grad school is hard.

as i was biking home tonight i was thinking that maybe happiness and contentment have some pretty significant connection to the feeling of wanting to be where you are.  i mean, looking back on life, there have been times and places that felt so right, and others that took some adjustment.  some things just never panned out.  i’ve definitely struggled with feeling totally at home or connected in this town since i arrived.  i guess there’s always a bit of an adjustment.  ups and downs, that settle (eventually?) (hopefully?) into and upward trajectory.  but what about when you don’t seem to adjust?  even before i was on this ceramic artist track i was pretty nomadic, so i’ve rarely been settled in one place long enough to really come face to face with overcoming disconnection.  until now.

i was just thinking that, when things don’t seem to feel right, when you find yourself procrastinating more than you are being productive, it’s not because you are a terrible person/artist and lack any discipline, right?  perhaps it is because of the totally human reaction to discomfort and disconnection—>avoidance.

i definitely don’t mean “place” entirely in a physical sense.  where we are is definitely a mental state too.  and since we can’t always choose where we are, or how long we’ll be there, maybe we naturally cultivate acceptance and excitement about how to move forward.  unless we don’t.  i mean, sometimes my reptile brain just takes over and avoids and it’s only when things get bigger (i.e. finding yourself avoiding making work a.k.a. your favorite thing in the world to do) that you have to take a step back and evaluate.

ok, so it’s fine.  despite all the positives, benefits, and amazing people around me in this time and place, i’m finding myself not feeling it.  this is normal-ish.  and as a flawed, awesome, multi-faceted individual i can call upon my strengths to move forward and embrace this unique experience i’m having.

a more realistic day in the studio.

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just a few things to get done.  no big.

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i’ll just knock some important computer work out of the way.

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and read a few books on professional practices, technique and conceptual development. they didn’t just sit there in a pile.  that would be crazy.

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i drew some….i just used invisible ink.

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my work table was sagging under the weight of all my productivity.

 

in my imagination anyway.

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wow, after a day like that i’m gonig to need an additional ware cart.

not.

huge crowd outside, waiting for the doors to open.

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in january i had the good fortune to see tavis smiley and cornel west speak in pugh hall at UF.  i showed up about an hour early, not knowing what the venue was like or what kind of crowd there would be.  thank goodness i got there when i did because the place was packed.  i was extremely lucky to get a seat, as some folks were diverted to an auditorium where they were streaming the talk live.  not only did the stream not show up well but the auditorium, i heard, was packed as well.

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tavis smiley introduced cornel west.  it was clear in his presentation that he greatly admired dr. west and he seemed to set the stage for him to speak.  this was my first time to hear cornel west speak and they made a great duo, smiley with his clear cut details, and sassy asides and dr. west with his theatrical way of speaking.

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they were there to talk about poverty.  as in, 50% of americans are in or near poverty.  really depressing stuff but when i got up to leave, i didn’t feel depressed.  they said what they had to say in a way that lifted the audience up.

looking down at my notebook, all i see are scraps of phrases, statistics and quotations.  it doesn’t make much of a picture.  but what i remember is a particular feeling of elation every time west spoke of a movement that needs to be multi-racial, multi-cultural, and inclusive all all genders, ethnicities, sexual identities, faiths (including athiests:)).  it goes without saying but i LOVE that he didn’t let it.  i loved that when someone brought up racism happening in the occupy movement, it didn’t phase him, simple, white supremacy and male supremacy come up in progressive movements, we just have to help each other out, push each other to be better.

after the talk i went up to shake their hands, it was a huge crowd, and i think if i hadn’t been alone i may have easily been talked out of it.  but i felt so touched and i wanted to shake cornel west’s hand and tell him that the book race matters had significantly impacted my life.  it’s so easy to get bummed out, to think that their is no way that equality will ever prevail, that things are always getting worse, but one of the points that resonated with me from race matters is that the one thing you can always do, the one thing that will change the world, is to create love and foster connections.

as it turned out, by the time i got to the stage, he and smiley were being encouraged by their assistants that it was time to leave.  west reached down a hugged a few of us left waiting, tavis smiley shook my hand, i said “thank you” and headed out.

happy new year!

good bye 2011.  hello 2012.  the last year has been paradoxically super challenging, the most so since i returned to the u.s. in 2005.  sounds crazy, i know, but i just haven’t felt that full-on “flow” in the last year of my life.

anyway, new year, new life, and some resolutions to accompany it.

1.  blog everyday.  write more.

2.  be proactive (and hardcore).  follow all the roads to the end, creatively.  schedule studio time and stick to it.  apply to at least one show a month.

3.  enjoy health.  schedule exercise.  go out into nature at least once a month.  transition to eating only local/organic meat.

