Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 meme

OKAY OKAY ... I am going to do one. I'll do the same one AnotherDavid (aka YoungerJew, my brother) did.

BEST of 2009

1- trip: Austin... it was only a couple of days, but we had a great time and ate some delicious food :D (also it was my only trip this year, I guess except visiting family in either TO or MD/NY). still waiting on a honeymoon...

2- restaurant: Penny's Noodles. I can't even count how many times I have eaten there this year.

3- article: dunno

4- book: Well I read the entire Rashi's Daughters trilogy, which was fun, light reading (yay Jewish romance novels). Otherwise I mostly read for class.

5- night out: I've had some fun nights out, the few nights I've actually gone out... But I think one of the highlights was going to Thanksgiving with my friends in Dallas the weekend before Thanksgiving. That was hilarious and SO much fun.

6- workshop or conference: Well, the only one I've been to this year was the American Art Therapy Association Conference, which was great.

7- blog find of the year: One of my favorite blogs to read is Cake Wrecks, but I can't remember if I found that this year.

8- moment of peace: have I had a moment of peace this year?? haha.

9- challenge: My current internship has been my biggest challenge, I think.

10- album of the year: Regina Spektor's new album, Fall. I have listened to it a BAZILLION times since I downloaded it in July.

11- the best place: home, on the couch, with JewishGuy and the kitty.

12- new food: don't know if I have been so adventurous food-wise this year.

13- change to the place you live: I got a bunch of new plants that are now taking over the windows :)


15- best packaging: cuties boxes, which I use for storage in the art room.

16- tea of the year: I drink a lot of Tazo ZEN tea.

17- word or phrase: "safe space" hahahaha... therapists.

18- shop: not too much shopping this year, I think. Oh I did have this frenzied shopping experience at the beginning of my internship, when I realized the attire was business casual and I had nothing in my closet that was business casual. YIKES that was exhausting.

19- car ride: coming home from the wedding weekend, looking forward to many nights of partying with friends :)

20- new person: does JewishGuy count..? His status in relation to me is new this year.

21- project: Last winter I did an intense fabric printing workshop... it was hard, it made me cry a lot, but it was really great in the end.

22- startup: don't know...

23- web tool: I'm not sure I really use web tools (?).

24- learning experience: This summer working with the kids in the residential treatment center for children with behavior disorders... I learned, you might not make a major change in someone's life, but that doesn't mean you aren't important to them.

25- gift to myself: art supplies :D

26- insight or aha! Moment: after the big car accident in August

27- social web moment: tagging everyone in my Thanksgiving food picture project on facebook and realizing most of my family is actually on facebook!

28- stationary: I bought robot stationary!! was that this year?

29- laugh: I've had some good ones but I don't know one in particular...

30- ad: I LOVE any ads that have a before and after, where the "before" video is in black and white and someone can't do something simple (like put toothpaste on their toothbrush).

31- resolution you wish you'd stuck with: I don't make resolutions on NYE.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Perfect Egg

Today I made an egg, sunny side up, on a piece of challah toast.

You can kind of see a fish-eye reflection of me and the camera in the egg yolk!

Perfectly runny center with a deliciously fluffy white.

It's taken me a long time to finally get this egg. I've overcooked it so many times it's sad. I probably will continue to overcook my eggs. But for now I am enjoying how pretty and beautiful it was, and how tasty it was.

(This is why I take pictures of my food!)

The challah toast is from a challah that JewishGuy made this week... an art he has perfected over the last few years :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lazy days...

I can't help it... when I am home doing nothing and I get to see Lilly during her sleepy time of the day, I have to take lots of extreme close-ups.

Rainy Winter

In stark contrast to last winter, with below 0 temperatures and tons of snow, we have had a relatively mild winter so far with lots of rain. I'm not sure how I feel about all of the rain. Honestly... it feels like we have had more rain in the last 8 months than sun.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Like I mentioned a previous post, sometimes using string is a really helpful way for me to de-stress. I've tried crocheting and making those friendship bracelets, now I am trying embroidery. I made this last night while I was trying to de-stress before bed (was looking forward a potentially difficult conversation this morning).

This is just using a simple chain stitch... I will have to experiment with more stitches later.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cat & Candles

Lilly the art room assistant is also an observant Jew. She enjoys the flames of the hanukkiah but does not read by their light.


Self-Disclosure: "i'm a jew"

I had a kind of weird conversation recently with someone. This person was under the impression that I was going to talk about being Jewish with my clients more than I do. Because, otherwise, I appear to just be another white person, someone who doesn't understand being a minority.

Anyway, I made a piece about it... I wanted to make a book where I could be revealed in pieces or as a whole.

I chose a skeleton to represent me because 1) I tried to draw myself and that was a disaster, and 2) because I really wonder how much disclosure she was thinking of. Just mention that I'm Jewish, or go down deep to my identity issues?

(I considered finding a naked person for this, but I felt like that would be too funny and not taken the way I intend.)

After making this I wondered if there was more relationship between making a skeleton to represent my Jewish identity in this book.

