September 2007 Archives

Come to my thesis!

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Though you should be getting your invitations in the mail shortly (umm, if I have your address), I'd just like to put this out there...

You can also check out the thesis page on my art site for more information.


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Things are a lot better with Sam. When I got home from class this evening I got a message from my mom that he's out of the coma and talking to his mom and everything. Thank God.

It's so scary to think of how this all might have gone, but I think he's gonna be totally alright.

In more good news, I forgot to mention that my dad got a puppy for his birthday. Her name is Smooch, and they picked her up from Virginia the weekend I was in Toronto.

I haven't met her yet, but everyone says she's such a sweetie. I can't wait till I can get down to visit, though I realize it'd better be soon or she won't be puppy-sized anymore.

My mom posted a Flickr set (she is on Flickr now, hoorays!!!) of all three dogs, and they are just cute beyond words. Everyone's been very curious about the Otto and Smooch dynamic, but so far I hear it's going well.

It's hilarious to me that they are almost the same size still.

Today my brother brought my grandmother's cat Sheba up as well. She's staying with us while my grandmother is between places, and I'm so happy to have another kitty around.

She is beautiful, but I don't have a photo yet, as she has been hiding underneath my easel since getting here. I've put food and water nearby so she doesn't have to venture too far for sustenance. I was happy to see some of it had been eaten, until I noticed Smokey laying close by, way too pleased with himself, and I put together what had actually happened.

Hopefully my little guys will help her feel welcome soon.


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Sam is still in a medically-induced coma, but it looks like he's going to be okay.

My aunt Elena was able to fly down to Florida last night, and Sam's mother and another aunt are getting in today.

The news articles are all talking about his miraculous survival, and really when you watch the videos it's incalculable how he lived through it.

Really bad

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My cousin Sam got in a terrible plane crash today.

(I can't believe they have photos of it all over that site.)

He is alive, but in really rough shape. They medically induced a coma to perform extensive surgeries on his arms and legs, and we're waiting to hear what happens next.

I'd really appreciate it if you could include him in your thoughts and prayers.


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Eric is coming home tonight!!! I have really missed my sweetie!

Victory is mine!

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So last night I went a little insane (as you may have gathered), and I just could not figure out what I was doing wrong with my invitation files. I had emailed tech support, but knew not to expect a reply until I got home from my morning class.

And look what appeared in my inbox:

Autoflight was experiencing some difficulties last night, but it has been
reset and is now working smoothly.


I was so frustrated with the entire process that it never once occurred to me that it could be something wrong on their end. I re-uploaded my files, they were accepted and converted immediately, and the proofs came out perfect.

Now they are on their way to press, and eventually I will get them in my hot little hands (probably without enough time to mail them, whoops).

I was so unsettled by all that crap that I couldn't sleep. First I puttered around the apartment straightening up, then I cleaned out the fridge and washed dishes. (Who is this person?) I laid back down and stared at the ceiling in the bedroom until I thought I was going to lose my mind, so I got up and painted for a while.

And even though I sat with them and waited until they were both sound asleep, it seems the resident kitty Picasso team had a go at improving my work again.

Sometimes the marks are kind of interesting.

Sometimes they're just really annoying.

Stupid cats. I'm going to start working in the bedroom so I can lock them out. Jerks.


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So umm, I'm trying to make the invitations for my thesis show.

And I hate Photoshop right now. Like really, seriously, seething burning HAAAAAAATE.

Thanks to this article, I know how to make rounded corners. But thanks to a baffling template, I have no idea how to properly center it so that it prints correctly. I know that no matter what I do, it will be a sixteenth of an inch off somewhere and it will drive me crazy.

WTF, Photoshop, why can't your grid lines correspond to actual measurements? Is that too much to ask?! I'm sure there's some easy "fix this automagically" tool that I can't find because wow, Photoshop isn't intuitive at all!

Bloody hell.

I have no idea how I'm ever going to get this done!

Edited to Add:

An hour later, I just sucked it up and got it done... or so I thought. Now that I'm trying to upload the files, I keep getting an error message. All it says is "There is 1 error associated with your job. Error: ERROR." It actually says the Error:ERROR part twice, as if it wasn't vague enough the first time.

Seriously, I'm going to tear my freaking hair out.

