Category Archives: Stories from Maybe Boomer

March Badness

meftbllfrside 48bit 800 color  dust122It was March, 1963. I missed my old school from last year. I longed to have friends like the ones I had there. My new school experience at Oakview Elementary in Silver Spring, Maryland, was one big bore. Tedium. Rote drills. So many things, over and over again. Even air raid drills.

Curled up in a ball under my tiny wooden desk, I wrapped my arms tightly around my knees and bowed head. All I could think was – hadn’t World War II ended twenty years ago? Was sitting under this desk going to save me from our school roof falling down, let alone an H-bomb that landed on the cafeteria? Scarier still was coming face-to-face with sharp, petrified boogers down here, ones that dated back to World War I students.  If that wasn’t scary enough, what about the words, “Hitler was here,” and “Burn this school,” scratched on the underside of my desk?

Suddenly, my teacher said, “All right, children. Get up, now. The drill is over.”

Oh, no. Reading hour was next. Remember the exciting day back in early October when reading period was cancelled? Just to watch TV? That day had such potential.

It was a cloudy morning when a hundred students assembled on Mrs. Clark’s classroom floor, all eyes locked on the RCA Victor TV set showing Mercury Atlas 8 standing straight up against a clear Cape Canaveral sky. I sat cross-legged on the hard linoleum tile, my body forced between other kids’ legs and torsos. The position grew increasingly uncomfortable because the launch went through several delays. Even teachers began to whisper. “What’s taking so long?” “Do you think the rocket’s having technical difficulties?” 

Then the TV screen began to flutter. The picture turned snowy. The horizontal hold went wild.

An assistant librarian rushed to the scene to fix the ever up-scrolling picture. It looked like Mercury Atlas 8 had already blasted off six hundred times. Frustrated teachers fidgeted with foil-wrapped rabbit ears and various loose wires behind the set, all to no avail. If world-famous RCA Victor couldn’t keep its own horizontal hold under control, how was America to keep China from dropping the big one on our cafeteria, let alone Washington DC, worse yet Disneyland?

Out of nowhere, the TV announcer proclaimed the mammoth rocket had taken to the air. Everyone in the class rose to their feet and cheered the incredible news, even though no one actually saw the rocket go anywhere.

Eh. I wasn’t as impressed. Just not the same without seeing it. What a letdown. Even October had been boring. 

I missed my old school. I missed their horizontal hold, their TV sets, and my friends, the few that I had. I could think of nothing else. It was as though I was frozen here, locked in time forever, never to escape the worst month of all – March.

This was an excerpt from my memoir, Maybe Boomer. Read more there about my nostalgic look back at the 60s and the Baby Boom generation.

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Why I’m Late, But It’s Not What You Think

sticky bun 2 002I admit it. Sometimes I’m late. I can be late for anything anywhere.

Oh, it’s not that I’m late late, just a few minutes usually. Some people have a hard time living with being late. But if I’m early, I will never be able to live with myself.

You see, to arrive early and have to sit and wait around is a crime. It all started long ago. In my family, wasting anything was a transgression like no other. Even Sunday morning pastries:

To Mom, squandering was a sin, and something God would know you did every time you did it. The minute she placed the bear claws, doughnuts, fruit rolls and sticky buns on the kitchen counter, I instinctively began working on saving the pastry bags.

Promptly folding the grease-stained paper sacks in nice, neat squares, I placed them in the “Used Bag” drawer. Perhaps one of the bags might be used to wrap frozen meat patties, carry my school lunch, or hold all the other saved bags in someday. I knew Mom would leave the pastries out until every leftover pecan bit and dried up doughnut fragment had been eaten (or saved in foil wrap). In the Andberg household, frittering away anything was a sin, anything – wax paper, paper clips, rubber bands, twist ties, nubby pencils, Saran Wrap. The guilt from throwing something out that could be reused – even tissue paper – should be a burden too great to bear.

So, as you and I plan to get together and you watch me arrive a minute or two late, please understand my plight. Thank you.

Of course, you might ask, “Why don’t you just show up on time and there’d be no wasted time?”

Yeah, but what if you’re late? Then I’m stuck here wasting time waiting for you.

My waste clock is always running.

 

The excerpt above is from Chapter Six, “Religion,” in my memoir Maybe Boomer.

 

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Friskies, Peas and Bacon Bits – Pets Surviving Human Responsibility

Dexter 48bit 800 dpi 167Pet Dental Health Month is coming in February.