The image seemed gruesome to some but I think I am trying to express that I felt like I was being stripped of my individual identity. In this instant, I felt like what I am was more important than who I am. The parts of me that make me look unique (skin, fat, muscle, facial features, clothing) are all stripped away.

I kind of like this skeleton because he looks friendly to me. He has a posture that isn't like the standard medical posture, he's kind of extending a hand. He says, "Hey, let's make some art."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Love the Fried Food Holiday

JewishGuy made the raw latke mix (grated potatoes, cut onions, etc) while I was finishing homework and I did the frying (while he fried chicken). They were so crispy and gorgeous and delicious.

Unfortunately the fried chicken went so quickly I didn't get a good picture of it :( It was also extremely tasty and beautiful.

One of the things I love most about Judaism is the food connected to each holiday... there basically isn't any holiday food I don't like except matzah (well, and sufganiyot, but I don't like donuts any time of the year). But even with the foods I don't like, holidays are such a sensory experience... from sticky sweet Rosh Hashana, to the oiliness of Hanukkah, to the constipation of Passover, to the drunkenness of Purim, to the cheesecake overload nausea of Shavuot, and beyond. Each year is a cycle of the senses.

This year was the 3rd Annual JewishGal & JewishGuy Hanukkah Potluck. The first year was in Houston and we did it because HillelLady had some leftover deli from an event and offered it to us, so we fried up some latkes and invited people to come over for candles and bring some dishes. Last year was our first year in Chicago and we hadn't had much of a chance to invite people over for dinners (since we didn't have a big enough table), so we invited people over for the party... it was -10 out but everyone still came! Someone's breath froze on her glasses on the way over, though.

This year was in the mid-30s, so no outside temperature problems, and we managed to keep the kitchen cool with some advanced planning. At 2pm we turned down the thermostat, at 4:30 we opened some windows and turned on the fans pointing out of the kitchen. By the time we were done frying the kitchen temperature wasn't much warmer than the rest of the apartment, so we were able to close the windows at 9.

Next year in New York!

Friday, December 11, 2009


I made one of those orange ball things (pomander?) today. Our reed diffuser has run out and I thought it might be nice to have a fresh air freshener for a change. We would have done this with our etrog after Sukkot if we had known about the power of cloves shoved in citrons.

We can also use it for havdalah!


You need:

1 orange
lots of whole cloves
fresh rosemary
some kind of bag, netting, or ribbons

Just poke holes in the orange and stick the cloves in. I used a skewer to make the holes. Then I took a leftover netted bag (used to hold clementines) and hung it with fresh rosemary. It's now hanging in our dining room :)

I decided to do this today after checking out this blog: This Girl and Some Guy.

Classic Lunch

Peanut butter and jelly... a classic. I eat about 3 PB&J sandwiches a week.

Looking forward to taking pictures of latkes, fried chicken, and candles this weekend. (We are extending the tradition of eating fried foods to include fried chicken.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Snow

I'm pretty amazed that we made it all the way to December 7 before it finally snowed (it flurried a little last week but it didn't even make it to the ground). I woke up this morning to snow on the trees and grass, and slush on the sidewalks. It made my walk to the train interesting and slippery. I really don't miss winter at all.

Favorite Snack

Yum pirate booty :D

(Can you tell I really like my new camera???)


My friend was making something out of yarn and had a lot of little bits left over on the table.

Problem/Challenge out of String

When I feel like things are particularly out of control and I am really agitated, what is most calming for me is to work with string. I had forgotten about this but I really think working with string is what got me through 7th grade (probably the hardest year of my life so far, with a bully who posed as my "best friend" and was both emotionally and occasionally physically abusive). In 7th grade, once I started making bracelets every night, spending hours tying knots, I soon was able to separate myself from this bully and asked to transfer schools for the next year.

I used colorful embroidery floss and started a little business that was perhaps surprisingly organized: 25c for a standard 3 string bracelet, 10c for every string after that - for custom orders it was 50c + the regular charges. I was a little entrepreneur. I made a lot of money in quarters that year, which partially went to buying more string (and eventually expanding to making beaded rings or including beads in the bracelets, also at extra cost). I'm still pretty proud of how organized it was. I used to display my inventory on my backpack (I hung the bracelets off of the back using safety pins) so people could see my wares as I walked the hallways. I did accept trades, as many girls were making elastic bracelets with big plastic beads - only a few years ago did I realize the colors of the beads on those bracelets apparently stood for various sexual acts the person wearing them was willing to perform. I just liked the colors.

My former bully was my biggest competitor in the market, but she priced her bracelets too high and her workmanship was shoddy. Everyone went to me, especially since I did custom orders, but especially because I wasn't an ass. So through the bracelet making I learned that nobody really liked this person who had isolated me and made me feel terrible about myself. I also had conversations with people who formerly hadn't spoken to me. I also spent a lot of time in a semi-meditative state, tying knots for hours at night, not thinking but allowing myself to relax. It didn't reverse the damage she had done to me, but it made me feel better in some way - is that wrong?

