October 2008 Archives

Voting is hot

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My brother and I were watching a rerun of Family Guy the other night, and in an adult entertainment store, Peter watches a movie of The Naughty Flapper Girl. He exclaims, "Oh hot, she's voting!"

He continues, "You break all the rules. Yeah, that's right, you vote for Taft, you dirty girl!"

For some reason, as I was filling out my absentee ballot from Connecticut, I kept thinking of this scene.

I am nevertheless thrilled to finally have my ballot. I'm going to mail it early tomorrow morning to make sure it gets in on time. It was so immensely satisfying filling in the little bubbles and hoping they'll actually count for something.

Sunday Times

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Years ago when I started blogging, it was in part because I had a lot of links and things I wanted to share with friends and I found putting them on a website was friendlier and less intrusive than a barrage of irrelevant emails.

Sometimes it seems that function has been replaced by del.icio.us or the inevitability of link permeation across the internet that fosters a lackadaisical attitude around here.

Today, I have done little of consequence beyond reading the Arts & Leisure section of the NY Times, and so here we go:

1. Feature article on bringing the Muppets back to pop culture relevance by Disney... part of me is gleeful because everyone should enjoy the Muppets the way I did. But the rest of me realizes that they won't - it will be a forced marketing franchise shoved down their throats with the built-in expiration that enables a constant cycling of tastes and trends that fuel the market. I really hope I am wrong because there should never be a time when Kermit becomes passé.

I have really strong feelings on the Muppets and what they stand for, so I am reluctant to see them make a comeback by way of Urban Outfitters and viral videos. Then again, I do like viral videos.

2. I haven't finished reading the book Blindness (I've been working on it since college, embarrassingly enough), but it's being made into a movie. I am suitably intrigued by the challenge of presenting a plague of blindness in film, but I am again wary. Maybe some things are better left in the imagination? At least Meirelles is coming down in the same ways as Saramago did, so he might do something incredible with it.

3. I have a deep love for Niecy Nash which I can't explain. It's unfortunate that her success should come in the form of a sitcom because I think she's much more intelligent and funnier than that but well, best of luck to her.

In other news, I made pancakes, and yes, the recipe is coming soon.

(I'm just kidding about that - not about the recipe, but that the only interesting thing I've done is make pancakes. I've actually been up to a lot lately and I'm really tired from an awesome time in the city last night. I have a really massive amount of stuff to talk about and will do so... soon.)

Home sweet Rumson

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I did it. I have moved.

Driving the U-Haul wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be - it was actually a breeze. Either because of the route we took or the time of day, there was virtually no traffic, so we were able to get to Rumson just as it got dark.

We had wanted to pick the truck up at the same location as the storage locker Eric and I were renting, but it wasn't available there. My mother negotiated an extra 30 miles to cover driving the truck between their locations, and I'm glad she did, as we were one or two miles under the new total. We dropped it off yesterday afternoon (it was scheduled for this morning, but everyone had to go to work), and when I called to make sure everything worked out alright, I was stunned to hear there were no extra fees. Really? Has this ever happened before?

I'm glad I went with the 14-foot truck, as I definitely needed every square foot. My mother and Eric both thought there was no way I could fill this much space, but I knew I had an apartment's worth of stuff up there, plus a crowded studio, library, dyeing operation, and tons of miscellaneous stuff. This beast was packed.

(Expect to see a lot of this for sale soon).

My brother was able to help out after all (he's a charter boat captain, so his trips are extremely weather dependent and it just happened that the wind was gusting in the wrong direction). This was critical, as he is the strongest human being I know and immensely helpful.

As we were all getting tired and cranky, my father pulled up, returning from a trip to North Carolina. He was fresh and energetic, which was a great boost for schlepping the rest. I kept thinking how lucky I am to have such a supportive, generous family. When my mom saw the panic in my eyes as the mountains of boxes grew in the living room and kitchen, she looked at me calmly and said, "Vic, the priority here is you finishing your thesis and getting your master's. We want to give you a place where you can do that."

