Our first grade teacher had problems with us … Mikie, I mean.  For we were born in Germany – and she was a German ‘fanatic’ – meaning she hated anything ‘german’ – and she used to call me a little Nazi in class sometimes . . . I can only guess that she had lost somebody during the war – though this was in the mid-to-late 60’s, so I’m not sure.

I remember her talking to the class – looking around – and saying:
“Any one of you can grow up one day to be President.  Except (here she’d point a finger at me, singling me out from the crowd) – YOU, you little Nazi.”

I didn’t understand a word she said; hadn’t a clue.  I just knew I was being bad in some way … doing something wrong – just by being there.

That woman had some problems…

But … here’s something from Tokoni we wrote one time ….

An Artist Is Born

I guess the art gene just runs in my family like fingerpaint. My grandmother had it, my mom to a certain degree – and me. At least folks have always told me I’m an ‘artist’ – I have my own doubts. I do know that I’ve always loved doing visual art – painting, clay, sculpture – and seem to have a nifty knack at visualization. It’s served me well through my various careers – from ‘visualizing’ what was wrong with a vehicle (and being real good at it) – to envisioning factory designs, resource centers, cafeterias, landscaping – you name it. I guess I’m just a ‘visual’ person: I ‘see’ how quantum mechanics ‘works’, but can’t do the math; I ‘see’ how things interrelate, and I even ‘see’ those parts of me that the shrinks said were my ‘alter egos’. Go figure. Apparently it takes a creative child to develop DID (disassociative identity disorder) – and a creative child I was.

I got my first hint that I had some sort of talent in first grade – and like so many memories, it’s something I ‘see’ very well.

Us kids had gotten an art assignment – draw something. But not just draw something on anything with anything – this was special. The teacher handed out this beautiful robin’s egg blue poster board – glossy finish (I can ‘see’ it now, as well as me working on it!) – and told us to draw something. Better yet – they handed out chalk pastels, not the nubby old crayons us kids were so used to using. I recall how beautiful that blank piece of blue poster board looked to me – like a perfect sky, a perfect blue, a pure blue bluer than any blue I’d ever seen. And I was determined to do my best.

For some reason I decided to draw a cardinal perched on a limb. Why? I haven’t a clue. But – here again I can see what I drew – see my hands drawing it, coloring it in – and it turned out (surprisingly!) – looking just like what I’d intended: a brilliant red cardinal, it’s crest cocky, beak yellow, branch brown – all set against that blue, blue sky. I didn’t think much of it – I’d been drawing with crayons for awhile, and the pictures of ‘Bambi’ I’d put on my homework looked pretty much like deer – but I was satisfied with my work. And I didn’t ‘waste’ my paper like so many other kids did with scribbles and nonsense. That was a big no-no with our teacher: wasting anything.

Anyway, I guess my picture must of made an impression because the teacher went on and on about how well it was done – called my parents, told them, the other teachers as well. And since it was so good, she elected me to do a special assignment: cut out a tree to go on the classroom door, and then make leaves that she could put each student’s name on for the upcoming ‘open house’. I gladly went to work, cutting perfect branches, perfect leaves – busy busy me.

Later, though, it became a disastor.

Examining my work, the teacher became enraged.

“Look at this! Look at this! All the leaves are BROWN!” she ranted. “Look at all the PAPER you’ve wasted!” And with that she dragged me into the storeroom where there were rolls of heavy construction paper, and pointing to one, said:

“THIS is BROWN.”

Pointing to another, she said “THIS is GREEN!”

But I couldn’t see any difference. And she’d quiz me on the colors: “Which one is BROWN?” – and I’d hazard a guess, then “Which one is GREEN?” – and I’d guess again. And I seemed to just keep getting it wrong.

“YOU are an IDIOT!” she finally screamed in frustration. The open house was that night – not enough time, I guess, to redo all those leaves. “YOU are too LAZY to learn your colors!” And she ranted and raved at me – oh, I don’t know.

But after that I was a disgrace. I never got picked again to do another art project; and she’d just sniff at anything I did.

How in the hell you go from the pinnacle of success to the depths of failure – that quickly – was just too much for my young mind to understand. And after that . . . well, after that, I gave up on trying to be an artist for a few years (quite a few, actually) – and hid my drawings and sketches from everyone – knowing that no matter what, I was flawed in some mysterious way, that I could never be what I had my heart set on being: a really good artist, and one whose work people would find beauty in.

(But the fact is – we went on to become a moderately successful graphics artist … earning $25/hr just to sit on our ass … and many people have told us: “You are an Artist” . . . But to this day we still have trouble ‘buying it’ – or that anything we do is good.

And a final note: now that we are “fixed” – we DO see value in the things we did and do – and indeed, have taken up arts & crafts projects once again . . . and while sad for little Mikie and his ‘friends’ – we DO love him and encourage his imagination once again.

Hugs and smiles for all of you . . . me and thee and all 😀

This Was Mikie's Home for Many Years

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