Tuesday, May 14, 2019

lent 2019



Each year I find a weird way to observe the season of Lent.  If you’re new to the blog, I think there’s still a search bar over there somewhere on the web version.  Type “lent” in there and feast on the ridiculous Lent-y things I’ve done in the past.  If you’re too busy to be bothered by such labor intensive tasks, just know that I’m relatively new to Lent and while I understand it is a sacred and respected thing for many, I have decided to take my own approach to giving up or taking on things for the 40+ days in the hopes that I’ll come out a slightly better version of myself on the other end.

This year I failed a bit.  I mean, maybe I’m a slightly better version of myself, but I will admit to taking the easy way out this year.  Let me explain that.

Through Instagram this year, I started to notice posts from “morning.gratitude” featuring daily lists regular people would post about things they were thankful for.  Or things for which they were thankful, depending on how you feel about grammar.  I was intrigued by the idea of being challenged to list 10 things you were grateful for every day.  I should say, I consider myself a pretty thankful person.  My parents taught me the importance of saying “thank you” to people and as a spiritual person, I get to express my thanks for the things in my life daily.  This is something I tend to do when I run early in the morning when it’s just me, the deer, rabbits, skunks and God awake.  But going to the trouble to write it down seemed like it could be a good idea.  So I decided just before Ash Wednesday I would accept the challenge and even go one step more…I would list 11 things each day instead of 10 because there are a lot of great things and this would help me be even more mindful.

So each morning when I sat down with my coffee at the table I would look out the front window and be quiet.  Zeke would circle the table, alternating between looking out the window and waiting for me to give him a chunk of banana.  I would eat a granola bar or a waffle and then pick up my cool little gratitude book.  As serendipity would have it, Violet gave me a small hardback journal type book for Valentine’s Day (pictured above).  It’s a Taylor Swift journal with a young T-Swift slinging a guitar on the front cover.  There are flowers and lines on each page, so you know, it’s perfect.  And each morning with only two exceptions, I sat there in my coffee ritual and started my day by listing 11 things I felt very grateful for at that moment.  The word “coffee” made a ton of appearances, naturally.  “Family”, “friends” and “running” also got a lot of pen time.  But there were also less frequent but awesome visitors.  “Wagging tails” was a good one.  “Finding out my license expired before the end of the grace period” was another good one.  “Goo Goo Cluster Lattes” and “glitter” were additions I never saw coming but I’m so grateful that they did.  So many things to be grateful for.

I mentioned two exceptions.  One morning I totally blanked on the routine and forgot to make my list.  I kept my book on the table every day so when I came in to eat dinner that night I remembered and made my list late.  Another day I was rushed by a changed morning schedule and had to come back to the gratitude list at lunch.  But I did make the list every day of Lent.  And I actually haven’t stopped doing it yet. 

I’ve noticed a change in how I think during each day since making the daily lists.  I’ll make that list in the morning and I’ll return to those thoughts throughout the day.  Somehow it keeps the ideas and the gratitude circulating.  I’ll be honest and tell you that this is no magic potion that makes all your days merry and light.  I’ll still get fed up and impatient and go off on someone in my head (and sometimes in person), but there, mixed in with the sudden burst of negativity is all that good stuff and I believe it helps to return me to a happy mental place quickly.  Even in traffic.  So I’m calling the gratitude list a success and I’m planning to continue it…at least until my cool book fills up.

But I mentioned I failed a bit.  I should tell you about that part too. 

See, making the list each day was most of my Lent commitment, but not all of it.  I also planned to do something kind for someone each day.  Any act of kindness would be fine.  It could be large or small, free or expensive, it just had to be kind.  I loosely defined “act of kindness” for this experiment as something intentional I do for someone.  Intentional and kind.  I figured keeping the definition loose would be helpful, not to make it easy, but to help me keep an open mind about different ways to be kind.  I felt that these acts needed to be out of the ordinary for me.  Something I don’t do every day.  I didn’t want to wave or smile at someone and feel like I was off the hook for the day.  So that was the plan and each morning I would reflect on the kind thing and write a name or action under the gratitude list. 

