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Archive for the ‘Old School’ Category

I’m on a roll folks, on a roll indeed.  

Code for: I’m honestly going to pass out from boredom and therefore must write many-a-blog entry to keep myself semi-sane. 

Thanks to a fabulous post by Let it Blurt (no sarcasm here, for serious), I have been inspired to write about about a teacher and mentor that passed almost 10 years ago. I don’t talk about it to anyone really, although I think about it all the time.  I never realized how he had impacted my life until he lost his.    

Mr. B was my high school art teacher.  I had him 7 times in 5 years, since I took every type of art and film class available.  I also dealt with him in the various after school activities I threw myself into.  I was positively convinced that I hated him in high school.  He was such a hard ass.  He criticized every little thing, even if he liked it.  

The same group of us travelled through 5 years of his classes.  I’m pretty sure he made every single person bawl uncontrollably in front of the class, at least once.  For me, I count at least two times.  

The harder he pushed me, the more I fought with him.  He was so pompous and expected all of our free time to be spent on his class.  He could tell if I spent 9 hours on a piece or 3 hours, just by glancing at it.  I tried to fool him so many times, but to no avail.  Not only would he point out your mistakes, but he would make sure to do it publicly.  It was like he thrived on embarassing his students.  

Wow, I’m really making him sound great, huh?  

In reality, he really was.  Not only was he an incredible artist, he was also a walking text book.  He knew everything about everything. He taught us like university students and introduced us to things they didn’t even touch on in college – art college as a matter of fact.  My last exam with him was the most difficult test I’ve ever written.  Ever. That includes many a test in art college, journalism and sociology.  

Before graduation he sat me down and told me the plan he had in mind for my future.  He wanted me to take the same path that he had.  First, a fine arts degree from university, then an art program at college.  

I was so stubborn.

He went out of his way and got me a personal interview with the head of the art department at a top university – I went, got in, but turned it down.  He tried to tell me I made the wrong choice by going to the school I decided on.  

I ignored him.

I asked him how he knew that.  He told me I wouldn’t like the direction and wouldn’t last.  

I thanked him for his encouragement.  

I had a 5 panel interview to get into that school, and got accepted. I went, and like he predicted, didn’t last long.  I remember when I made the choice to stop attending that school.  I was so messed up, mentally, physically, every which way.  

The first person I called was Mr.B. I bawled, whined, and bitched with no direction in sight. He was so understanding.  No ‘I told you so.’  He helped me work on a plan to get myself back on my feet.  We talked for hours on end.  

I couldn’t believe that the man who I thought I hated, the man who criticized me and made me cry, the man who thought he knew what was best for me, was actually listening to me and helping me work through hard times.  

We met up when I was back in town and made plans to discuss things over some glasses of wine.  The next time I was back in the city, I called and cancelled.  

The last words I said to him were, “Sorry.  I have to cancel. Maybe next time.”  

Right before I went to Barbados for my usual escape getaway, I learned the terrible news.  He had died in a car accident.  I still went on my trip, felt guilty and still do to this very day that I never made it to his funeral.  That may sound ridiculous – but it’s true.  

I never got over it.

I regret never telling him how much he impacted my life.  I never apologized for being a complete asshole throughout my entire high school career.  I never told him that I finally realized all of the pushing and criticizing actually helped me work harder, and that it was his plan all along.

I never said thank you.  

Not once.

Every time I pick up a paintbrush, pencil or piece of charcoal I think of him. I remember every technique he ever taught me.  

I keep going on a piece even when I think it’s done because he always used to say, ‘a great piece of art is never finished.’  

Every time I see I piece of art I don’t necessarily like, I study it and try to find the aesthetic value of it, because ‘you can never hate a work of art.  It’s all relative, it’s your job to find the beauty of it.’  

Though I was too naive to realize it at the time, he brought out the best of me. 

Phew.  

Well, now that I’m all steamy eyed…

Here’s the moral of the story:  

‘If you admire somebody, you should go head and tell them. People never get the flowers, while they can still smell them.’

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Surprise!!  I’m bored again, time for another random story:

I wouldn’t call myself a ‘liar’ but I have definitely bent the truth when using random excuses throughout my life.  Most of them come from my school years.  I literally used and abused every single excuse there could possibly be.  I’m pretty sure I can write a trilogy of my excuses, but here I will just name a choice few for now.

