Category Archives: autobiography

Why I Must Be a Spiritual Nudist

This is actually a repost of an older essay since I am ill again and fighting to think in between coughing fits. Where this says I have only been naked once at the nudist park, that is no longer true as I have revisited the same park with my AANR membership.

I do now admit to being a nudist… or naturist if you prefer. To me that means, if given a choice, I would prefer to be naked all the time. Especially in a natural setting outdoors. I have probably spent more time in the company of naked people than you have, even though I was never myself nude in a social setting until my one and only visit to the Bluebonnet Naturist Park in Alvord, Texas. I was a visitor at the clothing-optional apartment complex at Manor Road in Austin a number of times in the 1980s when my girlfriend’s sister was a resident there. They asked me to disrobe a couple of times, but, as a visitor, I exercised my option. And I corresponded with Floridian nudists by letter, email, and subscriptions to nudist publications through the 1990s.

“Nature Walk”

But it is very nearly an ironic notion that I am literally a nudist. My wife is opposed to nakedness for religious reasons. Although members of my family were fine with skinny-dipping in our pool until it developed fatal foundation cracks, we no longer tolerate nudity at home, except in the shower and the bedroom behind closed doors. And being naked outdoors, though it always used to be good for my health, now is a problem with my increased susceptibility to the return of skin cancer, and the fact that my psoriasis sores, in addition to being ghastly to look at, get dry, cracked, and bloody with a chance of infection far easier than they ever used to. And I have more of them.

If I am being honest, I am not really a literal nudist anymore. I don’t get naked much at all anymore. I do correspond via Twitter with other nudists, especially other nudist authors and cartoonists. But that has its down sides too. Twitter followers who are evangelical Christians un-follow me instantly when they actually see a nudist-friendly post or comment from me. Nudists are apparently among the vast multitudes of sinners destined for Hell. And being part of the Twitter-nudist community also seems to attract unwanted attention from those who love pornography, as well as those who wish to exploit the “prurient interests” of others (which, in my humble experience, is not the interests of real nudists.)

So…

I have always found it challenging to be an actual nudist. I do the best I can, but, as I have repeatedly written in other posts about the subject, I was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was ten. I spent years overcoming an aversion to ever being seen naked by others.

That aversion prevented me from embracing a positive body image of myself for the rest of my childhood and well into my young adulthood. I was deprived of the joys of skinny-dipping in the Iowa River and being comfortable in my own skin. That was a definite drawback when it came to showers in school after P.E. Class, or showers after football, basketball, or track practice. I was robbed of my sense of naked childhood innocence. I felt like I had a terrible secret to keep, and I was secretly a monster for having naked feelings.

So, in order to be more like a valid, real person, Mickey, as a nudist, has committed himself to being a Spiritual Nudist. A Spiritual Nudist doesn’t hide anything by wearing clothing. A Spiritual Nudist is honest, and tells the naked truth. And a Spiritual Nudist doesn’t have to be actually naked to be Spiritually nude.

I may not now fit the definition of an actual, literal nudist anymore. But I can think like a nudist, tell nudist stories, and draw naked people (in a non-pornographic way). And like a real nudist, I no longer worry about what other people think. The naked truth is still the truth. And maybe even more-so than when people wear their clothes as if it were a disguise.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, humor, irony, nudes, Paffooney

Mickian Fantasy Art

There is a reason why anything in my artwork starting with a rabbit is assumed to be autobiographical. I raised rabbits as a 4-H project from about the age of 10 and we kept rabbits in pens until I was finishing my undergraduate degree. (Rabbit chores fell to my little brother when I was away from home.) In many ways, I was a rabbit-man. My personal avatar as a school teacher was Reluctant Rabbit.

The panda known as Mandy in my cartoon world is an avatar of my wife, an immigrant from the Pandalore Islands.

There is often an exaggerated sense of adventure in my cartoonally weird Paffoonies, the very name of which is a fantasy word.

I have been known to actually believe gingerbread can be magical enough for gingerbread men to come to life once baked. It is the reason I bite the legs off first, so they can’t run away.

