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!

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.

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.

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.