Sunday, February 27, 2011

Still standing, somehow, and happy

After one of the most ridonkulous itineraries I have ever made for myself, I have to say I had a great experience. I won't do this kind of travel again (city to city to city to city to city in four days, in cars and trains and planes and buses and subways and commuter rails and foot and minivan on a spare tire b/c it blew out right before it picked me up), but I had a super Philly experience. Winnie was one of the most energetic, helpful, and empathetic hosts I've ever had the fortune to meet, and even prepared all of her antique knives to test on hanji, since I hadn't been able to travel w/my paper slitting knife. The middle one worked best.

This is Mary with her weaving in her lap. I call her Famous Mary because she's a name I see all the time in the hand papermaking field but I hadn't ever met her, so I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. She was one of those students in the corner that you never have to bother b/c she caught onto everything so fast and was there to churn out work.

We covered A LOT of ground. Even I was kind of shocked by how much I taught. There was a little loss of blood, but it had nothing to do with my workshop (it was a prior injury), and no one needed medical attention. So, a super class! The lecture was received well, I was happy to meet Susan and some students in the UArts book arts program, and I had a wonderful evening with Mi-Kyoung and her family. I am so lucky to be able to travel, be taken care of, and do this kind of work. It makes me want to work harder at becoming a better person. Tonight, a bunch more work before I get to sleep, and then up and back on the train to the bus to the plane to San Francisco. Thank goodness I realized I needed to ask for help, so I'll get to have dinner with a friend and a ride home after all that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some things should NOT be this hard

I've re-packed everything so that I can carry on instead of get charged for checking bags, and was feeling fine about it until I got to my office today and picked up a few other tools to take with me. I looked at my paper cutting knife and then realized there was no way I could carry that on. I could overnight my knife to myself in NY but that just seems so ridiculous. So now I have to hope that once I land, I will be able to scrounge up some kind of alternative, since I already know that many of the students in this class won't have knives and expect to use mine. AGH!! This came up last summer when I was teaching, and I don't know why it's so hard to find these knives, and good alternatives. So, one more thing to add to the list.

At least I was able to get everything else done today: give a presentation on my work, have lunch with a new friend, and look at a bunch of lovely artists' books at the library. I'm grateful for these things in the midst of logistical tangles.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The dog ate my collards

My latest comic is done! I'll post more info soon about distribution. For now, I've been distracted after a long day at work (linocuts!), by the dog. Who ate my dinner. I always forget the whole pushing the chair into the table thing and he went after my collards in peanut sauce. I even heard him chomping away and thought it was my roommate!! But when I went back to the kitchen, I found no roommate and no dinner. When I called for the dog, he came running to me w/peanut bits on his face. AGH.

I realized this morning on the bus that I'm not flying the airline I thought I was, which means I have to pay for checked bags or re-pack. Yikes. So I'm off to re-pack and see if I can carry it all on so I can give my lecture in Philly on Saturday and teach this weekend. Here's the Philly info:

Saturday, February 26 at 11am
University of the Arts, Broad and Pine Streets
Room 212 of Anderson Hall (the building across the street from the old building with the columns)
Open and free to all, so bring a friend if you'd like!

Hanji: Korean papermaking and its impact on past and contemporary culture

Korean papermaking has a history almost as long as papermaking itself. Korean paper, known as hanji, is made from the inner bark of the mulberry tree, renowned for its long and strong fibers. This makes hanji ideal for an array of applications, from uses in the home and studio to experiments in robotics, cuisine, and audio technology. Aimee Lee, the leading American scholar of Korean papermaking, will chart the history of hanji, its illustrious rise in Korea and its demise via forces of modernization, colonization, and neglect. She will also show images and videos of her research as a Fulbright scholar that depict the current state of Korean papermaking and related craft forms, accompanied by actual samples of hanji and artwork made of this lustrous and durable paper.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In search of some kind of balance

Based on Keri Smith's Artist's Survival Kit, I made a little comic last night. Today I had the fun task of heading to FedEx to play w/the copy machine and churn out, FINALLY, the zine edition of "My Snow," a story that Caron wrote and shared with me in Ithaca last fall. I wish I had finished it earlier, but apparently it's still snowing in parts of the world so as soon as I get them stapled tomorrow, they will be ready to blanket the world.