I have been known to see elves, fairies, and numerous other things that aren’t really there. In fact, a whole secret hidden kingdom of them inhabited the schoolyard in Iowa where I attended grades K through 6. They were all mostly three inches tall. The biggest ones, like dragons reaching only about six inches tall at their largest.

Of course I am afraid of death, evil, and… (shudder) mummies.
I think of art and story-telling as a form of music. I am a troubadour whose songs (like this one) are often completely silent.
My fantasy art tends to be more “comic book” than “art gallery”.

2 Comments

Filed under artwork, autobiography, cartoons, cartoony Paffooney, colored pencil, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Writing and Netflix

Like many writers, I have a plethora of weird voices in my head, constantly criticizing me, making jokes out of me doing ordinary things like brushing my teeth with the old brush my daughter used to scrub mud off her sneakers, characters who have actually come to life in my head and are constantly telling me stories about themselves… Good golly! Maybe many writers don’t hear these voices and I am simply nearly insane.

But, this is to be expected. I am a Baby Boomer. A child of the ’50s. So, I was raised by the black-and-white television. “I Love Lucy“, “My Three Sons“, and “The Munsters” taught me morals and an ability to laugh at myself. I learned about History, Politics, and the World from Walter Cronkite, the ultimate neutral news commentator. I also learned a lot about story-telling from old movies on Saturday afternoon. Television gave me empathy, knowledge of the world, and a boost to my imagination that I wouldn’t have had if I had been a child a generation earlier. Of course, I know it would also have been very different if I had been an internet child like my own children are. There is presently such a flood of free facts available that our information-soaked little brains are often drowning.

So, why am I talking about television today?

This coming week is a week spent alone. I was left behind with the dog as the rest of my family took a trip to Florida. It was my own choice. I am not capable of sitting in a car for long enough to make the car trip from North Texas to Central Florida. And I did not want to keep them from going. Days of good health are long ago and fading from memory.

So, I am left behind with time to write and time to watch whatever I want to on Netflix.

And this is useful because… well, I am a child of good television. I can work on my two WIP projects at once with Netflix series and movies in between word-munching sessions. I can be totally immersed in the writing act. I can write naked anywhere in the house (with the windows closed) without hearing complaints or distress from my non-nudist wife and my embarrassed-by-their-parents kids. It is almost as good as being well enough to go with them.

And Netflix (as well as, soon I hope, Disney Plus) affords me a chance to select exactly what I want to watch in ways that television on three networks, the way it used to be, could not provide. It is a chance to time-travel, to explore, to reach new levels of laughter and understanding… as well as tears. And I can watch TV too.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, being alone, commentary, humor, novel plans, TV as literature

Naked Creativity

Descend with me into the place where ideas come from, deep beneath the clothing you cover yourself with to protect yourself from the unknown. You come into this life naked. You can be wrapped for burial when you die, but if anything steps out of the dead body, it will not be wearing clothing. You face the inner demons and devils of life only with your naked self for defense.

Children seem, as a rule, to be more open to creativity. They are closer to the simple recombining of ideas that lead to new and creative thought. Children are also more open to living life naked. Shyness and negative body images are things that have to be carefully taught, along with racism, classism, entitlement, and a narcissist’s love of only the self. It is natural to be naked. We do not have to be taught how to be that.

I am now old and withering in body and energy and health. But as a senior citizen, I have embraced the urge to become a nudist that was always a part of me. I tend to see myself as a child when I think about the inner me, the me that lives near the actual source of all creativity. I do, in fact, more often than not, portray myself as a naked child. Though, I must warn you, my joy in my own nakedness was taken away from me at the age of ten. It took many years to get it back.

But the nakedness I am talking about in this Art Day post is not the literal nakedness of the old and spotty me. It is the willingness to stand emotionally naked in front of the world through the medium of this blog and use some of my deepest secrets as the puzzle pieces to put together a totally revealing picture of the me that is my creativity. I risk much to stand naked before the world. No armor to deflect the spears and arrows. No camouflage to hide me safely away from whatever attacks may come from those who see me for the first time, naked as I am, even when I am wearing clothes.

