Wednesday, June 30, 2010


My mould is on its way to Cleveland; I found a tube just long enough b/c I am lucky to know people who bring home tubes knowing that I will always need them.

Now that the worst is over, including a stomach bug and oppressive summer heat/humidity, I might be able to do another edit to the hanji entry in Wikipedia. From time to time, I do a search for "hanji" and today I found the most amazing things. It's heartening, b/c it means that more people are more interested, and not just here. I found out that my jiseung video was embedded onto a Romanian site! It's a blog entry about hanji and actually does a good job with history and purposes and so on. My goal to spread hanji awareness to the English-speaking world had seemed daunting enough, so I'm glad that people are taking care of the zillion other languages that I don't know.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One more hurdle

I was looking for a new journal to take to Cleveland and found the perfect one! I had gotten a set of five or six of these in Korea last year, all different covers, and different insides, too (lined, plain, graph, etc.). This is the penultimate one.

My last big logistic before I fly in a couple days is figuring out if and how I will ship the longest pieces of my mould for making hanji. Regulation tubes are all about 38 inches but I need 10 more inches than that. So either I build a contraption to ship or I build a contraption to possibly fight with the airlines about. The good news is that I had a great convo with Michael Bixler today to get tips on building a sturdy vat in Cleveland (fingers crossed that I meet some brilliant carpenters there who can help me with the job since I am the last person who should ever go near a table saw), and then a long-overdue convo with Velma, who always inspires and supports and is one of the reasons I will always miss the North Country. "NEAR NATURE NEAR FRIENDS" is apt.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Teachers and students

Terttu shot this years ago in the early stages of our friendship on infrared film. It's amazing how in some shots, you can see my veins. I got to see her in Manhattan on Friday and it was so good to catch up, run errands together, sit in the park over and apple and trail mix, and trek to Angelica for picnic plates. When we did this shoot, she wanted to include my violin and my paper costume from a performance. That was when I was starting out w/the paper/violin/performance combo and everything was possible.

Today, I had a morning walk and tea with Barbara, my favorite teacher and friend--she has known me since I was in 7th grade as her orchestra student. She was crucial in my formative years, supporting me in ways I didn't know were possible, and being the best possible example of a self aware person in progress, always working to learn more and change and grow. When we went to the counter to order, I didn't recognize the woman who took our order, and grabbed a seat at the one remaining table. Barbara sat down later and asked if I knew a certain family, and mentioned the sisters' names, and I said, "the last name sounds familiar, but I don't know why." Then she got up again to look at pastries and I started to think a little more, piece the names together in my head, look at the woman behind the counter again, and suddenly realized: that girl was my violin student almost ten years ago! She was tiny for her age and had a tiny violin and was the best student in my chamber ensemble. I gave her a couple of private lessons at home after the summer music program ended and she went on to study with an amazing teacher that I had studied with briefly as an adult.

When I told Barbara, she said, "can I tell her??" and when Eleanor came over, Barbara said, do you know Aimee? And Eleanor said, "wait, were you my violin teacher..." and it turns out that she switched to guitar and voice and is off to college in California this fall. She said she still includes violin but it's not her main thing. I totally get that. She thought it was so funny that two of her music teachers were sitting in front of her. She looked the same: tiny, smart, and sweet. Gives me hope for future teaching and future students on a sweltering day.

Loving & Daring and return

Jami told me the other day, "stop making decisions." So very wise. She was able to diagnose my symptoms as re-entry ones. Please excuse my recent tantrums.

Yesterday, I went to LAVA's latest show, a remix of dances from their last 10 years. I cried so much, starting from when their junior company, Magma, came out and started the show. I encountered LAVA through two of their dancers back in 2002 when I took a trapeze and acrobatics class with them at the Kitchen, encouraged by E (it was when she and I were both going through our 20s in NYC and this was the BEST possible outlet for us). Even after I left NY for Chicago, I stayed in touch w/my teachers and saw them grow their careers, go through changes and huge trials, and still be what they were to me then: strong, fierce, amazing women.

