Friday, December 12, 2003


Another day squeaked out pushing pixels and formatting copy for some academic test in Florida...the FCAT or something. Someday, I hope to get a job that I'm remotely interested. No, wait, stop. We all want that. That and a prehensile tail.

Wrapped up my drawing class tonight at the Foundation. (That sounds a bit ominous in a James Bond kind of way, no? My boss's name at the Foundation isn't Auric and he doesn't carry a golden gun. It's Antonia and she carries a brass crossbow.) I can honestly say this is the first class I taught where I didn't know all of the kids name. Blame all of it on a fairly nagging disinterest in teaching this term. Man, there were some punks in this class. Nothing but a distillation of all of that junk culture they're consuming--the WWF, Grand Theft Auto, hip hop shit. All attitude and nothing with which to back it up. Now, now...I know they're just wee tots trying to find themselves in these turbulent times we call Now. But, really, the bright kids stand out. They're still part of that pop culture consumption...they've begun to question it and move away from the center. But I digress.

I love how the kids just get locked up when it comes to making marks on the page. They freeze like a loogie on the sidewalk in winter. So concerned about getting the image right, getting everything to look exactly like it's supposed to look. "But I don't know how to draw a horse," they say. Or a tiger, or a human hand, or a car, or just about anything else I've asked them to draw over the course of the term. I've drawn my whole life, and with particular enthusiasm for the past eight years, and it's suprisingly difficult to gather together your technique into something fearsome and then loosen it up just enough to balance expression with technical precision. So I understand their trepidation. My training was wholly academic, with hours in front on the nude model every week, with anatomy classes, gesture drawings, copying the Masters, etc. Five years after graduation, I've just now lost some self-consciousness about technique. And I just want to throttle the kids and tell them to ENJOY the fact that they're just making marks on paper.

See, I'm convinced that--due to the ubiquity of cartoon/comic books/children's television--we all share this common visual language, a kind of universal consciousness that we can all tap in to. (Don't get on my case here: I know I'm pinching this from some art theory guy, and Jung, so don't bother telling me that these aren't original thoughts.) So I just wanted to tip the kids into that. Some of them seemed to miss it entirely, others understood it immediately. And, oddly and encouragingly enough, it was the kids who moped and whined and said they didn't know how to draw that could really draw just about anything I asked them to. I'd say, "Alright you little rugrats [again, because I couldn't remember their names] draw me a horse." After much bitching, they would and your could sure as hell tell it was a horse. I mean, it was a fucked up, totally psychotic and disproportionate horse...but it was a horse. I then had to sell them on the charms of their horse...how it's very oddness is what made it some compelling. But sometime, these kids are hard sells.

On Thursdays I leave work about 20 minutes, 3:10, early to make it down into Chicago for aforementioned class. Which means a whole new set of regulars on the Purple Line. (My Afternoon Lovely Train Crush Girl rides the 3:30--and she's not the same one as the Morning Lovely Train Crush Girl--but that's another post.) I've noticed this one older gentleman. He's probably pushing his upper sixties and he's a bit pink and jowly with watery blue eyes. I imagine him to be a lonely man but kindly. Perhaps a widower with no children. Or children gone off to other states and climes. I like to call him Paul. In my mind, he's a Korean War vet, and I've tried to imagine him with a pet. (A cat? No. A dog? Hmm. I can't tell. Perhaps. A stolid terrier? An arthritic shepherd mixed mutt? Probably not.) Anyway, I've noticed Paul has a bit of a shake about him, seems to be constantly nodding to himself. Most of the time he wears a brown baseball cap. But there've been a few times when he hasn't worn the hat. His head is bald with a horseshoe of wispy white hair around the sides and back. But the top of his head is all smooth, glossy white scar tissue. Not rough, lumpy scar tissue but just smooth and polished almost. There's a disturbing kind of beauty to it because it it contrasts so strongly with his otherwise baby-pink features. And the delineation between the pink and white is razor sharp. I always wonder how he got those scars...was it something that happened during the war? A car accident? Is it reason for his tremors? Is he self conscious about it, or did it happen so long ago that he doesn't even think about it?

I guess it doesn't matter, really. But I've kind of developed an odd affection for Paul. I hope he's not as lonely as I imagine him to be. But, then again, I think everyone is lonely at the rich, nougaty core of Self.

I like riding the train sometime. There's a cast of about ten regulars about whom I've made up all kinds of back stories. I really do like riding the train sometimes. Until Antonia comes after me with her brass crossbow for stealing the R-Ray gun from the Foundation and selling it to the Eskimos. Then it's just plain ugly.

I mentioned the walk down to the lake today, yes? I forgot to mention the horizon on these choppy says and how--instead of being perfectly flat--it rough and jumbled like the serrated edge of a bread knife. A disturbing sight.

....I've decided to write this blog as if I were writing directly to the Queen of Ropes. I've always been most inspired when waxing verbose to her, I've always been the most on my toes with the Queen, literarily speaking. So I guess this is really for her. But, sincerely, it's for me.

Muttonchops are doing well, thanks for asking. Just call me Choppy.

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