|Ed Fletcher circa 1992|
Early in life, I discovered that some people find spelling and math time tables easy (pause) and then there is me. I struggled with those basic things, and still do, but had little trouble with applying theories and conceiving ideas. Over the years, I battled my way from average student classes to geek squad classes.
But after cruising through the lower-level classes I discovered I had a fight on my hands when I reached Ms. Curtis honor's English class.
Frustrated by my inability to get an "A" on a essay after essay I challenged Ms. Curtis.
INT. CLASSROOM -- DAY
After the bell rings, FLETCHER waits behind, trying to hide his disappointment, as the other students file out. CURTIS collects her papers as large Hemingway print looks over her shoulder.
FLETCHER: Clearly THIS essay is better than the last paper. If that was a "B+," then this paper must an "A."
CURTIS: The paper was better. But my expectations for you have increased since then, so this essay earns a "b" for that assignment.
To which I penned:
"Theory of Perpetual F."
As your knowledge and skills increase
your teacher's expectations will increase at at proportional rate
therefor you maintain a perpetual f
Ms. Curtis loved it. It became one of the few items in her religiously sparse classroom.
As I approach the middle of my journalistic career, I need a new Ms. Curtis. Perpetual F is a reminder to keep increasing my expectations of myself. Teach myself new skills. Test the limits of my capabilities. Expand the scope of what is possible.
I don't have a firm endgame, but as the newspaper industry struggles, its inherent that I both prepare to outlast the ugliness while simultaneously preparing to do something else that fills my cup emotionally.
Update Since I'm sharing about Ms Curtis: I tracked Ms. Curtis down once, just to chat. She said she had nothing left to teach me. She might be wrong. She called after my forum piece I wrote recently. Didn't leave a number just said she was proud.