Sunday, April 29, 2007

Turning into a pumpkin

For being such a princess, I need to be more like Cinderella. I fell into a black sleep on the train home tonight after 1. seeing LMCC open studios and talking to Yoko Inoue, an artist we funded when I was at NYFA; 2. costume options w/Diana for Tides; 3. a cranky walk (me cranking about my ankle) w/Gili to see E&D for dinner; and 4. more fittings for clothes from E's amazing, neverending closet. Gili and I found out that we wore the same dress for junior prom. This morning, I got a sweet package from Japan with jewelry from Yoko. So I dressed all girly and pink to match.

Oh, this is fun: I found out that a blogger I don't know listed me as a Friday artist on her blog for a couple Fridays back! Check it out. I'm in the beginning of some serious shifts in my reading habits: I'm trying to catch up on work by Korean Americans. Gili gave me Marie Lee's Someone's Daughter. Thank god it's a paperback.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Goofing off

I might have to give up and accept my embarrassing sleep schedule: to bed at 2am, rise at 9:30am. I hate it but I can't stop. I stayed up to finish Aloft, and then got up to shoot myself for a friend's art project. It's a strange process, being the DP and the model at the same time, but all under a remote person's directions. After a quick trip to the library, mom and I went to visit Githa's parents upstate. It was nice, but driving an hour and back was exhausting. I should go to bed but am more interested in staying up to watch "Quinceanera." Foolish, b/c tomorrow I have a big agenda in town. But what can I say? I'm a goofy fool.

Friday, April 27, 2007

My marketing department slacked

Oh, right. My work has been at the Bridge Art Fair in Chicago for the last two days and will be there until the 30th. It's being shown by Orleans Street Gallery, but I don't know which booth number. This is one of the pieces, the one I freaked out over b/c I realized I have to keep it. But the other two are up for sale, so go and buy if you wish. Or just look; they're both handmade paper delights. I'm getting closer to finishing Chang-Rae Lee's Aloft, and surprised at how much I hate it less than when I read his Native Speaker years ago. I watched "Raising Victor Vargas" last night and had lunch w/Ivan today in Brooklyn at a Turkish joint. Then I dropped off Gili's handmade wall calendar that I was forced to make yesterday, complete with full moons and a couple of black days. I forgot to take pics; hopefully she will snap a few. It's pretty hilarious, as is this post by Joseph (make sure you scroll down to see the cats).

Language survey

This is a squirmy topic for me, as I am still trying to figure out what exactly I want to learn from delving into issues of difference, entitlement, access, culture, and communication as they relate to language. I appreciate all of your time and energy in participating in this survey; answers can be as short or as long as you like (I love related stories). You can either post your answers on the blog or email them to me: contact@aimeelee.net. I will give you due credit once the piece that evolves from this research reaches its final form.

1. What was your first language? What is your most fluent language now?
2. Growing up, what language(s) did you hear regularly?
3. Do you speak the same language(s) as your family?
4. Do you speak other languages? If so, which ones? When and why did you learn them?
5. Have you traveled alone to places where you did not speak the language? What was that experience like?
6. Have you traveled to places where you did not speak the language, but were accompanied by someone who did? What was that experience like?
7. Have you ever had to translate for someone else? What was that experience like?
8. How do you feel when you are in a situation with someone who does not share a language with you? What do you do to communicate?
9. Have you ever developed a language (written or spoken) with someone, whether as a child or in adulthood?
10. Have you ever been forced to learn a language? How did that go?
11. Do people ever assume that you can/cannot speak a particular language based on the way that you look?
12. How do you feel when speaking a language other than the dominant language of a particular place in public?
13. How much of your identity is caught up in the language(s) you use?
14. Are you a musician in any capacity?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm scared

This was just a month and change ago, when I got to be in the studio everyday, and did something everyday, even if it seemed trivial or meaningless or tiny. I'm at a block now. I sometimes pick up my pen and then put it back down, without having made a mark. Yoonshin warned me about this, and warned me not to wait to long, or hesitate. It's like I've exhausted all the little things and am trying to hide behind nothing, maybe a fern or a pinecone, so that maybe my big project won't see me.

