Saturday, December 31, 2005

Counting Down to 2006 ...

Get in on the Times Square action here.

Or, indulge in a little whimsy for your countdown here. (Thanks to Betsy3491 at Verla Kay's for this one).


As long as I got to sleep until at least 9 a.m. on January 1st, I have never had a New Year's Eve I have regretted the next day.

This is probably because I don't drink.

But I have always been around people, whether family or friends, for at least a portion of the time before those last milliseconds of the year.

No matter if we were in the middle of a riotous board game session (college friends); vegging out in front of Star Wars (with my brothers); or eating copious amounts of chips and dip while re-hashing family tales, watching the Twilight Zone marathon, and tuning the TV to the ball just before it drops (extended family); I have always been surrounded by people. Tonight, I celebrate alone.

Which is why, minus the assumption that we all give in to consumption (of alcohol, that is), I found this radio clip by Brian Unger on NPR to be so amusing.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ms. Procrastination

That's me. Yup.

But at least I've done a few things right this season, for instance, in direct response to the article I linked to about thank you notes, I wrote them. Handwritten, on a thank you note card. This isn't so much a pat on the back as a confession: I am the world's worst good-intentioned procrastinator.

This might be a good New Year's Resolution ... procrastination--Be Gone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Weather Report

Got a call from my mom just before dinner time saying to watch out for extreme weather conditions, as predicted by the Weather Channel.

I told her that yes, it had started to thunder and lightning, but not to worry, that I was heading out for a little bit down the road, but I would be home before the storm really hit.

Not so! Somewhere in between 5:30 and 6:00 EST, I drove through our subdivision and the rain started to drizzle, then rain in earnest, then pour, and then ... I had to stop my car when the rain sounded awfully loud on my roof and seemed to be gathering in chunks on my windshield.

It was, as you can see in this picture, hail.

Needless to say, I hadn't driven even a minute down the road when I had to turn back around and wait it out at home until the storm dissipated around 7:30. The hail, fortunately, stopped before I had to make a dash back inside the house. But I managed to get this snapshot of our side door out of the garage, and the "precipitation" that gathered there in less than two minutes.


No Thank Yous


Whatever happened to the Thank You Note?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Remembering Reality

I've been trying to avoid this wretched thing called reality. It haunts me, even in my dreams. Back to work. Back to smiling and nodding and handing back change or calling out "order up!" Back to remembering that I am, indeed, all too human and frail and undisciplined.

Don't get me wrong: I loved Christmas, every second of it. I loved the food and the family gathering and the presents and the tacky wooden lawn ornaments that mysteriously appeared on my across-the-street neighbor's front lawn one day. I loved the Christmas Eve time of family worship in which we read the Christmas story and sang old-fashioned carols out of the same booklet we have used for nearly 20 years. I loved remembering that Christmas is more than jingle bells and red-nosed reindeer, and that the best gift of all came wrapped in swaddling clothes.

But it was almost too good to last. My brother has driven back to his apartment over 4 hours away, my parents took down the Christmas trees and packed up the decorations before traveling to visit extended family. As for me, I'm heading back to work at Ye Olde Big Retail Store tonight, just in time to handle the rush of returns from the Christmas present that didn't work.

So now, as the New Year looms, I'm looking back and remembering all the events of this past year, a year that has changed my life.

Ten months ago, shortly after I started recording my life events on this blog, I quit my job as a graphic designer. It all started when I realized that I wasn't happy and I was literally becoming ill from stress. A split second later, I realized the only way for me to regain my health and happiness was to leave my dream job. A day later, reality set in and I had to break my lease, eventually move in with my parents again, and begin hunting for employment. I got a job, was laid off from the job, found two more jobs to make ends meet, and you know the rest.

Now I'm feeling restless again, making me ask, is it just me? Am I giving in to discontent? Or is this God, nudging me on to my next adventure? I don't know. I really don't.

There's no shame in working food service or retail--I know that. It's honest work rewarded by honest wages. The problem is my creative spirit and intellect are feeling a wee bit neglected lately. Quite frankly, only three months after starting my two jobs, I've nearly mastered my job descriptions, and now I'm, well ... bored.

So I have a few options:

a) Start seriously looking for a professional job (or at least one that will support a lease and health insurance payments).

b) Quit one of my two jobs in order to spend more time focusing on my writing and small business.

c) Go back to school for a Master's degree or specialized training.

d) Do nothing. Keep on keepin' on until I sense a more clear direction to move.

Last time I started listing options for my dilemma, my office closed down and I ended up on unemployment. I hope this time my "clear direction" isn't quite so dramatic, but, then again, I did get the picture when it was spelled out for me like that!

This is one problem I have when it comes to looking to the future or back toward the past: I over-analyze everything in an effort to understand it.

After Christmas, Part 2

Oh, Christmas Tree

Monday, December 26, 2005

After Christmas, Part 1

And the snowmen were laid by the chimney with care
Relieved that St. Nicholas at last had been there.

(The image quality isn't the best, but bear with me ... I got a digital camera for Christmas and I'm still learning. Such fun!)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

For unto us a child is born ...

... unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6

May the Prince of Peace be with you.

~* Merry Christmas *~

Friday, December 23, 2005

Because She Makes Me Happy

... and I need a smile.

Here we are, my beloved Zoe and I. This picture was taken by a good friend of mine last year around Christmas. I've used it as my avatar on a couple of forums, and I'm planning on handing it out with my Christmas cards this year (no, I have not sent them yet! I figure if the wise men took so long to get to Jesus, my card can wait a day or two as well *grin*)

Happy Christmas Eve - Eve.

Shop 'Til You Drop

I love Christmas, but this is getting ridiculous. The Big Retail Store did $8k over its goal today. My register alone had almost $10k in sales from the entire day. Oh, and I didn't clock out until about midnight--30 minutes later than scheduled.

And before I ended up there, the Christmas Crazies had hit the tea room earlier today. Kids were running around and screaming, customers were allergic to numerous items on the menu and sent things back two or three times, people waited and waited to get seated, and waited some more for their drinks to be filled and their orders to arrive because we only had two servers on the floor.

Meanwhile,the cook and I were running around like madwomen, bumping into each other, hunting down dishes to put things on, and generally making a mess that would rival that of a tornado, had one ripped through the kitchen.

Rough day, all around.

Monday, December 19, 2005

And inside ...

Can't believe I'm still working on this. I need to send them out, already! At least when I get home this evening after work (around midnight) I will be able to PDF the files and print them off on my iMac. I've been using my parents' PC, which has the Adobe Creative Suite 2 on it, but they do not have a color printer, and I do not have the CD for the driver so I can simply bring mine upstairs to connect with the PC. Then again, I probably could find it online. We'll see.

Regardless, this is the inside of the card. I have to stop playing with Photoshop now and get ready to go to work for the second time today! It's going to be a looonnngggg week. I'm scheduled five nights out of seven, in addition to working during the day. I have the pleasure (note sarcasm) of working an 8-hour shift at the Retail Store on Christmas Eve and will undoubtably end up working on the day after Christmas, otherwise known as Returns Day. But it's all good. And it will bring in the $$$, so I'm grateful for that, anyway.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Card 2005 ... Front

This is the revised front of my 2005 card, as of right now. I'm still working on a few things ...

List of elements used so far:

- Acrylic paints on art paper
- Old-Fashioned Floral Illustrations (Dover Publications, copyright 1990)
- Adobe Illustrator CS2
- Adobe Photoshop CS2

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Crazy, Klutzy, Day

Yesterday was, without a doubt, an embarrassing one for me.

I started it off with a good ol' fashioned phone explosion. I had been booking a reservation at the tea room while cleaning up my mess from the scones I had made, so the phone was propped up between my shoulder and ear while I worked. In the middle of confirming the date, the phone slipped off my shoulder and crashed to the floor, the battery cover flew one direction, the battery another, and the phone ended up under the bread warmers.

According to the kitchen manager, the look on my face was priceless. She lost it, and started laughing, and I joined in, collapsing to my knees on the kitchen floor because I was trying to pick up the pieces while out of breath from laughing so hard. We collected the pieces, and no sooner had we jammed the battery back into place then the lady called back, sounding a little confused. I had to try my hardest not to laugh while talking to her on the phone, although a couple giggles came out, so I ended up having to explain the situation to her.

Then, once the Friday rush had started, I began working on the orders that came in from the first tables and ladled vegetable beef soup into the soup cups for one table's side dishes. The order went out, the day went on, and it wasn't until halfway through lunch that one of the waitors asked which pot was the veggie beef so he could get a cup for a customer. I pointed to the pot I had served out of, and the kitchen manager/cook pointed to another. We looked at each other in surprise.

I had served sphaghetti sauce as veggie beef soup! In my defense, it did have hamburger in it, just like the vegetable beef, and the vegetable beef was also tomato based, just like the sauce. What is so funny about it is that nobody complained! Fortunately, I only served the "vegetable beef soup" to one table that I can think of, but I was extremely embarrassed when I told the owner at our Christmas party last night about my soup incident.

And ... on the way to the Christmas party, I rode with another girl and helped get us both lost by giving misguided directions.

It was my very own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I think I'll move to Australia.

