December 31, 2009

New Year 2010

wake up, foxy!


1. Get into grad school

2. don't eat pizza for 6 months

3. Ride bike/walk to work

4. Keep dream kitchen nice and dreamy

5. Work on some artistic projects before starting grad school so I have some things to be proud of in that arena before I start, so I don't feel torn while I'm in school. I am learning to let the 2 sides of my brain take turns instead of trying to hold both hands at the same time.

December 24, 2009

Mira Betz's strangest performance

Oh dear. Woke up early this morning, checked my account, saw that there was a new podcast with an interview with Mira Betz on YIP. Let me preface the rest of this story by saying: Mira is one of my dearest friends, and also one of my major dance influences. On a professional level, I admire her maturity, her depth of focus, her perfectionism. On a personal level, I love her spontaneity, her creativity, and how we feel like sisters picking at one another, supporting one another, and laughing (or crying) together at our foibles.
So, I gave the podcast a listen, to hear her voice that I miss, and to support her from afar. She gives a very straightforward interview on the types of things you would expect to hear from a famous bellydancer: her influences, what she finds important to teach, music she loves, and so on. Then, the interviewer asks her if her jellyfish piece was the strangest performance she's ever done. Immediately, my heart does a little flip flop because I'm pretty sure I know the answer. I'm kind of dreading her mentioning the piece we did back in August. To my relief, she says Buto theatre pieces are stranger than the Jellyfish Piece (which starts @ 1:09 in that link, and is a lovely homage to that gelatinous creature).
....And then, she starts telling the story about our piece back in August. I'm nervous and kind of embarrassed because it was definitely an impromptu strange thing that just sorta happened, and not something I really envisioned anyone (ha, everyone) knowing about in regards to my professional performance history. So, before I go farther, give it a listen. (Her interview starts at 27 minutes, and the story begins at 42:43).

Okay, so now that she's spilt the beans for people who weren't at Mecca that night, here's my version. The costume was the result of me just trying to get Mira out of the house, trying to get her to laugh and forget about playing the part of a proper famous bellydancer for a little bit. It worked! We even got my boyfriend in on the put-everything-on costume (what a sport).
So we arrived at Mecca, and to my bewildered amusement/disbelief, people (instead of laughing at our ridiculous costumes as I'd imagined they would) started exclaiming how amazing the costumes were, and how they couldn't wait to see what we were going to perform. WTF? The more people that said this, the less time/fewer options we had for just making a quick clothing change. And the rest, they say, is history. Here are some pictures, in sequential order, taken by Silvio Wolf Busch of the performance. Ay yai yai.

And later, Mira did a beautiful improvisation to our live drummers, holding the audience and the drummers in the palm of her hand, incredible as always.

December 19, 2009

crates and crochet

I really like the aesthetic that these apple crates on the wall as shelving give. Especially with that one blank spot where the wall shines through instead of seeing the back of another crate.

I am also surprised to like this aesthetic. I imagine a non-stop crocheter who puts garlands of crocheted squares everywhere, even into the greenhouse. But somehow, this unexpected bit of indoor warmth and domesticity brings extra love to the (quasi)-outdoors. Assuming that I didn't have crocheted squares all over my house inside, I think I would actually love to have this sort of decoration in my greenhouse. (If I had a greenhouse and a house, that is).

December 17, 2009

MIIS Musings

My first choice in graduate programs is Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). I have applied and am waiting to hear if I get in. One of the school's requirements is that you're fluent in at least 2 languages by the time you graduate, so you have to be at a fairly high standard of language ability upon entrance. I took the competency exam today, and my grammar is really really horrible. Like first year Spanish student horrible. I am not surprised considering that my last Spanish class was in 2000, and the last time I used my (already very rusty) Spanish was in Nicaragua more than five years ago. But realizing how terrible my Spanish was got me a little bit panicked. It totally put me back in the "doing poorly on exams" headspace that I lived in back in vet school. More than that, though, I DO NOT want to screw this one up. I feel like I HAVE to get in to MIIS, that this is my opportunity to do EXACTLY what I want to do, in my ideal setting. The stakes are so much higher for me now than they were when I applied to vet school because I don't have any room to squirm in, financially or emotionally. I HAVE to make this work, and I really WANT to make it work!

Luckily, my reading comprehension is at a very high level, which is encouraging. I won Kentucky's Spanish Reading Comprehension Award in 7th grade, so I guess some things never change (o:

I went to MIIS's website to read more about what I have to do to get up to par before matriculation, and remembered that they offer a Summer Language Intensive, so that is a possibility (phew *wiping brow*, I can do this).

