Ms. Ruth, my 7th grade English teacher, is the first person who told me I had a “gift” when it came to writing. For some reason, when she said it, I actually believed her. She seemed to know about life, she fascinated me. She presented more male than female, wore khakis and a polo most days, kept her hair in a crew cut AND she was a 7th grade teacher. Clearly, no fucks given. Boss style. I don’t even know what I was writing at the time, but it was probably crap. My life was a mess. My mom was an addict, I was “in love” for the first time, I was still reeling from my dad’s death. For whatever reason, she saw beyond the emo drama and found the potential. She told me I had a gift for writing and all I had to do was channel it. I think about her often when I write. In many ways, she set this whole thing in motion and I would like to be able to thank her for that.