30 May 2008

Other Things I Know

When feeling panicked, and avoiding some behavior for some reason due to the panic, just go ahead and do it. You want to make sure the cans of Chef Boyardee (survival food) are where you think they are? You want to put all your emergency disaster supplies in the bathroom, because you'll hide there with the cats and the litter box you cleaned earlier -- just in case you do get stuck in there, so it won't smell quite so bad?

You just go ahead, babe. Just go ahead.

I hate tornadoes. Big ugly things in the sky. Make me afraid of thunderstorms, which is unlike me, and hail, which is worth being afraid of. Ice falls from the sky. Ouch. When I was in the Tetons, doing odd stuff for an RV park like cleaning the public bathrooms and driving around in a golf cart, a storm started one afternoon and hail came down, on me, in the golf cart, and so I sped away. I could have run faster, but there would be no roof over me. And hail is scary. And when else can one speed away for safety ... in a GOLF CART.

I wasn't even a licensed driver then.

I've made a lot of bread, and most of it is either just right or too heavy, too floured. But this last bread? Not enough flour. Flopped all over the pan. Weird bread. Tasty, still.

And the best tidbit --

Today, I emailed one of my bosses to ask if I could drop in to talk for a minute. She responded: "Only if you're not quitting. I'm serious. If you're quitting, you have to wait until Monday." Seems she had an awful week and ... didn't want it to end with me quitting, because she doesn't want me to quit. Tear.

Anyway I howled and squeaked with laughter and wrote back "I'm not quitting! I'm not!" and went to see her, where conversation was good.

Sometimes, this last year at my job can only be seen as some kind of lukewarm tolerable hell, and sometimes, I faintly recall the high hopes I had for it when I started, and how they faded, and then crashed, and then hit bottom, and then dragged along the bottom for six months. But you know, that boss with the "I'm serious"? She really does want me to work for her. She likes what I offer. She made that clear when I was hired. And in the middle of all the crappy mistakes I've made this year and all the ridiculously bad numbers that describe my performance, there are people who do know why those mistakes happened (PERFO-MANCE) and still want me to work for them. Now, this job pays less than TA-ships pay over the year, and the coffee is free but weak, and I really don't enjoy a whole lot of it. So I am surprised to feel how glad I am to know someone there does still want me to be there.

It's nice.

29 May 2008

"The Humans Are Dead"

Yes, I am behind the times. Behind the Times.

But I love this Flight of the Conchords song. And why aren't full episodes being hosted semi-legally where I expect to find them? Do I really have to torrent the whole thing? Grumble.

Potters are hilarious; I am having less outbreaks of hives (since you really wanted to know); my cats are both within arms' reach and asleep; I am baking bread RIGHT NOW. Yeah, I get off on the bread-baking timing and then ... stay up late baking it.

Boulder Hazed and Infused is one incredible beer.

Is anyone else ever struck by a yearning for mid-90's bands? Or at least the bands of yore? I could listen to some They Might Be Giants ... and Nine Inch Nails sounds good ... am I getting old? Is this what the space between decades does?

And birthdays; I have one; what to do. Officemate Kyle's is four days before mine. I am in charge of scheming. So far I have "dinner parties can be hard." Ideas welcome.

23 May 2008

The Great Potters' Pick-Up Line

"Want to go throw a pot?"

Somehow there's a glee, a glint in the eye that insinuates, "You know, like in GHOST?" And it is not an untoward pick-up line, if even really a pick-up line, maybe more of a combination greeting/come-on. It is innocuous, except in that hopeful "maybe we'll get our hands dirty together and then ... " way.

So I received this line today because I went to the clay studio I'll be in for the first time, in work clothes -- while, not formal, are clean and office-oriented, not clay-lab-oriented. So the "come on, throw a pot" gesture of some wiry, middle-aged dude was funny also. I do love the gross-clothes mentality of potters. I think my Cornell prof Doug kept cleanest, despite running in and throwing on your wheel all the time. The thirty years of throwing contributes, I'm sure; he also does something like 500 sit-ups a day to keep his back strong for kiln loading and unloading. My solution to the fact of working with mud for hours a day was to wear the same clothes all the time and to shower infrequently. It made sense then. Don't ask, please.

This clay lab only fires to cone six. CONE SIX is for lame earthenware and, yeah, fine, some decent stoneware glazes, but come on. Come on! But the Glaze Committee chair seems great and very into raku, and that bodes well for me. And she wants to see my glazes. Too bad they won't melt in their wimpy kiln. Cone six. Blah. Everything I've ever done that low I had to smoke-fire afterwards just to feel like it was burnt enough. Bring on the smoke fires ...

The Springer Center also has this beautiful gallery space, some hallway and some in a old foyer area, and that latter part has thirty-foot-high ceilings, dark wood paneling, bright white radiator covers, and an inlaid marble floor. Wow oh wow oh wow. I think I could build some kind of trellis thing, some framed structure with lattis or something on top to hang pots from upside down. Because that is what I've wanted to do for a year or so -- make white-glazed pinch pots and hang them upside down. Not sure why. Don't let that stop me.

And I am happier today than I have been in a long time. I'm sad they don't make their own clay, but the lab is so cramped, it is okay. I am sad there will be no salt firings or soda firings, but that is okay too. What I need is to touch clay, and that I have.

I think the key to my making is believing it is worth doing. That the leads are worth following, that the materials are plentiful enough, that the time is always there if I want it.