Anyway, I've tried crocheting at various points in my life and it is coming up again in grad school as an alternative medium for art therapy. However, I am sadly inept at crocheting. This is probably due to my inability to follow directions and keep track of what I'm doing.

Tonight I was feeling really agitated and angry (as you can read in my previous post about the craft fair). It wasn't only the craft fair that was making me angry, but I won't go into the rest here. I have a project due on Thursday where we are supposed to make an art piece about a problem or challenge at our internship. So instead of doing my standard watercolor painting, I dragged out the yarn and decided to crochet with no purpose and no design, letting whatever formed form, and not be disappointed in the results.

This is what happened:

I started with the circle, which was originally intended to be flat, but like I said I can't follow directions and now it is a mountain. The hand really grew organically, first I had a weird outgrowth of the circle, then a finger, then two fingers, then I realized it was a hand and finished the hand. I went back and reinforced the rest of the piece, including adding a handle, when I realized it looked a lot like a chamsa. I added the blue to the evil eye part to give it an extra protective element.

I think at first it was supposed to be about figuring out how to make all of the different elements work together. I started off with white, brown, and orange yarns, trying to use three pieces of yarn at a time. Then the orange ran out, so I added another yarn, which is kind of gray with multi-colored flecks in it. When I realized what was happening I was able to create a recognizable shape, but not just any shape, a protective shape.

I think one of the biggest challenges of my internship is figuring out how to be myself there. I feel so protective over people that I work with, but I think I don't take good enough care of myself. I have to see the bigger picture, and think of everyone involved and not just the particular client I am closest to at the moment.

I think the chamsa appeared as a wish to be more protected, because maybe I still feel very insecure there, even when I feel like I do a good job I don't feel secure.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Disappointed @ Renegade Craft

Last September I went to the Renegade Craft Fair and had a few really good finds. Most of all, I had a good time walking around, hanging out with my friend who was in for the weekend, seeing the vendors (a few I knew personally yayyy), and getting ideas for my own crafting.

I applied to the Holiday fair that was this weekend and didn't get in. I want to state for the record that I'm not at all bitter about it, that I'm pretty sure our application wasn't professional enough anyway, and had been looking forward to the fair since I got home from the one in September. I advertised it to all my friends, even saw a few there, and made sure I had enough cash (but not TOO much cash) to spend.

Boy was I disappointed.

First of all, I understand space constraints when you have a craft fair inside because it is freezing cold out. I get that. And there probably was some cost issues with finding a decent site. Okay. But it was so crowded I had to spend a lot of energy just moving around. That means I spent more time figuring out how to get from booth to booth than I spent at each booth.

Second of all, everything was priced too high. This was probably because it was a "holiday" sale and people thought they could get away with it. Well, that really sucks. Earrings I thought were worth $20-30 were priced at $40+. Even things that I was vaguely interested in were way above what I was willing to spend.

Also, a note to vendors: If you are "recycling" objects you found at the junk store, do not charge $100+ if you don't somehow elevate the junk store find from its junk store status. Don't find an "awesome" gear and then stick a necklace chain on it and charge $120. That is freaking lame. I didn't even take a closer look a booths where I saw that happen.

Ugh, I am so disappointed and sad. I went with money in my pocket to buy some interesting hand made things and ended up leaving tired and frustrated.

JewishGuy also pointed out that the entire fair was targeted at young women... like, middle-class women in their 20s (like me). There was almost no variety. I agree, but as the target audience I didn't mind as much, I just wished I could have afforded anything there. We went to the Renegade Craft Fair instead of the One of a Kind show (both going on at the same time) because I was sure the One of a Kind show was priced too high and I would leave feeling the way I do now.

In the end, if you didn't go this winter, you probably didn't miss anything.

Wow I am really in a bad mood now. What can I do to feel better?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Purple Flower

My pink spotted plant is growing weird, Burton-esque purple flowers.

Gift for Grandma

My grandma used to go to the weekly art group at her assisted living facility but recently stopped (which she didn't tell me). So when I found out I asked her why, she said because she was having a hard time with her grip and vision, and felt like people were looking over her shoulder (felt self-conscious about the quality of her work). I was pretty sad to hear that she doesn't go anymore because she seemed to really like it.

Her birthday just passed so I've put together a care package full of grandma-friendly art supplies.

At the top is a package of white Model Magic, which is this awesome clay that crayola makes. It is really clean and easy to use and air dries. Then you can paint or draw on it. I also got her a pad of drawing paper and an orange pencil bag (her favorite color, at least that's what I hear). The weird silver thing at the top is a pencil sharpener that fits both the thin colored pencils and the thick regular pencil. There's also a big eraser. I guess you can't see those last two things in this picture... Oh well.

I outfitted the pencils and paint brushes with foam for a better grip. I cut apart cosmetic triangle applicator things, cut a hole in the middle, and slid the pencils through. It was really easy to do and I think it will be effective (we'll see, though). The pencils are also triangle shaped, which is supposed to help with grip, with bumps on it, also for grip.

The foam also helps with picking up the pencils because they are lifted above table-level, as well as preventing them from rolling away.

