No More Neverland, Time to Return to Normalcy.

I've felt like Peter Pan the last year and half. The rules of society did not apply to me. If I didn't want to work on a given day, I could ignore the phone calls, and stay home in my comfy clothes and live in Neverland and tell these whimsical tales online. I have to admit, I liked it.

Like any good fairy tale, though, it had to end.  The real world came calling, and I have to heed her call. So it's time to leave the land of fairies and daydreams, and fighting shadows of myself, for the daily grind of being a classroom teacher once again. And it's a little bittersweet.

Don't get me wrong. I want to work. I've never been unemployed in my life for longer than a few weeks. And even though I technically wasn't unemployed, as being a substitute teacher is a real job, it just felt like more of an adventure. Every day a new job. Every morning a potentially rude awakening. Everyday new kids, new classrooms, new subjects to pretend to be an expert in.

Being a substitute is a lot like being a leader of the Lost Boys. You can have fun with the kids, and tell funny stories, and make the lesson plan as entertaining as you can, because if you don't those same Lost Boys might turn their swords on you. Remember every substitute you had growing up? Did you respect him or her? Most likely not. So much of substitute teaching is improvising on the run, which can tap-out one's creativity.

How I've always hoped my classes would look (Better Off Dead). 

You can take the Sriracha quiz, buy merchandise, and
enjoy an enteresting and hilarious cartoon
website by visiting 
Being a sub isn't easy, but I thought it was.  Perhaps that's because I pride myself on being able to make even the driest, most unexciting lesson plan (like diagraming Finnish sentences, Canadian Parliamentary history, or memorizing the Latin names of Indian Ocean microbes) interesting by adding my personality into the mix.  I like to think of myself as Sriracha sauce in the classroom.

But too much Sriracha sauce will burn your mouth out or give you an ulcer. So having a classroom with the same kids for 18 weeks forces me to go back to a different style of teaching.  I'm fine with that. Large doses of humor, sarcasm, going off on bizarre tangents, pop culture mentions, and pseudo-psychaitry, will have to be stored away for that perfect "teachable moment." They will not be on the everyday menu.

It's fine, I know how to be serious when necessary, so the lessons that the class needs to learn, will be taught the right (effective) way.  I don't want to burn my kids out on fantastical lessons everyday. It's fun to be Pan sometimes, but the real world looks a whole lot more like Wendy's father, George Darling, the crotchety old man.

George tries to make the kids in the nursery grow up faster, by squashing their fairy tale-ish dreams, and make them more practical. It's okay for kids to dream, but it isn't reality, right? Much of George's misgivings about dreaming are derived from the fact that (in the Disney version) he is worried about losing his job...Yes, even in 1940s England, there was a shortage of jobs. Only practical, stern men, whom "children fear, and adults respect" will be successful in the real world. Hard work beats out idealism every time, right?

As an educator, it's a weird position to be in. The dreamer kids are fun to have in class, they often say the right things, and discover new ideas in books and history, and yet when it's time to formulate their thoughts on paper or assignment, they show up missing. They've used up all their pixie dust on ideas, and never got around to putting those ideas into action.

The practical kids never talk. They don't offer anything to the classroom discussions and rarely seem interested in anything happening. But when it comes time to produce, they turn in amazing work. Their essays are organized and well thought out, their projects are well crafted, their time-well spent.  In contrast, the dreamer kid is throwing it all together on the last day.

For me, the goal has always been to merge the dreamer and the rational into one coherent being.  To force my brain to add more synapses between my right and left hemispheres.  To be exciting and creative and thought provoking and funny while at the same time organized and on-time and logical and linear.
We all need a little George Darling
and a little Peter Pan in our lives. 
I fear that this is sadly lacking in youth. The ability to merge these conflicting ideas. Either I'm a math brain, or I'm an art brain, but I'm not both.  To quote Mr. Darling, "poppycock." It just takes a little hope, trust, pixie-dust, and hard work. When push comes to shove, even Peter Pan, one of the most lackadaisical characters in literary history, was able to formulate a plan to defeat Captain Hook.


Going back to work is a good thing.  But it will slow my blogging, writing, and social mediatizing dramatically.  I've enjoyed the last six months of building a loyal audience. I appreciate you immensely. But I haven't earned any money doing this, either. So, like Mr. Darling, its time to put my dreams of writing slightly off to the side, while I take care of my family.

Do not take this as an admission of giving up. I will forge through this tough market and find an agent/publisher and get my writing out there. Nobody ever forgets about Neverland, nobody ever forgets their dreams. And come hell, high water, or Hook, I will rescue Wendy. (Wendy in this metaphor would be my dream of being an author, although I wouldn't mind rescuing a Wendy's hamburger right now).


  1. The title made me sad and I clicked immediately to read, but in the end I'm hopeful for you, as much as I'm hopeful for me and my own dream of being a successful (and published) author. Nice post, and one I relate to on several levels. I'm one of those crazies who actually resigned from her teaching job to pursue writing full-time in an effort to "put up or shut up" and prove to myself that writing either should be or shouldn't be my actual real life grown up (sort of) career...this flies in the face of the fact that every author I meet says one should keep her day job :) Lovely.

    Your kids will be lucky to have you. Good luck balancing things back out once schedules change and don't forget your readers here in these interwebs.

    1. I've averaged a blog about once every three days for 7 months, and I don't want to slow down too much. Once a week for me, seems too little, so I will try and find a balance (once every five days?).

