Friday, September 28, 2012

Thanksgiving from afar

This weekend in Korea is one of the biggest holidays of the year—Chuseok—the harvest moon festival that lasts for three days. Food, merriment, food, games, food, and always starting with the visit to ancestral graves to pay respects and spend time with family. I like it because it has roots in the moon cycles, the seasons, harvest cycles, and taking the time to be grateful for family in this world and beyond. Also, because there's no weird pilgrim/Native story that goes with it (the closest American parallel to Chuseok is often stated as Thanksgiving).
Here, the big Korean markets celebrate with specialty and staples that are shipped directly from Korea so we can have a taste. I was walking around today in one of the new H Marts and marveled at how big the chain has gotten. Growing up, it was not so easy to get Korean groceries, and you had to go farther afield. Now there are more non-Koreans in the store than Koreans.
This weekend will be my last to curl up with four books and stay home; starting in two days, I take an intensive solo framing class, head to the airport for international greetings and tour guide-y work for five days, and who knows what other adventures. Pyramid Atlantic has their demonstrations listed in a pretty grid, so take a look in case you are in the Silver Spring/D.C. area in mid-November. Mine will be on Sat, Nov 17. Eat well and give thanks for health and family even if you aren't Korean this weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Relentlessly positive

I wish I could be that way, turning towards the sun and bright things without even knowing it--not just second nature but first! My eyeballs are shredded from reading and writing and reading and writing, both on and offline. I got a walk in today and bumped into a long-lost friend, who was with her beautiful granddaughter. I also spent the entire day planning and preparing for Asao's visit next week. I can't believe he arrives on Wednesday! Just a few more days of quiet admin time before all the hustle of being on trains, elbow to elbow with commuters, schlepping art and supplies, and being back in a BIG city begins anew.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"lovable, adorable, endearing"

Those are definitions for a Korean word that repeats in the overexposed "Gangnam Style," one of my favorite words. It's a longer word than usual and includes the word for love and reminds me of melancholia even though it doesn't actually include that in its word stems. I've been sick since Friday  night with a cold, probably just going around in the family, but still annoying. The only thing that brought it on was lots of admin and not enough sleep / fresh air. While cooped up, not breathing very efficiently, I combed through my digital images from 2003 forward. WOW. I felt so grateful for what I've been able to do, where I've been able to go, and whom I've been able to meet. This picture above from a 2007 visit to Japan made me want to return.

Right now, I need to reboot my whole career/outlook on it. But better to look at what other people are doing while I reset: Minah will be teaching a class in London on Asian paper in conservation; read more here! And Stefan has broken ground on his new residency in the desert! I've been hearing about it for years during my photo shoots and am always eager for updates. It's great to see the pictures of things moving along in Nevada. Donate if you can.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Yesterday I was feeling bad, I don't even remember exactly about what (probably general overwhelmedness from thinking about every tiny thing I had to do all at once and then going into paralysis). Then I remembered some of the things that keep me from feeling so bad:

1. Working with my hands
2. Listening to well-reported and/or funny podcasts (key being that I am using my eyes to look at the thing in my hands, not staring at a screen)
3. Fresh fruit
4. Regular reading of books.

Then I did those things and felt better.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The pencil

In Korea, when you make it to your first birthday, it used to be a BIG deal b/c infant mortality was high. So that meant, naturally, a huge party. Enough food to outweigh the baby by a lot. One of the most anticipated parts of that party is where a bunch of objects are placed in front of the baby, like a spool of thread, writing implements, a book, cash, food, etc. to help discern its future. Then everyone waits to see what baby grabs first. Apparently, I took a pencil, which means I'd be studious / smart. My sister took the thread, which means she'll have a long life. Food means you'll never go hungry, money that you'll be rich, and so on. I pulled out old photos because I was thinking about that ceremony while struggling with a grant app; I like my shoes the best.