Yesterday in yoga, I felt like the answer to "where is your spirit?" (after Ana said that it might not actually be inside our bodies) was: right in front of my face. I talked to Ellie last night about this, and about my fear of how that affects both my vision (I'm incredibly nearsighted) and my artistic vision. The fear being that if I actually was able to get my spirit back inside of me, that I would no longer be able to see in the way I am accustomed. Which probably wouldn't be a bad thing, but change is always drama for me. And I just want more and more to hide in the cave of my comfort zone.

I'm going to Mexico. I'm still too frightened to actually buy the plane ticket, but I will likely do so tomorrow, and then apply for the grant money for travel funds from an outside source. I'm suddenly learning all these things about Korea and other people's work, and feel like the world is getting bigger and bigger. So I feel smaller and smaller. This dry spell scares me. I have so much work to do, every day, and I work every day, but I feel like I'm skillfully avoiding what I really have to do. Every day.

A curse to have an interesting life

I had about two or three panic attacks today, and am calming myself down by doing my usual obsessive combing of the web for yoga-related things. I just read an article about yoga teachers who sleep w/their students and how bad that is. Then, I found an image of Heather Tiddens in the dragonfly pose we learned yesterday. I'm panicking b/c I got another show but it's a piece that is on consignment and I'm hoping it DOES NOT sell in the next few days, but if it does, I guess I'll learn another big lesson: if I don't want to sell but it has to be for sale, I have to overprice by a LOT. I constantly undercut myself. So, I'd like everyone to send out energy towards Chicago, convincing people NOT to buy this piece. Please. Just walk on by.

Then, I panicked about Mexico: I pretty much said I would go to the organizer, but then was just told that it's really dangerous, and when I looked up the state I'll be in, it's the state w/the highest murder rate in the entire country. So now I'm all freaked out. In the meantime, I'm listening to a podcast by Jonathan Bowra to sedate myself. The title of this post comes from something he said was a Chinese proverb. I have had similar ADHD today to Ching-In. I haven't been able to follow through on any tasks. Still no flights to Wyoming, or Mexico, no trip planning confirmed for Boston, no further emails to people in Korea, no library visit, no artwork. Instead, I've gotten halfway on everything and baked ANOTHER batch of cookies. I'm losing my mind. The rain doesn't help. I did finish Jane Smiley's The Age of Grief. So a book and batch of cookies: that is what I have completed today.

Just before I lose my arm strength

I have been worrying nonstop lately to my friends (mostly Gili) about my fears about taking the Ana Forrest workshop today: 1. I am out of shape and won't be able to keep up and will be kicked out of class 2. The class will kick my ass 3. My panty lines will be unacceptable in a NYC class (I used to be very concerned about this in general when I used to work in SoHo six years ago. I stopped giving a shit in Chicago, but it now creeps up on me, back in the city). Well, I was wrong. I was able to handle the class (except for one lightheaded/losing my hearing scary moment where I had to stop standing b/c I knew I'd faint - they heat the room, don't ventilate, and it turns into a sweat lodge. The man next to me was DRENCHED and dripping onto me and my mat), get over my fear of master teachers, do an advanced pose (dragonfly), and we were all in such close proximity doing such intense yoga that I'm sure no one would have noticed if I wore my underwear over my pants.

I also was reminded of a few things:
1. No need to do such an intense practice (I was spent the rest of the day and will hurt for a few more. Have iced the ankle that I strained. Got some tips on how to use muscles to wrap the sciatic nerve to protect it), which is why I love the new Reebok ad campaign. I think committing to my self practice is the best thing I can do for myself, b/c I know exactly what I need and won't hurt myself doing things b/c someone is pushing me w/o knowing my injuries/limitations. This is why I switched from Forrest to Tantric Hatha.
2. I am so much stronger than I think. I love being Asian for the flexibility, but I love being me for the upper body strength.
3. Wait, maybe that was it. I'm going to merge this list w/other good things of the day:
4. Good talk w/a former Fulbright-er. I got TONS of advice about how to start dealing w/my idea and have crazy amounts of research to pounce upon.
5. Great arugula goat cheese not enough endive salad at Spring Street Natural w/Gi & Alyssa.
6. Nap.
7. Seeing Robbin's show at the Brooklyn Central Library (Grand Army Plaza) and meeting two other artists at the opening.

