September 2006 Archives

I know why woken babies cry...

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That was perhaps the lamest Maya Angelou reference I've ever attempted.

Here is the thing with insomnia. Usually it's my own problem. I have stuff on my mind, I'm worried, I'm struggling to get things done, whatever. Some nights I will stay up late scrambling through projects, others knitting or wandering around online. Then I'll have a groggy day, catch up on sleep, and life goes on.

I thought I was getting over being sick, then seem to have relapsed into ick-ville, the details of which are largely uninteresting and unnecessary. All you need to really know is I feel like hell and I've been exhausted the past few days.

I went to sleep around 7 last night and slept a really long time, got up for a few hours, and then went back to sleep, plus a heavy dose of cough syrup.

I was blissfully snoozing away, dreaming happily, and I actually remember thinking how great it was to be catching up on sleep so I don't screw myself over for all the work I have to get done this weekend.

The only trouble is, now Eric can't sleep. He's somehow injured his leg and/or back, a problem which has become increasingly exacerbated by problematic postural or seating arrangements, and has finally come to the unbearable point of constant grumbling and pain for him. I feel really terrible, as nothing seems to help, and he is clearly suffering a lot.

After hours of him tossing and turning, we both got up around 5 this morning, and I asked him to ice his back, take some meds, and try to relax.

But being awake that early, in the fluorescent light of the kitchen, I had the all-too-familiar pangs ofsomething-wrong which usually keep me up and panicky at night. My medicine had worn out, meaning I felt terrible as well, so I decided to re-up and try to sort things out.

I thought making a to-do list would quiet my mind a little (nothing like procrastination to settle anxiety), but as I got going on it, things started feeling more urgent and less manageable.

Now Eric's alarm is going off, I haven't gotten back to sleep, and I have to get up myself to move my car and get going on the day momentarily.

If I were an infant, I would have been screaming inconsolably for the past few hours. Damnit, don't wake the Vicki! Blargh.

Anyway, if anyone knows some good ways to alleviate intense leg & back pain, your feedback and advice would be greatly appreciated. And if you're friends with Eric, please encourage him to go see a doctor? For my sake, if not for his.


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Jerry Saltz's recent piece, Where the Girls Aren't. Things worth thinking about...

Related - Carol Duncan's The MoMA's Hot Mamas was published in 1989.

How little has changed.

Caught wishing

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Last night I started sketching out ideas for new pieces for my book arts class and found myself in a strange state. I am going to re-do my first assignment, this time probably a hidden book to do with roses, and I'm excited about the next assignment, a stab binding which I plan to make using translucent papers and painting jellyfish.

I realized that the only things on my mind were how one might make paper smell of roses and how to use transparency, and I was intensely happy. I got caught in a very pleasant process, and because I was able to extract myself from all the baggage I bring to "My Art" (by which I mean painting and drawing mostly), I flowed with ideas and enjoyed it.

For just a split second, I was able to be honest with myself.

I'm pursuing these two degrees basically as a living contingency plan. The more academic pursuit of a degree in art history will allow me to go for a traditional career with a job title, salary, benefits and suchlike. I'm on a defined path with ascertainable results. I've considered continuing toward a PhD or training in conservation, to the extent that I'd be happy working in a technical or restorative capacity in a museum, teaching, or similar. I could make enough money and have enough job security that I could travel, have a home and family, and be able to (maybe) paint on weekends. And mostly, I've been pretty content with this plan.

But really, I just want to make things.

It's been this urgent, unspoken desire all along, as I went through the stress of an additional application process, arranged even bigger financial and time commitments, and have been getting my ducks in a row to do the responsible thing... yes, I have these aspirations, but what I'd really like is to paint. To write, to create, to produce, to spend my time investigating my own curiosities and making work in response, exploring the world however I see fit.

The trouble is money, always, and the incredibly tedious aspects of how one supports a free-wielding lifestyle of creativity. The seemingly obvious solution is to sell paintings, but anyone looking around the untold thousands of effectively unemployed artists knows this is much easier said than done. I've already seen in myself the disgusting affect when treating painting as a commodity, and the only way I've found joy in art of late has been releasing it, declaring it an activity I do for myself and my own spiritual salvation. I've justified continuing the MFA by saying if it means so much to me, I'll take it seriously, challenge myself, and try to do the best I can at it, the way one studies music or flower-arranging.

Really this is all self-talk and rationalization. I'd have no problem treating my art as a product, so long as someone was buying it and loving it and leaving me alone to make it. There is some problematic and deeply cynical space between passion and commodity where my painting has actually fallen, and I either look at it through a rosy-tinted lens of heroic idealism ("I paint to connect and share joy with others, to evoke visceral and emotional response in an increasingly disenfranchising and alienating world") or a grossly pragmatic, defeatist one ("No one will buy my paintings and I hate the pressure of the commercial/gallery system - might as well throw in the towel, work a day job, call myself an amateur, and at least enjoy it"). Neither of these is the truth, but depending on my mood, they both supercede any rational approach and effectively become silencers as well as dangerously self-fulfilling prophecies.

I read an essay in my first semester of grad school by Dave Hickey, with a passage along the lines of "Art and money never touch." (I'll try to find the book and cite it sometime). The gist was that no one ever really "buys" art, so much as gives an artist money in exchange for the sense of owning a piece of something with value. The art has no value, just as the piece of printed paper has no value by itself, but somehow in their exchange, they become currency - cultural, practical, etc.

