Monday, December 31, 2007

New books for 2008!!

I was SO excited about Ching-In's gift to me yesterday for my third decade: this perfect journal. Apparently, Bon Bon is a "Japanese-French girl who's ultra-mad about Vespas, Pop Art, space-age lounge, and 60's sounds!" The pictures are hilarious, and ones I like best of her on a corded phone in a womb chair, and of her breakdancing in white boots. Mostly, I am entranced by the moire-pattern volvelle on the cover (the spinning wheel!!).

So that will be my new 2008 planner; I just finished writing in all the dates, birthdays, full moons, and dates for the new mail art project that Ching-In and I will collaborate on for the entire year. I have one more box to make before I make some new books, and got my contracts back from a new collection in Portland. Cindy flies back from Sweden today! She should be landing in about 20 minutes. So, time to get a move on that box...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Cold heart"

I had this brilliant idea during my morning commute that I should take apart my very first version of one of my artists' books, to make a portfolio for a different set of work. Scavenge for parts. I've done it before with other pieces, and maybe it's not good to get attached to things that stay wrapped in double layers and stashed at the bottom of a pile in a closet that's hard to access. So I pulled it out tonight, unwrapped it, and turned each page. I was surprised by how it struck me anew, all the attention I put into the cyanotypes, the binding, the paper...I worked out a lot of stuff in this version and I can see it now, after making this book three times (2 books the 2nd round, 10 books the 3rd round, setting type TWICE for each version because there weren't enough letters to do the whole book at once). I thought of it as "no big deal" b/c of how cool I wanted to keep it, a book about what was "wrong" with my body and what my mother did to it over the years to make it "perfect." In my mind and files, I often call it the "white book." Terttu calls it the "baby book." The full title is "PROJECT: AIMEE / MISSION: PERFECTION" but I only ever list it as the last two words.

When I first designed it, I knew what text and images I would be using, and its size (big). I was unsure about adding a third layer, to sound an emotive voice, something less clinical. In the end, I left the page blank, since that was part of the emotion. In Wyoming, one of the artists talked to me after my first slide lecture and said she thought that I was too distant, too removed, and recommended giving more to push my work closer to the audience. That I talk about such serious events but give people no way in.

I think this is a symptom of cold heart, which Ching-In and I discussed a week. I never thought I'd end up this way, but I think I have it. I mean, it's not totally frozen over, but I am well on my way if that's my goal. She was funny, b/c she said, "I want it! Then you can't get hurt!" Oh, no. This has been my project for the past how many years? You still get hurt, but usually by your own hand. I made all those freaking bricks to explain that and now they're still haunting me b/c soon they will be arriving on my doorstep with no place to go.

Anyhow, all that to say: I think I'm keeping the first version of this book for a little while longer. For all its perceived flaws, it works (and so the cycle refreshes: the book as me, me as my mom).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another VT sighting!!!

I have NO IDEA what is going on lately, but this is my second Friday in a row where I've randomly reunited with VT female residents from Jan, in Greenpoint. This time, I was waiting on the subway platform, eating my peeled apples, with Terttu's bday mix on my iPod, thinking about the Beastie Boys' lyric, "NYC is a city I feel at home in." I look across the platform, and Susan Peebles is on the other side!! It was EXACTLY like w/Marcie: 1. What the hell are we both doing here? 2. That's her! 3. Wait, is that her? I'm sure it is but maybe I'm just freaking out some random New Yorker by staring and smiling. 4. Oh, look, she's responding to me!

So I yelled across to Susan and we chatted as well as we could with two train tracks between us. Hilarious. Hopefully I'll see her once we get a hold of each other like normal people via email or phone.

This is from my VT sketchbook. Feels like five thousand years ago. Ching-in, the other night, said, "can you believe it's been almost a year since we met, and that soon it will be January and we won't be in Vermont??" I'm feel overwhelmed by everything I have to do, and just want a studio. I need a studio so badly. I feel crazy not being able to do anything while cutting things on the floor and making tiny wisps of papery things b/c there is no space for anything more.

I've been reading Robert Coles' The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination, after finishing Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty. I've been thinking about the ways that I choose to participate in the world, and how being an artist is one of them, but wondering how much responsibility I am taking or not taking, and how do people grow up with a sense of caring about other people? Kids seem kind of concerned about endangered species or littering or other socially responsible things, but adults seem to tune out everything but what they want to care about. How does that shift? Why don't we care anymore about working together to make the world a better place? Why are we so selfish and small minded? Why can't I get myself to write a new artist statement?

Likely, I just feel crazy b/c I trimmed 58 books w/an xacto knife, and then folded and cut 116 endsheets (some by hand, some on the board shears), and then cut down 125 pieces of board. Or b/c I am staring at 80 responses from a performance I did three years ago and wondering what I'm supposed to do with them. Or b/c it is the darkest night of the year.

