Monday, October 30, 2006

CWOS 06: Nurse's Office

The Nurse's Office residents: Barbara Hocker, Matthew Feiner, Rebecca Strom, and myself. I loved these three, their work, and sharing a space with them.

Photos from the weekend: visitors must walk through Barbara's shadow forest to find me, Matt's intense 5 year scrapbook room, Rebecca's laundry lines, my collages, a man being mosaic-ed.

Wearing rollerskates the whole weekend promoted the roller derby while enabling me to see exhibits down neverending school hallways. I sold a lot of paintings, I met a lot of new people. Friends from every one of my many circles came out: puppeteers, dollmakers, rollergirls, firespinners, artists, electricians, theater people, church people, RISD people, publishing people, people who know me only from the blog, people who know me only from myspace. It turned out many of them knew each other, or enjoyed meeting each other. Circles overlapped and merged. Any remaining boundaries between Polly's and Linda's life were eradicated. Thank you, everyone!


On Friday and Saturday I turned part of the abandoned Hamden Middle School nurse's office into an art gallery. It was my fifth year as one of 300 artists participating in the annual City Wide Open Studios alternative space weekend.

Photos of the progression of the space over 24 hours. I had incredible help from my mum, my friends Scott, Paula, Kathleen and Rebecca, and my roomates. A lot of boxes were hauled, a lot of coffee was consumed, and a lot of fun was had by all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Last week a bathroom began to bloom in my attic. Karl decided we needed one and started building. I've wanted a sink on the third floor where my studio is, but not in the middle of my sculpture studio and storage space, when I'm teaching a puppetry class and getting ready for City Wide Open Studios in the same week.

So Karl brought in our friend Rebecca to help get the basics finished. She did, and then offered to fix the long neglected problem of the hole in my studio.

I've been freezing for 6 years from the wind that comes up through the soffets of this unfinished closet space, despite the many layers of stapled blankets and foam insulation I tried to put there.

In a day Rebecca framed it in, insulated it and hung the door.

I fought and complained about the disruption of my quiet little mess, not realizing how much I apparently needed it. My studio and I have been in shambles. The new door inspired a rearranging of furniture, a new filing system, and the joyful anticipation of adding a chalkboard. I'm still in flux, but I am warm with a renewed optimism about working here.

Rebecca has also been great spirited company in the studio, and I get the added bonus of Roxy, the 9 week old puppy who comes with her.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

step by step

"Looking back one step didn't really lead into another. I took one step, a miracle happened, then I started stepping somewhere else."

From Anna's post on the Blue Rose Girls' blog.

Monday, October 23, 2006

greetings from beyond

Letters my father wrote to his family in the 1950s.

I love stories of mysterious communication-- messages from the anonymous, letters from the departed. I've been running into a lot of them lately. The stories, and the messages.

As You Like It is being performed at both Wesleyan and Quinnipiac this month. That's the one where exiled Rosalind, disguised as a boy, finds poems written to her on the trees of the Forest of Arden. The image is so wonderful that I put poems on trees in some local forests myself, just because it should be done now and then.

Another is Eurydice, a play by Sarah Ruhl I saw recently at Yale Rep (thanks to Eliza B!). I fell so deeply into the performance that it's still haunting me a week later. It was unearthly beautiful- the story, of course, of Eurydice, who returns to Hades after her husband Orpheus looks back while rescuing her. But also, a gorgeous flooding set, a bath house tiled with paper letters, and the most poetic speech.

Before Eurydice dies the first time, her dead father writes letters of advice and love to her from the underworld, and sends them up into the world of the living, though she doesn't see them. Later Orpheus sends her letters of music of despair from above, stuffing them into the ground.
I'll give this letter to a worm. I hope he finds you." The letters in the play manifest in the world they were sent to on actual sheets of paper. But it got me thinking. What if all these synchronicities, these funny coincidences that feel so much like personal correspondence, were actually messages from my lost loves? My grandfathers? My grandmothers? My friends? My father?