I would say more, but my poor computer is overheating.

Monday, April 23, 2007

60 years old





I played model daughter this weekend and was a perfect hostess (except I didn't wear an apron). I peeled and cut lots of fruit and served lots of beer and cleared and washed and dried lots of dishes. Yesterday, I had a lovely rehearsal w/Diana to figure out our bead/droplet and then I almost left my violin on the train when I got off at home. NO JOKE. I walked onto the platform, thinking, "hm, I was struggling all day but why does my load feel so much lighter?" as I held a boring philosophical anthropology book in my hand and nothing in the other.

Then I said, "oh, SHIT!" and ran back onto the train, grabbed my violin from the overhead rack, and ran off. I wouldn't have cared if the train doors closed and I ended up at the next station. The important thing was that it was in my hands. Age, memory, out of sight/mind, it's all catching up to me. Still catching up on arts admin for myself and doing more bday things today for dad. Cookies for mom, so she doesn't feel left out.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Smashing everything together

I'm pretty impressed by my exhaustion. I don't understand why it's running so long and so deep. But in case I fall apart this weekend from family celebrations and bead rehearsal (Gili likes to call me a droplet but it's a BEAD), I'll share everything now that I've been thinking about. Oh, and this hilarious photo from today when I made Gili chase a man w/balloons. If you want to see more, check out the very shaky video.

Last night, into today (until about 2:30am), I watched the entire first season of "Weeds." And I didn't even do it on purpose for today, 4/20 (the day that the most beautiful woman in the world got married).

I was thinking today about some of the women who keep me afloat. More than that, but just recently, the ones who keep me inspired and support me in really difficult times, and have unshakable faith in the importance of art, my work, and me. Here are four, in no particular order:

Susan Deer Cloud: a poet I met years ago while working for NYFA. I hired her as a poetry panelist and have stayed in touch ever since. She sends me incredible words at just the right times, when I'm falling off of the tightrope.

Ching-In: a poet I met in January in Vermont. Meeting her makes all the drama and trauma of that horrid residency worth it - she is so generous and has so much energy that I wonder how it can all flow out of one person. She challenges me, makes me look up words, helps me learn, supports my growth, and shares things that need to be shared, like this.

Terttu: a brilliant photographer I met in Chicago a couple years back when I was binding a book and she was cutting paper. I marvel at her wisdom, bravery, joy, and cooking skills. I used to think that I could never befriend a junior, but even though she's chronologically 6.5 years younger, she's way further along than I am. I love that I can feel simultaneously like we're two babies in a playpen or two crones in rocking chairs: always laughing, always ready for the next adventure.

Gili: a writer I met online who turned out to have she same alma mater and friend in common. She never lets me off easy, lets me be whoever and whatever I am whenever, and rocks the "let's be friends!!" lifestyle. I can't believe how many insane ups and downs she has already helped me through, and we only met in person five months ago. She also recommends great things to read and watch. Like this:
What else? Don't talk about your writing. If you talk about your writing you will touch something you shouldn't touch and it will fall apart and you will have nothing. Get up at first light and work like hell...Watch your blood pressure. Read. Read...Read...Hold on to your friends. Work like hell and make enough money to go someplace else, some other country where the [---] Feds can't get at you.

Did I say keep your friends? Keep you friends, hold on to your friends. Don't lose your friends.

