"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Friday, February 29, 2008

"learning to bend"

a weird thing happened today as i was sitting at work in the computer lab, flipping between my favorite local online radio stations, WRFL and WOXY.

as i usually do, i perked up when i heard the DJ begin to introduce a local act, a young musician from Louisville, KY who's beginning to make a big name for himself. but when i heard the name "Ben Sollee" i practically leapt out of my seat and ran over to the computer to max up the volume and make sure i was hearing things properly. 'Ben Sollee?!' i thought to myself, and somehow, not as surprised as i feel i should have been, i sat back down and closed my eyes, while in my mind i was being rip-chorded back to 1997...

i was just a 6th grader at Winburn Middle School in Lexington, KY, starting a traumatic foray into public school (a huge difference from my Montessori educational beginnings), in one of the poorest parts of town. i was hapless, unbearably shy, puny and confused, unused to being picked on or mocked for my lack of concern for the most popular fashions or brand name clothes. i was unaware that participation in certain activities, like band or orchestra (or Math Team), were shunned, derided, absolute social taboos. i just wanted to make music... i'd grown up playing piano, listening to classical music in the car with my parents, and loving Kenny G's sax on the weekends while my mom made food in the kitchen. i figured if they wouldn't let me play piano in middle school, i could try my hand at learning the violin.

and that's how it started. i remember taking the bus to school early every morning, nearly 2 hours before school started, waiting to be picked up a block from my house when the sun was still low in the sky and my breath was still a lingering mist in the early morning fog. i'd stand there - a comical sight - with my disproportionately large backpack and a violin case, wearing large glasses and "high-water" elastic-waisted hunter green pants and one of my mom's old sweatshirts. when the bus pulled into the school parking lot some 30-40 minutes later (we had to drive completely across town to get from my house to the school), i'd walk past the cafeteria full of detention'd students and bee-line into the orchestra room, where i felt - finally - happy. this small room was the only place i had at the time to feel physically and psychically safe within the walls of the school. as soon as i left, i would be sure to encounter all sorts of ugly manifestations of peer pressure and judgment (and racism), but here, especially in the early mornings when it was just me and a few other musical devotees, i felt safe and at home. finally, a place i belonged...

and that's how i remember meeting Ben. i was a 6th grader with no sense of style or self-confidence, and he was the totally cool 8th grader who everyone (myself included) admired. and the coolest thing about Ben was that he managed to exude utter cool without any sense of giving in to peer pressure. that's what i admired most about him. he came to school every week wearing some variation on the same outrageous outfit: overalls (one strap undone) and a cut-off t-shirt, the shoulders just a little too wide, and the bottom of it fringed and frayed, cut just a little too short so that it revealed a glimpse of his abs, which were just a little too fit for someone our age. and his hair, famously unkempt and wild, a mass of shocking blond curls, slightly eccentric looking, while at the same time charmingly nonchalant.

i'd come in every morning, throw down my books, and eagerly set into practicing scales, finger patterns, gently learning to wiggle my fingers enough to achieve a basic vibrato, practicing shifting from first to third positions, trying different rhythmic patterns to increase my speed (i was the fastest violinist in all 3 grades! we had a speed-playing competition which i won handedly). and Ben, who'd be playing around on several instruments at once, would come over to me with a stand and a sheet of music, and we'd start a jam session until the first bell rang.

in class, he'd be jumping between the cello (of which he was always uncontested first chair), bass, even violin and viola on occasion. he was a renaissance man, he could do it all, and with such vigor and enthusiasm that even if he didn't actually know how to play them all, he had us all fooled into believing him. all the girls i knew had huge crushes on him; he was so cute, so talented, so charming. i was too scared to admit to myself at the time that even i had noticed these things, had admired him from afar, that i liked him too. and not just in the middle-school-girl crushy kind of way, but just in general "liked" him. because no one could not like Ben. he was just so like-able.

anyway, i remember middle school as this overwhelmingly difficult time. kids get hormonal, they get confused, they hurt each other more than they might mean to, and sometimes they don't really regret it. middle school, i'm convinced, is probably one of the hardest times to be a kid. it's a jungle, for sure. but being in Orchestra somehow always made things better. and i'm not saying it was wholly because of Ben. of course i loved the music, loved mastering a new instrument, found joy playing in concert with my peers, etc. but it was also that wild hair, those overalls, and those early morning jam sessions, that made life a little more bearable.

so, i'm happy to extend my congratulations to an old friend. and i'm proud to say i knew him way back when...


