Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kitchen Garden

One of my winter beds. This is why we pay so much to live here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Risk Analysis

Kloe hearts this (wouldn’t you just love this guy to be your science teacher?):

Monday, January 28, 2008

Power Trip

I just gave my first-ever large lecture. Imagine a sea of mostly young faces, over 100, every race, staring at you at 8am. Yikes! I even have some freshly-scrubbed high school students from across the street sitting in the front row. I planned to let them go early (a common practice the first day of class in colleges, no one has materials or book yet), but we stayed until the last minute. And most of them were excited about what we did, which was talk about what we like and hate in art, using art magazines I passed out.
I have to say it was a high, having that many people listening to me. I was so nervous I couldn’t eat, and my computer and projector didn’t show up, but I handled it. I think I’m going to be OK.
Image (and detail) is work of one of my favorite contemporary artists, Julie Mehretu, at MOMA. Empirical Construction, Istanbul (2003).
You see I just can’t get away from my beloved Turkey…

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Life, Part 2

Around the start of this year I came to a big decision. It hit me hard and in 24 hours I was sure:
I’ve decided to leave teaching. I’m a good, and possibly very good, teacher. A student told me last term, “Kloe, you’re a SuperStar.” And that made me feel, well, you know. But it’s not enough. The money and security just aren’t there because I don’t have the tenure track job. And I’m fooling myself that I can get it, especially cause I can’t move to another city or state.
I’ve been out of grad school and applying for jobs for seven years. Three times I’ve come close, but have been disappointed (during one interview with a college president there was an earthquake; I still didn’t get the position). Now with this economy money will dry up for new hires for a few years, especially at state schools.
And I’ve just been jerked around too much, asked to present courses I’m not qualified to teach, crazy schedules (nights and Saturdays), classes cancelled at the last minute.
And you know what? The College Professor thing was never really me, it was someone else’s dream for me.
So all of a sudden I’ve come to the realization that I have to give up on teaching as my career goal, and I’m starting something else.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Here’s what I cooked for dinner the other night

Wild yellowtail blackened in spices
Brown rice with homemade tomato sauce (the last of my 07 tomatoes)
Radicchio, pear and fresh beet salad (two purples plus yellow, very pretty)
Young, spicy red wine
Chocolate, of course.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


So I joined Facebook the other day. Have been meaning to look into it for a while, and you can’t snoop around unless you join (it’s free). I have a friend who is studying social marketing, which uses social networks like MySpace and Facebook to sell products/get clients/capture markets (although very delicately)—Facebook as the new golf club, where you mix “friendship” and business.
I’m not really interested in marketing, but I am fascinated by the cultural event of Facebook. I tried to explain it to my mom, who is skeptical to say the least, by saying it is like having your phone book in the computer, and then having a party line. And she said, “Oh, you could have some big cocktails.” And that pretty much sums it up.
I am increasingly aware that I must act as a bridge between the Baby Boomers and Gen X. I am right in between, but belong to neither group. Baby Boomers can’t quite get a grip on the younger generation’s desire to live life totally on line, seemingly with no privacy. Aesthetically, Baby Boomers like clean, clear communication, while Gen X piles on decoration, meaning, layers, games, in general multitasking to an unheard of level (whether successful in getting things done is up to debate).
Anyway, I’m going to hang around Facebook and figure out how to use it (have some ideas). If you know me, please write on my wall.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Hillary’s win in Nevada has caused me a strange excitement. Women stood up for her, even against union endorsement of Obama. When my friends in Europe or Turkey ask me who will win, I tell them Clinton. But now it’s really starting to seem true. I never thought I’d see a woman president in my lifetime. Now it’s probable, and she’s capable, smart and experienced. Finally anyone can become president—simply amazing for a country that has never elected anyone but a white Christian male.
It’s about time, that’s all I have to say.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Boys and Books

I see a big problem with boys and reading. Even though there are many fiction and nonfiction books targeted to boys (like sports, horror and gross-out genres), the majority I observe still isn’t interested in reading for long stretches of time. I see most of the girls in my son’s class sitting absorbed in stories about horses, fairies, and detectives, etc, while the boys look through stacks of books, wasting time. If they do pick something, it’s often too easy for them (for example, my child still likes to read the Goosebumps series, even though it’s below his level and his teacher wants him to read more difficult books).
In fourth grade in California, there is a big emphasis on reading. I remember being 10 years old and reading for hours, almost making myself sick. I’m afraid this is where we start to lose the boys. What to do, except convince parents to read at home and turn off the tv…

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fourth Grade

Having missed a year of American elementary school while we were in Turkey, I can see a big difference between controlled second grade and free-wheeling fourth grade. My son and his classmates are developing tremendous self-discipline. They work on their own for long stretches of time, on multi-step projects. For example, the nine-years-olds are creating Powerpoint shows: researching topics online, downloading photos, making slides that often incorportate fancy backgrounds, fonts and transitions. They help each other. But a few kids are distracted and may be left behind without intervention or help with organizational skills.
I am astounded that so many of the kids, including my son, do well, when at home a simple list of get dressed, make your bed, and brush your teeth can’t be followed. It’s all about expectations.
(photo: inside of kid’s desk)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Thoughts on Dying

