Thursday, November 30, 2006

Finally, a book

I LOVE how quickly interlibrary loan works here. Public libraries rock. I now have about 9 books sitting on the piano bench waiting to be read. I'm a little stressed about it, but maybe I can do that when recovering from the root canal stuff. Too bad I can't have scrolling text on the ceiling of the dentist's office tomorrow. I got some work done today and finally made myself a nice fat sketchbook. I drew comics on the spine. I want to bind a limp vellum but need to find some stiff leather. Maybe I should demolish some shoes or something.

I thought I had some deeper thoughts but I don't. I wish I had time to protest big towels, but I don't. I'll say right now for the record, though, that big towels are a big waste of everything, especially water in the washing machine. I mean, do you need a towel to dry off after bathing, or a blanket?? B/c it seems like people are voting for blankets that are disguised as towels. I also really wish we could ban fabric softener sheets. And air "fresheners".

Breda told me today that gums are key to health stuff. I think my artwork now is going to focus on all things related to the mouth. It's such a strange, strange orifice, but completely vital to life. Don't worry, I'll definitely draw a comic based on surgery, but I can't guarantee when I'll do it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keeping and airing

This was a hard one for me to keep, but I finally got the okay to broadcast this secret: I am SO proud of my little sister, b/c the doc she is editing got into Sundance!!!! When she found out last week and called us in Astoria, I was screamed and jumped up and down for a long time. Tonight at a noisy bar on the lower east side, I told Jami the name of the one movie star that I consistently find hot. I have never told anyone that in my life. But that doesn't mean that I can't keep secrets. I have one from 1996 that has stayed intact, and another from about four years ago that isn't one anymore but not b/c of me, and a couple recent ones. Not bad for my mouth.

Today was nice. I didn't have to rush into the city, though I was all rush once I got there. Holiday foot traffic sucks w/all the gawking tourists. I met Shawn for lunch at 60th/5th Ave. What a nightmare location!! I felt like I was playing dodgeball in the streets, only the people were the balls. We ate in the park and walked around and I got to see his office. Fancy, fancy. My toe hurt so I gave up the big plan to walk to SoHo to see Gili (I'm all into walking ever since that 12-mile trek to Central City. Now I feel like I can walk anywhere), and rode the subway. We had tea at her workplace and I got to see the SUB-basement, which is like her dream come true and my worst nightmare all rolled into one: boxes and boxes of books and other stuff piled ceiling-high across an entire city block.

Then I headed to my old workplace to visit the new office space, and saw lots more familiar faces than I anticipated. Marina kept saying, "doesn't she look younger?!" b/c of the "idyllic" farm life. Lystra is joining the police academy. David told me that he had a great time in Vermont when he went (and he went in the winter, too!). I jumped across the street to see my sister at work so I could drop off a few things she left at home, and met a few more of her co-workers.

Then, to Brooklyn to meet Jami. We had GOOD sushi and I got the grand tour of her neighborhood and apt. I even spent a bunch of time petting her cat, who is like a NY version of Jack. We went back into town so she could see her boyfriend's friend's band play, but I didn't stay for that. It was nice to meet him, though, and SO good to see Jami. I kept marveling at the fact that we weren't in Nebraska anymore. I was worried that she wouldn't want to be friends w/me anymore b/c we weren't living on the farm together anymore, so it was a relief to find that was another figment of my hyperactive and paranoid imagination.

I loved the first part of My Antonia but am now getting bored b/c the family moved to town. I was totally excited about the time when they lived on a farm in Nebraska, but now it's not so interesting to me. We'll see how the rest of it pans out; I hope to finish it tomorrow along w/a ton of paperwork I've neglected for too long. My last free day before surgery!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Digging my way out

VERY slowly. I've found the prints that I was looking for, and framed one of the ones I made on the farm. I got hooks and tape at the hardware store b/c I'm the only one in the family who can fake decent hangs. I was horrified when I took down a painting and saw packing tape on the back. The method to the madness here: if there's a nail, hang it there. If not, forget it. Which is why everything hangs in the most random places. It makes me completely insane. It's like feng shui never entered this apartment (until I show up. I'm also the family gift wrapper).

Last night's and this morning's dreams were completely insane; filled to the max with ex-lovers and youth orchestras. I blame the antibiotics. I did some yoga (I am REALLY rusty) and meditated for the first time since I left the farm. I got My Antonia and Cat's Eye from the library and put another seven books on hold. I can't wait to read again. That'll help me calm down some. Or something. I think the meds are finally taking charge of the infection; today's my first day sans ibuprofin.

I love hearing about all these people I know (and don't) who have had root canals. I feel like I'm joining a new club (though not voluntarily). It's funny to hear so many people tell me that they don't remember a whole lot from the procedure. I can't tell if that's a pregnancy kind of thing, where nature makes you forget the pain so you'll do it again. Today's positive spin: maybe having the root canal will be symbolically important for me since I'm trying really hard to let go of old habits that are no longer useful to me.

