Just in Case You Missed Last Night’s Launch Party…

…of Permanent Marker: A Memoir, by yours truly, I thought I’d post the excerpts I read aloud, which was so much fun!!! Especially with my dad present!

Book Launch

Look at this gorgeous cake that Chrissie–one of my oldest and dearest friends–had made for me for the occasion. So amazing! (And those gorgeous flowers? From Jerrica, Natalie, and Connor–my babies-who-are-no-longer-babies!)

Eight years after I started teaching English at Loudonville High School, also my alma mater, my Building One classroom moved from Room 114 down the hall, around the corner, and into Room 110.

It was an administrative, geographical alignment of subject areas, evidently, and one that excited me to no end.

Once upon a time, Room 110 had been the classroom of my favorite math teacher, Mr. Matthews, who had taught me all four years of high school—long enough for me to develop a huge teenage crush. And he knew it, too. I blushed when he called on me, I blushed when he walked into the cafeteria and my friends yelled, “Hey, Aimee,” and he blushed all the time, victim of a ruddy complexion that I found so—sigh—attractive.

A few years after I’d inhabited the room as an English teacher, Mr. Matthews stopped in my doorway on a random visit to the high school one afternoon. He wanted to say hi, check out his old room, and I, instantly sixteen again, wanted to faint. I stood frozen beside my desk, a safe twenty feet away, grinning in surprise.

“Mr. Matthews!” I shouted. “This is your room! And I teach in it now!”

How obvious. How embarrassing.

He smiled politely, said it was good to see me, and left.

I wondered what he thought of his room’s newest décor.

Just like way-back-when, two large windows still framed the acres of farmland behind the building, but the oversized drafting desks and clumsy equation “cheat sheet” poster boards of Mr. Matthews’ were gone. The two, built-in graphing chalkboards were now covered with a map of Great Britain and a poster of me with Mickey Mouse, and between them, a map of the world was pinned to the room’s only bulletin board. The far corner of the room housed a map of Nazi-Occupied Europe and various photos from my visits to Holocaust sites in Poland.

Technicolor movie stills from the Wizard of Oz covered the doors of my book cabinet, and a brilliant collection of Hallmark cards my sister authored sat among the framed photos on top of my filing cabinet. Books and vocabulary words that “every high school graduate should know” bordered the eclectic assortment, but the piece de resistance was my Ricky Martin photo collection.

And it all added up to one thing: my space.


One weekend, I asked Mom to help me get a few things from my classroom so I could work from home. I had been teaching at LHS for almost twenty years, but this would be Mom’s first visit to Room 110.

Even though I hadn’t yet returned, the room was still mine, according to its old paper placard that read, “Mrs. Aimee Young.” I turned the key in lock, grasped the metal knob with both hands, and yanked as hard as I could. The door swelled in any kind of humidity, no matter the season, but I was used to it, especially after all these years, ten of them in this particular room.

I entered and breathed its familiar scent: a musty mix of heated floor wax, slate, and Pine Sol. The smell of an old, comforting friend I’d known since high school. It reminded me of marching band, cheerleading, first loves, and high school dances. I graduated fourth in my class in this small, rural district: the same district that hired my father for his first year of teaching and then saw him retire thirty years of service later.

This was not just a school—or classroom—to me, it was home. And I missed being here.

I also missed being around teenagers.

Mom circled the room, taking everything in as I shuffled papers at my desk. She was quiet—almost too quiet—as if walking through a museum exhibit.

“You know what, Aim? I think this classroom was actually your father’s when the high school first opened.”

I froze, shocked.

“By the way, I love the Ricky collection—nice,” she said, still walking around the room.

Wait—what? How would Mom know this was once Dad’s room? And what if it had been? Holy smokes! This could mean I’ve been teaching in the same room my father had christened so many years ago!

This room might have been his? And Mr. Matthews’? And now mine?

“Did you go to the new high school, Mom?”

“Oh yeah, I was a junior when it opened,” she said. “And I’m sure of it now. This was definitely your dad’s room. I had math with him in here. But you should ask him just to make sure.”

Wait—what?  I always thought Mom had Dad as a teacher when she was in junior high, not a junior in high school!

