Archive for July, 2008

This weekend was me and Tina’s going away party with all our friends. I’d been hoping all week it wouldn’t rain and I got my wish. It was a bit toasty out but we had some cold beer. We grilled out, made sangria, played with kittens, shot off fireworks, and had a bonfire with marshmellows. It was pretty amazing.

On Sunday after waking up on the ground outside since me and Franklin decided to sleep by the fire, I groggily got up and went to Aunt Freda and Uncle Tommy’s. We were supposed to be looking at Rachel’s wedding pictures and I figured we have some sort of minor hurrah for me. Apparently it was all for me, which was nice and pretty surprising. Andrew thought I was lame for believing the excuse to get me there, oh well. We celebrated all the holidays I’m going to miss – Thanksgiving dinner, then christmas and birthday presents, then birthday cake with 23 candles for my birthday in April. It was really fantastic. I got some goodies to help me in Taiwan.

The weekend continued with mini-golf with Steve and MaryBeth and Rachel. I scored something in the abysmal 70s. If it takes me longer than 4-5 putts I get frustrated and start just smacking the ball, which doesn’t make for a great score.

Its weird that the departure deadline is close enough now that everything is a last time. I kind of hate that. I want to soak in Nashville a smidge more. I need more pint nights at Flying Saucer. I need more exhibits at Cheekwood. I need more fried pickles from Rotiers, and late night wanderings through Vandy. I need more smoky shows at Mercy Lounge and dinners at Las Palmas. I don’t have enough stored up yet. I need more balderdash, and donuts, and afternoons sitting silently with coffee and newspapers at a wide assortment of coffeeshops. I need my printshop and Grimey’s and the ducks I feed in Centennial. Will they all fit in a suitcase?

Becoming a bit sentimental with the departure of Franklin. I’ll see him next year. Damn thats a long time. Bit of a painful spot left from the separation. Not everything can be easy.

But moving on, a bit of a lyric that came on the morning I graduated as I frantically ran around my room looking for shoes. Pertinent to moving on, doing things, and searching out hidden remnants of paths I might like to wander down…

“We emerged from youth all wide-eyed like the rest. Shedding skin faster than skin can grow, and armed with hammers, feathers, blunt knives: words, to meet and to define and to… but you must know the same games that we played in dirt, in dusty school yards has found a higher pitch and broader scale than we feared possible…The first chapters of lives almost made us give up altogether. Pushed towards tired forms of self immolation that seemed so original. I must, we must never stop watching the sky with our hands in our pockets, stop peering in windows when we know doors are shut. Stop yelling small stories and bad jokes and sorrows, and my voice will scratch to yell many more, but before I spill the things I mean to hide away, or gouge my eyes with platitudes of sentiment, I’ll drown the urge for permanence and certainty; crouch down and scrawl my name with yours in wet cement. ”

-The Weakerthans, Sounds Familliar

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Here goes. The beginning of the public eye. Or not so much public as peopled. Peopled with “Peoples I know”…then again, it is the internet so maybe the one or two people I don’t.

Personally peopled, potentially public rather.

More rantings/ravings to continue as the days count down and then start all over again. Two weeks from tomorrow. Eeep.

Feel free to read along, comment, critique, suggest, and pass it along.

I’ve had a bit of experience at this whole blog thing. Been pecking away at one since I was 16. Those old entries from 2001 are a bit more frivolous than what I hope to capture here. That blog is hiding away in one of the many many hidey holes on the interwebs, where only a few are aware of it, biding its time, chronicling the past and present me.

This one. This one is for travel. For delicious food, delicious photos. For lessons taught and lessons learned in the classroom. For awkward cultural fumblings and ecstatic unknown revelations.

Lets begin.

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Who is Tina Wu.

A low-down on my partner in crime, also personal translator, tour guide, cultural expert, personal shopper, advice giver, and friend.

Tina Wu’s name must be recited with both names 75% of the time. The rest can be tina.

Tina has a younger brother we call “little wu”

tina cannot hold her liquor. tina loves to shop. tina is great at spanish -go figure. tina is very allergic to cats-they make her sound like a man. tina has an 11pm curfew due to crazy-asian-mom. tina dates jud. tina like tininkling. tina wu is not tina wu’s real name.

