Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's hot again here

Yesterday, a Brooklyn colleague emailed me about a dance performance she went to at McCarren pool in Williamsburg, where she saw my twin: a Korean-looking woman who walked around playing violin and singing (I don't do the singing part in public). I looked it up, and it looks amazing, and totally in line w/the kind of work I do: site-specific, interactive, interdisciplinary. Though this is more choreography heavy. My trapeze teacher in NY danced for her before. If you're in NYC, I think tomorrow is the last performance of Agora II. Go and tell me how it is. I danced along to the video that teaches movement for the audience and then went outside for a walk and danced it. I also yelled and thought no one heard (it's unsatisfying to yell here b/c there's no echo), but when I got to campus where Chela and Shawn were trying to fix the dead motorcycle, Chela was like, "were you yelling?"

I woke up early today and did a huge application in bed. It was hard work, but felt good: I'm learning things here that help me articulate my work and practice more clearly and elegantly. Then we all went on a big jaunt to Grand Island. We were everywhere; it's too exhausting for me to even list. We ate pork burritos really fast in the Mexican part of town, and I was yelping when Chela gave us Little Debbie treats. Clearly, I can't be on a high horse about not having any substance addictions, b/c mine is sugar. Now I'm digesting in hopes that I'll still have an appetite when we go to Ernie's and Lynda's for dinner tonight.

Health update: I am very, very sad about my bum shoulder. No insurance, no doctor, no bodyworker, no x-ray technician, almost no will to stop. But I have to lay off. I'll give myself this much credit: I haven't been transcribing for DAYS (writing by hand is the most painful activity on the shoulder). I did hear about a massage therapy place in Aurora, the next town over. I'll try and check it out tonight or call them Monday. It's so hard for me to see a perfectly healthy joint but feel it as very misaligned. I wish I could peel everything away to see what was wrong.

Good news: I've knitted all eight pages of an accordion book I'm making, and hope to make an apron next. Also, I finally realized that all the pressure I'm feeling about making paper and a performance and a zillion other things by the time I leave is self-inflicted.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Hungover from reading

I feel like I watched a movie last night, but then remembered I just stayed up late finishing the devil wears prada book. It was like reading a really long teen magazine. But it made me giggle b/c I was finally getting some more perspective on my own life and current situation.

I grew up in the suburbs north of NYC, taking our view of the Hudson River for granted from the apartment we are still renting, in one of two Korean families in our three-square-mile village. English was my second language and I didn't like sports. After flunking the test for math camp, my mom forced me to go to music camp kicking and screaming, where I completely fell under the spell of "real" music (instant love: Mendelssohn's "Italian" symphony). I was in the passenger seat when my friend was pulled over for speeding while she was racing another friend's car, and she went along w/the cop when he asked if I was her mom (we were sixteen). I gave a graduation speech about fish shitting in a tank that I learned from a Boston conductor, and mortified my parents when I went to a "hippie" school in OHIO instead of an Ivy League. "How did it all go wrong?" should be the gold sticker on my diploma, instead of "valedictorian," if you ask them. In 7th grade after a CPA came to visit for career day, I thought I'd be an accountant. In 9th grade I did a term paper on The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and thought I was going to be a writer. I went to Ohio thinking I was going to be a concert violinist, even though Sarah Chang's mom told me to stick to the books. I gave up almost immediately once I figured out how much time I'd have to spend in the practice room.

Fast forward through college, teaching myself how to quilt and cook and make Calder-esque mobiles, a summer on the west coast being depressed about the fog, the Egypt Air crash, and the JFK, Jr. crash, a hellish managerial position at a symphony orchestra back east, diving into the depths of "new age" life with a man 14 years my senior, teaching violin, watching tons of TV, giving tons of money away to artists in NYC, two trips to Sweden, more organic food than not, moving to Chicago thinking it would be a second honeymoon in the midwest, blasting into enormous debt to get a sub-par education at a school with the same name as an Ivy back east, filing two police reports, increasing sugar intake by 1,000%, and witnessing my friend, who had pretended I was her mom to avoid a speeding ticket, die.

Where does that leave me? I am living on a farm, in a building made up of four barns shoved together, free to read trashy books, sleep in, pick apples, and generally do whatever the hell I please, b/c someone thought that I deserved some time to make art. Based off of a 5-minute DVD and a mouthy application about a dream I had where I had to line up trees and Santa lawn ornaments in Chicago. This girl who stayed up late laying on the sofa, reading Crime & Punishment and never breaking curfew b/c she never went out in the first place, who did a pointillism study of Toto in 7th grade and drew melting corkscrew openers in 9th; this girl who hated running outside during phys ed or recess, who still obsesses about walking on her hands and climbing the sky by grabbing nothing at all; this girl who started crying in bed one night when she was 10 b/c she didn't want to pay taxes, who might not even have to file for 2006 b/c she hasn't worked; THIS person has a month left to do whatever she wants on the prairie.

I thought about it last night, and laughed about all my recent drama and my past drama, and thought, I am SO lucky.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

S - L - O - W and OW

Hm. I feel like I don't have much to show for myself today. I hope my shoulder isn't some strange yoga injury (I just thought of this right now). I haven't taken any more drugs b/c I don't feel like it's an inflammation. I feel like it's a nerve thing (I know, what do I know? I have no idea what either of those things are like, exactly). But I think the right side of my head is directly connected to whatever this is. My brilliant and beautiful and always good at dispensing crucial advice said I should take a 3-day break and do lots of left-handed art. I was like, that would look bad. She said, I want to see left-handed art.