Who knows! So I'm ending with someone else's words, through Ann Patchett's book. It's about her friendship w/Lucy Grealy, and there are lots of Lucy's letters interspersed throughout. This is part of one of them:
I have been musing some more about what I've said in this letter. My whole concept of art has taken a serious shaking, and I am beginning to see what I can get from this, which has something to do with a better understanding of. . . .christ, I don't know. I did know for a minute there but then I had a coughing fit and now I've forgotten. That is one thing I've learned, that it is possible to really understand things at certain points, and not be able to retain them, to be in utter confusion just a short while later. I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine on forever. Now it's pretty obvious to me that more often than not the batteries fade, and sometimes what you knew even goes out with a bang when you try and call on it, just like a lightbulb cracking off when you throw the switch.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hello, randomness

There I am upstairs, minding my own business, binding some more books, when I see...Marcie! I was at work, and my boss was showing her boss some rental units. I caught a glimpse of her before she went into a studio and then when she came out, I waved from the window. I think she didn't believe it at first but then she did and I went outside to say hi. We met in VT when living in the same house at that residency, and she also went to the WY res, but about half a year before I went.

Being an artist's assistant, it's funny business sometimes. I mean, between all the hard work. It was funny having our little chat together and the bigwig artists having their little chat together. That was a nice way to break up a Friday.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Delayed reaction

Last night was great. It was so funny to come in and see the photos I had taken in Mexico of Jill up on the wall. Like another lifetime ago. I stayed for the first two hours of the four hour show, and was so happy to see everyone from the residency: Jill, Kristin, Elizabeth, Gustavo, Gaelyn, and Alicia. Though it was also strange to be coming in from the cold in Brooklyn instead of huddled around the kitchen preparing breakfast or whatnot.

It made me realize how great that residency was b/c it really did take me completely out of all of my comfort zones, into a place I probably will never be again.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I forgot to say that this came last week: I've graduated! Hahaa. Tonight's big event is seeing Jill and Kristin and Gustavo from the Mexico residency perform for Jill's company and seeing Elizabeth, who is in town from Mexico!!

A Live Art Installation by jill sigman/thinkdance
PARADISE AND ITS DIS-EASE is a durational performance ritual using movement, sound, objects, and fluorescent junk foods. For 4 hours, Sigman will be "in the ring", as object, icon, mover, and substance; each hour will begin a new phase of the installation, addressing the decadence, deterioration, and dis-ease of our time in a different way. She will be accompanied alternately by DJ Joro Boro and composer/musicians Kristin Norderval (voice and electronics) and Gustavo Aguilar (percussion), and assisted by performative helpers Donna Costello and Jennifer Sydor. A live art installation, PARADISE AND ITS DIS-EASE is a hybrid gallery/performance/club environment. Join us for this experiment.

Saturday, DECEMBER 8, 8pm - 12am
1 Grattan Street (corner of Bogart Street), #221
Bushwick, Brooklyn
Complimentary Wine: Courtesy of Dance NYC

PLEASE NOTE: This is an ONGOING LIVE EVENT that changes slowly over time. Come any time. Stay as long as you like. Have a drink and hang out. Better yet, leave and come back again to witness it at different points during the evening. You can go across the street to The ARCHIVE Coffee Bar for a snack, or wander down the hall to Studio #215 to see PERMANENT PRESENT, a group show of visual art works by artists Gina Beavers, Marilyn Dizikes, Christopher Hines, James Reynolds, Justin Rymer, and Stephanie Rivers. Then come back and visit again.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Recent inspiration

Starting Friday (6-9pm) and running thru Sunday (both Sa/Su, 11-6pm), Marianne from Wyoming will be selling paintings at the Style Market Holiday Sale at FIT's Great Hall (7th Ave/28th St). This is one of her paintings in progress from Jentel.

Clover sent along this AMAZING article about our mutual friend, Julie Laffin. I was astounded by how well someone with no experience of chemical injury could write about Julie's experience. It's a great read, eye opening and compassionate and wonderfully articulate.

Something from Kimsooja that I found while cleaning out bookmarks (I'm switching browsers and trying out Camino):

Although the nomadic lifestyle is a characteristic phenomena of this era, I could also be one's choice we can still live without moving around much and be rooted in one's own place. Human curiosity and the desire for communication expands its physical dimension and happen to control human relationships and the desire of possessions, and pursuing the establishment of a global community, which includes the virtual world. But a true nomadic life wouldn’t need many possessions, or control and it doesn't need to conquer any territory it's rather an opposite way of living from a contemporary lifestyle, with the least amount of possessions, no fear of disconnection, and being free from the desire of establishment. It is a lifestyle that is a witness of nature and life, as a kind of a process of a pilgrim. Nomadism in contemporary society seems to be motivated from the restless desire of human beings and it's follies, rather than pursuing true meaning from nomadic life.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I reread Cathy Park Hong's Dance Dance Revolution today. If you haven't already read it once, I highly recommend it! Not an easy book of poetry, but courageous and deep. Don't yell at me for sounding corny; I'm not a book critic so I have no other fancy descriptives. I'm trying to track her down and found this article that she wrote about language, which I appreciated. I still feel stuck on my own language project, so I like to see how other people approach it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Watch Terttu!!

