Countdown to YOUR MFA

It is midnight again and as it usually happens, while most people around this time turn into a pumpkin, I come up with something important to say, write or do. Or so I think anyway…:)

The lab was so empty today. I almost felt like a student working after hours again. And then I had to send out that bitchy email about you leaving the doors open. I don’t want to suspend your privileges really. But I might have to do it. What is fair will come to me soon.

I remember my long hours at the lab. Especially before the show. The day was really special but it took me months to remember what happened again. The last five weeks especially…I took over an entire room to setup my show. Stayed there all night. Slept on the couch only to be woken up by techs coming in to fire up the Access Grid. And then there was Geoffrey.

At times like these, everyone needs a hero. And Geoffrey was my hero. Driving in the middle of the night to Home Depot…driving to the grocery store, laughing, crashing, brainstorming. I remember funny moments like calibrating cameras while listening to Nina Simone at max volume at odd times. And then there he was singing the lyrics to Oklahoma. Anyone who knows Geoff would find that crazy. And then there were the rumors about us sleeping together because nobody can imagine that you can have a friend like Geoff. And he will kill me if he reads this.

Testing, testing, testing. Hundreds of lines of code here and there. Strenuous committee meetings where nobody was happy. And then came the last week. And three days before the show Kang came up with the most stable yet version of tracking. And two days before the show came dance rehearsals. And then came an army of volunteers. We were on the tightest schedule ever.

Volunteers make EVL special. Students line up to help the graduating MFA’s because they seem to enjoy watching the turmoil and the madness at work. I volunteered for others, even if it just meant dressing up to be the prettiest goddamn hostess ever. It was important. And when my day came and thirty people appeared to want to help, I was much honored.

The night before the show was a miracle. I was in a frenzy, tuning and tuning and tuning and cleaning and setting up for the show. Marcus passed out on the couch. Geoff passed out on a countertop and I ran from one room to the next trying to find out why on earth the network was so noisy and Performer was so flaky. The network queen was being punished by the network. Soon morning came and Alan and the other support people set everything to a local network so to not rely on the school network performance for tracking. I was too fried to even do that myself.

After that, I *think* that we went home and slept for two hours. I took a shower, put on my turquoise linen dress and ran off to prep for the reception. A few hours later it started: the food, the people, the dance company, the fuss. It was relentless. Geoff and I kept a distance as if we had so overdosed on being around each other. But it all worked. It was a miracle. We were slammed with people and the dancers got nervous. I remember grabbing and hugging Robynne in the anechoic chamber/dressing room and telling her it will all be ok. I remember my godmother wondering why I was barefoot the whole time.

I don’t remember how the day ended. So many people that I didn’t know came. And then the people I knew were pleased. And the people I loved came in for at least one of the two days. My dad was proud. My uncle was so impressed that he paid for the catering. I don’t think that my mother even called but it didn’t matter anymore. The last performance was for the group of my closest friends. I remember so little of so much. Even when you think it is over it isn’t.

Then came the documentation and the paper and the video and the revisions from the committee. I drove for two hours getting continually lost while crying to get to Drew’s house to sign off on the papers at the last minute. And within days, I was moving out of state after eight years of a fully accessorized home. And I was bitter for all my previous relationships, all the stuff I had, and about the fact that neither ex came for the show. Little things like that.

I can’t quite describe the experience even two years later but for me it was magical. And the people around me helped me get through it one way or another. And I was the last one to perform on my floors…

Two years later, I am still living with my debt incurred on my last 1.5 years of my 4 year MFA stint. I could have just stuck to my business and I would have been golden right now. Making money on my own has never been a problem for me. But I remembered the teenager who picked up a TIME magazine with Dan Sandin and Tom DeFanti on the cover vowing to study VR at EVL, the teenager who worked all her summers at her dad’s hotel gift shop, the teenager who painted in the middle of the night much to her mother’s dismay, the teenager who left home at seventeen, the teenager who partied hard and worked harder…that was me. So I had to do the damn MFA if it killed me.

Sure I picked up a few bruises on the way but so what? What I am trying to say is, make it special. If your first time getting laid sucked, this is your time to make up for it. It can really be that good.

What are you waiting for? I will be standing by all of you kicking your ass and holding your hand.

Almost there

Parked at the Yahoo! lounge in Seoul. Spent way too much money on transportation and impulse. Christmas will come early this year…

Nauseous from too much transport. Japan pretty even amidst concrete, much like Greece. Learned some Japanese. Couldn’t survive here too long unless paid exceptionally well (fat chance).

