Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Emerson, Erik and Mufasa?

I believe that the best remedy for the tidal wave of frustration and anxiety that follows the event of being made to feel small and inferior is to do something you enjoy and perhaps are good at. Not out of spite, but simply as a reminder that you are more than what they say you are.

So, last night I joined my talented husband in some drawing time. It's been a long time since I have allowed myself to sit and draw. As a child I would draw every chance I could get and now I've discovered that my love for it is still alive and well. It just needed to be brought out into the light again.

It amazes me when I think about how, as kids, most of us automatically did whatever it was that we loved to do. Boldly and without a second thought I would draw and write for hours at a time. Nowadays, as an adult, too often there needs to be a justifiable reason for what some people would consider "wasting time." When did drawing become a waste of time? Where did that thought come from? My practical wet blanket side of me gets in the way of the kid in me as I am sure yours does too.

Ralph Waldo Emerson illustrates this battle in his essay Self Reliance He says things like:

"Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members...The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is it's aversion. It (conformity) loves not realities and creators but names and customs."

"What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think."

"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."

"The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried."


" ever in a new day..."

Whenever I am feeling out of touch with myself I turn to this essay. His words offer courage and hope to tired souls like you and me. I highly recommend that you read it and re-read it.

But having another person in your life that truly knows you and sees and adores ALL of what makes you YOU is something that will save you from giving in to a world that wants to make you into something else. This is one of the things I love about Erik. He is always defending the kid in me. I am confident that if I ever came home with news that I got a job as an accountant or something he would gently sit me down and put a pen and sketch pad in my hands and probably a guitar in my lap. And maybe hold up a mirror in front of me and say...

"This is you."

and then he would say something funny like...

"Remember who you are Simba"

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've realized some important things about myself over this past week. It was my first week of work at the Arboretum and I'll sum it up by giving a few details. Let's just say that it's not what I expected.

On Friday I dragged myself toward the parking lot all the while thinking, "Man...this is WAY more intense than they made it out to be during the interview," and "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!"

Now, I've had a lot of experience working with children and unfortunately that is what KEEPS me in positions like the one that I am in now. It's difficult to make any sort of career change when all the experience I have is kid related. I was totally thrilled when they hired me because (1) I would be doing something that I have done before (working with kids) (2) I would be teaching "art"...this as it turns out is not really the case (3) I would be working outside on the beautiful grounds of the L.A. Arboretum. Sounds picture perfect doesn't it?

But I forgot some important things about myself.

I like kids. I really do. They're cute and funny...some of the time. Then there are those other times. Another thing is that I like kids in small doses.

Small controllable doses. Small enough for me to actually speak and be heard the first, second...hell...even on a third attempt.

If kids don't listen to me when I am giving instructions, say on how to glue something on to another thing...or how to wash out a paintbrush so your colors don't mix, I tend to stop for a moment. I wait for them to settle down (which almost never happens because we're dealing with 5 year olds for crying out loud) and then I just keep giving my instructions. I give my instructions to the air and they fly away, bouncing off cute little deaf ears and the obnoxious cries of the peacocks in the distance.

I don't enjoy raising my voice. Some people can shout for hours and still be happy and energetic. I end up feeling like a deflated balloon. And one thing I really don't want is to come home from work looking and feeling like a deflated balloon.

It's not just the kids. In fact...they are the least of my anxieties. I've put a lot of effort into preparing for this job. Long have been the hours of collecting recycled materials, researching projects, DOING projects, and planning. But this first week my boss has expressed her many disappointments with my job not so direct ways like:

" know showing up 15 minutes before class MIGHT be a little short for adequate prep time..." (I was 40 minutes early and set up BUT she didn't see that so of course it doesn't count...funny how that works)

and another:

"Well, I would have been prepared but I wasn't planning on doing this project that you are just now telling me about. I had another project planned out for today," I said.

"Oh...and what project was THAT?" Her tone was dripping with condescending suspicion, insinuating that I hadn't planned anything at all.

