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100 Things About Me
The Bull's Testicles Project
Russia Trip: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Best of 2002: Movies, Books, Music.
Best of 2003: Movies.
Best of 2004: Movies, Books.
Best of 2005: Theater, Books.
Best of 2006: Theater, Books, Television.


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Saturday, April 12, 2003

I'm Back!
Well, that was a longer break than I expected! Between Wednesday, April 2 and Sunday, April 6, R and I were away at art camp (actually it's called Artfest, but I like the half-assed summer camp ring of "art camp") in Port Townsend. Then work, once again at a wacked-out superpace (one day I started at 7 a.m. with an off-site meeting and wound down at 11 p.m.), a cameo appearance at a UW evening class about editing (they seemed to like me, but it was hard to tell if the students derived any benefit from the pearls of wisdom I laid out before them), and then at the end of the week my sinuses decided to confine me to bed and the simple things in life: magazines and crappy sitcoms.

Somehow, Artfest manages to combine a lot of getting away from it all (the easiest way to get to Port Townsend from Seattle involves a ferry ride, which always seems to suggest a clean break from "normal" life—and there’s no television or Internet access at Fort Worden) without a lot of rest. For one thing, there are classes eating up the day. You can always pick out a class where you’ll just learn techniques rather than work on a project, but since I rarely actually use the art supplies I can’t resist buying throughout the year, I usually opt for something that’ll have me leaving the class with something “finished” in hand. The downside of that is that finishing something you’re not going to be embarrassed to show to curious pals requires a bit of concentration and application—not necessarily traits that make for a relaxing break. In fact, R and I were fast asleep by 11 every night—and not only because the crappy lighting in the “officers’ houses” we were staying in made reading a bit of a challenge. Also, this year the organizers cut the lunch break to one hour—quite enough for the poor peeps trapped eating the terrible meal plan food (we only managed one mess-hall meal the first year—and this year the food was said to be even worse than before—but those out-of-towners without cars don’t have a choice in the matter), but a tight squeeze for those of us zipping down to town to eat at the excellent restaurants in PT.

It’s also hard not to notice that almost all the other attendees are acting as if they’ve just been released from prison. About 395 of the 400 or so attendees are women, and most of them seem to spend a lot of their "normal" lives doing stuff for their families. There’s this air of liberation at art camp—finally they can do what they want to do, not what their husband or kids or church or workplace or whatever/whoever need them to do. They stay up really late or all night working on projects—overjoyed, I suppose, to be able to focus just on their own stuff. They also talk really loudly and make a lot of noise—I guess they don’t have to modulate their voices or their lives when they’re free. Since R and I live selfish I-centered lives, it’s hard to relate. We just want a quiet, relaxing few days away from work, so we don’t always fit in exactly.

Anyhoo, I did two bookmaking classes (“bookmaking” always makes me think of my granddad with whom I hung out a lot when I was a kid—he was very concerned with bookmakers, but of the turf accountant variety) because a) I like books; and b) I love the teacher, Albie Smith. She gave me a door prize for taking the most Artfest classes with her (five over three years—I stupidly missed one at the first gathering), despite the fact that even after all those classes, I’m still the most remedial student. (I’m absolutely useless with my hands, so the sewing bit and even the cutting bits are a challenge.) I also took a class on making and using a pinhole camera—cool in practice—I’d never used a darkroom before, though I’ve seen so many photo-developing scenes in the movies it felt old hat—but the teacher was worse than useless, blathering on about his job and his hobbies and the price of houses in his home town. Stuff that would’ve made fine conversational topics over drinks, but sure felt like a waste of time when we were all keen to go out and point our converted Quaker Oats containers at stuff.

Port Townsend is a wonderful place to visit—it has everything you could want in a play town: great restaurants (one, Wild Coho, is particularly outstanding, though my favorite is the Stillwater Café, where everything tastes just a little bit better than you expect it to), good book stores (an OK new store and an excellent used store, William James Bookseller), card shops, art galleries, a very good record store, an awesome independent movie theater (unfortunately I’d seen both the films they were showing—one of them twice).

Saying goodbye to Seattle

Two classes, two books

Two of my signature covers—texture's big this year

My pinhole camera—it really worked

When I got home I found a Tastykake gift pack waiting on the porch. Fortunately, Jelly Krimpets have a long shelf life.