so afraid

June 29, 2006

It is another day in which I am proud of the creative words of my students. Today, however, it is a floored–and saddened–sort of pride.
Floored by talent.
And saddened by simple honesty.
Below is a quote from a 12 year old, a portion of the poem she wrote for one of the assignments I gave her. As you may guess, she and her family are preparing for an unanticipated move to another state.

Moving, Moving . . .
I don’t want to move
I want to stay where
I am . . .
. . . so afraid

h is for . . .

June 23, 2006

I am feeling rather proud, in a teacherly sort of way, after a day of being thoroughly wowed by my youngsters’ imaginatively creative output: poems, sketches, stories, watercolor, prose, pastels . . . no art form or media seems to intimidate them. It makes me wonder if I could have ever been so bold as to unconscientiously consult my own muses when I was only 11, 9, even 6 years old; I highly doubt it, as my memories of those years are those of a timid youngster, stilted in my creativity by a lack of encouragement in the arts. For that matter, I do not recall even learning there was such a talent as that of creativity until well into my teen years—rather, it seems that I only knew to think of the arts as a sort of hedonistic pleasure to be indulged in only when there were no other “productive” activities left to be accomplished.
That is part of the reason I suspect I have been so passionate in my attempts to spread the good news of the creative arts among children in my sphere of influence. My deep longing is to teach them that it is a good thing—and a productive thing—to spend time pursuing creative talents . . . and to teach the worthiness of Art as an end in itself rather than solely as a means to an end.
All that to say that, again, I am proud. And as such, here is one of the works of the day, by a 6-year-old budding artist:
The assignment for them was that of a Letter Poem, and below is the poem itself:

H is for mynam [translation “my name”]
H is for horses
H is for helpforechusr [translation “help for each other”]H is for Holly [as in the green and red variety seen at Christmas time]

In the mail last week I received a copy of a book recently published by a Doctor, about his almost 40-year career in Zambia. Gazing at the book’s striking cover [blazing orange sunset over unmistakably African plains], the author’s name brought a flood of bittersweet memories. Unaware that the book existed or, for that matter, that any book about my home village had ever been written, I opened it with an uneasy thrill: thrilled to revisit memories of those close to my childhood heart, and uneasy with the fear that it would be in some manner deficient in its portrayal of the home I loved so deeply. Or worse: that it would fall prey to the easy temptation of all outsider perspectives on a native culture—that of devaluing, even in the most unintentional or miniscule manner, the society’s ways of living, of being.
So the other night I set aside my lesson planning, school readings, and ongoing art projects, and read the book: To Africa with love, by Dr. Jim Foulkes. I did not put the book down until I reached the end that night [barring a mid-reading break to take a phone call].
It was no doubt more meaning to me, with my particular interest, than necessarily to your average reader. And the writing itself was not award-winning, at least from my limited experience as a Creative Writing teacher :-)
But the stories that were told—and more importantly the people about whom they were told—were tremendously inspiring. It is humbling to realize how caught up I get in the stresses of daily life here in the U.S. [the minor, fleeting stresses], when daily life for some involves stresses as to . . .
whether that was an innocent fly on little Jacob’s knee earlier . . . or if we should suspect a Tsetse fly and be wary of Jacob’s drowsier-than-usual little eyes . . .
Granted, I try not to downplay any one manner of life stresses as inherently less valid than others: I am fully aware that we are placed in this one life, in this one season of life, by divine providence—“for such a time as this . . .”
It behooves us all, however, to daily remind ourselves of the grander scheme of it all, and of the relatively minor nature of many of the things it is so easy to waste worrying energy on. I, for one, am prone to forget, at any given moment, that when all is said and done no one will care about [to draw from one current scenario in my daily life] the spot of “Dove Gray” paint that mysteriously drifted from Bradley’s paintbrush, over his head, and squarely onto little sister’s new light yellow Pocahontas purse. What will matter, however, is the burst of excitement and artistic achievement that caused Bradley to swing his paintbrush-laden arm into the air to begin with.

This is my reminder to myself, at least, after a day in which I was disappointed in my own ability [or lack thereof] to remain focused on students’ learning processes rather than on interruptions to my day’s to-do list . . .

about that princess

June 15, 2006

My friend, you suspected correctly–turns out she was not the pink sort: she was delivered to her new bedroom outfitted solely in sapphire and sterling.
In fact, I did not break out the “princess pink” until today, for Acrylic day with my Art Camp students . . . the bottle actually was almost depleted in one day, thanks to my eager student’s dashingly pink Walrus on Canvas :-)

the gimp speaks

June 10, 2006

Every once in a while I inadvertently make a public display of the normally private oddities of my quirky brain. Case in point:
Thanks to an injured foot, I have spent the past several days hobbling about in an increasingly halting manner—“increasingly” because of my stubborn tendency to ignore the injury and continue running on it until I have significantly worsened it. Before a chorus of chastisements comes my way, I should at least clarify, in my own defense, that 8 years of running has left me spoiled by an odd lack of normal runner’s complaints. The worst of my injuries is usually a nagging pain that just goes away on its own.
This particular one, however, is worse. I don’t know how it happened, but the nurse I talked to said it is probably just a sprain but possibly a fracture. An x-ray is necessary to determine that for sure, and I’m not financially ready to spring for that one yet.
And so I hobble.
The point of all that is that, being spoiled like I mentioned, I am beginning to get rather childishly sulky about it. It is decidedly frustrating to not be able to run, and to not be able to stand without pain.
So last night, after hitting my limit of being out and about, my brother and I settled in for a game of Scrabble. At some point in the course of the game I was trying to convince him of something: probably the use of a word that I technically should not have played. He justifiably balked at my plea, at which point I continued more insistently.

Come on, Alex, just this one play . . . I have a good reason for whiny gimpishness at the moment . . .
At that point, eyebrows raised, Alex looked up from his letters. “What did you just say?”
What? . . . just that I needed to display my whiny gimpishness.
Convinced that he had heard me correctly this time, Alex snickered. He then proceeded to roar with laughter, apparently unconcerned with the fact that he was laughing at me, not with me.

And I continue to hold unswervingly to the perfectly normal nature of my descriptive phrase.

She so far wears a golden tiara and silver-white gloves, is looking up at a crescent moon, and has a partially-painted sapphire-blue dress. Decidedly girly, I dare say. I have not yet found a place for the “princess pink” paint, but it does seem like I shall have to do so, does it not??