Monday, December 22, 2008

This is pretty boss

I think this is just great.

What You See

After a slow saunter through The Frist exhibit of George Eastman photographs, I am inclined to speak on the fine line between reality and art. I've been mulling this topic around in my mind and within my fingertips for a while now. I will now attempt to thoughtfully and carefully convey my opinions/pose my questions...

Q: What is a photograph, really?
Q: Is it a depiction of what is real and true?
Q: Or, is it/should it be an artistic expression of what we all really wish the world looked like?
Q: Is it a visual representation attempting to combine all of the intangible sensory experiences?
Q: What should we feel when we look at a pretty picture? At a tragic one?

The museum's exhibit of photographs was brimming over with arguments for both reality and imagination. I think we could all agree to say that the realm of photography doesn't mutually exclude either. Sometimes, cameras record history; other times, they create unrealities. Edward Weston asks, "Why limit yourself to what your eyes see when you have such an opportunity to extend your vision?"

I think he would have been a Photoshop fan.

Below are some of my pictures from the last few weeks. I've posted them, realizing that out of context and without explanation, their meaning could be completely misconstrued. For this exercise, I've taken some liberties. Please...humor me.

In this picture, one might assume that my beautiful roommates are inhumanely tall. But, you know, of course, that it is just a matter of perspective. I took the picture from below, therefore creating the illusion that they are beasts.

It might appear as though I am in the midst of a windstorm. You must know, contrastingly, that I was indoors, and was simply (unsuccessfully) jowling.

Don't be fooled. This picture of my sweet friend, Elaine, is a complete misrepresentation of her disposition. Though she is depicted here as a menacing threat to your safety, she is, in reality, a non-violent type.

In the above, Keith looks legitimately crazed. Possessed, really. Let me put you at ease to say that, he is not, in actuality. Naturally, I just happened to catch him at an innopportune time.

So, you see, the camera can "lie." It can lead you to believe just about anything. Add photo editing into the mix and voila! - you can evoke just about anything you so desire. Manipulation? Sure, sometimes it is - when you see something and are under false pretenses that it is natural and accurate depiction of reality.

But, other times, it is infinitely more. Thoreau said, "The Question is not what you look at, but what you see." What do you feel when you look at a photograph of an orange-sky sunset? Do you experience even a small-twinge of the transcendent beauty of our Creator? Would that change if you learned that the image was amped up with CMYK color? Or, would you know that perhaps, on the day the photo was taken, there was an unrecordable beauty? Perhaps the aroma of the nearby magnolia tree combined with the temperate 65 degrees couldn't be translated onto film? Maybe, just maybe, the photographer just wanted to recreate what his/her camera was incapable of doing justice? Do you feel lied to?

I don't. I think photographs are to their takers as words are to a writer. Sometimes they're not enough. But, they're all we have. They're the only means we have of trying to tell the world what we're thinking; what we're seeing. Even though they aren't always sufficient, they're what we've got.

Friday, December 19, 2008

ex-pect-ant [ik-spek-tuhnt]

The advent season brings with it the anticipation of many things including...
Time with Mama.
Unstructured daaaays off of work.
Pj-clad days, fireside nights.
Coffee dates with long-lost ones.
Lingering at the dinner table.
Couch-cuddling, holiday film-viewing.
Ravenous reading.
While I am jumping out of my skin with the excitement for all of the above, I'd be way off-base not to immerse myself in the expectation of my Coming King. May the coming days be soaked in thoughts of His arrival... Let's, too, proceed as with the bated-breath, Mary-like enthusiasm of a mother waiting for her precious one to join her in the world.
Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth. (Micah 1:3)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ever Before Me

I made this yesterday to be my screensaver, because I needed the reminder...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Talking Up Relationships

If there's one thing I LOVE, it's good conversation with practical strangers. Thankfully, my job allows for me to engage in it all-the-livelong-day. In preparing for the February "I [Heart] Issue," of the magazine, I've been interviewing couples. Without divulging too much information, I'd just like to share a few golden nuggets from several of these sweethearted people. Some of their words were sobering; others hope-givingly romantic. People like these...they are my teachers.

