You remember her. The one you had in grade school who paraded into class, hair a-flyin’, a million and one turquoise beads draped around her neck and over her paint-splattered kaftan, a little too fidgety and spastic for your comfort, instructing you to, “EXPRESS YOURSELF!” and you were like, “Lady, I’m all of about eight years old. Not enough shit has happened for me to express.”
Kidding: I didn’t understand the concept of snarkiness at eight years old. I simply did what I was told. This means I made a lot of over-glazed, misshapen bowls and lumpy plates that my parents had to put on their desks at work.
Because, “My child is talented and unique.”
But the thing is, you were talented and unique, or at least that’s how this particular art teacher made you feel. I’m not referring to the dickhead instructors who walked around with their horn-rimmed glasses, hands clasped behind their backs, sneering and giving you shit about how you couldn’t draw a straight line freehand (”TECHNIQUE! TECHNIQUE IS EVERYTHING!” Shaky hand syndrome, man: come on), but the ones who told you that nothing in art was a mistake, and everything produced by your tiny, undexterous being was a product of beauty. Because when this teacher ordered you to “EXPRESS YOURSELF!” she or he really meant it.
Of course, as we get older this mentality is difficult to maintain. None of us want to be fired from our jobs, or kicked out of bars, or attract weird subway vibes from nearby passengers. But we should—express ourselves that is. Variety is a precious thing and makes life interesting. The other day as I was standing in line at the grocery store for my weekly purchase of leaves and canned tuna—wondering quite seriously if the Trader Joe’s at Union Square is registered in one of Dante’s Circles of Hell—my eyes were drawn to the woman in front of me. I let my gaze fall from her head to her feet, where the all-black outfit she was wearing transitioned into a bedazzled pair of pink Hello Kitty kicks. In that moment I felt enamored of her, for this individual who had decided that, “Yes, Hello Kitty and sparkles speak to me as a person and I want the world to know.” In my head I quietly expressed gratitude to her: “Thank you for being you.”
And then approximately a minute later she picked up on my creepiness and decided she had forgotten to grab something, vacating her place in line.
So what I’m trying to say is, the idea of “expressing yourself” worked out for both of us. Mostly for me.
I can’t keep up this charade, just wait for it.
Boop, there we go.
For the past few years my personal form of self-expression has involved Godzilla. As one may guess.
For your dreams, for your inspiration.
For your nightmares. I mean, dreams.
Uniqlo tee, Zara overalls. The tongue is my own.
And that’s about it. So remember, guys:
Photos by Kaiterrific.