Jenna Draws.

I’ve found myself in a weird space.

I’m trying to find my (new) passion. After 17 years of being a graphic designer, and knowing that that was indeed my path, I’m now considering other avenues. Do I want to continue doing graphic design, but perhaps in different ways? Yes! Do I want to get back to my roots and draw and paint? Yes! Do I want to try more crafty pursuits and work a little with my hands? Yes!

But it’s tough. Who knew it would be this tough? Not me. I feel stress and anxiety over it. Isn’t that weird? To have freedom and incredible support and encouragement to dabble and experiment is daunting. I know how it sounds: like hundreds of eyes rolling, including my own.

It’s difficult to know where to start. Imagine you’ve been served 5 different desserts. Do you try them all at once? Do you finish them one by one? I know from experience, as this was my last birthday:


I think my approach is going to be trying a little bit here and a little bit there. One thing I’ve started is a platform to be accountable for almost-daily drawings. It’s a tumblr page called Jenna Draws. I really want to make it work, and the point is for them to not be perfect, but just be done and posted. It’s practice.

My tool of choice at the moment is my adorable little iPad mini. I was so impressed with the David Hockney iPad drawings, that I thought “heck yeah!” So here I go.

Wish me luck!

let’s get stinko

Ever since it garnered so many awards, I’ve had HBO’s Mildred Pierce on my radar. I watched Part One a few months ago, and recently I’ve finally watched the remaining four parts. Here’s a list of things I love about it:

1. Kate Winslet; she does no wrong
2. it’s a period piece; I’m a sucker for period pieces
3. considering the times (1930s–1940s), there are several women running businesses
4. Mildred and Monty’s love scenes—very hot
5. Monty’s speech about filling the home with things that matter and have meaning
6. the final toast—Bert: “Let’s get stinko.” Mildred: “Yes…let’s get stinko.”


So one of my new favorite shows is actually a couple of shows: Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots. Watching the ‘time travel’ and family revelations is so interesting. I think I prefer PBS’s Finding Your Roots because they actually feature both sides of the family tree and supply data based on DNA tests, where as Who Do You Think You Are? focuses mainly on one side of the family tree and is a bit more sentimental. 

Watching these shows sparked a family conversation this weekend with Kapil. I found myself verbally diagramming my maternal family to him. And I told him that we are sort of a big deal. (haha). I come from the Ingalls family. As in, Ma and Pa Ingalls. As in, Laura Ingalls Wilder. This all led me to show him old episodes of Little House on the Prairie on YouTube, so he could get an even better idea. (By the way, how awesome is Little House on the Paririe?!)

But with all of the well-documented and published genealogy on my mom’s side, my dad’s side is much less laid out. My brother did some research a while ago, but I don’t know how far he got. Watching these roots shows stirs up desires to go digging…one day.


I sort of lost my blogging way around about the time that I finally embraced Facebook. But I want to come back. I’ve missed this.

Naturally, a lot has happened since my last blog post (hello, 2008). Fear not, I won’t rehash the nutty details (*cough* couch surfing for a year and a half and two moves after that *cough*).

I’ll just summarize the past few years this way: you really never know where life will take you, and you just can NOT make plans for it. I now embrace this truism because it is what makes our lives, relationships, experiences rich and meaningful. I still find myself wanting to make plans. I think it’s an old perfectionist habit that is lingering. But I’m still practicing at taking deep breaths and letting each day come as it does. And they always do.

Sidenote: As I dusted off this old blog, I found that most of the archives have broken links. I’m still looking into repairing them, but some of them are gone for good. So, if you’re reading through old posts and find dead ends or missing photos, I’m sorry. But thanks for reading anyway!


in a roundabout way

My work is in a museum! If my dreams come true, it’s the first of more to come (don’t know how or when, but it’s certainly a dream of mine).

on the wall at the de Young

Here’s how it all happened:

I got an email from a stranger in August. She told me of how she had received an artist-in-residence position at the de Young Museum, and she wanted to use a photo of mine as part of her inspiration wall. Would I mind? (Would I mind?!) I promptly gave her permission and my full name for a photo credit.