OOOOHHHH! I'm so proud of Terttu and everything she's done and is doing and will do. It's always great to see photographers who are really excited about their work, being part of the art world, and being true to themselves. Plus, her hair looks great even though you might never hear her name properly pronounced. This is an interview from the Chicago Art Open this fall, where she was chosen as an "artist to watch." So, watch!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Constant marketing

I found this image while I was selecting images for a new press kit brochure. I love that it's a picture of me following my old performance teacher while rehearsing for a group performance in Chicago years ago, way south near Calumet City. I'd really like a teacher to follow around right now. And to ask, "do I really have to make a new brochure?" I suddenly was thinking that I shouldn't bother, but there must be a reason it has been on my list for the past few weeks.

I'm mailing these books out to a new library collection: it's all for you. I'm always looking for new places to house my small books. I can't tell if it's a good impulse or just part of my own hatred of having a lot of stuff in my possession. The woman in charge of one of the reputable collections that I'm in told me never to get rid of my one-of-a-kind books. But I can't stop! Better in someone else's closet than mine, is my motto. And besides, if you're in Portland, you can see books that you might not be able to see if you were not in my home.

Friday, November 30, 2007

For Gail

Jami says to email her at jamiattenberg[at]!! With your photos, I mean.

Tonight: Josh and Lynn, the poets I met this week in Brooklyn, are reading at 7pm at Pete's Candy Store.

This weekend: Tonight and tomorrow, at Danspace Project, Rebecca will be performing for Movement Research's FALL Festival.

In the meantime, I'm working on a new press kit (to encompass all of my work, not just my books) and drawing comics. And have a surprisingly pleasant social load in town over the next two days. Happy almost December!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Open seams

A ripped out page from my newest book. Last night was super; I had a great time w/Josh and Lynn. I'm still unclear about what will happen show-wise in Mexico but it was a fun evening and there was plenty of wine and we talked about how sad it is that we don't play our instruments anymore (and about a million other things). I have been particularly sad lately b/c my biggest violin callus on my index finger has been peeling away. It's amazing that you can work for 20 years, but then in less than one, all that hard work disappears. I always thought my calluses would be forever. It was hard enough for me to lose my violin hickey, but my finger calluses! Devastating. Not to mention that I have less protection for when I accidentally cut my fingers when chopping veggies: those calluses have saved me time and time again from painful and bloody finger injuries.

It makes me (almost) want to pick up my fiddle again just to build up the skin. But that takes a long time. In the meantime, I still have violinist friends that I can live through vicariously. When I saw Kiwon this week, she talked about how she had to go to Philly because she had five open seams. For a moment, I was stumped. And then I realized we were talking about her instrument. When temperature/humidity shifts, wood instruments expand/contract, and often parts will pull away from each other, causing gaps at the seams. You can hear open seams if you hold the neck of the violin and knock lightly all along the perimeter of the instrument. Wherever you get a different sound, you know you have an opening. So you have to go to the shop and get it glued and clamped back together since it affects the sound of the instrument when you play. I haven't taken mine in for a tune up for years, not since halfway through living in Chicago.

Hopefully I get to take care of my own seams in December, figuring out what will happen in the spring, seeing more art, and getting into shape. Or maybe I'll sit around like my violin in the closet. Here's to the first option. Oh, and Jennifer in upstate NY got my knit plastic bag panel; an image is up on her website (scroll all the way down). And, I finally read for colored girls... on the train late last night. I still remember helping my painting teacher prep sets for that production at Oberlin almost 10 years ago. Someday, I'll do sets, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Halfway there

Half of today's to do list is done. Two proposals out in the mail: one to teach, one to exhibit. Three more books from the library. Done w/Jami's contest. Loving all the Kanye skits. Tonight is a business meeting re: showing in Mexico. Bookmarked a new blog to stay motivated - the great thing is that I already designed a super hero of myself years ago!

To accompany this crop from an old photo of mom, "Hey Mama" is on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All over the place

I made these before the eating fest holiday. I'm not sure why but it was a great way to use scraps.

Though it wasn't the best thing I've read on a Sunday, I appreciated Julia Alvarez's Once Upon a Quinceanera. It made me think that I could have used a good ritual for my birthday.

Check out Jami's fun contest for a free copy of her new book, The Kept Man. I'll do my part once the sun comes up.

I was going over my notes from prepping my Oberlin lecture, and found things that I never said in the lecture: "as soon as you figure it out, it will shift/change." And on my "to do" list for being an artist, the bottom of it said, "Read; Sleep; Eat well; Have fun."

The most exciting tidbit: recently, I've wanted to have my diploma. I did graduate over a year and a half ago, so it's not an unreasonable desire. I emailed someone at Columbia, who forwarded it to someone else, who then emailed me and tried to make me out to be the culprit, saying that they had no current address and phone number for me. This person gets emails from me regularly. Apparently, it has been sitting in that office since July 2006. I didn't say, "I filled out at least five change of address forms!!" or, "Do you know me?? I'm AIMEE. Aimee always fills out the forms, and ahead of time." And believe you me, this person knows me.

