So, on one of the mail art sites I belong to, we've been talking about Donna Tartt's The Secret History lately, because several of us just love the book. Her novel The Little Friend is great, too, but it's not as mesmerizing, IMO. In any case, I was trying to decide if The Secret History would be in my Top 10 or Top 5 favorite novels of all time. So, I thought I'd try to list them and figure it out. These are in no particular order, because I'm not sure I could do that.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Suspicious River by Laura Kasischke
The Stand by Stephen King
Break It Down by Lydia Davis
The End of Alice by A. M. Homes
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
I think that's the ten I'd put at the top--but I wonder if I'll think of any I've left off that will make it necessary for me to rework the list, now that it's on my mind. I'm sure I'll be revising. And, now that I'm thinking about this, I might do a list for books of poetry and a list for short story collections, too. :) I can list forever . . . I'm sure lots of us can.
Helping me work on an altered book. The task light above the table has Bolivar looking like an angel when he is decidedly not an angel. Danny's in the background. This is in my dining-room-turned-studio.
Amy Sargent's work investigates the nuances of pixels through the use of slow motion and close-ups which emphasize the Mechanical nature of digital media. Sargent explores abstract and vintage scenery as motifs to describe the idea of imaginary artifice. Using repurposed loops, non-linear narratives, and allegorical images as patterns, Sargent creates meditative environments which suggest the expansion of art.
What's even BETTER is that it came from a purpose-statement generator! LOL! I sound so important. :) Make your own . . . this might be the best thing I've come across by being Claudine Hellmuth's facebook/twitter friend in quite a while! :)
I love this photo. It's not very good quality, but that makes it somehow better. It seems dreamlike. The back of the photo has no names, but it does say that it's the first photo of the baby, the day after they came home from the hospital. This is from my own collection--feel free to use the image if you like.
So, I joined Facebook in early 2007 and hated it. HATED it. just never went back . . . then i decided to see if i could remember my login yesterday, and it's amazing! so many people from my undergraduate, from my hometown . . . and some people i'd completely lost track of over a decade ago. And, so many art friends and authors! So, i'm giving it another chance. :) like i need another distraction!
I'm in the process of making a little tutorial on altering books. the first steps--choosing the book, pulling pages, doubling up pages--are walked through at my flickr account. The photos are in order, and numbered, and have directions attached. So . . . Alter a Book, Dammit!
It's been a while since I've uploaded any vintage photos to share--this morning I added about two dozen new ones to my flickr account. As usual, they're free to use in collage and other artwork. Have a fabulous holiday!
I'm sending a chapbook manuscript to Finishing Line Press . . . their New Women's Voices contest is open until February, but I figured I'd get something--one thing, at least--out early to a contest. I also am sending a book-length manuscript to Fence Books, for their Motherwell Prize, which is for a first or second book by a woman. They only take submissions for four weeks--the month of November--so that, plus having to be a newer woman writer has to give me a bit more of a chance to be short-listed. I hope. Cross your fingers!
so, my art friend roc is hosting a swap for 5 x 7 journal pages, on which the art must feature numbers, at least three colors, and some sort of texture. i made the six required for the swap, plus an extra for roc and an extra for myself. the background is collaged from scrapbook papers, vintage pages from a fortune-telling book, and some vintage tape measure & foreign stamps. there is some other assorted ephemera in there, too. the green numbers are from old flash cards, and i've added acrylic paint, watercolor crayon, rubber stamping and some marker and colored pencil to them. each page has an image on it that i picked at random from my drawer of images [yes, i really have one]. because i had to add numbers, i decided to make up silly rules--each page features one that i made up. rule 15 is that dutch girls hide their cloven hooves with wooden shoes, and rule 8 is that if you're a tourist, people will excuse your posing with statues, but they won't excuse those shoes. anyhow, these are finished front and back, and i'm sending them out tomorrow to get them on their way before thanksgiving. it's the first swap i've done for a while . . . but it made me want to work on more journaling.
So, I've been trying to find time to revise my manuscript and push it out to a few book contests--and this weekend, I finally have that project done, except for a table of contents and printing it all out.
Calyx Press has a book contest--this is the inaugural year--for Oregon women poets. Their deadline was extended, so I'm hoping that means they are just waiting for my manuscript to arrive. LOL. Their deadline is November 20, so I'm going to try to get this out in the mail on Monday or Tuesday.
I have been trying to decide on a title . . . should the manuscript be Girl Most Likely to Drown, or The Scar Swallower? I'm going with Girl Most Likely to Drown . . . mainly because I'm too lazy to change the name of my blog. LOL.
I made this card for my art friend kristin. She collects ATCs of cats, and ATCs of Edgar Allan Poe--so I decided to combine them. :)
The black cat's body is from an antique halloween postcard, and I just cut Poe's head from one of his portraits. The saying, "I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat" is a quote attributed to Poe.
This is a collage of ledger paper, tax stamps and scrapbooking paper. Then, rubberstamping was added, as was the rubberstamped jar with a raven in it. The pencil is also stamped.
Over top, the card is edged in watercolor crayon and black marker, then layered with melted tulle and transparency with alcohol ink. It's all held together with a few purple staples. I really, really would like to keep this, now that he's finished . . . i just think it's so cute.