Good news: once I dry out the wood that didn't burn down to ash from its soaking solution (the black stuff floating on top. the ash is at the bottom), I can use them as charcoal! Which would be good for already primitive-looking left-hand art. I've been getting better at mousing/touchpad-ing w/my left hand, but I'm impatient. I've been knitting a lot and finally cooked good stuff today (tofu, veggies, rice & beans, the usual. But is so tasty and satisfying after weeks of junk food).

Ed gave me these pH strips, which I've never used before. Help! Does anyone know what this reading means?? It looks like pregnancy colors. I want it on the caustic end: 11 or 12 would be great.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I forgot to say that last photo was shifu art (hanging off a milkweed stalk) that I made for my door in the farmhouse. I'll leave it there. After a ginormous pot of ramen, getting the pilot lit on the propane heater in my studio, and finishing the Flash book (even though I still can't get around the program to save my life, except that I know that F6 makes a new keyframe), I feel much better. I'm pretending it's like Jami never left and have started reading The Devil Wears Prada. I have come to terms with this: I will never be able to build my own website. I have to hire someone to fix mine PRONTO. At least I didn't waste lots of money on film before figuring this out (like I did years ago when I thought I should shoot my own slides).

So, if anyone has any leads, this is what I'm looking for:
1. A web designer who can take my Flash site that has only one freaking preloader, and fix it so it doesn't take a zillion years to load. Better yet, just code it all in HTML and then show me how to update it.
2. someone who will drive to Art Harvest and then drive me back to Chicago (haha!!! That's a little add-on...something I've been contemplating as I still don't have a flight out of Nebraska). This cannot be the same person who will drive w/me and all my crap from Chicago to NY (oooh! Another crazy plan).

Okay. I'm getting back on track.

"Heaven help me for the way I am"

Dramaz, sheesh. The drama has subsided. It was getting pretty fever pitch's embarassing to explain it all, but last night, after an amazing pork chop dinner by Shawn (Jami's SO right - those two artists will cause weight gain in a heartbeat), I had an awful time sleeping. I had a panic attack and started to pack all my stuff up again in the dark, and almost walked it all over in the dark, back to the barn. I woke up ready to move back, but Shawn sat me down for a while to talk it out, and I realized that the move, the action, was to show that I needed to do something. But moving wasn't the thing I needed to do. I needed to do the big talk about why I'm freaking out. So, after busting ass on an application (finit! In the mailbox!) and talking to a friend and my sister, I did that, and then it all washed away. It turns out that's all I had to do: stand up for myself and be honest. I'll get a separate entrance/exit so I don't have to walk through anyone else's space, and I almost bust my arm again just moving all my stuff back.

Learning, learning, learning. It's endless. I thought I'd be safe here from myself, but that was my typical defense. I remember my bodyworker telling me about how the energy patterns of our old habits don't die as easily as physical or psychological ones, and that we keep doing things that are harmful for a long time. I just repeated something I always do: something upsets me, I don't say anything, freak out about it while my imagination (which flies twice around the equator when given an inch) runs wild, and then after a lot of talking down and therapy, I finally confront the first issue. Which by then may be anywhere from a week to a year old.

Paranoia is funny. You think the whole world is out to get you, which means this: the whole world first has to care about you enough to do that. You think you are despicable and exalted all at the same time. 'S very exhausting. I wish I could say that I'm retired from all that, but I have proven to myself that I'm not. But at least this time, I didn't have to lose any friends. These artists probably think I'm a nutcase, but I think they might still talk to me if I'm very nice.

Finally! I can work now. If the arm holds up (Chela recommended ibuprofen. I took some last night and feel better...maybe I'll have some more tonight).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When things hurt

and then KEEP on hurting, I start to worry. I feel a little better - I took a mini walk, which made me feel strange b/c it's in the 80s today. I'm like, hello, I was just getting used to autumn, will you just STAY that way?? Of course, even w/o watching the Al Gore movie, I know that's just me being unrealistic. I also took a shower, as per Ellie's advice (b/c it makes you feel so much better). I had a nice talk w/Chela, who explained that when you're on the farm w/all the trees, you feel all closed in and hunkered down. But as soon as you walk out on the dirt road, the entire world opens up. All this sky and field. I should make sure I walk more often since I don't have a car, so it's my only means of "escape." I also washed out a dirty bucket and scooped out my ash from the fire. Doesn't look like much, does it?? Amazing how SO MUCH tree can turn into nothing.

This is all the shifu I spun yesterday. I also got my package of boxes from Art-o-mat, which my dentist told me about. I was hoping to get my art accepted for it, though I'm feeling a little run out of steam. I moved all my bedroom stuff to the farmhouse and unpacked it all this morning. I don't know if it will solve all my issues here, but it's worth a try. And like Chela said, I can always go back. She also reminded me that it's not just me being a crazy wanting to be a princess atop a tower, but that it IS just a really sweet space, so it would be hard for anyone to leave, to live in a 100+-yo black mold-infested farmhouse w/mice and such.

