Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We returned to the North Country last night after a too-short long weekend downstate. I realize that I miss being with my family, though I think the desire to spend time with them increases as my age does. Lots of train rides and going to and fro and jumping through the hoops of Ben's friend's wedding. Where we ate massive amounts of meatballs. And tried three of the five cakes in lieu of one big cake.

Now that we're back, I'm in a bit of shock about really having to work here, but I'm dealing with it by diving into housework. Badly-needed laundry and lots of rearranging and breaking down moving boxes and unpacking. And back to admin: the latest issue of CBBAG's semi-annual magazine is out that has an article that I wrote about building the hanji studio in Cleveland. I have yet to track down a scanner, but when that happens, I'll be able to share.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Here nor there

On a walk this morning back from printing and mailing an overseas app, I thought about how I wished I was in Cleveland. But really, I always wish I was somewhere other than where I am. I did notice a snail on the way back, which cheered me, since I never get to see them. This week has been a little better in terms of getting some work done, but the errand-y stuff gets in the way. I've seen a couple of places, drove through a park, got an oil change (but with the wrong oil! Cars are sooo high maintenance), and finished rereading a book by my great aunt though I still have another to plow through by tonight. I'm sorting out medical stuff, which may mean I have to stay downstate after Ben and I spend this weekend in NYC. But it's all up in the air right now. Though as far as I'm concerned, it's always all up in the air.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This to that

[This is gone, finally!] It was good to sit and work yesterday, twining and knitting eight panels for a new book. Re-reading an old family history book in the mornings. Slow on getting applications out for the fall. Looking into new rentals.

Today, a few things before looking at other places to live and a military function. A friend of mine went off to a residency a few days ago and I am so jealous! I need one, or something resembling one, very soon. Tomorrow I have to hide like crazy: they start spraying pesticides all around the home. Yuck.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Swing back to center or thereabouts

I didn't realize until well into my second day at the Morgan that they had indeed printed a banner for the hanji studio.

Margaret and Cameron with bricks and monofilament. This job is SO much easier when other ready hands do it for you!

Thick old Thai kozo. Very helpful for class, even though it took at least five hours to cook to this state.

A wee wall. Things are calming down after they came to a head on Friday. I'm trying to make the space workable. Yesterday was an outing to Syracuse, though I find it sad that getting away from nicotine interiors means spending time inside of cars and malls and other artificial environments. I'm taking apart my old kozo halter from 2006. It took a long time to finally throw in the towel. It will provide lots of paper yarn for the next project. I have assigned myself two books, packed for NYC next weekend to some extent, and am determined to get back to working health rather than panic / depression / despair mode. The hand work will help.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Choices that feel like none

Hiding out in the one local coffee shop, which is next door to the post office. My project for today will be writing a letter to my dyeing teacher in Korea. The stamp is all ready. I'd love to lay down and rest but the home is now being chemically bombed since the maintenance people think the smoke residue is in all the heating units. In truth, it's EVERYWHERE and not only in one place, but they'll never admit that. I've been looking at other units and they are just as bad. If not smoke, then mold or mean dogs or destitution or, everywhere, wall-to-wall carpeting. Blech. It made me grateful for people like Julie who have been working to help those who need safe housing.

I unpacked a few things to consolidate, and it made me miss working. Ben's friend was over last night and asked what I teach. He said, "It's magic!" when I showed him the simplest binding I teach. In over a week, we'll head to NYC for Memorial Day weekend, and I really do not want to come back here after that (though I kind of have to). But the sun is peeping out, so maybe the weekend will bring better solutions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

eyes everywhere, in México!

I almost forgot: Elizabeth did a wonderful job compiling images from a women's photo collective that I was part of for a while, eyes everywhere (I think my images are somewhere around 7'40" in, but I can't get to it on this connection--you should watch the whole thing anyhow!). She's been submitting it to screen in various locations and it will appear on June 30 in Mexico at Fábrica de imágenes, an important photo gallery of Morelia, Michoacán. It's available to show anywhere that would be able to run video and audio, in support of the vision of female artists around the world.