- Tobias Wolff, Old School

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Running while sitting

I'm amazed at how verbal abuse can make a person so physically tired. But the good news is that we're on track: starting insurance claims, I think the bricks are okay, and the crate might be able to be repaired on site. I still have consignment forms, ten more leads on papermaking in Korea, rental car rates and domestic/international flights to scope out, and and and. Too much, almost. But I got to meditate and do yoga for the first time in too long, and watched "I Have Found It" and "Vera Drake." I'm remembering again that whole thing about how life hits you w/a 2x4 and then once you survive that, it whacks you w/an even harder one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Requests

I'm asking that the VT tragedy is number one of the three recent bad things that happened to me. The third hit today: got a call from the museum that my crate arrived, badly damaged. They do a full damage report tomorrow after unpacking and assessing the actual bricks. I was kind of horrified, but also not surprised. It doesn't mean I'm not upset, but I'm used to it w/this piece: it's a self-portrait. I am high maintenance and high drama. This piece mirrors me perfectly. What can I say? I am a good mirror and I make a good mirror.

Oh, crap. I just found out something that makes me lean more heavily towards going to Mexico this summer. Wow. Things are moving so quickly. It's funny, too, b/c I'm getting everything I asked for: when I started working, I thought during the drudgery moments, "I would rather deal w/my monstrous thesis crate nightmare than work for other people," and voila! Here I am, in the boat I requested. The universe does indeed deliver. I need to now ask for more specific and positive things. Any suggestions?

No more working for the man

That was fast. I'm done w/the job. The ending wasn't pretty, but I can't go into details since it's all "professional" stuff (I mean, not what happened, but it's not wise to explain publicly). As yucky as it feels, it's also a big relief. Back to my regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A tall glass of water

And staying up late. That's penance for two glasses of sangria at Gili's bday dinner tonight. Hopefully I don't feel it too hard tomorrow, since it's my alloted day to deal with taxes and other unpleasant business transactions. But today was lovely (like the Hawaiian rainbow in the Japanese picture frame. These are the ways I treat myself). Reading a trashy magazine into town, catching up w/Ching-In, talking out details about possibly of performing next month for my old acro teacher, an amazing massage from her, tea and muffins w/Gili and Alyssa, and then lots of pizza for dinner. I tried to reinstall iPhoto for Gili, but her connection was too slow to handle it. I was sad to not be able to display any computer prowess for her entry into Saturn Return.

I was scared to meet her friends b/c I was afraid they'd all hate me, but I think it went fine. I realized recently that I am not low maintenance at all, and that I need to stop pretending that I am, or trying to be. I still believe in going to the bathroom quickly if you can and not taking a million years to get ready to go out. But I'm the opposite of Ching-In's "adventure over comfort" lifestyle. I'm glad that I have friends and family who fit the following bills: hockey player/fanatic, Swedish, architect, live in various places across the country and world, polyglot, math genius (well, anyone who can multiply is a genius to me), and so forth. Then I can talk about them rather than discuss my preference for laying in a large bed all day with my computer (which, btw, has given up its panicking ways altogether ever since I swapped out the RAM. Thank Hashem). Now, back to sitting in bed and editing my website.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Forever out of the loop

Wait, I missed another Friday the 13th!! What is the deal? I keep not knowing. Maybe it's just not as important anymore in my life to know. I only found out today as Gavin figured measurements for the Carnegie Hall book I cut down and sewed tonight (causing me to miss Jami's release party. Ug, I wore the fancy boots for naught). The leaves were going to be 11.5" x 13", but he said that's an unlucky number, especially today. And then I thought, wait, is TODAY Friday the 13th??! What gives? What today was: board shear delivery day. Wow. Boy, was I glad I to be a woman today, and in a dress and apron to boot so I looked especially unable to help w/the heavy lifting. A new Jacques board shear arrived on a pickup truck from Pennsylvania. All metal, two men, Gavin, one plate, and one little wooden wheely cart. The most difficult job I had was standing outside w/o a jacket, watching the glass front door that had been taken off and leaned against the storefront, so that it wouldn't fall down or get stolen.