I have to wait until their office hours tomorrow to get help. These hours conveniently occur while I am in class all day. Hooray.

This stupid card will be the death of me.

Edited Again, To Add:

Two hours later, of course I can't give up on this, and I'm cursing every stupid brain cell that knows intense trivial detail of every season of Top Model but can't manage simple digital files.

I give up.

It's 2 in the morning and I have class at 9:30. I really don't know when I'm going to get this stupid card done... let alone make the paintings themselves. And clean my apartment. And study for a French quiz. And a Medieval Art quiz. And write a paper and make a poster. And watch a movie and write a paper on that. And some other stuff I'm forgetting.

Stupid stupid stupid Vicki. No time management skills whatsoever. ARRRRGH.

My painting assistants

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They're not as helpful as they think they are...

"Oh hai. We thought we'd help with your paintings."

"Dis one needs moar grays. And stripes."

"What?! You don't like our improvements?!"

"I'm ten times better artist than you."

"What you mean we're not helpfuls?"

"Just going to spill this water, add that gray we were talking about... then chew on eye dropper."

"He was right about the grays."

I never thought I'd have to add "assistants drinking the painting" to the list of problems I'm having with my thesis work.

Though they are brilliant company, I will definitely have to find a better way to work around the kitties.

Once a procrastinator...

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It seems that the more important a task, the more aggressively I procrastinate it. I know there is a whole psychology behind this, and I know this because once while putting off writing a paper, I read a whole slew of articles on the psychology of procrastination.

Nevertheless, I am genuinely gifted when it comes to wasting my dwindling time. To wit...

Things I Urgently Need to Do, Like Three Weeks Ago:

  • photograph art, put together a design, and submit my thesis invitations to a printer
  • paint my goddamned thesis show paintings

Acceptable Alternative Tasks:

  • reading assignments for my current classes
  • working on my second majorly past-due Venice project and handing it in already
  • working on the poster presentation I will have to submit September 28th
  • exercising
  • cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, setting up a better workspace, or generally getting the physical elements of my life together so I can work better

Things I Have Actually Been Doing, as Conscientiously as Ever:

  • reading blogs and nonsense on the internet, staying up to the minute on pop culture
  • reading a wonderful book of short stories
  • knitting, updating my knitting blog, reading other knitting blogs, surfing Craftster, reading and searching for patterns, and generally thinking way too much about knitting
  • playing with new templates to redesign this blog
  • watching awful TV shows and movies
  • downloading music and starting new musical obsessions
  • eating as unhealthfully as I am physically capable, then wondering why I feel so tired
  • obsessing over packages of new clothing that UPS lost (which were presumably stolen from right outside my apartment door) and pondering what the universe was trying to tell me in this experience
  • looking for new apartments outside of the city, even though we have a year lease here and neither of us really wants to move
  • having long, protracted discussions with the cats, where I fret about pointless things

In a recent "discussion" with Eric, he posited that all I needed to do to get things done was unplug my computer from the internet and disconnect the satellite TV. At the time, I scoffed at his argument that I was hypnotizing myself with media distractions, but as I sit here typing, watching the sun go down (there goes daylight photos of paintings today), wondering what's on TV, I realize the cold, hard truth in his statement.

So I have to unplug a little bit.

I have to get some things done and absolutely force myself to just make some paintings, even if it's scary and I'm afraid they'll turn out horribly and that I'll have to buy new paper because I'll ruin all the stuff I have. I don't know if this is something that artists universally experience, or if it's my own unique incarnation of cowardice, but damn, if it isn't paralyzingly awful to have such intense bouts of zero confidence.

If you don't see me for a while, I've either found something shiny off-line, or I'm actually getting work done. At this point, I think my graduate career depends on the latter.

Revealing the Heart

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During the Northern Song dynasty in China, the ink used in landscape painting and calligraphy contained a portion of glue which adhered it to the paper and made the artist or calligrapher's marks instantly permanent.

The painter took great pains to center himself and set his mind and body in harmony with nature and the order of the cosmos so that in a single gesture, he could release his energy, or chi. The process of channeling one's energy while trying to concentrate on depicting the objective truths of the observed world would then show the artist's inner subjectivities and character, in other words, connect these two worlds and reveal the artist's heart.

For this reason, handwriting was the strongest indicator of good character and morality, and paramount importance was placed on a painter's brush strokes.

