Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I take it back

I was all mopey and then Shawn and Chela barged in to watch the sunset. I had us all go up to the very, very top, to throw open the cupola roof. It was lovely. Then I threw all my glass into the big hole in the ground (I only found out about this today), which felt great. I've hosted a bunch and since there's a lot of drinking here, there was lots of glass to throw and shatter.

We might watch a movie in my studio tonight if we're all up for setting it up. Here are preliminary images from the weekend. More to come soon.

"The End" depression

Good god. It's in full swing, the post-partum depression. I feel awful. Funny; I knew yesterday was just delaying it, but I still always hope that I can avoid it. Not really possible - it's not just the post-performance blues, but the end-of-residency blues. Shawn and Chela tractored his truck and inflatable to campus and I helped push the truck at the end. They seem to be doing well.

Last night, I freaked out b/c I had put off getting a flight to Chicago for so long that now prices have doubled. After berating myself heavily for a while, I tried to compare prices for renting a car and driving. In the end, my brother-in-law crunched the numbers for me and recommended just flying, as the safest option. True. So I got a flight for November 7 - exactly a week from today. How I'll actually get to Omaha is yet another challenge. Not having a car in this country sometimes really kills me.

I made fourteen books today to try and distract myself from the depression. I gave two each to Shawn and Chela and will distribute the rest once I leave here. I also did some of the most awful housekeeping today, like loan deferment applications and financial aid applications. I have yet to call Sprint to disconnect service. I finished transcribing my book and skipped yoga b/c I barely slept; it was SO cold last night - my head was freezing. The draft was so bad that it felt like I was just out in the wind. Daylight savings doesn't help. I forgot it was Halloween. Hopefully tomorrow's big project will help w/the depression: beating milkweed. Finally.

One more shout out

Thank you to the audience who came out this past weekend. I met some amazing, wonderful, kind, huge-hearted, open people. Feel very thankful for that. Jason, if you are reading, get in touch via email! I will try and get to Grand Island before I go, but am at the mercy of those w/cars.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A perfectly perfect Monday

1. Up at 7:30am. Yoga, meditation, transcription, laundry by machine & by hand.
2. Breakfast at the waffle house in Central City w/Shawn & Chela (every item after this should read "with Shawn and Chela).
3. Critiques outside Chela's studio begin. I outline the Critical Response system that Liz Lerman developed, and we use that for our structure (it worked really, really well for us). Break for snacks after my crit. Evaluation of our residency during snacks. Break after Shawn's crit for warmer clothes. Chela's crit inside her studio.
4. Fantastic dinner (as usual); I fetch wine that Anne sent from her family's Napa Valley vineyard for our celebration that came via UPS. Cheese plate. Chela's scalloped potatoes (no Crisco! no Velveeta!). Shawn's asparagus (oil, butter, brown sugar). Shawn's pork chops.
5. Gili's mix on my computer that I DROPPED HARD as I ran back to the house when I was cold (please let us all pray that it survives. I'm going to start a full back up tonight and not turn it off until it's backed up. Apple should make perma-insurance for people like me); a little dancing.
6. Moonlit walk on the dirt roads, to the big tree grove, through soybean fields, through corn fields, through the sculpture prairie, back to the house.
7. Spanish hot chocolate and a good footrub for Chela (I did that b/c she accidentally got her feet soaking wet in the water near the trees); tarot cards.

I just wanted to say to all of you: thank you, thank you, thank you. Thanks for being such a supportive community through this process. I seriously couldn't have pulled it off w/o you. I'm not excited about digging my way out of my inbox and other things I've put on the back burner for this past weekend, but am happy with everything I've learned. Still fantasizing about driving to Chicago but not sure where the heck I'd pick up the rental. I SO do not want to be the last one left on the farm (Shawn and Chela are slated to take off Fri/Sat).

Time to back up. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here. Over. Open. Bereft.

Those were the words from my performance last year in the fall. Shawn and Chela and I went to the steakhouse in Chatham tonight for dinner after the harvest; now I'm stuffed and extremely exhausted. We had a write up on the front page of the arts section (or something...I didn't look closely) of the local paper. Now it's time for the post-big-event slump, right? We have to all figure out our departure times and stuff...whew. I have no idea how I'm going to do it and when. Still no plane ticket, no rides, just people who will host me in Lincoln and Omaha. I kind of wish I could drive back to Chicago, but that's probably economically stupid. I'm looking forward to a long night of sleep tonight, though.

