Friday, January 16, 2009

Just One More Damn Thing To Make Me Feel Old

As some of you know, I'm prone to midlife crises. Being told I looked like the wonderful, yet older Susan Sarandon last summer put me into a tizzy.

I suppose some people have a crisis, buy the Boxster or botox--whatever the gender may be--and that's it. Finito.

Yet each time I think I'm coming to terms with my age, something like noticing the start of a double chin or mustache sets me off again. And so it happened once again the other day while being interviewed for a job.

When I was younger, more like the Damn-It-Janet Susan Sarandon,

I taught public high school.  Within a few years, I'd upgraded to teaching at Temple University Japan. Much as Susan upgraded to:

Afterwards, like Susan who took a small step downwards when she made:

I taught at the not-quite-as-prestigious, but still accredited institution of higher learning (whose Rockets football team beat the blue and gold off of the U of M Wolverines last fall) The University of Toledo.  

Once I had babies,  I began freelancing. In not much time I went from local publications to national ones such as Ladies' Home Journal and Woman's Day. And my pay jumped to new levels much like Susan's did with the success of this film:

Four years ago I took a gig doing narrative non-fiction on small school reform for KnowledgeWorks Foundation, with generous support from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And like Susan with this movie:

my career reached a new high. Not only was I wined and dined during the gig (thanks Bill) but, along with my colleagues, won two national awards for writing!!!!  Yes, I am entitled to use exclamations marks here.

But according to Doug, Nietzsche says, "That which doesn't kill me, makes me take a nose dive." A few months ago the grant was finito and I started looking for work again.

The other day I had an interview to be a tutor for kids in the projects. (The black supervisor's words, not mine)  Yes, a tutor--not that there's anything wrong with that.

You look really familiar, I told the supervisor.

A lot of people say that, she replied.

But I didn't mean it in that way. She really did look familiar. So we talked about schools she'd attended and discovered she went to a junior high in which I taught, but a few years before I was there.

Still, this plagued me.

I remembered a girl in that junior high who was really enthusiastic about a poetry unit I presented. She was a good writer and we bonded immediately. The more I thought about it, I realized I taught the unit when I was an education student doing field experience, which would put me there at the time she attended.

I searched through my old files and found sample poems from the students. Her poem, signed, was on the first page.

Yep. I was being interviewed by a former student. 

Yep I was offered the job, took the job and am now I'm being supervised by a former student!!!!!  More exclamation entitlement.

Is there anything more...ah, let's see...the word humiliating comes to mind...than working for a former student?

Like the award winning actress Susan Sarandon who signed a deal with Revlon, my career took an age-dive:

I mean, what was next for this Grown-Up-But-Groupie-Like Aging Hippie Wilco-Stalking Couch Surfer prone to midlife crises?

I can only hope it isn't becoming one of these:

Anyway, the following day during orientation I showed the supervisor the poetry, and she lit up like her then 13-year old self.

I remember you!!  (The Black supervisor's exclamation marks, not mine)

You were that teacher!!--the one who did the poetry!!  You were really positive and supportive of my work!! You even gave me a present for being so interested in the poetry!! 

Wow. I don't recall that, I responded.

You know, she said, I began to love writing.  I continued doing it and went on to major in journalism in college.

It was then that I put my current midlife crisis on hold for a moment and beamed just a bit myself.


A special shout out for my buds who gave me stellar recommendations.

More beaming guaranteed at Humor-Blogs.


for a different kind of girl said...

I don't even know what to say except that this is awesome - the thrilled beaming student, the pride, the job, and the way you were able to wrap this all around Susan Sarandon's career?! Stunning! One day, I hope Susan Sarandon's sitting at home Googling herself and comes upon this!

Father Muskrat said...

I think that's cool, not the impetus for a mid-life crisis! I'm fairly certain I haven't "made a difference" in anyone's life through my professional life.

Maybe one day, someone will come up to me and say, "Hey, remember when you brought up my child molestation conviction on cross-examination and got an objection from my attorney? I totally quit touching little boys' parts as a result!" Not likely.

Matt said...

That's a great full circle experience.

Hope the pay is good.

Kay said...

That is amazing! What a cool thing... and hey! what don't you like about BD? I loved that movie :P

Suzie said...

You go you! You rock remember that and you look great in those pants

My Name Is Cat said...

