This album is dedicated to all the people who told me I’d never amount to nothin’ –Notorious
The 2013 guide to Montreal and Quebec that I helped author for Fodor’s Travel comes out in March and is available for pre-sale right now.
Some write fake Oscar speeches; I fantasize about crafting clever book dedications. I plan to dedicate future novel to my enormous family for well…everything, the Husband for his patience and encouragement and the Dog who keeps my feet warm as I write. And to my Grandma, for her endless advice.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to *actually* dedicate or thank anyone in the travel book because that would be unfair to the other writers, editors, and photographers who worked on it. Besides, I am a writing phantom taking the form of Eugene Fodor, a fascinating Hungarian wayfarer.
Should I ever write a novel, I would be tempted to throw it into the faces of those who spurned me early on when I was just a kid. I probably wouldn’t do it, because bitter ain’t the right shade for me, but it’s fun to think about.
One of my favorite writer bloggers recently wrote an eloquent piece about a teacher who helped influence his writing career. I have a few of those too – wonderful people, who pulled me aside and told me that despite my horrific spelling, I had a knack with words.
I’ve also had the opposite. Miss Bruner, my 7th grade art teacher deserves a failing grade. A teacher should encourage, not manage expectations. Let kids’ dreams bounce above their heads like big red balloons. When the time comes, they’ll clutch some and let others fly. Give them that choice.
Miss Bruner hobbled up and down classroom aisles with a cane. She’d pull your drawing out from your hands, exam it from behind little glasses that sat at the end of her nose and snicker. When we had to sketch George Washington (impossible!), I erased entirely through his eye. I am no Manet. Did Miss Bruner encourage me to learn from this mistake and be more careful next time? No. She put my rendition of George Washington over her own face and peeped through the hole as if it were a mask.
Ok, so maybe I screwed up the portrait. Maybe she was joking, maybe the George Washington incident was part of her teacher schtick.
But later that semester, when I expressed an interest in going to Venice to view art, she barked:
“How are YOU going to go to Venice? It costs a lot of MONEY, Am-an-da.”
Money or lack-thereof posed a problem for me and likely every student in our Jr. High. No one I knew had been overseas. Travel, especially the international kind seemed like an unreachable dream, right up there with taking a field trip to KOOLAID’s Wacky Warehouse or standing-in for a kid on Double Dare.
But I believed Miss Bruner. I envisioned myself, at thirty, one gallon of milk away from bankruptcy. Luckily, I had supportive parents who let me practically live in the library.
Miss B’s words lingered until I nervously boarded my first flight to San Diego, solo at 20.
That night, I went to the ocean for the first time. I stood on the sand, the water swirling quietly before me like a vat of black ink. I felt at home – not home in this particular city; home standing at the edge, staring into the abyss.
I just booked a trip to Paris and Venice in honor of Miss Bruner, who taught me one of life’s most valuable lesson: never believe the naysayers.
Who would you/will you/did you dedicate your first book to?