25 January 2010

Reading about Writing

I've been getting into reading again and it has felt really good.  I always forget how good it is lose yourself in a book--it really doesn't compare to a tv show or a movie or any other form of entertainment.  A book transports you and when you find yourself reaching for those pages, unable to put the book down, it fills you with a deep sense of satisfaction, a sigh of relief, like all is well in the world.

I was browsing the writing section of a local bookstore and found this book:

and this one:

two very different authors about the craft of writing.

I'm about 3/4s of the way through each of them, and I like both of them.  The Forest for the Trees is written by a literary agent and former senior editor for Doubleday and to be honest, when you first read it (and you're a writer), it makes you feel like you're mentally ill.  It's like a self-help book for writers from a publishing point of view, the view of an editor who has worked years with talented but self-destructive writers.  You can tell that Betsy cares deeply about books and wants writers to write them and she wants to bring them out of whatever barriers (mental, substance related, emotion) keeps them from producing work.  I really didn't relate to the descriptions of manic depressive writers (ok maybe just a wee bit) but when she went into skin disorders as a common trait of writers, I thought, HOLD UP!  Are you kidding me? I have had psoriasis since I was in elementary school and according to Betsy, psoriasis and eczema are right up there with substance abuse and bipolar disorder as major identifiers of writing personalities.

I felt a bit exposed and wide-eyed.  The book was so well written though that I wasn't thwarted and kept plunging ahead.  It's paid off.  I feel as if I've gotten a very practical lived sense of what the demands of a writing career are and Betsy gives nice insider tips on how publishers and editors see writers and what you can do to navigate the competitive publishing world.

Stephen King on the other hand is an easier read with fascinating stories from his life.  The things I liked the most about his book were his stories on struggling to become a writer.  He used to work in a laundromat after college and wash table linens from seafood restaurants that were crawling with maggots.  Ick.  I admire his resolve to write and his devotion to the craft.

23 January 2010

back in business

in a bizarre twist of events, both my cellphone and laptop died on the same day 2 weeks ago and came back to me restored yesterday.

j. thinks it's a deep psychic coincidence having to do with my discovery of my self as an artist. he can go not further than that however so the theory falls short rather quickly.

the good news is not having a laptop gave me an electronic heart attack but also helped break some unhealthy patterns like sitting in my living room with my laptop all day not doing much and feeling like an unwilling cyborg.  the electronic heart attack was a sign of unhealth to be sure.

on that note, i've decided to join a biggest loser network from the state of pennsylvania via my friend lexie and because i'm clueless and disinterested in calorie counting, I've decided to do a 21 day healthy detox to get healthy and lose some weight.  That sounds so much better to me than eating a 3/4 cup of cereal in the morning and a 400 calorie frozen lunch (which screams chemicals!!!) microwaved in the oven every day. ICK.

i'm using this book and basically eating lots of steamed vegetables and identifying/avoiding my food allergies.  i will be breaking up with butter, cheese, animal fat, alcohol, sugar and processed foods for a while.  We'll see how it goes!

16 January 2010

Geunjin Rocks!

My little bro released a music video recently and it is awesome!  Spread the love.

15 January 2010

Vectors Journal

I was introduced to this interactive gem of a digital journal by J. today while discussing the heartbreaking condition of juvenile detention halls.  Have you been hearing about juv youth in the news as well?  It's been on NPR this last week and what with J. and his cohort of prison-minded friends, my awareness and involvement in the state of imprisoned youth has grown.

The Vectors Journal, based at USC, combines multimedia and text by academics to create visually stunning presentations of  important information for the public.  I haven't finished checking out the entire site but I recommend this one involving quotes of incarcerated women.  Go here and click "View Project" on the side.

testing out names: reader help needed

hello readers!
i need your help.
i've decided to register myself as a sole proprietor and get paperwork in tow for my freelance services, really so that i can start deducting everything i can as expenses (overhead:rent/utilities, computer, etc.).  My computer dying the other day was major impetus and wake up call for the new tax season.  and this is where i am heading professionally so it's good to do asap.

Last night, I stayed up brainstorming names.  I'd like to come up with a name that encompasses the services I can render currently and would like to in the future.

Happenings this Weekend

This Saturday, January 17, I'll be at


for the opening reception at 7pm.  Some good friends and their friends will be there (Jan & Charissa of The Gifted Blog) and it should be a sweet evening of inspiration and fun.

Gemini is a publisher/workshop that fostered the collaboration of many printmakers including Rauschenberg.  J. introduced me to their work at a used bookshop in San Diego where we got this book.  Seeing all those printmakers deep in ink, bent over tables together was pretty aweinspiring stuff.

I also ran into an artist at Portfolio Coffee House the other day in Long Beach (he overheard my conversations about Rauschenberg and Gemini and jumped right in).  He's showing at the Haus Gallery in Pasadena and specializes in video art.

