Thursday, June 28, 2007

Priorities people!

Please refer to this article on the Washington Post website today:

It's about the frenzy for the new IPhone. It's not your usual story about the crazy consumer drones that wait in line for the new phone for days on end... no, this article is about a company that will create a diversion so huge, people will get out of line so you can be assured to get your coveted phone without days of waiting.

"Over Here, Jerks Inc., includes a dozen stuntmen, a few chinchillas, bearded-dragon lizards and a goat."


That's it. The end is near. We've lost all hope of ever being a species that is worth the air we breathe.

There are some people that are using this media attention for good: another man in line is raising $5000 for the Taproot Foundation. There's a win-win: he gets his phone and his favorite charity gets $5000.

Still, how many of us are quick to say that we don't have money to give to charity, but then we'll find a way to buy a fancy new phone or a new pair of shoes. I know that I'm often guilty of that. Maybe we could work just a little bit harder at helping the people around us get what they need and not worry quite so much about accummulating endless amounts of stuff that will be obsolete in a year or two.

I can't compete. I don't want to compete. You win. You have the new phone and I do not. There. Are you happy yet?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Old game, new to me...

So the game... from my friend's myspace page, but apparently circulating around is to type your name and the word "needs" into google and see what comes up.

For example:
Kathryn Needs and the first thing that comes up is "pieces of cheese"

For "Emily needs" you get all kinds of things: "Emily needs to give me food" "Emily needs to be told no and whipped into shape" very funny.

For "George needs" you get "George needs to put Laura in her place"... I would argue that Laura needs to put george in his place.

For "Laura needs" you get "Laura needs some post-toddler love" What does that mean anyway?

So give it a try and let me know if you come up with anything good... or if you have cheese for me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Slowly... slowly...

Things in my new place are slowly coming together. With any luck by Saturday, I'll have two chairs and a tv.

It's been quiet and a little lonely without a comfortable chair and tv to help veg me out.

This all sounds very selfish, given my last post, but whatever. I'm nesting.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Sunday in the Park with George...

Yesterday morning, I decided to walk down to Washington Square, a lovely park in Philadelphia that has lots of benches, a nice fountain, and is the home of the tomb of the unknown soldier.

I sat on a bench that had a view of both the fountain and the tomb and read my book for several hours. Periodically a young homeless man would distract me, as he made a "Halt" gesture with his hand. In another time and in another place, this would have been a handsome man: tall, muscular, with a nice face. Clearly he was reenacting something with his movements around the park, but he did so unaggressively and silently.

At a certain point he settled onto a platform near the tomb, under a tree. I watched him sit there quietly as tourists and their children went up to the eternal flame, and then moved away to take photos in front of the fountain or head off to the next activity. After some time, I finally read the inscription above the tomb: "Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness." It was so poignant, so disturbing... it rattled me. That man sitting there in the darkness - next to this grand tomb - forgotten, neglected, relegated to this one spot on the planet. Not free. Not by my standards.

Faced with such a scene, such a moment of revelation, I did the only thing I could: I cowardly fled, wishing I could at least document it in some way. Wishing I could change things from the way they are. Wishing things to be different though does not change the world.

On my walk home, one of those duck tours passed me. The tour guide was trying to get me to dance for the tourists. He then seamlessly moved from his abuse of passers-by, into the amplified story of Richard Allen, a slave in Philadelphia who bought his own freedom for $2000. Allen then founded a congregation where African Americans could worship without restraint or harassment.

What did I immediately think: "$2000 is alot of money." Then, I thought, "Whoa,$2000 in 1760 is an unfathomably large amount of money." Now, I keep thinking: "What would $2000 be able to do for that man in the park?" Medication? A home? Therapy?

I don't have anything to contribute right now - I'm just trying to make it until the end of the week when I get paid. But the more important questions are: Who else is lurking in the darkness? What is their price for freedom? And how can I help?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Remedy.

I'll begin this post with a description of my afternoon yesterday. Completely worn and spent from the last few days, I had cajoled my friends to going to a tea bar called Remedy. A super-fantastic alum had taken me there a few weeks ago as a thank you, so I was anxious to try it out again.

On the way there they started to tell me their ghost stories... as I have requested you all to do (a-hem, a-HEM!). They were good. I'm mentioning it here in hopes they'll post them for you.

Hey Craig Peppers... I was telling them about your talking to God story from when you were little... can I tell it here? Or will you?

Brief review of Remedy: great place, super tea, lovely cupcakes, not super expensive, nor super crowded. I recommend taking 3 close friends and splitting 2 cupcakes while laughing until you cry... or laughing until you do the choke-cough-thing that ultimately makes you cry.

I have a lot of stories. The one I choose to tell them yesterday was about one day I was in the studio with Martha. She and I had been alone all day and talking about all kinds of interesting things (as we always do). I was in my usual garb: dirty apron, hair up, gloves, covered in dust and mortar. I went to the bathroom and in glancing in the mirror I felt transported - or maybe transformed is a better word - into someone else. The woman also had an apron on and had curly hair piled on her head. I felt a rush of approval for the work I was doing, a sort of other worldly affirmation of my often uncertain choice to leave the Smithsonian to pursue studio work. In one instant it was gone - and I was back to me, back to the little bathroom, back into my body. I told Martha about it right away and she was amazingly receptive. I tearily confided in her that I knew who it was. It was my great-grandmother, a woman I've never met, but that I know wore an apron everyday, since she owned a small shop.

Later that same year, Craig made me a painting that I feel reinforced the idea. It had railroad tracks and artist's that I love on it. He wanted to convey to me that all the suffering that my family and I have been through has brought me to this point. The hardship was borne to allow me to be here as the person I am today: an artist, a friend, and someone that is committed to the betterment of myself and the world around me. He wanted to ensure I didn't take it for granted.

And I don't.

I guess I'm not really in that place right now. I don't wear an apron very often, but I LOVE that feeling of serving people. I am doing a lot of that, but I guess we could always be doing more. As I reevaluate things in the next year, I guess I should remember that feeling and see if I can identify a way to incorporate that into my life, while maintaining the morsels of security that I've become quite fond of.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Beginnings and Endings

Anyone that has been reading this blog has read about Miss Ayesha... in my story, in my description of Easter with her. She passed away this morning.

I'll write my version of an obituary later. I'm off now to prepare for the burial this afternoon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Goodbye Brooklyn, Hello Center City

Why did I plan my move the day after a week away? Now I don't want to go home and deal. I know I'm mostly prepared, but I'm scared. This is what I'm scared of:

1- That my friends secretly resent me. No one likes to move. No one actually wants to help me move. I only responded "yes, I'd love your help" to those that offered, but I hope I'm not taking advantage of anyone's kindness.

2- I haven't lived by myself since 1998. And only for one year. What if I'm lonely? What if I hate it? What if I'm stalked?

3- I don't have the funds to buy everything I need right now. So I'm nervous about living like a squatter and feeling like I've made a mistake. Maybe I should set a rule: NO JUDGEMENTS ABOUT LIVING IN THE CITY UNTIL LABOR DAY. That will give me time to get settled in and see how I like it. It will also give me time to set up a routine, reconnect with city people that I don't see very often, and buy some creature comforts. Why are they called "creature" comforts anyway? Or have I mixed my metaphors or something.

4- I'm tired. When I'm tired, I'm emotional. My most common emotion is fear. Thus tiredness=fear.

Okay, thanks for letting me vent. I feel a little better. Thanks to everyone that's helping tomorrow! I really couldn't survive if it weren't for all of you. Or maybe I could, but it would not be as fun. I hope that tomorrow is fun and light... full of laughter and fun for everyone. I hope that I can convey my thanks to my friends. I wish I could have made little thank you gifts for everyone while I was here this week... that would have been nice. But I didn't, so a simple "thank you" will have to suffice for now.

And remember I told you about the woman I met here named Marjorie. She and I are going to exchange ghost stories. You all remember my post on that topic from awhile back. If you have ghost stories... Can we share? Real ones that you've experienced, not hollywood or rumor.

Talk to you soon. Tuesday probably... cross your fingers for an easy weekend! Love and thanks to you all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

More on Brooklyn... and Kali.

So I'm still here. It feels like a long trip. I'm ready to move on... but just one more day. Tonight I'm going to see a movie. A French movie. I'm not sure where or what, but it will happen.

The conference is interesting, and I've had the chance to meet some interesting people. I'm glad that people have been including me in things. These events always remind me of the first week at a new school: forced talking, sharing way too much information with strangers, and weird food.

Today was a bit better because we had a field trip. We went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to see the new Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art. I have to email my cousin about that. She used to write for a feminist website, but I haven't seen any article links from her mom recently... I should check in and see how things are going.

Part of the permanent exhibition space is Judy Chicago's piece The Dinner Party, that consists of table settings dedicated to important women throughout history. One of them is Kali.

