November 15th, 2007
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i’ll just come right out with it and not beat around the bush. lately I’ve been questioning this medium at length. to be honest, this is not a recent thing, but an ongoing theme for the last few years. nothing new I suppose, everyone that partakes in it goes through the same things at some point, asking themselves why they do it, feeling slightly icky at the need to put your life out in a public forum on a regular basis (read: motivated by ego). As my husband recently pontificated, isn’t a bit of ego necessary for anyone to both create and put anything out into the world, creative projects, books, music, etc.? otherwise we would just keep it all to ourselves.
and so a conundrum. preparing to have a child has brought all of these feelings to the forefront. now there is another being involved in my life, one who knows nothing yet of the internet. for some reason i don’t feel comfortable sharing as much of myself and my personal life as I used to. it feels icky, and I become more and more protective of my world, holding bits back so I can keep them for myself and my growing family.
here’s the honest truth, the real source of the ickiness for me, (dare I disturb the universe with this one?)…it has become apparent to me that in some part in the past my need to share bits of my life here, is/was in some way motivated by a need to present the world some kind of ideal way of living. as a means of presenting a beautiful picture of a life well lived. and I do feel like I live well, that is true. my intent here was never to divulge everything of my world, and so one is forced to make decisions about what is presented, which often become the things that lead others to believe that one has things figured out. which I assure you is completely not the case. (don’t trust anyone who tells you they have it all figured out, in fact those are the ones who most definitely do NOT have it figured out and are often prone to flailing).
so what am i trying to say here? I’m not sure. maybe just that I question these things and am trying to fit them into some kind of category in my head. why does blogging (and reading blogs) make me feel icky now? i’ve always believed in the power of people sharing their stories, in turn helping others to feel more human and validated in their own life. part of the answer to this has to do with self perception. i find most of us unable to see our shortcomings or real selves, which results in our presenting a deeply flawed or false perception of ourselves, (we all seem to be walking contradictions at some point or another). yet, why does this disturb me so? isn’t that just the nature of being human? yes, it is.
is it that when I see that contradiction in others, it reminds me of my own contradictions and I don’t like that. probably. what does it mean to be truly authentic?
there are two more issues at play here that I would like to speak of.
issue #1 for me in all of this is the false sense of intimacy that is created within and by this medium. I have spoken about this in the past, but probably never here for fear of offending others. (truth be told, i have found greater strength and growth from speaking my truth here, than I ever have from holding back. THAT lesson is clear to me now.) I feel like this subject could take up a whole book, maybe I will leave that one for another post.
and issue #2 is that many times the blogging world feels more like a big popularity contest, than a true medium of creativity. the goal for many to gain as many readers as possible. this fact was blatantly made clear to me at the “blogher” conference this year, where there was more said about how to promote your blog and make it a financial success than about what the blog represents and how it can contribute to the greater whole. I was incredibly saddened by a lot of what I saw there, (there was a huge room full of seemingly unrelated booths of companies selling their products, trying to gain product endorsements with free product give aways, etc. the standouts being some kind of processed cheese and butterball turkey, yes it’s true). I suppose I should not have expected anything different. but given my stance on product endorsement and corporate sponsorship I left feeling wholy disappointed and sickened about the whole thing. (I know that by writing this I may never be invited back to speak there again, but I have to speak my truth on these things, and I’ve held back for a while now.) as you all already know I believe corporate sponsorship of blogs is entirely destructive to the medium, a fact on which I will not ever waver. (please do not send me emails explaining why I am misguided on this point, if you are in opposition we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.) I am a proponent of blogging being a democratic medium, and my little fight to help it remain in this realm, however futile, is one that I must continue.
so how do I combat the feeling of blogging being a popularity contest, combined with my own trait of being a rather competitive soul? removing the comments was one step. while I miss the instant feedback from readers and the sense of having a community, on the whole I feel much more empowered by just throwing things out into the void, without the addictive tendency of checking to see how it was recieved by others, judging a post by how many comments it recieves. in some ways it makes my offering more honest, and brought me back to what it felt like in the beginning. just a place to share my thoughts and ideas, no need to measure it against what others are doing, or feel like something I said was incorrect because some unhappy soul unloaded their bad day/life onto me.
so what of the good things that come from blogging? yes there are many things that have affected my life in a positive way, which I suppose is why I still feel drawn to do it after all these years. I have indeed met a lot of wonderful like-minded people, friends (and husband) that I would not have met otherwise and for this I am eternally grateful. the soul bearing and thoughtful email that I recieve on a daily basis is something that helps me on my own journey, and gives me little signals from the universe that i am doing something good here, not just wasting my time with all of this, (something that we all need from time to time, ego driven or not).
but what of the evolution of the blog? where do we go from here knowing what we know now?
in no particular order: maintain integrity above all, continue to share some of my process (but not all), use it in a way that benefits my work/life and not in ways that take away from it, (we’ve been having internet free weekends in our house for a few months now and it’s been wonderful!), continue to put things out into the world that I feel good about, continue to speak my truth at the risk of being ostracized and criticized by the greater community, (yes this does happen).
I will leave the last words here to George Perec, who is know for his more lighthearted writings that make everyday life a form of play, (a man after my own heart). in this quote he is writing about a need to classify things, and create some kind of order by doing so. I thought when I read it that it seems a good metaphor for life and ‘thinking about life’. ending on this note may seem a contradiction of what I have written here to some, and I can only answer, “yes, in a way it is. i am.”
My problem with classifications is that they don’t last; hardly have I finished putting things into an order before that order is obsolete. Like everyone else, I presume, I am sometimes seized by a mania for arranging things. The sheer number of the things needing to be arranged and the near-impossibility of distributing them according to any truly satisfactory criteria means that I never finally manage it, that the arrangements I end up with are temporary and vague, and hardly any more effective that the original anarchy….In short, I muddle along.”
here’s to muddling along.

