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 diana@lavalove.org 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!).

Studio boycott

I only went into the studio today once, in the morning, to grab my laptop and bring it back to the house. I've been at the kitchen table all day working on my Fulbright essays. I had a great phone session w/my sister. Now that she's a good film editor, she's become a kick-ass editor, period. It was really good to talk out my ideas and goals, and be honest about what I really want. I was feeling gross b/c I had eating very badly last night (chocolate chip pancakes for dinner and the like. I won't list the rest b/c it is embarrassing), so Chris saved my health by taking me on a REALLY LONG walk. We went so far that we hit trees!! The cows and deer were really busy, and a horse went galloping into the field. Lively but nice and quiet. The magpies are gorgeous.

It's super nice, taking a day off from the studio. I stayed up late last night finishing up sample books of handmade paper. I have two hard cover, two accordion, and four "paint chip" ones to give away to the staff when they come by for open studios on Tuesday. I got to a good place, where I thought, I've done enough to feel fine about walking away and doing serious Fulbright work. It's a nice feeling not to torture myself about not doing enough work.

p.s. - I'm not taking the job. It's not worth the money, time, and energy. My family and friends to whom I've detailed the entire situation fully support me, so Connecticut, here I come! In 2008, I mean.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

labotanica, a project of Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud

New Project: labotanica

I wanted to share some news that I've started a new project called labotanica. It is fledgling and intentionally small. labotanica essentially features three elements---- a small grants program offered twice a year, a modest quarterly magazine, and an archive which is in progress. labotanica maps intersections between poetics and social transformation. While the website and archive are still being developed, I wanted to announce that there are two opportunities coming up, including the grants program and submissions for the first issue of the magazine.

The next deadline for the grants program is 1/15/08. I've kicked it off by contributing $120. Like cadre and service works, it is small program created by artists and it basically makes funding more accessible and it thrives on reciprocity. I'm interested in challenging the traditional model of funding and believe that philanthropy can happen on many levels, with everyday people. Grants fund small projects that intersect poetics and social transformation such as research, art projects, small exhibitions, writing, interviews, community gardens, social work, small performance, or studies in healing. If you have questions send me an email. You can apply online or you can send it to me through email, which might be easier. To apply, submit 500 word proposal, work sample, application and ten dollar donation. For more info, or if you would like to make a donation to the grants program: http://labotanica.org/projects.html

As for the magazine, the theme is "The Search for Virginity", inspired by Jimmie Durham's 1991 essay. A modest printed quarterly publication, the magazine will feature material from labotanica's archive and new articles and interviews, centered on "The Search for Virginity". Materials will range including takes on colonialism and Manifest Destiny to new beginnings and rebirth. To contribute, for advertising rates, or just to support, contact la@labotanica.org


Let me know if you have any questions, and please forward this announcement to like minds.

Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud

Friday, October 05, 2007

It rained today

In the middle of "Babette's Feast," Marianne yelled up at us to go to the balcony to look outside. The rainbow was huge, and beautiful, and tripled. It was hilarious b/c there's only six of us, but no less than five were out taking pictures. Rainbow paparazzi. I've been feeling wonky all day and unable to focus properly. I cleaned up my studio since we have open studios and photo ops on Tuesday. All my paper is now laying out on a long table, and it stumps me. I feel like I can't focus on anything, and I get excited about ideas but then run out of steam. No staying power!

Time to open the polls: I have to decide by Monday if I will take a program assistant job at a nonprofit that grants artists big money/residencies, working for an old friend and coworker. It's 20-24 hours/week, from late October to late April. It means I can't leave NY for six months, and that I may have to forgo a residency I already have planned for 2008. Also, if I get any others, I will have to decline them. Thoughts?

Spurts here and there

I just got off the phone after talking to Terttu for two hours or so. That was fun. I had just made tons and tons of paper, had an enormous dinner again, and was catching up on computer stuff when Joana came to fetch me for the call. I see now that this always happens when residencies start to wind down: people eat like there is no tomorrow. I don't really feel like participating in this, but how do I avoid it when it's all around me? I'm interested in this phenomenon, but not enough to give it any more attention besides recognizing it and acknowledging that I'm not interested. These are some tools, the green thread I got at Salvation Army during our town trip, spools from downtown Sheridan, and in the background, my pieces for Art-o-mat.

