Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yesterday, over a fancy cheese plate, Melissa asked me to be a bridesmaid! According to the fun little bridesmade guidebook she presented me with, this involves many responsibilities. Primary among them: keeping things fun and fabulous. The book actually talks about being fabulous, specifically. I will try my best. Brian will be a groomsman for Nate; I'm not sure if fabulous is an explicit part of the deal or not.

If they go with their current pick for venue -- The Edgewater -- I think fabulousness is inevitable. It looks gorgeous and (according to Brian, via Nate) has an outrageous minimum charge: easily more than my salary, pre-taxes.

I'm very excited to get to help with colors and dresses and flowers and whatever Melissa wants second opinions on. With her and Nate's good taste (and her parent's apparent resources), it sounds like it will be an amazing time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Somehow I missed the media uproar over a Yale art student's senior thesis on self-induced abortion until Brian asked about it today.

After browsing a few articles for the various media perspectives (none really have any new or clear info after the Yale student paper), I found The Chronicle's own brief with reader responses. And while I'm not shocked other people are for the most part appalled, I am surprised that no one, not a single person, tried to defend the student -- not her right to free speech, not her creativity, not her position as a student who should have been advised out of this choice. Here's my response -- it's not all I can think to say, but it sums up my thoughts at this moment, as an adviser:

"I’m surprised by the emotional and intellectual level of the responses here. I understand a guttural reaction is unavoidable, but I imagine this forum is primarily populated by educators. Rather than dismissing this student entirely, shouldn’t we respond with ideas more fully thought-out than this project apparently was?

Particularly, comments like this unsettle me: 'Wow, I was going to try something thoughtful, but I decided in retrospect,this girl is just plain crazy and doesn’t warrant anything that deep.'

I wouldn’t refer to any students I know as ‘plain crazy’ and unworthy of my time or effort — and we all certainly hear ridiculous ideas from students all the time.

I don’t pretend to enjoy this art; certainly, while earning my own art degree, this was the type of juvenile, self-indulgent, contemporary mess I hated most. But while I won’t appreciate the process or the product here, I’d criticize more the faculty and staff who failed to advise this student in a different direction, and the student’s own lack of discourse on the subject. There’s plenty that could be said here, and she — as an artist — needs to step forward and contribute to the discussion."


Undoubtedly, there are serious impossibilities in my own fuzzy ideologies that blend libertarianism and socialism in the back of my mind. No part of me thinks this action should be illegal, and I'd be disappointed if Yale had stepped in forcefully for stop it. That's not effective education. But I'm baffled that every line and color and smudge I chose to put down during the entirely of my education was questioned, yet this senior thesis was carried out without someone suggesting a more effective method.

An important, and apparently absent, element of art education is the question of what art really is. Art doesn't have to be beautiful or well-received, or made of pain or clay, or about a specific subject; but art should have to be effective just as much as a project in any other subject. A program developed by a computer science student would not be considered passable if it didn't function. A poorly-designed psych experiment would not be allowed to invite participants. So why do art students get free reign to smear whatever they want on a canvas and call it art, even if no one understands it?

The student wanted discourse about the use of the body in art; she did not achieve that, and she is not stepping up to make that specific dialogue happen. She could use the public revulsion to her advantage: the exploitation of the female body in this piece mirrors the exploitation of women used in orientalist art; her manipulation is Ingres' manipulation of his Odalisque. It would not win over the masses, but at least she'd be acting like an artist.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I don't want to have a sick day.

I don't want to be stuck in the house. I don't want to have this cough and sniffles. I don't want to do any more laundry or match any more socks. I don't want to take out the dog on his every little whim. I don't want to put away dishes or iron shirts or wach Martha or What Not To Wear. I am sick of this whole sick-day business. And while I'm complaining, let me just say that I am very sore from the bevy of squats I did in Total Toning yesterday.

Last night I thought it was a good idea: I'd sleep in, I'd do some chores, I'd sit around in my pajamas with soup and Netflix. It went OK at first, but by 10 am I was grumpy and restless. When Brian said, "I wish I could stay home with you," I thought "Absolutely not! There's no way either of us would be happy after an hour of my grumpiness!" Fortunately he was soon safely on his way to Redmond, and Buster forgets I've just yelled at him within moments.

Update! I decided to put on pants and very big sunglasses and drag my unwanted clothes (from consolidating to make way for fancy new dresser), to the new Crossroads on the Ave. Unshowered and coughing, I was in little shape for public appearances, but I'd heard many good things about used designer bags from the greek system and other fabulous cheapo merch.

I found a J Crew skirt ($11), Ted Baker sandals ($15), and a springy little Hermes tote ($22). Even if the store was 99% fading, cheapo, or boring, these few little finds took only a third of the credit I got when the buyers took nearly everything in my giant bag -- 22 items sold, only 3 teeshirts to take home.

After the little outing, I am OK with pajamas and Netflix.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend: theater, flowers, chocolate, beer

Friday: Cabaret with Jill. I wasn't quite in the bawdy/reflective mood for near-nudity and dancing turned holocaust memorial, but the play and the performance were solid, and it made me miss Berlin thoroughly temporarily. Though written to capture a very specific moment in the city's history, I think this paradox of playful debauchery juxtaposed with a pensive kind of horror still permeates the city, and probably has the region since it was Prussian.