I started strong.  I sat down and typed out an email to a good friend after a busy day.  I mailed grits to Canada.  I gave meter money to a mom scrambling for change.  And I kept going for about 10 days.  But I started to feel weird about it.  I just felt like these were things I should be doing anyway.  Ok, maybe mailing grits to Canada was strange, but I had a friend who had never experienced grits and I just couldn’t let that go.  But one day a thing happened and I went away from it thinking, “Alright, that’s your kind thing for the day” and that just felt wrong.  It also felt wrong to record the kind things.  After writing a few of them down I couldn’t see the good in recording it.  It felt good to be observant and to find an opportunity to do something kind.  It felt good to do the kind thing.  But that felt like a natural end to it.  So I stopped recording them.  I stopped writing them down and I even stopped thinking about it.  I’m not sure if I did an intentional kind thing every single day…at least not one that was out of the normal range of behavior for me. 

My job provides many opportunities to interact with people and I feel a personal responsibility to show love and kindness to those people.  Basically, I mean I try not to be a butthole on a daily basis.  I try to be kind whenever possible, I just couldn’t get behind tracking a kind thing every day.  So I failed that part of my Lent exercise. 

There’s an expression I used to hear old, southern people say when I was younger.  It was “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.  The gist of the phrase is that if you walk around looking for a particular thing, you’ll figure out a way to see it everywhere.  You find what you’re looking for.  This is part of the power of the human mind.  When your head is filled with negative or anxious thoughts, you’ll spend your entire day focusing on the negative, anxious things around you.  If you’re focused on the positive things, those are the things you’ll see.  Since Ash Wednesday I’ve spent my days walking around looking for the good things in my life.  That has kept my mind on the good things.  I also have to point out that several great things have happened to me and around me during this time.  Coincidence?  Serendipity?  I guess it really doesn’t matter does it?  I’d just like to keep the positive things happening so I’m going to keep focusing on those things. 

It looks like my little book is about halfway full now.  I think I’ll fill it up. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

the one where i learn something

One of the cool things about being a teacher is getting a fresh start on a regular basis.  You get amped up about the coming school year and you dive into it with a revised plan.  The weeks and months of student interactions unfold and you find yourself approaching May with a bag full of bitter losses, plans that fell apart and students wishing you were dead.  If this sounds like hyperbole to you, then you are obviously not a teacher.

Of course, there are the plans that work out great and the students who you helped and heck, some of them even tell you so.  It's not all bad, but we humans do tend to focus on the negative parts, don't we?  So you find yourself nearing May, having a lot of conversations with yourself in the car on the commute home.  What worked this year?  What didn't?  What will you do different next year?  The cool thing is that you can kind of cut your losses at graduation and start fresh in August.  

As this time of reflection has rolled up on me this semester, it's had me looking back and really considering the social aspect of being a teacher.  This is something teachers don't talk about very often but perhaps they should, as it appears to be a weakness for many of us.  What is the social aspect of being a teacher?  It's pretty much everything beyond the dry delivery of information in your class.  And no one wants to be the dry deliverer of information.  We all have personalities and teaching approaches that inform that delivery.  In 3 hour studio classes, there's also a lot of personal interaction that goes on which makes who you are almost as important as what you know.  What I mean by that is that if you are a cold, personality-void-of-a-human and you know a lot of stuff, you may be able to pass that information along to a couple of the self starters in your class.  But if you are engaging and passionate and you show a personal interest in the lives of your students, you will certainly reach a much larger group of students.  This separates the ineffective "teachers" from the best teachers you've ever had.  