This is a sheet of cattail seed "paper" - I call it cattail seed dryer lint. Didn't work so well on its own, which is good news: no need to harvest or cook or anything anymore. I can call it quits. But I wanted to show the image b/c Terttu said that my flickr pics make it look like I'm cooking poop. I'd like to state for the record that I was cooking cattail seeds and fluff, not poop. Though I found that the cowpies in the hills all turn to paper as they sit and dry out. Other people make cow poop paper, but I do not. Hopefully after tonight, I will stop making paper already b/c I should get cracking on other artwork, sample books, and that unspeakable app.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Publication mania

This is the copy of American Craft magazine that Reina sent; there's the brick wall! I also just found out that one of my books will be published in a book of handmade books to hit stores in January. I worked on my Art-o-mat pieces today and cooked more sagebrush leaves from the 60 stalks I harvested this morning. Just for kicks, I took the top of a cattail, too. I cooked it in the last bit of cooking liqueur I had and it looks like it might make amazing paper. Problem: I'm out of soda ash. Possible solution: start building wood fires in the house and take all the ash. Problem: who has that kind of time?! Possible solution: denial and 24-hour work days.

I replaced the sink plumbing, and hope to pull some more sheets as I digest. I overate at dinner: I made split pea soup and had two bowls. And then Joana's lime Tostitos (aka crack), Nancy's chicken/rice dish and mashed butternut squash, and Marianne's chicken and green bean stirfry. Ug. The good news is that I think this is my first overeating of the residency! Instead of overeating every meal.

Julie Laffin, a dear friend, just sent a link to images from her performance piece from this summer in Prague at the Quadrennial. Clover Morell, another dear friend, was the performer.

One more publication-related tidbit: Phoebe Damrosch has a new book out! I found out via Jami's blog, and almost fell off my chair. I met Phoebe in 1995 at music boot camp when she was a violist with hair past her ass. Look at her now! I love seeing what happens to my music geek cohort.

One degree of separation

Wow. I've just returned from "Jentel Presents," a monthly event in Sheridan, where Jentel showcases its current resident artists. Before we started, the executive director came up to me (I was in my customary position at the food table) and asked, "Aimee, do you like surprises?" I turned and saw...my seventh grade English teacher and his wife!!! I almost fell over. During my talk, I felt like I was going through puberty all over again. It was completely surreal. I haven't seen him in probably 15 years. They both look wonderful, like they haven't aged. She saw my name in the local paper, and emailed Jentel and asked if there would be a piano for me to play - her daughter took piano lessons from our teacher. The office decided to keep it a secret.

Afterwards, we all went out to dinner, and I was able to catch up more. I was so touched b/c he said I was a really good writer, and that I should put my writing on my website as well as my artwork (the prime example being the sestina I had in my slide show). He was impressed with everything I've been up to, and said my work was really unique. I told him that the Pulp Function show (where my brick wall is) is traveling eventually to Casper, WY! He grew up in Wyoming, and ended up east for grad school, and then landed in my hometown. She grew up in Sheridan, and they spend summer months here now that they are both retired from teaching.

I remember his classroom, how Farewell to Manzanar was bound, his handwriting, and learning grammar. This last thing is something I've been thinking about for years, since grad school. When I found out that most Americans don't learn or value grammar, I felt grateful that I didn't miss out.

Imagine being at the Pony in north central Wyoming, having a beer and bacon cheeseburger, flanked by a middle school teacher and his wife!! At the end of dinner, we talked about the talks in North Korea, and about how my great uncle Kim Dae-jung, the past South Korean president, was committed to reunification. Then I gifted them with the paper sample book I had brought to the presentation, and watched them drive away in their car with New York plates.

That makes up for all the cattail I lost by inadvertently unplugging my sink vat and having it all pour out on the floor. I also came back to the news that my artwork has been accepted for Art-o-mat! Yay.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Joy descended!

I waited and waited all weekend, mostly with patience. Joy and Jessica called from the road yesterday because they had gone down our road but not all the way and weren't sure if it was the right road. Joana drove me to the turnoff, plates and bowls of lunch in tow, and parked her rental so J&J could spot us. I was SO HAPPY to see Joy and meet Jessica. They shared beer and snacks and hugs. It was so great to feel that young, beautiful, big wide energy. Joy wants to create an urban retreat/residency and I am ALL over that shit, b/c the world definitely needs more of those.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm going a little stir crazy. I miss proximity to the opposite sex (or even just the option for proximity once in a while), and am a little stressed by the whole "is this enough food until our next grocery run?" survival strategy. But I had a good work day, thanks to Chris' brilliant suggestion to use the sink as a vat. Duh. It even looks like the vats I first made paper in. I undid the plumbing, stopped it up, and voila! I can finally make decently sized sheets. What a relief. Doing all the 5x8" ones were making me insane.

Tomorrow: presentations to the community at the Sheridan bookstore! It'll be nice to meet new people and have dinner in town.