Friday, January 28, 2011


I have two: this is one. The shelter said his name was Finesse, but my other housemate, his foster mom, said he responds best to Chester. I am grateful for his presence at home and also to my lack of allergic reaction to him. I like that he reminds me of what's really important: food, sleeping, and daily walks. I'm failing all three subjects, so I still have a lot to learn. Yesterday was the third day of class, and my students were like ultra sponges. I thought I had more than enough for one session, but will be ready next week with all sorts of extra surprise demos if I need them. At one point, I saw a pile of one student's tools and veggies (for prints), and thought, "This would make a great photo," and then remembered that I am rarely w/my camera these days. But they did a great job and were much more impressed by acrylic gel medium transfers than I predicted.

Today I had a lovely lunch w/P in downtown Oakland and caught the tail end of the farmers market, just in time to snag a tray of eggs, some apples, and sausages. Then I rode the free shuttle and walked the rest of the way home. It was foggy when I left but sunny when I returned, and what can I say but hooray for the weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Real exquisite

OMG! The most beautiful book showed up on top of the mailbox today. I saw the mailman, different from the usual carrier, as he struggled to figure out how to put the little square box in/on/around the mailbox. He finally closed the lid on top of the regular mail and balanced it on top. I knew what it was, so I ran out as soon as he left, and WHAT A GIFT. Velma is amazing! It is the perfect book, and perfect timing. I love being surrounded by books like this right now. Gratitude!

Day two

[Prep for day three - a transfer.] Harder than the first day! Still so much housekeeping and untangling of expectations versus what actually happens. But, the first load of assignments came in and that was gratifying. There were a few really thoughtful ones done with careful execution, and one that was exquisite. I somehow got them to special collections, a slide show, and a crit in one class. I'm determined to get a walk tomorrow. No routine yet, but hopefully soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A certain kind of torture

I think sleep deprivation is the pits. I can't sleep, and it's making me alternately crazy (from exhaustion) and useless (from exhaustion). Somehow, I've still managed to stay upright today. Yesterday's class went well. I think. Before class, Julie asked if I was nervous, and I realized that I have spent so many months being nervous that I was too tired of that to be jittery way. If anything, it was the same feeling as a performance that had a lot of lead time. I am excited about what is to come, which is probably why I couldn't sleep (from my brain going in overdrive about all the things I want to share with my class). But I'm going to be even MORE excited when I finally get a routine that involves regular exercise and sleep, and the steep learning curve evens out.

After a second grocery run today, I saw a flier for this, which also excited me.

Coming in Feb: hanji in Denver!

I've been so scattered that I've dropped the self-promotion ball. In less than a month, I'll be teaching a hanji workshop in Denver at Kozo Fine Art Materials, co-sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Guild of BookWorkers, on Sunday, February 13. Contact Kozo for info and registration (and see a quick overview of info here).

I'll be giving my hanji lecture a few days later at the Denver Art Museum. I know, it is a little backwards, but that's how my wonky schedule turned out. We could all use lessons in incongruity.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Press reunion

It's been a while, but I felt good doing a print run on each of the two presses to start our relationships. They're bigger than what I used to work with, but not in a bad way. I like that I get to use new Vandercook models from what I was trained on. It's like meeting more and more family members over time.

I figured this was apt for tonight's full moon, which I will likely not see, b/c I have amazing amounts of tiny loose ends to tie. But at least my veggies are roasting in the (very hot) oven. I met w/a librarian today and was paid a huge compliment when she said, "you're very organized." I feel like a million pieces of paper held together by nothing but will, about to open the door to a hurricane.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Changing the bulb

[I did not love it at all, but now I know where NOT to get frozen yogurt.] It took me this long to figure out that my room is dark b/c one of the two bulbs overhead was burned out. I've changed it, so now I can see! I got to school early today to take care of official-y things and now am the proud owner of another photo ID where it looks like a wild animal is nesting in my hair. I am still not used to the dampness and humidity here, but am hoping it will be good for my skin even if it freaks my hair out.

I even got a pre-meeting hug! I still feel out of it b/c I'm not in any kind of routine and not sleeping well, but I think everything will be fine. Two boxes arrived today, one badly mauled but w/the contents miraculously intact (and not horribly damaged). Everyone is nice and helpful and the sun was out again today, so there isn't much to complain about. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in foggy Daly City with good old friends and tons of Burmese food; that was serious solace. The moon is bright and almost full and I came home to a warm, bright home that smelled of good food cooking. Ben called from Afghanistan. I know more today than I did yesterday. I am grateful for all these things and hope tomorrow I will be wide-eyed enough to print!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

From zombie to human

After a couple days of being a complete zombie, I'm finally back in my own skin. I woke up today feeling myself for the first time since landing, and am slowly making this home. The huge comfy slippers help. Yesterday, I found the farmers market! Of course, this was after I had already shopped at Whole Paycheck. But it totally made my morning. Imagine, someone who only sells butter! Or walnuts (he sold one other thing, too, but I don't remember b/c I was so entranced by the nuts). I forget that California can have ridiculously abundant markets like this year round, since they can grow and hang out outdoors year round.

I ran errands, walked different main drags, was duly mortified by the highway and huge roads, and stopped at a couple yard and stoop sales to come home w/the perfect lamp that even a stranger passing me by complimented. I haven't walked the lake or park yet but am somewhat oriented. Obviously, giant swaths of land are still mysteries to me. But now that I have an ID#, email address, clothes hanging in the closet rather than rolled up in suitcases, and food (+ knowledge of where to get more), more is settled than not. The hot shower was a big help to this slow transition. And the sun.

