The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher

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{ tweet by @ericweiskott }
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So which public school teacher inspired and encouraged me the most?  Who had, and still has, the greatest influence on who I am today?

{ drum roll please }

My answer would be: Mrs. L——-, my high school sophomore English teacher.

She was the first teacher to ever tell me I knew how to write.  All the other teachers before her, many good women and men, assumed we kids didn’t know what we were doing.  But not Mrs. L——-, whose first + middle name was Clover May.

By the time I had Clover May she was nearing retirement– and didn’t give a rat’s tutu about what she was supposed to teach or how to teach it.  She’d done this teaching gig for so long that she intuitively knew how to get kids to write.

So instead of closely following any textbooks or lesson plans, Clover May would tell us funny little stories from her own life*, then have us tell a similar story from our lives… in writing.

She believed anyone could write.  It wasn’t a big deal.  All you had to do was talk about what happened & BE SPECIFIC.  Details like grammar and spelling could always be adjusted after you wrote down what happened specifically.

Yes, Clover May believed in all of us and our ability, perhaps yet untapped, to write a good story… as long as you were specific.

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* One of Mrs. L——-‘s funniest stories had to do with her given name.  From day one she insisted that we kids know her full name.  While decorum dictated that we call her Mrs. L——-, she believed we should know her first + middle name because this was an example of how to BE SPECIFIC.

So when Mrs. L——- discovered that one of her less-than-enthusiastic students could not remember her name correctly, she was ready to be perturbed.  However, she couldn’t be upset with this kid, who apparently lived on a farm, because the way he confused her name was so clever that she had to laugh.

You see, this kid, who had been sort of listening to what she said, thought that Clover May’s name was… Alfalfa June.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

If you went to public schools, who was your favorite teacher? And why?

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In Which Breakfast Disappoints Me & I Am Not Happy

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“A helpful Tribe Called Quest flow chart” via @MarionDowling

THE FIRST THING you need to know is that I dislike eating the end of anything.  Heel of the loaf of bread? Yuck.  Last of the peanut butter in the jar? No thanks.  Final serving of the mac and cheese in the casserole? Ugh.

[Character failing or intriguing personality quirk? You, my gentle readers, are free to decide which it is.]

So this morning, half-awake, as I prepared my breakfast, I went outside my comfort zone when I decided to voluntarily eat the end of the Orange Marmalade.  I like Orange Marmalade, and in the winter when it’s cold and dreary outside Orange Marmalade cheers my soul, which I believe is an admirable thing for a condiment to do.

[It makes me think of England where I went to college for a term.  In the spring, when it was pretty and green outside.  The opposite weather of this morning.]

# # #

SITTING DOWN TO breakfast at the kitchen counter, with my mug of coffee and my tasty toast smeared with Orange Marmalade, I bit into what I thought would be the perfect midwinter anti-gloom breakfast.

[Oh, but was I disappointed.]

It seems that in our refrigerator we also had a jar of almost used up Apricot Jam, which just happened to be sitting beside the aforementioned Orange Marmalade.  And as fate would have it, glancing casually at the orange color, I picked up the Apricot Jam, plopped the end of it onto my toast, and then took a big bite of the wrong thing.

[BLEECH! A thousand times bleech!]

And that’s how my morning started.  Reminding me that my comfort zones are there for good reasons.  To keep my safe, healthy– and HAPPY.  Which I am not, right now.

Aging Gracefully: A Query, A Quandary, A Questionable Answer

“Explain the phenomenon of aging gracefully.”

  • You just never know, do you?

Looking at recent search queries that brought readers to this blog, the one written above caught my eye.  It amazed me.

Usually people find The Spectacled Bean when they’re looking for answers to garden problems [deer eating pansies], self-awareness [Quaker questions], or vanity [V-beam procedure].

I know it’s odd, but it’s true;  those are the three most popular posts on this blog.  Not exactly what I’d consider to be my focus or my best-written stuff, but Google’s algorithm does what Google’s algorithm does.

All Hail Google!

  • My first thought upon seeing this query was to feel a little insulted.  

Aging? Moi?! Pish posh, I say!

But then I remembered that one of my blog tags is Aging Gracefully so I had to lighten up on being insulted, and I shifted my thinking to “isn’t this wonderful?”

I was being asked to impart the wisdom of my many years so that others could learn from my depth of experience, keen observations about human nature, and buoyant spirit. 

So I sat down at my computer ready to compose a post in which I’d answer that query in such a way as to goose Google’s algorithm.  I’d write something so profound and pithy that anyone who asked a similar query, for years to come, would be directed here.