I giggled.

“Mom! I didn’t know you had him when you were a junior! You were, what? Seventeen? I thought you always said that you were in junior high!”

“No, Aimee, you had him in junior high,” she said and laughed.

“So then, if you started dating right after you graduated, wasn’t it a scandal?”

LHS opened in 1963, a much different time. Plus, I knew that teasing her would get her fired up.

“No, not at all! Geez, Aimee!” she exclaimed. “He was my math teacher, that’s it!”

But still—my parents had met one another here! This room might have been the beginning of me!

“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, but kept giggling. It didn’t matter to me that she had Dad for a teacher, or how old either of them were when they started dating. They were twelve years apart in age, but they’d been married for more than forty years. Their relationship worked, whatever its beginnings.

What mattered to me was the fact that my father, someone I had looked up to since I was small, someone I wanted to be just like because he was a teacher, may have been the first teacher in this room, six years before I was born. Not only that—this room could hold my own possible origins. No wonder it had felt like home to me for more than a decade.

How cool would it be if this really were Dad’s room? What a legacy! I thought.

But it would be a few years before I would finally remember to ask him.

(I have a terrible memory. I blame it on the accident.)

Years later: “Hey, Dad, did you teach at LHS when the building first opened?”

Mom, who was standing nearby at the time, smiled when she heard my question.

“Well, let’s see,” he said, putting an index finger to his chin and looking skyward, as if for the answer.

“That would have been about 1963, ‘64. Yes, yes I did teach there.”

“So do you remember which classroom was yours?”

He laughed in that way he does, partially sighing while shaking his head, then said, “Oh man, Aimee. That was so long ago.”

            Dad was in his late seventies.

            “Please—can you try to remember?”

            “Okay, let me draw a picture to help,” he said, grabbing a nearby pencil and used envelope from the kitchen counter. The drafting teacher in him always liked to see what he needed to figure out in writing. Huh. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

            “Well,” he continued, looking at the paper. “There are three buildings on the campus, right?”

            “No, actually there are four—”

            “But one is the gym, correct?”


            “Okay, so I was back in this building right here, Building One,” he said. “And when you walked in, there was something to the left—the library, I think?”

            “Yes, the library is just on the left inside the door. Go on—where was your room?”

            He looked up at the ceiling again, as if trying to place himself in the building, and then said, “If you walked all the way down that hall and turned left, the first door on the right was mine.”

            What? I almost screamed. That’s my room!

            “Dad! You mean 110? Was that your room number?”

            “I don’t remember,” he said. “I just know it was the first door on your right.”

            “Ohmygosh, Dad! That’s my room!”

            Mom, who’d been listening quietly this whole time, grinned slyly at me.

            “Told ya,” she muttered.

            I looked at Dad, waiting for his reaction. Would he cry, overwhelmed with emotion and memory and pride? Or would he laugh, hug me, and excitedly ask to come visit? Maybe he’d even want to talk to my classes!

            “Wow. That’s pretty cool, Aim,” he said.

And that’s all he said. Clearly, I was far more impressed with this information than he.

            “It was only my room for one year,” he said shrugging, like it didn’t matter.

            “Who cares, Dad? This is a big deal to me!”

            He laughed again, in that same self-deprecating way, but I knew he was happy about my excitement. How many teachers could say they taught in the very same classroom their father did more than fifty years ago? The very same classroom where their parents may have met each other? The very same classroom that had meant so much for so long?

This room had cared for me, helped transform me, and provided strength. It had seen me at my best and my worst, in both my professional and personal lives, and it had always supported me. Almost like a parent.

This room had become my escape, and over time, a safe place away from the chaos of the world. One of permanence. No matter how much I or my life had changed over the years, my room did not. Just like a home.

Blessed by my very own father.




Dangit, Jackson…It Was a PINKY Promise!

So, in case you don’t know, (LOL-ing at myself because I’ve let the entire world know by now), Permanent Marker: A Memoir by yours truly, is sort of out now, even though its release date is March 13 (two more weeks—WAHOO!). Because I had to put in my own order, which went directly to the publisher/distributor, I have already sold one box of 50 books to mostly students and colleagues who are also mostly reading it right now.

