This cartoon, published in the Winter 2012 issue of Brain, Child Magazine, is a good example of how seemingly forgettable exchanges between family members can suddenly become fodder for a cartoon. It goes like this: a member of my immediate family does something either memorably annoying or, now that I have children, memorably amusing and then I draw a cartoon.
Fortunately for me, my mother not only makes a great cartoon character, but she’s a great sport about it, even when I exaggerate just a tiny bit.
(Just for the record, the only thing I exaggerated about was the egg shell. Couldn’t resist.)
With a Junior in High School, memories of my own experience applying to college way back when are flooding back to me, especially with the help of old cartoon books.
I don’t know what is more astonishing — the things that are different or the things that are the same. For example, my mother still burns hamburger buns with alarming regularity and I think I still have that Fair Isle sweater. But what I love most about this drawing is the snapshot it takes in time. Not just the late 70s, but the point in time it captures in my family’s life: my sister Leslie away at college and calling to ask for money, my Mom in her pom-pom tennis socks, and Steve’s huge teen feet in a pair of Wallabees.
I have vowed to take a calmer, gentler approach towards helping my children with the college application process, which of course means that the whole thing will have to be outsourced. (Stay tuned for updates on college visits– those we will have to handle ourselves.)
But, the way I see it, as long as none of it gets in the way of my tennis game, everything will be just fine.
This is an annual discussion that our family engages in every fall. Sometimes by email, but this year it was around the Thanksgiving table.
Sometimes a little sarcasm works its way into the conversation in order to make a point. The point here being, of course, that quantity is better than quality. Wait no, that’s not what I meant. What I meant was that I would rather find everyone in my family a small gift — bacon flavored candy (spoiler alert Steve!), David Sedaris’s “Holidays on Ice”, a talking Mr. T. keychain to name a few ideas — than be assigned to purchase a single “large gift” for a sole recipient who will scrounge for the return gift receipt at the bottom of the box while thanking the Lord that I was two time zones away when they opened their “big” present. And when the conversation starting taking the Wal*Mart route, I had to say something fast.
I’m still a little fuzzy on where we ended up on the whole matter — we probably would have made more progress arguing about avoiding the fiscal cliff.
Funny, I can’t think of a single thing to write about this one.
Seriously, I joined a really great writing workshop about a year and a half ago and if nothing else, I’ve learned that writing is much, much harder work (for me) than drawing. That said, with a couple of squiggly lines and the change of one word, I could easily make this “What I do to avoid drawing” because I suffer from avoidance tendencies with that too!
Sometimes people will remark to me that I must be very good at the game Pictionary, but the truth is, I’m not very good at it. I get caught up in the detail and I like to take my time when drawing. Nevertheless, I do love Pictionary, and love it even more when I win.
This entry recalls a particularly memorable game of Girls Against the Boys with my sister Leslie playing against my brother Steve and husband Dave. I lucked out in drawing a word that happens to be the subject of many of my cartoons — my mother. Below is another memorable All Draw that we won. I haven’t mixed up the woofer and tweeter ever again.
Not to be confused with “Giraffe Meringue Island” (an imaginary island created by my daughter Grace shortly after our return from Africa), warthogs living in the Okavango Delta make their homes in the dense clusters of small palms that sprout up here and there on the savannah, or as we called them, “Warthog Palm Islands.” We spotted our first warthog during “sundowners” (cocktails) on our first game drive at Duba Plains and it was love at first sight.
It might seem that the lowly, homely warthog, who kneels while eating and rolls around in the mud, lives a sad, pointless life. But after returning home to Connecticut and my full time job, and after examining that the items that accumulated on our kitchen island as a matter of daily routine had nothing to do with food, I began to realize that it would be better to live like a warthog.
I neglected to include a drawing of the elephant ride we reluctantly took in Zimbabwe, but otherwise this is a fairly accurate compilation of the various modes of transportation we experienced during our travels. It turns out we spent almost as much time on airplanes as we did in the Rovers (about 50 hours each) and somewhere along the line it occurred to me that we were leaving a rather large carbon footprint in Africa.
Unfortunately, studying this footprint drawing creates the same sensation of nausea one gets after breathing in diesel fumes for too long.
With this much flying around, something was bound to go wrong.
My sister Leslie is nervous about routine flights between Chicago and New York. When we pulled up to the big white Fokker plane with no logo or branding, she was certain there was something wrong. I should have known there was something wrong when both her daughter and her husband chose seats as far away from her as they could find. But it turns out Leslie was right this time. The Fokker plane wouldn’t turn to the right, so we spiraled back to Jo-Berg in a series of jerking counterclockwise motions to the sound of Leslie’s loud proclamations that we were all going to die. We learned later that we were probably in far greater mortal danger riding in the metal motor boat when passing through the hippo pools!
My family and I traveled to Africa with my highly cartoonable sister Leslie and her family in 2009. I began a travel journal early into the trip, but quickly found I couldn’t keep up with everything going on in writing. Plus, most of the details that I found interesting were far too boring to actually write about.
For example, all the things we either dropped or left behind…
When my niece Chloe dropped the SD card from her camera in the long grass about 3 yards from a group of 5 napping lions, our guide Richard said, “We’ll have to look for that later.” Within minutes, a lone zebra wandered past spurring a chase at breakneck speed. It’s a surprise nothing else went over the side of the rover as we careened through the bush trying to keep up with the lions, who were ultimately unsuccessful in nabbing the zebra. We were headed back to fetch the SD card when Richard heard a jackal’s warning call, which means “leopard” and sent us lurching off again at high speed in search of the elusive cat. When we got back to the spot where the SD card had been dropped, we found that in our absence, the lions had killed a springbok and were fighting over who got what in the very place we wanted to search. So we went back the next day and there was the little blue card, resting in the grass.
Just for the record, I do not have a foot or shoe fetish, but I do enjoy drawing shoes because they have a way of defining people. So when I recently came across an old photo of me in the pink toed shoes taken my senior year of college (below), I got the idea to see what I could learn about myself by examining some of the more memorable shoes I’ve worn in my life.
The high correlation between comfort and cost per wear is clear, but not very surprising.
I did notice after finishing this that I mixed up two of letters on the chart. I wonder if anyone else will notice, and if they do, whether they will figure out which. Unfortunately, making a mistake on a drawing isn’t as fixable as returning a pair of ill chosen shoes to the store. I either have to live with it or throw the drawing out and start over. In this case, I’ll live with it.
The death ray stare I am giving the photographer is a clue that I was probably in a fair amount of pain at the time the photo was taken.