Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Back in the fold

Ah, how slippery the slope is. I just had more red wine tonight. Now I've officially lost track of how much I've been drinking in the past week and a half. When did school end? Alex and Josie were very generous and sweet to take me out to dinner for doing their wedding invites for them this summer. The waiter forgot Alex's coffee and then we exchanged strange looks - he thought I needed something and I thought he needed something so we mirrored the same expression. It was so good to talk to Alex again b/c he has this hilarious way of seeing things that I would NEVER get to in a million years. There was something about seeing a bad situation as a potentially very good one...trying to remember...about meeting people who could help me...well, there it goes. My previously unrivaled photographic memory is failing me again.

Which reminds me! For a while, at least a month, I had been plagued by an image of this girl's face. I kept seeing her face: tiny features, pale, eastern European, dark brown hair, timid. And I couldn't remember for the longest time where it came from. I finally figured it out a few weeks ago: she was a 2nd violinist in the youth orchestra I used to manage in Newark! The one w/the last name I could never spell out w/o referring to my handy Access database. I'm not sure why she was haunting me. Anyhow, I saw another woman on the train today who I ALSO swear I knew, but again can't even come close to putting a finger on. Just no idea at all.

I met Tomoko today after my cranio-sacral session (more on that in a minute) and we had arranged to meet at the *bucks down the block from me b/c I couldn't figure out what coffee place she was trying to describe. Hilariously enough, she walked me straight back to my building: she meant the wine bar there! I was like, "Tomoko, I LIVE here!!" She was like, but it's a hotel!! Hahaaaa. Yes, it's true. Sooo much like a hotel.

But besides my morning's productiveness in the studio (more on THAT in a minute), the most euphoric part of today was at my c-s session. We devoted it to working on my jaw issues and it was AMAZING. He started w/c-s treatments to calm my jaw down, which was extremely agitated. Then he put his finger into my mouth to do trigger point therapy - I had to relay the pain on a scale of 1-10 w/my fingers. It was kind of scary, but then also incredible b/c I could feel the muscles reacting and tensing up but then letting go. Then he did orthopedic massage on the three sets of muscles on both sides of my head that affect the jaw, and then more c-s work on my pelvis and ears. That was ultra-weird b/c he just put his fingers in my ears while holding my head and it was kind of nice - like someone blocking the outside world from me. It made me think of when I was little and thought of morbid things like, "would I rather be blind or deaf?" [I always picked blind. Good old Little House on the Prairie]. So afterwards, he explained to me that the pelvic bones are supposed to move during treatment: open and close. But mine were stuck open. The temporal bones that cover the ears mimic the pelvic bones, so they were ALSO open, putting pressure on the jaw. AMAZING!!! It reminds me of how Dearbhla talked in yoga about the jaw and hips being connected. I think it was her...anyhow, still SO amazing. I have renewed faith again in this bodywork. Well, I always do, but it falters most when I open my checkbook to pay for it. Today was incredible. I felt great coming out of session.

So - the other exciting part of the daytime: I laid out my bricks to get a sense of how they fit into the gallery space. They are SO FUNNY!!! Obviously, I need to work on making a billion more, but still - aren't they so compelling, even at just less than 30?? I also shot my little zine from early this year and took my marshmallow comic home to figure out how to affix it to paper better than the duct tape rolls I have right now.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Too funny not to share

I just found out today that the nasty email I sent off to my school paper in regards to a ridiculous article from last week got published in this week's issue. I didn't think they paid any attention to those things, but apparently they need some filler for the paper..I think it might be my first letter to the editor that's ever been published. Ah, Columbia has seen SO many of my letters.

So if you want to check out more of my public rantings, here it is:


Flaming Katy is definitely dying

Yeesh. I hate being so freaking bad at taking care of plants. I'm glad Elizabeth hasn't been witnessing the slow death of this once vibrant succulent.