Monday, November 27, 2006

No one rests on Sunday

6am: yogurt and meds
7am: King Sauna in Fort Lee, NJ. Three showers, three or four visits to the steam sauna complete w/marbles for your feet, two swims in the long cold tank w/waterfall, three sits in the hot medicine tub (it's like being in a huge teacup: a big bag of herbs floats in the brown water), and a plunge into the ice-cold jacuzzi. I fell asleep in the dry hot room upstairs where you just lay down on wood headrests, put your feet up on stumps, and sleep in a "uniform" (pink T and shorts for women, white for men). It was no chicken shed banya, but Korean bathhouses are HOME for me.
9:30am: hair salon in Fort Lee, where I spent about 90% of the time reading trashy magazines. I think I'm all educated now about Brit's divorce, so quiz me before I forget. I was chastised again for not wanting to get a straight perm after getting a cut and iron (the theory being that I am "SO pretty" w/straightened hair. Anyone who knows me knows that I will never be pierced, inked, or permed. No permanent body alterations! Except things like root canals).
2pm: after almost dying from perm fumes (mom's) and trashy mags, we hit the Korean supermarket where I eat so I can take meds on time. I realize that my impatient and stressy-about-time tendencies are inherited from mom and Korean culture (as I'm nearly run over by numerous carts).
3:15pm: get dropped at 125th Street; take the 1 train downtown to meet Ellen and Gili!!! YAY!!! This time, last year, I met Paulette in person after meeting on Ellen's blog. Now, Gili! It was great. And like nothing at all, like old friends. We gabbed, met David and his friend, and walked to Ellen's place, from where we emerged laden w/gifts. I got her tripod on extended loan so I can strike it from my wish list (FYI, the remaining items are a headlamp, flashlight, and digital video camera). She made this fantastic shirt for me that's in the pic (courtesy of the new tripod, in front of an old painting I did that was a copy of a Egon Schiele drawing).
8pm: arrive home for more food and meds.

I feel like I'm severely neglecting my art life, and am surprised by how exhausting my "break" from my art life is. I think I can only really handle one or two dates in a day anymore. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when I can get back to yoga and finish my unpacking ordeal, so I can catch up on overdue business and make myself a new sketchbook so I can get all this stuff in my body out onto handmade milkweed paper. Oh, and go to the library b/c my list of books to read is overgrown.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Perils" vs. "safety"

Mom woke me up at 6am today so that I could force feed myself yogurt to take more meds. NOT FUN. When I actually got up later in the morning, she lectured me about how I have to have a positive attitude, like isn't it good that we found out HERE in NY and not in NE; and, you have a healthy tooth even though it's dying b/c it has three roots instead of the normal two (this, I have a hard time with. B/c the procedure will be THAT much more difficult. Why does the tooth w/THREE roots have to be the one that goes bad??). My sister and brother-in-law took turns last night talking me down after I read scary things about root canals after doing a "root canal perils" search.

They insisted that I make a date w/them for today, so I met them at Union Square for some shopping and lunch at Angelica Kitchen. Then, I saw Ellen and David!!! It was SO nice to hang out for a while. I met Cindy and Ivan and their friend later at City Bakery, but left early to go home. I'm a little worried b/c I still have pain in my mouth but I've been taking ibuprofen to keep it down. I don't want it to escalate to the raging pain from Wed night, so I take it before it gets bad (b/c, seriously, NOTHING makes it better once it reaches fever pitch). But I don't want to mask pain if it means I should go in earlier than Thursday. I was just hoping that the meds would calm the infection down a little before I get opened up.

I'm feeling a little better in my head, so I did a "root canal safety" search and basically was told to not believe any of the crap I freaked out about last night, that all of that has been proven untrue, and that I'll likely be fine. I still am not looking forward to it, but hopefully the worst panic is over.

On the way into Manhattan, a woman noticed me reading my Oberlin alumni magazine, and it turns out that she's also an alum, and teaches social studies & Photoshop at my old middle school. I met her son, who's an "aspiring artist." She introduced me to him as a "real artist." I think I need to have more encounters like this to keep me distracted from looming dental procedures. Unless people have really wonderful stories about root canals.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Kiss of death

Good god. I wanted to wait until after the emergency visit to the dentist today. And the news is the worst I could imagine, and what I feared: I have to get a root canal. NOOOOO!!!!! AAAAAGH. Someone shoot me now.

Thursday: zombie state from not sleeping until 7am b/c of heinous toothache. Get a ride from dad in the rain and have a pretty laid-back holiday w/not very exciting food (not enough Korean food!) - we got to just watch football and hang out. Cindy and Ivan invited another friend, so I was mopey b/c I felt fat and like a less valuable daughter. Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of Githa's death, and my mom saw a huge resemblance in Cindy's friend, who's from Burma.

Friday: wake at 5am b/c of the hubub of dad, Cindy, and Ivan getting ready for Black Friday (they actually got the 1st computer of the three that were on sale at wherever). Rearrange furniture. Have soup and yogurt b/c I can't chew on the bad tooth. Call the dentist to make him come in to see me. Try to sleep a little more. Hang out, waiting for the dentist's call. Get blamed for everyone not being able to go out w/the car b/c we're waiting for the dentist. Go and get the xray, etc., and the horrible, horrible news. Drive Cindy/Ivan back to Astoria, pick up dad from work in Flushing, come home.

To do: get antibiotics, get probiotics (if ANYONE knows anything about how to counter the terrible attack of anti-b's, please let me know pronto), prepare for the complete decimation of my intestinal flora, call Rafff to find out everything he knows about root canals b/c he's already had a bunch, feel sorry for myself, and have my family tell me that at least I'll lose weight (from not being able to eat solid food) and have my acne clear up (from the godforsaken anti-b's, at the price of my health for the rest of my freaking life!!! AGH. I haven't taken that poison for over 15 years. I'm so sad about this). My mom said she's just glad it was really something serious, not just me crying wolf b/c I have a low pain threshold.

I'd go into all sort of other things now but I have to try and eat enough to be able to take my first dose of the pills so I can prepare to kill my tooth.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Where hypochondria was born

New York. Now, I want to fast, think I need a root canal, am worried about a million other things re: my body that I haven't worried about in a long time, and am still dreading seeing my mom tomorrow for the biggest gorge-fest holiday of the year. But today I got tons of sleep (napping like a maniac w/strange dreams involving babies, current and former friends, high school, and mean old ladies). I have a bad recurring head/jawache that scares me. But it's nice to hide out from everything else in New York while I hang out w/my sister and husband. My big accomplishments today were doing a lot of dishes and uploading more videos. OW, tooth. Makes me forget anything interesting I was going to write today. OW.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Calming down

Thanks for humoring my freak out in the last post. I've been successful today in not overeating and walking around a lot, while in the company of my sister and brother-in-law, so it was all fun. Ivan and I had Japanese for lunch and looked for gifts for my sister, and then I took massive naps, and then we went to SoHo to see my sister's workplace (fancy! Director chairs and all! We saw the final montage that she cut for the documentary she's editing), and then we walked to Chinatown for Vietnamese food, and then got Japanese cream puffs from Korean workers at Beard Papa. OH, and I had my first fun time watching soccer w/Ivan w/the Celtic v Manchester United game. Nakamura scored on a beautiful free kick for Celtic near the end of the game. Amazing! It made me remember the days when I played soccer and hated it (I didn't realize that it's basically a running game. No, a running game plus other skills I just didn't have).

