A Cold Day In Hell…?

I just came upstairs from my basement studio and shot this.  It’s snowing in Chicago today.

In two days, it’ll be May.  There’s some grand metaphor here, but I’m too astounded to think of it.

Enough, already.

My Real Life

It’s time to look to the future:

I’ve wasted way, way, way too much of my leave of absence on jobs: applying for jobs, interviewing, preparing materials, and dealing with…well, let’s just leave it at Too Much Time Wasted, so I can stop, here and now, wasting it.  A return to the studio, and significant progress on the next 22 copies of (S)Edition is a return to my Real Life, to what’s truly important.  Here’s what my summer Real Life holds for me:

Two weeks from today, I will wake up in Edinburgh, fully recovered from the previous day’s jetlag, to truly begin not-quite three weeks of wandering through rural Scotland by train, bus, and on foot, taking ferryboats to the Orkneys and the isle of Lewis, possibly renting a bike here and there.  Because of the awful exchange rate, I won’t be able to spend as much time there as I’d like, but I know, beyond a doubt, it will be rich.

(I’ve been asked if I will blog from Scotland. Absolutely.  The question is when and where I will publish, as I won’t know the internet access situation until I arrive at each destination.  But I’ll write often, and publish when I can, even if that’s not till I return. And I’m buying a gigantic photo memory card). 

I’ll have a week at home, then I’ll head to my first residency.  I’ve just received the info from there, and it looks absolutely superb.  It’s a 65 acre estate in the Catskills, on the Hudson, very near the settings for the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, and the story of Rip Van Winkle.  I’ll be living in The Tower, a literal tower with a small, three-story apartment containing a galley kitchen, bedroom, small study and bathroom….with a staircase leading to an octagonal workspace, four stories above ground, with windows on all sides! It looks like a lighthouse. I can also have one of the sheds on the property for papermaking.  It looks to be just perfect for what I want to do there: to begin to process the images and info I will have gathered in Scotland, to write, draw, make plans, maquettes, tests, and possibly to  begin some smaller works. 

Back to Chicago for two weeks in July, and then I head to Wyoming, to the very different but equally delicious environment at Jentel (see for yourself!), whose staff has been cheerful, professional and great fun to communicate with, till mid-August.  I’ll have a full studio (with sink!) there to begin making some of the new pieces.

Though the new work will be based on what I experience in Scotland, I’m sure that the Catskills and the Big Horn mountains will lend their influence as well.  I will be a very rich woman, in the ways that truly matter. 

It’s going to be a great summer; an ideal time for change, for embarking on my new life, outwardly in my artwork, and inwardly as well.  I’ll be able to carry it with me into whatever job situation I return to, to come to understand fully in my bones that outside of the classroom and my interactions with students, where my Real Life spills over and continues to extend its bounty, a job is just a job.

Blahg Gone, Blahg On

 

OK: This is it.  

Blahg has now moved permanently here, to WordPress. 

After a year of just winging it intuitively (basically the way I begin any new mode of expression), I’ve been thinking over what blogging means to me.  It’s opened me to a wider world, to new people and continued contact with old friends.  For this deafened person, blogging has become an unexpectedly satisfying way to be connected…sort of a substitute for a corner pub, in an odd, time-delayed way, where I can hear effortlessly, relax, drop all pretensions, and just be myself.  

I definitely want that to continue, but I need to experiment with a change in how it will keep working best for me.

WordPress allows selected individual posts to be password-protected.  I intend to keep Blahg public for the most part; the new pub will still be open to anyone who walks in.  But, every once in awhile, I will protect a post, and essentially gather with a group of friends in the back room.

If you would like to join me in the password-protected back room, you can do one of two things: Leave a comment after this post (only I will see your e-mail address), and I’ll contact you.  Or, if you have one of my addresses, e-mail me and tell me who you are. 

Thanks!  

I hope you’ll continue to hang with me here at the new pub for the odd dram, a bit of conversation, a song, some dancing or the occasional game of darts.

Slainte’.

Oddiology

Yesterday I made the dreaded annual visit to the audiologist.  (Well, supposedly annual; it had been more than 18 months).  It’s dreaded, because with a progressive hearing loss, no one is ever going to say, “Hey!  You’ve improved!”  Those little lines on the audiogram sink slowly towards the bottom of the chart each visit, bit by tiny bit.  And, sure enough, I’ve lost a bit more of the lower-pitched tones. I had already guessed that, because it’s been more difficult to hear men lately.  It wasn’t a huge drop, though.  Thankfully, though my hearing is always declining, it’s doing so at a fairly slow rate.