ARGH. Thesis crits on Saturday were kind of a nightmare. Slogging through sixteen people presenting what they're going to do for thesis shows and having fifteen faculty members present was insane. Insane! The room was set up extremely badly, so we had some serious "hidden behind a pillar, can't see you" action going on, which is super for good communication. And then we had pretty classic shifting standards, so that some people were treated very gently, and others were just reamed out. Okay, so it wasn't that bad, but it was still enormously exhausting. Predictably, no one got what I was trying to say and got upset w/me (which makes me laugh...people are forever expecting that I'm trying to antagonize everyone, and then they preempt it all by getting angry w/me before I've done anything! It's amazing) and said things like, "Why would we care about your piece? Why would anyone want to see or experience it?" I wanted to scream. Why does ANYONE want to see ANYTHING?? It's soooo beyond the point!

Of course, in crit mode, I failed to really stand up for myself as I would have liked to, but that's b/c crit mode is similar to "mom being mean to me" mode - it's very difficult to step outside of the warped constructs and roles in critiques when you're in one. Most people are notoriously bad at doing it. [for those of you who don't know what crits are, they are critiques: you present your work, and other people give you feedback. Often, people just try to tear you down. The useful crits are the ones where you have specific questions about your work and are able to voice them and have them addressed. They're also useful if people don't talk over each other and don't attack each other.]

I really loved the fact that I had all these questions that I handed out, and people were too busy saying, "hey, wouldn't it be great if you threw bricks at people!" and "we don't want to see that kind of shit" to even begin to address my questions. Basic ones being, is my project even feasible?? I want to build a 14-ft-high brick wall made of paper bricks!!! Doesn't anyone think that is ridiculous and not necessarily structurally feasible?? Oh well.

The other major problem (besides my unfailing amnesia: I keep forgetting that people can't read my mind) was that the whole thing is a huge joke, but no one got the humor. I told them I was going to make a fortress out of paper bricks, be at the top of it inside and look outside a window, and draw comics for people who happen to come inside. I was also going to have books that were self-portraits (basically, long comic books about different things that have happened to me, etc.) on the outside of the wall, and then all over the walls, and possibly embedded in each brick. The response I got was, why comics? Why would you do that? Are you trying to work with humor?

Um...last time *I* checked, comics are ALL about humor! That's the only freaking way some of us can deal with the enormous pain of life. Come on!! I think I've also just already been pigeonholed into being the performance artist who makes beautiful diaphanous environments and plays my violin. I would think that doing something completely different for my thesis would make sense - b/c when else do I get to fool around like that?

Yammer, yammer.

Needless to say, after the post-crit drinking for Ami's bday on Saturday, I was totally exhausted for the rest of the weekend. I made a new rule for myself: I don't drink. But when I do, I will only have ONE. I'm amazed at the difference between ONE and TWO. hahaa! I helped Terttu all day yesterday trying to make her photo book for her final due Tues, and we had major grain issues so it's not done. Then I came home last night, crawled into bed w/my book, and read for half an hour before taking a quick 20-min nap. That was perfect - enough juice to get me through the last 200 pages of the 600 in _The Wind-up Bird Chronicle_.

But afterwards was the worst. That novel was particularly disturbing, esp w/all the graphic murders. I think I'm done w/Murakami (five novels, one book of short stories. I started a new novel last night of his, but might not finish it). I realized a few things while I was reading: what have I been reading? Fantasy/fiction, comics, and critical essays. I think I know why, now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Thesis Central

Ami and I have been hard at work in "thesis central" (AKA the grad computer lab). There was awful hip hop going on downstairs all night, so I've been trying to drown it out with Wilco. I tried to stamp a zillion little bricks onto my kind-of-to-scale drawing of my thesis idea. Bad idea...my hand cramped up and I have ink all over my fingers. It looks like a really bad, cheesy drawing/watercolor of old brick walls in the "countryside." Or maybe just poor pointillism.

Yoga was great! Though I almost busted my wrist in an arm balance; I heard/felt something snap. I'm hoping it's all okay. The sadness was that it was my last class w/Dearbhla until I come back next year. Sigh. Then I was ridiculously dutiful and spent over two hours in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) meeting for how to attract and retain Asian and Asian American students. I'm such a meeting girl, but there was an undergrad there (the only other student) who was actually LOUDER than me!

Leaving, a guy from one of the binding classes I taught was leaving the loud hip hop event, spotted me, and said, "hey, you're the bookbinding girl!" and proceeded to tell me all about his adventures in buying supplies and how he's so excited about starting his book. I had a few things on me, so I was able to show him other books. He was so sweet and honestly interested in it all. That was one of those, "aw, teaching is nice" moments.

