Friday, March 30, 2012

Timeline of events; identity theft fallout

Don't bother reading this--it's a record for myself, but may be helpful for random other people in the world dealing with the same situation.

1. Try to e-file federal return. It is rejected immediately due to Rule #R0000-902, meaning there is already a tax return filed with your identification number for that tax year. You now have to file a paper return.

2. Call IRS to find out what is up. Agent #1 says she will transfer you to Accounts, since she doesn't know if I have to file an amended return or a regular return. Agent #2 says that a return has already been filed, a check has been mailed, though not to my address nor in the amount of my refund that I calculated in the return that I have in my hands. She says to call Agent #3 on their identity fraud team, and #3 says that #2 gave me way too much info and that I now have to file a paper return along with a crapload of other documentation. Then, in 90 days, I will be called and assigned a case worker, and then they will start an investigation. And maybe in 9 months to a year, I will get my refund.

3. Order a credit report and scour it for weirdness. I see a fake address that was listed last year in March.

4. Place a fraud alert through a credit reporting agency.

5. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online.

6. Call the FTC for more info on anything else I need to do.

7. Call the Social Security Administration, who tells me that they can't do anything since they don't have current records for income verification and won't have those until September.

8. Call the local police department, who says they won't file an official report, just take things down in the docket, and even if I call county police, they probably won't, either.

9. Call the state's attorney to see if my state requires police to file a report in identity theft cases. All I get is, "You're not the only one, this happens a lot, too much info in cyberspace, be more persistent w/the police." No actual statement of what the LAW is.

10. Print and copy a bazillion forms at the library.

11. Visit the police station and get an incident number plus a handout on how to deal w/identity theft.

12. Compose cover letter and compile documents for tax return + fraud affadavit.

13. Call banks, credit cards, and meet with varying success.

14. Visit post office to send IRS documents via certified mail.

15. Visit local bank branch to see what can be done (nothing) and have human contact w/the assistant manager, who has been defrauded in the same manner and offers sympathy.

16. Create new digital and hard copy files and file them so I don't have to think about it anymore.

17. Bitch and moan to friends and loved ones.

18. BEER.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

You wish it would never happen to you

[Stefan did such a nice job at our shoot this week, as always. This book is apt for now, called Resilience.] I was so excited last night when I felt like I was pretty on top of my workload, and went to bed happy that today's to do list was manageable. Sadly, I was wrong. It's past 3:30pm now and I have, since 9am, been dealing with identity theft issues. Turns out that someone filed a fraudulent tax return in my name and the IRS mailed them a check weeks ago. AGH! I've been in touch w/IRS, FTC, SSA, banks, credit card companies, the police, and credit reporting agencies. This was a very bad time for me to have broken the printer, too, so there was a lot of running back and forth to the library to print all manner of forms and reports.

Mostly, I wondered why people do things like this. I can't get my head around the ethical violations of this behavior at ALL. Needless to say, now my to do list is NOT manageable and I haven't even gotten my suitcase out to pack for my workshop this weekend. If you know anyone in the D.C. area who has no weekend plans yet, there are still a few spots left! [Scroll down for the info, which I'll paste below, too.]

Paper like Leather, Bark like Thread: Korean Paper Techniques

Date: Saturday, March 31, 10-4pm & Sunday, April 1, 10-4pm
Instructor: Aimee Lee
Tuition: $250 + $30 materials fee payable to the instructor
Enrollment: 4-8
Description: 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 suitable for book and fiber arts. Students will add water to hanji to learn a felting and collage technique called joomchi, which results in textured paper that is ideal for textile work, light and durable book covers, and sculpture. Joomchi can also be modified to create varying thicknesses of hanji yarn. Using mulberry bark, students will also learn to make thread for decorative bindings, weaving or installation. As time allows, students will learn how to cord and weave hanji (called jiseung in Korean) to create woven pieces. Be prepared to work hard and walk away with a wide array of samples and new techniques!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I had the most interesting exchange with Maria this weekend while doing what I love to do most in NYC: eat (noodles), eat (cake), walk a bunch, and have a drink before heading home. She said that when she talks about me to people who don't know me, she says that I am a scholar. I disagree heartily, because my idea of a scholar is so far from my idea of myself. But when I look it up in the dictionary, I definitely fit one category, the one where it says you're a student. I feel like I was born to be a student and can't ever give it up (which is why it can be so hard for me to believe that I could be a teacher, too--I did not grow up thinking you could be both at the same time). My father was the one in his family who studied the most, and that was a big deal in Korea. My mother did not have the same opportunities but also did well in school and still loves to learn things, whether it is about new gastroenterology techniques or a clever way to prepare inside-out rice rolls. I always assumed that all artists work this way, incorporating research (whatever that means! For me, it means reading, talking to people, looking at things, traveling, and making things) into their practice. I am too busy trying to learn as much as I can all the time that I haven't figured out if it's a function of feeling inadequate or if it is just human nature. I am curious to the point where it aggravates those closest to me. I want to know everything, though I remember from time to time that
[in the right tense, "I know nothing."]

