Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hitting my stride again

Ah. It's like the old days, when I would just bind books and bind books. And bind books. This is my little mini library from today's and yesterday's binding sessions. The big one is actually Tamara's - her new knitting log. I printed that today (set & distributed [=put away] type as well) while seething about more administrative power trips at school. People are so evil and pathetic at the same time. I found myself wishing I had lots of money and/or power, so that I could better deal with nasty attempts to keep me from doing my artwork.

The blue book is mine (it's like mountains, or the top of "OM" cut off and slanted, b/c those were the leather scraps I had), and so is the green one. The rest I'll sell or give away. Which reminds me: save the date! Printers Row Book Fair is next weekend, June 3 & 4. I perform on the 4th from 12-12:30pm, doing a brand-new piece and selling books. Which reminds me: I have to make my costume for that. I'll also be performing June 9 at Elastic Arts Foundation for the Spareroom benefit.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Returning to another old self

It's over! It's down. I took my thesis down yesterday. It was pretty fast (don't say that to Nathalie, who was there from 10am, shooting slides, and then video of the deinstall...someone tell me how I deserve such a good friend??) and kind of hilarious. I took stills of it as I took 3 feet down at a time. I think that having it down is unexpectedly wonderful. No more paranoia about if something will fall down or if someone will manhandle it, etc. And I think that b/c it was such a huge exposure of my inner self, I suffered a lot of stress from just putting myself out there. Who cares if everyone thought it was beautiful and successful and loved it? B/c it was still like standing in the middle of the street, naked. No, no. More like standing in the middle of the street w/my first layer of skin peeled off, still alive (like the bodyworlds bodies, only alive. Then, I think of the absolutely horrific scene of skinning a man alive in Murakami's wind-up bird chronicle book and I have to stop thinking of it).

So, now I can paint and spackle today after laying in bed a lot yesterday evening. I'm catching up on electronic errands (my inboxes are finally empty!) and pretending my computer is just sleeping, not broken. Hopefully, if I can repair my walls in time, I can actually print some thank you cards on kozo paper I've had laying around forEVER. Oh! And the final tallies: I drew comics on 125 bricks, and got 116 responses in my wall. Later, I'll try and post what some of those looked like.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I win all self-flagellation contests

I feel like it's Friday. And again, I feel CRAZY. Yesterday's slide shoot didn't go too well; Terttu borrowed a camera that didn't work so I only got half the amount of slide film that I bought and after picking up the processed slides, all of them were overexposed. I also was eating too much chocolate (and food) yesterday. I was so panicked today that I had to step out of the yoga studio 5 min before class to call Tam and ask her to tell me everything would be okay. [but I like this shot that I took - it's like my tower is going to eat Terttu, who was working very hard. So was Nathalie, my lighting director extraordinaire.]

I am having a very hard time in yoga lately b/c my sciatica is so bad. Plus, it's flaring up on the right side, which freaks me out. I'd elaborate, but don't feel the need to. Just to give a basis for understanding, I'll just say that this time a year ago, a very bad, bad thing happened to me (police report HL something or other) and as a result, my emotional trauma lodged itself physically in my left sciatic nerve. I've been working for a year to get it back to normal, and it almost was, until this month. So it brings up a lot of things for me emotionally, which then pile up on the rest of the crap I have to deal with (like thesis, graduating, moving, answering the "what are you doing now??" question, etc.).

Yet I still have SUCH a hard time not being hard on myself in yoga when I have to modify my poses b/c of my sciatica, even though it's not my fault that I have it. Especially b/c they're poses I used to be able to do w/o any problems. It's good to learn first-hand what it's like to not be in perfect health or shape, and good to not take things for granted, but it's HARD. I'm not going to age gracefully, for sure. I'll be kicking and screaming the whole time.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Good reasons for not posting

[No, not b/c of Oscar's bday party. That was a couple weekends back.] I got my hood yesterday! I am SO exhausted, though. Not sure why, though I suspect it's from wearing contacts all day. It's amazing how things floating in front of your eyeballs can make your entire body shut down. Commencement was a riot, and Ami and I were pleased to see that images of us eating actually made it to the video they screened there. I had submitted images of my prior work, too, and Ami's parents saw that before we processed in. Seriously, the entire thing was like a circus/bad comedy routine. But we got to sneak out right after we were hooded, and then Ami's parents drove us back to her place for a cookout. My mom has been having severe guilt about not coming, and thinks I'm upset that not a soul came for the event, but I really didn't want anyone there. The only reason it would have been good would be to 1. have a coathanger/person to hold my crap and 2. have someone take pictures so that mom and dad don't think I was lying about what I've been doing for the past three years.