November 14th, 2007
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and so…after an exhaustive and frustrating search…the book is recovered. it was found wedged between the couch and sidetable, in such a compromised position that I was unable to view it by looking under the couch, (which I did at least five times, maybe more.)
possible scenarios:
1. the dog, who likes to sit perched on top of the couch looking out the window, knocked it into the void between the couch and sidetable while maneuvering into position.
2. the ghost of italo put it there to mess with my head.
3. my husband, knowing a small amount of the premise of the story, (because I have difficulty not talking about a book when I am enjoying it), put it there to punish me for talking too much about the contents of a book he might like to read someday.
4. I knocked the book down there myself while eating my breakfast.
whatever the true story, it matters not because I have obtained the book again and finished it last night. i assure you it is a clever, clever ending. I did not expect anything less. One worth rushing out to find another copy in a library or bookstore for, which thankfully I did not have to do.
to add to the pre-existing irony, on the page where I left off, in which the top right hand corner of the page was folded down to mark my place, was this quote:
“Reader, you have found again the book you were seeking; now you can pick up the broken thread; the smile returns to your lips. But do you imagine it can go on in this way, this story? No, not that of the novel! Yours! How long are you going to let yourself be dragged passively by the plot? You had flung yourself into the action, filled with adventurous impulses: and then? Your function was quickly reduced to that of one who records situations decided by others, who submits to whims, finds himself involved in events that elude his control. The what use is your role as protagonist to you? If you continue lending yourself to this game, it means that you, too, are an accomplice of the general mystification.”
i kid you not.

November 13th, 2007
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those of you who have read “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” by Italo Calvino will appreciate this incredible irony…
Having a mere three chapters to go in his most gripping story, I have lost the book.
A fact which I think mr. calvino would have thought a perfect end to his absurdist novel.
I am now most certainly ‘the reader’.
how frustrating. how wretched. I cannot bear it. where on earth could it have gone? I have not left my house since yesterday afternoon, and I read it before bed last night. I am sure of it. I have looked everywhere.
I now appeal to the ghost of Italo to please return the book. now would be best as I am not able to go on with daily activities until i know how it ends (read it for myself). I know this is a funny joke, and in fact “the point” of your book, but in all honesty I get it. I really do.
i simply cannot believe this happened with this book. a book actually about a reader who loses, misplaces, and is unable to find the ending to the books he/she starts.
i think there is some kind of curse on the book and all copies at some point are “lost”. maybe it is some kind of built in self destructive mechanism that the author designed himself.
I hope this will serve as a lesson to you out there reading this that a) you should read Calvino because he is one of the most brilliant writers I have ever read and more powerful than I first thought, (but don’t tell me the ending because I want to read it myself), and b) guard your copy at all costs, never take your eyes off of it, carry it with you at all times, watch out for people following you or eyeing your copy in a suspicious manner. (all of this is mentioned in the book as a distinct possibility and I wouldn’t have believed it myself except that the fiction is now a reality.)
now my only question is, if i find the book again, will it be the same novel or will it have changed in it’s absence? will i ever be sure that I read the right one? what if this happens to everyone that reads it as is mentioned in the book?
to be continued…
(no i am not making this up)