I'm now feeling overwhelmed by things in my inbox, but HAD to share some hilarious things: Kristina Wong is a performance artist who newly rocks my world. She has a great mock mail order bride website, too, which she did a while ago but it's the thing that people refer to a lot when talking about her work. Tam, check out her knitting mania!! I love her idea for getting frequent flyer miles donated for knits. As an aside, I also was looking at this nudist/naturist foundation in Kansas. I'm just trying to relax now after having such self-loathing for the past 24 hours. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to make some books.

SOS

I miss the innocence of my Chicago days. Or at least the forced ignorance and denial. Before I moved, more than three years ago, Rod told me not to do three things in the midwest. I only remembered one thing: "Don't get fat, Aimee." Well, the midwest broke me. I am now only a couple pounds away from the heaviest I have ever been in my life (college, of course), and it doesn't feel or look good. I got in yesterday, and realized the benefits of having a sister w/a similar build: you can see what you could look like if you didn't let yourself go. Ouch. Now I realize that the full-belly feeling is permanent, and my belly doesn't actually come back in after digesting the disgusting amounts of food I've been ingesting.

I think the trouble started this summer in Michigan, where we had tons of food all the time and dessert at least twice a day. I have always had an incredibly conflicted relationship with food, and now I'm scrutinizing it again. I am a control freak. But I give up all control around food. I have been a binge eater since high school. I pride myself on being able to consume enormous quantities of food. I now eat things that several years ago I considered poison. I am a full-blown sugar addict. I have created rituals around food with others that basically set up traps for me and others, so that everyone becomes an enabler. When I say no, people say, "you know you want it."

So, it's time to shore up my boundaries. And I need major help. I already had two goals for December: massive reduction of refined sugars, as well as a week-long fast early in the month. Now, I think I need to change what I do with friends, so that we meet for tea instead of meals. I have to say, "no, I really mean no." I need to remember I'm not living on a farm anymore: no more excuses for bacon, ice cream, and beer. No excuses EVER for Crisco or Velveeta (unless I'm using the former to clean my printing equipment).

As much as I make life difficult for myself, I don't want to bring on adult-onset diabetes (I have inherited this propensity, and it is a very real possibility). Must reduce and shift consumption. More exercise (I couldn't keep up w/my sister this a.m. when I walked her to the subway station!! I don't walk quickly anymore!! It's like my muscles have shortened). Rehydrate. And: better sleep habits. Depriving myself of sleep alters the cortisol levels that regulate my appetite and guide me as to WHEN I eat. I'm hoping to at least get lots of sleep before I see my parents for turkey day. B/c that's the last piece of the nightmare: mom. She is brutal, and will rip me to shreds when she sees the weight gain. I have to prepare myself accordingly w/a good battle plan. I want to be only fat, not fat and haggard. Until then, I'm going to postpone socializing, so I can take care of myself

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Almost out the door

I secretly petted Jack today. Just a little. This image is in case you didn't believe that BAMA and I are friends now. I'm about done packing and still wondering how in the world I'm going to get everything to the airport w/o losing luggage or limbs. I sold my dresser today, so it's gone. YAY! I can officially say that I own no furniture. I did some cleaning so Tam doesn't have to live w/my hair for too much longer. I tried to make my luggage less heavy but it didn't work. I also tried to put a suitcase inside a suitcase. I ALSO tried to put my computer bag inside a suitcase. All these things didn't work. If only I wasn't a violinist, and then this load would be a little more manageable.

I've been reviewing text and images from the good old farm days, unhappy that my jaw is so sore, and gearing up to be in NY for a while. Though I think I'll go to D.C. for a few days in early December. Maybe a couple upstate trips, too. The guy who bought my dresser today asked what I do and I said, "I'm an artist." That might have been the first time I did that w/o qualifying it, and w/o being ashamed.

Monday, November 20, 2006

After a day off

(of blogging, I mean). I just got back from Harvard, which is I think about 90 miles away from Chicago, to visit Julie and Andy at their gorgeous house. It was hard, though, b/c I failed the fragrance test; I had washed my hair yesterday and rewashed today in unscented soap, which didn't get rid of the smell, so when I got there I had to shower and shampoo again and wash my hair in white vinegar, but the smell was STILL in there. So I had to wear a turban and keep a distance from her. Environmental illness is so scary, but I think it's really important to raise awareness about all the things that we are exposed to that are harmful to our bodies. I've already made some changes in my lifestyle after learning more (simple and small, but that's how it starts: no more dryer sheets, unscented detergent, etc. I like to think that not buying new clothes is part of it).

I rode the Metra there, and it was SO comforting (after the gross, loud, hungover, stinky, and still drinking kids got off the train. I hate the smell and sounds of that kind of privilege) to see the landscape change as I got further away. I finally saw cornfields. Even a combine in one that hadn't been harvested yet!! It was like being back home. Makes me realize that maybe that dream I had as a child of a sustainable life is something that I can get close to, or closer.