Also, this was my thing to do alone. I started it that way, and wanted to end it that way.

But, this is the TRAUMA that has had me on the edge all weekend: I dropped my iBook on Friday night after a really fun night out at Chicago Diner w/Terttu. AWFUL!!!!! I've dropped it before, and it has always been okay, but apparently, May is the month where horrible, terrible things happen to me. Luckily, Ellen and Paulette were flying in the next day, and Ellen knows all when it comes to computer stuff, so she calmed me down. We tramped all over town Saturday looking for a 6-pin to 6-pin firewire cable (apparently, a very unpopular item in Chicago's Loop, so we only found it at Staples after going to three other stores), and backed up my data. I had to leave my computer and hard drive at school b/c it was taking so long, and then had to commence Sunday. So I've been stressed all weekend that someone would come and steal my life, but it's okay. It's in the office right now but I don't even want to look at my iBook b/c I'm afraid that after I erase the hard drive and reinstall everything, it will still not work, and then I'll have to get a new hard drive.

AARRGGHHH!!! It's kind of sick how lost I am w/o that thing. Oh, and I just started reading The Botany of Desire (yes, I know I'm way overdue), and freaked out when I read that apple seeds have cyanide in them. I've been eating them for a month now!!! Jill reassured me when we were waiting to enter the pavilion yesterday that they pass right through - but I've been CHEWING them. So, not only am I perma-cranky, tired, and stressed, but I'm also accumulating cyanide in my body. Wohoo! But don't pray for my body: pray for the iBook.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Super rushed and stuffed

Today was Manifest, which is a huge one-day party/performance thing/festival at Columbia. Ami and I had a good three-hour performance. This was the first shot I got, of just our food that we prepared for each other. It was a pretty simple setup, and quite healthy. We're good at this, I must say, after three years of feeding each other. We also got great participation. The women, stereotypically, were fantastic caretakers, and the men sucked. [btw, Ami and I, after eating for three hours straight, are now eating pulled pork sandwiches.]

We had three men come and actually steal our food. One just took it, even after we told him he couldn't. The first one who stole a grape force fed us. The other one tried to force feed us cake that someone else had brought us, but we refused it. Though, to his credit, the one who brought us the amazing Swedish Bakery pastries was a man (and his mom). MMMMMM.

This is the magnificent chocolate bundt cake and the porcupine-covered cake we got from Aaron and Sharon (his mom). We were quite impressed, since he tricked us first by pulling red apples out of his pocket. We thought that would be it. Actually, doing this for three hours was a really nice respite from our insane post-thesis lives. I've been so scattered that I can't stay on one thought longer than three seconds. So just sitting and having people take care of us was nice.

We did fantastic evaluations for everyone (as in, they were done fantastically, not that everyone got a good one), that were based off of our thesis evaluation forms. It was a good time. I think I should teach b/c I'm so fast w/snap judgements and writing quickly. HAHAAA! My favorite gifts: soy milk, really good green gum, microwave dinner: spaghetti and meatballs, and ginger tea. But now I'm back to my harried life: just drew three more bricks for people and am trying to spirit away inconsiderate audience members who keep touching my wall. I worry about it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lasts (the noun)

Another rushed post - I have about four hours before my last class and my thesis paper still isn't quite up to snuff. This is the pose Jim taught us yesterday - lord of the dance - but I can't really do it. Need a belt. But it's amazing how suddenly all the poses that are exactly like the breaking move that gave me sciatica in the first place a year ago are now cropping up in my practice.

Breda just told me that most of the yoga poses we do today were created by 1920s British gymnasts. That would explain why the woman in class yesterday who used to be a gymnast can do everything. But I'm still determined to be able to do this pose before I hit 30. Okay, maybe 40.

This is a very strange and crazy time for me, this month, and today in particular. I'm not going to detail why (for once keeping my big mouth shut), but it's like how Anne's father-in-law has heart attacks every year around the time his son was killed. A million things are coming up for me, and I'm noticing. I know that a LOT of the craziness comes from thesis and my academic career ending. I did a long walking meditation this morning and came back drenched and curlier-curly-haired. Reading Neruda helps these days. I thought about Michael and his writing, too, as I saw the lake crashing and blue like eyes I used to want. Now I wish my eyes were darker and darker. I wondered: if I was blindfolded, and transported to this lake, would I know it was a lake? As nature-insensitive as I am, I think I would. It's strange to see water like this that isn't salty. It was wonderful to be outside in the wind and rain, hardly a person in sight, with a mallard duck, seagulls, and lots of green poop.

What I loved in the park: a man in a cap with his two black labs, running around. Louis had her baby! Premature, but they are both okay now. Her daughter's full name is all this mumbo jumbo but shortened, perfect and lovely: Kaia.

Monday, May 08, 2006

"you know I love you so"

Big smiles, big heart tonight. I will try very hard not to say anything bad in this post. First, I got an email yesterday or the day before from Ernie, who was putting together a slide show for his upcoming wedding. He found these old photos from one of Githa's bday parties before she was diagnosed w/leukemia, and sent them to me. Now, I don't know much about etiquette and superstition around the dead (I know about how to deal w/it in the immediacy of the actual death, but not years afterward), but I wanted to post this anyhow. I was amazed to see how I've changed (I don't own any of this clothing anymore, hopefully don't have such unkempt hair anymore [well, at least it's shorter so it's harder to tell], wear different glasses, etcetc.), and to feel like it was so long ago! I remember this party, too. Githa's holding a painting I did for her, a copy of an Egon Schiele drawing. She still had it up in her SF apt when I visited her a few months before her death. Love. I think a lot about how witnessing her death, not just the actual moment, but the whole process, affected my artwork so subtly but so profoundly.

Second, I got an AMAZING tag team conference call tonight from Ellen and Paulette. After rambling about them having a child together, and breeding/cloning puppies from their dogs, and me getting really worried that they were about to do something very dangerous and foolish, they told me in a slow Beastie Boys version (alternating a word between them) that they are coming to see my thesis next weekend!!!!!!!! AAAAHAHHHHHHHH!!!! Love. I was floored. They've been secretly planning it, and Paulette even tried to contact a friend of mine thru my blog to try and make sure I didn't have plans for Saturday. I can't believe it. Ellen was talking about how she wants to see this final product after seeing all of my work up until now - starting from my E&Z story back a couple years ago. Which all came out of losing Githa.

Today was a big phone day: Joy, Julie, Ellie, Ellen/Pauly, my sister, Terttu...I worked hard even though I'm super tired, in front of the computer. I wanted to fix my wall - some velcro came loose and w/the whole swelling thing, there's some tension that needs to be relieved on the sides - but I was too tired to get up on a ladder. So I got chocolate tofutti cuties instead, ate four of them, and lay in bed for a couple hours w/an eye pillow on the phone before cooking up two eggs. I was talking to Terttu about my wall and criticizing it for pulling on itself and shifting and moving and not behaving the way I wanted it to, and she said, "it IS a self-portrait!! You are hard on yourself, and you are hard on your wall!" I am constantly blown away by how insightful she is; she's always setting me straight. Makes me remember that chronological age means nothing.

Love. Tomorrow's big plan: yoga, fixing my wall, cleaning the floor inside, therapy, bookmaking (now that I'm allowed to make books since the thesis is up).

p.s. - I did NOT skip yoga on Friday, and thankfully so: no one else came, so I had an incredible private w/Ann Marie!!! We did lots of stuff for my sciatica, I did great handstands, and went into king pigeon. Gorgeous.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tributes to Pauly

I forgot to include a picture of the "final" castle, in all its glory. And the extra threshold that everyone managed to step on or kick during the opening. Rah! Anyhow, I remember suddenly what my dreams were last night (not just the green insect/worm/strange creature that rolled up into a tiny ball and then expanded into a cartoon genie, etc.) - I dreamed that Paulette started a new blog!! And I was SO excited, and ready to put the link back up on my blog, etc. Oh, so sad that it was only a dream.

But she DID send me an email w/a terribly hilarious story: "The day your thesis opened, I was at New York Public Library opening an account. I peered over the shoulder of the girl next to me, who was also filling out an application. Her name was Aimee Lee!"

Love it. I am now feeling much better, even though I overate horribly last night. I ended up working off some of it by hysterically laughing, hyperventilating, and slamming tables w/my hands. I almost got through 15 min of meditation this a.m., too, and am pleasantly sore from yesterday's yoga class. More later after I rush and overnight another app to Cali.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I can't stop overeating

Challah french toast w/bananas and pecans, cheddar cheese fries, bacon, and cheesecake. I am dying now b/c my skin can't keep it all in. I went out w/Nathalie to dinner and it's too much! Too much! Yesterday I had a hot fudge sundae and a side of bacon, and the bacon off of Joseph's BLT. AAARGHHH!!! I thought I would stop this after thesis. Alas, no. Not only that, but I didn't stop making paper: this is a 4x9 foot sheet drying that I did yesterday w/my scraps from my bricks.

