first comic.

This is for Hilary and the Lukes.
(click on the image to view larger.)


pretty dramatic.

Sometimes phrases repeat themselves in my head over and over accompanied by pictures. This was the one this weekend:

I turned twenty seven with a hole in my heart.


i am alive.

And my mother's christmas cactus is blooming:The reasons I haven't blogged in so long? You'd never believe me if I told you. It has nothing to do with this, but I'm posting it anyway:


Nobody knew I had curly hair.

I even wondered.


a little love affair.

I took the time to sketch, take pictures, and read some poetry. I fell in love with the author, Sherman Alexie. The wikipedia photo isn't flattering, but his gift of language coupled with an honest, funny, and vulnerable sensibility captivates me. It's times like this when I feel I need an artist.

Read this poem, if you've got the time.
(I'd love to read it to you out loud if I could.)


Brown-skinned women
I dreamed of you
long before
any of you decided
to dream about me.
I slept on the top bunk
of my U.S. Army Surplus bed

and pretended one of you was asleep on the bottom bunk
beneath me. Too young to fully understand what that physical
presence would've meant, I still knew it was what I needed. But
like anything believed too hard, those dreams always failed me. I
remember all your names, Indian girls I loved, Dawn, Loretta,
Michelle, Jana, Go-Go, LuLu, all of you Spokane Indian princesses
who never asked me to slow dance

to the music
that always found its way
into the Tribal School
and it wasn't only drums
we heard, you know?
The reservation has a symphony
complicated as any
and we all practiced
the fingering
on the piano, on the pine trees
on the secondhand trumpets

but I was always sat outside the chords, just a little too short
for the melody, and too skinny for the tempo. Oh, I loved it all from a
distance, from inches and miles away, from a generation removed
it seemed. And I loved you all, crazy and brave, in your young
Indian arrogance

and I love you still
when I see any of you
all these years later
often broken
and defeated by this reservation
by alcohol
and your own failed dreams.
I love you

when I see you in the bars, your faces scarred and scared.
Sometimes, I think I love you because your failures validate mine
and because my successes move me beyond the same boundaries
that stop you. I can be as selfish as any white or Indian man.
Sometimes, I think I love you because you all still slow dance with
the next Indian man who might save you. I can hear your bar
voice crack into questions: What tribe are you? Are you married?
How long have you been sober/drunk?
Sometimes, I think I love

because it's always easiest
to love the unloved
to dream
about the dreamless
to watch an Indian woman
just this side
of beautiful
slow dance
to a sad song
and never have to worry
about making her any promises

because this distance I've created is perfect. I can never be hurt.
Don't you see? I am afraid; I am not afraid. Don't you understand?
I know some of you will die in car wrecks. I know some of you
will die of cirrhosis. I know some of you will die of a broken
heart. But more than that, I know some of you will live, will learn
how to breathe this twentieth century oxygen

and learn how
to dance a new dance
with the rhythm
only Indians possess
with the rhythm

and I can hope you'll find your new warriors. Believe me, the
Indian men are rising from the alleys and doorways, rising from self-hatred and self-pity, rising up on horses of their own making.
Believe me, the warriors are coming back
to take their place beside you
beyond the "just surviving"
those new songs
that sound
like the old ones.

I discovered that Sherman Alexie published his first book of poems when he was my age. I yearn to be a writer.


new glasses.

Meri said they're too dorky. I think I like them.


waiting for hell to freeze over.

All my mom wanted to do for her birthday was walk.
"You know...like we did in Brooklyn just getting around."

Within the first few days of landing on Utah soil, my allergies flared up. Not only was I congested, but little spots on my hands and face and feet broke into hives. I couldn't sleep all of the way through the night because my glands were swollen and breathing was only possible sitting up. I felt in part that my body was rejecting an abrupt transition to this arid desert climate and the types of vegetation that thrive in it. I doubled up on my routine dose of antihistamine and I couldn't tell the difference.

