Monday, January 19, 2009

Bright day, smoky eyes

Back in the saddle. I thought today would be another sitting on HOT floors tearing down paper day, since the men in the family had to go to town. But instead, the father came and got me in the middle of possibly my 15th signature, to start making ash water. The pepper tree smells all came back. We gathered and bundled the bark that has been drying and hanging in the sun, soaked it, and then cut down w/a machete (I ran outside to get it, and started to run back, but then thought, "probably not a good idea to run w/a machete") before adding to the cauldron. I hauled buckets of ash water to the outdoor cooking station after I was told to start a fire.

Me, fire? I am the last person you call when you want to start a fire. Fire runs in the opposite direction from me. I got a lighter, two sheets of newspaper, a bundle of dried plants, threw in four logs, lit it and ran the other direction. I was afraid my teachers were going to leave before I got the fire started, but luckily I walked out later and it was raging; the father had come out after getting changed for town.

An old friend used to be obsessed about smelling the neck of her baby. She loved that smell. That's how I feel about the smell of cooking mulberry bark. And it is even better here, since it's cooking in plant ash instead of soda ash. Except the wind keeps changing so I've been getting hit hard by the smoke. I like watching from a little further away to see the difference in color between the steam and the smoke. I went to the woodpile w/the wheelbarrow that has holes in the bottom to get more firewood and of course the tarp was frozen to the ground.

Time to run out and check the fire...

Last week, Katherine called me and suffered the brunt of my first talk w/a native English speaking friend since I got here. It made me realize how important friends are, through different modes of communication (mostly what I have here is email, some phone, some texting). She talked about how she is trying to reconcile old friendships and it spurred me into action. I'm in touch w/two people now that I thought were gone from the ranks and once I get back to the city will deal with the one friend that I really hope not to lose; this one requires more thoughtfulness and an actual penned letter.

I also got a very sweet email from my teacher who is working in Japan, apologizing for not being able to spend more time helping me out. It's so ridiculous, b/c he has already helped above and beyond the call of the biggest heart ever, but it made me realize the cultural conditioning that I share - the tendency to overapologize, constantly apologize, and always say you fall short. Last night I finished a weaving that is supposed to be a replica of the one he made me last week. It's of course not as good, but it's good practice. I have suffered through a lot of bad movies for it - it's easier to spin and weave to TV, and the motel replaced my noisy bad reception one. But there's only one channel that shows foreign films. And, sadly, they're pretty awful. I don't know how I did it, but I had a marathon on Sunday of Harry Potter (don't know which one), Batman Begins, Tomb Raider (don't know which one), Sky High, and then gave up once Rush Hour 3 started. I vaguely remember Terminator (don't know which one) in there, but maybe it was the night before. It's dreadful stuff, but I got lots of work done. And somehow, it's still better than soccer.

Fire!

Last week, Katherine and Hyesun both asked if I was videotaping and documenting. Kind of, sort of. I guess I'm at a place where I'm tired of all the stock photos - everyone has them. I feel like I've spent the last 5 years constantly explaining to people how to make paper. It's really boring to me. But I felt myself getting really defensive when asked. I know that I should. But it's also a balancing act. The tripod would have been too much to travel with (though I might bring it back after this weekend in Seoul). The camera could fall into all sorts of trouble (water, mucilage, dirt, snow, ice, pulp, rust, etc.). This place isn't mine to splay open for the world to see. And, as for video, I think that once I shot and cut the video from last summer, I never wanted to edit again (and would like to give my brillz editor sister a break from all my editing favors). I'm also still dreadfully old school, or just strange, about these experiences: I like to experience them. No camera, no pen and paper, just eyes and ears and hands (I think that this place fully exploits the range of possibility available to a creature w/opposable thumbs).

But I am keeping track every night: a work log of everything I've learned and done that day, a journal of my thoughts and emotions, a written journal, a written notebook for the field, and a calendar. Last night, I found some old documents in my computer that completely floored me. One was the last two chapters of a story I worked on four years ago. I kept meaning to go back to it when it seemed right (and my first solo show this fall is built around it), but hadn't looked at it for a long time. Eerie to read it, b/c it was a total prediction of what was to come in the following years. Creepy. Also, one of the old friends I contacted told me that I am doing almost exactly what I said years ago that I was planning to do. I didn't remember verbalizing any of this, but apparently I did.

It's like the story my violin teacher told me about the fake fireplace house vision. That's a story for later. For now, time to stoke the fire again.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:44 AM

    "But I am keeping track every night: a work log of everything I've learned and done that day, a journal of my thoughts and emotions, a written journal, a written notebook for the field, and a calendar"

    aimee - from one ocd chick to another...you rock!

    kath

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