experiment: jewelry design

"The Indo-European root of the word 'art' is 'to arrange' or 'fit together, join.' In this light, art can be pared down to its most simplistic form. We begin by collecting, then playing with the materials or objects, organizing them in a variety of ways, making new combinations, trying things, then observing the arrangements we have made." -Ker Smith

Most jewelry doesn't really enthuse me. So I thought I'd try my hand at making some that does. After all, if all art is is collecting and arranging and rearranging the arrangements, who says I can't clew my talents, throw the output at the wall and see what sticks. This wall turns out, is the interweb.

Here it is in stage one of production, the conceptually driven


See the entire collection here. Just in time for Christmas, might make some cool gifts for the females in your life, or for yourself? Just sayin.

what i have learned:

1- Collaboration is key. And it's really convenient to have talented and beautiful friends. Thanks to Christina, Becca, Hunter, Jared for their conceptual feedback, Emily for some stellar modeling, and Lucy and Megan for their time and talents and lovely images.

All studio shots by Lucy Call (801.647.0758) , all museum shots by Megan Stay. Both are highly recommended.

2- Getting started is pricey.

3 - I am really quite fascinated by bugs and entomology displays. And the Linnaean system, which is why each piece (or "specimen") comes with its own unique Linnaean classification identification, so you can know the genus and species of the item you wear.

4 - I have creative ADD. I wanted to abandon this project like 387 times and start up a variety of other projects and hobbies including being a glass blower's apprentice (for real). Where is my creative ritalin already?

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experiment: ebay

after i bought $2000 bucks worth of jcrew wares for $200 at that discount sale / college reunion, i decided to unleash my entreprenurial spirit on the internet world. lord knows my boyfriend and i only need so much cashmere in our wardrobe before we turn into this.

so i did what like-minded americans have been doing for over a decade: decided to try this thing called ebay. i've never bought or sold anything off ebay before, but the interface was pretty intuitive and within an hour i had created a profile and listed the following four items - brand new italian cashmeres and lambswools - in total retailing about $400.

and to my delight, it worked! people wanted all but this yellow, Mondrian-esque one. C'mon! that's hands down the coolest! I was sad to see it go up online to begin with, but Jared is built more european than american and wasn't pleased with the fit. Does anyone want to buy this off me for a very reasonable rate? It's a men's medium and could make a great holiday gift, or half of a Bert and Ernie costume.

what i have learned:

- start the bidding low.
no one will initially bid on a 82 dollar cashmere sweater. start it at $48 and let it work its way up to $82.

- get a hot model.
most everything (at least in the men's section) was just laid out on carpeting in poor lighting. it's better to see how it looks on.

- offer free shipping. (up the price to compensate).
that holy orange dot just might seal the deal.

- who doesn't love a good sweater vest?
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experiment: femalery

i'm generally not obsessed with my appearance.

unbelievable, i know. i still remember about 5 years ago the moment i made the decision to ditch the concert tshirts and jeans and tie dye and neon adidas sneakers (okay, so i still have these last ones) and start dressing more like a Girl. i wasn't like Paula Poundstoning it or anything, but I wasn't very femme. and you can only be told you resemble a "street urchin," "bag lady," and "war refugee" by your relatives so many times before it shames you into making a drastic change. plus no one wanted to date me.

i am kind of obsessed with eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. i have been since my first viewing, back in 2004. not only is it somewhat of an intellectual throwdown, it's also emotionally resonant, and i probably cry each time i watch it. weep and weep and feel nostalgic (for no one in particular).

anyway, i was watching it recently and was thinking about kirstin dunst's hair. she pulled off this Swiss Miss coiffure in a really rocking way. i've wanted to try this girly (girl-ish?) updo, but my hair's never quite been long enough since i chopped it all off four years ago. but the other day, it was just long enough to hack it. so i made it up as i went along, with no instructions or help, just about two elastics and 60 pins. so what do you think? will this finally seal my acceptance into Girl Community?

who wears it best:



or challah?

what i have learned:

nothing. absolutely nothing.
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experiment: character analysis

so there was this guy I was into my freshman year. a real hip guy. so hip, in fact, that at first, I mistook him for retarded.

pardon my political incorrectness, but let’s call a spade a spade for a minute. and let me be candid here, those were my exact thoughts the first time I saw him – “is he hot, or retarded?” So if you are uncomfortable with that term, just substitute “extra righteous” in its stead.

but really though, the line is fine between the two. there seems to be some recent character rule that whoever the hippest is, also looks the most handicapped. this is not always the case, but there is some undeniable correlation. it actually becomes a little silent game I play to divert myself: who likes Lambchop and who likes Lambchop? Who just spent their lunchbreak looking through the denim rack at DI, and who just took their DI lunchbreak? hard to tell.

INT: Smith’s grocery store, night.

He was classically good looking, big brown eyes, disheveled hair, like a roughed-up Milo Ventimiglia. wearing a one-piece brown long john, booties (untied, laces askew) , and –well, guess this is the most economical way to say this —retard glasses (these will be important later on). All the immediate signs pointed to handicapped, but my fascination remained. America and Kate were with me, caught me looking incredulously in his direction, and together uttered a preemptive, though tardy, “no.”

“what?” I said. “he’s hot!”

“no.” they said, and kept walking toward produce.

“yeah, or maybe he’s retarded." i said, looking back at him. "I can’t tell.”

“it’s the latter,” kate said.

and I wanted to believe her, but I was intrigued and needed to know if this was someone I could have a romantic future with, or if those hopes should be dashed.

“it’s all in the eyes,” I said, hoping to believe this once voiced. "I just need eye contact. I'll be right back."

I proceeded to follow the magnetic little creature around the store, daring him to look me in the eye, so I could determine, as I had hypothesized, whether he was hot or retarded. I needed a recognition, a smile, an acknowledgment, a sudden tongue-kiss, something.

but he wouldn’t look at me! or anywhere near me! he kind of just looked around to himself, muttering and scratching himself and standing in front of the sausage case for an uncomfortably long time. it was hard to be a spy when my subject was so, I don’t know, docile. boring. And I couldn’t just stand next to him all that time without giving up the ruse. I pretended to read labels on an end-cap display, but you can only do that for so long before someone questions your mental stability.