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

dear Hillary and Obama (if you're listening): i live in Ohio, and i'm voting for Nader.

=UGLY! (boo hiss!)

"When again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let's vote, and not till then."
~ W.E.B. DuBois

i love that quote. after spending the majority of my Spring semester reading about democratic philosophy and theorizing about the meaning of democracy in modern America, looking for hope that the youth of America are becoming more engaged in their communities and are participating in political activity, i feel obligated to watch the democratic debates, even though i LOATHE them.

nevermind that most of it rapidly, inevitably devolves into immature bickering and quibbling, or that they NEVER answer the questions, or that they're always using the same empty rhetoric over and over ("Change" vs. "Experience" - as if they're completely separate and we can only have one!) ...

most of all, i hate the spectacle that politics has become. i gave this debate an honest shot. i took half an hour out of my already really packed day to watch the debate in the hopes i'd find something redeeming in either one of the candidates. because we're voting here in Ohio in less than a week, this undecided independent young adult minority woman (an important demographic, i believe?) needs to decide how to get her vote on!

i've been following the debates and the campaigns, with ever-growing disdain and distaste and disinterest and complete lack of faith in our political system. it was tolerable back when John Edwards was still in it. he was sensible, well-spoken, and miraculously managed to diffuse the awkward tension and animosity between Barack and Hillary. but let's face it, the media machine never even gave him a chance, it's always been Obama vs. Clinton from the beginning. and now look at the mess we're in! it doesn't matter who gets the nomination at this point, they're not going to pick each other as running mates (which leaves... Kucinich? if only...) and all this nonsense mud-slinging is doing nothing to get anyone excited about voting for either of their sorry asses!

this is exactly why youth, across the board, in surveys and polls on civic engagement, continually abstain from political activity. BECAUSE IT'S UGLY! why would we want to participate in a system that continually reeks of corruption, greed, equivocation, and disregard for real issues in the name of competition? i hate having to watch adults - full-blown grown-ups dressed up in power suits fer cryin' out loud! - whining and picking on each other to try to win sympathy from a (let's face it) apathetic crowd. these are our supposed leaders in D.C. and i can't even trust them to sit there and have a civilized, well-reasoned discussion for half an hour?! and you want me to vote for them??!!! i can't even believe i made the foolish mistake of turning on the TV to watch this garbage when i didn't even eat dinner today because i had so much work to do, i was worried leaving my room to grab a sandwich would be too much precious time lost. clearly i don't have any sense of propriety!

not that the idea of political theatre should be news to my generation. no, on the contrary, we should be pros at spotting it now. i'll admit i'm exceedingly suspicious of Obama because of all the media hype he's getting. it's almost trendy to be in support of his campaign. now, i can remember maybe 2 years ago or more hearing about the young junior senator from Chicago who was a great orator, and being kinda excited. but after that the spark faded. and when Hillary brought up his inclination to vote "present" on bills, rather than taking a side, that really turned me off. i want stances, not easy passes. and i'm still wary of his predilection to play it safe, taking neutral positions and employing flavorless rhetoric in an effort to offend as little as possible. the tendency to play the middle road reminds me of the mass media industry's practice of producing homogenized, low-quality, formulaic media fare in the interest of accumulating mass audiences, at the expense of accuracy, progress, and authentic representation. you can spin it as "unification," but it looks more to me like ball-less neutrality, and we all know you can't be neutral on a moving train...

