calling cards

When I went to BlogHer in 2010, I got my act together to get some business cards printed. Unlike those cursed with foresight and preparedness, who may be easily enticed by services that can (for example) make business cards for you (with sufficient advance notice), I found myself needing alternate arrangements. My plan involved printing a regular 8 and a half by 11 sheet of card stock with 12 copies of my newly designed business card, and since I didn’t want the back to be plain, I had the image of my big doodle (currently on my banner) printed on the back. I carefully cut the cards apart with a paper cutter, giving me 12 cards per sheet, each with a different piece of the doodle on the back.



This year, upon deciding on a Wednesday that I would be leaving for BlogHer on a Thursday, I didn’t have a lot of time to make business cards. I did remember coming across some leftovers of the old cards, and I made it my mission to track them down on Thursday. Given that our house eats things, this was no small challenge. However, I thought to combine the task with getting some things off my to-do list, namely getting some things into the attic. The good news is that I got the cradle mattresses into the attic (roughly 3 weeks before the last person who used them turns 4), as well as several other large items that have been clogging the frightening pile of things that is somewhat ironically called “the guest room“.¹

I also found the target of my search. Mission accomplished!

Sort of.

I guess I gave away quite a few cards in 2010, the majority to people who probably thought I was insane, and who I never heard from again.² I found 2 loose cards, and a stack of 12 that were rubber-banded together.

Upon finding them, I realized that I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to give them away. You see, the 12 unique cards from a single sheet could be re-assembled like a puzzle.

Backs, re-assembled.

Since it was my last full set, how could I break it up? Realistically, I was not going to make more of these cards. Possibly ever.

In my rush to pack, I managed not to bring the two loose cards. However, I did think to cut a few blank business-card-sized rectangles from some plain index cards, and I packed a box of glittery crayons. For the many years before I ever had any sort of business card, I joked that I should just make some with crayons. The time had come for that joke to be realized.

Indeed, I did give out a few such hastily-scribbled cards on Friday. Then late Friday night, having gone back to the hotel room both tired and wired, I found myself unable to go to sleep. Instead, I sat down and did what any normal person would do: I got out my Japanese brush pen (which I keep in my backpack) and lettered some text on one side. Then I doodled a few of my smiley little sea creatures and micro-organisms on the back. I even colored a couple with crayons (and took this photo) before sleepiness kicked in.

It is totally normal to hand-draw business cards at 11:30 at night and color them with crayons. I don’t know what you are talking about.

You may also note that I have included my Twitter handle. Several people asked for it, so that is what I scribbled on the crayon-written cards. Having given out that info, I then felt that I should see what I’ve said on Twitter. I saw that it had been a…while. So I tweeted, which I’m pretty sure is one of the signs of the apocalypse. And since that one stray tweet, I have gotten caught up in a comparative tide of tweeting, which likely will come to an end as soon as my work finds me once more.³

¹ It is a hazardous space that has neither room, nor guests. (At least no guests have yet been uncovered under the piles.)
² I also gave some to my friends, who already knew I was insane.
³ I have this half-finished book review that followed me down on the train to New York, but I managed to ditch it somewhere in Penn Station. I fear it will track me down tomorrow. Those buggers are dogged.

iPhoto, eye photo

For the past 3 weeks or so, iPhoto, the application I use most for photo managing and editing has been broken. It had been buggy for who knows how long (Months? Years?), with weird things like the ghosts of deleted photos reappearing (beware the haunted thumbnails!), and tags running amok. An update became available, and I thought “yay, this should fix things!” But the result, instead, was that I could no longer open my iPhoto library. I kept getting an error message saying that my photo library was damaged, and to restore from a backup. Many things were tried, including restoring from a backup, which supposedly also was broken.

Given that I could see that my photos were still on my hard drive, and my back-up drive, I didn’t panic. However, it was very annoying that I was unable to access many years’ worth of sorting, tagging and rating. And given that my photo library was getting up over 50,000 items…holy crap, that’s an increase of about 16,000 since I wrote about my digital hoarding tendencies…but that was fairly early into my Project 365 year, and well before the photo binges of trips to Hong Kong and China… Wait, where was I? Oh, right, given that my photo library was freakin’ ginormous, it’s not like I wanted to start over with the tagging and sorting and rating.