Today was a looooong day but I managed to do a quick photo shoot with Stefan, and then meet Helena and Rob for lunch and then a stunning exhibit, "Nomads and Networks." WOW. It is so manageable--two rooms, with free admission, and then you can walk to the park or other museums or get fancy chocolate in the neighborhood (I settled for the latter). I loved how integral horses were to this culture and was stunned by the simple pottery work that was incised with simple cross hatching. I love old Korean ceramics that do the same, simple repeated lines scratched into vessels. There was gorgeous gold work, and the most curious scenes of animals on footed pedestals. I want to go back if I can to take another look. But I was tickled by how much I have changed: I used to walk past all this kind of stuff when I was younger. Now I wish I could break into all of the cases and handle the jewelry and horn and rocks. I think of how amazing it is that humans even figured out how to make these things, and how we could have inherited these skills if we cared.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I transcribed this when I was in my very early 20s, fresh out of college, working my first non-profit job, trying to figure out how to keep making books while working 60-80 hours a week for an orchestra. This was early on in the transcription, when it seemed like an easy enough idea.

I wanted to have a better, slower reading of The Inner Chapters by Chuang Tzu (or Zhuangzi), ancient Chinese philosophy. You can see here how I got tired as I worked, or worried I didn't have enough canvas to complete the transcription and so started to write even tinier. I worked out a code for myself to indicate chapters and paragraphs and emphasis and so on.

The final piece consisted of two 18-foot scrolls of washed canvas (I had given up any fantasy of painting on this canvas b/c I was a sorry painter). I had done a lot of paired scrolls in my last semester of college, so it made sense at the time to format it this way. I think it was done in 2000 or 2001 and since then has been languishing in storage, apart from being in a show in 2009.

So, as I do with all old languishing work that doesn't seem quite to work, I chopped it up and turned it into a book. It works much better, like this one, and is a good book to hug.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Strange daze

I'm exhausted by the late nights for the anti-b schedule and glad it will end soon. Today I cooked up some sweet rice paste to coat pieces before I head to my photographer next week. I made these two last night in lieu of wringing my hands over the printer that I completely broke. I spent an hour trying to take it apart today and all that happened was that I got toner all over the place and almost lost a screw inside of the thing. There was a lot of shaking the whole machine (which is big and heavy) to try and get the screw loose. No paper in sight. The latest theory is that it melted. Haha! I feel like I have lots of screws loose in my head these days but I am hoping to clear out a whole load of admin this weekend so I can get some good work done before I hit the road next week--my D.C. class is running!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I knew all along that shutting down the making of things in service to the Book was going to be difficult, but I didn't think that it would get so dire as to have my eyeball actually start to try to escape my eye. It was so swollen that it looked like a permanent load of tears in my eye but actually it was distended eyeball. Last night was scary but I am finally on the right drugs and recovering. I never want to see my eyeball do that again. So I gave today over entirely to catching up on lost time. I whipped out the sewing machine and did this book of an old transcription I did over ten years ago. Like all old work that doesn't quite work in its first form, I cut it up and turned it into something new and I LOVE it.

This, I did last night while waiting until midnight to take the second dose of drugs (I hate them and I hate that I've had to take so many in the last year but it can't be helped. I like my sight too much).

Then I made the "trade" version of it in blue, with Habu yarn, rather than hanji. Which works better, I think, but it seems so sinful that it's so easy to make. I was also very happy to figure out yet another way to affix text into my knitted pages. This version is the EASIEST of all.