And I want to layer fired, glazed clay, like cross sections of pinch pots in colors nested/rested or something. I want to look at them together. But not glaze them too much.

21 May 2008

What Being Alone Can Do for You

1.) Scones. Vegan, banana, dried blueberry, and walnut scones. It feels like a super food frenzy. That's Super Food. I'll eat them tomorrow.

2.) Lots of frantic, love-deprived cat attention. Oh the cats, how they miss Noah. Eto is even calm about his leash and harness being put on him ... cat on harness = best thing ever, especially when Hobbes roams free nearby. Ha-ha.

3.) No dishes, hardly.

4.) An increased reliance on sleep aids and wake-aids, e.g. caffeine. And not caffeine. Feels like the old days, this sweet relax/agitate/relax/agitate cycle. I know it's good (as in not so good) when I don't feel right if my hands aren't vibrating a bit. And when triple-shot lattes are ho-hum. BRING ON THE CAFFEINE. DO NOT STOP MOVING.

5.) Nothing moves in the apartment if I don't move it ... and the car's gas tank does not magically refill itself.

6.) I can't stop singing alone with no music on.

"All right now ladies
What's cooler than cool
all right all right all right all right all right ... "

"On the field I remember you were
hey shut up hey shut up
yeah ...
Andy you're a star
in nobody's eyes but mine"

7.) Anyone want to buy a homemade LCD projector off me? It is one of a kind!

18 May 2008

I'm really not dead ...

Just not writing about being alive, yeah?

I am nearly a member of the Champaign-Urbana Potters' Club, on the Glaze Committee, and nearly able to wander in to the Springer Center and touch clay.

I am excited, I am afraid, I think a void is being filled slowly, did I mention I'm afraid of other potters who have actually touched clay in the last three years, unlike me, who can list all the skills I can contribute to a ceramics lab but has not used those skills in a very long time? In as long an interval of time as I was an undergrad? In as long a time as I was a grad student? In nearly as long as I've been married? A long time. Or long enough time.

Not to mention the last ceramics professor I had told me things like "I don't know if you have any skills" and "I can't tell if you're really smart or really stupid" as I made little pots, just little pinch pots mostly.

Well, in a week and a half I have a meeting with them and get to work with clay until the end of September, at least. Their 'no selling pieces for personal gain' policy might be a problem, especially if I start making a lot of stuff. It's hard to store everything you make when you make pots of any kind. Think dozens of bowls. It's probably easy enough to find recipients of free pots, though.

I've been thinking of posting a Robert Hass poem from FIELD GUIDE here, "Politics of the Pornographer," because I really love the end, but to get to the end, you have to get through this section about what the pornographer dreams of, and it's a bit too graphic for me to write out publicly. So look for the poem yourself. Or just imagine a mention of Oedipus, some other stuff, then: "There is no walled city come to. / There is no plague."

Noah's in Chicago getting ready for his first day with Crowe Chizek, doing an internship this summer with them in technology consulting, where his dress code is BIZ CAS. The dreaded biz cas, easier for men than women, but I am sad I won't see him in his biz cas dress, since we'll be visiting weekends when he isn't working and will be liberated into shorts and t-shirts from woot.com and threadless.com. He looks good in a suit. He does, he does. (Hi Noah! Hello!)

Well, to bed, to bed. To bed for all of you.

01 May 2008

"the wreck and not the story of the wreck"

You ever get that chilled and crampy feeling when reading an excellent poem, especially when reading an excellent poem within a collection of moderate, passable poems? How your gut goes, all of a sudden, "Oh my god this is it"?

Diving into the Wreck
by Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,

and loaded the camera,

and checked the edge of the knife-blade,

I put on

the body-armor of black rubber

the absurd flippers

the grave and awkward mask.

I am having to do this

not like Cousteau with his

assiduous team

aboard the sun-flooded schooner

but here alone.

There is a ladder.

The ladder is always there

hanging innocently

close to the side of the schooner.

We know what it is for,

we who have used it.


it is a piece of maritime floss

some sundry equipment.

I go down.

Rung after rung and still

the oxygen immerses me

the blue light

the clear atoms

of our human air.

I go down.

My flippers cripple me,

I crawl like an insect down the ladder

and there is no one

to tell me when the ocean

will begin.

First the air is blue and then

it is bluer and then green and then

black I am blacking out and yet

my mask is powerful

it pumps my blood with power

the sea is another story

the sea is not a question of power

I have to learn alone

to turn my body without force

in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget

what I came for

among so many who have always

lived here

swaying their crenellated fans

between the reefs

and besides

you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.

The words are purposes.

The words are maps.

I came to see the damage that was done

and the treasures that prevail.

I stroke the beam of my lamp

slowly along the flank

of something more permanent

than fish or weed

the thing I came for:

the wreck and not the story of the wreck

the thing itself and not the myth

the drowned face always staring

toward the sun

the evidence of damage

worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty

the ribs of the disaster

curving their assertion

among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.

And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair

streams black, the merman in his armored body.

We circle silently

about the wreck

we dive into the hold.

I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes

whose breasts still bear the stress

whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies

obscurely inside barrels

half-wedged and left to rot

we are the half-destroyed instruments

that once held to a course

the water-eaten log

the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are

by cowardice or courage

the one who find our way

back to this scene

carrying a knife, a camera

a book of myths

in which

our names do not appear.

From Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1973 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright 1973 by Adrienne Rich.