This is the other major problem: my arm is not getting any better. I should be specific: my right SHOULDER still hurts like hell. Scraping milkweed, which I thought started it, is over. But I still write a lot, and am a massively right side dominant human. I also do tons on my computer. I haven't even tried to fiddle w/this condition. Taking a walk today was my way to do something that didn't require it, but it hurt even then. I don't know what to do, b/c 1. I don't want to stop working, 2. there's no doctor to be seen, and 3. I would have to make enormous lifestyle and work adjustments to relieve my shoulder (and I've found in the past that this kind of thing will eventually over-tax the LEFT side, and then you're just screwed all around). I SO miss my bodyworker.

Soaked in depression

I was holding my tongue (boy, am I learning a lot about THAT here) until everyone who needed to know first was informed, but the death of the chickens didn't really help in the overall mood around here.

I was such a wreck last night that I went to bed at 7:30pm. I got up around 7:30am and dragged myself out of bed (after scary awful dreams...meeting people I wasn't friends with anymore, big confrontations, extra dogs, staircases you couldn't get to unless you leapt great distances and risked killing yrself, a math/word genius hiding behind a cheap motel bed, slow elevators...) to do some yoga. More later; I only just found out a bi ago that a bunch of architecture students are coming again today and I have to talk to them. UG. A little more notice would have been nice, so I would be a little more presentable.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I've got problems

I have no idea what's gotten into me. I'm trying to figure out when the downward spiral started, and I think it was Wednesday. That's when I had to stop working b/c of my arm and the beginning of getting all depressed about Jami leaving. Now I think I'm just depressed. I was all set to make myself move today, but then got suddenly drowsy and also sad about leaving my beautiful bedroom that has lots of air and sunlight and not so many bugs...I went to smoke out Jami's old room and there were lots of bugs. I'm a little stumped by the weather b/c it's getting warm again, and ended up just making a bunch of random stuff in my studio. I feel like waiting a few days to move, but that's probably me just being chicken. I thought I would be fine out here w/o a therapist, but am feeling for one badly now.

Probably I just need to get back into yoga and I'll be fine.

Smoky and educated

I feel very behind schedule. Hopefully it's just a weekend thing. I've been going to bed now for a bunch of nights in a row at 1am or later, and waking around 9:30 or 10am. Yeesh. And eating badly...not a good scene. Oh, and skipping yoga and meditation. This morning, I had to talk to myself out loud for a while to get myself out of bed. I'm hoping I'll snap out of it soon, b/c I have way too much work to do.

Today: I showered! HA. Of course, I forgot that making a fire makes me super smoky, so showering before that is a moot point, since it's immediately erased. Oh well. I'm still not very good at making fires, so I had to ask Shawn for help. Eventually we got a raging fire going, and I made about four or five trips w/the wheelbarrow from the back of the farmhouse to get the dead tree that Chela chainsawed last week to the brick pit. I knitted while I watched the fire (I'm knitting pink thread. What is my problem? This is NOT what I need to be doing right now, but I can't stop). Essentially, I'm burning lots of wood so I can get wood ash, which I will wash, and then use the wash water to cook my milkweed to balance the pH.

After spending about an hour despising myself for numerous reasons this afternoon, Shawn and I went back to Grand Island to watch "An Inconvenient Truth." Sigh. It was good. It was also good to have my decision not to have children reaffirmed. We made a couple of stops: one, to see the newspaper being printed on ginormous presses, and two, to get frosties. Then I almost cried in the van before we went to check on the cinders and start up another fire to keep warm. [p.s. - that's a pot of billy tea that Shawn made. Yum. Also very smoky.]

I think I'm going to move. I'll keep the studio, but I'm thinking I'll take Jami's room in the farmhouse and sleep there. For lots of reasons. It'll be hard to do in some ways, but also really important for me. The loft will always be here, if I want to go upstairs. But I think this will be the healthier decision and it will be good to be closer to the other two residents. *Cough* Too much smoke! But nighttime embers are sooo pretty, much more so than this picture.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I met Santa and he took me to the movies

Late, I know. I need to stop sleeping late and waking late. But I need to shake the creeps and let the mattress pad heat up before I go to bed (bug now crawling on the monitor). Shawn and I were both real bummed about Jami being gone, and he cleaned the kitchen as I ran a load of laundry and cored more milkweed in the farmhouse. I came back to my studio for a few hours, ate ALL my leftovers nearly, and then went back to the house, to find Shawn at the table, coring milkweed, the pile SIGNIFICANTLY dented, and a huge pile of core next to him. I almost fell over. I was so grateful. SO THANKFUL. I sat down and helped him finish the rest - he had set up a good factory system. I'm not so good w/factory systems...I never break down the task into enough small parts so I'm quite inefficient and go slower. Maybe it's b/c I don't want to feel like a factory worker.

Anyhow, we went to Grand Island to try and catch "An Inconvenient Truth," but the only showing was at 7pm at the completely volunteer Grand theatre, so the locals talked us into going to the coffeeshop and we ended up talking to everyone there. An accountant from Valentine (I think) told us about where to go that has the least light pollution for star gazing, and how the cleanest place (light-wise) in the country is four hours north of here. Half knew about Art Farm, half didn't. We met Rocky, who we already know, and the guy who has a clock shop who also does horticulture. He took us into his shop (it was closed) to show us a clock made of foam sponge stuff and then we stood quietly and heard all the clocks going at once.