So...running home so I can get a little rest before thesis crits tomorrow a.m. I got two more Murakami books, another Boondocks book, and another bell hooks book today, too. Ah. I am so thankful that I am literate.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


These are NYC birds in SoHo (I made Shawn take the pictures when I was visiting my old workplace and didn't want to be seen as a camera-wielding tourist type). I feel like some strange drunkard right now. I'm just drowsy from eating too much pizza (the deceptive Chicago square slices make it impossible for me to know how much I've actually eaten). Thank goodness Anne's bro & sis-in-law drove me home so I was spared a chilly commute. I got to hang out w/three parents and three kids tonight and it was crazy. I would stand up for one second and turn around and Oscar would be standing on my seat. He was doing lots of pots crashing on the stovetop as Tony and I tried to talk about life in Chicago. He apparently once had a bike accident where he had to get staples, stitches, AND crazy glue in the hospital!! Nice. They enjoyed my self-stitching.

If only I had this much pizza tonight. I'd be less zonked. Oscar is probably sound asleep right now. I spent Saturday night after dinner w/Kathy laying in bed and, again, laughing my ass off reading comics. This time, instead of David Rees, I read Aaron McGruder's stuff - the Boondocks. Really excellent. I wish I could spend all my Saturday nights tucked into bed, laughing over comics. I think of what bell hooks said about Toni Cade Bambara considering laughter as dissent.

Laughter as dissent.

In the meantime, I'm back to delving into Murakami. It's a comfort - a deep, snuggly read, fast, easy to drop into and out of in any situation. The procrastinating is heavy. But I just found out tonight, as the car pulled up to my building, that it is ALSO made of bricks. I've been here 2.5 years and only know tonight for sure that I've been in a brick building. Perfect...I am trying to do brick research quickly before Saturday's thesis crit. So, pass any brick info along! These are the ones I've seen for a few weeks now across the street from school that I'm itching to steal.

Sunny Sunday

So that would be the type set into the bed of the press plus a tiny little piece of polymer (UV-sensitive plastic), and inked up. This is what your card this year will look like. If you can do the translation in your head.

This is the funny one Terttu got from my backside while printing. Stephen said that witnessing me printing over the weekend was like watching Russian factory workers in the 20s. Now that all the cards are printed, I'm going to take them on my baby date tonight and hang out w/Anne and Oscar. We'll see if I can address them as Oscar plays with his pots and pans. If you're really lucky, maybe he'll scrawl on your card with crayons/markers. I got fancy chocolate today after leaving the studio early (b/c I realized I didn't want to make anything) and am now working on reconciling my digital and paper rolodexes. Wohoo! Thank goodness for pizza tonight.

Last night, I decided I had enough of my thumb splitting for about two months now, and remembered I still had the extra suture kit I got from the Rush ER doctor back in May (b/c as the paramedics were taking me downstairs to sign forms, a classmate said [remember that I am bleeding from the head]: "make sure you get extra supplies for bookbinding! Melissa [our binding teacher] says they have great tools in the ER!!"). So I decided to stitch my thumb together, b/c from my standpoint, it's not healing b/c the two sides aren't meeting each other and I don't have butterfly bandages (which I hate anyhow. Their sticky goop is worse than normal bandages). I forgot, though, that they give you a shot of numbing meds before stitching. So I didn't get too deep since I'm not good at self-inflicted pain (unless it's up on a trapeze or breaking). I couldn't knot it properly since I only had one hand and one mouth. Then, just to be sure it stayed there, I added some crazy glue. Wohoooo! Anne says that now I share company w/Rambo and Vietnam vets.

