When I was in the first grade I had difficulty with writing in the lines, coloring in the lines, and keeping to a strict regime. I say regime considering my first grade teacher, Mrs. Hickey (blotchy, red kissing sores for whores come to mind and she was indeed a sore) was an evil dictator when it came to discipline. Remember in kindergarten when the only difficulty we had in class was where to put what block or who wanted to play dress up with you that day? There was a dramatic shift. Mrs. Hickey did not encourage stories of pretty princesses and white knights nor did she even want her class to participate in field time during lunch; what kind of teacher doesn't give you a break? Well, these restrictions held me back from allowing my creativity to sore that year; my imagination did not disappear, however. I would look forward for my mother's white smile and blue eyes waiting for me outside those double doors ready to take me home, make me a snack and let me play 'The Wizard of Oz' or 'Cinderella' around the house. Hell, my mother even let me play with my sister's Barbies; I was indeed a Barbie...boy. Mrs. Hickey's rules were so tight that she made you hold the pencil a certain way, and you weren't dared allowed to use the eraser. That's right. If you made a mistake, you had to use your red marker pen to circle your mistake or cross it out with a giant red 'X'. You had to learn why you didn't get that question right or that problem solved. That red marker signified your abilities to sore above the class. I was always jealous of those around me who didn't have as many cross-out's as I did. How could she not let you write cursively out of the lines? Hell, my signed Mariah Carey headshot my dad got for me had these gorgeous, flowing letters that looked more like warped confetti than a signature. Why couldn't I, too, have large bubbly letters? Because this camp-director-from-hell liked to play it safe. Her life was clearly lacking color like Dorothy's in Kansas. I wanted color.
One afternoon, it was time to close up our notebooks and put away our school supplies and get out our number two pencils for a math exam. I don't know if any of you know, but I am a horrible mathematician. I can add, subtract, multiply and divide but in my earlier years (and high school too, I won't deny) I struggled a lot. It was all about rules and formulas and things that all equal up and make sense. Life never makes complete sense, we are always questioning ourselves and looking for more answers, even when the answer we get doesn't work with what we want to hear. Mrs. Hickey passes out the exam (pop-quiz, mind you) and everyone slides their papers onto their desk and waits for her to say when. "Begin." We bolt. Some are dashing through their answers while I attempt to discover a new tactic on cheating. I lean against my elbow and peep through my stubby fingers attempting to mask myself from shame. I look back to her, my heart races like a gazelle. Will she catch me? She's reading a classic at her desk. I'm safe. My attention focuses back to the parchment covered in symbols I'm clearly not grasping. I doodle. I begin to erase when my heart stops and a lump of saliva almost cuts off my oxygen. Hickey's demonically witchy fingers grasp ahold of my pencil. I lose my grip as she rips the strategically sharpened number two from my hand and displays it to the class. Just when I thought I failed the exam from breaking her number one rule of erasing, from my own sheer stupidity, she one-up's me and takes a bite of my eraser and spits it into the garbage. She must me a champ at darts because she didn't miss the pale. I sit there stunned while she circles my doodle-work and my mistakes. I didn't pass.
Mrs. Hickey is an enemy that holds back creators and creativity. She is one of many in my monster hall of fame, which you will learn more about this week. We all have monster hall's of fame, frenemies, enemies, and those who leave scars on our minds, thoughts, hearts, and hands. It's up to us to acknowledge them in order to push through these creative injuries and flourish into the artist's we crave...even if these scars come from memories and adventures through time travel.