Then we zipped off to try and find the mall where we could watch a movie, found it after some confusion (on my part), and got sick on the product placement glut of "Talladega Nights." On the drive back home, Shawn talked about witches and he walked me halfway back home in the dark and talked about ghosts. So I got all freaked out. I have the Rachmaninoff Vespers on now to soothe me and am excited that the milkweed is done. That means I can start burning wood to get ash to finally cook the suckers. One step closer to papermaking! I think I'm calmed down enough now to go to bed.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I miss Jami

Last night's dinner party was quite something. Shawn made incredibly yummy enchiladas. Jami made me a great mix CD, which is on now. Chela took us over the edge w/Krispy Kremes and Ben & Jerry's for dessert. Shawn, Chela, and I did a little slide/video presentation for Jami and each other to look at each other's work. She is sooo good at pointing things out to me about myself and my work; she said something about how I make things SO difficult for myself, and then figure my way out of it.

Jami also made really yummy salad, whose stars were warm bacon and garlic. My rice salad was a big hit. Thanks to Julie for bringing a reallllly good salad to Tam's housewarming party way back in the winter early this year; I used that as inspiration. Last night's was this: wild rice, brown rice, garlic, olive oil, black pepper all baked in the oven. Then I added crushed pecans (I did the crushing w/a rubber mallet), feta cheese, halved red seedless grapes, craisins, lemon juice, and pepper (black & cayenne). YUM. Even I was excited.

Jami woke me up this morning before she took off. I was SO SAD to see her go. We were talking in the bedroom and I realized a big reason that I love her so much: she's really smart. And fast, and funny. I was terrified when I first met her, b/c I could tell that she tolerated no BS of any kind. Now I see how refreshing that is. Hopefully I get to hang out w/her in NYC when I get back and we still like hanging out w/each other.

It's all cold and windy and grey and threatening to rain. I'm eating lots of leftovers and being sad and hung out for a while in the farmhouse kitchen doing laundry as Shawn cleaned and advised me to pace myself b/c I'm not 20 anymore and can't just work my arm/hands so hard w/o consequences. It's really hard for me...there's still so much freaking milkweed, though. I haven't gotten much else done. I came back here to eat and drop off my laundry, but I think I'll go back later. Chela is on a junk jaunt until tomorrow, so there's even less people to hang out w/now. Sigh. But I have a crapload of work to do...if I could only make paper. That would help move me along, a LOT.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Image dump by bum arm

I'm a little frightened by how much my right shoulder is hurting. I shouldn't even be on the computer...I transcribed some stuff today and wanted badly to finish the chapter but my arm wasn't on board. Jami said I should stop everything entirely until I heal, but there's all the milkweed soaking. Ug. Anyhow, this is me on a tractor in front of the building I live in (not the barn that got demolished by a storm, but the one behind it), helping Anni Holm, a fellow artist and performer, w/a project of hers.

These are not super shots of the thing I knitted, but I think they're good enough considering. Today, I was about to go outside to get more sage and beans, when Chela yelled upstairs that we were going to town to get pizza for lunch and to the store for dinner (tonight we're having dinner and showing each other our artwork b/c it's Jami's last night). We ate very badly but the company was great and Jami bought us all temporary tattoos. I got her a blue gumball that was gross.

This is Shawn, who took the two shots of me here on the tractor. I wanted to include it as a "hey, I'm not such a bad photographer, am I?" shot - I was trying to show him how to use my camera. But that's a nice portrait, isn't it? I'm kind of in no mood to cook, but should do that soon or it will never happen. I want to nap, even though I got up very late today and didn't do anything but go into a food coma. AND my clothes stink.

This is the fabulous, amazing, perfect shirt that Ami sent to me that she embroidered. She's been doing lots of embroidered shirts and I think that some Chicago boutiques are carrying them. I'll try and find out where, so you can all go and buy them. She's REALLY good at what she does. And I think she washed the shirt, so it's the one thing I'm wearing that doesn't stink. OH! I got MORE mail art today, this time from Stephen. Wohoo! Who needs a freaking TV if you've got a mailbox??!

shhh; it's late...

I meant in the last post to say prairie MADNESS. That's the official term.

I'm very tired now and finally ready for bed. I got crazy and finally struck out for the farmhouse after the heavy rain subsided, where Jami made me popcorn and fed me chocolate and we did a little yoga and I got to look at all her clothing purchases while reading her magazines. Very comforting. I stayed until almost midnight (after being very rude and talking to Shawn in the kitchen when he got home from Lincoln, which kept Jami up. See? It's good that I don't live w/anyone), and then took the long route home. Just for kicks, I checked their mailbox (since the postman likes to put my mail there instead of my mailbox), and sure enough: TWO amazing pieces of mail. One from Julie w/$ for a book I'm sending her in an SASE, and one from Ami: an embroidered shirt, Mississippi River postcard, and letter on handmade marbled paper. I LOVE MY FRIENDS. That, plus a pitch-black walk home w/my tiny Brinkman flashlight, totally erased my crazy and bad feelings today. The return mail is already ready to go. I'm taking the shirt and flashlight upstairs and zonking out. Now I have two shirts to model, one by Ami and one by Aimee.

