When you study composition and rhetoric it is often discussed and rediscussed these moments. These moments of change or literacy events. Often we will sit and talk about them and how we were changed academics after they happened. For some it is writing something for Frish’s Big Boy menu and for others it working on the yearbook staff. But for most of the rest of the world they are remember when moments that helped to define who we become.
The first was my first reading of The Velveteen Rabbit. I don’t know what but something about that rabbit always felt familiar to me. Now as a grown up I realize that it is my sheer ability to love the unlovable that maybe was born there. So there we go…literacy event #1.
Then there was the time in 2nd grade, Mrs. Capps. Me and a brand new shiny Young Authors award for a story about a girl who sat in a thunderstorm and dreamed of a different life than the one she had. The award given on the merit of capturing feeling and longing for something better even in just 2nd grade. Wait…literacy event #2.
4th grade, Mrs. Meadows. Ms.
Mommy (not a mommy yet) Rhetoric your grammar and phonics level really takes away from your stellar and superb writing. Don’t you understand syntax? This is going to hurt you always in school if you don’t get better. My response: Well Mrs. Meadows you are clearly so full of yourself because you weigh all of 50lbs and yet your hair is bigger than our classroom and you write your name every day on the board bigger than Texas. We get it, you are small with a big personality (okay not really, I worked extra hard in take home phonics books and still to this day struggle with syntax). Living the rest of my life thinking I was grammar deficient…literacy event #3.
Et entre ici Mme. Alison Brown Frank, my high school English teacher. I adored this woman. She taught so far outside the box I think she made a circle. The thing is she did circles around all the other English teachers I had ever encountered before her. Within weeks of meeting her she had me signed up for Ball State Journalism camp, editor and chief of our school newspaper and yearbook. But her issues, she was outside the box. She was that one teacher that when discussing her people said, “Oh…” I never really could tell if it was a bad thing or good thing. I honestly think it was just a different thing. She cultivated in me an absolute love of language. I cannot even find the right words to give it other than sheer and utter love and passion for teaching. She threw out french to twist and pull and tug at my tiny brain. She pushed me. She challenged me to do something different, to be something different. I never knew what she meant. That is until I walked onto my campus in 2002. But it wasn’t until I got hired for this new position that I realized I am that teacher. The one they say, “Oh…” about. I choose to believe it is the good side of that oh….and though it is long this is one big literacy moment for #4.
After being read in high school paper and being asked to be published in our town’s paper at 16…WOW. I will never forget, I wrote an article about race car driving. Seeing Mommy Rhetoric’s name in writing with the byline…WOW! Literacy moment #5 for freaking sure.
Signing up for college and taking mandatory placement tests and being told I severely lacked language skills I needed to possess to be successful in college. Thinking damn that grammar crap came back to bite me! Having to bundle my freshman writing class with another class for students that struggled with language. Deciding then not to pursue English teaching…ever. Changing major to psychology….for like 5 mins after my English prof declared it not right at all I would even be placed in such a class after reading one of my papers. English major…back on! Literacy Moment #6.
And really the list could go on. Awesome out of the box profs, some massive loads of writing pushing and stretching me to be who I am and find myself through my words and being okay with who I am. That girl you say “oh” too. I am her. It is okay. Raising my daughters to love and enjoy reading and writing and watching it all unfold. Praying in there just one of them gets my love of writing. Three smart girls. A great pride I in take every single day. My students…oh my students. The amount of faith and support and love I have for them. They have no idea. It would move mountains I tell ya!
These moments though at the time felt very insignificant all make up this here and now. This blog, this writer, this mother, this teacher and this lifetime. My lifetime dedicated to chasing something. A calling, a passion, a drive for something different, better, outside of the box or just trying to feel comfortable in my own brain and body. Some moments were awful. Some moments were absolute shining spots in my life. But all of them make up this person. Me.