Thursday, April 03, 2008

First week of school

I'm almost through the first week of the term and aside from spring break being way too short, things are good.  I think I'm really going to enjoy my schedule.  On the first day, I walked into the first class room for creative writing and noticed a surprising number of black students (for Portland, even in the hood), and an older black male professor.  I looked at the board and noticed it said, "Black History 334"  It all became clear.  I had to go down to the information booth to get the correct room, which turned out to be right next door.  When I walked in, I saw the usual roomful of mostly white faces and the teacher was a mid to late 50's looking woman named Dr Swinney, but she prefers Joan.

Much more what I was expecting.  Coloring not withstanding, the class seems to be made up of some diverse and interesting characters who's stories I'm going to enjoy hearing for the next couple of months.  It'll be nice to get feedback from people who don't know me and won't automatically shower me with 'ohyoursogoodyoushouldwriteabook.'  Though that's nice, it doesn't do much to make me a better writer.  And it will also be nice to have permission to really focus and write some stories I might not (read: definitely would not) have gotten to otherwise.

At the break, Joan told me that I looked familiar, but none of my old retail haunts rang a bell for.  I was about to blow it off as another 'lookslikealltheothers' moment, but then she asked me if I'd taken writing classes from Linda Christensen when I was at Jefferson. I still don't know where she would have seen me, unless she was stalking the halls of Jefferson  19 years ago, but perhaps it will be revealed before the term is over.

Wednesday, she had some of her students from last term read their pieces and they were all outstanding.  Two of my classmates are or have done active military duty and Ben's story of his first 24 hours in Iraq was mesmerizing.  Anne Marie's tale of where she's from--which includes a bunch of different places--was a revelation for someone who's lived in 15+ houses in the same neighborhood her whole life.  This is going to be a great class.  Even the book is a joy to pick up, and I'd read it happily on my own, even if not required.

After writing is math and the transition from essays to functions on day one was pretty harsh.  My brain rebelled a little.  I'm hoping it will cooperate a little better after a couple of weeks.  I did follow the review material, but barely.  Which is why I'm glad I still have my two pages of tiny typed notes summarizing my previous math class. 

Sadly, my old teacher had to back out of teaching the class, so I was greeted with a strange face when I walked in the door.  After spending Monday's class pouting about it, I've gotten over myself and admitted that the new guy seems pretty good.  Math will be OK.

After scrambling my brain all morning, I get to empty it out with Yoga.  We didn't do anything except talk on the first day, so I had my first real session yesterday.  It was hard, but I did better than I expected.  My big goal in yoga is just not to get down on myself and try not to think about everything I can't do.  I like the teacher and the fact that she is easing us into things and she doesn't show off by sticking her foot behind her head or some such move, just because she can.  That, and she's constantly reminding us to 'let go of judgements, either of ourselves or others. 

One thing I didn't expect is that we have to keep yoga journals and write down specific things about each session.  I'm sure that's going to be very helpful to actually see that progress happened when the end of the term comes.  Maybe I'll even be able to touch my toes, whoo hoo!

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I switch to right brain and go to drawing class for three house.  Our teacher Kicki, is Swedish, has a cute accent and a mischievous sense of humor that helps put us at ease.  I was a little nervous about drawing, since it's not one of my natural talents, but after two classes, I'm already enjoying myself.  Kicki made us partner up and draw each other in profile and head and shoulders detail.  Some people walked out at that point.  (What, we actually have to draw? THE HORROR!).  I made Courtney look like an old man, but since she made me look like a hairless alien, we called it even and agreed to share a locker.

This week I got to go shopping for a bunch of fun art toys and today we spent some time just making random marks with different media, getting used to the differences and learning the proper grip.  We have to do at least three 'free' drawings per week of anything we want.  When I got home, it was still nice out so I sat in the backyard and attempted my first sketch of the raised garden bed I've been building this week.  It's not great, but you can at least tell what it is.  I'm itching to learn some stuff, so I can get better at translating what I see.  I notice that I'm already starting to look at people and things differently.  Whee, being an artist is fun!  Plus, later on in the class, there will be LIVE NUDE GIRLS!

I should've taken this class a long time ago.  Still working on getting Jess to volunteer...

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