An art friend of mine requested a card that featured any writer--we're in a swap together in which we pick our themes.
I've chosen to make a Mary Gaitskill card for her--a great quote from her book Bad Behavior, and my favorite picture of her. If you've not heard of Gaitskill, you may be familiar with the film "Secretary," which was based on one of her short stories.
Gosh, this card & quote makes me want to reread the book.
I saw her read in Pittsburgh about three years ago in the dank basement of an art gallery, and she was amazing. She read from Veronica, but she also talked at some length in a Q & A session about her own involvement with JT LeRoy, the child author/literary scam that was the basis for Armistead Maupin's book "The Night Listener."
I have my copy of Bad Behavior signed by her--from that reading. She was shocked to see a first-edition hardback of the book, which was cool, and gave us a reason to talk for a second or two.
So, my friend Katxena has blogged a few times about items in her life that make her short list of "Excellent Things." I haven't been blogging much lately, so I thought I'd give this a try, in an attempt to get back into the swing of things over here--to get myself writing regularly again.
First of all, I'd heard tales of dry shampoo from my mom, who was a beautician in the mid to late 1960s, when women wore wash-and-sets and didn't wash their hair every day. I had thought it was such a great concept, but no one sold it four or five years ago. Then, about two years ago, I came across LuLu Organics' hair powder. I bought this online after reading a little review of it in Bust magazine a while back . . . and it's a little pricey at 40 bux for 4 ounces, but I gave it a whirl when I had a little extra dough.
It is awesome. I have the "lavender and clary sage" scent, and it smells SOO nice! I usually skip a day between hair washings, because a.) I'm lazy, and b.) my haircolor lasts longer and my hair stays shinier.
A little hair powder in the palm of my hands then raked through the hair at my temples and through my bangs is all I do . . . and it adds great texture.
There are more hair powders/dry shampoos on the market right now, but I wouldn't want to try one and be disappointed. :)
so i'm hosting a swap at www.atcsforall.com that requires players to come up with found poetry to include on their ATCs. i haven't made any of these in a while, and now i'm on quite a roll . . . maybe i just needed to find a way to meld some writing exercises with some artwork, so that i can get back into the groove of writing [or at least thinking about writing] more regularly. this card uses an image of an eyelid stitched shut that i've had in my box of images forever . . . it finally seemed like a place it fit quite well. i love how each stitch seems to underline the words.
So I'm sick and tired of receiving mail art in arranged swaps that relies almost 90% on purchased collage sheets. I love swapping ATCs and chunky-book pages, but frankly, they are supposed to be little pieces of art, not the same kind of collage we might've thrown together for a grade-school nutrition project by cutting up our mom's copies of Family Circle and Good Housekeeping.
I can't take it. I spend a lot of time on my collages--both in painting and distressing vintage book pages and paper towels for background elements, to locating just the right colors and papers to use, to having the best possible quotes or words or handwriting on my work, to using photographs that I own myself or that I spent at least some amount of time locating for myself. I worry about composition, layering, originality and whether or not the work has an overall statement to make. I create my own collage sheets to save on paper/color photocopying costs, but I don't go on etsy and buy someone else's sheets of crappy, overused, colorized vintage images of little girls in butterfly wings to make my art "easier."
Creating collage is not supposed to be about shortcuts and time-savers . . . it's still supposed to be art. I don't really know if there is any great amount of art involved in cutting images out of a three-dollar collage sheet and glue-sticking them onto a playing card.
I think this may be why I'm hand-drawing more stuff, because I am becoming a collage snob. And I don't like my collages lumped into the same category with collages that look like they came right off a production line.
So I'm not saying it's fantastic, but it's using the prompt of "writing a poem of return." Here it is.
This town lies eight wide states away from you.
The smell of this house— jars of Moroccan lemons, fresh towels, wild fennel from the yard my husband's sweat on my skin— doesn't include you.
You have never sat on this couch, one ankle crossing the other knee, staring through my blouse during a small dinner party.
But I keep opening the front door, I continue to let you in.
what i like here is how the first line and the last line work alone . . . "This town lies . . . I continue to let you in." I don't even remember where i read about that as a "hidden" technique for adding meaning. i also like that first line break, that makes the mini-sentence "This town lies." it's funny, to me, how quickly those kind of choices become important to me in a little breezy exercise. lol.
So, Writers Digest gives a poetry prompt every Wednesday, and I think I'm going to start trying to do this. Of course, this week's twitter post didn't have a link, so I'm going to start with last week's prompt, which is to write a poem of return.
I have been tossing about the idea of making a few tutorials that cover how I make the components of my mixed-media art . . . and this is the first.
In collage projects, I use painted-and-dried paper towels for texture as well as a way to add saturated color to a work. Through my flickr account, I created a little photo walk-through of the process. You can find it here.
I am going to go out on a technological limb this week and try to do something with a video camera and see if I am capable of creating a YouTube tutorial, too. I'm not promising anything, as I'm pretty easily frustrated with such nonsense.
