High Times, Hard Times…

The past three weeks since Thanksgiving have tried their darndest to knock me down and kick me in the teeth.  I don’t think it’s coincidence that I just went through 8 (EIGHT!) consecutive cold sores in just a few weeks’ time.

Happily, things should be getting better.  Today was the last day of finals/with students for the term.  Tomorrow’s a (glorious!) work day, then I’m officially on break.  I get to chill in Denver for a few days, dash up to Seattle for a few days and Christmas proper with the J’s, then I’m off to Disneyworld for a few days with the family.  Certainly not a bad line up of events.

So what are the hard times?  Students, of course.  I was thinking the list over today and noted that most of the difficulties aren’t things that demand extra work or even time from me.  It’s the emotional weight that’s getting tough.  Here’s a run-down that I’m keeping a bit vague for the blog but can certainly expand on in person:

  • One student passing out mid-class (probably drugs)
  • One student being sent to the ER from my class.  This one included lots of blood, 15 minutes spent acting as a witness for the cop try to coax the kid out of the bathroom mid-class, and gum.  Yes, gum.  Gum, and definitely drugs.
  • One student getting two different injuries rehearsing for the fall play.
  • Said student indulging in his injuries for days and days afterwards, a la Draco Malfoy and the Hippogriff.
  • Two students in the fall play being ineligible to perform for the middle school due to failing grades, despite months of forewarning.
  • One understudy ineligible to fill in for failing students due to failing grades herself.
  • One parent emailing me and my administration to state that her son failing is my fault due to the injuries he received in my class.  (I pointed out that an injury three weeks ago doesn’t explain how her kid’s been failing classes since he started high school 1.5 years go.)


  • Freaking speech meet.
  • One 10-year-old ruffian pulling the fire alarm in the middle of our Friday night show, which led to me leading the evacuation of cast and audience into snowy 8-degree weather before investigating the alarm myself when the walkie-talkie our Activities Director gave me for emergencies failed to contact anyone.
  • One junior wrestling coach who laughed about “Kids!  What can you do?!” while telling me about said ruffian pulling the fire alarm.
  • One of our musical leads being unexpectedly pulled from the show by his guardian.
  • Two kids being released back to my classes on Suicide/self-harm watch with strict monitoring instructions.
  • One of those kids having a fit and storming out in the middle of my class, which meant I had to activate emergency monitoring protocols.
  • One kid having an anxiety attack mid-class.


  • Learning yesterday afternoon that one kid at our school was found dead outside his home from an apparent suicide.  Not one of the ones on suicide watch on my roster.  Not one I even have this term, but one that I’ve had in past classes and one whose older brothers were both devoted theater/speech-types when they were here.

I think I’m still processing that last one.  I’m far more of the stiff-upper-lip-get-back-to-work type in the face of something like this, but it’s very much on my mind and makes me wonder if I were the type to, you know, actually let emotions out instead of processing it all intellectually, then perhaps I would be in a better place.  Maybe?  It’s only been a day, and I know these things take time.  I just wonder how much my lack of a reaction is very much a reaction-in-waiting.

A lot to handle emotionally, but there are good things happening too.  Things like

  • The dad of one of my Adv. Drama kids who spent hours and hours building a set and coordinating other volunteers to come in for two weekends in a row to build our set for us emailing me to say that his company’s decided to donate the entire thing to our department, so don’t expect a bill.
  • Said set being designed by me to work for the musical as well as many future shows; one for which that I’ve saved up Drama funds for a few years now.
  • Two students stepping up to take over the roles of the ineligible kids, learning the blocking and even some of the lines in less than 14 hours.
  • The entire audience not only putting up with the evacuation mid-play, but returning to the auditorium and throwing themselves enthusiastically behind the kids.  They were great after that, so reactive and so responsive and so very much on the side of the cast.
  • The cast handling it all beautifully.  As in, they immediately went back to their spots on stage, I conferred with them briefly to choose a line to resume from, then they continued on with the show like nothing had happened despite the bright white flashing lights that strobed in the auditorium for the next 20 minutes until the fire department showed up to turn them off.  More than one person commented on their professionalism.
  • Rachel and Jack came to see the play.  I loved having them there; it meant a lot to me.  It also meant that Rachel could document the crisis:


Look!  I’m even smiling as I run back to the booth.

  • My administration unfailing backing me up against fire alarms and accusatory parents and such.
  • The kid who stormed out of class writing me a note on her final to say that she liked my class, she’s glad she took it, and she’s sorry.
  • The rest of the musical cast (those not being pulled out) being eager and happy to be there and gung-ho for the whole thing.
  • My Adv. Drama class sharing how much they’ve benefited and grown and how much they feel like they belong as we “checked out” for the last time.  One of them said, “It doesn’t feel like this was a class.  It feels like it was an experience.  An accomplishment.”


  • a kid today who recited “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” for his speech final accidentally saying not, “His eyes, how they twinkled!  His dimples, how merry!” but “His eyes, how they twinkled!  His nipples, how merry!”Poor kid, yes, but I appreciated the laugh.

Another semester done.  To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, time gurgles on.

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