In some ways, it was a bit of a relief. It broke me of some time-sucking habits, like looking through photos for things to post. Rating, tagging, and deleting here and there. It was almost a nervous tic to sit down at my laptop, and poke through piles of photos. Also on the bright side was that I got more comfortable at photo editing in Photoshop.

But it was also really irritating. I mean, I still do want to post photos from my trip to China, and I’d already spent a fair amount of time sorting through those. Plus all those Hong Kong and Macau photos I have yet to post. Plus, you know, I like looking at my photos.

So, I’m happy to say that after performing a series of dark rituals, unmentionable incantations, and database rebuilding (I think that last bit may have involved chicken blood) iPhoto is now mysteriously functional again.

In marginally related news, I also have increased facility to share photos of my eye.

After the initial shock (and a number of subsequent shocks each time I caught a glimpse of my eye in the mirror from the wrong angle over the next couple of days), I got fairly used to the eye. And a few days ago (a week after the subconjunctival hemorrhage first appeared), I noticed that the red areas were noticeably shrinking.

I actually had a really great time on my trip last weekend, which was only slightly affected by my eye. I was a bit self-conscious about it at the wedding, but not a soul ran away screaming. (It was almost disappointing.)

In this photo, with me squinting in the bright light, you have to look to see the red.¹

I did wear some sunglasses for part of the time, especially during the outdoor cocktail reception. (The late afternoon sun was very bright.) John has quite a few nice pairs of sunglasses he got a few years back when he had contact lenses. I had many options to choose from, but was taken with these vintage-looking ones with blue lenses. (I chose my dress to match them.)

Seeing this photo, though, leads me to believe that my messy hair may also have deflected attention from my eye. As it turned out, my friend and I were almost late for the wedding, due to getting stuck in traffic in New Jersey. Our preparations were somewhat frenzied.

And for those of you who were voting for me to go in the pirate costume, this is for you:

Aye, photo.

¹ For those those of you (or perhaps that would be for that one of you) who would like to see what my eye looked like up close, here is that photo that John talked me out of sharing. And here is that same photo with the red of the pupil fixed with “red eye reduction.” Just because I could.

my so-called doodles

Not the most productive day, but Phoebe and I spent some time drawing together, which I enjoyed. She had picked out a set of oil pastels for my birthday present, and I had yet to try them out. They turned out to work out quite well for the sort of doodley shapes I like to draw. (My previous doodles, which live here on my blog, were done in crayon.) This doodle is not yet done, but I don’t when I’m likely to finish it.

In somewhat related news, I’m amused (proud?) to see that my doodles are coming up in the world. When I google “doodle” (as opposed to “google doodle,” or opposed to doodling google), 2 of my posts come up on the first page. And one of my doodles is in the first 10 images on google images.

I must admit, though, that my use of the word doodle may not fully mesh with the standard doodle definition (and definitely not with the standard poodle definition). Cf. what can be seen on Wikipedia: “an unfocused drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied.” (This, by the way, is the definition for doodle, not poodle. Just so we’re clear.) I supposed that in each of my alleged acts of doodling, my attention has somewhat been otherwise occupied by parenting, but I have very intentionally set out to draw. Does that make it a doodle in your book? No, no, I’m not saying I’m doodling in your book. I don’t even doodle in my books. But I did used to doodle in my notebooks. I was an avid doodler in many of my classes. My recent so-called doodles have their roots in the margins of many class notes, scribbled along with the occasional haiku. I suppose the reason that I tend to call them doodles, as opposed to drawings, is that I don’t generally have a plan. I start off with a blob of some sort, and keep going. I’m pretty much doing what I used to do when doodling in the margins of my notebooks, except that I have more space. And more colors to work with. (Because, let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been too subtle to sit in class with a big tray of crayons during a lecture on semantics.)


My post of last night, with my flourishing root vegetables, reminded me of a painting I did in an art class a number of years ago. (I think that number may be greater than 10.) I can’t remember what the class was, as I had many classes with the same teacher over several years. For this particular assignment, though, we were to paint something in response to a poem my teacher read to the class. The poem was one by her husband, a poet, and involved memories of his mother and potatoes. (Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the poem, nor do I remember the title.)