The beauty is, she really means it. They even cleared a space in the kitchen for me to set up my easel and use as a studio. This is the same space where I worked when I first graduated from Trinity in 2003, and that time still ranks among my most productive.

It was, I'll admit, upsetting to deal with all our stuff so much this weekend. It seems to me that this stuff came to dominate my interactions with Eric. We fought about it in our apartment, we fought about moving it, and once it was at his mother's house, I knew it was a constant source of resentment and frustration. His mother seemed thrilled to have it all go and kept trying to find other things from the attic or garage to send with me.

It is nice to finally be in a place where I am just me, and I am not inextricably linked to this stuff. The rest of my emotions, I'll deal with later, but right now I feel a rush of relief.

Bundle of Nerves

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Tomorrow (or more accurately in about 3 hours) I will start a very long and probably trying day, about which I am exceedingly nervous.

My mom and I are taking a 5:19 train into Manhattan, then a subway from Penn to Grand Central, then MetroNorth up to Connecticut. We're renting a fourteen-foot U-Haul truck, which will get packed full of all my belongings... and then I have to drive said truck about 150 miles home.

I am really, really anxious. I mean, I get nervous driving SUVs, so this will definitely be the biggest challenge I've faced on the road. Thankfully, my mom will be with me to navigate and keep me company. I just have to tell myself that this is something I can do and quit worrying.

Add to this, though, the challenge of keeping my emotions under control, and I know that I am in for quite a time.

Let's not even talk about where I'm going to put all these boxes and things once they get here. Gah.

Autumn Dahlia

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Earlier this year I came up with the alias Autumn Dahlia as my spy name in this meme. It hadn't occurred to me at the time that autumn and dahlias had anything in common until I walked into the backyard.

There is so much optimism and hope in flowers. As trees turn through shades of orange, gold, and brown to the eventual absence and gray of winter, it is startling to see something burst forth with furiously energetic pink petals or the seeming frivolity of a fresh and tender white. The longer I stare into their orderly curves, the more apparent the benevolence of the universe becomes.

Tropicana roses still unfurl new buds with a heavenly scent that could get lost in the smells of burning leaves or indistinct spiciness. It seems absurd, yet they continue on, persistently luminous bits of the nuova vita.

However complex and turbulent my emotions have been lately, I can recognize the beauty in feeling these things and knowing what it is to care so deeply. I think as long as I can feel what I do in nature, I'm always going to be okay.

(More photos in my Garden set on Flickr.)

My head is spinning and my heart feels like a lead weight in my chest. I don't really know how to say what happened last night or anything else of the rollercoaster ride that I've been on. So let's go with a ripping-off-the-bandage approach.

Smokey and I live in New Jersey now. Eric and I are taking a break. I have no idea what the future holds, and I have a lot of things to deal with.

If you don't hear from me for a while, please understand why.

Painting therapy

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I don't deal well with emotions (duh). I either shut down completely or become obsessed with whatever emotion currently has me in its grips. When I am angry, it seems I am incapable of letting go and no amount of venting can release it.

This evening I wrote until my hand was aching, pages and pages of venom and frustration and emotions that I've been dealing with for a while now. No matter how much I wrote, I couldn't get it out of my system, so I turned to painting, a more physical and potentially violent way of expressing myself.

(It is, I'll admit, a bit sad that I rarely paint unless I'm overwhelmed with emotion.)

I think that I have traditionally used painting and being an artist as a defense mechanism for my ego. If people made me mad or did hurtful things, I would whip myself into a self-righteous frenzy and paint through it. If I felt bad about myself because someone was better looking or got something (or someone) that I wanted, I consoled myself that at least I was a painter and no one could take that away from me. When people say and do things in life that make me unhappy, I almost look down on them with pity because they don't paint and they don't know what it is to be an artist. It's a bit of a superiority complex because I have something that I do which gives me purpose and can be seen by others as a talent.

