Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old lies

I've been behaving badly, staying up until 3am reading books, getting up in the morning and finishing books, reading books at all my meals, reading in dim light, reading until my eyes go all blurry. But I can't help it! They are so delicious. Though today or last night I caught, finally, the passage that I had wondered about for years, since the mid-90s. I had been involved with a boy who was very dramatic and wrote beautifully (both in terms of his composition and his handwriting--dangerous traits, I came to realize too late) and had terrible posture and treated women badly. In one of his dramatic letters from his first ever trip abroad, he wrote about the mountains, and about how Annie Dillard said that you could throw your anger at a mountain and it would not throw it back. I see the passage now, and he paraphrased it horribly (she wasn't talking about anger) and completely skewed my idea of her writing back when I was all too impressionable. The funny thing is that I can see all my youth's folly now, but I'm not that much further along in current folly. At least all of my citations are bibliographically correct, and with the proper pagination. I don't like to paraphrase and only do it when I have to (which is a lot) and always worry that I got it wrong.

Then again, I suppose we are all entitled to our own misreadings and misunderstandings. Better to think for ourselves than not.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A sure thing

Today I tried to stay off the computer once the library opened. Hooray for that, after holiday and blizzard closings! I came home with ten books and ripped into half today. I laughed and laughed at Nikki Giovanni's brilliant Sacred Cows...and Other Edibles and was completely distraught by Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza. I also got wonderful things in the mail: the perfect book gifts from Velma, and the new issue of Hand Papermaking Magazine that includes an article I wrote about my research in Korea and how I am trying to share it with a wider audience online.

From Sacred Cows, I enjoyed this (but miss the typewriter days b/c there is MORE room for procrastination now that the keyboard can access all sorts of other things besides paper. Actually, keyboards these days can access everything else in the world, it seems, but paper):
I think, by the way, that every intended writer should learn to type. Most of us have a poor handwriting, and thinking on a typewriter is different from thinking on a yellow pad. The sooner you can think on a keyboard, the less room you have for procrastination. And all writers are great procrastinators!
But mostly was heartened by this: "I would hope each and every woman who ever thought she wanted to write would at least give it a try."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reviewing the divide

I'm unearthing things I read in preparation for my trip to Korea over two years ago and loved this one from East to America: Korean American Life Stories.
Out of curiosity I asked, "Which side are you on? Are you on the communist side, or are you on the side of democracy?" He said, "I don't know how to answer you, but let me put it this way. We are the grass, and one of you is a cow and one if you is a horse. What difference does it make which one eats us?" After a while I said, "That's a very good answer." I thanked him and went on my way. But that episode always stayed with me. I never asked another Korean peasant what side he was on.
--Young Kim, "Born to be a Soldier"

A good day to work from home

Lots of snow, lots of wind, a great day to be without a commute.

p.s. - West Elm reprinted a HAND/EYE article on me, changing up the design.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's true about the zoo

Bad dream about blood gushing out of my head + broken gel pen that I pliered apart.

I am feeling a sad about my grand experiment this month, which I'm failing miserably at. Yesterday, I re-read this from Annie Dillard's The Writing Life:
I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy for its many disorders. I hold its hand and hope it will get better.

This tender relationship can change in a twinkling. If you skip a visit or two, a work in progress will turn on you.

A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, "Simba!"
She's so right it's scary. But for the clawing I will get soon when I re-enter the cage, it was worth today's break to watch "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" and "Exit Through the Gift Shop." And, embarrassingly, I got so self-involved that I forgot to say, send good vibes in the direction of the deployed, around the world in a cold, windy patch of desert. I wish they got to celebrate their holy days differently.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A big puffy joy

I just mailed a mini-model (it looks like a normal one that accidently was guillotined. But that's not what happened) of one of my favorite bindings of this bunch to Velma. I got some longer paper in the completely wrong grain direction to do the slipcases, but these are the willing sacrifices I make when it's the only stuff I can get locally, immediately. On the way to the post office, I passed one of those blow-up lawn decorations: JOY in red. That's my today!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sixteen books later,

I can finally breathe easier (last night I had some kind of strange panic attack in bed) now that all of these models are done. Tomorrow I'll scrounge for big paper to practice slipcases and then, DONE! And back to computer work (boo). An update of my comings and goings has been posted on IAKA's blog.

Velma's stash of paper lasted me through the entire book, but I had to do some piecing near the end that would have horrified purists. You can see the most innocuous evidence here. The last book was much more obvious, made from no less than 9 scraps. Now I have to figure out what to do with all these trimmings!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nose, meet grindstone

I am ever so grateful to Velma for her encouragement to try structures from this book and for the paper to make my models. Though it has taught me that I would take a real live teacher any day over a book. I love books, and love learning things from books, but these kinds of things I need from a person, directly. Maybe this is why I was only able to get so far with knitting, b/c there was only so much I could stand learning from the back of a library book.