From the female half of a ballroom dancing couple:
"The challenge is not to lead, and to let the guy lead. With couples, especially, it's hard for the lady to do that. If the guy's not leading, it's just instinctive for the lady to try and take over, and if you're both leading, it doesn't work. You're not pulling her around, but you're just initiating the steps. It definitely takes practice."

The male counterpart of a catering duo:
"[Being in business together has] redefined who we are as a couple, because it's put us in a position where we have to fight. For everything that we have, and everything that we are, we have to fight. We put all our effort, energy and time into this. We face different challenges. I think for us, deciding if it's worth fighting for...We're both on the same team; we both want the same things. We may approach it differently, but we want the same results."

And from the marriage counselor about her husband:
"I think there was a time where it was actually brought to my attention that I was over-analyzing everything that we said or did in our communication; how we resolved conflict. It was just overkill. Date nights became, 'We need to talk through this and this and this. Cause if we don't and we let it go for a week, we're going to be like this couple that was in my office in crisis.' There were several months where I was just very overly analytical about us, trying to look at everything through a magnifying glass and it just didn't work at all. It took a colleague saying, 'Ya'll need to have fun. There's other parrts to your marriage besides just making sure you talk through everything.'"

And from a girl with "different abilities" about her boyfriend:
"A lot of the stuff he likes is the same stuff I like. He's funny. He's outgoing. He's got a good personality. And on top of all that, he helps everybody. And I try to help as much as I can. Basically, he's just a really nice person and he takes care of me. He treats like a queen. He doesn't even treat me like a princess. He treats me like a queen. He brings me lunch in. He brings me pie. Like today, I had chocolate pie he brought in for me. And he also helps me sew on my scout badges--my meirt badges--because I don't know how to sew them on. I don't know where half of them go."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Things I'm Digging Today

Number One: This man, and his "Winter Blues." Oh, and his Christmas stuff is pretty jazzy, too.

*Thanks be to the talented Stephen DeVries for the recommendation. I found this picture he took on Google images!

Numero due: This incredible etsy-find. I know just the person who would a) understand and b) really appreciate receiving one in her stocking this Christmas.

Numéro trois: Peppermint Mallows. Can't wait to try this recipe.

And, finally, a Christmas wish.

Here's to a weekend of decking the halls, crafting, baking and merry-making!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Evolution of Song

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of witnessing the most glorious unfolding of creativity in my oh-so-talented (songwriter-on-the-side) roommate . (My sincerest apology for not receiving preemptive permission to publish this). Several nights this week, I have come home to see her sweet face lit up in the front window of our house in the room where our new keyboard resides. She has graciously allowed me to sit at her feet as she tickles the ivories (or fiberglasses, in this case). Her repertoire is wide-ranging; her voice a melodic complement to each note played. I've watched as she's scribbled and erased her way through writing a brand new song. The result is both extremely melancholy and profoundly hope-filled. Almost as enjoyable as hearing her song has been learning about its inspiration. Each line has evolved from her own terrestrial experience. She has made quotidian life into poetry. She has filled our home with music, and I am most grateful to her song because it has inadvertently reawakened something in me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

And sometimes... I'm Glad

Well, rats. For 23 years, I've wrongly thought that the Madeline theme song said, "I'm Madeline, I'm Madeline, and sometimes... I'm glad!" I went to YouTube to substantiate my supposition with a cute video posting, and found... that in fact, it doesn't say that at all. Well color me disappointed.

Though my previously-decided-upon post title and graphic have now been proven erroneous, with chin-up, I proceed with some reasons to be glad on this wind-whipping day:

I just went for the most delightful lunch hour. It was (as I prayed my Thanksgiving break would be) a pleasant combination of productivity and stillness. In the span of an hour, I:

a) Made a small, but helpful deposit to my bank account. Thank you, Alabama Dept. of Revenue for a timely reimbursement.
b) Visited a good-old-boy shoe repair shop and made an Sicilian-family connection with the smiling cobbler.
c) Ordered a kid-sized hot chocolate and instead got a free-of-charge size upgrade and a personal drink delivery.
d) Listened to the Avett Brothers.
e) Read my book club book and thought about the narrator's idea of the "Great Perhaps." I'm quite fond of the idea that the rest of my life is one big fat "Great Perhaps."
f) Thought about homemade Christmas gifts, as inspired by this video.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Whole Nother Ball Game

For some, Thanksgiving means football, family and food. On account of the fact that I’m not all that crazy about the all-American sport* or about the fare that characterizes this holiday, I’ve recently arrived at alternate reasons why I think it’s just swell anyway.

