Thank a Teacher
I have had writer’s block for a while now. A while to me is any more than a day or so…so this was too long. Again, I have no inspiration. I don’t care much to talk about the infamous “Beer Summit”. I have no interest in family issues today….maybe another time, but sometimes I just need to have a few days to relax and forget about the issues that are shaping my life.
I never thought about it that way. The issues shaping my life…the very issues that on many occasions have driven me to tears are the inspiration for many blogs, writings and short stories. This is a realization I am having at this very moment. If I had no serious issues in my life, I would not have much to write and question. Really. You can’t make this shit up.
Take, for instance, my archived blog “The Reality of It All”. If I did not write that dream down the moment I woke up at 4 AM…it would have never been as real as it was to me just then. After a few more hours of sleep, a great deal of calming down and a Xanax, I read that blog. I could not remember almost all of that dream…the dream that made me cry to the point of intoxication. It would have never been so vivid and genuine if I waited until morning.
Sometimes the best writing comes out of the worst emotional situations. And if you don’t take advantage of the inspiration right when it hits you….it’s gone forever. When I sit down to write, whether it be in a journal, on scraps of paper or this blog I write in a frenzy. I finish most pieces within minutes. Anyone who writes knows when a piece is just perfect, when you’re on a roll….when it is perfect. I have had such occasions that no revisions were necessary and have had the most compliments on those pieces.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about teachers and how which ones in our lives had inspired us. Her mom is a teacher…English and she is a Penn State Graduate with a degree in the same….so, the conversation was easy. I starting talking about my 9th grade English teacher. She was also my Advanced Spanish teacher…although after four years of Spanish I just know enough to find my way around Cancun or Cabo and ask where the bathroom is.
It was a normal day in english class. I was attending Bishop Hafey Catholic High School, which I would later leave in the 10th grade for public school. I had finished some sort of project. It was to be a book cover on a specific subject. We had to make one pertaining to whatever topic we were give, mine was on Native Americans…I can’t remember exactly what, but I do remember burning the edges of magazine pictures, for a feeling of authenticity I guess, to attach to the book cover. It was an easy project….I thought nothing of it.
That day in class, my teacher announced that there was one project in particular that stood out. It was informative, but mostly creative in such a way that I guess she wanted to show it to the class. I remember thinking, “Christie Grier, it’s her”. She was ultra smart and always got good grades, honor classes, honor roll…you know. We were not friends, per say, but we were nice to each other. I wonder whatever happened to her? I’ll have to Goggle her or look her up on Facebook. Anyway…. I was shocked when the teacher called my name. I had to get up in front of the class and describe my project…the idea, inspiration…all of it. I was truly surprised. I thought it was mediocre at best.
The next week we had just finished reading The Merchant of Venice. We had to write a paper about one or two of the characters….our choice. While I don’t remember that book to this day, I do remember the paper I wrote. It was from Salerio’s point of view. Salerio served mostly as a commentator in the story. In my paper he told the story as if he were a modern day news reporter, but I can’t remember whom he was reporting on. I wrote it one evening at home in about an hour. Ten pages. It wasn’t hard for me…I just thought I was given an easy assignment.
A few days later the teacher announced that there was one particular paper that was great. I distinctly remember her saying “amazing”. I was thinking again…”Christie Grier”. No, me again. She recommended it for the school paper. I was really shocked this time. I had to talk to her after class.
She said I had a true gift for writing.
I said…”Ummm, I do? I just thought these were easy assignments.”
She continued, “No, I had a few failing grades on these assignments….you really have no idea that you are that good at this?”
I said, “No, I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought it was easy…it came so easily and it was fun.”
She said, “Well then, I think you know what your calling is.”
I had no clue what that really meant, being a 9th grade girl obsessed with boys. I went on to college in 1988 and it was the same…easy English classes with a 4.0 in Creative Writing and many other English classes to follow. It was only then that I remembered what my 9th grade English teacher had told me about my “calling”.
Her name was Mrs. Cambas. She has since passed away from cancer. I never got the chance to thank her for making me realize what I was capable of. I wish I could have told her that now, close to 40, I am finally using the gift that I have been just passively using for the last 20 years.
I guess all of those public service annoucements are for a good cause. We should be thanking teachers more often. So many people have benefited from a person they see everyday for several years of theirs lives, all while this person works tirelessly for minimal pay and pay out of their own pockets for many things that are not in the school budget and we never thank them.
I hope Mrs. Cambus knows how much of an impact she made on my life….I have a feeling she does.