27 October 2011

above, between, in, under

Back Cameraabove the clouds.

Back Camerabetween the clouds.

Back Camerain the clouds.

Back Cameraunder the clouds.

IMG_7617this is philadelphia. where in a hotel you’ve eaten your last homemade cake baked by your mother for a long time.

all this, to be repeated, without cake, at brussels.

then repeated one last time, again without cake, at bamako.

26 October 2011

the last project, the last goodbyes

jessieone last project you had to finish up before dedicating 100% of your time to mali.

it involved sifting through almost all of your photos and giving them a home.

and that is how you found some photos from france in 2009 you didn’t like then, but love now. autumn apples. reds. oranges. yellows.

photo 5colors that you never see in a texas autumn. here, it is still summer with intense greens and blue. you love both and wouldn’t trade one for the other.

photfinally, all these past seasons have a nice online home. http://cathywu.com/photos/ is where they live now, aside from this journal. it’s all the same moments, but just a tad bit more organized and without words.

so that was your last project. finished.

IMG_7615then yesterday and today were dedicated to two things. the first. packing.

and as you pack all the items you need, you can’t help but add things that make you happy. such as empty notebooks. one from france. one from germany. one from taiwan. one from texas. you can’t wait to fill them up.

photo 1the second. running errands and running around DFW saying goodbye.

for the past six months, since april, when you left your apartment and finished your job as an assistant,you became an expert at saying au revoir.

photo 2goodbye. au revoir. goodbye. 再見. goodbye. zàijiàn. au revoir. 再見. goodbye. you’ve said it so many times. in so many languages. to so many people. and each time, you’ve meant it.

Back Cameratoday was your last goodbye to the never-ending texas sunset.

sunsets in texas never end. they go on forever.” is what a friend you said goodbye to once said. and she’s right. there’s something about an endless feeling you get that no other place’s sunsets give you.

Back Camera your theory is that because so much of texas is flat and even in the cities where buildings are spaced apart and low, there isn’t a lot here to hide the sky.

photo 4 so. goodbye texas.

je pars pour le malithe hellos will start tomorrow once you take flight.


23 October 2011

the dried fruit ring update

the dried fruit rings refuse to remain forgotten in a box in your parents’ home.

they decided to write their own story since you were too busy dancing around france for two years.

design01sfirst they decide to get published. all by themselves. no advertising, no promoting – somehow they caught the eye of people who wanted to put them in a book. design03sthis you excitedly agreed too since it was a call for photos and not the work themselves. easy enough to co-ordinate from abroad.



design04sso while you were busy traveling around europe, they were busy traveling around french bookstores.  they even wandered over to amazon. design culinaire is the name, stéphane bureaux and cécile cau are the authors.

ringreleasebut then you finally meet the book in november 2010 at the book release party in paris. you lived an hour away, how could you say no?

it will be nearly a year later before you get to sit down and really flip through the book since your copy was shipped to texas.

but those rings are never satisfied. they wanted to be on american tv. unfortunately since they had also faded the people who sought them out ended up rejecting them.

but it’s okay. because those rings don’t give up.

eat01-smallthey then decided they wanted to be published in germany. in a calendar.


how could you refuse such a request? EAT design with food is the name, and EIGA Design is the author.

then the rings got clever.

they caught you at a moment in texas where you could not pull the “i am living in france and currently cannot do any metalwork, sorry!” excuse each time someone sent you an email.

because an email came.

an email from the museum of arts and design in new york city.

those rings want to be on display.

rings01back in 2009 you had a feeling. a feeling that one day you’d have to step back into the field of metalwork without the studio that you were spoiled with at ut austin. so in addition to preparing your final projects that last semester at ut, you also used expensive equipment for potential future projects that make your life easier that you knew you wouldn’t have access to in 2011.

rings02MAD museum doesn’t want the wilted and faded rings.

so a few days ago, fresh pears and orangers were sliced and dried.

rings03a fire hazard was set up in your parents’ backyard.

you know your metals professor would lose it if she saw all the unsafe things you did.

rings04you overheated and melted a few things since the torch you are using now is cumbersome. that is the difference between $15 and $300.

rings05but with enough practice, cumbersome will do the job. and that is all that matters.

rings06the rings got what they wanted. they got remade.

rings07their original vibrant colors that they wanted, they got.

even if the exhibition for the MAD museum falls through (because things can happen, such as: the rings fall apart, the museum changes their mind, the show is cancelled, etc, etc) you don’t care because you proved to yourself that you are indeed capable of stepping back into the metals field without depending on the studio at ut austin.

that was your fear since graduation. the fear of not being able to do what you used to do because you no longer have the same tools. but now you know that you in 2011 is just as capable as you in 2009 without access to the things you had before.

rings08just for kicks, you played around with some new forms. but not too long since you really do need to be concentrating on mali.

after mali – the you in 2014 – will once again step back into metals.

let’s see where these rings decide to go, since they’ve obviously decided to choose their own adventures that are separate from yours.