The cool thing is that these are watercolor pencils, which means grandma can draw or color with them and then use a wet paintbrush to turn the drawing into a painting. This makes it a clean and easy way to paint. I think she can even use these on the model magic.

Also, just for the record... the pencils are made from reforested wood and the paper is made from paper recycled using wind power! Grandma has such a low carbon footprint. I guess... some people just care more than others about the environment... *smug smug smug* (Southpark reference) Maybe that makes up for the not-so-environmentally friendly brushes and clay and packaging.


I was careful not to buy the crayola products except for the Model Magic. A lot of times people feel like they are being treated like a child if they are given crayola products unless they are secure in their art making abilities. It's sad because crayola does make some awesome products but it is important, I think.

I am excited to figure out a way to modify art supplies for grandma. I hope they work out!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


My new glorious Cannon SD940IS. It is a beautiful little camera, so small and sleek, with so many features including an awesome wide-screen photo option. I have been taking weird pictures just to test it out.

Also I got my camera in time to do a project for my family therapy class where I am making a "creative" family album. I took pictures of what everyone ate for Thanksgiving dinner :)

More photos later... Hearts to my new camera <3 <3 <3

Saturday, November 21, 2009

AATA Conference: Shabbat Edition

What's spending Shabbat at a conference like? Hard, weird, challenging, and... basically... not the best Shabbat you've ever spent. For sure.

I had to do things like... buy sandwiches for Friday dinner and Saturday lunch on Friday and then keep them in the hotel room refrigerator, stock up on snacks for the day, bring tea bags so I could get free hot water and make tea, chase people to the elevator to ask them to push buttons for me, and hope my roommates were in the room when I got back so they could open the door. It was interesting. I gave money to one of my classmates in advance to take care of any expenses for me just in case. I'm not saying I kept Shabbat as well as I keep it at home, but I stuck mostly to my comfort zone.

I put a notice on the bulletin board for Kabbalat Shabbat, but nobody showed up. Oh well.

Friday night I had a department party to go to, which was really fun. We stayed a lot later than we had anticipated, and then when I got back to the room my roommates weren't there (they left the party early to go out to a bar). So I finished my book that I brought, which isn't really smart because then tonight while I was waiting for Shabbat to be over I had nothing to read. Then my roommates came back tipsy, so I had fun having weird conversations with them until we fell asleep.

This morning I slept in... had a cookie for breakfast, and then spent the rest of the day keeping busy at the conference doing things that didn't require writing or art making.
  • Commemorating Catastrophe: Community art making in New Orleans on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
    This presentation was done by two alums of my program so it was cool to see the work they are doing now. I really appreciated Holly beginning by describing how she messed up the first year she was supposed to do it, did everything in a way that was not culturally appropriate, and nobody showed up. It was good to hear that. She described all the lessons she learned and the success of the programs once she implemented those lessons. I think in many ways what she learned is also reflected in the way my site uses therapy, art, art therapy, etc.

  • Multicultural Exchange Forum
    I went to this not sure what to expect. I'm glad I went... I'm not sure what constitutes "multicultural," and that was one thing I meant to bring up but didn't get a chance to. Technically it encompasses everyone, it sounds like. But I wonder about being White and wanting to be involved in multicultural events - does being Jewish count? I don't know. And someone mentioned how when she had issues with her department she didn't realize there was a Multicultural Committee to back her up. I wonder: if I had known about the Multicultural Committee back last Fall when I was having a conflict with my department about days off for religious holidays, would I have contacted them? And, if so, would they have done anything?

    Also, I caught up with the person who led the presentation on transgender youth the other day. (Last night I also happened to run into someone else who had been in that presentation who wanted to talk to me about my site since I had mentioned it in a response) She is trying to put together a sub-committee for LGBT issues in art therapy and in the American Art Therapy Association and wants me to be in on it. So that might be cool. I'm not sure how I feel about that, not identifying with the LGBT community but rather as an ally and someone who sees similarities in that community to my own. But I'm also becoming involved in this observant Jewish sub-group of the AATA so I wonder how many different things I will be involved in.

  • Drawing Out the Shadow: Art Therapy and Sexual Addiction
    Not sure how I feel about this presentation. It as the fourth presentation I went to at the conference having to deal with sexuality and I was debating not going at all since there are other things to see. But I couldn't really see a good reason not to go. But the person leading the presentation had a way about her that really put me off... I was kind of uncomfortable throughout much of the presentation. She referred to people suffering from sexual addiction as "sex addicts," which made me uncomfortable right off the bat because they drill into our heads in our program a "person-centered" approach, which means you wouldn't refer to people as their diseases but rather as a person WITH a disease/disorder/whatever.

    And then there were some things she said about internet pornography that bothered me, like how it is the "gateway drug," like she said marijuana is a gateway drug, saying that studies show people who use marijuana are likely to use other substances (which I think is really outdated information, at least that's not what we learned in our substance use class this summer). I know a lot of people who look at internet porn who are not addicted to sex just like I know people who smoke marijuana who have either never tried any other drugs (other than nicotine or alcohol) or who have tried other drugs and did not continue their use. It just sounded really outdated and a bad comparison. She didn't explain how someone can be addicted to a behavior as opposed to a substance - for example, heroin addiction affects certain chemicals in the brain, and when you withdraw you have a chemical withdrawal in the body. How does one become addicted to a behavior? Or is it a compulsion, more in line with anxiety, like OCD? Not explained.

