Tonight I opened my i.photo
and looked back for a minute.
i smiled a little bit. in fact, i did a lot.
it's important to take pictures.
it's amazing how far i've come.
i've made some mistakes.
i've made up for almost all the important ones.
i've been irresponsible.
i'm teetering with responsibility.
i always amaze myself when i'm facing stress.
and what it really forces me to do.
i just realized that i'm not a muthafucka that buckles.
i've finally come to terms with something.
when we REGRET things, we secretly, subconsciously hurt ourselves
for the fucked up decision we made, knowing damn well it was the wrong one.
i've REGRETTED one thing in my life and I finally admitted it to myself.
it happened 8 years ago...
my close friends know what it is. :-)
can you guess?
but something in me...my passion never died.
Because I was told to never let it die.
that's who i am. that's what i do.
i was thinking about a few teachers that have made a difference in my life, the teachers that saw beyond me acting out and recognized me for the brilliant great mind that was budding right before them.
my first lesson was from my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Yvonne Qualls. She's such a WOMAN. I mean she was classy, elegant, sophisticated. You have to meet her…
She was REAL. She was COOL. She allowed you to be who you were, she was an enforcer, but she wasn't brutal. In my 6th grade brain, she was the real life version of Claire Huxtable. She reminded me a lot of my aunt Kay. We had sooo much fun in her class. I even learned how to write checks in her class… lol such memories in bright hall, room 21.
I remember once, she gave us this class project of creating a classroom Newspaper - which was right up my alley. She elected Maya Miller to be the editor. I knew that I had the talent, I knew I could do it. But Maya picked all girls! I was pissed. So I went to Mrs. Qualls and I said, "Mrs. Qualls. Maya didn't pick any guys. That's not right - I want to be apart of it." So she looked at me. She didn't say anything. About two minutes later, she noticed that there weren't any guys. So she told Maya to pick some guys. She still didn't pick me. Which infuriated me even more. So i got mad and I didn't care if the whole class new, so I'm blurt out, "I'm starting my own paper!" and the class got quiet... Mrs. Qualls went for it. There were two papers. lol. guess whose newspaper ended up being better? Right! lol.. I don't mean to ring my own bell, but people enjoyed my work back then! at the end of the year Mrs. Qualls wrote something to me "I know that one day you shall run a large firm. I know that your talent is also drama." (lol, i know right...) here's the important part "WATCH YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE. MAKE FRIENDS AND KEEP THEM. SMILE AND FIND THE POSITIVE IN ALL THAT YOU DO"
right after my grandmother died in 1996, I was in english class. horace mann middle school. and i had one of the best english teacher's in the world, Ms. Laura Press.
the other was at hamilton high, Mr. Barry Smolin. he's the reason why my vocabulary is as expansive as it is. you guys laugh when i place unusual four or five syllable words in the middle of a common word sentence. that came from Mr. Smolin’s every friday vocabulary test. forced that ass to read a dictionary, the biggest lesson in life. learn how to verbally abuse a muthafucka with dictionary words, he made me think! and now i make others think! i'm a fantastic wordsmith. sorry i curse. it's apart of the act. But it was more to it than that. Having a great vocabulary, being able to speak and use words is a good crisp look. But no, he truly taught me how to appreciate and use the English tongue.
anyway. I was in English class at horace mann. And I what I liked about Ms. Press, is that she was big on creativity. We did a lot of writing. Creative writing, writing our own stories, our thoughts – she was another teacher that was big on not restricting us as students. I appreciate her for never stifling our creativity and respecting us as students. She taught us about different literary styles – I mean she exposed us to so many other cultures. She was the first teacher that exposed me to Sandra Cisneros. One particular day, maybe a week or two after my grandmother died, we had a writing assignment. Just to write a story, about anything. And I just wrote what had happened to my family a few weeks prior, I really didn’t have an outlet, let alone deal with the anarchy of what happened to me as a 13 year old kid. I had a lot on my brain. I remember I finished before everyone. I’ve always been that way…weird. So I handed it in – and she read it. I’ll never forget her reaction. “This was the best thing I’ve ever read by a student.” And I just looked at her…I thought she was bullshitting me. Then she flashed this genuine smile, with her cherry red lipstick! I’ll never forget that. She had on that red lipstick and she had a red sweater that matched perfectly. Then I smiled, when I knew she was serious. She said I had “talent” which made me smile even more. No one had ever told me that before. Then she said I had a great style of writing and I should never stop writing. Then she asked if she could show it to another teacher, Mrs. Blouin, a friend of hers that later became a teacher of mine in high school.
I remember – that’s where it all started. She was really the first person to notice and pay attention to my writing abilities. A month later, I remember when Miss. Press told my mother at parent conference, “Tarrance is an excellent writer. He has a special style of writing that would make him famous one day.” She didn’t say that the first time…and hearing it for the second time, it really did something to me. Something that ignited this fire inside of me that never seemed to go out.
my mother was blank and she remained blank, she never acknowledged the comment with nothing more than an “oh really.” She didn’t get excited like I did. But before the limited time was up, Miss. Press looked me in the eye three times and said, “never stop writing.” The firmest was the last one. It was right before me and my mom walked out of the door. And we never talked about it again. But I knew how she felt.
When I opened I-photo, I saw pictures from 2005. When I released my first book in the United States. I saw the picture of my uncle and me at my first book signing. For the first time it really sunk in, like an hour ago, that I wrote a book, three of them for that matter. Books that were written out of anger, frustration, distress, insecurity and confusion…it’s funny how we deal with our problems…
I saw pictures of friends or people that I thought were my friends. But for every crazy friend, there were always a few good friends that I picked up along the way. Even though there was always something crazy going on…
Today was the best day that I’ve had in a while. I can say that today was the first time I spent my day with friends. It felt good to be celebrated and not tolerated. I’m at the point in my life where I can no longer allow negativity to keep chipping away at my relationships and my creativity.
It’s amazing how people can see something in you that you don’t realize yet. I’ve been blessed to have some fantastically amazingly phenomenal teachers that took the time to plant the seeds that have nurtured the adult that I’ve become.
I want to say thank you to my teachers Mrs. Qualls, Ms. Press and Mr. Smolin for making an impact in my life and waking up everyday coming to school and inspiring not only me, but also my classmates to be better people.
I finally know what it means to “WATCH YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE. MAKE FRIENDS AND KEEP THEM. SMILE AND FIND THE POSITIVE IN ALL THAT YOU DO.”
As I look at this 267-page manuscript of my 3rd novel, “Pop Life”, I finally know what she meant by saying, “never stop writing” I thank Mr. Smolin for giving us that spelling test every Friday, I put those words to good use!
Always pay attention to what others tell you – good or bad, you never know right then what people are saying to you, but you eventually get it.
me & my uncle circa 2005 @ my very first book signing, Matais Books, Long Beach, Ca