February 2007 Archives

Let's put this cat in a bucket...

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Officially, the new best thing on the entire internet (link):


And it looks like an Iggs!

Way out in the ocean

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I finally, finally updated my studio blog (as one big post), and I'm getting to where I don't recognize my own work anymore.

That has got to be a good thing.

To explain what's gone on personally, I think a metaphor is most appropriate to begin. I've been all flustered and confused, feeling like I was flailing about treading water and trying not to sink under the surface. Then at some point, something clicked and I remembered: I love swimming.

More directly, I've been cutting myself off from a lot of my life because I've been overwhelmed in confusion, isolating in a self-absorbed misanthropic state of withdrawal. The thing is, confusion is a regular state, and the only way to sort things out in life is to live them. I've decided to stop avoiding my own life just because I can't control it, and if I'm confused, oh well. At least I'm alive, and there are so many reasons to be happy it seems absurd to resist any longer.


So we went to galleries in Chelsea with my painting class this morning, and though I was cranky from 1.5 hours of sleep, I got a lot of out of it. Bill Jensen, I love you all over again.

I got less out of the fairly brutal critique I got from the guest lecturer in my thesis class. When my professor pointed to a wall of drawings I have next to my easel and said "there's a lot of stuff there though huh?" the woman snorted and laughed before she realized my professor was being serious.

How about a story?

The walk from my studio home is about three city blocks, one of which is the border of campus and not too terribly scary, another of which is my own street and usually okay (aside from head-punchers). The only dubious one is the street in between, frequented by all manner of unsavory characters and reckless drivers.

At 5:30 this morning, I was just leaving my studio and was on hyper-alert adrenaline mode, my eyes probably looking like deranged saucers to any passers-by (of which there were none). I got to the shady block, and literally as I stepped out of the crosswalk all the street lamps dimmed to almost nothing. I looked all around wondering if they had motion sensors or if someone was screwing with a power box. I didn't see anything and kept walking. When I got to the corner, I suddenly heard a loud "whump" noise and saw flames shoot out of a manhole whose cover shot open with an explosion. As smoke billowed out, it took me a moment to figure out what was going on as well as to recover from the ten simultaneous heart attacks I experienced. Once I determined that my charming neighbors weren't setting off fire crackers or cherry bombs in the street (at least not at that moment) I was stricken with a new fear: electricity.

I like to think I know enough about science to make my way in the world. Like, I understand how germs and neurotransmitters work and I can wrap my head around major concepts of physics and chemistry. I have one major lapse, however, in my sensibility of the world, and that is to do with electricity.

From the time I was an infant, my father instilled a deep-seated paranoia of electricity in our family. If I had an appliance within 25 feet of the shower, he would unplug it and scold me, asking if I was trying to commit suicide. If I even attempted to blow dry my hair in the same room as the shower and sink or a glass of water, he would freak out and warn me of how instantly I would be dead if even a drop came in contact with the dryer. It went on like this for my whole childhood to the point where I was 20 years old and my brother was helping me move from summer housing into a dorm room. He was carrying a little stereo with its power cord dragging behind him, and there was a thunderstorm going on. Terrified, I screamed "Billy, watch out! Don't drag the power cord through that puddle - you'll get electrocuted and die!"

Once he recovered from his fits of uncontrollable laughter, my brother explained that in order to kill you, appliances had to beplugged in and more or less submerged in water. I argued that no, the power cord would ground the lightning in the sky if it came in contact with the water and he would die just like my father said. He laughed so loud and so long that my roommate came out to see what was going on, after which my brother told him and anyone who would listen what a moron I was about electricity.

As we finished packing the car, he asked "So let me guess, if an iron's on, you only have five minutes before it starts the ironing board on fire and burns the house down huh?"

He may not know about electricity, but at least he listened about the iron.

Point being, I was more than a little terrified that this morning's manhole cover explosion was related to electricity since all the lights had gone down seconds before. I was convinced for a full five minutes that if I took a single step down the wet sidewalk, I would be electrocuted immediately. In the case of ConEd's recent safety record, this probably isn't too far from the truth, and I really thought about standing there until someone did something, but I desperately had to pee. After considerable embarrassing debate with myself, I snapped out of it, reasoning that if I stood there and wet my pants I'd probably get electrocuted even faster.

I literally tiptoed around the corner, my heart racing, and I wouldn't step on anything even resembling a power crossing in the street. When I got inside I called 311 and told them what happened, and they transferred me to like five different dispatchers. Finally when I was on the phone with the fire company ten minutes later, they randomly hung up on me, and I decided screw it, let the city handle its own smoking, open manhole and all that electricity.

If you've read this far, congratulations. You have probably just come to understand how seriously dumb I can be sometimes.

To reward you, guess what? I set up a del.icio.us thingie. Now you can go look at the dopey things I link! Like How to Wash a Cat!

Eyes up

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For the first time in years, I feel awake.