Of course, any excuse to gather long-separated families together is mighty fine. I am overcome with disbelief that I have not seen my sister or brother-in-law in three months! That’s a quarter of a year, for Pete’s Sake. Too long. So, granted, I’m looking forward to a sweet reunion with my kin.

Additionally, I’ve been chewing on (and been challenged by) these words by A.W. Tozer that were thoughtfully shared at Redeemer this Sunday:

“The dictionary says that to admire is to regard with wondering esteem accompanied by pleasure and delight; to look at or upon with an elevated feeling of pleasure. According to this definition, God has few admirers among Christians today. Many are they who are grateful for His goodness in providing salvation. At Thanksgiving time the churches ring with songs of gratitude that all is safely gathered in. Testimony meetings are mostly devoted to recitations of incidents where someone got into trouble and got out again in answer to prayer. To decry this would be uncharitable and unscriptural for there is much of the same thing in the Book of Psalms. It is good and right to render unto God thanksgiving for all His mercies to us. But God’s admirers, where are they? The simple truth is that worship is elementary until it begins to take on the quality of admiration. Just as long as the worshiper is engrossed with himself and his good fortune, he is a babe. We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration. As our hearts rise to God in lofty esteem for that which He is (I AM THAT I AM), we begin to share a little of the selfless pleasure which is the portion of the blessed in heaven.”

It is quite effortless to leak thanks to the Lord when things are going my way…when I feel blessed. It is an altogether different ballgame to worship Him out of genuine admiration of WHO HE IS – an unchanging, always-loving, never-not-deserving-of-praise God. I hope that this Thanksgiving, I will move past myself to see the Giver beyond His gifts.
* Though I do have a soft spot for the Dawgs, of course.
(Um, is "nother" a word? It sounded so right a few minutes ago, but now, I'm all the sudden not so sure).

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Patty Kind of Day

No one on this planet can rival the therapy-slathering melancholy of Miss Griffin. She is heart medicine. And on days like today, it just seems right to let her soft sadness float out of my desk-side speakers. Pandora combines the blues of Over the Rhine with other upsetting-beyond-belief ballads of heartache and hopelessness. There are few things that can make me happier than such devastatingly beautiful tear-inducing music.

Friday, November 21, 2008

An Autobiographical Interview

My line of work has me asking a lot of questions. For a change of pace, I'm going to sit on the other side for a moment. Inspired by a reading of November's Real Simple, I have decided to produce my own answers to the questions posed in their "Your Words" section. I so enjoyed the thoughtful and vastly-different responses of readers and have added a few of mine into the mix below.

I'd love to hear yours.

How do you save money on everyday essentials? (December 2008)

Well, to be quite honest, I (embarassingly) skimp on going to the grocery store. I'll eat cereal, pasta and sandwiches until the cupboard is completely bare. Oh, and I sign up for more work lunches weeks when I know budget is especially tight. I'm not saying it's right...but, if I disguise in the name of "networking," it's not so bad.

What's the last thing you do before going to bed at night? (October 2007)

Lately? One of the following: a) read b) write c) talk on the phone to faraway friends d) watch Felicity re-runs and chew the fat with my roommates.

If you had 15 extra minutes in your day, how would you use them? (January 2007)

I would go for a brisk QUIET walk in the neighborhood at the start of each day.

What do you love most about your kitchen? (October 2006)

The windows that allow copious amounts of light in during the day and provide a view into our neighbor's (Dick/Lou) kitchen at night. We face each other when we're at the kitchen sink. It's fun.