This is, of course, a terribly childish way to go about an art form, and it probably explains why I've made so many awful paintings in my life. Wrapping oneself up in spite is hardly the best way to tap into the rest of the world or something meaningful about humanity... but it's not always a bad way to tap into something honest inside.

Throughout the work I did for my MFA, I thought I had to over-intellectualize what I was doing, cite all my sources in books and theory, and explicate every single movement of the brush as if I were conducting scientific research. I pinpointed my inspiration within neuroscience and perception, and while sometimes I'd identify what I was really thinking about if it seemed smart enough (tree branches and undersea creatures seemed to fly), I never talked about where painting really comes from for me. In that respect, everything I did was dishonest at best and something much closer to cynicism the majority of the time.

When I finished that part of my degree, I had moved everything out of my studio. My easel and canvases became "clutter" in the apartment, and apart from a few exuberant afternoons, I never painted. I felt emotions, but I suppressed them. When I wanted to say something, I'd shout at Eric or put my head down and knit socks. I thought that if I went about trying to make art while I was all riled up with emotion, it would come out sloppy and uncontrolled, impulsive and stupid.

Basically, everything it needed to be.

The things I did before my painting thesis were really dull, and I knew there was no life in them. They were cursory exercises in color and line and things I felt obliged, rather than compelled, to make. Every so often I would let myself paint what I wanted in spite of my consistently negative critiques, but I had a completely defeatist attitude about it and gradually talked myself right out of painting.

While what I made tonight is not really my best work by any stretch of the imagination, it is one of the more honest things I've painted in a while. As I worked, my mind was racing with creative ideas - projects, words for poems, the plot of a novel... I think it's an exercise that I need, at a soul-level, to have any semblance of emotional health.

All the crap that I was angry about? Trifling nonsense, I can see it now. It's been dominating my life lately and making me miserable when really, nothing could be further from what matters.

Hooray Connecticut

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So I may not have mentioned that we moved to Connecticut.

Probably a kind of important detail to leave out, but we started moving immediately after I got back from Italy and then I got busy with my art history thesis and work stuff and well, I meant to bring it up, for real. Also, I'm still going to school and working in Brooklyn so it seems like I haven't completely left the city, just instead of walking two blocks down the street, I take the trains for two hours or so.

That said, we moved to Connecticut. I have always liked Connecticut - it's part of why I went to undergrad here, and I thought it would be nice to live here again someday. We are on the border of Westchester and Fairfield counties, and if you know the area, it means we're in one of the most gorgeous and wonderful parts of the state, if not the entire northeast. I love it here.

This week I finally got my CT driver's license (I look like a hobbit in my photo), and then on Thursday Eric and I went to town hall to register to vote. I think I'm officially a CT citizen now, and while being a Nutmeg-Stater maybe doesn't carry the cache of being a New Yorker, it is drastically more peaceful and beautiful here. I'm okay with trading my Brooklyn street cred for a place that I dare to walk outside. Also, trees and fresh air. Totally thrilled with that.

Today I have even more reason to be exceedingly proud of my new state, as the Hartford Supreme Court overturned a ban on same-sex marriages, joining California and Massachusetts in the 21st century.

Man, I love CT so much.

No more graphs please

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Do you know what's seriously, like out of this world awesome?

Analyzing miles and miles of data points that quickly begin to look the same:

(And boy do I wish it were only 58 points).

Do you know what's more awesome?

Writing five reports about all this data in one shot because you are just the worst procrastinator in the world (and sending out copies in duplicate).

But the best part of all?

Going to bed at 6:56am. It's the coolest.


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Last night we had broccoflower (a cross of broccoli and cauliflower) with dinner.

Eric and I were both amazed at its crazy fractals.

We agreed it looked like it was from space.

Plants are so damn clever.

Are you there, blog? It's me, Vicki...

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Uhhh, I'm a jerky blogger. I keep thinking I have to catch up all the things I haven't written about yet before I move onto inane daily things, and then more stuff happens and yeah, you got it. Bad slacker Vicki.

I'm going to start with two subway stories from yesterday and gradually get back into the swing of this wacky blogging thang.