Today was the reception for her work, and I finally got to meet her in person after exchanging a few friendly emails. What a lovely person and a talented artist! And what an honor to have inspired her.

This is the photo that inspired part of Corinne Okada‘s residency work.

Shots of my photo in use and Corinne’s artist reception can be seen here.

It was a very exciting afternoon.

PS. If you’re in the SF area, you can check it out for yourself. Corinne’s residency is through January 4.

outside the lower 48

see the photos of my adventure

My trip to Alaska this summer started with a phone call from my dad. I remember it was a Friday night. I was working. Dad called to tell me that after deciding not to go to Alaska this summer, since he and my mom were so busy with other trips and activities, they were indeed going to go to Alaska, and I needed to join them. Oh yeah, and this would all happen in a little over two weeks from that Friday night.

I was able to swing it…don’t ask me how. And don’t ask me to try to do it again. Travel is stressful enough without having to deal with the ins and outs of booking a flight into Kodiak—an airport the size of my big toe with only 2 commercial flights in and out daily.

Take off from SFO was a dream. I was immediately upgraded to first class because I had booked my flight with frequent flier miles. Yes! This made me feel a little better about the booking hassle. I was able to wait on my flight in the Board Room instead of in the terminal, got to board the plane first, and—hello—free food and booze on board! (Actually it’s all free in the Board Room, too…but there’s only so much one can consume without drawing attention! In fact, I think I still have some peanut butter stuffed in my computer bag.)

The smooth sailing came to a screeching halt when I arrived in Seattle for what should have been a measly one-hour layover. Instead, I checked the gate status of my flight to Anchorage to find that all flights to Alaska had been canceled for the night due to the amount of volcanic ash in the airspace over Alaska. Apparently, the ash can crystallize in the atmosphere and seize a plane’s engines. Duly noted.

Lines quickly started forming at the gates so everyone could re-book. Luckily, I re-booked quick enough that I was only grounded there for one day. I overheard several others down in baggage claim (a whole other blog entry to be filed under ‘chaos’) talking about being stuck in Seattle for two days. Fortunately, I didn’t let this act of Mother Nature get me all riled up. I was starting to see this 24 hours in Seattle as a vacation within my vacation. And it was. I had a great day in Seattle!

The next night, I made my way back to the airport to pick up my journey where I left off the previous night. And everything went according to plan (sans first class assignment, but what are you gonna do when you’re just trying to get out of town?). I arrived in Anchorage to find my luggage patiently waiting for me—something I was prepared for not to happen. And I took off again and arrived in Kodiak as planned.

I had a great week visiting with my brother, sister-in-law and my parents. It was definitely short-lived, and there were just too many things that I wanted to do that I couldn’t get to. On my to-do list for next time: stay long enough for the sun to come out and clouds to clear (which is exactly what happened only hours after I left), kayak around, go 4-wheeling (this was on my to-do list this time, but the rain and other things kept us from doing it), and visit more of Alaska other than Kodiak. Very doable, right?

the law of murphy

Our canoe flipping over is the one wrong thing that didn’t happen…but it did happen to Grant and Ky. (And our cookies were in their boat! Man!)

Things that went wrong on my recent trip to the Russian River:

1. We saw a sheep on the loose on Hwy. 12. This isn’t necessarily something that went wrong so much as out-of-the ordinary and a bit alarming. Yet, it fueled some good ‘Mary lost her little lamb’ jokes—the best one was when Grant called 911 to report it he described the lamb as having fleece as white as snow. heh heh heh

2. We were late by about an hour. (But, honestly, when you’re dealing with a group of 18, someone has to be late, right?)

3. We mistakenly ran into tree branches, got hung up on some rocks, and I almost lost my life to an enormous spiderweb.

4. I had a wardrobe malfunction with my bathing-suit top while trying to take my sandals off to go swimming. It’s quite possible I gave a show—or 3, as the top ‘popped’ more than once due to a faulty closure—to my friends. But if they saw my breasticles, they were kind enough not to say anything other than “keep your clothes on!”

