Saturday, November 21, 2009

Herding the Munchkins

#234, Draw Something That Doesn't Belong To You; #153, Draw Something Under Plastic; #152, Draw a Nut

Like so many others, our state is experiencing a financial meltdown. Now the government, local labor unions, and the Board of Education are involved in a power struggle, understandable from several points of view (i.e., perspective, which as an artist I completely get) but the outcome is really, really sad. Our public schools have closed for one day a week. This would be tragic anywhere, but here in Hawaii, we already have one of the shortest school years and woefully inadequate educational systems in the nation. We cannot afford to rob children of classtime. I'd get on a soapbox but I don't have one -- or a solution, either.

So I got involved, on a whim, really. I volunteered to "help" with this program that offers art education on "Furlough Fridays." I'm not a teacher, I don't have children of my own, or much experience with the little critters. I just thought that I could pitch in somehow -- office work, I thought, or preparing lunch. I didn't think I'd be thrown into the front lines! Now it's my job to keep the 7 to 9 year olds together, and move them through four class periods per day, one day a week. It's been trippy! I don't want to get into stories, because there are so many (kids are so cute!! Whodda thunk?) and I'm afraid once I start relating the stories I couldn't stop, but I will share one pet peeve. Why the HECK do they show up each morning carrying snacks and trinkets that I ultimately have to be responsible for?

Last Friday I came home, emptied my purse, and found these: a plastic, robotic sort of toy that three little boys were fighting over. Once I confiscated him, "Tron" immediately got lost in the depths of my purse. The sand filled crocheted ball is meant to be bounced off of feet in a show of agility, but instead it was getting thrown, hard, at other kids. The bag of smoked almonds has been in and out of my purse several times now. A teacher takes it away during a drawing class, I carry it back to the breakroom and return it to its owner's lunchbox, until it shows up once more in the next class and the cycle starts over. I try to return all of these 'purse treasures' at the end of the day, but since the parents show up whenever they feel like it to take their kids home I often miss the opportunity. So I have to keep these objects safe, until next Friday, when no doubt I'll inadvertently bring another haul home with me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Send Out the Clowns!

#247 - Draw Something Creepy

Maybe I'm perverse, but I just never found them cute, or the least bit entertaining. In fact, they sort of creeped me out. An adult, decked out in Kabuki face paint with grotesquely exaggerated expressions, communicating only in mime, perhaps punctuated with blasts from an 'aruuugah-horn,' and this is supposed to represent happiness? Joy? It simply didn't work for me when I was a child, still doesn't. My stereotype is more Stephen King's Pennywise than Bozo or Clarabelle!
I thought I was alone in this opinion until I met my future husband, and he told me his clown story. When he was 7 or 8 the circus came to town. The neighborhood boys were told that if they helped with setting up the tents, they would be given free tickets to the show. For a whole day they hauled lines, hoisted bales and ran errands. But then, when all was finished, the tired, hopeful little boys outnumbered the proffered tickets and those not quick or big enough to push to the front of the line were sent home, crushed and empty handed. He was part of this group.

At showtime he bravely marched back and told the ticketbooth lady what had happened, politely requesting admission in the name of fairness. She refused. He slipped away to the side of the tent, found a gap near the ground and rolled himself into the Big Top. Unfortunately he tumbled right on to a giant floppy shoe. A clown -- one not the least jolly -- roughly grabbed him by the shoulders and marched him out the back entrance, threatening police intervention and peppering him with foul language all the while.

"I hate clowns!" my husband says. And he means it. We are reasonable people, somewhat sociable; we've both been described as having a good sense of humor. But we share one dark secret -- we discriminate against clowns.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Have We Met In A Past Life?

#185 - Draw a Cat

Meet Squirt, the sole feline member of our little household. He is a recycled feral creature, which means he has lots of quirks, issues and attitude. His typical day starts with breakfast on the lanai. Here he allows us the honor of giving him some food, so long as we don't linger to watch him eat it. We might be so bold as to touch him on a good day, but if we do he stays shock-still until the ordeal is over. Later he will mosey over to his nap spot outside the bedroom door and lay down on the doormat after pummelling it into a lumpy wad. While on the lanai he tolerates our presence so long as no petting or prolonged eye contact is involved. If he catches sight of us down in the yard, however, he runs as if from death itself and hides. The same thing happens if he sees us exit the house from the back door instead of the front. Out the back door, we are monsters! From the front, we might feed him. (At least I guess that's his reasoning.)

Then comes bedtime. Around eleven, he scratches at the door and my husband lets him in. He jumps into bed with us, and now is a different animal. He demands touching, cuddling, petting. His purring is so loud it's hard to sleep! Should we ignore him, he launches himself against our bodies and performs a weird somersaulting movement, pulling himself against us to simulate the sensation of stroking. Sometimes he will even wake us with tentative pawing, in the early morning hours, to experience more touch and attention. But come daylight we are again treated with great suspicion and reserve.

"He is so bizarre!" my husband and I declare. "Have you ever seen such behavior?" we ask each other. Well, actually, I must admit that the behavior isn't totally unknown to me. I just realized recently that when I was a single lady (years ago!!) I met, or heard from my girlfriends about, many such males. If I were to believe in karmic reincarnation, then maybe my Squirt was once a commitment phobic Lothario!