I'm hyped up on caffeine from the tea and am trying to deal with it the way I do with alcohol: eat and drink water. Still need to pack so I can fly out tomorrow. I'm going to probably stay w/my sister and husband for a few days b/c I have too much luggage to drag home to the burbs, and then mom or dad will get us for turkey day. Jay came yesterday and we took the bed and mattress and blue violin to his place and assembled it, so that's the last bit of the crap I had in the basement (besides my thesis. Which I can't think about right now). Time to back up the computer! And then hit the road again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Surrendering to the video world

I've been resisting for my whole life, but you can only resist so long. Past examples: hiring slide photographer, switching to Apple, getting a digital camera, hiring video editor, hiring web designer, being nice to people who ask the same question over and over. The life cycle of my concessions as an artist. So, this is some of the tons of HILARIOUS footage that Terttu got tonight of the brick wall. I hope we keep collaborating in the future, with a better camera and more sites. I'll say this much: even though it's paper, it made me feel really safe whenever I was behind it.

Fading after a full Friday

7:45am: "Good morning, princess!" wake up duty by Tam. Followed by extremely half-assed yoga.
9:30am: breakfast at Ann Sather's w/Suzanne. Big, healthy dose of advice and support.
11:30am: much-needed nap, with Jack.
1pm: tea and lunch at Earwax w/Clover. Fantastic parallel life conversation and running to her hair appt.
4:15pm: stop back at Tam's and rush out the door again.
4:55pm: arrive at Hokin Gallery to take down my brick wall chunk and images. Head down to the studio to unload the dryer and wrap up 62 sheets of paper while conversing w/Joseph about the yellow fever article. Walk up to C33 to see the media show opening and get two cookies. Wearing the brick wall.

Walk back down to the studio building to see the rest of the show and chomp on the fancy spread. "Nice cape!" and "what is that?" comments on theh way. Find Elizabeth and chat. Call Terttu on the hallway payphone and tell her to come my way since it's on her way. Documentation begins of the brick wall journey: orange line to #8 bus, then to Terttu's place, where I have tea, lay down on my old futon, and demand to know why she has DRIED MILKWEED in her hallway (she said they were "flowers" from a friend. I was traumatized). Confess that I've been listening to Cake a lot. Head back out to the #8 bus, get on, realize Terttu forgot her U-Pass, get off bus, walk back to her place and back to the #8 bus. "Can I touch it?" and "you must be in a play" while Terttu runs video. Blue line to California, a quick stop at the liquor store (she was going to a bday party), and home.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No farm = no pictures

I have no interest in taking pictures now that I'm not on the farm/not making art. That should hopefully change soon (the hope being that I start making art once I get settled in NY). I actually got home tonight before Tam! Which is good; I needed an earlier night in and don't have to worry about waking her up. Jill took me out to dinner at Handlebar and my gut is still hanging out. YUM. It was good to catch up; I feel like we've both been growing a lot since graduating in May, and I got to process some things w/her that I hadn't in a while. On the way back home, I stopped into Niche b/c my boot is still giving me a hard time; I can barely walk b/c the right side digs into my heel. The store manager sat on the floor taking pictures of my boots and I'm going to bring them in again, which means I won't have them again for a while. Good thing that I have two other pairs I sent to NY, and that I won't need any kind of fancy footwear in Vermont.

I just had a slight panic attack about where I put my passport. I KNOW I put it aside to take with me, but I just don't know where. I better find it before I fly out on Monday. OH!!! Wait, I'm having a flashback to putting it into a blue sandwich tupperware container along w/business cards. I think I shipped it home.

Today was another functioning-on-not-enough-sleep day. I got up, cooked rice & lentils and broccoli, took a shower, tried to get a scary scammer off of my back, and other exciting morning chores. I got to school and picked up stuff from the gallery that didn't get put into the show and then made a bunch of paper after beating two loads of pulp. Much nicer paper this time. I realized that I've been doing quick and dirty papermaking for three years, and only now am I understanding that if I just slow down a little and pay more attention, I can make much better sheets in the same amount of time. That patience lesson is hard for me to learn. Instead of being stubborn and not using formation aid (a gooey substance that makes your sheets more even), and not doing things that I know work, I just took the time to do everything right. It was nice. That gave me time to think about my new theory: that the dominant culture (usually men, usually white) projects "docile" and "delicate" onto other people b/c they are so scared of that inside themselves. Same exact theory as men who are scared of their own homosexual tendencies having massive homophobia.

Andrea and I had a good talk about what I got out of being on the farm (cultivating confidence in myself and my work, finding out that I do want to learn how to teach, being okay w/putting value on my work, knowing that I can make work anywhere w/whatever is at my disposal) and she said she feels like I'm going to be an artist like David Byrne. Except I don't have the whole successful music career bit. Then I went to see Terttu and meet her boss to talk about website design stuff in the digital lab, which is where Jill found me. We got to ride the bus and sat in front of someone I met when I first moved to Chicago, but we didn't acknowledge each other. It's strange; I've seen him a LOT in the streets and on public transport, but I just never say hi.

I saw a lot more cute boys today that usual. Eye candy is always fun. I'm getting a little stressed about how much I still need to pack and organize before I take off, but I think I'm just going to bed now. Oh - someone tell me what a chalk line is, please.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I don't always do the right thing

Like go to bed on time. There's just so much to do, so much to share, so much world out there and in here! What a DAY. Elizabeth helped me get rid of all my stuff that I had loaded onto Tam's back porch and gave me a sweet, sweet birthday package. I met Anni for lunch downtown. She's so smart - a really saavy artist, and a good one to boot. I was the first person to get her a picture for her "Getting My Name Out There" performance piece (scroll to the very bottom of the page to see me on the tractor). And yes, you, too can participate. Clearly, I was the one who put the least amount of work into making the sign.

I also had a really nice meeting with Nancy Tom at the Asian Arts Center; she's really close to getting an Asian studies major approved at Columbia, which is great. She said that they were talking about me recently, saying they wished I was around b/c I would fight for things like that. It's good to know that people think that I'm a fighter. In a good way, of course. I was so tired afterwards that I went to the library to take a nap, and then stopped by the digital lab to surprise Terttu before I headed to Site Unseen.

