"blah blah blah"


my little nephew jimmy turns eighteen today. damn. amazing.
i wonder if my sister and her husband have gotten numb to teaching. to finding students who "get it." the one or two people in a class who understand. maybe it's a night school thing. maybe it's the re-education process.

i had an amazing thing happen last quarter at ucla extension. i had a few students who i pushed. they did good work, they were breezing through assignments. and then i decided to make them work harder. i made them explore. write. do things again. and some pretty great pieces came out of it. and some pretty amazing people.

i was at another class tonight, an advanced design class, and saw one of these people in action. first of all, the two pieces she showed stood far above the rest. not just because of the design and the photography, but because of the depth. one piece was about a quote from alexander hamilton. to research the piece, this woman read the constitution and read the amendments until she understood it, and then she started to design her piece.

the advantage she had over everyone else was obvious. some people can knock out a good design, use type and images well. they can make something look good. but at the root of the piece, there is nothing. there is a superficial understanding or awareness of the content or the intention. this woman, however, had such depth and understanding that the design of the piece was icing on the cake. the range of elements she had to use, the manner in which she used them -- all came because she had choices. she knew what she wanted to say and made choices about how she wanted to say it. the result was a beautiful piece, rich, layered, and with only one very subtle image. and i have to say that text pieces don't usually grab me. but this was elegant.

content. it makes all the difference in the world. and she gets it. the rest of the class had ideas and notions and did some good looking work. but...content... can i say it enough times? i felt proud. but honestly, i feel that this woman has surpassed me design-wise. or will soon. i give myself the same challenges that i give my students, but too often, i find myself being lazy or clever and using old tricks. i try like hell not to, but sometimes you just gotta do the work and finish it up for the client. but to see this woman (and a couple of others) go beyond the effort i make myself... it's humbling.

there's no punchline. no joke. no hidden agenda. i'm doing some side projects with this woman and another from my last class. and it's invigorating. they're inspired, they're inspiring. they throw challenges back at me. they make me think. make me work. make me live up to the standards i teach in class. (this standards stuff may sound like a load of bullshit, but I really do try to make my students think and work and put themselves into their work. personality in their work is the only thing that is going to separate them from the rest of the people out there.)

anyway. it was an amazing night. and i was just an observer.

i had another great night last night. i went to a friend's fiftieth birthday party. a surprise party, for which i was late. that part wasn't great. you can really grow to hate Pasadena, with it's ill-marked streets. it's as though they don't want you to know what the streets are so that maybe if you're not a native you'll just drive right on through. I was driving around lost for about half an hour looking for a stupid little street. and i had a map and a light and my glasses, and i still couldn't find the place. but that was the bad part. the good part was the party and my friend's reaction. this is jackie english. she of the halloween party. we've known each other since the carter years back in d.c. she was working at the folger theater while i was trying to be an actor. we were great friends then and that has lasted for over twenty years. i have this theory that doing a play is like being in a war. the relationships created over that relatively short period last a lifetime. you create life and spectacle out of words on paper. (or you create a big dumbass fish that gets wheeled out onstage.) but the struggle to get the show together bonds you. big deal theory, eh? anyway, those people from the folger theater (theatre) are my war buddies.
but the party... at a mexican restaurant in lovely lovely pasadena. several of her friends from out of town came in. friends who live here. her brother and sister in law. it was really great. i don't think i have ever seen her so moved. {"tears, tears, cry, cry" we chanted as her eyes welled up and she choked on her words-- i never said i wasn't a sonofabitch). it was truly wonderful. (and margaritas don't get me drunk. they just give me an instant headache. so i didn't have too many of them. aren't we proud???)

i'm going to leave it at that. well, sort of. i'm nervously tapping my fingers on the keyboard, playing some assinine asinine stupid rhythm. i have under thirty minutes to get to the store and get some beer. or something. just the mention of the margaritas. i've mentioned this power of suggestion fatal flaw before.

okay. deep breaths. ready set go! ha. just kidding. i'll calmly wrap this up. neat clean ending. comb my hairs. count my dollar bills and walk over to the store. the walk will do me good. the rest of it...

oh, yeah. and i'm probably hooked at the other school where i teach. as a girl was leaving class the other day, she asked my what i was teaching next quarter. i said i didn't know if i was going to be back and if i were to come back i didn't know what i'd be teaching. she said "I hope you come back. we need you here." and i don't think anyone paid her to say that. that place is such a struggle. eighteen and nineteen year olds. slouched back with a glazed look, or staring at the desk tops. but many of them are proving to be interesting and willing to learn. maybe it's just a matter of building up some kind of relationship between us. so we trust each other. understand each other.

i'm sorry this is so boring. it's just that things have been pretty good. kind of. sort of.

oh. at that party. one of the people there was telling me that someone jackie worked with had just died that day. but he didn't want to tell her. someone they both worked with. went into the hospital for one thing last week and they found lung cancer. 49 years old, the guy died. the guy i was talking to was pretty shaken up. nervous, anxious, upset. we started talking about other deaths. unexpected ones. ones where there was a diagnosis and then a death shortly afterwards. i hadn't talked about my dad in a long time. but i found myself doing it to try to console this guy. using my dad's death to make this guy feel that these were universal feelings he was having. that he wasn't alone. sometimes it's a hard thing to remember.

much better way to end.

too late for pavilion's...

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