5. We actually ran into a duck. How that happens, I still can’t figure out. All I know is I felt a thump and saw an angry duck quacking and skittering away.

6. After a long day of rowing, and knowing full-well that I would be sore, today I’m feeling that I pulled a muscle in my leg. Not my arms—my leg!

I have to admit, that list makes me smile and giggle. It really was a great day.

too cool

Another fine example of how absolutely cool and inspirational my friends are:
Sasha makes these compilation CDs and distributes them to the deserving masses. I’m not quite sure of the criteria for belonging to this special group, but I’m so thrilled that I’ve been lucky enough to be included and received two of them now.

The latest CD is titled ‘Summer’s Too Hot for Love.’ And the level of thoughtfulness and dedication is apparent in the production.

I’ll share some of the liner notes that I find particularly clever and relevant. The playlist is arranged in the order of how love usually progresses. These are the sections:
I. Introduction: Intuition
II. Fascination
III. Infatuation
IV. Adoration + Devotion
V. Trepidation + Disintegration
VI. Conclusion without Resolution
VII. Alleviation + Restoration
VIII. Epilogue: Revitalization

and, of course, the music is all goo-ood.

how you say?

There are a few words that my dad pronounces differently than most folks. The funniest one is ‘chimbly.’ In case you can’t figure it out, that would be ‘chimney’ to you and me. But my late grampa (my dad’s father-in-law, a Cornell alumnus) put a stop to that pronunciation right away. At least, that’s how the family story goes.

The next amusing twist—and probably my favorite—Dad puts on a word is ‘museum,’ pronounced ‘muh-ZEE-um.’ (It even makes me giggle as I’m typing it out).

My heart leapt for joy one day when Dad and I visited the High Museum of Art and joined one of the docent tours—our docent was from somewhere in New England, and her accent kept delighting me with ‘myoo-ZEEM.’ But then the whole coincidence within a coincidence, within another coincidence made my head spin a little bit—but in such a good way!

I’ve decided that I’m now collecting new ways to pronounce ‘museum.’ And I collected a new one last night! My friend Sasha was telling a story about using a museum catalog as material to construct an envelope, and more than once—thrice, if I’m not mistaken—he said ‘myoo-ZAY-um.’ Gold. Struck.

shoe fantasies…shantasies?

I am often baffled when I’m downtown and I see women walking along in heels as if they are wearing pillows on their feet. And you know that they do it day-in, day-out. They have to be crying on the inside like I am when I wear heels, right?

Case in point: I normally only wear heels when I know for sure that I will mostly be standing still or sitting—definitely not walking city blocks. But a few weeks ago, I dusted off some of my heels when the girls and I played dress-up to go have drinks at Top of the Mark. I was in pain by the time I walked one block—up Nob Hill, of course. But I surely did look cute!

The question I pose is this: Is it so wrong of me to find myself a little jealous of a woman I saw today, in a wheelchair, wearing some fierce patent-leather, high-heeled boots? She gets to wear ANY shoes she wants—regardless of comfort and ease of maneuverability in the city, no less! It really does feel a little politically incorrect…but what the hell. You GO, girl! (Yeah, I wrote it).


These are a quick and dirty sample of some shoes I would almost kill for, just to be able to wear them.

It’s true. I’m a suppressed shoe lover. And by suppressed I mean that I adore shoes. I am just not able to foster that love due to the painful truth that I simply can’t wear some shoes gracefully or comfortably and, sadly, a general lack of justifiable funds.

So, the next time you see me in my ‘sensible’ shoes, know that, on the inside, I’m wearing those delicious snake-skin peep-toes.

Update: Seen on Twitter: “I’d like to take these shoes, dig a grave with their five-inch heels and toss them in. And then spit on the mound of dirt.” by Dooce, 7/14/08

things and stuffs