Music: "One Big Love," Emmylou Harris

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cabin fever + Prairie fever =

Jami was worried about how I'd fare being here for so long, and I thought it would be no problem. Until it started storming again last night (I woke up to the lightning, heard some thunder, and ran downstairs to put electronics and handmade paper valuables in leak-proof locations). And until I found out that it's going to be like this until SUNDAY. Now I'm worried. I already skipped my usual routine today, stayed in bed to read for a while, showered, and then proceeded to eat all day. I tried to scrape more milkweed but decided I needed a new tactic: I'm soaking it in water to try and soften it all. Otherwise, I'll lose my arm.

These are Jami's pics from happier, sunnier days. If you scroll down, there are some HILARIOUS ones from my milkweed harvesting day. I also added Chela's blog to my links, so you can see what beautiful tall blonde Californian artists do on the farm. I'm really feeling the isolation now, and totally feel like the princess trapped in the tower. It's POURING; I was hoping to hike over to the farmhouse for more company, but the prospect of getting wet and cold is not attractive (then again, I'm here, dry and cold, and worried about the water leaking all over the electrical cords).

What I got done today: send mail to school for an upcoming show, finish another book, eat lots of apples & peanut butter, back up my computer, do dreamweaver tutorials and almost go cross-eyed w/boredom. Rain, PLEASE let up so I can escape for a moment!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fine, edit my life

Hm. I totally posted earlier today complaining vigorously about my blown-out arm, but it disappeared. So I'll have to give the latest update. First, Jami's much better pictures of the two projects I have going: knitting shifu & scraping milkweed. Second, I woke today to the most horrific shooting/splitting pain in my head (the right back side) and all over my right shoulder. Plus my right forearm is mad sore. Jami and I took our last trip to Grand Island together (she leaves Saturday), and things like thrifting (pushing clothes on the rack) and going for turkey burgers (holding a plate) were extremely painful. My body was clearly telling me that I wasn't allowed to scrape any more milkweed. Which is painful to my head, b/c there is still a BUTTload left to scrape. I guess it doesn't matter, since I don't have any fire yet. Friday, we'll do a cookout and slide lecture for Jami's last night, so I'll get ash from wood we burn then. I think.

I probably shouldn't even be on the computer too much. I ended up spending the bulk of the day laying in bed, reading Meghan Daum's The Quality of Life Report, about a woman who moves from NYC to Nebraska. I sliced some more apples tonight while Jami scraped some more milkweed (that's her in the picture). It's not a fun task. I wonder why most of my process involves activities that almost always induce repetitive stress injury.

Good news: I got the DV tapes and DVDs from my editor for my thesis. I HAVE THE BEST EDITOR IN THE WORLD (Brian Kallies), and he actually listens to me. I have to remember not to be so annoying to him b/c I forget that he actually pays attention and that I don't have to remind him about everything we've already talked about. It's great working w/people who are so professional; a real treat and privilege.

Time flies once you hit a groove

Wow. The hours are now so, so precious to me. Everyone has left from my dinner party tonight; Shawn had suggested a stripping/scraping party for me to get help coring the milkweek stalks, so I left a scrawled invite at the farmhouse this a.m. when everyone was out: dinner & more apple cobbler/crisp for scraping. I don't even know what I did all day...but these are the remnants. We worked a lot, it seems, and my arms are sore, but I think I still have half the batch of milkweed left to do (I have to split the stalks and scrape out the inner core, which I DON'T want for papermaking).

I finished this set of postcards yesterday in the car ride to Lincoln: trip/journey maps, thinking about borders/boundaries, and reconstituted words. I'm trying to put all the pieces together of what I've been doing and streamline it so that I get everything done and feel good about it, instead of just flailing around and feeling like I started a million projects and nothing got finished. I started having more visions of the performance last night in the car, so that felt good.

In that vein, I finished up knitting whatever it was I was knitting today: a halter top. HAHAA!!! I'll try and model it soon and have someone take a picture. It's pretty ridiculous and not practical, but still enormously satisfying. I even did a little tiny scoop in the back. I had to go online again to look at the binding off video Tam sent me a while back b/c I forgot again. I tend to always decrease to one stitch so that binding off is usually not even an issue. P.S.: Tam sent me the most AMAZING package today!!! AAAAHHHHHHHHHGGGG! The best treats ever - really decadent cupcakes. I can't even explain; they're so good.

The mosquitoes are still alive (I wouldn't be surprised if they still get me to my last day here). But I managed to get a few more potatoes, beans, and pickling cucumbers in the morning. I also checked out the walnut trees, which aren't quite ready for harvesting. They'll go from green to black, and that's when I can get them. So I made another apple dessert today, along w/leftovers & beans (dried in the pods on the trellis, then boiled/soaked, and then baked), and a potato concoction. Of course, I did this all in a frenzy before 5pm, so mostly things were cold by 8pm dinner. Whoops. I'm very tired, accounting for my poor blogging skills tonight. Updates: I am sore from harvesting (yay!). The electric heating pad, which I use in between my quilt & duvet, rocks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Starry; cold

I feel ridiculous for posting these now. Tonight is so beautiful, in that breathtaking nighttime way, so posting all this food and plant matter seems silly. But this is my milkweed after it was steamed (there was a pot the same size as this one on top of it that acted as a lid). It's really clear tonight = millions of stars = it's going to be really cold tonight b/c clear = no clouds = nothing to trap heat in. Ed showed me how to look at a star, shift my focus to its side, and then you see all these other stars you couldn't otherwise. It's AMAZING, to be able to shift one sense w/the same sense and heighten it.

