I’m trying.

It’s never flattering, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Opening up your chest and letting people see inside and maybe take a swing at your softest parts, if they want.

I happened to see a last-minute call on Facebook for an open slot for love-themed artwork for the February exhibition at the Gordon JCC‘s art gallery. I emailed the curator my balloons-in-the-trash photo from a few years ago and asked if she’d be interested in it, even though it’s not, ah, all that lovey-dovey. She was more into it than I figured and asked me to bring both the black and white and the color versions. Fast forward to me frantically Googling how to frame/mount photos for gallery display.

When I delivered them — an 11×17 and an 8×10, both framed crisply — she seemed to think they were well priced and might actually sell. Stranger things have happened, probably. So, that’s something to look forward to this month. There’s an exhibition opening on Valentine’s Day, with snacks and wine and such. Pretty neat. Can’t wait to see the other works.

I wrote and submitted a poem to Nashville Review. I’ve got a couple other things I’m working on that I don’t feel are polished enough to submit yet. Truthfully, that one might not have been either but it felt right and the submission deadline clock was ticking and I was having an otherwise very productive day so I felt like “submit a poem for publication” was a reasonable things to want to get ticked off the ol’ to-do list so I just did it. Uncritiqued and everything. Yes, I know how silly and brazen that is. And still. I did it and I lived and I will also live if and when I receive a rejection. It’s the doing the thing that matters, right now.

Next month I’m attending a mixed-media collage-making workshop put on by Wayne Brezinka, who makes such beautiful things. I’m hoping to unblock some creativity. Get some things flowing. Think differently. Lose some fear. So forth and so on.

I’m also trying to fit some writing workshops and meet-ups into my schedule, although this part is a little more daunting to me than the actual writing stuff. My introversion wants to take over and tell me that I cannot possibly mix it up with strangers and show them my work or get anything useful from them — or offer anything useful to them — from them in return. But I know this is not true and that I must. And I will. It will get easier.

I’m doing a Project 365, but this one uses one second of video from every day of your year to make an end-of-year 365-second video. There’s an app to help, of course, and yeah yeah I have already missed one day, but who’s counting?

And then the biggie: I’m working on a novel. Two, actually, but the one I started the year working on has taken a back seat to the one based on this horrifying story from my hometown, which I have written about in passing before. I think about that story from time to time and mentioned it to my friend Olivia, who co-hosts a true-crime podcast that specializes in obscure and local true-crime stories. She did some digging in old news clips and put together an episode about the case. She and her co-host Thashana were kind enough to invite me on Something’s Not Right to talk about the murders from my perspective as a then-17-year-old high school senior. (Click here and select episode 33 to listen.) I hope it goes without saying that my contributions are unscientific and purely speculative, based on innuendo and rumor, so don’t @ me.

Anyway, that story has haunted me through my adult life and I’ve always wanted to write something based on it. So I finally am. I am basing my story loosely on the true events but with purely fictional twists. I started out thinking it’s a YA novel but the deeper I get into it, the less sure I am that that is the right fit, based on how depraved and dark it is going to be. It might be NA or maybe just plain old fiction for whatever age wants to dive into this kind of story.

I’m not ruling out some day trying to write a nonfiction retelling of the real story, but that will require taking time off to do proper research on site in Hardin County, and I haven’t been able to commit the time to that. I want to, though. I feel like a sabbatical from work to write a book is a rite of passage that I would like to experience some day.

This thing I’m doing called Eyedot Creative


Have you checked out Eyedot Creative’s blog or Etsy shop lately? I’m designing up a storm. Ideating and celebrating. Taking custom orders left and right. Heading up projects for friends and loved ones. Having an awesome time.

This year my goal is to do some craft/street fairs in Nashville. I had a blast (and worked really, really hard) at the Cooper-Young Festival and East Buntyn Art Walk back in Memphis before I left, and I want to repeat those awesome experiences here.

Nashvillians, what festivals/fairs should I try to be a part of? I am applying for the Porter Flea Market’s June event as we speak. But there are so many, it can be hard to stay on top of it. So, I’m trying to get ahead of the game. What should I not miss? Where would I fit in best?

