Sunday, December 31, 2006

No pics, but SOON

And they are fuuuuunny. Gili and I did brunch and silly pics and videos and walking around in the morning. She made me take off my high heeled boots and gave me her too big but very comfy and warm shooties. The pictures will show it. I did a quick stop in Park Slope; sadly, my stuff is STILL not done. Then I did Korean food w/Cindy and Ivan and more cream puffs at Beard Papa. I got a wooden brush, finally, coveted the wooden comb but didn't get it, and then got on the train to meet Kiwon at her place. Totally missed my stop from sleepiness and had to walk a lot more than I'd like. In the shooties. Party time soon. Haven't napped yet.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Breathing in the end

Didn't Stefan do a lovely job with this shot? He's so great at all the lighting and tricks. I wanted to get some of the translucency. This is my end-of-year reminder of treasure. I panicked last night about the application that I had neglected, but Ivan talked me down and gave me good suggestions, so after nightmares about oversleeping and pudgy children, I woke up at 8am and started the application. Finished and mailed before 11am. Not my finest work, but I'm glad I did it. I spent the day watching movies after that, and printing out about 30 pages of applications to do before Vermont (oh, wait, that's one of those unreasonable goals to accomplish by tomorrow). Today was "Love Me If You Dare," "Brokeback Mountain," and "Flirting." I liked Sophie's one dimple in the first movie (since it's on the same side as my one dimple), thought the second was way too long, and that the third was a little slow, too. I think generally that my complaint is the whole people having kids mindlessly, and then realizing AFTER the fact that they don't really want to deal with them. Which is why I appreciated the kids in "Flirting," b/c they were so level-headed and didn't rush into things. It's the adults who were acting all crazy.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I don't want to have children. Mostly b/c people are harping on me so much about how I will (if you want to get on my bad side, tell me that after I tell you I don't ever want to have kids). Here's my take: humans as a species have screwed up royally, and don't really deserve to hang around too much longer on this planet. So I'm not going to prolong the agony by popping out more. I think we should all just let ourselves die out. Though destroying our environment and ourselves now seems to be the faster option.

I did some candlelight yoga tonight, which was really nice. Lots of standing poses and working on my inner lines. Tomorrow will be another big day: brunch w/Gili, final edits in Park Slope w/Lucas, back to Manhattan to possibly meet Cindy/Ivan, and then a Harlem party w/Kiwon and spending the night at her place. Hopefully I'll be too busy to worry about how I think I might need root canal work on the OTHER side of my mouth. I miss my Chicago dentist.

A kilo of karma

What is wrong with this book? Well, I letterpressed it, finished the dating by hand, made the covers, and then handed it over to some nervous lady at Staples today before work. BIG MISTAKE. She screwed it up by punching holes all sloppy and not lined up so the covers are SO not flush w/the pages. I feel like I'm getting more and more unsuitable for life on earth nowadays. I guess I'm a lot more DIY than I ever thought, and giving some corporation the last step in a long process kills me, esp when they screw it up. I'm so sad.

I felt badly b/c I didn't trust her as I watched her punch holes, and then she did exactly what I feared. Then I called Ivan and he said that I need to learn how to trust people more and being a good leader means delegating responsibilities. Yeah, yeah. So I walk into the bindery, and promptly cut the beautiful red skin I had ready for a full-leather album while starting to pare the leather. AAARGH. Gavin cut it off and started to pare, and then also screwed it up. So it's no longer full leather. But it's doing okay. I learned how to do headcaps and a fancy spine. I asked him how he could possibly learn to trust me. I'm going to make one more album, a bigger one. Hopefully I don't screw up royally and can get it done in two days next week. My last week!!

I'm freaking out now about time. I have a boatload of applications (one due tomorrow that I haven't touched yet), a huge book to read, at least four movies to watch, video editing, website work, family stuff, and packing left to do before I fly to Vermont next Sunday. Today was pretty good, though. I PATH-ed it to Newark today and had a great lunch w/Anne (who I used to work with in Jersey; I haven't seen her in over three years, I think). Dinner was in Yonkers w/Barbara, and that was also wonderful. I love my as-old-as-mom friends. The merlot at dinner was excellent. But my spare tire and bags under my eyes are freaking me out. Most friends say that the physical changes/deterioration happened at 30. I'm not there yet!!! I have almost a year left!

Okay. I HAVE to do this application now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A bird shat on my face today

NO JOKE. Right on this street. I took the picture a few minutes after I cleaned myself up. Thank god I put a couple of tissues in my bag in case of residual cold congestion. I woke up after not even close to enough sleep, and dragged myself up the street to catch the bus for my dental appt, only to feel something splat right on top of the side of my glasses, and onto my face. If this was normal December with falling snow and icicles, I wouldn't have minded. But I knew exactly what it was. Somehow, though, my hat and coat miraculously survived the shit. I immediately left Gili an indignant message, and called my sister while walking to the dentist, who said, "that's really good luck!!"

The dentist was way busy and backed up, so he just shaved some of my filling off, snapped a hasty x-ray, and pushed me out of the chair, claiming that I'd be fine and something about some nerve being disturbed but that we just have to wait. I don't believe that everything is fine. Then I had to walk to the hospital and call mom b/c I had forgotten the house key. It took about an hour to get home, which was a drag, but I was glad to FINALLY get a little time to myself. I got a few movies from the library, bumped into Clark Jackowe and chatted, and came home for some long-overdue yoga. It felt really good. I even did jumping jacks in the morning before leaving. I can feel all the body shifting w/age stuff, though. In the same way I feel my identity more as an artist as I grow into it.

After a nap, I watched "Anita and Me." I told mom about the bird poop and she said, "that's good luck!!" We watched "Crash" (I loved it. I'm so glad I finally got to see it) and then when dad came home and I told him about the bird poop, he said, "that's good luck!!" They were disappointed that I didn't buy lottery tickets today, but mom says that it's 24-hour luck so if I buy them tomorrow morning, it still counts. Hopefully it lasts long enough to ensure me a few rings at Staples, a good day at work, on-time PATH trains for lunch in Newark w/a friend from my first job out of college, time to punch holes in my planner, and on-time commuting to Yonkers for dinner w/my high school orchestra teacher.

This is going too fast

I'm frustrated. I feel like everything I wanted to get done in NY was reasonable. Oh, yes. It WAS reasonable if I hadn't had to get major dental work done. I'm totally fried again. Gili and I were up late last night and then slept in until about 9:30am. She walked me to work, which was great, and then I got right to work on the full-leather album I'm working on. I'm excited to have a project I'll be able to see through entirely (fingers crossed) that is a little more challenging than the pillar books and slipcases but not so hard as the clamshell box. So far, so good. Gavin was impressed w/my sewing, and this time I couldn't really disagree - the football effect was really minimal (where you pull too hard at the ends of the book and then they're tighter than the middle), which is my only sewing weakness. I had a hard time w/the hollow today, but I blame that on being too tired. I was using eyedrops all morning, but got a chance to cover boards for my 2007 planner. It's so nice doing my own work in there: all the pressure is off for perfection. I have a different kind of perfection standard, and it's less stressful than the one I use for other people's work.

I met with my web designer today to walk through the database he built for me. It's amazing. Really gorgeous. So I feel good about that, and met one of his Siamese cats, Max, who crawled all over me (Pickles hid the whole time). So handsome! I'm so pleased w/my cat allergies getting under control. Rafff walked me to my editor's place in Park Slope and we stopped on 5th Ave so I could get a cactus burrito for dinner. Editing was much less painful than the last time; I feel a lot more confident of my editing-from-the-passenger-seat skills now, and wonder if it really is time to make the next big purchase: a digital videocamera. I refuse to do Final Cut Pro, but maybe I can ease myself into some self-editing w/iMovie. It would be funny to pair my new binding skills (old school, traditional ways) w/video ones. We'll see. I know I can handle it; it's just about if now is the right time.

[photo caption: from that Koreatown visit. I made Gili stand in front of "our bank" (that's the translation from Korean). How it relates to this post: I want to get a Fulbright to study papermaking in Korea but that requires some serious remedial language study as well. Can I handle that, too, along w/new manual skills?]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Full of liquid

8:40am: arrive at work, no one is there, try to go to post office and bump into Gavin on the corner, back to work. Work on album today. All things I've done before, but not his way.

2pm: after eating, totally forgot to take antibiotics.

5pm: leave work, go to PO, wait on line forever for automated machines b/c people can't understand them, realize w/horror that I need to take drugs.

6pm: S'mac is closed, walk w/Jami to a different place for dinner. Dad comes to drop off more drugs. Across street for a drink.

8:30pm: back to Gili's, schedule editing session for tomorrow, feeling overwhelmed by everything I have to do.

