Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Body Double

I’ve been feeling like I need a clone. Here she is. Almost done. There are two hours during the week when I become the student and completely immersed in something new and different. I’m auditing our new costuming class and the professor is the brilliant and talented, Tricia Thelen. This has been one of the most important ways I’ve been able to stay balanced this semester. The students are helping to design and make the costumes for the theater productions, but this dress form project has been an ongoing immersion throughout the semester - from t-shirts and freezer tape to the upholstered form you see in the picture. Each of us has constructed an identical double of our torso - custom dress forms. I have been documenting the entire process, hoping that Tricia and I can turn the project documentation into an article or something. I can’t wait to post more pictures. The process has been amazing. My classmates’ dress forms are fabulous and unique - just like they are... I had to show a little sneak peek.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Special Edition of PB’s Newsy News

Here is the special Summer 2010 issue of PB’s Newsy News from Oslo, Norway. (450kb PDF) Remember, it is written and created in one day, so please forgive the grammar and spelling. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Office

This is a picture of my other office. The Sommerbutikken is just what it sounds like, a little store that is only open in the summer (when we get here in June, it’s only open on the weekends). It is the only shop for miles around. Fortunately they serve up some pretty robust wifi along with the fresh pastries and sundries. I used to borrow my neighbor’s wireless when I taught online classes while here, but he has moved away and we have had to find other means. We bought a Mobile Broadband USB device from Telenor, but the 500 mb a month plan I have only allows bare bones web access (meaning I only do email and some course work at the hytte on the broadband.) When I have to upload student critique movies (40-70 mb each) or talk to someone via Skype, I hike down to the Sommerbuttikken and set up office. This set up has been working so well, I have been having fantasies about becoming a “virtual professor.”

Last night was the neighborhood celebration of MidSummer. It was a low-key event with a grill out/picnic, games with prizes and then a big bonfire. There was a parent/child hula hoop contest and potato on a spoon races. All the kids won bags of candy. My favorite game was the stilt race. The kids each “won” a bottle of soda pop when they reached the finish. Then they had adult stilt races where the prizes were bottles of beer. Needless to say, most adults participated in that race.

I am dusting off my Norwegian and finding it mostly in tact after being on the shelf for 14 months. August is starting to help me with my grammar and word selection, a bit dismissive and fussy about it in an “I’m embarrassed by my immigrant mommy” way, but helpful none-the-less.

My summer work is progressing nicely, but has hit a few snags. My large format printer (Epson 2200) has bit the dust. Bummer, I had planned to print lots of iPod drawings and pictures while here. My smaller all-in-one HP is out of cartridges and they cost 240 kr each (about $40). I think I’ll wait until I return to the US to do my printing. Other creative projects will pick up steam after the online course finishes this week. So far, my department chair duties have been manageable by email from afar. There is nothing like getting away to gain perspective on things.

I am still in something of an existential quandary about my creative work and this time away at my art retreat allows time and space to think. It takes a couple of weeks just to gather the clarity to form consecutive, topic related thoughts. This is really the only time of year that I have for great chunks of thinking time, uninterrupted by phone calls, chores, events and all the daily demands of modern life. Recently, I took a couple of tests online for Focus and Multitasking. I had a perfect score on ability to focus, but I couldn’t even complete the multitasking test. I guess I need to “defrag” my brain every summer.

August and I have been making little terrariums for hostess gifts and they are coming out quite nicely. I have been taking pictures of them and will post some soon. My Father-in-Law sold me his Nikon Macro lens for a really good price, so I have started collecting macro shots of the fjord flora and fauna.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Laughter Yoga

Last December I became a certified Laughter Yoga Leader. It was through a wonderful training taught by Sebastien Gendry of the American School of Laughter Yoga. I am a longtime student of the various forms of Hatha Yoga (Forrest, Bikram, Kripalu, Flow, etc.) and prefer to be a student. You see, I have this Professor role that I play in my professional life and it is quite a demanding part. Yoga class is the chance for me to be the student, to pay close attention and to follow instruction. It is my turn to be told what to do and how to do it. So, choosing to take the training and lead laughter sessions was not an easy decision. It is done and now I have led a few laughter groups. The results have been wildly positive.

While we were in Norway last year on sabbatical, I had what felt like a radical re-envisioning of my personal mission. My own creative production has been deeply gratifying to me throughout my life. It no longer feels like enough. It is no longer enough to be creative and joyful simply for my own pleasure. I need to stretch beyond somehow. Over time I have settled on the mission to share and spread creativity and joy to as many people as possible. This is an easy thing to accomplish with Laughter Yoga. It is a trickier thing to do with my University students. I have to help them prepare for high level professional work in addition to finding their source of creativity and joy – a much trickier proposition. I have been trying (with varying levels of success) to figure out how to make it more creative and joyful (without sacrificing the rigor). This is a challenge that I relish. I’m sure they’ll let me know how well I perform.

Back to the Laughter Yoga. I’d like to start a Laughter Club, but my schedule has prevented me from pursuing a location and committing to a day and time. For now I will schedule special Laughter sessions when able and on special request.