It was great to be there as an audience member this year, and to see Julie (the curator) and Claire (the program manager @ the DCA), and SO many other friends, colleagues, and artists. There was a LOT to take in. I was excited to see how much research people had done, and work, to make their pieces truly site specific. There was one point where I just thought, "I LOVE being an artist, and experiencing art, and being around artists." I wasn't really able to give anyone/any piece as much attention as they deserved, but am happy to have been there the whole time. The picture is from the load-out from one of the pieces. It was rainy when I left; Greg picked me up so we could get something to eat (too much ice cream!) and that was fun. I finally got to give him my prints and we talked about language, reading, writing, and teaching.

I'm kind of sad now that I booked a flight to leave so early; there are still so many people I want to see. But I have to trust my own instincts about it, too. I decided during one of the performances tonight that I'd like to fast for a week in early December. Along w/lots of other aspirations. Good work, Chicago!

Morning things

I'm skipping yoga practice today; too much on the dear plate. I like my plate. I just tend to heap way too much onto it. Somehow, I woke up really early. Which is good b/c there's a lot for me to prepare for today. I forgot to mention this link last night b/c I read it, and though it's not the best thing on the yellow fever topic that I've read, I am glad that at least it's still out there, trying to be visible, since it's so rampant but unconsidered except by the victims.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

To counter the crank

(um...I think my space bar is dying. uhoh.) I had to go to bed several hours ago but was writing a long email to a friend, and pulled out an old book I made in 1998 to find the quote I was looking for. I want to share it w/more than just him:

Dear Joanna:

Forgive me for writing again so soon. I realize you are busy reading the words of all your other sisters who also love you, but you have been constantly on my mind and each day I think of new things to share with you. Today I wanted to tell you about beauty.

In you, there is beauty like a rock.

So distilled, so unshatterable, so ageless, it will attract great numbers of people who will attempt, almost as an exercise of will (and of no more importance to them than an exercise), to break it. They will try ignoring you, flattering you, joining you, buying you, simply to afford themselves the opportunity of finding the one crack in your stone of beauty by which they may enter with their tools of destruction. Often you will be astonished that while they pursue their single-minded effort to do this, they do not seem to see your sorrowing face (sorrowing because some of them will have come to you in the disguise of friends, even sisters) or note the quavering of your voice, or the tears of vulnerability in your eyes. To such people, your color, your sex, yourself make you an object. But an object, strangely, perversely, with a soul. A soul.

It is your soul they want.

They will want to crack it out of the rock and wear it somewhere--not inside them, where it might do them good, but about them--like, for example, a feather through their hair, or a scalp danging from their belt.

As frightening as this is, it has always been so.

Your mother and father, your grandparents, their parents, all have had your same beauty like a rock, and all have been pursued, often hunted down like animals, because of it. Perhaps some grew tired of resisting, and in weariness relinquished the stone that was their life. But most resisted to the end. The end, for them, being merely you. Your life. Which is not an end.

That resistance also is your legacy.

Inner beauty, an irrepressible music, certainly courage to say No or Yes, dedication to one's own Gods, affection for one's own spirit(s), a simplicity of approach to life, will survive all of us, through your will.

You are, perhaps, the last unconquered resident on this earth. And must live, in any case, as if it must be so.

1973

Alice Walker, Living by the Word

I saw at least three incredibly beautiful women today. One in the museum was so beautiful that I almost held my breath standing next to her as we read the same label in the Tuttle show. Another had a blue coat, blue pen, blue glasses, blue earrings, and was long and gangly and the blue was not the typical one, but all of them matched. Another served me food.

Now I'm really mad

ARGH!! I was pretty far into this post and then my computer crashed for the 2nd time in about an hour. I understand that I've dropped it a lot, but come ON. I can't wait to get back to NY and see if those geniuses can do anything to help me. Grr. Anyhow, I was saying all this stuff about today (Tuesday), which I thought was Wednesday. Though now it's Wednesday b/c it's past midnight. Since I'm cold and tired, I'll do the list version of what I just wrote and lost:

1. oversleep despite not sleeping well, rush to yoga and see Jim & Bill, who tells me good things about Vermont Studio Center, where I'm going in Jan (he was there last Feb)
2. see crazy 40+ car funeral procession on Chicago Ave while waiting for the bus
3. have really good Waldorf salad & tomato rosemary soup at my old building on the Gold Coast (along w/the fastest service I have ever, ever experienced there)
4. great bodywork session on new heated table
5. nice visit to the MCA to see the Richard Tuttle show; not impressed by the show on global sustainability b/c it didn't seem like art and it was too loud (like, the lettering was too big and blocky, etc.). But SOOOO happy to see the Tuttle show - made me think about both Shawn's and Chela's artwork, as well as mine, and made me want to own a letterpress studio for real.
6. had a fun, fun tapas dinner w/Chicago Shawn and got drunk sharing an entire pitcher of sangria
7. had a very smooth ride back on public transport (today was a big bus day: #66, #151, #146, #66 again)
8. booked my flight to Vermont and got a new pair of knitted socks from Tam!! Wohooooooo! I'm so never taking them off.

Everyone in Chicago should go to the Cultural Center Wed night to see Site Unseen! 6-9pm, live art all over the building, great curator and artists. I'll be there for the duration to take it all in. Yay.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

p.s. - a breakthrough

Tam and I were watching TV tonight (how fun, how novel!) and Bama (uhoh, I forget if her name has two m's or one...) came up to me and I finally gave in and started to pet her. It went on for a long time! This is a big deal for BOTH of us. She's super scared and skittish (always hides under Tam's bed and is terrorized by Jack, Tam's other cat) so I usually never ever see her. But she's soooooo pretty. And I am super allergic. Tam would have taken a picture to prove it but that would have scared her away. Isn't it amazing? I stopped taking antihistamines several days ago - unheard of in my life! Co-habitating with two cats and not taking drugs and my throat not closing up?? Never.