I'm sad to say I don't hold the record, since a friend who went through the program years ago waited three years for his diploma. But maybe when I finally get it, I'll feel like I've accomplished something! Maybe this is what my advisor meant when she said that it takes at least two years to feel like you're really out of grad school! [Hahahaa. Just kidding, Melissa. I don't think you're part of this ridiculousness at all. But it would be a good way to really drive that point home.]

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's next

I finished these last week, blank books that I was planning to fill with more comics and cut outs. But of course, I'm terrified (as I usually am before I start drawing). I don't know why I still haven't gotten over the fear of just doing things. I had it even before I went to grad school, thinking that the more I did a thing (like drawing comics), the worse I would get at it. Not sure where that comes from. I wasn't very good at practicing violin since I never got very good at some things. That, I chalk up to not knowing how to practice. But I'm pretty sure I know how to draw comics, so what's with choking every time I start? Maybe I need to never stop so it doesn't become this huge task I can't do anymore.

Anyhow, I'm back to yucky nitty gritty work (as in, the computer is turned on again), and got a lecture from little sis today about how I seem to just be waiting for things and marking time. She says that I have to be more proactive and make investments in things even if they seem to not yield a whole lot, which to her means 1. rent a studio space and 2. send stuff to galleries. The first thing makes a lot of sense. The second thing rates up there with eating insects. I understand it, but I am still not convinced that I would thrive in the gallery system.

Right now, I'm going to just work on teaching proposals. It's always nice to evade work with other work.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


DONE!!! Yay.

I've been working, really, I have

And trying my hardest to stay offline while I work. Cindy and Ivan donated more plastic bags (I'm not so sure that handling plastic bags all day is good for my health, but I'm already kind of sick so, oh well). Also, you can do interesting studies on people by examining their accumulated plastic bags, as you may have already imagined.

I like cutting them up in the middle the best. Cutting the handles comes in second (wait, or maybe first). Last is cutting the bottom. I hate that part - the way it's folded in to expand when goods are put inside.

Knitting makes me feel like my hands are going to fall off. At least, after four hours it does. Makes me realize why people probably have a lot more fun knitting w/soft, not unruly yarn. I wanted to stay up and finish last night, but my head was pounding. In a few hours, I'll be done w/the whole thing and then ready to draw a few comics.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not keeping up

It's amazing how working a couple days a week completely throws off my entire life. This is from the last batch of mail I sent out from WY - I have an entire secret photo set on flickr of all the mail I put into the mailbox, every day. But I have to keep it private b/c there are addresses all over it and of course I don't want to encourage stalkers to stalk my friends. I was going to send these to Gili first b/c of the horses but then didn't. I saw her yesterday for lunch w/Breda, who is in town for a bit. It was such a treat! I was on my feet for hours, then met up w/Gi to shop, then took the Q to meet Barbara for an Edward Albee play ("Peter and Jerry" - the 2-act version of "Zoo Story"). Thank goodness I was making blue boxes for books at work today instead of serious gluing, b/c I was a wreck.

My knee went into horrible pain in the afternoon, and continued today. Then Gili had a horrible back pull/spasm today and is all jacked up. I feel awful that I can't go over and take care of her. Somehow I'd like to blame globalism for this, but really it's b/c I watched "Children of Men" and its special features a few days ago. I'm reading even more depressing stuff: The Frailty Myth. It's always great fun to read about how I'm destined for osteoporosis and bone fractures b/c I was never physically inclined and quit sports for violin. Argh, classical music! I had a friend at Oberlin who swore that when he had a violin studio, he would make all of his students go running w/him b/c physical fitness is crucial to playing an instrument. Too bad I didn't have a teacher like that.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I made three books and a few popups yesterday, and want to read Hand Job. In the meantime, I'm making and packaging more random paper things and wondering what I'm going to do w/these books. And trying to finish more apps. It doesn't help that it's grey and Monday, there's no heat, and I'm panicking b/c I swallowed a bone by accident at lunch and I'm worried it's going to perforate my organs.

Post-posting: I was so spastic that I forgot to mention that my designer added an updates/news section to my website, so I finally have an official space to toot my horn!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So far

I might have finally recovered from my work week. Whew! The good news is that I found out that I have a lot to offer, and by virtue of learning book arts things recently, I know lots of recent developments. Like rolling out your glue with 3" paint rollers. Gili gave me great advice, about how even if I'm tired on my days away from work, I have to work on my own stuff. So I finally got cracking on this project.

The plan is to cover an abandoned gas station with panels (with any fiber method: knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, etc.) from people all over the world. I have been planning to make mine out of plastic bags. Cindy and Ivan were really excited about this b/c they have way too many. So this is what I have after a day, about 30-40 bags. Clearly, they shop at places with white bags. Colored ones are more fun. I still have more than half the panel to do.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gerbil brain

These are my favorite pieces from the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Oberlin.

I'm spinning. I might have a show abroad and one in the Great Plains next year but not sure yet. Really annoying news: my res site won't be ready for me in January. "How about May?" How about May?? Are you joking? I decided not to take a job b/c of that res! I really hope a few others work out in the interim, b/c I am ITCHING to make new work. Oh, and the hilarious news: apparently, I have been assigned the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for five. Super.

