Tag Archives: consequences

How I Lost My Virtual Virginity Selling Bibles in the South

You remember the end of sophomore year in college? You didn’t want to go home for the summer again, live under your dad’s roof and work for your mom. It was 1975, and you needed your freedom. You hungered for a chance to be your own person; to do adventurous, dangerous, reckless, shit and have more crazy sex than a good Baptist girl should even think about. Right?

Me too!  So I jumped at the dubious opportunity to spend the summer hitchhiking around the south selling bibles for the Thomas Nelson Company.bible

All I had to do was knock on every single door, in small town neighborhoods, and convince the “woman of the house” to buy a bible. It was a matter of odds. If I worked hard and followed the script, my product would sell itself. I had family bibles, children’s bibles, large print bibles and medical dictionaries.

A group of my friends were going, my boyfriend was going, so I was going too. My parents didn’t have the energy to stop me, and frankly, my dad was a “you made your bed now lie in it” kind of a guy, and I think he hoped I would learn a valuable lesson from my life on the road.

Let me give you a visual: I was a gullible, 108 lb, 5’7″ tall, mini-skirted, blonde chick, who wanted to see the good in everybody. I’d never known real hardship, hunger or sadness. I’d never been physically, sexually or emotionally hurt in anyway, and the possibility of such, never crossed my mind. I thought I was untouchable; a cute, middle class, peace and love, wandering waif, without a clue in this world.

Lessons learned indeed.

(To be continued)

 

Visit my website at JoettaCurrie.com

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The Power of a Whisper

I get along with most people. Most people get along with me. But every once in a while I’ll run across someone evil. Cruella d’Vil kind of evil, soap opera villain evil. You know the type. Smart, driven, and friendly on the outside, but on the inside, a mean spirited, back stabbing, manipulative, soul sucking witch, with a capital B.Cruella

Usually, I see them coming and head the other way. But recently, I walked smack dab into a couple of bad ones. One female, the other male. Their gender helped to determine their motive and aggressive styles, but the effects of their nastiness were very similar.

I have to believe that Cruella, was manipulating the male, because he was not smart enough to do much more than yell and scream (literally) and act like a schoolyard bully. It was a unpleasant situation and frankly a waste of my time, money and effort. I’m glad to be free of it.

But that isn’t the point of this article, just the impetus for it.

Back in the early 90’s, I had the pleasure of being asked to teach art at a local elementary school.  It was a new school in our growing community and they needed a part time art teacher. I had been teaching for a while at my gallery. But, never in public school and never six hundred students-twenty five at a time.

I learned a lot my first year from the principal and other teachers. I learned more from my students. The most important thing they taught me was: they will listen if you whisper.Godfather

Being an art class, the students claimed a certain sense of freedom from the regular classroom rules. That and the fact they could smell a new teacher a mile down the hall, evoked a collective, “let’s see how much we can get away with…”

It was only a few days into the school year when I admitted to myself, I had no control over them. I didn’t know what to do when my class refused to settle down. Boys were shouting and sword fighting with paint brushes, girls were squealing and painting their faces to look like makeup. It was chaos.

I tried ringing a bell, holding up my hand, putting my fingers to my lips, writing names on the board and even yelling a little myself. None of those techniques met with success.

But as soon as I walked over to a student in the middle of the class and started to speak in a low voice about a painting I was working on with a warrior queen and evil shape shifters, the class got quiet.  Row by row, student by student, they started to listen. As I gained their attention, I started asking questions: “What color do you think the eyes should be? How would you transform the shapes? Should the queen have magical powers? What else would you add?”

As long as I whispered, they spoke in a low voice too, in turn, and in awe. They were excited to have input on such a cool idea. Each week they would ask about the painting and offer suggestions. They wanted to create their own “story art” and did so in a focused, calm manner. They seemed to connect the whisper with the painting. Did they still get a little crazy sometimes?  Sure, but all I had to do was make them want to listen by whispering about an interesting idea.  I love working with children. They are so open, so eager to learn and offer up their ideas in an open and ungarnished way.

Adults, not always the case. I forgot the power of a whisper in my recent experience. Although, I’m not sure any amount of whispering would have worked. Some of us, at a certain point in our lives, close ourselves off to listening, exploring and learning, and resort to nasty behavior. Next time I get in a toxic situation, I will speak in a low voice, share ideas, listen, and observe. Perhaps I can get others to build up, not tear down and offer solutions, instead of creating problems. If not, I will pick up my marbles and go home; another lesson I learned from children.

Who Knew?

“Jo, you fall off of there and I’m gonna spank you,” says my grandfather, as he sits on the porch watching me tightrope-walk the railing.

“Why?” I say, wishing I knew how to do a cartwheel. “I’d probably get hurt as it is.”

“Cause you shouldn’t be up there doing that.”

“Well, you didn’t say nothin.”

“I shouldn’t have to.  You should know better.”

I never knew better.  Never had a clue most of the time.  I would do things that got me in trouble and have absolutely no understanding of what I did wrong.

Like the time I built a tent out of blankets and chairs in the living room.  Fun, kid stuff right?  It was, until I decided we needed a campfire.  I got my mom’s big blue canning kettle, put some torn up newspaper in, and lit it up. Nothing smells better than a freshly struck wooden match and a toasted Marshmallow.  It seemed like the thing to do.  When our family went camping, we always had a campfire.  I wanted Barbie, Midge and Ken to have the same experience with me. I don’t even like Marshmallows if they haven’t been toasted.

ImageMy mom was at work at the time and our babysitter, Heidi came running in when she smelled, well…either the smoke or the delicious aroma of my toasty confection.  It was on fire and getting burned, just the right amount, when she pulled my tent apart, slammed the lid down on the canner, and put an end to my camping experience.

“Joetta Lynn, what do you think you’re doing?”  She yelled.  “You could have set yourself on fire and burned the whole house down.  You should know better!”

“But…” I was thinking how to explain the necessity of a good campfire when you’re in the wilderness of your living room.

Heidi says. “Butt is right and your’s is gonna get it when your daddy gets home.”

She never did tell him.  I convinced her that I wouldn’t do it again and I would “think seriously about the consequences, young lady before I upped and did something so foolish.”

Problem is I didn’t.  I couldn’t really.  I was a “why not, what if,” foolish, fun loving, kid who liked to take risks.  I’d climb high in my friend’s tree and put my ear up to the telephone lines that ran through it, just to see if I could listen in on a conversation. I couldn’t.  I’d see how far I could ride my bike with my eyes closed. Not very far. Try to jump over two dogs at the same time and once, (only once) I tied my jump rope around my waist, put my roller skates on and tied the other end to the bumper of our neighbors Pontiac.  He only went about twenty feet before he saw me, but it was one wild ride!  I have the scars on my knees to prove it.

Again, I should have known better.

However, I think my youthful audacity paid off.  It allowed me the freedom to explore a bit of the flip side of life. To think about the impossible and attempt the improbable.  To create something from nothing without great concern for the end result.

Oh, I’m more responsible and understand the consequences of my actions now.  After all, I am an adult and being a mom and a teacher, reigned me in to the realities of life.  I channel my fun, foolish, risk taking self, through my art and written words.  I paint what I imagine and create stories of people that find themselves in unpredictable and precarious situations. I let them get their knees skinned.  Behind the easel and over the keyboard is a place of redemption for me.  I can be that person, transformed in limitless ways.

I know I have a great character, when I sit back from my manuscript or work of art and think, “Oh yeah, You should have known better.”