You could not have experienced that moment if you hadn't gotten older. Hold on to that one.

Chris Wood said...

Well done you! There's a little something for you over at my blog, btw ...

Chas said...

Wow, what an honor. I'd much rather be remembered that way than the way I remember my own junior high English teacher: He used to chuck erasers at people and locked me out of class one day for being called to the office to accept an award for being on the honor roll. He was in the middle of a lecture about what horrible ungrateful children we were, and apparently I smiled on my way out the door.

On the other hand, I never worked harder for a good grade than I did in his class.

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

FADKOG - Yes, Susan and I have a lot in common--we both like younger men.

Muskrat - You lawyers seem to command a weird combination of respect and loathing at the same time. It's enough to drive one to post their bare butt on the internet.

Matt - Thanks, but I'm too young for a full circle experience.

Kay - Bull Durham was a fine movie, just not as good as Atlantic City. Which is not as good as China Town. But all three are much better than Sleepless in Seattle.

Suzie - Thanks fellow teacher. You know how hard and thankless the job often is.

Cat - OK. But it was just a moment. Tune in next week for my regularly-scheduled crisis.

Chris - Thanks so much. Everybody go to Chris' and see what awesomeness he has for me.

Chas - Cool. My junior high English teacher quite liked me because I brought a semi-nude photo from Life magazine in for a project.

The Office Scribe said...

But the question is: Have you reached the point in your life where your leading man is Billy Bob Thornton a la "Mr. Woodcock"?

unfortunate names said...

aw. i really dug that. and now you know not to be worried about age again until you CAN'T remember any of your former students.

Jodi said...

Wow. This is why we teach.

You really made a difference in someone else's life.

Doug at Taunt Vortex said...

That's just cool. With the day-to-day grind it's often easy to forget that we touch other lives in a (hopefully) positive fashion, and the ripples can extend outward through the years and through others that you've never met.

Maybe you should change the name of your blog to "Prefers Her Wonderful Life" :)

Dan said...

Isn't it great when you come across those you've had a big influence on? Isn't it even greater that you remember them as well?


P.S. My life must be looking up - the verification word is iamhip!

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

Scribe - Billy Bob and I perform together in dingy bars all over the country.

Unfortunate Names - But I don't want to remember the fact that I had any students.

Jodi - Thanks. But you'll need to keep reminding me of that every other minute of my life.

Doug - Thanks for your positive spin on my aging self.

Dan - iamhip, too!

KiKi said...

This is a REALLY great post...thank you for sharing! Love the end....

The Self-Deprechaun said...

I think you need more me-time sessions. You have done great things and susan sarandon is hot as are you, so you go girl. Just say this to yourself in the mirror: I'm good enough, i'm smart enough, and gosh darnit people like me. I do it everyday in front of at least 5 mirrors. Take some narcissism and call me in the morning.

Needless To Say said...

Congratulations on the job! I'm in a weird parallel life situation, although not as small-world and interesting as yours. And cool to know that you have had a freelance career as well; we have even more in common. :)

Sue said...

How cool is that? I would be beaming too!

BOSSY said...

Sweet story! Still isn't as great as being the young former student now in Supervisor role. Take it from Bossy: an old shit herself.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I actually have a lot of former students who I'd love to be supervised by.

I think this is a cool story. And an unbelievably brilliant post.

Cheers, and don't let 40 kick you in the butt!

A Free Man said...

OK - I have a problem. You're saying Sarandon took a step downwards with Bull Durham? The best baseball movie ever made? Are you serious!?!?!?

sage said...

Interesting to read about how you life parallel's Susan's... btw, Nietszche also said, "The whole is a cow pasture, so you better watch your step." I think that was in his last book, which he wrote from an insane asylum. On, one more thing, and Diesel is badmouthing explanation marks today.

Your teaching in Japan sounds interesting

bernthis said...

found you through I Need a Martini mom. I have lived in L.A. for 11 years and when I got her at the age of 32, I will already considered middle age in this town of botox and I'll mutilate my body in any way I can just to avoid looking over 25, town

RaBT said...

Midlife Schmidlife! Age happens, much life it's 4 letter friend... ;)

The "working for a former student" reminds me of the movie "In Good Company" - awkward, but manageable I'd say, eh? ;)