OMG, it took me far too long to recuperate from my visit to my parents' home. ugh. but, i'm going to try to blog a bit more in the coming weeks. i'm caught up on mail art trades, and while i'm working on a painting for my own living room, i'm pretty freed up, despite finishing up the teaching of a few summer-school classes.
I decided today to make a pair of cropped pants. And, armed with a Jo-Ann Fabrics 50% off coupon, I went and bought some cotton batik in a brown/gray/purple color. I had an idea in mind of what I wanted to do, but there weren't any patterns for it. A few years ago, I saw a tourist in India wearing a pair of pants that also wrapped like a sarong. It took me a while to find out what they were, because they weren't Indian, and I'd never seen anything like them. I came to learn that they were Thai fishermen's pants, and proceeded to try to order a pair. Now, they're getting a little more common online, because people wear them for yoga.
Here's where things went south. I am a chunky little thing, and these pants come in one size. They don't fit largely enough for me to be able to wrap them around the right way. So, I thought I'd try to alter a pattern and fudge my own pair. What I got isn't quite the same as the Thai pants, but I really like them! Don't look at my chub . . . just at the pants. This is the pattern I used--Simplicity 2611. Instead of adding the little "drop waist" panel, I just used the FRONT and BACK pieces of the pattern. Rather than cutting the pattern in my regular size, I added three inches to each outer side of the front, and two inches to the outer side of each back panel. This added 10 inches to the circumference of the pants. I also added four inches to the top of the pattern pieces, since I was leaving off the separate panel. I cut the pattern to make the cropped version of the pants [in blue stripes, or View B, on the pattern envelope]. I sewed all four pieces together as usual, then hemmed the waist edge and the legs. I tucked over the front of the pants and pulled them to one side, marked the places where I'd need to add fasteners or ties, and then did that. The front received a tie, as did the right side seam. In the front of the pants, I added two velcro squares just to keep the pants tucked securely. I think they came out great . . . like I said, not quite the Thai pants, but cool and comfy and very easy to pack for my upcoming trip!
So, my Mother's Day gift is REALLY late. I kept thinking I was going to cross-stitch something to go with a few items I'd picked up, but it didn't happen. I thought about having a Claudine Hellmuth done of my mom, but the custom canvas pieces are too pricey for me right now. Then, I realized, I could totally do something similar myself! So, this is about halfway through . . . I still have a bit of detail and a beeswax coating to put on it.
To explain, my mom's name is Shine. And, she's a very positive person--never hateful, always optimistic, always expecting people to do the right thing. So, over the years, my dad and brother and I have taken to saying she "lives in Shinesville," meaning it in the same way that someone would say another person "sees the world through rose-colored glasses." So, I thought that she might like a little artwork that has her holding a banner that reads "Welcome to Shinesville" to hang in her new home office.* The photo of her head comes from a photo from 1965 or 1966, when she was in beauty school.*
I love her, and I think this is going to be very cute when it's done! Hopefully, my beeswax will be melted by morning, and I'll then be able to start sealing it up. I want to be able to take it with me when I leave town on the 18th. Late Mother's Day presents have to suck . . . so I'm hoping she'll forgive me a little bit.
*She went on to become a nurse, then a case manager, and now she works for an insurance company as a hospital liaison. She'll start working from home in late July . . . a perk of her job.
here's a baby . . . i just picked this cabinet card up this morning for 50 cents at an antique shop in downtown roseburg! apparently, this is what mouth-breathers look like as infants. For a bigger version of this image, and for more free images, visit my flickr page--the link is in my blog's left-side column!
So, I found this awesome blog . . . it's really neat, and I love that it's also from a guy in Durham, NC. I have a friend from grad school that lives there, so I can imagine that HE is dude craft. LOL. Dude Craft
My friend roc hosted a little private swap, and each of us sent in pennants with A, with R, and with T on them. We received one of each in return, each by a different artist. These are artists I've never traded with [deb, melinda & shelley] so that was fantastic--AND i love how the three pennants look together! I tacked them here on my studio counter, but i need to find them a more permanent home.
I'm done grading and posting my grades to the campus database! WOO HOO! I'm here for another 90 minutes or so, to pass back assignments to students who drop by, but I'm done for a while!
I'm teaching an online literature course that runs for 10 weeks of the summer starting on June 22, and I'll be teaching an on-campus writing course in August, but overall, I don't have to be back here on campus until July 27.
I have commencement ceremonies tonight, a meeting in Eugene on Tuesday, then I'm leaving for Indiana/Pennsylvania/Virginia on Thursday of next week. So, I have a little time between now and then--five days or so--to cuddle my cats, hug my hubbie, and enjoy my little house & its garden. :)
I'm only taking colored pencils, a little travel watercolor kit, and some bristol board with me on my travels, so that I can also take my writing journals and laptop with me and actually FOCUS on my writing. I need to write more, and revise older work, and get manuscripts out in circulation this summer. Many chapbooks and first books contests are opened in summer, so I have to do something!
