Ben & Jessie's Reception

Some details for our guests...

I figured since we don't have a website (we don't have nearly enough to say to merit that), I'd post a few items to note here so that everyone knows what to expect and where to go on October 26.



Rooftop reception begins at 8 pm on Saturday, October 26. Invite only, please. It will be held on the communal rooftop terrace at our apartment building, and there will be either a person or some kind of decoration to let you know you're in the right spot.

Parking is along Marietta Street, on the same side as the building itself. I have counted more than 20 cars easily on the street at others' rooftop events, but even so, carpooling with at least one other person will help cut down on the number of cars taking up space. (I assume many of you are carpooling anyway, at least with your date.)


The desserts and drinks will be plentiful! Cakes, doughnuts, pops, and plenty of other delicious treats. A menu and fully-stocked bar. This is an after-dinner event - I don't want any of you going into a sugar coma from the drinks and desserts because you came on an empty stomach! You've been warned. (We will be bringing in reinforcements for party-goers who stay past the half-way mark of the night.)


I would call this semi-formal. No tuxes in sight, but come wearing your most fun, fancy frocks! And a note, in the fall evenings, up on the roof, it can get a bit breezy, so a lovely little coat, shawl, scarf, or  other coverup for the ladies will be a wise decision.


Please bring your smartphones or cameras (or both, heck!) and snap lots of pictures for us! We want everything candid, nothing lame like us standing in front of a brick wall. So we're counting on you to take some really fun pics. We'll have a few cameras on-hand as well. Maybe some props, if I can scrounge some up here somewhere... But I can definitely say that the backdrop will be gorgeous and you'll want to take at least a few.


Sorry if we made it tough on any of you by not registering for gifts. We are blessed with many things already and didn't want to ask for more stuff while also inviting you to a reception-only event where we don't even feed you fancy chicken. But the good news is, if we've invited you, you're part of a small group of people most special to us, and so it's safe to assume you know us well enough to have an idea what we might like. All that said, though, we really just want to see your face! Please don't stress about this part.


If you've got any other questions at all, please reach out to me! You should have either my phone number or email address, Twitter or Instagram handle, any way that works for you. I am more than happy to answer anything - hotels, shoe advice, whatever you need. Can't wait to see you!


That's the way this wheel keeps working out.

On this lovely day, February 19, 2011, I was driving home from Barnes & Noble thinking of all the things that make my life so good, right now. There are many, including the amazing people I have surrounding me. But this list does not include people--they are the biggest given. I am not a big-crowd, many-friend person, but the people I do love mean a great deal to me. And these are all of the other things that came to mind as I sat in my car, and then attempted to recall later on in my apartment. And a few things I don't love.

Putting them down at this moment, so that when life turns again, I can see what was meaningful at this point.

Things I love:

  • the 850 square feet in this world that are my own
  • dancing in my living room because no one is around to make fun of me (except my cat)
  • citron yellow (even though I cannot wear that color)
  • more recently, anything in murky, even ballet-pink. Mauve, if you will.
  • the itty bitty iPod nano I reluctantly bought to replace the one I lost at the gym. It has a clip. It's touch screen. It has only music I actually want to hear right now.
  • the idea of cooking
  • sometimes, cooking
  • patchwork things. but not all patchwork things.
  • Denyse Schmidt's inspired, modern but not too modern quilt designs
  • tiny, vintage prints (on fabrics)
  • school. Really, truly honestly, I love it so much. I will love and hate when it ends.
  • reading books. avoiding reading books. buying books. writing in the margins of my books. underlining passages in my books. thinking that someday I will have a giant bookshelf. having lots of smaller bookshelves now.
  • the colors on my walls
  • organized spaces. clean spaces.
  • my long, white $15 couch
  • my car
  • starting a book
  • finishing a book. (have I already said books?)
  • being able to pay my bills, even if it means I can't pay for much else. Truly a blessing.
  • the thrill and fear of giving a talk at a history conference (next weekend)
  • the lyrics to John Mayer's song Wheel
  • Dunkin' Donuts coffee. The Best.
  • my black plastic glasses.
  • that my parents are downsizing, and heading abroad to mission work once they are empty nesters. Definitely better, for them, than sitting around waiting for holidays when your kids come home.
  • podcasts
  • Patrick Cox and all of the talented people who work with him on PRI's The World broadcast
  • Pimento cheese
  • Sweetpockets cupcakes
  • walking on Georgia State's campus, observing the many types of people who walk with me (and sometimes, getting fashion inspiration)
  • spring, encouraging warm weather
  • Twitter. I really love Twitter, and all of its wonderful, unfettered potential.
  • daydreaming of the projects I want to accomplish in my life. Some sooner, some later. Like the thing I want to sew tonight, and the book I want to write later. Et al.
  • the Public grocery store by my house. It has amazing urban-audience items, and very nice, late hours. They know the people they serve around these parts. Plus, Publix has the best employees, really.

Things I am not so crazy about:

  • the thrill and fear of giving a talk at a history conference
  • car maintenance
  • the fact that I need a car to get to all the places in my life
  • ugly, generic dining room light fixtures (which is why I changed mine)
  • the prospect that many of the funds for programs I care about (and that my career may depend on) are facing big cuts. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • not being able to wear sunglasses on days when I am wearing my black, plastic glasses
  • not having enough time to consistently exercise
  • pre-washing my fabric. I don't like lots of steps in between me and my projects. This is made worse by not having a washer and dryer. However, I am a firm believer in pre-washing. So I always do it.
  • the fact that I have never been to New York City. I really feel there's a part of me that belongs there.