Excuse #8965

One year in high school I had about a 3 hour time span of no class.  Still, I managed to be late for the class that followed.  Lucky for me, the teacher I had was super harsh on lateness, so my excuses came in quite handy (although, for the record, he saw right through me – but that didn’t matter, since it was the office that had to sign the late slip).  So one time I was late for class and headed to the office for my usual late slip signage.  I had to deal with the vice principal instead of the usual secretary.  Damn.  This had to be good.

Me:  Hi, I’m late for Mr. B’s art class.

VP:  How come? What happened?

Me:  Well, I was at Julia’s house for lunch, and you know, her dog is pregnant.

VP:  Uh huh.  And…

Me:  Well, there we were, munching on our peanut butter sandwiches, the crunchy peanut butter, you know, I like that it has bits of peanuts right in there….

VP:  Uh huh… and?

Me:  Oh ya, and all of a sudden, the dog started to give birth!

VP:  Wow.  Really.

Me:  Ya.  It was crazy.  And we couldn’t just leave, you know?  No one else was home.  They just kept popping out.

VP:  Really.  So, what kind of dog was it?

Me:  Golden Retriever. 

VP:  What colour were the puppies?

Me:  Golden?

VP:  How many?

Me:  Well, you know the odds.  There were 8, but only 7 survived.  We named them Sugar, Cocoa, Sprinkles… er… Spotty… 

VP:  Okay, okay.  Here’s your slip.  Get out of here.

I practically skipped all the way to my class with a sense of accomplishment. I waved it proudly in front of Mr. B’s face and he asked me what my reason was.  I repeated the above story, sticking to it as best as possible.  He laughed in my face, told me to haul my ass back to the office, and asked me what kind of idiot would believe a lame excuse like that.  I showed him that the slip was signed by none other than the VP. The only thing he could mutter was, ‘Jesus Christ’ and I sat back at my desk, victorious yet again.

Excuse #2309

I went to a Catholic school and had to wear a uniform.  Looking back, I actually sort of enjoyed not having to think about what I was wearing everyday.  Still, I always tried to push the limit by wearing the wrong colour knee socks, unacceptable shoes, polo shirts and cardigans without the school logo, and so on and so forth.  

Sometimes I really didn’t want to go to class, and figured, what better than to ‘spill’ something on my clothes so that I would have to go home and change.  Since public transit didn’t go from my school to my neigbourhood, that meant walking home and back, which generally meant a couple hours off, but, if I did it late enough, it meant the rest of the day off.  

Now, the office staff caught on with this one pretty quickly, so I could only do it once or twice a year.  I would go into the cafeteria, grab the ketchup bottle and literally squirt it all over my skirt. Whoopsie. The ketchup bottle just up and exploded. What’s a girl to do?  I better go home and change.  I’ll make it quick, I promise. 

Excuse #7611

I’ve actually used the ‘my cat ate my homework excuse’ and it worked.  I took a previous essay from the class, mangled it a bit, gave it to my cat to play with (and made sure, of course, he bit it numerous times), wet it under the sink to get that ‘sylvia’ affect, and handed it in.  

Okay.  

Devious? Yes.  

Evil?  Maybe.  

But I still managed to get good marks, and in the end, that’s really all that anyone looks at, right? Well, whether you think so or not, I’m just going to keep telling myself that.   It’s better that way, really it is.

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Full Moon

So to continue with my old school stories, let’s reflect back to one of my most embarrassing moments, shall we?  Okay then.  

I don’t remember exactly what age I was, but I’m thinking maybe 8 or 9 years old. Tag was a big hit at my school, no pun intended.  There were so many crazy pathways through the portable city to hide in, which made the ordinary game a tad more interesting.  

So there I was, sprinting through the football field (the one beside the smelly factory), and from the corner of my eye I could see the ‘it’ girl.  Hmm, let’s call her… Jerkface (it’s fitting, I promise).  

So, running, running, running, and eventually Jerkface caught up to me. Rather than tagging me like a normal human being, Jerkface somehow thought it would be comical if she pulled my pants down instead. Yep. And of course, I was wearing some stylish blue joggers, so it was easy access.

As if pulling down my joggers to my ankles wasn’t bad enough, she also managed to snag part of my undies, luckily only the backside. I’m pretty sure I stood there frozen with humiliation for what felt like hours.  I couldn’t move. I just stood there, pants around my ankles, and gave the entire school a clear view of my bare ass.  

I was so mortified that I ran bawling to the principal and ratted out Jerkface, pronto. I clearly remember the principal unable to understand what I was saying, since I was in hysterics. Eventually he got it, and scolded Jerkface.  

I bolted to the girl’s washroom and refused to leave the stall for the remainder of recess. Jerkface came after me and begged for my forgiveness. I remember that I told her I hated her over and over again.  