While I was on the website, I looked through the course descriptions of everything they offer. I am so freaking excited about this program. I want to take classes in everything: Sociolinguistics, Business and Human Rights in China, Trade and Sustainability, and at least 40 other classes.
This description had me literally quickening my breath, and muttering, "ohmygodohmygodohmygod" because it's exactly what I hope to be learning.

I remember in undergrad at UK when I was taking classes with really boring names (and subject matter) called "CHEM 202," while my sister was taking classes at Naropa University with names like "Kitchen Sink Science," and "Kindergarten Magic". I remember thinking how lucky she was to be taking classes that seemed like things I was doing extracurricularly, and to be getting credit for it. If I get in to MIIS, I will get to take classes like Environmental Conflict Management, and will be immersed in a learning environment that, I imagine, will feel like it was geared just for me. I am so excited. And nervous!

Also, look at the other things they focus on at MIIS besides International Environmental Policy. I will be surrounded by amazing people who will be changing our world!

December 16, 2009

CSA=Community Supported ART

I LOVE this idea!

The following message was just sent to me from a very good friend of mine. He's a fabulous artist here in Lexington, Alex Brooks. I think this idea is brilliant, and I hope supporting a local artist and reaping the benefits of getting monthly handmade (professional, beautiful) art in the mail is interesting to you.

(BTW, I am asking for this for christmas, both the share and the box. So, if you decide to spring on this for me, just ask Alex if someone has already sprung for me or not...if so, you can share the delight with another loved one instead!)

Date: December 15, 2009 11:57:02 PM EST
Subject: 2010 CSA: Community Supported Art

Dear friends & family:

I’m writing to tell you about a new project I’m planning for 2010; I’m calling it a CSA, or Community Supported Art project. I’ll be offering 100 shares of a year of my artwork. Each month, beginning January 2010, shareholders will receive an envelope in the mail with a 8x10” print, hand-signed and hand-numbered, along with various other writings and musing I’ve composed for that month. This is a unique way to participate in my year of art making, support a local artist, and get some great prints for a great price. In fact, each print will only cost $4. The total cost of one share will be $48 + $12 shipping ($60 total), and you can expect multiple color reduction woodcut prints, multiple block woodcut prints, and single color woodcut prints. You might also expect some use of wooden & metal type, linoleum cuts, wood engravings, and all sorts of other printmaking experimentation. A CSA share also makes a great gift and I can provide a hand printed card to present the gift to its lucky shareholder (please contact me immediately if you’d like a gift card).

I’ll also be offering custom, hand made conservation boxes to hold the year’s worth of prints. The cloth covered archival box will have paper spine & front labels and will be perfect for storing all your prints on a bookshelf or coffee table. The hand-made boxes will be $50 additional.

Throughout the year shareholders will also have opportunities to order greeting cards, journals, or other materials printed from the CSA woodcuts.

How to sign up: If you want to become a shareholder, support my printmaking endeavors, and reap the benefits of an original print every month you can:

1) Come by my studio and see my restored antique presses, paper cutters, and bookbinding tools. Give a call to let me know you’re coming (859 608 5860) and bring a check or cash for $60 per share and $50 per box.

2) Reply to this email with your name and address and pay by paypal. You can pay to, or I can send you a paypal invoice.

3) Send me a check in the mail, along with your name and address.

There will only be 100 shares available, so become a shareholder now!

thanks, Alex Brooks
press eight seventeen
437 N Martin Luther King Blvd.
Lexington, Kentucky 40508

if you're interested in more of my work, or pictures of machinery or my studio, go here.

Also, please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

p.s. For years I’ve enjoyed the Kentucky growing season through a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program from Three Springs Farm in Carlisle. It’s a special community based endeavor where a group of people buy shares of a farm and each shareholder profits from the farm’s produce. It’s been a blessing in my life and I’ve purloined the acronym and business model in hopes that my CSA can create some small similar community spirit & happiness.

December 9, 2009

Wish List

Here are some neat things I wouldn't mind having @ our house. But these are just as much ideas to pass on for YOUR special someone. Maybe they could use them too.

The Herb Savor Pod.
Put the herbs in, add a bit of water in the bottom, keep your herbs fresh for up to a month. For instance, I love fresh cilantro, but a little goes a long way, and the bunches they sell them in are always too big for me to use before the rest rots in the fridge.