Anyhow, that was my excitement for the night. Time to try and get some rest so I'll be semi-prepared to get my ass kicked in yoga tomorrow (my first class since August!).

Grease a combine

I was reading the NYT article on the new Montana senator and was excited that I understood what they were talking about (he's a farmer). I spent the afternoon looking at more residencies on farms or in national parks and whatnot. I was pretty excited b/c I got an application done that I had been putting off for months, and the UPS store guy remembered me and asked how Nebraska was and said that it's great that I'm living my dream. I shipped three boxes to NY and hauled a crapload of things out from the basement. It's all on Tam's back porch waiting until Elizabeth and I take it all to thrift stores. I'll be SO GLAD when that happens. I'm going to have Jay take my bed and blue violin. I'll probably have to ship a few more things before I fly out, but I'm feeling like things are a little more under control.

It's cold and all I want to do is eat. I've gained some weight from farm life, can't fit into things, and was laughing at my size today. I also found a ceramic bowl that I forgot about that Jon made. That made me happy b/c I'm trying to appreciate ceramic work more. Too bad it's so heavy. I start my social week tomorrow, after yoga and bodywork. I can't wait until I get to be in one place for a little longer than a couple of weeks b/c this itinerant lifestyle is tricky. Tam's little brother got shot in Iraq and was pulled off the front lines. He's okay, but it just all seems so senseless. [see? all my thoughts are broken and wandering.]

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sweet Sunday

I couldn't sleep last night. I ended up burning the candle Clover sent me for my bday in Nebraska all night. It was still burning the a.m. Better in the metal tins; I broke a wine glass on the farm burning candles too low (I broke the other washing it). I just finished curating my paper: picking off all the bits of stray pulp that were on the dirty pellons interleaved between my paper. That's 90 sheets of paper, checking both sides with an x-acto knife and rubber cement pickup. My arms and shoulders are shot, but it's done. This batch of paper had lots of lessons, and besides the milkweed disaster, I know now that even if I am really tired and cranky, it's best to clean the pellons before I pull sheets. MUCH EASIER to clean pellons rather than curate paper.

I had a fun photo shoot w/Terttu today (I loooove modeling for her, and not only b/c she'll be famous someday soon) and then we had lunch next door at the cafe. SO beautiful out. Then, Eric and I had the easiest logistical rendez-vous that we've ever had in Chicago. Probably the only one that required no vehicles; turns out we are very close, so I just had to walk straight on Armitage and he walked about two blocks. I almost started drinking at 2pm, but forgot about my favorite drink (bloody mary) and had seltzer & bitters instead. It was realllly good to catch up with him. He confirmed my fear that grammar in American English has gone out the window. I'm mortified that no one cares about it or teaches it anymore.

I'm waiting for Tam to get home from Michigan, and will see Jay in a couple of hours. I assessed everything on my body today, which confirms the possibility that I might be able to pull off never buying clothes again (though I adore well-crafted boots, so I'm allowed to buy shoes):

Mom: coat
Mom's friend: scarf
Terttu: hat
Ivan: gloves
Cindy: hoodie, underwear, long underwear, hair tie
Tam: dress

All I bought were my socks, boots, and bag (which was like a dollar at the Samurai store in NY Chinatown, and I only got it after my sister got me one two years ago). A former therapist told me that I need to buy my own clothes and not let other people define me by clothing me, but I think if I approach it w/the right attitude, I'll be fine.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Vertigo

I've been dizzy for about an hour now. I have no idea what triggered it, but it feels the way it felt when I had mineral spirits poisoning a couple years ago. Maybe it was something I ingested (jasmine tea? soy cheese? tofu pups?) but I am trying to keep my head on so I can curate the paper I unloaded today from the dryer (that's one of the mixed abaca & milkweed sheets under the postcard in the picture. The postcard I made in Omaha). I feel like a bobblehead doll.

There is too much darkness in the days. I'm tired of trying to figure out what is going where and am putting lots of things back into their hiding spaces in Tam's apartment. So I'll lose some opportunities for shows b/c my slides or books are here. So I'll lose some things to mold. So what. I dumped three bags of donations at a thrift store today and my legs and hips hurt from all the pavement walking. I'm wondering now if I should just donate everything I can get out of the basement; I bumped into Elizabeth today in front of school and she'll drive it all for me if I need. There's something tempting about getting rid of everything, of the old life.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Unearthing myself again

I'm trying to sell my blue violin. I decided that I'm tired of having two violins and three cases (the third in New York. It's super fancy but so incredibly heavy that I can't carry it anymore. I begged my parents for it when I was in high school and was so proud of it, but now that I'm old and no longer think that the measure of a good musician is based on her case's sexiness, I can't deal. But I don't know what to do with it, so it's in mom's and dad's closet). We'll see if anyone wants it. I went downstairs today to Tam's storage unit and balked at all my crap. I brought a bunch upstairs and left a bunch downstairs. These are the categories left to sort: what goes to NY, what stays in Chicago in hopes of eventually traveling to a real HOME (aka stuff to set up a household), and what stays on my back.

It's horrific. I wish I could be ONE kind of person, but I'm not. I can do the artist thing, wearing the same cut up clothes every day, but there has always been a city girl who likes to be unwrinkled, clean, and sparkly. This requires two wardrobes and various other accessories. My new idea is to not buy any more clothes for the rest of my life. This won't be hard, since I barely do it in the first place, and am supplied on a regular basis by friends and family. When I first moved to Chicago, I still had strong urges for specific pieces of clothing (like black velvet jackets) that I would hunt for, but never find. But I don't have those urges anymore. All I want to do is get rid of what I already have.

Okay. Time to run a few errands before I lose energy and then spend the rest of the day sorting this mess.