Nice. I love this job. I love all jobs where I am accused of being lazy. It's good for my self-esteem. Of course, my written description of this experience doesn't capture it completely. Not even close. But starting Monday I will have more time to work on my writing skills. Three cheers for that. I give myself a gold star for looking at the bright side of my approaching unemployment.

And now, after a nice Saturday of sleeping in and watching the rain outside my window I am able to laugh a little at how ridiculous it all is. The chaos is much too much for the compensation and my sanity.

Where O where do we draw the line between necessary and unnecessary discomfort? My opinion? and for my life? It all depends. Is it going to pay off to stay in school and rack up heaps and heaps of loans only to be aimless and broke? Some would say yes. I would say no. Is a month long summer camp job worth losing sleep about? Do I need to be dreaming about film canisters and jar lids swirling about my head ( i know. creepy and weird)? and no.

...and that's just sad.

Kudos to those who can hang with the summer camps. You have my highest respect. I offer you all a giant pat on the back for all the sweat, tears, and thankless hours you give of yourselves because I know you're either you're not getting paid enough or you're just simply not getting paid at all. If only kudos paid the bills.

I think I wrote something about failing in an earlier blog. ha. I think I said something like, "it's all just part of the game folks."

So it goes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A pep-talk, Rice, and Beans

Last night Erik and I went to the Largo to see the Watkins Family Hour. My main reason for dishing out for this particular show was because Fiona Apple, my musical hero, was going to be a special guest performer. When I saw her name on the list I immediately called to order tickets. But I had to WAIT to hear back from the Largo ticket guy to tell me if I got them or not. The anticipation was killer. I kept thinking about all the times I have gone to the Largo in hopes that she would show up. A few friends of mine have been there for that. I had not been so lucky. Gillian Welch showed up last time and that was great, but i couldn't help but be a little disappointed that Fiona didn't magically appear up on stage too. My high hopes fall hard sometimes.

But not this time.

We got tickets and drove out to L.A. It was a great show. I love watching musicians that LOVE to play. I love it when I get to watch people in their element, doing exactly what they were created to do. It's absolute magic. But when she finally came out toward the end of the show it was a whole different level of inspiration. They called Fiona out and we gave her an enthusiastic welcome. She walked out onto the stage looking a little shy and slightly disheveled. She stood there small and quiet aside from her nervous giggling.

Then the music began to play and we were all slammed in the face by her giant voice.

She was completely possessed by the music. It's as if everyone else in the room disappeared and she was suddenly IN IT. Her emotions were in it. You could tell by her face that she felt the songs. Her body was in it. She did not hold back. She let the music shake her like a rag doll. She shouted and reached for notes that no one would dare attempt to hit during a performance. And the most inspiring part is that she didn't always hit them AND...she didn't care. She wasn't there to give us a perfect performance. She was there because she loves the music.

More than anywhere else, that is where I want to be. I want to be IN IT. No more inhibitions. Give me untamed PASSION for whatever it is that I may be doing at the time. No more half-assing my music...or anything for that matter. My half-assing is just my ugly ugly fear of failure no matter how I try to justify it. Yours probably is too. But failure is just another part of the game's kind of a given. So, once we "get" that it's not such a terrible thing after all, we are free to follow our hearts and noses past the dead ends we'll most certainly meet and on to be more fully alive in our own unique element.

Waiting for the perfect time or circumstances to do what you love will most likely never ever present itself. That's why you've got to just jump in headfirst and do it now. If you don't have time, make time and make sacrifices...even if it means that you'll be livin' on rice and beans. At least you'll be happy and free.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy birthday Egbert

Meet Egbert...he's the first of many that will be created by my students this summer. He is made of a metal coat hanger, some news paper, wheat paste and a neat-o seed pod. Man, I am really looking forward to this. Today I went to this place in L.A. called ReDiscover for some supplies and I felt like a kid in a candy store. Floor to ceiling STUFF!!! Baby food jars, egg cartons, fabric scraps, giant cardboard tubes, tile, ETC!

It feels so good to dive in to something creative. Making something cool out of "junk"...that's one of the best feelings in the universe.