Sunday, March 25, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

Me, The Puffer, and Amy, the Puffer's new proud owner. 

So, today was an emotional day. First of all, I am hungover from drinking too many PBR's last night.  Second, I officially handed over the keys to the 1978 Volkswagon Camper Van to it's new owner. 

When my father brought  this ray of sunshine to our home back sometime when I was in highschool I think, I saw a love in his eyes I had never seen before. I saw a man dedicated to the health and well being, the future condition, the current comfort, the absolute investment and safety of, and the beautification of something, and it was most certainly not me. It was a 1978, schoolbus orange, VW camper van. I could hardly blame him, I was head over heels in love too. We all were. It was and is still today impossible to be around this vehicle and feel anything short of glee,  joy, pure gag-me-out happiness. I was forbidden to drive it, end of discussion, I am walking away, sort of thing which made me so freakin mad. If people, ya know my friends, could see me behind the wheel of this thing I am SURE it would up my street cred. My dad would not budge. I could not even take it around the block and he got  a real kick out of enforcing it. My brother was not as smittin with the van as I was, I don't think my mom was either, but me and my dad were on the same page with the van, and dammit, he loved that thing more than me. 

We went camping in it all the time, it was awesome. It was like a mini RV and it had all the comforts like a stove, a sink, a refridgerator, closets, a breakfast nook, an awesome circus like tent that attached to it and even electricity, we could plug in a toaster! We were the family that had toast when we camped, I'll be damned.  When we were not camping in it my dad was polishing it, working on it, or modifying it in some small cool way. When my nieces came along, they too had an incessant love and longing to be around it . We played in it, slept in it, took pictures in it and talked on and on about it. They officially named it The Puffer Belly, I think after the Puffer fish or maybe it was a train thing, I don't recall, and it stuck

Then there came a day when out of nowhere, my dad handed me the keys and said go take it for a spin. I was well into college by now and I have no idea, to this day what sparked the change of heart but I knew better then to ask questions, I grabbed the keys and was off. It was as wonderfully magical to drive as I had ever dreamed it would be, no power steering, strange quirks on how to shift, no heat, and if you had the misfortune of a wind of any kind, you better have some upper body strenght to keep this baby on the road. It really did up my street cred, I knew it would, people thought I was really an interesting and fantastically happy person. As I would drive down the road people would wave wildly, honk their horns, smile like they had never smiled before, point, mouth gaping open at this bizzare sight. Kids would chase after me on their bikes, like I was the freakin ice cream man, "no kid, I don't have any candy!" It was not possible for you to drive the puffer in a foul mood becuase it was sort of your job to smile the entire time, people expected it, and you can't disappoint the people. 

Well, after my dad passed away, the puffer was like our connection to him. I knew that when I was driving it or washing it or generally being good to it, he was happy, in the "looking down from heaven" sort of a way. I took it on several memorable camping trips, the best being to outdoor weekend concerts, it was the place to be. I did not have to do anything but simply pull up, turn it off and open the door and the people, like bees to honey, would start to arrive. The puffer was the "Field of Dreams" of vehicles, if you drive it, they will come. 

Over time though, the Puffer sat more than it went, whether it was in storage, where mice would snack on it, or baking in the sun in the driveway. Ya know the story of "The Giving Tree" right? Well it was like the tree, it was sad and lonely and I was always too busy, the nieces were too and it was aging. Like a beautiful dog in a kennel, I was determined to set it free, find some crazy hippie in California to live it in. Enter Amy, good bless her, the very hippie I had been searching for. She wanted to get rid of much of her eathly possessions and become part of the Puffer. She started referring to it as the Bliss Portal, which I quickly shot down. Never,  NEVER call the Puffer the Bliss Portal, ever, not in my presence or out of my presence. I think I may have gotten my point across, I should have written a contract or something up to make it official, but I trust her to do the right thing. 