I lost the most in my left ear, which, according to the audiograms, has always been my ‘bad’ ear; it’s deafer than the right.  I simply hear less sound with it when they test me with pure tones. But the oddest thing is that my speech comprehension is much higher in the ‘bad’ ear. Though it hears less sound, it understands words better.  Go figure.

The other thing that’s been happening over the past 18 months is, without my hearing aids, whether or not I hear a loud-enough sound depends on the direction it’s coming from.  It happens with sound from a concentrated source, like the really loud old fan Paul runs every night for white noise.  If I’m directly across the room from it, with it facing my ear, I hear it.  If I turn my head in either direction: nothing.  In March, at Ragdale, that began to happen with a few people’s voices, mostly men.

The audiologist has no explanation for either of these things.

I also began my video project while there, recording parts of the examination.  (The camera shut itself off right before the word testing, which I wanted to record…but it was on its tripod in the corner, and I was hooked up to earphones and a variety of wires, and couldn’t reach it to turn it back on.  Dang.).  At one point on the video I did shoot, the audiologist is just offscreen, with my hearing aids in her hand, talking to me, and I am relying entirely on reading her lips.  I look really fierce, squinting, my mouth set in a line, my head thrust forward.  No wonder some people think I’m angry, or that I disapprove of what they’re saying. I’m only struggling to hear, but I look like I might jump up and start punching.

So, my head is quite odd, in a number of ways, even apart from my brain.

The Freedom Of The Blahg

Recently, I met with a college administrator to discuss my job.  During the course of the brief meeting, this person said, “I read your blog”.  (It’s probably only a tiny coincidence that another statement was made by the person a short time later: “I can fire you”).

I read over the entire Blahg archive today, and removed any direct naming of the college, except in instances where I was promoting a public, student-related event.  I am satisfied that, with the exception of today’s entry, I have not directly referred to any person at the college, except in the early post titled “The Deaf Card” when I said, “My tenured colleagues frequently receive nice fat faculty grants” and once when I gave the first name of a person, to thank him for finding a quiet restaurant for me.  I also removed that name. 

I am patently offended at having my blog mentioned in connection with my job. Issues of academic freedom aside, issues of where employment ends and personal life begins aside, this is my blog, about me.  I try to write as conscientiously and metaphorically as I can about how all the situations in my life affect me.

I’m somewhat astounded, still, over how many people find Blahg interesting enough to read it regularly. But because you are reading, I now consider the blog to be an aspect of my artwork, albeit a minor one. What I write here is my intellectual property, my work, governed only by me.

The piece mentioned specifically was “Deafened In Academe”.  I was told that it was “unfair” to compare academics with carnivorous birds.*  Personally, I think that piece, which is about how academe operates in general, and what it’s like to be ‘disabled’ within that environment specifically, is one of the best I’ve written, and that the simile is singularly apt (at least for my small capabilities as a writer).  I stand by every word of it. 

I repeat: this is my blog, my space, these are my opinions and observations.

If you don’t like them, leave a comment to say so, or leave, period. And, if anyone, anywhere, reads something I’ve written about metaphorically, and believes that they see themselves in that writing: that is your conscience speaking.  Unless I tell you directly that this is about you, you are operating on assumption, and your assumptions are your responsibility, not mine.

 

*which, I admit, amused me greatly.

 

Anniversary

Blahg is one year old today; so is my web site.  The site has had nearly six thousand hits since I started counting, a few weeks after the launch.  I realize that isn’t much in cyberspace, but it’ll do nicely.

Anniversaries (or birthdays) are brief pauses in our lives, occasions made to look back at where we came from, to be fully present in the current moment, and, above all, to look towards the future.

To look back, here is an eerily prophetic piece I published three days after Blahg launched, on April 23, 2007.  I’ve put the most prophetic passages in bold.

For the present, here is a link to a piece sent by a good friend today, with the words, “I thought of you.”  (It’s well worth reading, but have patience; on a few pages, the link to advance is a bit slow to appear. Mouse over the text on those!)

For the future, I am now publishing simultaneously here and at my old Blahg, in anticipation of moving Blahg here, permanently, soon.

Even if I appear to be in my old life for awhile, trust me:

It’s a new life for me.

Hence this new location. 

Thanks so much for coming along on my ride.