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.