Art Trader So, I was asked to step in and serve as an assistant editor for Art Trader magazine for a while, as one of their current editors takes a break from the job. I am thrilled--I think it will be great fun, as I've not edited anything besides student work in ages, and because it combines writing/editing with art, which is something that doesn't happen all that often for me, outside of my journals.
so this is new at Vintagraph, and i think i may need to order a print of it for my office. i love their restorations of vintage posters, but usually because they're to circumvent syphilis outbreaks and to advertise milk . . . this one, like all book- and reading-based crap in the universe, has been filed in my very exclusive mental folder--"Bluestocking Stuff." I must own it, or spend a lifetime coveting it. Vintagraph's prices are really reasonable, too, so I think that later in the summer, once I'm back from my travels, I'll order it and have it framed.
So, it's been a hectic two weeks here, between home issues and school work . . . but I'm almost at the end of the term. Two more days of classes, then final exam week. So, a firestorm of grading this coming weekend, then a small break.
On June 18, I'm flying to indianapolis for three days of meeting friends and creating art with a group of 40 to 50 mail art friends from a few online communities. It's a small gathering at a hotel--not so much a formal conference like the ones I go to for teaching. I'm really excited--almost all of these people are friends that I've not met IRL, so I'm sure I'll take hundreds of photographs. I'm also giving a little workshop on how to make resin-coated rolled paper beads. There are about 8 of us giving workshops, I think. :)
Last April, I went to an art weekend at Shelley's house at the NJ shore, and there I met several artists--both Shel [shoreart] and Dar [artedar] are coming to this Indy weekend. And, Shirley [lilbad], who lives in Eugene, OR, is also going, and I met her when I first moved here. So, other than that these will all be first-time meetings!
I'm sharing a hotel room with Heidi, who is coming from Canada, and with Katie V., who is from Indiana. Heidi's a new addition to our room, as of tonight, but I'm excited! She trades her art using the Artist ID "Siena" at atcsforall.com, and her artwork is lovely.
I fly into Indy at 9:30 pm on Thursday, and two other artists I've not met, Mary [malicea10] and Debra [goatgoddess], are picking me up at the airport. That should be very cool, too. I'm trying to decide how much of my art-supply stash I can jam into one carry-on and one checked bag. LOL!
This is attributed to Anne Sexton, the late American confessional poet.
"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard."
I use it in my artwork often, too . . . it's much more than a "writing quote," in my opinion--for anyone seeking a muse, trying to find a voice, looking for the "right" way to express oneself, these are words to live by. [Or, as the English teacher in me would like to say, words by which to live.]
By the way, this is my favorite photo of Sexton . . . she was a glamorous woman, almost always photographed with a cigarette in her hand.
I have no idea what comes over me sometimes. The college is having sidewalks replaced, and on Tuesday of this past week, both sidewalks leading from the parking lot to my building were torn up. I thought, "I think I can straddle and step over that stone wall" as to avoid walking about 10 yards out of my way. I failed miserably. This was taken about an hour ago. So 4-5 days later, I look like someone beat the back of my leg with a 2x4. I was wearing a dress that day, to top things off, and I have little stubby fat legs, too . . . I should have known better!
Amy's Flickr You know, I have not quite a hundred vintage photos available for free download/printing on my flickr account! Sift through them anytime, and use what you can! This weekend, I should be adding more. I'm going to try over the summer to get my entire stash of vintage photos scanned and uploaded to share them. I want to make this baby's doll into something creepy . . . I love the idea of altering the baby AND the doll.
“Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them.”
--Charles Simic I think I'm going to try to start adding a quote once a week at least, that deals with writing or poetry. Maybe a poem, too. Charles Simic is credited with this one . . . and while I've never been an enormous fan of his poetry, I have heard him speak and read his work twice, and that makes me love him--he's kind of an old curmudgeon, and I love that he doesn't try to hide in when making appearances. I do love the following poem, though. It's available, with others of Simic's, at www.poets.org, too.
Eyes Fastened With Pins
How much death works, No one knows what a long Day he puts in. The little Wife always alone Ironing death's laundry. The beautiful daughters Setting death's supper table. The neighbors playing Pinochle in the backyard Or just sitting on the steps Drinking beer. Death, Meanwhile, in a strange Part of town looking for Someone with a bad cough, But the address somehow wrong, Even death can't figure it out Among all the locked doors... And the rain beginning to fall. Long windy night ahead. Death with not even a newspaper To cover his head, not even A dime to call the one pining away, Undressing slowly, sleepily, And stretching naked On death's side of the bed.
So, the reference librarian at UCC and I met for a drink at a local pub. It was great fun, and I think that we have more in common than we both thought . . . a very cool evening spent out, being a social human being. I feel a bit weird, but no grading, no writing, and no mail art tonight! I've had a crappy headache all day, so it was nice to try to ignore it for a while. I have got to get to the doctor's . . . I think that every Spring day in Oregon unearths another pollen to which I'm allergic.
I did watch The Grudge III this afternoon, though. Guess what? It was abysmal.
So I LOVE taking pictures of people I don't know, preferably vintage photos of children and girls, and adding insults to them. These girls are from a late-1940s yearbook . . . and I've decided one is "loose" and one is a bitch. together, they're loose bitches, which delights me to no end. this is an atc for a swap at www.illustrated atcs.com. i don't make as many atcs as i used to, but they're fun to do for a change. keep in mind, too, that i teach writing/english to college students, so my fascination with insults and swearing is probably a little unhealthy. LOL! i like to blame it on the two years i spent in a sorority during my undergraduate at West Liberty State College--no one I've met since knows how to string together vulgarities like those Delta Zetas.
