Sometimes life just comes full circle. This is one of those true-life stories–don’t let the name Mrs. Mouse make you think otherwise.
In an uglier time, this writer transferred teaching jobs from a rough, urban school to a cushy suburban school.
It was actually a devil’s bargain. Sounded like I got a great deal, but I learned the hard way that rough schools offer supportive co-workers (you have to help one another to survive) while cushy schools are often filled with pompous shitheads who couldn’t survive elsewhere.
So during my tenure at this prestigious US News and World Reports–ranked secondary institution, some co-workers weren’t exactly delightful. Cases in point:
One beastly social studies teacher nicknamed me “The Whore in the Portable.” Not sure why. Jealousy over about a two-hundred pound weight differential? Anyway, this woman called me out at a social studies department meeting (I taught English so I wasn’t present). One member of the department had the balls to report it, and the woman was reprimanded (but as a classic example of the Peter Principle in action, has since been promoted to central office.)
A shop teacher with a horrible temper had returned from suspension for throwing a metal stool at a student. While on hall duty, this ‘teacher’ confiscated my plastic bathroom pass from the student carrying it, tore it up, and yelled at the student. When I confronted him between classes, he screamed in my face, “What are you going to do about it?” …I said, “The question is, what are you going to do about it? Throw a stool at me?” I reported it to the principal and the man had to give me $5 to cover the cost of the plastic pass purchased from a teacher supply store. Still, the stress he caused…
Many mornings, no one in the hallways would return my greetings. I would check the mirror in my classroom to make sure I was visible that day.
And don’t even get me started on the Librarian from Hell and all the ways she made my life so pleasant. She is the subject of a few posts in my 2017 archives.
So, it was nearly summer of my fourth year in the building, and I had just learned the student literary magazine for which I was the faculty-adviser earned the Silver Columbia Scholastic Press Journalism Award.
I was so proud of all the students who submitted art and creative writing as well as the lit mag staff and student-editor who put it together.
So, imagine my surprise to pull this out of my teacher mailbox later that day:
Attached to an issue of the lit mag, was an essay from Chicken Soup for the Soul along with a note, “Your literary magazine is not good literature. This is what I consider good literature” as in the published Chicken Soup essay…written by an adult professional writer. The nasty-gram was signed by a math teacher who always looked down her long, mouse-like snout at me as if I were no more significant than a petrified turd.
I walked the note and the magazine and the article into the principal’s office and asked, “Does anyone else want a piece of me?” He read it and shook his head. You just can’t fix stupid.
So here’s the full circle part of the story:
I transferred to a friendlier high school a few years later and have been pursuing my own writing career–the one that stalled out while I raised my sons.
I’ve been getting some publishing credits on my CV, and blessedly, I have an essay coming out in the new CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE POWER OF YES book that is being released tomorrow, August 14, 2018 at retailers everywhere.
Yes, Mrs. Mouse, it is real literature and my essay made the cut.
In fact, my publisher (love the way that rolls off the tongue) invited me to a dinner celebrating all Chicken Soup writers (not solely this publication) who hale from Maryland.
It was held in June and I was surprised to learn that for any given Chicken Soup book, 5000-7000 essays are submitted by hopeful writers everywhere, so it is an absolute honor to be included.
Here’s a snapshot of the happy night in which I am dining with my PUBLISHER! (I’m fourth from the left, standing):
How’s that for full circle, Mrs. Mouse?
In closing, here’s a bit of wisdom for the road–at least until you can grab some Chicken Soup of your own:
Thanks for reading!