Renee Schuls-Jacobson,Teacher & Twit

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Renee of Teachers & Twits

 

 

 

 

The mother to a middle school-aged son, Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson scribbles ideas for essays on napkins and scraps of paper and then loses them. A long-time teacher with an irrational love for office supplies, she is grateful to her family and students who remind her that, even on a good day, she’s still a total twit. Read her blog Teachers & Twits, follow her on Facebook or stalk her on Twitter @rasjacobson.

When I started my career as an English teacher sixty-five bajillion years ago, I assumed I would have plenty of time to write poetry and short stories. Maybe I’d even pump out a novel or two. I figured life as a teacher meant I’d always be exposed to new books and new authors, that I’d always be reading and writing. It was going to be awesome.

How stupid naive I was.

Because high school English teachers are doomed to read the same titles over and over again. And there are always parents to call, clubs to run, curricula to develop, and committees to chair.

But at the time, I believed I could continue to hone my craft while helping others learn how to write five paragraph essays and assisting them as they developed their own emerging writing styles.

In May 2010, while reading research papers composed by students from my Comp-101 class, it happened. I had just finished reading essay number 28 out of a stack of 52. I was checking citation for accuracy — one of the less rewarding aspects of the job description – when a little piece of my brain went on a road-trip.

New Orleans can be creepy at night...

I remembered how I’d once walked along Bourbon Street, alone, after midnight. How I’d felt ghosts flying around me, but I was not afraid. I remembered thinking ghosts do not know what they are, they are just there and go where people cannot.

I looked around for a piece of paper because my right hand needed to move, to make connections in the universe. Something about the ghosts that swirl around us and the elusive nature of love.

Except there was that tall stack of papers to grade.

And my students needed them back so they could revise.

And then I realized — with the exception of hundreds of comments, scribbled in purple in the margins of my students’ papers — I hadn’t composed anything original in ten years.

I didn’t know anything about blogging, per se.

I just knew I wanted a place where I could mess around with words. I wanted to see if I made a space for her, if maybe, just maybe, my muse might come back.

I didn’t think about the title of my blog for more than two minutes. Teachers & Twits made sense because I am both, everyday – as I believe most people are. We all know a lot about a few things and the rest of the time we try not to fall down or do anything too stupid.

I picked the very first theme I found on WordPress, and I have never changed it. And blogging immediately became a serious addiction. Because I can’t stop. I found a community of writers with whom I easily connected, and I am forever meeting new folks whose words inspire me to be a better writer myself.

One of the best things about blogging is the dialogue between the writer and the reader. Your comments are like a watermelon flavored Ring-Pop sandwiched between two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And by that, I mean they are sweet and delicious and fat-free. You keep me writing, keep encouraging me that I have something to say, even when I start to doubt myself. You keep me hopeful that someday maybe a few people outside my immediate family might buy the book I’m working so hard to finish. I’m grateful to paper # 28 for being so dull that my brain went elsewhere.

And, I am indebted to the New Orleans ghosts who came to remind me that nothing you truly love has to ever disappear.

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  • http://twitter.com/amberwest amberwest

    I love being a watermelon ring pop! :)

    I, too, am glad paper #28 was so dull. 

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Hi Amber! I’ll never forget that paper. It was on the Pros and Cons of the Electoral College. Yawnsville. ;-)

      And you are a very scrumptious ring pop.

  • http://kaseymathews.com/ Prematurejourney

    I really love this post, Renee! It feels like the curtain has been pulled back and we were given a glimpse of pre-blog Renee (what did you do with all that free time?).  So glad you are so actively writing now – Soul Food, eh?  Thanks for the into to Erin! Off to check out more!  XO

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Thank you for your kind words. Free time indeed! I am so happy every time I read someone’s words that really move me. It reminds me that people still love language and that I have so much more to learn.

      Thanks, Erin for having me here today!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575818979 Clay Watkins

    It’s strange how all writers get started, or at least some
    of them. I didn’t think much about my title, either, though I had to go with my
    second choice – Making the Days Count, rather than Make the Days Count – which was
    already taken. Had circumstances been different that first night of summer, I
    might have never started and that would be a shame, because I would have missed
    meeting the folks, I have met and, perhaps, life might have taken a different
    course. Who knows? I do know I am grateful for the ghosts and memories I do
    have that inspire and remind me every day how important it is to make the days
    count! Thank you for writing and sharing a bit of you.

