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Thank You Veronica Mars or ... Jenny From The (Writer's) Block
A Few Month's Earlier ...Help, I Need Somebody's
Why oh why can I not get some original writing flowing? Like LARENZ TATE in Love Jones, I lost my flow because like is like NIA LONG's character; wrecking my flow every time I get a visit from the mystical magical muse.
Is it because I'm married with children? It seems like my best writing was produced when I was young and single ... For instance, my 5 year old just crept up behind me, dancing to the music meant to stimulate writing , while holding Larry Boy in one hand and Bob The Tomato in the other.
Is it because I don't have the right pen? I just ordered a few of the "right" ones online and a few gel pens with my Father's Day gift cards. That's because they come in crazy-snazzy colors and write so smoothly. Don't you agree.
Is it because I don't have the right paper vehicles? I just bought some leather looking journals -- 2 in a pack for $10/ about 200 pages even at the Sam's Club. Got a bunch of my favorite 5 subject spirals that are such a challenge to fill up with cool ideas. Got some obscure one subject spirals at Walmart for 97cents a piece. Usually, I don't do one subject, but these are college rule instead of wide lines, so I like the potential of fitting more of myself in 70-80 pages than usual. So, basically, I have plenty of paper.
Is it because my writing spouse is cluttered? I just stripped it bare. Nothing but open space, because Lord knows that as much as I want to, I can only write my best when sitting a table and upright in my executive swivel chair.
Is it because I don't have an ideal office? My Batcave in the basement is kind of cool, except for the fact that that the heating system cuts on every few minutes or so. And my 2 older sons often lift weights, clinking and clanging for 30 minutes or more. Or the wife person is washing clothes -- swish swish .. swash swash ... And did I mention the six year old? He knows that I have Q-Bert and Toy Story available to play on my laptop and is always nagging me to play when I'm working up to writing mode. The only one that doesn't bother me is the 11 year old who is kind of like me, a lone wolf.
Perhaps its all of the above. Plus the fact that I need a great soundtrack behind me to help stimulate the writing like this 1994 Gospel Rap CD I'm listening to called Sanktifunctafyd from the late great N Soul Records.
Perhaps its also because I have a prayer life that is basically nonexistent; making me feel like Green Lantern with a power ring that is sputtering, in need of a recharge.
Perhaps its the distraction of "paper ladies" that are now digital due to the internet highway. An addiction that can be suppressed, but like alcoholism, can reoccur at any time. Where you go surfing for one explicit image and end up with thousands, until your computer freezes up for hours ...
Maybe it is all of the above. But they say that knowing is half the battle. Victor seems like a glimmer of light just over the horizon. Though even a little light can do damage to the thickest darkness.
A Few Months Later ... The Return
Well, I'm back ... But unlike THE ARSENIO HALL SHOW, I'm praying that my stay extends a little longer than naysayers would allow.
It's not that I didn't want to express myself. But that darn writer's block came upon me and I just couldn't figure out what it was I had to say. As well as time constraints -- some real, others not so real.
How come it is easier to sit on a warm couch to binge watch season 3 of Law & Order Criminal Content, than it is to sit in a cold basement and use my God given talent to honor those 80 plus followers who have chosen not to un-follow me due to months of neglect?
Maybe it has to do with the fact that my office is just that -- a cold basement. With the cooling unit kicking on every few minutes, which prevents me from being inspired and encouraged by the soothing music playing on the stereo. The music especially chosen to serve as "writing music" -- Classical, Neo Soul, one shot albums by actors turned singers ... I mean seriously, does anybody else have burned selections or whole albums by people like JUSTINE BATEMAN, CREE SUMMER, JASMINE GUY, TISHA CAMPBELL, GREGORY HINES, COUNTESS VAUGHN or LISA HARTMAN besides me? Or maybe you do, I don't know. That's besides the point.
I'm sitting in the living room yesterday talking to my mom. And she's basically telling me in a subtle, polite, Mom-like way that my job as a teacher's assistant at a Special Needs school is a dead end job that will never allow me to pay off a $50,000 school loan that used to be $17,000 before the interest monster bit it on the neck and mutated it. And she's trying to coax me into taking classes so that I can be a full fledged teacher like she was for some 30 odd years.