I know. You didn’t know there was one.

I certainly didn’t know when I was a kid. There again, there were a lot of things I didn’t know about pet responsibility then. Because I had two very courageous cats – beloved Dexter and Spanky – I learned on the fly how to take care of my prized kitties. They survived in spite of me.

     Sure enough, Mom brought home a beautiful, sleek, royal-looking, gray-colored seal point Siamese cat I immediately named Dexter. She told me my role was to feed and take care of Dexter. So, Number One for me was eliminating foul cat box odors. Not only would Dexter be annoyed by them, but horrific cat stench could wake Dad up to the fact we had a cat, potentially sending Dexter back to the shelter. In time, however, it was Mom who noticed the cat box, always fresh and feces-free.
     “Michael, I’m worried Dexter has a constipation problem. He may need more roughage than we’re giving him.”    
     The following day, Mom mixed a large spoonful of fiber-filled peas into the bowl of Friskies I gave him. These canned peas were the same ones reserved for our Sunday dinners.    
     Sensing a spoonful wasn’t enough, she took charge and switched him over to peas exclusively, justifying the move as a cost savings since our tins of peas were cheaper than pet food (making me wonder what our dinners were worth). Wasn’t Mom being cavalier about our needs? What kind of responsibility was she showing?
     With such high levels of fiber in his system, I had to scoop Dexter’s litter box three times a day. Re-establishing control of the situation, I switched him over to smaller food – Bacon Bits (a risky thing to do since Bacon Bits were the most expensive thing served in our house when weighed by the pound).
     Mom noticed and, without consulting me, overcompensated by feeding Dexter far too rich a combination of peas, Friskies, and Bacon Bits sprinkled on top. As a result, he shat everywhere. Then Dad discovered long, blue, curly strands of wool in Dexter’s droppings on the living room floor and had a conniption fit. How was I to know Dexter would resort to eating Dad’s favorite blue socks, let alone be such a special needs cat? 

Eventually Dexter died (from too much sand grit in Friskies that clogged his urinary tract!). I cried. And cried. Mom took care of the situation from there.

     And so, a few days later, Mom brought home another beautiful, sleek, royal-looking, gray-colored seal point Siamese cat I promptly named Spanky.
     I frolicked with my new friend everywhere. Our play included quiet, simple activities like hiding under the dining room table and batting a ball of yarn until it was no more.
     But the third evening of our silent undercover gathering was interrupted when I heard loud words batted back and forth between Mom and Dad from adjoining rooms down the hall.
     “What? It died? When? That’s impossible. I just heard it last night …”
     “Eric …”
     “Seventy-nine dollars?!”
     “Eric, calm down. It’s Dexter’s vet bill.”
     “What? You mean the one that’s out there now isn’t him?”
     “No. That’s Spanky.”
     “Who?”
     “Spanky. The one that died is Dexter.”
     “Who?”
     I couldn’t blame Dad completely. Spanky was all of Dexter’s Siamese twin in appearance. But what made Spanky different was his aloofness.
     Later that night, still steamed, Dad retreated to the living room. To block out the world, just as he did every evening, he embedded himself in his easy chair, then disappeared behind a propped newspaper.
     Hiding in the adjoining dining room, I watched Spanky smell out the detachment in Dad.
     Lining Dad up as an easy mark, Spanky jumped onto his lap. Dad, not one for cats, swiped Spanky away. Spanky, not one for being swiped, jumped back. Go, Spanky, go!
     Dad’s next swipe had more oomph to it, punctuated by “Goddam cat.”
     After the third round of cat and mouse ballet, Dad’s swift arm sweep was so smooth the newspaper didn’t move an inch. Not an inch. What control Dad had! Since he didn’t want to be seen as aligned with a cat in any way, I sensed Dad placed great pressure on himself to act out in this manner. But no way he was going to miss out on his daily allotment of aloof time. After all, that period of detachment was the fix he needed to survive in a world so chockfull of unpredictable animals and kids running around all over the place. (Perhaps it was from Dad I saw the world as unpredictable adults and events spinning about in chaotic, threatening space, ones I feared I’d never be able to handle.)

This is an excerpt in Chapter Six, “Responsibility,” from my memoir Maybe Boomer.