    Especially after attending the session on Thursday about having conversations with clients about sexuality, I was uncomfortable about the way this information was presented. It sounded like she thought pornography was was something that is toxic to people and relationships, something that healthy people wouldn't look at/read. And I'm not sure what she meant by "excessive" in any respect (sexual activity, masturbation, pornography viewing) and there was no talk about whether or not the client is distressed by this or it causing impairment in functioning as being the main reason for the diagnosis. She kept talking about these people as being narcissists and shameful... I wonder what was going on there in terms of counter-transference.

  • Harm's Touch
    This presentation was done by one of the faculty in our department. It was about using response art to hold the trauma we hear from our clients or see around us. I really like the way she uses response art, how she really prescribes it as necessary for our profession. My journal is full of weird little drawings that I do right after something happens as a way of letting it out... I am not as strong in response art, but she did her entire PhD on the use of response art, so, you know.

  • Annual Business Meeting
    I didn't get to go to last year's business meeting because I didn't wake up in time. This year they held it at the end of the conference so I got to stay and see how everything works. I think it was a relatively good meeting, some stuff was said (not sure if it was heard), and I got to see who Judy Rubin is finally... Everyone is obsessed with her but I have no idea what she looks like. Judy Rubes!!!!
And now I am going to join some friends in the city for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving feast.

Tomorrow I'm having brunch with someone I met at the conference and then I'm heading home!

Friday, November 20, 2009

AATA Conference (quick, before Shabbat!)

I have a few minutes before Shabbat starts so here is today's AATA Conference review.

I woke up really late and missed the keynote, but I heard it wasn't too exciting, so okay. I overslept because I was up late freaking out about my cat who decided to eat something she wasn't supposed to and had to be taken to the emergency vet by JewishGuy. Awesome. She's going to be okay, though, at least that was my last update.

So the first thing I went to was going to be a panel about mistakes with working with adolescents and using those mistakes for future lessons... I gave it about 15 minutes, and was like, okay, today I am not going to sit in on presentations I'm not interested in, and got up and left. I went to another session instead. This was the lesson learned from yesterday's missing an awesome presentation because I was for some reason afraid to leave the room.

  • Sexually Abusive Adolescents and Self Portraits
    This was the presentation I went to instead of the one about making mistakes with adolescents. This was actually really cool - they had the adolescents take photos, then printed the photos onto transparencies, which were then projected onto the wall and then traced. It was great to hear how successful this is (I have heard of this technique before). I wonder what this would be like at my site... Also they mentioned that as long as they have been tracking discharges, 80% of their clients who are discharged have not offended again. Wow.

  • Art studio time
    After lunch I spent some time in the art studio. I took a photo of the studio (with my phone) which eventually I will upload. It was so peaceful and relaxing. I met a few people while making art, one person is an alumnus from my program. I love the art studio... the classic "networking" events don't really necessarily make sense for art therapists, many of whom rely on their artwork for much of their communication with other people they don't know - ie: clients... So it's in the art studio that I feel most outgoing and comfortable.

  • YOWSA: The influence of the art therapist's delight by Bruce Moon
    Bruce is a great presenter. His group sounded something like some of the groups I lead, except that he is clearly a much more experienced art therapist and is better able to hold a safe space. My groups are not very safe. I'm not very good at that right now, especially with this population. I'm working on it, though. It was great to hear his success though :) It was great to hear that he let group members sit and not make art for as many sessions as they needed, they could just sit and listen to music if they wanted. Maybe I should be more relaxed about that, too.

  • Attempt at jewelry making workshop
    It wasn't clear that there was a sign-up for the workshop. I was excited when I found out Shabbat started a bit after 5 because the workshop was at 4pm and I had originally thought Shabbat started at 4. When I showed up, though, they turned me away :( Instead, I made a card that will be sent to a soldier wishing him/her a happy holiday season and then came back to the room.

  • Observant Jewish art therapists networking
    I have met a few shomer Shabbat people here, and one person suggested that since I am staying in the hotel for Shabbat maybe I could lead Kabbalat Shabbat services... so I put a note on the community bulletin board inviting people to join me at 5:45. She let me borrow her siddur for Shabbat so I could do the service, so we'll see!
Okay time to go!!! Shabbat Shalom!

Posting from AATA Conference

Hello from Texas, I am at the AATA Conference this weekend! I miss Texas. I miss warm Novembers and tasty Mexican food.

So here I am!

What have I done so far?

Wednesday I did work on the airplane for my thesis, look at me being so industrious! Something else I miss about Texas... We landed and the guy in the row in front of me reaches out across the aisle to shake hands with the Navy man sitting there. He said, "Before you leave I just want to thank you for your service," and shook his hand. Then someone alerted him to a woman who was sitting nearby who is also a soldier going home in plain clothes and he shook her hand too.