I saw him heading down the frozen foods isle. I quickly ran down to the end of the aisle next to his isle and cornered it so we’d pass each other going opposite directions. I stared him down, but he walked past me as if I wasn’t there.

Eventually he moved on toward dairy, still without any groceries and no apparent interest in me or anything else in the store.

Deflated, I trotted back to my shopping cohorts to give the verdict.

“Can’t tell. but I’m leaning towards retarded.” I said. “But I’m still attracted to him.”

The three of us continued our shopping for another ten minutes, and pulled up to the check out lines when what do you know, there he was next to us, Mr. Special (Needs?), carrying –let me be exact –a 2 liter bottle of store brand grape soda, and a package of hot dogs. no buns in sight. that was it.


Amy and Kate congratulated themselves on their judgment call, and I slung a sack of mini wheats over my shoulder and headed out to the parking lot.

And there he was, outside, chatting up a girl in my geology lab. and they were having a normal conversation as far as I could tell, smiling and laughing and sharing anecdotes that probably don’t involve accidentally mistaking finger nail polish for a condiment.


I stood corrected. And slightly ashamed. So there it is. what a strange world. what a strange bird.

EXT: Smith’s parking lot, night. FADE OUT.

Later that year I’d see “Hot or Retarded Boy” (as he came to be known) around occasionally, at shows, or the old Diego’s, or walking down University scribbling away to himself about who knows what. I never intended to initiate anything. he was too interesting an observational specimen to actually get involved somehow. and then he eventually faded away entirely, a hyperbolic figure only to be brought up at dinner parties, during lulls in conversation.

i met him again, quite inadvertently, about 5 years later, when he, i, and our mutual friend carpooled to salt lake for a show.
I honestly hadn’t thought about him for a few years. but there he was, in the car when she came to pick me up. I had to catch myself from loudly exclaiming “Hot or Retarded!,” myself like the latter, proudly recognizing and properly naming a Person, Place or Thing and expecting accolade or a vanilla wafer in return.

HoR looked slightly less handicapped this time, dressed like any ol' hip kid, but somehow he looked crazier. and it was something in his eyes that told me this. it was like he hadn't closed them at all in the last five years.

I introduced myself, and then said nothing else. And after spending a bit of time pretending I didn’t know him, hadn’t had jokes with friends at his (and my, per my attraction) expense, I came to conclude he was actually more than sufficiently intelligent. just marched to his very own, very small and musically difficult to decipher drum. good for him.

long post short, I bought some glasses recently.

Climactic, huh?

I didn’t realize it until I made jared try them on for fun, that they are eerily similar to the glasses HoR was wearing. what does this mean? what does this MEAN!

Hot and Not At All Retarded Boy

what I have learned:

don’t judge a book by its long johns.
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experiment: friendly persuasion

or: what advertising has taught me about politics.

i still don’t know who I’m voting for in november. really.

in hopes of maintaining as much objectivity as possible, I’m trying to sort through all the hype and SNL skits and meaningless statistics and mudslinging and get to the meat of the situation. the issues. and I’m having a hard time contextualizing just about anything. just about every “fact” is contradictory. though it might seem unpopular or unwise to even still be considering a republican candidate, I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t still try try try to garner facts late in the game. though mccain has a crazy lazy eye and palin sounds a bit folksy and uneducated, I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I hate to judge a book by its cover, or even its prologue, or amazon rating. same goes with team obama.

now, a word on branding. and the point of this political epistle.

coming from a branding back ground, it’s always fascinated me how people are so influenced by a brand. and why shouldn’t they be? there are people whose full time jobs it is to segment every micro-niche of a population, demographic-designators (and sometimes market designers, shudder) who know what product to sell to whom, when, and how to sell it to them. they’re smart. they’re sneaky. they’re subtle manipulators. remember those truth, anti-tobacco ads that have been running for the past 5 years or so? remember how Big Tobacco was segmenting some of their customers? to a T? and how they would convince people to smoke and keep smoking? Well, I’m a far cry from a politico, but I can guarantee you this much, the tactics employed by political branding and campaign managers are just as deeply specific and shady as Big Tobacco's. I know motives are different here, and that's the big difference, but you know what I mean.

this might come as a patronizing, underwhelming shock, but you, me, and miranda july have ALL been targeted this way! outrage! very specifically. and marketed to in a way that is hard to understand, but whose techniques have undergone rounds of focus groups and ethnographies, and in the end, mister advertiser knows that you are 24, drive a pontiac hatchback, subscribe to Wired, and eat chicken vindaloo four times a month. they know to get you they'll need to say the following key words: "energy-efficient" "change" "maverick" "web 2.0" blah blah blah. and then they strike when it's hot (2am on facbook) with a carefully tailored message that makes you think "Gee you're right, I must be a Obama/McCain type of person!"

And you might not be completely wise to this scheme, because the whole point of effective branding is to convince your target market of the superiority of a brand UNCONSCIOUSLY. so when they’re shopping at target and have to choose between Method and Softsoap, they automatically go for Method, for reasons they can sometimes articulate, but often times cannot. it equates to a feeling, an impulse. Also, Method has just undergone a package redesign and comes in hipper bottle with less clutter and copy, so why wouldn't you? But does it clean better than Softsoap? Doubtful. and in the end, you’re paying for aesthetic. a prettier package.