What's your best advice to a new High School Graudate? (May 2005)

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't find a job that lights you up. You can. If there doesn't exists a job that allows you to use your gifts, then create it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For Your Entertainment Pleasure

Just a little anecdote: I was about 10 years old when my dad decided to take up playing the Native American Flute. Joining a flute society and befriending a Peruvian, he started a collection of authentic wooden instruments and began the process of teaching himself. From anywhere in the house, Dad could be heard piping away. His favorite and most-reoccuring number was "Green Sleeves." For a while, he carried a flute with him wherever he went. In the car. On a hike. To friend's houses. In a moment's notice, he was known to whip it out and blow us a tune for, what he called "our entertainment pleasure."

Anyways, the following is a list of songs that are accompanying my recent days. I'll call this playlist: "For Your Entertainment Pleasure." Click each link for a listen.

1. Band of Horses (Both Cease to Begin and Everything All the Time. Thanks be to the treasure box who shared them with me.)
2. Fleet Foxes
3. Ray LaMontagne (Gossip in the Grain)
4. Ingrid Michaelson (Be OK. Album faves include, but are not limited to: "You and I" and "The Chain.")
5. Abby's 3-CD-long playlist entitled "Falling Like Leaves" including this jewel: "Lovin's for Fools" by Sara Siskind (GOLD!)
6. Modern Skirts (particularly the new stuff! Yeah for the chance to see them at Urban last week. Three cheers for the Skirts!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fireside Friendships

C.S. Lewis asks, "Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?," to which I respond: "You know, Clive, I don't think there is. Nope, nothing finer."

This weekend, I had the grand pleasure of packing up and heading out into the blustery wilderness that is Cheaha State Park with sizeable group of sweet friends. Though a grey cloud followed us by day, we were blessed with a beautiful clear night under the harvest moon. As we gathered around the fire, I couldn't help but think of ole C.S.'s words. It's not even thanksgiving yet, and I'm already glowing with gratitude for what a blessing it is to be a part of the church without walls.

(Pictured above are the lovely Kate D., Kara H, and Elaine D.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Next G.A.N.

As you may know, I have recently accepted the NaNoWriMo challenge: an initaitive that requires each participant to pen a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. How am I doing, you ask? Well, let's just say I'm horribly hopelessly behind in word count, yet nonetheless quite excited about my developing characters and what I hope will wind itself into being a sweet little plot. In all of this, I'm just glad that I'm attempting to do something that scares the pants off of me. I'm no novelist. Heck, I've never even written a short story that I was pleased with. I'm comfortable writing about what I know... but when it comes to imagining, creating somethings out of nothings... well, that's a different story altogether.

All that to say, I'll likely not write a bestselling book this month. It's not probable that I'll forgo my journalistic career and turn to fiction-writing. But, I will revel in this opportunity to do something out of my ordinary, to plug away at something that challenges me. Who knows, maybe something surprising will result.

And now, what will likely be the only excerpt you ever see of this shoddy attempt:

"Today, she hoped, would be a day filled with color and light. Today, she prayed, would be a day accompanied by symphonic overtures. Yes, it would be a soft-hearted, eyes-open day. It was quite often that Leighton thought about what it'd be like to make a collage out of her old journals. She'd paste pages from yesterday next to excerpts from age 10. She'd juxtapose the best of the years that were, with the wisdom of her present. Plucking passages from when her teenage optimism reigned, she'd cover a canvas with the combined words of who she wanted to be. Each day, Leighton dreamed about the installation of her masterpiece -- the moment of proud completion. She swallowed a dry mouth full of air and drove. "

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Page

Oh to spend the day,
trunk-side of a tree
To get lost in endless pages
of another's good story.

To bundle up in striped thick socks
and a scarf wound up my neck
To hold a cup of warmth in hand
become a universal speck.