A lot of things make sense, and I am seeing everything with a new clarity. It's as if my eyes are finally open after years of peering through lashes.

I'll try to explain what I mean once I've settled down and paid a little more attention to the rest of the world around me.

But finally, again, I feel alive. God, it's been so long.

Have I mentioned I hate snow?

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I know, I know, I'm probably the only person and it probably says something awful about my character, but ugh.

Snowstorms suck. I hate snow. I was really ready for spring already.

At least we don't have to move our cars in the morning.


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I've always had little patience for those who complained they could not even keep houseplants alive. Fancying myself a budding horticulturist in high school, I thought this whole "black thumb" nonsense was simply absurd.

Then I went to college and began a spree of dreadful plant casualties which has not ceased. I've redoubled my efforts to keep things alive lately, but still, the carnage ensues.

What remains of my gorgeous red cyclamen:

The pale sickly pink color was really surprising. Eric has promised to nag me about watering it more. With constant vigilance, it may yet thrive.

Though I'm assured it's impossible to over-water an orchid, I'm still afraid it will drown. Nevertheless, I have not killed it, and the roots seem to be settling into the bark some.

Today, I decided I would dust the intrepid jade plant, the only one which has survived through college and several subsequent moves. It was no small project, as this thing has lots of delicately attached rubbery leaves (and yes, I broke off more than a few, to much consternation).

It does seem much happier, and perhaps it can actually get some gas exchange going now.

I also decided it's time to lay down a No More Burning Incense in the Jade Plant's Soil rule. No matter how stable a support it may be or how convenient, I can't imagine that succulents enjoy Nag Champa.

(Really, I can't fathom why all my plants die.)

A wellspring of hope amongst lackluster bare survival! The little tropical plant heretofore lamented as a lost cause has sprouted new growth and seems as healthy as can be expected.

Apart from the little kitty bite marks, that is.

When I moved this plant from a windowsill to shelves by Eric's desk for protection, I realized I'd never properly potted it: it was still in one of those green plastic containers, simply plunked into a planting basket. A poorly implemented physical to-do list, I suppose.

I planted it for real into its basket and took advantage of the chance to find out what type of plant it actually is. The sticker revealed that it cost $6.99 and is ... "Small Tropical Foliage." What elucidation.

I've sustained other kinds of greenery much better lately... the beginning of a Sesame cardigan in a perhaps worryingly Kermit shade of green. It goes extremely well with the book I'm reading for my literature class, also full of tropical growth and sumptuous writing.

Lastly, two things to smile about.

Sunshine. Streaming through the window and reminding me why I love this apartment and its top-floor light so very, very much.

I lost this earring on Valentine's Day, and I was kind of bummed because I've had the pair since 7th grade and they've always been favorites. When I got to class (surprisingly on time) the day my car window was broken, I was pleasantly surprised that they'd found it and were holding it for me at the museum. Leave it to conservators to tack it to archival foam too.

Change of heart

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I'm over the whole car thing. I got my window fixed at a really great shop - Joe's Auto Glass on 7th Ave - and it cost a lot less than I thought it would. Tomorrow morning Eric is going to help me install the car alarm (which very ironically arrived the day before I discovered the window broken out), and I'm gonna get my car washed and be really attentive to it in the future.

And that's that.

Tonight, we're going to La Traviata at the Met, and I'm really looking forward to it. The sun even came out for a bit this afternoon, so all in all things are looking much brighter.

In the war of Brooklyn versus my car...

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I think Brooklyn finally wins. Damn it.

Let's review the list of damages caused mostly by jerks:

  • in Hartford, a charming individual was throwing rocks and broke my right mirror.
  • 1 week after moving to Brooklyn, a tree fell on my car and nearly totaled it
  • the day I got my car back from extensive repairs and drove it to Hartford, someone stole the entire driver's side mirror. I don't know why.
  • ConEd workers were cutting branches and dropped heavy limbs over my roof, leaving bizarre dents. No one would return any calls and they finally insisted I couldn't prove it was their fault, making it not covered by insurance.
  • a neighbor spray-painted on my rear window when she felt I was blocking her "driveway" (which was closed gates with so much garbage blocking them that there was no way a car could get in there without a dump-truck.
  • someone hit my mirror and knocked it so it was hanging by a wire. What I thought was a note (wow, what a miracle!) turned out to be pamphlets of Christian literature jammed under my windshield wiper
  • moments later as a driver squeezed past me on the right, he popped up a road plate, which irreparably cracked my after-market rim.
  • I was rear-ended by a hostile bitch who tried to skip out on paying
  • after it was repaired from the accident, aliens stole it or someone (who is not fessing up) ran it into something in New Jersey and buckled the hood up
  • in my current neighborhood, one of my neighbors slammed into it while I was in it, smashing the license plate into the front bumper. The traffic cop I flagged down refused to acknowledge that this guy caused the damage, insisting that I was trying to blame him for a previous accident and threatened to ticket me if I didn't move it out of the way for street cleaning.
  • a kind stranger hit the rear bumper and crumpled it in to total concavity.
  • I parked in a normal spot with no fliers or signs, and in a few hours it became a construction site. My car became the workers' bench (evidenced by ass-prints), and they got cement all over the side door. They also left their lunch garbage sitting on my trunk.
  • someone stuck gum and pine cones under my windshield wipers, which are now completely useless (but a pain in the neck to replace).
  • stupid kids left big dings and many greasy hand prints on my windshield, evidently climbing up to the roof?

