I Gotta Crow (First I Have to Whine a Little…)

I’ve lost my creativity, and I don’t know where to find it. I need it back in my life, and I’m doing all I can to accomplish that. I’m taking classes, I’m reading voraciously, I’m watching classic movies, I’m traveling, collecting art, reading about artists. I’m trying to be inspired. Starting this blog is a big step in committing to the search, to putting my hands together and clapping, and asserting that I do still believe in fairies.

When I was in eighth grade, I was cast as Peter Pan in the school play. I was 13 years old, and at the peak of optimism. I was a really happy kid. I loved to draw, paint, sing, act, and I was proud of all I did. (“I’m just the cleverest [lady] ’twas ever my fortune to know!” haha.) And then high school. Ooch.

All through elementary school, they tell you you can be anything you want, if you’ll just put your mind to it. Sure, you can be an olympic pro baller! So what if you’re a 3’5 white girl. They’ll change the rules just for you! Yes, you’ll be famous, and president, and you’ll travel to outer space, heck, you’ll have a summer home on Pluto! (As an aside, it only occurred to me about a year ago that the odds are I won’t see every country, let alone every continent before I die.) It was the 80s, and everything was possible.

But you reach high school, and your first class is Reality 101. Time to prepare for college (or discover you’re “not college material”). The weeding begins. In high school, you know who the best is in every class. There’s a dude in your Junior Precalc who skipped eighth grade, and two additional years of high school math, just to make you feel like the biggest idiot alive. There’s a guy in your art class who is just a genius. He gets it in a way you never, ever will, and both he and you are reminded of that every day by the esteemed faculty. (One of his paintings hangs above my couch right now! How’s that for irony?)

So you recalculate. You edit your aspirations so thoroughly. Artist becomes art teacher; actor becomes lighting technician; botanist, landscaper. Your trajectory is altered, and a new course is set. The apps go out to the number ones and the safeties, and once again, someone else is left to decide your fate. This is long before you realize that what you study in college really doesn’t matter all that much anyway. You’re going to graduate and start on the bottom somewhere.

So here is all the pith. This is the black cloud, the string of doubt wrapped so tightly around that optimistic me of yesteryear. And it is time to say good bye to “no”—and even “maybe”—and let that little girl sing. I don’t have to be the “cleverest,” but I can be pretty damn clever.

When I was in kindergarten (maybe first grade?), in our first art class, the teacher gave us each a small square of colored construction paper, and we were each given a letter to draw on the paper and decorate however we wanted. The next time we came to art class, our letters were assembled just below the ceiling, wrapping all around the classroom at the top of the walls, reading “An artist is not a special kind of person; Each person is a special kind of artist.” How’s that for a first lesson in art? And it has stuck.

So here I sit with some acting and singing and drawing and snapshooting—oh yeah, and a BFA in creative writing—under my belt, and I’m ready to find that special kind of artist that is me.

Well, there’s something to crow about!


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