Here is what my brain cooked up:

The Potato Madonna

The painting is somewhat modelled after Medieval or Renaissance Madonnas. It wasn’t quite finished, as I’d originally imagined a more ornamental/ornate background. It’s been sitting in my basement for quite a few years, and has curved in the dampness. This was before I started stretching my own canvas, and would just buy whatever cheap canvas or canvas boards. Cheap canvas boards really don’t last well. On the other hand, I think the wrinkling and the warping rather suit the subject matter. As does the musty basement smell…


I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep a houseplant alive to save my life. Happily, I have never had the need to, nor can I envision those scenarios. (Well, actually I can envision them. My imagination likes to come up with all sorts of improbable scenarios. Like one in which my very life is tied to the life of a spider plant. Or maybe a ficus. Like some sort of living, leafy voodoo doll. A bug climbs on a leaf, I feel my skin crawl. I get weird cravings for plant food. I forget to water it too long, and suddenly I don’t even have the strength to reach the watering can…I imagine I’d last 2 weeks, tops.)

Seriously, though, we have no houseplants. I have killed many houseplants over the years. I like plants. Don’t get me wrong. I just seem to be unable to consistently remember their existence for a long enough period of time to keep them alive. Pets I could handle, because they would typically make their needs known. Well, not itemizing their needs. But they would make it known that they had needs. By making noise, or looking at me with sad faces, or chewing on things, or getting smelly. Or piddling on the floor. Houseplants are just too quiet and too immobile. They just sit there in a pot. They might drop a leaf here and there, especially when they’ve gone a few weeks without water, but beyond that they don’t intrude. And then before you know it, you happen to glance over at the shriveled corpse of the thing.

Surprisingly, I’ve had some success in my life with gardening. Not that the plants are any noisier, but somehow the greater needs of a garden are easier for me to remember than the occasional needs of a potted plant. I wouldn’t call myself a gardener, by any stretch, but the handful of times I’ve gardened, I’ve kept the plants alive long enough to get some sort of rewards.

I also seem to have a remarkably green thumb when it comes to growing vegetables. Not vegetables that I’ve planted, but those vegetables that I have purchased with the intention of using them as food. But then they grow into plants. In the house.

That makes them houseplants, right?

We kept this sweet potato around for several months, and it was the healthiest looking plant this household has seen in years. It stayed on the kitchen windowsill for several weeks. (Eventually, though, we released it to the wild.)

This is our current project. This rutabaga sprouted while I was in California.

How about you? Have you the thumbs of green? Or are you a plant-killer like me?

here I come

It was a long day today, and I am pretty well wiped out. I need to get packing and go to bed, as I fly out to California in the morning.

I was born in California, and even though I’ve now lived far longer in New England than I ever lived in California, it always feels a like going home when I visit. (It certainly doesn’t hurt that my sister and then my mother moved back there, either.)

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of my personal icons, a symbol of a place and a time of my life. (Funny to realize that it was the first bridge I ever crossed, as I was born in San Francisco, but lived in Sausalito.) I remember crossing the bridge many times as a kid and teenager, and always being a little thrilled by it.

When I go out to visit these days, it’s rare that I cross that bridge. As my mother and sister live in the East Bay now, the Bay Bridge is the one we most often take. But I always seek out the Golden Gate Bridge from afar when I can, even if it’s just a glimpse from the airplane.

This is a painting of mine from back in the days when I took painting classes. It’s based on a dream I had when I was 4 years old. In the dream, my mother and sister and I were fish, and swam across the San Francisco Bay from Sausalito. It was a rather complex and very bizarre dream, involving Coit tower and an improbable system of elevators. Somehow I remembered many details of the dream up through my mid-20s when I painted this. The memories are much fainter now.

This post was brought to you by nostalgia, a glass of red wine, and mental exhaustion after a day of doing laundry and nagging children to pick up their toys.

P.S. I just noticed that all the links from my happy song post were broken. I fixed them. Didn’t I say I need to be packing?

happy songs

It’s happy music fun time!¹ While most of my favorite music tends to run to the angsty, I do enjoy me a catchy beat and a perky melody now and then. Inspired by Mary Lynn‘s list of songs that make her happy, I’ve put together a happy list of my own. Here are some songs that make make me sing along, tap along, or just plain dance around like an idiot.

