Vernon S.

MY STORY

I was born at 7:39 am PDST on July 7, 1948 in Exeter. Tulare County, California, USA.  My parents met in San Francisco, where my mother was working at the time as was my grandfsather, who worked in the shipyards, where he met my father, whose ship, a repair vessel for the U.S.Navy hadjust returned from Guam after the surrender of the Japanese.  My father stayed inCalifornia and he and my mother were married on July 20, 1947 and my father was a member of the Machinist's Union and lost his job after the McCarthy people blacklisted him because of the union, ALTHOUGH HE DID NOT KNOW WHAT A COMMUNIST OR EVEN A SOCIALIST IS and he only joined the union to get a job.  He was not a racist, but my mother was, and he often countered her racist remarks, telling us quietly to respect my mother, bt not to listen to her statements about blacks, hispanics, and Indians, he was part Chocktaw.  hr made arrabgemebts with a black family to take us to their church and againdt my mothers wishes made certain that we went to integrated e  schools.  He turned to farming, as he had been born on a farm in Montgague County,  Texas.  We also raised chickens and rabbits, and that wss the part I did not like, the chickens.  I much preferred working in the large truck garden where we grew strawberries, and sold them and other vegetables and fruit including several varieties of tomatoes (green, red, yellow, and purple), bermuda onions, oranges, peaches, walnuts, pecans, almonds, blackberries, raspberries and muscatel grapes (after we moved to Texas, every year we would make a trip to Hillsboro to pick wild mustang grapes Muscatels) for making grape juice, this was long before Napa Valley, at a stand at the front of our house.

When I was 5, we moved to Dallas, Tx, where my father's family had moved after losing the farm to the Corps of Engineers to make Lake Whitney)  after the death of my paternal grandfather.  My father and his twin brother were rejected by the family, and we were never very close to any of his 14 brothers and sisters, of which they were the youngest.  Much to my mother's chagrin, we settled in the barrio in West Dallas.  We celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertes,  the festival of Oue Lady of Guadalupe, although we were protestant, the posada, and Juneteenth at school and with our neighbors.  Mom eventually joined in, learrning to make enchiladas, chiles rellenos with huge poblano peppers, which she grew herself, and mole negro from the Guatamalans, who were fleeing to the US.  They were all more afraid of their own than they were of anything else, except for La Miga or ire were nngs at that time, that came later, and we were never allowed to wear khakis or slick our hair back.

My mother's family consisted of 4 boys and 2s girl, 3 of whom went into the ministry, my mother wanted to be a violinist, but it never hsppened, snd that disappointment would color her life thereafter.  Her sister graduated from USC Berkely with a degree in mathematics and worked with Oppenheimer at White Sands, N M  before she married a man with a doctorate in tree genetis who worked for the Cakifornia forest service.  My father eventually became a roofing contractor until he fell off a roof and was severely injured and he went to work for a building supply company as a truck driver.  He had wanted to ne a pro baseball player

My maternal grandmother worked as a librarian, but was also into painting landscapes in oils and I was the only grandchild who she taught to paint saying that I was the only one who had expressed  an interest in learning, which was true except for my mother, and for that my mother never forgave me, because my grandmother had tried to teach her, but mother was not interested in learning at that time and when she did become interested, grandmother was no longer interested in teachng her.

At the age of fifteen, I was diagnosed as mildly autisic, Asberger's syndrome,but functiong at a high level and I was placed in advanced college preparatory classes.  When I graduated, I enrolled in Junior College, and I started dating my future wife.  At the height of the Viet Nam war, I was called up, and since I did not believe in it, even though because of a heart condition, I was told they would not take me.  But I dreamed of a romantic life of adventure, and I caught  a train and fled north to Canada, where I lived for 4 years in the town of Stratford, Ontario , studied ballet, and after six months of training on scholarship I got a position as premier danseur with  the  Khoros Ballet and danced the lead roles in The Nutcradker, Giselle, and Sleep;ing Beauty, but i left after thecine season.  Due to a friendship with a cast member of the Follies Berjer, I was offered a job in Paris, France dancing with Josephine Baker, but I decided to stay in Canada and studied acting in Toronto at Victoris College at York University where I attended a few lectutes given by Marshall McCluhan, who had not yet been discovered.

I redturned to Stratford as a actor and director and platwright in periferal peoductions at the Shakespeare Festival and made a few films, but I did Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and Arrabal's The Architect and the emperor of  Assyria's North Anericam premiere. Arrabal was the sybject of a Dali [ainting, the portrait of a bearded mabm with hands on his shoukders but there was bo one standing behind him.  I slso a series of readings of Macbeth with Antony Burgess prior to the release of the film version of A Clockwork Orange and did a workshop with Malcolm McDowell of the script for what later became the film IF

My parents arrnaged for me to return to the US  where I TOOK MY DRAFT PHYsICAL aND WAS REJECTED FOR SERVICE.  TWO OF MY BROTHERS SERVED 2 TOURS in vietnam, one in intelligence, the  other as a helicopter pilot.  I intended to reyurn to Cabsda to vnyimur my varwwe but was approached by the FBI to work undercover for them, tgheir assunptiom neing yjat i was part of the undergound,I refused as I was only ab rxpatriot and nolt sa revolutiomary.