I have been on the search for the perfect boots. These are not exactly what I had in mind, but they're definitely waterproof (made from recycled plastic bags!!), and they are definitely cute. Dacca Boots, are named after Dakha Bangladesh (the first city to ban plastic bags), are made in Brazil, and are where it's at! ( I wear size 10 wide in US, or 44 in UK--heh)

CableYoyo seems to be just one one commenter said: "a simple and elegant solution to a somewhat complicated and 'tangly' problem".

Always trying to consolidate and keep my "closet" (currently a rolling rack out in the open of my bedroom) nice and tidy, I definitely think this would help with my small collection of fashionable (as opposed to warm) scarves.

A good sleep mask is worth its weight in gold. I never have replaced mine since my house burned down, and keep wishing I had replaced it...but it's all about finding the right one. I think this my choice because it blocks the light out from the bottom and is aromatherapeutic too (lavender mmmm,.....zzzzzzzz).

Okay, this next one, I don't actually want or need, but I can't help posting it for novelty reasons. This small company prints different faces on the sides of hoodie hoods, leading to excellent/funny results. Maybe you know someone who needs one. You need to go look through their site right now. They have animated gifs of each design, ha ha ha...

Mishare is what we all wish were easily available. Sharing music ipod to ipod, sans computer, sans cables, sans pirated versions of senuti. Gah! It's like a wish come true just to know it DOES exist. It costs ~ $100, which is why I don't have one.

A much more affordable gadget that we've all wished existed (well...) is the ThumbThing. At $5 how can you go wrong?

The cats need presents too. This is a really fancy version, but I'm sure a home-made version would be perfect too. In fact, I made one for my kitties several years ago with pine milled from my dad's land (also lost in the fire). But anyway, I'm just not all that into carpet-covered cat climbing things because you can never get them clean, and they always look like ugly carpet covered cat climbing things. These at least look interestingly sculpural, or shelf-like at the very least.

Looking for a gift for your favorite bellydancer? How 'bout a nath? These don't even require the special lady (or man) even have a pierced nose.

Alrighty, then. There's plenty of ideas for you. I am a habitual saver of ideas, so I have a (LOONNNNNGG) list of items I find interesting or useful or pretty under one of my bookmarks. If you need more ideas, let me know. Happy holidays!

December 4, 2009

How to be PRETTY

Some images to whet your appetite for what is to come. Tuesday Dec 15th (7:30pm) at the Niles Art Gallery on UK's campus (the old library) I will be performing in "How to be PRETTY," directed by Lauren Argo. It is one of the Little Gaines Series.

Lauren seems to travel with laundry baskets full of bizarre items at all times. Styrofoam heads, wigs, and masks. Boxes of dirt. Amazing dresses and costumes from days of yore. A full spread of snacks, because she was raised right, and does Southern hospitality justice. Books about mountain top removal, and Japanese candy. Pink plastic kleenex boxes and gold spray painted cicadas. Her installation pieces are elaborate, cohesive, and broad. She throws a bunch of stuff in the air, and it lands looking like a perfect set from the movies. She knows how to leave big streaks of generalization in order to get your mind around an idea, and then reel you into feeling the situation personally with minute detail. Her creativity is immensely inspiring to me, as is her slapdash way of doing things. And I say that because what she does always works. I don't think I always have the time, energy, or talent to perfect things the way I see them in my head, but it's inspiring to see that sometimes, just DOING it, whether "perfect" or not, can actually become the perfection itself. I had the wonderful opportunity to perform last spring in her piece Farmer Daughter Cycle,
am looking forward to performing in her newest piece, how to be PRETTY.

Here's the description of the performance:

how to be PRETTY is a multi-media performance and installation examining female coming-of-age beauty rituals and society’s changing beauty standards. “What is (y)our idea of beauty?” and “How do young girls--through rituals--understand and react to beauty standards?”

From learning how to apply lipstick and mascara, to starting your period and getting your first bra, these beauty rituals are inform the rest of a woman's life. Often passed down like and old hankercheif from grandmothers, mothers, sisters, girlfriends and others, these rituals are formed by some of our earliest experiences.

how to be PRETTY comments on contemporary beauty standards in all parts of society, and the special role played by the Media. With hair dyes, teeth whitening, liposuction, and plastic surgery to name a few methods of body transformation, young girls focus on end results and how achieve them quickly, rather than working toward perfecting the ritual. We will always want to know how to be PRETTY.