I have to say, the brand of Barack Obama has been very good from the start. He’s had the fortune of good designers, good marketers, a flock of celebrity endorsers who petition his cause and his good name all over the internet. his campaign understood new media and how to milk support from online communities from the get-go. the “maverick” was, unsurprisingly, a little late on the draw. so even initially, from a branding standpoint, it was good to be Barack Obama. What can I say, he’s a Mac.*

And he sounds like he has some good ideas and simple (if vague) summations for how to put our country back on track. (or rather, to pick it up from the fiery rubble that used to be a track and brush it off). I’m not afraid of people voting for Barack Obama. instead, my fear is this: too many people may be voting for Obama the Brand™ instead of Obama.

don’t get me wrong, he's appealing to me as well. what's not to like? he’s attractive, clean cut, presentable, articulate, confident, general good orator and seems like a generally good man with good motives. and I hope he is, because I may be voting for him in 4 weeks. maybe I’m just hyper-aware and paranoid because of my ad background, but something in Barack, seems, well, too good to be true. too. . . crafted. it's like i can just see what that first meeting (for him and mccain) was like where all the campaign managers, image consultants, branders, designers, etc sat huddled around a conference table and said: "okay, how can we sell him to soccer moms? how can we mobilize college kids?" you know! I've just been in those meetings too many times. it's so much about image and perception.

i like the IDEA of Obama. will I like the reality? and am I frightened by the prospect of voters who opt for him without really investigating what a Obama White House would mean? the point of this whole thing isn't to say, don't vote Dems, but is to say, think about why it is you're voting for him. or if you're leaning GOP, the same goes for y'all. I know it hurts, but baby, be a little self-analytical. for those of you who already have/are, good on you.

My other fear here is that people have sided with Obama because of what he is not. He is not GWBush. he has kind of been branded as the anti-bush, an antidote to bush and all bushness. Understandably, Americans are anxious for "Change®" after a corrupt and disappointing administration. I am one of them. But I hesitate to vote for Obama soley on grounds that he is NOT bush. That being said, If you (and I) are going to elect him as our next president, do so because of what he IS. not just because he represents some epistemological enemy to your enemy (Bush).

Let me reiterate. I’m not anti-Obama. I’m not pro-Obama. Same goes for McCain. Although part of me loves an underdog, and also feels like the McCain ticket has been treated a bit unfairly. Fair and Equal Time? not to my knowledge. I’m an avid NPR-ite, but I’ve got to say, everytime I turn on the radio it’s Barack Story Hour with Michele Norris. Everyone has their biases, not least of all news organizations, but I’m just saying. If nothing else, this election year shows us the tremendous role media plays as a political influencer. did the first presidential get-together remind anyone else of the JFK/Nixon debate? the young, handsome candidate vs. the semi-saggy, less attractive, abuser of the auditory? (i really can’t stand his voice).

if you think I’ve let mccain and sidekick off the hook in all this, I haven’t. I just think they've endured the majority of the mocking for geninue (but lots of superficial) hmm, shall we say “missteps?” and do me a favor when you watch the next debate (as well as in the future): try to ignore colloquialisms, hairplugs, or freakishly skinny necks, and listen to what people are actually SAYING. and whether they're spouting off nice-sounding slogans written by some copywriter or are getting to the hard and fast specifics of the situation.

so wrapping up. if upon further investigation I vote for Obama, I’m assuming it’s friendliness as usual between you (internet audience) and me. But know that If I vote for McCain it was because I genuinely felt it was right, and my integrity wouldn’t let me get out of it. To mine own self vote against universal healthcare, government bailouts, and gay marriage.

If you have actual facts (in CONTEXT!!!) that might be helpful for an indecisive moderate like me, let me have em.

what I have learned:

- it’s hard to know where one can go to get unbiased information.
- the power of branding is pretty amazing.
- SNL has really lucked out by having a cast member who could double as a vp nominee. it's almost too easy for them this season, but it may prove to be their saving grace.

*i was not the first to use this analogy, but i should have been! i've been saying it since march! stupid ny times, stealing my thunder.

**it should be noted, that when it comes to politics, it is very likely i don't know what i'm talking about. take my opinions for what they are - opinions. but in terms of branding, listen to mama.
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experiment: graduate school

are you ever sitting somewhere, in some present or ongoing situation and thinking, "mis-take." or "esoteric bullshit." (pardon my language, but c'mon, if you don't use at least four four-letter words every hundred or so, what sort of creative writer upholding the face of academia ARE you!?) if you've felt these feelings, then you, friend, will know of my troubles. well, troubles no more.

using disgusting amounts of agency, i withdrew from the MFA.

yep, that's right. didn't even make it a semester. and it's too late to apologize. too late. rather, ladles and gentleminds, i offer you this promise.

"Shine on you crazy diamond!" you yelled.

I've heard your call. and i've heeded. Indeed, i've heeded. and I will shine on, i swear it. I shall sally forth into other recreations! creative entrepreneurialism, netflix binge, debilitating bouts of self-doubt and second guessing, pie challenge, - - - here i come!

i really hate to solicit praise, but i think some congratulations are in order here.

what i have learned:
I - capital C creative capital W writing is not necessary for creative writing. (i'm really counting on this hypothesis to pull through for me). though the structure is nice.

II - grad school is neither the answer nor the question.

III - but it's not that hard.

IV - a raven is really nothing like a writing desk.

V - having a university dress code was actually kind of nice.
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experiment: new york, new york

here it is. my one thousand word photo-essay of the city where i lived, i loved, i learned, i alliterated. it was difficult to narrow it down to an image that captured the city as I saw it and would like to remember it, but this one really slams it on its enormous, schizophrenic head. trying to reduce new york to just one image initially seemed impossible. but what is more improbable is trying to do the place justice. you know how awesome it is, you've been there, you've seen, you've experienced how it felt, and how, inexplicably you just feel different there (assuming you didn't spend all your time in midtown). i don't need to harp on about it or list all the reasons it's the second greatest city on earth (sorry, new york, old york still takes the cake, or trifle? london, see.) ah, city livin'.

what i have learned:

place is important. but people (like two fancy old friends or two sunning lovers) make the place, and though lots of my proper-noun-loves are still in new york, what can i say - i left my heart in provo. for however much i fought it, person eventually trumps place. check.
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experiment: hip hop ononomous

so there's this friend of mine--a state champion, collegiate gymnast. she can do things with her arms and legs that i consider impossible for most bipeds. she recently came to visit and wanted to check out a dance class while in town.