And they’ve read about Jackson’s tattoo promise. (Read blog post entitled, “Jackson’s New Tattoo,” here ).

“Hey, Miss Ross,” the students are saying. (Yes, they know I’m married, but it’s this weird student thing they all do…when you’re a married teacher you’re a ‘Miss’, but when you’re a young, single teacher, you’re a ‘Missus’. Ask any female teacher—it’s the truth.)

“Yes?” I reply.

“Did Jackson get that tattoo yet?” they ask, smiles cracking their smooth, teenage faces.

“Um, no, not yet,” I say, preparing for the reaction. Remember: Everything is so black and white to teenagers.

“WHAAAAAAAT?” they ask, incredulous. “Why not? The book is out.”

And I have to shrug and say I know and then come home and badger my gorgeous, already inked-up hubby. 378A6881 (2)

Guess what his answer is now, almost six years after that pinky promise on his deck when we were dating?

“I dunno, Aimee. I’m starting to change my mind about the buttcheek—that will HURT,” he claims. “Besides, maybe I should hold out for the book being turned into a movie.”

“WHAT?!” I yell. “JACKSON! That is so not fair!”

He grins, and I melt, and then he says, “You know it’s going to be a movie, right?”

But I just don’t know how that’s going to happen. Unless word of mouth spreads and a gajillion people buy and read the book, making it an overnight bestseller. Or unless Oprah, or Reese Witherspoon, or Ellen, or Ricky Martin, maybe, read my book, which is a longshot. My teaching friend Ben says, “Do it—send the book to them!” but I just don’t know.

I guess it couldn’t hurt, right?

Until then, I’ll keep chipping away at my husband, hoping he’ll finally relent to my permanent marker on his rear end (see what I did there?), and I’m sure I’ll keep hearing him tell me that Bruce Willis would make a great Jackson Ross (blech—not even close) in the book’s movie version. Wish me luck.

Reviews Are Trickling in for THE BOOK, and . . .

. . . oh my goodness, are they good!!! Text messages, Facebook messages/posts, and Goodreads reviews–I just have to share them. They make everything come full circle, you know. There are twelve out of twelve great reviews, and that means I’ve earned a 100% on my book! That is so exciting! Do you know how hard it is to earn a 100% for writing in my class? Just ask my Comp I students!

