Saturday, May 28, 2011

FUZE Week 10

I fell down. Leaving the wedding of two friends on Saturday afternoon I tripped on a curb, fell off of my high heals, twisted my ankle, and skinned both knees. In the time between the ceremony and reception (which happened to be 2 hours) I was able to run home, clean up my bleeding knees, take some Advil, and change into flats. I also realized that my incredible swelling ankle could detour me from the theme of this week, frolic.

Pitiful, huh?

My idea of frolicking included playing, skipping, and pretty things. Me being me, I naturally thought of my shoes. While I was working at Lucinda’s I amassed quite a collection of some quite lovely and unique shoes. My plan was to go about my week in a different pair of fabulous shoes, often high-heals, each day. Letting my footwear dictate my frolicking. But after Saturday night not only was there no way I was going to try to walk in heals but I couldn’t even fit my swollen foot into them if I had wanted to. My frolicking plan had been foiled.

I found myself on the couch most of Monday and Tuesday with my foot elevated and under an ice pack wondering how in the world I could frolic when I couldn’t even walk. I tried to frolic in my heart, to make it like celebration week where even when things were not exactly celebratory I learned to take on that posture because of grace (by no means am I seeking to compare spraining my ankle to my grandfather’s death). Nonetheless I think I learned a similar lesson. My brilliant frolicking plan was based on the superficial and on what I could do. I had couched my ideas of frolicking in appearance and in my own strength. But, like celebration frolicking is not done in and of our selves. Frolicking can only truly be done in Christ.

As I reflected on this week I was reminded that God delights in His children. Not only is He the reason for our frolicking, but He frolics in us. What I found particularly amazing (and convicting) was that God used my own shallow perception of and plans for frolic week to show me this. Every day this week in the midst of scabbed knees, a bruised kankle, and a serious pouting face and general self-pitying attitude, I received genuine complements… two of them from total strangers. Even though I couldn’t ware my frolicking shoes God still frolicked in me and reminded me that in Him, humbled and barefoot I am lovely.

FUZE Week 8

B and I have been working through the book The Artist’s Way but Julia Cameron. Each week we read a chapter and complete specific tasks related to the topic of the week’s chapter. One of the tasks we had this week was a week-long reading deprivation. NOT READ!?!? For a WEEK?!?! There were a lot of things I disliked about this task... I couldn’t read emails. No reading related research. Couldn’t read price tags, recipes, bus schedules, text messages. I was not looking forward to this week.

When studio was our word for the week I let out a sigh of relief. I can just make stuff… I mean art, that doesn’t require reading. Or so I thought. This week part of studio for me was finding a studio space. Doing this without reading was going to be difficult. I found I had to ask a lot of questions. I made a special trip to the art supply store to ask about possible studio spaces. Rather than using a phone book I had to get phone numbers from people and make calls. I couldn’t Google search studios in Freo and look at pictures online I had to take buses, get lost, ask for directions, find them and look at spaces in real life. By not reading I had to engage my environment and community, I had to pursue relationships and have conversations, all big reasons for why I’m here.

After conversations with several people with different connections in the arts community it seemed like all roads were leading to the same place, Blinco Street Studios. This space was not far from the heart of Freo, in easy biking distance from the house. I was told there was immediate availability and rent seemed reasonable. The studios were connected to a funky little cafĂ©. I was able to make an appointment to see the available spaces early next week and B and Luci were both able to join me for this. I was relieved to have come to a point of resolution. I knew where I was going to be working. I could start building relationships there. I could settle into a regular studio routine. I was also proud of myself for having found a place while not reading. Finding a studio can be hard under normal circumstances, finding one without reading… well, you get the idea.

The funny thing is that in “Studio Week” I did very little art making, like I had thought I could and would do. I did however do a lot of relationship making. There was a night spent over Thai takeout and The Royal Wedding. There was dinner with one of my soon-to-be housemates and his girlfriend. A good friend who lost her grandmother the same day my Papa died and I had a long chat over coffee. At the very end of the week of studio and reading deprivation I facilitated the Artist’s Way book group, building for me a new layer into the relationships there.

All of these relational events reminded me that “studio” is not just making art. It’s a mindset and posture of giving back, be that literally, metaphorically, creatively or spiritually. It’s the humbleness to ask and listen.

(I did get some art making related things done too... who'd have guessed art can be washing linens)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

FUZE Week 7

It’s been a tough week. There have been some wonderful highs and devastating lows. And it’s Easter.

