“‘To re-work reality’ I had written somewhere: temeritous, presumptuous words indeed–for it is reality which works and reworks us on its slow wheel.” -Lawrence Durrel, Clea

Um, where did April go? April was a cruel month in some ways, staying true to the T.S. Eliot poem, but let’s focus on the positive. When everything seemed to be going wrong (was going wrong), my parents decided to schedule an Easter vacation. Destination? Carolina Beach, N.C. Sign. Me. Up. During a tear-filled phone call the night before I was supposed to leave, my mom said, “Just make sure you get on the plane and we’ll make everything better.” Sounds good to me!

I leave really early the following day, so that even after a subway malfunction, I still manage to get through security two full hours before take-off. I plop down in a seat, realize to my dismay that LaGuardia doesn’t have wi-fi (doh!) and succumb to the effects of severe sleep deprivation. I wake up 15 minutes before take-off and still see everyone sitting at the gate, no movement. The take-off time has been pushed back 15 minutes. I wander off to go look at the snack and magazine selection, pondering coffee but concluding I’d rather pass out on the plane too because there’s no way I have the energy to work through Proust or book proposals. And then I hear my name–I’m being paged! “Passenger Kachmar, please come to Gate 4,” but my last name was butchered enough so I wasn’t sure if they were really paging me. She repeats it. Oh. I’m at the wrong gate. (It was glarey, for the record). Oh no. I run to the gate and am met with a stern, “Didn’t you hear us paging you all those times?” The plane is ready to take off. “No, I…er…fell asleep and then went to get snacks.” Oh dear…

Leave it to me to arrive at the airport the full two hours ahead and still almost miss my flight. My lack of travel skills continues to amaze me; I really don’t know how I do it! This almost tops when [I thought] I threw away my customs form in Mexico (but later found it when back in NYC) and almost wasn’t allowed back into the States, OR when I went to the airport a day LATE at Thanksgiving and the USAirways guy said, “Um, your flight left yesterday.” Anyway, I did make it, and even though I had to a) do work b) do taxes and c) think about health stuff, it was all very lovely and sunny and enjoyable. More pictures here.

I just got back from another escape, this time to Pittsburgh, where I finally ventured to The Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum where a HS friend of mine works. But not without a bump in road, of course: I have wanted to go to The Mattress Factory FOREVER, so of course 5 minutes before leaving, I get a terrible migraine. I sleep for 30 minutes and rally, determined to go, despite the blade through my head. What’s particularly funny is that the current exhibit is called, “Nothing is impossible.” The description reads: “If we consider that nothing is impossible and that anything can happen, how would we live differently? What could we envision? Where could we be? What can we hope for?” Yes, nothing is impossible indeed, I felt like I had waited my entire life before paying a visit to this museum and then I get a migraine. Envision? I see flashy lights and holograms. Hope for? Make it stop!!! Somehow I made it through a lot of audio and visual stimulation, including 3-D-glasses-wearing (kill me) and still managed to enjoy the place.

On the same street as The Mattress Factory is a row of writer residency houses, courtesy of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, each with some kind of work of art on the facade. (It reminded me, not visually but just concept-wise, of one of my favorite children’s books, The Big Orange Splot). “House Poem,” seen above, was the first house, and was the home of Huang Xiang, an exiled Chinese writer who was jailed many times for writing. For someone who occasionally complains about writing and their accompanying deadlines, it really made me think: what if I were not allowed to write? What if my life were threatened just for the act of writing? I can’t imagine…

While at home, my parents and I participated in Art All Night, an 18-hour long open, un-juried art show that took place at Iron City Brewery. And as if that weren’t enough creativity for the weekend, I finally got to do something I’ve wanted to do for about a year now: have a baking/cooking afternoon with my extended family, particularly my little cousin Joey who loves to cook and bake with his super duper cook/baker/crafter/jane-of-all-trades mom. On the menu: bread pudding, bacon pine cone cheese balls, pecan rolls, cinnamon raisin rolls and a baked Alaska. Gulp! My extended family is quite large and everyone cooks and bakes from scratch, but usually we arrive at whatever holiday dinner or party with the dishes in hand–we eat together, but we don’t cook or bake together. I thought it would be fun to do both!

When I awoke from the resulting food coma at home, I went looking through my “work desk” in the basement, where I did lots of art projects as a kid. I found pages and pages of hand-copied notes: recipes for bread dough, craft books to buy, lists of projects I wanted to make, instructions for a papier mache sculpture. You name it…. I came upon this list of projects, which my sister totally DEFACED with the word “dork” written over and over. She even adds a definition entry of dork. “Dork: doork, adj; Alicia, one having the characteristics of Alicia.” I think I’ll send her copies of the craft book coming out (it’s basically done!!!), or my magazine design work (coming soon!!!) with a copy of this and the message: “The dorkiness paid off, now didn’t it?”

Lastly, while I was in Pittsburgh, an event known as Veggie Conquest, a vegan baking/cooking competition was going on a few blocks away from my NYC apartment. I participated at the last one as an amateur chef, where we were instructed to make cranberry desserts. It was intense, but fun! This time around, I had the esteemed privilege of being a “sponsor,” which in my case means I donated some smiling crochet vegetables (arguably, some fruits, a bulb and a tuber also). Our Hen House put together a nice video of the event, and you see all the above crocheted items in attendance.