I teach those 3 hour studio art classes.  Those classes meet twice each week for 3 hours each.  That's 6 hours of contact time with each student each week.  6 hours in the same room with them.  6 hours of working on tedious projects.  If you wanted to be the dry deliverer of information, your classes would seem unbearable.  I had classes like that in college.  Dreadful.  But I also had classes with engaging and fun professors who yelled and waxed philosophical in class while their students worked.  Those were the preferred studio environments.  

Seasame Street and the Magic School Bus taught us that education can be entertaining.  Taking notes from Kermit the Frog, I've learned that my classes can be rigorous, my projects can be challenging and my subject matter feared as long as I make it fun.  I know there are teachers who would scoff at this, and I'd quietly tell you to spend 6 hours a week in those teachers' classes and get back to me on who was correct.  Because my subject is Sculpture, I basically live in a toy box every day at school.  When I get bored watching students work without needing any help, I can grab a couple of things and make some sort of ridiculous thing to make everyone laugh.  We can take a couple of hammers to a project gone astray and pulverize it into oblivion.  We'll do something absurd for a couple of minutes and then everyone can get back to work with a renewed sense of focus.  My method is proven.  It holds up.  

But the social aspect of being a teacher goes beyond this surface classroom entertainment.  A good teacher asks questions and gets to know their students.  I'm lucky enough to be a part of a department that acts more like a family.  Our extra curricular activities allow us to get to know students outside of class and identify with them on different levels.  The ways this can link students and professors are many and varied.  It's probably just best to give a few real life examples.  

We talked about Nick recently.  Oh, I guess I shouldn't use real names.  So we'll call this student "Snick" to protect his identity.  When Snick started out that first year, he wasn't really all that open to my nonsense.  When students resist the goofing around and keep their walls high and strong, my tendency is to try harder.  Snick wasn't having it.  I would have told you at that time that he hated me.  So I shifted my time and attention to places I felt it was better received.  That part is really difficult and that could probably be a whole series of blog posts, but I'll leave that for another day.  Then, 3 years later, I wear Snick down when he's forced to take my class again.  I did my usual thing of being silly, asking questions and getting to know him and it worked.  He opened up and really came into his own as a sculptor in my classes, making some of the strongest work he made as a student here.

Then there was "Smolly".  Smolly showed interest in the nonsense right out of the gate and even participated in it.  During less ridiculous conversations she engaged in more thoughtful questions and discussions, even stretching over into some semi-spiritual aspects of art.  She continued to be engaged as a student the whole time she was with us and this allowed us to really grow into each other.  She's headed off to grad school now and this year she mailed me the most meaningful letter of appreciation.  

Oh and what about "Sassy-squatch", "Swhisk", "D'Sean", "D'Danielle" and "D'Katertot"?  (This code name thing is hilariously fun for me.  I hope Sean reads this and laughs hard at that one....I mean "D'Sean!)  They responded well to my nonsense and we all became racquetball buddies and 5K buddies and eat out at every opportunity buddies.  They also all excelled in my classes and won awards with their work.  And maybe the most significant fact about this group who graduated, what, 5 years ago now, is that I've talked to every single one of them in the last few months.  Several in the last week.  "Sassy-squatch" is talking to me right this second through Instagram, reliving the memory of that time we ran a 5K together on campus and took ridiculous photos at the finish line and we both accidentally won awards.

There are more serious connections too.  I won't lower those moments with silliness but it is pretty meaningful when students feel connected enough to me to find me in hard times to talk it out.  Or to seek serious advice about their next steps.  Or to talk about relationships.  Or to cry in my little orange chair.  I can be serious when I need to be.  And the most important interactions may only take a second.  One of the most memorable of these interactions was a quick but meaningful fist bump to a student who really needed it several years ago.  

Full disclosure:  These are extreme examples.  There are many, many more examples of smaller connections on different scales.  There are also plenty of students who have always thought I was the Devil in flesh and have avoided every mention of my name.  
Fuller disclosure:  Every student who enters my studio gets the same offer.  It's the student who chooses their level of engagement by their actions and reactions.  A smile instead of a scoff.  Following instructions instead of disrespect.  Saying yes to an opportunity instead of saying no.

