Monday, October 27, 2008

... But I Still Got It

I'm old.

How did that happen?

The last time I set foot in a college classroom was ten years ago, and in that time, I've developed an incurable case of oldstudentitis. Everything I thought I knew back then, I actually know now, yet surprisingly, still no one wants to hear it.

So, this is how leprosy feels!

It's not bad actually. So far, my professor's pretty darned impressed with my work, and that's all that really matters, I suppose. It would be nice if I could make friends in my class, but since it's online and only lasts six weeks, it would be pointless to try and reinvent myself four weeks in as a younger, cooler version of Avery Gray. The kind that knows when to shut her piehole and not out herself as a know-it-all teacher's pet.

(Actually, that part hasn't changed since...well, ever. I was a Mathlete, for crying out loud. You think they hand out that honor to back-sassers? I should say not!)

A good portion of our grade is in giving constructive feedback to our classmates, and, frankly, I don't lack for material. I know, art school is not generally considered a Mecca for Mensa members, but for the love of all things holy, the word is "beige", not "bage", and developing 20 design concepts does not mean sketching the same one 20 times and adding more and more glittery stars.

(Honestly, how do these people dress themselves?)

The work has been challenging. We're averaging 6 assignments a week, including a couple of professional quality 2-D presentations. Next week we start work on the first of our 3-D presentations--constructing a countertop point-of-purchase display. For some reason, I'm expecting a huge drop in enrollment between now and then. Just call it a crazy hunch.

Me, though, I've already started gearing up for the project. I've got my sketches done, my favorites picked, and every glittery star to be found in the greater Portland area.

Oh, yeah. I'm ready.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Boob Boy

There are always certain dangers associated with teaching your children to do things like talk or open doors. I learned that painful lesson this morning.

Until recently, we'd been able to keep Ethan out of our bedroom using a doorknob cover. The subtle nuances of the imposing plastic had heretofore proved an impenetrable defense against the pint-sized marauder. He lacked the manual dexterity and hand span necessary to squeeze both sides and twist at the same time.

We thought ourselves safe. What fools we were!

I woke this morning about an hour before Ethan usually does and hopped in the shower, thinking nothing of the dangers lurking just outside. As soon as I turned the water off and pulled back the curtain, I heard it...

"Hi, Mom!"

Now, I'm not a prude, nor am I ashamed of my body. Ethan has seen me without my clothes on a number of times before, just not since he's been able to voice his observations.

E: "Mom, what are those?"

Me: "What are what?"

E: "Those big things on your chest."

Me: "Those are called breasts."

E: "Bretts?"

Me: "Close enough."

E: "Wow, Mom! They're bee-yoo-ti-full!"

Me: "Uh...thanks."

E: "You know what they look like?"

Me: "I'm afraid you're going to tell me."

E: "They look like...


like my backpack!"

Me: "WHAT?!"

E: "My backpack's beautiful, too."

I'm thinking moat.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Up

The service for my uncle was a beautiful affair, and I'm feeling much more at peace with his sudden passing. I want to thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. They have meant so much to me.

It has been a rough couple of weeks, but things are starting to look up. My dad has been approached by the local community college about putting together a curriculum for a DIY class on wind-powered generators. Though he won't get paid much, he will be part of the college staff, which means he'll get health benefits. That's fortunate because he has leukemia (in remission), and his insurance costs $900 a month.

(Kick someone when they're down, why don'tcha.)

School is going well. We had four assignments to complete this week, one of which was to provide a sample of a Photoshopped image--be it hand-drawn or an edited photo. Since I just got a nifty little Wacom graphics tablet for the class, I opted for the hand-drawn option. This could have gone horribly awry, considering that I haven't done much drawing for the past ten years, but I think it turned out alright.


The professor really liked it, but I haven't had much feedback from the rest of the class, so I'm getting a little nervous about it. This is a class filled with graphic design students of all levels, so to some of them, it could look horribly amateur, but since no one else has submitted their images, I don't have anything to compare it to.

Any graphic designers out there care to tear me a new one? I can take it, I swear!

On to the cute side of the news...

Last night, we attended Ethan's school open house where we had the opportunity to read the reports the students had dictated to the teachers about the most special people in their lives. Here's Ethan's:

"This is my mom. She's special to me because she likes me. She lets me watch TV. I watch SpongeBob with her.

When she was a kid, she was 10 years old.

Her hair is brown, her eyes are green, her lips look like a paint color. Her skin is peach colored.

My mom likes to take me to Kindergarten. She works in a factory, it's a juice factory. She lives in a home. It's at the bottom of Dibb's (Deb's) house. She has a kitty named Arrow. The kitty looks like a little cat to me.

My mom likes to watch TV with my dad, sports games. They like to hold hands, and they like to talk in the car.

The end."

Sweet, ain't it?

Apparently, to my son, I'm a green-eyed, painted harlot who works in a juice factory. Awesome.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Always Darkest...

This week has been a very sad one for me.

On Monday, I learned that my parents, who have owned their own small business for the past twenty some-odd years, will be losing it come December 31st. It was a business that my dad especially put his heart and soul into, and with it goes their livelihood. They're worried, naturally, about finances. About whether or not they'll be able to find jobs in this economy. About starting over in their 60's. I can't say those fears are unfounded.

I haven't always seen eye-to-eye with my parents, but I still love them, and their loss still pains me. I hadn't quite recovered from their news when I got the phone call Tuesday morning that my uncle, who was very dear to me, died unexpectedly of a heart attack while he was visiting his wife in the ICU. My aunt's not expected to make it much longer either.

I've cried more these past few days than I have in several years, until I didn't think there could possibly be any more tears. But then I'd see something, or hear something, or think something, and it would set me off again--the bench my uncle made for me when I was seven that has probably seen better days, but which I've always found a special place for wherever I've lived, or the antique fishing pole he gave me when I got married, making me promise we'd go fishing together the coming spring.

The coming spring, I was pregnant, and we never did go fishing. Of all the regrets I have, somehow that one eats at me the most. Still, I know he wouldn't want me to wallow in sadness. He'd tell me to buck up and get on with life, just as he'd done any number of times in his own. Despite whatever hardships he faced--and there were many--he was always kind, always positive, and always determined. It's what I loved most about him.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my own life lately and what I want to do with it. I'm blessed with the option to choose which direction I take it, but I've squandered perfectly good opportunities in favor of waiting for the "right time" to take advantage of them. When will I ever learn? If anything, this week has reminded me that there is no right time, there is only right now.

Although I'd already planned to go back to school before all of this happened, this cemented the decision for me. Now I'm all signed up to begin my first class in a one year online digital design program at the Art Institute on Monday. It's the first step toward a career in graphic design, which has always interested me.

I'm nervous and excited, but most of all, I'm grateful--for the parents who raised me, and the uncle who inspired me.