Some of you may or may not know this (depends on how much you pay attention to my blathering), but I am quite the educated lady. I don’t mean that I’m smart or wise or know shit, though. I mean I’ve had a breadth of education.
In spite of approximately a decade of higher education, I still consider myself pretty much an imbecile.
When I first moved to California, I had just graduated high school. I went to community college for two years, where I did what I always planned on doing – majoring in studio arts. But as time wore on, the obsessive nagging of my parents to “do something more realistic” got to me so I changed my major to political science and philosophy. After earning a bachelor’s degree, I went on to graduate school in philosophy, became terribly disillusioned with the entire process, left graduate school and have since been floundering around.
To some degree, I’m pretty happy with my current life. I homeschool, which in a way is teaching – it just isn’t a room full of college kids, or (for the most part) philosophy that I’m teaching. And I get to have the time to be a writer, which is cool.
But something in the back of my mind (heart, soul, whathaveyou) has not been satisfied in all of this. I miss being an artist.
Semester after semester has gone by that I have attempted to take an art class at the local college; or to start drawing and painting on my own – neither thing I have done in over 10 years. I thought that after I renounced majoring in studio arts, I really needed to renounce art altogether to be comfortable with doing that. And so it has been a struggle to get back into it. I find excuses not to draw or paint on my own. Classes I have signed up for have been canceled, or I have found a reason not to take them in the end.
Then last night, I got passed into a class that was full at the local community college by my former studio arts advisor and teacher. He remembered me. He was happy to add me, in spite of the fact that the class was already filled to capacity. Today the class began.
But there are things that come along with going “back to school” that strike me as odd, maybe annoying – even when I’m just going for fun.
#1 Student Parking = State of Nature With Cars
I never used to have problems parking at school. There were always spots, and where I wanted to park. I never had to get to class an hour or two early just to have a place to put my car. Now it’s different, though. Now you have to very carefully manipulate yourself around the parking lot to get a spot.
You have to defend your prized place with everything you have in you too. After parking my car today (something that took twenty minutes and an hour early to class to do), I saw two guys get out of their cars and begin to fist fight for a spot. As I walked to class I heard someone screaming obscenities out their window.
Student parking is like the state of nature with cars. It’s nasty. It’s brutal. But if you don’t hold your ground, you won’t get a spot and you’ll miss your class. With a student body of roughly 12,000, it seems like the college could work to have better and more adequate parking availability. But then again, maybe this is a part of weeding out the weaklings. Only the true warriors will survive in this community college.
#2 Artists Have Too Much Freedom
I realized today a big part of why I have avoided doing art on my own for so long – there is too much freedom in it. After I changed to a political science and philosophy major – and especially when I went to graduate school – I fell into that groove of doing exactly what I was told. Papers could be about one topic, and one topic only. And it was the topic you were told. Essay length was no more and no less than what the professor told you as well.
You can imagine, then, my response today when my professor said “projects this semester are entirely based on you and what you want to do … it will be your topics, your ideas, and whatever medium you wish to use.” I almost passed out. Choice? Freedom? My ideas? These are concepts I abandoned a long, long time ago.
#3 There’s Always That One Asshole…
Something I absolutely despise about community college classes is there is always that one asshole that has to show off to the teacher. It’s as if they designate this person in the registrar’s office in the beginning of each term. “OK, we need some total jerk off that will interrupt the teacher, try and impress everyone with facts, ask way too many questions, and share a plethora of personal information no one else in the class wants to know.”
It never fails. Every single damned class I have ever taken has been like that. These people in community colleges – no matter how old, how seasoned, how experienced they are – just don’t know when to shut the hell up.
This class is no exception.
This lady in the class (and I call her “lady” using the term loosely, really I just want to signify that she is clearly older than me), will not shut up. She asked no less than forty-five questions today. She talked and talked and fuggin’ talked over the teacher. She rambled when her name came up during roll. She rambled when other people’s names came up. And just when the class was about to dismiss, she asked a detailed question that absolutely required a detailed answer.
So our first assignment to kick start all of this free-will-do whatever you’d like-stuff is to do a self-portrait. Of course even that is loosey-goosey: we can do something that isn’t even an image of ourselves, just what we think of when we think of “me.” I started snapping photos of myself today to see what I could come up with, and this photo below is my favorite. It really depicts all the levels of my psychosis. I think I’ll call it A Portrait of the Artist as a Young B(itch). Or – alternatively – Psychotic Nosepicker, a Study.