This one was a huge struggle and I am not convinced it works BUT I am going to leave it like this for the time being. I won't be surprised if I have to re-make it in a few years. I would have another big book done by now if I hadn't been a Very Naughty Paper Person and put paper into the printer that should never go into the printer. And now it's lost, the printer ate it and won't let me see where it went, and the machine just goes round and round and won't stop whirring. I'm going to take a break before I break out the screwdriver and pull the thing apart to find what I expect to be a wadded-up, black-from-toner piece of handmade paper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What timing

Today, a lovely package from Asao arrived in the mail. I love packages from Asao, and this one was no exception. Another piece of shifu, made of hanji, kon'nyaku tests, two books. One was another copy of the kon'nyaku book I have, and the other was an indigo and woad book. It was just right for today, after having sorted through lots of old paper samples and feeling sorry for myself and my swollen eyes. Yay for paper people!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


My eyes have swollen up due to some mysterious allergic reaction so my usual work pace came to a screeching halt and I caught up on old business while listening to the radio, like making a sample book of papers made in Cleveland at the Morgan last year. Korean, Japanese, Thai, Philippine, and Cleveland fibers. I'd like to do more but my head is too drowsy and my body heavy from antihistamines so now I have to lay down.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday's task

I mostly did no computer work, grappled some more with taxes, and made this piece because I realized that I had turned the inner base of the first one inside out and wanted to do it right this time. But now the week has begun, so I have to put all of this away and stare at the screen again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Good reasons for avoiding work

I usually do at least a half day of work on the computer every day. This includes admin, correspondence, and sitting in front of the screen while groaning. After meeting Paul and Maki, though, I came home and skipped the screen to start this piece.

I finished it last night. My hands are not thrilled with me but then they pick this little thing up and smile.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

For this

Wow. I am still recovering from a full day of teaching yesterday. In the morning, I gave a lecture to Terttu's class at ICP and then stayed to help students prepare and sew limited edition bindings. That was a hoot. After doing a quick drop of my books that will be displayed at the Living Theatre to highlight Soomi Kim's performance next week, I headed uptown to meet Paul and Maki for a private jiseung lesson. Paul is one of those longtime papermakers and paper researchers that I have always known in name only, and he was kind enough to invite me to write an article on jiseung two years ago. Even then, he mentioned hoping to learn jiseung techniques from me someday, though he lives in Japan and I haven't been in that vicinity for years. Luckily, our paths crossed yesterday! It was such a treat to have uncomplaining students, and also be able to talk shop, reminding me how important the community is to my independent work. I tried to cover a LOT of ground, which looks like not so much to the naked eye. It looks like that piece in the picture above. But to do that from scratch in four hours is asking too much. Of course, I am still a green teacher, so I ask too much all the time. Then I go home and wonder if this is how boxers feel after a match.

What I learned yesterday: gratitude. For true teachers and students. Time to send a message to my jiseung teacher thanking him again, though I could do that for the rest of my life and it would never quite be enough.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The beauty of mail

I got a shipment of hanji from Andong Hanji today. Hurrah! I wanted to try out some of their products, since it would be nice to develop a more reliable relationship with a Korean mill that is consistent with its products. I had met the people in charge on two different visits when I was in Korea, and luckily they still remembered me, so they were very nice and professional over correspondence. I even got these sheets to sample (the cords I made on top), and it made me think: am I using hanji that is of too high quality for my classes? Maybe. It might be better, with beginners, to spend less money on paper and save the top-notch stuff for those who really want to get into the technique.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Taxes cramp my style

This year is a doozy. I have gone from the bracket of destitute poverty / it's a wonder I even chose to file to poor enough to be punished / I have to file in three states?? As I avoid looking at the instructions for State #1, I am taking a break to make some clarifications.

I had noticed that one of my photos was used for a blog post early this year, and then that was recycled into another post at another blog. All very nice, but in my taxes frustration, I wanted to clarify what I find confusing in the content on all of these sites. There is apparently a company in France that makes objects that they base on 'ancient Korean tradition. But when I look at what they are actually doing, it's not really based on jiseung at all. In the loosest sense, sure, they are manipulating paper cord. But their cord is clearly not handmade, and it's continuous stuff, which is not how jiseung works. I think some confusion comes from the language we use, which is so often inadequate. I started to call jiseung "paper weaving" early on, but later realized that it confused people with loom weaving. It's technically twining, but includes more than that, and is quite close to basketry. Some of this confusion comes from me not being any kind of expert in either loom weaving or basketry, and also from learning a craft from scratch in Korean rather than in English.

The other thing that is hard for me to figure out how to untangle is the name of jiseung. I called it that from the start in Korea, but slowly was told by my teacher to call it by its formal name, noyeokgae. Well, I think the first is hard enough for English-speaking tongues, but the latter just takes people over the edge. But the argument is that the former comes from Japanese, and for the generation I was studying from, giving Japan any more credit than it has supposedly stolen from Korea is a big oversight. I haven't yet figured out how to make these changes in my teaching, or in my manuscript, but I think about it a lot and would rather grapple with it a million times over before spending days in a row on taxes.

