I’ll never forget the most annoying moment from art school, there were many, but this one takes the cake. For a sculpture class I had to create a micro-organism out of trash. (That’s not even the annoying part.) I was in class, madly trying to hot glue cans together to make, well, something, I did indeed forget that part – something that represented something else that was very very very small.
The professor had a way of scoffing at people that was very obvious, he didn’t even try to hide his disdain.
He looked at me and started to roll his eyes when they were allured by something else…something had entered the room that made him smile, with REAL joy – not the joy of a sarcastic comment lacking in wit forming in his stinkin’ head, but true and authentic, honest-to-goodness––joy. His eyes followed the source of this joy to my table…
A package of toilet seat covers flopped down to my right.
TOILET. Seat. Covers.
They were still in the package! They had obviously been stolen on the way there because this kid next to me hadn’t started that redonkulous project yet!! Fucking brilliant, said the prof with a rare nod of approval as he sauntered away…art school, man, serrrrriously. That prof was not my favorite, but he forced me into a practice that I now adore.
At the time I always bought flimsy sketchbooks with wire looping. This friggin’ guy demanded that we purchase the hardbound sketchbooks – they cost three times as much $! “They are more permanent”, he said. “You’ll hesitate to rip out pages, preserving ideas you might later enjoy”, he said. “You’ll be more thoughtful before sketching”, he said.
I was peeved at the time, but he was absolutely and completely right.
I looove my hardbound sketchbooks. I’m near finishing one right now that I started in 2010! The sketchbook opens with a page labeled, “Laid Off, Part Duex”, and lays out plans to make the best of a bummer.
(A newspaper company had just eliminated my position in a corporate restructuring, just two years after a corporate acquisition shut down the office where I’d worked my way up to management. Two years later I would lose another job, this time to a business simply dying. The recession has really beat the shite outta me.)
There are chunks of time where I either didn’t sketch, or was working in an unknown book, but two hardbound sketchbooks contain the majority of ideas I’ve had since 2003! It’s a trip to look through. They span twelve years, from age 20 to age 32…and those are some growin’ years, son.
I regrettably threw away all of my journals in a moment of self-loathing sometime between the second and third layoff; imagining a time where I’d smile at my past self and feel amazed at growth seemed impossible. I was ashamed, so they had to go.
Those musings are lost, but the sketchbooks act as an audible echo of the things that I experienced.
I can look at a drawing of my dreamhouse from 2003; and remember that I was about to meet my first serious boyfriend, who I’d move in with just a few months later. I’d get hired by a company with the same name as our apartment complex, and it would feel serendipitous. I remember that I had just finished Conversations with God as well as The BE Book, and that’s why I was drawing my dream house.
There’s a list of ideas for the very first charity event I organized, and I remember how that event unfolded SO perfectly; making me think of Paulo Coelho’s musings on beginner’s luck. There’s a sloppy drawing I did during a resulting trip to New York for an environmentalist retreat; I got very insecure because everyone there was incredibly intelligent and confident and I didn’t know how to be like that, so I drank too much and hid in my sketchbook.
It covers my brief song writing phase, I even had a guitar for a few weeks. I wrote a song about proverbially saving the world with my shoes untied, another about a hot dude, and a few about my evolving consciousness. I outlined stories, and jotted down novel ideas. I bulleted cover letters. I thought of my beloved Halcyon Cafe. I prepared for art shows, planned bachelorette parties, and thought of painting ideas.
On it goes, these two books follow my brainstorms and doodles through the seven different cities I’ve lived in since that sarcastic prof; all of the romance (not much sketching), all of the singledom (wayyy more sketching), all of the vocational havoc, the friends I miss, and those I still have. A page might just look like it simply contains a list of venues scribbled in purple marker – but there are precious memories hidden in those words!
I spent a solid amount of time perusing these two books last night, feeling both proud of what I wrote in them and cringing/delighting at the memories of what was going on in the rest of my life. I feel accomplished for how many ideas came to fruition, I feel frustrated for how many are yet to be, and I feel inspired get them there.
Most of all, I feel happy that that arse made me buy a quality vessel in which to write it all down.