A couple shots

Round one: over

Wow. What a day. I harbored a lot of anger and frustration this morning, but got over after my performance. It was crazy; I got so upset that I ended up literally running to the barn, climbing the ladder, and taking solace in my little nook I've made for myself, typing out my woes on the typewriter I lugged up there. It felt really good to perform again. I did things I didn't think I'd do (like touch the gross owl turd/dusty wood w/my bare feet and fingers). People stayed for a long time to watch; it was kind of amazing that they did. I marked the barn before I started w/charcoal, making x's around the entire perimeter on the outside. It felt right to do. The weather was amazing. I loved playing and winding thread while looking through all the holes in the ceiling to the blue sky. Apparently, the acoustics are good up there, and it's also warmer than being below. B/c of my performance, the architect & director decided NOT to rip out the top level of the barn, as originally planned in the renovation blueprints. So I saved it! Yay.

But the best was later in the day, after my performance (thank god I only had to do one per day since I tucked mine between Chela's two where we bury her in corn kernels) - we ended up meeting a bunch of young artists/art fans who came from about an hour and a half away. I took them to the banya, and then to my studio and up on the roof. Shawn and Chela came by after running out to the cornfield to tend to his inflatable, and to shoot pictures of the sun setting on it, so we had beer and whiskey on the roof, and then went to the banya!! God, that banya rocks so hard I can hardly stand it. So it was eight of us in there. Totally amazing. Last night, Shawn and Chela and I were in the banya, too. It made for perfect performance hair: a little damp, slept on. The makeup worked, too. I almost fell off the top of the barn b/c a board was loose and I was leaning forward on it, right on the edge, while sitting w/my violin. Crazy.

Anyhow, I also took two other guys to my studio b/c one of them had a bad fear of heights so he wouldn't join the roof party, and they were SO sweet and looked at ALL of my work - like, every single page of my sketchbook, even. Jason was great - he said that I'm cool in his book b/c I shamelessly wrote a Justin Timberlake quote in it. Okay. Once this Prokofiev violin concerto gets imported, I have to do the awful task of looking at the video footage of me from today so I can give instructions for what I want tomorrow. Yeesh.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Strange details

Well. I guess I'm about as ready as I'll ever be. I hung and placed all my walnuts, made my burial mound and gatekeeper, nailed violin strings into a barn board (I love this piece. I've been thinking about it for a long time and it's really simple but it makes me happy). I decided NOT to string; that will be part of my performance: ongoing stringing. I braved old dust and endless owl turds and rusty nails so that I could move larger planks from one side of the upper level to where I'll perform. Then I won't feel like I'm about to fall through the holes the entire time. The ladder is set again, thanks to Shawn.

I spent a lot of time today knitting my costume (two long fingerless gloves and a collar; matches exactly the silk top Gili sent to me, which I cut to fit under the dress). Goodness knows. I want to take the typewriter up there, too, but it might be a challenge carrying it up the ladder. So I'll have my violin, typewriter, paper, and string. Durational. I thought a lot about trying to do a discrete, 10-min or 20-min performance, but I'm just not built for that kind of work. And thank god: Chela is doing two rounds of her performance, so I'm going to do only one. 3-5pm each day. Weather report looks fantastic. Sound check today felt good; the music for the barn is SO obvious. E flat, F sharp.

But these are the crazy things: I do all this stuff that NO ONE will notice. Hunting around for a white eye pencil yesterday for makeup no one will really be able to see from that distance. KNITTING pieces of my costume that no one will notice. All the reasons for the walnuts that no one will know about, and how I gathered and cooked and dehusked, and dried, and roasted, and hung. The buried treasure. How I arranged even the wood in the "trash" pile. These things are so crucial to me, but no one will ever really know. Yawn. Time for bed.

I love beeswax

WOW. I just finished ironing all the maps I waxed this evening. When people ask, "what's sexy to you?" I am usually at a complete loss (I kind of feel like the word "sexy" is completely meaningless at this point in time). But waxing and ironing handmade paper with beeswax is that. Or maybe just erotic. Whatever it is, it smells SO GOOD. It makes me love people, and being an artist.

I'm one day away from showtime and still have tons of gaps in the performance. I can't sleep. I was really upset about how I buried my chest, and that will take a while to get over. Still need to rake the soil in that spot, and drag over an old metal sign frame (a rectangle inside a circle) to put over it. I got up on the 2nd level of the barn again today in daylight and tried to clear the planks that aren't screwed down. I kept thinking, "I don't feel safe here. This is not a safe place. How do I make it so that I feel safe here?" I finished hanging the rope, and almost had a very bad accident w/the ladder (luckily, I got out from under it before it slammed down onto the wheelbarrow). It was really misty today so I didn't want to do any stringing. So I have a lot of barn work to do tomorrow, but hopefully it will be a nicer, dry, warmer day.

