I’m the type who might build a staircase out of discarded wood palettes. After all, when I want to change the color of my eyeglasses, I paint the frames. With nail polish. Looks great; can’t even tell. I know because people say “I like your glasses” and I say “Thanks”.
I can’t buy eyeglasses in a store for $500 to $800. At Kaiser they consider my glasses a luxury (dispite the fact that I can’t read or drive without them). I think hard before I pay out of pocket for the eye exam, much less the glasses. So, I understand an artist loft in a bad neighborhood and a house full of what not that burns easily.
Truth is, in the Bay Area (home of all things tech) housing has moved from a right to a privilege; soon to be a luxury. There are some nice tents under the freeways. I even understand the appeal. The freedom. Still, it’s not a way to live.
Nowadays when I see a picture of Obama, I get teary eyed. He’s an intelligent, graceful man. A cool guy even. There was such hope! And now all my people are stunned and afraid of apocalyptic things with a madman at the helm.
These days I feel I could I could burst into tears over any number of situations in my country and in the world at large. But I don’t cry, I sing instead. I sing because neuroscience has shown: a person can not sing and be negative at the same time. The Ah, O and E sounds work best. So I sing because I choose happiness because with that I may be able to do something.
This morning I went into my copy shop to make the gouache painting I did last night into a holiday card. This shop is close to my house and small. It is owned by an Arab man. He and his son work there. As I am waiting for him to finish my job I look around the shop. Usually I look at the artwork hung on the walls as it changes monthly because the shop is across the street from an art school. Today I am further back in the shop. I am looking at the posters on the walls. They are from “Amnesty International” and “Greenpeace” and “Doctors without Borders”. I say “Hey, we donate to the same places!” and he says back, “They need us now more than ever, right?” And I say “right.”
Normally, I’m all for meditation. All over it in fact, every morning.
There are “mindfulness” programs in schools, especially inner city ones where all the kids are on the free lunch program and 70% of the kids when asked will answer yes to the question, ” Do you know anyone whose been shot and killed?”
Ditto, for this program in jails. This program is very helpful and successfull. Simply put, it brings in the pause ( the old “count to ten”) before you hit someone on the playground. It’s very helpful. In schools like the ones I teach at, this program is maybe less necessary.
After school art class had been over for a while and I was cleaning up. David was hanging out while I did this. I thought he was waiting for his parent to pick him up. He is lithe and lively and bounced around in his tiny six year old body talking to me as I gathered my tools and such.
Almost done, I checked my list and saw that David was supposed to go to the schools’ after care program so I mention perhaps he should get on down there.
His bouncy body slumps into a giant C as he plunks down in a chair.
“What’s wrong? Don’t you like after care? Why not?”
“UGH! They make us Meditate.”
(Feigning indignation I say) “What!? Meditate!? You mean you don’t get to run around with a ball or something? What do they make you do, listen to a bell?” (Knowing they do this)
“Meditation is, well, (groan) it’s hard to explain.”
There is a difference between Office Max and Office Depot. Office Max has cooler folder designs. I went back again to get more.
A latina with her small daughter (and small son and husband) is asking us people behind her in line something intensely. I am thinking maybe she doesn’t have enough money to finish the sale and am ready to contribute. But no, that isn’t it. So I ask her in Spanish and she answers in Spanish but I still don’t get it. Either do the other people in line. Then, with the two languages now all-mixed-up and lots of (very important) hand gestures, I get it.
The folders (which she is buying for her daughter’s school) are $0.01 each (that’s one cent) but there is a limit of 5 per customer so she has enough money for the whole school which is like $5. and she is needing people to help her 5 cents at a time. We all of course help now that we understand the situation but there’s only 4 of us in line. Is she going to be there all day, I wonder. I give her some bills also. “For the cause” I say.
I am thinking WTF which is what I usually think about any situation involving public school, and ask her in Spanish the name of her daughter’s school. “Ascend” she says, “in Oakland”.
With a mother like that, those kids can possibly go places, even with school as bad as it is.