My mom requested that we drive somewhere, away from the fields surrounding the house so I wouldn't have to breathe the pollen in. She pointed at the parking lot of American Fork High School as we approached.
"Let's just park here."
We started walking north; then uphill to the east; toward the temple. We took a steady, relaxed pace and walked side by side in silence unless my mom saw a flower or shrub notable enough to draw my attention in. We circled around outside the gate and then entered the grounds and circled again. We saw a hummingbird and admired more flowers.
"Look; Snap Dragons..."

I saw a doctor at the student clinic. He prescribed a nose spray.
"Isn't this a temporary solution?", I asked.
"Of course. Anything I can prescribe now will be temporary. You just need to make it until the first heavy frost."

I believe that despite advanced theories and technologies, the most valuable and penetrating solutions are acts of God. In the meantime, all we can do is cope the best we know how.


time grows short.

A catastrophe occurred this summer. Although I wasn't there to witness it, my soul exists very near its epicenter.

It's been interesting to observe my reaction. I've felt stripped down to the skeleton of my character and belief. I've made snap judgements based on intuition alone. It's exposed what I'm made of.

It's awakened an urgent yearning to be with all the ones I love, no matter where they are or where they've been. It's made me feel like growing up, like having babies; like living a life that recognizes above all else that we exist to learn to love others.

I feel like life is short; I must do the most important things first to pack them all in while I am still breathing.

Yes, I will be ok. The world will be ok. But this stuff really does change you.


hard times.

Believe it or not, but Google told me to take the wrong train last Friday morning. I was supposed to get off at "9th St." from the R and got off at "9th Ave" from the D instead (both were two stops down on their respective lines.) When I finally recognized my mistake, I was 50 minutes away from my destination and already 15 minutes late for a meeting with a freelance client who's number I didn't have. It started raining and I also didn't have my umbrella.

When I finally arrived an hour and a half late, completely soaked, the client was gone. His wife greeted me at the door with a smile and let me in. She'd been feeding the most beautiful, smiling, dark-haired baby. On the sofa sat two soft and lazy cats. She gave me the files I needed and wished me well.

I can never feel too sorry for myself in New York. And I've had some bad times here. There is so much life going on around me that causes me to see outside myself.

I lost my way to the subway station after getting the files and the rain escalated to a downpour. I watched homeless men, asian tourists, muslim women, art students, and small families all rush to find shelter.



I witnessed disorienting amounts of wealth over the weekend. I didn't know it really existed. The puzzle pieces I'd formed of reality and media and fantasy couldn't jam together hard enough to fit altogether in my head. I grew sheepish as I recognized the lack of any personal reference point in the face of it.

Part of the vision of this wealth took place in a massive outdoor tent, perching on stilts so that it stood level although it sat halfway up a luscious green hill. Inside, there were hundreds of people all dancing and drinking under lights and vines and feasting at immaculate place settings; all wearing the most beautiful pressed and tailored and exotic clothing I'd ever seen people actually wear. I sat on the perimeter and watched for hours. It was beautiful despite its foreign flavors.

As I walked away, the lights spilling from the tent cast my silhouette, making my legs look unrealistically long and feminine like an anime characters'. The stars that I'd missed in the city twinkled over me and a lightning bolt in the distance sporadically created an exciting monstrous glow.

I remembered some Joni Mitchell lyrics and sang them to myself out loud:

All the people at this party, they've got a lot of style
they've got stamps from many countries
they've got passport smiles
some are friendly
some are cutting
some are watching it from the wings
some are standin' in the center,
giving to get something

I retreated to a tiny rental car; identical to the one I owned before it was smashed in an accident last December. It felt like home. I opened the book my mother lent me about Hmong immigrants living in Merced, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down." The humbling chapter I chose provided the leveling I sought. I cried under the yellow dome light at the tenderness of two human beings who reach beyond blame, resentment, and vast cultural differences to provide comfort to one another in the face of tragedy.

Then, like any child suffering overstimulation, I slept deeply in that car seat until it was time to leave.



Between me and Elvis, I've always had the upper hand. The legendary being who pop culture itself was invented for and around could always be diminished with two great family legends. I used them to introduce myself on the first day of class in Jr. High a few times:

"My name is Laura Barlow and my biggest claim to fame is that Elvis taught my uncle how to ride a bike," or
"I am Laura Barlow. Elvis asked my aunt out on a date. But she rejected him."