at some point in the debate, Hillary and Barack were bickering and talking over the moderators trying to interject their various points of contention (what else is new? yawn yawn, right?) the camera cut to some slick-looking NBC guy, while Hillary was still talking, as he tried to cut to a commercial break (which would be incidentally filled with campaign commercials), saying "TELEVISION DOESN'T STOP!" indeed, it's apparent now, this spectacle does not stop, not for anyone. even if we want it to. we've got to jump off!

so screw it, i've had it. clearly politics are theatre and this theatre is vaudeville. worse, it's bad television!

i've always said a vote for Nader is a wasted vote.
so maybe i'll just vote for (*gasp!*) Huckabee. because there is no way in hell our next Chief is going to be called "President Huckabee" (sorry, Mike!)

feeling disenfranchised,

Monday, February 25, 2008

to do...

1) study for CSETs;
2) grade papers, teach, counsel (repeat);
3) SFS;
4) pray for sunshine and flowers;
5) senior project, senior project, senior project...

these days are not enough.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

liveblogging the Oscars

Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard, looking radiant - her speech was definitely the highlight of the evening, in my honest opinion.

screw Carpetbagger. this snarky chick and her snippy friend Brandon had our own little (unplanned) blog-fest for the 80th Academy Awards!

while i sat in my room with the telly on, a cup of peppermint tea in hand and my senior project books spread around me, Brandon and i chatted back and forth about the Oscars, facial hair, and it was a love fest!

so here are the Oscars, as experienced thru our unabashedly snarky commentary:

me: hi, are u watching the oscars?
10:15 PM Brandon: yeah
me: i LOVE marion cotillard
her speech nearly made me cry
she is so gorgeous
Brandon: yeah, seriously. I think i would have been funny if any one of those ladies had won
*would have been happy
i can't think
me: ha
10:16 PM yeah, agreed, but i really wanted her to win the most
well, and julie christie too, but more cuz she's old
Brandon: yeah...I dont know why she was so surprised. She was who i was expecting haha
julie christie was incredible though in that movie
me: yeah she was
Brandon: she definitely deserved it as well
10:17 PM and I really liked Cate's reaction
me: yeah i love her!
Brandon: she looked so incredibly happy for Marillon it was ridiculous
me: i loved how she was so thrilled for Marion
yeah, haha
Brandon: i dont know what is up with my typing tonight
me: mine was like that this morning
i was hitting all the wrong buttons
and saying words i didn't mean
ok wtf
10:18 PM it seems like Jon Stewart is trying too hard to be funny
OMG is Glen Hansard going to sing??!!
10:19 PM YAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!
Brandon: holy fuck that was a huge orchestra for that one little intro part lol
10:20 PM me: yeah, haha
i think it's the orchestra that plays the exit music too tho
oh, and Glen is sans beard
i hope they win the Oscar
i feel like they deserve it more than the other acts so far, which have been kinda shitty to be honest
10:21 PM i love how Glen is playing his beat up guitar too
10:22 PM aw, they were cute
10:23 PM Brandon: jack nicholson, however, is not lol
he kind of seems like the ultimate creeper to me
me: yeah, i think that's kinda a persona he's cultivated over the years
10:24 PM wow, some of these older movies look AWFUL
Brandon: thats what makes them so good lol
me: aw, it's the Dragonheart theme!
Brandon: i love bad old movies
me: i LOVE that movie
i really want to watch it now
10:26 PM ok, wtf, Oliver! was a best picture?
and Rocky?
that seems wrong
Brandon: i FUCKING love amadeus!
i had no idea that was a best picture
10:27 PM that makes me so happy
10:28 PM me: i love that movie too
it's so creepy

