632: The URGE


Art is creative endeavor by humans.

That means that your own brand of creative counts.

Whether you craft in food, flowers, hair, homes, stone, metal, clay, fiber, plastic, paint, paper, words, or whatever other medium you choose to express that inner muse you and only you contain – it counts as art, even if others don’t view it that way. For that matter, even if you don’t view it that way, it is art.


That means, you fabulous, wonderful, driven-to-create human: YOU are an artist.


271: O——-M——-G

I am leaving Morocco, because I have a new job in Panama. One catch. In order to actually leave, and take my personal belongings with me that I shipped into this country, I have to obtain some papers, according to the employee handbook provided by the University I work for. The first one was a paper from my US Embassy in Casablanca, a five and a half hour drive away. We went on a Saturday to get it, so I would not miss work.

Oh, f*&( NO. The Embassy is open Mondays through Fridays, and not on holidays, either – and you must register online for an appointment first. We had lunch and drove home. The next opportunity was two weeks later, during a vacation, and I used a vacation day to go and purchase this FIFTY DOLLAR PIECE OF PAPER.

First objective achieved.

Next, I have to go to the Azrou Tax Office to get another piece of paper with that expensive US paper. Oh, f*(&%^ NO. The guy in Azrou sends us to Ifrane’s tax office to get the piece of paper. Oh, F#$@ NO – she sends us back to Azrou, who sends us back to Ifrane, who sends us back to Azrou. I sh*& you NOT. I lost it. I said things my mama would have slapped me for. Repeatedly.

Next, if I can appeal to the freaking KING OF THE COUNTRY to get this piece of paper from them, I have to take this piece of paper to the Ifrane Police to get another form, which I have to get three copies of and have authenticated (assuming they will actually give it up). This is freaking nuts, and it is totally typical of Moroccan bureaucracy. Did I mention it took SIX MONTHS to get our little plastic car registered??

Tomorrow I am taking a day off work to try and get this done.

175: Accordion Book Song Lyric Interpretation (Art)

I teach multiple subjects at my small school, because I have multiple certifications in several subject fields. One of the classes I teach is Visual Art. I just started a new trimester with the 9th and 10th graders, and I gave them their first assignment today. They have to choose song lyrics to respond to visually, using a high-contrast accordion book format. They also have to pick a song that has “acceptable for school” lyrics. I tell them that they will not shock ME with content or “wordy durds,” but that they probably WILL shock their parents and/or the school administration – so it is better to avoid risky material, and choose something a little safer. School is, after all, an artificial environment that perpetuates the myth that people never fight, do bad things, or cuss. Ever.

Then, students create a “storyboard,” or a planning sheet with small sketches of what they think that they would like use on each page to respond, illustrate or visually interpret their chosen song’s lyrics. Images primarily, but also some LIMITED text is acceptable. This lets them know (or at least get an idea) about how many pages their accordion book might need, but changes and edits are allowed, of course. Images can be objective (recognizable objects) or abstract, or stylized, or cartoonish, or whatever they like. Then they are ready to make the accordion book and begin crafting.

Accordion book project

Accordion book project

An accordion book, for those of you who have never made one, is a self-supporting (which means it displays itself well) book that the students can fairly easily make themselves. It requires two pieces of cardboard that are the same size for the front and back cover of the book. This size will also be the size of the book’s pages. Then, they need a long strip of paper as tall as the cover pieces are tall. The length of this strip varies according to how many pages the student needs to interpret the lyrics of their chosen song. Glue the strip to one piece of the cardboard to make the front cover of the book. Place on the front cover the song lyrics, in a format that will fit into the space: enlarge or reduce the font, select particular verses you want to illustrate or interpret, and leave others out (perhaps). Then, fold the strip back-and-forth to make the pages, keeping each page the same size in width as the width of the cover piece: this is what makes the book an accordion, the back and forth connected pages. Fill each page space with one “scene” of the song’s visual interpretation, using as many pages as you need. Glue more paper strip on if you need to, so you have enough pages.

I like to illustrate in high-contrast black, or any other single color, with perhaps one accent color to contrast with the over-all basic one color I use everywhere else. When I use full color, somehow the illustrations are just color, and have far less impact than they do when I complete them in high-contrast.

Complete the illustrations/visual response/interpretation of the song lyrics on the book’s pages, and at the very end, glue the back cover piece of cardboard to the back side of the last page. Trim off any extra paper strip. The front and back covers stiffen the paper strip pages enough that the book stands up by itself, creating its own display of the page content. Have students critique each other’s work, discussing what might have made the piece stronger or better.

55: Paper or computer?

My mom bought a Kindle. She is a constant reader, like I am. She loves this new gadget. Because she loves it, she determined that it would make a nice solution to the problem of what to give me, her daughter, for Christmas. There is only one small, teensy-eeensy-weensy problem. I don’t like reading gadgets. I don’t even like having to read things on my big desktop computer screen, much less that eensy-teensy-weensy little bitty Kindle screen. I love you, mom, but I would hate that thing.

She knows that I have a big fat stack of books in my “must read” stack, and that it gets bigger faster than I can read and remove selections from it. So many good books, so little time!!! So, for her, the solution is to read chunks of books whenever it is convenient: waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, riding as a passenger in cars or planes, etc., etc., etc. Well, I am so glad that works for her. She is not ADD. I most certainly AM adult Attention Deficit Disorder (which explains my son).

Being ADD means that I am highly distractable, but conversely, that I can hyper-focus, too. In order to read, I need a space of time and a quiet (relatively) place, preferably with a nice fireplace, a warm, purring lap kitty, a cup of hot chocolate and a snack. I cannot read while waiting for something else, unless it is an article that takes only a few minutes, or I get so absorbed I don’t hear the nurse call my name and I “wake up” from reading, after an hour or two, and go ask the receptionist what’s up, to be informed that they thought I went home, and gave my time to another patient – Would you like to reschedule for next week, dear? Not kidding. NOT happening again. NO books to the doctor’s office.

Reading in the car, boat, train or airplane is also problematic for me. I get motion sickness when I read in a moving vehicle. I have tried it, hoping that, maybe, please God, this time I won’t get sick, and I can actually finish the last three chapters of this book…..no dice. I spend the rest of the trip slightly green. NO books on a trip – the moving portion of it, anyway. I can read three to four books in a day sitting/lying in the pool-side lounge chair, though. As long as my patient husband can stand my inactivity. To him, reading a book is sort’ve like wasting time. You know, the way I consider watching a sporting event on TV. Wasting time.

The last reason why a Kindle does not work for me is I absolutely LOVE the feel of the book’s paper in my hands. The freedom to flip back a few pages and read the love scene again, or the part where the criminal cuts her head off and sautes her brains for dinner – you know, the interesting parts. I am also one of those people who wants the CHEAP phone that just makes phone calls, and does not even have a camera in it – because I HAVE a camera, thank you very much, I don’t want another one in my telephone! So, I have never become comfortable with those electronic, multi-purpose thingies, and I am not about to start with a Kindle. Reading is sacred – from a paper book!