When I think of traditional patronage systems, they make a lot of sense. Artists brought such joy and beauty (and prestige and glory) to the lives of their patrons that it was considered a sound financial investment and statement of good taste and morality to pay artists to comfortably live their lives, in exchange for some art once in a while. Somewhere in modern times, we changed the system to an on-demand commodification - patrons now purchase art piece by piece, the lion's share of the profits goes to gallerists and dealers, and no one is terribly concerned with how the artist is living his life, so long as they have a product to move.

There was also a brief time when it seemed we had our societal and cultural priorities together and the NEA and other organizations effectively paid artists salaries to make their work. Canada had a set salary for a career artist, including healthcare. Without getting into all the politics of how paintings are less important than nuclear arms races, it goes without saying that no such program exists in any capacity whatsoever, and there is suddenly a field full of impoverished working artists who can no longer afford to simply make their work. Many, including some conservatives offended by what they consider a lazy and worthwhile existence on the government's dime, as well as surprising folks like your average capitalist who sees the value (nay, necessity) in purchasing an iPod or designer jeans, but would not dream to support the arts, have effectively done away with any real public funding or support for artists.

This is not a new lament so I'll cut out the whining, but anymore pursuing a career as an artist feels like an intense gamble. The average MFA degree costs $90,000+ and more often than not, doesn't result in a related career. New graduates enter the field burdened with crippling debt from student loans and are forced to either become commercially successful immediately (i.e. hit the jackpot, win the lottery, or otherwise achieve a miracle less likely than being struck by lightning) or work at something largely unrelated while they develop. Positions within the system which would seem logical employers for struggling artists (gallery assistants for example) are all jam-packed with individuals willing to work for free or at a wage less than Starbucks, with no healthcare.

Basically, only an idiot chooses to pursue this.

And for a fleeting second, I admitted to myself how very badly I want to do it, to play the ridiculous absurd game, and really give a go at succeeding as an artist.

Then again, sometimes I catch myself wishing I were a suburban housewife who lived behind a white picket fence with a garden, raising kids, cooking and cleaning in a well-decorated house, living a peaceful and quiet life of leisure.

They're both pretty much unrealistic fantasies as long as I live in a world where life depends on money and I somehow have to make it.

It's nice, though, to have a break to just think about the ideas and wrap oneself up in the process, without all the other crushing and discouraging realities invading and spoiling it all.


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I know it is counterproductive and probably quite dull to whine about being sick, but goddamn. This is getting really old really fast.

In an effort to stave off convulsive coughing, I've been hitting up the Robitussin round the clock, mostly with ineffective results, save visual trails and some bizarre thought trains I'd rather I hadn't gone on.

Being sick has forced me to stop everything in my life and look around and think, which I really wasn't prepared for. Combined with the tendency to doze off every few hours as if I were a toddler and lapse into bizarre fevery robo-tripping dreams, I'm not so happy at all.

I recognize how tenuous a conscious grasp on reality usually is, but now that I've abandoned most tethers to the normal world, I'm a little scared of what my brain comes up with. When I first graduated college I saw a show of an artist who would drink bottles of cough syrup then make huge, emotionally tormented scenes heroicizing his childhood trauma - the boys who picked on him and the girls who didn't love him and suchlike. (If anyone can remind me who this is, I'd be eternally grateful).

At any rate, I completely understand the tendencies to regress into that space of vulnerability and fragility, to sink into depths of self-pity and self-loathing, and to reexamine one's life as if instead of the principle steering the ship, we've been passive prisoners shackled to the bow, weathering unfair and tragically unjust storms.

Of course if I were to wallow like this any longer, I'd probably have to kick my own ass.

I find I've developed an incredible patience for televised movies, which is nothing short of astonishing, seeing as nine times out of ten if I don't distract myself with five other activities while movie-watching, I'm guaranteed to fall asleep or wander away within the first half hour. Yesterday I watched both 50 First Datesand Happy Gilmore in their entirety, back to back, and I can't be sure I blinked the whole time.

Damn if Adam Sandler isn't just the right level of thought and entertainment for me these days.

Vaguely productive

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I only wish I were talking about myself instead of my coughs. Though even those are a measly shade of productive at best. Argh. I want to expectorate!!!

By "coming home this morning," I of course meant I was going to stay in New Jersey, in my pajamas, until 5:00 this evening. Fortunately I had more cat therapy and lots of chatting with my mom, which always improves my world.

I went straight to my studio where I painted for a few hours, coughing convulsively most of the time (apparently a respiratory system already under duress does not respond well to painting fumes - who knew?). I did solid work and I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow to continue.

As I was heading to the apartment, I thought the streets were really crowded, and only after I'd stopped at the store for dinner did it occur to me that, duh, it's Saturday night. Shows where my priorities are, eh?

Then again if you're a college-aged beautiful person living in the city, haven't you got better things to do than stand around chain-smoking on my doorstep? Were I an irritatingly well-dressed and over-perfumed thin girl inclined toward going out this evening, I know I would damn sure find a better place to go, such as... the bar across the street, say, or one of many others in our neighborhood. I'm just saying.