Friday, November 10, 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.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back in Chicago; bad dreams

I suddenly, as I opened up my computer just now, remembered some of my intense dreams last night: the banya caught on fire and was burning down. I was devastated. Ed and I were in his car, it was winter, the ground was covered in thick ice but it was melting underneath us, and I saw a huge blaze in the distance (it wasn't even the farm landscape: lots of hills). Shawn had built an additional wood frame around the original shed, and the whole thing was on fire. By the time we reached Shawn and Chela, he didn't seem too upset at all, like he could always build another one. I said, why don't we put the fire out?? And they said it was a propane fire and that water wouldn't stop it. So horribly sad.

Anyhow...I made it back yesterday to Chicago after a slight delay and a chatty person in the aisle. My last meal in Nebraska: grilled cheese w/bacon & tomato, ice cream bar. My first meal in Chicago: warm goat cheese, white pizza w/tomato & basil, ice cream sundae. I almost got beer, but I was with Tam so I didn't. I think that's the first meal I've had w/someone who doesn't drink since I left Chicago.

I went downstairs to storage today and am kind of overwhelmed by all the crap that I have to deal with. Maybe I just want my stuff to all burn so I don't have to think about it anymore. Actually, I keep wanting to start fires right now to get rid of garbage.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Taking pictures of your kids

I just downloaded my movies from Oriana's baptism from Sunday, and remembered the funny conversation Shawn and Chela had at the Chicken Coop at our last dinner together. I was talking about artists who have kids and then use their kids to make their art, and how I didn't really like that. Chela said, I'm going to document everything when I have kids, etc. and then Shawn said, "Chela, taking pictures of your kids when they're little is called taking pictures of your kids when they're little, NOT documentation." HAHAAAA. Good times over salty burgers, ribs, and pale ale.

I got to Omaha yesterday just fine except that Bemis was closed. I walked around a little w/half my luggage (the other half I left on the access ramp) to try and see if there were other entrances, and then luckily a man walked up and I asked if he worked there and if he could let me in. He took my biggest bag and then I asked what he did there, and it turned out he was the executive director. HILarious. He took me up to Rory's room, told me to apply for the residency, and said, "how often does the executive director meet you at the door?" Rory has been another incredibly talented host. We had good talks, I got to see how his projects have progressed since September when I met him, and we had pears and tea and drew a lot last night. AND we did bunny shadow head night at an undisclosed location in Omaha, courtesy of Rory.

I had strange dreams about my family, dusk, diversity training, and climbing in tight but dangerous barn rafter spaces (only this time the timber was all new instead of old). But I slept well, showered, and had blueberry pancakes. The flight is delayed. The weather here is glorious. We'll hit thrift stores before I get to the airport. I hear Chicago is gloom and doom, but here I come!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Enroute to Omaha

Still in Lincoln. On a swinging seat outside a cafe downtown, done w/the sugary chai and getting a little life back into me. Have not gotten enough sleep but have been cared for incredibly well by Julie & Greg. She cooked a huge Korean dinner for us last night; he did his grandmother's pancakes for us yesterday morning. The baptism was great b/c I got to meet the quartet and families. Re-entry is challenging but I'm trying to be present b/c it's precious in its own way: that sense of the liminal (which I am only using b/c I am so tired; I hate that word) will be a defining part of my life starting a few days ago. Constantly moving means constantly crossing new and old boundaries, so right now I can appreciate the country and the city, and miss the farm, and miss Chela and Shawn, and miss the grass, but I can also sit in the middle of a huge metal sculpture and find the one right note to hum that reverberates the entire thing on the University of Nebraska campus. And notice what I have to do to live in a city - that lack of eye contact thing w/strangers is sad - raising all my defenses. I'm glad that I waved to the last farmer I saw while leaving the dirt roads.

Julie & Greg are rehearsing now and I'm going to meet them in a bit for lunch. Then, a shuttle to Omaha so I can crash at Bemis. Maybe I'll get a solid nap before Rory gets back and then I'll hang out w/him and the artists there before flying to Chicago tomorrow afternoon. We saw "Borat" last night. I had really good granola this morning. I think I dreamed about the banya last night.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mad love

I should be sleeping soundly now. But instead, I'm downloading photos...I was going to back up my computer again but think I should just do this post and then crawl into the guest bed in the guest room at Julie's and Greg's so I can get up in time tomorrow to go to their goddaughter's baptism. Today was the last morning. I've never been outside in the mornings on the farm since it's gotten cold; I usually stay in and do my yoga routine and art and then go out after lunch. But today was GORGEOUS, and I went back to my studio to pack, and then back to help Shawn put finishing touches on the banya and shoot it. Chela took off super early. Hilarious, b/c she was the one talking about staying until late November.

Shawn had lots of packing and crap left to do, so I was in charge of the burn bin (ew, toxic. Burning plastic and rubber sucks, especially when the trash can is about 2/3 my height and I miss the burn bin and then have to crouch near the red-hot barrel picking up all the trash to throw in while inhaling dioxins), and carrying stuff from the house out to the van. We had to clean out the fridge, too. I asked for a cord-tying lesson, which was mucho exciting. I was told never to do what I love doing: wrapping cords around my wrist and elbow. But I think I have the hang of it now.

It's crazy how beautiful it was today. Shawn told me that he wouldn't leave me alone, which I was incredibly thankful for. In the end, he was the last to leave. My ride came right on time. We went straight to the Kawasaki plant in Lincoln and I saw all the rail cars for NYC Transit in a crazy huge space and learned a lot about that whole business. I got sweet treats from Japan, too. I saw Mr. Umeno's house (I grew up w/his daughters upstairs in our apt complex for three years) and we showed each other pictures (there was one of me and Yukiko in NYC in 2002 - god, I looked grey). Then we had a ridiculously decadent dinner at a fancy new place in south Lincoln. I did things I never, ever do. Pinot noir, ribeye, and COFFEE (there was also salad, bread, and tiramisu mixed up in all that). Good lord. Don't ask why. Then I got to Julie and Greg and showed them images from the harvest and talked endlessly even though I was running on almost no sleep and was dying of exhaustion. They're AMAZING hosts. It's kind of ridiculous. They left me alone about an hour and a half ago b/c they were like, GO TO SLEEP. Still not sleeping. The re-entry begins. Wish me luck.

