Sometimes, you need to be told you're a red head

There are lots of disgusting things about life in the Age Of The Interwebz. Twitter trolls, cyber bullying. Selfies At Funerals. When I see young people doing stupid stuff publicly, like globally publicly, it's easy to think, "I'm so glad smart phones weren't around during my stupid days! Remember when we streaked? And took pictures? But they were blurry and took a week to develop?" None of that ever wound up on the internet, thank God. But. There's a little silver lining I'm jealous of when it comes to these babies growing up in Online Town: They stay connected to everyone, forever.

I owe a lot of thank-yous. Thank you to the high school guidance counselor who personally mailed my FAFSA so I could get state aid for college by the deadline. Thank you to a lady named Cheryl who let me live on her couch. Thank you to this bitch in Vegas who told me you're not supposed to wear pantyhose with open-toe shoes. Thank you to my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Tye, who was the first person to tell me I have a voice.

Look, I know sometimes my writing is like this:


I'm not saying I'm some kinda Michael Jackson of bloggers over here. My writing has its hits and misses like anything else in life, but the gift Mrs. Tye gave me was that I have this in my arsenal. I have writing. Sometimes kids need to be told about themselves, like when someone finally told my friend Ryan he was a redhead and to stop using Sun-In. He was starting to glow orange like the sun at the apocalypse. Kids need to know things!

This was the mid 90's. The era of Grunge. My hair wasn't quite Manic Panicked yet, but I was on my way - the type of kid who always has to borrow a pencil. School. Stupid. I sat in the back corner of Mrs. Tye's class, at first just completing the writing assignments with no special fanfare.  I remember being challenged to confront my feelings and Mrs. Tye's remarks in my notebook seemed to indicate my writing was worthy of criticism. A few weeks into the year and I was almost addicted to her class. We'd get a writing assignment at the beginning of the period, spend 20 minutes scribbling away, then time was up. She'd collect our work and I'd salivate waiting for Friday to read the comments. It was like the stone-age of blogging for me. Then one day, Mrs. Tye took out her famous red pen and wrote on my work, "Jenna, you have a distinct voice". It was like when Ralphie turns in his bee bee gun Christmas essay and imagines applause and a giant fruit basket.

Kids don't forget how they're treated. By that Spring of 1994, the seed had been planted for a life of writing. I don't write for accolades or even much money, I do it because I love it and I love it because someone cared enough to tell me I could.

A few months ago (a year?) somehow Mrs. Tye found her way to my Facebook page and commented under a post of mine. I wish I could show you with my hands how huge my smile was. It was like the Pope telling you you've got nice shoes.

Thank you, Mrs. Tye. I'll imagine your red pen marking this up and making me feel like being a better writer is a badass thing to be.


This has been a one-hour, topic-assigned exercise at Chicago Now lovingly dubbed Blogapalooza that occurs monthly. So if it's shit, just keep moving. See the other writing here!

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Filed under: Memory Lane

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