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For October’s Get Negative: Part 1 assignment we were four people in the positive with Jonathan and I being joined by fellow married-folk friends Tom and Toby for a quick grab-and-gab. I was particularly impressed with Toby who did not bring a piece—unless you count her husband as a “piece” which, clearly, we should—yet managed to come along for the conversation even after dedicating long hours to America’s youth.

Toby provides therapy for kids suffering from mental disorders and severe behavioral issues, so she’s out there every day on the damn grind quietly doing the often difficult, sometimes thankless, but always important work. When Toby shows up to bart sans assignment, she gets a free pass on crafts since her first art form is molding and shaping young minds and hearts for the better. That kind of art is priceless, y’all.

Tom and Jonathan shape young minds in their own way as well, and since they both teach in the writing program at the same university, they spent the larger portion of our meet-up talking about their students. (It’s funny how, when you’re a young’n, even though you think the world revolves around you, you’d never imagine that your teachers would spend their off-time thinking or talking about you. Trust: they did and they do.) Tom teaches an earlier course in the program, so he’s able to give Jonathan a heads up about the different kinds of characters he has in store.

Tom, Jonathan and I brought our assignments to share and if a teacher were labeling us based on this assignment alone it’s fair to say that we’d be labeled the daydreamer, the hard-worker and the slacker, respectively.

Tom added a clever twist to the idea of negative space by sketching a box he keeps at home, including an outline of the items therein that once belonged to his father. His Wooden Case of Emotion—as he calls it—is surrounded by a maze-like doodle containing thematic representations of life’s pieces and parts.

Jona did his assignment days in advance when he got the hankering to draw a monster in the closet. He chose Frankenstein. I’m not sure if he drew it as a callback to our rock assignment from the previous month, after which I ranted about his deft scare tactics, but it seems appropriate that he should focus on such a thing since he’s a creepy weirdo who only gets away with that shit because he’s also handsome and hilarious.

I whipped up my assignment about an hour or so before bart by outlining both the top and bottom of one of my favorite vases with a Sharpie. I’m not proud of it being so last minute and I was thoroughly disappointed in what I made because of it. Even if the outcome is crap, I’d rather have dedicated ample time to thinking about and sitting down to make something. I consoled myself by flipping the drawing upside down, declaring that it looks sort of like a face and claiming that it was intentional even though it was not.

Joanne phoned her assignment in—in the best possible way—by texting her assignment to me. Since I’m a typical gal who loves getting flowers for no reason, I swooned. Then I got a restraining order against her.

I suppose part of examining the negative side of things is being able to see your way to the positive. It’s like deciding to using a waving middle finger as a standard greeting for an old friend. Sometimes you just have to shift your perspective, take something you previously thought to be bad and turn it into something good.

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