Work has been killer, but I'm surviving. Today, I was delighted to be back on a board shears (it's been over 6 months!) and was SO happy that I still had my chops. Plus, the construction people were playing hilarious Polish music outdoors, which made up for being soaked by the morning downpour. I got new striped socks and a fun pair of leggings (w/only the legs) from Cindy last night, so now I'm set for colder weather.

What else?

1. I am considering a last minute photo shoot for my knit halter
2. I am considering sending DV tapes to my Chicago editor to cut a January performance, w/o even viewing the tapes myself
3. I am considering knitting lots of plastic bags
4. I am considering NOT sending xmas cards this year
5. I discovered how to survive rush hour (hint: let everyone else do the work for you)
6. My iPod died on me this morning but never fear! Kanye will rock my Friday. I insist.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Wohooo!!! Terttu sent me my slides and her faboo scans of them. They look so nice. This was my costume from a performance I made in 2004 and then kept restaging in 2005. Kanye's "Stronger" has been on repeat and I am really annoyed w/my iPod b/c it keeps crashing whenever I plug it in, and the hard disk just spins but there's nothing I can do but just let it wear itself out and die. I visited Marianne today very briefly in Dumbo and had a quick lunch and found out that my sister actually works in the same building as her studio! Hilarious. So they got to meet - Marianne was one of the three residents in WY who drove to town to see "No End In Sight," and really appreciated it. I had my farewell eating session w/Paulette, too, at Angelica, where I insisted on each of us getting dessert. That might have been a little overboard, but she's the best person to engage in such behavior.

The best part of dinner was when I showed Pauly the popup from Oberlin, and the server was so distracted looking at it that she had a hard time counting out our change. Then, the woman next to me asked for titles of good instructional pop-up instructional books. Sweet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Geek training & call for NYC housing

I've been reading like a student under deadlines. It's kind of hilarious, but it also makes me feel really good b/c these are things that have been piling up on me. I finished Alberto Manguel's Reading Pictures today and am now considering Kanye West as my next study subject (this would fall into the ongoing "cultural literacy" project). I keep thinking that there are apps I need to do, but now I'm getting to the point where I can't mindlessly apply for things b/c I actually have to propose some content. I'm tempted to ask some artists to collaborate...good grief! Am I really ready for that?

Anyhow, this is Rebecca in Mexico, making a beautiful handmade paper cased binding out of a cereal box! She is looking for places to stay in NYC for her "first real trip to NY," Nov 23 - Dec 2. She's going to be here to teach and perform with Lower Left, a dance collective, as part of Movement Research's Fall Festival focusing on improvisation. Three of them are crashing at one place here and just want to take the burden off their host and roommates. So if anyone knows of other options, please let me know or contact Rebecca (info[at] Someday, when I open my own hostel for artists where I don't feed them SPAM, I'll take all of them in. For now, just spread the word!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Things to read/do that I am reading and not doing

I recently got an unbound copy of Dorothy Field's Paper and Threshold. I bound it before my trip to Oberlin and finally finished reading it yesterday. It's a great text on the spiritual uses of paper in various (mostly Asian) cultures. Lots of pictures and information I was thankful to receive. A Canada-based artist and scholar, she helped me a lot during my Fulbright research since she had studied intensively w/a Korean papermaker in the past. [I was going to do a limited edition binding of this but got all flustered and just did a longstitch.]

Here is more of the pop-up from Lizzie (I am probably spelling her name wrong and don't know how to spell her nickname so I won't butcher both) from Oberlin. There is an exhibit back at Columbia College on Mexican paper; someone go and tell me how it is! Oh, and also in Chicago: this Tuesday night will be the fourth year of Site Unseen, an annual festival of live art. My first year that I will not be present in body, very sad. But maybe some of you will! I have so many friends and colleagues in the show that I won't list them. Just go out and support!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back on track

This was the sweetest gift from one of the Oberlin students - she had taken notes from my lecture on one of her popup practice sheets and gave it to me. Once I get better shots of the whole thing, I'll post them.

Things to do:

Read poetry
See art

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hand cramps

I've been very negligent blogging. I am just going to pretend like it's fine since I don't know anyone else who keeps it up daily, forever. And I'll blame it on work! I'm doing a p/t temp gig in Brooklyn for an artist I met almost two years ago now. It's hard work, editioning her artists' books, but it's good to work, right? It makes me realllllly appreciate the time I have left to my own work. I feel like I'm in a strange mire of trying to navigate my career and what I want it to be. I'm still in the safe zone: not noticed by anyone, so I can fall on my face and it can't hurt me.
It's a good time to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Look at them go!

I got home late last night (but had the same flight attendant as when I flew into Cleveland) and am still in recovery. I really took no photos. Just a tiny bit. I am so sad that I didn't snap any on the second day, but it was Monday morning, and I think it's a little unkind to do photos on Monday mornings. But the popups were so great that day! It was such a treat having Oberlin students: respectful, open to learning, inquisitive, and full of ideas. I am usually paranoid about losing tools in workshops but still bring them to lend out. But I didn't even lose a needle! Or a pencil! Incredible. Pencils always walk. Apparently not here.