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Good morning, Clay!I You are up bright and early, making the days count – no doubt. ;-) love this series Erin has been running in which she simply asked: Why did you start to blog. I love how we met: two teachers on the Interwebz, flailing around next to each other. I know you have lots to do as you start the second half of your summer break. Enjoy every moment! And thanks for following me here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575818979 Clay Watkins

    It’s strange how all writers get started, or at least some of them. I didn’t think much about my title, either, though I had to go with my second choice – Making the Days Count, rather than Make the Days Count – which was already taken. Had circumstances been different that first night of summer, I might have never started and that would be a shame, because I would have missed meeting the folks, I have met and, perhaps, life might have taken a different course. Who knows? I do know I am grateful for the ghosts and memories I do have that inspire and remind me every day how important it is to make the days count! Thank you for writing and sharing a bit of you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575818979 Clay Watkins

    OOOOOpppps, don’t know why, or how, I double commented, but I did,

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      See? You were like four Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups wrapped around two watermelon ring pops this morning, which means I’d better go out and get some exercise!

  • ermine

    What a great topic to expound on–thanks! So glad your muse decided to return. I enjoy your writing and takes on life–the good, the bad and the ugly–a lot. And I can’t wait to read your book when it’s published, Renee.

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       Hi Erm. My muse has come back, but boy is she bitchy. ;-) Draft 1 is almost done. Almost.

  • http://twitter.com/JulieDavidoski Julie Davidoski

    Renee, I truly can’t imagine the blogosphere without you! I am forever indebted to that Comp 101 dullard (too harsh? Eh, I’m high on Ring Pops and PB cups)! And you know I’m first in line for that book; I cannot wait. You are SUCH a talented writer - you keep me on my toes!

    And Erin, nice to meet’cha! I’m going to BlogHer ’12, too! Squee! (Only on Saturday, though.) I hope to officially meet you there :) …Not to rub it in Renee (COME. COME!).

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       OMG! You guys HAVE to meet up, if only to take a picture and have me see that two of my favorite bloggers got to touch each other in real life. (That sounds naughty.)

      Julie, I am such a dork. I want to come, but — obviously — I haven’t had enough time to obsess about clothes. And I don’t even have cute business cards like yours. (Erin, go look at Julie’s stinkin’ cute business cards. But then go find another picture of her because I’m guessing she is probably not wearing the ‘stache glasses to BlogHer ’12. Or is she?)

      I think it’s too late for me this time. Or is it? Hmmm.

      • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

        renee–it’s not too late. people are always giving away their tickets last minute at discounted prices. can you go? can i tweet out and help u find a ticket??????

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      yes! let’s try to meet! i am following you on twitter now. ps i am @erinmargolin on twitter. thanks for stopping by and let’s nag Renee to get her to BlogHer!

      • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

         Julie is so funny! You two will crack each other up! Why oh why didn’t I know all the cool kids were going to BlogHer ’12. Well, that’s not true. Alex DID tell me she was going a while ago. So basically I dropped the ball. #Crap

  • Deborah the Closet Monster

    One of the best things about blogging is the dialogue between the writer and the reader. 

    A huge “amen” to this! Also the part about folks being teachers and twits in different moments of every day. I love it all, but these two pieces especially resonate with me this morning . . . on a day where my moments of twit-dom are apt to be much more plentiful than the “teacher” ones. :)

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Deb, you know you are one of the writers who has connected me to some of the most important people in my writing life right now. Like El. How you knew that we would get on is… magical. You are a beautiful bridge, linking so many different people together. Do you remember Erin from back around Hanukkah? I’m reintroducing the two of you. Deb, meet Erin. Erin, Deb. Talk amongst yourselves.

  • http://susielindau.com/ Susielindau

    Love this post Renee, especially because of all my ghostly experiences. It’s funny how we all had such different reason for blogging and yet here we are. I count my blessings as each one of the connections I have made through writing is as real as your Bourbon Street encounter! My husband said just this morning, how excited he is to meet my virtual friends in real life some day!
    Such a nice site! The fabric background is such a great frame..

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       Susie: Erin is definitely one to follow. She’s had a bunch of guests lately as she has been recovering from surgery, but her words (and poetry) are amazing. Thank you for following me here on Friday the 13th to read about the ghosts that got me blogging! Spooky! I love how I keep meeting wonderful new writers all the time — and then I’ll find other people I know and love are already there. Even though the blogosphere is huge, it does feel rather intimate sometimes. Especially with #WanaTribe.

  • Gooddayregularpeople

    Amen.

    And what she said.

    I hear you, and serious addiction is an understatement.

    xo

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      How about like crack? Or meth? Because I can’t stop. And I don’t want an intervention. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    THANK YOU, GHOSTS!!!

    (It’s because of ghosts and paper 28 that I got to jump in my seat when I realized you were posting here, Renee. Two of my very favorite writers in one place.)

    And Renee, I shook my head in commiseration with those naive plans you had for teaching English AND becoming the next great American novelist, poet, writer…

    Yeah.

    Instead I graded eleventy-million essays comparing and contrasting Laertes and Hamlet.
    Which is awesome.

