weeknote 04

I’m finding that as I sit down to do my weeknotes, it’s as much about what’s coming up as it is about what I’ve just done. That’s probably to be expected, even though last week was exciting and relaxing and enjoying Mexico City.

The key thing is that my oral exam for my generals is tomorrow (or rather, in about 13 hours): it is a two-hour, closed-door critique of my work by Beatriz Colomina (head of the PhD program), Christine Boyer (my advisor), Ed Eigen, Spyros Papapetros and Brigid Doherty. All are professors I’ve taken courses with and all are major heavyweights in their disciplines. There are very few times in your life that you get this kind of feedback — my master’s thesis defense is really the only other time — and the next time will be my dissertation defense in a couple of years. It’s terrifying. I’m working through not being defensive and remembering the critique is a good thing. Oh yeah: it is something that one passes or fails. It’s never a foregone conclusion.
Okay, so back to weeknotes. Last Saturday, I flew to Mexico City, where Jesus de Francisco was directing a commercial. I got to be an accessory to the whole enterprise (read: tourist and onlooker). Despite spending 15 years in design and creative fields, film and television are new to me. There were so many layers of things: Motion Theory (the production company), the agency, the client, the local production company in Mexico, the talent from Mexico and the UK. I watched an estate in Mexico City become a midwestern backyard and a rooftop in the Centro Histórico transform into a Brooklyn loft rooftop. I lost track of how many people were on the set — 50, perhaps? So much fast activity and thinking on one’s feet. The day that I got back, Motion Theory won a Grammy for the Black Eyed Peas video, “Boom Boom Pow” — back-to-back with the Grammy they won last year for Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” video.
Mexico City was a treat — messy and strange and neverending and exciting. I met Brett Schultz, thanks to Lia’s kind introduction, and visited Yautepec, the gallery he runs with his girlfriend Daniela. Currently, a show called “Shoot” is up, showing he work of Thomas Jeppe, Jason Nocito, Ola Rindal and Paul Schiek’s work. It’s a part of an international exhibition with different photographers showing at different galleries around the world. Brett showed me the wonderful bookstore Conejo Blanco that we happened upon on the way to the mezcaleria (mmm). I had mezcal that had been cured with chicken breast. Go figure.
The architecture blew me away, particularly the concrete architecture of Pedro Ramírez Vásquez — the architect of the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and the World Cup in 1970. He designed the Museo Nacional de Antropología in 1963 and the amazing Basilica of Guadalupe in 1974-6, which we visited by accident and I’m so glad I didn’t miss. It turns out that Enrique is related to the architect. In fact, the city in general blew me away, and I spent a fair amount of time just looking at things: looking out the windows of the hotel at the volcanos, the buildings, the presidential helicopters, the trees, the smog, the light, the low slung residential buildings in La Condesa, the concrete architecture all over the city, the 1956 Torre Latinoamericana skyscraper. There’s nothing quite like it. I hear rumors that the next Postopolis will be held in Mexico DF– I’d love to go back.
In the next several days, after I recover from my oral exam, I’ll post pictures on Flickr from the trip. I’m also beginning to work on my dissertation proposal — it will incorporate the feedback I get tomorrow. My hope is to present it on March 10, in advance of South by Southwest and spring break at Princeton, which means that I have a very intense and busy month ahead of me.
Please think good thoughts for me between 2 and 4 p.m. EST. Wish me luck!

Vacation’s over

Parked the tractor!
Chula waits patiently
Me and Enrique at sunset
New year's eve sparklers

I'm packing up to leave Minneapolis and head back to New Haven for the start of my last semester of my master's degree. But *these* pictures are from the Texas leg of the trip.

I spent five days with Enrique's terrific family in San Antonio and on their ranch in Realitos, about 65 miles from the Mexican border. Exciting events included learning to drive a tractor, going to Cabela's (I have more pix to post from that itself), petting doggies (that's Chula, but there's also Chumina and Diego), playing with a fierce tiny baby kitty named Brisket, petting KC, the big black cat who likes hanging out under the Christmas tree. Fran, Enrique, Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez and I shot off fireworks on New Year's Eve. And I ate incredibly well. The Ramirez house is a vibrant and comfortable place. It was great to visit.

Then I came back to spend a long weekend with my family. It is wonderful to have these long breaks. I used to only see my family for a few days at a time. Now, I've been here for almost two weeks. I got to have beers with my brother Andy twice, go skiing with my nephews and Dad, play with Maddie, stay up late with my brother Ben, have multiple dinners with my Dad and Carol in North Oaks, where they live, and at my Mom's house with Chuck, my stepdad and outstanding cool. I even saw Darci, my stepsister, and her husband John a few times.

Managed to have a grade school class reunion… I will post something separate on that. Finished up a few freelance projects and an article for SXSWorld. Played The Sims 2 (with the Pet Expansion pack, my Christmas present from Enrique)
and a little World of Warcraft. Saw my best friend from high school, Melissa, and took
her out for something that wasn't hot dogs and Icees at Target.

The year will get going with a bang. We're putting on a colloquium and our second speaker is Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky (That Subliminal Kid). Our speaker lineup looks terrific and I'll write more as it gets official. We're putting on a symposium in late March. And then there's the issue of my thesis, which must be complete in April. If I can write 10 good pages a week, I should be able to do it. We only take one class this semester, a gigantic relief. There is so much to do.

Okay, time to head to the airport. Three hour layover at O'Hare, heavy rain in Connecticut. I don't want to jinx it, but I have to wonder whether I'll make it all the way there tonight…

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My 2006 cities

Anil, inspired by others, listed his 2006 cities. I did last year, too. Here are mine. Asterisk means multiple visits.

  • Realitos, TX
  • San Antonio, TX*
  • Austin, TX*
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN*
  • New Haven, CT* (where I live)
  • New York, NY*
  • Seattle, WA
  • Cambridge, MA*
  • Seekonk, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Bangalore, India* (lived there for the summer)
  • Hampi, India
  • London, UK
  • Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Orange County, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Montreal, Quebec* (twice in two weeks)

Twenty cities. Three continents. Numerous visits to Texas, where I am now: my boyfriend's family lives in San Antonio and has a ranch in Realitos… but I was in Austin both for a quick visit last January and for SXSW, and in Dallas on a business trip. I've been to Minneapolis three times since August. And I can't count all my NYC trip… six? Eight? I did two in one week in December.

My head spins.

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