Friday, December 02, 2005

An illustrated tutorial

This is Louis starting to make a sheet of paper by dipping the frame (in this case, a sugeta - for Eastern-style papermaking) into a vat of pulp and water. Can you tell this was when she was still living in Hawaii and nicely tanned?
This is the machine I'm usually referring to when I talk about beaters (well, not really. I like using the Valley b/c it's easier to clean & has a capacity of one pound, so I can do a little at a time...commitment issues). This is one by David Reina with a capacity for two pounds of dry weight. The pulp in there is a bunch of rag, beaten from cotton clothing.
This is a western-style sheet being formed: the frame on top is the deckle and it sits on a frame with brass mesh sewn onto the top so water goes through but the pulp stays on top (called a mould). In this picture, I'm making a shaped sheet, so between the two tools, I have a piece of styrofoam that is cut to the shape I want. But you can see the pulp in the black vat.
This is the lovely machine I work on when letterpress printing. It's a Vandercook Universal 1 and has five rollers. This one is inked with white ink, and you can see the type in the bed of the press, all locked up (with the wooden blocks, called furniture, and the metal quoins that tighten and hold everything in place). To work the press, you stick paper in the gripper bars at the top of the machine, and then crank the handle so that the rollers move over the type, and the paper in between gets printed on.
This is me cranking, about to pull the printed sheet out of the gripper bars.

Now I can go on w/my usual blabbing. I printed 300 cards tonight...it was frustrating b/c the presses are in pretty bad shape, so I kept having to make adjustments. So don't be upset if the return address on your holiday card this year isn't evenly inked. I tried my best. The OTHER side will be the doozy b/c I am still trying to figure out how to get handmade paper on it. That will be this weekend's task.

The movie didn't make me want to move to LA, nor did it make me want to sleep w/an older man so that he could pay off my student loans (though I wonder if I'd think the same thing if the opportunity ever arose). But what is it w/men always wanting to distance themselves so that they don't feel hurt ever? I'm so sick of that. But I guess men also continue to wage war, so some really bad habits/ideas will never go out of style.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I ran downstairs to drop off my lights and paper and cart and other goods, and saw the one sheet I made but didn't come close to using tonight: a big "over" in wire, not folded. And indeed, this thing I've been agonizing over for months is over. I can barely see, and am still chilled. I'd like to say I'm thrilled and happy and all that, but really, I'm just that classic zombie in very basic post-partum.

I took my videographer out to dinner (and too funny to call him that, b/c he's not. I mean, he's a director/writer/producer, and I still don't understand how that works, except that it means he's really busy and it's kind of strange to spend a night shooting something like this. But I'm sure I'll be very pleased w/the footage) and now I'm back home.

The three hours actually passed a lot faster than I had expected. I didn't really have many moments of, "AAAAARGHHH, what time is it?? how much longer???" It only happened near the end, when I was listening to the piano bench w/Keely and Cal, and hoping that I had less than 45 minutes to go. It turned out that I was pretty much done. I went straight to Greg after leaving the bench, b/c I just had to have a time check, and he showed me his watch, and I had a hard time reading it b/c I had apparently forgotten how to read time. It LOOKED like 9pm (when the show was supposed to end) but it looked like it was backwards.

Tonight was hard. Hard mostly from the cold. I had asked for the fans to be turned off and they said the blowers were off and I was afraid that meant all heat was gone, but luckily there was still a little coming thru some vents. I was walking a lot on the marble window ledges and some I'd stay on b/c they had heat, and I was almost crying when I had to stop between double pillars, b/c there were vents in there where outside wind was coming right onto my back. The very last window on the north side closest to the lake was BRUTAL. It was almost like it was open. I'd look outside and see the snow flurries and hear the wind. And I was barefoot with completely thin clothing...I knew it would be a challenge, but didn't expect that I'd be shivering and nearly chattering at points. For that reason, I was grateful to have figured out that I'd do the piano bench at times, and let myself play on the floor as well.

I was shocked at how many people played those two little Boston uprights. Whew! Makes me sad that all those pianos couldn't be there. Then again, makes me glad, b/c my soundscape would have made me CRAZY. It was VERY, very basic. I don't pretend to be a serious composer - or at least, I'm not able to write for more than just myself. So, the way things turned out was quite good considering.

There was a girl who looked just like Ellie-Jo and I couldn't stop looking at her. Something about her eyes. I didn't want to read into them or project, but they were very compelling. I felt bad b/c it looked like the guy w/her wanted to leave but we were still locked. Sometimes I want tell my audience: you can do what you like, and for as long or as short as you'd like. But that seems like too much instruction. I shouldn't assume that people will just do what they want, but I do.

The really amazing part was how FAST the whole thing came down once we hit 9pm. I was out of there at 9:30pm. NO time to just hang, or ponder, or anything. Not even to look at the landscape again. Over so fast. I guess it's good that way.