To be fair, nothing too major, and I'm sure people have done worse for nearly six years of car ownership. I'm also kind of sure I'm forgetting things.

Today was the final straw for me, though.

I went to my car and found it was absolutely filthy from the sand truck (or God knows what) coming by while it was wet from melting snow. That annoyed me enough, but when I went around to the driver's side, I found someone had smashed in the rear driver's side window.

I got that sickly familiar feeling, wondering what is wrong with people. I started blaming myself for leaving things on the backseat, but when I looked, the brand-new ice skates, T-square, and a plastic martini shaker were undisturbed. It seems they didn't even open the boxes.

My stereo was there, but the remote was gone. Maybe a few CDs were missing, but I don't think so. A Diet Coke can had been moved from my cup holder to the driver's seat and they had rifled through the center console (but didn't take my rubber jellyfish). The only thing gone was the ashtray, which I know for a fact had about 37 pennies and little else. Even the EZ-Pass was still attached to the windshield.

So whatever genius made away with approximately $0.37 and a well-designed piece of plastic is going to cost me several hundred dollars and a huge hassle.

As Eric helped me duct-tape cardboard over the window (while I was frantic that I'd be late for class), a guy came by giving a speech about "That's what happens when you live in Brooklyn." I couldn't help the withering "spare me" look I gave him.

In conclusion: Fuck you, Brooklyn.

I'm leaving my car in Jersey indefinitely and I may start punching strangers on the street. It's only harassment, after all.

While my carrots finish steaming...

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(that is how long I'm committing to blogging tonight).

I have lots to talk about and all kinds of things to ponder, but I am waaaay too tired to do so coherently. So then I thought I'd plaster up some photos and a few disjointed sentences (really, if I had a specialty as a blogger this would probably be it). But Flickr is having a massage, lovely.

Thwarted even from brainless blogging.

So instead we have steamed carrots and a promise that soon, I will catch up with things. I'll even try to make it interesting.

Some general misanthropy

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Sometimes I wonder if I have a sign that says "Annoy me" stuck to my back.

No matter where I go, I seem to attract overly-chatty strangers who are way too enthusiastic to share their entire life stories or incredibly intimate details of personal problems. They ask advice and often treat me as a free therapist. Sometimes this can be fun (who doesn't like connecting with people?), and I like to think I must be a reasonably approachable person, but other times (say when I want to just read a book or nap in peace) it can make train-rides and the like more than a little tedious.

This week, however, I have encountered a different type of person. They don't say anything to me, but they have incredibly irritating tendencies which annoy me like I can't believe.

I should preface this by saying I've been heading into Manhattan early each morning to attend the spectacularly awesome CAA conference (which I will talk about in greater detail soon). Now I'm one of those people who gets incredibly uncomfortable when others act rudely, even strangers. I just get mortified and indignant and really quite unreasonable. I don't care about things like coughing or if someone's stomach growls because whatevs, they're people, but the voluntarily obnoxious things they do seem so insane to me that I wonder why they weren't raised better.

What's more, I'm a total pushover, so I never say things to people, even if their behavior starts annoying other people too. They're other adults, and in many cases, highly respected professors and members of my professional community, so I can't really start taking them to task on proper behavior when attending a talk.

I can, however, give them shitty names and write mean anonymous things about them on my blog. Heheh.

Allow me to present...
Jerks Who Sat Down Right Next to Me and Annoyed Me This Week:

- Ms. Crinkle-Starbucks Tearpaper: You brought your Starbucks snack into the conference and put it closer to me on the chair between us, in a precarious position. You kept crinkling the wrapper long after it was empty and pushing it closer to me, even as I strained to hear the speaker over your crinkling. When I thought I couldn't be more annoyed, you started tearing little pieces off equally-loud paper and rolling them in your hand.

- Mr. Jangly-feet: Maybe you were struggling to stay awake. Maybe the talk was making you "antsy". Maybe you had to pee. Either way, crossing your legs and aggressively jangling your foot so much that you shook my chair as well as yours... that really sucked. Through all three speakers that you stayed for. Also loud, impatient sighs? Really not polite to the speaker or those around you. You disgraced your nice suit.