Saturday: Went into the Home Depot, post-Costco, to find little flowers for our patch of dirt outside the apartment. We left with a trunkfull of potted flowers, seeds, small tools, and soil. My history with plants does not make me confident (the basil in my office is stalled at some flimsy almost-dead state), but the potted things look very nice in the ground right now. Let's hope these plants will be more fortunate left to nature than my houseplants.

Also a very lovely day for a summer dress and two long dog walks to Gasworks and then through campus.

Today: wandered through the Fremont Sunday market and found a very beautiful semi-frilly dresser for $140. Have to pick up tomorrow, and hopefully will be able to get it into and out of the Zipcar. But, I'm very excited, and happy to have found an Ikea-alternative.

$5 tour of Theo Chocolates, with Nate and Melissa, Trevor and Whitney. Interesting information, interesting flavors -- my favorites were a coconut curry dark chocolate and a "bread and chocolate" bar with teensy crumbles of salty, buttery baguette. Oooh, tasty.

$24 for a ribbon-tied stack of the mini factory's eight interesting 3400 Phinney flavored bars. Also, wore hairnets.

Then, Brouwer's for exotic beer and classy comfort food. Had a traditional Belgian (?) stew and a framboise. Looks like beer, tastes like jam.

Matt joined us (and I was a bit jealous of his croque monsieur), and said something about Radiohead coming to Whiteriver this summer. Not sure if I want to sit on the lawn for cheaper tickets, or pay more for a seat a bit closer. Or if I really need to see them again, at my present exaggeratedly-elderly 24 -- nothing will ever beat the greatest condert and the Gorge ever, and I don't know if I can thoroughly appreciate the band except in my own private nostalgic moments. But maybe.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I joined Jill and a few of her friends for dinner at Purple. She was turning 22. At some point between discoveries that one friend was "one of our undergrads" at work, and that most of the table was closer to my sister's age, I felt old to be approaching 25.

(This was nullified today when a woman sat down in my office and said, "You look like a young adviser." How do I reply? "You look like a young mom for a college freshman." No, no. I'll assume it's a compliment of some sort.)

My approval is not hard to win, but Purple impressively managed to be packed and upscale while still being cozy, not too noisy, and reasonably priced ($20 risotto; $11 pizzas, $3-5 cheese selection). Interesting ingredients spicing up common food (braised wild boar on orecchiette, lobster and gruyere mac and cheese). Service had it's lulls, but the guy was really friendly, and he knew his cheese.

I skipped the afterparty. Being old, you know.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chocolate zucchini cupcakes

In which I explore ways to avoid bathing.

Maybe I'm becoming slovenly. I doubt it, really, but I sure don't feel like washing my hair today. Blame laziness, fading haircolor, and water conservation efforts. So, I'm explored two solutions to the greasy flatness of not shampooing:

1: The Up Do. Yesterday -- post-Crow, pre-ballet -- Melissa and I talked about long hair: growing it, styling it, layers, waves, ponytails, braids, pros and cons. I was mostly complaining about the lack of style, the imperfect layers, and fading color, and she asked if I ever wore it up. Nope. But this morning, since I couldn't think of a good reason why not to, I got out the bobby pins and Air Control.

Not wearing it up doesn't mean I haven't experimented in the privacy of my own home. I know from a traumatic adolescent realization that low ponytails make me look like my aunt Zoe if she were an overweight nun, while pulling my hair high to the crown of my head and giving it a little height hints that I may actually have cheekbones.

But plain ponytails are for the gym, in my opinion, so I pulled the top half high, and teased the right side to even out a cowlick on the left, and pinned in place. Since I hear buns are librarian-chic right now, I swirled the rest around on itself, pinned and hairsprayed furiously, and went in to show Brian. "Look!" I said, and he replied, "Oooh, yes. New jeans?"

The do looked a good mix of polished and careless. It stayed in place while I walked to U Village, picked up ingredients for Vietnamese fresh rolls for tonight, and shopped for under-eye concealer (uug) and my next solution:

2: Dry Shampoo. I usually love the way my hair looks the day after washing -- until about 10 am, when the greasies cross the fine line between keeping frizzies under control to clumping into day-old emo-looking roots. So while I'm skeptical that a white chemically powder can really make my hair look great, I'm also a willing consumer. So when my search for a decent concealer began to bottom out, and I overheard one of the rare helpful Sephora SAs talking to another lady about dry shampoos, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

In your hand, a powdery drop of Oscar Blandi dry shampoo feels silky, and when rubbed in disappeared except for a slight film -- something like soap residue. It was easier to use than I'd expected. I puffed a spot onto my hand, then rubbed into the roots with my fingertips. It disappeared, taking the greasy shine with it.

Even when I puffed it directly into my roots, it blended in completely. Definitely not as finicky a product as I'd have guessed -- despite being the kind of magical treatment that would be tempting to apply a ton of, I think it'd actually be kinda hard to apply noticeably too much.

The smell is OK. Brian gave it a sniff and seemed uninterested but unoffended, which is just fine for a shampoo, as far as I'm concerned. My hair definitely does not feel clean -- if anything, it feels more gunked up now that I imagine it coated with a greasy-powerdy paste. But it actually looks pretty great -- just like it does in those few magical moments between over-washed frizzy and unwashed-greasy.