Surviving in the crazy coop

This was the drawing I did for my sister that turned into puzzle number two (115 pieces). Number one was 157 pieces and she hasn't done it yet. We taped this one together tonight after she finished it last night (I thought I had made a harder one than that, but I'm not a puzzle maker, so I guess I don't have much expertise). I ended up hiding in the bathroom last night, making calls and using my laptop while sitting on the toilet, since there was no other private place left. I luckily found this artist's survival kit online, which helped me a little. The top of page four is my favorite. Under "HOW TO FEEL MISERABLE AS AN ARTIST," my faves are

2. TALK TO YOUR FAMILY ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AND EXPECT THEM TO CHEER YOU ON.
5. UNDERVALUE YOUR EXPERTISE
6. LET MONEY DICTATE WHAT YOU DO.
10. SET UNACHIEVABLE/OVERWHELMING GOALS. TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY TOMORROW.

The first is not actually exactly how it is in my home, but I think it's funny regardless. The second I do way too much of and need to stop. The third is the reason I'm in root canal hell right now. Four is the story of my life.

I have this fantasy of sweeping the upstairs pocket of space in the bindery tomorrow so I can do some yoga since I haven't done any since...see? I can't even remember. It was when I was getting sick. I'm frightened about if/when my website and video editing will get done (if all goes well, THIS WEEK). I also have been ignoring all my deadlines. We finished watching "Wonderfalls" and saw "Pirates of the Caribbean" tonight on TV as I helped Cindy clear off her iPod of music she didn't care for. They're staying an extra night and I think tomorrow they'll shop. Gili sneaked in calls to me in between movies to make sure I was okay b/c I've been in pretty fragile shape. The family took turns lightly clubbing me today, but I'll try to ignore the comments about me talking being like Katrina, and just go to work tomorrow and hope I don't take it out on myself by slicing my finger off or something.

Ellie: sorry I didn't get to call you today! But I'm better than last night. Gail: thank you so much for the beautiful shells from the beach. I wish I could take one of those walks RIGHT NOW. Terttu wrote a sweet email today about how she wished we could adopt each other and make our own families and how she loves me just how I am: "which is totally hot, heartful and loveble!" I'll be really happy to see the Vermont Studio Center sign at the airport when I land in Burlington on January 7. But I'm sure I'll be just as happy to get out of the house and put in a good solid work day at the bindery tomorrow, too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My horrible life

Apparently, things can now get a lot worse. I stayed up late last night making my mom a book to fit the box I made for her, and wrapping hers and my dad's gifts. Today I got up and made a puzzle for my sister and then went out w/Amy. It was strange walking around town here and going to places that had replaced our old childhood stores. But it was still nice to have tea at the pizza place w/a river view. I got home and was notified of Cindy's and Ivan's arrival in half an hour, so I raced through making a second puzzle. The first: 157 pieces. The second: 115 pieces.

I got a call from Elbert tonight and took the call b/c I haven't talked to him since...sometime in the summer. Then I came out of my room to be attacked by my entire family (mom, dad, sister), b/c they said that I talk way too loudly, and laugh too loudly, and that it's unacceptable and embarrassing, and a serious problem that I have to fix. It was like a terrible intervention and I wanted to cry. Mom also told me I should lose weight, again. They freaked out b/c my tooth still was hurting so I called my dentist, who is in Virginia until Thursday. His response was, "uhoh" and "take more antibiotics. You have to take drugs when it hurts." I am SO mortified. We don't have any more drugs and he didn't give us a refill on the last prescription, so now my mom is driving to a friend's house who happens to have drugs left from her husband's root canal. Apparently, every typical Korean household has antibiotics. I have an awful feeling that Steph is right: I'll probably have to have my gums sliced open b/c the infection is much deeper than what the dentist can access. My schedule really doesn't allow for this. I don't know how this is going to work out. I'm really upset. I guess that's what happens to people who are grouchy over the holidays: they get this kind of comeuppance.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I could squash the Grinch with my pinky toe

After talking to Cindy this morning about Frances McDormand's character in "Friends w/Money" and how awful she was, I realized that I am exactly like that. I rode to Prince on the N, got out, and was immediately accosted by a loud saxophone playing awful xmas "music" in the street. Every store, too. I despise the holidays. Do kids even care about them anymore the way they're supposed to, in that innocent and sweet way? I doubt it, b/c it's probably all about getting gifts. Gross. No one cares about anyone all year, and then at the end, we all run around finding people presents under strange rules (somehow rating how they rank in your life and how they've treated you in the past year). It's AWFUL. Has no one noticed this? How come people are still shopping?? I don't mean last-minute, I just mean, why at all?

Okay, that's enough crankiness for a moment. I did have a lovely lunch w/Stephanie at Spring Street Natural. I had a green, refreshing cucumber limeade. Mmmm. I wanted to drink wine, but figured it would backfire since I just started bleeding and have had two very poor nights of sleep on a futon that peaks in the middle. I'm totally useless w/o proper sleep. I think I'm losing my mind b/c I've been too booked to make work, and as scared as I am about Vermont fast approaching, it's coming just in time to save me. I also have this great fear that I have to go to a proper endodontist to open my mouth up again b/c this first root canal isn't working; it still hurts. Eek.

One of the books in this picture is called "dance dance revolution," which is exactly what Ivan got Cindy for xmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Is this really a holiday weekend?

I don't feel like I'm getting any breaks. It seems like I'm running around even more that normal and wondering why people get Christmas off and why they would want it off. Then again, I don't work a drudgery job or something that's the same day in and day out that doesn't have a flexible schedule. This is my second box from last night in process (on one of the reallllly nice new tables in the bindery). I had never done double wall anything, so learning that was exciting since double walls are so much easier than single ones.

Here are the elaborate cuts I made up for myself while just staring at the box and lifting the cloth this way and that. My first was was covered completely w/just one piece of cloth. The second with two, since I didn't have a scrap long enough for one. I also wish I had learned that the stuff lining the sides of the box was called map folder a long time ago, instead of us just saying, "the green stuff" or elephant hide.

This is the first box, in the Korean bakery yesterday w/Gili's mix. I know this is all not very exciting but I promised to post these. I took the R train today to Brooklyn, which again made me wonder why Brooklyn and Queens are so badly connected via public transportation when they're right next to each other. I could probably drive to where I had to be in 5-10 minutes, but the commute on the train was over an hour. I was late to see my editor. We did some rough preliminary work and I'll go back tomorrow for more. We were both really tired and had bleeding eyes.

But the footage!!! SO gorgeous. Thanks to Chela; I haven't looked at it since late-October since I have no way of viewing those tapes. I was kind of intoxicated by it all: it was a really beautiful performance. I hope we do a good job cutting; it's so hard to make two good minutes out of at least an hour of footage. I stopped at Century 21 to get Ivan's gift (too big; Cindy will go tomorrow to get a better size) and then rode a train that got stuck for a looong time b/c some injured passenger was on a train ahead and they were waiting for police and EMT. I met Cindy and Ivan for dinner at Tierras Colombianas, where I tried to avoid a heart attack by having a salad. I'm staying here again b/c I have to go back to Brooklyn for more editing. I told Lucas (editor) that I wished that there was a big machine into which I could throw all my tapes and footage, and then yell at it and say exactly what I wanted, and it would spit out a cut piece.

That was a long day

I finally got ballsy and used my camera (funny how easy it was on the farm and how hard here. I think it's b/c when you photograph things, people who notice you doing it look at what you're looking at. And I don't want to share what I'm looking at in that moment, publicly). I know there's no proof, but Gili and I are really in K-town here at a Korean bakery. How Koreatown becomes the halfway point between SoHo and Chelsea, I don't know. But it was fun. I'm sure everyone in the bakery was not pleased w/our antics (this wasn't our table. We kept running back and forth between ours, where the camera was sitting, on self-timer, and this one across from us, as soon as the women there left). She gave me a mix w/artwork and I put it in my box that I made this morning after finishing a second slipcase for Gavin.

I then came back to work and Enrique immediately started upbraiding me for being out. Why, I don't know, b/c I'm not keeping him from working. He's finishing the clamshell box that I started since I don't have leather or tooling experience (which is what Enrique is doing in this image. I think anything involving really hot metal tools is something that I should avoid). I could go on about the details of this thing, but I won't bore you all. It's looking lovely. I'm sad that it will be delivered to the client before I can get final shots of it, but such is business.

This is the cover in progress. What will eventually happen is that the trays that I made will be attached to this cover and will hold the manuscript. On the shelf, it looks like a book, but it's a box. I spent my day making two small boxes w/flip lids for my mom and sister. I did the first w/just one piece of cloth, and the second w/two. It works better with just one, but is quite taxing on the brain b/c of the number of cuts you have to figure out. I'll post those later.