The thing is, none of those examples above would have been possible if I had not stepped out of the "passing along the academic information" mode and been a real person.  None of it would have happened if I had not made an effort to make a human connection.  We will likely never fully know the extent to which we touch and affect the lives of the people we bump up against each day.  Maybe something I did made someone's day better.  Maybe it changed their path in a more meaningful way.  

So was it worth the extra time spent at school?  Was it worth the trouble of having a handful of students pissy at me because they didn't get invited?  Was it worth the passive aggressive comments about having "favorites"?  Was it worth the pain of saying goodbye to graduates you care about?  Those are just a few of the questions swirling in the head on the late April commutes home.

I suppose the answer is obvious.  Of course it was worth it.  Just in the last few weeks I've received a handwritten thank you note from one of those people mentioned above.  Another one listed up there took the time to write out a really touching letter that explains how meaningful our interactions were to them.  Look, there's nothing about this that's easy.  Teaching like this is not the path of least resistance.  But when you're living and working beside people who need a connection and who become better students and humans when such a connection is provided, don't you have a responsibility to provide it?  

The internet teaches you to feel nothing.  Just stay distant and use sarcasm and cynicism to protect your heart from pain.  Text your questions instead of looking someone in the eye.  Ask shallow, surface questions and self-deprecate to keep anyone from looking deeper.  Live your life off of likes and follows and interpret your online popularity to determine your validity in life.  But this year has taught me a contrary set of lessons that reach far beyond teaching.  Connect.  Feel.  Meet.  Discuss.  Be honest.  Sit down and eat with someone.  Sit across from them with a coffee in your hand and look them in the eye.  Tell people you like them when you like them.  Tell people you want to be their friend when you want to be their friend.  Celebrate with people.  Be proud of people.  Hurt with people.  Eat more ice cream with people.  Ok, that last one may be more about me than y'all, but you get the point.  


During winter break last year I had one of those mid year crises and decided that when January rolled around what every single one of my students needed most in life was a hug.  I talked myself into a frenzy and I had every intention of walking into my studio on the first day of classes and greeting everyone with a hug.  Those of you who know how vigilant I am at avoiding hugs should really appreciate the gravity of this decision.  I was convinced this is what my people needed.  I'm still pretty convinced.  But I let winter break talk me down from the ledge and when I walked in on that first day, I smiled but hugged no one.  In hindsight, maybe the hug would have been over the top.  Today though, I feel even more strongly that students need a better connection.  They need to know they have someone who gives a crap.  Someone they can go to.  

Of course it's worth it.  For me and for you.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

nick


 This is Nick.  Nick is leaned up against his 300 pound public sculpture he recently installed on campus.  Nick is kind of awesome.  Let's talk about Nick.

Nick is graduating in a few weeks.  He has one week of classes left in his final semester of college.  Actually, only a half week of classes left because he's skipping some classes this week to go to a couple of concerts.  I'm not mad.

Well, I'm mad, but not about that.  Here's what I'm mad about...


This is Nick's most recent sculpture.  It's a steel table, a steel chair, a steel sign and an aluminum energy drink can, all polished and shiny.  Formally it's good.  Conceptually it's even better.  But I think I have to give you some background information for it to make sense.

Let's go back to freshman year.  Nick was quiet and wore a lot of black.  I met him as his academic advisor and he was in the Visual Art degree with a Graphic Design emphasis.  Second semester I had him in my 3D Design class.  He mostly suffered in silence.  That class isn't very fun and I do my best to goof around and lighten the situation.  Nick was a tough nut to crack.  Lots of walls.  It was clear he was not interested very much in 3D things.  This was a class he wanted to get through and put behind him.  He did survive and then he had to make it through one more of my classes....Sculpture 1.  It's a class he should have taken the semester after 3D Design.  First semester of his second year.  His advisor told him to do so.  But Nick has a mind of his own and he decided he was going to wait.  The following year his advisor told him to take Sculpture 1 and he decided he was going to wait again.  I happen to understand the mind of a rebel so I didn't yell at him.  Not that it would have done any good.  