7 minutes
10:36 PM me: that was weird how they zoomed in on Nicole, rather than the guy who was actually getting the award
wow, the camerawork here is ridiculous
Brandon: yeah...this is what one of my friends wrote in his live-journaling of the event:
10:32 -- What the fuck is that diamond necklace-ish thing hanging off of Nicole Kidman? I'm sure it's worth a bazillion dollars, but it's only favoring one of her titties and it looks so weird.
10:37 PM me: oh no, are they going to play the music on him?
Brandon: i dont think they play the music for the special people awards
me: it does look a little chintzy
i hope not
but they might as well since they're not focusing the camera on him
it seems like no one there is listening
10:38 PM Brandon: haha! they should showed this old guy who was sleeping lol
me: haha
10:40 PM this is horrible, i'm not getting anything done b/c the tv is on
Brandon: me neither...I decided to instead try to catch up on some of my photo uploading lol
10:41 PM me: ooo that at least sounds like a useful way to spend the time
10:43 PM wow, i haven't seen any of these foreign lang films!
Brandon: I really wish there was an easily accesible way to see the foreign language films and short animated features
me: agreed!
shorts are esp hard to find
10:45 PM Brandon: I know i hate that
I would love to be able to see them but i have no idea where to find them
10:46 PM me: i love how they take the time to make the song performances so elaborate
Brandon: yeah...these are ridiculous productions
10:47 PM me: Once's wasn't
Brandon: not at all lol
it was just the two of them and their little instruments
and everything else...HUGE production values!
me: + a wall of guitars, but they weren't dancing
10:48 PM they coulda added some pyrotechnics at least
i mean come on!
10:49 PM i like how John Travolta just waltzed in
because u're a song and dance man, John!!
"Falling Slowly" ftw!!!
10:50 PM Brandon: if august rush wins i won't be AS upset as if enchanted wins
me: YAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!
me: oh they're so cute!
how old is she?
Brandon: i think it's more disturbing than cute lol
10:51 PM she's 19 now i think...and they 'fell in love' when she was like 13 or something
and he's like in his early 40's now i think
me: whoa, weird
10:52 PM and i like how she didn't even get to speak
HA, 'male menopause'
you mean a hot flash, Steve?
10:53 PM Brandon: i love steve [spielberg] lol
me: i like chatting while we watch the oscars, it makes it more fun
Brandon: it's ALMOST like watching them together lol
10:54 PM me: hah
Brandon: which i guess we just should have done in the first place!
but i didnt know you were going to watch them
10:55 PM me: yeah, we probly should have watched them together
u're still welcome over, if u'd like
tho i thought u were doing homework
Brandon: oh gosh no!
i never do homework anymore lol
i will probably try to get something done after the show though
10:56 PM me: yeah, in like another hour?
or are they already almost over?
Brandon: im not sure
me: i have no idea what's been announced
i haven't even really been paying attn
did they do the shorts?
10:57 PM Brandon: yeah
me: aw, that's so cute that they're letting her say something
Brandon: yeah, her microphone got cut off i guess
too bad it has to be done so awkwardly lol
10:58 PM me: yeah, seriously
but she was well-spoken
that was the BEST anecdote EVER
"let's have them kiss"/"but they're both guys!"/ "but this is Hollywood!"
10:59 PM Brandon: yeah, they're cute
11:00 PM me: they didn't do the lead actors yet right?
i think that's one of the last ones
Brandon: they did supporting, and lead female
me: maybe before the Best Pic
yeah they did all the actress oscars
who won supporting again?
11:01 PM Brandon: i cant remember right now lol
me: i can't either...
Javier Bardem!
he won one...
Brandon: oh, and tilda swinton
me: oh, right
[commercial break...]