Now I get to sleep in tomorrow w/no guilty feelings. Then onto regular life.

Thanks to all of you who came out in this horrifically sudden winter weather. You were so lovely; really touching. I wish I had anything good to say. But I'm practically blind and tired in that really deep way. Even good sushi and a tear-jerking bloody mary and pumpkin mochi ice cream won't make me forget that. Maybe I should draw an epsom salt bath (unless I think that will make me drown). Thanks to rock star Greg for the stands and the totally perfect support; it's not easy knowing how to do that right - lay low or disappear, clean shit up, reappear just when I need it...a very special skill/talent/gift.

Okay. I'm going to stop before I just blab endlessly about nothing. Time to unpack.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Lima beans, time, war

Carpet stays.

We refocus lights tomorrow.

Ceiling suspension...maybe?

Five uprights in the hallway. And I asked for 75 music stands.

Ooh! And I got two more video peeps!

Tomorrow is the massive crunch day. And tonight, b/c I want to work on a residency application due tomorrow (that is, of course, completely unrelated). I was freaking out in class tonight when everyone started talking about unrelated topics. I was like, WE HAVE TO FINISH THIS MOVIE on time so I can get out of class and burn the midnight oil!!! Of course, we went over. And it was super depress-o - Harvey Keitel, Sarajevo, everyone dying.

But Ami made me a great dinner w/amazing lima beans and will make dinner for me tomorrow, too.

The bad things: I didn't finish the novel yet, and it's supposed to get REALLY cold and windy and rainy in the next couple of days. 40 mph winds, lows of 22, and 90% chance of rain?? Great. Not only will I barely be able to travel w/all my gear, but no one will come to the show. But people, prove me wrong and come to the show!

Friday, November 11, 2005

F***ed again

WOW. damn. Things are heating up.

So...if anyone was planning on being really excited about my upcoming performance w/100 pianos, it's all over: just got the call tonight that the piano showroom backed out of the entire deal and there will be zero pianos. That gives me five days to scheme up what the hell I'm going to do for my performance on Wed nite.

You'd think I'd be more upset, but I'm actually feeling really solid and ready for the challenge. My sister always says that life is so easy for me, and that everything good comes my way and I don't have to try to do anything b/c it all falls into my lap. Ah, I must now completely disagree. I think that I get screwed SO badly and have been for a long time now, and I just really make the best of it somehow. Otherwise, I'd be a horrific mess (yes, even more so than I am now). Now, I'm just like, BRING IT ON!!! I can handle it. Makes me think of this letter I never sent to Pete, about how when life smacks you w/a 2x4 and you survive it, then you get hit by an even bigger 2x4. My response: true! It's true.

I used to think - god, I'm moving away from NY and w/o trapeze/acrobatics, I'll have no upper body strength. Then I started breaking, and that brought it back. Unfortunately, I was totally forced out of that against my will, and thought, what will I do now? Yoga. And it comes full circle - I'll take more trapeze lessons w/Natalie when I'm home for a month in the winter.

At least I got to have a lovely evening tonight w/Tamara, despite the bad news, and enjoy the adaptation of Murakami stories at Steppenwolf and meet one of the actors, who freaked out b/c I look exactly like my sister. I'm still on track for performing: tomorrow I look for costumes, Saturday I rehearse. If you were coming just for the pianos, don't come. But you should come just to see what happens when 100 pianos go missing.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

old lady

Ah. Human Exhibit is over, and went quite well. I think...I'll get feedback next week from people I know who went. I kissed lots of people on the cheek (one guy was really tall and I didn't shoot high enough so that was more like a jawline kiss. I hope he didn't feel cheated). One woman on the lips, one man on the lips, a forehead or two, a few hands, and a shoulder. I also ate WAY TOO MUCH JUNK FOOD in our makeshift green room. I got really sick from that. Ew. So I'm excited to get back to eating better. And to "focusing" on my work. Though I'm starting to ringlead again and try to get our grad students more vocal about what's not cool in the program...I think about what Shawn said to me last year: "now Aimee, remember that leadership is not chosen, it's granted."