However, I have been overflowing with gratitude for the library next door. I used to think that I could never be a teacher, b/c I always assumed that 1. teachers had to be life-long learners, which meant reading books even after they finished school and they weren't assigned anymore, and 2. I would not be this kind of person. But I was wrong (about #2)! I know my life is not long enough to learn all the things I want to learn (and the things I don't even know that I want to learn, and the things I don't want to learn), but I still walk out with a bursting heart when I have a fresh stack of book in my hands. These days I have been reading, writing, reading, reading, and stressing (that last one is a given). I wish for more time, but as a good alternative, was so pleased to watch a good movie tonight after a family holiday celebration. "The Lives of Others," damn! Gives me enough inspiration to tackle a few more structures before my eyes give out for the night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Elephantine stress

Ay! Where is the time GOING?? I feel like I can barely stay on top of the research, the prep, the writing, the admin. But this was the best check ever that I got yesterday in the mail, and the snow that finally stuck brightens the day. Last night I had a great quick catch up with Paula from my violining days, and a nice long dinner with two girlfriends who've known me for even longer. One was the only friend who visited me when I was hospitalized at 16 with food poisoning that had turned into liver disease. I remember laying in bed being totally stressed out that I wasn't going to be able to research and hand in a report on elephants for a science class. And I still remember the flower she brought in a white bud vase and her mom. Thinking back, that was a really nice thing for another kid to do.

Today I am going to continue my grand experiment, propped up after reading a million more comics and finding this quote that I shared with Ben right before he deployed: “I have come to believe over and over again, that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” –Audre Lorde

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today's stash

Immediate access to a library is such a blessing, though I also use it as a way to get out of doing other things I should be doing (like writing). I especially loved that when I read Jessica Abel's La Perdida, I saw the character in front of an "All About My Mother" sign, which was tonight's movie. Both were satisfying. Derrida's Paper Machine is on my bed, but I'm putting all other reading before that to avoid the drudgery.

In a panic late last night, I bought my ticket to Oakland. I have one month left, and all I want to do is continue my version of hibernation: read, read, write a little, read, watch a movie, read, sleep, eat.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Permeated

I had nightmares about an artist acquaintance coming into my home, rehanging ALL of the artwork, doing a terrible job patching the old nail holes, and then covering the walls with a hideous bad paint job with glossy paint (on top of the existing flat paint), so that it was obvious where all the brushstrokes were. Then I screamed at him. The upside: I usually have a hard time yelling in my dreams, so I must be gaining more verve.

These days are a little ridiculous, the amount of time I'm forced to be on the computer. But here are two things to do if you want to stay online:

1. This only works for NYS artists: apply to go to Saltonstall in Ithaca next year! It's a GREAT residency.

2. Watch the fun and inspiring video of the very first kozo harvest at the Morgan! I almost didn't recognize my friends b/c I was so used to them being half naked in their summer garb, but they're all bundled up now.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

High on sharpies

I finally bit the bullet and made a comic book section on my site. I avoided it for a while because they don't look very exciting like this, but now they're somewhat penned in. True to their nature, there are definitely plenty of strays that are not in the lot and chewing on grass elsewhere. I made a nice zine yesterday AND the day before. I think my best work belongs to my beau. Too bad we can't open a zine library in Afghanistan. Maybe there is one and I just don't know about it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How can you not love James Baldwin

About my interests: I don't know if I have any, unless the morbid desire to own a sixteen-millimeter camera and make experimental movies can be so classified. Otherwise, I love to eat and drink--it's my melancholy conviction that I've scarcely ever had enough to eat (this is because it's impossible to eat enough if you're worried about the next meal)--and I love to argue with people who do not disagree with me too profoundly, and I love to laugh. I do not like bohemia, or bohemians, I do not like people whose principal aim is pleasure, and I do not like people who are earnest about anything. I don't like people who like me because I'm a Negro; neither do I like people who find in the same accident grounds for contempt. I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. I think all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one's own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright. I consider that I have many responsibilities, but none greater than this: to last, as Hemingway says, and get my work done.

I want to be an honest man an a good writer.
--"Autobiographical Notes," Notes of a Native Son

Grey, rain, wind, SUN!

The Incident at Blood Canyon from Shawn Miller. [This has great music but the subtitles are even better!]

Yesterday was very, very stormy. I went out into it to see Barbara for lunch and then Shawn and Lystra for dinner. My umbrella was decimated on the first leg of my walk, and I could barely stuff it into the trash can overflowing with broken umbrellas. I couldn't bring myself to purchase a new one b/c I knew the rain would eventually pass, so after lunch, I walked to the bookstore and dried off there and then looked at lots of books about books. Then I tried to get 'feminine products' out of a fancy department store's vending machine, only to have it eat my money, so I had to ask a gaggle of sales people who had no sales to make and they sent me to the executive office, where the secretary assumed I needed a discount coupon. When I explained, she gave me a tampon from her bag. I don't think SHE should have been responsible (though I was grateful) if the store had broken machines. Just like I don't think that soldiers at war should have to pay for their own tools to build their tents. But that's how working for the man goes.

I loved seeing my old friends and found out that Shawn has posted his fabulous videos on Vimeo. If I ever need a DP, I'm hiring him. I also came home to a surprising letter from my favorite alma mater: Oberlin has chosen me for an alumni award! I feel super honored and am excited to visit campus next year for a short residency. Which means I better get cracking on my big experiment.