Actually, it did end on a good note. The food we ate at the bed and breakfast that night was excellent, and I enjoyed hanging out with my coworkers for the night. They're a fun bunch of people. And something amazing happened to me! I won a game! I NEVERwin games, or prizes, or anything at all. The prize I won was pretty amazing, too: a portable DVD player. Seriously. I would have never dreamed I'd ever have one.

Later, when the kitchen manager gave us all small gifts, and mine included some of those stretchy knit gloves, a coworker teased me that I had gotten a portable DVD player and been like "ohhhh, cool," while I had gotten gloves and been like "ohhhh! wow! I've been needing these!". I don't think he quite understood how amazed how surprised and grateful I had been about the DVD player ... I couldn't say anything else. I had been speechless! (And that doesn't happen very often).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Christmas Card Artwork

I was an art minor, not an art major in school, so it might show in these impressionistic renderings of my sketches, but I'm happy with them. My favorite is the alabastar jar in the middle for the frankincense. They're going to be assembled with the rest of the card soon, on a deep blue painted background. What do you think?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Cards Are Comin'

Just some rough sketches for my 2005 Christmas card. The idea behind it is four gifts for the King ... gold, frankincense, myrrh ... and my heart.

tending the fire

Most Sunday evenings, when my work schedule allows, I would be driving to church right now, but instead I am the Keeper of the Flame at home ... literally.

My parents' house's heat pump just up and died on us yesterday afternoon, just as the cold front moved in and two weeks after the home owner's warranty expired. So, my dad stayed home this morning and I am keeping an eye on things this evening. Every twenty minutes or so I poke around in the embers and rearrange the wood, adding a piece or two as needed.

Meanwhile, we have a kerosene heater in the garage (to help keep pipes from freezing) and a space heater that we move around with us to pick up where the fire leaves off. Tomorrow, the heating men are supposed to come and take a look at things. I hope that they fix whatever is broken before it gets even colder!

So, in between my fireplace duties and spending some time with my dog, I am taking advantage of the unexpected free time by sitting down to paint the design for my Christmas cards. I will upload some sketches later on.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I've looked forward to this for two years!

I am a HUGE fan of the Chronicles of Narnia. My mother read the entire series out loud at least three times to my brothers and me. I grew up on the BBC videos, and, at one time in my life, I wanted to believe with all my heart that if I just found the right wardrobe, I might end up in Narnia.

Today, I did. I convinced my family to go with me to the opening day of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was a wonderful movie. Go see it!

Although I couldn't help comparing this big-screen version of the story to that of the book and the BBC production, I was, overall, completely enthralled by the actors, scenery, special effects, and ... Aslan. Wow.

Afterward, if you are at all familiar with the rest of the series, go to this website and take a quiz to find out which Narnia character you are. (I'm Prince Rillian!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh, goody! I can't wait!

Went out to the "Big City" tonight with my youngest brother. Combined errands that needed running with a Christmas-shopping excursion that turned up not a single present. But, all was not lost, dear readers! We ate some scrumptious Chinese food and my after-dinner cookie contained a "fortune" that was just too sweet to keep to myself, so I'm sharing it with you!

Hope your dream comes true; I know I'm all a-flutter hoping mine is just around the corner!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dear Santa

Okay, so while I don't celebrate the Man in Red on December 25, I do enjoy a good Santa Claus story or two. And I'm not above writing him a letter!

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Only Cold I Want to See

If the weather outside is going to be frightful, I'm gonna have to ask, Mr. Weatherman, that it include some snow. LOTS of snow.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's December!

Despite the fact that I am always cold, and therefore shun cold weather as much as possible, I do love the spirit of the holiday season. Christmas, especially, has been a favorite holiday of mine for as long as I can remember. We're not very extravegent about it in my family, but we all love to play Christmas music in the house and sit on the couch in the dark, just gazing at the glowing tree.

We're not the "Ho,Ho,Ho!" kind of Christmas people, either. We're more the "O Come Let Us Adore Him" type. Many of the ornaments on our tree have symbolism, such as the lamb, or the angels, or even the evergreen of the tree itself.

So, today I'd like to share the lights . . . my favorite part.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Good Things To Come!

Check back soon for a new series I'm doing as a thank you to everyone who reads this blog. It's a Christmas present of sorts . . . I hope you'll like it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Take a slice of virtual pumpkin pie, fresh from the oven, courtesy of mseikaly at stock.xchng. I've got some whipped cream around here somewhere to put on top. . . and if you like, help yourself to the pot of coffee.

Otherwise, have a good time with family and friends, as I do the same. I'll post again next week.

Grateful for Friends

I have so many friends with whom I have been blessed. Many times, we've gone our separate ways and have not written or emailed or talked in sometimes years. I can think of former college friends and roomies (Hi! I can't believe how many different countries I have friends in!), ministry co-laborers at a Christian youth camp in Ontario ('00 and '01 were the best summers of my adult life!), my oldest friends from high school, now spread out across the globe (Has it been this long?!), other singles and newly weds from my last church (I miss you all!) and new friends that I have had the pleasure of getting to know and/or work with over the past few months (let's talk!).

Not to mention all of the wonderful people whom I have had the opportunity to get to know online via Paperpreneurs, Verla Kay's website for Children's Writers, and other random places on the web and in my Inbox. I'm glad to know ya!

So this little blog post is just to say "Thanks." I appreciate each one of you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Randomly thankful for

-lower gas prices
-friendly smiles
-good friends
-happy doggy
-sound night's sleep
-fun blog comments!


It actually snowed for a few minutes here in Tennessee. I was very, very surprised.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Blog Stuff Considered

I'm getting tired of my blog look, and seriously thinking of purchasing a domain name and hosting space for my own website. I want something that I can update my blog as easily as with Blogger, but with a better look.

Any suggestions?

A Thank-You Letter for My Family

Today I'd like to thank my family for their love and support.

You are one of the people whom I respect most in this world. You sacrificed so many things to make sure your three kids turned out as well as we have. You're brilliant, and you could have done any number of things other than put up with the three of us, but you chose your family instead, and I can't thank you enough for it. You're one of my closest friends and you challenge me to better person every day. Plus, you make the best pumpkin pie EVER.

What can I say? You've worked so hard to provide for us all, from Pampers to college. Sometimes you forget to stop and have a little fun, but when your goofy side rises to the surface--watch out! I'm impressed that you can still wrestle with your sons, tease me mercilessly, and kiss Mom every day after coming home from work. You're the most honest and hardworking man I know, and your correct posture can't be beat!

We spent our youngest years being inseparable (remember when you wouldn't go outside if I didn't come? LOL!) and then our older years trying not to scream when people assumed we were dating every time we went somewhere together during college. I can't believe how much you've accomplished in your 22 years. How is it again that you've completed earning your Master's degree this semester? I'm so incredibly proud of you, and I hope that you will accomplish everything you've set out to do. Any airline that doesn't hire you would have to be crazy for passing up such a wonderful candidate.

You're no longer "the baby of the family." When did you get so tall?! I helped teach you to walk, and now you're driving. When did I get so old?! You constantly amaze me by how well you understand the mechanics of things, or the strange facts that you store away for a rainy day. I know that, unfortunately, I too often told you to go away or stop talking while you were growing up (and even sometimes now that I'm living at home again), but I'm so glad I am having the chance to spend more time with you now. Whenever I get my own place again, I'm going to miss our 10:00 p.m. runs to McDonald's for late-night ice-cream cones!

I love you all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thank You, God

It's Thanksgiving week here in America. And I would like to start it off by thanking God for getting me through uncertain times and keeping my future secure in His hands.

This morning, the pastor at my parent's church began the service by reading Psalm 27. I felt a bit of deja vu when he reached the last verse, and then I remembered why it sounded so familiar--not only had my father taught me this verse as a young girl, but I had also rediscovered it on January 1, 2004, when I was looking ahead to a year that I knew would change my life (turns out, I was right!). I was looking toward graduating college and heading out into "real life," and I was beginning to feel a bit impatient about it!

And that's when I read this, and it became a passage that I held onto throughout the year. So, here it is, for anyone else out there who needs reassurance that Someone cares:

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. ~ Psalm 27:14 ~

Gettin' Down to Business

I've been thinking quite a bit about Ruby Red lately. Nearly a year ago this week, I began thinking and planning for it. I would come back to my apartment from my graphic design job, walk Zoe, grab something to eat, and then sit on the couch with the TV on, or candles lit in my fireplace,or just some fun music playing, and I would grab my red sketchbook and start drawing whatever came to mind. I spent hours trying to select just the right name, and even more time working on developing my logo.

I would stay up much too late, and then drive to work by 8:00 in the morning the next day to a job that increasingly made me sick to my stomach just knowing that I would most likely be confronted by my Type-A supervisors shortly after walking through the door.

I am a talented designer. I know in my gut what is good or bad design, and I have a knack for combining elements that are unexpected or elegant. It's a wonderful gift that God gave me; in fact, I think he prepared me for it from a young age. My mom tells me that by age 3 I could already tell the difference between pink and peach!

But there is a big difference between raw talent and experienced skill, a difference that affected me profoundly at my workplace. In the end, I decided after much soul-searching to quit my job of six months . . . a job with a better-than-average entry-level salary, 401(k), good benefits, a genuine lunch hour, and a certain level of prestige.

I hated the fact that I was going to quit. I was scared to let go of the money. But when the very thing I loved to do . . . would spend hours doing just for the fun of it . . . design, became the thing I dreaded to do, I knew there was something seriously wrong.

So I told my coworkers and supervisors that I was going to start my own business, and I left in February. You know the rest.

The business has yet to begin, but I'm currently trying to decide, based on what I've read from others in the field, whether or not I really want to get into manufacturing and wholesale, or whether to just do it for the fun of it as a small online boutique, and focus my efforts on writing or looking for another job in my field.

The interesting thing is, my situation in life right now is so transient, so unpredictable, that I am forced to be fluid and willing to adapt to whatever comes my way. In a way, that is the best thing that has come out of my quitting and moving to live with my parents. I have the flexibility, once my credit card debt is paid in full, to do whatever it takes to move on to the next thing. And whatever the next thing is (God only knows!), I'm working on being ready!

I wish I could have a soundclip here, but the music that best suits what I am trying to convey is sung by a new favorite Christian artist of mine, Kendall Payne. This is a quote from the lyrics to the song "Stand" in her newest album titled grown:

Here I am still waiting, For how long I don't know
It's a long way back from where I've been
But there's no where else to go

So I'll stand With my face to the wind
And my back to the world
I'll follow you
And I'll go where you tell me to go
No I won't be afraid, No I won't be afraid ...

Every time I hear this song, despite the cold November air, I feel like opening the moon roof on my car, rolling down the windows, taking my untameable curls out of their ponytail holder, and singing at the top of my lungs.

Thanks, Kendall. You've sung a battle song for me!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Darth Vadar and the Pumpkin Roll

It's movie night in my household. We are watching the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin finally turns into the famous villian, and then we are immediately popping the Episode IV: A New Hope DVD into the player (although I still think of this one as "the original Star Wars.")

And I bought a yummy pumpkin roll to enjoy during the show.

Daa-daa-daa, dumm-da-da, dumm-da-da.

(Yes, I am a girl, and I like Star Wars.)

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I almost couldn't believe it when I was driving home from my tea room job this afternoon. Regular Unleaded gas has dropped below the $2 mark here in East Tennessee!

The BP down the street has it at $1.99 a gallon--just in time for a fill up.

I'm excited, but, man, I still remember my senior year of high school when I got my first car, gas was a mere .80 cents.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Technicolor Handprint

This is me, waving hello. It really is my hand. I scanned it into Photoshop and adjusted the curves and levels until I found this unusual piece of "art."

Hi, world.

The Agony of Da Feet

This is just a rambling little post.

* I served today, and, when the rush of people came in to the Tea Room around noon, I was triple sat, which meant I had about 11 ladies waiting for me to come and take their order, all within about 10 minutes of each other between the three tables. Meanwhile, I had this wonderful woman who had been such a pleasure to serve. She asked me for a to go box and her ticket. Guess what I forgot to get for her? Both. After taking the 11 orders, I realized my mistake and found the money for the bill on the table. I felt terrible. I haven't ever done that before, and it just killing me that I was so forgetful! At least my feet weren't sore, like the other poor girl who served today. Ouch!

* I am, at this moment, still at only 15,000 or so words for NaNoWriMo. This means I am going to be doing nothing but write this afternoon, because, ladies and gentlemen, November is already HALF OVER, and I am not yet halfway through the novel. Yikes!

* I'm done Christmas shopping. It feels a little weird. I mean, shouldn't I have to wait in lines of impatient, demanding shoppers in order to have the complete Christmas shopping experience? Oh, wait: that's what I get to experience over the next two months while cashiering at Ye Olde Big Retail Store.

* Right now, at this very moment, I am in a mood to eat a grilled cheese sandwhich, a Diet Pepsi, and apple pie.

* As for Ruby Red Design, well, I'm still working on it. I wish I had the $$$ to print the Christmas cards as planned, as a sort of debut, but I don't think I'll be able to. Yet again, I must be patient and push things aside for just a little longer.

Over and out!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Coffee at Fido's

Miranda lives near Nashville. This is for two very simple reasons:

1. I used to live there, too, so I know where most things are, which makes for a much simpler method of describing places within the book. Plus, it gives me a way to relive all my fave places and things to do.

2. Because I said so.

So, for an upcoming meeting with certain persons she has suggested Fido's, a mucho popular coffee house in the Vanderbilt University area of Hillsboro Village. This is a real place. Go there NOW! (The High-Heeled Hotties know exactly what I mean, don't ya, gals?)

She will most definitely order a Dalmation. If my memory serves me correctly, this is a delicious white chocolate drink with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top. I am salivating as I write this.

Three barks for Fido's! Oh, yeah.

Word Count: 15,375/50,000
Sanity: 71.2% (It's been a looooonnnngggg day).
Color of my new pair of shoes: black, with silver buckles.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Heart Still Pounding

I was driving home from a shopping excursion about 10 minutes ago, when I noticed a strange change in the near-black darkness surrounding my car. It looked like a rectangular piece of the night sky above the mini-van in front of me had turned brownish and was spinning toward me.

I slammed on the brakes and swerved onto the shoulder as a sheet of plywood, which would have hit my windshield head-on, flew at me, narrow end first. As it was, after swerving, it missed me by only a foot on the driver's side.

I was shaking the rest of the way home.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Miranda Meets a Guy

OK . . . so he was her older brother's best friend in high school, whom she barely remembered.

Word Count: 11,399/50,000
Sanity: 99%, actually
Food I'm Craving RIGHT NOW: a big, fat, juicy hamburger.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Think Pink!

I should be asleep, as it is 12:55 a.m. and I must go and work in the kitchen eight hours from now.

Really, NaNoWriMo, I love you, but you are awfully dangerous for a girl who works so early in the morning with sharp pointy objects!

Ahhh, well. See what I mean about my creative zucchini? It grows and grows at night, and I can't stop! Must sleep! The zucchini will be there in the morning, you dingbat! (pardon my letterpress language).

Anywho: Miranda Celeste has had an epiphany. It involves the color pink, and she is about to try to take it into international fame.

Word Count: 8,800/50,000
Sanity: 82.3%
Number of Jelly Bellies Eaten: At least 25. I think. Yay for Buttered Popcorn!

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Creative Zucchini

Sometimes, ya'll, I seriously feel like a squash plant. Zucchini, to be precise.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you. "Do what???!"

No, I am not going insane. I am merely illustrating a point. My mother had a garden years ago in which she planted a whopping 4 zucchini plants. That doesn't sound so bad now, does it? I mean, we had something around 15 tomato plants, but only 4 zucchini.

We only really needed 1/2 of a zucchini plant, for they are the most prolific plants on the planet, or so it seemed. We ate zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, zucchini pancakes ... you name it, we had it. (Did I mention I despise zucchini to this day?)

The thing is, despite the fact that you could LITERALLY have zero zucchini one day and about a dozen or so the next, you never saw the little green buggers coming. If you were patient enough ... reeeeaaaalllly patient ... you probably could watch a zucchini grow overnight, but for the rest of us it was like magic. Poof! Zucchini!

That's what creativity is like. A little bit goes a long way and even though it requires a great deal of patience and effort, it appears like magic overnight--a mysterious and mystical zucchini of inspiration. The hard part is filtering out the excess inspiration. Unlike those zucchinis, I hate to see any go to waste, but if I try to work it all into my life, I become overwhelmed.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Must. Plot. Book.

Five days into NaNoWriMo and I am beginning to lose steam. I have a general idea where the story is heading, but the way I write best is when I know the complete ending ahead of time and write toward that . . . otherwise I'm just floundering around in words.

So, Sunday I'm going to work out the specifics and then I hope that I'll shoot out another 4,000 words. Aarrrgggh! According to the NaNo people, I need to have 10,002 words by tomorrow evening in order to be right on schedule.

So, a little Miranda Celeste update here . . . today she went out to lunch with her best office friend and they comiserated about their boss over some great Italian food, but MC isn't letting her friend know just how much she is frustrated by her job right now. She wants out. She wants something big, but she's not sure what.

Well, that's where the 22 Incredibly Easy Ways to Become Famous come in. And folks, I'm afraid that's all I can say at the moment! (Publishers frown upon having too much revealed about plot . . . even by the author).

Word Count: 6,103/50,000
Sanity: 94.3%
Sleep: I'm only gonna get 5 hours tonight. That's what Sunday-after-church naps were invented for!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Double Discount Days

I just saved over $97 at the Big Retail Store during our employee Double Discount Days. Like I joked with the store manager a couple of weeks ago, I don't know why I even bothered to pick up my paycheck today. It pretty much all went back to the store, since I was saving up to get a much-need fall wardrobe boost.

So what if I don't have health insurance--I've got purchasing power!

My favorite buys: two dress coats (one black, one camel), two big-button cardigans (one cream one pink), a big brown purse, and new-word-a-day calendar for 2006. I'm big on learning cool new words!

5,000 hits and counting!

Yee-hawww ... ruby red begins has had 5,000 visitors since February. Now, I know there are blogs out there that probably get that many in one day, but for little ol' me it's a super fantabulous number!

Now to figure out how to celebrate ...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Back to Business

You wouldn't know from reading this blog lately that it started out as a way to chronicle my journey into being a small business owner. It's funny how life gets in the way, huh?

Lately, I've been getting tired just by thinking about my start-up. I love ... adore ... working on designs and making beautiful/interesting products, but I get so worn out trying to think of ways to finance the venture. I'd only need, by my estimations, about $5-10k to do pretty much everything I was intending to do, but that is a steep sum for someone like me who is lucky to have an extra $20 in her wallet to buy a hamburger and fries with!

So I've been procrastinating, assuring myself that now that I'm used to the flow of work from my two jobs, I'll start working on initializing my plans in my "free" time.

Then, you know, I go and sign up for a crazy novel writing competition this month!!! I'm glad I did, and writing for a living has always been another serious goal of mine, but it still does take away that mere 2-3 hours I manage to squeeze out of my days somehow.

Ahhhh ... life.

p.s. Paperpreneurs is back!!! I now have accountability once more. This is good. This is very, very good.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

22 Incredibly Easy Ways to Become Famous

That I've done any of them ... but that's the title of my NaNoWriMo book.

It's chick-lit, which some people despise, but I secretly enjoy, as long as it is clean overall and uplifting in the end. I promise, should this book ever find its way into the public eye, you will not be depressed, frustrated, or bored by the exploits of Miranda Celeste, 26, a young professional who is depressed, frustrated, and bored with her predictable and unremarkable career and life.

Today she raided the company supply cabinet for a computer screen-wipe-thing. You know what I mean. That fingerprint was distracting--she couldn't get any work done, obviously, with a fingerprint there.

Word Count: About 531/50,000.
Sanity: 99.5%

Monday, October 31, 2005


While mopping up today after everyone else had left at the tea room, I felt the tears come uninvited. I ended up leaning against the broken freezer and just crying for awhile until the sadness passed enough to keep working.

I have some unresolved dissapointments, weary heartaches, and maybe some left over bitterness and anger that I have not felt comfortable posting about, but their combined effect after the past year or so have left me suddenly weak. I have good hopes for the issues to be taken care of in the coming weeks and months, but, meanwhile, the pain is still there, trying desperately to heal. I will probably always have a faint scar to remember this time of my life by, but I trust that God will work it out for good, no matter how badly it feels right now.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

Two days, 3 hours until NaNoWriMo . . .

Who: Me and the thousands of other folks at National Novel Writing Month
What: Write a Novel in 30 Days (to the minute!)
When: 12:00 a.m. November 1 - 12:00 a.m. November 30
Where: Anywhere.
Why: To know I can.
To What Extent: 50,000 words or more!

I'm only allowed to prepare plot outlines and notes. Every word of the novel must be written between the allotted times in order to count. More to come on this venture!!!


I have a constellation on my forehead. It somewhat resembles the Big Dipper if you tilt your head the right way to look at it.

My Dipper is revolving around the South Star on my chin.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tag! I'm "It"!

Didn't know I was an "it" girl until last night. I've never been and "it girl" before. Thanks, Hi-Heeled Hotties and AccidentalJulie!

So, the gist of the game is that I'm supposed blog about 20 things I've not mentioned online (or at least not here) before. That's a tall order, but I'll do my best. Here's the twenty on me that you may (or may not) want to know:

1. When I was in 6th grade, I wanted to be a nurse. Fortunately for patients everywhere, I quickly came to my senses.

2. Then again, if I could be any profession I wanted outside of the creative field, I'd be a forensic pathologist . . . if only I could get my gag reflex under control.

3. I've met former president, and fellow Tennessean, Andrew Johnson (you know, the first one to be impeached). Okay, okay . . . so I've only visited his grave. But that's the closest I've ever been to a national leader, dead or alive.

4. I absolutely, positively, and irrevocably detest peas and lima beans. (Sorry, Pinky!)

5. When I was 5, I wanted to legally change my name to Crystal. Until I met one who was mean.

6. I'm arachnophobic. This is a fancy way of saying that I make other people squish spiders for me.

7. Nancy Drew used to be one of my heros, though I never understood her attraction to Ned. All the guy seemed to do was play football (see #12).

8. I collect snowmen (or snow people, to be politically correct).

9. I can eat an entire box of Peeps (the original yellow ones) without a trace of guilt.

10. Speaking of candy, I love dark chocolate, but not milk chocolate, unless, of course, the milk chocolate has been imported from Belgium or Switzerland, in which case it is always yummy!

11. I can never bring myself to wear bright orange. This is a slight problem when you live in the land of the Vols.

12. Also, I don't understand football.

13. So I should probably be banished from Tennessee.

14. I love good folk, world, celtic, and bluegrass/Americana music.

15. Unlike most girls I know, I don't really like to talk on the phone.

16. I catered banquets in college. You would not believe the messes people make at dinner time!

17. I can't stand the font Comic Sans. Okay . . . so I've sort of blogged about that before, but it bears repeating. This is an intervention! Stop the Comic InSANity!

18. I envy figure skaters, gymnasts, and TV newscasters for their effortless poise and ability to spring back from devestating errors with grace and dignity.

19. When I was a camp counselor, one of my darling campers told me I look like Ann Hathaway. If only!

20. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication with minors in Art and Writing. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. *toot, toot!* (that's my own proud horn you're hearing there).


and one more as a freebie . . .

21. Like most of us, I am entirely too fascinated with the topic of me. Even the fact that I have a personal blog in the first place only serves to verify this. I wish I could be a much more others--centered person. Perhaps go help some hurricane or earthquake victims. Do something real for others.

One day, one day, I WILL.


I tag Kathy and Stefani!!! Because I miss them, I tag my good friends Mel and Bex. Oh, and why not, PilotBob, consider yourself tagged, too. Just 'cause you're my brother doesn't mean you're safe from "it"!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I think my coffin needs resizing

Couldn't resist when I saw this at the theme park. I almost couldn't keep a straight face while the picture was taken. See? I think there's a little smirk on my corpse-like face.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

incoherent ramblings

tired. so tired. working too much, think i. money hard to come by, know i.

despite that . . .

bought a cheap espresso maker yesterday. ground the coffee too fine and it didn't foam the milk after (steam all gone). go figure.

it's cold in tennessee now. chilly brrrrr. also bought zoe-girl a cute, cute sweater that she is wearing right now. she looks so cute in it! we went strutting the subdivision earlier, just after i came home from work. i might not turn heads, but she does, every time.

editing book. it's a difficult process to chop up my favorite phrases and lines and remold them into different, albeit better, combinations.

wondering if i ever will be a real, true business owner. it seems so mysteriously far away from the present.

oh, and christmas is two months away. to the day.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

handmade or printed?

So I'm planning my personal Christmas cards for this year. I was originally going to try to have them 4-color printed and sell the extras, but I don't really have the money for that.

I also had considered printing postcards for my own list, but I don't have 200 people to send it to, and I'd like to do Christmas letter. That said, the postcard idea is the cheapest to both print and mail, and it's unique (how many christmas postcards did you get last year???) I also have the acrylics and paper to paint an original piece, scan, and create the card in Photoshop.

Of course, I could always do the postcard as a novelty to anyone who I've got an address for, and the letter separately to close friends.

Then again, I also like the idea of a gift book card . . . a handmade card with red stock that wraps around and is tied with a bow, with a story and misc. tidbits inside. They'd be more time-consuming, and not cheap to make, but, in the end, would be a tres elegant item!

Friday, October 21, 2005

On my bookshelf, in my players . . .

Currently reading:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller

Currently listening:
Why Should the Fire Die? Nickel Creek
Enchantment, Charlotte Church

Have Watched Recently:
Pride & Prejudice (A & E)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

proof that I am one unusual chick

Seriously. I was very excited to buy these books on medieval life, the italian renaissance, and how civilations have utilized fire. I got them at my favorite used bookstore in Knoxville, TN--McKay's. None of them was over $3.00.

Granted, they're research for a book I'm writing. But I must say that the only other person I know who might be as excited as I am about my bargain purchase is a former English professor I had in college.

I'm officially old

So, at work I overhear my manager and a couple of other girls discussing life and high school (they went to school together), and I am appalled to discover that people "older" than them graduated in 2000.

And then, to seal the deal, they mention being 2-years-old in 1987. . .

I stopped what I was doing and stared (in horror). TWO???!!!!! I said as much to them.

"Why," they ask, all innocent and everything. "How old were you?"

"Ummm. Seven." They confer amongst themselves to see what difference in age that makes between them and me.

"Wow. You're that old? We had no idea!"

Which, I suppose, is a type of compliment, all things considered. But, later on in the evening, one of the youngest girls confides to me that she has always hoped to be married by the time she was, as she says to me, "your age . . . which gives me about six years to find a guy and get engaged."

So now I'm old and an old maid!

Friday, October 14, 2005

t-shirt designs

OK, so they're not exactly stationery, but, as a graphic designer, I can hardly ignore t-shirts. And I have a GREAT idea for them. It's a niche market (book lovers/literary types) and I'm just chock full of designs and catch phrases.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

yours truly, circa 1988

This is me as the clown for my brother's 5th (I think) birthday. All together now ... Awww! I think the white makeup wore off around my cheeks and lips because I kept itching it during the party.