The forecast is warm and sunny for the weekend! That means I can scrap my wiring the barn idea and just use my violin. Thank god. I've been wiring and hanging walnuts today, and that feels good. I still have to figure out how/if my other paper will operate in the space. And I'm still knitting a second glove. Shawn and I went to Grand Island today to run five thousand errands and I felt totally ill afterwards - that gross rainy day feeling of shopping in the suburbs (that kind of tired, cranky, carsick feeling in Westchester - exactly like that). It carved out a huge chunk of day and I ended up trying to recover by napping and showering. I got a beautiful, moving letter from Nathalie (like, a REAL letter w/page numbers and all. And I thought they were extinct). I've been drinking black tea and home brew from artists at Ox-Bow to try to stay awake. I'm excited about my new yellow leather women's work gloves: no more splinters!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More bleeding

I'm back on my throne: procrastination queen. I somehow decided last night, late, that I'd better start knitting w/the gorgeous llama hair that Julie sent me for my birthday, and that fingerless gloves would be part of my costume. Not much sleep later, I started up again. I messed up the pattern royally, even w/emergency emails to Tam for help. I made two very messy gloves, and now am trying to knit a cleaner, longer one now that I've screwed up a lot. We had to talk to the press today and pose for photos. I knit and ate alllllll day.

But I also finally got the bin in the mail that I'm burying. I was surprised; it wasn't very full once I put everything into it. Then, wrapping it in sheet metal from Ed, I TOTALLY sliced my finger open. I was dripping blood on the floor again. It's kind of hilarious; I'm not cleaning up any more blood off the floors. Then I went into the misty dusk to bury it, only to realize I didn't have a very good plan for getting it in there. I dropped it, and it fell on its side, and there was nothing I could do to right it. Oh well.

So I just buried it, cocked sideways and all. It'll probably open up from the pressure of the earth. I guess in a way it's all in keeping w/how things go for me. THEN, I decided it would be a good idea to climb the 16-foot ladder to the highest level of the barn that has very few floor beams left (most of them are just stacked messily, covered in huge owl turds) w/a ginormous length of heavy rope, so that I could rig rope from different beams (in hopes that I can travel on them like monkey bars). Good lord. I almost fell off at times just from the weight of the rope falling over the edge. It also kept getting caught on nails and crap, and I'd have to backtrack on very scary footing to get the rest of it. I got a few nasty splinters (one is still in my thumb) and am ready to contract some kind of owl disease. Then I went over to the house and tempted the others over w/my leftover beer. We had soy cheese, boca sausages, wasa, and beer while listening to the sound recording I made the other day. Good times.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Complicit laughter

I am in love with my experience here. As much as I wonder how the hell I'm going to pull off another performance or six (yeah - I have to do repeat performances each day) in a few days, I'm feeling good about rolling along. I kill a lot of time over on the other side of campus, doing things like looking up "seismograph" as Shawn looks up "tectonic" (or maybe he was looking up the same word but in the wrong place). He's been doing more work on the inflatable now that he got all his stuff from H--- D----. Both he and Chela got new work gloves, which I am coveting. That'll have to go on my Christmas wish list.

I like living w/artists over time so that we can start conversations one day, and then continue them over time as we keep mulling over arguments. I got up today and dyed all the rest of my paper in walnut dye, de-husked walnuts (to my horror, what I thought might be maggots really were. But then I remembered that I cooked them for about 7 hours, so they at least were dead. Still gross), scrubbed them, and baked them. I have 108. The paper is a beautiful deep brown. Apparently it's different depending on the tree and the soil, color-wise. Smelled good.

I also am bleeding more heavily than I ever have in my life. I felt like my internal and external processes were all the same this morning, as I got thick walnut dye ALL over my studio. Big mess. That's why I decided to wear all red today; to celebrate. I keep eating the carrot cake I took to the house. Now I want to make veggie maki. But that project has to wait until after the weekend. I printed tonight: 153 maps and 10 signs. It was fun. The C&P (the platen press) had its foot pedal taken out, so it's kind of strange having it running on electricity. But it works beautifully.

Apparently the newspaper dude is coming tomorrow to interview us for the harvest. Uhoh. You know what that means: I have to have a good yarn to tell about what I'm going to do this weekend, have it be interesting, but also vague enough that I can do something totally different. Hopefully I'll have all my maps done by then. The beeswax is on its way, as is the bin I will bury as my treasure chest (I'm kind of tempted to jump in the hole w/someone else to take pictures, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow).