First semester of his senior year he enrolled in Sculpture 1.  This was his last chance to take the class and graduate on time.  Honestly, I wasn't very happy about him waiting so long to take the class.  At this point he had taken about 40 photography classes and dropped his Graphic Design emphasis.  He's a great photographer and I'm convinced he'll be in National Geographic someday soon.  But after 3 years of college, in a degree that encourages students to develop a broad range of studio abilities, he was only flexing one muscle.  And time was short.  I was frustrated.

I'll spare you the details but Nick did really, really well in Sculpture 1.  I'll admit that I was surprised he did so well on the first project.  Not because I didn't think he had ability, but because I was familiar with his attitude toward Sculpture in general.  As I watched his attitude change and his work habits develop positively I was less surprised by the second and third project.  And then only mildly surprised when he asked about taking Sculpture 2 this semester.  I know, right?

In January we started the semester and the upper level students spread out in the studio and many of them found "spaces".  Our studio is small so it's tough to provide individual work spaces for students to use exclusively.  Nick and I ended up sharing a table.  It was sort of a joke at first.  The table he started using to store his materials was close to the tool room.  When I needed to repair a tool or sit things down for a couple of days, that was my table.  I kept putting things on his table and he didn't know it was me.  He eventually left a note that said "This is Nick's table.  Please stop leaving things on my table."  So naturally when I walked in the next morning, I grabbed a Sharpie and adjusted the sign to say, "This is Nick's and McAbee's table.  Please stop leaving things on our table."

So we had a table.  And conversations and jokes.  Then he went and made another great sculpture, that one he's leaning against up there at the top of the page.  Nick started to realize he was good at more than just photography.  That confidence was good for him.  

This academic year I've watched Nick grow as a student and as a human.  He's more actively involved in the department and he has a positive attitude.  I mean, he's still likely to just stare at me blankly when I wave at him across the crowded plaza during a class change, but he's just as likely to shout "MCABEEEEEE!" at me in the same situation.  Sculpture did not do this to him.  But the confidence he's gained from his successes has definitely helped him grow.

When Nick was gathering ideas for his Senior Show proposals, many of the projects he proposed to enter were sculptures.  One in particular grabbed my attention.  His proposal was to take the steel table we shared for the semester and strip it and polish it.  He'd do the same with a steel chair.  He'd have to have one of his ever-present energy drink cans (which I really hope he'll give up soon so he doesn't die) along with the infamous sign, recreated in steel, sitting on the table.  Not only was it an epic idea, it was also a nice little high five to him and to me.  

So now he's done.  Graduation is less than a month away.  I'm very happy for him, of course, and I know he'll be very successful.  I just wish he would have discovered his sculpture self a couple of years sooner.  That's what I'm mad about.  

Saturday, April 13, 2019

"don't cross the streams"

I made this ridiculously heavy sculpture in grad school.  I made it in my dad's welding shop an hour and a half away from campus where it was to be installed.  I wondered how I was going to get it there and pick it up to anchor it into the ground and my dad said he'd just throw it on the big trailer along with the fork lift and we'd drive it over.  Then we'd have the fork lift there to lift it up.  Easy.  Or easy if you happen to have access to a big trailer and a fork lift.  (Re-reading that makes me smile realizing just how awesome my dad was.)

We drove up onto the front lawn of the well-manicured university.  We unloaded the fork lift, then the sculpture and had it installed in minutes.  This was all normal.  All my life I had been doing things like this with my dad.  I had been driving a fork lift for many years, just not on my college campus.  So while it was normal activity, it was not the normal setting for the activity.  And when my sculpture professor walked out to see the sculpture, it started to feel weird.  I introduced my dad to my professor.  They shared a couple of words.  I honestly couldn't get out of there fast enough.  

