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The Flu Continues, So Does Artsomofo!

Eyes Looking Up
9B graphite pencil on paper, example for Michele Nizam's 'Drawing By Observing' workshop on NING. Michele got a little crunched for time and asked me to do two examples, both face on, of eyes looking up and eyes looking to the side. So that's what I did today.

Eyes Looking To Side
9B graphite pencil on paper.

So there's my two example pairs of eyes, both done with the self-portrait mirror I picked up from Blick. It's very cool -- an acrylic mirror, very true and clear, folded over so there's a slightly angled mirror on both sides. I could set it on a table between me and another artist to both do self portraits at the same time. I got the two-sided one since it looked stabler than the one-sided one and was only three bucks more. It's also unbreakable and so stable my cat can't knock it over.

I have still also got a sore throat, earache, nausea, body aches, deep painful productive cough and digestive pains going on from the Bug that Hit The Household. If I drink enough liquids and potions and sit still, I will throw it off in time. Honey to boost my immune system is in every meal. We are all eating hot bowls of soup or porridge now to try to knock it out (and keep some food down). Night before last, poor little Sascha got up in the middle of the night and threw up but she must be better since she did go to school.

Or just determined to go to school, she loves school. She has friends there. She socializes and the little chatterbox is probably already the most popular girl in her grade. She's smart, she's pretty, she scores high on everything they're doing and loves the slides, the playground, the kids. It's so cool to see a kid that's not having a hard time with school.

I have been very careful not to mention any school memories that aren't Neutral or Good because I don't want to scare her or put her off it. She's bursting with health and beauty, she dresses well, she keeps up with everything and she's in a public school where there is no inherent prejudice against her on religious grounds.

I wound up in a Catholic school and by the end of my first year wasn't Catholic. As soon as I understood the dogma, I disagreed with it. This culminated in second grade in my refusing Confirmation. I had a nightmare experience throughout grade school in that environment -- but until very recently did not put two and two together to comprehend that I was disrupting that school anytime history, social studies, religion, current events or any other topic that could conceivably have a Catholic slant came up.

I spouted Protestant heresy anytime I opened my mouth. So naturally the nuns were trying to stamp that out. They were telling the kids I was going to burn in hell, pretty much declaring open season for bullies and then on top of it I was disabled and would've been scapegoated for the limp and the "spazz" walk that so many of the kids mimicked with such cruel accuracy. That school officially held "The Bullying System" as right and important to help the children learn their place in the social order.

That was in the 1950s when people didn't really question that idea as much as they do today.

Sascha's experience is a lot better. I am so happy for her every time she bursts in the door waving something she colored or a sheet of perfectly drawn letters. It's not the same. Maybe it's nothing like what I went through for her.

I can only hope that today's regulations are helping for the kids who are more in my position, who are disabled and different. Some things give me the willies, like the boilerplate essay thing in AP programs. Others, like the fact of AP programs at all, give me hope. At least with what I've read about how they do gym now, today's gym teachers would be supposed to diagnose a real limp like that, refer to a doctor and adjust their expectations accordingly -- comprehend it when a kid like me is doing his personal best even when that is so far below par that it's pathetic, laughable.

I think the memories are coming back because of the flu. I got sick so often that I didn't get to go home when sick and most of the time didn't get to lay down for a break either. If I didn't get sick, I got injured in gym. If I didn't get injured in gym, I got beat up. Sometimes all three happened in the same day. No one noticed. It still boggles me that no one noticed.
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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 7th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Wow. I remember when Kitten was pregnant with Sascha. It's a little weird to think that she's now school-age! (Although I'm sure that's much more so for you guys!)
Oct. 8th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
It's been much more gradual for us. When she was pregnant with Sascha I wasn't living with her but I saw her pretty soon after that, baby and all, and now Sascha is five. I've lived with her for three years. She isn't a baby. She's a bright, slim, pretty, incredibly energetic and healthy little girl who's articulate and loves school so much that she was up at four thirty this morning asking if it was time to go to school yet.