Looking back, I realize I had a great tan back then . . . and it was September! I'm jealous of myself.

more evidence of my bizarre sense of humor

I haven't had the time to read this, but I found the title immensly amusing, and the content so full of my favorite dry, bizarre/ironic sense of humor. For instance, one reccomendation is to "wear earplugs--that incessant moaning will drive you CRAZY."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

always keep your receipt

I'm sure glad I did.

Turns out, when the deposit still had not posted by this morning into my bank account, I drove back to the same location, transaction receipt in hand, and inquired whether or not the money had gone into my bank account.

It had not.

This, my friends, is because (as I discovered in alarm this morning before I left) the last four digits of the account the money had been deposited into DID NOT MATCH MINE. Oh, yes, the checks had cleared--but to the wrong person.

While I had handed the teller a completed generic deposit slip, I didn't know my account number, so I handed her my driver's license as well. I assumed, wrongly, that she would take the time to make sure the money went to the correct account. As it turns out, she applied my deposit to another person with the same name. So, for the past day or so, this person has had MY paychecks in HER account. Grrrr.

But all is well. I was polite, the teller I worked with this afternoon was prompt, and my hard-earned cash was rushed back into its proper account without delay. Thank you very much.

From now on I am ONLY using the preprinted deposit slips in my checkbook, and I will never assume that a bank teller knows what he or she is doing. It is an unfortunate, but neccessary, precaution I must begin to take.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

feelin' frustrated

No reason. Just life in general--it seems like I just always take the path less traveled, and therefore have a lot more hacking through the jungle to do.

For instance, my primary bank account is through a national bank that, for one reason or another, does not have a branch in my new town. Therefore, deposting a check is an ordeal, or a road-trip, depending on how you look at it. I made this road-trip to the nearest branch just in time to deposit my check on Friday. I went to the trouble to do so because I knew I'd need the money in my account to use for my bill payments online.

Of course, it never dawned on me that Monday was Columbus Day, and therefore my money would not post and STILL has not posted today. I am not a happy customer. I did NOT drive 45 minutes just for the fun of it. In other words: do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

Monday, October 10, 2005

i swear, i really don't have it out for bunnies!

But this has got to be the funniest book I have seen in a long time. I laughed at nearly every page while browsing at the bookstore. I very nearly bought the thing. In fact, I just might sometime soon. That is, as long as I don't impale myself with a javelin before I arrive or get sliced in two by the blade on a figure skater's skate. (See book for details).

creative rush

The ideas are coming again. After a period of relatively blechy creativity, my interest has been renewed and my ideas are coming fast and furious again.

It's kind of like a dry gulch that, once the rain hits, becomes a stream again.

Now the problem is staying afloat!

Current projects:

1) Have bought paints to do my Christmas cards this year. Have also sketched a couple of pages of thumbnails for the card, but have not made my final decision.

2) Keeping my spirits up about my business. Trying to pull together my many ideas and create one, unified entity.

3) Currently contemplating going forward with the t-shirt ideas I have.

4) Writing has once again started to work for me. Through an online forum for children's writers, I heard about an essay contest for twentysomethings that I intend to answer. The question is whether or not I have something unique to contribute--do I have a personal story that is worth picking out of thousands of others to include in an anthology of works from other authors my age?

5) While trying to keep myself on task in editing my fantasy/adventure novel for young adults, I have also a contemporary novella in the works about a homeless girl, and a new idea for a book about a girl during the Revolutionary War period in Colonial America. For both the homeless and Revolutionary books, I think I have landed on topics that have not been covered before, so I'm very excited about their prospects once completed!

6) Decorating my room with items bought 20% off at my Big Retail Store. It's very addicting. So much for a paycheck!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

blue light special

So, it finally happened . . . after eight years of driving, I got pulled over by a police officer for speeding.

Yeah, speed trap--major time! I flew over the hill and saw the police cruiser just below me and, sure enough, got pulled over.

I didn't whine, cry, flirt or any other ploy. I had six minutes to clock in at work (which, incidentally, was literally around the corner. I even pointed to the building when the officer asked me where I was going in such a hurry), so I didn't play games. In fact, by the time the officer had approached my window, it was already rolled down and handed my paperwork and license to him without a word.

After a brief look-over of my license, registration, and proof of insurance, he handed them back with a stern "suggestion" that I do him a favor and driver slower. I agreed.

And that was that. I escaped a ticket!

Thank you, Mr. Policeman.

Friday, October 07, 2005

open and shut

I just heard back from the business owner. She sold the store last week to a good customer who was interested.

So, that means, for me, for now, stationery and/or boutique gifts and home decor is still the way to go. Unless another opportunity awaits around the corner!

I like not having to see-saw on decisions. Gimmee a simple "yes" or "no" any day and I sleep much better at night. So this is "no." And I'm cool with that!

buying an existing business????

Is it wise or foolish? Even more: is it impossible? Would I be stupid/insane/copping out to go this route?

In a completely different industry (in which I have worked part-time throughout college), someone I used to work for, is, I believe, selling one of her stores in a town I'd like to move back to. I've left her a voice mail and e-mail inquiring on the status of her biz for sale and telling her I'm interested in learning more about possibly buying it from her.

I have experience running the store (after all, as a former employee, I did!), I really, truly enjoyed the job, and the industry is a fun, creative one. In fact, the only things I don't know are a few technical issues (easily learned), bookkeeping, and stocking the store. Oh, and I don't really have any $$, but my parents are interested in possibly investing in it.

Of all the soul searching I've done in the past few months, and all the planning, I don't know if I can ever let go of my plans for MY business, but even more than my own ideas, I know that I will never be happy in either corporate America or working as a part-time cashier for the rest of my life.

So I'm going to wait and see if she responds to my inquiries. Maybe nothing will come of it. Maybe I'll decide it's not for me. Maybe she'll not want a former employee taking over business. Maybe I won't in a hundred years come up with the money needed to close the deal. I don't know. I just know that I'll never know for sure if it was something I should have done unless I at least investigate it further.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I've been coming down with something for the past three days. It's probably my low immune system crashing from stress and too much sugar (the downside of working at a restaurant that serves great desserts!), seasonal mold allergies and the beginnings of sinusitus, the bane of my autumnal existence. Top it all off with a low-grade fever and you have an operational, but not so happy me.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

shopaholic attack

An employee discount card in the hand of a design-crazy girl can be a very, very dangerous thing. I shopped at the Big Retail Store today for 3 hours and left bearing several bags full of home decor and clothing.

The beauty of my Big Retail Store is that it sells last season's fashions, overstocks, and other discounted merchandise. Add to that a 20% discount on just about anything I buy (including clearance items), and you have one big incentive to shop, shop, shop.

Nope. It's not T.J.Maxx, but a similar kind of store in which I've found numerous treasures for piddly-squat $$! I put back the $20 pair of Calvin Kleins that fit me perfectly so that I could afford to get the gorgeous photo albums, throw pillows, and floral-scented drawer liner sheets in a pretty pink-and-green print. It goes without saying that I adore beautiful things, especially those that I can afford that help "fake" a much more expensive look.

Now, there are certain things of which I simply refuse to get knock-offs. A Kate Spade bag, for example, or Lladro figurines, Birkenstocks, Diet Pepsi, Crown spiced cider mix, and antique silver trays. But show me a cute little picture frame or printed t-shirt from no-name company and I'm happy to buy it! And I have no qualms of using a perfectly nice print of Renoir or Monet, or buying a lamp or table or other household item that is a cheap but effective imitation of the actual $2,500 piece. This is because I like to mix and match real and fake, old and new, trendy and timeless.

My decorating style is most acurately described as flea-market eclectic, with a traditional bent and modern flair. I adore black and white photography, gilt-frame mirrors, quirky, off-beat pieces, the color red (of course!), greenery, shabby-chic furniture, strings of white lights, old packaging labels, real cut flower arrangements, and chandeliers with as much real crystal as is allowed by my budget.

I have so much more I want to buy still. I am going to wear my discount card out! For instance, there is a gorgeous dog bed my Zoe girl would love to sleep on, plenty of dresses and designer jeans that I need to try on, lots of Pilates DVDs that I should watch (and participate with, of course), hours and hours of classical, jazz, and easy-listening music on CDs at outrageous prices, and tons of tempting holiday decorations!

Yeah, I'm addicted. They'd better not fire me during the upcoming staff reduction.

Friday, September 30, 2005

yay for good tippers!

Being that I have moved so many times in my life, I have not had the opportunity to serve people at the tea room that I know. Until today. In walks my parent's realtor who helped us buy the house we live in now . . .

I greeted her cheerfully, as I greet all customers, but I soon realized I did know her, so we caught up and chatted pleasantly while I served her and her daughter their meals. I gave her excellent service, if I may say so myself, and, to my delight, she left me a nice, big tip. What a wonderful lady! Now, to go out and smooze with more people to help out my pocketbook . . .

Just kidding! I serve all of my customers with the same respect and courtesy. But a girl's got to support a shoe and purse habit somehow. *grin*

Now on to smiling as I ring up everyone's receipts at the Big Retail Store. So far, so good, but Grand Opening is coming this Saturday, and I'm a little nervous. It's going to be like a herd of cattle trampled through the rows of dresses and purses and household goods.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

your comments are important!

But please, please, PLEASE be a real person.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but due to a recent outbreak of spam comments, I've had to turn on word verification. Whenever you post a comment, Blogger will ask you to type the series of letters that you see on the screen. This little bit of work will make the blog more accessible for all of my wonderful real live readers!

Thank you, and I appreciate every one of you and always gobble up the comments you leave. It's always a bit like Christmas morning when I find comments on one of my posts. I love hearing from people who have taken the time to read about my life.

what is AP style, again?

I had an unusual experience today. I turned down a potentially big opportunity to be a freelance graphic designer/production artist. Yes, you read that correctly . . . I turned it down.

More acurately, I started dropping hints that I might not be the best person for the job and the guy caught on and started to agree with me.

Why? Hmmmm. Because he wanted me to help him start a newspaper. In two weeks.

To borrow a Valley girl colloquialism, "as if!"

Seriously though, it would be a wonderful opportunity and a fantastic portfolio builder ("What's this?"; "Oh, just a newspaper I designed and produced . . .") but while I got the impression that while he was a serious entrepreneur and seemingly nice guy, I got the wrong kind of vibe from him when it came to business ethics and organization (while I hand it to the guy that he is trying to start something, I feel he should at the bare minimum know the terms of the industry. He asked me to explain what I meant by "will you be following AP style" . . .and the style guide of the Associated Press is only used by EVERY newspaper in America).

Can I see myself juggling two part-time jobs AND a newspaper, even a weekly one? Nope. Especially not when cutting corners and disorganization are involved. Or when the payment considered "fair" is only $8/hr. for being the designer/production artist/art director/production manager all rolled into one.

Very unfortunately, the guy is trying to pay his "consultants" based on a what a small regional daily newspaper pays their staff of "designers." When I told him that freelancers would probably charge him at least $15/hr. (but should be much more!!) his eyebrows went WAYYY up. And when I pointed to a basic real estate ad and told him it would take at least 20 minutes to set it up from scratch, and then told him to multiply that amount of time by the number of ads he intended to have in his paper PLUS the actual content, the eyebrows went up again. ("Oh. Really? But the newspaper does a daily every day."). Yeah. And they have more than one person designing things, not to mention a production manager to oversee the printing and quality control.

The whole experience got me thinking, though. I should really be prepared for this kind of thing more often. If I knew what the precise fair going rate for freelance work was, and had a basic work order sheet prepped, I could maybe really do it (once I have the software, that is). As it was, mild mannered me actually told this guy that I would love to help him out as a consultant getting started, and to give me a call--but I'd charge him next time for my advice. And he said, "I understand. Thanks!"

Hmmm. The entrepreneur in me is starting to feel the wheels turning in her head!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

in light of recent posts . . .

Today is Sunday, a day I am normally pulling myself out of bed around 7 a.m. to get ready to go to the early worship service at my parent's current choice of church. This is not to say that doing so is a bad thing; in fact, I like their church. But it is small and I have yet to talk with anyone my own age. I'm not age-ist, mind you, I like to mix things up and chat with 75 year-olds and 7.5 year-olds alike, but it would still be nice to relax over a hamburger and Diet Coke and smooze with another "young professional." That being said, I have decided to continue my own hunt for a church by visiting Singles Bible Study classes in other places.

But today I am staying home, reading my Bible for the first time in a long time just for the sake of reading my Bible. No standing up and sitting down on cue, no singing of pre-selected songs, no smiling and nodding and shaking of hands as the choir comes down mid-service. Today I am just me, sitting quietly on the porch with my God. To some, Christianity is a process of religiousity and ceremonies based on tradition. For me, that is not enough. I need hear that Still Small Voice, to know that I am at peace, and that when the rest of my life is crazy and unpredictable and so wearisome, God is still at the center of my existence, keeping me from spinning out of control.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

tired sleepy and tired achey

The first of many long weeks to come has hit me pretty hard. My two part-time jobs are getting ever-so-slightly easier, but, then again, practice makes perfect.

I'm barely on the Internet at all anymore, which is unusual for me. My blogging has slowed down to a crawl, and my fiction writing has all but stopped, with only the occasional thought towards my current protagonists and what they might be up to. Activity on forums has petered out as well. With my dear Paperpreneurs down, I've been reduced to only Verla Kay's children's writers forum, and my participation there has been sadly lacking lately.

I've read of internet paper friends who are in the midst of paper-biz-identity ponderings, and I myself am in one as I write this. As Shakespeare wrote, "to be, or not to be? That is the question." Ruby Red, at the pace I am going, is a long time coming. And, already, only a year from when the idea first began germinating, I am doubting the veracity of my desire to run a wholesale manufacturing business to the extent that I would need to in order to truly provide a salary.

Meanwhile, I'm forging ahead in my part-time jobs. Serving at the tea room is going well, although the days I work in the kitchen wear me out more, since I don't get to move around as much and I am still learning how to prepare the dishes. All in all, though, I love the tea room and everyone who works there. My boss is amazing, and the other staff are wonderful to work with--a true dream team, where everyone automatically helps the others out. The only downsides to the job are that I am so tired on kitchen days when I head over to my second job, and it is usually slow-ish several days per week, which makes the tip $$ less.

As for the great big retail store, it is set up and in the process of "soft opening," which means no advertisements or radio spots yet. October 1st is our Grand Opening, and I am scheduled to work cashier in the evening. I'm scared! Of my two jobs, this is the one I wish I didn't need to have. While I actually really enjoy cashiering and interacting with the customers, the bureacracy and rules are driving me crazy!!! I am by nature a conscientious, hard worker, but everything I have to remember, and all the procedures I have to follow are making me weary. I've already earned a spot in the "BOOK OF SHAME" for not writing the expiration dates for driver's licenses on checks the first day I worked. At least, that's what my trainer told me, as she smiled and said it was "good for you. You won't make the same mistake again." GrrrrRRRRrrrr! Let me just say, humilating me over something like that is not the way to make me a happy, loyal employee. The learning curve at this job is expected to be about zero. Either you "got it," or you didn't when you went through your two hours of training, listening to a fast-talking trainer who only went over things once and was frequently interrupted by calls to help elsewhere. I still do not understand the logic behind refusing to leave the training book next to the registers so that we cashiers can reference it and find the simple answers to our questions without paging a manager every ten minutes or so.

Meanwhile, this conscientious, hard worker has already missed a day she was scheduled . . . on accident. The schedule changed during our first set-up days, and I swear I double-checked my schedule at least two or three times, but I still ended up coming in to work last night and being told I wasn't on the schedule . . . but I had been the night before. I hope I don't get fired.

I just hope it all gets better, because the 10-15 hour days are soon going to wear me out for good. The bright spot in this cloud is that my store manager is very easy to get along with and seems to understand that we're still learning. Also, I have already told myself that I'm free to leave the retail job at any time, if need be. I'm treating it as a way to save up some emergency funds, pay off as much of my credit card debt as possible, and perhaps set aside a little for starting my business.

All this to say: I'm busy, and I'm tired, and I'm brain-dead. My creativiy is being sapped from my body by mind-numbing fatigue. But I'm getting stronger, and more determined than ever to make it on my own sooner than later. I don't think I want to do this for more than 6 months. I'll go crazy.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor, & Limited Too

What do these brands have in common?

I handled them today while stocking the new store. It was a long day on the feet, let me tell you, and tomorrow it will only get longer. I got off at 9:00 p.m today and I go in at 7 a.m. tomorrow so that I can drive out Nashville way to go to my friends' wedding.

As for Zoe, it looks like Frontline is my next attempt. I thought for sure that the vet treated her with it when she was groomed, but I'll check and see if I was mistaken. Thanks for all the recommendations!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

yes, i'm still alive

I'm a busy girl, again. For nearly two weeks now I've been waitressing at a tea room, as well as working some of the time preparing salads and sandwiches and such in the kitchen. Friday, I'll be starting a second part-time job at a large retail outlet store in the evenings. Sunday, I'll be going to the wedding of two good friends of mine.

Otherwise, my time has been spent shopping for some much needed clothing and makeup, and fighting the battle with fleas.

My poor Zoe girl is an outdoor dog with an itchy problem. I have done everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) outside of a flea collar (which I am buying ASAP) to keep my poor baby flea-free. I've dusted, squirted, combed, bathed, and had professionally groomed. I've even dusted the yard where she sits with Borax, which I have read in several places is a SURE THING to rid areas of fleas. Every time I think I have those little buggers whupped they come back with their friends and family. Unfortunately, she can't become a house dog (hair issues for household members). So I am stuck combing her and drowning the nasty critters in soapy water so they can't escape. My poor, poor doggie!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

reflections on a consumer life

I have officially decided that I have probably broken the "thou shalt not covet" rule in regards to Banana Republic's Fall 2005 line. 'Cause I want it. ALL.

That being said, what I want in particular is this gorgeous satiny skirt in a deep plum color that would, I know, look great on me . . . and would be just perfect to wear to my friends' wedding in a couple of weeks. And the cashmere short-sleeve sweater hanging just above it wouldn't hurt, either.

This, from a rare window-shopping trip to the "big city" (hah!) in which I began to drool over some things and turn my nose up at others. Here are my observations, in no particular order.

1. Profitt's has turned a corner of it's little girls section into a magenta and silver "boutique" featuring make-your-own pucker candy (sour sugar powder strangely reminiscent of those beachy sand art kiosks) and big, bold signs screaming "bling it on." For 10 year olds. Please.

2. It is fun to walk into Hot Topics in completely normal clothing and get a confused, "can I help you?" from the girl behind the counter who has hot pink hair and a ring in between her nostrils. It is even more fun to buy something. My something was a bumper sticker that reads "I *heart* carbs." Yummy! Bonus points: read all of the t-shirts on the wall and giggle to yourself. Almost buy the one that references Pac Man.

3. Mall bookstores are sad. Where's the Starbucks??

4. Are you old when you begin to walk past American Eagle or Aeropostale and you aren't even tempted ONCE to walk in.

5. Speaking of which, wearing clothes that essentially make you a walking billboard is just weird, if you think about it.

6. And, while we're on the subject, why doesn't Abercrombie & Fitch just hang up a mirrored disco ball, shoot out some fog, flash some lights, and hand out glow sticks at the door. It already sounds like a rave. (I can picture the waif-thin employees bobbing trance-like to the music while folding jeans).

7. Indie boutiques are the BEST.

8. The ultimate spend-free window shop is a trip to the antique store with a friend. "Wow, look at this! It's a wall-sconce-candle-thingy from Tibet." or "check out these salt and pepper shakers," or "wait a minute! I had that Ninja Turtles lunchbox in elementary school. I'm not antique!" Occasionally, break down and buy the 1st edition 1910 book called "Audrey's Obessesion" or something. Or the 1940's couch with authentic cigarette burns. It'll be fun.

9. Cold Stone Creamery's Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate ice cream is yummy!

10. Sequin belts. I need one really, really bad.

11. Green corduroy hats look good on me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


So after posting my diatribe on the futility of being me, I went to bed, fell deep asleep, and dreamed.

Specifically, I dreamed that I had visited my old job at the publishing company. And then I dreamed that I kept a bunch of rather large tropical fish and hermit crabs IN MY CLOSET. ????? Helloooooo? It wasn't even like I had a fish tank in there. The water just stayed in my closet, even when I opened the door. Stranger yet were the fish that simply swam on out into my room in the air. I was particularly disturbed by the giant hermit crabs. I did NOT want them rambling across my walls and onto my face while asleep.

Weird. I don't think I'm even gonna TRY to figure that one out.

1 a.m. sleep-deprived delusions

I snuck up to the den to go online in the middle of the night because my mind is going a mile a minute (or more!), and I can't sleep because the thoughts won't stop running around inside my head. They are self-doubting thoughts, ugly "I won't get anywhere ever" thoughts, scary "I'm running out of money" thoughts, bloated "I'm fat, fat, fat thoughts." So I am typing them out. Spilling my guts. Naming my demons. Be gone!

Fact is, I'm terrified, but I'm trying hard to ignore that as I get used to being a couch potato. One month into my third bout of unemployment in less than two years, and I'm beginning to feel worthless. Again. The worst part is, in the midst of sending out perfected resumes and flawless cover letters, I've become more and more desparate to do my own thing. I have good ideas--great ideas! I have the drive, the desire, the focus. I just don't have the money with which to begin. It makes getting passionate about working for someone else . . . well, much less attractive.

If it wasn't everything at once, I might be able to relax, to reassure myself it will all work out. But then my mind chides, "you need to lose weight and get in shape", "you must pay off your credit card", "you should get a boyfriend and go out more", "you have got to send out those manuscripts you've written!" And, of course, lest for a moment I forget, "GET A JOB!!!!!"

1:16 a.m. now. Tomorrow is another day, or at least Annie says so. Actually, today is already another day. Now, if I can just convince my brain to let me go to sleep . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

economy, my foot

As if I wasn't discouraged enough about my job hunt, I have to go to after reading a book that mentioned it, and there I find a discussion board about CEOs and other yuppy types that are in a similar bind. Yuck. Double yuck.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

a pleasant shock!

Here I was, surfing the web for jobs, when I decided to check in on the ol' alma mater. I went to the College of Mass Communication website and almost shouted in surprise. My heart was fluttering with pride, for I found this!

I won a competition to design a logo for the College my last semester of my senior year in '04, but I never heard anything about it after graduating. And then there! Bam! I floats onto the main page out of nowhere.

Now, to some it's no big deal to see a logo they designed in use, but this was a first for me. At a prize of $300, it was the best money I've made to date on a design I've done.

p.s. the design is based on the Mass Comm building's "face" and the concept of information being "broadcast" outward on waves.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


It is nearly impossible to find a decent address book when shopping in a small town!

I tried, and failed, today to find a nice, practical, semi-attractive, LARGE (who can write in those tiny pocket-sized ones!), and, most importantly, MODERATELY PRICED address book.

I need an address book, because, as much as I love paper, keeping my friends, family, and business contact's envelopes (so I can find their addresses) in a box is getting just plain ridiculous. For the last two years, only a fraction of my Christmas cards have actually made it into the mail, merely because I couldn't find an address! How bad is that!

My search, alas, was unsuccessful.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

my dream house

A really good friend of mine recently asked visitors to her blog to describe their dream homes. This was my long-winded reply that I liked so much (I want to buy this place!) that I decided to share it here, too.

My dream home is no more than 2,000 sf. It is either an Arts and Crafts bungalow, or a really nice cape cod cottage, circa 1920, with wooden or new white vinyl windows and window-sill flower boxes, a white front porch, cozy siding, and a yard that is impeccably landscaped in English Country style. Inside, it has quaint architectural touches that make it historically authentic and visually pleasing.

The dining room is painted a deep, bright red (my favorite), with a white chair rail. The kitchen is an Italian-villa aged yellow with sponged or rag texture in varying shades of that color. The cabinets are new, with a medium brown stain and glass windows in the doors. The refrigerator has an ice machine in the door (I've always wanted one of those!), and on the walls are metal or wooden signs saying things like, "Hamburgers, 5 cents each," or "Latte."

The living room is white-on-white, with leafy-green accents and a few red items here and there (because every room needs a little red!). The fixtures are golden, and there is an adorable chandelier with real crystals hanging from the ceiling. Ferns keep you company. The couch, while beautiful, is completely sittable. And you can prop your feet on the coffee table while watching TV (which, incidentally is a widescreen LCD on the wall with Bose surround sound). A couple of my most recent novels are on the end table. Just in case you want to read them.

My bedroom, and the guest bedroom, would be retreats from the world, full of homey comforts and good books to read. If they get a little messy, so what? That's why they have DOORS. Oh, and my bedroom has an attached full bathroom with separate shower and Jacuzzi garden tub.

The third bedroom is my office. Floor to ceiling bookshelves and state-of-the-art technology are in this room. You can see the wide flat-panel cinema screen of my Mac from the door. The floor is tile, because it MUST be easy to clean, after I get paint all over it from my latest art, or perhaps paper clippings and glue from my stationery business. Oh, and I have one of those nifty hands-free, cord-free headsets to wear, because they're just COOL.

Oh, and outside, in the backyard where is is just slightly less beautiful landscaping (the better to fit a sun room, big deck, and small in-ground swimming pool, my dear), is a fenced area for Zoe, my dog, to play in and chase squirrels. And, just after the driveway, there is a separate workshop where I do the letterpress printing of my custom invitations and high-end notecards. Can't have a 2,000 lb. monster in my office, now, can I? Besides, I have to fit the dozens of wooden drawers that hold my metal type, wooden "furniture" to hold the type in place, and pieces of "leading" to fit between the lines of type. Not to mention my expansive collection of 1800s and early 1900s "dingbats" and "printer's ornaments."

I guess that about sums it up nicely! Not too much to ask is it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

oh, dear

This message brought to you by the Friends for the Responible Use of Fonts.

things to do

1) Get Zoe's nails clipped at the vet's, for goodness sake!
2) Oil change. Again.
3) Volunteer at local library to stay busy and rack up brownie points.
4) Send out sci-fi short story. Stop questioning its saleability. (Is that a word?)
5) Sneak the money from savings account and register business in county.
6) Do not tell unemployed self that I have sneaked money from my savings.
7) Work on promised logo for friend.
8) Work on Christmas postcard/card idea for kick-off design this winter.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

deep in the hunt

The papers have begun stacking up. Newspapers, printouts, real estate/apartment guides. They sit around my room as testimonies to my search for an income.

I am happy to announce that I sent out three resumes and handed in one application this week, with the prospect for more to come early next week.

I have, in particular, one job that I am practically salivating over. I want it. Bad. It's not a design job, but it's something I have 4+ years of experience in. Unfortunately, my experience is nearly five years old now. I'm trying to create a hybrid functional/chronilogical resume that will highlight my experience an downplay the time since my last employment in the field, but that will also honestly portray my work history and abilities. Any suggestions??? I don't want the resume reviewer to think, "oh,this girl is hiding something undesirable. She doesn't have enough experience." Which isn't true. Not at all.