    But.

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       Hi Julie: Thank you for introducing me to Erin. She is fabulous! And yeah, how stupid were we when we thought we could be teachers AND novelists. #Duh! It was all about the five-paragraph essay structure and thesis statement.

      Which is awesome.

      Until it’s not.

  • http://twitter.com/DarleneSteelman Darlene Steelman

    just your short bio here alone made me crack up.  I am always losing the little notes I scribble on scraps of paper, post-it notes, napkins and the like.  Oh yeah, and when I walk in an office supply store…. I go into sensory overload!
    Renee, I so commend you on being an English teacher.  All those essays, and all that ink you have to put on each one… seriously.  Kudos to you! 
    Good luck on finishing your book!  I have faith in you….

    Darlene

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Hi Darlene! *waves* I was just talking to my writing partner about you JUST now. Weird. Well, it is Friday the 13th.

      I can’t tell you how many pens I’ve killed over the years. So much purple and green ink spilled trying to get students to really explore the merits of gun control. Or explain why the Electroral College needs to be reformed. Scintillating stuff.

      Especially when you read it over and over and over again. Oy. ;-)

  • http://www.vidyasury.com/ Vidya Sury

    Amen to Paper #28 ! :D And ghosts! Lovely read, Renee!

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       Hi Vidya! I enjoyed your piece on Wednesday. It made me think that our cultures are not so different. Jewish people have so many superstitions. Nice to meet you.

      And just so you know, I did have to eventually go back to papers #29-52.

      Yeah, that kind of sucked, but at least I had a blog.

      So.

  • David N Walker

    I, too, am glad your brain went south on paper number 28. Our world wouldn’t be the same without Teachers & Twits. However, you didn’t answer the question about posting naked pictures of yourself . . .

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Thank you, David. I adore you, too. I assure you it is better to leave things to the imagination. Although I do plan to post a video of a dance class that I took. I believe I am wearing a tank top.

      I’ll do that when Tech gets home and shows me how to do that. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1560080208 Brian Coleman

    I want to read the story about the ghosts.

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Hi Brian! This is not a lie. I was just reading my 9th grade yearbook and writing a post. And quoting you. I figured I’d better change your name. But maybe I don’t have to. Maybe I have to change the name of the person you were warning me about.

      Have you ever been to NOLA? That place is crawling with ghosts. And roaches.

      And still it holds my heart.

  • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

    Erin, what are “reactions” and why don’t I have any? I have been doing jazz hands all day. Your blog is very demanding. What does a girl have to do to get a “reaction”? ;-)

  • http://theluckymom.com/ Lisha

    NOLA is such a great muse. :-) I’ll miss you tomorrow when I’m Running with the Bulls. You should definitely be here.

    • Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson

      Hey girl. I hope to take pictures! Never a dull moment in Nola, that’s for sure. And you keep things pretty lively, too! Thanks for following me here. You’ll like Erin! Can you believe? Another N’awlins blogger?

  • http://twitter.com/GalitBreen Galit Breen

    Absolutely love reading about your start here, girl – and seeing the two of you together!

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       Hi Galit! *waves* Yes. Alas, my muse was beating me with a stick. She had nowhere to go, so I had to let her out. I’m so glad I did.

  • http://twitter.com/tamaraoutloud Tamára Lunardo

    Love, love, love. So glad you were haunted into something so soul-good.

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

      Thanks. Did I miss you in FL last week? It was crazy! Maybe next time, eh?

  • Amy Stevens

    I’m so grateful for ghosts and boring papers. Every time I read your words your voice just grabs me. You have a gift of connecting with your readers that says tons of wonderful things about you as a person. This post also makes me miss blogging more regularly! I think I need to go back in search of my muse …

    • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

       Amy, I swear, i have been wondering if something is wrong with my subscription. BUt I’m guessing you have been living life instead of sitting on your butt writing about it. ;-) And you KNOW I’ve been begging you for a #LessonLearned, so if the muse strikes you… I’m here for you, baby.

  • Pingback: Ghosts Made Me Start This Blog « Teachers & Twits

  • http://twitter.com/NinaBadzin Nina Badzin

    Renee, I never got the reaction vs comment thing either! What is the difference. Loved this post about your blogging origins! 

  • Judy Berman – earthrider

    We have some things in common. I also teach Language Arts (English). My students are 7th graders. When my Dad’s health was failing, I decided to begin writing about stories he told me. Dad died last July. My first blog in September was about my Dad.

    Renee, I can relate to zoning out  … on occasion … when grading essays. Keep on writing the stories you’ve been bursting to tell. That will keep you energized and might motivate some of your students as well. I enjoyed your story here and on your blog.

  • Pingback: I’m All Up in Renee Schuls-Jacobson’s Grill Today. | Erin Margolin