Most of the time the teachers would exaggerate an gaped-mouth response; maybe they thought I was lying; but both accounts are, in fact, true.

My mother was born in Memphis and lived in the same trailer park that he moved to when he was thirteen.

The only qualifier I ever heard was that my aunt, Patsy, had actually been friends with Elvis's sister and that he only flirted with Pat when she was sleeping over at his house as a guest of his sister's. But even in the wake of the exaggerated truth of that story still stood the factor that won me the upper hand:
"But Pat never liked him. . . said he seemed slimy." My mom lapses into the southern accent of her youth as she says it.

In part, it was easy to minimize the real Elvis all of these years because I didn't know who he was. Yes, I'd heard a few songs here or there on Back to the Future and from the toy speakers of the red, velvet, Valentine's Day chocolate box my Dad bought for my mother one year; but beyond that; I never even thought to care.

My oldest brother, Tom, once caught a lizard in the desert that he named Elvis. Even as I type the name now, it reminds me more of a brown lizard who lived in a glass tank with sand and rocks; who died when my little brother, James, tried too hard to catch him when he once got out.

A friend put the song "Blue Moon" on a mix for me and I listened to it for the first time at two o'clock in the morning on a 2 train headed to Flatbush from 96th Street through my yellow, skull-candy headphones last night. My entire countenance awoke and hung on every note. I was dazzled, starstruck, and pinched both of my arms to check if I really was the living niece of these living people who'd interacted with living man who produced these living sounds. I put the song on repeat until I got home.

I wish I'd asked Uncle Ted what it was like to to ride bikes with Elvis before either of them died.



Does every woman need a pair of ridiculous catwalk heels?
I may or may not have just bought these in nude.

B for Barlow.

There is am image of something I saw on the subway that will not leave my mind: An older woman, wearing a wig and a rosy complexion who stepped on the B train with her middle-aged daughter who possessed the same coloring. They had the same round lips and blue, deep-set eyes and carried shopping bags in their identical wirey fingers. They sat their bags down on the floor and spoke happily with their hands in close proximity to one another's faces the entire way home. It was love, pure and simple, and it filled the entire subway car.

It is an obvious fact that we cannot pick who we are born to, and who is born to those people along with us. But after many several ins and outs with family members throughout the span of my life, it has also become just as obvious a fact that we must love those who were given to us in the best way we can; regardless of religion, politics, sexual orientation; and even in the face of things they've done and said to directly offend us. Sometimes it feels outside the realm of possibility to do, depending on the circumstance, but I feel that makes it no less important.

I am so grateful for my present family. And I feel the loss of those I knew as family when I was married.


the girl who cried love.

I half-way expect people to roll their eyes when I tell them I'm dating someone new. I've now had five different boyfriends within the last nine months so I can't really blame them.

There are, of course, so many things to consider carefully trailing the wake of divorce. After falling so madly in love and living the most epic failure of my life as the result, it's become extremely difficult to trust my own instincts. I've attempted to date people outside of my comfort zone; people I've had little in common with, close friends, younger boys, older boys, in many shapes and heights and sizes. The more I date, the more I recognize my glaring inability to make a firm decision about anyone. And, in part, it's because I do genuinely like them all.

Objectivity is a difficult thing when it comes to people and the way I love them, so I've made special efforts to reason things out. I've made lists of relationship non-negotiables, posted blog entry after blog entry about what it is I want in a man just to make sure it's documented as a public reminder to myself, read self-help books, and discussed the topic so thoroughly with all of my most trusted confidants, but at the end of the day, I know I really am left to my own devices.

I went shopping with Josh (my newest boyfriend) last Friday in Soho. He needed some things for summer weather. Fridays are the busiest days for shopping here and we chose to patronize some of the most popular stores. I bought very little for myself and had plenty of time to observe his methods. Unaffected by the throngs of people, he'd approach the rack of something he thought he'd like and stand looking at it for about 10 seconds. If the item made the cut, he'd remove it from the hanger and sling it over his forearm. If not, he'd approach another rack. And it's not that he'd rather not take the time; Josh is, in fact, a man of discerning style.

