Like many 12-year-olds, Elizabeth Baldino spends a lot of time glued to a screen (in her case, a well-worn notebook computer that sputters when asked to load web pages).
Unlike most preteens, however, Elizabeth is more interested in developing a serious “Theory of Life.”
She explains this to me at open mic night at the Creative Corner, a haven for artsy odds and ends, which her father, Harry, recently opened because he thought it was something West Hempstead, New York, needed to have.
Elizabeth says that her “Theory of Life” is going to be based on the ideas she is now reading about in Tuesdays with Morrie, the best-selling book about the weekly visits a graduate of my almost-alma makes to his dying former professor.
“It’s teaching me that the things we think are important really aren’t,” she says, “and that we’ve got to live in the present and not think about the past, or worry about the future.”
She concedes, however, that she does worry about the future. “If you make the wrong decision, it could affect your entire life,” Elizabeth says.
To relieve her angst, Elizabeth makes art.
Elizabeth says she looks forward to coming to the Creative Corner because she is free to draw whatever she wants here, including this piece, “Pathetic Bird,” now on display:
Elizabeth says she would never have been permitted to draw this bird in school because art class is highly regulated. “You get points off for using the wrong color scheme,” she says. But she hastens to add that she really likes her art teacher and wishes she could help her when some classmates “push her around.”
Elizabeth does try to alleviate suffering wherever she can. She has taken in two stray cats she found roaming the streets of her neighborhood and adopted a third from a shelter.
Her older sister, Nichole, 24, is actively engaged in relieving human suffering at the Creative Corner. The week before, I had seen her working with a giggling little girl on “Bagel Face”:
Nichole, who has a bachelor’s in journalism and spent a year teaching English in Thailand before returning to Long Island, whispered in my ear that no one can get this child to speak in school or at home.
Then there’s Harry, 21, the third Baldino sibling who, after knocking about retail, is studying acting at a local community college — a decision his father fully supports.
While chatting with Elizabeth, an impromptu jam session breaks out in the front of the room. Elizabeth and I linger in the back, observing.
She tells me that she definitely won’t be performing tonight because she hates public speaking. She is even queasy about having her picture taken to accompany this profile.
But with some cajoling, she allows me to photograph her T-shirt:
Elizabeth, I think you have just discovered your “Theory of Life”!
Harry Baldino & Trio deserves kudos for maintaining the Sherman Colins Lifestyle on Long Island, New York.
If you know of any Sherman Colins kids, please direct them to the Creative Corner in West Hempstead, where they’ll find some of most affordable creative arts instruction in the area, along with this free lesson from The Beatles!