Monday, September 28, 2009

Inkhat Presents a Short Meditation on Hugs!

Ohio is getting colder, which is redundant, as most of the continental US is cooling at this time of year. The real point of this is that my cat has taken to sleeping on my bed at night, curled up in whatever bay she can find; behind my knees, against my stomach, in the crook of my arm. I am aware that she is only doing it for warmth, but it has made me realize how starved for physical contact I have become in the last few months.

This is the longest I’ve been away from my parents. It’s strange to think of it that way. I’ve been more or less independent for years, but I have always seen them at least once every few months. We’re a very physically loving family, or at least we have become one in the last few years. I don’t remember us always being so close, but perhaps I was too young to take note. My close friends, too, have always hugged, elbowed, shouldered, poked, high fived to excess. During the last few months, with the exception of one slightly drunken hug and a few high fives, I have rarely come in contact with another human being. I’m not referring to romantic touch here, but the basic human need for contact. How strange it is to lose it. How strange that the absence can be an almost palpable presence in my life.

There have been moments where another grad student will begin a familiar gesture. A hand will extend toward my shoulder or elbow or hand, and then they will pause. The hand will hover for only a moment, and the gesture will be finished as something pithy and falsely lackadaisical. A gesticulation, a pass, a wave. I, not noticing the first attempt at camaraderie; cognizant only of the moment of question, and failure, watch the hand drop to their side, and am aware, painfully, that something wonderfully possible has been lost. An inflation, maybe, but more a demonstration of a suspicion growing into a feeling.

What I am saying, in more depth than necessary, and possibly ad nauseam, is that sometimes I really need a hug.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Inkhat Paints Ninjas in Her Spare Time!

I often think about the relationships around heroes and villains. Who makes dinner? Who pays bills? Who waits at home for them? This was going to be a larger comic, but the world does not need more super heroes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Inkhat Talks About Teaching Again!

I scribbled this post in my notebook during class. Yes, it was the class I have already complained about. Last period we discussed the importance of broad, sweeping education; lectures bound only to the most vast, exploratory concepts. We were to blow the minds and spirits of our students to scintillating smithereens. These lectures should ignore pedestrian concerns like ‘grammar’ or ‘correctness.’ This will break the students free from the fetters of convention and improve their reading ten fold. Today we are learning lecture strategies on sentence structure and grammar. I didn’t get it.

Teaching is becoming easier, and, better yet, fun. I still cannot shake my nerves before I open the door. I spend the first few minutes babbling nervously before I find my rhythm again. Yesterday I led a discussion for almost a straight hour. Near the end a girl who had not spoken since the first day of school suddenly thrust her hand in the air, glaring forward, as if daring anyone else to speak. Naturally, I called on her. She erupted in opinions. She spoke for almost 10 minutes. All of it was intelligent. Much of it was what I wanted to say myself, but was holding back so as to not to stifle discussion. When she was done, she folded her arms. I decided it was a good time for a break. For the rest of the hour she remained quiet again, smiling. Sometimes things just need to be said.

I like this job. I like that I’m being paid to do this. Yesterday, standing in the line at the deli, I realized that I would never have to be on the other side of that counter again. Working at Meijer deli, (washing day old ham out of boxes, scraping burnt chicken wings off the burners), was by far the worst job I have ever had. However, I always kept it before me; a possible though last ditch answer to the perpetual question, “How do I eat today; tomorrow?” However, I realized that I no longer held it before me in my mind like a lifeline. I was infinitely more secure. I understand that this position is temporary, and offers no guarantee for my future, but…well…shut up. I’m in my happy place right now.

I guess what I’m learning from all this is that I’m not done learning. Thank god.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inkhat Heeds the Writing on the Wall!

And just like that the first week of teaching had come and gone. I felt, at the same time, more and less overwhelmed. Over the phone I would tell my mother that I was surprised only at the sense of the vertiginous. That is to say, I did not expect to feel as if the world around me had suddenly given a great start and jump and forgotten to take me along. I do find it wonderfully encouraging that everyone around me is feeling roughly the same way. Though I know it’s difficult to admit, I felt reinforced by every personal testimony of confusion and exhaustion. I find I wanted to push those who were confident and thrilled in a very deep well. Nicely, you understand.