Join us if you're free.

13 January 2010

an obvious revelation

I'd like to share something with you friend and reader--a revelation of sorts or as my friend Jan puts it, "That was not big at all, it's so obvious!"

Well, the obvious finally became obvious to me this last week.

As many of you know, I have been on a major vocational search my entire life.  I guess it's been more like 8 years but still, that's a huge chunk. What to do, what to do, what to do--my brain hums.  My head hurt after awhile.

That's probably why I got so spiritual in all honesty.  I was searching for the mysterious to become clear.  I was looking for an answer.  I wanted to know that God hadn't abandoned me in all this.

And I felt abandoned during some stretches of the road to be sure.

I have despaired, hoped, dreamt and prayed that I would know exactly what it was that I should be doing with my life.  I have interviewed countless people and looked into countless jobs.

This last week, I got a good leg up on that wish and am on my way with a clearer sense of direction and who I am meant to be.

12 January 2010

My Bad Electronic Mojo

Inspired by Mary Valle below and encouraged by my friend Jan to do something artistic in my moment of hysteria, here is a poem to you on this fine Tuesday afternoon.

My laptop, Angela tells me,
will die.
One more clean install
to see if it will take.
I writhe on the stair landing.
J. tells me
keep your mourning short.
this day was coming.
My new cell phone screen
in half and fuzzy stripes
the words are dyslexic
while I'm talking on the phone.
I start to panic
but decide to call Samsung Service Center instead.
They tell me to get off the phone and take out the battery
to jot down the serial number underneath.
I do that.
And my phone refuses to start up.
Again.  And again.  And again.
It is officially dead, 33 days after purchase.
I feel naked
very alone
in this landline-less apartment
on J.'s desktop
not mine.

My heart is distressed.
Is this an electronic heart attack?
Will I be ok?
I'm afraid my electronic mojo
is something terrible today.

11 January 2010

Blog Love

I am in love with this blog that a friend had the courtesy to introduce me to.

Instant Poetry by writer Mary Valle.

She has biting humor with a pretty gnarly religious bent.  It really tickles my bones on multiple levels.

I am especially in love with this poem:

The Sea of Asses

Kid in church
nothing but asses
especially man-ass
in belted slacks

Free books

Hello, I have some more books to give away.  I'm going through the bookshelves for our church's media and books fundraiser to benefit the Noah Project (a tutoring center for local high school kids) and would like to give my readers first dibs.  believe it or not, j. and i had doubles of all of these books.

the cost of discipleship by bonhoeffer
in the name of jesus by henri nouwen
streams of living water by richard j. foster
dakota by kathleen norris
the great divorce by c.s. lewis

If you're interested in these books, let me know in the comments or email me with your address.  These will be available for this week only.

Cheers, H.

The Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser Competition comes to Irvine

Contestants: H & J

Why:  Upcoming family Cruise in April

Why again: Newlywed weight gain

Objective: The contestant to lose the most weight wins.

Prize:  TBD--we need to come up with something motivational. Any ideas?

Who will be this year's biggest loser?

10 January 2010

more of who i truly am

i love to eat
i love to read
i love to cook
i love to write
i love to dream
i love to sing
i love to learn

I was the girl who wanted to do everything.  At one point, I had flute lessons, piano lessons, and marimba lessons going while I did softball, band, hospital candy stripe volunteering, and AP Calculus not to mention being youth group leader, mission frontier teenager, songwriter, and world traveler.  And at the end of the day, I hoped one day to learn cello and sing as a professional with the Los Angeles Chorale and go on tour with my favorite band and get a record deal until I became a doctor and saved lives and could do everything with an M.D. at the end of my name.

In college, everyone else seemed to be able to pick something they really wanted and do that thing really well.  I was befuddled.  It became increasingly clear that I couldn't keep doing everything I wanted yet how could I pick one thing to focus on?

In my times with M., my spiritual director, she often affirms me by saying, "It sounds like you feel like that's who you truly are."  or "You're becoming who you're truly meant to be." or "It sounds like that's really important to you.  Claim that.  Honor that."

Sometimes she'll ask, "So how does that feel?"

And I'll say, "It just feels right.  I feel a rightness in my body.  I don't know how to explain except it just feels right."

And she'll say, "Trust that feeling, H.  That rightness is important. Trust your body to tell you."

Bless her soul.  I love her.

I've been learning to trust my body more, instead of my emotional programming.  All of the "ifs, buts, howevers" in my brain are quieter.  The analyzing and strategizing for a better me have slowed.  My mom's hopes for me to be a lawyer or some kind of respectable money-making professional don't sting so much.