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So Bright as to be Blinding, Part II

MeXmsTree 48bit 800 color  dust111JUST ICICLES CLOSE-UPMeXmsTree 48bit 800 color  dust111JUST ICICLES CLOSE-UPTen fifteen, Christmas morning, and poof, Christmas was cooked.

Once the last gift had been unwrapped, the entire holiday season was a memory. No more anticipation, no more unbridled glee. With all the weeks of preparation and festivities concluded, Mom wouldn’t make me take down the tree I’d lovingly decorated now, would she? Would she?

She did.

I took a stand and left my masterwork up until April.

Sure, the tree was a little brittle-looking, but I was still in the holiday spirit. However, even I had to admit watching the Masters Golf Tournament on TV next to a still-lit Christmas tree didn’t look right. When was Mom going to explode about the matter, outraged how the pathetic three inches of tinder dry needles below the parched tree were going to make the perfect nest for this year’s Easter egg hunt? Or what if she blew up and asked Dad to remove it, getting him riled at me in the process?

Fearing that scenario, sometime between the golfers turning Amen Corner and the final putt, I began the process of stripping the tree of all its sparkling adornment. In doing so, I made three mental notes about my tree responsibilities for next year. #1. Taking thousands of icicle strands off the tree was a lot less fun than putting them on (Mom insisted we save them all). #2. Trying to recall which boxes the 179 ornaments went back into was torture. #3. Not watering the tree was just an overall bad idea.

As I pulled the dry, browning evergreen out from the corner, a showy display of brittle needles rained to the floor. Just a few feet behind them was a frazzled electric cord plugged into a sparking wall outlet. Imagining the scene of our house going up in flames and Dad yelling, “How could you be so irresponsible!?” I dragged the crackling pine outside as quickly as I could. Then Mom proceeded to complain about the Appalachian Trail of needles that wound through the house all the way to the stack of trees piled in the backyard from previous Christmases. I couldn’t win. As I stared down at what was left of the tree, all I could think was Christmas was over, really over now, and that Mom and Dad were disappointed in my tree removal ability.

Regardless, I reminded Mom about wanting a pet for my next responsibility, suggesting a bear cub, maybe a St. Bernard. She said no. A week later, however, she said yes to a Venus flytrap. What? A plant?

My Venus flytrap lived inside a shiny, clear plastic box of dirt. It looked odd, but fashioned long, pretty lashes, inspiring me to name her Maybelline. I loved to watch her sit perfectly still one second, then snatch a fly inside her lightning-quick jaws the next. Assuming care of a Venus flytrap was Mom’s test to determine whether I could handle responsibility with a living organism (our Christmas tree didn’t count – fortunately), I didn’t want to blow it, and made sure Maybelline stayed on a regular eating schedule.

Soon, however, Maybelline stopped eating. Dead flies I dropped in her mouth sat there. Even bits of protein-fortified hamburger fell in with no change. Not until she turned yellow and her overflowing mouth looked like a dried-up, all-beef taco did I conclude she was actually dead.

“I don’t know what happened. She just died,” I cried to Mom.

“May this be a lesson to you to eat nutritious meals or you might shrivel and die, too.”

An image of Mom’s scary goulash came to mind, but I mustered enough strength to answer with words I absolutely had to deliver if I ever wanted another pet.

“Yes, Mom, I do know. I do. Nutritious meals are important. And the ones you serve are really really good.”

Sure enough, a few weeks later, she brought home a beautiful, royal-looking, sleek, gray-colored seal point Siamese cat I immediately named Dexter.

This is an excerpt from my memoir, Maybe Boomer, and the chapter titled, “Responsibility.” You can read more from that chapter and others in the Excerpts section from this website.

 

 

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So Bright as to be Blinding (was my tree decorating delight)

MeXmsTree 48bit 800 color  dust111JUST ICICLES CLOSE-UP“Being a man is about taking on responsibility,” Dad said to me one day in a  low and throaty delivery. “Some day your time will come to prove yourself.”
Thank goodness I was only nine and had a long time to go before proving myself, whatever that meant.

“Michael, I want you to put up the family Christmas tree and decorate it, then take it down at the end of the season,” Mom said to me one day. What? The moment’s here already? And I’m still only nine? And who, me? Given responsibility with tree icicles? Candy canes? AC powered bubble lights? Electricity? I’ll blow up the tree.

After Dad fulfilled his meek part of this year’s tree task – dumping a freshly cut Scotch pine on the basement floor and getting it to stand inside its cheap aluminum base – I initiated my big task.