Also? When I was 21? I wore Acqua di Gio, not whatever phrenetic sneeze-inducing eau de cheap and regrettable lay they were rocking. Again, just saying.

(When did I become such a cranky old bitch?)

I've decided to reveal my Halloween costume, as a means of encouraging myself to bother with it, since it would be way too easy to slack off what with all that post-graduate education I'm spending my time on.

(drum roll please)

I'm going as the subject of the world's most expensive known painting ever sold.

That is to say, I'm not going to be wearing a square frame with my head sticking out, rather a recreation of the dress, hairstyle, and background, most likely with a Christie's tag on my back by way of explanation.

(Is a costume bad if you have to laminate a few NY Times articlesto clarify it?)

It's a bit of social and art world political commentary in addition to an interesting technical project, which is part of what makes it ever-so-nerdy. Eric told me my idea was lame because in his view Halloween costumes are supposed to be scary. If you ask me, this painting and the price it fetched is a very scary statement for painters and culture at large.

That sounds a lot harsher than I mean it, but I will have to explain it when I am capable of more coherent thoughts. Have I mentioned, cough medicine makes me loopy? Weehaw!!!

I had also considered being Chiquita Banana. For Halloween or some boring Thursday.

Gonna keep that one in mind. It could come in handy someday when I need a hokey costume idea.

Especially if I could get Eric to dress up as a gigantic papier mâché banana. Cause yknow, awesome.

Incidentally, should you ever find yourself in need of a 3-ft inflatable banana? Look no further.

Years ago my friend Mike made a whole page about bananas, which I'm devastated to find appears to have evaporated from the internet. It had a banana-fish, man. He used the original Chiquita song, which is intensely catchy. The likes of which begs to be captured on a digital recorder and played on demand from my banana hat to accompany dancing. Perhaps when I am shaped more like a banana than a watermelon, I will have to give this costume a real try.

Speaking vaguely of papier mâché, I had absolutely no idea just how incredibly easy it is until watchingMartha Stewart yesterday. Somehow I thought it involved plaster or gauze or special glue or something but - ha! - I was so delightfully wrong.

I may or may not have plans to make papier mâché animals immediately upon completion of this post.

Stricken with plague

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Argh. I don't know how it happened, but I went to bed Wednesday night perfectly healthy and awoke Thursday morning sick as a dog. Personally I blame all those irresponsible undergraduates and their shoddy personal hygiene... dirty hippies.

I have a charming list of symptoms, but I've been told that describing one's snot activity is neither poetic nor entertaining. But it is the kind of illness resistant to DayQuil, chicken noodle soup, Vitamin Water, and an intensely indulgent sack of White Castle (Eric is a truly wonderful nursemaid).

I came to New Jersey today at 6am (it only took 45 min!), and I got what I think is a really cute haircut (pictures forthcoming). I got my car inspected, then serviced, then came back to my parents' house and had hours upon hours of cat therapy snuggled up in a down comforter with Cluny.

Oh and lots of drugs, none of which are helping. My mom has bronchitis too, so we were sickies together, but I am becoming paranoid that somehow my sick will incorporate her sick and amalgamate into some colossal massive indestructible sick, the likes of which will take over the tri-state area in lime-green mucus. Blech.

Out out damn plague, I command thee - evacuate my lungs!

(Going to the health center when I get back to Brooklyn tomorrow, though hoping that at least my fever breaks before then).

Maybe it's just me...

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Does watching Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle make anyone else desperately crave sliders? Seriously, it's like one big long fantastic, hilarious commercial.

When I think about gluttony (and deliciosity), I now have the following run through my mind:

Harold - I'll have 30 sliders, 5 fries, and 4 large cherry Cokes
Kumar - I'll have the same, just with Diet Cokes.

If White Castle didn't pay them a massive subsidy, they really should, as they are certainly earning scores of burger-purchasing royalties as a result.

Mmmm sliders...

Achieving a balance

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After a pretty rotten day yesterday, the universe is fixing things today. It's not making it effortless, lest I think these were simply chance coincidences. Behold:

  • had almost no time to move my car if I was going to get back with time to get ready for class - found a legal parking spot on the way to car, was still there when I drove back to it
  • was able to choose the painting I really wanted (but was shy about) for an upcoming project by virtue of being a minute late to class and having first, more acceptable choice already taken
  • had to fart for approximately 3 hours during afternoon class - slipped and finally did fart, audibly, TWICE and no one noticed at all (or they are all extremely polite and remarkably composed)
  • forgot I had to get to the UPS store after class, so got in an hour of really good painting before remembering and rushing home
  • drove all over creation making every wrong turn possible, finally arrived at the UPS store at exactly closing time, and there was a spot immediately outside - got package mailed on time
  • found parking spot in front of building when I got home
  • found things on the domestic front much improved when I returned

So umm, fair trade I guess?

Perhaps all it really takes for me to feel embraced in the benevolent warmth and grace of the universe is available street parking.

One of those days

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Making my book took forever, and it got trashed in critique anyway. I hope that the professor will have a more positive response, though since I know she asks graduate students to re-do every assignment anyway, I might as well get started on take two.

