30 May 2011

southpaw press

is the name I'm printing my book under, so I figured it was only appropriate for my blog, as well.

Being left-handed, I do most things - like math and knitting - backwards. Printing, however, I struggle to get right.

Letterpress printing is done. Tomorrow I will bind books!

A postscript: the header photo was taken on medium-format film by my friend Raphael at the opening of one of his shows.


At my happiest, I am coasting across town on the rattrap of a steel-frame ten-speed. Once, on the way from Ocean Street to a Victorian downtown to listen to music, I had the occasion to wonder how much of Japan may be uninhabitable. 

Another time, rolling through red lights well after dark from I Love Sushi to a board-game party, Speed Scrabble sounded like a lot of fun. 

And yesterday, when I was too tired to walk after eight hours of printing (my book is finally looking like a book!) and some hooting, hollering, stomping and dancing at Lucas' art opening, Travis gave me a ride to the Westside to pick up my bike from Olivier's house (where I'd left it after his birthday party) en route to Trivia at the local Irish pub. Nick loaned me his helmet for the ride, insisting that I needed it more than he did zipping down the hill at dusk; Travis handed me his red LED light to hook onto my back belt loop, and we were off. 

Because the rack I was sitting on was very narrow, I tried, for the first time, sitting sidesaddle, and found it both comfortable and easy enough to balance. 

We made it down the hill like that just fine, and I wish, almost, that we had gone a little faster.

26 May 2011

the most delicious condiment known to (wo)mankind

has to be Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup. Tomato puree, sugar, white vinegar, salt, onion powder, and spices. Goopy, tangy, delicious. Mix it with refried pinto beans, voila, instant baked beans. Put it on brown rice and it tastes like pasta with marinara sauce.* Yum yum yum yum yum yum YUM. Plus, it has 2% of the recommended daily intake for Vitamin C! DONE.

*I know my food habits are weird. They've only gotten weirder since going gluten-free. It's not a bad thing - it fosters creativity, right?

yosemite, you so mighty

I spent last weekend in Yosemite with a handful of good friends. The park hadn't changed since I had last visited at thirteen with my eighth-grade class.

Yosemite really is a beautiful place. A really special place. It was just marvelous to spend the weekend up in and around those mountains. My friend Sarah, who grew up in the area, was an excellent tour guide and hostess, leading us safely from 2000 feet of elevation to 6000 and back. We drove from 2000 to 5000 (ears begin popping now) and hiked from 5000 to about 6000. I was about to pass out after climbing to Vernal Fall, but lunch saved me, and the rest of the climb to Nevada Fall was absolutely worth it. All the rock, breathtaking views, sharp vernal light and sheer amount of waterproof gear I brought with me reminded me of Iceland.

Can, can can we do the can can? Hell yes, we can!

Climbing the Mist Trail to Vernal. 

The view from the top... or one-third of the way to Half Dome.

Wandering along paths between fenced-off trees and dodging pockets of snow made me feel like I was in The Lorax. How strange that it is May - late May - and there is still snow on the ground, though there was a fair amount of warmth in the air. There was also a whole lot of silly in the air: we traipsed through the park making snowballs, spilling beers, claiming prime nap spots and doing acrobatics at photo-ops.

La troupe.

Balancing act.


I'm thankful that in places like Yosemite, the trees have already been spoken for, and that our national parks are well-protected. When I'm a senior citizen, I'll buy a lifetime national parks pass. They only cost ten dollars. That way I can justify prioritizing visiting state parks and international travel for now.

17 May 2011

strawberry risotto for a lot of people

I guess I didn't need at all to be nostalgic about spring in Copenhagen, because the weather has been so - how can I put it diplomatically? - dreary that I might as well be there.

For the last three days, it's been raining pretty consistently. This has disrupted some of my spring funtime plans like swimming in the ocean and making art outside but, at the same time, has been conducive to other worthy activities: working in the press (designing my title page), reading (I never have enough time to), cooking with friends.

Last night, my friend Alessandro, who is from Italy, made strawberry risotto for a cozy dinner party of eight humans and one fuzzy dog. It was nothing I had ever heard of until he told me about it, and it was delicious. We ate the risotto steaming, slightly sweet and vaguely tangy, with a chunky green salad dressed simply with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When the vinegar mingled with my risotto I was in taste bud heaven.

