Monday, January 19, 2015

Walked Over 7 Miles in 5 Days; There Were 2 Children's Musicals, Then The Flu in Time For Christmas ...


Replacement Society of Illustrators mug!
... and suddenly it was January.

Time to go back to school, write and administer Spanish tests, grade them and then post report cards, which I finally wrapped all up last week. There was no time to blog or draw during
those 8 weeks, as much as I wanted to ...

Sigh. It's been a busy and honestly kinda tough nearly two months. There was good in there, but it was also tough.

December had started out nicely. I was able to join the DC Production Department's Farewell/Christmas party. My previous supervisor invited alumni to see how many of us could get to McGee's Pub on the evening of December 5th. We usually had a Production department party as well as the general office party for Christmas ...  but let's face it, it's going to be way tougher for the bulk of us to "drop by" when the DC offices finish moving to California this April!

I flew in for the party, and for other things. I had graphic novel business to attend to with my writer, and one of my uncles was terribly sick and I really needed to visit, because it had been far, far too many years since I'd seen him.

The party turned out to be during a cold and rainy night. But it was a good turnout and it was pretty great to see so many familiar people amongst the huge slew of brand new faces. I caught up with a handful of former co-workers; folks I had lost contact with and it was so interesting to realize how much I liked who they are and missed working with them. It's interesting to also realize how much you can really like folks but how distance makes it hard to keep up with them properly ...  Everything else already in your immediate vicinity takes up time and effort ... and it's such a stretch to really be there for everyone as it is ... Sigh!

In Nashville we have to drive everywhere, but in New York City we can walk everywhere ... and that's just what I really needed to do -- walk and look at things. And boy, did 1! I visited the Society of Illustrators and bought myself a replacement mug with their logo on it. I walked past the Museum of Modern Art (but didn't have the time to go in!! ARGH!!) and noticed they had a Matisse cut-outs exhibit. Oh, so sad to have missed that ...!

I know I walked more than 7 miles in those 5 days I was there ... because by sheer block count alone it was already 7+ miles.  In Manhattan 20 blocks (the numbered streets) going North and South equals about a mile. But going East to West (across the Avenues) is trickier to measure, because those block widths vary. So it was way more than 7 miles. I can't guesstimate better because calculating crosstown streets is tricky -- they can be way longer than N/S blocks. And in walking at my usual fast pace I noticed I was slightly short of breath ... surely I hadn't lost my street legs that badly ...?

Pastor Field in a panel from the A Church Called Graffiti GN.
Drawn by me.

I saw my uncle on Saturday, and that was a blessing to see him and my aunt after so many years. I didn't realize he would be starting a new round of chemo that following Monday. My sisters and I found out just as we were getting ready to leave. It was good to have made the time to see them; they had moved way out into New Jersey some years ago, and it's tricky to visit when you don't have a car at your immediate disposal.

My trip was book-ended on Sunday by a coffee/tea with the Pastor from Graffiti Ministries. Pastor Field and his wife and I met at the incredibly cool Everyman Espresso to discuss our next steps for our A Church Called Graffiti graphic novel. He got his rights back from the Publisher who'd commissioned it and now we have to figure out how we're going to publish a 265+ page graphic novel -- BY THIS JUNE!! That's the 40th Anniversary of the Graffiti Ministries and it's a pretty big deal, so the timing would really be great. We will definitely put up a website very soon to preview the entire book, so I'll keep ya'll posted so ya'll can read it. The work they do in the neighborhood and with the homeless has been impactful. And they've branched out and opened other missions in other boroughs and even in other cities.

The children's musicals were for both school and at church. Egad -- on back to back days, no less! The latter musical was a fundraiser where my friends and I host a spaghetti supper and the funds raised go to the Children's Choir so they can buy sheet music and etc. This year I made the spaghetti sauce ... !! Almost freaked out when that happened but, hey, the transplanted NuyoRican with Italian roots somewhere back there on Grandma's side did okay! Yes, the sauce came out garlicky and spicy ... Cooking that for like 80 people turned out to be pretty fun.

And then there were the two weeks we came down with the flu. Egad! That explained the shortness of breath during my walks ...  (I've since been to the gym and the high incline/fast walking pace is now all okay to do, so it has cleared up, thank God.) It would have been nice to have had time to do things over the Christmas break, but on the other hand we both really needed the rest it provided ...!

The uncle I visited during my trip passed away a week and a half ago. The chemo was just too much for his weakened body to take. I was grateful to have had the opportunity to see him while he was still alive, be able to pray with him and kiss his cheek when it was time to leave. I had a lot of uncles pass away recently -- most of whom I didn't know well at all, because they mostly all lived in Puerto Rico. But this one was one of my Dad's brothers and one I saw often when we were growing up.

When I saw him that Saturday, it had been so long that I saw him with an Illustrator's eye. First, I was shocked at how much he truly looked like a more compact version of my own Dad, their faces were so similar, especially now that they're older and with their hair cropped so short. I kept searching his face, noting the family resemblance. My Dad and me have noses shaped more like my Grandfather's nose, more Romanesque ... but Tio had a small, beautiful slopey nose, with a lovely shape of the nostril, like his sisters' noses ... so I realized with surprise he must have had my Grandmother's nose ... I wish I could have drawn his portrait.