Monday, February 23, 2009

I Want Everything

After I dropped out of law school, I promised myself I would not make a life or career-altering decision in the next year. I wanted to be able to really think something through, because it scared me that I could float along on maybe's and I-guess's all the way into something as expensive and consuming as law school. Here's what I'm not deciding about today:

As undergraduate degree holders are wont to do in times trouble, I am considering going back to school. I've considered many paths, but this post is focusing on my latest obsession: art school.

It bothers me that I want this. It isn't practical. It most certainly will make it hard to write, and it's not as if I've made any professional headway with that. Art school is for rich kids and poor kids who are too idealistic to realize how fucked they're going to be. It's expensive and I can't draw and anyway all I really want is to be able to illustrate my thoughts. /fears

I like to make things. Two thirds of the furniture I own, I've made myself. I loved doing set construction in high school. I do cross-stitch, I'm learning to knit, and I've lazy-altered many an outfit. I like doing maps of sites and features. I worked DAAP's machine and wood shop for a year and half, and it was awesome. It was also surreal, seeing as I was advising DAAP students on how to complete their projects... as an Anthropology major. I was good at it. I enjoy doodling and also more focused drawing- doing 'studies' I guess. I won a coloring contest when I was five. I lashed out with a cartoon when I was twenty. The very first thing I ever wanted to be was an artist, until I saw grown-up paintings on TV and thought that I would never be able to do that. My next ambition was ballerina, I think. I still asked for sketchbooks and markers at the store, though.

After my parents divorced, I caught on about reading. If you read hard enough, the words disappear. I started taking out fifteen, twenty books at a time from the library. Every week, in the summer.

I discovered writing in junior high. (In junior high they told me I was "too bright" to be taking art classes.) I started a novel; my friends passed around each chapter with flattering eagerness. For some reason, I put that one aside and started another; I finished it halfway through my first year of high school. Two hundred and seventy-five pages of identity. I was a writer with writer's notebooks full of stories but also full of maps and sketches. Just little doodles which weren't supposed to be good, I was just doing them to help me picture things. Personal illustrations which nobody had to see.

How did I get here? When did I get to be such a coward? (I was a child, and then I was a preteen. It happens.)

I want to go to art school to get the technical skill and background knowledge to be able to make pretty things. Which, by definition, means that I think I don't have them yet. I want to go to art school because I need something outside myself to make me learn, to force me to discipline. I'm afraid to apply because, well, they want me to demonstrate already having what I want to go there to learn.

I write, but I don't want to be a writer and nothing else. There are too many other ways to tell stories.

"It reflects no great honor on a painter to be able to execute only one thing well -- such as a head, an academy figure, or draperies, animals, landscapes, or the like -- in other words, confining himself to some particular object of study. This is so because there is scarcely a person so devoid of genius as to fail of success if he applies himself earnestly to one branch of study and practices it continually."

-Leonardo da Vinci


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