Cindy and Ivan came by to pick me up from work and then go to the Edit Center for a party. Ivan and I felt pretty bored and out of place, but the food was good and I got to see a friend of Cindy's who was acting at Steppenwolf in Chicago a while back and it was nice to see him. He's engaged now and his fiancee is super sweet - they're both insanely high -energy people. I'm staying in Astoria tonight and then tomorrow I head to Park Slope to meet a new editor and hopefully get a DVD cut of my farm performance, and everything else. That will be five performances. [oh! I got some Pocari Sweat today at the store. It was good, until Cindy noticed that it has MSG in it.]

I also realized today that I sell myself short a lot. I get intimidated easily, and fall back on presenting myself as a total novice. Then I have to work hard to show people that I actually am not, and often first impressions just don't go away. Sometimes it's easier that way, so no one has expectations of me. Other times it's bad, b/c people just assume I can't do things that I can. I started to see this pattern really clearly on the farm, but here I am playing it out again. I know habits take a loooong time to change, and I guess it's good that I'm catching myself. But realizing I'm in the pattern again is always kind of disappointing at first. Oh, look. I'm back in my pattern of going to bed late when I was tired and sleepy a zillion hours ago.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Now it's hurting

Julie emailed me a recipe for a cayenne cocktail: tomato juice, lemon, olive oil, cayenne and raw garlic. I would SO love that right now. Not that I don't love the Throat Coat that Gili delivered to me, along w/Emergen-C and vitamins. This tea is saving my life right now, b/c I feel horrible. Today was drainage day, which was only okay b/c I worked in back and Nancy has already been really sick, so no one else had to deal w/it (except for Gili). I don't know how I made it through work today. Josh was doing carpentry work (noisy), and we had to clean early in the day for a big client. I think that I'm about done w/pretending like I don't know what the hell I'm doing; I think I can just do the work now w/o hesitation and less instruction, which is nice. Gili was amaza-friend as she dashed into the bindery w/FIVE teas and cookies for all. Gavin told her that she could come back anytime as long as she brought tea and cookies. We ate in the back room and after I inhaled my lunch, I went back to lining boxes as Gili entertained. It was nice to have all the women together. She's so amazing at talking w/anyone and is super good at being inclusive. I am not good at those things.

I ran an errand at Talas today, which was fun (except the illness sweats and having to pee b/c all I was doing was drinking fluids). Gavin gave me a big teflon folder as a 'happy holidays' gift, which was totally sweet and totally unnecessary (I already have two teflon folders. Though smaller). I needed one to work with today, and he just gave it to me. His place is like an endless cornucopia of binding supplies; I've never seen anything like it before. I'm so used to people being super frugal and guarded about their things, but he's waaay generous. I really like that I can contribute to the culture of the shop, too, b/c I bring CDs so we can have music. We rocked Lauryn Hill today. That Miseducation album totally saved my life back in '98.

Got my slides back from Stefan; so far, so good (the image above is of my two paper sample books of all the paper I made in Nebraska). Then again, my nose was running so I didn't really look very closely through the loupe; I just glanced and ran to Cindy's workplace, where I lay on a red sofa for a long time during a meeting (all in the same room; I'm so sick and tired I've lost 'don't lay down in front of company' manners) and then had her get me a croissant from a bakery on Sullivan St. I might have an editor...I hope. Tomorrow is round I lost count of my root canal. I want to pass out from exhaustion and have forgotten anything else I wanted to say (except that I got a letter from a friend: her dad just had a massive stroke! But he's okay. Such a huge scare, though, and it will change a lot of things). I just hope I get better soon.

OH, this is what I was thinking as I was nearly limping in the streets: I have not been to a doctor for over three years now. I hate that getting health insurance in this country is so difficult and expensive. My ankle has been busted for over a year an a half from a breakdancing injury, and my blown-out shoulder is still cranky. Among other things. I know Gili tells me to stop already, but I just feel the aging process very heavily right now. Not to say I'm OLD old, but just that when you get to the point where you're deteriorating and not invincible anymore, it's a hard change to understand and accept. That said, I'm getting ready for bed.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'm not a good framer

I just realized that while staring at a print I framed for my parents. I broke the cardinal rule: you don't let the artwork touch the glass. Whoops. I'm in the painful part of the sickness now, w/a killer throat and coughing and hacking up crap. Can't wait to go to work like that tomorrow. Good news is that I'll see Gili for lunch. Maybe I can make her bring me some chewable vitamins that make my pee turn neon yellow and then I'll feel healthier. Though I feel like I'm ODing on supplements right now. I'm not fond of trying to sleep when I can't really breathe.

I didn't do much today besides watching "My Architect" (I love when Louis Kahn talks about how you have to honor and glorify the brick and ask it what it wants instead of just forcing it to do what you want) and taking notes. There was some really stunning architecture. I love all the open circles and natural light. It made me feel like maybe I really should look into opera. Maybe I should stage an opera in Vermont. I read a bunch more of The Omnivore's Dilemma, and still strongly recommend it.

Also, I'd like to thank the captain of the Dream Team for reminding me to stop making work that is all about taking care of people and giving, giving, giving. I need to be kept on task w/this old habit, b/c it's self-destructive and truly exhausting in a way that I don't recover well from. Clearly, I lose my memory each time since I repeat myself and then wonder why I get so depressed and to-the-bone tired after each performance. Maybe I'll do an opera about me being rolled around the park in a stroller.

Two other things: 1. I've realized that I have had incredibly amazing and professional experiences with the artistic professionals in my life who are first-generation immigrants from Europe. It's a pattern I only just noticed b/c I'm working w/three of them at the same time. 2. I think from now on I should identify myself as pre-pre-diabetic when people try to push sweets onto me. Like how our captain says things like, "I'm barren" when people ask about if she's going to have babies soon.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back in NY

I think that being tired is a permanent part of my lifestyle. I try so hard to not be, but I can't do it. The trick is going to bed early but I'm really bad at that. And my body isn't capable of sleeping in. But I did drive back from DC w/o killing anyone, crashing the car, or getting any tickets. I find that remarkable, considering the fact that I was sleepy for most of the ride and there were lots of cars on the road. I was able to stay alert in the beginning b/c I picked a green car as my bf and tailed him since he was a good driver. But I lost him after the first toll.

I made it back in four hours, even w/my minor detour in the first leg (I went south on 295 towards Richmond. Oops. I should have known when the sun was on my left side that I was going in the wrong direction). I got a lot of practice changing lanes and passing cars, though. Driving is not the best thing for me b/c I'm never content to just cruise at a decent speed; I always feel like I have to catch up to the next batch of cars, and when I get to them, I feel claustrophobic so I speed to pass them. And so on. I just watched "The Squid and the Whale" and think I will try to jump into bed early. Here is the recap of the last two days (this is the link to photos if you want to stop reading now):

Saturday: chocolate chip/banana pancakes & strawberries, make lunch for Louis, babysit Kaia (I put her down for a nap! My very first ever. It was easy, after playing with her for about 20 min), hang out w/Carlos and make a bag lunch, drive to Bethesda to explore a new trail along a big creek while Kaia slept and ate, ride to Dupont Circle to meet Ben and visit bad art galleries, have good pinot noir at a French bistro, walk back to his apt, get a ride from his bf Don to 2 Amys for pizza dinner, ride back to Karin's place and watch the beginning of "Prairie Home Companion" before crashing out.

Sunday: have awful nightmares about the entire world turning against me, wake early, finish packing, upload photos, read some NYT, eat Mike's perfect pancakes w/fruit and maple syrup, hit the road, arrive back home right as dad unloads Korean pears from the trunk.

Lessons learned: there is no art scene in DC, I can drive, living w/a 2 yo helped me get over my baby fear, always carry honey when traveling (my skin dried up like mad), two nights of homemade ice cream will make me panic again about my weight, building a website involves disgusting amounts of work. But yay for a successful friend-visiting trip! I love seeing my friends and their homes. Love it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tired and cold, but safe in the nation's capital

Well, not quite. I'm in one of the burbs, and will probably only be in D.C. proper on Saturday, but I made it all in one piece! Jami's car seemed to like the highway driving. I had some drama last night and this a.m. b/c my temporary filling was crumbling and I feared that I had to go back to the dentist, but didn't really want to b/c I wanted to make this trip. So I got the car from Kerri at 8:30am, left the dentist a message, waited in the car until 9am, and then just hit the road. The drive was not as ugly as I recall. I was a little sleepy, and saw LOTS of state troopers, but it was good. I had quality time w/Justin Timberlake and Ghostface Killah, who both saved me at crucial points in the drive. I adore singing in the car.

