My Happy Place

If you’re a fan of silly movies, as I am, then I’m sure you’ve seen Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore. When Happy is about to go ape-shit and miss a putt, he soothes himself with a mantra his coach taught him: “Go to your happy place.”

Happy’s place consisted of his grandma, pitchers of beer, and  Modern Family‘s Claire in a little white get-up. While I certainly don’t have the same ideas in mind (okay, maybe my grandma), I, too, have a happy place. I began building it in 2003…

I was barely 23, a December college grad going on way too many interviews.

Brief case with portfolio–check!
Textbook answers to interview questions memorized–check!
3-piece suit that screamed POWERFUL but also a team player–check!

I made it to the last round of a few interviews, but the superintendent’s sister’s husband’s cousin’s mother’s neighbor’s recent college grad also needed a job and, well, there you have it.

I signed on to teach summer classes at a local high school. The classroom was entirely too small for me and 10-15 teenagers in hot July. The chalkboard on wheels was a piece of crap and by the time I scrawled the notes on it, I was sweating my face off. We only had 5 weeks to cover an entire year’s worth of material–way to set us up for failure! Despite the students’ initial resistance, we began working together like a well oiled machine. They were reading and responding, and having thoughtful conversations. Wasn’t I just in new teacher heaven?! A morning before class, one of them asked if I had interviewed to teach at their high school. I hadn’t realized there was an opening, but jumped on it as quickly as I could. Full disclosure: I gave them the afternoon to write their essays while I updated my resumé. I did, after all, have to add summer school cred to my “Experience” section.

I interviewed like I didn’t give an eff. I didn’t try to fancy it up with my 3-piece suit, nor did I rock the briefcase. Who was I kidding? I looked like a student–a briefcase?! And if I had learned anything from my summer school students it was to be real. And I was. And I made that interview my bitch.

Fast forward a few days: back in my sweat box of a summer school classroom and I am just DYING to tell my students I’ll be going back to school with them in the fall. So I did what any normal sophomore English teacher would do: I forced them to play Hangman with me. They looked at me like I just said we were going to do a few lines in the bathroom, but eventually succumbed to my threats enthusiasm.

This wasn't on the test.

This wasn’t on the test.

The Vikings were their mascot and when they realized what my game revealed, they started clapping. A few of them stood up and continued clapping. I believe this is what Beyoncé and other talented songstresses know as a standing ovation. I myself never had one. Until that day. Of course, I teared up, but too proud to admit it, I played it off as sweat. And then we were back to business because I don’t play games in my classroom. I mean, I do, but…you get it.

That day still goes down as one of my best EVER. And it was significantly less awkward than when I announced I was pregnant and my students applauded me for having unprotected sex.

I have so much love and so many memories for those “kids” (we were, like, the same age!), that I just can’t do them all justice in one post. So this, faithful readers, is my first “To Be Continued” piece.

In the meantime, feel free to share your happy place! 

8 thoughts on “My Happy Place

  1. What in the f*#@ is my icon of NOW!? I haven’t changed it and everyday it’s something NEW! By the way, you can thank your brother for pointing out that Virginia Vennet is in your program “Modern Family.” HAPPY LOOOOK OUUUUUUTTTT-AAAAAAAA

    fun fact: Adam Sandler often uses names for females in his movies that have the same letter initials, oftentimes “v,” ie: Veronica Vaughn, Vicky Vallencourt, the aforementioned Virginia Vennet…good times.

  2. I don’t think I can beat your HAPPY! Landing a coveted teaching position and getting a standing ovation would definitely go down in my history book. But, if I had to limit it to just one thing, it would be when my nurse brought me a spritzer after giving birth to my first child. Seven up and cranberry juice never tasted soooooo good!

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