17 October 2011

catching up to the present

this is the present. in texas. in dallas. at home.

but there is so much to catch up on.

and you are leaving next thursday for mali for two years for the peace corps.

that’s right. more on that later. right now the spotlight is on the past.

things must be written now or in two years. in two years you highly doubt you’ll be motivated. you already have trouble writing about things that happened two months ago.

in any case, everything is edited. written. and everything is posted.

so to get right to where we last left off, the day you left france. a total of sixteen things to read. make a cup of tea and take your time.

1. you arrive in taiwan. so does the londoner

2. the search for the illegal hot springs

3. sending wishes into the sky

4. the londoner leaves and the french boys arrive

5. with the french boys, the taroko gorge in taiwan is explored

6. the adventure continues at green island, one of only three spots in the world where there is a natural saltwater hot spring

7. the french boys have left, and you go chasing after rocks

8. you’ve left taiwan as well, and your first stop after home in texas is houston.

9. beware of alligators

10. the dried fruit rings are alive

11. kitchen reunion in washington, d.c.

12. the french invade new york city

13. the escape to the new york countryside

14. stroll through new york city, farewell to the frenchies, farewell to the new yorker – until mali, that is.

15. a toddler, an owl, and a wedding in austin

16. WWOOFing in the dallas/fort worth metroplex


now you have no more backlog. just another thing scratched off your long to do list.

from this point on, it is the present.

WWOOFing in texas

txfarm09it’s a last minute WWOOFing stint to try and get some gardening experience in.

txfarm01but as you hang out with the 2 year old,

txfarm05the five year old, the eight year old,

txfarm08the father, and the mother, you wonder what are you doing in someone else’s home when your own home is so close?

txfarm06homesickness kicks in at the oddest times.

as well as physical sickness too.

txfarm10so you leave. one week was a bit short, but it was enough.

and you did learn a lot.

resting time is what you need right now. you are back home and home is where you will stay until next thursday.

txfarm11but before you left… you made sure the llama, the donkey, the three dogs, the six hens, the one rooster, the herd of goats, the two cats, and the two pigs were behind you.

then you became a true texan as you fired your first rifle into the empty texas landscape. twice.

shooting a gun on a farm for WWOOFing? only in texas.


tandt01straight off the plane, a short pause at home, then a drive down to your favorite texan city: austin.

you spend the morning hanging out with a truly great toddler.

and an owl you’ve named hibou.

a surprising friendship – just like the one between you and your host – a friendship that has developed by both of you mutually inspiring one another.

a friendship that has developed also because your closest austin buddies actually no longer live in austin.

this is a good thing. to leave such a perfect place – and if anybody comes back, it will be on their own terms and not because they got stuck/comfortable in austin.

right now austin is a ghost town for you. familiar places. familiar memories. familiar everything. but missing faces.

krae01 there’s also wedding.

krae03of one of your favorites, of course.

krae07 a few familiar faces are found here and you do some catching up.

krae08then you wish the happy couple as much sweetness in their marriage as can be found at their potluck style dessert bar.

the city

nyc100the goélands follow you everywhere. even to the staten island ferry in new york city. they make you smile.

nyc102the french, you’ve discovered, have an obsession with stalking squirrels.

nyc103looks of confusion, of excitement, of curiosty appear as the french discover sticky buns.

nyc104the french comment about how ubiquitous the american flag is. “on aime beaucoup notre pays, mais on n’a pas besoin de mettre un drapeau partout! nous, on aime notre pays avec le fromage, le vin…” is the argument one frenchie brings up.

[we love our country a lot, but we don’t need to put up a flag everywhere! us, we love our country with cheese, wine…]

nyc107days are spent strolling.

nyc109nights are spent reserving and buying tickets for broadway shows, baseball games, and greyhound buses.


nyc117the sun comes out. 

nyc129the highline is where you head.

nyc121an ancient railroad track is converted with wild plants as a pedestrian walkway.

nyc140a nice method of blending the city with some nature.

nyc133if you can’t get to nature, bring nature to you.

nyc132 art installations line the walk as well.

nyc135painted bricks catch your eye.

nyc147where does time go? you are already at the end of your two week french reunion. with the end comes the usual goodbyes, but it is also time to… faire les comptes. [do bookkeeping]

receipts are brought out. calculators are used. numbers are written down. who paid for what, who owes what, this is when it all becomes sorted. an illegal gambling operation is what it looks more like as money is passed left and right and to and fro.

nyc155then, one of your saddest moments. they leave. this is the last time you see your frenchies.

you don’t bawl, but your cheeks are definitely not dry.

hugs. kisses. and instead of “à la prochaine” everybody says “au mali” to you.

and you know they’ll keep their word.

nyc156then you head back to D.C. where you are greeted by a coq au vin.

then more one-on-one time.

then a “see you in mali!” instead of “goodbye.

then you head toward the airport.