"dance class? that sounds fun! like ballet? argentine tango? highland jig?. . . . hip hop? . . . . um. . . . you know, on second thought, my doctor advised me against putting undue lateral pressure or movement on my ankle, so i may have to pass." (pansyfied truth, but truth nonetheless.)

justified, right? hip hop is one of the few genres i feel completely debilitates me. i'm at a dance party, i'm going strong to some inxs or css, and then - smack! - metaphorical brass knuckles to the face! how do i move my arms? how do i move my legs? what do i do with my butt! quick!! what do i do with my butt!! and what about my cardigan? can i swing it around my head like a helicopter--would that be cool? a mid-air cardigan-swing?

(refresher: i am the girl who in 9th grade uttered the infamous, "so, is there a girl in Ja Rule?" smart, huh? look, i know what OPP is (and am definitely not down with it) and can rattle off the lyrics to "shoop" like the fourth member of the group, who i like to think would've been a Latina called Paprika, but that is about it. want to have a debate about East coast vs west coast rap, or about Biggy Smalls vs Biggy Biggins? I will warm the forensic bench and watch you work it, flip it and reverse it.)

And the thought of going with Splits Pommelhorse to a breaking class? confidence-breaking.
as far as dance is concerned, she's darren's dance grooves, and i'm a stake road show waiting to happen.

"but adrienne," said the petit quadridexterate," this is an experiment. you always like trying things out."

word, ken-dawg. i'm down with science. let's do it.

not knowing what to wear, and not having any appropriate attire even if i had, i put on my running clothes. no not the fancy new york ones--skin-tight and anti-gravity, but the old cross country tee and soccer shorts. she looked a little more hip hop than me in baggy green pants and a tank top, but not by too much. i was feeling up to the occasion.

the class, a weekly session in a old studio near union square, was taught by, get this, Angel.

angel feliciano. choreographer to the stars. he's big time. been on mtv. worked with J.Lo, people. he came in, introduced himself to the newbies (most were recurring characters, ones who looked like they belonged) and wasted no time getting us "loose."

i jockeyed for position in the back, as close to the door as possible. facing the mirror, he looked into it and back at me, silently calling me on my back-row cowardice. eek, not a good way to get in cherub's graces. he turned on his music machine and out poured the sickening smooth of usher raymond. this song. and everyone started dancing. and it looked really good. all 12 or so of them looked like BET all stars. i stood there, rocking inward on my sauconys and fidgeting with my ponytail. i felt like lance bass at the playboy mansion. i felt like the girl who likes metaphors but doesn't ever have the patience to dig for the right one.

"ok, y'all. let's slow this waaaay down," angel said, answering my prayers. "from the top."

he proceeded to go through each step, slowed down sufficiently, so even i could get it. after teaching the new kids on the block about 16 bars or so, we'd stop, turn on the song from the beginning and run through the new routine. the regulars looked bored. in spite of everything, it was unexpectedly fun. though i did hamper my progress because of my intense focus on each individual move and not on the collective seamlessness of the routine. i looked jerky. i looked a little square-dancey. and catching a glimpse of my own reflection in the mirror, was making an extremely square-dancey face. maybe, i said to myself, it's because i'm just a beginner.

looking right to Balance Beam Betty, i deflated. she had it down to a science. stupid quick learner.

after finally learning the first 30 seconds or so and feeling comfy enough to move up near the middle of the floor, i suddenly saw a blip appear on my confidence meter! haha, you tricky dancers, i too have learned your steps! but before i could fully revel in my ability to mimic and memorize, angel stepped it up a notch. crap.

the second half of the class was spent in a desperate attempt to just keep up, not even trying to learn anything new. legs and arms flailed about, cascades of sweat falling over the "Sha" and "sion" of my Shawnee Mission shirt. and sauconys? the completely WRONG shoes to wear. most dancers in the class were wise to the fact that you need to wear something with a bare sole for smooth sliding across the wood floor. hey, i'm learning. then finally, after 35 minutes of making me feel simultaneously pumped and depressed, angel called it quits.

"for those of y'all who are new, come say hi before you take off." (he was super nice, i gotta say that much).

Gymnastia and i obediently trotted over to the front of the studio.

"I'm Naturally Talented," she said, outstretched hand.

"I'm from Kansas" I offered, only later realizing this wasn't a name but an apology.

what i have learned:

Hip hop = hard. If you can't pop or lock, you're going to look a fool trying to dance in a hip hop class. Learn fundamentals of those first.

Hip hop = fun. I even liked the Usher song at the end, and the two of us kept breaking out in our dance routine on the N train.

And be sure to catch me on my new reality TV show this fall, "So You Don't Think You Can Dance, Fatty Fatpants?" starring Me, Bruce Vilanch, and Elaine Benes!
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experiment: botany, or Why I Can't Have Nice Things

plants are fascinating, aren't they? little green disturbances that annoy as often as astonish. annoy because you spent 3/4 of your life picking weeds, and the other 1/4 mowing what seemed like acres of parched kansas lawn. using a hatch-job lawnmower. and with a discman duct taped to your sweaty teenage torso.

don't get me wrong, i like plants as much as the next person who doesn't like plants. that is, to say, i enjoy the scenery. i've even recently voyaged to the bowels of brooklyn to enjoy the botanical gardens in all their rose colored glory. and i'm partial to showers of romanticism and dream about a future in the oregonian rain forest, establishing homestead in the magical blueberry fields that surround my estate. but TEND to plants? to quote a london prof, "not i, said the duck."

so to acquaint myself with the wonders of creation, i bring you a preparatory step toward fauna fantasia--my little eggling!

finally! something for the homeowner who loves eggs and strawberry plants and novelty trinkets! don't you just adore the Japanese!

actually the first thing that crossed my mind when I opened the gift bag was a flash of a certain jr high home ec teacher's face. she had assigned "egg babies" to "couples" to "rear." or at least keep from cracking. to see how responsible these 13 year olds could be and to teach them, just how darn HARD it is to take care of an egg. this was perhaps her misguided attempt to a) teach adolescents responsibility and regard for anything other than self, and b) to keep them FAR FAR away from each other's genitals. yay for conservative midwestern sex ed, in which we have to use symbolic eggs in place of real ones.

this is your brain on _______.

i was excited at my new undertaking. if friends of mine could care for babies, i shouldn't balk at tending to an egg plant. egg plant. and strawberries! that's an exciting combination. it's got murakami written all over it, right? kaikai! kiki! riding a giant strawberry egg through the sky!

here is my eggling in its early infancy. i name it Dottie, an homage to the new york wit, ms. parker.

for 4 days i love dottie like the satirist daughter i never had. and then, tragically, in a freak watering accident

sunny side dooowwwwn!

oh the cruelty of hardwood floors! poor little dot, taken at the tender age of 96 hours.

the proof is in the photos, people. i am not fit to be a plant caretaker.
i am ashamed.
i have hazardous hands, consistent poor luck, and my possessions take the heat for it.

don't believe me?