I smothered the tree in a blinding sheen of bright silver icicles. Then, I covered the pine’s branches with twice their weight in bright ornaments and lights. To top everything off, I placed the heavy star contraption on the uppermost branch, bending it over like a week-old carrot. But it was fun standing on a tall ladder trying to get the wimpy limb to stand straight. When else had I been allowed to use a tall ladder?

I stood back, assessed my completed tree design, slapped my hands together and smirked. Responsibility wasn’t so bad after all – more like pure merriment! Decorating was art, and I loved it. Perhaps the best part was being allowed to create my tree masterpiece without being overseen, especially by Dad. It was all endless joy.

 

Ten fifteen, Christmas morning and poof, Christmas was cooked.

Once the last gift had been unwrapped, the entire holiday season was a memory. No more anticipation, no more unbridled glee. With all the weeks of preparation and festivities concluded, surely Mom wouldn’t make me take the tree down now, would she? Would she?

To be continued December 28th with my next installment of “Stories From Maybe Boomer.”

 

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Wrestling November (and all inevitable change)

MeFtbll 48bit 800 color  dust081CROPPED FOR WEBWinter turned on a dime this week in Santa Fe. As if it was mid-January, everyone rushed inside from the cold and wind when the day before it felt like balmy September.

Similarly, as a twelve-year-old boy playing football outdoors in my seventh grade gym class, cold November temperatures chased us inside then, too. Suddenly huddled into a tiny room, its air devoid of humidity – made hot by a long row of forced air heaters below the locked windows – our class started a new unit of study. The air was also tinged with a smell, something almost sickly semisweet, but like rubber, too. What was it?

Ah, what the life of a twelve-year old boy is like.

“Am b-e-r-g, you’re up!” Mr. Geinger said. “Sparacino, too. Go git ‘em, men.”

Fortunately, being in the slight seventy-five to eighty pound weight class, this Sparacino kid and I were  mirror images of each other, neither able to pin a ghost down. My real enemy wasn’t Sparacino, but the large, foam rubber wrestling mat. This old, wrinkled, grayish-yellow rug I stood on looked like it’d absorbed every wrestler’s body fluids for the past thirty years. Sooner or later, I’d have to roll all over its decades of germs, not to mention scuffle with Sparacino and whatever viruses he carried around.

“All matches are three minutes, men. Are you ready?” When Sparacino and I nodded to Mr. Geinger, our rotund gym teacher who I feared might not be able to get up if he took to the mat, I knew there was no turning back. 

Round and round my thoughts went, repeating the phrases, “Keep moving. Don’t go down. If Sparacino can’t catch you, he can’t get you down there.”

“C’mon, Amberg. Git in there!” Mr. Geinger cried out.

“He’s stalling, Mr. Geinger, he’s stalling,” a student said.

“Be a man, Amberg. Git in there. You can’t avoid your opponent!”

Like Muhammad Ali doing his rope-a-dope dance, I circled the mat. It wasn’t exactly bona fide wrestling technique, but I didn’t care. Disqualification was far better than germs, even the humiliation of being pinned.

“Wadda ‘ya doin’ in there, Amberg? Git goin’. You can’t avoid your opponents in life.”

More circling, hopping and bobbing.

Eventually winded from my third rotation of no contact wrestling, I was caught by Sparacino and brought down like a branded steer. With my nose far too close to Sparacino’s armpit, not to mention the rest of my body pressed into the disgusting, soiled, scatter rug of contagious bugs, I was pinned in seconds.

“Am b-e-r-g …. Where were all the moves I taught ‘ya, the steps, the placement?”

Out of breath, my chest on fire, all I could muster was “… I was supposed to be where now, doing what – when?”

“Am b-e-r-g!”

A few months earlier, as I’d ventured into my new middle school surroundings, I’d dreamed of so many things coming true – having longer hair to flaunt, creating a cool bedroom to hang out in, and becoming more popular with the guys. Now I just wanted to come in from the cold and hide. Disappearing into in the wings, merely observing boys, was a safe place of compromise that put me somewhere between being popular and beaten up.

This is an excerpt from the chapter titled “Boys” in my memoir Maybe Boomer. It is part of a regular series of posts (titled “Stories From Maybe Boomer”) dedicated to special moments from the memoir.

 

Photo image taken by Paul Kane.

