Saturday, February 11, 2012

A practice requires practice

That's what I learned yesterday. I mean, that's what I was reminded of yesterday morning. The rest of the day was like a friend fest, which was a well-deserved break from my edits. I started with lunch and a cupcake run with an old friend, and then visited my favorite printshop to say hi to Vijay Kumar, and pick up prints. I was pleased to see one of his students working on etchings that she made on crocheted paper. Years ago, I had experimented with etching onto knitted paper, and gave Vijay a sample print to use in his classes. Carolyn took to it and started to crochet her old prints on eastern papers. When I saw her, she had just sent a panel through the press alone. I asked her about her process and was delighted to find out the ways she had improved on my original idea with Vijay's help, to address technical issues. She happened to have an exhibit up at the shop, so I took a look and was excited that almost all of her crocheted prints had sold. I bought the last one so that I could use it also for my classes as a sample. Vijay always encourages this kind of sharing, and I was excited to have inspired other people. [Vijay has a retrospective up in Ohio until May!]

Then I met Terttu for tea in the park, homemade cookies, and story swapping about the joys and frustrations of teaching. After visiting ICP (where she's teaching a book/photo class), I took her on a walking tour of Koreatown and we split a pastry before I hopped a train to NY Central to browse more handmade paper that might work as a substitute for hanji in my classes and talk to the paper dealer about hanji sales. I smiled when I overheard him tell another customer about how there is no such thing as rice paper and that it is actually a derogatory term--his was an explanation I had not yet heard. I had just refrained from making my own explanation in the printshop because I wasn't in the lecturing mood. But I'm glad someone made that speech yesterday! One person at a time, we will slowly erase that dreadful misnomer, just like we have made strides away from calling people "oriental."

Because I love talking to paper people about paper, I left in a grand mood and walked to my favorite organic vegan place to meet two other old friends. We hadn't all met together since last year in California (when we used to all live there), so it was a treat to catch up over such good comfort food. Life has changed a lot for all of us in the span of a year, two of us switching coasts, and it was reassuring to share stories while eating mashed potatoes. We even splurged on pie.

I'm contemplating a gratitude practice, and inadvertently launched it with the latest autobiography I picked up: Helen Keller's The Story of my Life. I'm trying not to make comparisons, like how I should be grateful for my sight and hearing (which I am). Rather, I am completely riveted by her descriptions of early childhood and that intense desire she had to express herself and learn, and how that is such a natural instinct in children. Not everyone gets the right teacher, of which she was well aware, but the ones who do, fly.

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