This is the book I made two nights ago at home. It'll be my dad's xmas gift, but I'm using it up until then as my Nebraska photo album to show people who don't look at photos online. It's only 19 of the billions of photos I took, but selected to show a little of everything. If he doesn't like it, I'll just keep it. I finally got the hang of the double-needle, single-sheet stitch that I learned last year. I'm really excited now to keep working at the bindery, b/c I realize I'm learning a ton, really quickly, b/c 1. Gavin is fast 2. I am fast 3. lots of learning happens on the job. School is so overrated.

Karin and Mike did a great fast dinner/dessert (tofu pups! yay) and we watched a very Disney-esque movie, "Imagine You & Me" (do NOT bother watching it), while shucking seeds of phragmites (I think that's what they were) for Karin's work - she has to start this experiment tomorrow. It was so much easier than coring milkweed. I think I'm a born shucker. I talked to mom today and she was like, "I ALWAYS told you that you should work w/your hands." It made me happy to find glue on my clothes from binding. As much as I feel like I need to save and protect my hands, I think it's true: I must figure out a way to make a living by using them.

Tomorrow I meet Louis and Carlos and Kaia! Their daughter, who I haven't met yet (she was born this past April). Now I need some serious sleep. I'm excited: today was my last day of antibiotics, so I don't have to get up at 6am anymore to take drugs!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Whoa tired

Ay. I don't know how I'm going to get up early tomorrow to get Jami's car by 8:30am. Ug. The good news: it'll be my last day of antibiotics. I'm exhausted. I backed up my computer last night and when I got up at 6am, it was still going. The moon has been amazing lately in the early morning before sunrise, totally brilliant and low and shining directly onto the river. Dad says it only happens in Nov/Dec.

Work today was GREAT. I loved it! I was so worried, but it was fantastic. I made two screw & post bindings to be samples (or, as they say in England, pillar books. Gavin said that from the start and I thought he was saying "pillow books" and I was like, wow, I've never heard of that. But then as we were doing it, I was like, hey, I taught myself this binding to teach it in Chicago last year!! Hahaaa). I started on the slip cases for them, as well as starting a tray for a manuscript that a client brought in today. It's so lovely. The space is so nice (it used to be a gallery space), and the tools and materials are fancy, and I've already learned lots of new tricks. I was like, I could SO do this all day instead of going to an office. Just gluing up stuff and chopping and working w/my hands. I was super scared that I wouldn't be up to snuff, but Gavin was impressed w/my hand skills. So I could do this line of work if I wanted to. Good to know. W/more training and practice, of course.

Lunch w/Marina, drinks w/Rafff, dinner at home w/Cindy & Ivan. Beat, totally exhausted from being on my feet all day, working. Tomorrow's the big drive! Eeeee. I hope I do okay. It'll be SO great to land in Karin's house. I'm excited.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm a secretary

Aaargh. Wasn't this supposed to be semi-leisurely time for me? Now I have at least five appointments waiting in the lurch, all contingent on my goddamn roots. A car pickup, a work schedule, a lunch, an upstate visit, and a trip to D.C. I hate this kind of waiting. I remember how Breda used to say that working is really just waiting for other people to do their work. I feel like I'm at a desk, primed to make the phone calls and emails, as soon as I hear from some important client. As much as I wish someone else could do this for me, it's so dreadful that I wouldn't want to burden someone with it.

I visited Paper Dragon today and totally downplayed my abilities, probably b/c I felt like I didn't want to do it anymore. But it's a lovely space, and so much nicer than I had expected. It feels fine and putting in a couple days a week would probably be very good for me. I think the cold today just made me want to lay around at home and read and watch movies ("Corpse Bride" and then the last half of "Autumn in NY" - which was on TV, and I had seen it before. It's dreadful but I am such a sucker for the little beaded hanging thing in Winona Ryder's bedroom and also that dress that Richard Gere got for her. I'm only now noticing how many movies are about artists and realizing that SOME artist or someone has to make all of it for the film). I'm almost done with Cat's Eye, which is heartbreaking each chapter of the way. I'm pleased w/my limp vellum, made almost exclusively w/farm and found materials, and think maybe I'll use it as a pen and ink comic sketchbook.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Old shoelaces

Last night was "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring". Today was "Junebug". Tonight, "Match Point". In between, I sewed up a limp vellum with handmade paper that has some of the ill-fated milkweed stalks. I had wanted to make this book ever since I got back from the farm, but didn't have the straps and of course left my extra goatskin in Chicago. Luckily, my dad is a packrat and had old, old leather laces that had the first version of the barcode on the packaging. An antique, he says. I sliced the laces in half and I think they'll work just fine. I called Gavin at Paper Dragon and will go in tomorrow to see if we're a good match for each other: he needs binding interns to help prepare for a grand opening in Chelsea. It seemed like the perfect idea before the root canal news. Now I have some qualms, only b/c my schedule is so erratic. Oh, and also b/c I've gotten out of the practice of working for other people.

Speaking of which, I found a web designer!! Now I just need to contact a photog I worked with years ago and see if he's still available to shoot slides, or if he's too big for that now. And then harass my sis about either having her or someone she knows to edit my performance footage. I worry sometimes that I'm sinking a lot of myself into myself, which could be a sinking ship, but I suppose I have enough youth on my side to get me through. Time to finish this book.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Slowing down, catching up

Yesterday, I finished The Handmaid's Tale, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and started The Pillow Book. I also watched "Mad Hot Ballroom" and was totally taken by the Washington Heights merengue boy. Those eyes! And the face! And the dancing. Makes me think of the five and six-year-olds I taught in Jamaica in 1998. Now I'm eating blackberries, pulling bandages off my ankles from wearing boots, and admiring Gili's CD cover art (she sent me exactly what I wanted/needed: a recovery mix, a Regina Spektor mix, and a really funny postcard. I feel like I've finally found my mail love match).

I love the little pink ceramic dish that now only has water in it b/c I ate the berries so quickly. I love how uneven it is. I want to learn to live surrounded by handmade things. This is a sticker left from when I was probably about four or five, before my parents carpeted (I suspect partly b/c I fell off my bed in my sleep when I was four, never noticed, woke up covered in blood, and got stitches in my chin while the nurse told me to think about rainbows and unicorns). I inspected all the negative spaces in people's hair while rushing through the subway. It's nice to have this time, as fraught as it is w/the drama of my life. It's nice to walk next door and get any books I like. To eat lots of Korean pears. To run into a friend's friend at Filene's completely randomly, the one who met her husband at the residency I'm going to in Vermont (how does a picture of Lainie on Tamara's computer suddenly turn into a real live face asking if I'm Aimee on the fourth story of a building overlooking Union Square?? Ivan made fun of me as we descended the elevator, shoving a piece of paper and pen into my hand, asking for my autograph). To donate old glasses and then see Gili for tea at work and then have a Malaysian dinner in Little Italy (Cindy picked a really good appetizer: fried tofu stuffed with cucumbers and bean sprouts and topped w/peanut sauce). To be caught in holiday shopping at Century 21, wishing silently for a man who wears colorful silk scarves and deciding I should only try on men's hats b/c my head is big.

To be clearer and clearer each day about who I am and what I want with my life. I finger clothes on the racks, some made in Italy and most in China, realizing why I have such a hard time shopping now: it's like making a commitment to something. The same reason I have a hard time even imagining anyone non-platonic in my life right now: I've made the one crucial life commitment and feel too committed to make any more. I think of how I'd like to do a performance with tons of paper strung up between trees and do paper cuts.

After spending two days on this yearly ritual, I've decided that this will be my last year of doing my manic holiday/new year's cards. I can't sustain it anymore, this creating and mailing of all this art. This root canal is such a blessing; I'm finally letting go of what is not serving me anymore (even though some of these things served me very well in the past). I am thinking of going to Venezuela in April. I am looking for a good editor. I am looking for a good photographer. I am loving Cat's Eye (thanks, Tam. What perfect timing for the perfect recommended reading). I miss the wind of Chicago and Nebraska, so unexpectedly, just as I missed the river water of New York. Moving air, moving water; I guess it all makes sense that I feel connected to both of those things right now.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Round one, done

Rafff called just before I left to catch the bus and reassured me since he's had three root canals. I finished Annie Dillard's Holy The Firm and My Antonia (eh, so-so. Either I read too fast or Willa Cather wrote about the room in a different book, but I didn't see any similarities w/Shawn's bedroom in the farmhouse that's nicknamed the Willa Cather Suite). I saw "Garden State" last night and felt old. Tonight's treat will be "Hustle & Flow" and I've started on The Handmaid's Tale. I'm relieved to say that I'm suriving the first bit of the root canal just fine. Still numb.

He drills, and then says, "you have FOUR roots!! Three is already unusual, but four!" OMG. What is with this tooth??? Talk about not wanting to let go. Apparently one of the three roots we saw in the x-ray branched into two. I go back for more on Tuesday. What worried me more than pain was the temporary filling epoxy and dust from drilling the existing filling. I mean, my body is taking that in directly. Seems super toxic. There was zero blood b/c all the stuff in the roots was rotten. I got another upbraiding by mom ("how could you let it get this bad??") but she said my hair was pretty w/o a straight perm while we waited at the pharmacy and had coffee frozen yogurt (I love that my RN mom thinks that feeding me frozen yogurt immediately after a root canal is a good idea. SHE is the one who gets crazy about my sugar intake, and then she gives it to me after a major dental procedure??).

What is hilarious to me is that I got so freaked out about the whole thing that it grew in my mind to roots that were bigger than tree roots. So I was shocked that drilling to the roots was so quick (not like drilling for water or oil in the ground), and then shocked that there's a long tool that goes into the roots. Somehow, I thought that my dentist would have to get a shovel and scrape out my nerves and blood vessels in a days-long, arduous procedure, since my roots must certainly extend to the other end of the planet. It's apt that I'm reading about perspective and proportion in drawing and how we draw things bigger that we consider more important. When I had my last wisdom tooth pulled by this dentist, I was so freaked out, but it turned out that he pulled it out so quickly and easily that I didn't know it happened. He just turned out the light and put the chair back up and I was like, "wait! What about my tooth??" and it was on the tray.

I've decided that little black dresses are overrated and I will never get rid of my red one. I also can't get enough of the Be Good Tanyas. My iPod came in the mail! The ancient one that got a new battery after a class action suit was filed against Apple. Not that I even missed it, but it's good to have another hard drive. Last night, I realized that all life is like living on a farm: there are cycles we go through, and there is always some task that has to get done. My next huge project will be getting all my "xmas cards" out in the mail. Somehow, my Entourage reports 200+ and I'm nervous b/c I only printed 160 of them.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Finally, a book

I LOVE how quickly interlibrary loan works here. Public libraries rock. I now have about 9 books sitting on the piano bench waiting to be read. I'm a little stressed about it, but maybe I can do that when recovering from the root canal stuff. Too bad I can't have scrolling text on the ceiling of the dentist's office tomorrow. I got some work done today and finally made myself a nice fat sketchbook. I drew comics on the spine. I want to bind a limp vellum but need to find some stiff leather. Maybe I should demolish some shoes or something.

I thought I had some deeper thoughts but I don't. I wish I had time to protest big towels, but I don't. I'll say right now for the record, though, that big towels are a big waste of everything, especially water in the washing machine. I mean, do you need a towel to dry off after bathing, or a blanket?? B/c it seems like people are voting for blankets that are disguised as towels. I also really wish we could ban fabric softener sheets. And air "fresheners".

Breda told me today that gums are key to health stuff. I think my artwork now is going to focus on all things related to the mouth. It's such a strange, strange orifice, but completely vital to life. Don't worry, I'll definitely draw a comic based on surgery, but I can't guarantee when I'll do it.

Keeping and airing

This was a hard one for me to keep, but I finally got the okay to broadcast this secret: I am SO proud of my little sister, b/c the doc she is editing got into Sundance!!!! When she found out last week and called us in Astoria, I was screamed and jumped up and down for a long time. Tonight at a noisy bar on the lower east side, I told Jami the name of the one movie star that I consistently find hot. I have never told anyone that in my life. But that doesn't mean that I can't keep secrets. I have one from 1996 that has stayed intact, and another from about four years ago that isn't one anymore but not b/c of me, and a couple recent ones. Not bad for my mouth.

Today was nice. I didn't have to rush into the city, though I was all rush once I got there. Holiday foot traffic sucks w/all the gawking tourists. I met Shawn for lunch at 60th/5th Ave. What a nightmare location!! I felt like I was playing dodgeball in the streets, only the people were the balls. We ate in the park and walked around and I got to see his office. Fancy, fancy. My toe hurt so I gave up the big plan to walk to SoHo to see Gili (I'm all into walking ever since that 12-mile trek to Central City. Now I feel like I can walk anywhere), and rode the subway. We had tea at her workplace and I got to see the SUB-basement, which is like her dream come true and my worst nightmare all rolled into one: boxes and boxes of books and other stuff piled ceiling-high across an entire city block.

Then I headed to my old workplace to visit the new office space, and saw lots more familiar faces than I anticipated. Marina kept saying, "doesn't she look younger?!" b/c of the "idyllic" farm life. Lystra is joining the police academy. David told me that he had a great time in Vermont when he went (and he went in the winter, too!). I jumped across the street to see my sister at work so I could drop off a few things she left at home, and met a few more of her co-workers.

Then, to Brooklyn to meet Jami. We had GOOD sushi and I got the grand tour of her neighborhood and apt. I even spent a bunch of time petting her cat, who is like a NY version of Jack. We went back into town so she could see her boyfriend's friend's band play, but I didn't stay for that. It was nice to meet him, though, and SO good to see Jami. I kept marveling at the fact that we weren't in Nebraska anymore. I was worried that she wouldn't want to be friends w/me anymore b/c we weren't living on the farm together anymore, so it was a relief to find that was another figment of my hyperactive and paranoid imagination.

I loved the first part of My Antonia but am now getting bored b/c the family moved to town. I was totally excited about the time when they lived on a farm in Nebraska, but now it's not so interesting to me. We'll see how the rest of it pans out; I hope to finish it tomorrow along w/a ton of paperwork I've neglected for too long. My last free day before surgery!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Digging my way out

VERY slowly. I've found the prints that I was looking for, and framed one of the ones I made on the farm. I got hooks and tape at the hardware store b/c I'm the only one in the family who can fake decent hangs. I was horrified when I took down a painting and saw packing tape on the back. The method to the madness here: if there's a nail, hang it there. If not, forget it. Which is why everything hangs in the most random places. It makes me completely insane. It's like feng shui never entered this apartment (until I show up. I'm also the family gift wrapper).

Last night's and this morning's dreams were completely insane; filled to the max with ex-lovers and youth orchestras. I blame the antibiotics. I did some yoga (I am REALLY rusty) and meditated for the first time since I left the farm. I got My Antonia and Cat's Eye from the library and put another seven books on hold. I can't wait to read again. That'll help me calm down some. Or something. I think the meds are finally taking charge of the infection; today's my first day sans ibuprofin.

I love hearing about all these people I know (and don't) who have had root canals. I feel like I'm joining a new club (though not voluntarily). It's funny to hear so many people tell me that they don't remember a whole lot from the procedure. I can't tell if that's a pregnancy kind of thing, where nature makes you forget the pain so you'll do it again. Today's positive spin: maybe having the root canal will be symbolically important for me since I'm trying really hard to let go of old habits that are no longer useful to me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

No one rests on Sunday

6am: yogurt and meds
7am: King Sauna in Fort Lee, NJ. Three showers, three or four visits to the steam sauna complete w/marbles for your feet, two swims in the long cold tank w/waterfall, three sits in the hot medicine tub (it's like being in a huge teacup: a big bag of herbs floats in the brown water), and a plunge into the ice-cold jacuzzi. I fell asleep in the dry hot room upstairs where you just lay down on wood headrests, put your feet up on stumps, and sleep in a "uniform" (pink T and shorts for women, white for men). It was no chicken shed banya, but Korean bathhouses are HOME for me.
9:30am: hair salon in Fort Lee, where I spent about 90% of the time reading trashy magazines. I think I'm all educated now about Brit's divorce, so quiz me before I forget. I was chastised again for not wanting to get a straight perm after getting a cut and iron (the theory being that I am "SO pretty" w/straightened hair. Anyone who knows me knows that I will never be pierced, inked, or permed. No permanent body alterations! Except things like root canals).
2pm: after almost dying from perm fumes (mom's) and trashy mags, we hit the Korean supermarket where I eat so I can take meds on time. I realize that my impatient and stressy-about-time tendencies are inherited from mom and Korean culture (as I'm nearly run over by numerous carts).
3:15pm: get dropped at 125th Street; take the 1 train downtown to meet Ellen and Gili!!! YAY!!! This time, last year, I met Paulette in person after meeting on Ellen's blog. Now, Gili! It was great. And like nothing at all, like old friends. We gabbed, met David and his friend, and walked to Ellen's place, from where we emerged laden w/gifts. I got her tripod on extended loan so I can strike it from my wish list (FYI, the remaining items are a headlamp, flashlight, and digital video camera). She made this fantastic shirt for me that's in the pic (courtesy of the new tripod, in front of an old painting I did that was a copy of a Egon Schiele drawing).
8pm: arrive home for more food and meds.