- Ms. Pageflippy Impatient-Sigh: Took Jangly-feet's seat for the remaining two speakers. I thought "Wow, what luck" as you flipped the pages of your program constantly and loudly. I gather you were trying to figure out who was speaking and on which topic, but sighing impatiently whenever you couldn't find it really wasn't helping. Also, not paying attention in pursuit of this information... well it wasn't really helping you get to the gist of the talk now was it?

- Mmes. Chattychatty Artcritical-amateurs: Providing running commentary over the talks may have been interesting to you and your friends, but ultimately your snide observations weren't as interesting to me as the speaker I came to hear. Also, they could hear you on the panel because you kept raising your voice so your friends could hear you over them. You weren't watching a TV program together, you know.

- Ms. Cellphone-answer Watch-checker Why-don't-you-go-meet-your-friend-at-MoMA-already: You came in late and squished next to me, rustling papers over a rather soft speaker in a crowded room. You had the gall to not only answer your cellphone but also make plans and said, loud enough that several rows could hear "Well this speaker isn't very good anyway." You checked your watch compulsively, every ten seconds for the next ten minutes, then started to put your coat on and stood up during the speaker's conclusion. I gather you are very important and were in a huge hurry, but it would have been less rude to excuse yourself the first time than to have behaved the way you did through the whole talk.

- Ms. Bleepy-take-photos-of-every-slide With-camera-sound-on: You took digital photos of every slide the speaker presented of her work in a sparsely-attended talk. I've seen this done before, though slightly more covertly. However, you totally blew any inconspicuousness you may have had by leaving the loud focus beeps on your camera, so that each slide was accompanied by a little symphony of "beep-beep-bloop-beeeep." Seriously, turn the damn sound off. It's usually under like "Menu" or "Settings," and it's just not that hard.

- Mr. Bighead-Sitsrightinfrontofme-Inemptyroom: In the same sparsely-attended talk as above, in a virtually empty room where it was obvious I'd chosen my seat to have a good view of both the speakers and their slides, you chose to sit immediately in front of me, your giant head and constant movements proving neither charming, enthusiastic, nor welcome. When you turned fully around in your seat to stare down every person during the Q&A and I looked a little uncomfortable (because you were practically in my lap), you might have gotten a clue. Instead you tried to read my notes, wtf?

- Mr. Autobiography-in-guise-of-Question: I know, you are a common type, especially in academia. But seriously, spending four minutes and 45 seconds of your 5 minute question talking about yourself and your work to preface a rather mundane question which the speakers didn't really have time to address, was more than a bit transparent and rude.

And lastly, an honorable mention who was not in the conference but demonstrated remarkable behavior on the subway:

- Ms. Ass-Shove: I know that the F train was jam-packed and you were intent on maintaining your spot next to the door. When you refused to acknowledge me or budge when I said "excuse me," you kind of tied my hands, and yes, I had to shove past you to get to the open spot I could see right next to you. Of course you couldn't let it go at that, so you bent at the waist and shoved as hard as you could with your ass, knocking into the people who had been next to me and creating a general ruckus for which I was blamed. What you don't know (though you were wise not to make eye contact even though I could see you were glaring at me sideways) is that I was already out of the way by the time you did your ass-shove, and those times when you thought you were stepping on my foot, it was the woman next to me. Also, the times when I returned your hip-checks back into the wall, weren't an accident. Have some coffee or get laid or God just throw yourself in the tracks, you bitter, shitheaded wench.

So yes, that's the charming company I've kept the past few days. They are of course exceptions to the generally lovely, pleasant people I've had the pleasure to interact with, but they turned out to be pretty amusing and maybe a little astonishing.

Is it so very difficult to sit quietly and pay attention?

And would these people tolerate the same audacity of behavior during their own lectures or classes? I really do wonder.

Cultural Critique in the Subway

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At the Carroll Street stop I was waiting for a train and noticed a poster for Doug Aitken's Sleepwalkers at MoMA. I remember someone in my thesis class saying that these subway ads were kind of smarmy and common for what is supposed to be an art film. People agreed and said it was strange to advertise something as if it were a blockbuster film or popular TV show.

Evidently they weren't the only ones who had issues with these posters.

This absurd little dialog in ballpoint pen and marker struck me as one of the more hilarious forms of cultural critique I've seen in a long while:

In case you're having a hard time reading it, it goes approximately as follows:

Poster Text: this city is my body this body is the city

Blue Text: How pathetically banal & trite is this (with arrows to poster text)


Light Blue Text: pathetically is an adjective. hee

Black Text B: You're all wrong. See below. (diagrams sentence structure of first blue text)

Black Text C: I <3 adverbs

Red Text: LOWLIVES (with arrows to all other comments)


Just after I took this photo, a group of high school students came by. One boy said "Ahh screw this shit" and ripped half the poster off the wall. Fantastic.

Things to Hate

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So I read about this show in London, 180 Things I Hate About You, where artists were asked to design a dartboard with the image of the thing they most hated like the Bono one at left by Miles Donovan. (via)

This of course got me thinking about what I might put on a dartboard and how I would interpret that assignment.