I wish to sing a song of myself, in the way Walt Whitman did in his Leaves of Grass. I need to make my body electric not only open to anyone and everything, but to actually become a part of all of it… to be one with all of you.

Some will look upon the fruits of my creativity and say I created something beautiful. Others will be offended and accuse me of misusing my gifts for some evil or perverted purpose.

But deep down and far below I have uncovered the naked truth. And I do not need to hide anything by trying to wear clothing as a disguise. I am a nudist. I am nothing but me. I have the curse of being creative, and that has led me to showing you what is within me, the things I have created, and the thoughts that gave birth to them. The naked me.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, autobiography, nudes, Paffooney, philosophy

I Love to Laugh

“Mickey, why can’t you be more serious the way smart people are?”

“Well, now, my dear, I think I take humor very seriously.”

“How can you say that?  You never seem to be serious for more than a few seconds in a row.”

“I can say it in a high, squeaky, falsetto voice so I sound like Mickey Mouse.”

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

“I can also burp it… well, maybe not so much since I was in junior high.”

THREE STOOGES, THE

“I distinctly remember getting in trouble in Mrs. Mennenga’s third grade class in school for pantomiming pulling my beating heart out of my chest and accidentally dropping it on the floor.  She lectured me about being more studious.  But I made Alicia sitting in the row beside me laugh.  It was all worth it.  And the teacher was right.  I don’t remember anything from the lesson on adding fractions we were supposed to be doing.  But I remember that laugh.  It is one precious piece of the golden treasure I put in the treasure chest of memories I keep stored in my heart.”

Groucho

“I always listened to the words Groucho Marx was saying, even though he said them awfully fast and sneaky-like.  I listened to the words.  Other characters didn’t seem to listen to him.  He didn’t seem to listen to them.  Yet, how could he respond like he did if he really wasn’t listening?  In his answers were always golden bits of wisdom.  Other people laughed at his jokes when the laugh track told them to.  I laughed when I understood the wisdom.”

727-1

“Laughing is a way of showing understanding.  Laughing is a way of making yourself feel good.  Laughing is good for your brain and your heart and your soul.  So, I want to laugh more.  I need to laugh more.  I love to laugh.”

5 Comments

Filed under autobiography, comedians, commentary, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, irony, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, wisdom

My Precious Things

david-cassidy

The dawn tomorrow is a hoped-for event, not a promise, not a guarantee.  For some it will not come again.  But that is what life is for, to be lived.   You must find the value in living and wallow in it while it is yours, and you must measure it not by the world’s measuring stick, but your own.

bus_leroy

pt1047

Looking at it mathematically with only the cold hard facts, my life has come to very little.  After teaching for parts of four decades, I was forced by ill health to retire from the job I loved.  As it will in this country where profits for corporations are more important than people’s lives, my personal fortune, that horde of wealth that is allotted for public servants like teachers, was absorbed by the health care and pharmaceutical industry, and health insurers managed to get away with paying out less than I put in through premiums for a lifetime.  After having to pay for the removal of the pool, and after having to go into bankruptcy because Bank of America decided to sue me instead of help in my debt resolution, I really have nothing left.  And if we can’t pay the property taxes that keep going up because the State is continually reducing funds to public schools, we may eventually lose the house.  Broke and homeless.  But they cannot take away my precious things.  It simply isn’t possible.

6a0120a6abf659970b01348734d01c970c-800wi   I saw a woman and her two kids getting breakfast at QT this morning.  The kids, a boy and a girl, were both wearing jackets and pajama pants.  They were both cute, and happy, and speaking Korean to each other.  And I realized after smiling at them with my goofy old coot grin, that I am not prejudiced in any way when it comes to other people.  They were Asian.  I notice details.  But that was an afterthought.  It really wouldn’t have mattered if they were black, white, purple, brown, or yellow.  (Though I have to admit I might’ve been slightly more fascinated by purple.)  Not being prejudiced is a precious thing.  It comes from a lifetime of working with kids of all kinds, and learning to love them while you’re trying to teach them to also have no prejudices.