Monday, October 23, 2006

"That'll screw you up for a long time"

Which apparently means that one night of lost sleep will really cost me. I'm feeling it right now, and want to go to bed right after I post. I got up early today after about six hours of sleep, and had amazing morning rituals (GOD, boca sausages are heavenly). It was great to have a good yoga session. Started bleeding about five days early (which works perfectly in terms of performance timing). At 11am, I went back to bed for half and hour, and then went outside to dig. I got extenders on my double-handled shovel, which made it much heavier.

I ended up, after a huge break in the middle of the day from digging, deciding to just leave it at 66 inches. It's just exactly my height. But stupid me: near the end, I thought it would be a good idea to jump into the hole w/a short flat shovel to get more off the sides. I took the plunge and then fell much deeper than I expected; the initial feeling is pretty hella scary, since I was up to my forehead in a hole that's only about 15 x 19 inches. Thank god I had the shovel w/me, so I could put it over the hole and use it as a pull-up bar. After a lot of pressing myself against the walls of the hole and upper body strength, I was able to get out. Frightening. So I spent the rest of my time winding string and wire around the barn.

The camera batteries died right after this picture, so I wasn't able to get shots of today: Shawn needed help sewing his inflatable. I ate more carrot cake from the house, chocolate and ginger from Terttu, and mint from the garden while I waited for him to tweak his calculations. But once he sewed it shut and inflated it, it was AMAZING. Shit. I am sooooo sad I didn't have my camera to do a video clip. The sound inside is incredible, and the condensation made beautiful opalescent patterns on the clear vinyl end of the tube (the other end is black rubber). It was SO fun to play with. I did a sound recording of the process, which was also fun. Tonight, I set type and got the press up and running, though I ran out of steam at the end so I won't print tonight. I'll do that tomorrow.

p.s.: HUGE props to Clover. I got her most amazing package today in the mail: three kinds of fancy tea, hand balm (soooo needed after all the digging), and candle (also something I needed very badly. Plus, it's one to help me sleep. Yay).

p.p.s.: I got my absentee ballot today and voted!! Just need to get a witness mark and I'll mail it off tomorrow.

Banya love

Well. About 1:30am and wide awake again. I swear, it's the tea. Caffeine is an incredibly powerful stimulant, and I suppose for me, like alcohol: I'll never have any tolerance. I was soooo ready to go to bed around 8pm but wanted to bring the star-shaped carrot cake over to the farmhouse since I had already eaten a leg and had to take it away before I made myself really sick.

I delivered little walnut-dyed paper pieces to Chela and Shawn also, and Shawn was doing a sweat, so I joined him since I'm feeling on the verge of something (I should take some more vitamin C right now...). SO RIDICULOUSLY FANTASTIC. These are all older images: the chicken shed that he cleaned out and put stovepiping into, the wood-burning stove that he built from parts he found 'round the farm, and the bench he built. The showerhead and faucet are on the outside, where he's also put down brick. The rocks are working nicely and it's only a little smoky. He's going to build another bench on the opposite side and then block off the windows b/c it's really drafty; the cold is all below (doesn't help that the floor is missing in places). But if you stand on the bench and lean over the stove w/o falling onto it, it works really well.

I think I would have been ready for bed then if I hadn't taken Shawn up on his offer of tea. B/c it was green, AND I ate another leg+ of the cake. Good grief. I've taken two of Ellie's moon drops, am listening to Citizen Cope under the propane heater, and wondering how the hell I'm going to get this show together if I keep not working on it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

We have to try braid tests, too

I tried the whole eye, but that doesn't work.

But I'm not sure if any of it works.

I had wanted red eyeliner for my performance last year, but I did white nails instead (and what a project THAT was). I also keep wanting to suspend in the air. Not sure what all these impulses are: if they really are about what the performance needs, or what I just want.

Nostalgia already

How do you BE in a place, when you know it's really good and wonderful, when you know it's completely temporary and fleeting, when you know this particular meeting of people & energy & space & feeling will never happen again (redundant, right), when you are already incredibly thankful for the situation and even now know that that grateful feeling will balloon over time, when you realize you are so close to the end? How can I BE here, w/o thinking about it so much, out of fear of being ungrateful or missing something? Whew [now, a big sigh]. I want to do it right. I think I am. But it's so easy to get tangled in my head. I just sent Arthur an email about that: that in making a sound recording of my artmaking process, I realize how quiet it is to the outsider. All that noise, all that busy-ness: that is ALL happening inside of me. Now I get why people think that I'm any variation of quiet / nice / good-natured / not angry.