Yesterday, Ivan and I went to a Chelsea gallery for a wholly unsatisfying opening. This morning, I saw another disappointing show in midtown. I need to see good art, but in the meantime will settle for a massage tomorrow w/Diana. Tired out of my eyeballs, but things are moving along. I'm treating my taxes like another art deadline, and then will look for flights to Wyoming for the fall, check prices on flights to Mexico for the summer, do more Korea research, and prep some more apps.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I wasn't joking

I can't stop. Or, I don't really want to. Gi says I should eat the ginger chews in moderation. I think I've gotten three packs already and I only started buying them last week. It hasn't been a week yet. They're just SO GOOD. But I worry about the sugar and my pre-pre-diabetic condition. I was thinking that I just need to eat tapioca things and wished that there was bubble tea someplace close. Then, lo and behold, I see a place that sells bubble tea right around the corner from work. Hilarious. I had only noticed them before when I left work, b/c it's a place that sells food, too, and puts out read food on a table outside the joint. Which I find very strange. Especially after seeing all the fake plastic food in Japan.

I'm still exhausted by working, and haven't figured out an exercise routine at all. Today, I chopped board all day. But I'm feeling better (though I fear that the remaining congestion and passing sore throat are actually allergy symptoms and not cold symptoms), and might be agreeing to do some performing for my old trapeze teachers. I have yet to see my friends and go see art, but all in due time.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A photo by Julie Laffin

Julie took this pictures when I visited her last month, in her amazing handmade silk dress that's as tall as a huge building. I'm activating new priorities: my day job is just my day job. No need to spend any more energy than necessary there. All I have to do is stand at the bench, build boxes, and make books. That's it. I have to conserve my energy for my real life: art. I got invited to be in an exhibit in the fall, am starting to seriously research paper leads in Korea, and am looking to show in NYC. I finished another app tonight, the bricks have been shipped via UPS Freight, and there are still so many forms to fill out (loan agreements, taxes, la dee da). There is no more time to procrastinate!

Go go gadget and yay for tea w/Gili today! I'm officially addicted to sucking on Reed's ginger chews at work. It might turn into a pack a day habit.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Joan Dickinson said this

"Often, things that you want have been taken away from you...expressing your desire makes you vulnerable."

(just something I wanted to share that I found in a sketchbook in the box in the closet.)

"Let's call this song exactly what it is"

I feel like I've worked all weekend but still have not made a dent in the work I have to get done. I marvel at this dirty trick that weekends play on us. I've caught up on a lot of things in my inbox (and am considering making myself a physical inbox for my paperwork that exists outside of the computer) and made an apron yesterday for work. I had been thinking about it for a while, b/c I hate the ones that are usually worn in the shop. I generally hate to wear aprons, but get too dirty at work to get away w/o one. So I sewed up a couple hankies and eyeglass cloths and a belt from a sweater that I no longer own, and voila! Customized, reversible skirt apron with pockets. Light, washable, and too gaudy for anyone to want to steal. Oh, and it has a Korean side and a language-free side. hahahaaa.

I had to do a photo shoot today of a bunch of my sketchbooks to enter for another call. I figured I might as well make an album of the spreads, so take a look. My back hurt a lot doing it, so excuse the bad focus on a bunch of them. It was kind of dreadful at first to try and pull out my books from the corner closet w/all sorts of other things in the way (desk, suitcase, mini sewing machine, boxes...), but I do love my sketchbooks. It was nice to flip through them. The little breaking cutouts are still my all time favorites. No, I still haven't done my taxes. Or wrapped a couple pieces that will be in the Bridge Art Fair in a few weeks in Chicago. Okay, fine, I'll go do that now.

p.s. - new idea for how to deal with eye strain at work: watch lots of tearjerkers to help stimulate my tear ducts and provide more lubrication for the eyeballs.

Friday, April 06, 2007

NOW I get it

After four straight days of work (and today barely counted b/c the commute was so pleasant due to religious holidays), I TOTALLY understand why it's so hard to keep up on life when working full time. It seemed so easy just a few years ago, when I worked f/t, had an even longer commute, and had something almost every night of the week: trapeze/acrobatics class, yoga class, t'ai chi or qigong class, jazz/improv violin lessons, chiropractic, acupuncture, therapy, dating, etc. Now, I'm barely able to climb out of bed in the morning, and have a hard time walking to the subway after work.