Perhaps the most obvious initial stab would be dumb exhibitionist celebrity bimbos, the likes of whose extermination would surely only benefit future generations of American women and the world at large. (This especially includes Britney's va-jay-jay).


I would also offer smarmy publicity hag fish, the Donald Trumps, the OJ Simpsons, the Dina Lohans and for good measure, the Runaway Bride.


But really, it's a bit too easy to hate celebrities, isn't it? I mean they're such literal targets that applying them to a dartboard is more than a bit redundant.

Same goes for reality shows, though it's worth mentioning here that American Idol is really ruining the concepts of talent or objectivity.


So moving out of pop culture, how about the art world? I hate people who I feel are undeservedly successful, I hate those who declare an end to painting, I hate those who exploit a lifestyle or identity politics as a shorthand for content. However, approaching those in a gallery context is more than a bit meta and probably lashes out in an overtly childish way.

What about politics? I think there are some likely candidates out there for quite hateful world leaders. Yet doesn't singling them out and hating them sort of feed the little hate machine they're running? Responding to hate with more hate only magnifies it, and in a warped sense, validates it.

How about abstract concepts?

I certainly hate genocide, poverty, inequality, racism, starvation, intolerance, rape, murder, greed, and child abuse. But how does one represent these ideas visually? Also, aren't almost all of them a problem of humanity's actions against itself? The more you elaborate on it, the more you're actually saying "I hate other people," which is kind of where this all started in the first place.

The lack of recognition of mutual subjectivity in others, I feel, is what allows us to commit atrocities of violence and cruelty against one another. As long as we can objectify those around us, we can continue doing horrible things.

So... how to create an emblematic object which does not do the very thing we should most avoid?

I know the actual show is all very cheeky and clever, but when I really thought about it, it became a very conflicting experience. What would you put on a dartboard? I personally am at a loss.

I guess ultimately this is why I make objects of the things I love. It's also part of why I still think there is significant value in seeking and showing beauty in the world, in spite of all the things we may hate.

I'm a bad moderator

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Somehow I've managed to bung up the comments on this site (here I thought y'all just didn't like me anymore) and no longer get notified when I'm supposed to moderate. Whoops. I'll look into that.

To respond to a few things real quick:

Hope, check out the video on DPNs here - it really really helps.

Amanda, yes I watched Top Chef, and yes I agree. Abominable. From day one I was like, Wow that Ilan is a real douche, and I knew he would win. Grumble. What did you think?

Lauren - holy crap, I hadn't even thought of that but yes, I'm desperately trying to go to CAA - I'm doing the on-site thing tomorrow afternoon because I was too late to preregister, but we should definitely meet either way!!!

Also, I had to share my favorite spam comment I've ever received:

Bonjour! What a super websight! Very refreshing to peruse from where we live in Paris (France). I eat frogs and drink wine. Woold like more informatons on this. Best regards! Mikael.

Seriously. That guy is hilarious.

(By the way, I am trying to set up a widget thingie for the sidebar, though it's proving extraordinarily complex. Any advice WordPress users may have would be greatly appreciated.)

Hello Internet, we've surely missed you

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For those keeping score, I've finally caught up both my Serial Artblog and my photoblog. Eric feels I should apologize to anyone whose RSS reader I've recently flooded.

I'm trying to think about the photoblog - it seems like a wasted effort the way I'm doing it now, but I haven't thought of another method I'd prefer. I've kept it nature-themed on purpose, but I don't get out in nature as often as I'd like and I tend to take a lot of photos when I do. I also make a lot of observations about color and order and such that aren't in nature, but relate very strongly to nature. Hmm hmm. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Also, do people even look at photoblogs anymore? I feel like Flickr has really displaced all that. I keep a few in my RSS reader because it's nice to have photos pop up, but I think I am in a small pool of people who may do this.

(Is there anything more interesting than meta-blogging? Seriously.)

To change gears to meta-fiction - indulge me a moment - my mind has been doing something it hasn't for a long time. I've always drawn and painted and expressed myself visually, so this is a natural thing for me (and thank goodness, since that is what I'm pursuing two degrees in), but it isn't always what I've considered my area of expertise. For years, I planned on being a writer, and I was a very prolific creator of short stories and poetry. As I walked around in the world, lines or ideas about characters or situations would pop into my head, already composed, and in many ways writing was just a conduit for thoughts and observations. Lately, and I have to believe it's to do with my contemporary literature class, this has started happening again. I've started remembering the words and phrases that had been seeping out into everyday experience. I've also had an increasing urge to write them down and see where they go.

The thing is, I always wrote, but I never really knew if my writing was any good.

As much as I love making art, I'm not sure I use it very effectively to talk about the world or the human condition. Often I think I'm just making pretty designs... and not often very well. So maybe writing is where I can produce things with meaning and significance, as well as works which are more universally understood than like, the narrative of colors vibrating on a field.