On the surface this sounds nice, but I just don't want to be a teacher. Not if it means loads of paperwork and living up to ridiculous state standards that seem to change each and every year.
Now don't get me wrong. I love teaching in and of itself. I love opening up young minds and watching the lights come on in their eyes when they "get it". I just don't like being a teacher in the sense of taking extreme classes that aren't completely passed until you pay extreme money to take parallel extreme tests to complete the certification. And I hate the idea of my lesson plans being limited to certain types of teaching, the absence of Fun Friday and limited field trips due to alleged lack of funds.
Adventures In Substitute Teaching
No, I get more joy out of being the creative kind of teacher like DARRYL SIVAD's character on the much too short lived sitcom, Homeroom. Or HOWARD HESSMAN's beloved teacher on Head Of The Class. Or how about the 70s styled jockularity induced by GABE KAPLAN on Welcome Back Kotter.
See, even as a substitute teacher, I once had a classroom for about six months with my own 7 or 8 sweathogs. And with absolutely no guidance from anyone, I had to figure out how to build a classroom atmosphere out of a former storeroom where old and abused textbooks went to die. I had to get past my disdain for Math and actually teach them from the basics to what they were supposed to know as 7th and 8th graders.
I was able to use my humor, I was able to share with them my love for non profane music. As well, we were able to have discussions, wonderful discussions about current events that made the day more exciting.
I received pats on the back and cheers from higher ups for straightening out these supposedly unteachable kids and changing their behavior. But when I was wrongfully accused of putting a problem student in a choke hold (I placed my arm across his right shoulder, stretching across his chest to hold him back) who was trying to beat up one of my students, all of that praise went out of the window.
You see, the first rule of administrative preservation is telling you that they understand and that they believe me. Yet in the same breath they are suspending me and suggesting that I should find another job. Even though this was a problematic child who they had been looking to kick out of school, he had a neck rolling/finger snapping mother who was threatening to sue any and every one. Which means that in order to pacify her, your dear sweet, TruSoul had to leave. "Bye bye. I know you have a wife, two kids and a baby on the way and I hope you don't end up homeless, but you gotta go".
Right Here, Right Now
Eleven years later, working strictly in Special Education, I see more of the same: teachers being set up to fail with overcrowded classrooms full of "behavior" students. Teachers given bad evaluations, but no advice on how to make the classroom experience better. Teachers fired two years before retirement. Long time substitute assistants given the boot due to a job that once required no qualifications, now requiring a license.
Yeah, I like teaching, but not being labeled as a teacher in the same manner that my mother was. Because quite frankly, it just isn't the same. The community doesn't even seem to regard you the same.
No. Besides raising four boys to men, I get the most joy out of teaching through my writing. Whether it be about a topic that is disturbing my mind or heart, or informing about a slice of media that has gone under appreciated.
What Does This Have To Do With Veronica Mars?
In the Veronica Mars movie, Veronica tried to change who she was -- an unpopular brain of a girl who just happened to solve mysteries when she wasn't doing homework; because she felt that it was her role in the world to stand up for those who needed an advocate. But the world has a way of making those of us who think out of the box feel as if we're wasting our time and have absolutely no relevance whatsoever.
But like Veronica, here I am. Digging into my secret archives. Armed with my favorite pens and spirals and journals, oh my .... Here I am, attempting to step stronger into the me that few people know or could care less about. Because this is who I am. Who I was meant to be. The guy that everyone goes to for otherwise useless trivia, because they are sure that I'll know the answer -- particularly when it has to do with tv, movie or music facts. Just today someone wanted me to confirm how comedian, REDD FOXX died, because they didn't believe the strange but true story as relayed by a less reliable voice.
If you have knowledge, you really need to share it. That even if it is worth a fourth of a chunk, it is how you carve your place in this world. It is how you make your mark and come to be known as an expert in your field of interest.
I Am a voice in this world and I deserve to be heard.
WHOPPI GOLDBERG from the episode, If I Should Die Before I Wake of NBC's A Different World (April 11, 1991)