Monday, October 27, 2008

These are A Few of My Favorite Things

Clamoring for inspiration this afternoon, I turned to, creating a compilation of a few of my favorite things. Clockwise from the top:

1. Cupcakes. I love them.
2. Strand Bookstore in New York. 18 miles of books + Hours of browsing fun.
3. Plaid, specifically scruffy bearded young men in plaid.
4. Archer: the font. Nerdilicious. I know.
5. Old barns. Can't beat the view of an idyllic roadside.
6. Amateur photography. I heart my dad's old Minolta.
7. Italy: the language, the people, the tastes. Mi cuore e nell'Italia.
8. (center) Journals, particularly worn, loved ones.
Tomorrow morning, I will stand to address a room full of high schoolers, detailing my professional path at the school-wide career fair. While I’m no stranger to high school halls, I am slightly intimidated to think of going back to impart any kind of wisdom or advice about the education/job-search process. Geez louise, I’m just a baby, and it was just a year ago that I was uneasy about the whole thing myself. I feel utterly inadequate to advise anyone. Should be interesting to see what comes out of my mouth... when I get nervous, I tend to say some pretty ridiculous things.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wishing and Hoping

Waiting for instruction,
yet yearning for autonomy
I hold these feathers tightly
Burdened by their imagined weight
I know if I'd open my fest
They'd float in the wind
And carry with them
my guilt.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I didn't write this, but I wish I had:

"If someone is reading my blog, and then we meet in person, I want that person to recognize me face to face. In other words, I want that person to see the same person in the flesh as they see here in words and pictures. This is different from the need to feel seen; this is about wanting my blog and my self to be in alignment. This blog holds me accountable, and that just might be my favorite thing about keeping a blog. In aiming to write and share authentic stories about my life from a place of integrity, I find my way to like-minded souls and hopefully add a little extra sparkle to the world along the way. If I create a powerful, positive story in this space, I damn well better have the actual experience to back it up. Anything less is totally without meaning."

Christine Mason Miller, author/illustrator of Ordinary Sparkling Moments (a book I soon hope to have for my very own.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Fun Was Had by All

"I'm slowing to see the Cross in the clothespin, the Divine in the daily, God in the everyday." --Ann Voscamp

I spent all of Saturday morning preparing for the 2nd Annual Day of Fall Fun -- a plaid-clad celebration of autumn, complete with seasonal activities and tastes. I arose, my mind swimming with thoughts of cleaning, baking, table-setting... I was already two cups of coffee in when I calmed to sit and read for a few minutes. In the midst of my journaling, my mind turned to reflection upon last year's Day of Fall Fun...

Still semi-new to town, I had planned the event in desperate attempt to make some headway with newly-formed friendships. I hesitate to revisit my journals from my first few painful months here, for each page was soaked with crippling loneliness. As I sat in the sunroom of my new home on Saturday, I couldn't help but think how drastically my life has changed in the short time since then.

In thanksgiving I was led to the Psalms, opening up to these verses in chapter 16: I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.' I say of the godly who are in the land, 'They are the noble people in whom is all my delight.' In the message, the latter verse reads: "And these G0d-chosen lives all around -- what splendid friends they make!"

Reading this, my heartbeat sped up, thinking of how my house would soon be filled with my own splendid friends - lives that God has so ordained to intersect with mine. I turned back to my busy preparations, all the while, thanking the Lord that in being hospitable, I was/am being generous with the gifts He Himself gives to me. (Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10.) I can honestly say with full heart, that I discovered a new way to worship my Lord this weekend - not by doing something I have never done before, but by dedicating an old love to a newfound purpose.

In The Gentle Art of Domesticity, Jane Brocket says, "Inspiration is inspiration, whether the end result is a painted masterpiece, a soul-searching sonnet, a richly colored homemade quilt or a batch of freshly baked scones. We shouldn't diminish our creativity by despising the results of our inspiration, but instead celebrate and exploit the wonderful feeling of elevated energy and enthusiasm we experience when we feel inspired. The quickening of the senses and the heightening of imagination are, I'm sure just the same for the Matisses and Wrens and Brownings as they are for the rest of us. It's just that they can do different things with their inspired talents."

I am just so darn glad that for the first time in my life, I feel as though I have found God's purpose for my love of the 'domestic arts.' I am given the desire to be creative by a Creator who delights in my use of His good gifts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Year, Another New Moleskine

Ah, the untold glory of a blank page... the promise of a new year that will bring with it new friends, new opportunities, new places and experiences. Though the turn of another year is still months away, I've prepped myself with the purchase of a brand new moleskine*. It's a big day when a fresh one arrives on my doorstep. I peel back it's plastic casing and thumb through the perfect untouched pages...

