In this debut memoir, a substitute teacher and job coach recounts his meandering career, artistic efforts, and thoughts on God.
After a mediocre performance as a college student, Palasciano became a substitute teacher. He was sorely unprepared for the experience, especially when compelled to teach subjects with which he had virtually no experience, let alone expertise: math, music, fashion design, and Spanish were among the list of daunting topics that he faced. Later, after moving back to San Diego, he landed a position as a job coach—he mentored and supervised disabled workers. Meanwhile, he was episodically devoted to artistic pursuits, mostly creative writing. But he was afflicted with a self-destructive pride: “I recalled being confounded by the deluded awesomeness of my own thoughts.” Palasciano, though, found that an authentic relationship with God properly knocked him off his “fake pedestal”: “I can testify that there has never been a more broken, defeated and undeserving person who God found and brought out into life than me. Before God pulled me out of that imaginary river, I had never sought His help.” The author’s remembrance is more impressionistic than an exhaustive, linear chronicle of his life, and it jumps freely across a wide spectrum of topics, including recreational drug use, the nature of artistic imagination, and the best ways to control a classroom of students. Palasciano’s account, especially of his time as a substitute teacher, can be hilariously self-effacing—he was once replaced by another substitute in the middle of class for his incompetence. In addition, his recollection is brimming with thoughtful aperçus, especially about teaching and art. But those same insights often have a truncated, unfinished character, as if the author is communicating a conclusion and not the philosophical route that led him to it. For example, he tantalizingly proclaims that “successful teachers got control by love” but never explains precisely what that means. As a result, the memoir reads like a personal journal not intended for public consumption, a draft to be completed later.
An amusing but rambling series of recollections.