I feel like I'm severely neglecting my art life, and am surprised by how exhausting my "break" from my art life is. I think I can only really handle one or two dates in a day anymore. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when I can get back to yoga and finish my unpacking ordeal, so I can catch up on overdue business and make myself a new sketchbook so I can get all this stuff in my body out onto handmade milkweed paper. Oh, and go to the library b/c my list of books to read is overgrown.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Perils" vs. "safety"

Mom woke me up at 6am today so that I could force feed myself yogurt to take more meds. NOT FUN. When I actually got up later in the morning, she lectured me about how I have to have a positive attitude, like isn't it good that we found out HERE in NY and not in NE; and, you have a healthy tooth even though it's dying b/c it has three roots instead of the normal two (this, I have a hard time with. B/c the procedure will be THAT much more difficult. Why does the tooth w/THREE roots have to be the one that goes bad??). My sister and brother-in-law took turns last night talking me down after I read scary things about root canals after doing a "root canal perils" search.

They insisted that I make a date w/them for today, so I met them at Union Square for some shopping and lunch at Angelica Kitchen. Then, I saw Ellen and David!!! It was SO nice to hang out for a while. I met Cindy and Ivan and their friend later at City Bakery, but left early to go home. I'm a little worried b/c I still have pain in my mouth but I've been taking ibuprofen to keep it down. I don't want it to escalate to the raging pain from Wed night, so I take it before it gets bad (b/c, seriously, NOTHING makes it better once it reaches fever pitch). But I don't want to mask pain if it means I should go in earlier than Thursday. I was just hoping that the meds would calm the infection down a little before I get opened up.

I'm feeling a little better in my head, so I did a "root canal safety" search and basically was told to not believe any of the crap I freaked out about last night, that all of that has been proven untrue, and that I'll likely be fine. I still am not looking forward to it, but hopefully the worst panic is over.

On the way into Manhattan, a woman noticed me reading my Oberlin alumni magazine, and it turns out that she's also an alum, and teaches social studies & Photoshop at my old middle school. I met her son, who's an "aspiring artist." She introduced me to him as a "real artist." I think I need to have more encounters like this to keep me distracted from looming dental procedures. Unless people have really wonderful stories about root canals.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Kiss of death

Good god. I wanted to wait until after the emergency visit to the dentist today. And the news is the worst I could imagine, and what I feared: I have to get a root canal. NOOOOO!!!!! AAAAAGH. Someone shoot me now.

Thursday: zombie state from not sleeping until 7am b/c of heinous toothache. Get a ride from dad in the rain and have a pretty laid-back holiday w/not very exciting food (not enough Korean food!) - we got to just watch football and hang out. Cindy and Ivan invited another friend, so I was mopey b/c I felt fat and like a less valuable daughter. Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of Githa's death, and my mom saw a huge resemblance in Cindy's friend, who's from Burma.

Friday: wake at 5am b/c of the hubub of dad, Cindy, and Ivan getting ready for Black Friday (they actually got the 1st computer of the three that were on sale at wherever). Rearrange furniture. Have soup and yogurt b/c I can't chew on the bad tooth. Call the dentist to make him come in to see me. Try to sleep a little more. Hang out, waiting for the dentist's call. Get blamed for everyone not being able to go out w/the car b/c we're waiting for the dentist. Go and get the xray, etc., and the horrible, horrible news. Drive Cindy/Ivan back to Astoria, pick up dad from work in Flushing, come home.

To do: get antibiotics, get probiotics (if ANYONE knows anything about how to counter the terrible attack of anti-b's, please let me know pronto), prepare for the complete decimation of my intestinal flora, call Rafff to find out everything he knows about root canals b/c he's already had a bunch, feel sorry for myself, and have my family tell me that at least I'll lose weight (from not being able to eat solid food) and have my acne clear up (from the godforsaken anti-b's, at the price of my health for the rest of my freaking life!!! AGH. I haven't taken that poison for over 15 years. I'm so sad about this). My mom said she's just glad it was really something serious, not just me crying wolf b/c I have a low pain threshold.

I'd go into all sort of other things now but I have to try and eat enough to be able to take my first dose of the pills so I can prepare to kill my tooth.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Where hypochondria was born

New York. Now, I want to fast, think I need a root canal, am worried about a million other things re: my body that I haven't worried about in a long time, and am still dreading seeing my mom tomorrow for the biggest gorge-fest holiday of the year. But today I got tons of sleep (napping like a maniac w/strange dreams involving babies, current and former friends, high school, and mean old ladies). I have a bad recurring head/jawache that scares me. But it's nice to hide out from everything else in New York while I hang out w/my sister and husband. My big accomplishments today were doing a lot of dishes and uploading more videos. OW, tooth. Makes me forget anything interesting I was going to write today. OW.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Calming down

Thanks for humoring my freak out in the last post. I've been successful today in not overeating and walking around a lot, while in the company of my sister and brother-in-law, so it was all fun. Ivan and I had Japanese for lunch and looked for gifts for my sister, and then I took massive naps, and then we went to SoHo to see my sister's workplace (fancy! Director chairs and all! We saw the final montage that she cut for the documentary she's editing), and then we walked to Chinatown for Vietnamese food, and then got Japanese cream puffs from Korean workers at Beard Papa. OH, and I had my first fun time watching soccer w/Ivan w/the Celtic v Manchester United game. Nakamura scored on a beautiful free kick for Celtic near the end of the game. Amazing! It made me remember the days when I played soccer and hated it (I didn't realize that it's basically a running game. No, a running game plus other skills I just didn't have).

I'm now feeling overwhelmed by things in my inbox, but HAD to share some hilarious things: Kristina Wong is a performance artist who newly rocks my world. She has a great mock mail order bride website, too, which she did a while ago but it's the thing that people refer to a lot when talking about her work. Tam, check out her knitting mania!! I love her idea for getting frequent flyer miles donated for knits. As an aside, I also was looking at this nudist/naturist foundation in Kansas. I'm just trying to relax now after having such self-loathing for the past 24 hours. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to make some books.

SOS

I miss the innocence of my Chicago days. Or at least the forced ignorance and denial. Before I moved, more than three years ago, Rod told me not to do three things in the midwest. I only remembered one thing: "Don't get fat, Aimee." Well, the midwest broke me. I am now only a couple pounds away from the heaviest I have ever been in my life (college, of course), and it doesn't feel or look good. I got in yesterday, and realized the benefits of having a sister w/a similar build: you can see what you could look like if you didn't let yourself go. Ouch. Now I realize that the full-belly feeling is permanent, and my belly doesn't actually come back in after digesting the disgusting amounts of food I've been ingesting.

I think the trouble started this summer in Michigan, where we had tons of food all the time and dessert at least twice a day. I have always had an incredibly conflicted relationship with food, and now I'm scrutinizing it again. I am a control freak. But I give up all control around food. I have been a binge eater since high school. I pride myself on being able to consume enormous quantities of food. I now eat things that several years ago I considered poison. I am a full-blown sugar addict. I have created rituals around food with others that basically set up traps for me and others, so that everyone becomes an enabler. When I say no, people say, "you know you want it."

So, it's time to shore up my boundaries. And I need major help. I already had two goals for December: massive reduction of refined sugars, as well as a week-long fast early in the month. Now, I think I need to change what I do with friends, so that we meet for tea instead of meals. I have to say, "no, I really mean no." I need to remember I'm not living on a farm anymore: no more excuses for bacon, ice cream, and beer. No excuses EVER for Crisco or Velveeta (unless I'm using the former to clean my printing equipment).

As much as I make life difficult for myself, I don't want to bring on adult-onset diabetes (I have inherited this propensity, and it is a very real possibility). Must reduce and shift consumption. More exercise (I couldn't keep up w/my sister this a.m. when I walked her to the subway station!! I don't walk quickly anymore!! It's like my muscles have shortened). Rehydrate. And: better sleep habits. Depriving myself of sleep alters the cortisol levels that regulate my appetite and guide me as to WHEN I eat. I'm hoping to at least get lots of sleep before I see my parents for turkey day. B/c that's the last piece of the nightmare: mom. She is brutal, and will rip me to shreds when she sees the weight gain. I have to prepare myself accordingly w/a good battle plan. I want to be only fat, not fat and haggard. Until then, I'm going to postpone socializing, so I can take care of myself

Monday, November 20, 2006

Almost out the door

I secretly petted Jack today. Just a little. This image is in case you didn't believe that BAMA and I are friends now. I'm about done packing and still wondering how in the world I'm going to get everything to the airport w/o losing luggage or limbs. I sold my dresser today, so it's gone. YAY! I can officially say that I own no furniture. I did some cleaning so Tam doesn't have to live w/my hair for too much longer. I tried to make my luggage less heavy but it didn't work. I also tried to put a suitcase inside a suitcase. I ALSO tried to put my computer bag inside a suitcase. All these things didn't work. If only I wasn't a violinist, and then this load would be a little more manageable.