(it's is a more a maniacal weeping than it is a gentle. 1997-2008 RIP.)

what i have learned:

you probably shouldn't let me babysit, or watch your yacht in the off season.
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experiment: contesting

how couples in closely related fields manage to avoid the pitfalls of competition is always astounding. the notion of “group work” is anathema to me. (too many cooks! get out of my creative kitchen! Don’t even think about touching my grilled cheese!) however. however. i’ve realized, because of those twin towers of intransigence and arrogance, i’ve actually missed out.

see, jared won a very cool contest, accompanied by laud and a bag o goodies. we were able to work on much of this together and i honestly think we (and the project) were the better for it. but still, it was him that won. he reaped the fruits. and yes, i was genuinely excited for him, and yes, i do want a talented friend to get the recognition he very much deserves. but hey, wait a minute! what about me? don't cut-ME-out, uncle joey. i need to win something, too!

these incessant, internal “me-toos!” coupled by a simply awful work month, tripled by my feelings of creative flabbiness—led me to start looking for creative contests of my own.

the first i found was accidental, on jaman.com—a very cool, alternative distribution site for foreign and low budget domestic films (intentional plug, i actually think it’s cool). we’d met the founder just weeks ago at a tribeca thing and after jared interviewed him, i wanted to check out the site for myself. and i ran across a promo--$1000 to whole foods for the best review of the documentary “super size me.” it seemed, i don’t know, five years too late to be running such a show, but i figured, hey, i’ve seen it, i can write, i can win this thing. i can join my boyfriend in the winner’s circle. so, with HIS input and feedback, i wrote a slightly ridiculous "review" of the movie. and thanks very much to kith and kin, i won! that's right. i can call myself a winner.

(hopefully, i will prove to be proficient in more than just food-centric writing. the first time i traded words for dollars was when i won a creative arts contest as an undergrad --500 bucks for a poem that was more or less about, yeah, wal-mart.).

you know that feeling, when you’re type type typing away, or designing away, or sautéing away, or strumming away, or accounting away, or biologizing away, or experimenting-away, and you suddenly realize --- hey, i could do this. not just now, but for a living? do you? it’s (peacefully) intoxicating, and somehow, a firm ground.

but could i be better? working with another? or was this just a fluke?

this is a question i am trying really hard to answer. and maybe it will find itself, and maybe it will take its sweet time, and maybe, like Rilke suggests, i should learn to live the questions. and though i am starting to see the fruits of collaboration, that doesn’t mean healthy competition is wrong, right? in romantic relationships and in all others? what if it makes me want to be better?

i am competitive, certainly. i used to have intense soccer matches to channel this, but now i can make anything a contest. what do you want—i’m a scorpio. hear me scuttle silently, strike, and watch my victims seethe in pain. hahahah. just kidding, i am Nice scorpion. who is trying hard to become less of a contestant even if it kills me or means i have to share or expose my vulnerabilities and creative ideologies to criticism and revision.

what I have learned:


since beginning the reluctant, solipsistic shed, i’m feeling much better about TEAMWORK. and more than the proof (mostly for myself) of being able to win, and more than the impending whole foods shopping spree (hello, 21 dollar a pound cheeses!) maybe collaboration can be better than going it solo. (turns out, not everyone will in fact, burn my grilled cheese. some will take it to a level of cheesy, gooey perfection.)

goodness, look how long this is. you know who i want to collaborate with next? an editor.
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experiment: missionary

aka the longest blog EVER

i went street contacting with the missionaries on saturday in times square. it was scary and exciting and cool. as someone who hates being approached by pretty much everyone, i also hate approaching people who are strangers and asking them for a minute of their time. (i have the utmost respect for those who do this long term—shout out to alex, my brother in argentina!)

no doubt you’ve seen the Mormon missionaries around at least a few times in your life – white shirt and tie (men) and modest skirt/dress (women) and tried to avoid them or walk a bit faster so you don’t have to look them in the eye. c’mon, i know how it is. well on saturday, i volunteered to team up with them for a few hours. watch out!

i wondered if there would be much competition in such a TOTALLY INSANE part of town as Times Freaking Square—there are always (manic) street preachers declaring fire and brimstone at the top of their lungs. i wondered how we could compete, with what i’m sure some think is a comparably crazy message (it’s not. really). i happened to be working with the sister missionaries (one who used to be one of Jared’s film students--weird). our directive was to tell people a bit about our faith and invite them to attend a church service in one of our many manhattan chapels. simple.

some were “too busy.”

some thought we were handing out free tickets to something, and were disappointed when no, it wasn’t a free sandwich coupon after all (sorry) or a ticket to a pre-screening of the Love Guru (not sorry, you should be ashamed of yourselves).

some were Muslim and didn’t want to hear anything about Christ. but they were nice about it.

i’m sure some talked with us just because we were two attractive twenty-somethings. whatever, catch’em with honey i guess.

some tried to sell us knockoff handbags. very aggressively.

some people were on the phone.

some had earbuds in, undoubtedly grooving to that tres annoying “bleeding love” ditty that entertainment weekly, in a clearly unprophetic and unfortunate manner, has just named the song of the summer.