I was running either just on time or just late to class and had to stop by my studio to get a selection of papers (which for the second week in a row, I didn't need). As I was pulling out a sheet from my enormous stack of supplies and art (I'll take a photo sometime - it's genuinely impressive), a bug scurried out of the way. Effing fabulous. I'm afraid of my studio anyway, as water leaks all over the floor and on my curtains, and now I'm certain there are cracks and holes which allow bugs in. That really makes it easy to concentrate on work.

For some reason, there are not enough stools in the entirety of the building where my class was held today. Because I was the last person to show up, I had to scrounge around multiple classrooms looking for extra stools, and in every one, the professor complained that they didn't have enough stools for their class either. The thing is, it's just not that hard to assess the situation and put in a request that the school order more stools. Apparently, professors would rather gripe for fifteen years than resolve the problem.

They've been doing construction of some variety since the summer, so the entire building (well, campus actually) is full of dust, which really makes for a pleasant situation for someone already ridiculously allergy-prone. My sinuses are officially a disaster area, to the point where I am considering wearing a dust mask when I walk around campus, all nut-job Michael Jackson style. He's a whacko, but at least he understood airborn-contamination more than most Americans, especially New Yorkers.

I don't think it's by accident that so many students have horrible respiratory infections or other ear-nose-throat conditions right now. I've decided that feeling like a space cadet all day is better than feeling like my sinuses are sloughing themselves, along with portions of my brain, so I'm going to get a new prescription for Allegra-D. I do actually look forward to the blindingly optimistic delusional outlook that only high doses of powerful drugs can provide on a consistent basis.

I still hate my diet. Eric pointed out to me today that in the last month, I've cheated more on this diet than I ever did on the last one. Also, I'm not really losing any weight (5 pounds), so it remains clear that I have to go out and exercise instead of coming home and being unhappy and getting yelled at.

Suffice it to say, things have not been nice around here lately. Depending on who you ask, it is either mostly my fault... or entirely my fault, plus I'm a horrible person. Ugh.

I have a staggering amount of reading to get done this week, as well as a painting crit and another website to set up. I need to get my work better organized, or this is going to be another really stressful semester, the likes of which I don't think my sanity or relationship can possibly endure. Then again, both of those are subject to collapse over packing tape, so let's just leave them alone for now.

Font nerd is more like it

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Some people download porn when they're drunk. Others amass a lot of music. Some people get intoxicated and purchase DVDs or books or impractical clothing online. Others go out and have sex with strangers.


download fonts. Lots and lots of novelty fonts.

Trust me on this one - you're gonna want to view that full-size.

I am usually a small fonts and small fonts only person. I like fonts neat, clear, fully legible, and nine times out of ten, sans serifs. Tonight was the exception.

What makes this whole affair even nerdier is that it all started because I have to make a uniquely-structured book for Monday. I'm illustrating Ariel's song from The Tempest* and I was trying to find a good font, which it turns out I already had on my computer from a previous font-downloading extravaganza.

Seriously, check out FontFreak (and yeah, I know, I foist it on everyone but come on - fonts!!!) If you are even kind of into typography, you won't regret it.

* - If you have some spare time, read that play. You'll enjoy it, I promise. It's one of Shakespeare's more playful, clever, and expressive works. Because MIT rocks, they've got the Complete Works of Shakespeare (less poetry) online, so you should absolutely poke around and check more out.

No wonder my back hurts

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Things I made sure to wear or have with me in Manhattan today:

  • SPF 15 moisturizer & lip balm
  • gianormous sunglasses
  • reading glasses
  • 2 kinds of gum, both sugar-free
  • 2 shades of lip gloss, pressed powder compact, a hairbrush, dental floss
  • green pashmina, worn like a shawl
  • additional denim jacket "in case it gets cool in the evening"
  • practical loafers, designed with invisible treads to walk in the city
  • knitting project (Ballet Camisole) for the subways
  • notepad, papers, museum floor map, six or seven extra pens and a mechanical pencil in case all of the pens failed
  • bottled beverage
  • camera
  • random OTC pills in a baggie, including ibuprofen, sinus decongestants, Pepto Bismol tablets, and caffeine; throat drops
  • packet of tissues
  • wallet, checkbook, keys, cell phone

It's official. I am a neurotic old lady.


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Eva Hesse - Repetition Nineteen III, 1968. Fiberglass and polyester resin.

Pillar candle rectangular chandelier, Restoration Hardware Fall Lighting Sale catalogue, 2006. (original price $840, sale price $659).

(Easier to see above).


Incidentally, the candles are not real candles - they are molded pieces of polyresin designed to look like irregular, organically-melting candles.

Cars and the City

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I'm starting to get that "More Trouble Than It's Worth" feeling again.

I used to think the worst car-related start to one's day was finding a parking ticket under the wiper. Now I've learned it's finding one's mirror inexplicably hanging off the side of one's car, dangling precariously by a wire. In the rain.

Today I've experienced both. Damnit.

When intuitive design...isn't

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I just spent an inordinately frustrating amount of time trying to edit a Picasa template to make managing the Northern Baroque site easier. I got close enough to feel invested in it, but at the end found it just can't do what I want it to, including things that I can do with 1994-based HTML. Simple things like setting thumbnails into neat columns and naming files in a logical way that does not depend on subdirectories and such.

Eric insists that the problem is my stubbornness and reluctance to come up to speed with programming languages. I say - have progress truly been made if I'm losing functionality for no significant gains andmaking things much harder on myself in the process?