When I informed our mutual friend about the formation of our relationship, this is the first thing she said (completely unprovoked): "Isn't it great to be dating someone who just knows what they want? I know that's just how he is."

My answer then and now: Yes. Very much so. And I hope to learn something from it.


hollister, nyc.

Welcome to Hollister, NYC. The muscly man pictured here is one of two models hired to stand outside the opening that wafts regular clouds of stinky perfume into the street. I've tripped over their flip flops as I dodge European-tourist-oglers to reach the door to my building (which is right next door.)

On sunny days they apply zinc to their noses. On colder days, they wear hoodies. On mild days, the hoodies go unzipped.

It feels absolutely absurd to me that they help bring traffic to the store, but they must. They're there, all day, everyday, unless it's stormy.

It feels like advertising stripped down to a banal level; like you're actually watching the ground beef being extruded and shrink wrapped and you eat the burger anyway.

Sometimes I feel bad for them; like if their modeling careers were really taking off they wouldn't have to stand in the sun all day and posing with old ladies having pictures taken in their arms. I try to hide it now when my laughter erupts.


graffiti sunday.

Sundays in New York involve enjoying the free art.

(this one is right next to gowanus canal on union st. [that i catch on my bare-footed walks home from church.)
Saturdays involve playing at the park.(compliments of Josh Brown's iphone.)


girl power!

I'm finding the Hynynen sisters to be more inspirational all the time.
From Suvi

From her sister, Vilja.
P.S. The blue text above links to videos for your watching enjoyment.


still hate cats.

but this photo stole my heart.



I often hear my mother's voice. I hear her when I've been too loud at parties, if I treated someone with a lack of consideration, or when I notice that the toilet needs a scrubbing. She is my voice of good will and I often hear her imagined encouragement to do the right thing. I like it most of the time.

My mother is also my greatest earthly constant. She has treated me with more encouragement, forgiveness, and patience than anyone in the face of my simultaneous lack of kindness toward her. In the absence of friends, boys to date, money, and success, she always available for meaningful conversation and a meaningless movie.

I hope to understand this kind of love someday.

I need to marry someone who takes care of me only half as well as she does.

Thanks mom.


work is good, but dinner is better.

My internship:Oh wait, that's Nate's dog, Uintah.

My desk at Modern IDENTITY:
The view out the window:
It's been really busy. Modern IDENTITY has been working on rebranding this, which you can tell has been a lot of work. (don't worry, it looks much better now.) I've been working until about 7pm everyday and then have had a lot of freelance work to do when I get home to Suvi's apartment.
Last night, after freelancing, Suvi and I ate here. (everything has a website in nyc!-- except Modern IDENTITY [but don't worry, Mim. The point of my internship in large part IS to put some key things in place in order to launch their website.])Dinner was fabulous. Restaurants provide an atmosphere most conducive to conversation of any I've encountered in my life. And I think it's probably even better in New York than places with more space. The extra volume of a metropolitan setting adds privacy/anonymity and the limited space ensures greater intimacy as it enforces sitting in closer proximity to your dining companion. And when your dining companion is as pleasant and patient and wise as Suvi it becomes a memory; a profound moment when you gain a greater perspective on where your life is really at; and remember that feeling gratitude is the only real way to be happy in life.


brooklyn noises.

I have been famous for my ability to sleep. It used to be my cure for all bad moods, R-rated films, and boredom. I could sleep anytime and anywhere and in almost any position. I once fell asleep while Tom was hanging sheet rock with a nail-gun in the room next door. I once slept through an entire Mogwai concert by inserting a pair of earplugs and resting my head on the bar toward the back of the venue. The truth is, I grew up in a nosy home. When things are too quiet, it means I am alone. When I am alone, I am more likely to feel lonely.