Anyhow, last night was AMAZING (this is where you look at photos). Can I just say, again, how much I love my friends, old and new? I so completely loved Julie and Greg and Shawn and Chela last night. Food, drink, good company, exclaiming over the Kronos Quartet's Nuevo album, it's all so simple and wonderful yet tricky. It's not always so easy to get the perfect combination of them all. My carrot cake was okay! I had a crapload of it for breakfast today. I have a crapload of work to do right now and am skittish like kittens I've seen, jumping from one project and thought to another. Today is Sunday. The sun is out.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

So far

No sleep yet. I leapt out of bed right before eight and went to work, baking 380 sheets of walnut-dyed paper. It smelled warm and brown and heavenly. It was so hot in front of the oven that I just worked in my underwear for a while.

Later, I was like, why am I so cold? And then I realized I was dressed like I was on the beach in the summer. I also grated 3+ cups of carrots for the cake. I am so excited. I want it to be a double-layer one.

I was going to get dressed in a wool dress and leg warmers to go grocery shopping, but I pulled my costume out of my suitcase (complete w/still-alive cricket hidden in the pleats) and decided to see if I need to alter it. It's kind of iffy. I feel like no one else will care if I wear it as is, but I'm not totally convinced.

I'm not really feeling the digging vibe today. We'll see...depends on how shopping and baking go. One big feat today is already done: showering.

The sleeping sickness

Or lack of. I have been up ALL night. This never happens to me. I wonder if the caffeine in the darjeeling tea at 9pm did it. Whatever it is, it's going to hurt once the sun comes up. The wind has been howling upstairs and it's going to snow (if it's not already). I think I know what that means: no digging come day. I'm feeling the soreness already, and am more fixated on the prospects of making carrot cake. The pressure of the performance (in a WEEK, what??? Time, slow down!!) is getting to me; my to do list for it is insane. But I think I'll have to take it easy today.

On a scary note: it's in the 30s, and there are STILL mosquitoes out.

Okay. Time to try and get at least a few hours of sleep.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Wohoo!! Julie and Greg are going to come tomorrow to dinner and to visit the farm. I'm SOOOOOO excited. Shawn says the menu is prime rib & scalloped potatoes. Chela will do salad and I'm going to do dessert. What to do?? I'm thinking carrot cake, but I've never done it before. And I think it would be a lot of work. Today I did digging early on and got to about 4.5 feet. It's getting HARD. Unearthing lots of worms. I also almost killed myself b/c I tried to hoist myself w/my arms up onto the higher level in the barn, missed, and hung off but luckily hit a steel beam so I didn't fall all the way down to the ground. Whew. No more risky business. I also did some masterful Indesign work today, so I feel all geared up for ramen and cutting down paper to dye.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I lied

Can't help it; must blog to process my days, even though it's more imperative for me to sleep and burn trash. I came to the barn fully equipped today: computer (for tunes), camera, tripod, string, wire, violin strings, scissors, wire cutter, tape measure, shovel, etc. I cleared the space inside and walked around, and reikied inside and out. I got caught on barbed wire and totally fell flat on my face. Go figure. It was gorgeous today; a great day to dig. I got two feet done today and hope to get most of it done tomorrow (since it'll get cold again after that. It feels good, even though I feel bad about digging up all that earth. Poor worms.

It was a good outdoor work day for all of us: Chela is also digging, and Shawn is working on a huge rubber inflatable that will go around a trailer. I adore them. I feel really removed sometimes, like I'm far away, and that I'm missing out b/c their side of campus seems so much cooler (SO high school). I love to see all the new things going on there. But then I went back to the barn, and it just felt really good. I am thinking I will use my old violin strings and string them all over the barn or in a few places so I can play them instead of my violin if it gets really cold/rainy for the harvest. I know I'm in the right place; it's hard to stay there, though.

I was completely taken aback by the barn today, now that I'm really inspecting it, climbing around on it, and trying to figure out how it feels, how the energy flows, how I fit into it. I've been here for two months now and it's like a stranger. No, it's more like how you meet someone and feel instantly connected to them, and have a friendship for a while, but from a kind of distance. You see each other daily. And then you become physically intimate, and suddenly it's like you never knew that person: this hair, this nose, these hands, the color of their eyes, their smell - things you never noticed until now, when you're confronted with this immediacy. I swung from a rope hanging from the roof, did handstands against the metal supports, and moved the sliding door in the back. I was awed by all the different angles that I could use to view it, all the random pieces of wood everywhere, all the little ladders, all the doors and entrances and windows, a brick hiding here, and a piece of glass hiding there. Being intimate w/a barn makes me tired; time to sign off.