B and I read and discussed together an article by Serene Jones on grace practices. Jones unpacks grace as two fold, sanctifying and justifying. Sanctifying grace being the grace that shapes us, the grace that makes us more like Jesus. Justifying grace is the grace that has sealed us for heaven; it forgives. This forgiveness and gaining an understanding of being set apart give us freedom. With this knowledge we can celebrate in everything because we are free and are being forever formed closer to the will of God.

With that in mind we made this week one of celebration. In light of the resurrection we can celebrate… both the highs and the lows. But how do you celebrate when you’re overwhelmed and hurting?

This week started with the news of my grandfather’s death. Not the best note to begin celebrating on. In the midst of my sadness and feeling so far away from my family I am thankful that my Papa’s suffering is over so is the waiting and unknown and now, even though it will be hard, we can find normal again.
I can celebrate stand in families here. Without knowing the news about Papa my friend Sarah called and invited me to her parents for the night, she told me she had a feeling I could use some family time.

Barely 36 hours after I got the news of Papa’s death I got more news from the States. My sister had had her baby, Ephram Brant. It isn’t hard to celebrate the birth of a new nephew. It is hard to know how to do that exactly when he is over 15,000 miles away.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) In his name and by its power we can celebrate. I don’t think it’s ironic that Easter fell in this week. Not only was that cause for celebration (and a continent source of necessary celebration/comfort chocolate) but it is the reason I can celebrate in everything that has happened this week.

FUZE Week 2

The emphasis of this week was engaging, or moving towards. Moving towards my new community, people, the church body and leadership, and the arts scene. This process took many forms for me. There was a concert, meeting lots of people, a trip to the local dive bar, a sculpture walk, church, Bible study, moving into an apartment, and lots of cups of coffee.

Jim Kelly and I met for the first time. Jim Kelly was the main caretaker of our church building and a big “success story” for churchfreo,
a year ago Jim Kelly was homeless, drinking heavily and all in all a very different person. After many years of living on the streets Jim learned to be a scavenger of sorts, collecting... this often meant dumpster diving… all types of items at no charge, including food. I have had the honor of being the recipient of many gifts from Jim that he had acquired in this manner. Jim Kelley and I invested a lot of time getting to know each other this week as we planned be working closely at churchfreo where I will be holding studio hours.

My dear friend Sarah, whom I had gotten close to when I visited in 2009 and stayed in touch with, and I spent a lot of time catching up. We went to a concert in a tiny, dive bar. We got coffee. Saw Sculpture by the Sea, an annual sculpture walk installed along one of the beaches, and had dinner together between some of our favorite works and the ocean. It is so good to finally have a regular day in and day out relationship with Sarah. She is the Dianna Berry to my Anne Shirley, and it is good to have her close in proximity too. We spent some time catching up at Sculpture by the sea, an art show by Australian artists where all the work is installed on the beach.

I moved in with two girls from churchfreo, Ana and Helma. The house we’re living in is just a short bus ride from the heart of Fremantle and churchfreo. It is in the neighborhood where I’ll be living for the entire year I’m here. Ana and Helma took me in on a short-term basis while I am waiting for the room we had planned on opening up.

This just goes to prove that not only am I engaging my new community, but they are also engaging me. As I step towards them, they step back towards me. All of the engaging I’ve done this week has been focused on the physical place, my neighborhood, and on people at churchfreo. My hope is that I continue to strengthen relationships in these areas I will also begin stepping towards the individuals in my community (of Fremantle and in my neighborhood, not just churchfreo) and the arts community.

(part of engaging my environment has been learning the bus routes... this is the stop I get on/off at when going to churchfreo 408)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

I've had several people ask me if there are things from the US that I can't get here in Oz and miss. There are a few..

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FUZE Week 1

In the internship environment Berenice and I are working through and building as we go each week is given a theme. The theme is often just on word that we observe throughout the week. At the end of the week B and I sit down together and document our experiences and ideas on the theme and how we saw it manifested during the week. We are also looking for the how God is teaching us along our theme in ways we hadn't expected.

Each week I'll post my thoughts, observations, stories, pictures and other goodies here. Here is week 1, I posted week 9 last night. Being in week 10 now I have a lot of catching up to do, but please bare with me.