I was able to run out into the world today after holing up for a while at home to prep for the next round of classes and workshops, rest, recover, and finish the 3rd season of FNL (if you don't know, don't ask. I'm not proud of the habit, but I like to think it could be much worse). I finally got to a place where I felt like I could look at everything I have to do and not feel completely overwhelmed. I could look at it and say, "That's a lot, but I can do it all." I also addressed a few things that I was stuck on (like, not being able to work at home b/c I don't have a surface to work on), and acknowledged some other things (like, I have a hard time being creative if I don't feel safe from harm, and I also have a hard time when loved ones are clearly not safe from harm. Which is why I CANNOT wait until Ben leaves Afghanistan for good. The first is partly why I have so few photographs from my new home; I don't think it's a good idea here to pull out a camera. The second is why war sucks ass*).

*As Colum McCann says in Let the Great World Spin (which Ben mailed to me in Cali from Afghanistan once he finished reading it): "The only thing you need to know about war, son, is: Don't go."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Simultaneous un/pack/ing

Carla snapped some pics during my lecture yesterday at the Denver Art Museum, which went very well. They're total pros, have fabulous and very active volunteers, and drew a handsome crowd. I hadn't really eaten properly in the morning and I've been gaining weight since I got the dress I wore for the event, so I was slightly out of it, but I still had a great time overall and enjoyed being able to see the museum afterwards, esp in Carla's company, since she had worked there for many years and had lots of stories to share about individual pieces. I was struck by how beautiful the Native American textiles, baskets, and ceramics were, and thought about how if we still made our own household objects, maybe we'd be less obsessed with shopping constantly for plastic or disposable or mass-produced junk. I realized how far I've traveled along the continuum of art v. craft (though both are pretty inadequate words, too).

All in all, I had a great time in Colorado and would absolutely love to return. The trip home was painful only because I was so outrageously tired, and I got back home past midnight just to turn around and teach today (the start of our letterpress unit! My students set type valiantly and I was impressed by how well they did). I have almost nothing to eat in the way of fresh food, so I'm hoping the heavy rain here subsides in time for me to grab groceries tomorrow. In the meantime, I've been re-packing my bags for next week's trip to NYC/Philly. Hey, why not? I was also inspired to keep working hard today after a talk with a colleague, and am slowly understanding why this environment is not ideal for making work. But I'm not giving up!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inconvenient meltdowns

Today I visited downtown Boulder with two fine tour guides, one pictured here. But the Apple store failed miserably in helping me w/my battery, which I noticed yesterday looks like it's going to explode. This means that my computer doesn't work when it's in it. Which is very bad timing since I need to prep for tomorrow's lecture and give the lecture from this computer. For now, I'll just work off the AC adapter, but that makes me nervous, obviously.

After I wrote all that stressy talk, I went out for a wonderful dinner with Laura and her classmate from the CSU MFA program, and it was lovely. I loved being out with women at night w/o worrying about getting hurt on the walk back to the car. Laura is still her beautiful, lively, sweet, thoughtful self, only with another one growing inside of her. Then I came home to more good company with Carla (I will miss our nighttime talks!) and now feel way less stressy. Good night.

And come if you can tomorrow!

Rocky, indeed

Oh, my. This Denver trip has been WAY more of an adventure than I bargained for. The workshop was fine, except for the massive drama that had nothing to do with the workshop itself. Once I'm done crying at night about it (that was probably just last night) and not re-living the feeling of blood (not mine) trickling down my hands, it will be a great story.

But I am also so grateful for the wonderful people I've met so far, like Sammy Lee, an incredible host and new friend. It turns out also that I'm actually spending half my stay in Boulder! I got to finally meet Leigh Holden, a friend of a friend, and a superbly-trained papermaker (I love the ones who trained in Iowa b/c they are SO good at metric and conversions!). Patricia at KOZO was a big help in my prep and a gracious host. It has been so rejuvenating to reconnect with Carla and her family from our Fulbright days in Korea. I'll get to see Laura tomorrow from Vermont days, and also got to visit Penrose Library, which was great. I especially loved the current exhibit that includes a big projection of a hand turning pages of an Audubon book of extinct birds at the bottom of a circling stairwell. They even had a womb chair on the first floor!

I'm hoping tonight for a less fraught sleep. I'm being followed by cats everywhere I go. But, also, wonderful children who give love all around.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First crit!

[There was a book in there.] Today was the first big crit of the semester, and I was overall happy about what my students presented. There were some really key breakthroughs, some continued excellence, a whole range of serious to hilarious, and three outdoor crits. The next big segment will be letterpress, but I have to do one of those circuit switches now and go full bore on hanji. Tomorrow I fly east to the real cold, and real altitude!


