Monday, May 24, 2010

Better than Ice Cream: Part 1

When I was in high school I loved Sarah McLaughlin. Her music was what I listened to at night before I fell asleep, in the morning as I got dressed, and when I came home from school to my periwinkle bedroom. There is this one song that goes..."Your love, is better than ice cream. Better than anything else that I've tried". I remember hearing those words, and as a love sick teenager all I wanted was for some boy to sweep me off my feet and give me love that was better than ice cream.

Nearly 10 years later life is different. I've been swept off my feet, literally and figuratively. I've fallen in love, twice. Moved to different parts of the country, three times. Traveled the world, four times. And of course, have continued to return home to that same periwinkle bedroom as my bedrock of comfort. One thing that has been missing though is that song. Not since I graduated have I put that tune into my CD player purposefully. Who knows why, just moved on from it I guess.

One of my best friends from high school came to visit in Nashville this weekend. We've stayed close but never has she been to visit me in a life beyond that periwinkle bedroom. It was amazing to see her, bask in the love I have for her, and truly savor the friendship that we built when we were 14 years old. Perhaps it is a coincidence but when I dropped her off at the airport I fished around in my CD case for some new tunes to drive away with. Turns out I chose a mix I made at the end of my senior year in high school. You'll never guess what the last song of that mix was...yep, Ice Cream.

Now I know what Miss McLaughlin was talking about...friendship. I have the most spectacular group of people called friends in my life. They bring me a kind of joy that I cannot begin to express. One of them I met when I was two, another one I met just 8 months ago...but they all make up this quilt that is the life I live. I could not, nor would not, have it without them.

This concludes Part 1 of three (or maybe more) series about this fabric of people in my life. In the next couple of weeks I will visit many of them (hooray for summer!). Nashville to Portland, New York to Pittsburgh. Get ready to be absorbed in them, because they all deserve to be honored for being SO much better than ice cream.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Worth every ache...

Today was my last day, of my first year of teaching. The word tired doesn't even start to express the way my body feels. My neck aches, my eyes feel like they are bleeding, and it is taking every bone in my body to not collapse on my classroom floor and sleep.

But today, two 7th graders brought me the most colorful, sweet smelling, beautiful flowers I have ever seen. Each with notes that said... "Ms. Cox, you were the best art teacher I ever had."

Turns's worth it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Painting on porches

Rain, art, and porches are a theme to my 2010 Nashville spring. A lovely party at my friends house brought them all together beautifully.

Thanks to Joanie for the pictures, damn I need a
new camera.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

An attempt at making it even...

Every morning on my ride to work I call her. Sometimes I am too tired to speak and of course there are those mornings when I am stressful mess looking for help on some silly trouble in my life (mornings are always a good time to let it out). But, most mornings I am just calling to hear her to say hi, have her tell me what she is eating for breakfast...and say "I love you Mom", and to hear "Love you Bird" on the other end of the phone

So yes, even though I left home many many years ago I will forever be the little girl that calls her mother every morning. She gives me so much... I only wish I could give her more than that daily phone call. But at least it's a start.

Mom introduced me to poetry. Starting with Joni Mitchell and ending with Elizabeth Alexander her love for poetry was given to me at birth. This however was a poem I gave to her many years ago, and every Mother's day I want to read it to her again... during my daily call.

This morning we were both in a rush so I didn't get to. So here it is now, hopefully she'll read it before the day is over.

The Lanyard - Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Happy Mothers Day Momma. xo.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Turns out everything I am loving this month is green... I guess it has something to do with the season.

1. Green smoothies- Sarma's Cliantro Shake (I like to add a little plain yogurt too...cuts the acidity a bit)

2. Solo walks amongst green trees. (This particular shot is from Percy Warner Park. Nashville's public parks = my happy place.)

3. Finding local green establishments in my new city like n-habit, green wagon, and the turnip truck, to name a few. (Even though I can't afford it all the time, they make you feel so good about spending money there)
4. This green dress (love at first sight)

5. Green eco-lodge in the south of Sweden (places like this remind me why I am a teacher and have my summers off)

6. My favorite spring green t-shirt (There truly is nothing like pulling something out of the summer bin on a hot spring day)

7. Watching my favorite singer play my most favorite song... Little Green

What do you love this month? (it can be any color!)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why I love my work...

Honestly...I have the best job ever. I get to teach middle school girls about art, about expression, and about finding their voice through the visual. Seriously, how can you beat that?

My mentor Dale gave me this one project that has become my very favorite. I've taught it every chance I get since he told me about it, twisting and morphing the purpose into different arenas depending on the group of students But the essence of it is expression. How our faces change and morph through different phases of our day. Asking the girls, "How do you define yourself? And, what expression goes along with that adjective?" Really, it's a self portrait, but turns out art students hate that word while they are creating these masterpieces. After though, they really embrace it.

I love watching these drawings develop. They are the perfect product that defines process in every way. I had two girls finish in class today...they want to start another one tomorrow.

For more shots of my amazing student's art work go here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Painting without power...

Never before have I seen rain such as this. And...this is a girl coming from the Pacific Northwest for the past two years. But seriously, cars under water, mobile churches floating down the highways, AND the news reporters are telling everyone to "stay home from church" (a big deal down here in Nashville).

When the tornado sirens went off this morning the news reporters told me to get into the bathtub. The bathtub? Seriously? But for a girl who is new to Tennessee weather patterns I thought, "if that's what they want me to do..." So, at 5:30am I got into the bathtub and sat with my blanket and pillow. Laying there listening to the thunder in the distance, I thought about cleaning the tile and scrubbing the shower curtain, but mostly I thought of this poem.

A Thunderstorm
by Emily Dickinson

The wind begun to rock the grass
With threatening tunes and low, -
He flung a menace at the earth,
A menace at the sky.

The leaves unhooked themselves from trees
And started all abroad;
The dust did scoop itself like hands
And throw away the road.

The wagons quickened on the streets,
The thunder hurried slow;
The lightning showed a yellow beak,
And then a livid claw.

The birds put up the bars to nests,
The cattle fled to barns;
There came one drop of giant rain,
And then, as if the hands

That held the dams had parted hold,
The waters wrecked the sky,
But overlooked my father's house,
Just quartering a tree.

I love how turbulent weather inspires such artistic brilliance. Perhaps I should sit at home, in my dark house, and paint the clouds moving across the sky. I'm not much if a painter but maybe the storms will bump my talent up a little.