I never took dance or movement classes as a child. I always wanted to and was jealous of my little sister b/c she took ballet and was a morris dancer. Music was a great outlet for me, but I wanted more. When I saw those girls take the stage, dancing, tumbling, trapeze-ing, and being exactly what they were--bright, beautiful, strong girls--I cried. I was so grateful for LAVA for making a space for girls to be unafraid of their bodies and strength. Then two longtime company members (one being the artistic director) did a trapeze duet. And I cried again: these women have been getting better and better over time. Their physical prowess is stunning. I used to work as a grant maker, and LAVA would apply but always make it to the final round and not get funded. But once I left, they finally started to be recognized for their work and the funding opened up. I also cried when I saw my teacher dancing. Two years ago, she was attacked and slashed in the street. If you didn't know this, you'd never be able to tell from the way she performs. I could go on. I was moved. If I wasn't so slow on blogging these days, I would have posted immediately b/c tonight at 7:30pm is their last show for this run at Dixon Place. Go if you can.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A new start

Trying out a tablet. Worked out. Working on two possible new books in collaboration. And impressed that back in the UK, they have FINALLY put an end to this inquiry that went on for years in regards to Bloody Sunday, where armed British troops fired onto unarmed Northern Irish civilians. When I was in Derry at the depressing Museum of Free Derry, there was a sign near the end of the exhibit that had a list of years, all crossed out, except for 2010, indicating each year that a conclusion to the inquiry was promised. When I saw how many years that promise had been broken, I just assumed it would go on forever. I'm glad I was wrong.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I feel like I was taken away on rip tides the last few days. Nothing crazy, but in the haze of not enough sleep (jet lag was actually not bad at all! I rather liked its effects), I didn't record much. I saw Jeannie on Friday at Veselka and then we went to see Maria present her latest weddings. As a surprise treat, I saw Mimi there! I hadn't seen her in years. For an event that was supposed to go until 8:30pm, I stayed late. Home by 1am.

Yesterday was all Korean. Dentist, haircut, food, gallery, groceries, parents, and new hair clips (b/c I had broken mine by jumping right onto it from the treadmill when it fell out of my hands while exercising). Flights to Cleveland have doubled since I was checking so this week will be all about that trip and other less fun admin. But maybe today I will give myself a proper sabbath.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Never in my life

have I been SO HAPPY to get to the USA. Never. Walking towards the border, I saw airport shops and one was called "AMERICA!" My heart rejoiced. My entire trip home from the airport to the bus to Manhattan to the train, I had "God bless America" stuck in my head. Can you believe it? I cannot. But truly, despite the oil spill, the Tea Baggers (that's what I like to call the Tea Party), and overuse of A/C, I feel so lucky to live here and be American. AND I feel doubly lucky to be Korean--I've already started to eat my way back to health!

The parting gift

Woke up at 5:40am, wondering why my blanket was wet. B/c it's raining and the ceiling is leaking onto my bed! A fitting farewell: grey, rainy, wet.

Monday, June 07, 2010


After Fiona came by to say goodbye and I ran a bunch of errands in the morning, I had a great afternoon at Inga's and Andy's house. Inga was my first cording student and diligent! I was impressed. We cut down hanji and corded in the garden until it got too cold to stay outside. She gave me a lift home and we passed the HUGE bonfire being prepared for July 12: tons of wooden palettes stacked high in a big ring whose insides are full of old sofas and furniture to burn. Unless you are a staunch loyalist (aka you really like Northern Ireland being part of the UK), you stay FAR away from the fires and parades and mayhem. Most people leave the city or country entirely or hide out at home. I am very glad that I won't be here then.

Inga asked if I had fun plans tonight. I was supposed to go to the art college openings but didn't want to. She said, just go! You never know who you will meet and what will happen. So I did, but on the walk there on Royal Ave (a big street in city centre), a scowling, angry, young woman (she must have been no older than 22 and looked like a student) came running at me as I was about to cross a street and kicked me in the knee. I was flabbergasted and an older woman who passed me as we crossed at the light said, "she's been kicking everyone she can."

That totally put me in a bad mood. So much for what I've been saying this entire time: the racism and unfriendliness to outsiders is one thing, and it feels bad, but as long as there are no threats to my body, I can handle it. A shame that it has to end this way. I will be one joyful passenger tomorrow on the flight back home.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Breath and quiet

I am SO glad I went away. Thursday, I took a bus from Belfast to Derry, then changed to a bus from Derry to Donegal Town. I left early thinking if I didn't, I'd chicken out and NOT go, but I also didn't realize how tiny and boring Donegal Town was. So killing 6 hours until the next bus to Glencolumcille was torture, but I did it, and even survived the strange men talking at me on the bus for half the ride in the evening, who kept saying that Glencolumcille was QUIET. I was one of two people who were left on the bus until the last stop, and after we asked for directions at the gas station, we parted and I hiked up 1 km to Dooey Hostel. Run by Mary and her son Leo, it has insane views since it's built into a hillside that overlooks Glen Bay. After talking to Katja, a German woman who had been there for days and was leaving the next morning, I ran down the hill to the beach. The sun doesn't really set there. Maybe around 11pm?

