Sunday, August 12, 2012

The view from the other side

Rainwater, and lots of it! Which caused me great joy from the moment I got to the Morgan until yesterday, the first day of workshop, when I saw one little wriggling thing in a glass jar meant for testing doneness of fibers, only to see that the entire huge canister of water (comes up to my chest) was FULL of mosquito larvae. I haven't been that creepy-crawly horrified in a while. The big men dumped it all but even that night I felt creeped out thinking of it.
I can't even remember which day this was, but Tom was interviewed for a local TV spot featuring the Morgan. I had to be reminded a few times to shush and use inside voices (and no laughing!). I arrived in Cleveland on Wednesday but Thursday and Friday especially were blurs, the final prep day lasting for 15 hours. There were moments I was worried I was going to pass out but mostly my feet were angry that I was on them so much.
I had tired moments of panic because I realized I planned entirely too much for this two-day, twelve-hour workshop. Velma coached me in the morning when I called to worry out loud. Though I probably did not take her advice at all, it was a GREAT comfort and made it possible for me to let go of things before I even started and I think that (combined with the extreme exhaustion) helped me not get too hung up on whatever was to come. Which was wonderful. Somehow, I got through all of my material, everyone got to form and dry three sheets of traditional hanji (meaning six sheets of paper total), I was able to do demos that felt much calmer to me than how I had felt in my heart while worrying, and there was plenty of other activity going on. My body could only teach, though, so I have no images even though I had many, many moments that I thought would look lovely. I've learned a lot from the first time I taught this class, and more this time. Just ask this tea party of drying hanji next to the kozo garden.
I really couldn't have asked for better students. Eager, helpful, engaged, curious, and spongy. Lauren made this lovely jiseung bracelet as a donation to the Morgan archives. I had never seen a student pull something like this off after my jiseung demos! She was one of the final people to sign up, after the stars aligned quickly: she contacted me because she works for a business that makes hanji lamps and had some questions. All of a week and a half ago. I told her about the Cleveland workshop, not thinking she would actually be able to travel all the way here from North Carolina. Next thing I know, she's registered for class and driving up! Aside from the healthy local representation, there were students from Boston and Kansas City, though the prize for traveling the furthest for hanji is Vladimir from the Czech Republic. He'll come by for another visit tomorrow before I head to a private jiseung lesson.

The more I do this, the more I pick up on tiny details that remind me that I know so much more than I thought while also reminding me that I know nothing at all. I was so honored to have one of the best teachers of my life come all the way from Chicago to become my student for the weekend. Melissa had great suggestions for me and was a wonderful extra set of eyes, cluing me into how class went when I was supervising the big vat. To match that goodness, a former student when I was a TA six years ago came all the way from Michigan to take class. Both she and Melissa had been readers for my book, so that made it all the more touching for me. Two years ago, I met Tony, a board member and wonderfully kind and generous friend. It was such fun to have him in class as well, and he gave me important feedback early that helped me offer information in a way I haven't before. Despite being terrorized by mosquitoes last night (I had to offer my cheek while laying in bed before I could slap myself, kill one, and get back to sleep), I have enough wind to appreciate and turn over in my heart what a student from NYC shared: this was a life-changing experience.


  1. mmmmmmm mozzie larvae - lovely! but I must say could be worse..... I once saw a little wriggling thing on my floor, then another and another and another 'what are these white wriggling worms and where are they coming from?'..... I soon found out - maggots falling through my ceiling manhole from a dead rodent in my roof cavity..... *shudder* it still creeps me out!!!!!

    ps on a nicer note - maybe one day you might come to oz and show all your papery goodness? (I promise to make sure there are no mozzie and maggoty nasties!!!)

  2. Bugs aside, it was a fabulous, informative, experiential workshop: I'm leaving with tons of information (and -I don't think I got a chance to tell you - a solution to a problem with a piece I'm working on). HUGE congratulations, and many thanks! And, aside from that, it was just plain great to see you AND to be at the Morgan together!
    Hooray! Ray Hoo!

  3. ronnie: agh, live maggots!! i was upset enough when i found them dead in my hands after cooking walnuts for dye. i would LOVE to do a hanji-sharing trip to oz; it's just a matter of logistics.

    mjc: thank you thank you and you're wholly welcome! you DID tell me more than once that you now have a solution. i can't wait to see it in action. SO glad you went off with a mini bal teul and am excited to see what comes of it. i like that most of our meetings (or all?!) post-chicago happen at the morgan. a fine habit, i say.^^

  4. oh RATS, i just couldn't make it! (though i thought of calling susan and making a secret trip!) i am so glad it went well and i really think you need to take ALL of my advice, since i am SO wise! ha! i love this report because it is so positive and full of wonderfulness. YAY, aimee!


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