Surrounded by intelligent, creative, generous people, there isn’t a day that goes by that my thinking and creativity aren’t pushed, my teaching pedagogy enhanced, and my emotional needs supported.
Last night and today reminded me of my good fortune.
The back story (bear with me)…
While listening to Newbery Award winning author, Jack Gantos speak to my sixth grade class in the library, a good friend and colleague thrust her phone at me, telling me to take some up close and personal photos of Mr. Gantos’s writing journals.
Although I accepted the phone and nodded my promise, I struggled with the idea that such an ask would be an invasion of the author’s privacy. I quickly suppressed my worries of intrusion and focused on Gantos’s writing advice.
The workshop ended and students slowly filed out of the library leaving me with my mission. So as not to disturb the busy author, I grappled with the idea of sneaking a photo of the journals. The problem – they lay on top of an ugly projector. How could I take a decent photo with an ugly backdrop?
Much to my chagrin, I realized I had to ask permission which meant engaging in a conversation with Mr. Gantos.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a sit down, in-depth dialogue with an esteemed author; I simply lack the courage, confidence, and social skills to initiate such a tête-à-tête. Setting aside my insecurities, I asked if I could take a photo, and to my surprise, Mr. Gantos replied without hesitation, “Certainly,” and turned back to his conversation with our librarian.
Elated, I turned my attention to his journal ready to snap away when my heart sank. There the journal sat on top of the ugly projector, daring me to pick it up. I found myself struggling with the notion of having to handle the journal in order to take the quality of photo I knew my colleague demanded.
How could I touch his journal? I felt as though I would be rummaging through his personal belongings. Finally, using only my index fingers, in one swift movement, I picked up the journal and placed it on the tabletop. Happily clicking away, I was overcome with the realization that I was photographing the seedlings of Jack Gantos’s stories, and then suddenly remembered I would have to move the journal back to its place on the projector.
Once again I was faced with the reality of having to handle the journal. I must have looked as though I was in state of distress because suddenly Jack Gantos appeared at my side announcing, “Let me help you with this. How ’bout I stack my journals up and you can take a photo of all of them with me.” Relieved, I thanked him profusely and began capturing more photos.
In my paparazzi frenzy, the librarian came to Mr. Gantos’s rescue and offered to take a photo of me with Jack. I’m certain he was thinking this might appease me, and I would leave the poor man in peace. Not quite. One would think the photo-op would have grounded me, but I became even more flustered and went stupid.
The story ends with a photo, my face radiating multiple hues of red while backing out of the library bowing and professing, “Thank you so much. What a gift you have given me. Thank you so much. What a gift,” in true babbling fashion, all the while thinking Jack Gantos must be wondering what our school was thinking when they hired me to teach the youth of today.
I was STARSTUCK! Twitterpated, for the next few days, I told the story to anyone who made eye contact with me.
Last night, a very good friend that inspires me on countless levels, presented me with a truly touching birthday gift – an altered journal. You’ll understand when you view the slideshow below.
Thank you Laurie! I believe your creative, generous gift is the inspiration I needed to dust of my journals and create.
Thank you to all my intelligent, creative, generous friends for a truly memorable birthday.