School Dazed and Confused

04 Oct

Children have returned to classrooms all around the country.  I am a member of one of the oldest professions.  I have been a teacher for some thirty odd years. People don’t realize how physically demanding the job is.  The first few weeks are always the worst.  I was surprised when a young twenty-something told us she went to bed as soon as she got home and slept through the night.  I thought this bone weary exhaustion was something only the grizzled veteran teachers dealt with.

I drag home.  Reading is out of the question.  Even looking at our Gem State Writers blog takes too much energy.  I try to catch up during the weekends.  Talking in some cases, is out of the question because it requires stringing words together, which make sense.  I plop in front of the television.  I can process the images swirling on the screen.  The lights are mesmerizing and I’m not required a response of any kind.

It’s October.  I am slowly building my stamina, but the least little thing can send me spinning.  Under normal circumstances, I come home, retreat to my bedroom for some alone time, and then I’m ready to check my home e-mail, correct papers, and tackle whatever items I must get done.

My mother is here for a visit.  When I arrive home we need some girl time.  We eat dinner and watch television together, during which she chats, and I listen. We no longer have conversations.  My mother wants to talk.  She’s been alone and needs to share her thoughts.  This works for me since I’m too tired for a lengthy dialogue.  Besides, you learn a lot when you listen.  This is my chance to learn more about my mother.

I just discovered that she didn’t have her own bedroom until she was fourteen.  Up until that time, she’d slept in a roll-away bed in the kitchen, or on the sofa.  So having her own room was an important milestone in her life.  Give that experience to one of your characters.  What scenes can you create?

I have learned that sometimes her stories make me think and spark the creative process.

One evening Mom talked about an abusive man who left his wife and family several years ago, and hasn’t been heard from since.  Despite exhaustion, the writer within was waiting and a story begin to unfurl.  I wondered what if his wife killed him.  Or maybe it was one of the children?  Or what about the wife’s mother?  Yeah, I went to the dark side.  People can disappear.  His family didn’t care where he’d gone.  His absence wasn’t missed.  He didn’t have any close friends.  Think about how easy it would be to make him simply go away.

Sometimes her stories are jumbled and I can’t make sense of them.

Despite my dazed state, I can still create.  For the rest of the week, listen to conversations.  See what stories pop into your head.


Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Idaho


18 responses to “School Dazed and Confused

  1. Janis McCurry

    October 4, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    Just reading headlines in print or Internet media provides a wealth of ideas.

    FREX: “Surprise Cities for Romance” is a headline I just found this morning. What if…a lonely rural miss decides to visit each of these cities looking for her one-and-only? Fun. Thanks for reminding us that stories are everywhere.

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      We get so busy, it is sometimes easy to forget the creative process.

  2. Judith Keim

    October 4, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Lynn, Bless your heart! Good teachers are never rewarded enough. The kind of energy-sapping you’re talking about proves how good you must be! As for stories, I make up all kinds of stories about unsuspecting people in restaurants, airports, just walking along the street. I can’t help it. Sometimes I’m very, very glad they don’t know I’m doing it! LOL

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      Judy, I like to think of it as enriching their life stories. We can all use a little jazzing up!

  3. Marsha R. West

    October 4, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    God bless, Lynn. You folks still in the education trenches surely will get your reward in the next life. Oh, I know there are those rare occasions when a kid or parent recognizes the value of what you give and say, “Thanks.” Or you see that light go on where there was dullness in a child. That’s why you do what you do. Go home exhausted every night. And then to write and be creative! Wow! You have my admiration. Enjoy your mom and store away those stories for later.

    Judith, do you feel a little like a stalker when you do that? I recently spent quite a bit of time in airports. Delays allowed me to follow (with my gaze only) the same people over a period of time. Boy were the stories there.

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:20 PM

      Thanks Marsha. I ran into one of my old students on Friday at Starbucks. We hugged and spent a good five minutes laughing and talking. He told me he credits me with turning his academic life around. We talked about our mutual love for one another and with one more hug we parted. I love that young man.

  4. Stephanie Berget

    October 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I can’t imagine how exhausting your job must be, but you’re so good at it. My mother pops up with a new story once in a while that amazes me. Thanks for reminding me to call her. 😉

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      Enjoy those conversations with your mom. You never know what gems she’ll share.

  5. Clarissa Southwick

    October 4, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    So glad to hear that you’ve still got that spark. I hope the school year will get easier as time goes on.

  6. maryvine

    October 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    I took the easy way out. I retired full time in Oregon and then came to Idaho to work part time. Even with cutting the time spent at school in half, I don’t think I am getting in more writing done, but I’ve done more marketing wise, I guess. Still, it took me until the third week of school to get used to getting up early again. Hopefully, this tired time will let you focus on the moment with your mom. I would have loved to have you teach my sons in school. It’s nice to have two things you are good at: writing and teaching.

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:23 PM

      Thanks Mary! It’s getting better. I am now able to string words together and create a sentence. That took work!

  7. Peggy Staggs

    October 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    I know you’ve got a lot going on right now, so hang in there. There’s nothing more important in a child’s life than a good teacher and I know you’re one of the best.

  8. Liz Fredericks

    October 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I’m with Peggy, hang in there! Seems like it takes until Oct for students to get into a rhythm . . . until then, it’s so demanding for teachers.

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      I think we are getting into that rhythm now.

  9. Corina Mallory

    October 8, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    This weekend I had a slumber party with my 88-year-old grandparents and two of my aunts. So many stories to listen to, so much wine to get them talking, so many great ideas. I’m sorry you’re so exhausted Lynn, but sometimes listening is the greatest gift we can give to both the people we love and to our creative selves.

    • Lynn Mapp

      October 9, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      Corina, listening is soooo important. It’s surprising what you learn when you listen.


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