I also found that was more worried about teaching after I was done. During the class time I could keep things moving and engaging, but afterwards I would analyze every single moment; everything I said which might be taken the wrong way. It was the damn textbooks that did it. All the assignments for our Teaching English course analyzed in pains-taking detail everything that could possibly go wrong. It had elaborate stories of how simple attempts to reach a class could spiral wildly out of proportion, leading to chaos and the eventual downfall of humanity. As I did those readings I would find things I had actually done and panic. It had worked perfectly well when I tried it.

Of course, this is the problem with focusing on Teaching Theory. In the end it’s very much like lecturing on the physics of baseball then unceremoniously throwing a player on the field with a glove and yelling “Good Luck,” while scurrying away. On an intellectual level, he may understand the game better than anyone else in that stadium, but he probably won’t catch that ball.

But I digress. Let’s digress in this direction: Last night I went to Tony’s, or was it the night before? Night before. I remember. Anyway, I went to Tony’s, (a place which seeks, by its very existence, to define 'Hole in the Wall'), and, in the bathroom, was surprised to see the walls as covered with writing as the English building and coffee shops. There seems to be, in the city of Athens, a drive to write anything and everything; to carve it into table tops, to sharpie it on bathroom walls, to pencil in comments and addendum. It is not unusual to find black boards in bathrooms, a last act of defense by the management to save their walls. Certainly, not all of it is poetry, but a writer can’t help but love a town obsessed; driven to put its self into words. Also, the comics are coming along nicely.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Inkhat Does Not Actually Own a Corded Telephone!

This is the last of the Orientation sketches. It also is probably the last one to be posted in-blog. I will start making a backlog for a new for-realz webcomic. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Inkhat Considers the Topography of Memory!

Yesterday I took a trip to Columbus with my roommate Dania, and another graduate student, Ryan. I’m not sure why I decided that this was important, but I was sure I needed a day off. I was fascinated by Columbus, in a way that my two companions probably were not. At one point I stopped them and pointed to an ornate building. The red stone work curled like flowers and parchment around the top and over the corners, but did not extend all the way around the building.

“Look at that!” I said. “It’s so, when they build another large building next door it will look like the design goes all the way around.”

They nodded politely, insisting that, no really, that was very interesting. I smiled appreciatively. I’m weird. I get it. But I think that it was important, that building. We were, in a matter of days, about to attempt the same sort of chameleon act. We would have to stand in front of the class and put on our best, professional face, saying, “Pay no attention to the lack of depth; the cheat of time and experience. Pay no attention to the fact that we are new and untested. We have been made in the old style, and have skyscrapers at our backs.”

We attended the Greek Festival, which was unfortunately small, but lovely. There were overpriced tourist items, and a vast variety of food, and awkward kindergarteners forced to dance around in a circle in tiny, colorful costumes. Occasionally a parent swept in to scoop up

one in tears. The problem, I told the other two, was that Greek dancing was not made for performance. It was made for celebration. Dania theorized that this is why they danced in a circle, but it was never closed. In this way, people could always join. A few moments passed in silence. The children shuffled off the stage and were replaced by adults, more colorfully dressed, jumping spinning. It was interesting that, unlike American dancing, the movements were not necessarily on a beat, but seemed to be contained within them. For instance, sometimes in a chord there would be three movements, sometimes two, sometimes only one. Being used to movements directly coordinating with a sound, I found this beautiful.

“I’m glad we did this.” Dania said, “It’s important to build a geographical memory of a place.” I thought about this sentence the rest of the day. It was a wonderful thought. I imagined standing on the street years in the future, remembering me imagining me.

Wandering through the stalls, I came to a printmaker who worked in an iconic style used extensively in the church where I grew up. The images were familiar, and I wasn’t sure I could buy a print along that vein, though I loved the style. “Fine,” I said to myself, “Look through her

work, and if she has something different and affordable, buy that one.” So I started looking, and chatting with the artist and her husband, who, predictably, were lovely people. Finally I looked down at the print I had picked up. It was three women, placed among gears. Smoke stacks rose in the past. They looked strong, somber, and brave, staring off into the sky, just beyond the edge of the paper. They reminded me, forcefully, of Diego Rivera’s work in the DIA, another cathedral of my youth. It reminded me of Flint; the battles they had fought and I had left behind. I remembered standing in my mother’s studio, looking over the heads of the stone lions to the etched line of the Flint River. We had moved her paintings up and down stairs all day. It reminded me of home.

“That,” she interrupted my thoughts, “was my first one. I’ve always liked it. You can have it for 20. The corner’s bent.”

I nodded. I’d take it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Inkhat Doodles During Orientation!

This one was for Yesterday, but I fell asleep before I got it up. They really are enormous.