but most people were really receptive. they expressed that they often felt confused about the idea of God or salvation, they didn’t know who they really were, where they came from, why they struggled with particular challenges, the purpose of life, etc. most people were happy to hear us reassure them of our belief in God’s love for us all, that His church is on the earth, and He has a plan for them. some expressed their existential crises and prodded us for some sort of therapy, which i didn’t feel qualified to give – hello! i’ve got my own stuff to figure out, called “being an adult,” before i can dole out that kind of advice to others. and then many echoed our testimonies of Christ and the importance of family, etc.

it was cool to see how people i didn’t know minutes before, grew to understand that Mormons weren’t just some kooky polygamist sect but A) that we were nice, educated and articulate and B) that what they believed about God and Christ and what we believed weren’t really so different. to come to commonality. that was the most rewarding.

in fact, almost all those we spoke with, even if they weren’t interested, were really nice.

there were a few who weren’t though, and even though I ALWAYS WANT TO ARGUE ALWAYS AT ALL TIMES ABOUT EVERYTHING, at that point i (miraculously?) didn’t feel argumentative, but rather just smiled and wished them a nice day.

but really, so many people we ran into have no idea what we believe or have totally wrong interpretations of Mormonism! if anything, i really get upset when people who don’t even know me tell me what i believe! thank you, but as someone who lives with ME i know what i believe. i don’t want to be a Christian apologist. i’ll leave that to CS Lewis, who does a much better job than i ever could, but please Internet, let me set it straight (because there are so many misrepresentations and so much hilariously false info out there):

What I Believe, in My Own Words (i was going to call it The Gospel According to Adrienne, but that feels like it might somehow tow the line of sacrilege):

1. God: i believe in God. i believe He created me and loves me unconditionally.

2. Jesus Christ: i believe in Jesus Christ. i believe He is the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

a few people refused to talk with us on the grounds that, “you’re mormon, you don’t believe in the same Jesus that we do.”

um, no. i can assure you the Jesus you believe in (if you are Christian) is the exact same one i believe in. call me crazy, but i think Mary only had one immaculately conceived son, certainly not two twins both called Jesus. so please, don’t tell me it’s not the “same Jesus”—that’s like saying there are two Thom Yorke’s and you believe in one and i believe in another. guess what—there’s only one of him, (and one working eye), and just because you prefer Kid A while i will forever extol the virtues of The Bends, doesn’t mean they came from different people. (i’m listening to radiohead today, that’s why i picked his name out of the air. i do not mean to compare Yorke to Christ, although i guess he could be called rock deity). Ill analogy? Perhaps.

i believe Christ atoned for our sins and died on the cross and was resurrected. “Mormon” is a nickname. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the real name. hence, i believe it is HIS church, He is at the head of it, just like He was in the days of the original 12 apostles. CRUX!!: HE is in the center of my faith, everything else is just an appendage (important yes, but supporting).

3: Joseph Smith: He is not a God. I do not worship him. in fact he is very mortal, and made plenty of mistakes. no prophet is perfect because –eh, they are mortal. that’s true for those in the Bible or in the Book of Mormon. God works through all sorts of people, qualified or not.

4: Polygamy: nope. not us. don’t trust Big Love, no matter how much you loved Bill Paxton in Apollo 13. (man, i am abounding in good works AND pop culture references today!)

here’s where what i believe becomes a bit different from quote unquote mainstream Christianity

4: Continuing revelation

okay. so prophets of old taught scripture from revelation received in their day. and as the books of the Bible were written, those new doctrines began to be preached. it didn’t all come at once, but as events transpired, those oral doctrines (and sometimes written, like all of the epistles of paul, james, etc) started being taught. so i believe that since God is the same yesterday, today and forever ad infinitum, he continues to work through His prophets like this and continues to reveal new things. He cares about us today as much as He cared about his children then. i know He still talks to us, with messages perhaps more relevant to 2008 than 8AD. just like Moses and Noah of old, there are prophets on earth today who can give us instruction and guidance for our time. God wouldn’t abandon us. He cares about us too much to stop talking to us altogether. God is definitely not dead.

5: Personal revelation aka prayer

i’ve been accused of being in a faith that breeds blind followers. that i just dutifully obey leaders and never question anything. that’s almost laughable in light of one of my church’s foremost beliefs that every person on the earth (LDS or otherwise) is entitled to a personal relationship with their creator. they can get their own confirmation of what the truth is, independent of any organized structure. ie- you don't always need a rabbi or priest to relate God's words to you, you are entitled to have Him to answer you directly. i believe in this personal sort of revelation—it’s called prayer. by praying, you’re talking to God, and He can answer you. sometimes He doesn’t though and then you must use your INTELLECT, REASON and agency to figure out what to do. my faith is an extremely participatory one. you cannot follow blindly, because you must be engaged, acting for yourself. the way my church is structured is so everyone has a role to play (teachers, bishops, librarians, publicity folks (hi mom!), leaders of auxiliary organizations etc). everyone, including clergy, is unpaid, and everyone works together as volunteers.

6: Families: Families are forever. we will be with our loved ones after we die. so naturally, eternal marriage is a reality. we believe that through the proper ordinances, it doesn’t have to be “till death do us part.” nope, we’re sticking together—in this life and in heaven. temples play into a big part of this, too. most of the sacred ordinances performed in temples are done so to perpetuate the concept of the eternal family. this is why geneology work is so important to mormons.

okay, that’s enough on my Mormon beliefs for one day, but still i always want to discuss and philosophize on the following topic — general to any breed of spirituality, organized or not, Christian or not.