Anyhow. It was a jam-packed trip and I had a great time. I loved teaching, and was so grateful to Nanette for bringing me out and taking good care of me. I didn't run around campus that much; I didn't want to b/c I thought it would spoil all the good memories. You'd think there'd be more to say but I am bone tired so that's all for now.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Shhh...I'm in the library

at Oberlin College. What a trip. It's really strange being back - I almost felt like everything was smaller, the way you feel when you go back to your elementary school. But I'm not any bigger than I was then. Again, I realize that life goes on, and nothing stays the same. I was walking to the library to nap (the house I'm staying in is full of tours right now so I can't sleep there) and realized that Breda wouldn't be downstairs studying or Ellie in the dance studio or anyone I knew anywhere.

I teach in a few hours. It has been amazingly wonderful to see my old art teachers and see how much I learned from them. Time to get something to eat and get back to the studio to prep books!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The good old days

I've been consumed by class prep, but have spent a morning and two nights reading Jonathan Kozol's Letters to a Young Teacher. It made me really, really sad about what has been happening to public education in this country. Just like last night's sadness: no children came by at all to trick-or-treat!! When I grew up in this same tiny village, we ransacked these buildings, and there were tons of small groups of kids in rotation. People who weren't home would leave baskets of candy out, and some people bought those tiny goody bags and prepared individual bags full of candy for each child. I have no idea what has happened since then.

But anyhow, back to work. In honor of Jami's birthday today, I want to share a funny quote from the Kozol book:
The children had been told I was a writer and, like many children who quite often make this flattering mistake, they thought this was incredibly exciting and had carefully prepared a bunch of questions that they fired at me energetically, like just so many eight-year-old reporters. The questions they asked were really interesting to me and were, in fact, a whole lot more original than the questions grown-up interviewers generally pose.

"Is it lonesome to write?"

"How do you write so many words?"

"How do you feel if people criticize your books?"

"Does it make you sad when people know your books but can't pronounce your name?"

"Do you feel sad because you're old?"

One of the children also asked, "Do you write little books or chapter books?"

I had forgotten that distinction between books that are, essentially, extended stories and books long enough to be divided into chapters. Although I'd never thought of it this way before, I told the children, "I write chapter books," which led one of them to ask me why I didn't also write what she called "easy books" for younger children.

I'd answered that I'd never done that yet because I think it takes a special gift that I don't have but that I would like to try to write a book like that someday.

"Do it!" the child said, dispensing briskly with my effort to be self-effacing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gili knows how to throw a birthday shoe

My camera batteries just died so I can't model them on my feet, but Gili got me these today on her lunch break. I loooove them! Hope tipped me off to them when I was in Mexico, and now I have super comfy party shoes for next summer. Gi and I have to remind ourselves to bring them out next summer...she got a blue pair in a different style. [Maybe Breda will get a pair in a few weeks.] I fondled all the handmade paper at NY Central Art Supply and treated myself to Angelica juice bar goodies. Then I helped Kiwon get a digital recorder for her pit sitting tonight at a big broadway show, and picked up my art in Brooklyn. I'm reading Alberto Manguel's Into the Looking-Glass Wood and it makes me want to read Lewis Carroll again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm stealing Gi's pics b/c they rock

I don't know if I've ever gone this long w/o blogging except for when I've been out of the country. But I barely noticed! I guess that's what happens when your blog hits the terrible twos. Trying to de-stress my life is, of course, very stressful, and I don't want to just keep blogging about all the stressful things that I still do, b/c it will just encourage and enable me. I will pretend that I have not been running around like a crazy person.

Instead, see Gili's blog of us having a really nice Sunday brunch on the roof. Joe played chef really well and then we all just played. In Gili's sweatshirts since it was chilly up there. It was terribly fun. Gili asked for breaking moves and I found that I'm barely have any left. She's a great student, completely hilarious, and good at taking instruction (e.g., mirroring back your stupid behavior back at you).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

There's always a reason to visit the PO

I think I have been there every single day since I've returned! But I'm still super shy around the postal workers. I finally got a chalk line today!!! It's in the new bin, earmarked for CT next year, so I can draw w/it at the next res. I just applied for another one today and feel like a robot and search dog all in one. Somehow, I just keep sniffing out places to apply to, and then I crank out the app. I wonder if I knew that this was going to be my life path when I first filled out my grad school apps, thinking that they would be the last ones. HA!

Good news: I start a p/t job assisting an artist when I get back from Oberlin. I like to think that I'd rather edition books than process Rome Prize applications (the other job opp that I turned down in the city). Let's hope that my art instincts win out over my admin ones!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Negligence! No, paranoia.

Somehow, I felt like I hadn't blogged in a long time. But I only missed a day. Which is good; my new mission for my life is to calm down. Impossible, you'd think, I'd think, for me! But after evaluating my health and well-being in Wyoming, where my biggest scheduling stress was when and where I would walk (the road? or the hills?), and comparing it to my state of being everywhere else, I realize that overscheduling is not doing me any favors. It exhausts me and makes casualities of everyone else around me. In the obsessive quest to create really long TO DO lists and then cross everything off the list in record time, I've sacrificed a whole lot of the good life.