This is a chunky book page, 4 inches square, for a swap in which I'm participating at www.iatcs.com. This is for Judithann, and it's her cat. We all picked a particular photo to share, and the other six artists in the swap have to make a page using that photo. So, we'll each have a 6-page book ultimately, with 6 different artists' takes on the same snapshot.
I colored the cat--the photo made her look black, but she's brown IRL. I then added vintage text and printed papers, handwriting, watercolor crayon, alcohol inks on transparency, melted tulle and colored staples. There is a charm that will be attached to the page before I send it--but 3D embellishments scan so poorly that I leave them off until I'm done scanning.
So, last week I called the Smith Family Bookstore in Eugene. I was looking for a copy of The Safety of Objects by A. M. Homes. Apparently, somehow, my copies of that title and of her Music for Torching were mis-sorted into a "sell" pile when I was packing to move to Oregon last summer.
So, both locations--downtown and near campus--told me that they didn't have it. The campus location told me that they had none of her books. I spelled her name, saying "H-O-M-E-S, not H-O-L-M-E-S."
Still, no dice. Now, Eugene's about 75 minutes from here, so I don't go there all the time. I didn't want to drive up there only to find out they didn't have the book.
So yesterday, the hubs and i decided to take a drive up there to go to the farmer's market, to buy an extremely belated mother's day gift for my mama, and to fart around. I stopped in the campus-area Smith Family Bookstore to just double-check on their lack of A. M. Homes books.
I'd like to say I was surprised, but I'm not. They probably had 20 copies of assorted books by her, including two copies of The Safety of Objects. I doubt two people sold that book to them in the last week--and I know it's impossible that they had a sudden influx of 20 copies of various Homes books. Ugh. Of course, I bought the two books that I needed--I even got Music for Torching in hardback. But I was really angry, and squinted my eyes menacingly as I gave them my money.
So I'm weighed down, emotionally and physically, with the research papers that my WR123 students have been working on for their whole term. The assignment was to write an argumentative research-backed paper with at least 12 sources [8 of which should be scholarly journal articles] and12-15 pages of writing. APA format.
For some reason, as soon as students read "12-15 pages of writing" and "research-backed," most of them interpret the assignment as finding as many sources as possible, then proceeding to write a paper that is little more than a patchwork-quilt of source information. oh my.
I find myself writing over and over again--"Where are YOU in this paper?" "How do these sources work to support your own claim on the topic?" "Where are you connecting these sources to the original argumentative claim, and allowing that claim to function as the thread that holds the paper together with one focus?"
I am certain I covered this in class in great detail, but somehow it's not translating once students leave the classroom to work independently on the project. I'm not sure what I can do in future terms to help with this--I'm sure it's frustrating for them, not just for me.
And, if that wasn't enough stress and worry, I also had eight students out of 35 choose to NOT turn in this draft. It's worth 30% of the course grade. If I had a camera phone, I might take a photo of myself pulling out my own hair in rage, then send that to the class.
I have recently been accepted at a juried mail-art site, and this is a sample from one of the first art swaps I've joined there. it's for 4x6-inch gothic arches that had to include a vocabulary flash card. Mine are little French/English ones from the 1960s or 1970s. I've made seven of them, six for the swap and one for the host, Annie, as a gift. "Doigt" means "finger," by the way, which I thought was amusing. And I love picking on photos of little kids, by calling them devils or brats in my assemblages. This is made with printed papers, vintage book text, a photocopy of a vintage photo, melted tulle, caran d'ache, alcohol inks on acetate, colored staples, graphite pencil, permopaque marker, a paint sample chip, metallic sharpie, acrylic paints, and more. The cardboard from a box of granola bars is the substrate.
Redneck Haiku This made me laugh out loud, even though I know better. I think that being born and raised in West Virginia affords me a certain amount of "allowed" mirth at the expense of the redneck stereotype. My great-grandfather was a redneck--officially. He worked in the coal mines in Brooke County, West Virginia. So there you have it. The first haiku is my favorite.
So I went to see Macbeth at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon yesterday. The college pays for students in my ENG105 [intro to literature, focusing on drama] and in Pete Anderson's Shakespeare courses to attend a matinee. Only about 12 students from each class went, but I think those students really enjoyed it overall.
I was impressed with a lot of the play . . . the stage direction and set design was fabulous, and the costumes were great. they wore WWII-era soldiers uniforms, for the most part, and Lady Macbeth wore a deep ruby color in all scenes except her final scene, when she wore a tattered white nightgown. Lovely stuff. I was surprised, though, by the casting. The cast was multiracial, which is fantastic, but the choice of race for some characters was a bit odd. Macbeth was played by an African-American actor, and I thought that his portrayal of Macbeth had unintentional racial implications . . . here was a big, power-hungry, strong Black man who wanted to please his greedy shrew of a wife [who was white, btw]. I thought that it just seemed awkward, and McDuff's wife was portrayed by an Asian woman, and the character was reduced to a silent china-doll stereotype through most of her appearance.