Hot and frozen

I feel like time is getting faster and faster and faster and my head is spinning more and more every day. Time to hightail it w/this performance. I just ordered the bin that will be my treasure chest and have to figure out how much beeswax to get to wax up some treasure maps. I'm worried about the ground freezing before I can dig and that I'll hurt myself, inevitably, digging. I have major concerns about making the space any kind of interesting, but I suppose that is NOTHING new. Good news: I am much less obsessed/pre-occupied w/food now that I'm ramping up into high art gear. Also, Shawn's banya is coming along. It's amazing to see that little shed be transformed slowly. All related to the igloo, too. Oh, and this is a little gift from Anni from this year's Art Walks Chicago. Aight, enough computer fiddling. Time to get out and work.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crawling climbing fever

I keep thinking, "okay, NOW I'm going to work on this performance." And then I start doing things like making tiny cutouts w/birthday packaging. Thanks, Hallmark. And Terttu. It happened last night b/c Elise had randomly emailed me images of popups, which I don't really do at all (I leave that to experts like Shawn Sheehy). But I suddenly wanted to make some. So I did, and a few mail art stragglers will get them. Mine are mounted onto something and there's always something written on the bottom.

I also have started to draw on the walls here. I've already painted blue circles around all the holes that I've made w/thumbtacks (that's a lot), and now am doing tiny paintings in the places where I had cut things out of paper, so it's like an instant frame carved into the wall for me. I figure this way I can make work that I canNOT mail to people, even if I wanted to. I forgot that when we have the Harvest in two weekends, people will want to see what I've done here, and I won't have anything to show. HAHA. I should ask all of my mail art buddies to take pictures of themselves w/the art I've sent to them to prove that I really have been working.

I also got antsy about scraps of bookbinding materials I had left, so I made two wood and leather books w/a board book binding. It works REALLY nicely, b/c you can't slice through wood w/an exacto, so the binding ends up clean. So that was fun. Plus, I like to use the only machine in the wood shop that I'm not completely scared of. I've been doing research for my performance, and unearthed tons of great material on owls. I also made nice walnut dye (simmered 8 hours, just like Ami told me!) and tried to beat my milkweed by hand again. Chugging along.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Late starts, piles and piles

I'm trying really hard not to get washed away in the raging waters right now. There is SO MUCH stuff pouring out of me right now, I can barely keep up. I got up really, really late today (b/c I really, really needed the sleep), but still insisted on yoga and had an incredible meditation. I've figured out some key parts of my performance: I'm going to bury a treasure chest/time capsule under the barn and hand out maps. At least, that's what I thought about in my headstand.

Chela came by right after I woke up, bearing gifts. She gave me this beautiful piece: rusty nails sewn onto cloth; a pop-up card, lovely note, two CDs, and a pomegranate. I've been working furiously on mail art (which I'm stopping - I mean, if I get more, of course I'll do it, but I'm not promoting it anymore. I have to focus on this performance) today, but took some time to walk and map, check out the progress of Shawn's banya (Chela and I are really excited for this to get done so we can take saunas), and collect walnuts (they've finally gone black!). I rinsed my milkweed, too, which I cooked yesterday.

I'm running out of toothpaste and keep forgetting to get more. Yeesh. What I love about being here:
1. Chela is outside working really hard on an installation in a new space.
2. Shawn already finished the plumbing so there's an outdoor shower and faucet on the banya.
3. I get to read things online that my friends put up that inspire me. Thanks to Clover & bell hooks.
4. No one looks at me funny if I walk outside in rubber boots, yoga pants, polyester dress, cut-up baseball shirt, velvet scarf (around neck), and hand-knitted scarf (around head), w/a pouch full of maps and sharpies. All completely mismatched and clashing in every way imaginable.

One two three AM

is what my clock reads right now. I was awake for 20 hours of the 24 hours of my birthday, which really just felt like another day. I suppose you get older and it doesn't matter much b/c there are still so many responsibilities in a day that you can't just ditch. I got a bunch of things done in a half-assed way (b/c I didn't want to do them but didn't let myself not do them). I think I'm entering the dark phase now of "creating intense light creates intense darkness as well." I did tongue tattoos for me and Shawn on the ride to look for river rocks in Benedict (a bust) before we headed towards Lincoln (mine is an apple w/worm; his was a 411).
Barely after we pulled out of York and passed Waco, his tire blew. Good lord. We clunked along the shoulder for about 20 minutes while he made emergency calls to W-----t (this was not b/c he wanted to patronize them, but b/c no tire services are open after 6pm) and got two new ones (he had gotten two flats on the way to Art Farm and never replaced his spare). So we ended up meeting Julie & Greg for dinner at 9pm. Julie gave me the cutest scarf that she knitted from yarn she got in Italy. Sweeeet. It was super nice and fun. We had lots of small world moments (like Greg knowing the cellist I hired to play a Ravel sonata w/me for Githa for her last bday party, and all our notes matching up. Now I know why he was such a mess when I worked w/him), and Julie reminded me of lots of things at Meadowmount (a summer music boot/prison camp where we met in '95) that I had conveniently forgotten (something about boys chasing me a lot. I swear I only recall one).