Survival skills

I was very bad at taking pictures this visit to Cleveland. If my camera was weightless and embedded into my hand, it would have been easier. But I was more interested in working, teaching, and spending time with friends. It was a great, whirlwind trip, and the workshop went well (pictures of it are on the Morgan's FB page). It was a cold second day--the weather was not kind to us, but my students did remarkably well despite the rain and gloom and chill. It was a surprise and honor to have people signed up who had either met me or studied with me last summer in Cleveland, and I finally have a better handle on how to teach jiseung so that students don't get completely confused and frustrated. Though I still have a loooong way to go!

I was also super lucky to have great interns, again, who helped with my class, my demo, and my artwork that I delivered for the summer show that will open at the Morgan in a few weeks. Stephanie and Margaret were the newbies, and Cameron gave a lot of time to my bricks even though he's working officially for the Morgan now on a million other things. Ben was a huge sport for driving out 7 hours or more and back to meet me and we got to see his friend in town a couple of times, so that worked out. The drive back was pure rain, and I am now hiding in a chain cafe to escape my new home. Sadly, the former tenants smoked indoors and the entire place reeks. These are the times when I wish I was not so sensitive and allergic to things, but at the same time, I'm grateful that I've made a life for myself that frames that characteristic positively, rather than as a weakness. In the grand scheme of things, I would have died long ago in the rat race, but I'm hoping I still get to do a few more things before it's all over.

Friday, May 13, 2011


That's what it feels like, returning to Cleveland. My fabulous intern, Stephanie, with my old bricks (today I had two other people working on them).

More bricks!

And trees that will eventually grow back.

Hello, kozo!

Prep for today's museum talk and this weekend's workshop (Thai mulberry on left, Philippine gampi on right). Busy bees. Weary from nonstop nonstopping and a hell of a long drive with nights of very little sleep, but I love being able to see friends and familiar faces. It's like I never left! Even Ben made the long drive so we're all rocking Ohio this weekend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The relief of familiar places

My hanji lecture in SF went fine, and I even got to meet another papermaker I had only read about AND another long-lost friend, but after a very turbulent flight, I surprised myself after we landed by crying. It was a hard semester, in a land that my body and I didn't take well to. Simple things like being in the same time zone as family and loved ones ease the stress of daily life. I slept hard and woke up to tackle endless packing and backed-up tasks like hand washing plant-dyed scarves. I wish I had more time in NY, but Cleveland calls. Tomorrow will be the big drive! I get to reunite w/my Cleveland family and then with Ben, after I finish a papermaking demo at the art museum. Come by on Friday night if you can!

Saturday, May 07, 2011


The nice thing about the end of a stay is that suddenly you get all this stuff done. Or see parts of a city you've lived in that you never noticed before. I had a 4am scare w/the dog so the sleep deprivation is deep, but I treated myself to strawberries from the farmers market before meeting Shara for a lovely afternoon: Kala, The Compound Gallery, Actual Cafe, and A Verb for Keeping Warm (where my heart swooned when I saw their dye space out back and I fondled all of the Habu stuff along with everything else I could get my hands on). The packing and laundry are fairly well along, but I could use another nap. I'm itching for the east.

The west coast

My upstairs neighbor was so kind as to drive me to the post office today to mail my 10th and 11th boxes of books and/or paper since Monday, and then to the Headlands Center for the Arts! It was a beautiful day and we were a little early, so we took the trail to the beach and saw tons of dogs cavorting together. The trail was especially amazing in parts, how you just feel completely enveloped by the green. Rebeccah knows all about plants and such so she pointed out some and their facts, and was a great sport throughout. Afterwards, I crashed, and then got myself sorted together enough to head to SF for a huge dinner with another friend. I'm frayed badly and just barely hanging in there, (all kinds of) health-wise, but am hoping for good rest tonight before I do all of my serious packing tomorrow. My final day in Oakland!