I know it wasn't a thing that was intended, but I thought it was a little sloppy.
However, the play used three little girls, kind of like a gothic version of those famous Diane Arbus twins, to represent insanity, and that was genius. And, the three visions that the witches show Macbeth at one point are represented by these little deformed people that scurry off stage after popping out of the cauldron. Very cool.
Anyhow, some of the students had never seen a major production of a stage play, so it was a great opportunity. And, Ashland's only two hours south of here, so I may be tempted to go back this summer and see something else. :) Both Don Quixote and Shakespeare's Henry VIII are being put on this summer . . . i'm thinking that if we can afford it, Steve and I might go down and spend two nights . . . see both plays, one on Sunday & one on Tuesday.
Apparently, I have bees on the brain today--it's a beautiful afternoon, and I'm smelling flowers and listening to the kids across the alley play basketball. it is SO nice to have the house opened up! i am trading art with a few friends, each of us is making a 3.5 x 5 inch piece of art, inspired by bees. this is my piece. it's got an overlay of acetate with alcohol-ink staining and bees stamped on it. it is watercolor paper and vintage text, painted with acrylics on a brayer. then, the letter B was stenciled on with PITT pen and prismacolors in yellows. then, a few asian bee images were added, then a rubber-stamped beehive became the body of a girl; i used a vintage image for the head and drew on wings and hair. there's a stamped bee in her hair, too. i added the letter B rubber-stamped around, and a caran d'ache edging in hot pink over a black permopaque edge. green staples hold on the acetate. oh, and there are images of wooden bee hives in the background, too. whew!
i outlined some things with charcoal pencil, and added a chinese fortune that had a bee stamped on it. that's my friday art. loL!
this one almost made me spit up. i love lolcats, but i try to stay away, as i can get caught up in just looking through the archives forever . . . i do love them. and, who doesn't love a little Blind Melon reference now and then?
Next Wednesday, UCC has their annual Outstanding Student Reception. I was able to nominate the outstanding writing student for the year--my student KL.
He's a nontraditional student, and he's a fantastic writer. He's lived a ridiculously full, crazy, enviable life, and his journal writing last term was hysterical, incisive and peerless. Additionally, his academic writing is accomplished, stylistically unique and always interesting. Regardless, I have to write up a little paragraph about him and present him with a certificate. :)
I'm excited--and I was certain that KL would roll his eyes in his head when I told him about it, but he seemed excited, too.
So it should be a nice little afternoon thing. I'll post a picture if I have one taken! :)
I am seven weeks into a ten-week term . . . and I'm not certain as to how to proceed. I've never had so many students leave notes in my campus mailbox saying, "when you get a chance, please call me at 541-555-XXXX."
I don't want to call students at home, or on their cell phones. I also don't like that they disregard my office hours, when they could stop by or call me and be certain to have me there to answer all their questions at once.
I can't help but feeling like by leaving me a message to call them, they feel like the pressure is off, that the ball is now in my court. ugh.
Maybe I overreact, but I can't stand calling my mother, or friends I haven't seen in a year. I certainly don't want to call a student who is still on campus, but just doesn't want to walk over to my office.
i'm taking part in a little art swap at a friend's mail art site, and all players used the same crow template to make birds. mine are double-sided, one side with collage and journalling, and the other side with acrylic and watercolor painting. they're not quite eight inches long, and about two inches tall. i'm thinking about making a garland of them in black to use at halloween in the house--they'd look great spanning the built-in bookcases between the living room and dining room.
Here is the back of them--using a few rubber stamps I've bought second-hand. I'm in love with the "free key" stamp. it's huge!
so i don't usually draw realistic stuff, especially nudes. but, a friend is hosting an ATC swap for hand-drawn nudes, and i thought i'd give it a try. out of my four cards, this is my favorite. i think it came out pretty good--it's just graphite pencil and some gray prismacolor pencils on bristol board. the border is permapaque marker.
I'm in a group of 10 artists who are trading 8x10 journal pages once a month . . . two sided. I'm actually a month ahead [this is May's journal page], as I'm trying to finish up my commitment before leaving in mid-June for a month away from home.
This page is for danny, the artist who is fidoART Studio in Georgia. He draws amazing little colorful, grumpy people, so i tried to incorporate some hand-drawn element into his pages. This has hand-written journalling, hand-drawn and colored person (PITT pen and prismacolor pencils), plus mixed-media collage elements including machine stitching, vintage seam binding and painted paper towelling. The "Custom Made by Marie Blanchard" label is vintage, too. I found a whole envelope of them, probably 50 of them, at a thrift shop years ago for a dollar or two. So Marie Blanchard is always getting props for my work . . . she's probably dead, too.
I had a long weekend--my husband had oral surgery yesterday--so I was allotted a little more art time than usual this weekend.
Again, on Tuesday & Thursday, I go to campus for a single class. UGH!
Regardless, this class is fabulous . . . it's WR121, so some first-time writing students & some who went through WR115 first, a developmental course. I really like teaching it, and this section is full at 26 students. I believe I have at least 10 or so nontraditional students in the class, too, and the mix seems like a great one. Everyone already talks, already seems really friendly, even across the room from one another. Not in a circus-style mess, but in a community kind of way that should really help them all to become more comfortable sharing their work more quickly.
