Thursday, July 22, 2021

About to leave home again

So much had changed when I got home. The weed jungle, the thousands of dead ants in my basement in mysterious piles that keep multiplying alarmingly, the mysterious leak that is hiding so that I can't fix anything while not being able to use a kitchen cupboard, and the missing maple trees that the new neighbor cut down along our property line. I had always felt mixed about them because they dropped so many trees and so many birds pooped in the driveway but trees always provide shade. I had to do something to block the western exposure so I took my new stash of colored hanji from Mr. Shin and covered up my door. There's a flap at eye level so I can freak out anyone who comes knocking with my eyeballs.
True unfocused snapshot of all the knives (aside from the commercial ones) that I came home with from Korea. I shipped six and flew with one. The left six are all for bamboo processing and that means I probably can't use them for a long time because I have to source bamboo first. The right one is for bark scraping but was made off of a "bad" knife, so I'll find out eventually how well it works.
These were my big late splurges before I left Jeonju and I love them. My students next week in NY will get to take a closer look as they are already packed.
Wooooo! That black one, a hapjukseon, was more rare and for rich fancy folks, used to block the sun. Both made by the only national ICPH of fan making.
I have been struggling since getting home with the usual re-entry, which has been compounded by feeling for the first time that coming back to the US is not so great. I have been going to Korea since I was so young that I don't remember that first time. Never annually, but each time I would come home grateful for things we have here. When I was in Korea this time, in theory I missed things like clothes dryers but when I got home, I thought, these are so wasteful and now all my stuff has shrunk. Things have changed so much with Korean development and American decline that I marvel that I've been able to witness the tables turning in my lifetime. Somehow through the haze of jet lag, I managed to finish this edition of 10 for the Jeong project. Old indigo-dyed hanji that I made, new persimmon-dyed hanji that Mr. Shin made.
I also a commission that I knew I had to do now or else next month would become insane. Getting back to my friend Helena reminds me often, I am only grounded when my fingers are busy.
She has been an enormous help and guide through my ups and downs in Korea and also the same when I returned, as I had to negotiate some sudden decisions about job offers and how to shape my future. After I finished the work for hire, I had taken apart a weird thing I wove before I left and turned it into something sweeter. Working more freely, this one came just as quickly but with so much more room to breathe. This is a bad translation of the Korean word that comes to mind, yeoyu 여유. It's like having space and time, being more relaxed but not out of laziness. For the first time, I also feel deep sorrow at feeling this language slip away so quickly as I don't use it daily. The comfort is that when I go back, I can slip it on again, and that even for a short time I was thinking and dreaming in Korean.
I've already forgotten why I was posting, I think there was news. This entire year or more I've felt so strongly that I've created such a weird life that it's not comprehensible or understandable. Even to those closest to me, when I say, "I'm working," they have no idea what that means. I remember vaguely being a child and knowing that what I wanted to become was something I'd have to invent, as I didn't see it out in the world.

Oh, I remembered—

1. The studio building has passed building inspection! Now, time to apply for occupancy.

2. I got a grant to start a paper/dye garden there as a public art project, gathering kids from the school district and city to be part of the design and creation process, to learn how urban gardens can transform commercial spaces.

3. I got my second Pfizer shot this morning! RELIEF.

4. Next week I'll teach a hanji class at Women's Studio Workshop; they made a hanji vat!! SO excited to see old friends and meet new ones and share some of my new research.

5. The following week, online lecture on Aug 4 about hanji (new research), and then an online jiseung workshop on Aug 8 for Dieu Donné.

6. If you miss those, I'm doing a combo talk/demo on my work and jiseung for Minnesota Center for the Book on Aug 18.

7. I made beautiful grilled cheese sandwiches last night. Busy fingers!

Most importantly, I'll finally see my family in the flesh in just a couple days for the first time since last March's lockdown. I've never not seen them for this long, nor been away from home for so long. Today I replaced air filters in my car and see that the rodents were having a field day inside. Back to packing!

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