The risotto recipe is simple. Take an onion. Cut it in half, then slice it thinly so that when it cooks, the onion slices dissolve among the grains of rice. Sauté the onion in a generous amount (a few or several tablespoons) of olive oil in a big pot. When the onion is translucent, begin adding rice by the cupful. I'm guessing we made about four cups of rice - like I said, it was a dish for a lot of people. Stir the rice so it fries with the onion. After adding the first of the rice, add an equivalent amount of vegetable broth. Add more rice, stir, add more vegetable broth. Continue in this manner until all the rice you want to cook is in the pot. Add some cream if you don't have butter (as was our case). By now, the rice should be cooking up and getting soft. Add most of the strawberries and stir. Taste - does it need salt? It might be time for salt. Keep stirring. Just before the pot of rice is done, add the remainder of the strawberries - they'll keep their crunch in the midst of the softness of the rose-colored dish when it's served hot!

14 May 2011

peanut butter

I used to hate the stuff, really, I did. I wouldn't even eat it in sandwiches. I'd have jam and butter or preferably meat and cheese, with lots of mustard, but peanut butter just didn't cut it. Not even with bananas: I didn't like bananas, either; a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich - some kids' idea of lunchtime heaven - was my kind of disaster.

I'm not sure when I started liking peanut butter. It might have been when I started college and my meals became based off of whatever I could scrounge up in the dining hall (to this day, I still make bizarre meals in the dining hall. The selection overwhelms me) and I put peanut butter in stuff for protein.

Or maybe it was earlier. Maybe when I was in Sweden, where nobody eats peanut butter and the rivalry between crunchy and creamy (crunchy!) is a non-issue, that I began to develop a fondness for the salty-fatty, and it, along with bluegrass, was something I embraced when I got back to America.

But my real love for nut (or legume) butter has only developed in this past year. While living surrounded by vegans, nut butter - along with avocado, the true king of California - was one of the few sources of fat and protein that just about all of us embraced. Plus it came for free, sometimes, among the deliveries of recollected bread (leftover from grocery stores) and vegetables at the Trailer Park. Every once in a while I splurge on almond or sunflower seed butter, but for the most part, peanut butter gets me through.

It's funny, isn't it, how things change? How things can be stagnant for a while, and then all of a sudden everything is changing. I think it's called exponential growth. A friend of mine recently pointed out that there's no room for growth in Santa Cruz, and that's why almost all the students leave after finishing at the University. His theory is right in keeping with the widely-accepted one of Santa Cruz being a bubble. A beautiful bubble, but a bubble nonetheless.

In a month I will graduate from UCSC with a degree in Language Studies. I feel good about that, and I feel good about moving out of Santa Cruz afterwards. My time here is just about done. I've done what I came here to do. This is a similar feeling to the one I had this time last year in Copenhagen. In mid-May last year, I was just about fluent in Danish, had seen the whole city inside and out, jaunted a fair amount around Europe, and, most importantly, established firm connections with friends. Of course it is right when everything falls into place that it is time to leave. It always is.

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic for Denmark - for 4 a.m. sunrises, for riding tandem on one-person bikes, for bars that stay open until sunrise (hearing "last call" at 2 a.m. still surprises me even though I've been drinking legally for nearly a year) and for a city built on water - in the last few days, so I just read through my notebook from this time last year (one of six I've filled in the last twelve months). Here are some excerpts:

lørdag 8 maj 2010

My dreams are so close to my waking life that I have a hard time differentiating the two. When I woke up this morning, I was surprised not to find mascara on my eyelashes, because I distinctly remember standing in front of my bathroom mirror and applying it last night.

Trying to write my final exam. I think I spent more time cooking today than working. Also, I went to Nørrebro Festival, the gadefest [street party] in Blågårdsgade with Indigo, where I got very cold and bought a pair of vintage swim shorts for en tyver. Afterwards, we tried to go dumpster diving but not only was it freezing but there was bleach all over everything. The best thing though was that there were three little boys, probably around 11 years old, already all over the Superbrugsen dumpsters when we got there. They asked us, Har I heller ikke penge for mad? [Do you not have money for food, either?]; we were like, What? Don't your parents feed you?

tirsdag 11 maj 2010 

I speak an illiterate Danish. At the library - I hate coming here but I love being here. Den Sorte Diamant is calm and purposeful once you finally make it into the reading room. I almost cried this morning for not having the right change for the lockers they require that you use - you can't take a bag or backpack of any sort into the reading room; if you need a bag, you have to carry all your supplies (pens, pencil case, eraser, notebook, folder, papers) in in a transparent plastic bag. The pool demands twenty-kroner coins, the library only takes 10s... fuck. 