When I finally got my own bedroom at age 17, I acted excited. The truth is, I was a bit scared of sleeping downstairs by myself. I couldn't hear my mom vacuuming or the clank of her dish-washing in the middle of the night; only the vague, creepy noises that sounded through the heating vents overhead and occasional branches scraping against the windows at the provocation of the wind.

I arrived in New York at 5:30am after a sleepless night on the plane. Dylan met me to lug my bags through the urine-scented subway stations that led me to my new apartment. Suvi let me sleep in her bed for a hours and then woke me for church at noon. My legs were noodles as I ran to catch the bus in my best high heels. (I honestly feared that the entire lower half of my body would give out on me.) And church was enoyable/ torturous because of my enthusiasm at my own arrival and my simultaneous want for sleep. After church there was no time to return to the apartment. There was a fireside and meal in only a few hours, so I opted to sleep in the Relief Society room in the little Park Slope, Brooklyn church building. I lined three padded chairs in a row in front of the window and found a quilt meant for humanitarian aid in the unlocked closet.

There was so much noise! People filled the sidewalks in their shorts and sundresses and cars blared hip-hop songs as they stalled at the intersections. It felt wonderful.


may day, may day.

For some reason every time I first see my final grades, I choke. It's not like they're that bad, just that I always want straight A's and I am pretty far from that.

I could cry over grades. Easily. And it makes me feel superficial, if not immature, like a kid throwing a tantrum.

It then forces me reflect on all of the things that cannot be numerically summed that I don't choke on: break-ups, moves, signing student loan documents, devastating current events. Why don't I cry over these things?

I had the opportunity yesterday to talk with an old friend that I haven't spoken with in almost two years. She is one of the freest spirits I know. She's been reading the Book of Mormon with a greater zeal than I'd seen in the past and expressed the new commitment she felt to the gospel in the most ethereal, open terms I've ever heard. It was refreshing to say the least; but also allowed me to pause and recognize the stark contrast that existed between the two of us.

Yes. I've been living a life governed by fear that I will be hurt again the way I was hurt in marriage. It's meant that I've become insensitive and selfish and established a solid ability to rationally justify why I think that's all okay.

There are some people I've hurt pretty badly and who's wounds I never even stopped to acknowledge. I then only took the time to justify why that was okay for me to do.

When I move to Brooklyn on May 1st I will:

Read the Book of Mormon in the sanctuary of Suvi's apartment.

Watch people when I am on the street and in the subway.

Figure out how to be soft again.


totally worth it.

Taking a moment to listen to this would seriously enrich your life. I couldn't help but cry.

I've been thinking lately of hopping on top of some blogging soapbox (again) to declare that in this world of summing oneself up into concise online profiles composed of brief lists of interests and blurbs about who we all are, that real compatibility seems lost under heaps of superficial compost. We will never be happy in a relationship with someone else simply because we are both "indie" or "hip" or "athletic" or "punk" or because we "get" one another. It is good to have things in common, but unless a relationship is genuinely founded on selflessness, faith, hope, charity, and patience, the happiness found in it will diminish to nothingness.

I am living proof. If there is anything I learned from surviving such an unbearable marriage for three years, it is this. Adam and I liked all of the same books and films and music, but none of that meant anything when it came to actually helping one another through life. The thread of contention that wove itself through the course of our courtship became the only reliable consistency that existed.

Now I'll get back to my homework...


5 a day.

5 a day. from laura barlow on Vimeo.


advocacy for design students.

My friend Luke created and hung this amongst all of the ads it so accurately mocks on the cork board outside the BFA lab.
It gets me every time.


love + ¡nternsh¡p

Sometimes blogs are for making announcements:

1. I will be moving to the fine city of New York sometime not long after finals to intern at Modern Identity. (Check out their incredibly minimalist website here.) I cannot fully describe my excitement.

2. I've been dating a guy so incredible that I've been not only willing, but excited, to sit through an entire basketball game without opening my sketchbook or laptop once (with finals quickly approaching) in order to watch him play. I'll be attending a soccer game tonight with the same enthusiasm and purpose.


50 ft woman!