I have gone to school with Tina from 7th grad until the end of college- just long enough to know way too much.

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The technicalities

To answer some questions:

When did you decide to do this?

The official deciding day was the Hamblet announcement in April. What is the Hamblet? Well, a large portion of the senior art show involves the Hamblet award, which is a 20,000$ grant to make art and have a solo show in the upcoming year. Initially I started on my senior show not with award goals but really to just accomplish creating an entire show. The process and stress of working on something so intensely and having the satisfaction of showing to a public what I think and am inspired by (which is incidentally old-school dangerous play ground equipment) was what I was thinking about. But the more I worked the more I thought that maybe my ideas would be worth something in grant money not just in wall space and would be something to decide my life for me, rather than flounder like all other college graduates.

I was at the same time tempted to keep on traveling. A semester in France had left me wanting to see more and visit more places. Tina was applying to the JET program (Japan english teaching) and I had several friends who had lived/living in Asia teaching english. Thanks to the Euro, and rampant unemployment in France, western civilization was out of the question, so I was looking at bit farther west…all the way to the far east, funny thing the whole circular planet thing. Who decided what got to be “eastern” and “western” isn’t it all relative? Anyways. Art grant -money to travel/make art. Teaching english -money to travel/make art.

The Hamblet happened, it was fantastic and it seemed very very close but not quite 20,000$. I got results from the show and indeed a push in life. Not really in the direction I had initially thought but certainly more adventurous and risky.

Thus me and Tina are now off on harebrained adventures, she turned down an acceptance to the JET program and I started trying to learn Pinyin. And the money I hope to save from my year traveling and working will be the money I now use to keep making prints, buying ink, screens, etc.

So I guess that’s a why as well.

Other whys include

A nest egg will be nice, and the process of acquiring it isn’t half bad. New stories, new life, a break from the American mindset, a break from everything I’m familiar with. I’m also aware that this is my last chance to really travel completely. Traveling when you’re 30-40-50..not the same. We all know that. I don’t have a house, a job, a couch, plants, all those little and big things that tie you down. So I’m going to frolic. Frolicking dammit, frolicking.

In terms of hard plans. I don’t really have any. I’m taking out a 2500$ loan to float any “starting a new life” expenditures. We’re staying with Tina’s extended family until we have an apartment, jobs, furniture, etc. No doubt there will be alot of nodding, bowing, and blank smiles. I had my first dream about Taiwan last night and it consisted only of that. It was pretty much silent, seeing everything and taking it in in my own head with no conversation.

Kinda weird, not scary.

Any other questions? Maybe, we’ll see later.

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Though I haven’t yet left, the departure date is daily nearing. Every single day, never fail, I get the question…”are you nervous, you’re leaving soon right?”

And every time I don’t really know how to respond.

No. For some bizarre reason I am not nervous. I don’t know whether its the inability for my mind to process the fact that I am stranding myself in a completely foreign culture. The fact that I’m in for a rude awakening. Or merely that I’m not really a person to stress out over things. I am slowly and steadily accomplishing tasks I need in order to leave. I make lists, I check things off, I read up on questions I have, I dot all i’s and cross all t’s. I never ever look beyond tomorrow, or next weekend. I think that maybe then the panic would set in…and that wouldn’t really be good. No way hosea.

Excepting the whole learning mandarin thing. From the beginning I was excited at no verb conjugations, at a seemingly straight forward language. And then. The tones. Damn those tones, and my inherent a-tonality. I do admit I have not tried very hard, but at the same time its a little daunting. This is no “go to france with 5 years of french under your belt” its more of a go somewhere where r’s make tz noises and c’s make r noises. Not to mention the whole characters thing….no no no. So I have my flash cards, my internet robot voices to teach me, and the subtle panic of the fact that no one ever learns Mandarin or any language through osmosis–which was how I was kind of hoping to get it. Maybe rub my head on tina really hard and bam, I TOO have been to chinese school every saturday morning for 15 years.

Maybe not.

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