All too often I see websites which are very slickly designed with flashy menus, animated framesets, and God knows what else, but when you go to click on something, it breaks. If you attempt to return to the page you came from, it navigates outside of the site. The page requires that you use cascading menus to open things, then doesn't respond to any menu selections anywhere. And so on. Design which is supposed to be logical and intuitive baffles a significant percent of users, as it's sacrificed human interaction for a fancy technical way of doing things which only programmers will really see.

An equivalent in product design: sometimes it doesn't matter how technologically advanced a tea kettle has become, how beautiful, how philosophically significant and elegant in its production methods... if at the end of the day, the user can't figure out where the water goes in.

Eric got on my case for the way I write code and my reliance on tables... but at least my website always lays out correctly in all browsers and doesn't take a million years to do so. Old-fashioned? Yes. Hell, I'll even give it obsolete. But then again, it works. I didn't have to compromise anything about my vision to get it to work either, and I can't say that for any endeavor since.

I realize I am being obnoxious about this whole matter, but seriously. I don't think I should need a degree in computer science to be able to adapt a Picasa template or a WordPress blog to my taste.

There seems to be a huge gap between severely dumbed-down WYSIWYG page-generators (you know with glitter, stars, spinning animated gifs, big underlined blue links) and actually usable template coding - would it really be so hard to include some useful documentation in plain English which explains the process to those of us who don't already come in with a full knowledge set?!

I've concluded that once (if) I actually learn enough about this crap to do something productive with it (such as ever get around to editing my own blog template), I will write such logical and plain-language documentation that even someone barely able to use computers will be able to make any change they'd desire and not feel like a moron doing so.

In the meantime, I reverted to my very low-tech version of coding and was able to get the next section of the site up in about 20 min flat. So much for efficiency, Picasa...

And also...

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I just spilled an entire bowl of roasted vegetables onto the linen chest (piled with linens to be put away), burning the crap out of my hand in the process.

Gravity and I are not friends lately, and I am seriously reconsidering the layout of my apartment (who has a microwave over a linen chest?!).

This still does not top spilling a family-size can's worth of freshly heated Spaghetti-O's all over a very delicate lavender-colored skirt in college. Miraculously, not a spot remained on it, and even guy friends of mine asked in disbelief weeks after, "Is that the Spaghetti-O skirt, or do you have several that color?"

Luckily my propensity toward dropping foodstuffs on everything I own is counteracted by my obsessive-compulsive laundering skills, but in the case of a yogurt exploding on everything in my backpack on the first day of my freshman year, there was only so much I could do. Dude, yogurt spill. Bummer.


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All I'm saying is, to date, I'm the only person I know to have spilled an entire can of Diet Coke into her underwear drawer. Damnit.

Knitting (and shoes!)

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I got truly fantastic shoes in New Jersey last weekend. Thanks to a great sale, I got two pairs for less than the price of one, and because they are Naturalizers, they are actually comfortable. As in, I wore them to a wedding where I stood around for several hours straight and my feet felt better than they usually do wearing flip-flops.

Despite living with a photographer and claiming to be one of sorts myself, these are genuinely pitiful photos - I was too impatient to set it up properly or wait for natural light. So go see what these beauties actually look like and perhaps you can understand my current adoration.

Quite why I love shoes so much, it's hard to say. I do know that when Eric said he'd like a new pair of Doc Martens for his birthday, my heart skipped a beat.

Now that we're sufficiently riled up, let's talk about knitting.

Sorry Carson, no progress lately on Eve. I'm in the midst of a hate affair with variegated yarn, so I need to get over that before I can finish her in good conscience.

I have, however, worked some on the Razor Cami.

It is coming along slowly but nicely. It's actually solid white yarn, but well, yeah. Lazy photography strikes again. I'm so charmed by the lace pattern and look forward to wearing it. (It'd better fit, damnit.)

I started Hedera socks a while back, then frogged them completely, and am back at the twisted ribbing again. I have a feeling these will take a very very long time, but as they are my first socks, I'm okay with being patient and working to make them perfect. They have become the project I work on when I am feeling intensely obsessive-compulsive and need immediate order and control in my world. I understand the calm serenity of knitters now.

I recently got some delicious Knit Picks Sierra bulky wool/alpaca in Natural.

That is becoming an Anthropologie-inspired capelet from a Craftster pattern. I've never knit with bulky yarn before, and it's on my nerves a little bit. Mostly it's to do with the springiness and the way the stitches want to jump off the too-short needles I'm using. I'm really looking forward to finishing and wearing this though, as the yarn feels fantastic against my skin.

In the same yarn package I got a big pile of Shine Worsted in Wisteria.

This is becoming a Cozy shawl/lap blanket thingie for my grandmother.

The all-lace thing is a little awkward, but I think it's coming out alright. Once blocked, I'm sure it will look better, as in, less like a tangle of yarn. I really want her to like this a lot, so I am working to make it special. I'm also concentrating on positive things when I knit it. As airy-fairy as it probably sounds, I believe that the energy you put into a project radiates out from it, so I don't want to work on a gift for my grandmother when I'm cranky or having a lousy day. Something about our relationship requires that I actually tell the truth when I say this is made with love.

Lastly, in a moment of insomnia this weekend, I learned to knit cables - weehaw. It turns out it is astonishingly easier than I thought, and this expands my knitting vocabulary in wonderful ways.