I just watched the film La Vie en Rose, and it made me think of my gram. Edith Piaf and she were born in the same year, 1913. To think what my gram went through living the 20th century… My grandparents loved the songs of Piaf, and I grew up listening to her records at their house.
When people become elderly and sickly, it’s my experience that, even if they keep their marbles, rational thinking gets lost somewhere in their suffering. When you are dying it’s fair to become self-centered and self-absorbed (the movie portrays this well). The closest I’ve been to this state was going into labor, when you know something momentous is happening, but you have no idea how you will handle it emotionally or physically. I know labor isn’t death, but both are unavoidable and overwhelming and scary.
I went through an emotional rollercoaster living with a dying woman. She both wanted me to be with her and resented me for the things I wasn’t there for. She couldn’t handle my kids, but she loved them. She wasn’t always honest with me, but that wasn’t new; my family works in labyrinthine ways.
Last night my little guy, who is named after her father, said he missed his great grandmother. He’s such a sensitive boy, he was trying to comfort me.
Sorry to be so maudlin, but this is my blog and I’ll gnash my teeth if I want to.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Night Songs

Sometimes late in the evening I hear a man singing outside my window in Italian, a tenor. It’s eerie and beautiful. It reminds me of Turkey, where laborers might sing in public. Somehow expressions of male vulnerability and creativity are almost lost in American, or at least SoCal, culture.
But lest I make Turkey sound too romantic, I also used to hear celebratory gunfire in our neighborhood at night. That kind of emotional expression I can definitely do without.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hiding my Work

For the past six months I’ve been making artwork, painting large and small pieces, blogging, performing. I’ve realized all this work has an over-riding theme—that it must remain hidden, or at least camouflaged. There are a host of reasons for this that I can’t go into, but I’m choosing to make work that I can’t show to the general public, or even to some of my friends.
So the next questions is, can I show it if I cover it up? Can presentation be part of what I’m trying to say? Can I physically put layers of opacity on the work, or hint at it through a peephole, as a metaphor for what I’m experiencing in my life right now? What does it mean, to make a kind of “private artwork,” in opposition to producing Art-to-Be-Conspicuously-Displayed?
I’m trying to figure it out with some small paintings; click here if you want to see more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Xmas Memories

Kid.02 asked me what is my favorite part of Christmas. Keep in mind, this is coming from a Jewish kid. I told him it is early Christmas morning, when you’re just waking up, and your mom says you can go into the living room with your brother and sister, and you first spy all the stockings, full to bursting, hanging from the chimney mantle.
The next best thing is later in the day, when the opening and eating are finished: looking at the pile of stuff you got, all that potential fun yet to be had.
Lastly, Christmas is wonderful late at night, just sitting by the tree that is still lit up and smelling good.
Then he asked, Mom, how can Santa bring clothes if his elves only have hammers and bells in their workshop?

Monday, January 14, 2008

To My Sister

You are holding me up.
Thank you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Prehistoric Ramble

I have to teach art history next semester. Can you believe it? I can’t either. And not just any art history. The first-half survey, known as Caves to Cathedrals—Prehistoric to Gothic. Double f***in’ yikes.
So I’ve been noticing and thinking about primal behaviors lately. How certain things satisfy me on a deep level that must be residual of life in caves and huts. For example, I love organizing a full pantry. I also like using up food stuffs so they don’t go to waste. I don’t really like food shopping, but I do like cooking. Lately I’m into meat.
I also enjoy watching plants, especially edible ones, grow. I like to groom myself and my kids, plucking hairs and cutting nails and cleaning ears (yes, like a monkey).
I think my visceral enjoyment of painting is also a primal behavior. And that’s one of the basic art historical questions, why did early people paint on caves? Was it only for religious reasons, to insure a successful hunt? Or did even prehistoric artists need to express themselves visually?
No doubt Kloe is going to learn a lot this semester.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Turkish Biennial

Here’s another video from my friends at dmovies. They attended the Istanbul Biennial, which went on after I left Turkey last summer (boohoo, I missed it). This piece is from a Turkish artist who is taking a big risk. We take it for granted that artists can say what they want, but in Turkey, they can also pay for criticizing the State.
Click here to view a short video that introduces the biennial. Isn't my friend beautiful?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Golden Teeth

I’ve been having teeth problems. I guess you get to a certain age…
Years ago I was in a dance performance and fell on stage, smashing my teeth together. I remember thinking, wow, I would have chopped my tongue off if it had been in the way. Later I had developed terrible headaches, which a quack doctor in LA decided I needed some kind of electronic therapy to fix. No, I needed a root canal.
Fast forward some years, and the tooth above also needs a crown. So recently one of these two crowns seems to be loose, but I can’t feel which one. I go to my new charming dentist, and he says, no, the problem is a different tooth, which also needs a crown. Chi-ching.
Fine, I have all my crowns in a row, and am eating licorice, and off pops the oldest crown, which I quickly put back in place. The kicker is that night I also get the stomach flu. As my head is in the toilet I’m praying, please don’t let the crown come off again now.
Double triple YUCK!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Quest for a Worm Composter