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Scary Autumn Memories – Soap on a Rope and Empty-handed Blouse Copping

CH 10 Girls sq WOODY IN HOLE
Peggy’s late October party was like entering a subterranean vault permeated with English Leather cologne. Apparently, first time users hadn’t been schooled on how much of the fragrant substance to mete out, while others seemed equally clueless about English Leather’s new soap sensation, Soap on a Rope, and how much to rub when bathing.

The girls at this gathering were certain about one thing, however. Despite the plush rug, couch and love seat provided for everyone to neck on, no girl used them for fear of being labeled a slut. As a result, a line formed outside the furnace room, the hostess’s special sanctuary offering heat and privacy for all her party guest’s make-out sessions.

I could visualize it now – guys making out with girls, faces plastered together, hands groping for skin while mouths gasped for air in the hot steamy darkness. Unfortunately, my opportunity with Mary – my current heartthrob – was closer to fumbling in the shadows, bobbing for anything soft and round, ducking under protruding shelves, reaching over hot pipes, and getting only as far as copping a cold blouse before burning my back on a hot water line. So embarrassed, it wasn’t until the family beach vacation later that summer that I finally took off my shirt in public.

I retreated to the love seat to be on my own (still too young to appreciate the irony). This wasn’t a make-out party but a strike-out fest. I dreamed how the incident might have gone better. But even the rewrites were bad, now including a cast of thousands.

One rewrite had Mom in it, saying, “Be careful, Michael. Do you know what you’re doing?”

Another starred Mary, looking down on me from above, laughing.

A third scenario featured Dad walking in, looking for his golf clubs, then walking out.

The last one involved police storming in, asking if my parents knew where I was.

Was every intimate moment in my life going to be some sort of ménage a trois? A quatre? Cinq, six, sept?

I was coming to understand that when you went for the best women you never got anything at all. Love seemed so unreliable, so random, like picking flower petals and saying “she loves me, she loves me not,” or standing so long under mistletoe your feet cramped up, or desperately hoping some girl would pull the fruit loop off your shirt and ask you to go steady with her.

Every autumn for me is a mixed bag of whispers from the past. This memory is of the first make-out party I ever went to in sixth grade back in the 60’s, an excerpt from my memoir, Maybe Boomer, Chapter 10, “Girls.

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Insomnia, Sweaty Mattresses and The Ray Conniff Singers

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Earlier in the evening, Mom and Dad had kicked off a party in the basement. So preoccupied, neither seemed to care if I helped myself to the fancy food and beverages spread out on the card table. When was the last time I was allowed unlimited access to expensive snacks reserved only for neighbors and relatives? Pork rinds. Chex Mix. Colas!

Three hours later, grasping the bed sheets, I whispered to God, “Please, don’t let me be sick. Please, I’ll do whatever you ask. Please don’t give me diarrhea. I was wrong to eat all those things. I might be in the bathroom all night. Please, God, please.”

As I squirmed, I could still hear Mom and Dad’s party going on two stories below in the basement; even Don and Doug stirred around in the living room. Already ten o’clock, I grew desperate for any solution for sleep.

I tried counting sheep. I tried counting backwards. I even tried reviewing last week’s Combat episode in my mind, a dumb idea since so much of it was filled with explosions. However, the stupid girly subplot the last half hour was so boring, replaying the episode brought on drowsiness.

Finally, halfway into blissful sleep, a real explosion hit:

 Oh no, it’s getting louder … and louder … and louder. No-o-o, God, no – not the Ray Conniff Singers.

Doug was at it again. Only eighteen, my older brother was already embalmed, an able-bodied teen sadly buried beneath a lethal interest in listening to a bunch of middle-aged squares trying to save tripe like “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” and “Three Coins in the Fountain” from musical extinction.  Tonight, he crawled from his grave to play songs on the living room stereo from his gutless record collection and keep me awake.

I dreamed of going downstairs and breaking his Ray Conniff box set in half across my knees, but did nothing. Instead, I chose to lay there and seethe. If I wasn’t going to use words to fight back, I had to find an alternative method in which to take family members on. It was Ray Conniff today; what if the battle was over something far worse tomorrow?

The recent hot weather here in Santa Fe reminded me of this unsettling event (excerpt from Maybe Boomer, Chapter 3, “Revenge“), lying across a sweaty mattress on a hot early summer night, being “serenaded” to sleep. Not so bad an experience, you say? Remember, as you read this post, you could have turned “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” off.