I finally decided to change my time zone to Pacific. I suppose that means I'm more here than in other time zones. I took a yoga class this morning and then rushed into SF, thinking I was late, even though I was making my own schedule until my haircut. I saw a dreadful paper exhibit but then made up for it by going to a great book store. The Korean stylist that I found through P was so sweet and I got a very good banh mi in the neighborhood before I went to Flax with Carl to pick up some paper. We talked for a long time with Calvin in the paper dept, who went to school at the University of Denver, where I'll visit briefly next week. We visited a couple of other places and it was nice to just hang out and decompress slightly from all the recent intensity and craziness. Of course, I ended up taking the wrong BART line home but didn't get too far in the wrong direction. Now, back to the grind.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sometimes I wish they'd just leave the package at your door

[Where Ever You Go There You Are, by Emily Martin.] Today, sheer chaos collided into complete but justified paranoia plus many opportunities to practice self restraint. Today was a BIG day. I found out that Very Important Hanji-related Stuff that I had ordered from Korea was on the verge of being sent back to Korea, because I had never gotten the initial delivery notice in the first place. The one nice, calm moment I had after the bus did NOT stop at my stop and I had to walk back to school was the only calm moment of the day: I got to meet Moya at the Mills library! She was so sweet and hospitable and it made perfect sense that Lori connected us. But then it was turbo mode all day, printing prep for the class trip to Codex, unexpected encounters, sorting out early and late students, trying to make the rounds in lightning speed, meeting back with my class to hear about the tables everyone had visited, meeting my host for Denver, and then making a mad dash, courtesy of my extremely generous and patient TA, to the local post office. Of course, the customer service gave me the wrong post office, and then I had to hoof it almost two miles fast enough to get my package from Korea before closing. Fittingly, the woman who helped me was Korean and spoke Korean to me in a nice way. By the time I got home, everyone was like, "You look so tired!" And all this, while we're having the kitchen renovated.

The good news is that I met two people today that I will see again in Denver, and so far, everything is shaping up to make it a great trip (except that it may be very cold. But I don't expect to be doing any winter sports so this will probably not be a big problem). And now I am the proud owner of Emily Martin's flexagon series, which I had coveted for years. I brought my checkbook expressly to buy them and got the last set there. I was also really happy to see Mark McMurray of Caliban Press b/c when I mentioned Ben's thoughts about making a visit to me here, Mark totally got why it would make more sense to do that rather than me go to Watertown. I love people who get the North Country and thereabouts. Plus, he showed my students the magic trick of the volvelle. Which means, of course, that I'll have to teach that soon enough!

Monday, February 07, 2011

The rumors are true

I went this morning again to yoga class and was astounded by how full the class was. People here are SO hardcore about yoga! I used to be scared to take class in NYC, but I should have reserved that fear for here. At least I get to give excuses to the teacher about how I haven't been to class in years (true) so then there are no expectations. Also, the class mats smell like dark chocolate.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sun and more sun

It's hot. Yesterday, today. I've been walking a bunch and now have a slightly better lay of some parts of the land. I also had two days in a row where I worked outside of the home on my writing! Small miracles.

This is a huge part of life here in California. Cars, highways, cars, highways. All in very close proximity to everything else. I'm not used to it.

Last night I was out after dark! This is rare, for safety reasons. It was too hot to walk to the show I wanted to see but I did get to see a good friend before going to a party with great food, real and fake (this is why it's fun to see the insides of other people's homes).

I got a good talking to this morning by Ching-In, who advised me to leave the house to work instead of attempting to work at home (since this has led to failure time and again). So I finally braved my first west coast yoga class. I survived, but was overwhelmed by how much garbage is knocking around in my head. I haven't had a solid practice for about 2.5 years so lots of crazytalk has been squatting in my mind for a while, enough to take root. Time to root it out!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Since I have little to show for myself right now

I constantly forget to take my camera anywhere in this state. Bummer, since my students made a very handsome batch of books that were dry by Thursday.

Instead.... That was the result of "research" for my comics class next month.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Another month, nearly another year

Time! It's playing that trick on me again. I was so discombobulated for much of January that it disappeared and here I am, drawing flow charts and trying to keep Chester from making trouble. I had a lovely day out in San Francisco on Monday with my Chicago dentist's old childhood friend and saw a show at the Center for the Book. The day before that I was lucky enough to be an audience member for a songwriting group, which was a nice break after a half day at work. Today I get to see family from Korea! Aside from school, I have no idea how the time is passing these days, but it looks something like the house now, in chaos and transition as the kitchen gets renovated.

I think I pack my classes too full, but there is SO MUCH I want to share. Inevitably, things I meant to say on day one are still living in my head. Tomorrow I get another chance to get them out of my mouth and hands.