have 17 buttons. But, I digress.

So, it is obvious this was written both quickly, and before the prevalence of built in spell checkers. A shame to be sure. However, many points still hold up. I am not longer scrawny nor do I have a false sense of superiority; anyone who talks to me for more than five minutes will know that. I do, however, not worry about how I look. I never have to worry about not looking good in photos (except I do tend to make too many funny faces), and I am most certainly rarely underdressed. I certainly feel I’ve reached a happy medium today. Found my personal style, if you will. It’s been a long time coming, but I am comfortable and recognizable. And really, what more can one ask for?

What follows are the photos I was able to find without actually scanning any prints. It is by no means all inclusive and I am certain some are out of order and some dates are incorrect. Still, it serves as a nice overview of (some of) the many styles I’ve maintained through the years (2000-2005 roughly). Cheers.




Hello; my name is Nicolaus E. Witchger. I am a graphic designer from Saginaw, MI best known for wearing bow ties and drinking single-malt scotch, dark beer, and espresso.

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