6 minutes
11:07 PM Brandon: i love eli stone!
11:08 PM victor garber makes me so happy, and he sings in the show and it's delightful
and the lead actor is rather dapper
me: really?
i was just going to say how awful that show looked, haha
Brandon: i also love amy adams
I just really like shows that have a fantastical edge to them
like pushing daisies
11:09 PM me: yeah, she's cute
ooo i hope the guy from Radiohead wins [the best original score]
Brandon: im really surprised i haven't really heard much about the kite runner
me: oh, nevermind... [Radiohead guy not nominated]
yeah, me too
11:10 PM Brandon: it didnt seem to get any kind of attention at all when the book was so huge
me: ok, so i think James McAvoy is totally hot
11:11 PM Brandon: he is very easy on the eyes
i think he generally looks better without the scruff though
me: and the voice ain't bad to listen to
Brandon: he doesnt really grow good facial hair
it's too patchy
me: it should either be a fuller beard or none at all!
i wonder why he went with the facial hair
Brandon: yeah...you would think SOMEone would let him know it needs to go
11:12 PM me: ha, yeah
Tom Hanks hasn't been in a good movie in a while...
Brandon: that is true
11:13 PM me: was that real-time? [army officers announcing Oscar nom's and winner from Baghdad]
11:14 PM or did they record that in advance u think?
Brandon: i have no idea...i wasn't really paying attention
i feel like real-time would be risky
but otherwise it would hurt the secrecy thing i would think
me: that's what i'd think
11:15 PM hm, i really want to see this doc short now
Freeheld (note to self to look up later)
11:16 PM hm, lots of war movies
do u think Sicko will win?
11:17 PM Brandon: i have no idea...it's the only one i've heard of, but there's kind of a general anti-michael moore thing, so who knows
me: yeah
wait which one is this?
i don't even fell like they announced it earlier, haha
Brandon: haha
11:18 PM yeah i dont know
that was weird...like four people messaged me all at the same time and i have no idea who these people are
me: haha, weird
oh, i think this was the one about Abu Ghraib?
11:19 PM i'm glad u're so popular, haa
oh Elton John, i love him [original song montage]
Brandon: i guess...i dont talk to people i dont know generally speaking though
me: did he win for "Circle of Life"?
that would be fantastic

5 minutes
11:24 PM me: i really want to see Michael Clayton
Brandon: i effing love ratatouille
11:25 PM and i REALLY wanted to see savages
me: and the Savages
Brandon: i'm sad i never knew when it was out
and what the hell is diablo [cody] wearing? lol
me: she looks fun tho
Brandon: well, she was an exotic dancer lol
11:26 PM me: haha, yeah
Brandon: im sure she's VERY fun
wink wink lol
me: let's try to find The Savages somewhere
it looks good
11:27 PM Brandon: I was looking forward to seeing it for a while because i pay VERY close attention to anything laura linney is in, and I never really saw it being released anywhere
me: it seems like it got a really limited release
Brandon: it's not even so much that I'm a huge laura linney fan for her, but she's just always in really really good movies
me: i LOVE laura linney
she's so cute
Brandon: she is really cute
me: yeah, she is
Brandon: i love her face
11:28 PM me: and phil seymour hoffman is great in everything he does too
i like her dimples
she just looks really expressive
[commercial break]
oh god, this new oprah show looks HORRIBLE
11:29 PM lots of exasperated yelling...
Brandon: i didnt realize it was its own show...i just assumed it was something she was doing on her own talk show
i love jack lemmon
me: aw, i LOVE Jack Lemmon
Brandon: haha
11:30 PM me: aw...
ooo [Helen Mirren]'s elegant
Brandon: indeed she is
11:31 PM me: Forest Whitaker is great too
Brandon: she's always seems so poised and distinguished
11:32 PM me: now there's a moustache that should win an oscar [on Daniel Day Lewis's full moustache in There Will Be Blood]
11:33 PM despite all the horrible reviews, i still really want to see sweeny todd
i just feel like it would be a lot of fun
me: but i hope he doesn't win (daniel day lewis)
i really want to see in the Valley of Elah
i dunno, johnny depp in a musical makes me cringe
ooo, Viggo is delicious looking
11:34 PM Brandon: oooo the little girl with him is adorable!
me: oh, he [Daniel Day Lewis] just looks so smug!
Brandon: i feel like this is pretty much an exact repeat of the SAG awards...it's all the same people winning
11:35 PM at least for the big awards
me: boo
Brandon: oh my god! another random message! what the hell is going on
me: wow, that was an elaborate metaphor
Brandon: indeed it was haha
he's got moxy!
me: yeah, seriously, Brandon, why so popular?
11:36 PM Brandon: i just want to know who these people are!
and how they all have my screenname and why they're all trying to talk to me now
me: weird...
DDLewis shoulda kept his moustache
11:37 PM Brandon: it's pretty old skool
me: he could bring it back
Brandon: he indeed could