Made this for my motion graphics class. It had to be a promo for the SyFy channel usind 3d layers in AfterEffects. I finished it at 5:30 this morning.


balancing act.

In a brief, but emergency state of loneliness last week, I recognized I had the impulse to pull out my laptop and work on my UNO card redesign instead of clamoring for human interaction.

Design is a good friend to have. It doesn't make you vulnerable the way relationships do. It always yields visible results based on your effort, sensitivity, and skill. And it always needs you because there is perpetually something more you could do to make it better.

But there are those times when design feels like it's rejecting you: when a trusted design authority looks you in the eyes and tells you just didn't hack it; when a project just isn't gelling regardless of the hours you've put in; when you feel no sense of personal satisfaction despite the praise/encouragement of others. In these moments, I only want to be held by human arms and appreciated for anything but my artistic sensibilities.

There must be a balance I can strike...


i am a nonstop design worker.

Thanks to Jenny for the link. It hits home.


natural triumph.

I don't remember using the locker room in high school. It's possible I avoided taking all P.E. classes that involved such an uncomfortable place. Maybe I just changed my clothes in a large bathroom stall intended for people in wheelchairs.

I do distinctly remember using the locker room in 7th grade. If I were standing in Mountain Ridge Jr. High School right now, I'm pretty sure I could walk to the exact locker I used. It was two rows up and 3 from the right. I'd heard locker room horror stories my whole life about kids getting beat up and having their anatomy made fun of from my older siblings. I'm pretty sure that reading R.L. Stein's "Cheerleader Evils" series didn't help either. It was a scary place even though I can't remember one unkind or scary thing actually happening there.

I had occasional rashes then that grew out from the crook of my left arm. In the same year I developed some sort of oozing sore on my neck as well as the first signs of breasts. It was emotionally sensitive to have to change from a training bra into a sports bra (which was pretty much the same thing.) And although I probably weighed only 90 lbs, I felt like a mammoth compared to the girls who only weighed 80.

Then there were the team sports that followed changing: Football, basketball, soccer. I'd never played these games before and everyone seemed to assume that everyone else automatically knew all the rules. I'd hoped that like in all my other classes that if I simply didn't talk I'd be left alone; but P.E. required participation. I dreaded it in a daily basis and muffled my way through running, kicking, hitting, and catching enough to get a grade.

Now I voluntarily shower in a locker room at least twice a week after swimming in a class of all males and change into/out of a swimsuit in front of other girls with no issue or hestitation.

How happy I am to have grown up.


i'd be lying if i said i wasn't obsessed with this.

Suvi entered her Brooklyn living room dramatically dancing to this song on her iphone as she held it in one of her hands. I've been hooked ever since.

Pop music is such a funny thing. I genuinely love this song--I think it has an addictive quality that's reacted perfectly with my brain chemistry--but I laugh almost every time because of the words (which are only accentuated by the cheesiness of the video.) It arises within me a question. Does everyone listen to it as casually as me or are there people who genuinely feel like making love to this? In reality though, I'm sure there are large groups who lie on both sides of this spectrum. Maybe I'm just jealous of the people who can take it seriously? No, probably not. And maybe it doesn't matter because it's served its purpose well: It may be one of the only songs I'm willing to pay $1.29 for on itunes in order to get my fix.

this is why i never get bored.

More from my nyc trip.



I took more photos of the ground outside my airplane window than any person or thing in New York City. I find them completely irresistible, like they hold some greater knowledge about typographic grids and visual structure than I could ever hope to learn from a book.

If only my trip had stayed so subtly artistic.

Sometimes I'm certain my life could be made into a movie; or a soap opera. And if I didn't hold personal blog rules about talking about direct events that involve others, I'd have quite a yarn to spin. I'd explore the sting of broken dreams, betrayal, the desperation of separated lovers, confessions of unrequited love, cutthroat competition, the joy of new friendships, and the comfort that can only reside in the company of the oldest of friends-- all ending neatly in a satisfied package of personal victory (I hope).

At the very least, I'll provide the illustration of most of these events. It'll be like a choose your own adventure story. Use your imagination to fill in the details: