Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On the road again

Hello and welcome to 2015 and a brand new set of adventure travel. I've revamped the blog a little bit and I'll be adding some more photos as I get this ball rolling. For right now, however, let me explain a little bit about this resurgence--I have just embarked on a new 3-ish month long journey and I'm hoping to capture some of the beauty, insanity and perspectives for friends both near and far as well as for myself.

I'm going to begin by talking about the past. It's one thing to talk about travel and new adventures as "life-changing" or "transformative" and it's another thing to actually see it for yourself. As I look back on my previous journal entries from my first long-term adventure, I realize exactly how far I've come and how much I've changed as a person. Most of it has been for the better. The other thing I'm beginning to get a sense of and tease apart is how very different these two experiences are going to be. When I left the first time, I desperately needed to prove myself--to myself. I needed to know that I could survive, that I was capable of standing on my own two feet and to find my voice, in every sense of the word.

This time around however, things feel a little different. I feel freer and less compelled to prove to the world that I can stand on my own two feet. Not that I won't and don't have some things to work on and sort out but it feels good to know that this time around I don't have invent myself and become a person.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

These strange obsessions

I've begun a detox program this last week. It was all sparked by an article I read in my Yoga Journal magazine. The timing also seemed right-I was fortunate enough to have the time off to go to a four day yoga retreat at the Shoshoni Ashram and really get things centered, stretched and revitalized. It's been a tough couple of weeks at work and I really needed the space to unwind and get back in tune with my body.

So now that I'm on this detox I'm realizing what a crazy, obsessive, mind I have when it comes to food. I find myself reading nutrition articles, counting down the time until I can eat lunch, wondering what I'm going to do for a snack or worrying about getting half way through my day and being, god forbid, hungry or caught unprepared.

I don't quite know this overractive relationship has come from-I know when I increased my level of activity to include quite literally all of the things I love doing my appetite increased. This is normal and I saw it as a positive adjustment to my lifestyle. My weight went down, which was a nice byproduct of ramping up my activity levels, and I felt like I started making better choices more consistantly.

I know my "food-brain" obsession is being augmented by the Detox program because I'm limited on what I can eat and I'm working on eating mindfully when I do get the opportunity. Some good things have come from this for sure; namely, I'm more aware of when I'm truly hungry and when I think I'm hungry, as well as more appreciative of the times I get to eat because I don't have the same knee-jerk freedom as I did when I wasn't trying to detox.

I'm also realizing the role that caffeine plays in my life. I knew beforehand that I was, and am, a coffee junkee. I love a good, well-brewed, cup of coffee as much as I love a delicious, dressed up, soy mocha. However, these past two days where I've gone sans coffee and sans caffeine have really brought to the forefront how much I relied on it as a form of distraction.

Not happy with what I'm doing at work? Oh, i'll just go get a cup of coffee and come back to it. Or, feeling "disconnected" from a certain project? Maybe I just need a boost and I'll be right back to my previous performance level.

I think these symptoms are actually indicative of other things-it's not that I need the coffee or the caffeine to get me through the project, it's that I need a break from what I'm doing-totally and completely-to recenter and refocus my attention.

I need to utilize the break time I have at work so I can continue to be productive and happy.

I'm hoping that as I progress in this detox and become accustomed to the eating schedule that my brain and thoughts will calm down along with my body and I will begin to relax the focus I have on food and the idea of always being full or nourished. There are other ways to get this feeling without always having to have the right snack or drink or option at my finger tips.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hello Hello!

So, everyone should go here and help us out with our awesome project!



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Und Jetz, Auf Deutsch!

Maybe not exactly in German...but partially about Germany...how's that?

I rolled off the plane last week from beautiful Deutschland after being gone for twelve days with a friend of mine and I think I have more wanderlust now than I did before I left. Not the same restless, crazy "gotta go somewhere" right now sort of wanderlust that I had as I was boarding the plane but a desire to do something bigger than just a vacation.

I did just move into a snazzy new apartment so maybe that will help. We'll see what manifests in the coming months.

The trip itself was nothing short of amazing. It did all the things it was supposed to do in so many ways. My travel buddy and I hiked into the Alps and spent a night in a hut surrounded by mountains. This being the age of technology that it is, however, we were still able to update Facebook about how primitive and rustic our lodgings were....oh the irony. We also caught some of the Bavarian futbol game via iPhone from the next table over.

We also hit up Oktoberfest in Munich. No beer was had (12 Euro for a beer????) but we rode a ton of roller coasters and generally just played at the fair. And looked at all the cute girls dressed in Dirndl and all the cute boys dressed in lederhosen. No, really. They sell all the modern versions of those old time Bavarian favorites. I have to admit, some of them are really damn cute. Silly. But cute. (The dirndl's...not the Germans wearing them neccessarily. Though some of them weren't too bad either.)

Post Oktoberfest we shuffled over to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and then on to Koln to stay with a friend. We also managed, on our way into Munich, to swing by and spend an evening with the family I lived with in Stuttgart. That was a lot of fun. We had dinner and I got to chat and catch up with them which was nice. I swear this time I'm going to be better about mailing things over to that side of the pond...I have a small pile of things for Die Kinder and their mom that I need to drop in the post.

The weather was beautiful the whole time we were there which everyone said was due to dumb luck. I tend to agree with the Irish. You bring the weather with you-if you expect it to be rainy and crappy then it will be. If you don't...well you see the logic here.

The next step: trying to figure out how to study in Germany...in German...with Germans!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ok, so I'm trend whoring a bit....just a little...

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Finding the border balance

So, this week marks the second official week after the KC Fringe Festival. What a crazy ride that was for me and everyone else involved.

Last year, I participated in the Fringe Festival as a volunteer. I was shuffled from venue to venue taking tickets, seating people, learning how to tech (!!) a space for the Youth Fringe members and generally running around.

If some of you were reading this blog back then, you'll probably remember me squawking about the lack of direction and general "in chargness" that the Visual Arts Fringe portion had...well, turns out when you squawk loudly enough, you get hired! And thus began the journey of organizing and herding (yes, like cows and sheep and other various farm animals) all the Visual Artists for the Festival this year.

Mind you, I can't organize my car. I don't keep a budget. I hardly remember what day it is sometimes. But, off to organizing I was. And overall, I think (think) it turned out pretty well. I was in a constant state of panic and general frenzy the whole time but aside from the impending sense of "oh god what am I doing", it was fun and a great learning experience.

Almost all of the artists were fantastic to work with. They put in a lot of additional hours to help hang, clean and dismantle all of the odds and ends that it takes to hang 21 artists in a room that is, suddenly, not as big as you thought it was when you agreed to the venue.

There were challenges with working with that many people-there always will be-but I think I at least learned a few valuable lessons about learning to listen while still drawing boundaries around which bits people say actually matter and which don't.

I also got a taste of what it means to try and fit a bunch of egos in one place. Wow. Let me tell you, there are some people in this world who need a whole room just to contain how much they think of themselves and the work they make....not to mention the work itself!

Egads. It took a lot for me to not remind certain people that yes, you have a lot of work and no, it's not all worth hanging. In fact, I would argue that most of it was pretty pointless. Ahem. I can't say that though. Not really. At least not to most people's faces. I just don't understand people who spend more time talking about their work than they do making the stuff. It seems, in most cases, at least, that their time could be better spent.

On the other hand, we had some really good work up too. This year marked a successful turnout for artists in general. The plays were great-one of our local UMKC directors put out another stellar performance called "Head" which was a sordid, sexually charged, awesome retelling of the St. John The Baptist and Solome story. Really great. 90 minutes, straight through with no intermission and some really gritty scenes that I appreciated for the honesty above all else.

Hats off to the actors as well-they busted their asses to make that play work and will continue to bust their asses until the work is deemed finish by the director/writer.

But, back to my group. As I said, we had some really great artists show this year. It makes me very excited for who is going to return and who will come out of the woodwork for next year. If we can continue to blast the quality of artists through the atmosphere like we did this year-we'll be well on our way to being taken seriously in this Festival. "Beginner gains" though can be deceptive. As the quality goes up it'll get harder and harder to out do ourselves from year to year. It's that sort of catch 22 that lets you rocket to a good middle ground but then simultaneously lose and gain ground as you try to break into the "Really Good" category. The ever elusive box called "Successful."

For those of you who aren't familiar with Fringe or the theories behind it, you can go here: www.kcfringe.org and check out the "what's the fringe" page. It gives you a brief background and history on how the Fringe got its start.

Other cities also put on some really fantastic Fringes of their own-Minneapolis and Boulder are just two examples that come to mind. I'm hoping to go out there one of these days and see how they do it-but for now I"ll have to entertain myself with their websites and learn everything I can from talking to positively everyone I can to learn as much as I can between now and next year.

And yes, that means learning how to listen to those people who have been around long enough to build up giant egos and may not make the kind of art that I would make or do make (hopefully) but who have some invaluable experience and connections that make the overall experience of Fringe richer and more....possible.

I'll have pictures of this experience up shortly I do believe. I just have to bring myself to go through all of them. (c:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Masters, Margaritas and Demanding People

Sorry for the long hiatus. I've been..well...busy. (c:

The life of an artist is never dull I guess. I've had projects and things like my real job trying to drown me.

I should learn how to say no.

I have found time to read some outstanding books, though. That's a plus. I've been turned onto some Russian literature by a co-worker of mine and it's really fantastic. This particular co-worker is actually Russian so I've been able to go directly to a source and say "what is this referencing?" It's been great.

My first venture into this wide world of wonderful stories was called "The Master and Margarita." It's by Mikhail Bulgakov. Once I got into the flow of things and figured out who everyone was and what all their nicknames and professional names and surnames and the such were, I found the story to be really engaging. It's a politically charged near satire of 1930's Russia. Sort of. And a love story. And a commentary on what it means to be creative. And philosophical. And spiritual.

There are a handful of main characters, one of which is Satan. The Devil himself shows up in Moscow on a spring day and begins to wreak havoc in a very distracting and anti-theme of the times way. (What's not to love already?!?)

The tone is at times deadly serious but there is always a subtle undercurrent of irony. The book is divided into two sections: the first deals with one of the main characters (not Satan) named Ivan Ivanovich who is a writer. The second deals with Margarita-a woman who has fallen in love with a man who calls himself The Master. The Master was/is a writer and has written a book on Pontius Pilot. It causes him to fall out of favor with the government and gets him committed to an insane asylum. Meanwhile, Ivanovich's tale begins with him as he witnesses the death of his friend, Berlioz, (which was prophesied to happen by the Devil himself during a conversation in a park) and sort of goes off the deep end. Ivanovich ends up in the same looney bin as The Master. It's a beautiful commentary on what it means to be "insane" in a time when freedom was a dirty word. Mix all this in with the "real time" telling of the events surrounding Pontius Pilot(pitched at times as part of the manuscript The Master wrote and at times as current day events) and a prophet named Yeshua as well as a very intense demonic ball towards the end of the story and you have an experience that is unlike anything I've read all wrapped up with a cleverly designed cover.

Reading The Master and Margarita and then trying to explain it is a bit like trying to talk about a dream that you had three years ago but that you still have vivid recollections of...or like trying to explain what exactly it is you're seeing when you catch something out of the corner of your eye but isn't actually there when you turn around.

All of those things cause very real, emotional memories and the general sense of an "experience" but when you have to find words to give light and structure and concreteness to them, they begin to vaporize. I could give a very long and drawn out plot synopsis but it would ruin the story while simultaneously completely failing at conveying what the story is "about".

It's a book where what it's about is not just related to the story that is being told. It's about the experience of the book. It's about all the things that were going on historically when the book was written. It's about the fact that-to quote the book-"handwritten manuscripts don't burn"-which in an age of nothing but propaganda (both now and then) is such a beautiful thought that it could make me cry if I thought about it long enough. The character that says it in the book makes it all the more powerful of a statement.

My second venture into Russian literature is Boris Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago". I tried to read this book once, when I was 14, and it went straight over my head. I'm thrilled to have the chance to settle into it this time though, now that I'm more prepared. Russian literature isn't something you just sort of accidentally read.

Here's a random tidbit. I got interested in The Master and Margarita through a play that was put on by the grad students at UMKC. My first experience with Dr. Zhivago was the movie with Omar Shariff (spelling?) and Julie Christie. I'm named after her character-I'm excited to see how the book tells their story versus what Hollywood did with it. I can already tell that things are going to be very different.

The demanding people mentioned in this post's title are managing to pull me away from all this great reading (which hasn't just included Russian lit but also some really great, fun, entirely indulgent fantasy novels I've been reading) and it's beginning to grate.

I get that as someone who is trying to make an established name for themselves and their work that you have to take on projects to gain experience. My beef comes in when people pitch a project to you, drag their feet for 5 months (5!!!), and then suddenly crack down with demands of an expected due date. Oh, and did I mention they have started telling everyone but you, their designer, that they have all sorts of functionality expectations? The poor messenger that's been working with me directly on the project is not really to blame for any of this poor planning...but it's still just a crock.

The thing that really kills me is how little compensation is involved. If they were paying me like a standard client would pay me, I could see them getting a little demanding. But they aren't. They aren't even close. I was fine with this until now. Augh. Pft.

To end on a less gripe-y note: I am the Visual Arts Director for the KC Fringe Festival this year. I'm excited about all the potential and new endeavors! I've got a long "To Do" list for it but I think I can knock a good portion of the really important stuff out in a few concerted hours of work.

Well-it's late. As always. And the weather has been beautiful and I got new road bike cleats and shoes today and I intend to go a-riding. Clear out some of the stress and insanity that keeps trying to accrue like debt and plaque in my brain.