Happy Feet

I got spoiled from June to February. While painting away my life on watercolor paper and ceilings, I somehow forgot that it’s normal to wear real shoes. I have a great pair of flip flops and some warm slipper-like boots. Who needs dainty, attractive shoes when you’re practically barefoot all the time?

But it is nice to click around in heels once in a while.

Enter job.

Now I find myself in real shoes five out of seven days, and it’s kind of a shock to the system. I don’t remember work shoes being restrictive. But they kind of are. How could I forget something like that?

Here’s one of my favorite pairs of cute shoes:


I think they’re worth some toe-smushing. I just hope my feet will conform to nice little work shoe triangles again. I think that’s how this works, right?


P.S. The bruise on my shin is from a ski trip. A ski trip during which I successfully navigated my very first black diamond slope. Without falling. Just thought I’d brag about that, since it’ll probably never happen again.


Art Sale: After

I won’t keep you in suspense (because I’m sure you’ve been biting your nails about this for days)…

My very first art sale was officially a success.  Woohoo!!!  I was so nervous the day before.  My table neighbor at the sale said that her first art sale was like putting her underwear out for everyone to judge, and I kind of agree.


In my online shop, people can look at my work and decide what they think in a far away land totally apart from me.  But at the art sale, I was sitting one small table width away from all of my judges.  Fortunately, they were polite if they didn’t love my stuff and kind if they did.  It was such a relief.

Amid the mass of polite folks, there was even a troop of very adorable Girl Scouts who asked me all about my work and took a huge chunk of my business cards.  It took a while to explain how I’m inspired to paint and help each girl get the color of business card that she most loved.  That was one of my favorite moments of the sale hands down.

So art sale complete, I immediately got on a plane (well, not immediately, but at 5 AM the next day) to Colorado to visit my parents and do a bit of work for them.  It’s a pretty great story, and I’ll be working through that project for weeks to come, so I’m sure you’ll hear about it soon.

In the aftermath of the sale, I’ll admit that my online shop stats are a bit disappointing.  Hundreds of people took a gander at my stuff in one day in person, and that energy rush was pretty great.  Now I just have to figure out how to get similar views in my little corner of the online world.  (But before I find success like that, I need to have the print shop replenish my stock a bit… one step at a time.)

P.S.  The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (art sale location extraordinaire) is staffed by wonderful people, and I highly recommend it as a spot to visit if you’re in the area and haven’t been there lately.

Grumpy Face, Pretty Tree (Just like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”)

It’s been a tough day at work.  When people ask me for statistics or reports at my new job, I assume that they’re asking for something that I can in fact find.  Sometimes that’s not true.

Today’s search lasted for the morning and the first hour or so of the afternoon, and it ended with one sentence in the middle of a giant instruction manual that clued me in to the fact that the numbers I need don’t exist.  They could exist if I imbed some extra code in a few spots, but that data will never exist for the past.

I know I learned a lot while rummaging through manuals and websites and playing with different stats this morning.  I also feel like it’s the least the computer could do to give me a positive answer to carry back to my co-workers after that much effort.  The lack of a positive answer makes me feel like this:


Photo by adm


In an effort to keep this from being one big, insignificant complaint about something I can’t change, I’ll show you the painting that popped into my email inbox yesterday:


Painting by Duane Keiser


I like it.  I like it a lot.

I went through phases while I was studying art history back in the day.  Sometimes I only liked art that had awesome deeper meaning or came from a turbulent point in someone’s life or history or whatever.  Goya’s art was part of that phase.  And sometimes I wanted to look at pretty pictures without wondering what the tree symbolizes and what the blank space around the tree could mean on another level.  Keiser might have a great story behind this painting, and I’m sure that knowing the story would help me to appreciate it more fully.  For today, I just like the pretty tree.

Pockets of Chaos

Sometimes I forget that I’m a neat person at heart.  I look at my kitchen counter and see recycling that hasn’t made it outside, plant information tags that may or may not correlate to what’s currently alive in the yard, and lots of other stuff that shouldn’t be in a kitchen at all.  I internally shake my head and forget to factor in the things that show the other side of me.

I have an alphabetized movie collection that’s divided into general, TV, and children’s sections.  My closet is arranged by clothing type and subdivided by seasonal appropriateness and color.  Ooh, aah.  You get the picture.  I’m an average person organization-wise.  There are super tidy spots here and there, and there are a few areas that could best be described as controlled chaos.  The chaos just sticks out more than the control, you know?

Photo by _Phoebeee

Then I remember that I’m a neat-freak right under the surface.  Today’s neat-freak reminder came when I opened my new desk drawer.  I was essentially squatting at a desk for the past week and a half, and today is my first day at my long-term desk.  That means that I have access to lots of computer files now that will help me do my job.  Oh, and I get to reorganize everything.

I originally wrote off the reorganization excitement as some smaller piece of my penchant for decorating.  Then I opened the desk drawer.  It looks like my miscellaneous desk drawer at home came to my office, reproduced like rabbits, and built bunny tenements in the drawer.  Not a clear mental image?  Just imagine every type of office supply in one drawer with nothing to divide any of it.  Throw in some velcro, a few small instruction manuals, and you’re almost there.  No, this isn’t about decorating.

The person who had this job and desk last did a great job with organizing files and color-coding paperwork.  It’s kind of impressive, actually.  I haven’t ever in my life seen as many color-coded tabs as exist in the files that now belong to me.  But the desk drawer has to change.

I’m pretty sure that if someone moved into my house as is, they would feel that way about my kitchen.  There isn’t much of a system.  Stuff just ended up in cabinets when I moved in, and now it makes sense to me.  Of course the napkins and the food processor are way up high over the fridge.  Why wouldn’t they be together?

Anyway, I’m not talking trash about my former co-worker’s organizational skills.  We just have different pockets of chaos.  In the paperwork organizing, color-coding department, this woman will always have me beat.

So what about you?  What are your pockets of organization and chaos?  (I wish that was a literal question.  I want to meet someone with “pockets of organization” and “pockets of chaos.”  How cool would it be to have “pockets of chaos”?!  It would be like a mobile version of Pandora’s box.)

Photo by ishandchi... pockets of organization or chaos?

Death by Database, Revival by Commute

I’ve been struggling with this one stupid database all day.  All.  Day.

The good thing about having a new job in which you have very little background is that there’s always an exciting challenge around the corner.  Life is certainly not dull, and you feel a real sense of accomplishment at the end of every day.  There’s no way you were at work for 8 hours without learning something significant.

The bad thing about having a new job in which you have very little background is that sometimes you can’t face down the exciting challenge of the day.  I tried today.  I had a stare-down with a monster of a database, and it beat me.  It is electronic, after all.  It only stands to reason that it would win a stare-down.  I learned a lot, sure, just not what I needed to learn to beat the database in this round.

Anyway, that’s that part of the day.  When I go outside for my morning or afternoon commute, or even just for lunch, I’m thankful that it’s fall and that I work in a new place.  This cute little town is more dangerous than most small towns I’m used to (it’s really kind of bizarre), but that doesn’t erase the cute factor.

Photo by Dennis J2007

Like I said.

Photo by Dennis J2007

If we were walking by this right now, I would be oohing and aahing about colonial architecture and such.  I might make references to a few buildings I loved on the UNC Chapel Hill campus (shout-out to land of the Tar Heels).

Photo by Dennis J2007

I’d be talking about how awesome old cemeteries are.

Photo by Dennis J2007

Then I might go on for a while about how lucky I am to see this stuff every day.  It’s true.  I drive from my cute house through some less cute stuff to some pretty woods, and then I arrive in my adorable small town.  My supply closet office serves to balance all of that beauty.  Balance is important.

Why does all of the cuteness matter at all?

Well, I think God designed us to enjoy order and beauty, and there’s something special about good craftsmanship, too.  Even when it’s somewhat decayed and forgotten (other houses in town, not the one above in particular), you know that somebody put a crazy amount of effort into planning these places down to the exterior trim.  Some poor mason had to lay bricks on the diagonal just because it was pretty, and I bet he took pride in that job.

That house above is all about order and beauty.  It gets its job done, sure.  And while it’s providing shelter, it doesn’t skimp on things that aren’t strictly necessary, things that exist purely to make people happy.

Even though I know that excess and extravagance are typically bad things, I think they have a place in the world.  What kind of God makes a different sunset every single day if he doesn’t condone extravagance every once in a while?!  So this moment is brought to you by excessive exterior molding and old buildings, which make my commute and thus my life a better place to be.  Forget databases.  They’re supposed to be all orderly and nice, but they’ve got nothing on architecture and a drive through the country.

Thermotaxic Thursday

It’s time to let one of my friends entertain you for a few minutes.  The friend of choice is one of my college roommates.  She’s an engineer who totally breaks the typical engineer mold.  One of those mold-breaking elements is that she loves to write miscellaneous poetry (almost always funny, not usually sappy or hard to interpret… much more to my liking than most poetry), she can paint up a storm, and she makes small, fuzzy creatures for her friends.  She’s pretty darn creative.  This is my most recently received creature:


Creature (L) and Argyle (R) hard at work

Since both of us spend lots and lots of time in front of computers, we’re email buddies these days.  We manage to cover a broad variety of topics by email… spiritual check-ups, rants about whatever happened five minutes ago, e-nudges to keep each other awake during hard days at work.  It’s a good buddy system.

One of the entertaining elements of our e-relationship is Julie’s subject line habit.  She started naming her days a while ago as a part of her to do list motivation.  For a while, the days were named according to goals (can’t remember any examples, but it’s true).  Then the names got funny, and now it’s a mix.  Today’s name, if you hadn’t guessed from the title of this post, is Thermotaxic Thursday.

I think that having thermotaxic issues is a side-effect of living in Texas, where there’s freezing cold air-conditioning inside and it’s almost always sweltering outside.  That’s just my opinion.  The official word on the street is that thermotaxic stuff is related to the regulation of body-temperature in animals.

In the fine city of Houston, you often find yourself hot outside, cold inside, hot outside, cold inside, and so on.  Just like Katy Perry’s man–hot then cold, up then down, very disconcerting in general.

So I hope you’re celebrating Thermotaxic Thursday in your own place of work.  I know I am.  That’s why all librarians look like old people.  It’s not because we’re nerds.  They just try to freeze us out all the time, so we’re forced to wear sweaters that are five sizes too big and don’t belong anywhere in the state of Virginia.  It’s true.

Wednesday Mornings

Wednesdays are my favorite.  I work from 11:30-8:30 (instead of the normal 8:30-5:30), which puts a cramp in my social life sometimes, but is oh so nice in the morning!  Today included some coffee with a friend and lots of not much else.  Perfect.  I’ve been in a writing funk lately, so this is more about pictures.  First, a recap of the weekend.  There were lots of moments like this:

One of my friends has a pretty impressive finger puppet collection in her car, and she let me entertain myself with them on the drive across Houston.  There are also some pictures of things like a friend laying out on a beach blanket that happens to have Jack Bauer with “Bauer Power Hour” written across it.  Wonderful weekend.

Today it’s sunny and gorgeous outside.  I look totally professional except for one little detail.  You can’t let a day like this slip by without some sort of celebratory gesture:

And this picture is my favorite.  It shows just one second of why today deserves a pink bow.  Check out that sunlight streaming through the car window!  (I cheated a little bit and used a picture from a few months ago, but I promise it looked like that today, too.)  Add some music turned up and what might have been an excess of caffeine, and this is exactly what my ride to work felt like: