in time for autumn

March 26, 2008


This is a cover for the Worship & Music team—part of their forthcoming (autumn) instrumental line.

It’s a template design, so I just had to choose a color and an image. The editors wanted an “Asian” image. They also wanted images of unconventional instruments that the performer could play along with the organ (I guess), like temple blocks and bell trees and finger cymbals.

I had to chuckle a bit at the most vague & specific request I’ve had here yet. “Asian image”? Line art of finger cymbals flitting about?

I’m no illustrator, but thankfully others are. I found the plum blossom illustration on iStock and manipulated it slightly, and the result, I think, is stunning!

The editors loved it and so do I. I wish I could create illustrations like this. At least even being a layouter is fun, when there is some creative license allowed. I felt the stars align for a moment when I positioned the bird’s beak to meet just so with the color beneath.

Call me dramatic, call me excitable—oh well! I’m glad I can find pleasure in the small things.

These are a few comps that I played with but didn’t show—I liked the blossom image the best and figured I didn’t need to show the others.


The pillar-like painting is a Japanese style of painting called Suibokuga. (Don’t ask me to pronounce that or spell it from memory.) Once you apply your ink & wash, the stroke can’t be fixed or erased, requiring masterful confidence and skill. There are some really beautiful paintings I found online. I read that Suibokuga only uses black ink, so maybe this is a variation on the style since it contains scarlet.

Again, I wish I could do something like that. sigh. As my mom would say, maybe in my next life…

in time for spring

March 18, 2008


I really shouldn’t be spending money on purses right now, but the one I got a year ago (from Target, on clearance) is pretty tattered and smells like peanuts. And, as I told Marshall, I have been keeping my eyes out for a bright yellow tote for a few months now, and BAM! There it was sittin’ pretty on the shelf! Calling my name! “Christy Jan Patchin Barker, don’t you need some more sunshine in your life?”

Yellow, yellow, yellow: love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.



I woke up with a sore throat two days ago. I’m fighting valiantly with Zicam, Airborne, Umcka. This is the fourth time I’ve been sick this winter—or maybe technically the second time. Early December, I was rendered immobile by a cold/flu, and after healing I got sick again two weeks later. I think it may be more of an aftershock sickness, like this one. My body seemed to have recovered but the virus must have been lingering. I’ve been so tired, so fatigued for several days now. Getting out of bed at seven feels like getting out of bed at three. I had an all-day headache, which I never have, and am constantly fighting listlessness.

I figured the recent forty-degree weather would lift my spirits this morning, so I donned my new Ann Taylor Burberry-ish spring coat, the first patterned coat I’ve ever had, and walked the ten-minute walk to the bus stop. I was breathing deeply and savored—gasp!—birdsong. The sidewalk was extremely treacherous—half-melted slick patches of ice every fifty feet or so. I wore my black boots that I got in London years ago, which didn’t have much traction in the first place, and are now the equivalent of completely bald tires. I actually fell halfway through my walk, right as two cars streamed by me, and landed on my hands, my butt hovering above the ice and my pristine coat remaining unscathed. I’m glad I was able to pick myself up and laugh. A few days ago, I spattered hot Rahmen noodles on my hand and blackened the garlic bread (all within three minutes) and had to escape to the bathroom quick to wipe my tears…instead of, well, yknow, laugh about it.

I also laughed to myself when, on the bus, I heard Hanson’s “MMMBop” blaring from the earbuds of someone sitting directly behind me. I was hoping it was a businessman, but there was no way I could find out without turning around pointedly.

I was smiling when I kissed Marshall good-bye this morning, as he is pretty funny when he awakes mid-sleep—the sharp intake of breath, the half-closed eyes, the lifting up on his elbows from the warm cocoon of blankets, the glorious hair pointing every which way, the multiple emphatic slurred I loves you’s and Have a good day’s. He was up at 4 AM yesterday, for the early morning shift at Caribou, then had an intense 3-hour USPS mail carrier exam in St. Paul. We weren’t able to get supper done until 8 PM, and as he finished he stated he was so tired he felt cross-eyed. He fell asleep on the couch at 8:45.

It makes me wonder sometimes how we’ll make it as parents. (I’m not pregnant, just thinking ahead.) We both need lots of sleep and I already fear the idea of getting up multiple times throughout the night to nurse/soothe. Maybe I’ll watch Will Ferrell movies as I rock the kid back to sleep so I can, well, laugh, which probably wouldn’t be too hard to provoke in my drunken-sleepy state.

In other thrilling news, I get my first filling tomorrow. Kindof a sad day, but I guess it’s good that I’ve gone twenty-four years with no cavities.


March 7, 2008

I wish English had a general grouping term for “nephews and nieces” like Spanish does.
How about nephieces?
Here’s a current look at my nephieces.
My younger sister is expecting in early September.
Just look at that lil’ sweet pea!
Kellgren is happy…
…and happier.
The doe-eyed Eden.
Ella shows off her party dress.
Ril works his charm.
Gid buddies up with his hero.


I had a good “faux extrovert” day yesterday. I pinballed from thing to thing, making small talk at church, catching up with friends, knitting with former coworkers, performing bass grooves on Rock Band with our young marrieds small group. On the way to the last “event,” I felt a bit of a slip around 4:30—a weird sort of drowsyness that hovered around my temples for a few minutes, then went away. None of these soirees were actually exhausting. I only did a third of the driving, and my most vigorous activity was clicking and clacking my knitting needles together. But I suspect the introvert in me was protesting a bit at 4:30, wanting to go read in bed.

I kept waiting for reluctance to go to any of these things, and I was surprised when it didn’t show. I felt good. I was looking forward to do all this social mingling. It makes me wonder at times why I’m an INFJ. I usually assume introverts are quiet people, but I realize that’s not necessarily so—introverts simply get their energy by being alone, whereas extroverts are energized by being with people.

So that’s why I’m calling it a faux extrovert weekend. I actually felt quite energized by all the “visiting.”

Contrast that to my weekend in Nashville. I felt shy around my sister’s luminous, artsy friends, women and men alike. I wanted to start conversations but my mind seemed to have collapsed into itself and just floated, peeking out with a periscope. I wasn’t experiencing anxiety or anything. I’m an observer—I watch people, I watch what they say, how they act, and construct the world around me that way instead of through ceaseless conversations. So my mind was busy. My mom told me once I was a gifted listener, and I think that’s true. I just wish I could balance that with gifted conversing. But I couldn’t think of good questions. I admire people who ask good questions, and who sincerely value your answers. Some of them tried, and I was pleasant enough, but there was another little Christy voice who wanted to speak too: “If I seem guarded, or fake, I don’t mean to be! Trust me! You’re cool!” I wanted to be around all these neat people, but I also breathed a sigh of relief when I could escape from a neighbor get-together with my fellow introverted six-year-old nephew. We went home and played Rock, Paper, Scissors for a half hour.

I’m frustrated with my approach to the telephone. I seem to have a distinct talk button, that switches my mood-to-talk on or off. All too often, the switch is not on. I can count on one hand the number of times these past six months where I have a conversation that sparkles with good stories and laughter and well-constructed sentences on both ends. I have this belief that everyone else has sparkly phone conversations all the time. That they know how to talk about everything and anything with grace and ease, without pausing too long to think of something to say. I feel I have a whole library in me of things to say, but I just stare at the shelves and don’t know which book to pull down and share.

On the other hand, that’s probably why I like writing. I feel I can express myself better. Marshall (and other close people in my life) caught on to that and it’s a relief for me that they understand. They wait till I’m ready to talk, whether in person or in paper. I tend to speak only when I have something to say. I always have something to say, but not always in verbal form.

But then again, I have a desire to feel close to people, and I feel close to people mostly through intimate conversations. Not necessarily heart-to-hearts every day, but just—talking. I wonder why this is a way I feel close to people when talking is sometimes an effort. And, with new people, I can desire SO MUCH to want to get to know them, but I don’t know where to begin. I want to pretend to be outgoing, because everyone likes outgoing people. Hell, I tend to like outgoing people more than my fellow introverts (no offense, guys).

Oh, okay, wow. I just googled “introvert” and came across this great article. Back from 2003, but has a timeless ring to it. I related to the author’s “formula” of two hours alone for every hour of socializing. THAT’S SO ME! I figured out some time in college that I don’t like to be alone for more than three hours, I think due to my personality and due to being raised in a big family and a tight neighborhood, where buddies were always close by. But place me at a dinner party—even a really pleasant, fun, comfortable dinner party—and in a few hours I’ll be fantasizing about watching The Office our living room, alone (well, with Marsh, which is just as pleasant and restful as being alone, except for those times when he wants to play Hug Tickle Me Elmo or Keep Me Standing Upright So I Don’t Fall on the Couch or Let’s Throw Around Apples in the Kitchen and Catch Them with Forks. Okay, so the games themselves don’t exactly tire me, it’s just they make me laugh so hard I cry and sometimes almost pee my pants and THEN I am exhausted and ready for bed).

Another thing this author notes—”The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself”—wow! I remember telling a friend on the phone that I liked hearing other people tell me about their life more than me telling them about mine. YET (there’s always a YET) if they don’t probe me and slowly open me up like a fruit and warm me up to the idea that they do want to hear about my life, I do sometimes get a little offended. What are my poor extroverted friends to do? They’re getting mixed signals.

So, to extroverts and introverts alike, I love you for who you are, and I appreciate you for loving me for who I am even when I may seem closed off, untalkative, or reserved. I really do like you, I just don’t know how to say it sometimes.