Poor Karl. Between that and Gabriel trying out for his future screampunk career, no one got much sleep.
Oct. 8th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
Second grade? Yikes... most places I hear about wait until at least twice that age, now. But nobody agrees about what age is right, so there can still be a pretty wide range. For the record, I don't like the idea of religious commitments by kids who may not understand them, and who are still susceptible to a lot of pressure from parents.
Oct. 8th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
That's good to know. It wouldn't have changed anything for me though. It would've meant two or three more years of putting up with being dragged to a church I didn't believe in and put through rigorous calisthenics in ritual, something I loathed for its hypocrisy. I faced it openly and one part of it ended at that conflict.

I didn't have to actually attend that church any more. I was just stuck in that school where abuse was daily and on the part of at least some of those abusers, a matter of conscience.

It also played hob with my grades and academic record. I think some of the classes I flunked in grade school were on ideological grounds. Funny how when I got into the public school my grades went up so fast without any added effort on my part -- because the teachers were just glad a kid was awake and more or less on topic and judged my schoolwork as schoolwork instead of sedition, deviance, heresy and whether it would destroy Western civilization.

I had some art classes that didn't have that slant and the art teachers thought I was cool but those were so fleeting. I guess that was the start of "art class is where I can relax and will not get attacked, punished just for existing or forced to do things I can't manage physically."

I'm still sorting all of it out, trying to come to peace with it, figure out who I'd have been if I wasn't abused.
Oct. 9th, 2009 05:26 am (UTC)
That's another difference, though I'd say it's for worse. A lot of Catholic schools and especially families seem to still push their kids into attending church even if they refuse Confirmation. Not a majority, but I've heard it become a 'go to Mass or find a new home' sort of deal.

The question of who you'd have been is an interesting one to even consider. Most people I know who've been in any sort of crappy childhood situation, myself included, don't tend to spend much time on it. Personally, I figure that it started so early and was so integral that it can't be separated from my character formation. So it's only worth it for specific things that need to be revisited and reworked so that I can better live my life.
Oct. 10th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
I ask it of myself now a lot, because I want to somehow completely decondition myself from that nightmare and have a richer life.

No one ever put anything like that to me "or get another home." I think they knew that I'd have jumped at it as a reason to leave, permission to leave, whatever. Maybe that's why they stopped trying to force me to go. Or just that they were embarrassed about it if they did bring me and I participated only as a visitor. The services were very specific on what parts of it the congregation does and what parts of it visitors do. It would've been devastatingly obvious to everyone in that church that one kid was Not Catholic.

They tried to shame me by a certain snottiness about it, like "We are going to church now." That fell flat though because it didn't hurt my feelings, it was a relief not to have to go.

Then ironically within weeks they stopped going and stopped taking my sister, who was Catholic. That struck me as deeply unfair, because she was actually a member and cared about it and I respected her right to do so. But I think that they were just a lot more concerned with What Other People Think than anything else.

I think that if someone had offered to let them hire a stand-in they would have jumped at it.
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
The self-portrait mirror sounds fascinating - may look into that. Love the eye studies.
Oct. 8th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
It's great. It was about $12 or so at Blick. Well worth it, convenient and clean and true. You'd probably love it. Seriously beats standing in the bathroom trying to draw a self portrait or holding up a hand mirror while trying to draw.
Oct. 8th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
Now that I know the price I'm REALLY intrigued! And I've been there with the awkward attempts - lol!
Oct. 8th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah. It's funny. For years I put up with not having one and then would go trying to use any old mirror, usually designed for doing something else like shaving or whatnot, and try to draw myself in the bathroom. But this is so obvious, so simple and so inexpensive it's a thousand times more useful.


Heck, if I started using a shaver instead of a razor I might go to shaving with it too. That would let me shave on bad days when I can't stand at the sink.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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