So, I'm already feeling better about going to campus for a single class . . . the enthusiasm of many of them has made me a little excited to teach the class.
I lived with a woman who loved ice cream, shared a single bare mattress with her every night.
I owned a candy-pink Royal typewriter that cost eight dollars; I sat on the floor & typed, sticky keys on brown paper.
In late summer, I picked warm blackberries in the alley and walked the aisles of Safeway with stained fingers & mouth.
We never had money, but we always had wine. I scalded and peeled fresh tomatoes to make her homemade marinara.
She moved out in September.
------------ that should make up for my procrastination on April 1. LOL. it's not very good, but i have wanted to put that typewriter in a poem for a while--i loved it. i can't believe i left it behind when i moved away. i wish i had it now. note, i'm not as concerned about my friend Holly.
i finally figured it out! i'm allergic to something called imidazolidinyl urea.
i bought a pricey lotion at the podiatrist's office, supposed to help with dry skin much more than what can be bought over the counter. it contains 10% urea, and supposedly, people who are allergic to urea will show contact dermatitis symptoms when they use a product with just 2% urea.
omg . . . i am going to DIE before this lotion wears off.
ends up, urea is a preservative that produces formaldehyde. nice to know that's what i'm rubbing onto my skin, turning myself into some sort of living mummy.
I just got off the phone with my mother, in West Virginia. I was SOOOO too tipsy to be talking to her. Drunk and in Oregon, talking to my mom in West Virginia. Like she doesn't know. I am so sure she's sitting at home with my dad right now saying, "I know she was drinking, Bill."
OMG. So a fellow mail artist decided to host an ATC swap for artwork that features "Regular People with Irregular Arms." This is one of my contributions--though weirder than I first intended. The photo is just a copy of a vintage "tattooed lady" photo, but in this scan, she looks like a transvestite. Definitely could be a man with breasts. So there's that, and then I gave her egg-beater arms, because I have a lot of weird rubber stamps I never use.
I'll have to dig up one of the other cards . . . it's a little girl with toilet brushes for arms. That's a kid even I could love.
I am sitting here, right now, with several of my windows open. OPEN. The fruit trees in my yard are blossomed, lettuce is sprouting, camellias are in bloom, and down the street, forsythia bushes have been open for weeks. Daffodils are already on their way out . . . they've been around since the end of February.
I'm fielding emails from disgruntled students, getting some last-minute syllabus revisions together, and working on watching far too many episodes of CSI. I caught up on the end of the first season of In Treatment last night, as now that Steve seems to be on the mend, I've been feeling awful. Not the least of my issues is that I am ITCHY ALL OVER.
I don't know if it's a seasonal allergy or something silly like hair product or dryer sheets, but there are no hives or rashes, just itchy-ness. ugh! coughing, and itchy. not a great combo.
I think I had both of them in class in Winter 2009. For the final exam in my writing classes, the students were asked to read an essay and then write a summary & response paper on that essay.
Two classes received a Joe Wenderoth essay to read, about the unflinching humanity on display in a townie strip club the author has frequented. Two classes received a David Sedaris essay, "This Old House."
Both were pulled from the Best American Essays 2008 anthology . . . and I tried to pick essays that were engaging as well as carrying a fairly approachable thesis/purpose.
However, one student took that Wenderoth essay and wrote a response that floored me. I love it. I might have read it with my mouth hanging open.
The other student was in a Sedaris class, but the humor, intelligence and drive of this student astounds me.
This is why I teach community college--I have the tiniest part in sending phenomenal minds into the world, ones that are taking a nontraditional route, but who teach me reciprocally as I teach them.
I LOVE teaching some days, and some days I just love being continually, intellectually challenged by educationally hungry, ridiculously unique, endlessly fascinating people.
I'm just glad all of it happens at the same place, and that I earn a paycheck for it.
about Dave Baker. and why would I do that? He creeps into my brain sometimes when I'm not expecting such things, and it makes me unsettled. I haven't spoken to him since long before I moved away from Pittsburgh.
I wonder if he still lives in Crafton, in that little apartment less than five miles from my house in Carnegie. I wonder if that couple lives upstairs, with the aging transvestite that asked him for money sometimes for groceries. I wonder if he remembers making me toast at the kitchen table his brother built.
I wonder if he sleeps in that little twin bed in his front room and thinks about what would happen if I knocked on his door.
I wonder if he knows I don't live five miles away anymore.
I wonder if he's still a pompous, half-retarded loser who's shorter than I am, who tints his hair and lies about his age.
So I've stepped away for a while . . . busy with work, and with married life, of all things. The dear hubs has been sick with something we finally know is Ludwig's Angina, which is gross. Just google it.
It's a form of sepsis that one can rarely get inside the meaty interior space under the tongue. People can die from it, and I've gone from hysterical to pissed off to laughing it off in denial to hysterical again. No one really knew that's what it was, so he'd been having it return every time his antibiotics would run out. Over a month now, and we're still a week away from the CONSULTATION with the doctor that will hopefully fix things.