Also, I had an idea for a web contest. Basically, it would be a communal novel, produced chapter by chapter and subject to the whims of a voting internet public. It would develop organically, with submission periods and then a voting period to pick the chapter upon which the next would be based. All of the entries would be linked from each chapter, so it would serve as a working archive of the possibilities this thing had from the outset, and then ultimately, there would be a complete collaborative work culled from multiple authors representing some kind of collective consciousness that exists in the internet. People could also write chapters stemming from the ones which weren't selected and create volumes of other fictions, all from one starting point.

Something like that probably already exists, but I can't help thinking it would be fun to organize and particularly exciting to see how things piece together.

You'll have to forgive the disjointedness of this entry, but I'm more than a little sleepy and have been staring at a fluorescent pink watercolor for far longer than can be healthy. I also went on a new diet starting yesterday, and since this one includes genuinely wonderful tacos (chopped fresh cilantro on top gives it that special something), I'm very happy thus far.

I want to redesign this site and my art site sometime soon. Eric recently did contract work designing a very lovely site for an interior designer, and I'm completely coveting its look and functionality. I may have offended him when I said, astonished, "I didn't know you could make websites like that!"

Also, Eric started his blog again, though he is perhaps characteristically slow on the updates. Nevertheless, check it out and let him know what you think.

Guess who had a birthday!

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Yesterday was my little buddy's observed birthday.

Because I adopted him as an adult cat, it's uncertain what his actual date of birth is, but the CT Humane Society suspected he was "around 8 years old."

I decided to celebrate the day he came home with me (February 7, 2002) as his birthday, and I've observed the age suggestion, though I persist in believing he's much younger than the 13 he "turned" yesterday.

Either way, he's been my best friend for five years, and I look forward to many more. Happy birthday Smokeypants!

Iggs helped celebrate by several rousting dinosaur fights and a nice chase around the apartment. I gotta say, it's some kind of hilarious to see the way the static electricity effects their already bushy tails.

Good things

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Don't we love lists of links? Yeah...

  • Colored icicles in West Virginia - awesome awesome awesome. Maybe the only good thing about the cold.
  • I want most of these bags from Lotta Jansdotter especially this one. (via)
  • New York magazine has a nice interface for the NY fashion shows, which I think I may prefer to the ad-riddled format that Style features (we'll talk more about fashion soon).
  • I'm stoked to go check out Ugo Rondinone's sculptures near Battery Park.
  • I've been looking for a design I like for some leg warmers, but if I weren't set on making them, they have some pretty nice ones here, and I will admit, I'm enchanted by the idea of argyle ones.
  • Though it gets a little old after a few, Stefan G. Bucher's Daily Monster is kind of amusing.

Museum shows I want to see:

Goodbye fats

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Recently my friend Seth and I were talking about how we both have memberships to gyms that we never go to. We joked that we'd make dates to not go to the gym together, which we've been doing smashingly.

I decided that with a potential summer in Italy rapidly approaching, I really owe it to myself to get in some kind of non-embarrassing shape. To that end, I'm planning to go to the gym tomorrow morning when I get up to move my car and start what I hope will become a dramatic improvement in my gym habits. We'll see how that works out.

I can't go to the gym without good music, though. Serendipitously, I came across Best Workout Music, where you can download a program to scan your music and put together a playlist for optimal BPM to keep the best workout pace going. (via)

I've seen programs like this before, but there were usually irritating catches like subscription services or exclusions to the music you download from that site and so on. This is totally and completely free, and it's not a bitch, so I'm stoked. At the moment it is going through my massive bloated collection of mp3s, and I will report back with what it puts together soon. Since I've already banished the likes of Aqua and Venga Boys from my library, I have reason to believe it will be very, very good.

I'm going through this phase lately where I'm trying not to feel so stupid and oblivious. I'm tired of having no idea what I'm actually saying or reading pages of theory, then realizing I have no idea what I've just read.

To that extent, I've been instigating some new policies when I read.

First, I'm actually paying attention. Paradoxically, this involves distracting myself, such as with my reading sweater (which has grown 11 inches since this weekend). By doing something mechanical and repetitive with my hands, I not only stay awake, but it keeps my mind from wandering to all the absurd places it likes to wander.

Next, when I come across unfamiliar allusions or foreign phrases, I'm writing them down and looking them up instead of simply going "Blah blah, something in French..." This adds all kinds of layers of meaning that I've been missing since my perspicacious high school years when I picked up on things and remembered them. Or before I became so apparently blasé about culture that I assumed I knew everything and didn't have more to learn.

Finally, when my tendency would be to gloss over words with which I'm vaguely familiar, without grasping true meaning, I've also been looking those up and writing definitions among my notes, forming a mini-glossary of theoryspeak for myself.