I was in Grand Central, transferring from Metro North to the subway. I was close enough to the turnstile that I had my hand out ready to swipe my card, yet a woman decided there was room enough to push her bicycle, which had 12″ tires on a full-size frame and baskets full of crap strapped to it, between me and the entry.

Instead of an "excuse me" or something decent, she yelled "Watch out! Watch out!" as if there were some uncontrollable force propelling her minibike toward me. Watch out? Sigh.

Because of this encounter, I just missed the downtown express, so I stood on the platform waiting for a 6, grumbling to myself. The train arrived and I got on, then who should come barreling down the stairs telling passersby to "Watch out!" than my same little friend?

This happens to me all the time on the subway or in New York in general, so I console myself that I'll definitely get off the train before her, as I was only going from Grand Central (which is at 42nd St) to Union Square (14th St), a mere 28 blocks south.

The entire ride, this woman prattles on to the guy next to her (the one who held the door and helped her get her insipid little bike onto the train crowded next to me, and who I assume was immediately wishing he hadn't been thoughtful once he got to hear the shrill tone of her voice and the most annoying and cliched accent I've ever heard). She seemed defensive, as if she needed to justify having her bike full of crap.

"It's so useful," she whined, "and I never would have thought so, but just this morning I got so many things done that I never could have if I were walking!" And so on.

"Well, good for her," I thought, "she got all her errands done and she must be on her way home to Brooklyn or something now." I was mentally chastising myself for thinking such bitchy things about her at first, "watch out!" not withstanding.

Then, she got off right behind me at Union Square and declared to this guy that she had to go to the green market. Seriously lady? You schlepped your bike with its twee little tires and baskets full of crap down to the subway and back up to go 28 blocks?! Yes, it may be 1.8 miles, but uhh, isn't that why you have a bicycle??

Maybe that explains the undersized tires.

The second story is maybe only funny to me.

While I was waiting for the G train to go home, a young boy came down with his parents, proudly holding a box from one of the city's famous bakeries. The woman next to me told him that was one of her favorite places and asked if he got anything special. At his parents' prompting, the boy announced that he had a box full of cupcakes because it was his 4th birthday.

The father gently corrected that his birthday was actually the next day.

"No!" he shouted, "my birthday is today! I'm four!" and insisted as such, which made us all laugh.

The train arrived and in his excitement, the boy jumped up without holding the box of cupcakes on his lap, toppling it over onto the platform. The father rushed him onto the train while his mother scooped the box up and tried to distract him, but of course he started wailing inconsolably, crying that he'd ruined his birthday.

His mother untied the strings and opened the box, checking its contents and was amazed that they looked fine. She kept telling her son to calm down, saying it was no big deal, just be more careful.

He was so upset that he continued screaming almost a full subway stop, and his mother resignedly retied the box and rolled her eyes at her husband. I was considering changing cars when the boy abruptly stopped his crying.

He put his hand under his chin like a little inspector and calmly said to his mother, "Let mesee that they are fine."

She reopened the box and he nodded his approval, then went on to important almost-four-year-old tasks like picking which cupcake went to which of his classmates.

Somehow it was a reminder to me that things aren't ever such a big deal as they seem, and even if you think you've ruined everything, it doesn't hurt to open the box and peek inside anyway.

This should feel more celebratory...

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I just paid off the last of the debt I'd accumulated prior to grad school. I now own my car, have paid off all credit cards (never again), health insurance bills, and the loan I took to buy my last computer.

I would be extremely proud of myself too, were I not enrolled in one of the priciest post-secondary institutions in the nation (world?) and rapidly spiraling into crippling student loan debt. Also if I made any kind of money at my current job or had more than $14 in my primary checking account.

But hey, no more pre-grad-school debt! Woohoo?

The image, btw, is a dollar bill we received as change from a delivery guy once. I found it in my Flickr photostream by searching for "Hitlerstache." Somehow, in the wake of recent national events, a Fascist founding father seems fitting.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2008 is the previous archive.

November 2008 is the next archive.

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