I barely slept. I was so restless. Probably being the first hostel stay in my entire life + it WAS really quiet, even the water was a tiny little lap, lap. Neither of us slept much, and when she got up at 6:30am to catch the morning bus, I decided to just get up and take a stab at the day before it got too hot. I went down to the beach, back in towards a field, up towards town, and then started the walking path, winding uphill through farmland and grazing land towards a looped trail.

I went up to see an old tower that is visible from the hostel. This is the cliff it's on, and it's good that Katja warned me that getting there takes longer than you'd think from a distance. But after that, I felt okay enough to finish the loop and end up back in town to get badly-needed water (something about the red, copper-tinted water from the taps didn't sit w/me) and lunch supplies. I hiked back to the hostel to eat and have a good talk with Leo. He recommended going to the Irish college, so I did, and read Seamus Heaney's Station Island. Then I visited the Folk Village Museum and sat for a long time outside in the shade of the cafe with tea, cording hanji.

I hiked back up to the hostel to have an early dinner, but what I REALLY wanted to do on this trip was visit the cliffs in the next town. Too far for me to walk, and when I asked Katja if there was any taxi or hackney service that would come get me and take me there, she laughed. I sat outside to eat and saw a new car in the lot: a German couple that had driven to France from near Dresden, taken the 18-hour ferry to Ireland, and driven all over the island for two weeks, had arrived. They spoke almost no English. But they were going to Slieve League, and it was my only real chance to get there. So I asked, and after a flurry of German-English dictionary pages, we were on our way.

I could tell they were hardcore hikers, so I only went up with them part of the way and then let them run off for a few more hours. That's them on the mt: you can see her red pants. But I'm glad I made it even THAT far, since it's much further than I would have even imagined attempting on my own.

This is from the way back down. It was nice to be able to take my time and not have a soul see me descend awkwardly. Up there, too, totally silent. Even the sheep thinned out as we ascended. My ears popped. I didn't know it was possible to find such silent places, even with the sea so close. This is looking in a different direction from the descent.

I was so happy to get to the car park, and took off my socks, and did yoga on this picnic table. But after an hour of that, I was bored and had left all my cording back at the hostel. So instead, I shoved the sheep over and pulled rushes to try weaving them. They're not very good for it b/c they're so weak and break easily, but it kept me preoccupied. I was able to sleep a little more that night, even though Katja had been replaced by a surly, snoring German, and got up at 4:40am (the sun was already up and at it). I did one last visit to the beach and then corded in the empty town until my 7:30am bus.

I was back in Belfast at 12:30pm, had lunch at St. George's Market, and was happy to see the willow weaver there in action. How can you not absolutely love this bird? A wonderful way to close out the journey. Here are pics.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hot days

Whew! It got hot today. My appt was cancelled, so I took a long morning doing research on the next few days and pre-packing. I've never packed so early before a flight. After errands, I decided to walk south again and through the Botanic Gardens to get to the city centre, but once I crossed the river, I changed my mind b/c it was so hot, and just turned up the walkway along the Lagan River, which I've never walked before. And I saw this mural! Which I love. At least, it's my favorite Belfast mural. No, my fave Northern Irish mural.

I decided today would be the buying gifts for people at home day, and hit shops downtown as well as on the very end of my usual bus route. Then I came home to a strong desire for fresh fruits and veggies so I have eaten a bunch and a pot of split pea soup is on the range. I may be offline for a few days and afterwards, hopefully I will have beautiful things to share.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Studio, emptied

I got this for myself at the Polish shop on my way to the studio today, after knitting and watching Derren Brown all morning.

I was intent on finishing this panel, and it's finally done!! 73 x 10 inches.

Then Inga and Andy came by to check out the studio. We wanted to get some tea after that, but all the cafes in the hood close at 3pm (I know, outrageous), so we had to instead go to a pub. I was drunk pretty instantly and on the way to their car, Inga stopped to pick up letters from a building that was taking them down and just painting the name on the exterior wall since the big "A" had fallen off in a storm and they didn't want to risk the rest of them flying off. So now they own these fabulous green plastic letters!

I went back to the studio to felt one more piece, pack up, wait for it to dry, and then get it all home. I figured I should be realistic and just close shop now b/c I don't think I'll be getting much done in the next week. I'll deal with distributing it into two suitcases tomorrow, after I hopefully sleep off my recent deep exhaustion.