As I sit here and write this, I wonder what Don Bruno is thinking, in that: "looking down from heaven" sort of a way. Is he rolling over in his proverbial grave, or is he gasping at how much money I got for it. Though I don't really want to know what may or may not happen in the "Bliss Portal" I want to say goodbye to a very special old friend, Thank you for the times Puffer Belly, and God Speed. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012


So first of all I started the day off at Granite City Crossfit, which I do almost everyday, the difference was today I did 150 wall balls and 170 single jumpropes. It was the official Crossfit Games Open workout of the week for the crazy mofo's that are trying to place among the real elite, magical, crossfitters out there. Well, it was hard as hell and I can't even do double unders yet, so I am still green in comparisson, but getting through the 150 wall balls was a great accomplishment and I am sure that I will be crippled when I try to get out of bed tomorrow morning. 

Then I came out to the shop to clean up and get ready for a group of college students from CSB/SJU that are in an E scholars program that streamlines a path to starting your own business. It is exciting to be in a room full of excited, motivated, hungry for success types. I would say about 12 of them filed in and found a spot to stand as I fired up my schpiel about how I got to where I am today. Actually, it is a really great talk, it's a killer story. When I have to make an outline of the things i have done in my life up until now, holy crap, there is a ton of cool shit. I have been to a lot of places. I know a TON of people. I am what I like to call a master networker. I had to go back in time a bit to explain how all this letterpress got started with us Bruno's and I gotta talk about how I came up with my kickass logo. I touch on all the work I have made and how the cards started. I weave in and out of the card making process and where I come up with my brilliant card ideas (mostly when I am drinking), and then to all the custom work I have produced. I talk about all the places I have printed and the things I have accomplished on my own. The shows I have been in, the panels I have spoken on, and the people I have printed with. When I really stop to think about the people that have (cheesy) touched my life, I really get choked up. I truely may not get rich, but dammit, I will be happy and proud. 
This was as the students were leaving, thanks fer comin' kids!

I talk about the lessons I have learned, like how not everyone is going to love what I make, I can hardly understand why or what may possibly be wrong with those people, but I have come to accept this fact. I have further come to see that if people are hatin' on me, atleast they are talking about me and what I am doing and you know what they say, any publicity is good freakin publicity. I showed off the most recent stuff that is hot off the press and how I am working towards going to the New York Stationary show in May of this year. 