It turned out I was on the same airplane as someone in my program (we found this out when she got up to use the bathroom at the end of the flight and I happened to see her pass me). When we landed we called two of our faculty who also had landed at the same time at the same airport and all rode together. These two faculty members are also big names in the field and besties, so it was kind of fun to share a cab with them. When we got to the hotel we threw down our stuff, registered for the conference, then went for sushi with friends from the program. We went to CVS to buy snacks and BLUEBELL ICE CREAM (another thing I miss about Texas), which we devoured.

This morning my head decided to have its monthly migraine, so that woke me up at around 4am, and I didn't really sleep again. I got a phone call at 7am from someone I was going to meet (didn't realize she was going to call at 7am, though), and then I decided to take a migraine pill, so I could finally sleep. I hesitated to take the pill because it has a lot of caffeine in it and I wanted to sleep, but I was so exhausted that the relief at the lack of migraine overpowered the caffeine.

What I did at the conference today:
  • Sexuality & Art Therapy
    This was a fabulous presentation. I am going to buy the book she referenced heavily: "The Heart & Soul of Sex" by Gina Ogden. Unfortunately, the presenter didn't tell the book store station (at the conference) they were going to present on that book in advance so there were no copies available to buy immediately after. I'm lucky, though, because this book is going to be ordered to the store so I can just go pick it up sometime soon (or just order it on Amazon). The presenter talked about bringing healthy conversations about sexuality into therapy, normalizing sexuality with clients, etc. It was great and very empowering!!
  • "It Begins With Us" - Working with Transgender Clients
    This was an okay presentation but I made kind of a prejudiced statement before going that I was only going to go to presentations done by people with MA or above because often the presentations done by people with lesser degrees (ie: undergrad or grad students) are not very well researched. This was a presentation of a class project she did. If she had had more time and had really done a real research project by sending our her survey to more people, there may have been more results (also if she had consulted someone on her survey questions). It was pretty good, though, especially for a class assignment. But they didn't really bring in any of the deeper subjects relating to working with transgender clients, or really many honest responses to people who identify as transgender... I skipped a presentation about Gush Katif for this one - that presentation was apparently AMAZING, people CRIED - so I am kind of sad...
  • MARI Card Assessment
    (What is the MARI Card Assessment?) I had been looking forward to this all year, ever since last year I missed it because I waited until the end of the conference and there was no time left. Also last year I chose to research this assessment for my class and it is super top secret, there isn't much information about it anywhere! This was a really amazing experience... It ended up being a lot about my wrestling with my Jewish identity and spirituality... WOW.
  • "Points of You: The Coaching Game" trial
    I was walking around the exhibition room and I heard two women speaking in Hebrew so I went over to the booth where they were standing and basically asked if I could practice my Hebrew on them. So they said, we can give you our shpeal in Hebrew if you want! So that's what they did... it is actually a really cool game that inspires a lot of interesting conversations. It's basically irresistible - you feel compelled to talk about the cards you pick! Very cool. It's really new and was developed in Israel. I have a few critiques about it, though, one big one being that all the people pictured in the cards are White. But it is a really cool tool. Plus I got to practice some Hebrew.
  • Student session with Pat Allen
    This session was designed to be a small conversation, I guess Pat didn't realize how many people would show up because there were more than 50 people in the room, actually probably close to 80! So it was just her answering questions... describing the Open Studio Process (OSP). It was obvious nobody in the room really knew who she was because people were really confused about the OSP - she never identified it by name, herself. But one person did say "oh do you do something like the OSP?" and I laughed inside... She invented the OSP! Literally! But she didn't say that, she was really cool about it. It was kind of annoying, though, I didn't need to sit in a session about the OSP, but because I sat in the front row I couldn't leave! Near the end we did talk somewhat about jobs and whatever... I don't know. Last year's student session with Shawn McNiff didn't get so derailed, but mostly because he didn't ask for anyone's opinions about anything hahaha.
  • Art of Edith Kramer Opening Reception
    This was cool, Edith Kramer is one of the Founding Mothers (or the "אמהות" "imahot" if you want to make a reference to the biblical matriarchs, since there are 4 haha) of Art Therapy. Here I actually introduced myself to someone I had been seeing around the conference all day, turns out she lives kind of near my parents and knows one of the teachers at my school. Ha! Small world... The shuttles were timed really badly, so it took forever to get there and back, so I almost missed the movie about art made by Holocaust survivors, which I wanted to see. They had underestimated the amount of space they needed for the audience of that movie anyway, so I got there about 30min into the movie but people were sitting out in the hall on the floor or on piano benches because there were no more seats. I just gave up.
SO. that is the conference so far. I don't know what the rest of the conference update will look like because Shabbat starts at 4pm tomorrow and then as soon as it's over on Saturday I am going to a friend's house in the city for dinner. That should be fun :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crafty Bday Presents

JewishGuy and I had swine flu on my birthday so we didn't get to go out and do anything... just sat at home and ordered in Cheesecake Factory (apparently they deliver... it's expensive, but they deliver, and it was my birthday and I wanted cheesecake).

