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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Twist of Fate

I witnessed this outside my door in Bavaria. I have a thing for the snails there and it inspired me to learn a few things about them. The can live 10 - 15 years... and when they mate, as they are doing here, each snail gets pregnant and has baby snails. My, how the world would be different if the same were true of humans.

Yesterday began with positive steps toward the future.
I paid my bills, returned a deposit, addressed a long standing debt, did hard labor on a property I share with two other artists and returned my contracts for my summer classes.

Ahhh.. and timing is everything. The director of the program wasn't in so I asked the security guard if I could slide it under her door. Fine, she said. After making my way to the staff offices I decided to take a peek at the current show and was looking at some printworks when I heard voices behind me. It was the staff returning from their lunch. Oh, so good to see you, I chimed. I turned in my contract and wanted to inquire about fall classes.

Ah, I am sorry but I am all booked up for the fall, director said... I said, really? Nothing? (I've been away but have tried to keep up with these essential matters via email.)

Well, it seems, she said So and So, my boss, doesn't want me to use you anymore. She's really mad because you missed those classes earlier this year. But I was at a funeral, I explained. "Oh, there was something else, another class. She doesn't want me to include you on the schedule.
I know it is terrible about your sister but there is nothing I can do. She runs the program. Please don't mention it to her or call her. You've always done good work for me and I'll try to introduce you again at a later date."

I was in tears at this point, hurridly wiping them away. I love teaching in this program, you see. I do. It pays better than anywhere else and has a certain amount of cache. I've been teaching there longer than ten years. Normally when someone loses a family member their employer sends a letter of condolence or flowers. Here you lose your job.

I neglected to cancel the class, you see. I was in a state of shock...
but it doesn't matter. I am not sure I will want to work for them anymore anyway... I guess I am tired of being kicked around but I don't really know what to do with these feelings... hence the time I am investing sharing them here.

Its always this way, tho. I return from something wonderful... have an experience that gives me hope... and possibilities... and then return home to be kicked in the stomach by my boss. It happens over and over so it must be me. Perhaps I just need to be a farmer or have my own business. I don't play politic very well. I can do it but it is not my forte, obviously.

When I returned from my sabbatical and then a near fatal car accident back in the mid 90's (I cracked several vertebrae, ribs and fractured my hip) the director of the program I was teaching in told me stories my students had shared with him (that I got high with other faculty from another university... not true... europeans roll their own cigarettes) and other things he knew would hurt my feelings. He was angry that I had been away, had a wonderful experience and then came home and had to take sick leave to recover from this accident. He was a small man. A very small man. And of course I was disappointed in the students. I shared something with them that meant a great deal to me... working in a place I loved... and they were just rotten spoiled, to the core.

C'est la vie.
Art and family are the only things that matter to me.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

4:30 am


Friday, June 20, 2008

Football and Art

A garden behind the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

If Americans could experience good art and football in such close proximity perhaps life would be different for American artists. The view is a beautiful there.

A few international opportunities can be found here.

Another thing I love about Europe is the rail system. This train is headed toward Regensburg from Munich. I am sure it was on the tracks back in 1985 when I first traveled to Germany. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Rail travel isn't cheap anymore but it is much cheaper than driving and there are many discounts and passes available for those who know how to utilize them. I am a quick learner since I love to GO when I am in Europe. There is much to see and friends to catch up with. I probably would have spent a day or two in Berlin but I had art to finish and the inevitable time invested in packing and weighing my luggage, striving to bring home bier for Mr. dd and my investment in flashe paint. It wasn't easy and the process is so stressful that I am ALWAYS happy to be home.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Emergency Measures

This self-portrait was created upon my arrival in Germany during mid May.
I wish I looked half a relaxed now as I did then.

I've spent my life expanding the world I live in. Maybe a childhood in the Mississippi Delta makes one expect wide horizons? I saved my allowance at the age of 12 or so to create my first adventure. I flew to Chicago at the age of 13 by myself. I am almost a travel addict and will jump at the chance to work overseas.

My first European adventure occured in 1985 when one could fly to London for $200. and the exchange rate was so good that an unemployed post graduate could live off $10 - $15. dollars a day in most any city in Europe - especially if one had a couch to crash on - my favorite being Schaumi's. I missed many trains, nearly shipped my return ticket home by accident and gave many Brits and Europeans good cause for laughter due to my inexperience and willingness to try new things.

Experience is the best teacher... but sleep deprivation erases the best laid plans! Normally I xerox my passport and all travel documents, credit cards, etc... for peace of mind. (Being responsible for students or kids makes one a much savier traveler.) I've never had to rely on these measures but came so close yesterday that I had visions of living off my lunch time rashions at the Munich airport much like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Yesterday was a long day for me and although my ducks were swimming in a watery row I thought I might have to visit the American consulate before I could return to American soil.

