mine has been an odd one, that's for sure! full of corkscrews and resistance and anger and ecstasy.
and it absolutely continues to be that way.
did you know i graduated from continuation school? ha! it's true! i was in honors classes prior to that and it was pretty hilarious to see my old class-mates pop up there too. ha!
it was there however, at the school for "bad kids", that i read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, the first 1000 page book i'd ever read, the first book that i felt really did leave an indelible mark on my life... it changed everything.
and it was while i was enrolled there, after having read that book, that i became a california state art scholar. which made everybody do a double-take! hahaha! one day i was a step away from dropping out and the next, i had a medal in my hand. very odd!
i can't tell you how long i lived as a statistic, how close i was to always being a statistic. and i think it was my hatred for that "statistic" that made me hungry for something more, something else, something Other. that, and a teacher who believed in me.
it was then that the dream and act of writing, of being a writer, really really woke up. woke up hard and fast and burning and searing and flailing. wild! and totally uncontrollable. i always had my notebook with me. always. and i held that dream tight. i decided to follow it. i decided to believe in myself the way my teacher had: my lovely, lovely Mrs. V.
after graduation, i spent 7 LONG YEARS at the same junior college, plugging away and trying to devise a plan for somehow finding the money to go to a university. it absolutely took that long for certain doors in the financial aid department to open up for me. and so in the meantime, i decided to keep in practice, keep going to school, keep working, keep trying, keep searching for a way out of my circumstances.
7 years of life-drawing. of every single art class the school offered. every writing course. and religious studies and history and literature and math and psychology. everything that i had even the fainted interest in. and at the time i hated it.
i felt caged and ridiculous. i felt like a fucking loser. i spend a lot of time feeling entirely lost and completely helpless and utterly stupid... full of anger and regret and despair. of course, despair. like most teenagers, my dreams where way too big for my little town and it was soul-crushing to have to stay put that long.
but now, i couldn't be more grateful for the weird meandering line my education has followed.
during those 7 years, i worked too. some really un-fun jobs. i wasn't just hanging out (though i did a fair amount of that too and had all the horrible experiences everyone has). a couple times i held down two jobs while going to school. and there was one really, really bad relationship tucked up in there too. and for awhile, i double-majored in english and fine art. after a year and a half, art won out. at the time, i figured that if art wasn't what i ended up doing for the rest of my life, it would at least lead me to what i would be doing and i've been following it ever since.
i was 25 when i got to art school. the first day of class was my birthday, in fact. best present i ever got. and the best thing about it- i got it for myself. my circumstances had changed. it took a lot of heartache to get them to change, i won't lie. it took a lot of persistence and failures.. but they did change. and i changed my life with my own two hands.
that memory in particular is the one i lean on most when i'm feeling defeated. that i did it once, i can do it again. all i have to do is keep trying. and that fighting spirit is what i lost during the big bad 2 year depression. i completely lost it. gone. and being without that strength of will was so damn painful, so scary. that little spark of rebellion, of refusal to accept one's circumstances as THE RULE, is so important. amazingly important. because until i die, the struggle and shit of the world will be mine too. the ability to believe in myself is the only thing that got me through the shit thus far. to have that spark back feels so amazing and securing and valuable. like a gem... or a childhood relic that has been saved from the yard sale.
and it was the dream and act of writing that kept me from slipping back in to the hated "statistic".
and so my education continues. it has not stopped. even that depression is part of it. even that has value now that i'm on the other side of it. if anything, my education has gotten deeper as a result. it's so much more personal and fiery, full of such exquisite twists. it is scary and angering and beautiful... this search, this reaching out. it's even embarrassing sometimes but it makes my life so full and alive and buzzing. i've never read so much in my life as i am reading right now. and i am actively seeking more things to read- things that are definitely not at Barnes & Noble, things that have to be hunted down, wrestled with, slept with, fought with. things that piss me off and offend me sometimes, things that really do challenge my ethics and force me to look inside myself and see why i believe the things i do. sometimes, my beliefs have changed. other times, they've been made stronger. trial by fire, to be sure. and all the while, i maintain a certain level of fresh naivety because naivety keeps you from feeling intimidated in a lot of ways. when you don't know any better, you're more able to just be yourself. you're open and interested and, in some ways, entirely fearless. just like a little kid. and since i was a shy child, always so full of fear, this fearless playfulness feels wonderful.
this is one of the reasons i get a kick out of things like National Poetry Month- a built-in excuse to be playful, to be a "nerd", to take charge of my own education, to make the rules up for myself, to cater to my own interests, to lavish in adulthood this way, to decide for myself what is worth-while. i love it!
education has a very broad definition... or, at least, it should. it is a life's work. at least i think so. and it doesn't stop after the degree is in your hand. in fact, in the 2 years since i got mine, all the stuff i read has really started to sink in... and it has made me so hungry for more. it's like i've learned how to see. lived experience is what all the theories and studies and ideas are derivative of. when we study, we're studying life in all its forms- all its beauty and weirdness and atrocity. if i have a definition for what "education" is, it's that: learning how to see. just see.
anyway, i'm feeling sentimental now. ha! i'll be back later with today's poem. there's more coffee to drink and more ideas to play with and it's still early. good morning. :)
these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.
thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.
my artist website is here.
my artist website is here.