A Dozen Donut Dates
This pandemic has really put a wrench in my donut dates.....not to minimize it to how it effects me, but it is my personal reality right now and so it is valid. About a week or two before this crazy, a group of friends and I (including Kristie) met for coffee. We met at The Coffee Peddler so of course I went down to the bakery to get donuts. It was not an official donut date at the time so I didn't take any pics. But...this pandemic has been causing a roller coaster of emotions for me and I needed an outlet. I contacted Kristie and asked her if I could go ahead with her artwork and give her a raincheck for an individual donut date in the future because I needed some art therapy. Being Kristie, she agreed without hesitation. If you know Kristie, you know that she has that unique characteristic of building people up not matter what it takes. It is not that she is not competitive, she is, but mostly just with herself which is the best kind. She has been my go to for everything exercise for a long time. I've not met anyone who has really listened and encouraged me more than she has. If she doesn't already know the answer she will find out. It goes beyond exercising though to every crazy idea I ever have. We ran a committee together for several years at school and it didn't matter what I wanted to do, she would help me make it a reality. This pic I chose for her is my favorite pic. She ran in a 5k one weekend and sent me this pic with how the race went. She nonchalantly said she won in her age group with a 24:27. I'll do the math for you, that is a 7:53 MILE.....holy shiz that is fast for old people like us. I have never been more proud of her and saved this pic to my phone because I love how happy she looks. I miss the old PRE so much it hurts sometimes. And Kristie is a big part of that....from our coffee talks to Friday breakfast to my coveted lunch bunch, she was there for all of it. We were on opposite ends of the best hallway I have ever worked in but the space between us didn't seem to exist. We haven't worked together for two years now but the friendship has lived on....that is when you know for sure it was so much more than coworkers.
My fifth donut date took place inside my head. I know what you are thinking...this took one of my donut date spots? Relax, I decided to do a "baker's dozen" so this will not take anyone's spot. Birds have long been my muse since my grandparents gave me a bird book back in elementary school. I practiced and practiced until I could draw a bird anatomically correct from memory. Birds, especially crows have shown up time and time again in my work usually as distractions or temptations. In stark contrast to the vibrantly colored donuts that have only been my muse in recent years, it only seemed fitting to marry the two in one artwork. I had been thinking about this for some time and then a former student suggested it in my quest for subject matter for a different smaller work I was doing. It was a tiny artwork titled, "nesting" that only had the donut nest of fledglings and became a study for this larger work. This piece, while a whimsical marriage of my two muses, actually houses a multitude of symbolism. Much more than I can type here, so I will just hit the highlights...teaching...it's hard to portray the idea to anyone who is not a teacher. You spend all day feeding small bits of information that you try to figure out how to make attractive to your kids so they "bite", all the while juggling a million other things going on inside the room and your brain hence the confetti of different things dancing in the background. An artist's brain much like a teacher's is equal to having about 53 tabs open in your browser...even though you can only see one page at a time, you know they are all there distracting your focus. The most important thing you can do as a teacher is be who you are....because if you are willing to be yourself in your classroom, your kids will feel safe enough to show their own unique spots and stripes and feel comfortable expressing themselves. Like all humans, they just want to know that someone sees them and hears them.
My fourth Donut Date was with my friend Noelle and her baby Claire (aka, bff jr.). Noelle's mom described our friendship once while introducing me to her friends as, "they have nothing in common they just love each other". I heard a quote that said often the people with the least amount in common make the best friends. Noelle likes pink, all things sparkly, and mermaids and I like well....none of those things. It's true, Noelle and I could not be more different in so many ways but what we do share is the desire to be relentlessly supportive of each other. Wanting the best for each other knows no bounds even if it directly effects us. There is rarely an event, family or otherwise, where we don't show up for each other. Though Noelle is relentlessly positive, my favorite part is when she goes off on one of her many (faux) rants about something where she talks non-stop in a random stream of consciousness in which the back of my head hurts from laughing so hard. There are no dull moments in this friendship in that we laugh our butts off, sincerely build each other up and even volunteer to slash tires for the other one (I'll let you guess which one). There is rarely a day that goes by with at least one text, photo, or gif to check in. We've been through a lot together but my favorite part of this ride has been watching her become a mom with so much grace that it has only made me love her so much more. It was a wild ride and she never complained once and has been one of the best moms that has ever "mom"ed to Claire. So I thought it only fitting to make Claire the subject of our Donut Date. Noelle doesn't even like donuts (should've been a red flag right there) so of course I had to share in the glorious occasion of Claire's first donut as her eyes were as glazed over as the donut was. I look forward to showing Claire so many more of the really important things in life...like pizza and coffee. I have waited my whole life for a friend that I could truly call a "best friend" and mean it, and then six years ago Noelle moved into the room next to mine and the first time I walked by and said, "hey turkey" and she came right back with, "hey chicken" she had me. We have grown so much since then and want to be "Grace and Frankie" (Netflix) when we grow up, beach house included. We have plenty of time before then, mostly because I'll never grow up, to laugh through this journey as friends and for heavens sakes for you to learn to love donuts already! (P.S. Ryan, you are also a kick ass dad and would have had a bigger shout out if you hadn't slept through our entire donut date.)