Not only that, but I'm sick again. My denial stages are getting shorter and shorter; this time I was only in denial for a day. I feel awful, but have now traced a fascinating pattern: I get sick every time I start a new job. When I started at NYFA in 2001, sick (that, I blamed on post-9/11 air). When I started at IAC in 2004, sick (blamed that on cubicle air and allergies). When I interned in Brooklyn in 2006, sick (blamed it on winter). Interning in December 2006, sick (blamed that on running from state to state). Vermont Jan 2007, sick (yeah, I worked then, for the office. Blame that one on a crappy residency).

Isn't that insane?? I marvel at the discovery. B/c these are the two solutions: 1. (contributed by dad) Stay at a job forever and never quit, or 2. (this is mine) Never work for anyone else. As crazy as managing my artist life/career is, I would much rather do that full time than anything else. I actually had fun at the airport, waiting for my ride last week, using the extra two hours to set up a new spreadsheet to keep track of expenses and categorize them for tax year 2007. Suddenly, using Excel doesn't seem so horrific when it's for MY benefit only.

Anyhow. Work: whoa. It's HARD. I sewed that monstrous Bible up there in a day and a half. I thought it would take me all week, but I was so grossed out by the mold and dust and rust that I zipped through it, only to be slammed with trays for a box, an entire box, inside liners for a book, and so on. I'm on phone, computer ordering, cleanup, and customer interface detail as well when needed. I can barely see by the end of the day from all the precision work. But I guess it's what I asked for, in its entirety, so I can't complain. I do understand, though, why people can't answer emails, blog, update software, mail birthday cards, back up their computers, do their taxes, and keep up with friends in a timely fashion when working. Whew. I even skipped my shower today.

Weekend goals: get all my paper/computer work done, get better
What I've read/seen but haven't had time to mention in the past two weeks: Ann Patchett's Bel Canto (thanks, Tam!), Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee (oh, wait, I only did three chapters of this b/c I was so bored), "Party Girl" (finally, say Gi and me), and I forget b/c now I'm a forgetful 9-to-5-er (not forever. I got a 2-week summer res in Mexico, but don't know yet if I will go. Sept: Wyoming).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

First day

This image has no relationship to my post (besides the fact that this is the woman who birthed me and I am still alive and blogging). I love this old snapshot of my mom. She claims it's from when she was a student in Korea, but I think it looks like New York. Mmm, maybe not, now that I'm looking at it again. I'm totally exhausted from my first day of my new full-time job. I spent seven hours sewing a really old, moldy, illustrated Bible in an Eastern European language. I'm not done, but I've gotten to the start of the New Testament, and am over 1,000 pages in. I feel strange and exposed being back in NYC, in springtime. It's a little too much for me to handle. I miss bundled-up winter and being allowed to be introverted. I don't like open season on harassment. But the big pro about being back is that unlike Chicago, where I fear bumping into at least four people I never want to see again in my life, there is only one here! Also, I work four blocks away from my sister (we had lunch today). Soon another friend will start working nearby, too. And, of course, I'm that much closer to Gili.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I'll never be sixteen again

About to hop on the train to see G&G. I'm frustrated w/the jet lag from Chicago. I know, only an hour. But this going to bed late, rising late business is yucky. I'm feeling out of sorts, and only realized recently that I'm only getting older and am not a teenager anymore. Even though I went to the library to print out another grant app, and the librarian asked if I was a student. The whole world will always think I am a student. Anyhow, I told him I was an artist, and he wouldn't let me pay for copies. Hahahaa. I was preoccupied yesterday w/doing things for mom's bday, and then looking up all the things I can do to exercise. I love that a person can spend so much time sitting on her ass READING about exercising. My extra RAM arrived today; I'll install once I find a screwdriver small enough.

My paternal grandfather (my maternal one died when my mom was little) took this picture when he was still alive and I was tiny, in Korea. I think. I don't remember, so I make up the story. It's a pretty good indication of my present mood.