And, of course, I still have my family.  I was a professional when it came to talking to kids, so I applied those professional skills to my own family as well.  I actually talk to my kids, and know them pretty well.  They have learned to draw and paint and tell stories from me, and may one day be better at it than I am.  They are musical and play instruments… and, hey!  Maybe we could form a family band!  All of those are also precious things.  Let’s see Bank of America try to take those things away from me.

91r2daaWw+L._RI_

And it may have occurred to you by this point why I am thinking about precious things and using pictures of my sister’s favorite TV show from the 70’s.  We just lost a singer and actor from that show whose music meant a lot to my family once, and always will.

And he was not a lot older than me.  And his life was not easy either.  But he lived with music in his heart and artistry in his soul.  David, you will be missed.  But your precious things still benefit us.  And some of us will probably be seeing you again soon to thank you yet again.

Leave a comment

Filed under artists I admire, autobiography, strange and wonderful ideas about life, TV as literature

Upon Further Reflection…

c360_2016-11-17-09-59-24-855

My 60th Birthday Self Portrait

Time dictates lots of things.  I am not now even the ghost of what I was back then.  I look more like Santa Claus than my father or my grandfathers ever did.  You may notice that, even with glasses on, I have to squint in order to see who I really am.

It is normal to do a bit of self-examination after a milestone birthday.  But I never claimed to be normal.  In fact, I doubt after the results of the recent election that you could say I was anything like the common man at all.

I was raised a Christian in a Midwest Methodist Church from a small Iowa farm town.  But I have since become something of an agnostic or atheist… not because I don’t believe in God, but because I don’t believe anyone can tell me who God is or how he wants me to be other than me.  But I am also not at the center of the universe the way most religious people believe.  I believe that all people are born good and have to work at being bad by making self-centered choices and making excuses to themselves for behaving in ways that they know are wrong.  God doesn’t forgive my sins because he doesn’t have to.  I am tolerant of all people and most things about them.  To sum up this paragraph, I am nothing like the dedicated Christians I know and grew up among.  The actions of the new, in-coming government and dominant political party convince me that intolerance, self-interest, and rationalizations are the norm.

mickeynose

Sometimes my nose gets really red and my hair bozos out for no particular reason.

I deal with the problems of life by making jokes and forging ahead with carefully considered plans in spite of the doubts others express about my abilities, my choices, and my sanity.  I prefer to do something rather than to sit idly by and do nothing.  Yet, I never do anything without agonizing over the plan before I take that step.  And like the recent election, things usually go wrong.  I have failed at far more things in my life than I have succeeded at.

I am told I think too much.  I hear constantly that I make things too complicated.  People say I should do practically everything in a different way… usually their way.  But I inherited a bit of stubbornness from my square-headed German ancestors.  In fact, I inherited Beyer-stubborn from my Grandma Beyer.  In all the time I knew her, I never saw her change her mind about anything… ever.  She was a Republican who thought all Republicans were like President Eisenhower, even Ronald Reagan…  but not Barry Goldwater.  Someone convinced her that Goldwater was a radical.  That was almost as bad as being a Democrat.  I, however, have strayed from the Beyer-stubborn tradition enough to change my mind once in a while, though only after carefully considering the facts on both sides of the question.  Nixon changed me from a Republican like Grandma into a Democrat.  Fortunately, Grandma Beyer loved me too much to disown me.

mewall24

In my retirement, I have gotten even more artistical than I was before.  This is a picture of me with my fictional child Valerie.

So how do I summarize this mirror-staring exercise now that I have passed the 500-word goal?  Probably by stating that I do have a vague idea of who I am.  But I promise to keep looking in the mirror anyway.  One never knows what he will see in the map of his soul that he wears on his face.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, birthdays, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Beyer Brand

c360_2016-11-22-18-51-03-815

This is a logo-doodle…wouldn’t that make an excellent name for an alien science fiction character?   Logodoodle, Prince of the Black Hole Kingdom.