And this is Michael, our gallery attendant, making funny pop ups of the postcards that are at the front desk. TOO FUNNY. Kind of creepy, too. Okay, I have to run now b/c a class is coming into the lab. Finally got back to yoga this a.m. but my meditation practice has plummeted. AND I'm still not sleeping enough. But I did go to the artists' book collection at the School of the Art Institute, and they're going to take one of my books. After I make it. hahaa! Ah, the curse of yet-unmade editions.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Epiphany. Crying.

OMG. Things are quickly becoming clear about my thesis opening. My mom said to my sister that my structure reminded her of this ancient Korean observatory. When they asked if I did that on purpose, I was like, not consciously. But it IS a structure I used before, in a book I made when I was 21 about my parents - one image of my dad and his school buddies, one of my mom alone in school uniform, and one of our family when I was 13 or so. The first two are before my parents ever met, since they met in the States after leaving Korea.

I just looked up the images online, and started to cry. This is the caption: "Cheomseongdae is one of the oldest structures in Korea. This unique bottle-shaped building was built in 647 during the reign of Queen Seondeok of the Old Silla kingdom and was used as an astronomical observatory. The base is 5.7 meters wide (17 ft) and stands 9.4 meters (31 ft) tall. Twenty-seven layers of granite cut like brick support the upper bars of stone that form the top platform. The granite-brick construction is similar to the method used at Bunhwangsa temple, which developed from contact with Tang dynasty China. Cheomseongdae is one of the oldest scientific installations on earth."

This is what I realized: Joan was right. I didn't need to be inside of my installation. I didn't need to perform, and if I did, I certainly did NOT need to draw comics for other people, or do anything for other people. I had felt such relief after that meeting, but after getting so much pressure over installation week about how I "had to" perform (as the resident performer) and being such a people pleaser, I caved and went back to the old idea. Even though my heart wasn't in it. I just knew I had to perform but couldn't come up w/something different in the time I had left.

The opening made me feel awful, and after therapy today, I understand why: b/c I took all the mistreatment of my piece as mistreatment of myself. And b/c I wasn't taking care of myself at all, and letting my space be disrespected. Yet I was still so desperate to render a service, to make people happy and comfortable, to be a good smiling hostess. Meanwhile, my family was stranded, ignored, and then left. I have gotten the most pathetic excuses about why no one approached them, and have been so angry about it. I used to always want to hide my family, so I was surprised by how devastated I was that no one met them. But after talking to Ellie tonight, it all came together. She said that where I needed to be that night was with my mother. But I wasn't. And that failure to be true to my deeper self, to really listen to what I needed, is extremely painful and hard to live with.

I talked w/my sister tonight, too, and she mentioned how lonely and sad I looked in the beginning, before anyone came inside. She has images of it, which she'll send to me after getting them off her camera. She said it's funny how I have to exist in only these extremes: totally alone, or inundated by people. It's definitely solid now: I'm not doing that "performance" anymore. I'm ripping down my sign about getting free comics, and just leaving the installation as is unless I come up with something in the next three weeks that is true. Otherwise, that is that. I've done more than enough.

Sad, sad news

I had forgotten also to say that I accepted the Nebraska residency.

But then just heard sad news: one of our faculty members, Michael Piazza, just died yesterday from a heart attack. Only 50 years old! He was one of the first people I met in the program, even before I applied, when he was in NYC w/the past chair. We had breakfast in February 2003. I wanted to take his class last semester but didn't get to, and am sad I never got to work with him. But sadder still that he passed so soon, and for that awful reason we know so well in this horribly-administered and legislated country: no health insurance. As I enter my last month of being insured!

Over and over in the past few days, I have been learning from either being smacked hard with the physical reality or through subtle ways (as I watch my paper rip or tear), how fragile life is. How fragile everything is! And how strong, as well, like death.

Good news

The nurse practitioner said I'm probably fine. Bill put the beam back up and shored up another that apparently fell Saturday (thank GOD I didn't know about that until today, and that it was fixed). He also put up a stanchion w/a sign to warn people. I read the comments from Friday night, and some were very sweet. I distributed my type for my postcard. I read fascinating things about Pablo Neruda learning how to set type and being bad at it, as well as the paper made on the front during the Spanish war to be used for printing a book of his that is now very rare - Espana en el corazon. But the paper has things like enemy flags & bloodstained soldier's tunics in it. Hardly any survived.

Whew. So, still a cranky back and nothing to eat (I wasn't able to cook last night b/c I was resting it. Terttu came over w/lots of apples and other accoutrements to snack on and we listened to lots of Jill Scott.) but feeling better about things.