Written yesterday, July 8, 2009:
I was reminded of my California home today, when I looked at my forehead in the mirror and saw a formation of mosquito bites distinctly reminiscent of the San Bernadino Mountains. Seriously. My face was covered. Like crazy. Like oh my god where is Finn's face.
We went to a palm tree farm and were shown how to take the weeds out of the baby trees. Our docent was a farm worker who was a friend of the farm's owner, only working there as a favor to a friend. We learned that a typical two-year tree has a market value of 9 dollars. This blew our minds - to see all the labor and time (and bug-withstanding) that goes into the care of these trees, and yet how cheaply they are sold. Sold, most likely, to a company like WalMart, who may very well sell them for three times that amount.
Such issues and more were the stimulus for our discussion around the lunch table, following a nap on my part and a healthy application of hydrocortisone. This to me is the truly exhilarating thing about this work - it never stops. We are always behind schedule because our energy as a group is like a fountain with over-pressurized pipes - it keeps overflowing the edges. Our meetings and discussions always go into lunch or dinner, and then a discussion sparked by that meeting or discussion carries into lunch and dinner, and after the day is done, into a late night random discussion with someone you've never really talked to...
Because in our daily lives I find we are most stifled by three things: monotony, purposelessness and isolation. And here, all of those obstacles are removed. First of all, nothing is ever the same here. Even if we are in the same three rooms all day, with one venture into the real world (whether to a palm farm or WalMart), still, every sequence of the day is new, vibrant and unprecedented. Full of purpose - all fueled by the definite goal of affecting our students. And you are never alone. Literally.
We all got a taste of each other's classes today - Drama, then Writing, then Dance, then Music, then Visual Art.
Here are the, um, "themes" I got from each (illogical, mind you; just the thought I wrote down for each):
Drama: Energy. Connection. Then what happens?
Writing: Look at a little piece of your soul you never saw before. Share it.
Dance: Your body is capable of worlds more than you think.
Music: Add your self. Add your rhythm. Jam.
Visual Art: Laugh, then look. Then, without premeditation, make.
Okay. There is much more to say about today. This is the general rule. When I can actually sum up a day in AIA in a blog, either I will have become a superhuman writer or the program will be quite compromised. After showings: schedule, committees, teacher's performance rehearsal.
In general, our group is intricately coming together, with a common vibe that is both relaxed and engaged, but not overdone. It is a very down-to-earth group. Unflashy, in a way, yet efficient, precise, and collectively incredibly creative. I am grateful to be a part of them.
I think we are realizing our collaborative power. I think we are going to be able to give our students three weeks of true profundity. And silliness. And forward motion.
And don't worry - the San Bernadino mountains have been greatly depleted on my forehead. Still, instead of a palm-farm tomorrow, perhaps I'll go to the beach...