I have been so obsessed with all the terrible details of the new orange monkey that has taken over our government that I completely forgot about an idea I had for a logo using my family name.  That is, until I began doodling while binging on Penny Dreadful on Netflix.  (Gawd, I have to talk about that show in a post too… horribly wonderful stuff!)  Yes the name-plate art you see above, not inspired by Trump’s gold letter fetish, no, not at all, is merely a doodle.  No rulers were used.  I eyeballed everything and let it flow.  I do admit to going over the pencil drawing in ink and editing at that point.

My family name, you see, is a very old and common German name.  Beyer means “a man from Bavaria” or auf Deutsch, “ein Mann aus Bayern”.  We were originally peasant farmers, but achieved nobility and a coat of arms in the middle ages.  I know this because in 1990 I was invited the to world-wide Beyer family reunion in Munich due to the genealogical research Uncle Skip did into the family name.  They sent me a book and I paid for the book, but did not attend.  (On a teacher’s salary?  Are you kidding me?)

But I was thinking about my brand.  It does have a meaning, and it does stand for something.  I underlined the illuminated letters of the name with a broken sword.  My ancestors were once warlike.  My great uncle died in the US Navy during World War II.   My dad was in the Navy during the Korean Conflict.  But having been a school teacher for so many years, I am dedicated to the belief that conflict is best resolved through wit and negotiation.  I would sooner be killed than have to shoot at another human being.  Of course, that part of the Beyer brand only applies to me.  Both my son the Marine, and my brother the retired Texas prison guard, are gun nuts.  And they are both very good shots.  I don’t recommend getting into serious arguments with them.

My family name also stands for farming and farmer’s values.  We were once stewards of the land.  Both my mother and my father grew up on farms.  I was raised in a small farm town less than five miles from the Aldrich family farms of my grandparents and uncles.  I have worked on farms.  I have shoveled cow poop… a unique thing to look upon as a badge of honor.  My octogenarian parents are living now in my grandparents’ farm house on land that has been in my family for more than 100 years.

My family name also stands for service.  I am not the only teacher in the clan.  My mother and two of my cousins are long-time registered nurses and all have seen the craziness of the ER.  (And I don’t mean by watching the television show with Clooney in it.)  I have a brother who was a prison guard and a sister who is a county health inspector.  We put the welfare of others before our own.  Our success in life has been measured by the success of the communities we serve.

While it is true that I could never make money off the Beyer brand the way gold-letter-using Mr. Trump has, I think it is safe to say, “My brand is priceless.”

2 Comments

Filed under autobiography, doodle, family, humor, Paffooney

Writing Every Day

c360_2016-11-20-09-17-22-486

These are volumes 3&4 of my daily journal that I have kept since the 1980’s.

Writing every single day is something I have been doing since 1975, my senior year in high school.  It is why I claim to be a writer, even though I have never made enough money at it to even begin to think of myself as a professional writer.  I kept a journal/diary/series of notebooks that I filled with junk I wrote and doodles in the margins up until the middle 90’s when I began to put all my noodling into computer files instead of notebooks.  I have literally millions of words piled in piles of notebooks and filling my hard drive to the point of “insufficient memory” errors on my laptop.  I am now 66 years old and have been writing every day for 48 years.

c360_2016-11-20-09-19-02-147

There are days in the past where I only wrote a word, or a sentence or two.  But there were a lot of words besides the words in my journal.  I started my first novel in college.  I completed it the summer before my first teaching job in 1981.  I put it the closet, never to be thought of again, except when I needed a good cringe and cry at how terrible a writer I once was.  I have been starting, stopping, percolating, piecing together, and eventually completing novel projects ever since… each one goofier and more wit-wacky than the last.  So I have a closet full of those too.

c360_2016-11-20-09-31-40-461

It would be wrong of me to suggest that my journals are only for words.  As a cartoon-boy-wannabee I doodle everywhere in margins and corners and parts of pages.  Sometimes the doodle is an afterthought.  Sometimes it precedes the paragraph.  Sometimes it is directly connected to the words and their meaning.