(It seems I am easily impressed.)

This is the very beginning of the Tasha bag, which I will probably line with fabric and interfacing and use to carry knitting projects or something. Generally I love the idea of knitting myself a bag, but it turns out I am as particular about my bags as I am about shoes, and it's questionable as to whether I can make something I'd be happy carrying.

Something I've observed since starting knitting and sewing this summer is that I can't stop looking at clothing now. I'm fascinated by the way things are made, the construction details, the shapes - I find myself looking at knit items the way I look at paintings - wondering how I could achieve that effect or modify it. It certainly makes people-watching more interesting and fills my head with ideas everywhere I look.

Eric has suggested that perhaps I have a problematic obsession with knitting. The other day I made a multi-page chart of knitting projects, current and planned, with columns of links to the patterns, needles needed, yarn I've picked out, dates started, and a woefully empty column of dates finished.

All I'm saying is, it's been a long while since I've made a chart of this sort for my painting.

Then again, my painting is going better than it ever has, and I am finally happy working in my studio. Knitting has actually improved my finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination, and after making peace with size 1 DPNs and intricate lace, a size 00 paint brush seems downright manageable. I can finally do tiny detail without holding my breath. Score.

Party weekend (of sorts)

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As I mentioned, this past Saturday I went to New Jersey for our friends Hank & Nancy's wedding. It was at the Rumson Country Club and quite a lovely time.

We got to see a lot of dear friends, though mostly I hung out with my brother and parents. We talked a lot with a friend of Nancy's from college and her son. My mother has always believed that a person's friends are highly likely to get along with her other friends, and once again, this proved true.

No, I did not make that dress. What kind of crazy person tries to make a dress the night before a wedding?! Certainly not me. I don't know what you're talking about...

(I barely cut out half of the pattern pieces before opting to go with a dress I bought in Hawaii and maybe wore once.)

(Also, I got the greatest shoes ever made, but they're not easy to see, so I will give them their own photo soon.)

Hank & Nancy came to the country club by boat, a perfectly fitting arrival. Nancy looked stunning, and though Hank was sweating up a storm (he blamed it on the stuffy bathroom he had to change in), he looked quite dashing. They both were smiling and giddy - it was wonderful to see.

Like so many great things, the ceremony was short and sweet - literally it was five minutes, if that - and everyone was grinning their faces off by the time they'd exchanged vows.

I'm really happy for these guys - they're so good for each other and make such a perfect couple.

My father was very happy to have lost a $100 bet now that Hank is married.

I have more photos up in a Flickr set, if you are interested.
I stayed the night in Jersey, then woke early (for me) and drove frantically up to Brooklyn, then Connecticut for a barbecue for Eric's birthday up in Ridgefield.

Strangely, for once in recent memory, I had my camera with me (technically) but did not use it (it was packed in my overnight bag and I kept forgetting it was there). At any rate, it was low-key but very pleasant, and I was very happy to get to visit with Eric's mom, Rob, Dan, Duane, Jen & Thomas. We grilled piles and piles of meat and ate all kinds of delicious foods.

Dan, Eric & I stayed up late watching cartoons, which reminded me of good old times at Trinity, and in keeping with tradition, I passed out in a narcoleptic coma.

Eric and I shared a twin bed with Midnight the cat, and I don't think I really "slept" so much as listened to Eric complain about how uncomfortable he was all night... I think I still owe him a punch to the head for that.

Monday morning we each drove down to Brooklyn, and I tried very hard to tune out all media coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, though it was inevitable. As I drove in excess of 235 miles this weekend (I know it doesn't seem like a lot, but my environmental size has recently shrunk to a very intimate several mile radius) for two parties, I was very exhausted.

It's good to be back, though, and it was nice to get to be with loved ones this weekend. Without getting too emotional, it was recently the anniversary of my father's best friend's death. It was pretty difficult seeing a lot of the same people as were at his funeral and going through the thoughts and feelings I'd had when I went home this same time last summer. It just reminded me how much we need to love and appreciate people while they are with us and never take a single day with them for granted.


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Always in my thoughts and prayers.

I'm surrounded by weirdos

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I was supposed to leave for Jersey a while ago, but I am still in pajamas.

Eric came out to the kitchen to make coffee and said, "You're not in a big hurry, eh?"

I shrugged and he said, "Well you'd better get in gear, Miss Butt-Riding-the-Clutch!"

When I gave him a quizzical glance, he continued, "That's what you do, when you're not in gear - you're riding the clutch! Or well, you're slightly disengaging it and not reaching full efficiency..."

(He continued to explain how clutches work, in full.)

I threatened to blog it, and he asked, "Well are you going to put in the part about me nagging you to clean the kitchen? Because I want that in there. I want my biographers to know everything, but I don't write stuff down."

Whereas my biography will be epic and mostly about kitties.

Eric is also procrastinating getting on the road, in his case to go see his grandmother and celebrate his birthday. Because he's sleepy, he stomped into the bedroom grumbling "Dumb Grandma!" and has continued saying this, then qualifying it with, "Just cause I don't want to go to Hartford, not cause I don't love my grandma."

He's even gotten Iggy on his side, telling me that Iggs said, "Leave Eric's grandma alone!"

