Monday, March 30, 2009


Despite having a weekend guest and plenty to do, this turned out to be an inexplicably boring weekend (no offense, Jacob). There wasn't even much MTG to be annoyed by. I'm in a holding pattern, waiting for some info so that I can write a paper, and unable to justify doing much else until that's taken care of. The semester is winding down and it's enough to make me not want to register for summer classes. If I have my way, though, my courses this summer will involve a lot of movie-watching, which is fine by me.

Evan and I looked at some houses this weekend for kicks and saw the most amazing place. Most of what was so great was the owner's furnishings. It was a little like walking around Ms. Havisham's house, mainly in its being extravagantly and oddly outfitted, but uninhabited. I desperately want to meet the woman who owns the place, because she's clearly wikkid awesome. Otherwise my weekend consisted of making stuffed monsters out of sweater arms (soon to be in my Etsy shop) and playing Cooking Mama 2, a game that I don't understand in the least, but can't stop playing.

I wish everyone would post to their blog/livejournal as often as Joy does. It entertains me to no end. And speaking of Joy and entertainment, we talked for a sec about going to New Orleans at the end of the semester for a little trip. I've been avoiding thinking about New Orleans for the last few months because it's been so long since I've been back. There's so much to do (read: people to connect with) that it feels like I'd have to go for a month, and that's just too much. I want to visit Greg, of course, and see Nathan, if possible. I also desperately want to intersect with Ty and Brandon, whom I've wanted to meet up with for a year now. I have to remind myself that I don't have to do it all in one trip. Right? Right.

An old friend that I got some bad news about showed up in a dream. He was supposed to meet us for a movie, but he was late and I was getting annoyed. But when he arrived he was carrying a suitcase. I woke up sad, not just because my dreams are so obvious, but also for my friend. I want to practice loving-kindness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Papers and Pillows

Evan and I did some work last night for our new Etsy shop. We designed a banner, wrote our policies, and set up shop in general. Aside from the actual product, we're all set. Ha. But that's in the works, too. It didn't happen over spring break, so this weekend I'll try to make the screens. I ordered t-shirts already, and with any luck I'll be set to print as soon as they get here. (I'm curious to know how much the shipping ends up costing.) Anyway, I can't wait for the shop to open! I think you guys are going to like it.

I'd really like to knock out some school work at the end of this week, though, and that takes priority. Not strictly necessary, but it will improve my quality of life in the weeks to come. I have French to study and a paper to write for 18th C Art and Culture. I also need to start research on a term paper, since I have to present on the 9th. I'd like to say I'll have the whole paper out of the way by then, but realistically I'll turn it in at the end of the semester when it's actually due. If I manage everything well, I'll still have plenty of time to work on things for Napoleon, etc.

Speaking of work for Napoleon, after this current batch, I'm done making pillows for a little bit. I've got lots of quilting I want to get done. There's a bedspread and lap quilt for the Rowe School that are going to me my machine-quilting experiments. And I've just ordered backing fabric for a few quilts, one of which is going to Mark's little-girl-on-the-way. The though of my friends' babies all curled up in my quilts is almost enough to make me think kids are adorable. Almost.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Comes to Birmingham

Here's a photo of the design I painted on our living room wall. I'm still planning on doing a smaller-scale bit of painting in some other parts of the room, but that may not happen any time soon. I'm really pleased with the way this came out. I just drew it free-hand on the wall and filled it in with glossy interior paint.

The splash page I designed for Cigar Box is up while we're working on the site. At the time I didn't know why I was spending so much time on it, but I'm glad I did. It looks pretty sweet, I think. And speaking of websites, Charlie and Evan are brainstorming on PR and promotions for their site launch. I'm so excited. My friend from college Bradley moved to Birmingham this week (hooray!) and I was talking to him last night about my feelings and thoughts on Birmingham. I really enjoy being involved in things here. I think this city has a lot of potential, and is definitely in need of revitalization. It seems feasible, so I'm glad to see young people making things happen here.

Something I'd really like for Birmingham in the next couple of years is the development of an artists' and crafters' community. I want to know what the young designers of the area are creating, and maybe even attend a couple of trunk shows. I find myself feeling a little jealous of communities like Portland and Savannah in that regard. It would also be awesome to have some community gardens, especially downtown. I see a lot of kitchen gardens in Southside, which is totally awesome, but what about folks who live in lofts in the business district? That area could use some greening, in my opinion. I saw a great book on community gardens of SF when we were at City Lights bookstore, but I couldn't think of anyone who'd really appreciate it, so I passed. Please someone become my gardening guru.

