Not every day can be spectacular.
I had a pretty bad week last week. I had a big falling out with a teacher, I was pseudo-mugged, and extremely homesick. Thanksgiving isn't my favorite holiday, but I definitely missed it this year. I missed my family a lot. At Tesco, I found two misplaced cans of pumpkin pie filling and bought them. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I made a layered pumpkin pie dessert and shared it with a few people. I was glad I could share a traditional American holiday (that is often confusing to foreigners) with others. Even though I've tried to have good holiday spirit, I've been pretty discouraged lately and it's been difficult to stay positive.
Meeting David Shrigley
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be happy and whether people in my field are happy. Some of them are, but others just have such a cynical view of the world and it's difficult for me to interpret whether they're being sarcastic or sincere. On Thanksgiving Thursday, I saw David Shrigley give a talk about his work and while it was entertaining, I couldn't help but feel a sense of being 'hoodwinked' by the artist. I like his art, but he didn't seem to have the same opinion as most people about it. So is the joke being played on me, the audience? And I thought about this whole idea/question of 'what is the relationship between artists and audience and consumers of art?' He talked about how he was commissioned for several different brands where he didn't particularly care for the brand or the company itself and would essentially mock their products in the pieces he made for them. If they didn't particularly care for it, they still used it, and then there were the brands which loved his work, even though he was blatantly mocking them, which was very interesting to me. During his talk, I didn't know what his opinion was of his own work, but there was a book signing afterwards. When I saw him, I felt that he was much softer of a person. I asked him if he liked GSA when he went there. Remembering the negative experience from the previous day, I was interested in his answer. I won't say exactly what he said, but it definitely helped me put things into perspective and I appreciated it a lot. I definitely think David Shrigley is a decent person and an incredible artist. I still think about his talk a lot.
That same night, I walked home from the theatre when a woman was walking toward me with her arm out like she was flagging a taxi. I was on the phone with Collin at the time. She hit my head and stole my hat. I was okay because she didn't hit me too hard, but I was terrified. I thought for sure she would try to steal my book bag. I ran away from her and she started walking the opposite direction. I felt better, but a block later, I turned around to make sure she wasn't following me. Coincidently, she turned around with her arm stretched out holding my hat, started coming towards me, and then told me to take it. I slowly approached her, snatched it out of her hands as quickly as possible, and bolted away. I turned around again once I was surrounded by people and she had gone away. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.
Luckily, for that weekend, I booked a short trip to Iceland. I booked it about a month and a half ago and felt really guilty about spending money on a small vacation like that, which is not something I would ever do in the USA, but I was so, so, so glad I did. Reykjavik, Iceland is an hour and 55 minutes away from Glasgow by plane. I arrived Friday night and planned to leave Monday morning, but there had been a hurricane storm on Sunday and literally everything on the island was cancelled: planes, boats, tours, etc. I didn't know this because I was wandering about the city. I was walking in an open area to the famous Hallgrimskirkja church when I thought to myself, "Wow it's quite windy here!" My bag with my camera, purse, and small souveniors was blowing horizontally to the ground. Even with a tight grip I felt I almost lost control. I should've checked the weather.
Saturday was a really lovely day though. I had a truly wonderful time doing the Golden Circle tour. It's the most popular tour because it hits up a variety of natural sites in a day's worth of light (in the winter time, which is only 6 hours of sunlight). We drove around for a while before the sun actually came up, but it was so beautiful watching the sun rise around 11 am. The lava fields are just so simply beautiful and the geological structures that have naturally formed are fantastic. I really recommend visiting Iceland. The air is fresh, the tap water is drinkable, there is an incredible amount of exposure of the contemporary arts (you can even listen to Nadia Sirota's album on the plane to Iceland if you fly Icelandair), and the best part is that the food is tasty. The strangest things I had were probably fermented shark bits and reindeer soup. I liked the texture of the shark very much, but the fermentation made it a bit too acidic for my taste, but the reindeer soup tasted like sausage, which could've been the spice. It was served in a bread bowl, so that automatically makes it more appetizing.
I planned on going to the famous Blue Lagoon, but unfortunately that was the day of the hurricane storm. Another unfortunate thing about Iceland was the currency exchange and price of goods. I thought the British pound was bad, but the krona is much more expensive. If you think about it though, the economy of Iceland is still recovering and they have to import so much of their diet. They have their gardens in greenhouses, which are charming looking against the magnificent landscape of mountains and cliffs. Beer is relatively the same price as the UK (always worth mentioning).
This is also worth mentioning: The airport is my favorite airport I've been to. My flight ended up getting delayed from 7 am to 1 pm. I arrived at 4:30 am, so I had quite a bit of spare time on my hands. I had plenty of work to do for my classes, so I worked for several hours on that. The Wifi is free (take a hint, Glasgow!), the shopping area is set up like a warm cafe area, the shops aren't in your face, and it was generally pretty quiet, even during busy times. For any of my friends that are actually planning on going to Iceland, do not purchase the skincare products outside of the airport because they only allow 100 mL of liquids. This was a problem for several people who visit the Blue Lagoon because they sell many 200 mL products. It's expensive skin care product too, and they just had to leave it behind! They also have an amazing design store and a full grocery store, which is amazing to me.
I hope to go back to Iceland sometime. It's not a very expensive trip from Glasgow, and I'd like to tour more of the country. It's truly an amazing place that is constantly changing. Tectonic plates (especially their mass) have always interested me, and it was amazing to see the landscape they've created in Iceland. I really recommend people to go there. Icelandair has a great stopover special if you fly with them. I was so happy to get away for a weekend. Well worth it.
I've been busy filming interviews for a few projects. It's getting to be crunch time here. The semester doesn't end until the end of January, but certain classes end before others, which is nice, except for the fact that I'm only taking three classes and two of them end the same week with huge projects due very closely together. I have four major projects I'm working on at the moment. The first is a video about Scottish education. The second is an essay for my sound theory class. I'm thinking about writing about how sound can be "gendered" and maybe focus on the roles of the women in Sam Mendes's American Beauty. We'll see how that goes and if I stick with that idea. Third: I am working on a sound piece regarding conversations about contemporary music. And lastly, I am also shooting a sound-driven short film. I have my hands full for a while, but by the beginning of January, I will hopefully have completed each of these! At least they're projects that I am completely interested in and about topics I love.
I need to say, if you are interested in contributing to my sound piece, please don't hesitate to contact me. I would love (and need!) volunteers for it. It would take between 8-15 minutes to complete, and I am looking for anyone: classically trained or not. experts or not. It's a casual conversation between yourself and myself and there are absolutely no wrong answers, just opinions. Please email me at shannon.bolen.musician[at]gmail[dot]com or message me on social media!
Every day is a good day.
This week was better than last week. While every day can't be spectacular, I agree with John Cage's quoting of the famous "Nichi nichi kore kōnichi" proverb. "Every day is a good day." Whether it's spectacular or not is irrelevant. Every day is a good day because I learned something from it. I am stronger than I was last week. My friend heard I was having a bad week, and drew this zucchini for me.