January 31, 2006

Reflecting on a year

Last week I spent some time cleaning spam off Jar of Pencils. It should now be and remain spam free. In the process, I relived many entries, many moments in the past year. Wow! What a big year. I’ve been so busy living in the moment I’ve barely had time to blog about the current day. Reflecting back on a whole year feels too monumental to consider.

New Year’s celebration passsed me by this year, with only the briefest nod to the incoming year and not even a notice of the past.

I can’t believe a year ago Claire Ann and I were together, blogging together but no longer sharing an office. A year ago I had no idea where I would be or what I would be doing. Avocados was only the very beginning of a new idea.

Looking back on all those entries, I have been reminded of how powerful a tool, this personal journaling can be. And so, I’m going to try to blog everyday, for one week, to try to rekindle a more constant blog stream, for myself, to remember, and for you, to read along.

January 21, 2006


A week ago my sister was here, visiting us and checking out the Atlanta scene. I was able to get time off work for the six days of her visit and joined in the touring. Atlanta gets a little better with each new discovery. I might end up liking it here after all.

Highlights of her visit included:

  • The High: The Wyeth exhibit and the special exhibit on Renzo Piano were fantastic.
  • Shopping: All the little boutiques we visited were having huge sales of 40-75% off. I now have some trendy new clothes.
  • Dried cherry chocolate chip pancakes at Radial
  • Fernbank: Dinosaurs!
  • Clubbing at Eleven50 with Marcus Shulz

Best quote of her visit: We were at a small boutique and the two exuberant sales ladies had an ongoing, fun commentary. “You would totally murder that skirt!” Meaning I would look great in it.



For more photos from her visit see my new album.

January 20, 2006

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel

by Susanna Clarke

JS “Yay! I finally finished it!” That was my first thought as my eyes took in the last words of this tome. “Whew!” was my next reaction.

This is the story of two magicians who attempt to bring magic back to England during the 1800s. It is firmly a fantasy book, taking place in an alternate reality of England. The prose are written in Jane Austen style.

Through and through, the author is true to Austen’s removed style, to the detriment of the story. I felt the same frustrations as I’ve experienced in the past with this style. The reader knows more than the characters and the characters take FOREVER to figure out what is going on and they never really understand it. All interactions are obtuse.

The book, while dragging on in length and style was still very immersive. I read much of this book while waiting for the train and I would often look up, expecting some magical event to occur just down the platform from me. I wanted the characters to figure things out. I cared what happened to them. I was uhappy when they didn’t live up to my epxpectations. And maybe that is my true problem with this book. The male characters all fall into the “evil” role and the femle characters are all under developed. There was no one to love and admire without question.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, to certain people but no to most. Because of the length, style and character traits of the “heros” this book is not for everyone. The portrayal of magic and mysticism would make it enjoyable for those who are already fantasy fans but it is not a conversion book.

I was surprised to learn, on the books own site, they are making it into a movie. It is a movie I would see.

I’m now ready for something ligther, something I don’t have to fight against. But first I plan to catch up with my back issues of Metropolis Magazine. That’s fun reading!

Sari Store

For our new couch, we are designing and sewing our own cushion covers. I wanted to find the perfect fabric to make the couch and room a place to be proud of. Being new to the city, I had no idea where to look for fabric.

Back in September, while working on new curtains with my mother, we noticed a store, in the same strip mall as the JoAnn Fabric, a sari store, complete with colorful sale bolts on the sidewalk. Our neighborhood is close to the main Indian section of the city, a happy find for my curry addiction.

When our upholstery hunt began, I immediately started imagining wonderful silks, in bright colors, covering our pillows. It was time to check out those sale bins at the Sari store.

The barrels of bolt ends on the sidewalk did not match our visions, so like any store with merchandise to sell, we went inside. Immediately, among the sea of beautiful, overwhelming racks of silk and behind the overflowing display cases of gold, heads turned. Both clerks and shoppers gave pause to witness the white people.

A woman, about our age, came to wait on us. “We are looking for fabric,” I said. She quickly escorted us to the back of the store and began her vigil over our browsing.

“Maybe we want a green or blue tone,” I mentioned to SB. “Here, here, we have green. Or this blue, take this one,” the clerk said, pointing out the bolt nearest to where she stood. Her insistence, solemn and critical tone and the speed at which she tried to solve our ponderings, made her intentions obvious. She wanted us to leave her store, quickly.

I moved further into the store, down the long table of heaped bolts. We discussed quietly the options we saw. I was disappointed that most of the fabrics were solid colors, missing the patterns that are common on pre-made Saris. Our clerk remained on guard.

The discomfort of being so closely watched and the plainness of their selection finally made us leave the store. As we walked out, I could feel the eyes of the patrons track us through the racks.

With a little more sleuthing on-line, I found an enormous upholstery fabric store, filled with middle aged white people, happy to have our business. Our couch will be covered in a dense cotton weave instead of luxury silks. It will be more modern and less bohemian and it will be a little reminder of what our culture is and is not.

January 18, 2006

Student Skin

I came back from Christmas in Madison with grand schemes and motivation run rampant. I have been so busy doing that I haven’t had any time for reflecting.

After a long talk with an old roommate I realized that I should go back to grad school, not just talk about the possibility but really do it. There is a program, actually two, here in Atlanta, that would fit my needs exactly. The deadline for applications for enrollment in the Fall of 2006 is Feb. 1.

I immediately signed-up for the GRE. I gave myself nine days to prepare for testing. This was all the time I had if I wanted to get my scores in by the end of the month. I crammed for it, spending my free time reviewing and practicing math problems that I hadn’t considered in many years.

On the day of the test I arrived at the center, extra early, ready to get it over with. The first part of the exam is to write two essays on random topics. As I sat there, staring blankly at my hands, unable to type a word, I noticed how old my hands are looking. These aren’t the same hand that took this exam eight years ago. Then I reached up to rub my face. In the very center of my chin, a giant zit had appeared, just since I had sat down to take the test.

This was a pimple to rival the most enormous ones of my adolescence. Much like the math problems, I hadn’t experienced a break out of this proportion since college. Is this what grad school is going to be like? Am I going to be forced into a strange new world where my body continues to age while at the same time bringing back the worst features of younger years?

I recovered from my panic, finished the test and headed off to work. For various reasons that have become more apparent in the last few days, I am post-poning my application for one year. I am proud of myself for completing the test and doing fairly well, I might add. The zit has disappeared and I’m further along on the path to grad school than before.

  • Eating salted avocados with a spoon in Madison.
  • Blogging since 2003.