He had an infected, impacted tooth. We spent an official buttload of money getting the root canal by a specialist in Eugene. Problem was, he'd had a really shitty root canal done on the tooth behind that one a few years ago. The infection was cleaned out of the newer root canal, but decided to go hang out in the dead, vacant root of the bad-root-canal tooth, soon taking over his lower jaw space and part of the bone, too.
Awesome. COULD HAVE DIED. I keep saying that in my head, and it makes me almost faint. I can't imagine him being dead, me being a widow . . . OMG.
Anyhow, now we need some special guy to pull that tooth, as no one really wants to touch it. Even our high-priced, high-falutin' endodontist didn't want to try to re-do the root canal on that baby. It has to come out, so everything can heal. So, he's still full of infection, and antibiotics are keeping the swelling and pain to a dull roar until the tooth can be extracted.
This is not my sole reason for silence, but it's part of the reason.
Thankfully, the break between terms is only a week--i don't have too much time to throw pity parties before getting back to work.
I'm working on a project for art trader magazine, a .pdf publication helmed by dana driscoll [she goes by adriayna at www.atcsforall.com]. i'm giving a little look at my art space, my dining-room-cum-studio, as well as walking through the steps i take in making an ATC. this is the ATC that i photographed in varying stages of completion. it's for a swap at atcsforall.com, hosted by miss.
In this new term, my dean again visited one of my classes, though this time, my class was AMAZING. They were scheduled to have a reading discussion, and they rocked it--talking to one another, remembering which of them was in the military, etc., when talking about flag burning . . . just an awesome day.
My dean was impressed, and I was SOOOO happy and proud and impressed. This class really set things right, over last term's fiasco. :) Sigh. A bit weight is lifted, just in time for me to flit off to Chicago for AWP and actually enjoy myself. :)
So, I've been making a few ATCs over the weekend . . . I'm going to fly over to Indianapolis in June to attend a little conference for mail artists, organized by the wonderful, creative people who own the website www.atcsforall.com. I need to get some stuff together, so I have some cards to trade when I get there. I'm excited to meet some artists I only know online . . .
I'm a little nervous. I'm not the least abrasive chica in the world . . . and I get along with some of these artists SOOO well online. What happens when they find out I'm a completely bitter, hateful ass IRL? It's true.
This card is based on an image in the Mutter Museum's collection . . . it's also the inspiration for one of my tattoos.
school has me busy . . . it's the end of week two of winter term, and i'm getting to know my students a bit better. i really like my classes. a lot of interesting people, and a lot of interesting opinions are already being made clear. i do not know what i could love more than teaching college writing. honestly.
the night before school began, on the fourth of january, steve had a seizure. he's never before had one. he'd been taking a nap, getting ready to work a graveyard shift. i had closed the door on him, so i could watch a movie in the living room. i head this loud groan--and at first, i couldn't figure out what it was. i thought it was the tv, then that it was outside, and as i stood up, i realized it was coming from the bedroom. he was seizing in his sleep. i called 911 . . .
a nightmare. he was completely out of it for about 30 minutes after what i think was a pretty short seizure. he went to the ER, and all tests are normal. he saw a neurologist yesterday, and he'll have an EEG next week. once the dr. has the results of that, he'll decide what to do.
i was terrified . . . all i could think of was that he was going to die. so, i've been a bit of a neurotic wreck over that, too. had a few migraines, had a few bad days over having to put jack to sleep . . . not a great new year so far.
okay, so i broke down and had my hair cut in roseburg. i haven't had it cut since mid-july, before we moved here. finally, i couldn't take it, and i made an appointment at an aveda salon in downtown.
it's not razor cut . . . so it's not quite as scary in that patti smith way that i like to wear it. and she took off six inches, so it's this little layered, shaggy shoulder-length thing. i probably look like a mom.
i went to wal-mart today because apparently i'm insane. i don't know what made me think i needed to be there on january 1. now, the wal-mart of small-town oregon is nothing in comparison to any one of the wal-marts i tried to avoid in the greater pittsburgh area, but still it was a nightmare.
and, like every other yokel, i was there to buy discount christmas crap. we had to leave so much of that stuff behind when we moved, that i just wanted to be able to buy some gift bags & tags, and maybe some stringed lights & garland to use next year. this year, trying to save money & not buy too much full price, we didn't have a lot.
but, i had to navigate through people stepping over each other to buy discounted christmas candy and dented gift tins filled with spritzers of Britney Spears Curious eau de toilette.
i've gained way too much weight this past year, i've moved across the country, spent way too much money on airline tickets, apparently i've used bad language far too often at my new place of employment, and my beloved cat died.
maybe now is NOT the time to be making resolutions. BUT . . . i will.
1. try to maybe lose a few pounds. i don't mind being fat and sassy, but i'd like my jeans to fit a little better.
2. write more.
3. submit more poetry for publication . . . i've been pissing that away lately.
4. read more.
i have two of kazuo ishiguro's novels on my bed table. i'm hoping to have them both done by the end of january. i'd like to start reading two novels per month, just for pleasure. teaching forces me to read student work all the time, then i let myself forget what it's like to enjoy reading.