JewishGuy bought me a couple of things from my etsy wishlist :)

One was this textile pendant from cricketapollo :) I've gotten so many compliments on this necklace it's awesome... the only non-awesome thing is that people think this pendant gives them license to touch my chest? When I wear it it's quite big and I have literally had people come up and poke the buttons on it. Weird.

The other was this beautiful little bird pendant from westbyron. It's very subtle and pretty :) I am into bird things right now: I had this great bird mug that I destroyed due to pouring boiling water on my hand, I also have bird earrings that I wear practically every day. Birds and flowers. I am keeping it perpetually spring in my accessories.

I have two complications with necklaces: #1, I never know how to wear some of them, like the big pendants I have seem to look good with v-necks, but can I wear them with other styles? and #2, I try not to wear necklaces to work because we learned in one of our training sessions that you should never wear anything around your neck when working with clients. So I've been wearing them to class and synagogue and basically anywhere I can.

I have some other cute accessories I've purchased recently... one day when I have a camera I will post pictures!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last week I had swine flu and now I am a pariah. I'm still coughing and even though the doctor cleared me to be around people again nobody wants to be within a 10 foot radius of me. I'm trying hard not to infect anyone but there's only so long I can take being quarantined in the house! I want to go out!!!

(This is my ironic Halloween costume)

JewishGuy was sad... he said, "don't you like spending time with me?" as he hacked up a lung. He also is sick. Our powers combined, we make a gross swine flu superhero!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Almost Shabbat

My last post was when I started to get angry instead of feeling sad. And then I sought out support from people. And then I did a little art assignment where I had myself draw a bridge and describe what it looked like, what supported it, and what the scenery around it looked like.

Then I headed into my internship and it was amazing. I had a really good day. I felt really positive and like things were actually working. I had my site visit and the group went really well.

Then of course I came down with the flu and haven't left the house since Tuesday evening. bleh.

The bridge exercise was really useful to me, especially in conjunction with asking for support from a wider network of people than I had previously accessed. Usually when art therapists make a bridge (at least from what I've read about), they concentrate on what the bridge is going over, or where it's going to/from. But for me, since I was struggling with feeling supported in certain areas of my life - specifically my fieldwork - I needed to make a supported structure and then focus on that structure.

I feel like the intensity of that last post had to be followed up. I am feeling less angry and more in control, despite being now an entire week behind on my school work from the flu.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting Angry

Okay maybe this post doesn't belong on my art blog, but it's my only blog to really survive the 2nd year grad school stress to some degree (I guess besides twitter, which doesn't count).

So here goes.

I don't like getting angry. Okay, I do, but only because getting angry means I have moved past the disempowered, sad, self-deprecating stage. Getting angry means I feel have power over what's going on. Feeling sad and hopeless means I feel I have no power to change my current situation.

Today in class we had to make "anger monsters." Although we didn't have too much discussion about our anger monsters, I wanted to show the art work that came out of my time today. You have to excuse the picture because I still haven't replaced my good camera and the lighting is awful.

I don't like being angry because I have a hard time feeling that I deserve to be angry. But I do deserve to be angry. I also don't like being angry because I think people will dislike me if I get angry. This is something I have to get over. Being angry shouldn't also make me anxious.

I didn't get to talk about my anger in class, I just got to get angry at my teacher later, who was trying to help but I didn't feel heard. I think what makes me angry the most is when people say they hear you but it still feels like you aren't being heard.

My anger is smoldering. My anger builds slowly over time. My anger lingers, waiting quietly for the perfect time to come out, the time when it can make the biggest impact. My anger feeds on itself and on me. But my anger is also my power. It can be destructive and constructive.

Today my anger is acting on my behalf. I feel like I am not getting support I need and my anger is giving me the voice I need to garner that support. I feel like I'm not being told when I do things well, only when I need improvement, and my anger is allowing me to hold on to my victories and now wallow in the feelings of hopelessness, the feelings that I will never improve, that no matter how hard I try there will never be a positive remark in there for me.

Is this what most people consider anger? I don't know. I don't like being angry all the time. But when I'm angry, people listen, maybe because I'm not angry much. I might be passionate and loud but not angry. I might get pissed off and vent at my friends and family, but that's not anger, because when I'm angry I tell it to that person's face... no mistaking what's going on there.

My anger can be nasty, though. I know that.

I named my anger The Russian Bear, alluding to images of Russia being represented as the sleeping bear. I wrote (and said, in class), "Do not wake me up or I will fuck you up." That is the bear. The bear sleeps, and stirs, and yawns, but the bear does not wake up unless enough poking and prodding makes it impossible to remain in the passive stance.

So today I said everything to my teacher. About how I don't feel like I'm getting the support I need in various places, including the classroom. About the reasons I am having trouble at my internship. About what I need her to do for me. I didn't even pretend to sugar coat it, it just came out, plain as day, my thoughts, no diplomacy.

Now I feel anxious about it. Does she hate me now?

