26/52: Halfway There

June 28, 2014

Searching for a distant star, heading off to Iscandar,

Leaving all we love behind, who knows what dangers we’ll find?

We must be strong and brave; our home we’ve got to save,

If we don’t in just one year, Mother Earth will disappear!

When I was a wee little lad, I loved to draw. I was particularly enamored with the spaceship from the show Star Blazers, which simply looked like a giant naval vessel that happened to travel through space (or a phallus, if you want to get all Freudian). My memory gets a little hazy after that, but I am pretty sure that I followed a particular creed: if it had guns or missiles, I was drawing it.

Fourth grade was a bit of a renaissance for me. This must have coincided with the time I got a Nintendo Entertainment System, because I became obsessed with drawing video game characters and designing cover art for hypothetical video games. I even created a hero named Argon who was a cross between the character from Metroid and Mega Man. Eventually, this interest inspired me to create a series of dollar bills with video game characters replacing presidents and action scenes replacing Freemason/Illuminati symbology. Interestingly enough, this led to several of my friends creating alternate lines of currency, adding as many zeros as possible to win the “most valuable dollar” award. Fake money was trending in the fourth grade.

Grades five and six were marked by a switch of interests. Not to girls and rock music like someone who was properly socialized, but a pivot from drawing pictures to creating three-dimensional objects. I started to dabble in origami. Lots of frogs and fortune tellers.  I moved from drawing video game art to making computers out of paper. It all started with one boring church service and a bulletin that became a monitor, keyboard, joystick, and disk drive. I also remember making basketball hoops out of a pencil, clear plastic folder, paper, and netting from strawberries or some other produce. My friends and I would sit them on our desks and shoot hoops with crumpled up pieces of paper.

In seventh and eighth grade, I decided to enhance my drawings by adding in text.  I never embraced the world of comic books or even the Sunday funnies, but I did have a strong desire to make people laugh. Since I was too shy to attract attention through my vocal chords, I let my mechanical pencil do the talking. The result was a series of cartoon strips that were parodies of movies or television shows. Crocodile Dundee became Crocodile Dumb-ee. The amazing show Duck Tales became Suck Tales. Since I lacked any originality of narrative, the episodes usually ended with the main character meeting his demise or being maimed as cleverly as possible. You can probably see how this would be perfect for junior high.

In high school, I basically dropped the text from my drawings and started to draw superhero type figures. There was one particular anthropomorphized tree that I was particularly proud of. He basically looked like a tree except he had this menacing face with no nose and he appeared to be screaming. Back then I never articulated the reason for his anger, but in retrospect it probably had to do with deforestation and the spotted owl.  There is also a chance that he had a hoop earring. I also remember going through a bit of a dark phase by drawing images of the grim reaper. During this time our school had signed some strange deal with a paper company so all our assignments were printed on blue paper. I would use the back of old assignments, so like Picasso, I had my very own blue phase.

Eventually, I went back to lighthearted humor. I found covers of Sports Illustrated and various basketball magazines and would draw realistic representations of the athletes’ bodies. There was a quarterback in mid-throw, a power forward hanging from the rim, a runner in full stride—only with the athlete’s particular head replaced with the visage of the school registrar, the Bible teacher, or my lab partner.

In the midst of the superheroes and body switching, I also learned to express myself through writing. Two of my friends, Lauri and Lorin, decided that we would pass around a notebook as a means of entertaining ourselves. We would draw silly cartoons, write out fake commercial scripts, compose top 10 lists, and create SNL-style sketches. The only thing these works had in common was that they didn’t contain an ounce of seriousness. Plenty of parodies, bunches of puns, many “inside” jokes about people we didn’t particularly care for. It was completely wild, like throwing spaghetti sauce onto a page and occasionally getting something that looked like an anthropomorphic tree with an earring. However, that experience unlocked something inside of me. It gave me an experience of the writer’s high. I think it may have been the moment where I realized that drawing would never fulfill me the way that writing could, that the written word would ultimately become my outlet of choice.

I don’t draw much anymore, and that makes me a bit sad. In fact, I rarely doodle in classes and staff meetings anymore, and I can’t really explain why. I’ve found a bit of joy in doing some art projects with my daughter, and will probably get a chance to become reacquainted with the language of pencil and paper from days past.

However, it seems fitting that I pay tribute to the written word on this blog post, the halfway point on my yearlong journey to 52. In high school, I got that first taste of what writing could offer. However, the focus was still largely external. What would my friends think? How could I get them to laugh out loud? To some extent, their reactions defined my worth as a writer.

I still write to entertain. I still really appreciate comments and check my site stats. I still really like the idea of bringing laughter or happy tears. I am still motivated and affected by external factors. However, I also see the value of writing for the internal joy it gives me. For the chance to connect with my Creator by forming something new out of the raw material of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. For the release of emotions that might normally only be found on a therapist’s sofa. For the opportunity to define myself with a translucence that can’t be achieved in a face-to-face conversation.

Twenty-six more posts to go in just half a year. Twenty-six more chances to chase distant stars and return home at the same time. I must be strong and brave.


4 Responses to “26/52: Halfway There”

  1. Debbie Says:

    Thanks for committing to this writing project, Ronn! I enjoy it a lot more than I comment!

  2. teachiro Says:

    Good to know, Debbie! I have no idea how I’ll fill up the second half, but I am guessing two of your grandkids will be heavily featured. Maybe a Hawaii trip as well?

  3. Mom Says:

    I want to echo Debbie’s sentiments. It has been so enjoyable to read your blog. I’m blown over at your writing ability and constantly wonder where you got it from, because it certainly didn’t come from me!

    • teachiro Says:

      Well, I’m glad you are reading and also glad I haven’t said anything too embarrassing as of yet. As for the writing, I write what I am, so you can take at least some of the credit (or blame) for that : )

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