I got four pieces of mail today, such treats. But I think I need to shut down the public mail art project. I think I'm running out of steam; my classic giving too much in my work and not getting replenished. But it was a great experiment, I think. I'm now thinking about making a time capsule here that I'll leave on the farm (whether hidden in a building or buried).

Monday, October 16, 2006

338 posts & 365 days later

Instead of being perched on the edge of my bed in a tiny studio apartment in Chicago, I'm sitting under a propane heater in my 750-square-foot studio in Nebraska. I've survived a three-year MFA program. I have all sorts of new friends. I'm a pretty good source when it comes to making paper brick walls. My hair is grown out and growing out. I'm close to putting on another big fall performance. Black Thought coming out of my speakers, two pots of milkweed and soda ash on the burners, abaca waiting in a bucket, first load of laundry in the dryer, rain threatening in the clouds. Life is good; I am clear and happy and thankful for all of it.

Last night, Chela & Anne made an amazing dinner (and I, shockingly, was able to control my portions. The only seconds I had were for ice cream. HA!). We played Clue (Shawn won), danced in the kitchen (WHOA, fun), and played music (Chela on Salvation Army trumpet, me on violin). Shawn had made a huge fire yesterday to burn lots of trash and deadwood, so we went outside and I played next to it while he fed it more wood. He said something that struck me deeply, about how the next stage for me is to figure out how to teach. That was extremely well-timed. I think I'll start slowly to think about it more.

Tonight: dinner in Lincoln w/Julie, Greg, Shawn, and Chela! I'm excited. Busy right now, but also feeling kinda lazy. For some reason, it always rains on my birthday. Not that I care, but it's funny. I felt like I could use a shovel for my inbox: full of birthday greetings!! The best part is that I have no phone, or I'd never get anything done today (also, I kind of hate when people call on my bday if that's their only excuse for getting in touch after a long time and then want to talk to me forEVER to catch up). So: thank you all for 1. today, 2. the entire past year of blogging, and 3. the whole time you've known me. Sketchbook: farmmade charcoal & beeswax. Music: Bjork, "All is Full of Love"

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I'm late for dinner

I got so much mail today (it came yesterday but I never got it) I almost cried. It's overwhelming to feel noticed, loved, and listened to. I'll get into details later. Or not. But five people! I didn't let it all sink in b/c I was so busy working (no sleep last night; don't know why).

I beeswaxed sestinas I wrote for Chela and Anne today. They smell good. I made more rice salad for dinner and now I'm running off b/c I'm late. On right now: "One Big Love."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Farm igloos

The background paper is one of Shawn's first sheets (I taught him how to pull today) w/a typewritten sestina (my 2nd of the day). He made the igloo and then little stand. I wrapped the stand w/paper to show him another option for covering beyond sewing fabric, and he asked me to draw an igloo on it. I finished one of my knit books! I mean, the whole thing. I realized that it's okay for small things to take a long time, and that it's okay to put a lot of time and effort into every single step of a piece, even if you think it will fail. It's a book of the sestina I just posted (which, btw, is NOT about Githa at all. It's about a friend I recently lost - not to death, but to misunderstanding). I'm delighted that in the end, everything came together.

Now there's another knit book. But at least I have one that I'll shoot and send for a show deadline tomorrow. I woke up ridiculously late today, but still did my yoga and meditation, which was really good, b/c at the end of my meditation was when sestina popped into my head. I love that poetic form; I love how rigid it is and therefore how much you get out of it, how unexpected and delightful the results are after lots of hard work. Chela and Anne (her gf who's visiting for the weekend from Cali) are having a dinner tomorrow, and I'm going to write ones for them, too. I did one on Shawn tonight while I was baking paper and he was doing wire stuff. It feels good to be able to compose poems, and then type them onto handmade paper. Luxury doesn't get much better than that.

Witness a dam breaking. A sestina.