Anyhow, in the end, it was really lovely to work with the people in the workshop; everyone stepped up and really made it work, which was so delightful to experience: commitment to a shared cause. How great are our costumes? Tyvek rocks. I love that AJ thought I was at least six years younger than I am. Ah, the joys of a chingychong life.

After gathering about a million props, talking to Greg about how he ripped half his thumbnail off at the end of the show and started to bleed profusely, and eating disgusting amounts of goldfish, mini carrot cake cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and pita chips with hummus, (oh, and experiencing Greg's trunk prop thing on his car totally poop out), I got a ride home and had one of the best conversations I've had in a while. It's soooo good to meet great Obies. And just really human humans. I also find that my best talks are with people driving me home and doing the routine: stop, park, idle, idle, idle, idle, finally shut off the engine. I always feel extremely bad about the idling (even though I know my ecological footprint is still horrendously large...I get nervous about long-idling cars and reading for too long with my glasses on - since they're for distance, not close-up things). But the conversation is always stellar. And on a mild autumn evening! Good times.

I also had a good yoga class despite being extremely distracted by the energy of the guy who walked in late and set up next to me on my right side. It's always so interesting to see how people handle their first Forrest class. I asked to do backbends b/c I hadn't had a really screamingly hard class in a while, and bridge will do it for me instantly. I was so...I don't even know what in camel pose that I couldn't help but vocalize whenever I breathed. I sounded like someone dying. Awfully embarrassing, but my teacher (who is fantastic! Massive props to Dearbhla Kelly! Look her up at http://www.mokshayoga.com/community/dearbhlakelly.html) still adjusted me. I got the face tingles, which I love. Means that stuff is really going on. So the next steps are looking for good meditation instruction and finding a shaman/someone to work through trauma with ritual, on a spiritual level.

ps - I asked Clif yesterday if, despite all my intense disgruntledness with grad school, I still look better than I did when I was working in NYC. He said, "you're whole EVERYTHING is better. Frankly, you kind of looked like a junkie back in NY." HAHAHA!!!! I love it. It's good to get affirmation once in a while that I'm on a healthy path. I talked to my sister about it, and she was like, but aren't you good at arts admin? [what I was doing in NY] and I was like, well, Hitler was good at what he did, but does that mean he should have done it? I clearly am better off for the time being not doing admin work in the arts.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Crazy Horse

An hour until yoga and I got a nice chunk of sleep last night. Except the wacko dreams: learning that in calligraphy, you dot your i going from right to left (something totally made up in dreamland - not official calligraphy rules!); eating fruit tart in front of Jessica DelMauro and finally offering some to her (ok, this is part of tonight's performance, so it's not like I was being mean in the dream), and then moving to another dressing room and scolding Jessica Simpson b/c she was late for her entrance and it was b/c she was totally strung out on who knows what....mmm, now I forget the rest.

But I am a little concerned about the performance tonight. I feel like more than half the workshop was just doing crazy logistical stuff that the gallery didn't take care of, and yesterday was kind of a panic mode and no one knew what was going on anywhere at any given time. At least AJ was nice enough to get us food since all the gallery gave us was bottled water for dinner. [FYI - my diet has gone to hell these two weeks, but I'm not getting upset about it b/c I know it was b/c of the workshop and I'll soon stop eating out of the vending machine, eating fried chicken, eating gross "chewy" chips ahoy (that's just WRONG), etcetc.] But it will be all over soon enough, and then I can concentrate on the BIG PERFORMANCE in November.

I feel pretty decent about that one, though. I did a run of 30 sheets of watermarked paper yesterday morning for it, and was like, oh, if I just did 30 a day and did it three times a week, I'd be about almost done w/all the papermaking...that is, if I stick w/the original plan of just having one sheet of paper act as a "book" rather than having multiple pages and covers. Don't let me try and make 100 real books!