My father died when I was too young to be upset about it, and probably due to some inventive adult telling me so, I grew up with the idea that I was a lucky girl because I had a parent in heaven, a kind of personal ambassador to God. A dad with maybe more influence and better connections then other kids had who was always looking out for me. What if I decided to believe that now as if it were a fact? What if every time I get a funny feeling when I overhear a conversation with my name spoken, I decide to believe that it's my father talking to me? What if I just decided to believe every time I hear a plane that it's my father saying hello? That would be a daring way to live, indeed.

With this in mind on Sunday I left yellow roses, the kind he liked to give my mother, in my favorite place in the city. As I did I heard a jet, invisible above the clouds.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


O Captain, my Captain!

It's 2 months away from our debut bout. My team looks beautiful. I've achieved the low skate stance I've been working for, which makes me harder to knock down, but it also makes me prone to getting elbowed in the face. I'm sore, battered, and worried about my nose.

And on Thursday I resigned as captain. Not easy, but the position had become so bureaucratic that I had no time to help my teammates or learn how to skate better. I'll be able do more for my team now without being tied up in paperwork and political bickering all the time. And that's what's important, no matter how cool it was to say "Captain Polly." I'm excited to be just a skater again.

But I'm even more excited about the league taking on domestic violence as one of its causes. A few months in to this I discovered that a high number of roller girls have a history of sexual violence or abuse, as I do. It turns out that the combination of girly-ness, sexuality, female camaraderie, and physical strength unique to roller derby makes it an extraordinarily empowering activity for us, like nothing else. It's remarkable how so many have been drawn to it for this reason, even if we didn't know it at first. I'd been looking for a way to support women like me, as soon as I figured it out I knew this is why I'd come.

Our first project is collecting a donation for the Life Haven women's shelter. I'm really looking forward to delivering it later this month, and seeing where this new turn takes me.

Photo: Wender, Nelly, Slim and I at the Providence vs New York bout.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

paid in full

The second best piece of paper I've gotten from RISD. That's one down.

Me in my swan hat at the 1996 RISD Commencement, which I still wear from time to time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


O! To belong to a thing
that will have none of you!
To be a fish that belongs
to the sky.
There's a copper key
on the ocean floor
that works a wind-up bird.
Its song could teach a fish
to fly.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

puppet class

Second section of Intro to Puppetry at Quinnipiac U: rod puppets. This time we asked them to use a found object as a head. Electrical box, jars, cocktail umbrella, tampon.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

battle scars

My skates after 7 months of roller derby. Holes in the toes, shot ankle straps, and the boot is so stretched out I break new laces every night trying to tighten them up. One replaced truck, and the third set of wheels and toe stops.

Thanks to Bob Johnson of WPKN who had me (or Polly rather) and Tony Baloney on his radio show today to promote Tony's NEST event, where I'll be serving hors d'oeuvres on skates with some of my teamates on November 11. Talking about how much we train reminded me how long it's been and how far I've come. I'm not just tougher, I can also speak on the radio now with some amount of intelligence and calm articulation. Pretty good for this farm girl.

My skates their first day out of the box back in March.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

fortune cookie #3

"A routine task will turn into an enchanting adventure."

Monday, October 09, 2006


On Saturday I went on an extensive drift, a solitary wandering meditation guided by whatever falls on the path. I was looking for resonant symbols and hoping to find old friends despite anxiety from mild prosopagnosia. Luckily five of them found me and we spent the evening commiserating on the old problem of art vs security and taking advantage of the abundant free food and alcohol all over the RISD reunion weekend campus.

Providence revealed a hundred oddities and wonders. From mobile art, to the fruits of the strange garden of Wunderground; from the opening of the impossibly grand new library, to the haunted passages of WaterFire. Illuminated poems emerged from the water. Secret neon animals hid behind peepholes. I left my rollerskate necklace in an offering bowl as thanks.