  1. Hi Aimee, I just finished Permanent Marker…which I just started this morning and could not put it down. By writing your story, it has not only allowed you to heal but gives strength and inspiration for others to face their truths. An amazing story about an amazing person! Congratulations on a brilliant book! Loved it!
  2. Oh Aimee, just finished AND I’m crying. What a wonderful inspirational story you have. I loved reading it. Thanks for sharing your heartache, pain and metamorphosis with the rest of us. I love you and am proud to call you friend.
  3. I laughed (the random Ricky Martin). I cried. I celebrated. I ached. I reminisced (Do not knock on her door when she’s teaching). Well done!
  4. Aimee Ross’ book, Permanent Marker, is a deeply moving and inspirational telling of a resilient and remarkable woman–a woman who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. Within only six months, Aimee underwent a divorce, heart attack, and a car accident where she barely escaped with her life. But even through these heart-breaking experiences, this impressive teacher, Ricky Martin “fangirl,” and aspiring princess refused to break. Permanent Marker teaches us what it means to experience tragedy and rise up from our ashes as stronger people who find hope and the courage to inspire others.
  5. This book is one that you will not be able to put down. From start to finish, you will be glued to the words on the page. The imagery used in this book is phenomenal. You can picture everything that had happened in this real life story. I could relate so much to many parts of this life story. This is a great book and one I highly recommend reading!! (PS- I am not a reader and I had this one done in a day!!)
  6. AIMEE! I read this book in two days! Wow! I couldn’t put it down! It reaches so many emotions! I know you and I learned so much about your life! I cried, I laughed, I prayed, I was inspired! You expressed everything in such detail! I stand in awe of all you overcame and the fact that you let us all experience and be inspired by life! This book is going to touch people, inspire people, move people, and make people stronger! Thanks for just sharing a small part of your life with all of us and making me step back again and see how blessed I am and if you can overcome and come out on top after all the pain, sorrow, heartbreak and tragedy you experienced, I CAN OVERCOME ANYTHING! Please keep writing, you truly have a gift and God had you here to share it with all of us!
  7. This book is about an amazing brave person who took tragedy by the horns and helped her heal to the life she deserved. Permanent Marker is a reminder to those who are having a difficult time that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  8. 60 pages into your breathtaking book. I’m crazy impressed by how you balanced the three storylines (so far), and how they play into each other. It’s an admittedly painful read. It’s graphic and creates a sense physical discomfort at several points, which is to say I don’t know how you got through any of it, but yet here you are, and telling the story nonetheless. I’m going back to reading it now, thank you for putting this out into the world.
  9. Wow! This memoir by Aimee Ross kept me spellbound from the very beginning. It is a beautifully written story of a very difficult time in her life, and how she worked through it to become the person she is today. By flipping back and forth between time periods, Aimee draws you into her life. Her wonderfully written word pictures paint a story of love, brokenness, family, perseverance, and healing. As a librarian, I am excited for my students to read this memoir. They will not only learn life lessons about struggles and hope, but they will also be reminded that it’s okay to be imperfect. That we are all broken at times and put back together. That there is life after tragedy. Aimee is an amazing teacher in the classroom.  Now her teaching will be expanded to everyone who reads her book.  This is one you are going to want to read over and over again.  Thank you, Aimee, for sharing your story with us.
  10. The candidly revealing memoir, Permanent Marker, is a heartfelt and honest expression of the author’s battle in overcoming painful circumstances and obstacles beyond her control. Within the same year, she survives three traumatic and life-shattering experiences, leaving her deeply scarred; inside and out, emotionally and physically. Deciding not to stumble through self-pity, instead, she chronicles, with humor and humility, her survivor’s tale, all the while remaining consistently hopeful and ever optimistic. Written in a straightforward and jarring manner, each turning point in the novel is stripped down and told as a series of stark flashbacks that intertwine seamlessly, including a… a poignant letter to the person who, in a split second, irrevocably changed both their lives. The result is a narrative both affecting and uplifting, simply told by a novelist open to sharing the startling and remarkable account of her life. A refreshingly honest, beautiful book.
  11. Wow. I literally just read this book in one sitting. Aimee’s story was so sad, heartfelt, and touching, but also uplifting and inspirational. It starts off with her car accident and flashbacks to her (very shortly) prior divorce and heart attack are interspersed throughout, making the reading even more compelling. Loved this book, my only complaint is that I wish it had a little more detail about certain things.
  12. I found this memoir by award-winning high school English teacher Aimee Ross to be very moving and I’m so glad she shared it with the rest of us. It comes across as a heartfelt, empowering and a cathartic read that sprinkles bits of her growth across its pages as she opened up about the horrible “Trifecta of Shit” as she refers to it that happened to her in a 6-month period of her life. At the age of forty-one and unhappy in her marriage, she asked her husband for a divorce. Just three days later, she suffers a heart attack. Slowly recovering from that and starting over in her own place, five months later, she survives a near-fatal car crash caused by an intoxicated driver. This book is about her recovery and in a way IS her recovery as she explores the connection between writing and healing…physically, emotionally..and learning to forgive. A very moving book that touches on many topics, some unexpected. Very honest and emotion filled.

I’m so happy that everyone likes the book so far!! And Jackson has been strongly encouraged to make his tattoo appointment, which I will record and share extensively when it happens.

And just because I love the photo, here it is–the one described in Permanent Marker: A Memoir–the one of me meeting my inner child’s idol, Cinderella.



My Very Own Directorial Debut

I’m so very excited to share this video that I created all by myself! I made this video as a finalist for the National Teachers Hall of Fame Induction Committee, and I had so much fun doing so! (And by the way, I did every single bit of it on my iPhone–isn’t that crazy?)

Thanks to all my students who not only believe in me, but who make my job the very best each and every day: you rock.


The Sign, an excerpt

I left our delightful, two-story house in the country at the typical time—a half hour before school—on a chilly, gray, weekday morning typical of early April in Ohio. It wasn’t dark, but the sun wasn’t shining, either. Rain showers, typical of spring, had been forecasted for the afternoon.

But today wasn’t quite so typical.

I backed out of the garage and turned down the driveway, noticing the faintest specks of water, pinpoint-tiny droplets on my windshield, but only three or four. Not even enough to turn on the wipers. Not even enough to say it was raining. And certainly not enough to deflate the giddiness of my about-to-burst, happy heart.

Jackson wanted to marry me!

I reached the end of the drive, where I always waited to pull out. The slight hills hiding the oncoming traffic of the busy state route presented quite a challenge. In fact, if you were going to go, you had to commit.

Ah, the irony. Was I ready to commit myself to someone again? And did I believe in marriage enough to try?

I checked my hair in the rearview mirror then glanced across the road to the field straight ahead of me, an open area before a tree line. I could not believe my eyes.

A single vertical rainbow stood straight up and down all by itself in that field.


I looked quickly to my left and right again to see if there were other witnesses, but no one else was around—no cars drove by, no neighbors stood in their yards, no joggers passed on their morning run. A rainbow for my eyes only.

A sign from the Universe I couldn’t deny. Approval. A blessing. A symbol of hope and a promise of the future.

On a morning with little rain and hardly any sunshine, the two ingredients normally needed to create such a phenomenon of light.

Very strange, this out-of-nowhere rainbow.

But not a coincidence. I understood this. I felt it in my heart and body and soul—all that had once been broken.

Its message was shining through.

*Note to reader: if you’re still reading, if you like to review books, and you have some free time, please e-mail me at aimeeross14@gmail.com!



The Scary Roommate, an excerpt

I heard her arrive, moaning so loudly I wanted earplugs. It seemed as if all hell had broken loose in my previously quiet, sterile environment.

Nurses pulled the curtain around my bed for rest and privacy, but that thin, flimsy, plaid, room-divider was a joke.

I lay in my bed at the back of the room, trying to mind my own business, but I overheard most everything through that pseudo curtain of privacy.

When the nurse asked her what had happened, the patient’s words came out swollen and muddled. Something was wrong with her mouth or jaw. I tuned into her language as if she had a foreign accent and found out her face had been cut so severely by the breaking glass of the car’s windows that it was affecting her speech. She cried, moaning between words, begging for pain medication the nurse said she couldn’t have yet.

She claimed her boyfriend had tried to kill her: they were riding in a car she was driving when he became furious with her, told her he should just kill her, and then yanked the steering wheel. The car rolled several times, and neither of them were wearing their seatbelts.

I felt my own jaw drop in horror. The nurse’s silence said that she was as incredulous as I. I continued to listen intently, while the nurse asked the appropriate questions.

The woman’s boyfriend, uninjured in the wreck, left her and the car at the scene of the accident. He walked away from her, leaving her lying in the mud by the car’s tire.

Her story startled me and shook my sense of safety.

The injured woman’s parents and toddler son came back into the room, and I heard them request that the boyfriend not be allowed to visit. The hospital, however, could only keep all visitors from coming in or none, because it was too hard to stop just one person.

I was unnerved, stunned that the possibility existed for him to come into “our” room, after trying to kill her.

The injured woman assured her parents that he wouldn’t show up anyway, and soon, they said their goodbyes and left.

We were all alone.

“Hey! You over there! Call the nurse in here!” she bellowed.

I froze.

We were each assigned our own nurse; there wasn’t one assigned to the room. I had been here long enough to know that much.

“There’s a big button to push on the side of your bed,” I answered meekly.

“I realize that,” she snarled. “It won’t work!”

I called my nurse. I could tell she wasn’t happy about needing to fetch my roommate’s nurse, but she did it. I was embarrassed and apologetic. After almost two weeks here, I knew how hard the trauma floor nurses worked taking care of so many patients.

My roommate moaned and wailed waiting for her nurse to arrive, after which she begged and cried for more pain meds. She must have gotten them, because she quieted some.

Her nurse left and we were alone again.

Then, her bedside phone rang. I heard her muffled, low “Hello?” Then the sounds of her crying. It was him. It was her boyfriend.

“You tried to kill me!” she screamed through swollen lips.