I believe that faith is not the opposite of reason

the two can and do coexist. you can tell me they don’t but that’s like telling me i didn’t have honey nut shredded wheat for breakfast. i know from personal experience that i did, along with a few spoons of peanut butter. likewise, i know from personal experience and leagues of soul-searching that this is the case. so don’t tell me reason and faith don’t belong together because i have employed the use of both to get to where i am - spiritually, intellectually, emotionally.

i believe in science. i believe in evolution. i believe in God. that triad is not an incongruous one. sometimes i have to have faith in science, sometimes i have to have faith in spirituality. blind faith in science will get you just as far as blind faith in god. the unexamined life/religion is not worth living etc. etc

i just read this very interesting (secular) book —it had its problems and half-baked arguments for sure, but the core idea is something i find to be very prescient: that there are truths that cannot be discovered or quantified by science. i mean, the concept of Love is the one that always get used as the example, but beyond that. there are things even the rigors of science cannot explain. not to discredit science, there are also things faith, or Art in Lehrer’s case, can’t explain. i think the best way to find truth is some combination of the two.

i think people are often surprised to find that as someone to whom religion is so foundational, i also love and acknowledge science. that i can have a testimony of creationism and evolution (in parts). Darwin was right about a lot of things, but so was Christ. at the helm of the LDS church (the general authorities- our modern day 12 apostles) are prominent and respected neuroscientists, heart surgeons, chemists. none of whom have formal religious training, but are all very secularly sharp men, all critical thinkers—no strangers to reason.

as a super curious girl (from a young age) i’ve always questioned everything. i've continued to do so. my faith encourages critical analysis. if you disagree with something, you speak up. i have done this. Elena is a very good example of this and was constantly asking the hard questions when we were growing up (and now), sometimes to the frustration of our teachers who didn’t always know the answers off hand (they were volunteers after all), but i like that she dug hard until she could understand something.

okay, i’m stopping – i could honestly speak forever on this point, and it will have to be saved for another day because i am straying, straying. . . . straying . . .

in summation. our late prophet, Gordon Hinckley, often said this (speaking of our faith), and i love it:

“Well, it's either true or false. If it's false, we're engaged in a great fraud. If it's true, it's the most important thing in the world. Now, that's the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true.”

what i have learned:

i found out for myself that it is true. that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ . i found this out at age 24, using a killer combo of intellect, reason, and faith and a very cool personal spiritual manifestation that shall not be discussed herein. some of you who have known me as mormon from day one might think i've always known it's true. but i haven't. i've had glimpses here and there during the way, but i still questioned and questioned. it required lots of work and intense pleading with God, asking him to tell me if i was involved in a "great fraud," or if what i was doing was, in fact, real and true and pleasing to my Father in Heaven. that's not to say that now i'm set for life. noooo. far from it. i'm still at the early stages of my spiritual development. i've been severely humbled and am still learning and growing.

so. whether you buy it or you don’t, at least now you understand me a bit better. let me know if you want to know more or discuss anything, i looove talking about religion/spirituality and not just my faith, but all religions, creeds, what have you. and i’m not asking you to call the missionaries or covert to Mormonism tomorrow – i’m not one to push my beliefs onto others. most of my best friends do not share my faith. and that’s cool. i will let you believe what you believe as long as you (general public) let me do the same. this hasn’t been me proselytizing, hopefully it was more informative than anything. also, here is a good place to start for more information.
or, if you're within a stone's throw of a borough, you can go to the chapel on east 87th between 2nd and 3rd tonight! to hear Glenn Beck speak on What Mormons Believe. NExt week, the CFO of Citigroup (Gary something--aren't they all) will be speaking. Both should be good.

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experiment: pudding on the gross

what i have learned:

if, lazing on a sunday afternoon, you feel the urge to try to cheat the recipe and just cook rice and cook pudding and throw the two together, all you get is chocolate rice. i actually hypothesized as much, but just couldn't bring myself to break the sabbath and get the needed ingredients. obedience sometimes tastes a bit chalky.
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experiment: identity change


why do people call me this? how and when and where did it start?

i suppose at first it was for utility’s sake. it’s hard having more than one adrienne around. and since adrienne and i have been bosom friends since we were 10, and now are roommates, at some point along the way it happened to be easier for those around us to refer to us by our last names. that’s my theory, anyway.

well, to be precise, it started with soccer nicknames. two adrienne’s on the shamrocks was a lot. i think i’ll credit jeff thornburgh (or one of his daughters) with coining “Ace” and “AA,” for her and i, respectively—nicknames that passed in a sporting environment, but didn’t really fly elsewhere. that being said, certain individuals have gained the right to refer to us by those much quicker acronyms (you know who you are), and really, i don’t i know what i’d do if i ever visited the thornburgh’s and was called anything else besides “AA.”

but this “aggen” business is different. every time i’m summoned in such a way i flinch inside and feel like a swift pat on the rear is going to follow. “gee coach, i’d love to go back on the field and thrash those Huskies in the final playoff game, but you see, i’ve got this bum ankle, see. let Little Legs LaRue go in my place, coach."

you know!? really, gosh, sorry i’m such an absurdly fantastic natural athlete, but it’s not like i’m walking around in a pinnie all the time, right?

sports aside, it’s such a harsh word. it’s just so. . . . so. . .German. i certainly love it for how unique it is, but i dislike it because i think hearing it is a bit like the fresh sting of shrapnel in your face.


doesn’t it just sound like a detonation? don’t you just feel like the HJ is going to show up at your door, and start knocking over cabinets and end tables in a mad jew-hunt?* you almost have to shout it when you say it.

along the way, others have had their merry ways with it and taken the liberty of devising other pronunciations.

chateau salutes the motherland with a chesty “AHHHGUN!” in the manner of someone who subsists on a steady diet of barley and commercial concrete.

christina “aggens” all day and night when she’s off duty from admiring her boyfriend’s backside.

casey still “AA’s” on occasion. this is okay. this is nostalgic.

spencer tosses “dudes,” around like he does whippersnappers, and does so totally irrespective of gender.

kendra “A”s.

lindsey alarmingly “AGGEN!”s to lure me into the living room, only to find she is trying to seduce me into watching top model marathons. tricky, linds.

jared? he calls me “baby.” but not unless it’s followed with “Sinclair.” (really now, do you see a resemblance?)

i think the only person who actually calls me by my Christian name is The Other Adrienne.

but this “aggen” thing has caught on, dare i say it, and is by far the leader. so getting to the point, and i do have one,

i don’t really like being called by my surname.

so i decided it might be a fun experiment to start telling people, that yes, after all these years, they were in fact mispronouncing my last name. i thought maybe they’d feel guilty for having done wrong all these years and start calling me by the safer, “adrienne.”

commence name change.

i re-recorded my voicemail message telling the listener they’d reached the phone of “Adrienne Awhgun.”