I've amassed a collection of these used planners, looking back into them as I do my journals. Their pages tell the story of each year: who I spend my time with, where I go, what I value enough to use my time for... Here's what my current one looks like, chock-full with busyness, scribbly notes and to-do's:

And on my desk, now sit 365 BLANK leather-bound days. In the coming days and weeks, I will pencil in appointments, happenings, birthdays... trying to live in today, but conceeding to the fact that my job has me peering into the future, planning for what's upcoming.
But, OH! how exciting it is to think of what sparkling-new things my moleskine will contain, taking me another year deep into this journey!
*for those not privvy, Moleskine is "the legendary notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, Chatwin." According to the "history of the legendary notebook"(which can be read here, or on the insert tucked into each notebook's back pocket), the moleskine is a "reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be tapped over time."

Monday, October 13, 2008


This morning, I tread the path of my former years. I clothed myself in anonymity amid the replacement students of my alma mater. I sipped a slow warm mug of Walker's coffee, and chased it down with a solo walk through North Campus, clicking the sights into my digital eyes for later remembrance. I snapped "hip shots" of the grassy knoll where I used to enjoy long lingering picnics with my senior year "lunch bunch." I moseyed over to the library, gazing up to remember my study sessions nestled in the nook of the sixth floor alcoves. I headed past the law library, thinking of the many times I walked those stairs, collecting friends along the way toward downtown. I walked around the Arches, wishing that I could again be the wide-eyed superstitious undergrad who knew better than to pass beneath and thereby threaten all hopes of graduating. I perpetually long for the hope mixed with fear that accompanied my life before real life began.

The fall is beautiful in Athens.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If I could go wild, I would...

As a part of my job each month, I find one interesting woman request her response to a list of random questions, printing her answers in a Q and A format. Some of the answers I've received have been pretty hilarious; others sad; others thought-provoking. One of my favorite prompts has always been "If I could go totally wild, I would..." The typical response usually includes some form of spontaneous travel and/or realization of a long-lost dream. What would I do? Any of the following...

-put on my boogie shoes, take to the dance floor and, leaving my inhibitions at home.
-buy into a fashion trend that i think i'm not quite cool enough to pull off
-sing in a public place
-move to Italy, Colorado or New York and pursue post-college plans B, C, and D.
-play hooky with (all of) my sick days.
-move somewhere new and start over AGAIN
-chase an artistic ambition
-adopt a surfer lifestyle
-quit my job and find a way to open up the bed and breakfast of my dreams

What would you do if timidity/money/responsibility didn't tie you down?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sweet Spot

I treasure long mornings in this front porch spot. Butter-colored sunlight pours in through the screens, speckled with lacey shade of surrounding tree branches. Small sips of home-brewed coffee chased with deep draughts of God-alive. I ease my way out of slumber and into each new day. As I wake, I relax into watching the neighbors emerge from their homes and embark on their own routines. I depend on the couple that crosses our sidewalk each morning at 8:15. I sit up to see Bill and his small dog, tromping across the autumn-dried yards. Engines turn over as people speed off towards their workweeks. The world spins on as I sit and watch, just glad that I'm given grace to spectate for awhile before becoming a part of each today.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here you go, mama.

The Volvo is finally here. Hip hip hooray!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just my type.

There's a special someone in my life. His name is Archer, and ever since he came onto the scene, he's been my go-to guy. I spend time with him When I write emails, he is there. When I labor to find the words for my latest articles, he's by my side. Archer is my new favorite font. I think we'll be life-long friends.

When Martha Stewart's creative team invented this rounded, seriffed slice of typographic heaven for her magazine, I rejoiced! When they decided to release their design to the eager font-loving world, I fist-pumped for three days straight.

I've always loved type. Visual presentation of a message is just as important and telling as the words chosen to communicate it. That's why I fell in looooove with this website. Jessica Hische is a real treasure, Her artistry graces the covers of books and composes the nameplates of websites. And, do you know what? Her website is written in Archer. Icing on the cake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Amen, sister

An ode to the "Amen," the "I agree," the "Yes!", the "Are you inside my head, reading my journals, listening in on my prayers?"...