Beans, beans, beans. Self-explanatory. I'm in a whole new phase now here, feeling like there is just too much to do. It's going to be interesting how it all pans out. I'm going to harvest walnuts to make walnut dye for my paper, as well as to see if I can roast, crack, and eat them. I'll also use clay here to add to paper and see how that goes. Seeing Julie and her husband Greg tonight was great. She looks exactly the same! But is doing so well. Not that she wasn't 10 years ago, but she was still in high school then. We had Indian food, and then went to a tea place. I'm excited to be able to see them again while I'm here, whether they come out here or I go out there (plus, there are rumors of three good Korean restaurants in Omaha. Who would've thunk??).

The baked apple concoction. Hit the spot perfectly. I'm listening to the Rachmaninoff Vespers. If it wasn't scary cold out, I'd star gaze on the roof. I'm going to do a few more things in the studio as I let the heated mattress pad warm up.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The harvest is on

Okay, so Blogger won't let me SHOW you, but I'll post the pics later, somehow. I got up this morning earlier than usual, did my yoga, and then struck out into the new fall cold: I dropped off mail art in the box, picked more mint and found sage, dumped my compost, picked up buckets from Pig Pottery (so I can make paper), dug for potatoes, got a batch of fresh green beans and dried ones, picked a few tiny florets of broccoli, and picked a bucket of apples. I also steamed my milkweed for an hour after chopping the stalks down to 12" pieces and then almost lost my fingers (especially my right thumb) pulling off all of the outer bast layer. That took a long time, and I still need to scrape out the core - what's left will be the inner bast layer, which is super tough but will make great paper. It smells like artichokes! Yum. I also shelled lots of beans and scrubbed potatoes.

Breakfast: two boiled apples w/an old tea bag for flavor & parilla seeds; apple juice (leftover water from the pot) to wash down my vitamins.

Lunch: three slices potatoes, sage, green beans, broccoli, garlic & onion & olive oil (those three were the only things besides black/cayenne pepper that were NOT from the garden).

Pre-dinner snack: hot apple cobbler/crisp (sliced apples, water, vanilla, ginger root, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, crisco, cornstarch) garnished w/fresh mint.

Now I'm off to Lincoln to see Julie for the first time in about ten years! Wohooo! Now I understand why farmers work so hard and never sleep. EVERYTHING takes sooooo long! It's so worth it, but I can also see why a lot of people didn't think it was worth it. I haven't really done much art-wise at all today (I mean, besides the grueling paper prep) b/c I just didn't have time. But lucky for Julie, I did take a shower (which might not seem like a big deal, but it is in this kind of cold). Jami was helping me search for potatoes, and was like, "I love the fall Aimee!" It's true; I'm finally able to go outside and do things now that it's cold enough for the bugs to stay away.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Just in case you didn't believe me

I lived a farm day

WOHOO!!! Last night, when I was assembling all the letters that were left over from my paper cut, I had no idea that today would be anything like it was. First, I need to share something from Felicity Lawrence's Not on the Label depress-o but expected book about the scary food industry, b/c it's the first time someone explained to me (when I was paying attention & cared) about how the body works:
As the glucose level in the blood rises, the pancreas releases insulin, which reduces the blood-sugar levels. Simple sugars and starches from white bread, white rice, cooked potatoes and refined cereals are converted to glucose very fast. Fibre from unrefined carbohydrates meanwhile slows down the entry of glucose into the blood. Excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates overstimulates insulin production, leading to highs and lows of blood-sugar levels, which leave you feeling hungry and eventually cause the glucose-regulating mechanism to break down. The liver then converts more glucose to stored fat and you end up both overweight and with diabetes.

Rock on! This, read over a bowl of cereal, made me worried again about my diet. But mostly, it made me happy to FINALLY understand what the pancreas has to do w/everything (since my bodyworker, before I left Chicago, did a lot of pancreas work. It's my new "focus-on" organ, but only when I remember it. I'm too worried about my heart and lungs right now). I learned during transcription that compassion has nothing to do w/being compassionate. On my walk, I encountered major caterpillar traffic; butterflies will be upon us soon, just in time to migrate south. Wind doesn't sound like anything until it blows against something, and then I looked up at these big trees, and was reminded of trees at my old elementary school, and old movies about the south. It's astounding how much I think about the FUTURE when I'm walking; I have to work really hard at bringing myself back to NOW.

