I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life ... to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

*Henry David Thoreau

GECKO BLUE ... VERSION 7.0 (december, 2010)

Yet another website re-vamp under my belt -- although, I have to admit I put this one off for a long time. Redoing this website is total and complete madness. And that's putting it simply. Each time I do this, I tell myself: "Self, we are never doing that again." And my Self nods in solemn agreement. But I think she suspects we'll be sitting here again in a year or so: exhausted, with things left undone while I frantically riffle through this site, maybe even a bit shell-shocked by the experience, and vowing, once more, that we will never do it again. Because, yes, I am a fool. A fool who likes to tinker around and change things. A fool who really loves that euphoric feeling of sticking things through and finishing a project I secretly thought might be impossible. Truly, I don't realize the madness of this task until I'm about halfway through -- way past the point of no return. Then, things sit for a year or so, and I forget how revamping the site made me totally nuts. Ah well ... what's that old saying? Something about those of us who ignore history being doomed to repeat it ... or something like that.

At any rate, this little piece of history is all finished, for better or for worse. And, considering how much work went into this project, I definitely hope it's for the better. *nervous laugh*


So, if I'm guesstimating things correctly, I think this website has been up and running for around six years or so. Wow. That shocks the heck out of me. In some ways, it still feels as if I put it up just a day or so ago. I don't realize how much this place has grown (and grown and grown) until I sit down to revamp stuff. Time is funny that way. I never expected to keep the site up and running for this long, butI hope to keep chugging away at it. So far, this place remains a bright and fun spot in my life ... something of a "get-away" for me. A place I can head off to in order to forget some of the stress and trouble Real Life gladly heaps at my door. I wouldn't go so far as to call it my "happy place" -- mainly because that's just too darn corny. But, it comes close.

Oddly enough, I feel like this was the easiest site redo yet. It makes me nervous that I forgot something ... or that, maybe, things aren't going to work the way they are supposed to. Yikes! At any rate, I wasn't expecting things to flow along smoothly and quickly, and I'm not sure why it felt this way. I've done this a few times now, so maybe knowing what to expect made things seem to go by faster. Whatever the case, I felt like things went a lot more smoothly this time. As always, I felt a bit overwhelmed somewhere around the middle, but I also managed to tell myself: "Hey, Self, just keep on going. Keep plugging away. You'll get there." And, well ... I did! *shock & surprise*

My real life is super busy now. My daughter is now 7. She is in Second Grade this year, and I volunteer at her school several days a week. In between that and various playdates and household errands, it seems I spend a lot of my time running from place to place. I am still (ever so sloooooowly) editing my first novel, although I wrote a second one last year. The second one, like the first, is still in very rough draft form. Right now, my goal is to bring my first novel to completion. I hope to sell it, once I'm done -- even though I k now what a long shot that is. But, for now, it would be enough if I finished the darn thing! I still collect anime production artwork, although I've slowed down on that hobby a lot -- partially because of the yucky economy and partially because I am fortunate enough that I already have many things I love quite a lot. And, then, of course, there's the website. Always the website, which has, in the past couple of weeks, taken more than the lion's share of my time and attention.

Now that things are done, though, I'm happy. And I like the new layout/design. It feels different, and that was what I wanted -- something bright, different, and simple. Hopefully, it translates to something others enjoy, too.


Version 7.0: Let's see ...

I didn't monkey with the actual mechanics of the layout much, for either fanfiction or the production art gallery. The biggest change, I think, is that I split my cel gallery down a little further. Previously, I had broken that part of the gallery into "Obsessions", "Paper", and "Plastic". This time, I broke the "Plastic" section down further by adding a new area called "The Hodge Podge". It showcases my collection from several shows that I love but have never been able to collect on a serious level. I also removed the "Favorites" page from my cel gallery, and I changed the "Omake" section so that it's truly a little something extra. Now, it houses an awards page and fanart by various artists. I considered taking down the fanfiction part of this site, as I have become more and more involved in writing and thinking about original fiction. For now, I left all of it up on the site, but I might change my mind in the future and convert this site into a production art gallery only. I am still debating over it.

Cosmetically, I wanted something a lot simpler with this redo. I left image banners -- smaller and with a more streamlined look to them -- on the main portal pages. For all of the underlying pages, I used text-only banners. I particularly like the look of this in the cel gallery, as I feel like it brings a lot of attention to the artwork. And, that's what the cel gallery is all about. For a long time, I resisted using any white tones for the page background colors. This time, I broke that unwritten rule of mine and used a soft white tone as my background color. I hope it is muted enough that it doesn't hurt anyone's eyes. I toyed around with a lot of colors, but, for the banner look I wanted, this white worked the best. Plus, it's winter now, which, around here, means we will soon be getting snow. At least, I hope so. I love snow. *_* And the white seemed to fit, somehow.

