Friday, December 11, 2009

Reflections on Being an Artist

It's difficult, this life.  Being the conduit for the vision is a responsibility that, while I do not wish to be hyperbolic, is the most important and life-altering responsibility that anyone who ever lived anywhere will have.

Particularly my vision.  Why do I do it?  Because I must.  I must communicate my vision to the world, no matter the personal cost.  Those who work with me, those who bring the vision to life, are mere vessels in my hands.

The critics won't understand, of course.  They'll say things like, "You've done it again!" and "It was adorable!" and "I liked the rapping reindeer!" but they won't get it: the sweat, the blood, the agony spent during torturous sleepless nights.*

My production of "Is Santa Smarter?" may have very well set the world of the fifth-grade part-time musical theater on fire.



Perhaps.  But these words, no matter how true, are ultimately unimportant.

Above all, I am the shaper of the vision.  When I tell that actor, "Honey, you have to speak into the microphone," I am imparting the wisdom of the muses.

"Don't wave at your parents while you're saying your part," I say.  That's direction.  That's vision.

"We need to all step to the right first," I command.  Authority.  Having the vision means not being afraid to say it outright.  I don't sugar-coat; I can't.

Not everyone can do it.  I know this.  I am blessed.  When I arrive at work this morning, my classroom still redolent with the scent of last night's Subway sandwiches, I know that stinky, pickley air will be truly rarified.  I will receive the adulations due me.

I'm expecting a mention on the morning announcements.

*Well, I might have slept, but not well.  Okay, well, but not long enough.  Okay, long enough.  But I occasionally dreamed about the production, which in my version starred Rob Pattinson as Santa Claus and Taylor Lautner as himself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Guilt is, above all else, a great motivator.  If you figure out how to make someone else feel guilty, you have almost limitless power.  Mothers have known this for years, through the following techniques:

1. The trembling sigh.  As in, "Dear, you know I understand you can't come home for Christmas this year, of course what you do is important.  Don't give it another thought.  (Trembling, tear filled sigh.)"

2. The "but, you know:"  As in, "Sweetie, it's fine.  Go and do what you need to do."  Beat.  "But, you know, this may be your grandfather's last Arbor Day, and your Cousin Fitz goes to trial next week.  That's all I'm going to say."

3. The nothing-at-all.  As in, they don't say anything or do anything, but you just know they're cooking up something, so you give in because you are afraid of what that card may be.

4. The labor time/diaper change accusation.  As in, "I spent 78 hours in labor giving birth to you and you can't even take three days off of work to see your second cousin graduate from veterinary school?"

Fortunately, my own mother uses guilt only when absolutely necessary and openly acknowledges it, so it's above board.  My own Momz is a master of the trembling sigh.

Momz: It's okay.  I understand.  (Trembling sigh.)

Deb: Did you just play the Trembling Sigh?

Momz: Did it work?

Deb: Darn.  I'll see you at 6.  I'll bring the potato salad.

Momz: Bring Sven's, it's better.

Deb: Oh.  I understand.  (Trembling sigh.)

Momz: Well played.

So this kind of cordiality shows that guilt can, if applied appropriately, be a useful and hilarious tool for family negotiations.

However, some people use guilt in truly toxic, harmful ways, as well as guilt's obnoxious bullying older brother, shame.  Guilt and shame are two things our society seems to be trying to eradicate entirely, at least in an emotional sense.  What people seem to forget is that guilt and shame, when appropriate, are good things.

You SHOULD feel guilty if you do something awful.

You SHOULD feel shame in some circumstances.

And some people just need a healthy dose of both on a daily basis.

But, what do I know?  I'm just a blogger, trying to get by.  Go on.  Have your fun.  Don't worry about me.  I'll be fine.

(Trembling sigh.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I recently posted that I now have to wear glasses all the time.  I find this mortifying.  My eyes, if I may be so bold as to mention it, are really my best feature.  (I assure you, the competition for that title is stiff.  My nose hasn't spoken to my upper lip in three years, and my ears still boycott holiday meals.)  But, my eyes win the contest, so I do my best to "play them up" through subtle use of makeup and expression:

It would be difficult to draw attention to my daintily pointed ears in such a fashion.

Now, with glasses, I feel like a librarian: dowdy, frumpy, and old:

It turns out, Sven thinks I look like a librarian, too.  Only Sven has a slightly different interpretation of the word:

Who knew?  In any case, I feel a little better about the glasses.  Once this pinkeye clears up (I know, how could I be more sexy, right?) I'll put on some makeup and take a picture of my new glasses.  My hopes, frankly, aren't high, but who cares?

The way I look in Sven's eyes is better than any mirror.