4.  stick to my budget.  find ways to decrease spending.

5.  visualize/create the future.  set large goals and make step by step plans.  do things (like a garden) on a small scale.  reach out to old friends.

home wherever i go.

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photo of a photo, snapped from the facebook of stephanie burns.

i spent the first 18 years of my life in pretty much the same place, most of it in the same house.  but being the child of immigrants, was raised with this idea of other places i might call home.  i think this upbringing really impacted the way i’ve lived the second half of my life, often moving, creating communities everywhere i’ve gone.

tonight i was looking at a friend’s photos on facebook.  (i snapped this with my phone off the computer screen)  she and her partner just took a trip to europe and one of their stops was in florence, italy.  of all her amazing pics, this kind of random street scene, with closed up shops (maybe it’s on the ponte vechhio?  i’ll have to ask her…) really gave me a big shot of nostalgia.

as much as i want to go new places i want SO MUCH to go back to the places i’ve been.  i want to keep recycling my experiences somehow.  learning a new place and then leaving then returning.  returning makes everything feel new AND familiar.

i don’t know– i’ve never been one to go somewhere having done research, practiced the language, or any of that.  i love how the urgency to communicate necessitates learning, wondering around, having to ask for directions, strangers sharing their time and advice.

as much as i loved learning renaissance art history in florence, the things i remember most are…..

…the lady at the train station telling me to stop waiting in line so patiently.  because obviously, you will never get to the front if you wait, you kind of have to push your way forward.

borrowing a stranger’s cell phone to book a spot at a hostel–as the train rolled to a stop in that city’s station—and jumping out of the train on a whim to visit a new city.

…and you know, the fountain story🙂

places, people, languages, food.  i know these things are important to everyone but i want to know if they can fit centrally into my life.

i want the whole world to be my community.

life before grad school.

it’s grim.  haha.

after 8 months of living a somewhat subsidized life (via student loan money) i hit a financial wall.  all the sudden i found myself with bills up the wazoo and no money to pay them.  omg, i had to find a job! 

in gainesville. 

kind of the land of way too much supply and not enough demand (job candidate-wise). 

i had been putting aps in at the hospital all semester, picking up shifts at planned parenthood and the sweetwater branch inn (as banquet staff) but the hospital wasn’t calling me and with out student loan cash i wasn’t making ends meet.  i mean, the pp here isn’t even open on saturday! (hitherto my bread and butter day as a contract employee.)   so i hustled.  i EVEN wrote a resume specifically for reception.  (i hate making new job specific resumes.)  the first call back i got was for a martial arts school in jonesville, which is about a million miles away as far as i was concerned, not bikable (at least not according to MY definitition of the word bikable) and a hot BUS mess away.  the second call back was way better.  (thank goodness, i didn’t want to write a COVER LETTER!-seriously)  small, locally owned plumbing business needing a dispatcher.  i went for the interview and got it.  there’s even a bike path (not a lane but an actual shady path) pretty much the whole 6 miles between it and my house.  in the weeks since i started working here i also got a car (another hot mess for another time) which helps (kind of).

next week i start a fourth job (yes FOURTH) working as a studio assistant for nan smith.  i’m so happy to work with and learn from an amazing artist for a little while this summer.

so that’s what i have been up.  most of my inspiring fellow clay folk seem to be gallivanting off to haystack, arrowmont, penland and lots of other legendary locales (i.e. the bay area) but i’m not complaining!  i’ve been pretty lucky to get to live a life focused on the pursuit of dreams for the last few years.  now that i’ve accomplished one of my big goals (get accepted to grad school–oh, have i not mentioned that??) i can handle a few months being studio-free, working behind a computer, and staying in one place. 

buuutttt all those facebook pics do make a me a LITTLE envious of course:)!

on the road again…

once again i’ll em bark on the turtle life.  pack up all my stuff into my little house on my back and roll on to the next stop.  my next destination is gainesville, florida where i’ll be enrolled in the post-baccalaureate program at UF.
it has been a very interesting, challenging and often amazing 6 months in the city of brotherly love.  i am always lucky to meet friends wherever i go and in this short amount of time i’m delighted to have met and connected with so many awesome people,  my roommate and neighbors in west philly, inspiring artists and teachers of the philadelphia art scene and my friends and coworkers at pp.

every step you take in one direction means not taking other steps in other directions and i always kind of struggle with that.  i want to do everything!  but i feel confident that as i bumble along, on my own path, i’ll figure out the right way to go.  this crazy turtle life has taken my a lot of places and on many adventures.  i guess this is the most wild adventure of all.  bringing it all together and making dreams come true.