I've been thinking a lot about this notion of art making and viewing, and I've been trying to reconcile it in particular with Western, contemporary art. If I were to make paintings and say they were a moment of connection between my inner world and the universe (which is essentially what I've done and said), would people understand? Would they feel and relate to my experience, and perhaps more worryingly, would they care?

When we look at art, are we concerned with the artist's inner life, spirituality, or moral character? Should we be? Is the idea of viewing a painting for contemplation and edification, such that the artist is a conduit between inner and outer worlds and that by viewing it we can see both the workings of the cosmos and see within ourselves, at all relevant or tangible in this present world? Do we seek knowledge or understanding from painting, or have literature, film, and other media taken its place?

Why do we look at paintings, and what determines the time we spend with them? What in a painting resonates as truthful and genuine, and what comes off excessively polished or made to please others?

I also wonder, as I sit with my cup of water and eyedropper of ink, am I being honest with my painting? Am I doing my part to properly center my mind and body, to connect with the world and the universe... or am I simply letting the materials do what they do? Am I revealing my heart, and if so, what does it show?

Does my painting express how deeply I love music? Does it communicate a deep spiritual need for kindness and fairness? Does it reveal that I'm afraid of dying? Does it tell that I am going to have Chef Boyardee for dinner, just because I can?

In a particularly melodramatic time in college, a friend asked me to charge a deck of tarot cards so he could do a reading. As cynically as my nineteen years could muster, I muttered that at the moment I felt like I'd lost my soul, and he looked at me thoughtfully and said, "Well then it'll show that too."

I think about that moment often, and I consider what that looks like, how we see these depths of human experience and emotion. I think that what I'm trying to do in painting is paint the interstitial moments, the things that happen between viewings of mountains, and the truths we find while staring absent-mindedly across a subway track.

In this way, I may not do anything obviously beautiful or awe-inspiring, but I have to think that if it's done with an honesty of heart, it may reveal something to others and help them better see themselves and the world they inhabit.

They know what matters

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When I got home from class today, the kitties were snuggled up on the couch together.

By the light of day, none of what I was so upset about last night seems so critically important, and seeing them like that, so peaceful and adorable, I thought, how can anything be so terribly wrong in my life?

Eric left for London very early this morning. After a few more hours of sleep, I was actually in a good mood going to class, and it went quite well. I talked to my professor about doing my term project on medieval gardens, which when combined with my Venice research (which I'll talk about sometime soon), could develop into a really interesting and exciting art history thesis. Not what I'd planned or expected, but a really great topic nevertheless.

As I think about it, I'm actually looking forward to putting my life back together - it's scary, but it's such a great opportunity to make the changes I want and to figure things out. I guess the first important step was realizing that the only thing holding me back from the life I want to have is myself... which means that I have the capacity within me to change all that. Hoorays.

Let me try again

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Perhaps what I meant to say is something like this.

On September 11, 2001, I tried as hard as I could to sleep late. My snooze alarm was going off for hours (no kidding), the security buzzer on my dorm's door was blaring, and for some reason, my phone was totally ringing off the hook. At that point in my life, I had a policy of not answering the phone when I was asleep (since I was busy, sleeping), but I was getting really tired of all the noise.

The sunlight was glaring through my window and once again I sighed in annoyance at myself because I'd forgotten to pull my shade down when I'd gone to sleep. I'd had stupid, vague nightmares all evening and morning, and my sleep was restless and lousy. My nose was itchy and running with allergies, and I kept rolling over and sniffling, frustrated that I hadn't taken a sinus pill. I was light-headed and that unique kind of tired which closely resembles nausea. I had been having palpitations and deep pains in my chest, right by my heart, and I had made an appointment with the health center to get it checked out (side note - I had scarlet fever my freshman year and had developed scar tissue on my heart, so when this felt suspiciously similar to the pleurisy I'd had in high school, I was worried I had an infection and would die imminently). For all these reasons, I didn't want to get up, but it had gotten to the point where if I didn't get out of bed soon I wouldn't be able to shower and dress in time for the high school class I taught in the afternoon.