[I'm too dazed yet to miss the farm and my cohort. But I know I will more and more.]

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This is it

So sad! I'm trying to be mechanical about last-minute cleaning and all, but it's sad. Good thing I drew all over the walls so it doesn't look as barren w/all my work gone and packed and shipped. Shawn and I went to Grand Island to do mad errands, and met up w/Chela at the Chicken Coop for a sweet little dinner. I'm just about done vacuuming and wiping down; I want to spend my last night in the farmhouse w/the other two. Still need to burn the rest of my trash and then...Lincoln, the Kawasaki plant, an Episcopal baptism, Omaha, and then the flight. Even today, walking around the strip malls while waiting for the alignment to be done on the VW, I was sad to think about going back to car exhaust, subways, pesticides, grass that isn't really natural, tons of strangers, and pavement. This was a really important and wonderful time. See? I can't even articulate it very well.

And guess what: I WILL be the last one on the farm; Shawn and Chela both take off tomorrow a.m.!!! So I might do a frantic freaking out post tomorrow after they leave, before my ride shows up. Otherwise, thanks for riding w/me.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Full circle

I think I'm in denial right now that I am leaving on Saturday. I got a puncture wound tonight on my right ring finger while fiddling w/the outdoor plumbing on the banya. A big box is ready to ship to NY; the rest I'm praying will all fit into my bags. I finished my sketchbook; this is the penultimate page; back to weaving! Just like when I got here. I looked tonight at my initial application here, and was shocked at how right on it was:

1. Give a brief statement of why you would like to do a residency at Art Farm.

I have never lived in a rural environment. For my entire life, I have lived and made art in urban and suburban settings. I would like the opportunity to live and work in a completely different environment than what I am used to, to see what kind of art comes from being in a completely unfamiliar place. Art Farm seems to be an ideal place to do work that requires vision, discipline, and relative solitude. While thinking about why I wanted to do a residency at Art Farm, I had a dream where I tried to line up text, trees, a house, and Santa lawn ornaments. I was unable to arrange them properly because the noise and grime of the city were overwhelming. I welcome the chance to execute that same challenge without the ubiquitous stresses of urban living.

2. Give a brief description of your intended project/s at Art Farm.

For the past three years, I have made work about human intimacy and the lack of everyday, meaningful, human contact. Given the conditions of Art Farm – vast expanses of land, not many people – I propose to explore a new body of work that addresses intimacy that arises from solitude, in concert with nature. I intend to do that through private encounters with the terrain, harvesting plants for hand papermaking techniques, outdoor sound improvisation with my violin, and constant written and visual documentation that will result in a combination of performance and artists’ books, with a web presence. I am interested in having intimate experiences that can be recorded and shared, which when distributed to a remote and wide audience, can spur similar moments of intimacy amidst strangers, whether alone or with other people.

Last-minute panic

EEEE!!! Way too much to do and no time!! Shawn sprained his ankle badly yesterday (which is kind of hilarious to me b/c I really thought that I would be the one getting a major art-induced injury. He was up climbing trees to suss out his performance site for a video and got hurt jumping down), so I did lots of instinctual nursing and computer work over at the house last night. He got some gorgeous shots of my performance w/his new fancy fancy camera. I had a beer as I baked oatmeal cocoa cranberry pecan cookies w/vanilla frosting, and we all gorged ourselves on cookies and ice cream. Then I had more cookies for breakfast (but they were baked in the muffin tins so I could pretend they were like breakfast muffins).

Yesterday, I pulled my last batch of paper. The vat has been emptied. I'm drying out the milkweed that's left (I tried to hand beat, but I'm learning here when it's smarter to just stop while I'm ahead): I'll take it back to Chicago and beat in the real beater back at school so I can get a 100% milkweed sheet. I finished waxing all my paper, too, and all the wax is gone. Now I want to bind a bunch more books, figure out what to do w/all the art here, print my holiday cards, pack, and get my psyche together to depart. I'll get picked up Saturday and go to Lincoln, get to Omaha on Monday, and fly Tuesday.

Life! Time! This week is dissolving in my hands. Time to get binding.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I take it back

I was all mopey and then Shawn and Chela barged in to watch the sunset. I had us all go up to the very, very top, to throw open the cupola roof. It was lovely. Then I threw all my glass into the big hole in the ground (I only found out about this today), which felt great. I've hosted a bunch and since there's a lot of drinking here, there was lots of glass to throw and shatter.

We might watch a movie in my studio tonight if we're all up for setting it up. Here are preliminary images from the weekend. More to come soon.

"The End" depression

Good god. It's in full swing, the post-partum depression. I feel awful. Funny; I knew yesterday was just delaying it, but I still always hope that I can avoid it. Not really possible - it's not just the post-performance blues, but the end-of-residency blues. Shawn and Chela tractored his truck and inflatable to campus and I helped push the truck at the end. They seem to be doing well.

Last night, I freaked out b/c I had put off getting a flight to Chicago for so long that now prices have doubled. After berating myself heavily for a while, I tried to compare prices for renting a car and driving. In the end, my brother-in-law crunched the numbers for me and recommended just flying, as the safest option. True. So I got a flight for November 7 - exactly a week from today. How I'll actually get to Omaha is yet another challenge. Not having a car in this country sometimes really kills me.

I made fourteen books today to try and distract myself from the depression. I gave two each to Shawn and Chela and will distribute the rest once I leave here. I also did some of the most awful housekeeping today, like loan deferment applications and financial aid applications. I have yet to call Sprint to disconnect service. I finished transcribing my book and skipped yoga b/c I barely slept; it was SO cold last night - my head was freezing. The draft was so bad that it felt like I was just out in the wind. Daylight savings doesn't help. I forgot it was Halloween. Hopefully tomorrow's big project will help w/the depression: beating milkweed. Finally.