Little did she know, she messed with the wrong girl.  With my extreme only-childitis and stubborness combined, I never forgave her.  

Ever. 

I’m sure I secretly had some crazy plan to take her down, but never forgiving was much easier, since I was never really close with her anyways.  

We went through all of grade school together, and part of highschool.  She was super close with one of my good friends. I never spoke to her again, even though we attended many of the same gatherings and parties and sometimes even sat beside each other in class.  I always made sure I shot her the dirtiest looks I could produce (I’m pretty good at that). 

She tried her hardest to be nice, but still, I never, ever forgave her.  Ever.  

Wow, can I hold a grudge or what? And then I think, well no wonder why Mister T called me a bitch years after I broke his ribs. Point taken.  

But at the same time, a bare ass on display for all to see is much more embarrassing, so, I win. That’s my conclusion and I’m sticking to it.

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my elementary school years continually haunt my dreams… over and over and over again.  Anytime I dream anything, my school gym appears, no matter what.  If I dream of shopping, working, studying, talking, walking, anything… it’s in my school gym.  I’m assuming this happens because I remember the most from that time period, or maybe I’m just crazy – how ever you want to slice it is fine by me. Right.  

Anyhoo, I thought it would be interesting write some of these little experiences down, half expecting that it will explain my crazy dreams… or my crazy self.

One thing I remember as vividly as if it was yesterday, is breaking a kid’s ribs in grade one.  For serious.  My memory was jogged when I recently saw a picture of this dude, let’s call him Mister T, and I thought, 

HA.  Oh my God.  I broke his ribs!

Picture this.  My elementary school was pretty budget.  By budget I mean, built directly beside a factory, full of moldy portables, and the topper – two totally hazardous playgrounds that injured just about every kid that set foot on them. The big playground had a draw bridge that had wooden planks missing, where many a tiny foot got stuck, twisted, sprained and sometimes broken.  There was also a massive lead pipe that was cut in half and used as another bridge. The pipe was never properly bolted (I’m assuming it was scraps from the factory) and kids constantly ripped their clothes on it and/or bonked their heads on the sharp corners. Ah, the good old days.   

Anyhoo, the other playground had the killer monkey bars.  They were shaped like a rainbow.  Kids used to fight over the top four spots at recess and lunch.  It got so competative that at one point we had the lunch lady save the spots for us. Kids bawled and wars broke out if they didn’t get their spot.  It was a popularity contest at its best. 

One recess I somehow scored one the top four spots.  I took gymnastics when I was younger, so of course, I had to impress my classmates with my awesome flipping skills (that once landed me right on my head, but that’s another story).  

I remember it was chilly, because I had on a knitted hat.  You know, the kind that covers your ears and ties under your chin and has that pathetic little pompom on top.  Cute.  Right.  So there I was, showing off my flipping skills only to be interupted by the bell.  As I was in mid-backwards flip, some kid told me to wait, because Mister T was underneath me. I waited, suspended in backwards mid-flip for what felt like eons. So I thought,

Screw it, I’m jumping.  

I rotated with all of my 6 year old strength, right into the chest of Mister T.  It was a mighty double leg kick, and I must point out, a perfect ten landing. Unfortunately, Mister T didn’t feel that way. Probably since he acted as my landing mat, and I ended up standing on his chest as he lay belly up under the monkey bars.  

Yikes.  Before I even knew what was happening, his friend grabbed the string of my knit hat and dragged me across the playground.  He yelled at me and continued to choke me until my teacher eventually noticed that I wasn’t in class and came out to look for me.  I was bawling and gasping for air, as Mister T lay in the same spot, frozen. I later found out that a couple of his ribs were broken.  Damn. Somewhere deep down, I am a nice person, so I’m pretty sure I felt awful about it, although I don’t remember part that as vividly. What I do remember is that feared him and his friend for the rest of my elementary school career.  

Years and years later, while out at some random bar, I spotted Mister T.  He still looked like he did back in the day.  That old fear crept back, and my first intuition was to bolt, but I thought,

There’s no way this dude remembers, I mean, it was forever ago, right?  

HA. Wrong!  

Mister T approached me and said,

“Hey, didn’t you break my ribs in grade one?”

“Uhm… yes?”  I said as I nervously smiled.

I semi-expected him to laugh it off or something, but instead he had two words to say before he walked away…

“You Bitch.”  

Shit.  I guess you just never forget a perfect ten landing.  

And that, my friends, is just the beginning of my random elementary school experiences. 

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