2013 is a blink away from over, somehow

heading home

I spent a lot of time this year working on a project that more or less fizzled out when I realized it was not going to make it. It was one of those projects that took over everything in my head, one where I thought, “Yeah, this is the one. This is going to change everything.” And then it’s not the one and it doesn’t change everything, and that’s okay. It stings a little to have to take my lumps and move on, and it means I lost a lot of months to a thought process that ended up not getting me where I thought I needed to be, but that’s how life works and that’s how we big-brained monkeys learn and it’s evolution, baby. I learned things and I think I’m better for it in several ways, although I’m still not where I want to be and I’ve got a lot more grey hairs sprouting like tiny fireworks from my scalp than I did this time last year. (I stood in front of the mirror the other day and tried to pluck the ones I could see, and then I found a patch, a whole village of them, living together, and had to stop plucking or risk a bald spot. That is a corner turned.)

In some ways I feel ancient and world-weary and in other ways I feel like I have another life that’s incubating just below the surface and waiting to hatch when conditions are perfect. I’ve been super productive for a few weeks now, with little bursts of creativity here and there that have surprised and delighted me. I’m also quite exhausted and, in strong lighting, I look like a nightmare. I should get more sleep and drink more water. But there aren’t enough hours, are there?

In a couple of weeks I will turn 32, which is an age that is respectable and boring. I feel 32 in every possible way. I’m not complaining, necessarily.

Light therapy


I’ve been meaning to get out and see the Bruce Munro installation at Cheekwood since May. My brain was having sort of a bad day yesterday so I decided to go ahead and get that done in the hopes that it would cheer me up. It worked. The little spheres of light cover the grass and undulate, passing their colors around in waves. At times you get the feeling like you’re looking at a huge, fiber-optic tulip field in Holland, and at other times it’s like something out of Fern Gully, where the plants glow with life.







You can view the whole set here or watch this lovely slideshow. But photos don’t really do it justice. You just sort of have to go see it and find a good bench on which to sit in the cool autumn air and take it in.

A plug for a cool kid’s book

Bob Logan books are pure art

Jason and Alana gave Holden Bob Logan’s “Rocket Town” for Christmas last year. We’ve read it a hundred times and I never get tired of looking at the beautiful illustrations. Each page is art that I would happily frame.

If you have a young ‘un and are on the lookout for cool board books that have simple story lines and incredible illustrations, or need a nice shower/birthday/holiday gift, you can’t go wrong with Logan.

I did something I actually like!

I don’t post about specific stuff I do at work very often because … actually I’m not sure why. It ain’t modesty, I promise. I think I’m still just delusionally assuming that if I don’t post specifics about my work that no one at the new job (new? I’ve been there a year!) is going to find this corner of the internet and discover what a nutty broad I am. That’s crazy, I suppose, because surely by now they have already figured that out.

ANYWAY! For three weeks I have been working with the editors at the Montgomery paper to illustrate their huge series on violent crime in the city. I had spent a lot of time working on The Commercial Appeal’s True Crime series a few years ago, so I felt pretty equipped to tackle the topic from a design standpoint. Except this time around, the editor was not enthusiastic about the photographs that went with the main stories. So he asked if we could go conceptual.

So here’s what I did.

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I’m a bit self-conscious about my ability to execute conceptual designs. I’ve felt that it’s been a weak spot for me since I didn’t get much graphic design training in college (I was on the media design path in J-school; graphic design fell under the college of art) and I spent the first seven years of my career cutting my teeth at a paper that had amazing photographers and an amazing illustrator. There really wasn’t much of a need for me to do conceptual illustrations. So that muscle never got worked.

But I took the editor’s challenge and had a moment of inspiration one evening while digging through stock art. I found this one piece — a spiky blue wave drawing. I had my way with it in Photoshop and ended up with a huge and aggressive wall of red ink engulfing nearly the entire front page. I thought there was no way it would fly with the editor and suspected it wouldn’t fly with anyone, so I ran it past my creative director (email subject line: “Is this crazy?”). He enthusiastically greenlit it and helped me refine it. And then the next week’s photographs were also week, and so we decided we’d have a trilogy of illustrations.

The roots are my favorite. They are hand drawn. Er, mouse drawn. (I should get a tablet.) And that is the third iteration of them. They started out just at the top, and then I had them go down both sides of the page, but my boss told me they looked like Frodo’s head. (They did. And Michael Jackson’s.)

It was a ton of work but I’m happy with how each of these pages turned out and with how they all work together. Kudos to the editor for going with such a bold idea — many editors might have balked — and for letting me come up with ideas that strayed from his original vision.