This is the view from the grave of my very good friend who died of leukemia in 2003. I had never visited it before, and my trip to Cali was spurred by the sudden desire to visit. It was pretty uneventful on the outside, except that the weather shifted suddenly and was rainy, windy, and cloudy, to the shock of my Californian host. But big things shifted inside, and I realized that

1. dead people's bodies don't go anywhere if they're buried in the ground
2. your life goes on even if someone you really love is buried in the ground
3. I don't have to live in California! [This is huge, for anyone who knows of my long-standing desire to live there.]
4. if I don't have to live in California, then I can be HERE, NOW! Hey, what a concept! I can just be happy with where I am now and not freak out about not being somewhere else!

and so on. I am happily shedding all the useless things, people, ideas, and dreams that I have been holding onto for a loooong time. I don't want anything that doesn't serve me anymore. What I do want: to read this, prep a really good class for Oberlin, and renew my commitment to a daily meditation and yoga practice. That's the short list. Wait, no more lists! Haha. Clearly, I'll need to recruit more help on this road.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I'm finally feeling a little less crazed and a little more on top of my business because today, I DELIVERED MY FULBRIGHT APPLICATION!!! Yay! It's over! The work is over. And the waiting begins. They will email us in early Feb re: the first cut. So I have to just put it out of my mind and jump onto everything else rushing my way. I can't believe it's over. I've never, in my entire life, spent so much time on an application. I'm glad the process is over.

Now, I have to get back to the business of my life and career. I spent yesterday unpacking, packing for my next residency next year, and prepping for my workshop in two weeks. I finally caved and went shopping for storage bins. I've avoided it for a long time, but the age of shoeboxes, paper bags, and random things shoved into random crannies is over.

I'm also very happy about this 30 business. Lots of letting go, making changes, resetting priorities. It's much easier when there's a big number to remind me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Caving in

I'm back in New York and utterly overwhelmed. I am so confused by the flood of mail that was waiting for me (all these slides and I don't know where they're all from). I've logged all my receipts but can't reconcile my bank statements b/c the site is being overhauled. I'm unpacked and have piles like, "take to next residency," "hide for a while," "take to Oberlin in two weeks as teaching samples," and so on. I am really tired of flying, but leave in two weeks to teach a book workshop and give a lecture at my favorite alma mater, Oberlin College. On one of those propeller jets, too.

I'm going to put that out of my mind for now as I stare at the piles. This is an image from Chela's studio, and even though it was Thursday, it feels like forever ago now that I'm back home. It's so tricky, this time, b/c I feel all the things I've learned and the subtle shifts that have happened from all the traveling. But that time goes up in smoke so quickly! But for now, I'm back in the same place, but at a different point in the spiral. I'm thankful for everything, mostly the over-the-top amazing friends that I have, like Anju, who saved my ass in a major logistical glitch at the end of my trip.

I have black ink all over my hands (it exploded in my blender; no surprise. I should have just left the ink in Wyoming) and realize I didn't avoid re-entry by going to California; I just delayed it! Tomorrow will be a huge work day, but how excited am I about tonight: sleeping in my own bed after five weeks! Yeeehaw!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Done (kind of)!!!

Chela gave me this perfect piece! I saw it in her house and was coveting it and the next thing you know, she gifted it to me for my birthday! I had a lovely day in Napa and such a fun time seeing Chela's breathtaking studio in West Berkeley. She made a fantastic dinner w/salad goodies from her and Ann's garden, and I just submitted my Fulbright application electronically. I can't make any more changes! When I fly home this weekend, I just have to burn my CD of images, print the whole app, and then deliver it w/all my support materials to the NYC office. In just a few days, the hugest application process of my life will be OVER.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This was supposed to be for yesterday

Even though today is the day that I thought was the day. Who cares; I ate cake for breakfast and it was good.

Went to the Berkeley Art Museum this afternoon and saw two huge sheets of Korean handmade paper and some more Patty Chang stuff in the Asian American exhibit.

Pics come tomorrow

Rise in San Jose, have supermodel Ellen hustle me to the Caltrain headed north, arrive in San Francisco, cab to Sunset, finish reading Jami's great new novel, head south to San Mateo w/Elbert at the wheel, visit Githa in stormy weather, ride back to SF and see a car on fire on the highway, do further Fulbright edits on the phone w/Cindy, hem and haw about dinner options, get the best voicemail from Gili, tapas for dinner after nearly crushing Elbert's gf's hand (where did I learn my handshake?), Mitchell's for Mexican chocolate ice cream, back home as Elbert unveils a strawberry shortcake and three candles, up all night talking on the phone (Terttu) and in person (Elbert).