I frequently get frustrated at another teacher in my program and have full-on arguments in the middle of class, but I've never told her straight up how I feel about being in her class. I wonder what she thinks of me?

And when I go down the list of people who I have spoken to their face, told them how I feel about what's going on, it's always with authority figures. I one time called out the president of a synagogue, head of the Southwest region of Young Judea, principle of the religious school, and two rabbis all at the same time. So I don't know what the deal is with that.

Anyway, I had to get this post out. I think that somehow putting it on the internet where anyone can see it makes me feel better, so that maybe the people who have been involved in the recent things that are going on in my life can understand how I feel about being angry. I don't like it, but I need it in order to find my voice.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Camera Keeps on Truckin'

Today we went to a farm for a bit of a vacation from our worries and a double date :) I was desperate for a camera and thought it couldn't hurt to pull out my old camera that I got for my birthday in 2001 that I retired in 2005/6. It's an old hp photosmart 318, 2.3 megapixels, takes 4 AA batteries, and will go from off to finish snapping a photo in about a billion years. Also the screen is really dark so we took pictures the old fashioned way: through the viewfinder and you never know what it's going to look like until you develop them (in my case, in iPhoto).

I used to be really good at taking photos with this camera. It took a lot of getting used to, specifically because of the time delay between when you push the button and when the photo is actually taken, but also because the viewfinder and the lens are not in the same place - though this is how point-and-shoot cameras used to be anyway.

However there is some quality to the way that this camera takes pictures that I didn't get on my latest camera (that just died), which I had forgotten about but now I see it again in my newer photos. Something a little old school, and for lack of a better word, it seems a little creamier. What does that mean... maybe even though the resolution is lower, it somehow seems closer to the old film cameras than my newer (dead) digital one.

(For the record, I am going to get the newer version of the one that died, maybe for my birthday............)

Anyway, the farm:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Imagination Land

No pictures yet, still no camera, so ... IMAGINATION TIME!

Imagine my current project, a living wall tapestry, visually connecting family members to their namesakes. A fiber base made of fused white flexible plastics that makes a pattern when back-lit, hung with twine. Names of family members inscribed in green (not enough time to do what I wanted to do, which was embroider all of the names onto the fiber). Living plants are sewn onto the fiber connecting name to name, beginning at the bottom (roots hanging off of the tapestry) with the namesake, and ending at the top with the living relative, continuing above the top of the fiber.

Sound cool?

WELL MAYBE ONE DAY I WILL HAVE A CAMERA TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS (hopefully before the plants die!!!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lack of Posts

My camera is dead.

It is a sad day for us all.

I have to buy a new one... the autofocus does not work and it's impossible to take any pictures. I don't know when I'll be able to get a new one, either, so unless I can scan it it probably won't be on the blog! :(

I know, it is a tragedy. But I'm working on it!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Craft Fair Finds!!!!

Today I went to the Renegade Craft Fair, which I had been looking forward to all year. Last year it was cold and rainy and all I came back with was my favorite mug that I used almost every day until it broke when I poured boiling water on my hand. D'oh. Anyway, here are some of my finds from this year's fair!

I didn't get the card from the place where I bought this awesome necklace, which I regret! They were selling a lot of jewelry made from recycled or found materials. This is a flexible wooden necklace.

This fried egg hair pin was a huge hit. I bought it early on and wore it right away. Everyone was complimenting me! At first I thought maybe I looked really dorky, but I guess I looked dorky in a good way. I'm wearing it to school tomorrow! I got this from

Since most of my newer jewelry is big and chunky I decided it would be a nice purchase to get some jewelry that was a little more subtle. This is about an inch long and looks like a little bundle. It's also made from recycled metal. I got it from

I also got some fun earrings I didn't take a picture of, and a present for someone who might be reading this blog so I won't post it.

LOVE the Renegade Craft Fair! Maybe I'll be in the Renegade Holiday Fair....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another Plant Day

A few weeks ago I made some clippings of my pink spotted plant and let it sit while we traveled. Today I saw they all had roots so I decided to plant them.

It wasn't until after I planted them that I realized that I had just helped this plant to reproduce. The act of clipping and rooting and planting was a reproductive act. It was a really interesting moment for me, planting these clippings that I had made. Until now, I had received clippings from others and planted them or bought already-grown plants and repotted them. Now I am making my own plants. I've never reproduced anything living before; all of my animals have been spayed or neutered, and I have never had a baby. So... this is the first time I can think of where something I took care of started as one and became two.

Also, I have never been very good at keeping plants alive. But now, not only was I able to create a new plant, but the plant that was clipped is growing new shoots in the places where it was clipped.

My succulent has also been progressing but some of the lower leaves have shriveled and fallen off. My mom says this might be due to over watering, so I am cutting back.

I'm not sure why it's getting so tall - when I bought it, it was a short wide plant. Now it is getting tall? I'm not sure what kind of plant this is so I don't know what it's supposed to look like.

This is a close-up of new clippings I made today in their water. Soon there will be roots coming out of that stump. I also like the air bubbles trapped on the leaves.
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