Thursday, November 09, 2006

I feel sick

Cheating, I know - an old photo, and Chela's at that! But I have thought about this walk a lot lately in little bits. Today, I met Joseph at the Division blue line stop and walked to school. That's about 4.5 miles. It wasn't as lovely as the tracks, but it was good company and I didn't get hit by any cars. I had an awful time of making paper today...the milkweed still wouldn't beat down and I had to chop it in the industrial blender, and then put it in the beater. Somehow, I also thought that beating and pulling about 3.5 pounds of abaca was also a good idea. Not a good idea. I was too tired, and not motivated at all. I almost gave up and offered my pulp to a current student. But I plowed on, and pressed, and was loading it into the dryer when Cecile came in.

This is the part where I have to share awful, depressing news. She said I don't have to tell anyone, but it's one of those ugly things about me that I feel like I need to air. In a nutshell: I used the wrong part of the milkweed plant to make paper.

I can't even explain all of the backstory and HOW and WHY that happened. I can't believe that I blew out my shoulder and couldn't work and had Jami and Shawn and Chela help me scrape the milkweed. I am horrified that I threw the right part away, and that it was really easy to harvest, and that it is sitting at the bottom of a compost heap right now. Milkweed is the only thing that monarch butterflies eat. It is really hard to find in cities b/c people hate it and try to get rid of it. I had an amazing opportunity to harvest beautiful, tall, thick, untouched stalks, and I threw away the part I was supposed to use. Why? B/c I read too quickly. B/c I made assumptions about it being like woody bast fiber. B/c I was single-minded and stubborn. It is such a strong metaphor for my life that I almost could barely breathe and stand when Cecile told me. Hopefully, I learn a bunch:

1. be patient
2. read carefully; be okay w/slowing down when reading
3. dismantle assumptions
4. ask for help (I had even thought at the farm, "I wish I had Cecile's email")
5. don't blame other people (I took out my anger about the milkweed on everyone else)
6. be open to learning
7. be open to failing

Ay. I am horrified, still. I'll unload the paper tomorrow, maybe this weekend. I do feel lucky to have had time yesterday w/Elizabeth & Terttu & Nathalie & Joseph, and more good people today - mostly by coincidence at the reception for the show I was in. I need more rest, but feel like I can't stop. My body hurts from sitting so much. The tickets to Japan & Guam are booked for February. It's hard to keep up w/myself.

The man on the plane in my row asked me, "do you work?" And I said, "yes, I work really hard. But I don't get paid." Keeping up w/myself is exhausting.


  1. Anonymous10:39 PM

    sometimes we just have to go through experiences while our brains are still catching up and holding on to older ones. so often i'm in such a different space physically than the one in my heart and/or the one in my mind. seems like you're in a lot of different places right now. all at once it can be so full-feeling and so exhausting.
    i know i can't be the one to talk because i haven't been good at it at all lately, but still, take good care of yourself.

  2. i almost didn't make it back tonight in one piece: i AM sick. food poisoning. uck. i get so frustrated w/myself - the last time i cooked a meal at home for myself was on the farm. that is a BIG taking care of myself thing. whew.

  3. Dude, you're a pioneer in the milkweed-paper industry! How revolutionary of you to use the OTHER (not wrong) part of the plant! That stuff is going to be a collector's item! Didn't you basically make the impossible possible? I'm impressed.

    Food poisoning totally sucks though. Ughh. Try to stay hydrated and get some rest! Love you!!


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