I came back to the MOST AMAZING MAIL (in the wrong box. One is for where I live, and one is for the other house. The mailman seems to not believe that I live here. Or that I live at both, since mail comes to both boxes): Two SASEs!! Well, so much more than that. One was from Dylan, who I met a couple years ago when he was still at the Cultural Center. The other was, and still is, a total mystery: postmarked Grosse Pointe, with two SASEs, one to Michigan and one to Astoria. Wait, more: CHOCOLATE, fruit leather, and biodegradable lavendar dish soap!!! I almost fell down. I was just so heartened. People I don't even know, wanting my art and sending right-on-target gifts! If that's not a successful mail art project, then I can't imagine what is.
All that, on top of finally getting my papermaking w/plants book (by Helen Hiebert) and windy cooler weather, gave me the final push that I needed to start on papermaking: I HARVESTED MILKWEED TODAY!!! I spent about an hour in the field, cutting stalks, which required learning to identify them. It took a little while; I was first just following the big seed pods, but then figured out the leaf shape. I wheelbarrowed them back to the house to let them sit and drain (the milk that comes out apparently can make rubber? Something like that). Then I had to pull off all the leaves and pods, which took another hour or more. I took a break and picked 25 apples from the tree (I think Jonathans. I thought about Jill, naturally, and almost sprained my ankle, jumping for apples). Jami arrived from Omaha and delivered my gift from Rory Golden, an artist I met at Bemis: a sewing box! [you can see that an also a spool of pink thread in the next image.]

112 stalks later, I had finished the batch. The best part is that after I'm all done, I'll probably have only a few sheets of paper - I still have to do a billion more steps before even getting to form sheets (harvesting is the EASY part - now I have to steam all the stalks so that I can rip off the outer part of the stalk, then the inner part off of the core, and then cook the inner bast). Ed showed me the industrial blender and other supplies/tools around campus that I can use. I figure if I make ONE batch of paper here from scratch (harvesting, cooking w/wood ash, etc.), I'll have done a good job. I have some abaca half-stuff here, so I can always do that. But I can't really call myself a papermaker if I'm out in the prairie and don't do anything w/native plants.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

#2, w/a very hot head

WHOA. Ed said that last night's wind was shifting and was going to bring all sorts of cold air. He and Shawn worked yesterday in my studio, pulling out the old hot water heater and installing the propane heater b/c apparently I'll need it. HELLO, it's SO HOT right now!! I'm baking again in my studio. And my eyes still hurt. Oh, this is my drawing in lieu of photograph of yesterday's hail on Shawn's car outside. It was like a strange, sunny Christmas.

It's very hot. You can tell. Anyhow, I started knitting another swatch yesterday, and it went so quickly...I'm trying to figure out what I'm making: will it be something to wear, or carry, or perform with, or WHAT? I had a vision last night of having something hang off my foot as I hang from the ceiling, and sketched out all my ideas for hanging. I wish I was a Spanish rope expert.

But despite all the storm ion weirdness and overheating and eyes going bad, I did have a decent day of busy art making. I mean "busy art" making. I did a set of mail art pieces that I'll complete in the car on the way to Lincoln on Monday (I am now a big car art fan). I also did a couple of back alterations on old prints. I'm all over that, too, in the yogic sense and the dictionary sense: open the BACK of your heart. And what is on the BACK of "heart" in the dictionary? [I think I got headsman last time in my very old pocket dictionary from when I was 8.] I put those pics up on Flickr, so everyone except for Ellen and Ellie, look here.

I like doing work that's all over - no backs or fronts or anything like that. Yeah, I know people like to frame and hang work. But then it can be like that piece at the Whitney once where an artist made something and then insisted that it be buried w/in the building walls so no one could actually see it, but you knew it was there. Secrets that aren't secrets. These paper cuts were really fun to do, and came from me running my hand on a sheet, thinking how gorgeous the paper was. So then I just cut it out. One is on the rough side of the sheet, where it air dried. The other is cut on the smooth side, where the paper dried on the silkscreen.

#1, to clear my head

We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us, a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet when we don't close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.

--Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
I'm feeling a little like I'm being dragged along a highway by a car that I built and tied myself to but got going by mistake. My eyes are pooped out from so much knitting (Tam: I think that making and spinning my own paper yarn helps w/the process...something about knowing it intimately makes handling it easier), transcribing, and computer staring. I woke up today cranky and not in the mood for yoga, so I read first (and how perfect...too bad I didn't have that paragraph ready for my thesis), did very little yoga (the rule being that if I do mild suns, down dogs, and a decent headstand & shoulderstand, that's enough), and then wandered outside to the mailbox. WHOA wind. I did some sprints up and down the road to remind my heart that I'm still alive and some body stars w/my back to the corn.

Yesterday was massive tornado warning weather/storming. HUGE hail stones were littered all over, like golf balls in the grass, in the SUN, after the pouring rain and 70 mph winds (maybe that's why I had a dream about Elbert pelting me w/snow balls last night). When I was napping yesterday upstairs, I felt like the cupola would be ripped off at any moment; it was like sleeping in the back of a van w/everything shaking. Last night going to bed was like being in a light show b/c of the constant lighting. But the storm explained all of our moods and energy shifts, which I still find amazing. Ions!

I'm now going to try and get myself back in order (I had to move all my stuff again b/c of the massive leaks all over) and get good headway so I don't feel so crazy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Windy, dusty, sneezy

Yesterday was quite a day. Omaha makes a nice day trip; Jami drove Chela and me in the a.m. to thrift; Shawn drove in later. We had lunch in the part of town w/brick-cobbled streets and cute stores. I had an eclair when we were walking around. We regrouped at Bemis, where we met a few resident artists and great staff. What an amazing space! I got two scoops of homemade ice cream (root beer/cherry almond), yay. We wandered after Jami left early, got coffee (where I sugar overloaded as I helped Shawn w/his carrot cake) and then got in the car to visit Hot Shops, another huge artists' space. We bumped into a Bemis artist there at the Omaha Printmakers' Guild, and brought him along to a quick wine/cheese sit down and then Jami's reading.