Friday, March 9, 2012


Hard to believe or imagine if you don't know me and even if you do, that before I went fulltime with Bruno Press in November of 2011, I taught preschool. For two whole years I was eyeballs deep in crazy, hilarious, interesting, wonderful, whiney, intelligent 3 and 4 year olds. When I was in the thick of it, I thought sometimes I would walk outside to my car never to return. With a good nights sleep I always came back excited to see them, all of them. Things that had happened the day before were totally forgotten, I like that about kids, they do not hold grudges. If they were bucky and crabby the day before and I had to sit them in the peace corner, by the next day, they were tripping over themselves to get at me to hug me good morning. That is a nice way to start the day. Even when they never stop talking or saying my name, not even for a second, it was such a wonderful thing to hear. "MISS MARY"S HERE!!!!" is what I would hear from 15 kids the second I walked in the classroom. 
I still get to go back and bring new books that I find to read to them, or be the extra chapperone when they go on outtings. Yesterday, I got to go with to see The Lorax. They get so jacked to ride on the bus, couple that with a unannounced cameo by ME and they were freaking out. It was awesome! I had to make sure I hugged everyone atleast once, and mostly that was not enough. They had SO MUCH TO TELL ME and they all talk at the same time. I tried to slow them down and listen to each one but it was touch and go. I felt such extreme love for these kids I wondered how I could have ever left work annoyed and frazzeled. This is an example of absense making the heart grow fonder. I was so patient, I was so chill and mellow whilst they were all coming at me at the same time and talking and screaming and crying and pushing and shoving and basic mass hyteria. Slowly they started to calm down and then we started singing Row, Row, Row your boat in animals noices. That always gets them quiet, it is the darnedest thing.  We got on the bus and everyone wanted to sit by me and obviosly that is not possible, so again, more crying, I took turns with as many different seats as I could in the time it took to drive to the theatre. We talked about where they live (the pointed), what they ate for snack, and how much they loved going to movies. 
Once there it was just counting and recounting the kids until we get them into their seats and can finally relax a bit with the movie. Before the movie even started two kids were crying and wanted to go home. Awe man, what do you do with that? I walked one out to the bathroom, he proceeded to show me the Lightning McQueen underpants he had on, we washed our hands, talking about how cold the water was then we made our way over to a bench in the lobby for a little Miss Mary "break down of what's going to happen" talk.  I said, okay pal, member when I asked you if you really wanted to go to the movies and you told me yes? "yes" Okay, well, there is no crying, the bus is gone and we need to stay here until the bus comes back to pick us up. Your Mom and Dad told me that you were a big guy and you would love to come to the movie. So, we are going to head back in there and you are going to hang out, you can sit on my lap if you want, you can even take a little nap if you want, but we are going back in there and you have nothing to be crying about, kay? "okay"
We headed back in the movie started, it was good and happy and colorful and I sat and talked to him about the movie the whole time. It was going great, then he started to lose it and I handed him my phone and set up an easy game called Fruit Slice. He was all about it and we could safely get through the end of the movie with no more wailing. It was great. 
Funny though, cause through all of that, guess who lost it like a little baby at the end? Me, I am a giant sap and I left with cryface. 
Best part was the text from this little guy's mom that evening that said... he said "Mom, I like The Lorax, Miss Mary is a nice guy, you know, like a superhero."
That is cool, I mean the guy part is not super flattering, but the superhero part totally makes up for it. It is nice to know that kids know what they are talking about, it's like a sixth sense or something. 
Thanks guys.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Okay, so if you are a saavy blog reader then you surely noticed that I have not blogged in like 2 years. That could be seen as not being on the ball. Well I have been freakin' busy man. Like really, really busy. I have been building up to this point for about a year and a half. That is really about when I started the big website update, and JUST TODAY that bee-atch went live. That is stick-to-it-ivness my friends. I could have tweaked that thing forever too but alas, get it into the hands of the people! So that is what I did. Now, finally, I feel like I can sit down and write about what has been happening and what is going to be goin' down at Bruno Press. Was just in a very sweet and awesome blog, actually mentioned in two. This one here:

is quite awesome. I am so honored to be part of the blog. Was not long ago I had to have my smart computer friends explain to me what a blog even was. Now look at me. I get it, this is social media man, this is the game. Get good or get left behind. 

The thing with me (re)starting this blog is I don't even know where to start. There is so much and so much has happened in just the last 3 months! Bruno Press is growing like a weed. Like a silly, spitfire toddler, the one that everytime you see, you hardly recognize. You wonder what they are feeding it, sort of thing. 
I am going to try to talk about all of the whats what and the whos who but I am going to start with a small bit. 
Today, my stand in boyfriend, Derek, and I really tackled the shop. We turned that place upside down. I am a bit anxious about the whole thing because I have a lot going on and there is never a good time to have things in dissarry. However, it is darkest before the dawn I tell ya. This fung shui attack feel cathartic. I don't think I really know what that word means but I am using it in the way that I am making the space work for me and what my goals are and letting go of the way it has been since it's conception at the hands of my father, Don Bruno. Change is tough, but dammit, it is mostly always real, real good. I will post the before and after shots soon, hopefully very soon infact. 
It is good, and Derek is a wonderful friend. When a gal is dadless and "real" boyfriendless, it is sometimes hard to get the big shit done. So, bless you my friend. You are such a trooper. I hope someday I can afford to pay you what you are worth.