I always say this, but I feel like this redo is radically different from anything I've had up in the past. This is my first time attempting to use white -- albeit a soft tone of the color -- in the backgrounds. And it is my first time combining different tones of purple. Purple is quite different for me! I tend to be a blue chick. ^.~ I decided to split the difference between my love of monochromatic designs and the desire for splashes of color by making a sort of modified-monochrome scheme for the site banners. And I kind of played around further by using purplish tones for the solid colors.

I continued giving in to my (not so inner) fangirl by leaving all the main site pages Weiss Kreuz-themed. I still love this look as an overall design element, as I adore this show, the characters showcased here, and the artwork. Long story short, Weiss still feels "right" for this site. So, Weiss it is.

If this design has a theme, it is "simple, simple, simple". As I mentioned earlier, I wanted an overall simpler, more streamlined look to things. I wanted even smaller banners . In the cel gallery, I wanted to streamline everything and give more attention to the artwork, so I decided to continue forgo using "character-themed" banners there. I wasn't sure of it at first, but I like it now that I'm used to it.


Not much to tell, really. I think I'm a pretty boring person, over all. I have been an anime fan for a long time. As a kid, I used to stay up into the wee hours of the morning on Saturday nights just to watch Speed Racer and Voltron on the black and white telly I had in my room. It had rabbit ear anntennas, and we lived out in the Texas Hill Country. So, yeah ... often, there was very poor reception. I can't even begin to count the hours I spent bent around the TV, as if engaged in an odd game of Twister, so I could hold the rabbit ears "just so" and still see the picture I had worked so hard to capture. Sigh ... good times. At the time, I didn't realize I was watching "anime". I just knew I loved it -- the artwork was so different and the stories seemed so much deeper than normal US cartoon fare.

In college, I did not watch anime at all. I guess I figured I had outgrown it. But, the thing is ... I don't think you really ever outgrow anime. Maybe, you can walk away from it for a while, but it always finds you again. In my case, this happened a few years after graduate school when I stumbled across the US release of Ronin Warriors. I watched an episode ... thought it was pretty good ... watched another episode ... and was hooked back in to the anime world. From there, I moved on to watching DBZ ... fell head over heels in love with Goku (it's a fan girl thing ... there's no explaining it). And, from there ... well ... end of story, really. That was all several hundred dvds and countless hours of anime watching ago, and I've never looked back -- much to the chagrin of my parents, who can't understand why their "seemingly normal" grown daughter insists on spending valuable time and money in the pursuit of cartoons.

As of this writing (December, 2010), I have somewhere around 900 dvds in my anime collection, and it is still growing. I have a fairly decent action figure collection, and my bookshelves are filled to bursting with manga, artbooks, and back issues of Shonen Jump and Newtype USA. I have immersed myself in this nutty hobby, drinking in the vibrant, beautiful artwork, loving the characters and the storylines ... and I have never been happier. This is my life ... crazy as it seems ... and anime has become a big part of it. I would not want to change that one bit.

In March/April 2004, I jumped into the next logical phase of my anime addiction: celluloid. I am now wholeheartedly hooked on bits of painted plastic and graphite scribbles, and my wallet bleeds for it. It is impossible to explain the thrill of adding that "perfect" shot of one of your favorite characters or scenes to your collection ... the excitement of holding an actual piece of one of your favorite animes in your hands. Other cel collectors will understand exactly what I mean. They will read this (if anyone reads this, that is) and nod their heads in a knowing way ... while everyone else will look at it something like this ---> o_O ... >_< ... and shake their heads wonderingly at the idea that anyone could be so completely insane. At any rate, my dvd collection, manga collection, and action figure collections still grow, but at a much slower pace. These days, the search and acquisition of celluloid eats most of my money and, pretty much, any time not spent writing.

Hmmm ... what else? Well, let's see ... there's the "normal" stuff. I'm the mother of a wonderful little girl. She is beautiful and funny and, sadly, will never be able to reach her full potential, since mommy will likely spend her college tuition money and inheritance on cels. In February, 2008, I adopted a new puppy. Her name is Fae, and she is a bit of a "surprise hound". She was a rescue pup, and we're not sure what kind of dog she is, exactly. She is now three years old, and finally stopped growing. (She ended up being very tall!! o_o) She is almost as tall as my daughter, and she loves ice cubes and "counter surfing" for goodies she can sneak. She's a bit insane, but a lot of fun, and we have grown to love her. I still have my cat -- Sister Kitty, age unknown. She is more like a boarder than a pet, although I am quite fond of her. She can usually be found sleeping in her little kitty bed, which is in my office on top of a plastic storage box full of cel backgrounds, as I write or surf in the search for new cels. If she's not there, she is sunning in her favorite window ... or staring at the closet door. Yeah ... I have no idea what the closet door thing is all about, but she and I have a tacit agreement: We don't discuss it. Some things are better left unsaid, if you get my drift.

And, well ... that's it. My life ... for better or worse.

Contact: zone-mistress@hotmail.com



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