Lots of snacking and fielding phone calls and emails and feeling cold and overwhelmed but still loved. I probably kept myself too busy to freak out about my age. Gili made the wise observation that my "vacation" in Cali is just like any overscheduled day in NYC. Elbert says I do this every time I come here. I need to find an Overschedulers/overcommitters Anonymous.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Breda said that my last post should have been called "poof instead, like suddenly you are in another part of the world!" Well. I have clearly been living on ANOTHER PLANET for the last few months. Up until last night, I thought my birthday was going to be this Wednesday. Then, in my worrying about the Fulbright deadline, I realized that it's actually tomorrow! Why? B/c for the last three years, I have printed my own planner, which starts on a Monday. It was based on another planner I had used since 2000. After seven years of seeing Monday at the start of the week, I assume that the third number over from the left on a monthly calendar is a Wednesday.

Suddenly, I am face-to-face with the new decade, and completely unprepared! Yikes. I hid in Sunnyvale for another day to rewrite my Fulbright essays and panic about my slides. Hopefully, I will be able to get to SF tomorrow w/all my bags from WY and then to San Mateo. Somehow.

In the meantime, this is a perfect sign of getting older. A friend last week emailed, saying, you're birthday is Tuesday next week! And I wrote back, saying, NO, it's Wednesday! Now I know to trust my friends.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I'm in San Jose with Ellen and David and we had a big dinner. Ellie was soooo sweet and called me this morning to tell me that she was going to give me the best bday present ever: a spa visit with Ellen at Tea House Spa. It was exactly what we needed. Now I'm up to my neck in boring business. It's amazing how quickly it all hits, post-residency.

Friday, October 12, 2007

One last hurrah on Lower Piney Creek Road

Tonight is our last dinner and we scatter tomorrow, fly into the wind. So long!

Not quite over, but over

I'm totally thrown off by Joana leaving a day early (tomorrow) and everyone else being all packed up (or so it seems). I've tried to pack my studio bag, and had a hard time figuring out why it was so easy for me to shove the blender in the bag on the way here. It was really hard this time. This is the comic I drew today to leave for future residents.

Chris, Joana, Marianne, and I all took a great hike up to the highest peak that is closest to the property. The view was stunning. And hilarious, b/c a herd of cows was grazing in our front "lawn" (like vast expanses of grassland). On our way to town today, we saw real cowboys!!! At least four of them, and at least two herding dogs, and one guy was even swinging a lasso in the air! What they were doing was very sad, separating the calves from their mothers. But then again, the bumper sticker I saw in town before I pigged out on an amazing Mexican lunch was also depressing: "vote Republican." Ew.

Back to packing!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Support LAVA's Handstand-a-Thon!

I am a big fan of LAVA and performed for them in June. I can't make the event but am donating. I encourage participation of any kind.

LAVA's 4th Annual Handstand-a-Thon
Saturday, October 20 @ 7pm

A fundraiser for the LAVA Studio's Student Scholarship Fund and Community Programs

Help us raise money by raising your toes in the air. Get pledges for each minute that we as a community (that means you, too!) spend with our feet off the floor. Our goal this year is $7,500!

Email to get a pledge sheet. If you can't make it to the event or would prefer to make a gift before the event, you can do so by mailing in a check (payable to VOLCANO LOVE INC) or by giving online using the "Just Give" button on our contact page.

[n.b. - please excuse my poor typography on this; I'm too tired to do anything but cut and paste.]

Zippy fast

Too much to do suddenly, no time to post properly. Yesterday, I dropped my camera twice. The 2nd time, the ring on the lens fell off. I asked Joana why I do things like this, and she said it's b/c I'm too fast.

And sure enough, I was putting dishes away today and a glass bowl just exploded in my hand. I have a tiny cut but otherwise was able to blot all the shards off of my hands. It wasn't like last year, thank goodness. And props to Joana for cleaning up for me (I had gone into shock and she stepped in as mom).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Show and tell

Today we had open studios, and visited each of the six studios to hear about work and see what we've done in our almost month here. It was great to see everyone's spaces and progress, and share my own things. Jami sent a beautiful package today, which made me happy, and then I ate three lunches and passed out in my studio. After a walk with Joana, I overate at dinner and now am trying to sort myself out in the studio. What to leave? What to mail? What to donate back to the thrift store? Should I pack now? Later? The yoga mat is in the washing machine!

These are tags from Marianne's studio. I love her little notes, and her paintings.

Monday, October 08, 2007

This is it

This is our last week! It passed too quickly. These are the vend ready pieces I made this weekend for Art-o-mat.

Snow in the far mountains melted today since it warmed up. I took an hour-long walk at high noon with Chris, and then an almost two-hour hike up to 1,000 Acres with Joana close to sundown. I tried running up a hill and then almost fell over trying to catch my breath.

I'll miss crunching around everywhere. And seeing pregnant cows, deers with white tails that look like huge waving flags, and rabbits.

But it's not over yet! This is one of my gazillion sample books. I'm paper sample book queen. I like doing the small ones that look like books but have no pages. I'm just trying to stay happy my last week, not beat up on myself for how much/little work I've done, and get my business into order as best I can before flying off to California (Ellen says we can go to Santa Cruz when I get there! Wohoo!).