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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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