I've been reviewing text and images from the good old farm days, unhappy that my jaw is so sore, and gearing up to be in NY for a while. Though I think I'll go to D.C. for a few days in early December. Maybe a couple upstate trips, too. The guy who bought my dresser today asked what I do and I said, "I'm an artist." That might have been the first time I did that w/o qualifying it, and w/o being ashamed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

After a day off

(of blogging, I mean). I just got back from Harvard, which is I think about 90 miles away from Chicago, to visit Julie and Andy at their gorgeous house. It was hard, though, b/c I failed the fragrance test; I had washed my hair yesterday and rewashed today in unscented soap, which didn't get rid of the smell, so when I got there I had to shower and shampoo again and wash my hair in white vinegar, but the smell was STILL in there. So I had to wear a turban and keep a distance from her. Environmental illness is so scary, but I think it's really important to raise awareness about all the things that we are exposed to that are harmful to our bodies. I've already made some changes in my lifestyle after learning more (simple and small, but that's how it starts: no more dryer sheets, unscented detergent, etc. I like to think that not buying new clothes is part of it).

I rode the Metra there, and it was SO comforting (after the gross, loud, hungover, stinky, and still drinking kids got off the train. I hate the smell and sounds of that kind of privilege) to see the landscape change as I got further away. I finally saw cornfields. Even a combine in one that hadn't been harvested yet!! It was like being back home. Makes me realize that maybe that dream I had as a child of a sustainable life is something that I can get close to, or closer.

I'm hyped up on caffeine from the tea and am trying to deal with it the way I do with alcohol: eat and drink water. Still need to pack so I can fly out tomorrow. I'm going to probably stay w/my sister and husband for a few days b/c I have too much luggage to drag home to the burbs, and then mom or dad will get us for turkey day. Jay came yesterday and we took the bed and mattress and blue violin to his place and assembled it, so that's the last bit of the crap I had in the basement (besides my thesis. Which I can't think about right now). Time to back up the computer! And then hit the road again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Surrendering to the video world

I've been resisting for my whole life, but you can only resist so long. Past examples: hiring slide photographer, switching to Apple, getting a digital camera, hiring video editor, hiring web designer, being nice to people who ask the same question over and over. The life cycle of my concessions as an artist. So, this is some of the tons of HILARIOUS footage that Terttu got tonight of the brick wall. I hope we keep collaborating in the future, with a better camera and more sites. I'll say this much: even though it's paper, it made me feel really safe whenever I was behind it.

Fading after a full Friday

7:45am: "Good morning, princess!" wake up duty by Tam. Followed by extremely half-assed yoga.
9:30am: breakfast at Ann Sather's w/Suzanne. Big, healthy dose of advice and support.
11:30am: much-needed nap, with Jack.
1pm: tea and lunch at Earwax w/Clover. Fantastic parallel life conversation and running to her hair appt.
4:15pm: stop back at Tam's and rush out the door again.
4:55pm: arrive at Hokin Gallery to take down my brick wall chunk and images. Head down to the studio to unload the dryer and wrap up 62 sheets of paper while conversing w/Joseph about the yellow fever article. Walk up to C33 to see the media show opening and get two cookies. Wearing the brick wall.

Walk back down to the studio building to see the rest of the show and chomp on the fancy spread. "Nice cape!" and "what is that?" comments on theh way. Find Elizabeth and chat. Call Terttu on the hallway payphone and tell her to come my way since it's on her way. Documentation begins of the brick wall journey: orange line to #8 bus, then to Terttu's place, where I have tea, lay down on my old futon, and demand to know why she has DRIED MILKWEED in her hallway (she said they were "flowers" from a friend. I was traumatized). Confess that I've been listening to Cake a lot. Head back out to the #8 bus, get on, realize Terttu forgot her U-Pass, get off bus, walk back to her place and back to the #8 bus. "Can I touch it?" and "you must be in a play" while Terttu runs video. Blue line to California, a quick stop at the liquor store (she was going to a bday party), and home.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

No farm = no pictures

I have no interest in taking pictures now that I'm not on the farm/not making art. That should hopefully change soon (the hope being that I start making art once I get settled in NY). I actually got home tonight before Tam! Which is good; I needed an earlier night in and don't have to worry about waking her up. Jill took me out to dinner at Handlebar and my gut is still hanging out. YUM. It was good to catch up; I feel like we've both been growing a lot since graduating in May, and I got to process some things w/her that I hadn't in a while. On the way back home, I stopped into Niche b/c my boot is still giving me a hard time; I can barely walk b/c the right side digs into my heel. The store manager sat on the floor taking pictures of my boots and I'm going to bring them in again, which means I won't have them again for a while. Good thing that I have two other pairs I sent to NY, and that I won't need any kind of fancy footwear in Vermont.

I just had a slight panic attack about where I put my passport. I KNOW I put it aside to take with me, but I just don't know where. I better find it before I fly out on Monday. OH!!! Wait, I'm having a flashback to putting it into a blue sandwich tupperware container along w/business cards. I think I shipped it home.

Today was another functioning-on-not-enough-sleep day. I got up, cooked rice & lentils and broccoli, took a shower, tried to get a scary scammer off of my back, and other exciting morning chores. I got to school and picked up stuff from the gallery that didn't get put into the show and then made a bunch of paper after beating two loads of pulp. Much nicer paper this time. I realized that I've been doing quick and dirty papermaking for three years, and only now am I understanding that if I just slow down a little and pay more attention, I can make much better sheets in the same amount of time. That patience lesson is hard for me to learn. Instead of being stubborn and not using formation aid (a gooey substance that makes your sheets more even), and not doing things that I know work, I just took the time to do everything right. It was nice. That gave me time to think about my new theory: that the dominant culture (usually men, usually white) projects "docile" and "delicate" onto other people b/c they are so scared of that inside themselves. Same exact theory as men who are scared of their own homosexual tendencies having massive homophobia.

Andrea and I had a good talk about what I got out of being on the farm (cultivating confidence in myself and my work, finding out that I do want to learn how to teach, being okay w/putting value on my work, knowing that I can make work anywhere w/whatever is at my disposal) and she said she feels like I'm going to be an artist like David Byrne. Except I don't have the whole successful music career bit. Then I went to see Terttu and meet her boss to talk about website design stuff in the digital lab, which is where Jill found me. We got to ride the bus and sat in front of someone I met when I first moved to Chicago, but we didn't acknowledge each other. It's strange; I've seen him a LOT in the streets and on public transport, but I just never say hi.

I saw a lot more cute boys today that usual. Eye candy is always fun. I'm getting a little stressed about how much I still need to pack and organize before I take off, but I think I'm just going to bed now. Oh - someone tell me what a chalk line is, please.

I don't always do the right thing

Like go to bed on time. There's just so much to do, so much to share, so much world out there and in here! What a DAY. Elizabeth helped me get rid of all my stuff that I had loaded onto Tam's back porch and gave me a sweet, sweet birthday package. I met Anni for lunch downtown. She's so smart - a really saavy artist, and a good one to boot. I was the first person to get her a picture for her "Getting My Name Out There" performance piece (scroll to the very bottom of the page to see me on the tractor). And yes, you, too can participate. Clearly, I was the one who put the least amount of work into making the sign.

I also had a really nice meeting with Nancy Tom at the Asian Arts Center; she's really close to getting an Asian studies major approved at Columbia, which is great. She said that they were talking about me recently, saying they wished I was around b/c I would fight for things like that. It's good to know that people think that I'm a fighter. In a good way, of course. I was so tired afterwards that I went to the library to take a nap, and then stopped by the digital lab to surprise Terttu before I headed to Site Unseen.

It was great to be there as an audience member this year, and to see Julie (the curator) and Claire (the program manager @ the DCA), and SO many other friends, colleagues, and artists. There was a LOT to take in. I was excited to see how much research people had done, and work, to make their pieces truly site specific. There was one point where I just thought, "I LOVE being an artist, and experiencing art, and being around artists." I wasn't really able to give anyone/any piece as much attention as they deserved, but am happy to have been there the whole time. The picture is from the load-out from one of the pieces. It was rainy when I left; Greg picked me up so we could get something to eat (too much ice cream!) and that was fun. I finally got to give him my prints and we talked about language, reading, writing, and teaching.