      I'm glad you were able to resign. It's the dream, right? To make money by putting our thoughts on paper (or screen)? I was hoping that my short jaunt away from everyday teaching would give me enough time to establish myself in the writing sphere, but now I know it takes a few years of pounding the pavement and getting my platform up to size before a publisher is willing to jump onto my bandwagon. You have a nice two+ years of material on your site (all of high quality)...good for you; I'm hoping there are still agents/ publishers who look at this stuff and have the cojones to take a risk on a first time author. Thanks for reading. (Click Linz's name to see her site, great stuff there, people).

  2. This is beautifully written; I love the Peter Pan tie in, especially since I so relate to him...
    While I'm sorry you won't be around as much (Wah!), I understand the need to earn the big $. Heck, I do it everyday. It's a necessary evil.
    Also, I agree with you, being creative and having the ability to sustain and make that creativity functional is something many lack these days. It is so vital to society for creativity and new ideas to flourish, but the only way that happens is with a little elbow grease. I have to work at blending the two in my life - it takes supreme effort, as I am more on the dreamy-side - but I manage.
    With you as a teacher, I have hope for our youth. :)

    1. Natalie I agree. I always struggled finding the way to merge (or balance) the worker Chris with the dreamer Chris, and because of that, I was barely an honor roll student. I should have had a 4.0 GPA, but sadly, that didn't happen until my last year of graduate school. Writing as well as teaching are two areas where I think all my talents and skills are on display, but it took until my 30s to accomplish that.

      And yes, elbow grease. I've learned how to put my creativity to work (something it has never enjoyed in the past). Who says artists are lazy? Not this generations artists.

  3. I hope your re-entry to the "real world" goes well. I am sure your students will learn much from you. I really enjoyed this post. You write about such a variety of topics. It is clear your imagination and interests range far. Keep up your writing. You have good things to say. May sure you keep saying them.

    By the way, I was a sub for three and a half years just out of college. I subbed almost every day...AND worked full time at McDonald's...AND worked an overnight shift once a week at a Christian radio station...all to make ends meet. An exhausting period of my life, needless to say. I don't think I could that now.

    1. Thanks Julie. As much as it hurts my website SEO, I will continue to write about a variety of topics (I was voted most likely to host a talk show in high school). I am interested in almost anything.

      I don't know how anyone can work more than one job. I worked 55+ hr weeks for a few months at age 19, and realized I'd rather be impoverished. More power to the people who can, but I prefer 35 hrs. (which I think is the perfect work week). Maybe that's why I'm not rich yet. (Not that this was ever the goal).

    2. Wishing you the best. I admire anyone who can stand in a classroom.

      I can't watch that guy in the video without remembering the apparition on the train in GHOST. LOL!

  4. Chris,

    Best of lucking with Wendy. I know I'll be in line to get your book as soon as it's out! We just need someone to see the genius. Until then try the spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's. Pretty solid.

  5. Being a sub isn't easy. Been there, done that.

    Good luck in your own classroom.

    Still, you were lucky to be able to spend a year a half pursuing your dream. Don't give up.

    1. Thanks.

      In subbing, there are bad days, but by and large (as long as the teacher leaves a decent lesson plan--i.e. NOT STUDY TIME OR SSR, I find it easy than being an everyday teacher. However, those days where there is no where near enough material, or plans are really confusing, those are not fun days. I can entertain a class for at least ten to twenty minutes, but an hour is difficult time to fill with 30+ kids.

  6. Intellectually, I know where you are coming from with this post. Yet, I was that kid that was decently good at math AND art. I always felt lacking though. I was surrounded by peers who seemed like geniuses because they were far superior at one or the other. I was left feeling mediocre, better than the average, but still mediocre. Suppose it's a case of the grass is greener?

    You are an amazing contender for your students. You challenge them to see beyond the status quo. You do the same thing as an author. Challenging us to re-examine or push through common conceptions. Even your crazy neighbor stories issue a challenge to look more closely at others and to try to help rather than tolerate or criticize.

    You will be published, I have no doubts.

    1. Christi, I understand that feeling. But being a jack-of-all-trades isn't a bad thing. I tend to think they are the most well rounded people out there...they have social skills, understand the majority of difficult concepts, easily adapt to new situations... whereas, the genius kids usually don't have people skills, have difficulty explaining their ideas in word/writing that an audience can understand, are only good in certain situations, etc.

      Having said that, there are a few teachers at SHS who still remember you, and talk about you with glowing reviews (after how many years?). I think your version of who you were, and other's version of who you are, are vastly different. I think you come out on top in our perspective more often than you do in your own.

      Thanks for the always positive reviews, I hope you're right.

  7. I loved this post! Such a great comparison with Peter Pan. I'm really excited for you to be back in your own classroom today. While I know you loved subbing, there's really nothing quite like teaching your own thought-out lessons. I just know you'll be one of the favorites of the kiddos at your school! That said, I completely relate to the uneasy feeling of letting go of the blog/writing to teach. While I long for my own classroom, I always wonder how much of a hit it will take on my blog. I'm sure you'll be able to find your balance, and us readers will be here no matter how many posts you're able to put out. Have fun on this new adventure!

  8. Thanks Erica. I know your time is coming soon, as many districts are finally getting an uptick in funding. I know Cali is in bad shape, but they still have to fund the schools.
    As I had literally just this weekend to prepare for a semester of teaching, I know that I'm going to be stretched thin, but I still hope to get enough blogs out to not lose my audience. It might give me some interesting material as well (as long as I watch myself professionally).

    1. Teaching will for sure give you some material. And yes, that brings me to another concern once I get back in the classroom: How to keep a blog while being a teacher and not getting fired. haha I know you and I have common sense, but you never know what will offend some people. I'll definitely be taking some tips from you. Good luck with the rest of this semester!