This from Nikki, the publisher of skirt! magazine, about writing:

"Crafting daily short blurbs relieved enough creative pressure to keep me from building up a head of steam to go deeper in my own writing. I love any excuse possible to avoid the hard work of writing, rewriting, editing, deleting, and starting over, but I want to flex those muscles again. I want to draw more, take more pictures, notice more. That's why I keep coming back to this blog; it's my laboratory, my writer's workshop, my journal of possibilities. Maybe I'll find out that I'm destined to be a writer of paragraphs, not pages, but there's also a chance I'll string those paragraphs into pages someday and pages into chapters. I don't think it will matter to the world whether I Twitter or tell some stories, but it makes a world of difference to me."

In just a few short months, I've allowed my writing to become my JOB, instead of my release. I think that's why I turn here to unfold. I've got a 150 word article to write today. But, instead, I'm here... letting my thoughts and words tumble out of my fingertips and onto this unlimited piece of cyber-paper, trying my very best not to self-edit every sentence. When I'm frustrated by the required brevity of my assignments at work, I find myself wishing that I remembered how to write stream-of-consciously, to write the way I did in my creative writing class as I walked down Italian streets, smelling, tasting, touching and translating my senses into words...when I had dreams of writing the next Great American Novel. I realize that I'm horribly out of practice. This is my plight, but not mine alone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The following are quotes from Christine Mason Miller, an artist and participant in this year's Squam Art Workshop, which took place last week at the location pictured above in New Hampshire. How inspiring to be in such a beautiful place in the midst of so many genius minds! I love the expressive-ness of Christine's handwriting as she writes with vulnerable honesty about being inspired by the creativity of the women she encountered over the weekend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stepping Up

I’ve always shied away from voicing my political opinions. In an arena where I feel ill-equipped to speak from an informed and reasonable platform, I’ve silenced myself as a means of keeping the peace between the diverse groups of people in my life. I’ve run back and forth trying to placate everyone with my hippie “love, not war” philosophy. I think I’ve lost the will to speak up for myself. To be quite frank, I don’t think I even know what I want to say anymore.

In a song off Ben Harper’s latest album, he sings (pleads!):

I would rather take a punch than not give you a shot
I'd rather find out who you are than who you're not
Should have known better than to mistake business for love
Should have known better than to mistake a fist for a glove

It will be in your honor 'til you're not needed any longer,
Don't let them take the fight outta you,
Don't believe the headlines, check it for yourself sometimes,
Don't let them take the fight outta you,

The lies you live become you, the love you lose it numbs you,
Don't let them take the fight outta you,
They say that you've arrived but that's just a high-class bribe,
Don't let them take the fight outta you

I want my fight back! While I do desire PEACE, I also desire the return of my resolve. I’ve let myself become numb to the discourse, too timid to speak up and become a gentle, respectful participant in the conversation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Visions of Mums and Asters

If I had an unlimited budget and/or no conviction about how I spend my money... I would get this Kim Parker rug for our living room. I wish the barter system were still in effect. Kim baby, have you tasted my peanut butter pie?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Flannel Jesus

This changes everything. I recently finished reading The Shack. I know, I know. I'm so cliche. But, I wanted to see what all the hullaballoo was about, so I read it. I think a lot of its theological dialogue went right through my mental sieve, but I did retain at least one GEM. And, it is the above mental image. Jesus in flannel.

Without disclosing too much information to the one person left on the planet who hasn't read it yet, the book focuses on one man's reconnection with the Trinity. He goes back to the site his daughter's death and meets the Three-in-one. And, from the way I interpreted the text, when the main character met Jesus for the first time, he was dressed like a page out of the Urban Outfitters catalog. I take that back... his worn plaid shirt was undoubtedly not over-priced, nor was it likely to have been manufactured to appear rugged. His was probably the real deal.

As the narrative unfolded, the story followed the protagonist's journey back toward communion with God. Memorable to me was the scene in which he and Jesus recline star-wards on a lakeside dock. Yes please! That kind of natural intimacy... that free-flowing, crisp-air easy conversation is what I want to be about. I want to lay beside this approachable Jesus and talk into the night.