In the 9 page introduction to my most current reading, I had to look up the following for clarification:teleologicalapologistepistemologicalconcomitantmilieugemütlichmiasmaa priorimetonymically,subsumepositivist.

Yeah, I know, they should rescind my bachelor's immediately.

Anyway these strategies are proving quite useful, and I'm actually staying awake while I read, so there is a lot to be said for that.

So yeah, I actually um, slept through the Super Bowl?

And this isn't the first time that's happened?

My bad.

Eric went to a party, though, and had a lot of fun. He didn't bring the cookies I'd made, as he prepared exceedingly delicious spinach artichoke dip instead. When he returned, he asked "Did you know that you are a Master Dip-Maker's girlfriend?"

If you'd like to watch (or re-watch) all the commercials that aired, you can check them out here on YouTube, and I guess you can vote too? Maybe it's my predilection toward talking animals, but that whole lions "carrrrrne asada" thing was totally the best.

Very early morning

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It's a bit strange to put an apron on over one's pajamas to bake, even when it is one this lovely.

It's been so long since I've burned cookies that I forgot just how bad it feels. Even the cat-shaped one I made for Eric came out wonky and disastrous.

I did, however, end up with a respectable enough pile of spot-on ones that I can take a platter to a Superbowl party and not appear as though we became ravenous on the subway and lost all impulse control.

They are cranberry orange chocolate chunk cookies, made from this recipe. And it must be said, they are delicious. I tried this recipe for the first time at Christmas and they were a big hit, so I'm doubly annoyed at myself that I messed these up (though Eric has no problem, as kitchen policy dictates all burnt things are his).

In other domestic affairs, I realized I can actually knit while reading, and following Ysolda's example, I've decided my green sweater will become a reading sweater. Given the amount I have to read, it should be done in no time at all.

The book, by the way, is Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee, and it is heartbreaking and wonderful. I finished it this evening and suspect I will be thinking it over for a long time to come.

Last night I attempted to design another bag, using stripes (which I learned for the occasion) and a simple eyelet stitch, which I envisioned backed with bright pink or orange fabric to form polka dots. The yarn from this used to be the beginnings of a white Razor cami and a Tasha purse. I liked what was going on with this, but I didn't think I'd like it enough to see it through, so I frogged it all and started a Via Diagonale bag instead. I'm only 6 rows into it, but I'm already in love, and I think it suits the yarn combination much better.

Later this morning, Eric and I are meeting up with my mother near Lincoln Center to go to a National Geographic travel photography seminar, which we are all very excited about. B&H is one of the sponsors, and they offer discounts to seminar registrants for a few weeks to come - I can't promise I won't come out of this convinced my life is incomplete without the new lenses I've been eyeing.

I'm resisting commenting on the Superbowl, or my absolute loathing thereof, but I am looking forward to seeing friends for a little while. If it takes the most detestable sport and the most absurd marketing schemes in present society to bring us all together, I suppose it's worth that.

(I don't mean to come off all grumpy anti-American; I'm still just testy about the cookie debacle.)

Happy Friday

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I noticed a happy coincidence yesterday. I think I have a real thing for this color lately.

(Sweater will become this, but solid green, and the shoes are from here.)

Also, Iggy found himself a new fortress of solitude. Behold, it's Iggs in the box!

So freaking cute. It almost mitigates the hours he's spent chewing on tape and scratching cardboard lately.


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Long-time readers may remember the last time I tried to grow plants in this apartment (almost exactly a year ago - wow). I could be polite and say it didn't go so well but the truth is, Iggy and I killed everything. Even Leafy.

See Iggy likes to chew on delicious, dry plants, and I like to forget to water them for months at a time while keeping them atop heaters in windowsills with full relentless sunlight.

Obviously, I feel bad about this. When Eric gave me a gorgeous Dendrobium orchid from Singapore for my birthday, I was very very nervous. It came in a little tube that had agar gel in the bottom. The directions indicated I should do absolutely nothing to it until it outgrew that tube, and I dutifully obeyed them because really, nothing is something I can manage when it comes to plants.

In the meantime I displaced my plant guilt by over-watering my immortal jade plant (which has never been lovelier, so maybe it's just the proper amount) and I actually did manage to bring the small tropical plant back to life, though it is two pitiful leaves on worryingly delicate wispy stems.

About a week or two ago, Eric started to remind me that the orchid had in fact outgrown its tube and was beginning to bend over at the leaf tips. He encouraged me to research orchids and learn how to grow this one.

I learned from the internets that Dendrobia are supposed to be easy to grow if one manages not to be a blundering idiot about the whole thing. Of course, all the sites I read pointed out how critical it was to know the exact variety of orchid one is trying to grow, and I found many a caution that so-called Singapore orchids could actually be New Guinea or Himalayan or what have you. I tried to logic it out that this orchid was actually cultivated in the Singapore Botanical Gardens, so it probably wasn't Himalayan... but since it was labeled "Asean beauty" (should that say Asian?), a variety which I haven't found to exist, I really didn't know for sure.