Oh, and I KEEP forgetting to say that I'm doing a hanji lecture on Sunday. Not that anyone will show up, since it happens to be Mother's Day. I'm only pulling it off b/c I'm on the opposite coast from my mom. Here's the info:

Friday, May 06, 2011

Added pressure

This was from one of the final projects. I love that she reused a word that I had assigned her early on in the semester; it's like she brought everything full circle. I can't believe how tired and verge of sick that I feel--all semester I felt I was somehow skirting fate by staying relatively healthy but wow! It's a profound fatigue. Today was my final trip to campus, and a tricky commute: a walk to the bus stop with 1. comforter loaned by my boss, 2. heavy box of books on my back to ship, 3. heavy box of books on my shoulder to ship, and 4. heavy banker's box of final projects to return to students. I rode two stops to walk to the post office, ship, redistribute weight, walk to another bus stop, and ride to school. There was a heinous sound destroying any semblance of calm b/c massive tree surgery was underway, which was disturbing. I hate seeing men in chainsaws with enormous pieces of trunks. But I managed to make labels for two books, pack up the rest of my things, deposit student work into individual drawers, bid farewell to the studio manager with a gift and last-minute binding lesson, and return all of my keys. Then I visited Moya for a final chat in the library.

The heat has not been fun, but I lazed out, read in bed, and felt generally too tired to do anything until it was time to meet Patsy and her brother and nephew. She was in my Seattle workshop a few weeks back and happened to be flying into Oakland this afternoon, so we had a great time over sushi, pizza, and ice cream. Really! All three. And I was full after the first stop! We talked a lot about Korean culture, marketing, goals, weaknesses, and then my role as hanji ambassador. It reminded me of so many things that I had learned and encountered in Korea, and made me so thankful for all of "the elders" and generations before me. At our last stop, Patsy's brother put his hand on my shoulder and pressed down, to make real the weight that I was carrying, which had only gotten heavier over the night. A real burden of responsibility. But better me, since I hate when people don't take responsibility, right? So I'm taking the first step of taking care of my body: to sleep!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Final class!

I felt like it was forever in coming but then suddenly pounced on me. Even on my way to school today I didn't know if it was real that today would be the last day I'd teach this group of women and see them together and talk with my TA and so on. The final projects are in a box lined with newsprint, in a laundry hamper, in the living room, awaiting grading. There is a LOT to get through, and I am so pleased with the growth that I've seen over the semester. They've gotten quite skilled in critique, too, which is so gratifying, b/c that was a top top goal for me from the moment I was hired: learning how to participate in engaged and positive feedback. I hardly needed to talk b/c they are picking up on seeing things they never would have noticed a few months back, and articulating questions, opinions, and suggestions with ease.

We did half of the session, and then had a break. I noticed that no one wanted to come back into the classroom from the courtyard, so I moved the rest of the crit to the lawn and we were able to have a final circle together. I was only sorry to have been so scattered and taking care of random things to have missed farewells and hugs, but got some good ones. Of the students who will return next year, at least half will go on to take more book art classes! Yay. And this picture? I didn't take it, nor did I so carefully arrange all of the final projects for me to pack up and take home. I have some great students!

My roommate was kind enough to pick me up from school since I cleaned out my office in preparation for complicated shipping detail. There are three groups: one that flies with me, one that ships to downstate NY, and one that ships to upstate NY (all groups will scatter further upon arrival). This will take much longer than I expected, but I won't deal with it (or grades) until tomorrow. Especially after a lovely final roommate dinner on the Berkeley Marina just in time to see the sun set.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

We all have our battles

Some are very urgent and real and related to survival. Donate to the Steve Miller Relief Fund by going here, and clicking on "DONATE," and indicating that it's going towards that particular fund. I think most people in the book arts community who would have given have done so in the first rush (I sent mine along with a donation to one of my favorite dance companies, LAVA, on the same day), but the trick is to sustain the giving. I can't imagine having a home one day and then not having it the next.

Many of the other battles are in our heads. Today I turned over the idea that people lie to each other outright on a regular basis, but because it's couched in the idea of 'making excuses,' it somehow doesn't classify as lying. I should make a paddle that says, "No BS," to hold up in front of my face, but actually, I need to work on my own habit of lies. The worst being the ones I tell myself, like, "I'm going to write my hanji book this summer. The whole thing. I swear." I'm trying to sort out why we feel so much like we have no responsibility anymore.

But back to gratitude: I'm here for one more week. Oh, California. We've had a strange affair that goes back over ten years. I'm not sure what to make of it, but it's not the last we'll see of each other. It's been an adventure that I never could have predicted and I'm thankful for it, growing pains and all. I went to the office yesterday to start the process of sorting and packing and shipping. Tonight I get to package all the hanji that will get sent to various addresses for various workshops. Tomorrow will be the real test: walking it a mile to the post office!