Back in 2004, I was a 14 year old delinquent in 8th grade summer school, focusing way too much on the social aspects of the gig and trying to be hip with and impress the mall goth and nu-metal kids, but kind of failing terribly at doing so. #AwkwardChubbyBlackAltGirls
Meanwhile, between waiting to watch pale greasy motherfuckers in their faded nasty-ass neon Tripp pants and ratty Marilyn Manson shirts kick around weed-plant speckled hacky sacks, even though it was the very attitude that landed me in Summer school in the first place and I knew the material because I was a brilliant little motherfucker, I couldn’t be bothered to make more than a minimal efforts in my classes, something that the English class teacher wasn’t having.
She was a strict, unforgiving, but sharp-it wasn’t so much that she was mean, though she could be, it’s that she knew her shit and demanded we stepped it up. One of those classically trained motherfuckers, was always getting at us about reading and cursive and shit and all we wanted to do was hang at the skate park and Myspace. I kind of got her game, but I didn’t exactly care for her. Mostly, I tried to stay out of the way of her fury. We inevitably butted heads at times.
Well, at the end of Summer school, that teacher pulled me aside. I was like “Oh no here it goes gonna get yelled at. Well, I’ve got an AFI mix CD that says I don’t give a shit!”. Instead of reprimanding me, she gave me a small purple notebook and she said, with an almost scary seriousness, “Do not stop writing. Ever.” I remember the west wing science classroom at East Kentwood High school we were in and everything. I was struck by the act. I mean, for one, I fucking loved getting journals like nothing else. But also, at that age, I spent a lot of time getting berated by counselors, pastors, my parents, other people’s parents, police, etc, being told I was a fuck up, that I was delinquent, that my interests were wrong, dangerous, not normal, ungodly, that I wasn’t doing enough, that I was wrong, that I wasn’t developing any skills I could use by being so wrapped up in the things I liked. It was why I usually just defaulted to not really trying that hard to fit in and follow they laws and instead just did what the fuck I wanted to.
So, to have someone say “This is something you’re good at, don’t stop doing it” made quite an impression. It became inspiration, and then it became a point I had to prove, a goal I needed to work rabidly at. I was going to one day look back at that moment and be able to say “this was a catalyst for the writer and person I am now. I rose up to the challenge and owned that shit.” It was motivation to not stop, to keep on working and trying harder and harder and to improve, to follow my instincts (because everyone was telling me I was fuckin’ up but I knew what I was up to) and, while being humble enough to realize I still had a lot to learn, be stubborn and strong enough to stand up to too much shit-talk and unncessary catty busybody bullshit and do my thing.
Being that I currently a contributing editor for Autostraddle, a job I was only able to get from the start and support and knowledge I got from my gig at Feminspire, and I just got Tweeted by someone at Bitch, of my favorite publications, to have a piece of mine featured on their website, I think this is a pretty safe time to say “Started from the bottom, now we here”. Best believe I am by no means anywhere near done, but I’m really proud about where the fuck I’m at so far.
Thanks to that Summer School English teacher and others like her who saw that I was weird, intense, angst-ridden, and shy but smart and capable, just more focused on punk rock and shenaniganizing than classwork and rule-following, to my friends for always being so brilliant, beautiful, inspirational, and supportive, especially during times like lately when I was struggling to keep it together, but mostly thanks to me, because I’m awesome and capable and I did this shit. I did this. Me.
Here’s to me! :D