Instead, I've been marveling at how utterly obvious and simple life can be.  I've been learning to do things and notice how happy it makes me feel--like screenprinting.  I can do it for hours and hours and hope to wake up and keep doing it.  I never would have thought that I would pursue screenprinting as a profession but now, I can almost see it.  I can almost see it because I'm not analyzing and tearing apart the impractical nature of being an artist--the sure poverty--the lack of professional cache--the certain disappointment of my parents.  I'm able to see it because I respect the practical nature of it and not just the meaningful (which most of the time has been created for me by others).  I see that I can do it for hours and feel good, connected, like I am truly being myself.  And I'm able to accept who "myself" might be--even if it doesn't look anything like what I was taught that it should like.

Ah, that is the 20 something year old's task--to find the strength to redefine success for yourself and the courage to pursue it.  To all my friends out there, I wish you the joy of discovering who you truly are and the conviction to honor it.

C'est la joie de vivre, mes amis.  Beaucoup d'amour, H.

05 January 2010

Good things january

 {taken with j's cell phone in san diego last week}

our wedding photographer, Max Wanger, was named one of the best in the industry by junebug weddings and we are in the photo

our good friend dan chen of chennergy.com is also named best in the industry

a desk by the window with a view of the hills is a lovely thing for the soul

getting invited to a birthday party for a new favorite person that starts at a cigar lounge

focusing on being healthy in the head and body and letting the anxieties of the future go to rest

falling in love with fiction

eating dairyless and meatless for 2 straight days and feeling a whole lot better

house cleaning and office organizing for the new year is insufferable at first but so rewarding

a renewed commitment to work hard at whatever i do

falling in love with art and printmaking and type and design and of all things, grids and layouts

it's been a good first week

04 January 2010

Christmas Gift-Wrapping Recap

This year, thanks to weekly art time with Jan and giftwrapping inspiration from Charissa of The Gifted Blog, my giftwrapping was taken to a whole new level of artful presentation and whimsy.  And believe it or not, it was incredibly easy to pull off.  I'll show you what I did and how in this blog post.

A few weeks back, I attended a workshop at Charissa's home where she taught a small group of us how to create tissue flowers and pom poms.  Back home, I used a clean mylar rice cracker package, cut it into one long strip, and created a spangly firecracker of a pom pom.  It turned out to be a perfect tree topper for our petite cone-shaped rosemary tree.  J. and I didn't have any ornaments nor did we feel like spending money on one.  So I took an idea I saw at Charissa's house to decorate the tree.  I punched out frilly dots from card stock and magazines with a Martha Stewart craft puncher from Michael's and sewed them together in a line with a sewing machine.  It took some experimenting to find a way to work with my machine and create lines of sewn thread between each dot but once I did, it was smooth sailing.

Screenprinting with Jan gave me the tools to venture out on my own and try a freehanded botanical screenprint which turned out to be better as wrapping paper than an art print.  I printed on different kinds of paper to see which ones I liked best.  One of my favorites turned out to be a print on the blank side of a Trader Joe's grocery bag.  This wrapping paper looked beautiful with Charissa's tissue flowers.  I used leftover ribbon to tie it all together.

The icing on the cake came again from Charissa's blog.  She frequently highlights free downloads that are worth checking out.  From her site, I found free french-themed tags and polaroid tags with evocative nature scenes.  I taped them, threaded them with ribbon, and stuck them on my packages wherever I felt like.  The tags added a special personalized touch.  The best thing about it was that it was so easy. I just printed, cut, and taped away.

I used tissue paper to wrap presents for mailing in a parcel and used the tags to create simple moments of serenity and personalization.  I tried to draw a chandelier (kind of looks like a devil's tail!) and used miniature polaroid tags and a french "madame" tag to address it to J.'s mother.    Tissue paper paper works better when mailing gifts in packages-it lends a fragile natural wrinkly look vs. giftwrapping paper that creases and exposes unsightly white cracks in the printed image.

Below I used scraps from my screenprinted botanical paper to customize something for J.' brother.

 J. got into the mix and before I knew what was happening, he had whipped up some labels of his own for our edible presents--jars of moroccan preserved lemons and spiced glazed nuts.  I was impressed.  He created the labels using techi coding software but I'm sure it's easy enough on a word processing software.

We paired miniature polaroid tags as covers for folded up recipes and instructions.  We used double sided tape to secure ribbon and labels.

J. used an old Netflix mailer to punch out red dots for the tops of the jars.  He also found my old scrapbooking pinking scissors to create nice pinked edges.

And that's it!  I hope this gives you some inspiration for your gift-wrapping this year.  I really enjoyed using non-traditional Christmas colors and images to create something that was pleasing for me to look at and give.  Thanks to Charissa for giving me these ideas to implement!  Check out her blog for fresh ideas and the latest on free downloads around the internet.