On a consumer note, I think we could use more places along the lines of Continental Bakery and Urban Standard. As much as I love them, those spots are a little pricey for my tastes. I would be eternally thankful if I could get up on a Sat. and go to a sweet, cheap(ish) little breakfast place for coffee and a bagel with tomato and cream cheese, or egg and bacon. Really I'm just imagining a Birmingham that's a little more like Portland, Maine, a city that I love, but which has move-preventative winter weather.

Spring is finally here which always puts me in an optimistic mood. I'm finally doing all of the studying for French that I should have been on top of all along. I've got tons more pillows in the works, having thrifted some great sweaters for the purpose. Every time I cross something off my to do list, I feel a massive sense of satisfaction. That's been happening a lot lately. Tonight, for example, I finally compiled and edited an address book with all the info I've got from gmail, my phone, and facebook, so everything is in one place. That one's been on my list forever.

Also in typical Spring fashion, change is afoot. I got a sweet new rocker-ish haircut that I'm enjoying. I'm wearing dresses and sporting a variety of cute jackets instead of the same old peacoat every day. Several friends are looking for new or different living arrangements, (including Devon, so there may soon be another open spot at the Rowe School.) Maybe it's because winter puts me in such a bad mood, but Spring is a really exciting season. As of last week, we've been living here a year, and I think I might be even more psyched to be here now than when we first arrived.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Old World

You couldn't have imagined the number of unfinished pieces of fiction and poetry I had sitting around on computers and external drives and parts of my brain I had the sense to let waste away. A complicated ungettishable embedded logictree open-circuit diagram of folders full of folders full of folders called "old" and "unfinished." Well, now there are only a handful: I've deleted everything I now hate. 

You know how once in a while you realize how stupid you used to be? I don't mean when you were a teenager. Everyone was an idiot then. I mean, every year I find something that I made or remember something that I said or (especially) wrote and realize that I was a complete idiot six months before. Why the hell was I ever reading John Ashbery? Did I really think I would be the sixty thousandth idiot to try and find something interesting in the study of a barren cityscape? Was I going to vomit up the Ozymandius of the twentyfirst century? Or what about all that synaesthetic faux-Asian crap I tried to pass off as interesting, much less a sincere effort at any form of expression? Minimalist fiction about drug use? Oh, no, please don't tell me that is a sonnet I just found. Lord Jesus Jefferson, III do I embarrass myself! 

Anyway, I almost never share anything I write, though I would occasionally post something on my old and now very dead blog. However, seeing as how Michela seems to share everything she makes, I figure I ought to contribute at least a little, tiny, almost invisible scrap of my heart to this cyber lovefest. So below is what was two days ago a fragment left over from several years ago. It was one of the very few things I found that didn't draw stomach juice into my throat, so I decided I would finish it:

To the Girl across the Courtyard

The rain ropes into the cracked cement
of our small Paris courtyard. Eyes closed
I smell its falling break the gray air. 
I ask the rain to fill the courtyard,
three floors to this stony terrace where
my clothes hang to dry, so that I may
shrink to the size of my own courage,
captain a matchbox with a cocktail-
umbrella sail to your open window,
and offer a love that only grows
larger and larger when you fear it.

I’ve seen you every day for a year
cry hiccups out of that cracked window
not three meters from where I’m lying
in the filth of study: Couturat
and Cauchy and what bread I afford.
Your mathematic consistency
and the way all your tears make colors
in the sun like a lake of oil
has made me suspect you a machine
built by some wicked god to break me—
but he miscalculated my heart.

Honestly, you might have repaired me.
I, the machine, the miniature
robot twisted out of a tin can, 
benumbed captain of the matchbox fleet.
Oh fearsome captain! Have her prism
tears awakened you? You remember
now what once made you a real human:
a blanket pulled tight around your ears
to muffle your parents screams; little
starving boy of flesh and blood; that last
acid scent of your grandmother’s hair.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Have a Diva Day!

Where to begin? I have so many things to say about our trip, none of them being particularly important. I suppose I will just make a list of stories and observations.