  • Safety Dance, Men Without Hats [YouTube]
    We can dance if we want to. We can leave your friends behind.
  • Multi-Family Garage Sale [Bargain Bin Mix], Land of the Loops [YouTube]
    I do so hope no one ever gets video footage of me dancing around the house to this song.
  • And She Was, The Talking Heads [YouTube]
    The world was moving, she was floatin’ above it
  • Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant [YouTube]
    Don’t drink, don’t smoke. What do you do?
  • Lust for Life, Iggy Pop [YouTube]
    I can’t even make out most of the words in this song. But it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.
  • Tainted Love, by Soft Cell [YouTube]
    Don’t touch me please, I cannot stand the way you sneeze²
  • Should I stay or Should I Go, The Clash [YouTube]
    Darlin’, you gotta let me know
  • How can I live without you, Cracker [YouTube]
    How can I live without you, if it means I gotta get a job?
  • The Tide is High, by Blondie [YouTube]
    I’m not the kind of girl who gives up just like that.
  • Island in the Sun, Weezer [YouTube]
    ...I can’t control my brain.
  • I Wanna Be Sedated, The Ramones [YouTube]
    I can’t control my fingers, I can’t control my toes
  • Blister in the Sun [YouTube]
    When I’m a-walking’, I strut my stuff. (And this one has even led to spontaneous family dance parties in the bathroom.)
  • Sweet Potato, Cracker [YouTube]
    Be my sweet potato, I’ll be your honey lamb.
  • I’ll Tell Me Ma, Sinead O’Connor [YouTube]
    She is handsome, she is pretty. She is the belle of Belfast City.
  • Three Little Birds, by Bob Marley [YouTube]
    Every little thing’s gonna be all right.

There we go. A bunch of songs that make me happy.³ (Yes, I realize that there isn’t a song on here that’s under 10-years-old. And that the 80s are over-represented. What’s your point?)

¹ With the good news that my mother’s surgery went very well, I’m ready to do a happy dance.

² Not the actual lyrics, but the ones I sing.

³ This list goes to 15. Tomorrow I’m going to make one that goes to 11. How about you?

distorted reflections

During my short visit to New York City last August, I left the conference to stop back at my friend‘s hotel room to collect my luggage. (She had been kind enough to put me up the night of my arrival.) The room was up on the 16th floor of the hotel, high up but still deep within the canyons of the tall buildings. I looked out the window, admiring the view, and was struck by the reflections on one of the buildings opposite. The glass of the windows revealed its subtle curves in the shapes reflected back to me. The hotel I was in, as straight-laced and straight-lined as you might expect from a Manhattan hotel, was rendered in improbably wavy and curving lines. It looked as if the building had been designed by Gaudí.

As the late afternoon sun lowered, the light reflected through the mazes and canyons of tall buildings shifted. The scene reflected before me changed, offering more and more architectural reinterpretations. I stood at the window taking photos, barely noticing the passage of time. (Though later I realized that I had been watching and photographing for at least 20 minutes.)

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As with many things that I really like, it’s hard for me to pin down why they appeal to me so. In the case of distorted reflections, I like the way reality is visually reinterpreted. I find it fun to recognize the lines and the forms, but rearranged. Depending on the nature of the distortion, the effect can be beautiful or ridiculous. Human forms are typically redrawn in ways that are both amusing and unsettling. Landscapes are often abstracted in pleasing ways, such as the look of bold brushstrokes from rippled water. The reflection on a small, smooth curved surface can show an intriguing miniature world.

I also find the term distorted reflections to be appealing in its own right, as it carries a double meaning. It reminds me of how our thoughts and perceptions of the world are always filtered through our own experiences and personalities. If you and I both witness the same event, we likely will both interpret it differently, as we each see it through our mind’s own lens.

Interestingly, I hadn’t listed distorted reflections on my working list of topics “40 posts on things I like,” which is surprising given that I had considered making it my theme for an entire year of project 365 photos. (I decided instead to spend only the first month working with reflections, and didn’t stick to distorted ones at that.)

However, I like distorted reflections so much, and have amassed such a large collection of photos with that theme, that I was compelled to finally start a Tumblr. If you are so inclined, please go have a look at distorted reflections.

(This post makes #3 in my planned series of “40 posts on things I like.”)