Also, last week I got and read Aracelis Girmay's Kingdom Animalia. What a lovely book, all around--the cover art, book design, and poetry itself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

There and back: Martha's Vineyard

[Clay cliffs in Aquinnah.] Even though we traveled mostly by car, I was lazy and left my big old camera at home. Sadly, my phone died right as the opening started at Featherstone, so I don't really have photos. But the show was a great success and I'm glad I was able to make the opening. The center is so beautiful and well-run and every aspect of the exhibit (curating, hanging, catalog, press kits, etc.) was so well considered and executed. We got nice press as well.
[Betsy next to her sold piece!] At least five of us sold work during the opening; I've never seen such good sales for a show this size, nor have I seen such a packed event. Refreshments were classy and plentiful, the weather was perfect, and the audience loved the work. There's something about the light, both on the vineyard and in the show, that added extra warmth.
[Not Sandy's house.] Sandy, the curator and an artist in the show, had us over to her lovely home both before and after the exhibit (I wasn't able to make the pre-game fun but dinner was fabulous). She gave me a tour of her studio, which is an impressive papermill on the ground floor with a bindery and display space above. I was so happy to meet artists I had showed with before but never met, and reconnect with those I had only been able to meet briefly in the past during my travels. It will be great to see some of them again next month in Cleveland. I only wish I had had more time and a working camera; I so rarely get to exhibits I participate in, so this was a treat and a superior learning experience (lots of little and big things I found out--real life is the best teacher).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Not about me

I can't even pretend that my life right now is interesting; it is ALL paperwork and correspondence and strategizing and blech. So here is an ad for Asao Shimura. He will be giving a kon'nyaku (that magic white powder up there) workshop in Brooklyn for the Center for Book Arts, Oct 6-7. And an artist talk on Oct 5. The class is at Dobbin Mill, Robbin's beautiful papermaking studio, and Asao plans to have a kami nabe party at the end of the second day, which involves cooking veggies/seafood in konjac paper. If you can't make it then, you can always see his presentation and demo while he is in Cleveland at the Watermarks conference (good news, since his workshop is full with a waiting list). OR, you can help me show him around NYC, Oct 3-8 (flying in from Manila on Oct 3 and leaving for Syracuse on Oct 8). He will also have spare time in Syracuse (Oct 11) and Cleveland (Oct 12-14); so many options to spend time with a very special person in the papermaking field.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chocolate and potato chips

[A poor photo of a screenprint, story from Dictee.] I took a big afternoon break to snack, watch Parks and Recreation, lay down to listen to NPR, and generally wish I didn't have to market this book. But I managed to do a couple of applications, start a couple more, and send out the dreaded "will you have me?" messages to strangers in hopes of building the skeleton of a book tour. And was heartened this morning because my publisher said I was a "dream author"! As a diehard people pleaser (yes, I know this is a BAD thing), that totally made my day. Maybe this week, amidst all the admin, I can start making things again.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Regrouping, again

[My messy things-in-progress.] The cool air is wonderful but I am still amazed that fall is already approaching. This year went very, very quickly, and in some ways I feel like I'm sitting in the same chair looking at the same view and nothing is different. After getting my notes on the final proof to my publisher last night, I took it easy today. I went outside for the first time since Wed night and took a (short) walk for the first time on my bum foot! It hurt but once I stopped thinking about it, it didn't. It was plenty sore later in the afternoon, but I think I just need to build it back into shape. I tried to stop by the library to get some fun reading, but was stopped in my tracks by signs saying that they had a localized bedbug problem. EW. I ran away and started to read a different book, all about 19c American papermaking. Then I got great news about a scholarship to attend the big Cleveland paper conference! Hooray. But the best part of the day was getting a message from a former mentee and hearing about how helpful our conversations were to her. I miss that a lot, and hope I get to do more of that in the very near future.

In the meantime, now I'm back to my regular scattered load of things left hanging because of the book + things to do to bushwhack my path forward in the direction that I want to go. Deep breath before plunging in!

Friday, September 07, 2012

A lull in the struggle

I finally got a little bit of drawing in today after wrestling that index to the ground. Though we are kind of in the same state, I think. It totally whupped my ass and I wish I could say it's stellar, but will be happy if it's passable. It's a fascinating mindset to get into, but it also drains energy like crazy. I have been at it for the past two days straight and didn't even realize that today was Friday and that nothing else has gotten done (like showers, leaving the house, etc.). But it has been quite a learning curve and I don't regret the choice to make my book this way. My publisher has been right alongside me, and that has bolstered me like nothing else. This is probably how people feel when they run their first marathon. It's kind of nice to block out the entire world and put a hold on the nagging workload and tasks, and just gun it. We're both taking tonight off, and then this weekend will do the final bits.