Week 1
After a late lunch at Little Creature’s, a popular local brewery, Steve, B and I headed to the beach. Being the good little land locked Midwesterner that I am the ocean has always been a bit frightening to me… it might be more accurate to say that I have a paralyzing fear of it, and the things that live in it, actually. You will all be proud to know that I was very brave and not only got into the water, but swam out a ways and bobbed in the waves. I did keep close to someone else in hopes that if a shark did see you he would find them tastier than I. I also began working on my tan, which had been lying dormant since 1997. Steve graciously made the observation that I was the only person he knew that could make the white sand beach look tan.

Everything done this week was in an attempt to adjust, to settle in, and to get my bearings in Australia. There was so much more to this that just recovering from jetlag and settling in was much more than unpacking. There were lots of cultural adjustments. I have had to learn local slang, water and electricity conservation techniques, and bus and train routes. Sunscreen has become a part of my daily routine, so has aloe vera after sun gel. And after multiple declines I have finally learned the proper way to use my American debit card here.

(Moore & Moore, cafe and art gallery in Freo)

Relationship building was also a big part my adjustment. The second day I was in Perth I attended a ladies Bible Study in the home of a churchfreo member. Here I met several girls who have become sweet friends to me. Including one of the girls I have been living with these first several weeks, Ana. Ana and I share more than a house, we share a bedroom (yes, going from a basement all to myself to sharing a bedroom was another big adjustment!). Ana is originally from Columbia, is working at one of the universities here, blesses me regularly with her amazing smile and cooking, and attends churchfreo. Our other housemate, Helma, also attends churchfreo, is a Chaplin in the school system, encourages me through her laugh and sarcasm, and is originally from Holland. We pretty much have the international kids club living in our house.

(Our little house on Elvira St)

Christopher, my MTW friend in Berlin encouraged me to take my time adjusting and to use this time to getting to know the culture. He told that it wouldn't be until I did those things that I could hope to start being effective within the community. Well, Christopher, you were right. Thanks for your insight.

FUZE Week 9

We find ourselves attaching to people, to places, to things. What draws us to them? What is it the builds an attachment? What kind of attachment is it?

As an installation artist the word attachment takes on very visual connotations for me… buttons, Velcro, zippers, stitching, welding, glue, hooks, screws, nails, dovetails, latches, and more. Some are temporary. Some are permanent. Some are loose attachments. Some aren’t. What’s the difference? Why is a weld necessary in one place when tape is all that’s needed in another?

This week I am looking at attachments and moving houses. Moving from a house that had a temporary (think Velcro) attachment, where I lived with two gorgeous girls that I have developed strong attachments (like glue) with, to the house I will be in for the remainder of my internship (a sewn attachment) with a friend of several years, Sarah, who’s heart and mine have been two-part -poxyed together. I wonder what type of attachments I will have in, to, and with the new house, new housemates, neighbors. Will they be superglue, duck tape, or paperclip type of attachments?

It looked like I would also be moving into a studio space this week. This idea brought so many thoughts of attachment with it… How would my attachment to this space be the same or different than that in my studio at churchfreo 408? What kind of attachments would be appropriate with the people in that space? Chances are the friends I would make there would be artists as well. Relationships with other artists are necessary attachments, but what kind of attachment do I build with them? Are the also Christians, or not yet believers, and how does that change the attachment?

The original space that we thought I had found fell through. I was surprised by my disappointment. I had developed an attachment to that location because I thought it was the end of the studio search and in anticipation of the new relationships and their coinciding attachments that will come with the space. What should have been a post-it-note type of attachment I made into a machine-sewn attachment in my excitement. It hurt to have to tear that bond. Sort of like the attachment between your tongue and a frozen flagpole, it’s not permanent at all but if not done carefully it can be painful. I did so with the support of Berenice and Luci (FUZE advisor and friend of mine), knowing that it wasn’t the right space for me at this time. Knowing that God has my studio, with my studio mates already planned, I’m moving forward looking for studios again. Trying to hold that attachment loosely for now.

One of the items from home I brought to Australia was a porcelain figurine of a girl that had been my great grandmothers. I was given this figurine when I was 7, just after my great grandma had passed away. The poor thing has been through about a dozen moves and nearly every time her head falls off, generally along the same break and krazy-gluing it back on is no big deal. Miraculously, she made it to Australia without any problems, however, moving 3 blocks down the street was tough on her and her head fell off again. As I was once again super-gluing her back together I thought of my family. Even though there is a super glue attachment there right now there is also a divide simply due to distance and a 13-hour time difference. The fact that Mother’s Day fell in this week is probably making this attachment and separation more apparent to me.