I've been listening to Mazzy Star incessantly and totally engrossed in the book Jill gave me. This end of a chapter killed me (and then I swear I'm going to get dressed and run to yoga class):

Personally, I love Crazy Horse b/c even the most basic outline of his life shows how great he was; because he remained himself from the moment of his birth to the moment he died; b/c he knew exactly where he wanted to live, and never left; b/c he may have surrendered, but he was never defeated in battle; b/c, although he was killed, even the Army admitted the was never captured; b/c he was so free that he didnt' knowo what a jail looked like; b/c at the most desperate moment of his life he only cut Little Big Man on the hand; because, unlike many people all over the world, when he met white men he was not diminished by the encounter; b/c his dislike of the oncoming civilization was prophetic; b/c the idea of becoming a farmer apparently never crossed his mind; b/c he didn't end up in the Dry Tortugas; b/c he never met the President; b/c he never rode on a train, slept in a boardinghouse, ate at a table; b/c he never wore a medal or a top hat or any other thing that white men gave him; b/c he made sure that his wife was safe before going to where he expected to die; b/c although Indian agents, among themselves, somtimes referred to Red Cloud as "Red" and Spotted Tail as "Spot," they never used a diminutive for him; b/c, deprived of freedom, power, occupation, culture, trapped in a situation where bravery was invisible, he was still brave; b/c he fought in self-defense, and took no one w/him when he died; b/c, like the rings of Saturn, the carbon atom, and the underwater reef, he belonged to a category of phenomena which our technology had not then advanced far enough to photograph; b/c no photograph or painting or even sketch of him exists; b/c he his not the Indian on the nickel, the tobacco pouch, or the apple crate. Crazy Horse was a slim man of medium height w/brown hair hanging below his waist and a scar above his lip. Now, in the mind of each person who imagines him, he looks different.

I believe that when Crazy Horse was killed, something more than a man's life was snuffed out. Once, America's size in the imagination was limitless. After Europeans settled and changed it, working from the coasts inland, its size in the imagination shrank. Like the center of a dying fire, the Great Plains held that original vision longest. Just as people finally came to the Great Plains and changed them, so they came to where Crazy Horse lived and killed him. Crazy Horse had the misfortune to live in a place which existed both in reality and in the dreams of people far away; he managed to leave both the real and the imaginary place unbetrayed. What I return to most often when I think of Crazy Horse is the fact that in the adjutant's office he refused to lie on the cot. Mortally wounded, frothing at the mouth, grinding his teeth in pain, he chose the floor instead. What a distance there is between that cot and the floor! On the cot, he would have been, in some sense, "ours": an object of pity, an accident victim, "the noble red man, the last of his race, etc.etc." But on the floor Crazy Horse was Crazy Horse still. On the floor, he began to hurt as the morphine wore off. On the floor, he remembered Agent Lee, summoned him, forgave him. On the floor, unable to rise, he was guarded by soldiers even thn. On the floor, he said goodbye to his father and Touch the Clouds, the last of the thousands that once followed him. And on the floor, still as far from white men as the limitless continent they once dreamed of, he died. Touch the Clouds pulled the blanket over his face: "That is the lodge of Crazy Horse." Lying where he chose, Crazy Horse showed the rest of us where we are standing. With his body, he demonstrated that the floor of an Army office was part of the land, and that the land was still his.

--Ian Frazier, Great Plains (pp. 117-119)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

whoa tired

AAAARGH. How does it always get to be 1am so quickly?? And I still have to book a flight to NY for Dec/Jan, firm up my interview questions for Friday's performance and tomorrow's rehearsal, and and and...I came home after mad bookbinding and trashy food at rehearsal, wondering when the sirens would stop. After about ten minutes, I was finally like, OH! It's the post-World Series madness!

I can't wait until I get out of sports teams land.

Today one of the undergrad work aides was super sad and crying at her gallery desk post, and I was like are you okay? Poor thing. So of course I immediately wanted to make her a book. I was able to control my impulse until AFTER I was done w/my own book for class, but whipped together this super-cute handmade paper quickie coptic variation: butter pages, straw-colored covers, red thread, and a little frame on the cover that was built to slip a photo or something in. Then I showed her the trick we learned last month for tipping in photos w/o adhesives. She was totally overjoyed and I got a hug.

I wish it was always like that. Where you see people's vulnerability, and you do what you can, and people want to learn things and get to know you and just...instead of all the no one giving a shit about anything besides their dogs. Not to knock people w/dogs. But does that make sense? I'm way tired, so maybe not. I've been reading the book Jill gave me for my bday and it's quite exceedingly depressing (Great Plains - the parts about Crazy Horse and other horribly tragic Indian extinction stories).