i started correcting people left and right. i started referring to myself in the third person. i started looking for any excuse to use my full name.

cashier at pinkberry, i know you didn’t ask for my full name on that order, but i’m giving it to you.

i had, what i’d call, mixed success.

dan on voicemail: “Aaahgun? what?”
emily: “is that what you’re going by now? why?”
christina: “that’s not how you say it, is it? i think you’re lying."
courtney on voicemail: “Awegun? i love it, it sounds trendy.”

et al.

those who believed my lie quickly apologized, and clearly felt bad. and then i felt bad, too. even worse when they reverted to AWHGUN instead of ADRIENNE anyway! how dare they! foiled by my own foil! counter-foiled!

no one felt bad for their alleged gaffe, no one even remembered the next month, and soon they were back to their “aggen-ing” all over again!

ah me. the life of a liar. but now that you know of the stupid lengths i went to get a name change, maybe you’ll oblige me. please call me Adrienne. let it be said. i like my name. i like that it’s feminine, i like that it's french, i like that it has a meaning befitting me (dark, ha). i know your other names for me may be deeply deeply ingrained in your subconscious, but try at least.

what i have learned:

there’s no point in being a good liar if no one even cares about the lie. it's much easier to just ask for something if you want it, than it is to devise a scheme.

*this is not a racist statement, i love jews. they are kind enough to let me live in their city.
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experimental art(s) 2007

Consumer Reports: Faves and Raves and Fuzzy pants guh-lore

The danger in these lists is A) that my long term (meaning a year) memory eludes me, so that instead being of a fully true annual representation of what moved me and what I moved, I fear it becomes relegated to whatever I saw and did in Q4. And B) you sound like an accidental braggart. Or in some cases a very obviously intentional braggart. Guess which kind I am! You got it, totally intentional! Maybe as you read this entry I typed using my goldplated iPhone with a Zac Posen designed skin while listening to that Panda Bear covering Husker Du covering the Wiggles Japanese import on my portable walkman/turntable/vhs/cash register COMBO (charcoal grey) I bought off a rockabilly bum outside St. Marks Books while eating falafel with vegan mayonnaise hanging out with the Oldsen twins and Jemaine and Bret and Barack, you can call me on my totally unironically ironic pretense. Or else I’ll just quit whistling dixie and tell you what I liked in 2007.


FIRST: Under the Net
RUNNER UP: The Power and the Glory, Flying Leap, Lunch Poems, Walking on Water, The Rise of the Creative Class, Eve and the Choice Made in Eden
LET DOWNS: The Writing Life, The Alchemist, Actual Air


“I’m getting too old for this.” – Christina, at the Klaxons

FIRST: The Books - Bowery Ballroom (LDS prophet montage anyone?)
RUNNERS UP: Will Scheff -Sound FX, Sam Prekop - Sound FX, NY Phil -Shostakovich and Sibelius
LET DOWNS: Bonde do Role and Klaxons -Studio B, Kings of Leon -Apple Soho


FIRST: Kate Bush- Hounds of Love
RUNNERS UP: Efterklang-One Sided LP, Phosphorescent- Pride, Julie Doiron/Okkervil same name, Final Fantasy- He Poos Clouds, Okkervil River—Stage Names, Empress-The Sounds They Made, Jealous Girlfriends, Andrew Bird- Armchair Apocrypha
LET DOWN: how is it that I still don’t have in rainbows yet. Tsk on me.


“It got 93 percent on rotten tomatoes, I swear!” – Jared, post “Starting Out in the Evening,” a mawkish and poorly acted affair – oh wait--you have something to say, Naked Frank Langella? Guys, Naked Frank Langella has something to say! You don’t know how you got roped into this? You don’t know how you agreed to play opposite that one girl from Can’t Hardly Wait, what was her name- Denise Fleming? Well, you and me both Frank.

FIRST: The Lives of Others
RUNNER UP: 2 Days in Paris, No Country for Old Men, Away From Her, Live in Maid, Into the Wild, Fitzcarraldo
LET DOWNS: Autism! The Musical, 12:08 East of Bucharest, I’m Not There, Darjeeling Limited (had more of a response to the 12 minutes of Hotel Chevalier than to all of Darjeeling), Lars and Real Girl, Year of the Dog, Starting Out in the Evening,
WORST FILM OF 2007 AND PROBABLY OF ALL TIME: Everybody Wants to be Italian
BEST TITLE: I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With


BEST: Lion is King
RUNNERS UP: my dad falling asleep in Lion King, Frost/Nixon, Moonlight for the Misbegotten
LET DOWNS: Company, Mayhem Poets at Bowery Poetry Club






FIRST: Cheese! Glorious Cheese! Hot sausage and mustard!
RUNNERS UP: old fashioned w roasted peppers (Adrienne’s Pizzabar), gingerbread french toast (Kitchenette Uptown), alison’s pumpkin cheesecake (my place), pad kee mao (Chili Thai), west side story (Gandolfos Provo), biscuity biscuits (Rack n Soul), mushroom burger (Pop Burger)
LET DOWNS: the German food in New York City. Where is the good German food! And most Manhattan cupcakes! OVER-RATED.


FIRST: natural ice
RUNNERS UP: burts bees. I guess.
LET DOWN: why does no one sell natural ice anymore!!! Why does my boyfriend throw my LAST REMAINING TUBE out the window!!


FIRST: grey. with an e. not with an a.
RUNNERS UP: bone, purple, neon green, prism


FIRST: avoiding decision making
RUNNERS UP: navigating, puns, spooning, gym attendance, forgiving, opening up, eating entire pizzas in one sitting, arguing, creating the illusion of industry
LET DOWN: violin. really rusty.


FIRST: falling in love with the most brilliant, witty and talented man I’ve ever met.
RUNNERS UP: moving to NYC to live with my best friends, IFC!, Film Forum!, reading on a more regular basis, strengthening my testimony, getting some good story ideas on paper
LET DOWNS: long distance, mice in the house, didn’t write enough, midtown

what i have learned:
new york is good. i'm good. it's getting better all the time (duh da da duh da)
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