It took several years for me to understand this feeling.  I loved my dad and was proud of him.  I liked and respected my professor.  They both said nice things to each other about me.  But it was weird.  It was like in Ghostbusters when they keep saying all through the movie that you have to make sure you keep the two streams separated.  Never let them cross.  "It would be bad", Venkman said.    

This happened to one of my students recently and in conversation it sort of came up.  This time I was the professor in the equation but I could totally understand the student's perspective.  You move away and you have these two lives.  Your home life with your family and friends and your school life with your school people.  You decide when to leave one and go exist in the other.  It's weird when the two mix.  

As a professor, particularly a professor with a commute, this is still a thing I deal with from time to time.  I have a life at home with my people on nights and weekends.  And a totally separate life with my other people during the school day.  Text messages are pretty much the only way those two mix on a daily basis.  And that's a very controlled mixing. 

This time of each semester, my home family gets the short end of the stick.  On Sculpture Deathmatch day, I was at school from 8am to 11pm on a Saturday.  Blue had to attend the Film Festival that night, and he wanted to attend the workshops during the day as well.  This created an opportunity for the streams to cross.  From 10am until the after party, G, Blue and Violet were on or around campus.  During part of that time, one or all of them were in the studio hanging out.  I'm betting that seemed weird to some of the students.  I got a kick out of Nick showing me a text message from his friend Amber.  Everyone calls me "McAbee" and since they never have to address G in normal life...when the streams cross there's an awkward pause as they try to figure out what to call her.  Nick had respectfully referred to her as "Mrs. McAbee" in the text and Amber's response was laughter.  I get it.  It's weird.  G would have accepted "Mrs. McAbee" but only grudgingly.  She says it makes her feel old and she prefers Georgie.  But then that's weird for students who think the first name doesn't show respect.  

There have been other ways recently when the streams have crossed in one direction or the other.  A student was present recently when Violet and I got out of a car and walked down a street.  Violet's natural movement when walking beside me is to grab my hand and hold it as we walk.  To see the loud, skull-loving sculpture professor holding hands with his adorable daughter must have been a lot to process.  

My sculpture professor mentioned above, my mentor, was a loud, strong British guy.  He had a big presence.  On good days he'd commend you and tell you to get back to work and do even more.  On bad days he'd shout and maybe curse a little and tell you to get back to work and do even more...but he'd do it with that cool accent that made it sound better and worse all at once.  While I was in grad school, he and his wife had a daughter and the first time I saw her toddling around campus with him chasing after her, it was a life altering experience.  His voice was soft.  He was happy.  He was a dad.  It changed how I saw him as a human.  It also changed how I considered the things he said.  He was no longer just a teacher shouting instructions.  He was a human who knew things that I didn't know and he cared about me enough to yell at me so I didn't screw up.  


At the end of Ghostbusters, it turns out that crossing the streams is the solution to a very big, very marshmallowy problem.  It's not comfortable to cross the streams, but nothing worthwhile is ever comfortable, right?  Maybe it's good for teachers to see their students' other lives.  To see where they came from, what produced them.  To let professors tell parents how intelligent and talented their kids are.  And maybe it's good for students to see their teachers as humans with wives and husbands and kids and dogs and fish.  And for families to see the room full of lives their teacher-family member has the opportunity to impact in some small way.  Maybe it helps them understand the investment of time.  Or the sacrifice of time on their part. 

If you're a student, I'd suggest if you find yourself in such a position, that you address the kids, dogs and fish by their first names.  Maybe use a Mr. or Mrs. with the spouse and let them tell you what they're comfortable with.  If you ever run into my wife, she prefers Georgie.  I'm sure she's heard stories about you. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

let's have fun with plaster!

Plaster pouring day sneaks up on you during the spring semester.  You're busy looking at the weather to see if it's going to be 80 degrees or 20 degrees and all of the sudden you walk into the 3D room and there's plastic all over the floor.