And while we're on grandmothers, lemme just share the single strangest grandmother comment I've ever heard.

An unnamed friend, who rhymes with "Scaremy," was once going out to dinner and told Eric he had to go pick up his date, his grandmother (they were IMing). Eric said have fun, and our friend typed, "Oh I will. I'm hoping to get me some Gran-poon."

Realizing the significance of what he'd just said he was of course immediately repentent, but none of us could unthink the concept of Granpoon.

Perhaps now, neither can you.

Off to Jersey! Have a great weekend!

Beautiful things

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First off, Happy Birthday Hope!!!

Go ahead and shoot on over to her blog to send her some birthday love.

If you're curious what I've been up to, I don't really have an abundance of time to tell you about it at the moment (sorry).

I will soon, for real, but I still have a ridiculous amount of work and errands to get done this afternoon, and a dress to make this evening.

Yeah umm, I haven't even started.

This weekend I'm going to a wedding in New Jersey on Saturday, then a birthday party for Eric in Ridgefield on Sunday. Woohoo!

If you'd like to see one of the things that's taken up an enormous chunk of my time lately (and sorry, I don't have a photo of the pharmacist at Duane Reade), check out the Northern Baroque Art website I set up this morning.

I have a whole lot of ideas for fancy things I'd like to do to make it more attractive and more functional, but in the meantime, you can at least have some gorgeous images. Yay Dutch painting!

Uff, back to work.


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Happy Birthday my love!!!

The sounds of machines

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I've spent the last few hours reading about 17th-century Dutch painting, which I'm coming to love, but which requires a lot more concentration than my usual diet of blogs and magazines.

I have a weird attention span when it comes to reading - I have to deliberately distract myself with music, TV, or some other activity in order to keep my mind from wandering off as I read. I can't even express how often I'll sit reading the same page over and over while my brain is on a rollercoaster ride of jellybeans, rainbows, unicorns, and some kid I knew in third grade WHAT WAS HIS NAME?!

So this weekend I've filled that space with a great (and relevant) movie, Girl with a Pearl Earring (what kind of swot am I that I got really into it matching my curriculum?). Today I also listened to the entirety of Orphée et Eurydice, José Gonzàles Veneer, and several Radiohead albums, thanks to the speakers Eric set up for me in the living room which plug into my laptop.

But what I mostly listened to was machines, and they are driving me crazy.

The fan on my laptop has acquired a strange proclivity for rattling, which combined with irregular bursts of venting, makes for a very loud soundscape. I switched the main air conditioner to Energy Saver mode, but that means every few minutes it winds itself up with a pile of rattlesnake noises and whirs, gushes hot air for a while, then churtles back down. Meanwhile the air conditioner in the bedroom is the noisiest thing I've ever heard and acts as if it is on Energy Saver all the time, constantly changing its sounds in the most distracting ways possible (I finally just switched that one off, and I'm eyeing Mr Rattlesnake forebodingly). Also, something somewhere in the building is making an incredibly high-pitched electronic whine, which I notice in strange moments.

The funny thing is that these sounds have presumably been ongoing all summer and they haven't really bothered me.

What's heightened my attention to the noise is that I'm wondering if Eric will be home soon or not. He had said he was coming back last night, then didn't, and hasn't really let me know when or if he's planning to come here tonight. Somehow, anticipating someone else's presence makes for the loudest quiet I know.

Is it too early to think about Halloween?

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So it's September, and even though it's not yet the end of summer, I think I'm officially allowed to start thinking about Halloween now (seeing as it is by far the best holiday all year).

I think I've decided what I'm going to be already. Weirdly, making this costume actually uses my grad school experience, on both a physical and intellectual level (yeah you'll see).

Now I need to find a party to go to. Seeing as this idea is sort of New York relevant, I may actually go to the Village Parade this year, especially since I'll be on my own anyway (Eric will be in Thailand).

Never let it be said I approach dressing up unprepared.

Jumping in with two feet

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They don't waste time piling on the responsibilities, I've noticed. It's quite an adjustment to go from lazy summer days where my greatest accomplishment was knitting a few rounds, to jam-packing every day with errands and stuff I've got to get done already.

I felt this way last fall as well, and I know it always settles down once the semester gets going, but at the moment I am very exhausted and a little stressed at what is becoming a mountain of obligations. To make things even less manageable, I've been terrible about sleeping, getting less than 4 hours every night this week.

I thought that Friday would be my first day to sleep in past 8 and rest up, but then I got a call from the Financial Aid office saying there's a problem with my loans and I need to come in first thing in the morning if I want my money in time to pay September rent. Sigh.

Another thing that's wearing me out a little is this new diet. I thought my body had adjusted, but I was mistaken, so I'm walking around hungry all the time. It's my own fault because I don't make time to eat most of the food until after 5pm (supposed to eat something like every 2-3 hours), which combined with not enough sleep, is making for a very tired body.

In spite of all this, I'm really really happy and optimistic and keep having spectacular days. I'm excited about all the stuff I'm working on, so long as I am able to manage my time well.

Oh, right. The rest of my classes...

My Wednesday painting seminar went as well as, or possibly better than, my thesis class the day before. I also completely adore this professor, and the instant I walked in the room, I felt such a positive and warm energy from the other students. There is not a speck of ego or competition, and I think it's going to be a remarkably nurturing and productive experience. We all sat around having a long philosophical talk, and we'll be starting crits next week. I also got a chance to talk individually with my professor, who is the painting professor for Venice and was all excited that I want to do that program.