5 minutes
11:43 PM me: ooo who do you think for director? [Coens win]
Brandon: i think that was a given
me: oh, i was gonna guess them
Brandon: oh totally
me: i was kinda thinking PT Anderson had a shot
oh they [the Coens] are so boring to listen to tho
Brandon: this movie has won at all the award shows
me: u'd think they'd be more interesting as ppl
11:44 PM Brandon: im sure they'll probably win best picture too
me: yeah, i guess u're right
11:46 PM welp, you called it
Brandon: i guess i should see it lol
although, crash is a movie i probably could have missed
me: it's good
Brandon: me neither
i HATE how much attention it got
11:47 PM me: me too!
who's this guy?
Brandon: i think if it didnt get as much attention i might have liked it a little better, but I think it was way over sold
he's the other producer of the movie
and i LOVE that frances mcdormand married one of the coen's
Brandon: i think it's cute
me: really?!
that is cute
i love her too
Brandon: they got married after Fargo
11:48 PM me: which one?
i hope not the smallish one
he just seems jerky
what's up with the Kenny G denouement music?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

on the nature of change: skepticism vs. cynicism

as you know, i'm teaching a class called Education for Social Change. this is the 6th week of class, and it's been great and fun for the most part, there are a lot of high's and low's, lots of excitement and disappointments and many more frustrations, but in general i'm really happy to begin developing a critical pedagogy.

the most enthralling part of this whole experience has been the challenge of enacting a critical praxis when many of my students/peers are resistant (after years of conditioning) to taking ownership of their own educations. even after i have attempted to give them the freedom to create a course that would fit their interests, they are reluctant to meet me halfway, frequently reimposing control and authority on me. the challenging part for me has been fostering the determination and dedication to critical-democratic education and encouraging and pushing them to be active students and citizens.

and my efforts have met with occasional success. as i always tell the class, "learning is a process." and a long one, at that. while i am trying to encourage them to develop radical stances toward their educations, they are teaching me the importance of endurance and resilience in the face of an overwhelming systematic inertia when it comes to social change. but, as i told one of my students, change has got to start somewhere. why not here?

what follows is an example of some of the best (and i mean WORST) of my students' reluctance to develop a critical stance. and then, my (rad!cal) response.

x's and o's,

[these posts come from my class's online discussions about their final public projects]

student post:

I'm finding that I'm really not sure how to respond to other people's final project ideas, or what kinds of comments would be helpful for them. None of these projects (including mine, to at least some extent) seem likely to produce much real change in society. They're too small and too unofficial to really be visible or to create anything tangible. And they're too abstract and confusing to the intended audience, and too extremely counter-cultural, to succeed without large-movement backing. In short, it's too much like individual crusuaders charging out there with a lot of passion and not much else, each of us waging our own tiny grassroots war against a system that will roll its eyes at us, if indeed it notices us at all.

Maybe I still don't understand the assignment properly. What exactly are we supposed to do? What is our goal, ultimately? To create some dramatic form of expression about our feelings on our favorite social issue? To scream our passions into the wind, in the most anti-traditional-education way possible? I'm sure we'll all feel very satisfied that we've gotten our hands dirty, done something "real" outside the classroom, etc. But I don't understand how these projects will create any tangible, lasting social change; or even how they will give us the right skills for future social change endevors.


These are good concerns to be having, Leo. Of course social change doesn't happen with a few small actions here and there. It needs to be systemic. But, it's also got to start somewhere. And that's what these projects should signify, some attempt on all our parts to ACT toward the change we want to see.

Too many people sit on their hands and shrug as they watch grave injustices committed around them every day. Why the apathy? Why the inertia preventing us from acting? I'm not suggesting you grab a bullhorn and storm the streets and burn down buildings, but I am asking you to begin PRACTICING a critical democracy.