You think you're prepared.  You taped up your mold inside and out.  Even though the professor told you not to tape up the inside.  Maybe you used pink duct tape.  Or unicorn tape.  You're confident.  But the professor has that look on his face that you've seen before.  It's like he knows something is about to happen.  Something he didn't tell you.  You're pretty sure you hate him.

You even volunteer to go first.  Might as well get it out of the way, right?  Now he's smiling.  You really don't like him right now.  He's getting louder.  He "WOOOOOOOO"ed a couple of times really loud.  You're starting to get uneasy.  Is he crazy?  Like actually unhinged?  He's still got that look on his face but now it's bigger somehow.  Crazier.  You start to think about your grade.  Do you really need a college degree?

When he slices the first bag of plaster open it seems almost violent.  Two quick slashes and he's dumping the dry, white powder into a bucket of water.  As the white cloud of dust rises around his face you're now certain he's the Devil.  Not any of the lesser imps or demons, the actual Devil.  His eyes glow red through the plaster dust.  You need to pee.  And you wonder of vomiting would make you feel better.  

The plaster thickens in the bucket as one of your friends mixes with both hands.  Plaster is covering their arms past the elbows.  It's splashed up onto their face and into their hair.  The professor just stands there smiling.  Almost cackling.  You wonder if you'll survive.

A piercing "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" erupts from the lungs of the professor as he grabs the 5 gallon bucket of plaster and tilts it toward your head.  This is gonna be bad.  The first drops go into the mold.  Your pulse quickens.  At least half a gallon has gone in.  No leaks.  You're feeling good.  You might pass.  You might get a degree.

You're pretty sure that dripping plaster is just from when the professor missed the opening for a second.  It's running down the outside.  Right?  It's not leaking.  Is it leaking?  Why is it still dripping.  Now there's a puddle under you.  Was that there before?  Is it growing?  It's leaking.  It's definitely leaking.  The puddle is growing.  The plaster is leaking out faster than the professor can pour it in.

You're gonna fail for sure.  Is there even any plaster inside your mold?  The other people around you are gonna fail too.  Yours isn't leaking as bad as theirs.  Is everyone's going to leak?  Who is this professor?  Why is he enjoying this?  He's really enjoying this.  You really hate him.  

The plaster hardened.  You can feel that your mold is full.  Maybe.  It's over.  You didn't fail.  You have plaster in your hair.  Some in your eye.  Maybe in your ears.  You're coated in plaster from the waist down.  You look like you were dipped in it.  You catch yourself laughing.  Why are you laughing?  Did you just "WOOOOOOOOOO!"?  What's even happening right now?  Oh man, that dude's whole project just collapsed.  You're laughing hard now.  He's totally gonna fail.  Wait, are you enjoying this?  You're so confused.  But it really is funny.  Even the dude is laughing now.  What's going on?  Is this fun?  

You're pretty sure it was fun.  You may have even enjoyed it.  I mean, who knows if you'll be able to make a project out of this but that process was hilarious.  You'd consider doing it again.  You know you'd do it again.  But wait, calm down, you're not a "3D person".  But did you see the giant hole in that mold where the girl forgot to tape one whole side?  That was great!  You think you even have an idea of how you can make yours better.  The rest of this project might not be so bad.  The rest of this semester might not be so bad.  You wonder if it's ok to enjoy this.  Maybe you are a 3D person?  Or maybe you'll just take some more classes and see what happens.  


That's pretty much how it goes.  Here's some photographic evidence to support...

 mixing that first bucket

 pouring the first mold


 1 minute in.  Disaster


 panic


 acceptance


 enjoyment


 "Wait, you knew this was going to happen?"


 Yes, Chanel, I knew this was going to happen.


 the after photo.  and a clean Savannah


 clean up


 next class


 disaster


 acceptance


 enjoyment


 after


 last group


 controlled chaos


 after


 using the outdoor shower


trying to recover the studio