Shot 100+ gorgeous pix of Kyoto and Nagoya. Oh yeah – conference went well but I can’t even remember any of it. Met lots of folks. Me so tired now from bowing.

Marientina is definitely a gaijin in Japan but she did her best to fit in with some effort. Nevertheless it is time for me to come back to my queen size bed and tall ceilings in my humble 480sq foot home that will feel like a genuine palace.

In Memoriam (1/5/1962 – 10/28/2004)


My beloved John Hoi Yee Lau passed away this Thursday, October 28th at 7.30pm. He had been hospitalized for exactly five weeks. He was first diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 1999 and was in remission for two years up to last year. He died of complications from treatment of his metastasis to the bones and lymphs. He fought very hard till the end. He beat his hospital admission prognosis by four more weeks.

I met John during my second quarter of freshman year in 1996. We became close friends, we were even neighbors for a while and he most often acted like an older brother and father to me. He was receiving treatment in Los Angeles for the past few months so I was very fortunate to have spent a lot of time with him.

Five weeks ago he entered the hospital with pneumonia and a blood infection and started a rollercoaster ride in intensive care. I was the first person he called from the hospital and that I will never forget. He was on a ventillator by the second day and soon after on a tracheiotomy so he couldn’t talk to us but he made sure we knew he could listen. He never slipped into a coma and two weeks ago I was able to have a nodding conversation with him. Through yes and no questions and with his eyes closed he explained his pain and that he was no longer strong. I also got him to admit that I was his second platonic wife and for that I will always smile. Somehow his testimony conflicted with his big plan to give me away at my wedding alongside my father.

John was a talented architect, an honest man and a thoughtful friend. He was not afraid to use strong or soft words when it mattered. He was private, protective of his loved ones and never complained about anything unless it was necessary.

His wife Maureen was with him. She has been by his side since she flew down here. He waited patiently for her as he started slipping away. Maureen dropped their nine year-old son Ghikhan with me at my house and John slipped away with her by his side, listening to music on his favorite iPod. He didn’t move and couldn’t talk but tears rolled down his eyes endlessly as he slipped far away from us. I arrived forty-five minutes later to say goodbye. Marcus brought the boy over to say goodbye also. It was very moving and very precious to watch.

I have never been more touched in my life by the love three people had for each other. John was a wonderful father and a best friend to Maureen. They had been together for almost twenty years. I am thankful for his love to me and although heartbroken, I am happy that he is no longer suffering.

My dear John, I miss you every day.


It has been over a year. Sometimes it is better to remember a birthday than a death. It seems like only yesterday that we met in French class. Who will keep company to me and Candide now?

The Follow Up

Hmm…Tooth got dry socket. Pain bad. Very bad. Was good this morning but the pain killer is wearing off.

I watched “The Human Stain”. Puzzling. Interesting. Many holes in the plot…

I am interviewing Nick Brandt for a project in between being sedated this week. I will post the interview when done with it. Most people don’t know this but I do a lot of writing for a living. Mostly tech writing but there is the occasional creative project that I really enjoy doing…like an interview. Brandt does photography that is out of this world. I suppose it is from this world, but mostly of a world many of us have never seen up close and personal.

Oh My God!

After weeks of monkeying around, my blog finally works. Alas! Now I can post my own rants…

My wisdom tooth extraction resulted in lots of movie rentals (besides pain, blood and feeling icky). Monday, as soon as the anaesthesia wore off, I saw “Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994). Two thumbs up. Chinese movies make me feel homesick for strange reasons. I relate to Chinese culture more so than any other culture. I understand the food, the rituals, the family dynamics, the urban and rural realities, the obligations…It all feels familiar.

I have made a point of straying from my culture since I left in 1995. Upon return, I experience Greece like a foreign country. Upon return to the United States, I also feel like I am visiting a foreign country. Yet both feel extremely familiar. I feel objective and subjective at the same time. When I am puzzled, I go back to Julia Kristeva and “Nations without Nationalism”. Sometimes not belonging feels perfectly normal.

And speaking of not belonging, I also rented “Lost in Translation”. I am going to Japan in November and I feel stressed…My Japanese is very poor and my manners can be rude. Will they throw me out of the country? Should I show my teeth when I giggle? One thing is certain: my credit card will suffer. I am a sucker for raw fish and silk…

“Seeing Other People” didn’t do it for me at all. I am too relationship-jaded and have no patience for this type of movie. I was hoping for some skin when I rented the movie but it wasn’t worth it…

I will let you know about “The Human Stain”…