It got quiet as she listened to what he had to say.

Then she said she loved him, and that she wanted him here.

Wait—what? Was she crazy?

I was stuck in a bed, unable to walk, barely able to move, and fresh off my own trauma. And she was inviting someone who wanted her dead here to “our” room. What if he came to see her, they got into a fight, and I was the witness who needed silenced?

My newly healed heart fluttered in fear. I wanted out of that room.

I texted my mother—I didn’t call because I didn’t want my roommate to hear. Mom had been my advocate thus far, a constantly present force in the hospital every day. I was sure that once I explained the situation, she would take care of it.

I waited for her response text, which seemed to take forever. I knew she had gone out to eat with my uncle, but I also knew she would keep her phone nearby just for me. Her text back was nonchalant, not worried, an “Oh wow” response. I wished I could call her, but I didn’t dare take the chance.

Wait a minute. I was the only person who knew how I felt. My safety and peace of mind were being threatened after living through the most horrific trauma of my life. I was a grown woman who had also survived a heart attack. And I was entitled to be assured I would not die in a hospital room by the hands of some stranger’s maniacal boyfriend.

I had to take control, because this time I could. This time I could get away from another young man’s poor decision-making. I needed to talk to my nurse.

When she appeared, I motioned her closer there behind the curtain. She understood, moved to my side, and leaned down.

“I don’t want anyone to hear,” I whispered then explained my fears.

“I don’t blame you,” she whispered back. “I’ll see what I can do.”

She pulled the curtain back to take my vitals, long enough for me to see my roommate being wheeled out of the room for X-rays: she was young, her hair a ratted mess, and her face looked as if Dr. Frankenstein himself had sewn it back together.

Within minutes, the nursing supervisor came in to let me know they were moving me to another room. I had asserted myself when it mattered, spoken up for myself without someone else’s help, and it had worked.


~from Permanent Marker: A Memoir, by Aimee Ross, out March 13, 2018. You can pre-order your own copy here.



An Open Letter to Paige, a Former Student Who Believed in Me

Dear Paige,

As 2017 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to write this letter, thanking you for believing in me…even though it took me eleven years to make good on your faith.

I know you remember to what I’m referring, because that’s the type of English student you were: responsible, attentive, and conscientious. Thank you for being so. But since this is an open letter, and others won’t know, let me provide some background.

Back in 2006, as we were preparing for Christmas Break, you presented me with a gift. You had seen it while out shopping and thought of me, you said. I don’t remember if you had wrapped it or put it in a gift bag, but it doesn’t matter now. It was a book, something all English teachers love to get, gift or not! But this one was special, titled How to Write What You Want & Sell What You Write, a Barnes and Noble book by Skip Press. I think I might have even teared up—do you remember? 2880652

Anyway, inside the book, a Christmas card dated 12/19/06 read, “Here’s just something to help you get started! Whatever you decide to write will be great & I can’t wait to have my own copy!” you wrote. How glad I am that I’ve hung on to it until now.

Back then, I had no idea what I would decide to write, either, I just knew that one day, I wanted to be the author of my very own book—even though I didn’t write (unless blogging) on a regular basis. (What was I thinking!)

Life took its twists and turns, and a few years later, thinking I wanted to teach at the college level, I decided to get my master’s degree. When I found out that Ashland University offered an MFA—in what else?! Writing!—I was stoked. I had always wanted my master’s in a concentrated area, not education, and writing seemed like the ideal fit for me. I also had a story I had to get out of me, even if just for my own sake: that of my car accident a year before.

Who would have known that for the next five years I would work to craft that story, turning it into a memoir from which I hoped others could take inspiration? That memoir goes to the publisher within the month to become a book, Paige: a tangible, real-life, page-turning paperback that I am so very proud of. One which you believed in—ELEVEN years ago. (And wait until you see the cover! I could only dream of one so fitting. Okay…I’ll just include it here!)


Thank you, Paige, for believing in me before I even knew if I could do it. You were the first in a long line of students who gave me the confidence I needed over the last several years to write the book, and for that, I have endless appreciation. I can’t wait to return your 2006 Christmas gift with one of my very own.

With love,

Aimee Ross