Sometimes the work of art is the main thing itself.

c360_2016-11-20-09-30-45-596

But always, the habit of writing down words and ideas every single day takes precedence over every other part of my day.  That’s the main reason I am stupid enough to think of myself as a writer even though I don’t make a living by writing.

c360_2016-11-20-09-31-59-738

But I did put my words into my profession too.  As a teacher of writing, I wrote with and to my students.  I did that for 31 years as a classroom teacher, and two years as a substitute.  I required them each to keep a daily journal (though they only got graded for the ones they wrote in class, and then only for reaching the amount of words assigned).  We shared the writing aloud in class, making only positive comments.  I wrote every assignment I gave them, including the journal entries.  They got to see and hear what I could write, and it often inspired them or gave them a structure to hang their own ideas upon.  And often they liked what I wrote and were surprised by it almost as much as I liked and was surprised by theirs.   Being a writer was never a total waste of time and effort.

So am I telling you that if you want to be writer you have to write every day too?  If I have to tell you that… you have totally missed the point.

2 Comments

Filed under autobiography, blog posting, humor, insight, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching, writing, writing teacher

How It Should Be… According to Mickey

A 1951 Schwinn Spitfire like mine in 1963 when the world was golden.

My bicycle was red. It was red and looked just like the ones that Captain Kangaroo had in his commercials that we watched on a black-and-white TV every day before we walked or rode our bicycle to school, across town a whole long seven blocks away. After school I could ride it out a whole mile and a half to Jack’s farm with Bobby and Richard and Mark the preacher’s kid to go skinny dipping in the cold creek in Jack’s South pasture. Jack was younger than any of us except Bobby. And it was a golden age.

Spiderman comic books and Avengers comic books cost twelve cents to own, but they were forbidden. And as much as we sneaked them and passed them around until they fell apart, usually in Bobby’s hands, we never knew that Dr. Wertham had gone to Congress to make our parents believe that comic books would make us gay and violent. He was a psychiatrist who wrote a book, so even if you didn’t believe him, you had to worry about such things.

I believed in Santa Claus until 1967. And after I found out, I only despaired a tiny little bit, because I began to understand you have to grow up. And adults can lie to you, even if they don’t do it to be mean. And the world is a hard place. And the golden age ended in November of 1963 when JFK was assassinated.

In June of 1968 I rode my bicycle out to the Bingham Park woods, Once there, I took off all my clothes and put them in the bicycle basket, and then I rode up and down the walking paths through the trees with nothing between me and God but my skin. I had a serious think about how life should be. All the while I was terrified that someone might see me. I was naked and vulnerable. A mere two years before that I had been sexually assaulted and was terrified of older boys, especially when I was naked and vulnerable. But I was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson. They were repeated World Series winners. And they beat the Yankees in the series in 1964. And more important than that, cardinals were the little red songbirds who never flew away when the winter came. You don’t give up in the face of hardship. You face the trouble. No matter how deep the snow may pile up.

And in 1969, the first man to walk on the moon showed that a Star Trek world was in reach of mankind. Star Trek was on every afternoon after school. I watched a lot of those episodes at Verner’s house on his family’s black-and-white TV. The Klingons were always bested or beaten because the crew of the Enterprise outsmarted them. You can solve the problems of the universe with science. I know this because of all the times Mr. Spock proved it to me not just by telling me so, but by showing me how you do it. And what you can achieve is greatly enhanced if you work together like Spock and Kirk and Bones… and sometimes Scotty always did.

So, what is the way it should be? What did Mickey decide while naked in the forest like a Dakota Sioux shaman on a spirit-quest?

JFK’s 104th birthday was on May 29th. Dr. Wertham has been dead for 40 years. Bob Gibson was 85 when he passed away in October of last year. Captain Kirk turned 90 in March of this year.

The Golden age is long gone. There is no single set of rules that can clearly establish how it should be now. But I like those ideas of how it should be that I established for myself while naked on a Schwinn Spitfire in a forest long ago.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, cardinals, comic book heroes, commentary, humor, inspiration, oldies, Paffooney, philosophy