Kali is the "Fierce manifestation of the Hindu mother goddess; her powers are associated not only with destruction, but also with creation and restoration" according to the pamphet on the Dinner Party. A true Mother Nature figure, that is responsible for both devestation and regrowth and renewal.

Of course, this makes me think of my friend Kali, from college. (And this discussion is really a secret ploy to get her to leave a comment.) I wonder what it was like to grow up with such a powerfully-associated name. To me, she is just Kali. I guess she is simply that to most people, but it was interesting to try to compare her to such a powerful deity.

Capable of destruction: Yes. Mostly to herself though. My favorite picture ever is when she twisted her ankle in Greece and had to be carried to the local police station where we convinced them to give us a ride back to our hotel.

Responsible for creation: Yes. This woman makes the best salads ever. And she is extremely good at creating connections between people too. I have Kali to thank for my on-going friendships with some of the most important people in my life to date.

Catalyst for regrowth: Yes. Her home (and her sister's home), her wonderful family, and her generosity have often helped to mend and regenerate calm, power, and confidence in me. On a small level and on a large level, she has helped me tremendously and is an amazingly supportive friend in the "regrowth" department!

So big shout-out to Kali. Hope to see you next week!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Babbling Brooke, Prattling on...

Here I am at Pratt for a conference, and I'm having a few moments of realization.

First, I talk too much.

Second, when I'm done talking too much, I don't want to talk at all.

I've always been this way. My mom's nickname for me during the moments of talking is "Brooke" as in a babbling brook. But on the flip side, when I get tired or overwhelmed, I need to have quiet and a bit of an escape.

So this blog is my escape for right now. I'm too braindead from talking to worry about form, function, and readability, so I'm sorry if it's not up to snuff and if it feels like a string of non-sequitors.

Speaking of non-sequitors, I met a lovely woman who is the Artist Resource Coordinator at Columbia. We have alot in common... she's Haitian, studied French in college, loves Rodin, etc. I hope I can get to know her better over the course of the next few days. Her name is Marjorie.

I also realized that I'm pretty knowledgeable about what I do. Alot of the presenters were saying things I already know or doing things we've tried... so I'm feeling pretty good about things. I did find myself looking around the room coveting people's jobs... I want to be at Columia, NYU, MICA, RISD and the like. Well, I guess it's better than thinking... "ugh, what a bunch of losers".

Oh, and my room here looks like a prison cell. The shower has no shower curtain and the bed is not comfortable. But I'm glad I'm getting a taste of being by myself in a very small space. At least in my new apartment things will be comfortable!

Alright, enough babbling. I'm off to find my boss and see about dinner, since none of my friends can hang out tonight.

Missing my Philly crew... much love Philly... see you Friday night!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blue Jays Revisited...

It was quite a weekend: the ballet, dinner with college friends, packing my stuff in preparation for my move, and a barbeque with my other friends.

And at 2am this morning, I got word that my friend Sarah had her baby!!! Welcome Jonathan... poor Sarah managed through 2 days of labor and gave birth to a 9lb, 9oz baby boy. Wow.

I don't really know where to start with writing about all this. Everything went very well. At each event I felt so connected to everyone I was talking to. I am extremely lucky to have such wonderful friends.

I'm going to have to mull this over and get back with you...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A cup of tea and a smile.

I've moved almost every year since 1991. Not necessarily to a new state or country, but to a different apartment at least.

I was talking to my mother about the renovations they've been doing on the house and I told her that I was excited about them because she's finally creating a home. We've always had just a little less income than necessary to create a welcoming, cohesive home, so I am very excited for them. My mother has an amazing style: daring, worldly, and comfortable. I can't wait to see how the house looks.

I was thinking about the list of places that I've lived, even if some of them were only for a very short time: Canada, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington DC, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Then I was thinking about my mother's list: Tennessee, New York, France, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Italy, Maryland, Michigan, Canada, Missouri, Virginia, and Georgia. 4 countries, 8 states.

When people ask me where I'm from, I say "all over." I wonder what my mother says? 4 countries, 8 states. I guess my father has almost the same list as she does, adding Vietnam, and oddly enough recently he added Tennessee... the same state my mother was born in, but he lives there part of the week now during this most recent interim position. I wonder if I've missed any? I know my mother's first engagement ring was stolen in Germany, but I think that was just during a visit.

Looking at this list, it makes more sense to me why being called "American" by my international friends grates a bit. If you add in my sweet aunt that travels regularly to Nicaragua, my cousin who is in Bolivia as we speak, the other cousins that have schooled in England and Australia, my sister who has had some interesting times in Mexico, and my German grandfather, we really are an international family.

All that being said, I'm ready for my parents to settle down. I want them to model for me what having a real home is like. I know I want to add a few more places to my list... at least one more country and maybe a different state or two. I don't want to miss out on the adventure of living abroad. I want my children to speak multiple languages. For that matter, I want to regain my language skills: my French is rusty, my Italian is nearly extinct, and the Amharic and Swahili I know won't get me more than a cup of tea and a smile.

I'm happy with the level of adventure I have in my life, but I'm ready for more. Maybe it's the jealousy about my parent's trip to Tanzania again, maybe it's my upcoming move, maybe it's a deep longing for the means to live and operate on a different level.

Whatever it is, for now... I'll be trying to create the feeling of home. To me that is the warmth of friendship, the surety of assistance, the beauty of architecture, the familiarity of good food, and the sentimental attachments to the small things I carry with me from place to place.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No Exton.

Jean Paul Sartre, brilliant French playwright and philosopher, described Hell in his play Huis Clos (No Exit) as eternity being trapped in a room with two other people you cannot stand.

After this morning, I have an alternate reading of Hell, which I will title No Exton. On my way to a long-procrastinated dermatological appointment, I headed in my crap car down 202 for what seemed like 400 years looking for the Route 100, Exton exit. I made it well past Westchester and nearly to Wilmington before I realized I was lost. I had passed many miles of cars stopped due to construction on the other side of the highway, so I knew that a return trip would be harrowing in my soon-to-be-scrap-metal of a car.

I pulled off the road and called the dermatologist's office to ask for directions. They informed me there is no exit for Route 100, Exton exit going south on 202, only when you're coming north on 202. No Exton. They also informed me that despite waiting over a month for an appointment and receiving less than perfect directions FROM THEIR OFFICE, that I would have to reschedule if I was going to be more than 5 minutes late.

Knowing that 202 northbound was a parking lot, I cancelled the appointment, and headed back in the other direction with the very helpful suggestion from the office staff "... perhaps if you work in the city and don't know the area, you should go to a Penn dermatologist, they're very good." No Exton.

I had plenty of time to think evil thoughts as I sat on 202 North, particularly as the traffic stopped right in front of the Route 100, Exton sign. "Ah yes, there it is... perfectly visible on 202 North. Why in the world aren't the exits the SAME ON BOTH SIDES OF THE HIGHWAY!!!" is what I was thinking as I sat there. Actually, the words I was thinking are inappropriate to publish, so I sanitized them for you. No Exton.

Miraculously, traffic started to move again BEFORE my car reached the level of overheating that causes the engine to seize and leaves one stranded at the side of the highway. For 10 minutes or so I watched the needle creep up, glanced up at the blasted Route 100 sign occasionally, and tried to brainstorm about who I would call to come fetch me from the side of the road. No Exton.

I finally made it back east, and onto the train into the city, but not before one more tiny little event. I was feeding change into the SEPTA parking lot thing, when the wind took my skirt for a little ride, giving everyone on the platform a free show. Fine, these things happen, but my undergarments for the day are perhaps more appropriate for a 6-year-old: bright pink boy-shorts with big white polka-dots and fat lace edging. Not exposing anything interesting, but nearly impossible to miss, should the wind take your skirt for a ride in front of a large group of people.

So by writing about it here, I am reclaiming my dignity. Yes, World, I am a grown woman with polka-dot underwear. No, I do not drive well. No, I do not navigate well while driving. No, Route 100, Exton does not exist on 202 South. No, I do not want to go to the dermatologist. No, I do not like to be late to work, even if the line at Starbucks is shorter.

There you have it. Judge me if you will. Just consider yourself lucky not to be trapped in a crap car with me on 202 South for all of eternity.

Friday, June 1, 2007

For Emily

I have a new reader... yay! But my friend Emily seems to be most interested in posts that relate to her in some way. (See her comment on the post back in March that corrects the type of dog Ben is. Rat terrier sounds so menacing though. Chihuahua conveys the small, sweet, nervous temperament in a better way. Oh well, whatever)

So the reason that this post is for Emily is because I was dreaming about her this morning. (not in a weird way... stop thinking like that you pervs) Emily is the Rentals/Events person at the college. In the dream though, I was planning a large wedding for her.

It was kind of odd, because she was waiting for me to do a couple of last minute things, but I was running late. Then the alarm clock went off and me snoozing it became part of the dream. Every time I snoozed it Emily was standing there in her wedding dress, arms crossed, waiting for me to finish what she needed.

Sorry Emily. Didn't mean to keep you waiting so long.