We order a taxi to pick my up at 4:15 am. I was nervous that the taxi would be late. I have a problem with pre-departure anxiety and insomnia... plus I travel with luggage at maximum capacity since they've lowered the weight limits... but then the limit doesn't matter. I am always there.

With such an early departure and the anticipation of jet lag I just stayed up that night. There was plenty to do with checking the weight of my luggage over and over and a feeble attempt to pack the Kneitinger and Weltenburger bier I wanted to bring home for Mr dd. How could it survive being checked in my luggage? I visited both breweries during my time in Bavaria and had high hopes I could share at least the taste of these places with my beloved.

The taxi arrived on time and took me to the train station. The woman helped me with my luggage which was unexpected. We arrived at the train station with enough time for me to transport my heavy luggage to the appropriate kaisse and wait. I worked hard to stay awake on the train since I needed to depart at Freising to find bus 635 which would take me to the Munich airport....

One of the train attendants spoke English and showed me the bus when we arrived. Several VERY nice strangers helped me with my 50 lb bags - which I would never allow in Spain or France... too much history there.

So... I made it to Terminal One by 7:30, rented a cart and made my way to the Delta ticket counter. The line was epic! I decided to go to the customs office first since I had some detax forms I needed to have stamped and mailed. I was pleased there was no line and gave my passport, receipts and all of my papers to a very cute passport officer. He told me I needed to check in with Delta and receive my luggage tickets so he could check my luggage.... this is a new procedure... something I had never heard of before. I made my way back to the Delta counter and realized as I got closer to the first security check that I didn't have my passport in hand and that I didn't remember seeing it since my papers were returned to at customs! I dug through all my pockets. Nada! I looked in my bags. Nothing. I left my place in line and returned to customs... he held his hands up - nothing! Ok... now I was getting nervous. I had gone into a coughing fit earlier and had shifted my bags and clothing since I was overheating and perhaps I had dropped it? No one was at the information counter. A Delta representative directed me to LOST AND FOUND. Not easy to find but eventually I did. The man there was very nice, telephoned the airport police and told me if it was turned in he would telephone Delta and make an announcement on the intercom. I wasn't doing well at this point. It was getting late and I began to fear I would miss my flight. I was sweaty, tired and at wits end.

I went back to the "special" Delta counter and showed them my xerox of my passport and wondered if that might suffice - knowing it wouldn't. He spoke to another official who said no, I would need a letter of transportation from the American Consulate which would take a day... except it was Saturday and their offices would't be open until Monday (!) I asked if I needed to notify Delta and he said no. They were aware of my situation...

I sat on the chairs and held my head in my hands and feared the worst. I was PMSing, sleep deprived and feeling bad. I considered about my options, sighed a deep sigh and determined to methodically look ONE MORE time while I could still board my flight. I began to deconstruct my luggage, clothing and bags and eventually discovered my new passport (!) wedged between two bags under some other travel essentials. How it wound up there I do not know. I was relieved but very nervous that it might be too late since I only had an hour or so to check in, visit customs for the third of fourth time and get through security. Somehow I manged... my bags were exactly 50 lbs and before she sent them off I actually remembered to inquire about the detax. She said they needed to examine my bads to insure I had the articles so I had to remove them from the conveyor and take them to customs who of course didn't even bother to open them, but stamped my documents and sent my heavy bags on their way.

By the time I made it to security the line was pretty short as was the time. I was lucky. They took my yogurt away (probably for the best) and I again, had to deconstruct myself and my luggage for the xray machine. I was so happy to make it to my flight with my very heavy hand luggage (all my books were in it) that I didn't care that I didn't have time to find cuban cigars in the duty free shop. The flight was 9.5 hours. I asked the attendant to awaken me when they served the meal. As soon as I had my wine with dinner I took half an Ambien and it was like someone clicked off the switch. When I woke up we were an hour and half from Atlanta and I still had time to watch my first episode of Nip and Tuck.

Atlanta was another kind of hell due to Delta's inability to maintain a flight schedule... but that's another story. I finally got home with my damp, beer soaked luggage two and half hours later than scheduled. It could have been a great deal worse. Losses: three bavarian beers (the security guy who helped me pick the glass out of my luggage and sniffed in appreciation. We both acknowledged that even beer made by the monks would have a hard time surviving an international flight.) Another casulty was a new linen shirt I found at H&M for Mr. dd. Paint stained it and it doesn't look like it will come out. It would be easier to shop for the the mister if the H&M here carried men's wear!

C'est la vie. It could'a been SO much worse!

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Monday, June 09, 2008


Ah. When one's second language skills are as bad as mine are I appreciate discovering universal alphabets or manifests that transcend region and cultural differences. This manifest, I believe achieves that which is so most anywhere on this planet and maybe even a few others.

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