Thursday, June 26, 2008

A special day for me... (or, my saving grace)

Yay! Today is my birthday! I am so glad to be alive and well, and DRAWING!!! Yeah!!
I am so glad I've never stopped drawing. Drawing was always my 'best friend' - it was always my favorite thing to do. It was also always the thing I did best. It was also always the 'thing' I could do that people always most appreciated...

When I was really young kid, 9 or so, we moved to Massachusetts from Los Angeles. Total culture shock. Not only was it thousands of air-miles away from my former home, but it was total, TOTAL culture shock. I mean, night and day. Completely.

I didn't even know what a catholic school was, and all of the sudden I found myself in an ironed uniform, complete with a little tie (like the girl scouts wear, with the snap), lined up outside of school at 8 in the morning reciting "Hail Mary" together - the whole school. I didn't know any of the prayers by heart and I had to listen along and pretend for awhile, lip syncing the words. Really unpleasant situation. Then, once IN the classroom, we said the "Our Father" prayer together. (I remember, years later, learning the actual words to the prayer and being surprised. Because I didn't know the words by heart, I'd regularly just mimic what my classmates were reciting , and they all had thick Boston accents. So, all that time, some of the words I was saying were not correct.)

For a solid year, kids would brazenly come up to me and and "Say 'Pahk The Cah in Hahvahd Yahd!'" Like I was a circus monkey. Apparently, my west coast accent was amusing -- endlessly amusing.

Another thing that set us apart was having come from the town of "swimming pools and movie stars". Every single day without fail, someone would ask: "Did you see any movie stahs?". Ugh, the dreaded question. But one of the ONLY things that might make an outsider even remotely entertaining to a bunch of nine-year-old girls. On top of that, in L.A., stars were just normal people. Sure, it was a treat to get to spy "One Day At A Time"- era Valerie Bertinelli or Mackenzie Phillips at the Beachwood Market, but you never, EVER made ANY kind of deal about it. I mean, they were just there buying their groceries, like the rest of us. But here in Boston, these kids thought of them as if they were unicorns or wizards. Or Tinkerbell.

The nuns, the nuns, the nuns... Me (and my sisters) were complete outsiders, and the nuns never let me forget it. We may as well have been real aliens, the green kind with three eyes and antennae.

But I had an ace up my sleeve. I could draw.

I never truly realized the power I had, until one day. Sister Eleanor was my home room teacher. She looked like a cross between Jabba the Hut and the Heat Miser. But her personality was ALL GRINCH. I now theorize that she must have thought I was marked for life because I was a child of (GASP) divorce and I was (DOUBLE-GASP) from the land of 'Lost Angels'!

Anyway, one day, the most bizarre thing happened. She approached me so sweetly and gently. She asked me in someone else's voice if I would draw a picture of Jesus. It was so transparent. It was sort of the opposite of Linda Blair's transformation in "The Exorcist" -- and it was happening at MY DESK. Of course, I wouldn't say "No" to Reagan, and I certainly wasn't going to say "No" to Sister Eleanor. She got her picture of Jesus alright. And that was the beginning of a string of special treatment. By special treatment, I mean that she wasn't mean to me when I was drawing religious pictures for her. I became popular amongst all the faculty (particularly those wearing collars, headgear and big crosses), and they posted my Jesus, then Mary, and others, for all to see. Somehow, I had the time to draw these pictures during school. I don't remember when exactly I drew them, but I don't think it was during lunch or recess.

Sister Eleanor's attitude did not change toward me forever, but for a good long time it did. For long enough for me to come to certain realizations. And it was nice to not be treated like Oliver Twist for awhile. I also learned some powerful lessons first-hand -- ironically, I learned the lessons in school, but they were not part of my curriculum. :)

I think we ALL probably have similar stories like this one. I'd love to hear yours! Viva La Draw!


Angie McKaig said...

Happy birthday, Kathy! Hope you get everything you wish for - today, and in years to come. :)

Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

What an awesome and beautiful story Kathy!! I can almost see you with your uniform, drawing at your desk...

It is wonderful you could find out what motivated you in such an early stage in life. One true gift.. and now you became who you are. How great is that?!


nicole falk said...

Happy Birthday Kathy!! What a story!!

I went to catholic school for 7 years..I understand..hahaha but wow glad something wonderful like realizing how powerful art is came about through all that uncomfortable messiness.

I had a lot of problems in grammar school with friends (not having any) - so drawing was usually my escape..

Kathy Weller said...

Nicole! A kindred spirit! :) Yay!!!

Let's just say Oprah would call the "Draw Jesus" moment an Oprah "A-HA" moment, LOL!!

I had a lot of moments like that with my classmates, too. When people learn of your drawing skill, suddenly you are very popular when kids want you to draw stuff for them. So funny.

They ask you how you do it.
"WHY, IT'S Because
I am...*~*~*MAGIC*~*~*!!"
Haha!! .. lol..

j/k, j/k... just being facetious.

We are not magic...We are just OBSESSED with drawing!!! AGGHHH!!! :) :) :)

But truly, and not to sound like a flaky fluffy cloud, here, but we all have magic dust, right? I's just how, and IF, we choose to develop it in life. :) Everyone has something special, something creative, to share and give to the world.

Ok I will get off my fluffy cloud now. :)

X's and O's,

kim said...

Happy Birthday Kathy! I never went to Catholic school (thank goodness), so I don't have any horror stories. Although, people used to steal my artwork out of the showcase, so I'm the reason they have a locked gallery at my high school now. :)

Kathy Weller said...

Kim, that is AWESOME. Not that your art got stolen of course, but how you've "changed the rules" with your art! Cool!!!


nancyrosetta said...

Happy Birthday little sis!!

Hey, we did have a very hard time with that move, but look at us now?
30 years later, we ROCK!

I love you to pieces!


Anonymous said...

Don't you wish you still had those Jesus pictures...a little slice of life in paint on paper.

Kathy Weller said...

Robin - YES!! I do!! :)

Ginger*:)* said...

Happy Birthday and THREE CHEERS for you Kathy. Thank you for sharing your story. How wonderful that your talents were recognized early and rewarded.

Ginger*:)* said...

PS.... I LOVED your summer apples. It made me go get one right away.

ellencrimitrent said...

sorry I missed your bday!! I had such a crazy week last week and although I did not have nuns as a kid I did have some in high school. They were not bad then and I mostly had lay teachers. My boys are in Catholic school and their are no nuns but regular teachers.

Love the story and I still would get asked to say the same thing when I went to collage in NY! "can you say park the car in Harvard yard!" also "potato" was big!