Friday, January 14, 2011


[Velma books. The best kind of books are Velma books!] I don't know how I am keeping my eyes open right now. That's how I felt for the majority of the day. The flight yesterday was only slightly delayed, though it felt interminable. I paced a lot and did jumping jacks in the back when the flight attendants weren't looking. My TV screen wouldn't turn off so that made me crazy. But I'm here, not unpacked, but at least oriented and almost done with paperwork. I rode the bus there and back (and leaped off right in time on the return based on sheer luck/instinct - the route doesn't come back on the same road), which was fine except a terrible DOUBLE ching-chonging of an Asian woman by a very mean man. I felt complicit b/c I didn't clock him, but it wasn't really an option.

Campus is ridiculously lush and beautiful. Makes me realize that higher ed does a LOT to provide idyllic bubbles for their students. The downside is leaving the gates and entering the real world outside, which is not so pretty at all, and wondering if this is the best way. Now I get a few days off to sort out my luggage, paperwork, and jet lag. I managed groceries tonight, so I am fed. The basics! That's all I can cover right now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Time's up

I'm not sure why, but I accepted commission work two days ago and ended up taking my last trip yesterday to NY Central Art Supply to get paper for the job. Of course, what I wanted wasn't in stock, so the entire book design changed in minutes. After I did the bulk of the lettering and brushwork, I played w/what I would love to do all day: re-doing Velma's hunting zine of sorts on hanji and St. Armand's paper. Now, back to finishing up the commission and then some serious procrastination. Oops, I meant packing!

Please, travel gods, let me fly on time tomorrow! And snow, begone for now.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

There are things you think about but should never do

Oh, our country. What a state we're in.

I'm reminded of Kingsolver's words about war: "If I got to make just one law, it would be that the men who make the decisions to drop bombs would first, every time, have to spend one whole day taking care of a baby. We were not made to do this killing thing, I swear. Back up. It's a big mistake."

The same goes for people who run around with guns, aiming at other people.

Friday, January 07, 2011

White on white

For most of the day, the river was completely shrouded in white. Now, I look up and suddenly it has returned to view, albeit not completely. I love it, the albino version of the cliffs and water and sky. A good deal of my energy today has been sapped by recognition of my own mistakes and weaknesses, so it was a good day to finish reading Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder.

Not only for, "If you ever want to know what it sounds like when the universe goes "Ha! Ha!," just put a tidy plan on your calendar."

Or, for, "I remembered my Japanese friend's insistence on forgiveness as the highest satisfaction, and I understood it really for the first time: What a rich wisdom it would be, an how much more bountiful a harvest, to gain pleasure not from achieving personal perfection but from understanding the inevitability of imperfection and pardoning those who also fall short of it."

But for this:
Charles Darwin himself was a religious man, blessed with an extraordinary patience for observing nature's details, as well as the longevity and brilliance to put it all together. In his years of studying animate life he noticed four things, which any of us could notice today if we looked hard enough. They are:

1. Every organism produces more seeds or offspring than will actually survive to adulthood.

2. There is variation among these seeds or offspring.

3. Traits are passed down from one generation to the next.

4. In each generation the survivors succeed--that is, they survive--because they possess some advantage over the ones that don't succeed, and because they survive, they will pass that advantage on to the next generation. Over time, therefore, the incidence of that trait will increase in the population.

Bingo: the greatest, simplest, most elegant logical construct ever to dawn across our curiosity about the workings of natural life. It is inarguable, and it explains everything.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New old

The resolution hoisted upon me by my elders and everyone who has known me, ever, is to cut down on my worry. So yesterday, I hauled out the Singer, one of my oldest friends. As part of my battle with stress, I pulled out almost all of my book and paper making tools and samples and whatnot for my move (instead of worrying about how much luggage I'd have, I dragged all the suitcases out of storage and dumped everything into them to gauge volume and weight). In my papermaking bin was a pile of red cotton scraps. I had used them to couch paper I made in Mexico in 2007. I loved that red dress but cut it to scraps after someone dissed it. After Mexico, I used pellon for couching b/c it dried faster on the road. When I found the reds yesterday, I decided to re-make a book that I had made in 1999 (I can't remember what happened to it. I think I gave it away). That up there is page two.

Another "don't stress me" tactic was to take up all the scraps of Velma's paper that were left from making binding samples and piece them together. They had been sitting in neat piles at the corner of my cutting mat on my table and were making me crazy, b/c they hadn't been turned into books or paper or moved onto their next step. Now I have a big piece of pieced paper. And less stress.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New truths

[Myung Mi Kim on reading.] Last night I brought Ching-In my old syllabus and process exercises from a creative writing class I took in my very first semester of college. She was amazed at how rigorous and challenging the assignments were, and I remember how hard it was. But I never thought it should be any other way. I wish I hadn't been ashamed of my own writing and hesitant to be nurtured and mentored, since the other students around me seemed so horrified by the difficulty of our material, and how could a visiting professor be so demanding? Now that I think of it, it was a great gift to start school and have a teacher who looked like me, Korean.

[Myung Mi Kim on writing.] I've been up for unspeakably late nights, not partying, but reading. I am a total addict: I have to finish books quickly. Last night, after the requisite new year's eve party w/overly loud music (though I did cross paths with my dear friend's only son, and that was a funny coincidence), I came home and stayed up to finish Intuition. I still have to type up notes for that and for India Flint's Eco Colour (one of those "if I had a stable home base, I'd buy" books. It's VERY good, smart, and beautiful. Plus she is a dyer who loves and appreciates language!), and then I can hopefully relax into Dillard and Kingsolver, since those are essays. I don't have to hurtle quite as hard.

I did my new year's bowing to the elders and received sage advice. Now, how to transform that into daily practice? I'll start by reading and writing.