November 12th, 2007
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a few days spent with a wonderful tribe of women, celebrating my upcoming birth. we explored the streets of woodstock, ate lots of great food (I ate enough for three people I think), and spent time in an amazing wool store taking in all the color. the evening spent knitting and chatting. my heart leapt, waking up in the forest every morning, (reminding me of my house in the country), and being around a couple of active babes was the perfect thing to help prepare me for the future. there is nothing better than yacking with women (who are exceptional mama’s) and sharing food together.
I returned to a completely new house, as my husband had worked non-stop for days painting my dining room, bedroom and kitchen as a surprise. It is the perfect end to a weekend full of ritual (Blessingway), one that is letting me know that my life is soon going to change drastically and permanently. I already feel much like a new person.
so i sit munching on pumkin bread, (made by the talented nina bonnina), loving my new house, smellng some good smells, and enjoying the wonderful gifts I was given over the last few days.
my talented husband jefferson pitcher and his partner in crime christian kiefer have recently launched a split album (with Camera Obscura Records) called “To all dead sailors”, which is getting amazing reviews all over the place. it’s pretty great. also check out christian’s “dogs and donkeys” and see why we love him.
my good friend steve lambert (who is featured on page 3 of “the guerilla art kit”) succeeded in closing down dozens of mcdonald’s restaurants in Manhattan for one day, without using any special technology. Watch this video to see how he did it and be amazed.
enjoying rutu modan.
please note: due to my current work schedule and need to slow down due to pregnancy, I am unable to respond to the bulk of email I am receiving. it is nothing personal, but I need to make quiet time a priority and make choices about how I expend my energy. thanks for your understanding.

November 1st, 2007
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October 30th, 2007
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jack, originally uploaded by amanda de vuono.

photo from the “how to wreck a journal” flickr group.

October 27th, 2007
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excerpted from the article “Writers & the War Against Nature” published in the Shambhala Sun, november 2007 issue (this article is excellent, you must seek it out).

October 26th, 2007
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I have been experiencing some pregnancy complications in the form of early contractions which put me in the hospital for a short stint. This is pretty scary at five months. so i am having to slow down a bit (a lot) and care for my body more, doing everything i can to keep my belly calm. I’ve been talking to the baby and telling him he has to stay in there for a few more months, it’s not time for him to make his debut in this world just yet. so currently I am in bed reading thich nhat hanh and enjoying the fall leaves just outside my window.
you’d be amazed at how much beauty and connection with nature there is to be had even while in bed. I am in the process of making my room into a healing space complete with good smells, oils, things from nature, tea and lots of books. I brought in a few branches from the yard and am slowly attaching tiny things to them, bits of wool, plastic colored juice lids, tiny pieces of tissue paper. these things make me happy. right now as I write this there are the most beautiful shadows of leaves dancing around on my my bedroom floor. and I awoke to a dense fog that highlighted some sunbeams coming through the trees. my husband is handling all of the household stuff, the white wolf naps by my side, both helping me to feel safe and loved at every turn.
while i am not supposed to be working for a brief time, a lot of this is directly connected to the book i am working on. and so it continues to write itself in small pieces here and there.
little things are coming in that make me feel good…
…andrea from hula seventy took one of the exercises from the guerilla art kit and assembled what she called “the smallest guerilla art army”. you can read about their adventures here, (which brought tears to my eyes).
…i got a handmade bunny for the baby (named “autumn”) from hop skip jump. (you all know how hard it is to do this, you have to be ready and fast when they go up for sale!)
…i love this woman’s work! pieces of her life story come out in her work and made me cry.
…just taking in the colors and textures at purlsoho is healing. i’m so drawn to small bits of color right now.
…following the continuing adventures of dan price.
…the perfect store for me, the curiosity shoppe (link from the ever fabulous jen gray.)
george perec has made my life better.
*if you have any suggestions for soothing creams, oils, potions, bath stuff, etc. they must be made of natural smells [read: no fake fragrance oil], organic, and good for pregnancy), I would love to hear them.

October 12th, 2007
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I have had The Golden Notebook on my ‘to read’ list for many years now, I even bought a used copy which I left in canada due to weight constraints (damn). But now I have to read it. Look at that beautiful face.
an important article on the state of healthcare for freelancers. I was one of those freelancers who couldn’t afford it the first year I lived in this country. It is not just an issue for the poorest in the country, as the article states. When I went to get a physical for immigration purposes, I could only go to two doctors in my area who performed that service, (this was where people who have no money go.) I was told I could only pay cash, that my credit card was not welcome there, and I did (and still do) question the level of care that these people are receiving.
an interview with me at Emerson, (called “If Artist’s Ruled the World”) in which I wax on at length about a few political and philosophical isses, (namely education). The author of Emerson, Dale Conour, is the editor for Sunset Magazine, (which I love to read when I’m in california).
I have recently ordered many books by Georges Perec for my research on the new book. If you have any suggestions for other writers in the same vein that are readable (I struggled with Certeau), please write me.
If you haven’t seen this already prepare to be amazed. This one IS for real.
I enjoyed this new website about bas jan ader’s work, waiting for the new documentary to come out on dvd, site design by Superfamous.

October 10th, 2007
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from the London Times fashion blog

the Times Sunday Style Magazine (UK) to feature Guerilla Art Kit, (date to come)
and I am going to be doing a regular small piece for the Guardian UK Kids section, featuring a new guerilla art exercise every week!
life is never dull around here.

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