Posts filed under ‘Wall Of Text’

Family Appreciation.

as per usual, if you’re looking for artmaking stuff, please visit the studio blog: http://upthefolksstudio.wordpress.com/

Two nights ago I had a dream that my father died.

I’ve actually been having a lot of dreams where my family dies or is in mortal peril recently. It’s probably some sort of reaction to the stress of school mixed with the guilt of not being able to see any of them due to time issues. I’ve been trying to figure out a time to go see my grandparents and I honestly can’t find a time in the near future where school lets up for long enough that I could visit without destroying my GPA and subsequent college career.

Anyway, because I had this dream I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot.

(I don’t have any pictures of my dad currently on my computer because of the great unplugging of the external hard-drive tragedy of 2008, so the only pictures I have to go with this post are some old army ones I took digital pictures of, out of the albums he has in Florida.)

I remember one night when I was little, (maybe 6 or 7) and my dad was home at night for the first time in ages and he had come in to my room to read me a story, and fallen asleep on my bed. I remember being so cold because the fan was blowing on me and it was almost September, but my blanket was under my dad (this giant, gray, hero of mine) and the last thing in the entire world that I wanted to do right then was to move him. I wouldn’t even touch him because he might wake up and leave. I remember sitting there for what felt like hours, terrified to move and absolutely chilled to the bone. Then I found it. The top sheet was only wedged halfway under my dad, so I scrunched down near him, and put the sheet over myself. The warmth, just the thin cotton was enough of a reprieve from the cool wind that I felt like I had just crawled inside a giant fluffy sleeping bag. I think that was the warmest I’ve ever been. That night in august, near my dad (but not touching him, for fear of waking) huddled under a sheet, I was contented with my situation.

For as long as I can remember my dad has known everything.

He showed me how to braid challah when I was so young that I didn’t understand why we ate it on Fridays. When I was in junior high and struggling through biology, he explained to me how genetics work in simple terms and drew me a Punnett square on the back of a napkin while we ate dinner. One afternoon while we were walking around his neighborhood with the dog, he tried to explain to my 12-year-old self how light refraction works. He is a doctor; I was always amazed that he knew how to fix people. I still am amazed. I never knew how he did it, how he knew so much, and I was jealous and sometimes annoyed. I couldn’t get facts to stick in my brain like he did. Nonetheless, it was exceptionally comforting to know that there was this adult in my life who could answer any question I had (and sometimes lecture on those questions which were never asked.) But now as I get older I am starting to become more like him, more aware of how my brain works, and I can finally begin to understand more of how his may work as well. I am not an encyclopedia, but a collector. I collect information I find interesting. I think this is also how my dad works. This mental compulsion is what creates in me the desire to learn. I find myself spending hours researching everything I possibly can about something just because it sparks my interest. I wouldn’t change it for the world, because of this I care about things; I am able to immerse myself deeply in something and truly learn. I got this from my dad, my dad who knows everything. I think he is a collector, too.

So thank you, dad. Thank you for my desire to learn, for teaching me, and for always being there with an answer when I needed one.

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March 17, 2011 at 7:26 am 1 comment

Day 27

A problem that you have had.

Jesus, thats a huge question. I’ve had a lot of problems.

I mean, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. You name it i’ve had an issue. My back is constantly screwed up, I have to wear wrist braces because I rode my bike too hard for too long, I’ve got more anxiety related quirks and tics than I have actual personality, and I really have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.

I guess my current problem is that I can’t seem to get the things that are going on in my mind out on paper.

You see, I’m writing a novella instead of taking English102, and I have this story in my head but every time I go to write it down I get maybe a page out and then it just stops. My ability to write just goes out the window and I devolve in to someone with a 6th grade writing level and a fondness for commas that far exceeds their necessity.

I keep telling myself that I’ll just sit down and write it, but the problem with that plan is that the product wouldn’t be good. I need what I produce to be good. Art, writing, cooking, speaking, I have the constant driving need to be good at these things.

This is problematic, because I am imperfect and cannot be exceptional at everything I try. Actually, I guess that is my problem. I expect perfection. I expect perfection and I cannot follow through. For example, I had a 3.48 last semester and I was incredibly unhappy with that GPA since I’ve been used to a 4.0 at Temple. Even though I know on an objective level that I should be happy (especially considering I take an overloaded schedule) I still kick myself for not having a higher GPA. It’s so stupid of me, but I can’t help it.

That problem of expecting perfection is an overarching theme in my life. It is a constant driving force in everything I do, and has honestly created some disordered behaviors that I have had to work hard to get past.

At the same time, it is a driving force in my life, and if I were to overcome that problem completely I don’t know if i’d be able to make art or write or do anything besides lay around being content with myself.

February 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm Leave a comment

Starter kit for new vegans: Up the Folks style.

Today’s post was inspired by Mama Pea’s Employees Pick post over at Peas and Thank You

I feel like I talk a lot more about veganism than most of my friends and acquaintances would like. This would normally bother me, as I try to live my life in a way that offends as few people as possible. However, with veganism I usually throw caution to the wind, state my opinion, and encourage others to look in to changing their habits in a similar way. It is one of the only things about which I am unabashedly an activist.

I was recently able to see a whole new crop of vegetarian college students come in to being during an english 101 class where we read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I watched them beginning this journey and I felt old. They were worrying about things like protein and family dinners and all the things that I had to deal with when I first switched to a vegetarian lifestyle at 12 years old. 8 years later,  because of my years of experience, I want to offer a list of the resources, cookbooks, and reading materials that helped me when I was first starting out and have continued to use as I have been living my vegan life. I hope that if you (a theoretical stranger considering veganism) stumble on to this site, this list may help you with this process.

1.) Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I first read VwaV about 6 months after going vegan (I say read, because I sat down and read it cover to cover like a novel) and even though the recipes are great and I have used them consistently for the last 4 years, they were not the most important thing about this book to my  newly vegan, isolated self. What struck me, and helped me about this book was Isa. Her writing made me feel like this choice I had made was smart and dooable and not something outlandish like most of my family (excluding the 5 people that make up my mother and her family) and all but one of my friends were implying at the time. this book made me feel like I was normal, and more importantly it made me feel like I was super punx.

2.) Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

I’ve talked about this book  ad nauseam, but in case you don’t feel like reading my lengthy review I’ll sum up my feelings about it in one sentence: It made me cry, and gave me hope.

3.) Earthlings
It is informative, terrifying, heartbreaking, and not something to watch if you aren’t completely ready to become a vegan. That is to say, it would be hard for the average human with even the slightest bit of empathy to watch this and not eschew all animal products and systems that allow animal abuse. I know vegans who could not watch this all the way through, but it is important. I leave the decision up to you, but suggest trying to give it a watch.

4.) Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook by Carole Raymond

This book really doesn’t have much to do with the ethics of veganism, but it does have a bunch of really delicious cheap recipes that make enough for 1 or 2 people. This works particularly well for me as a single college student. It uses simple ingredients that most starter vegans can find at a “normal” grocery store, and doesn’t require trips to specialty stores for every recipe.

5.) Vegan a Go-Go by Sarah Kramer

This is another book, much like VwaV, where the recipes are amazing but what really rules are the travel tips and stories that Sarah Kramer shares. I can relate to her stories, and she has an easy way about her writing that makes it seem like she accepts everyone. This is particularly great for new vegans who may be feeling intimidated by people in the community that may appear standoffish or superior. Sarah Kramer is neither of those things, she is awesome.

Please feel free too leave further suggestions for new vegans in the comments!

January 8, 2011 at 9:35 am 2 comments

Questions:Ego trip:Self centered rambling.

I have a problem.

Mermaids.

I am never happy with what I am doing. I mean, I like living my life and I like doing what I do, but every time I get settled in to a potential life path I start to feel like I need to be doing something else. Its like this antsy, have to move forward kind of feeling. It started in high school; I liked my courses and friends but I spent my entire high school career waiting to graduate. Then came college, I went to a fancy-pantsy art school and as soon as I started to really get in to the grind of the semester I started to convince myself that I didn’t really want to be an artist, and I wanted to live life a little bit more before I started getting myself in to debt for a degree in art. Then I worked for a while, and while I was working I started getting the urge to travel and have adventures. Then while I was having this great and miserable and enlightening time bicycling halfway across the country I was feeling like all I wanted to do was go to university and study. Then, while I was at university, I realized I wanted to go to art school after all. Now I’m here and I am going to get a degree if it kills me, but I’m already starting to toss around the idea of getting another degree in psychology or religious studies or literature or education, and I’m trying to figure out how grad school works, like if I could get a masters in one of those with a BFA for my undergrad degree and I just know that if I were in grad school I would be wishing I was doing something else.

I can’t understand why I am never content with my current situation. Its like I’m perpetually stuck trying to get to “the future” where I will never actually be.

 

October 24, 2010 at 2:20 am 2 comments

This one time…

This one time, I was riding my bicycle up the side of a mountain and a guy asks if he can use my handpump (for pumping up tires, creepo.) He is about 40, medium build, a little on the scruffy side, not particularly threatening and there is a lot of traffic on the road so I hand him my pump and wait on the side of the road for him to return. The pump doesn’t work and he tells me that they are old bikes and maybe it has a different valve or maybe the tubes have disintegrated and I say that I hope he figures out the bicycle problem and make moves at to continue my journey up the mountain, but he stops me and proceeds to tell me the following.

At the time, he was living in town, but came up the this house on the weekends to work on it, and his ultimate goal was to get it in a condition that he could live there full time. He’d been coming up to the house to work on it a little at a time for 2 years, and he thought he still had at least another year to work on it. He had bought the house shortly after he moved back to the states from Germany where he had been living ever since he was stationed there with the army. While he was there with the army he had started playing for a local german Hockey team and he had liked it enough to stay there for a while, and a while turned in to about 5 years. He said he liked it over there, and had a girlfriend  who was also an american, but they were just friends now and she “still came to visit him sometimes even though it was a long flight.” I asked him why he had decided to move back, and he told me that he had moved back because he had started to feel homesick for New England. He had lived in a city in Germany and had missed the wildlife and nature. He had grown up in the area and had always wanted to live on this mountain, he said that he liked being on high ground, it made him feel like he could see more, even if there were trees everywhere. I asked him if he had seen a moose (at the time, we were seeing dozens of signs for moose crossing and not a single moose. I live in Maine now, and I still have yet to see a moose.) He said that he saw moose all the time, but his most interesting animal encounter was when he had first bought this house. He had no electricity yet so for dinner he was making hotdogs outside on the fire and all of a sudden he had caught sight of a bear “medium sized” he said, “couldn’t have been much bigger than me, but wasn’t small enough to worry about the mother” on the edge of the ring of light shed by the fire and the bear had just sat there. He knew that if he made any sudden movements he could scare the bear in to attacking so he just sat there for “what felt like an hour” and then the bear just got up and left. He said that he liked to think that the bear was sitting there with him, not just because of the hotdog smell.

At that point Rosemary showed up (she was biking in front, and when I hadn’t shown up for a good 45 minutes she began to worry and had backtracked to make sure I wasn’t dead.) So ends that encounter, but throughout the trip people kept telling me things about themselves. One man (a mechanic at a bike place in NY who was very nicely giving us a lift to the shop because I had my tenth flat tire) spent a 15 minute car ride telling me about his ex wife who lived in Jersey and his decision to move to upstate NY after the divorce, it was strange because in my mind that isn’t something you tell someone you’ve just met. I think something about Rose and I bicycling this far, doing something so out of the ordinary made people feel like we were somehow witnesses, that they needed share with us so that they could have something about themselves, some crucial part of their lives or person on record with us. Or maybe they were just chatty people, who knows.

September 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm 1 comment

An open letter.

An open letter to the freshman in my classes:

Its only been a week, and you all are making me worry about you.
I know I am not much older than you. In fact, I am only about two years your senior. Despite this, I feel as though there are things you could learn from my experience. So I offer some unsolicited suggestions.

1.) If you are one of the students who are complaining about the experience of being in college, you need to know something: No one is forcing you to be here. This is not high school. You (rather, your parents) are paying a lot of money so these people can pass along to you what they know. If you do not want to be here, leave. It is that simple and it is entirely up to you. There is no universal law that dictates all humans must go through some degree of “higher” education to live a fulfilling life. You can leave, no one else can make a decision about your education for you

2.) Slacking isn’t cool. Its no one’s job to hold your hand and drag you through this. I repeat, if you do not want to be here please just leave. If you do want to be here, take responsibility for yourself and work hard. That is the only way you will get what you pay for out of this experience.

3.) I know it is exciting to finally be away from your parents protective reach. I also know that you will probably want to express this newfound freedom through activities like drinking, staying up for 48 hours at a shot, and abusing illegal drugs. Stop. You’re being stupid. Bad reason to consume carcinogens and/or deplete the dopamine receptors in your brain: because you’re stressed, because it makes you feel more confident, because other people are doing it, because you think it is an integral part of the college experience.
Neither alcohol nor drugs will help you with anything. The only thing either of those will do is make illness or death appear much sooner.

4.) Allow yourselves to be excited about  things. Just because the current feeling of our generation is one of disinterest and defaulting to dislike doesn’t mean that its a fulfilling or good way to live your life. Don’t be afraid to be a nerd, or embrace your interests whatever they may be. No one is as cool as they say they are. don’t feel pressured to be someone you aren’t. you are much more interesting if you do not follow the same personality guidelines as every other hipster or art kid in the country.

5.) fifth and most importantly, take care of yourselves. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break. If you are depressed or feeling suicidal, Reach out. Seriously. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to one of the school counselors, try to talk to a teacher you feel comfortable with. Either way, everyone there is willing to work towards protecting you. One of the best things about college is that you get free psychiatric help and it’s completely confidential. If you don’t feel comfortable with that there are 1800 numbers to call. At the very least, talk to your roommate. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a roommate, come find me. I’m really tall and have curly brown hair. I will be your friend. I am not kidding at all, I am willing to listen to anyone if they are uncomfortable going to an adult or authority figure.

Oh, and use protection. The school will give you free condoms, planned parenthood will give you free condoms, and the cvs across the street will sell you condoms and will not judge you for it.

</preaching>

Images in this post were brought to you by the etching I’m working on for printmaking.

I had a bit of a change in my schedule, i’m now taking the maximum amount of credits allowed before they charge you extra.
This means i’m spending about 40 hours/week in classes plus another 15-20 outside of classes or in the studio. I’m taking: Printmaking, Metalsmithing and Jewelry, Drawing, 3D design, Composition and literature 101 and a class that is apparently required for all sophomores called “issues in ideology” which is actually really great.
I have learned something interesting about myself this week: I am terrible at metalsmithing and jewelry. terrible. I work hard in class and put in a lot of time outside of class, and I will probably barely pass it. This is okay. This is why I took a class that I had never even come close to taking before, to learn something new. That being said, I will never take another class like this again. I do, however really really like printmaking so far. We’re doing etching, which involved acid and multiple exposures. Its like photography and drawing all wrapped up in one.
I also like my 3D class. Mainly because we can get stuff done seeing as its a 7 hour class. I miss those! these 3 hour classes fly by and I don’t get a chance to do much before its over. Because of these 3 hr classes I end up with situations like this weekend where i’ll be in the metals and printmaking studios all of sunday and probably some of monday. Oh well, why else am I in art school if not to do art?

September 4, 2010 at 12:54 am Leave a comment

Eating Animals

This will be the second installment of the new feature where I blather on about books and tell you to read them.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

About 9 months ago I went to go see Jonathan Safran Foer give a talk at the free library of philadelphia (as part of their free author lecture series.) I had read Everything is Illuminated and Extremely loud and Incredibly close before. I knew he had written a book called Eating animals, and that my vegan friends were all starting to read it. I however, had not read it but I wanted to see what he had to say and I went. He spent the beginning of the talk explaining why he wrote the book. Then (here is the important part) he spent an entire hour in an open question-answer style dialogue with the audience. Some of whom were not very happy with what he was saying (though I assume they were there because they didn’t like the idea of the book, and had not in fact read the book itself.) I have never heard anyone talk about animal rights in such a non-confrontational and eloquent way before and I left the lecture feeling ecstatic that someone who was rather well known, and not PETA (my dislike for PETA will be another post) was bringing attention to animal rights and food issues.

Knowing that, and my stance on the actual issue of eating animals (vegan), you should probably just accept my bias  towards liking this book. And since I don’t want to bore you to death raving about it for 80 pages, I will just pick out some things that got my attention and reasons I think you should maybe check it out.

1.) JSF starts Eating Animals with a chapter called “storytelling” where he lays out his own personal experiences with eating and the cultural and social aspects of food and eating. He says right out that he has not been a strict vegetarian since he started thinking about the issue of eating animals and that he has occasionally eaten meat. This is important. This is important because the vast majority of people will automatically  assume you feel superior to them if you restrict your intake of animals for ethical reasons and then write a book about it. But what JSF does is make himself exceptionally human to the reader, he allows them to see things he is maybe not so proud of, and that allows readers to let their guard down. He says that he did the research for the book so he could fully understand what he is feeding his child. A struggle that almost everyone who has children can relate to. He also talks about his grandmother and family dynamics and in this chapter and there is an anecdote from his grandmother talking about her experience in the holocaust that I find fascinating and very important:

“The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.”

“He saved your life?”

“I didn’t eat it”

“You didn’t eat it?”

“It was pork, I wouldn’t eat pork.”

“why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“what because it wasn’t kosher?”

“of course.”

“But even to save your life?”

“If nothing matters, there is nothing to save.”

And with that he simply and eloquently puts a point on how our ethics and actions concerning food are a huge part of what shapes us as a person. So much so for his grandmother that she would rather face starvation than compromise her ethical and religious beliefs. Most importantly it puts a subtle point on how our actions are what determine our character.

2.) I learned while reading this book. I am pretty well educated when it comes to matters of animal welfare and advocacy, and still there was information in this book that I did not know. He also looked at the problem from new perspectives, ones that are shied away from in other more one-sided books about animals. This is not a book that one needs to slog through, repeating information that anyone who has ever thought about the politics of meat already knows. That is why I often recommend this book to my vegan friends as well as the omnivores in my life.

3.) The people he talks to are not all of the same opinion as me. Many of them are currently happily employed in the animal killing business. Still, many times they seem to show that there is still the same gut reaction of guilt and empathy in them as there is in many of those of us who abstain from meat. I think that in the way JSF presents these people, he makes it almost impossible for us to make a villain out of  any individual. This is good, this is not so polarizing, this is showing hope for the human spirit as a whole.

“Have you ever wanted to spare one?”

He tells the story of a cow that had recently been brought to him. It had been a pet on a hobby farm, and “the time had come” (No one, it seems, likes to elaborate on such sentences.) As Mario was preparing to kill the cow, it licked his face. Over and over. Maybe it was used to being a companion. Maybe it was pleading. Telling the story, Mario chuckles, conveying- on purpose, I think- his discomfort. “Oh boy,” he says. “Then she pinned me against a wall and leaned against me for about twenty minutes or so before I finally got her down.

Finally, I recommend this book because it made me cry in public. I do not cry in public. It is beautiful and sad and moving and uplifting. Read it.

August 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm 1 comment

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