"You can build a house of leaves, and live like it's an evergreen /

It's just a season thing / it's just this thing the seasons do /

And that's the way this wheel keeps working out /

... Can't love too much one part of it"

John Mayer

Tooth tale: Be mindful of your dentist

I can say from personal experience that it pays to floss. Your dentist has always been right; flossing once a day keeps your mouth healthier and aids in avoiding plaque and disease. When your other option is to pay a big chunk of money, taking one minute at night to floss proves easy and actually not that annoying, contrary to the average person's thoughts on flossing. So why have I had this change of heart, this embracing of dental floss? It took being ripped off to show me.

When I studied in China, I could not wait to get home and have my teeth cleaned. For some reason, I just felt so transient, and having so few things with me, my teeth were on the back burner. I made sure my mom had scheduled an appointment back home, for the first available date. That was July 2007, and that was the last time I had been.

In the developed world, teeth cleaning is normally an every-six-months check-up. This ensures that hard plaque doesn't build up to much and allows the dentist to monitor the health of gums and teeth, since many dentistry procedures can be avoided altogether later in life by simple good maintenance. I understand all that, and finally decided it was time to get established with a dentist in the Kennesaw area (instead of trekking to Dublin to see my parents' dentist); I made an appointment for March 27, just about one month ago, at a place nearby that took our insurance (apparently).

Almost two hours after I sat down in the exam chair, I got out of the chair without a cleaning. The doctor and his assistant poked my teeth in this newer process they do nowadays where they measure the millimeters deep a metal poker can be poked, thus determining whether you have periodontal disease. I had never heard of this apparently horrible disease. And I, also apparently, had "early" stages of periodontal disease.

I don't consider myself unwise to health concerns, and I believe I take relatively good care of myself. Like my mom said, too, it had only been two years, not a decade; her first visit to the dentist was when she married my dad at age 19-- and she does not have major teeth-health issues. So I was slightly offended and very skeptical when the assistant proceeded to show me this scrapbook they had assembled with photos of the horrible things that can go wrong with your teeth. You know the kind-- those fright-inducing photos doctors place strategically around their offices to let customers-- I mean patients-- memorize the blood and ooze until they're scared enough to hand over money to get whatever procedures are needed to keep the disease at bay. She wouldn't even show me the whole book, just the parts closest to my current "condition," because, to use her words, "They're just too bad."

The office would not give me a cleaning because I needed to have this "deep cleaning" instead-- a more intense process that my insurance would not cover. Also, I had two cavities, and the doctor recommended that I have the tooth-colored filling instead of the silver fillings that my insurance covers. I asked if I could please opt for the silver-colored ones, because I knew from previous experience that these were fine, and covered fully. Nope, that is not what the doctor recommended. (Ok, but it is a filling, and it is my tooth. Whatever.) Oh, and after the "deep cleaning," I will need to come back every three months to make sure my disease has not worsened, and each time there will be an additional fee. I leave with an estimate for procedures that I "need," an estimate of over $500 in charges that my insurance won't cover.

Now, I am a reasonable person. I listen to what intelligent doctors have to say, and usually, I think the advice is sound. But let's be honest-- I am a young adult, therefore age is not against me yet. Low risk. I brush my teeth regularly, and I live in developed country-- meaning I've had my teeth cleaned dozens of times more than most of the people on this planet. I think--I think--I will make it through this devastating condition that is going to cost me (and my family) hundreds of dollars. In my head, I'm thinking, yeah, right, count me out of this. I'm going to go home, start brushing my teeth longer, using mouthwash at least once a day, and floss each night. I'd start my own little daily regiment, and take this into my own hands. Practical advice is the better path, I think, but the answer is do-it-yourself health care, with minimal cost and a simple trip to the drug store on my part. Practical advice would not make the doctor's office an extra $500-- that is the truth of this picture, and that is a horrible shame.

Fast forward one month, and I have successfully been performing my regiment morning and night. April 24 I head to a different doctor's office, one my mom found online after we both expressed concern with the business practices of the previous scare-tactic dentist. I feel good about my teeth, and have not even had any pain in one particular back tooth that had been hurting whenever I would eat sugar (I attribute this pain going away to my own enhanced teeth-cleaning). When I sit down in the chair, the assistant tells me that I have very little hard plaque to scrape off, and all my millimeter readings (for that periodontal nightmare) are 1's, 2's, and 3's all the way around my mouth (at the other dentist I had had some "bad zone" 4's and 5's). She does a normal, insurance-covered cleaning. Then, she and the dentist both commend me on my exceptionally clean teeth. They did not say anything about having one single cavity.

I left the office thinking about the stark contrast between these two experiences; could I really have reversed that much tooth damage in one month? Either this is a miracle in tooth recovery, and flossing is really all it is cracked up to be, or I was about to be scammed big-time by that first dentist. I was basically awestruck. I think perhaps that first practice is really out to get anyone who may be marginally "in danger" of early periodontal, or has sort-of-unclean teeth, to milk every dollar out of an unknowing patient that they possibly can. I knew when I left that day that a few months could have fixed up some of the issues I had. I mean, it had been a long time since I'd had my teeth cleaned at a dentist's office. Cut me some slack. Give some practical advice, clean my teeth, hand me some floss, charge my insurance company, and I'm happy. Try to trip me off, and I'll tell the internet all about it.

(By the way, when I went to their office to pick up my x-rays to bring to my New Dentist, the desk attendent tried to charge me a $25 fee per x-ray, with a 48-hour minimum "process" period. I told her that one x-ray series hadn't even been taken at their office, and so I would like to have that one. She handed it over. The other one shall forever remain in the files of Great Expressions, Inc offices.)