Fortunately, I'm not able to replicate any of the growing conditions described perfectly anyway. Basically I am capable of sunlight, proximity to a heater, and water, if I remember. It turns out this may just be adequate, so I went ahead in purchasing some tree bark (because holy crap, orchids grow on the sides of trees!) and orchid fertilizer, which is a lovely candy pink and I suspect highly toxic.

I rinsed the agar off the orchid as directed and took some time to admire the little thing, noticing how much it resembled a bizarre insect or alien life form. And yes, that is why I've scattered so many photos of it throughout this post already - I'm quite taken with it.

I used the little Chinese pot I'd previously neglected rosemary in, filled it about 3/4 with fresh moisture-control soil, then topped that with about a cup of the bark. I nuzzled the bottom of the orchid down into the bark, since I'd read they like to have their roots covered, then mixed the fertilizer into solution with water, which I tried to direct straight around the orchid and its roots. Thereafter I filled the rest of the pot with an abundance of water, making it nearly swampy to replicate rainy season or living by a riverside or something.

(If by this point you're all "What's with the excessive detail?" I should confess, this is kind of a note to myself, should I either have astounding success and wish to cultivate future orchids or should I fail miserably and wish to know where I went wrong.)

Remembering Iggy's proclivity for plant-grazing, I covered it with the brilliant plastic dome that Eric fashioned for me. I think it looks rather like an astronaut suited up with a helmet or like, George Jetson's plant child. Admittedly, I made spaceship noises as I hovered the whole situation across the room and onto a bookshelf near the window, where it would be in partial shade during the day and close to the warmth of the heater overnight.

By contrast, planting the delightful red cyclamen which I picked up while procuring orchid supplies was a walk in the park. I particularly like the way that plant matches its pot, and while I am deeply enamored with its flowers, I may like the leaves even more, which I feel is a crucial part of potted plant enjoyment.

So while this is hardly a garden, I think it's a nice start, and I think I may manage to keep these two plants alive longer than a month. Eventually, I also want to fabricate a long, narrow rectangular type planter to put on the windowsill where I will develop an herb garden. I already have packets of seeds (do those go bad?) from when I last got this idea in my head, and I would very much like to have fresh herbs for cooking.

An artist named Hunt Slonem had the very best studio I've ever seen or could even imagine in my wildest fantasies - everywhere you looked, you saw gorgeous, lush tropical plants growing abundantly. He had all the rooms painted with vibrant colors and I think I remember birds (I was only there for a minute). It was truly spectacular, though, and I've always dreamed of having an apartment with that kind of growth and nature brought indoors. So you know, two small steps at a time.

I made something

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Besides art, that is.

For a craftster challenge, I made a garter lace tote bag:

The theme of the challenge was One Stitch to Rule Them All, wherein the moderator chose this garter lace stitch and participants had to design and knit an item which featured it in a prominent way.

Inspired by the upcoming semester (this was like 2 weeks ago), I decided to make a tote bag large enough to hold an 8.5″x11″ notebook, as well as whatever text books or miscellaneous supplies I'd like to carry.

I've never designed a knit item before, so I was a bit intimidated, but it turned out to be remarkably easier than I thought. In very little time, I'd done all the knitting, and all that remained was sewing in the lining to reinforce everything (cause if you've ever owned a knit bag, you know how much they stretch) and piecing it together.

As of a few days ago, I had this:


Which would be that same pile of pieces and a disastrous attempt at using my sewing machine to attach the lining to the knitting. I think I may have irreparably damaged my sewing machine, and well, it involved a lot of ripping of stitches.

Notes to self: 1.) Just because you can't find pins, does not mean they're no longer necessary. 2.) Seam rippers rip yarn just as readily as they rip thread. Just um, remember that, okay?

Frustrated, I put it aside until today, the day the challenge entry was due. I didn't start working on it until 9:00pm when I got out of class, and of course you know where this is going - it took forever. I've never lined anything before, so I had no idea how long it would take. The strap alone took the better part of two hours.

Anyway, I got it done eventually and I posted it - whether it's eligible or not is really beside the point because truly, I love this bag, and I'm so happy I finished it.

Look, it even holds my knitting supplies, including 14-inch straight needles, with room to spare!

I still plan to fuss with it some, like adding a closure and probably an inside pocket, maybe changing up the lining a little bit... but basically it's a really functional bag which I'm more than a bit proud of. It's just the right size and shape for me, and I'm sure I will get a lot of use out of it.

Also, this bag is a lot of firsts, as it is the first thing I've ever designed, the first bag I've ever made, the first thing I've ever lined, and apart from the blue scarf (which I cannibalized to finish this), my first actual finished knit object.

Perhaps I will carry it tomorrow when I go to the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting show...

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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