As I look around me at my friends and peers I am made aware of attachments they have that I don’t. There are very mixed feelings on this for me… feeling of sadness, jealousy, and exclusion because of my lack of similar attachments, and yet joy and thankfulness for where I am, mixed with some regret of where I’ve been to get here. I know that’s all very vague and ambiguous. Suffice it to say, there are still attachments that I look forward to having some day.

(Weeks 1-8 are coming sooner or later)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vocab and Life Lessons

My American besty in Oz and fellow Southern Bell, Allie, recently posted on her blog on local lingo. So, here's a little vocab for ya...

Allie's Amazing Australian Word Book! 
1.Arvo- afternoon (Going for a workout in the ARVO!)
2. Barbie- NOT Ken's girlfriend, but a cookout, barbeque! (Come around for a BARBIE!)
3. Bikkie- biscuit (cookie) (Would you like a BIKKIE with your tea?)
4. Bottle-o- ABC Liquor Store (no alcohol is sold in grocery stores here!)
5. Brekkie- breakfast (Let's go out for BREKKIE)
6. Bub- baby (I'll just get the BUB and then we'll go!)
7. Chewie- chewing gum (Have you got a piece of CHEWIE?)
8. Chook- chicken (I'll use our dinner scraps to feed the CHOOKS)
9. Chuck A Sickie- fake being sick to have the day off! (He totally CHUCKED A SICKIE)
10. Daks- underpants (I need to dry my DAKS before work)
11. Dead horse- tomato sauce, katchup (Have you got some DEAD HORSE to go with that burger?)
12. Dunny- toilet (Does this campground have a DUNNY?)
13. Esky- cooler (Chili-Bin in NZ) (Fill the ESKY up with ice!)
14. Fairy floss- cotton candy (Can we get some fairy floss at the fair?)
15. Fair Dinkum or S'truth- You would say this after a comment that you wanted to say, "Are you for
real?" (I caught a fish a meter long- FAIR DINKUM!)
16. Footy- Australian Rules Football (Let's head to the FOOTY grounds early)
17. Good On Ya- good job (GOOD ON YA for washing the dishes)
18. HooRoo- goodbye (HOOROO MATE!)
19. Kindie- kindergarten (She will start KINDIE next year)
20. Knee High To A Grasshopper, Ankle Biters- a toddler [I got this one from my dear boyfriend.]
(When I was KNEEHIGH TO A GRASSHOPPER, my pop taught me to surf)
21. Maccas- McDonalds (Let's go through the MACCAS drivethrough)
22. Mozzie- mosquito (The MOZZIES are biting!)
23. "My Shout"- If you say you are "shouting" someone, that means you are paying! (Today's
coffee is MY SHOUT!)
24. Peckish- hungry. (I'm feeling a bit PECKISH!)
25. Prezzy- present (or Wezzie Prezzie is Westminster Presbyterian Church) :)
26. Ranga- short for orangutang, someone with red hair, a ginger (Julia Gillard is a RANGA)
27. Ridgy Didge/ True Blue- something or someone that is uniquely Australian [That bloke is TRUE
28. Salvos- Salvation Army (Let's get a costume from the SALVOS)
29. Seppo- American (because seppo= septic tank which rhymes with Yank.) (Are you a SEPPO?)
30. Servo- Service/ Petrol Staion (gas station) (Let's grab a coke from the SERVO)
31. Spot On- Exacly Right! (SPOT ON MATE!)
32. Stubby Holder- Koozie! (Have a got a STUBBY HOLDER for my TINNY?)
33. Sunnies- sunglasses (Don't forget your SUNNIES!)
34. Ta/ Cheers- Another word for saying "thank you." If you are checking out at a grocery store and are
getting your change, you'd say "TA!"
35. Thongs- flip flops, not undies! New Zealanders (also called Kiwis) call them "Jandals" (You don't
need your THONGS to go to the shops.)
36. Tinny- can of beer (Crack a TINNY)
37. Togs, Cozzies, Bathers- bathing suit (Put your TOGS on, we're going to the beach!)
38. Tucker- food (Grab some TUCKER)
39. Uni- university, school (I've got UNI on this morning.)
40. Woop Woop- middle of knowwhere, (We are going camping out WOOP WOOP)

It took me two laundry cycles to finally learn that when you don't have a clothes drier you should check the weather forecast before hanging your washing out on the line... Australian Life lesson learned!