Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanks to Fave Bro, I've just consumed the classiest meal for one ever served on my purple yoga mat. Yes, Tasty Bite Bengal Lentils served with rice and lemon (as pictured on box) and tomato (not pictured on box, but pictured below). I lit a candle and put my ipod to shuffle. It accompanied me with Fiery Furnaces, Flaming Lips, and Bulah.

I've had a couple other note worthy meals while at the mill.

The first real exciting meal I made was carrot-ginger-pear soup with salad and riced-potatoes. The soup was made with carrots from our garden, pears from a relative's garden, and fresh goat milk from Dani. The most important part of this meal, though, was the riced-potatoes. Riced-potatoes is a delicacy known by few, probably just the Minnaert women. To make riced-potatoes, you press boiled potatoes through a strainer-like thing, like the play-dough barber kit or pretty much any of the play-dough accessories. The potatoes come out looking like rice. It's a perfect side dish for vegans!!!

For Halloween I attempted chili as per my family's tradition. I, of course, used only what I already had, so my chili consisted of lentils, white beans, barley, onions, tomato paste, and chili powder. I didn't have any crackers or bread or anything, so inspired by my recent trip to England I attempted Yorkshire pudding, sans recipe. I remembered Tracy telling me that it's just like pancake batter put in the oven. What I made did not taste like my memory of Yorkshire pudding, but it wasn't bad. Garnished with homemade salsa, the meal was a hit!

Due to the mice's continual infestation, I needed to use my bread, stat. How? Egg casserole, of course!!! So with 1/2 a loaf of bread, 12 eggs, blue cheese, onions, and red peppers, I made a mill version of mama's classic. I ate egg casserole for 3 days straight. I even learned how to heat it up on top of my wood burning heater. I think Wingo might have tried this casserole!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dear Dear,

On the morning of Tuesday, October 9th I left the mill. I returned in the evening of Sunday, October 28th. During that time I spent at least 96 hours in transit and probably 468 hours in transition. I went to Zagreb, Krakow, and Dartington, following friends, stories, art, and future art. I traveled alone, but I found companions along the way. My trajectory was geographically and financially nonsensical. My bags were over packed and my body overworked. It was a great trip. Miraculous, even.

In early August, during the Goat Island Summer School, Lin announced that Goat Island would premiere their final piece The Lastmaker in Zagreb, Croatia. At the end of the day I approached Lin and said, "Lin, I will see you in Zagreb." A couple months passed, and then I saw her in Zagreb. At the hostel, I shared a room with a Swiss man whose name means farmer. As I introduced myself, I told him about performance art and Goat Island. Farmer seemed genuinely interested, if not excited, so I went on. I showed him a publication by lone twin and read passages with him. Then I told him about tap dance and tap history, I even showed him a picture of Harold "Stumpy" Cromer. He asked how these forms fit together. I told him, "I'm not sure. But I feel the same uncontrollable exuberance when I watch a good tap dance as when I watch a great performance piece. During either, I find myself shifting in my seat and responding audibly in agreement." Farmer attempted to attend the Goat Island piece, but the show was more than sold out both nights. I, on the other hand, enjoyed both nights greatly. I even stayed to help pack their bags after the second night.

Sarah met me at the Krakow train station on the night of Saturday, October 13th. She welcomed me into her "Polish for Foreigners" dorm room with French fondue and Polish vodka. During that week we ate Polish pierogis, Hugarian lecco, and American peanut butter cookies. We descended to the bottom of an ancient ocean, mounted a mound monument, and laughed a lot. On Saturday, October 20th, I found a contemporary ocean in Krakow. As I entered Krakow's center square, the ocean sounds over took me. I stopped, listened, and observed. I noticed that I wasn't the only person quiet and still. At one moment I saw several people around me break from stillness and begin to sway like seaweed. Then other people approached the seaweed dancers, they exchanged their names, and the seaweed dancers pressed their hands against the other's shoulders, hands, legs and feet, releasing/giving energy to the other. They looked into each other's eyes, and the seaweed dancers left, leaving the newly energized others in their place. I watched this and caught on. Soon I became a seaweed dancer. Another approached me introducing herself and asking for my energetic touch. She said something to me in Polish and I said, "I don't understand." Later, after she gave energy to another and left the ocean, she found me and said, "Thanks for swimming with me."

