Looking for a seat in the lunchroom never gets less intimidating.  I surveyed the group of high schoolers, trying to see if there were any who 1) I knew, and 2) wouldn't be embarrassed if a teacher sat down next to them.  It was the school's coffeehouse / poetry slam, where I was supposedly co-coordinating with the music teacher.  In fact, he and the students had basically planned it, and I was there for moral support (and to be another Adult in Charge in case some kind of disaster took place.)

Then I saw a familiar face: the mother of one of my private students.  She was sitting alone, reading the same novel she had been reading two nights before when she brought her daughter to my house for SAT tutoring.  I approached her.  "How nice to see you here!"  She put her novel away and we chatted for a bit; apparently her daughter is quite an accomplished musician, playing flute and piano in addition to her main instrument, the french horn, which she plays with the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra.

"It's nice that she wanted you to come," I said.  She agreed: "We're still on speaking terms.  Most of the time, anyway."  We both laughed at that.

Then one of my students approached me with a list of poems that would be read during the show.  I was supposed to "approve" them (more on that later, ugh.)  I scanned through and circled a few things, then sent her off.

"Do you have a teaching degree, too?" my conversation partner asked after the brief exchange.  No, I said.  I studied architecture and got a degree in classics, but not in education.  She shook her head.  "You should go back to school or something.  You're obviously really good at teaching.  It fits you well."

I was a little taken aback.  She hadn't even seen my Teacher Voice!  All I had done, really, was talk to a student.

She continued, "I've thought about teaching, but I'm not sure I could do it.  Then again, I got my degree in engineering.  What the hell was I thinking?"  She laughed, and I laughed with her again, not letting on that I had thought the exact same thing (about myself, and about teaching) only moments before, as I typed out a scathing letter of protest to the administrators who refused to help me print the literary magazine.

Somehow, praise from a stranger is more meaningful.  It's not exactly resolution, but it helps a lot.  At least for today.