The silver lining? Last night, I was so cranked up on crankiness that I got out of bed to work on a new book. It's actually a new/old book. Too early to shoot or tell, but I think I'll finally be able to finish it once I get the time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The load thickens

If only I made what other people liked, I could probably make knitted books and paper bricks for the rest of my life. Alas, I want to make what I want. But on weekends when I feel I "should" work but I don't, knitting is an easier fallback than making bricks. I made four panels out of Habu bamboo paper yarn but aggravated my hand. The same side where I fear I have done some rotator cuff damage--totally self-diagnosed, but worrisome when I think about how much hand beating of fiber I will have to do in a month in Ohio.

The good news: my Asheville class will run, so I get to visit North Carolina for the first time ever! That trip marks nonstop travel for three workshops, an exhibit, and a residency, so I am trying to savor the last of my non-traveling time now. Three book proposals went out today and I am scheduling private weaving lessons while preparing for a lecture this Friday for an ICP class. I am a bit out of my mind with so much admin but will attempt one last residency application OR choose artwork for a show before I take a breather.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Anticipation and follow through

The first round of captions are done! Of course, I only realized when I was almost done that I could have done it through the software instead of manually, so this means that later (once I have recovered from my own ignorance), I will have to insert them again. But the photos are chosen, placed, and captioned.

I also made my first direct order from a Korean paper mill! For once, I was interacting with a nice businessman and fingers crossed that it all arrives safely and that the hanji is of decent quality. If things go well, this mill would be a good partner for getting more hanji into this country.

But what I really meant to add was this funny Jean Cocteau bit that I read in his The Difficulty of Being: "The Prince de Polignac used to say: 'I don't really like other people.' But when his wife asks him: 'Why are you so gloomy?' and he replies: 'I like some people and some people like me,' and adds: 'Alas! They are not the same people,' he admits his loneliness."

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Too warm

This was the brilliant zine that popped out of my pen yesterday. I had to remember it as I walked today outside, baffled and hurt by the weather. I missed winter last year b/c I was in California, but this year I missed it b/c it never really happened. I am not excited about spring since I don't feel I've earned it.

Here is the pile of "whatever it is but I don't know yet" that I started last night. It will all be sewn together somehow. If I work hard for the rest of the day, I'll pass halfway in the captioning of my photos for the book. And then I will have no more excuses for hiding it from the world.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Bright morning

Today will be another housecleaning day. New OS for the old computer, changing some filing techniques, making and mailing the new comic subscription, and all the little bits of admin that come and go daily. I'm hopeful that all of this will help de-clutter my head, too, and then the next round of book-ing will feel less overwhelming. The best part of the day so far: I figured out how to lay out a twelve-panel comic using one sheet of paper and not cutting it up until I edition it. Small miracles, these simple but magical things that come when I'm ready.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Skidding and tearing about

This is what I remembered after days upon days of giving my time away only to see that I can't get it back. So I am hoping that today I can drive a stake through my unsteadiness and refocus, since this is it: my last solid month to devote almost wholly to the book. Tick, tick, tick.

Today I saw that my bookmaking workshop is listed now for April 28-29 in CT: scroll WAY down for my "Books in Abundance" class description. I'll have a little solo show there for the month of April, too. I also just had a lovely interaction with a real live travel agent in Ohio to deal with my April trip to Cleveland/Oberlin to teach an overview of papermaking in East Asia. I miss travel agents and am really sad that they were taken out so brutally by the interwebs, so it was such a treat to have contact with one of an endangered species.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The new month is already slippery

The days are going too quickly! This is the piece I bought, etching on crocheted paper, by Carolyn. I picked it up yesterday at the printshop and met Shawn there, to start our nice long walking day together. He is teaching a class as I type on pop-ups in NYC and I was so happy to have him as my captive audience on his free day before his workshop. We visited the Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park (which was like a nature walk b/c Shawn pointed out all of the things growing aside from the art), enjoyed a hearty lunch and tea in Astoria, and then headed back to Manhattan to visit the Folk Art Museum. I hadn't been to the new space, and it was sad...the old space was so gorgeous and perfect. Bummer what the tanking economy has done to arts and cultural spaces and organizations.

[Book in progress.] We walked downtown, hoping to find a bookstore (ALSO very sad that independent bookstores are nearly extinct these days), and stopped at Kinokuniya before completing our stroll to Koreatown, where we met Lisa and Amy of Dieu Donne with open arms and headed to a delicious Korean dinner. It was a rare opportunity to hang out with such dear book and paper folks, and a nice break from working on the book, which feels these days like chipping away at a glacier with an ice pick. How did March creep up on me so fast?!