It's only five degrees today and I got soaked on my way here despite my rain pants and jacket - I made the mistake of wearing canvas shoes that keep my feet wet.

onsdag 19 maj 2010

Seagulls, for one thing. Pedaling through the fog with my eyes closed I love this city, nevermind the bus exhaust. I've signed so many petitions but it's just not enough to stop the ball rolling. I left the cafe early, that's the other thing. Overextended - wound up with a strained brain. I thought I was going to fall off my feet making that last soya latte although I think if I could have just hung onto the espresso machine for the rest of the evening things would have been okay. In the bathroom mirror my pupils were large. I don't know what I want to hear so I am listening to the silence that comes and goes in waves. Last night I saw the worst poet, Denmark's Monika Lory of poetry. At least there is someone in the world who believes that we can 'dive into the river of emotion / and swim around in the sea of love.'

søndag 23 maj 2010

Staying up late these short nights (the sun sets around 9 if not later). It's finally warm enough to spend hours sitting around outside in Kødbyen drinking not-too-bad wine and eating cake & focaccia with my favorite Italians, Marcello and Fab. In the middle of the night, the city is dark but there is midnight birdsong. Biking new routes, the city snaps into place, west to north to south. I come home doused with strangers' sweat, smelling like the cigarettes I don't smoke; in the morning, I sleep late, don't shower. There is always so much more to do. 

I love music but no one ever pays attention to the opening bands. Except the one who opened for Best Coast last night made us jitterbug and swing. My smile is tired of hiding and my heart is about to leap out of my chest and my skin needs the sun, so, California, I'm coming home. 

Things have changed so much, but whatever new music I discover, my favorite bands are mostly still the same ones I loved at fifteen. Joni Mitchell. The Modern Lovers. Pavement. I try to keep my perspective at three hundred-sixty degrees and spinning.

10 May 2011

cowell press

I'm taking Bookbinding this quarter. It should really be called Book Arts, though, because it's basically a workshop in fine letterpress printing. My classmates and I do all sorts of projects ranging from cards and bookmarks to broadsides and, for the ambitious, books. Sarah has printed a gorgeous collection of her poems, Kelsey made a lovely elegy to her grandmother, and Julia, who does MudThroat, has made a collection of fetching journals.

One of my goals in attending a four-year university has been to write a book before I graduate. I've written the book, and now I'm publishing it - and I'm terribly afraid of the twelve-headed monster. Talking About the Weather is a collection of a dozen poems that grew out of accumulated memories and feelings from my year in Denmark and the summers before and after. I'm setting it in twelve-point Goudy Old Style. I've set eight poems out of the twelve, and I've just run out of e's. This means that I have to print everything I can, put the type away, and then set and print the remaining four poems. It's the single largest project I've ever undertaken, and from now on, I only want to write short poems.

Type set in a chase on the island; drawers full of type in the back. 

A drawer full of (very pretty) type.

A linocut locked up to print.

Sarah, about to print the linocut in royal purple on the Vandercook, one of the big presses. Measuring to make sure to get it in the right place on the paper.

Step one is done. The broadsides are ready for poems!

There is something entrancing about standing at the press, cranking the handle and running prints. The rollers make a soft, gyrating swishing sound and the rollers make a reassuring click when the print is run all the way through. Printing is the fastest and easiest part of the process. After designing, setting, locking up and proofing a project, holding a final print in your hands is magic. The Cowell Press is one of the last remaining bastions of academic and artistic diversity at UCSC. Although it's desperately underfunded, we're lucky we still have a place where we can create whatever our visions lead us to.

08 May 2011

stoked on

flowers in bloom

dinner parties with dahlia and tara

the penny ice creamery with sean

the dyke parade... or natalie portman convention - either way, being hella classy with emerald


having an art show at subrosa

lotten visiting on her way home from mexico

salad season

spending long evenings outside

drinking luscious french wine

and afternoons in the press

and jumping into the ocean.