The dream, so close.

  • But here’s the thing, and it’s significant, I have no real answer to this query.

I mean, I dunno.  Maybe the answer is to never stop exercising?  Or maybe it’s to commit to being a lifelong learner?  Or to attempt to let go of any person, idea, or thing that no longer serves you?

None of these? Some of these? All of these?

Or maybe, just maybe, the real essence of the phenomenon of aging gracefully can be summarized in one crotchety remark: “DON’T BOTHER YOUR ELDERS WITH SILLY QUESTIONS!”

You got that, you nosy little whippersnapper?

One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do?

{ File this under: NEVER TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY }

me

 A FEW WEEKS AGO WHEN I began to think about what my One Word for this year would be I was sure it’d be SMART.  My egotistical little brain that craves attention told me that this word was a good one.  But after The Orange One made reference to Putin being smart I could not, in good conscience, use the now tainted word “smart” as my one word.

 THEN WHILE READING A CHRISTMAS GIFT, a wonderful book of essays called I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi, the word BETTER seemed like it’d be my One Word.  But the more I thought about this word the less applicable it seemed to my overall mind-set right now.

It’s not that I don’t want to strive to be a better version of me, I do;  it’s just that I feel that “better” could be anxiety-producing for me, a reformed semi-perfectionist who has finally become comfortable with the concept of good enough.

 WELL, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE I still had not decided on a word for 2017.  In a last-ditch effort to discern what my One Word would be, I approached the problem in a less cerebral, more spiritual way.  That is, as I drifted off to sleep I intentionally put the question into my mind, so that when I awakened the next morning the first thing I thought about would be my answer.

And my spirit didn’t let me down.  No, thanks to it I had a word for 2017 that allows me to creatively incorporate the essence of smartness with the desire for betterment.  Yes, my whole being told me in no uncertain terms to: RELAX.

So I think I will.  😉

Question of the Day

DO YOU PICK ONE WORD TO BE YOUR THEME FOR EACH YEAR?  

If so, what’s this year’s word and how did you come by it?  

If not, what do you do instead? Resolutions? Goals? Nothing?

When Home Isn’t There Anymore This Is What You’ll See

This is what curiosity, based on nostalgia, will get you.

On a whim, while using Google street view to see what my doctor’s new office building looks like, I entered the address of where I grew up as a young child.

I was only thinking about my early childhood home because my dad’s modest medical office was on the first floor of the building, and we lived in the apartment above the office.

[Different times, eh?]

When I found the photo of where the building used to be I started laughing.  I mean, I haven’t been back to my hometown in over a decade, maybe longer, but when they say you can’t go home again, who knew it’d be literal for me, an English major educated to think figuratively?

However, be that as it may, getting to my point here, as the photo below proves, there is no house to go to anymore.  Of course, considering my family is long gone the loss of the building seems insignificant to me. Funny, even.

No doubt they’d laugh, too, if they saw this photo.

I’m sure that this just goes to show you something, but I’ll be darned if I know what that something is.

All I can tell you is this photo made me smile thinking about how everyone else shares lovely pics of the house they grew up in, but me?  I have a photo of a blank space.

Uh huh.

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Question Of The Day:

Have you ever searched online for a photo of where you used to live? If so, what did you find? If you’ve never tried searching, why not?  

Well It Goes Like This, I Shredded My Past. Hallelujah!

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Bifocal glasses, not mine, left on a picnic table in the park. Someone is not reading the fine print today.

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SO LAST WEEK while stuck at home because of this, I decided to go through all the writing ditherage I’ve kept over the years.

Much of it was in boxes in the basement.

Lots of it was spiral notebooks from the late 90s to mid-2003 filled with my handwritten Morning Pages a la The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I was diligent about my daily 3 page writing practice for a while there.

Just about all the notebooks contained a repetitive selection of whiny, self-absorbed, humdrum scribblings that suggest to me now I was stuck and unhappy during those years.

My inner muse had not caught my attention yet.  

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AFTER SAVING THE few good or funny thoughts I’d captured years ago in these notebooks, I had an epiphany.  I thanked the writing practice for guiding me to today, then as a way of making my life lighter I shredded these notebooks.

Every last one of them gone.

Thus I’ve freed myself, literally and spiritually, from a bunch of heavy negativity that I’d been saving in boxes in the basement for over a decade.

I tell ‘ya, if you’re feeling burdened by life I recommend shredding outdated thoughts.  It may sound corny, but doing so has lifted a weight from me.  And I feel free to get on with that which needs to be written now.

Muse, lead the way.

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