I've had several ridiculous conversations with my best friends over the last several years. (And I hope and pray to have many more!) One, however, that will always rise to the surface for its unprecedented hilarity featured hearty debate over what Jesus would order at a Mexican restaurant (Barberitos, specifically). Is he a burrito man? Would he opt for tofu? Or does he strike you as nacho kind of guy? I thought about it as seriously as this absurd topic would afford.

Thinking about Jesus' humanity means everything to me. It means that he is not just fully celestial, un-touchable perfection. Of course, he is all of those things. But He is also every bit man. And, I plaidly await the day that we can sit dockside, eating burritos.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

To do or not to do. That is the question.

When chaos characterizes me and I find myself endlessly scribbling away mile-long to-do lists, I have the overwhelming temptation to rebel by doing NOTHING. It's fool proof. I get paralyzed by options, requirements, assignments, expectations.... Here are somethings that I should be doing:
-packing for a Labor Day weekend away (I'm with Kevin McAllister on this one. "You mean I have to pack my own suitcase?")
-planning for the next couple of events coming up at work
-transcribing two 3o min (+) long interviews. (bleh)
- catching up on emails and reading the bajillion entries on my Google Reader
-cleaning my room
- organizing my life
Instead, I'm:
-reading home decor blogs
-making dinner plans
Instead, I'm doing this. Gloria Steinem once said, "Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel like I should be doing something else." Amen, sister. Though the world and its demands awaits me on the other side of my final punctuation mark, I chose to lose myself in this now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Creative Musing

I've been poking around ALL day on artists websites, lusting afer their creativity and wishing that I had an outlet for my own. Quite serendipitiously, I was offered the chance to design some filler pages for a special holiday section we are doing at work. While I don't know if my ideas will actually be used, I had a big ole time fiddling around on my way-ghetto version of Photoshop today. The above is one of my creations. Double clicking my way into an afternoon of timeless bliss, I spent hours lost translating my visions into tangible realities.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it. 2 Corinthians 3:3 (the msg)

I'm in love with thinking about the verse above. The Author of All has taken pains to masterfully, beautifully pen out my existence with His Spirit. I am an expression of His own hand.
Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:9 (the msg)
Not only does he care enough to write me out a life, he writes me into a story that involves others. He winds my little life in between hundreds, thousands of others. Some will leave their indellible marks on my thoughts; some will pass me by unnoticed. I am a collection of the ones that have stayed long enough to mean something to me. My music collection is a sum of my memories and those that influenced my tastes. My humor is an oratory scrapbook of the friends that have shared laughs with me in different cities, states and countries. My wardrobe is a mix of personalities, both mine and those of my fashion icons. I am the result of those that have meant something to me. I am a letter, transcribed first by Christ and fingerprinted with the lives of my friends, my heroes, my worst enemies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Snap Happy

Old schoolhouse in Smithville, TN

My friend Elaine calls it "peaceful decay" when barns like the two pictured above fade and dilapidate from unuse and neglect. I call it beautiful. For some reason, I've always been unreasonably attracted to these idyllic crumbling remnants. They're untouched, left alone to communicate their past. I'm led time and time again to capture their roadside statements. I will forever regret my failure to photograph the lean-to on the corner of Buice and Old Alabama roads near my childhood home. For years, I drove past it, the sun setting behind it's worn-wood walls. It is a picture I will have to preserve in my memory, for I wasn't able to get there with my lens before it was bulldozed to make way for the un-neccessary, over-priced, over-sized, too-close homes that now sit on it's foundation. Why are we obsessed with ripping down memories so that we can replace them with shiny, clean-lined newness? There is untold beauty in the used, the formerly-loved.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Your Box

I went to hear Alabama's 7th Distric U.S. Congressman, Artur Davis, speak at a luncheon this week. He spoke, and the room of hundreds fell silent. His challenge was to each person to think outside of his/her box. We may or may not be directly influenced by the problems of this city, but we are charged with caring for the wellbeing of those less privileged who ARE. The Birmingham school system has problems. Your kids aren't students in it? You don't have kids? Step outside of your box. If you have the ability to affect change, vote for those who can't.