I went to Dartington because of its history and because of the stories I've heard from several mentors. In a couple of years, the college will move off its historic estate, and this felt, to me, like the end of an era. I wanted to touch the place that touched so many artists who've touched me. I did. I also went to Plymouth and touched the steps that Sir Francis "Drakey-Drake" used to board the Mayflower, landing 66 days later at Plymouth Rock. Outstanding. A delayed bus gave me a 24-hour vacation in the London Stansted Airport. At hour 18, a scene among a drunk German, a police officer, and a stranded passenger acting as translator, created an ice breaker among the on lookers. Mario, a Croatian stone mason, began the conversation. After we introduced ourselves, I told him I was recently in Zagreb, where I saw a Chicago performance group perform. As I further explained Goat Island, my excitement became his excitement. "These things you tell me, they are incredible!" Mario exclaimed as he placed The Lastmaker's program into his luggage. When I finally left to check-in, we agreed that the two hours we spent talking were incredible. Miraculous, even.

Upon returning to the mill, Barbara asked, "How does it feel to be back?" I admitted, "It was good to be away." We decided that it's not working. I will travel for the month of December, checking off a majority of the places on my list dated Sunday, August 26th. At the beginning of January, I will return to Chicago to reconnect with friends, stories, art and future art.

I feel really good about this decision and I feel good about the time I spent at the mill.

I hope you're doing well and I hope to see you soon.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Since getting internet access, officially one week ago, I’ve had much more reason to be on my computer. This means, naturally, computer games. While in college I deleted my games in order to lessen my distractions, but due to a new hard drive this summer, and rebooting of my software, the games are back on. My two favorites are FreeCell and Spider Solitaire. At first Spider Solitaire was my very favorite. I liked making use of the [m] button to highlight possible moves and the [ctrl]+[z] duo to undo past moves. I remember when my family discovered Spider Solitaire. Andrew was the first to learn about the game. He went off to college, and he came back to tell us all about this new game of solitaire where you pile like colored cards on top of each other in the standard solitaire order and the “difficult” version, with all four suits, is nearly impossible. We all got to experience this when Mom received a laptop from Santa in 2001.

Now I find FreeCell a preferable game. I like the option to restart the game, it’s like playing sudoku with a pencil. FreeCell seems more challenging than Spider Solitaire “medium” level (“difficult” is nearly impossible). There are many more ways to solve each puzzle, and, unlike Spider Solitaire, a bad beginning doesn’t necessarily equate a losing finish. But, mostly I like FreeCell because I can make use out of the tap-click mouse censor on my laptop. I only need a functioning index finger to play a good round (or ten) of FreeCell. I really think the tap-click feature of pc laptops is a superb addition. In FreeCell I only have to click on one column and then click on where I want to move it. There is no dragging or thumb pressing, just tap tap tap!

Over the past week, I’ve spent more than my share using that tap feature to win FreeCell matches. Literally, I’ve tapped away hours, only getting away to read an email between matches. And I’ve gotten pretty good at FreeCell, here’s my stats.

Won: 290 79%
Lost: 79

If you look at that closely you will realize that I’ve played 369 games, most in the last week, and that is not to mention the Spider Solitaire or Minesweeper that I use to break up the FreeCell fix. It’s sick and unproductive, but kind of fun. kind of.

Some day I hope to be a proud, pretentious Mac owner, but when that day happens, I will be missing my tap-click feature.

- - - -

Also, since writing that last post, and, admittedly, even before writing the post, I read the inscriptions by Goat Island. Now, I’ve read them many times. Last night, before starting with page 182 “stillness” (as recommended by CJ), I looked again at the inscriptions, and I thought “How loving,” and “This is so special. I am so lucky.”

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The most incredible thing happened to me. Really.

I was out back pulling amaranth, to dry it and then use it for dye later. The ground had frosted over night, so my toes were cold and the amaranth was a little wet. It peeled a bit where I gripped it, but it was mostly fine. I heard the dogs barking, so I knew someone else was around. I didn’t bother to check.

As I was piling up the amaranth, I saw Barbara walking towards my apartment with two white parcels in her arms. I said, “Ahoj!” to let her know I was outside. She asked how I was feeling. I was a bit stuffed up, but better. She said, “Christmas came early.” She handed me the two packages and took the junk mail off the top.

One package was small, in a white bubble envelope. The customs slip read, “book by Goat Island.” As I stood, making small talk with Barbara, my fingers worked their way under the tape, attempting to release the “book by Goat Island” inside. The other package was long and awkward. In fact, at further examination, the box was actually two boxes taped together, pretty genius. This double box was from Fave Bro, who worked at for a box company one summer in high school. That might explain his box savvy.

As soon as the friendly conversation ceased, I ran inside, put the boxes on the stairs as I pulled off my knee-high rubber boots and slipped on my “house shoes.” I picked up the boxes and dashed upstairs (I think I even skipped over a few steps). As I ran upstairs, I noticed things rattling inside the double box, and I thought, “assembly required.” I threw the boxes on my yoga mat (clean enough for this investigation) and began.

Because I had already pulled off most of the tape, I started with the “book by Goat Island.” I pulled off the tape, which allowed the envelope to go back to its original size. Then I pulled the tab, first from the opposite end, then I found the “pull here” indicator. And, what I found inside was a “book by Goat Island.” While I was at Dartington, I stayed with some people I found on Ian and Tracey (the people I stayed with) happened to also know Goat Island. Ian was going to their book release and offered to get me a copy. In Ian’s note, he told me the book cost 20 pounds (I only gave him 15), but that’s okay, I don’t owe him anything. Score! Then I thumbed through, just feeling the pages, and, WHAT?! The inside title page was signed by all of Goat Island and the co-editor Stephen Bottoms. But, I was too excited for the double box, “assembly required,” that I put down the book without reading through the inscriptions.

I went to my bedside table and grabbed my pocket knife. I began at the center. Fave Bro really learned a lot from that summer job. He exposed the adhesive on these two easy-to-send, pre-made boxes, and stuck them to each other. One sticky flap stuck to the other’s non-sticky flap, and the other’s sticky flap stuck to the original’s non-sticky flap! I decided against trying the easy-to-open pull tab, as it was pretty taped down. Just a good ol’ knife under the tape and ripping cardboard from cardboard released the “assembly required” materials.

And what did I find? WHAT DID I FIND?!
-5 regular fruit leathers
-2 double-the-price, organic fruit leathers
-2 boxes of Tasty Bite (newly purchased, not the boxes I gave him 3 Christmases ago)
-1 bag of candy corn
-3 handmade wooden spoons with a hanging rack. Made by Joe the Usher. (Mom and Dad only got 2 spoons for Christmas last year, and I made a big fuss about how much I loved them, how beautiful they are, and how I would really appreciate them like they deserve to be appreciated.)
-a list detailing the contents of the box, written with red marker (it also listed a key to his apartment, as I requested in a recent email)
-a note explaining, you know, stuff, written with black pen (and said that the hardware store was closed, so no key)

I assembled the spoons on the rack, and picked up the note. I got through the second paragraph, and then started to cry. And then, because the tear ducts pass through the nasal cavity, I blew my nose for a record-breaking length of time. I am not so stuffed up anymore. I finished reading and ate a fruit leather (regular, mango, there were two). It was delicious. I sat back and looked at the pile amassed on my yoga mat, “Incredible,” I thought, “Just incredible!”