In the evening, I had a Methodology class, which is also full of interesting and pleasant people. Now that I've had all my classes, I can say - there are no jerky people in any of my classes! What are the odds?! It was good to see this professor again (she was my Michelangelo professor and a large part of the reason I applied for the dual degree), and this looks to be a pretty interesting course. Intense amounts of reading, but otherwise good.

After class I walked over to the library with a few girls to start the massive amounts of photocopying we all had to do - it was very nice to chat with them. While we were there we ran into a girl from the other section of this class and were taking a tag-team approach to finding the books and running off pages. I realized I didn't have my copy card, nor an abundance of patience or cash, so I decided to come back in the morning. When I did so, I ran into yet another nice girl from that class who evidently works in the library, and I thought how funny it was that I'd had more contact with those classmates than I usually do in the entirety of the semester (somehow people become ghosts outside of the classroom).

I had a stroke of dumb luck in the bookstore. The dress I'm making for our family friends' wedding next Saturday (also a point of stress lately, as I'm still not even finished cutting pattern pieces) asks for a 16-inch zipper. When I was home for my father's birthday, I got most of the supplies, as I mentioned, but Jo-Ann Fabrics didn't have an abundance of 16-inch zippers. I decided on a Natural color, as it was most subtle with the fabric, but had to settle for an 18-inch length, timidly thinking I could follow the directions to shorten it (scary). So today, as I cruised past the fashion and industrial design section (I should mention - our bookstore rocks), what should I find but a wall of zippers? And, yep, a 16-inch Natural zipper, which I promptly snatched up. Nice odds - go to a specialty fabric store and come up empty, go to the bookstore, get exactly what you need.

I picked up a package of yarn from the post office (swoon), which includes some delicious cotton blend that I'm using for a lace shawl / lap blanket thingie for my grandmother. I should confess that as I was dozing off this afternoon, I made time to cast on and do the first lace repeat, and it's looking good. I think it'll knit up quick. (More on that later.)

Today I had my other assistantship, grading for the survey class. I don't know what in heck I was so nervous about, as this was actually very fun. The professor is incredibly friendly and interesting, and he was very pleased with me. I offered to set up a course website (it'll be easy enough to do it while I'm doing one for my other assistantship) and he was thrilled. The students are surprisingly mature and pleasant, though I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I was introduced as "my graduate assistant and TA, who will be grading your exams, quizzes, and coursework." Usually they are a little less specific with what TA's do (they refer to them as "graduate assistants" and not "graders" in front of the students), but he put it right out there. Undergraduate students are cute, and I forgot how funny eighteen-year-olds can be.

I had checked the online registration and was encouraged that there were very few students signed up for the class (hoping I'd luck out and get a smaller section), but today's hoarde proved me wrong... it's a heck of a lot of 'em. This just means I'll need to plan very carefully so I'll have adequate time for grading, as it always comes right when I'll be busy preparing for my own projects and exams. We also have museum trips, which may be a little challenging to chaperone, especially since our section will be going at the same time as several others in a combined mass attack on the Met. I already pity anyone who happens to be visiting the museum at the same time as several hundred undergrads.

This afternoon, a student asked a question about the differences between Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, and other hominids, and I offered an explanation about brain and skull development (among other things) in front of the professor. Apparently it made sense and I didn't sound braindead, as he's asked me to prepare a quick lecture on the topic to give at the beginning of next class. He said it was new information to him and he thought it would be really useful for the students to hear as well. I guess I forget sometimes that not everyone spent high school as a big fat science nerd, so it'll be fun to put that together. Heh, one step closer to professor Vicki, professional nerd.

I'm stoked in general because this department is exceptionally well-organized. I got a whole pile of bound information packets today with all kinds of questions answered. I was also given my free copy of the new Janson's, with answer key, woohoo! Have I mentioned - the department chair I'm working under is one of the authors, which is pretty freaking sweet.

So over tomorrow and this weekend, I have to sort out this financial aid thing and a medical / health insurance run-around (blargh). Then a trip to the Met, a genuinely enormous pile of reading, and continuing harrassment of the academic computing center to try to set up these websites before classes meet again on Tuesday. Oh and I have to figure out the design and start on the coding for those sites. On Saturday I have to stop by the pier to take down the last show, and I'm trying to find time to gather a huge amount of supplies (which may include a trip to a specialty book supply store) and build a painting rack to hold all the work currently cluttering my studio. I'm also trying to come up with a way to attach casters to the enormous couch which currently resides in our entryway so that I can wheel it down the street and to my studio without too much trauma.

Somewhere in there, I need to devote a massive chunk of time to painting and starting new projects.

When I'm done with all that, I want to make some time to clean the apartment before Eric gets here (cause nothing says "Welcome home" like an inhospitable disastrous squalor). Eric sent me a photo of his intensely attractive haircut, so not only is he allowed to return, but I'm tap-dancing around gleefully waiting to see him in person.

And after that? I gotta make a dress. And quickly, so I have time to fit and adjust it before next weekend.

I feel more in control after blathering all that out, but still I can see this is going to be a pretty busy weekend - probably best to go to sleep before the early morning news...

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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