When I had returned to the US, I had been correwsponding with Karen, and we married after she graduated summa cum laude from UNT with two degrees, one in Biology, the other in Chemistry and mathematics.  I returned to college for a while, but never graduated, although I had enough credits to do so.  I went to work for the UT Southwestern Medical School and then took training as a lay therapist and worked at a private psychiatric hospital for 3 years.  Karen and I divorced due to her  severe drug problem from which  she never fully recovered.  I hated divorcing her, but it was what she wanted, no demanded, as did her doctors. SHE WAS THE ONE TRUE LOVE OF MY LIFE.

By this time, I had started acting afain, and performed in a number of productions at Theatre 3 and The Dallas theatre center, amd several little theatre and college productions.  I was olffered a scholarship to the Circle in the Sqyare Theatre in New Tork City, but i turned it dowm after visiting New York, which I did not like at all.

I then moved to Austin, Tx, where I lived until I developed Parkinson and working for The State, I was able to retire early. at age 60. ad moved first to Lancaster, and finally to Irving, Tx.  I painted and drew, 

I studied painting and life drawsing for 2 years with Mission Renaisance in Austin.

Over the years I've perfected various skills and techniques.  I took classses in quiltmaking, and worked wsith an textile artists' group (we WERE NAMED BY A SCIENCE FICTION WRITER, MARGARET BALL)  SHE HAD CALLED Us tHE MUTANT VAMPIRE FIBER ARTISTS, and we had one GROUP show at a specialty fabric store called Silk Road. Our members included Joy Baklini whos quilts are featured in several of Joan Wolfram's books and, Malka Dubrawsky.  For nearly a year we met every Wednesday for critique, and on Saturdays we met to learn dyeing, surface design.  We shared what we knew, and what we didn't know, we researched and learned by doing.  With Malka's help, we taught ourseabdfes batik or was resist, pole wrapping (arashi) and we had plastic shapes laser cut,  learned this from Marian Clayden (who did costume design for Hair and did private couture) for itajime. ori nui, stitch. silkscreening and printmaking, sun printing, cyannotype, paste resist, pleating, dscharge with bleach and paste, transfers of various kinds, devore.  Margaret and I took  workshop at Surface Design Symposium, I took Ned's class and Margaret took a class that she hated, why i mever learned.

By this  time we seemed to need to go our own ways.  I started entering shows but wass mosty rejected, but I continued making art quilts and doing surface design because I loved the process.  I mainly made things for gifts and for friends

Then I devekoped Parkinsons and it became difficult for me to do anything, and Margaret and I took up polymer clay and Gass bead making, Margaret broke off our frendship  and she took Jane's summer workshop with Vivian who is nmentioned in the book.  Vivian tried to get her to reconcile but we never did.

I bought a cheap Elna sewing machine and began expeimenting with free motion embroidery,making scarves and bags, and quilts  while studyng and coorresponding ith several European and Australian artists including Valerie Campbell Harding, Marie Roper, and took 2 sessions of City and Guilds training but had to stop when it became too expensive.

I read voraciously and tried everything at least once,  I had taken classes with Beth Kennedy, but eventualy it  has become imopoisiboe for me to use a sewing machine, so I do everything by hand now.

I became disillusioined with fiber and took 2 years of ceramics at Clayways Studio in Austin.  Even as a student, my work  sold, especially ny handpainted pieces.  I worked with other pottery artists, painting their items and they all sold.  I took a workshop sponsored by the San Antonio Pottery Guild with Lana Wilson.   I did discover that I had a real love for painting and design, though I did not understand why my work sold so well.  A friend finally told me that I was the only person who colulf not see my work s it truly is and I think that is still true although I habe begun to make some progress in that area..

I discovered Jane's book and the CST group on Facebook, but I am still not sure of what exactly I want to do.  I'm taking Jane's class and the floodgates have opened and I am writing poetry primarily, but i'd like to write critical essays.  I did not mention that  I took some online writing classes, finished 2 novels, neither of which has found a publisher, and then I began to write poetry and I write everyday now and my poetry has been rejected but with encouraging notes from editors.

I believe that I am very good at critique  and using those skills to assess my own work is cvery promising and I'd like to do that as well as write for zines and journals on poetry, art and the creative process. and illustrate my poetry.  I believe I have a talent for humor that is not cruel or sarcastic, and I'd like to write in a humourus way that is positive and helpful and not destructive as well, and I've been noodling around with playwriting as well.  I've also considered doing readings of my poetry and other writings, but the Parkinsons disease has weakened my facial and throat muscles  which makes it very difficult for me to talk and be understood at times;  i able to talk clearly for only about 2 hours in the early afternoon so doing readings would require special arrangements.