  • We stayed near Union Sq. which turned out to be very convenient. Our lodging was called Hotel Diva and is a holding of the Personality Hotels company. You get their schtick, I imagine. Anyway, when you request a wake-up call, because, say, you don't want to miss your flight in the morning, the recording tells you to "Have a diva day!" Otherwise, it was a nice place to stay.
  • I've never been a huge fan of mooncakes, the traditional Chinese desert item (I think it's associated with good luck for the New Year), but I thought Evan should try one. Turns out I like them more than I rememberd, but those things are like real life lembas bread. You're full after one bite and a single tiny cake will last you a week.
  • While El Farolito continues to be the absolute number one place to have your burrito rocked, I realized finally and without any doubt that it's the avocado salsa that makes its deliciousness unatainable by other purveyors of Mexican foods.
  • Dim Sum is so fraking awesome. Evan now trusts everything I say about food.
  • The bakery next to the Wok Shop on Grant still has the best baked pork buns of all time. It is also the cheapest place to eat that I've ever been.
  • SF has been confirmed to be the absolute pinnacle of shoe-buying experiences. I think we came back with something like five pairs of shoes between us, some used, some new.
  • On a similar note, I really love the style in San Francisco. It's so casually cool, really interesting, and doesn't seem to be trying so very very hard. Much better city for street fashion than New York.
  • One day I was waiting in Union Sq. for Evan who was off somewhere eating breakfast. The cutest little kid, probably three years old, was there sporting short curly white-blond hair and wearing one-piece red long johns and tiny galoshes. He/she was calmly walking after some pigeons murmuring, "chickens. chickens."
I'll leave you with one final story. If you skip the whole bulleted list, at least read this, because it's one of the best SF stories I've ever been involved in.

Evan and I visited the Haight one day, went to thrift stores, checked out Amoeba Records, etc. Later, as we waited for the bus back to our hotel, an old hippie with a white beard and ponytail started talking to us about...about drugs. How he had been on hallucinagens for three days, or had paid off his friendly gambling debts with strips of LSD, or something. Somehow the conversation lead to him showing us a gruesome scar on his arm from "his first airplane accident." So I took the bait, and asked him if he'd been in more than one. As you might have guessed, he had. His plane went down in the jungles of 'Nam and he became a POW. He was stripped, hung upside down, and tortured. All the while he could hear a cat somewhere in the facility meowing and scratching at a door. At some point he was taken down and managed to get out of his shackels. He picked up one of the scapels lying there with the other tools of torture, got behind the door and started meowing and making noise in imitation of the cat. Eventually, the guard casually walked into the room looking for said feline. Our hero jumped out from behind the door and slit the guard's throat with the scalpel. Now armed with a gun, but still nude, he rescued the other POWs in the camp and they escaped to safety.

After he told us his story, the man on the bus politely gave Evan a pill full of mescaline, free of charge, and got off at his stop.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Good Start

Well, the week got off to a pretty good start. I painted a big flourish on the living room wall this weekend. I ordered some rad decoupage paper for a project with my new dresser and changed the handles on said dresser, immediately improving its appearance by 15%. I prepped for my Chinese painting midterm. I wrote a paper about Dangerous Liaisons in record time. I finished five new sweater pillows that are now up on Etsy, so check out my shop. And I scored some more sweaters at the thrift store as well as some things to upcycle and sell at the next rummage sale.

Speaking of the rummage sale, it went really well, so now we've got funds for some projects. I had no idea Bottletree was so bumpin' on Saturday afternoons, but apparently they get a decent amount of brunch business. A lot of my favorite clothes that I was selling went to people who looked great in them and will appreciate them, which makes me very happy. Evan and I did a few appearance appraisals, but only for people we knew. No strangers. I think I'll enjoy doing strangers a lot better, not because I won't be inhibited, but because I'll be able to look at them more objectively. I plan on offering this service at other Cigar Box events, so if you didn't make it, you haven't missed your chance.

Best of all, I got a package from Rubi at Stitch Spectacular! What a nice surprise. She sent a sweet card, a couple of wacky pacs, and a pretty handmade, lavender-filled eye pillow. I've been meaning to make one for myself for a while, so it couldn't be more perfect.

That's got me thinking about new embroidery projects, of course. I've got a lot of seeds of ideas, but nothing stands out just yet. And I have so so so many other things to work on, not the least of which is making screens and printing a bajillion t-shirts for Evan and my Etsy venture, and for the Secret Intentions. Plus the living room is to being done. Just a little more work on the painted graphics, and I'll be finished. In the meantime, here are some pics of a couple of things I've done so far. I bought these chairs without covers on sale at PBTeen, then covered them in ticking and threw together a couple of pillows. I also thrifted this sofa, side table, and rad vase, and made those blue batik pillows.
So it's a sweet week so far, and will end with us in SF! I can't wait!! I planned out all of our meals as soon as we bought the plane tickets, so I've been thinking non-stop about dim-sum and burritos, tea at Samovar, shoe shopping in the Haight. And I get to see friends who I haven't seen since I moved to the east coast. Yay for spring break!