In fact, while the list of functions for the job does include a few things I have not done before, I recently took a printout of the job posting to my former employer in that field and she looked it over and said I qualified for the position! She told me to list her as a reference and said she would do everything she could to help.

Basically, the job post said that the position required a minimum of a college degree in either that particular field "or similar degree." Check. "Some" experience of work experience in the field. Check (4 years). And proficient in Microsoft Office. Check! (OK, so I need to improve my Excel . . . but I can still use the program effectively. And I know how to click on "Help.")

The clincher for me is the salary and benefits offered. For someone like me they are GOOD. Good enough for me to not only move to a nearby city, but also rent a decent apartment or rent a cheaper one and save for a down payment on my cottage of dreams! It would also help support Ruby Red, by helping finance my start-up.

And I could go clothes shopping again. Without guilt!

Did I mention I want this job?!!!!

I'm almost afraid to admit how much I would love to work at this particular place. I'm afraid I'll get my hopes up so high that I'll come crashing down again when I don't hear back from the organization. I actually applied for a lesser position at the same place during my last job-hunt and was sent a generic letter 3 MONTHS LATER saying they had selected a more qualified and suitable applicant.

This time around, however, I heard about the job from the Career Center for my local area. Supposedly they have "referred" me, and out of my entire state, only 10 people can be "referred" for this position. Whatever that means.

Granted, the position is also listed on the bulletin board of said organization, as well as online. So, many other people can apply outside of the Career Center.

Am I rambling? Am I hoping against hope?

We'll see.

(But I want that job!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

can you hear the Twilight Zone theme song???

I've been having crazy thoughts lately, people. CrAZy.

Crazy, like, "well, since I don't have a job, why not . . . go to school again?"

The thoughts are in the works. It's all rather hush-hush at the moment, so I can't divulge any particulars, but let me say these thoughts have definite life-changing potential if I decide to follow through on them.

Monday, August 08, 2005

making me glad I haven't bought Quark 6.5 yet!

Did you hear? Did you know?

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

For those who might be a tad slow to pick up the faster-than-a-speeding bullet rate of the technology business (i.e. ME) I am pleased to belatedly announce the astonishing, amazing, completely and totatally, like, awesome news that Quark is expected to release QuarkXPress 7.0 by early next year and maybe even sooner! This, according to last month's story, which you can read here.

Especially juicy features of the brand-new QuarkXPress is OpenType capabilities, transparency settings that give Photoshop a run for its money, and better screen drawing . . . sharper images on screen.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I am upbeat once more.

Did a "stationery company" search in Google News to perk me up and found an interesting little story about Crane & Co. papers on the website.

Unfortunately, the direct link was too long, but you can access it by going to the Technology section and signing up for a free registration to read the articles. The one I'm referring to was published August 1, 2005 and is titled "Nothing Counterfeit About Success." Here's a little snippet:

"In the mid-19th century, Berkshire County paper maker Crane & Co. devised a way to stop counterfeiters from bleaching bank notes and reprinting them as higher denominations. Crane weaved silk threads into its paper, distinguishing $1 notes with a single thread, $2 notes with two threads and so on."

The article then goes on to discuss how Crane & Co. has once again helped the good 'ol US of A keep our bills from being forged in the present day.

Just goes to show that paper people are the innovators of society! (well, maybe a bit dramatic . . . but you know what I mean.)

ok, i'm done whining now


tennessee is not graphic-design friendly this month

There is hardly any graphics jobs open at the moment, and even fewer that I qualify for (most are art director type positions).

On one hand, I am hearing my little benefits-hungry voice saying "Go get a job! Any job! Now!", and on the other I hear the creative monster inside saying "NoooOooooOoooOOOo!", "I don't wanna!", "Do your own thing."

Shut up, you two.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

taking a break from worry

If there ever was a time to take my mind off the stresses of the present and focus on a pleasant topic, well, it's now.

I promised I'd talk about my other love: words and writing them. I am currently in the process of doing the final edits on a 400+ page (double-spaced, that is!) YA fantasy/adventure novel. This venture has consumed more of my time in the past five years than even Ruby Red. Maybe I'm slow, but my average editing speed is 3-4 pages every 15 minutes. At currently around page 165, I have a ways to go. You do the math!

I loosely based the setting for the book on the way of life in early Renaissance Italy. In a nutshell, it's a classic trio of characters: a prince, a beggar, and a gypsy-like maiden, who join together under unusual and frightening circumstances to save the City from a ring of fire surrounding its walls, and the prince's parents from a mysterious mercenary who has turned their people against them.

I like happy endings, so my book has one. The prince learns to be a humble leader, the beggar becomes who he was meant to be, and the maiden discovers a secret that will change her life forever.

Of course every author is the biggest fan of his or her work, so though I like my story, the best praise I've ever gotten from those who have read portions of the manuscript was the praise my (then) 16-year-old baby brother gave me when he said he had stayed up until 2:00 a.m. reading the rest of my book with a flashlight so that our parents wouldn't catch him up that late!!!

Friday, July 22, 2005

well, this is one way to make a decision . . .


Yeah, I'm not getting an apartment right now. Or a house. OR a condo. Not even a roommate.

This, my friends, is because as of next Friday, July 29, I will no longer be getting a regular paycheck.

For I have lost my job. Literally. It no longer exits. Kapoof! Gone. The New Job is now officially The Old Job. The other Old Job has now achieved Really Old Job statis.

Those of you who are fellow Paperpreneurs may have read about it over there. For those who haven't, the summary is as follows:

8:25 a.m. Arrive at work.
11:30 a.m. Finish an ad
11:45 a.m. Called in to the VP's office, along with rest of staff
11:47 a.m. Staff meeting called by VP's father (the owner/founder) begins with the words "We called you all in here to let you know that we are closing this office."
11:47:30 VP's mother, eyes red, dabs with an already sopping tissue at the tears running silently down her cheeks.
11:47:45 It actually registers that I have been laid off. My first thought is of my looming bills. My second is, "well, I guess I don't have to worry about where I should get a house out here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm going to rent

I think. Maybe. Probably?

I've given it much thought over the past couple of days, and probably over 100 miles of driving around looking at areas around the city to get a "feel" for it.

I found a decent apartment complex about 15 minutes from my favorite parking garage. It's a studio apartment. Tiny doesn't even begin to describe it! But that's OK because they allow dogs (I won't part from my Zoe girl), and the rent is less than what I'm currently paying for gas and my lease-break payments from my former apartment in Nashville. This means I can afford it. That is a very good thing. :)

Oh, and I can PAINT the walls!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that makes me happy! I HATE generic white apartment walls.

p.s. I actually called the number on a FSBO (For sale by owner). It was a cute little cottage that had been fixed up. The guy asked me if I had looked into financing yet. I mentally panicked! While I quickly explained I was only just beginning to look around, and he was very gracious in response, I realized that at this point in my life I'm not so sure I'm ready to make that kind of long-term commitment. I felt like a bride having pre-wedding jitters!

Monday, July 11, 2005

I think I'm going crazy

There are so many options right now, and I don't have the time or willpower to process them all. But, the facts remain: I'm broke, in debt (though much less than others I know), and worn out from my commute.

My options:

1) Continue living at my parents house and just deal with my commute (oh, did I mention I hydroplaned on the interstate last week during a particularly rainy morning?? And almost hit the car next to me?? As well as a near miss with the cement road divider??)

2) Rent and have absolutely no available $$$ for anything beside a roof over my head and gas. The real estate equivalent of driving down I-40 and tossing hundred dollar bills out of the driver's seat window.

3) Somehow beg my way into purchasing a condominium or teeny-tiny old house downtown so I can walk or take the trolley to work, hence saving money. (But how to get that pesky down payment and closing costs? And how to pass the credit check when my savings account is on a starvation diet? And how to convince the loan officer I AM over 18, and thereby able to sign a legal document??)

4) Forget the whole life-supporting job thing and jump into the business head first. Convince a SBA person to loan me enough to rent a commercial space with an apartment overhead so I can "open up shop" and collect printing supplies to work with while living in the same place. Zero commute. But living in danger of repossesion!

5) Shelve my beloved Ruby Red for a few more years, keep doing research and preparations while focusing on becoming a better and more recognized professional in the design field, and continue to write, in hopes of earning enough from an advance and royalties to get my business started. (Did I mention I have a dozen or so children's and young adult projects in the works? Betcha didn't know that! In fact, for a change of pace, I think I'll write my next post about THAT part of my life).

6) Bury my head in the sand. Or move to Venezuala and hide in the rainforest. Or take a vow of poverty. Or run into a handsome billionaire on the corner, "twist" my ankle and be carried to the nearest hospital, where, of course, we will fall in love, marry in the chapel, and immediately relocate to Bermuda, where he will buy me an entire letterpress print-shop with cases and cases of type and dingbats, gallons of brilliant inks, and truck loads of fine papers! When I am not smudging ink on my nose, he will find me snorkling among a school of bright blue fish.

Personally? I like the billionaire angle. Positively polictically incorrect, but a girl can dream!

I'm begging for advice here, fair readers. If you were me, which would you choose????