The ride to Omaha was super sunny and I knit the whole way there. I have no idea what I'm doing, but it's going fast. My fingers still hurt, but not as badly as the last time. The ride back was dark, so I only did a little. I feel super inadequate b/c I can't drive stick, so maybe that will be another item on the TO DO list for life (the longer one, that I'm giving myself an entire lifetime to tick off).

Sadly, I couldn't sleep last night. I had no idea why, b/c the day was exhausting. It didn't help that I'm now plagued by the cricket from hell: it's living somewhere above me, is extremely loud, and doesn't chirp: it does a permanent test of the emergency broadcast system. SO loud, high-pitched, and unrelenting. I tried to read a little as a huge moth flailed around. When I finally got to sleep probably around 3am, I only got a few hours before an ENORMOUS storm broke. I had no idea it was coming. Kind of beautiful, thunder & lighting as the sun rose, but also incredibly loud. So I'm worn out, but there's a lot of work to be done.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Late night purling

Yeah, image quality sucks at night w/very little lighting. I love my big red clock here b/c Ed says that red light is soothing on human eyes - they did tests for pilots, who do best w/red lights on control panels in night flying rather than blue or green. But clearly, I haven't stopped knitting. It's a lot easier this time and I'm not sure why. The first few rows were SO LOOSE that they were slipping off the back ends of the needles. I've found that purling is much easier than knitting. Not sure why. But this is the GREAT thing about it: I can knit the whole ride to Omaha tomorrow morning! So I won't feel like I'm losing studio time.

I got the next cut from my editor, and it's looking good. Jami also advised me to return to NY for Nov/Dec in between residencies, which feels good. Julie, my long-lost music camp friend, is free Monday so I'll see her in Lincoln (and probably disturb all campus b/c I'll see her and scream a lot).

But this is what I wanted to share, from Chogyam Trungpa's Meditation in Action:
In this way you gain a complete understanding of what you are, and that is more important than continuously creating. The point of realization is not to try and understand only the awakened state and pretend not to understand the other side, because that becomes a way of cheating oneself. You see, you are your own best friend, your own closest friend, you are the best company for yourself. One knows one's own weaknesses and inconsistency, one knows how much wrong one has done, one knows it all in detail, so it doesn't help to try and pretend you don't know it, or to try not to think of that side and only think of the good side; that would mean that one was still storing one's rubbish. And if you store it like that you would not have enough manure to raise a crop from this wonderful field of bodhi. So you should go through and study even right back to your childhood, and of course if you have the great ability to go back to your previous lives, you should do so and try to understand them.
I'll probably be away tomorrow all day in the big city, which should give you all plenty of time to examine your past lives. A few more rows, and I'll go to bed. I swear, just a few...

"So you like torturing yourself"

My editor sent me a rough cut of my thesis video, and I got some feed back from people here, which led to me talking for two hours to Shawn about my artwork, which led to me pulling out patch of knitted paper, which made me realize I needed to do more. And I had promised that I wouldn't! But he picked up on my masochism pretty quickly - I'm the one transcribing a book, right? After I told myself five years ago that I'd never do that again, right? Go figure.

I RAN to the farmhouse yesterday when Chela said that I had a package waiting for me: Justin's new album! WOHOOOO!! Today's also Ellie's birthday. I stayed up last night trying to work but my eyes gave out, so I let myself sleep in today, skip yoga, and just go straight to video edits. I started to draw and write and scribble frantically, b/c I reached another manic point: I feel like there is WAY too much that I need to get done here, and of course there isn't enough time. AARRRGH. I had to talk myself down last night, out loud, under the covers, b/c I was going into turbo worrying mode.

Right now, I'm just overheating (WEATHER, give me something to work with, please!), taking homeopathic allergy meds like crazy (thanks, Ellie!), and trying to rip through work so I can justify tomorrow's trip to see Jami read in Omaha. Oh, and hilarious news: an old music camp friend (have not seen her in over ten years) lives in Lincoln!! Lincoln seems to be the place that people I haven't seen in years live.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Busy bee

This is why I had to go see a movie last night. Isn't it fantastic? The best part was that I walked in, went to the bathroom, thought about how disgusting it was (filthy, stinky, full of flies), and then walked out wondering why there were urinals in the women's room. Well, I did it again: used the men's room and didn't realize until I walked out and saw the sign. What is with me? I hope I stop doing this (I did it a few months ago in Chicago).

I'm a little worn out. I feel like I'm just running an office for myself in a barn, and not being able to make enough work. I'm sure I'll feel better after a nap (which I need very badly...stayed up too late last night after a forgettable movie and even worse ice cream). The weather has shifted again, so I'm all confused: it's all sunny and warm. It's just as fickle as I am. I had a really nice waiting-for-the-dryer with Jami this morning, and she and my sister gave me good feedback on my thesis video rough cut. It's so hard for me to have any kind of perspective. I feel like Justin Timberlake when he got his record deal at 14, about being like, you can't say anything to me, I have a record deal! Only I feel like saying, stop making me document this, I made over 2,000 bricks!

Then I have to remind myself of the fortune cookie we cracked open and turned into the title of our first show at grad school: We would often be sorry if our wishes came true.