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What I Learned From My First Job

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Sweating through a summer on a construction site clean up crew as an impressionable sixteen-year-old, I learned firsthand many tips on how to survive the workplace. I named them “My Big 7:”

1.      Always carry something with you at work. Otherwise, bosses will yell, “Hey, why aren’t you working?” Carrying something suggests you did something important back where you got it and that you’re about to do something important where you’re going. 
2.
      Say you know what’s going on, even if you don’t. Nodding – even casual but confident shrugging – works to fend off future attention and unwarranted consequences. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
 
3.
      Make noise while you work. It insinuates great effort is being made and implies manliness. Doing this, bosses often don’t even check to see if you’re working, which is the whole point.
 
4.
     Choose tasks that cover the most physical space. Performing them highlights how much you’ve already done, especially in the morning when first impressions are crucial.
 
5.
      Always walk fast. You’ll come across as engaged, and walking is easy to do. Bosses naturally prioritize things and will scrutinize other workers who haven’t moved an inch for twenty minutes and will go to hassle them, not you.
 
6.
      Focus intently on objects. Even if it’s only a spot the painters missed, this makes you seem intelligent and insightful. But make sure bosses don’t actually come over to inspect your useless discovery. They’ll only badger you with comments like, “No. Get away from that. Jesus.”
 
7.
      Flaunt anything you know you’ve done right. As a result, superiors often assume everything else you’ve worked on has been done right as well. However, be sure that whatever you flaunt was done right, or this tip could backfire on you to no end. 

Now – pretend you’re at your job right now. Isn’t it scary how most of the Big 7 are still applicable today?!

(The Big 7 list is found in Maybe Boomer, Chapter 7, “Responsibility,” that you can read more about in “Excerpts.”)

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Art Education, Cubed

Quote of the day:  A little learning is a dangerous thing. — Pope

Fins Color duplicate 48bit 1200 dust remv007

“Fins” Pastel on paper.

I was raised in the Maryland suburbs right outside Washington DC and was privy to see some of the world’s greatest works of art exhibited in galleries at the Corcoran, Hirshhorn, National Gallery, and Phillips Collection (my favorite). The fact that all these galleries had their own Picassos didn’t necessarily impress me. I wasn’t that fond of Picasso, especially his Cubist works that looked like someone slashed the canvas a couple hundred times over. In fact, it not only took me forty years to appreciate art in general, but one of Picasso’s own piers, Georges Braque, to help me understand Picasso.

Braque would do little collages of still life set ups, but split the wine bottles and bowls and apples into sections, then distribute them around the canvas, freeing himself – and the viewer – from experiencing art in the usual way. Although Braque and Picasso are synonymous with the invention of Cubism, I’ve been less partial, or perhaps comfortable, with Picasso, who often split women’s faces and breasts up and placed them in the darndest places by the time the painting was finished. But I credit both artists for inspiring me to look deeper at the possibilities for art, including my own.

The image above, “Fins,” is my pastel drawing of the strange and angular rock formations I saw traveling in Utah’s Arches National Park. This range of rocks not only roused my interest, but lent itself well to a Cubist-style breakdown. The completed composition reveals the way I wanted to see the rocks, ones that resembled fish fins in my mind, or so I thought.

I worked in this style for a number of years but stopped when I felt I was relying too much on a kind of visual formula. I’d seen many Cubist paintings, especially after teaching about the Cubism movement as a high school art teacher, and questioned if my art pieces weren’t becoming patterned around Cubism so much I was losing my own statement in the process.

One day twenty years ago, when I inferred to my impressionable students that an artist should be free to express himself, a few fifteen-year-olds came right back at me with, “We agree, Mr. Andberg. Art should be about freedom, total freedom, man,” which left me far too many “totally free” pieces of dung slung on poster board to grade. (Read the introduction to Chapter Eight, “Education,” from my memoir, Maybe Boomer, for more on my stint  in teaching.)

A few years later when I lectured on the Surrealists’ method of staying up many nights in a row without sleep to get altered views of subject matter for their paintings, one of my students tried it at home. After just one night, and looking like hell come morning, his parents called me to complain how I’d put bad ideas into their son’s head.

Teaching art is hard. H-a-r-d. There are so many fine lines. Those lines are easy to cross over, for working artists as well as students.

But a student being over-educated about art? Is such a thing possible?

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