As Cobi always used to say, time for a tasty beverage!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Stacking goodness

Today was a day in Newark, the city where I worked my first job out of college. On the way there, I saw some poetry on the subway (I love that subway art program) that I fell in love with because it involved rain (it was raining this morning) and "feral," which I had been contemplating this morning as well. I ordered the book tonight. I had lunch with an old co-worker and mentor, which was such a treat. We talked about expectations of girls and women and the mindset required to survive in the workforce, among other things, and I got re-energized because she is so intelligent and kind and always gives excellent advice.

Then I headed over to the Newark Public Library to visit Special Collections (the blurry photo was when I was wandering the stacks) and had a wonderful time looking at books and books and more books. Jared, the curator, told me about the dire state of affairs there, which I noticed right away when I walked in and saw signs saying that, due to budget cuts, the library could NOT buy any new books. WHAT?! That was a big strike against Mayor Booker, the library budget slashing, which was sad to hear but impossible to deny. I felt like I had stepped out of a time machine. But I'm still too heady right now after seeing the swooning masses who absolutely love Bill Clinton to talk about the sorry state of the library. All of that was forgotten when Jared pulled all sorts of goodies for me to look at. I had expected to be there for an hour and then visit the museum down the street, but I was there for hours and will return next month. They have all of Dard Hunter's books! I got to see the Chinese Ceremonial Paper one today.

He looked at my books, too, and it was great to get asked some questions that I've been posing to myself for a long time but not always hearing from other people. Afterwards, I was relieved that the threat of rain had passed and I could walk over to meet another old co-worker for dinner. She is in an interim top spot at my old workplace and I couldn't be happier for her. I loved seeing how good she has gotten with the work/life balance, and I was reminded of what a great listener she is because she remembers things. From YEARS ago.

When I got on the first of three or four trains to get home, I got my last bit of goodness for the day: my publisher sent back the final set of proofs and the news that we may get this book done on time after all (!!!). But what really made me smile was that the copy editor said she had enjoyed the book and said it was well written. A copy editor said that!

So today was great. Friends and books. Plus, books are friends, too.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Asset reallocation

Today I get back on track. I got back to the morning routine I had before I arrived in Santa Fe, journaling + qigong + sun salutes + sitting meditation + preparing breakfast. Last night I talked to someone who talked about how writing is really a muscle. This morning I realize that everything is a muscle, all these things I do or don't do (though I suspect that worrying is more like a fat), and I want to get the atrophied parts back into working condition. Thank goodness for the coming fall and the chance to start over, ever day!

Meanwhile, last night I found something that made me smile wide: Joe posted way back when about his visit to the Morgan and one of his poet colleagues took a GREAT picture of him w/my hanji chamberpot. Today is devoted completely to my book. We are finally getting big chunks back from the copy editor, so it's getting designed chapter by chapter and I am editing proofs and then doing the very hairy task of indexing. I talk in the book about how every next step of making hanji is harder than the last, though it seems like every last task is the hardest it could ever get. It's the same for this book! So, back to exercising those muscles.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

When stress wins,

then I get sick. I didn't realize that I had lost my ability to cope with anxiety until I came down with some nasty illness that I'm climbing out of today. My body stopped processing food on Friday and I tried only liquid intake Saturday only to be on the verge of passing out all day. Once I realized it was ME and not a bug, today I was able to get through edits of four chapters of proofs. Making a book book is Very Much Quite A Lot Of Work (I still need to index said chapters). There are also photo issues, so I may have to schedule a shoot tomorrow to reenact a pile of paper (NO JOKE) and yesterday I managed to stand up long enough for my sister to do another set of photos of me for the dust jacket (here, I had a view of a gastroenterology office. I have tons of these kinds of photos and am unhappy with them all). But I'm determined, even though my foot is not 100%, to get back to regular physical activity, even in wee quantities, because the stress isn't going to go away and I would like to have healthy innards for a long time.