I stumbled out into the hallway, where the door alarm became impressively louder, and on my way into the bathroom I met a girl who lived down the hall. She looked upset and said "Can you believe they're making us go to classes today?" Having no idea what she was talking about, I gave a confused look and shrugged. I wondered if she meant because it was such beautiful weather out, or if something had happened in the building or on campus that was causing the constant door alarm. She saw that I hadn't turned on the news and told me what all had happened, and all I could say was "Oh God."

I went into the shower and mostly stared at the wall, stunned and paralyzed. Though I lived in that dorm for a whole semester, I have almost no memories of showering there, except for this morning, when I was watching water go down the drain and feeling increasingly sicker and more confused.

Memory is a funny thing. I know that I was late to class because I decided to call my mother, who had been frantically trying to track down friends and loved ones and my brother, who had been helping a friend move out of Manhattan. On the walk over to the high school, I saw a blue jay in the bushes near my college campus, and I remember thinking what a strange sight that was, as if the birds should have known today wasn't that kind of day. I also remember thinking I couldn't tell anyone about this bird, that there was no way of mentioning it without it being wholly inappropriate and irrelevant, and that made me terribly sad.

My supervisor decided we wouldn't actually have class that day, but instead we would kind of all hang out and relax (I believe her words were "reflect and contemplate"). I thought this was a foolish decision, because a handful of the students were blasting anti-Arab invectives while the others sat in offended outrage, gritting their teeth while trying to gossip or say sensitive things. The supervisor knew I was from New Jersey and asked if I'd "been affected," which is of course a weird way of putting it, but at that point I didn't know. My mother was still trying to find people and we didn't have any of the news we later got.

Not surprisingly, the pain in my chest worsened considerably, to the point where I was having a hard time standing. My supervisor probably thought I was emotionally upset, which I also was, and she asked if I wanted her to take the class for the day. Of course I accepted, and I went back to my dorm room. This is when I turned on the news and started uncontrollably crying. I truly couldn't cope, and I couldn't get it together by the time I started walking across campus, tears streaming down my face, for my afternoon class.

I ran into the same girl who had told me what'd happened that morning. She somehow felt responsible, and she apologized, as if the way she'd told me was what caused my reaction.

When I got to my classroom, it was empty, and I was confused. In all that was going on, I'd forgotten that we had a guest lecturer scheduled, and because I was a few minutes late, they'd moved to another room already. I missed them, and I kind of shrugged it off, wondering if class had been canceled, but deciding I wasn't concerned enough to check with the department head. Hand to my chest, I stumbled back across campus in searing pain, trying not to breathe or cry or do anything that would make it hurt more. When I got to the health center and said I'd made an appointment, they didn't bother saying I was a few hours early, but simply led me into a room.

I asked the doctor (or nurse-practitioner or whomever I saw) if it was possible that this chest thing was just symptoms of anxiety, since it was getting so much worse now that I was upset. She asked "Apart from the obvious, what other stressors have you been experiencing?" I looked at her blankly, and I can still remember with shame that I had forgotten all about the rest of the world. I even said, "The obvious, like school and stuff?" She stammered "Oh, I meant what's happening in the world today," and we both sat in awkward silence as the realization set in that someone could be so self-absorbed and childish on that day.

She gave me a prescription for antibiotics, but wouldn't give me prescription allergy pills since they could contribute to the palpitations. She said I would wear a heart monitor for a few days and make sure everything was alright, but that I'd have to come back to set that up. As I was leaving, with no intention of coming back for a heart monitor, she put her hand on my arm and said, "Also, maybe you should make an appointment with the counseling center." Evidently she had no idea that I was already seeing them and that at the time, I was pretty heavily medicated (alarming that that hadn't made its way onto my medical history, incidentally).

Shortly after 9/11 I stopped going to therapy because I couldn't take myself seriously whining about my own problems and inability to cope when there were such bigger tragedies in the world. Also I couldn't get to my appointments on time, and I was sick of making transparent excuses or outright lying and watching my therapist's face as she tried to maintain patience.

Where I'm going with what is basically a rambling diatribe, is that I am incredibly selfish and immature, and I'm afraid I have not grown as a person at all since that day. I still can't deal with the ins and outs of daily life. I still blame everything and everyone else for my problems, and I attribute some malicious and specific energy, aimed from an inherently cruel universe, directly at me for the things I can't control. I still get in deep depressive states and believe that I am being logical and realistic. I still get panicky chest pains over small and mostly manageable things.