I'm kind of sad now that I booked a flight to leave so early; there are still so many people I want to see. But I have to trust my own instincts about it, too. I decided during one of the performances tonight that I'd like to fast for a week in early December. Along w/lots of other aspirations. Good work, Chicago!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Morning things

I'm skipping yoga practice today; too much on the dear plate. I like my plate. I just tend to heap way too much onto it. Somehow, I woke up really early. Which is good b/c there's a lot for me to prepare for today. I forgot to mention this link last night b/c I read it, and though it's not the best thing on the yellow fever topic that I've read, I am glad that at least it's still out there, trying to be visible, since it's so rampant but unconsidered except by the victims.

To counter the crank

(um...I think my space bar is dying. uhoh.) I had to go to bed several hours ago but was writing a long email to a friend, and pulled out an old book I made in 1998 to find the quote I was looking for. I want to share it w/more than just him:

Dear Joanna:

Forgive me for writing again so soon. I realize you are busy reading the words of all your other sisters who also love you, but you have been constantly on my mind and each day I think of new things to share with you. Today I wanted to tell you about beauty.

In you, there is beauty like a rock.

So distilled, so unshatterable, so ageless, it will attract great numbers of people who will attempt, almost as an exercise of will (and of no more importance to them than an exercise), to break it. They will try ignoring you, flattering you, joining you, buying you, simply to afford themselves the opportunity of finding the one crack in your stone of beauty by which they may enter with their tools of destruction. Often you will be astonished that while they pursue their single-minded effort to do this, they do not seem to see your sorrowing face (sorrowing because some of them will have come to you in the disguise of friends, even sisters) or note the quavering of your voice, or the tears of vulnerability in your eyes. To such people, your color, your sex, yourself make you an object. But an object, strangely, perversely, with a soul. A soul.

It is your soul they want.

They will want to crack it out of the rock and wear it somewhere--not inside them, where it might do them good, but about them--like, for example, a feather through their hair, or a scalp danging from their belt.

As frightening as this is, it has always been so.

Your mother and father, your grandparents, their parents, all have had your same beauty like a rock, and all have been pursued, often hunted down like animals, because of it. Perhaps some grew tired of resisting, and in weariness relinquished the stone that was their life. But most resisted to the end. The end, for them, being merely you. Your life. Which is not an end.

That resistance also is your legacy.

Inner beauty, an irrepressible music, certainly courage to say No or Yes, dedication to one's own Gods, affection for one's own spirit(s), a simplicity of approach to life, will survive all of us, through your will.

You are, perhaps, the last unconquered resident on this earth. And must live, in any case, as if it must be so.

1973

Alice Walker, Living by the Word

I saw at least three incredibly beautiful women today. One in the museum was so beautiful that I almost held my breath standing next to her as we read the same label in the Tuttle show. Another had a blue coat, blue pen, blue glasses, blue earrings, and was long and gangly and the blue was not the typical one, but all of them matched. Another served me food.

Now I'm really mad

ARGH!! I was pretty far into this post and then my computer crashed for the 2nd time in about an hour. I understand that I've dropped it a lot, but come ON. I can't wait to get back to NY and see if those geniuses can do anything to help me. Grr. Anyhow, I was saying all this stuff about today (Tuesday), which I thought was Wednesday. Though now it's Wednesday b/c it's past midnight. Since I'm cold and tired, I'll do the list version of what I just wrote and lost:

1. oversleep despite not sleeping well, rush to yoga and see Jim & Bill, who tells me good things about Vermont Studio Center, where I'm going in Jan (he was there last Feb)
2. see crazy 40+ car funeral procession on Chicago Ave while waiting for the bus
3. have really good Waldorf salad & tomato rosemary soup at my old building on the Gold Coast (along w/the fastest service I have ever, ever experienced there)
4. great bodywork session on new heated table
5. nice visit to the MCA to see the Richard Tuttle show; not impressed by the show on global sustainability b/c it didn't seem like art and it was too loud (like, the lettering was too big and blocky, etc.). But SOOOO happy to see the Tuttle show - made me think about both Shawn's and Chela's artwork, as well as mine, and made me want to own a letterpress studio for real.
6. had a fun, fun tapas dinner w/Chicago Shawn and got drunk sharing an entire pitcher of sangria
7. had a very smooth ride back on public transport (today was a big bus day: #66, #151, #146, #66 again)
8. booked my flight to Vermont and got a new pair of knitted socks from Tam!! Wohooooooo! I'm so never taking them off.

Everyone in Chicago should go to the Cultural Center Wed night to see Site Unseen! 6-9pm, live art all over the building, great curator and artists. I'll be there for the duration to take it all in. Yay.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

p.s. - a breakthrough

Tam and I were watching TV tonight (how fun, how novel!) and Bama (uhoh, I forget if her name has two m's or one...) came up to me and I finally gave in and started to pet her. It went on for a long time! This is a big deal for BOTH of us. She's super scared and skittish (always hides under Tam's bed and is terrorized by Jack, Tam's other cat) so I usually never ever see her. But she's soooooo pretty. And I am super allergic. Tam would have taken a picture to prove it but that would have scared her away. Isn't it amazing? I stopped taking antihistamines several days ago - unheard of in my life! Co-habitating with two cats and not taking drugs and my throat not closing up?? Never.

Anyhow, that was my excitement for the night. Time to try and get some rest so I'll be semi-prepared to get my ass kicked in yoga tomorrow (my first class since August!).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Grease a combine

I was reading the NYT article on the new Montana senator and was excited that I understood what they were talking about (he's a farmer). I spent the afternoon looking at more residencies on farms or in national parks and whatnot. I was pretty excited b/c I got an application done that I had been putting off for months, and the UPS store guy remembered me and asked how Nebraska was and said that it's great that I'm living my dream. I shipped three boxes to NY and hauled a crapload of things out from the basement. It's all on Tam's back porch waiting until Elizabeth and I take it all to thrift stores. I'll be SO GLAD when that happens. I'm going to have Jay take my bed and blue violin. I'll probably have to ship a few more things before I fly out, but I'm feeling like things are a little more under control.

It's cold and all I want to do is eat. I've gained some weight from farm life, can't fit into things, and was laughing at my size today. I also found a ceramic bowl that I forgot about that Jon made. That made me happy b/c I'm trying to appreciate ceramic work more. Too bad it's so heavy. I start my social week tomorrow, after yoga and bodywork. I can't wait until I get to be in one place for a little longer than a couple of weeks b/c this itinerant lifestyle is tricky. Tam's little brother got shot in Iraq and was pulled off the front lines. He's okay, but it just all seems so senseless. [see? all my thoughts are broken and wandering.]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sweet Sunday

I couldn't sleep last night. I ended up burning the candle Clover sent me for my bday in Nebraska all night. It was still burning the a.m. Better in the metal tins; I broke a wine glass on the farm burning candles too low (I broke the other washing it). I just finished curating my paper: picking off all the bits of stray pulp that were on the dirty pellons interleaved between my paper. That's 90 sheets of paper, checking both sides with an x-acto knife and rubber cement pickup. My arms and shoulders are shot, but it's done. This batch of paper had lots of lessons, and besides the milkweed disaster, I know now that even if I am really tired and cranky, it's best to clean the pellons before I pull sheets. MUCH EASIER to clean pellons rather than curate paper.

I had a fun photo shoot w/Terttu today (I loooove modeling for her, and not only b/c she'll be famous someday soon) and then we had lunch next door at the cafe. SO beautiful out. Then, Eric and I had the easiest logistical rendez-vous that we've ever had in Chicago. Probably the only one that required no vehicles; turns out we are very close, so I just had to walk straight on Armitage and he walked about two blocks. I almost started drinking at 2pm, but forgot about my favorite drink (bloody mary) and had seltzer & bitters instead. It was realllly good to catch up with him. He confirmed my fear that grammar in American English has gone out the window. I'm mortified that no one cares about it or teaches it anymore.

I'm waiting for Tam to get home from Michigan, and will see Jay in a couple of hours. I assessed everything on my body today, which confirms the possibility that I might be able to pull off never buying clothes again (though I adore well-crafted boots, so I'm allowed to buy shoes):

Mom: coat
Mom's friend: scarf
Terttu: hat
Ivan: gloves
Cindy: hoodie, underwear, long underwear, hair tie
Tam: dress

All I bought were my socks, boots, and bag (which was like a dollar at the Samurai store in NY Chinatown, and I only got it after my sister got me one two years ago). A former therapist told me that I need to buy my own clothes and not let other people define me by clothing me, but I think if I approach it w/the right attitude, I'll be fine.