Our names are spelled unexpectedly

Remembering is often painful. I sit
too much, feeling my sciatic flare up when I wish
for memories to change over time.
I try to tie
my life together,
try to stitch and weave and knit and sew.

At the table, I keep knitting. When I stand every so
often, I knit. Again, sitting,
I knit. I think about when we lived together
and I don't wish
for that again. Tie
another knot. Think about a different time.

Think about harvesting the garden, hoping for thyme
but finding mint and sage instead. Your mother sewed
a costume for your son. Perhaps I could gather and tie
all the sage together to dry, and smudge this place where I sit.
You thought differently of me. I wished
you knew how I really felt. We ate together.

What you remember of me, I don't want to know. To gather
those thoughts would be a waste of time.
I wish,
I sew,
I sit,
I tie.

I do all that to remember, and forget. Tying
all those knots together,
I weave through our fights. I've been sitting
too long again. I check the time
on the big red clock above. I check myself, so
as not to store too much poison. Remedies, though, are wishful.

I will always wish
for you to understand me fully. Ties
between us were sewn
loosely, it seems. Ripping rows does not upset me anymore. Knitted together,
the paper I've twisted and now twist again around needles, I wait for time
to move faster to separate us so that it doesn't hurt when I sit.

I will never stop sewing, though I may stop wishing
for painless hours when I sit. Maybe then, my ties
to you will blend together with other knots of love. I will be patient. All in time.

No one told me about today

I've never had a Friday the 13th creep up on me like this before. Incredible! It has been quite a 24 hours. I don't know what is happening, but it's strange and fast and wonderful. Dots are connecting that have been separated by years and amnesia. I told Shawn about my last days with Githa this morning. I remember telling Anne about it one night while I sat on her couch and she laid on the rug. I don't know how or why it comes out when it does.

I made two batches of paper and nearly started fires while baking them. I walked to my favorite batch of big trees and sang a numbers song, and worried about what was blowing into my face b/c I was downwind from the corn harvesting. I finally took my violin to the red barn, climbed up onto the steel supports, and played to see how it felt. It was windy and I stopped early b/c I was worried about the cold on my instrument. I still don't know what is going to happen in that space for me. Kathleen's SASEs have been giving me daily stability w/mail art discipline, which has been a real gift.

After running in circles round my studio, I came downstairs to more gifts: a sweet, sweet book and letter from Tam (of course, I cut my thumb opening it), and then the mystery box from "Igloo People." I have my suspicions about who sent it, this strangest mail experience yet. It was a big, neatly-prepared box, and when I pulled out the plastic-wrapped white bundle, I thought for a moment that my mom had sent my wool coat back to me. It's magical; a totally anonymous gift. Chela said that that is the kind of mail I need to get more often, and when I said to Shawn that I was distraught b/c I couldn't reciprocate w/a mail art thank you (which I've been doing feverishly), he said that I need to learn how to receive things fully w/o feeling the need to give back. [He also freaked out b/c he showed me his igloo drawings from the past couple days; he is building a sauna & wood-burning stove, andconsiders both experiences as the same thing: sweating or freezing, collectively.] That was the gift I was getting more than an electric blanket, something to accept completely (I almost started to draw on it. Now I'm contemplating making a quilt out of it to replace my falling-apart one, which was also made from an electric blanket).

Tonight, I boiled water for miso, poured it into a pyrex bowl, and felt it shatter and burst, water and glass shards hitting me and the floor. It made me remember that even though I can open my own jars and cook for one, and even live w/bugs, broken glass is one thing that always makes me wish I lived w/someone else, b/c I don't know how to clean up invisible glass. I freak myself out w/scenarios of having it embed itself inside of me. When I was 12 or 13, I wanted to make "real" iced tea, so I boiled water and asked my mom where I could make the tea. She said I could use the new beautiful crystal pitcher with tiny fish carved into the sides, minnowing away. I put a bunch of fancy tea bags (the circles w/no tags) in the pitcher, poured in the water, and promptly witnessed a huge crack down the thick pitcher. I was horrified. Only then did she explain that boiling water will break glass. I felt awful and guilty, but thought I had learned my lesson. This was one of my favorite bowls here, too.

I feel like things are pouring out through opened channels and I can't keep up. At least not in terms of recording it all through writing. But that's okay; I like to hope that it all gets stored in a different kind of memory. I also feel like I'm finally being shown love in the way that I have wanted for so, so, so long: via post. I used to dream of getting this many care packages and letters when I was younger and had first discovered the magic of mail. All that longing has precipitated into the real thing, all at once. My laptop sits next to the old typewriter. I feel lucky and loved.