The list goes on, but I think I've made my point. I am a mess, and instead of looking inward for something I can do about it, my first tendency is to look outwards, beseeching the heavens for something or someone to blame. Occasionally I want things to get better, if only so I can be vindicated.

And I'm really tired of being this person. When I say I am exhausted, it's not just with the inconveniences I experience or the responsibilities I've been neglecting. I'm exhausted with myself and the sheer energy and force of will it takes to continue dealing with being who I am. It's possible that I'm at the point where it is more work to find another place on the counter to stack something than to just put it away where it belongs. It's kind of like how I won't ever miss class because I can't deal with having to come up with an excuse and I'm too socially phobic to have to call or email my professor to explain my absence (even if it's legitimate). If that comes in the form of acting responsibly, so be it, but it's happenstance at best.

Either way, some major housekeeping is in order, and right away. If I don't fix what's going on in here, no one else will, and I'm kind of afraid what will become of it all then.


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Sometimes I get in really awful funks, the likes of which cause me to lash out at people, neglect my health and housekeeping, lose interest in the things I'm supposed to care about, and become overall largely despondent, with a nice dose of anger for good measure.

I know that the events which set me off are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and that things like packages getting lost or stolen or having one's 50-minute plane ride take closer to five hours shouldn't ruin my day, but I am just completely and totally wiped out and can't deal with these things lately.

I went to Toronto this weekend for the Virgin Music Festival, and I want to write all about that when I'm in a better mood because it was truly awesome beyond belief. Yesterday on the plane I was seated next to a girl who'd also been to the concert, and she and I surprised ourselves when we agreed that probably the best part was just being away from our lives at home. The idea of a getaway seemed so novel and bizarre, and we were both confused that we didn't know how to do that better.

Coming home and the day I had yesterday kind of punctuated everything wrong with living in the city, and it ran screaming electric yellow highlighters over everything I'm really displeased with in my life at present. There are changes that I know I have to make, and while some of them are exciting, others I just flat-out dread. It seems the hardest thing is doing what you know in your heart is right.

I think that I'm supposed to be all pro-New York and in favor of humanity today, but at this particular moment, I can admit that yes, I am selfish enough that my personal dilemmas and problems eclipse my perspective on the rest of the world. I have no sense of objectivity when all I want to do is put my head under a pillow and cry. So I'm sure someone else will take up the slack and write something beautiful and thought-provoking in my stead.

As for me, I feel in a very similar way to how I did in 2001, hours before I heard what had happened: hopeless, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, stressed, devastated, and like I want to crawl into my bed for days and escape the whole world. It seems I haven't really progressed at all in six years.


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OMG, I just spent $500 on paper. Excuse me while I hyperventilate for a while.

Everything will change...

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Last night I couldn't sleep because I was giddy in love with Eric. I was staring at his face in the not-really-dark of our bedroom, illuminated by the moon and street lamps, thinking wistful adoring things. I thought about what a stroke of luck it is to be in love with one's best friend, to have all those experiences in the same person, and to get to sleep beside the person who makes me laugh like no one I've ever known before.

Tonight I can't sleep because he's mad at me, and it's the cold, thick kind of mad which doesn't even lash out in anger... it's that quiet seething which simply sits heavy on the chest and resides.

I do understand the ability to push one another's buttons. The same way he can so uniquely understand me to wake me up for thunderstorms, he knows how to cut to the core and hurt me more deeply than I know how to handle. And just as I pride myself for being able to bring sappy grins to his face at totally inappropriate times, I know that I can drive him absolutely crazy and frustrate him beyond human endurance. I haven't been kind to him lately, at all.

Love is a really strange thing. It gives the capacity for cruelty we wouldn't imagine among our worst enemies, and while providing some of our highest and most amazing moments, also feeds the times we most regret.

So I guess I'll just stew in it and work toward getting things back toward the other side. Still it's always with this constant fear that this time will be the one where I've pushed the pendulum too far and it stops its razor trajectory over the pit. Maybe it'll catch on the curtains or swing off its mount entirely.

Maybe he'll let me hold him in his sleep.


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To the extent that it is possible for a human being to fall passionately in love with an article of clothing, please meet my new soul mate:


Oh, delicious thing of beauty, I will find a way for us to be together soon.

About this Archive

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

August 2007 is the previous archive.

October 2007 is the next archive.

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