What does that mean? It means being a skeptic, rather than a cynic. To clarify further: cynicism is fatalistic. It causes you to be doubtful of yourself and the people in your community, it means to resign to an idea of powerlessness, to feel unable to make any difference and so, letting your agency and critical faculties atrophy. To be skeptical is completely different; it requires critical questioning of otherwise accepted opinions and ideas. It is generative, productive, and active, because you are always evaluating the world around you and finding ways in which to insert yourself - be still no more! Action is the critical entrance into actualization! It's exciting, it's here, it's now!

In short, I'm tired of people crossing their arms and complaining. Droopy frown and weak "but"s be gone! Any change at all is still change, and that's exciting!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

my love for you is not enough...

making valentines makes me smile!

happy valentine's day!

surprise, surprise. i'm not usually one to practice commercial holidays, nor do i like it when society prescribes a certain day for the material expression of love for a fellow human being.

but, i am also not one to let that stop me from doing something nice for people, and this year it happened that i decided hand-made, personalized valentines would be a good pick-me-up, for myself, as i enjoy occupying myself with crafts on occasion, and for others, especially some of my friends who have been lamenting their loneliness (some call this moping a FONE - a festival of negative energy. see, they needed some love...)

so i spent some time making non-traditional valentines. that is, they were hand-cut, folded, and sewn - not those cheap perforate-and-fold box set valentines of cartoon characters you find at Walmart - and they were mostly non-traditional colors too - oranges, greens, blues.

a glimpse at my workspace for the first batch of valentines...

it was nice because it gave me good practice with my book-binding materials, and allowed me to experiment with book ideas.

you can see some of the book-binding supplies here, like my awl and my book layout sketches in the orange book - another one of my hand-sewn creations...

here's some of my work:


(page 1)

(inner message)

(date stamp)

example message reads: "I think you're swell! Let's have some hearty belly laughing bike rides together! SOON!"

another: "I wish I were a vest... So I could be ON you! xoxo, stephanie"

the valentine i made for my boyfriend. and what it said inside:

and my absolute favorite thing? the sailing envelope i made to mail my friend back home her valentine:

(front, sans stamp)


a finished batch of valentines (look at all the colors and shapes and sizes!):


Sunday, February 10, 2008

great research tool!

yes, i am writing this at 4:54 in the morning. no, i haven't slept yet.

this is because even though i pledged to stay away from computers, i couldn't help the fact that the next 25 pages of my senior project are due in a week and i JUST started seriously devoting time to it again. i finally cleaned up my desk and found a way to set up my laptop so that i'm not constantly hunched over it and cramping my neck and wrists (tho the new set up seems like more of a strain on the eyes, even though i would've suspected distance from the screen would be a better practice. *shrug*)

so i started reading today. and making reading lists. and stacking the books on my reading lists on my desk and surrounding shelf and floor, so that my reading lists have literally manifested themselves into piles of work to do. it's kinda nice having them in discrete piles and knowing i have to work thru them one by one. seeing the piles shift in size makes me feel like i'm spending my time in some productive way.

with an endless soundtrack of pleasant, unobtrusive music (tonight it's been a mix of Joseph Arthur, Sandro Perri, Asobi Seksu, Ben Folds/Five, and now Beach House, which is GREAT for winding down and sinking in) and a stack of post-its, i've been making some headway.

AND, i found this great research tool for my Firefox browser that might've just saved me tons of time and saved my day:

hello friends and scholars -
i wanted to share this computer tool with you. i've found it useful for organizing my research because i've been accumulating so many resources and articles, that i was having a hard time keeping track of how everything connected. i used to keep dozens of .rtf files with url's and article annotations in them, but those became impossible to search and ended up just confusing me!
zotero is great b/c it's like del.icio.us (another links/tags manager) but has more layers for organization and helps you generate citations. and it's more user

friendly than RefWorks (and you can keep using it after you leave Miami). i've found the folders function to be the most useful, since i can bundle online articles

in .doc or .pdf formats and sort them according to which chapter of my thesis i'm writing.

anyway, check it out: http://www.zotero.org/

i hope it helps you with your various projects and saves you some stress.

happy researching,