But yay! I'll be in NY, working hard on thesis IDEAS for a month, late Dec to late Jan. And hopefully tomorrow the water in the pipes won't be all nasty rusty so I can actually shower.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Winding down

I think it's hilarious that I told Elisabeth a couple weeks ago that I was sick of people in class having emotional reactions to everything and sick of how people can't function intellectually. Then tonight, I go off on a huge emotional tangent and lead the class astray for about an hour. Fantastic. It must be the part of me that wants people I leave behind not to forget me, so I raise hell for the whole time I'm around. OR, like Melissa says, it's that diva in me that is just winding up big time for a performance.

I think I need to water my flaming katy. I just remembered this morning, "oh, I should probably water the thing."

Melissa knocked some sense into me today about my performance, after Joy did the same last night and I had a mini-breakthrough, turned my computer back on, and wrote another chapter of a story I started my first year of grad school. It's finally all starting to make sense! Double princesses, birds, abandony mothers, loss...it shocked me when I re-read the last chapter I wrote last year. I was like, OMG!!! It's happening! The thing where your art knows better than you and is trying to show you something you need to know.

You know what that means...I'll be in the studio tomorrow, pulling big sheets of paper. I found that adding a little clay to it makes it easier to deal with. Must remember to do that.

I was looking tonight at the book Mary brought to class of Anselm Kiefer's books, and was thinking, I want to do that, I want to do that. That's probably a good sign. I re-read an interview in Art Journal tonight about teaching art, and why so many kids are getting MFAs nowadays, and how the system is failing us if we are only given two options: the marketplace or teaching. THANK YOU, Daniel Martinez, for being the lone voice out there saying that there really just might be another option, and that artists can exist in the world and not take those routes. And survive. Well, I guess Clif said that he's really interested in artists who go out and make a living for themselves. He's lucky, b/c he's such a great teacher and a great artist. So he gets to do it all.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering when I should schedule my next practice room time to get some piano time, and feel my violin callouses wearing away so I should practice that, too, and am staring at all the blank books on my bookshelf, and just wonder what will become of me. I remember asking myself that question all the time when Githa was dying: what will become of me? what will become of me? I've been thinking about that a lot more lately - her death, her life, our relationship.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Orange sandalwood

[what I did last year in this Tic Toc residency performance.] Ug. Feel totally gross from "dinner" at the performance workshop: cheese cubes, parmesan goldfish, giant goldfish (downright wrong and scary if you ask me), bread, spicy trail mix, some fruit, and water. My eating well habits just went out the window. But at least I got a nice dose of thrifting done today @ Brown Elephant: two pairs of black pants and a nice long dress that will be super easy to wash. (Of course I cut up my knuckles on the stapled tag on the pockets...I bust out the lotion Cristal gave us for as wedding favors and it smells so much nicer on the skin than from the bottle!) I really think my last thrift shop days were at Oberlin. I think of that, and then I think of Louis. I went with Loni, which was nice but always strange. She soooo reminds me of Githa, in too many ways.

Fall is so nice. I can't believe how much of it we're getting this year. All my stressing about this performance coming up makes me want to just become a yogini and never worry about program notes or technical needs or rehearsal schedules again. Right now, I'm SO SAD that I don't have a TV. That would be perfect.

In the meantime, mark your calendars! HUMAN EXHIBIT, Glass Curtain Gallery, 1104 S Wabash, Chicago: Friday, Oct. 28 @ 7pm. It's going to be a fun performance (culmination of this workshop).

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Just under eight hours

To calculate your Korean age: you are one when you're born and everyone gains a year at the same time: new year's day. But I don't live in Korea, so today (my birthday) I've been my new age for about 7.5 hours. And according to my sister's boyfriend, that would be eighteen.

I was so fried from a whole weekend of bookbinding that when I heard the "happy eighteenth birthday!" message, I believed it. Ha! Now I'm going to crawl into bed and listen to "Tabula Rasa" (Arvo Part) and think about my big performance coming up in exactly one month.

Here is the shameless promotion for it: Site Unseen, Wed Nov 16, 6-9pm, Chicago Cultural Center.

after-the-fact ps: This would be me and Shayna at Kamehachi for our mutual birthday sushi.