Meet the "Dornadoes" my 3rd Donut Date in the dozen. The Dornadoes, a combination of their name and tornadoes, were affectionately named by me as they seem to blow into your life randomly, stir things up, leave it never quite the same, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I met Missy about 16 years ago when I hired her into our art department. I knew from the first minute of the interview that she was what we were looking for and she proved me right for the several years we were able to work together before budget cuts. Immediately we became fast friends, our husbands soon after and eventually their kids came along. All these years later, the Dornadoes are always a package deal and we have never minded...once. Hence the group artwork that took me so long to attempt to tackle (although eventually, only 3 days to create). This random pic with goofy faces and expressions defines them perfectly. There is never a dull moment when we get together as you can imagine with 4 art teachers and two extra creative kids. We have spent years trying new random recipes on the fly, camping, creating art, and we have a Jamfest every summer in which you guessed it...we make jam (raise your hand if you thought we played music). But my favorite moments are like the one above where we decorated donuts in an Easter theme for our donut date as it was Easter and we were getting together to color eggs. The entire family is always up for anything and as all creative people, after a few moments, someone says, "I wonder what would happen if....." and that's all it takes for the randomness to begin and we end up with things like Jesse's donut created with a squatting peep followed by a trail of brown jelly beans. We also always play some sort of game whether it be a board game or an egg hunt resulting in playing cards for hours with a miniature deck about one inch tall where the real struggle was just trying to read the cards for the old people. I can't begin to tell you of all of the hilariousness that we have had over the years, and the words we still use today for things their kids said when they were little like, "icky bug" and "Janjuary". Beyond all of the hilariousness and creativity, they have your back like no other and I know we will count them as friends for this entire lifetime. It's not like long periods of time go by without us getting together, but just like the saying when we do it is like no time has passed. We pick up right where we left off and there is no doubt that we will always, always be here for one another. In creating this portrait, I wanted to leave them more expressively created as that is all of their personalities and the background came to me as this entire family is so goofy as bunny ears and randomness have made their way into way more pics than I can count. What we can count on is always having these goofy "peeps" in our lives to stir it up, make us laugh, and support us in everything. I'm not sure how we were lucky enough to get into the path of the Dornadoes, but I hope the weather conditions continue to be just right.
My second Donut Date was with my friend Cheryl. Originally we planned to meet at our favorite local coffee shop on "Onesie" day, back in January, but we both ended up being too tired to go. We rescheduled for a couple of weekends ago and I planned to get her favorite coconut donut from a bakery near her house. I showed up to her house late and with a coconut donut from a different bakery and she still welcomed me in her onesie with a smile because this woman is like no other friend there is. There is no way to reduce the friendship I have with Cheryl down to a few sentences but I will try. We have so much in common from our love of everything 70's, to donuts, to our artiness and new adventures in food and beverages...but it is so much more than things in common. She gives the best advice, knows pretty much everything or can figure it out, cares deeply about people, is the most positive person I know, has a nutty side (hence the coconut donut) that pops up at the most random times (insert the random stache tattoo), and would do anything and I mean anything for her friends. I have the worst memory and she will write things down that I need to remember on post-it notes and keep them in her pocket and text me later. She texts me every week when our favorite shows are on to remind me to watch them and then we proceed to watch them at our own homes texting each other the whole time. She surprises me with the most thoughtful gifts at the most random times just when I need them. But most of all, I think she is the first friend that has truly loved me unconditionally. She has shown me the most patience for my randomness, forgetfulness, weirdness, and lack of attention span of any of my friends before her. I can be "me" with her every moment without worry and her with me. I'm not sure what I did to earn a place in her life, but I hope I keep earning it for the rest of mine.
A Dozen Donut Dates has officially kicked off with finishing my first piece. "Tess" took a little longer than expected, but I experimented with some new techniques that I loved and hated all at once. Late one night I completely wiped out her face and started over. This series was born to get back to the old-fashioned idea of spending time with people in person and seeing what they have to offer on the inside. We often make decisions about people much like when selecting our donuts. The donuts are in cases much like people on social media. We can only see what is on the outside until we bite into them or until we spend time with them. This was not my first donut date with her family, we have a mutual love affair for donuts. We met at the park, ate our donuts (that much like Tess, wore a sparkly sugar coating) and then went for a hike where Tess, dressed in a fluffy pink hoodie with sparkly gold stars, was perfectly happy foraging for rocks in the mud and grass. After finally getting her to leave, we decided to meet for lunch as well. Her dad carried the pink glittery treasure box into the restaurant and sat it in front of Tess who insisted on sitting right by me. We had met for dinner only a couple of weeks before and her treasure chest that night consisted of makeup that she proceeded to pretend to put on me throughout dinner. Assuming similar contents, it was the best surprise ever to see not only the rocks she had collected that day, but the rest of her rock collection as well. This lunch was spent naming every rock in the chest and then coloring them with markers. Names included were things like "froggie" because it resembled a frog and "rainbow" for a completely gray rock. What I love most about tiny humans is their ability to be uninhibited by rules and logic and to just be themselves. I've known Tess since she was inside her mom's belly and she has always been a spitfire, a character, and a beautiful tiny human. I can not wait to see where her creative mind leads.