Saturday, September 10, 2011

The First Editor of my Journal

Today I had a memory.

It was one of those memories that starts out by innocently thinking something random ("It's hot") and within seconds, you've created a path full of different flash-backs and check-points (want to be cooler-- ice cream is cold -- soft serve is good -- soft serve in Warrenton -- I saw an old teacher there once) that leads to a completely different state of time, oftentimes one that your mind hasn't visited for years.

That's when I remembered her: Mrs. Norskog, my 2nd grade teacher.

Mrs. Norskog was one of those few teachers that you remember for life. I not only remember her and what I learned, but the emotions that I felt during that year. I have more memories from 2nd grade than I do all other elementary grades combined. She was such a unique teacher. Her classroom was cluttered with artifacts, reptiles and posters. Her stories mesmorized her class full of hyper 7 and 8 year olds for hours. Oftentimes, she would get so involved in stories about the Civil War or how Abraham Lincoln's life was lived, that we'd skip every other subject for that day and just go straight to recess.

Mrs. Norskog loved show-and-tell. And because of it, my parents made me bring in anything and everything to, well, show-and-tell. I brought in encyclopedias that we had at home that just happened to cover what we were discussing in history class. I brought in the weekly "Mini Page". I brought in a frog that I caught in my pond. I brought in items from Japan that my cousin Jim had sent over. I brought in a paint-by-numbers that I created at home. I brought in a fable book only because we were learning about Aesop in school. She never, ever declined my request to share something with the class. I must have brought in a hundred items that year. She would stop class each time so that I could show off my item. Those times she stopped class to let me speak were the cornerstones of my education.


The biggest impact that Mrs. Norskog had on my life was journaling. Mrs. Norskog had our class keep a journal. She'd set a certain amount of time the first thing in the morning to write in our journals, and then she'd have each student read them outloud to the class, every single day. This has provided me, now an adult, with two valuable treasures: 1) I still keep that journal on my bookshelf. 2) I still feel inspired to journal or to blog.

I have been looking for an opportunity since I started this blog to share pieces of that journal, but I never knew how to introduce it until now.

She'd read the journal entries every night to correct spelling, etc. She almost always left a positive message, which of course, made me feel like a million bucks.

And of course, sometimes I'd reply to her, hoping to strike up this secret two-way conversation.

I cannot even imagine how many times she must have been put to sleep by our awful, pointless stories. Granted, this probably was also known as "the worst day of my life" for a 2nd-grader.

Never, ever holding anything back.

When I thought of Mrs. Norskog the other day, I thought, "What a perfect idea, I can share with her how my 2nd grade journal impacted my life and my love of journaling!"

I thought it would be easy to google and find her address, and write her a letter. I could send it to the school where she teaches now? In fact, I only saw her a few years back, hanging out at her son's ice cream shop in Warrenton.

So I typed her name in the google task bar: "Eugenia Norskog" (An unforgettable name).

I took out a pen and paper to write down the first address that popped up.

The first search that popped up, however, was not expected.

"Eugenia Folk Norskog, of Warrenton, died June 3, 2007."

My heart sank.

How could I have never told her about my journal? About how much she meant to me and my education, even at 8 years old? And how the reason I write, whether publicly or privately to this day, is all owed to her?

When you are 8 years old, and the world around you is so pure and innocent, you retain that mindset when you are grown up and look back on that age. Which is why I suppose I thought that Mrs. Norskog was immortal. Each time that I put a pen to paper to write in my umpteenth journal since second grade, or when I sit down to write a letter, or when I decide to blog, Mrs. Norskog will be just that. I pray that someday I can be half as inspirational to one single soul, as she was to me.

This is the first journal entry after Uncle Mark was tragically killed in a car accident. The funeral was on my birthday that year, and Mrs. Norskog knew how devestated my entire family was, and sent notes and cards home to my parents. I remember being so heart-broken about Uncle Mark, however all I do here is talk about my birthday presents. Looking back, I see that as a child, I was searching for something optimistic to replace my sadness with. It really reflects how I react in bad situations presently. I am absolutely eternally grateful for this journal entry, and the ones that followed. It reminds me of where I was, what I was doing, and even what presents I was opening, during a tragic moment that I have replayed in my head for the past 20 years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Emily,
I can hardly find the words to express myself. I was so very touched by your blog. I am Mrs. Norskog's daughter, Roberta Norskog. I have two brothers and one sister and we are all profoundly moved. I couldn't believe it when I saw her handwriting! Your writing created such a pleasant and realistic picture of her classroom. You communicate such a deep respect for her. I am so honored, and reminded of the magnitude of her gifts to this world. Thank you from the depths of my heart!
Love, Roberta