Because I am a green fur-wearing girl, I need a small composter/worm bin that looks tidy and not like a plastic trashcan. You can order such a thing on line, but they are expensive. My NoCal compatriots say, trying not to sound condescending, doesn’t your city have a plan for low cost composters for the citizenry? I look on websites and yes, there is something run by the County. I go to several of the garden supply outlets where said item can be purchased, and get laughed off the premises. No composters for any price.
So I’m back to building my own, which will look, sigh, like the plastic bin it is with holes drilled in it. Composting garden and kitchen waste is such a no-brainer, but we in SoCal apparently don’t have a clue.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pop and Pop

Today Bush met with Turkish President Gul, and came out in support of European Union membership for Turkey. Think that amounts to much? I don’t. We’ll have to wait for the next US President to see how he/she relates to Europe and Turkey.

Here’s a video I watched with interest when I was living in Anatolia. At first I was impressed that a woman singer would have her part lip-synched by an “older” man, but now I know that this is how singer Serdar Ortac sounds. He is very Turkish-looking to me, part Tartar (Asian features), slightly effeminate, but that’s totally allowable in Turkish entertainment. It’s staggering to start with young schoolgirls, then segue way to a stripclub, and end up in a traditional bellydance tent. The black dancer is very un-Turkish, the sexiness normal on dance videos. Oh yeah, and American football is also thrown in there. So, weird all around. But the song, like much Turkish pop, is quite catchy. And if you’ve never heard Turkish before…

Monday, January 07, 2008

This Explains It:

It Takes a Family (to Break a Glass Ceiling)
Published: January 5, 2008, New York Times
SOME women, even progressive ones, are surely celebrating Hillary Clinton’s third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. Those of us who think 43 male presidents in a row is quite enough, thank you, still sometimes question whether a woman whose greatest political move was her marriage deserves to be the first woman in the White House.
But while there are plenty of reasons not to vote for Mrs. Clinton (as an antiwar libertarian, I could happily list them for you at length), her marital journey to power is not one of them. The uncomfortable truth is that political nepotism has often served feminism’s cause well.

Like it or not, the road to female advancement often begins at the altar. History books are thick with examples of women who broke political barriers because their family connections afforded them the opportunity.
If you’ve ever wondered why India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines seem readier to elect women than does the United States, here’s your answer: Societies that value a candidate’s family affiliation, and therefore have a history of nepotistic succession, are often open to female leadership so long as it bears the right brand. Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, among many others, slashed through gender barriers on the strength of their family names.

Social psychologists have found that women in leadership roles are typically seen as either warm, likable and incompetent, or cold, distant and competent. To be a strong, competent woman is to be something culturally unattractive, which probably says something about why few American women even aspire to political office. Worldwide, even popular female politicians — Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Angela Merkel — are slapped with the moniker “iron lady.”
Granted, women who rely on their last names to ascend to power are not especially likely to pursue explicitly feminist policies. They may even be less likely to do so, in order to seem worthy of office.
No mother wants to tell her daughter that she can aspire to the presidency only if she snags the most gifted politician of her generation. But Hillary Clinton’s rise to power, unsettling as it is, follows a time-tested pattern for the breaking of gender barriers.
The great feminist promise of a Hillary Clinton presidency amounts to this: If we elect a political wife now, perhaps we won’t have to later.

Kerry Howley is a senior editor at Reason magazine.
Painting by Raul Guerrero

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reality Check

OK, did you think I was always going to talk like a baby? No, back to serious life.
And this is serious: I’m an adjunct. If you’re sending your kid to college, or doing some college work yourself, you know us. And do you realize we are not on the faculty, and therefore have little say in what goes on in our institutions? Do you understand we have no job security (one of my scheduled classes was cancelled just a few days ago)? Did you guess we have no benefits? And that we have to teach at two, three or four institutions because there are limits on our teaching load so we don’t qualify for benefits?
Now you probably want your Baby back, don’t you?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Baby K Tells You Lucky Kids Seven Things about Her Babyship

1. Favorite food: Chocolate (duh?!?)
2. Baby K likes to talk politics, and this is the year! Only drawback: no Arnie in the race.
3. When looking in the mirror, she often sees a fat baby staring back. Isn’t that scary?
4. Baby likes to eat meat and wear fur. Sorry!
5. She wishes she’d been born a man. A black man.
6. She can only live here in Paradise knowing she’ll be away again.
7. Baby K has a filthy little mouth and selfish little mind, but she’s usually not fucking serious.
(Tagged to list seven things by Ms. Frizzle)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I Go Away for Six Days…

And what happens? Assassination in Pakistan (I’m heartbroken), ethnic killing in Kenya, bomb in Diyarbakir (not to mention sweeping smoking bans in Turkey), Obama wins in Iowa (he’s my man, although I think the final fight will be Hilary vs. Rudy, mark my baby words).
Was in Mexico with no cell phone or computer, can you imagine?
Lots of kisses and dark chocolate breath from
Baby K