Ceramics 101

Life is amazing.

That phrase keeps repeating itself in my head over and over again.  It must be Ceramics class.

I woke up to rain and blustery cold, and was out driving in it, thanking God for bringing me through the 14-day flu and allowing me one more chance to function well enough to be out in the world.  It's easy to forget what driving in rush hour traffic is like, in inclement weather, trying to be somewhere other than chemo.  It's easy to forget what it's like to be in school.  It's also easy to remember that now is my time, my chance to do something I've always wanted to do.  That's right.  I've wanted to take ceramics since high school…

I've never taken ceramics…why is a long story.  I've blown glass, taken metallurgy and various art and photography classes, but ceramics was hopeless in college (and not condoned as college-prep in high school).  I'm surprised and thrilled it's not crowded at Chabot (at least not in the morning).  And the instructor is filipino-american, which is also cool.  (Creates pressure to bring snacks at various times, but why not anyway?)

Not much happened in today's class, except the arousal of curiosity, interest, excitement, passion, creativity…and socialization.  After class, I was filled with exhilaration and the feeling that this may be the key to my healing.  Just the thought of creativity gave me a sense of strength and relief… a deep happiness I haven't felt since being on a Segway (more about that later).  I may curse the clay later, but for now, I feel primal wonder and unbridled anticipation.  In my early college days, I used to go to the glass studio and blow glass from 9 at night to the wee hours of the morning. The process stilled my raging mind, filled me with peace, detached me from the seriousness of my situation, restored me to harmony.  It was meditative, and I believe throwing clay will be as well.

I've always wished I'd made the sacrifices to be able to do something creative for a living.  At various times I wanted to go into textile design, museum curatorship, fine art, film production, literature and the history of ideas, writing.  I won't say which one I really should've studied—those who know me can hazard a guess, but suffice to say I didn't commit 150% to a creative field, and I find myself here today, just joyful that I may get to play with clay before I turn to dust.  Were circumstances different, I'd still be out there, killing myself to try to buy a house in the Bay Area.  I've pretty much succeeded in the killing part, not the buying part, so it wouldn't be far-fetched to think I might create the urn for my own ashes.  It would be sort of funny.  It doesn't mean I can't also create a reminder of what's truly important in life.  

Going to ceramics class was like a homecoming.  I've never been a very material person, always preferring fulfillment through activity and intellect over possessions.  I've always felt at home in school and other learning environments.  The ideal was to be able to get by and support one's work and the lifestyle necessary to inspire it (this usually meant starving then having an epiphany).  Like everything else, very few actually attain this ideal.  I'm still faced with that quandary, minus the pleasure and privilege of making art for a living.

I've been considering a return to work, part-time, if my health and functionality remain consistent.  My oncologist strongly believes there's a place for long-term goals, planning, and a sense of purpose, but wonders if I couldn't achieve this in a more casual way…working at a bookstore, for example.  My upbringing and the insecurity it's fostered is what continues the urge to return to my already established job, where I have good benefits.  Let's face it, it's not about the money at this point.  It's about insurance.

It's a quandary.  Do I need that kind of work to have a sense of purpose?  No.  Can I get good health insurance through my husband?  Yes.  So why don't I just take disability retirement and enjoy taking classes?  (Even if I return to work, we'll probably never be able to buy in the Bay Area anyway)  After awhile, my stuff might be good enough to earn a place in friends' homes.

After awhile, perhaps I'll get well.  Maybe this clay will be like kaolin—the kind you put on your face—it'll suck out all the impurities and my body will be healed.  If not, well, I'll take the joy it brings and the incentive to keep going.

For now, I'm prepared for amazing things to happen.  More than ever, I believe in the saying, "Follow your bliss", and "Do what you love, the money will follow."  


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2 thoughts on “Ceramics 101

  1. I'm selfish. I want you to come back to work so I can enjoy your company.
    Tell me more about the ceramics. I've always thought it would be a fun class to take.

  2. I selfishly want you to come back down here so I can take care of you. I think it's a brilliant idea to make your own urn, & hope you never need it. Like the lady with the knitted scarves. Anytime you indulge your innerchild it makes you happy. Mine has been in charge for a while now. I took ceramics in college & enjoyed it very much. Have fun, it is such a luxury to do something 'normal'. love ya

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