What the. . .?

I love a good curse word.  I curse frequently.  Ask my friends and family, and they will tell you that I fit into the cliche of being able to make a sailor blush whenever I get the chance.

There are times, however, when a curse word or two slip out of my mouth and I become embarrassed that they left my lips.  It’s a rare occasion because I tend to be very deliberate with my words, cursing especially.  Today, at work, was the rare exception when I was humiliated by the use of a “bad word”.  I should add that I teach high school English and one of my classes is Oral Communications (for you old schoolers that’s the new and improved term for Speech Class).  It’s not a class I am particularly fond of teaching.  This is the 2nd time in my career I’ve taught it, and that’s only because they desperately needed to fill one more class with a qualified teacher.  I think the only reason I have speech as an endorsement on my license is that I freaked out in college and wanted a job so badly that I took public speaking to meet a requirement and then filled it in on my graduation form.

Today, I was teaching demonstration speeches, and we were focusing on “attention getters”.  I thought it would be fun to find demonstration speeches on YouTube and show clips to students as a way to get their attention.  I found Steve Jobs introducing Macintosh computer to the world in 1984, and added in Billy Mays selling OxiClean for fun.  I led with the guy selling the towel “ShamWow!”  In my defense, I spent an hour last night on my computer searching for clips like these, watching them to make sure they were school appropriate, and also taking notes on how I found these links, and even emailed the links to my school account.

None of that hard work mattered today, however.  I turned on the speakers, set up the video, and saw my “ShamWow!” link, or what I thought was my link.  Students didn’t tell me that I chose the one that parodied the infomercial.  I didn’t realize it because it was merely the actual infomercial with a voice-over.  Imagine my surprise and humiliation when, after dimming the lights and anticipating the fun class period, I heard the voice over guy say in exaggerated eagerness:  “Holy Shit!  That thing really works!”

I was so flustered that I turned off the video instead of the audio.  So, it kept going.  Fortunately the voice-over work was shoddy, so I couldn’t make out any more cursing.  Finally, I came to my senses, shook my head, and leaned towards the audio/video cabinet and pushed off the power button.  I turned towards my students who were all now very silent and serious.  I look over at the door and see a teacher with a clipboard standing there.  It turns out today was the day for data collection on teaching methods / skill levels.  I have no idea if he witnessed the disaster, but I pretended that everything was normal, as did my students.  I began to improvise and said things like, “Now we’re going to watch the video again, and I want you to listen to the type of attention getter he uses, and tell me what his purpose is for this demonstration.”  The teacher wrote something on his clipboard and slid out the door as stealthily as he had walked in.

My students swore to me that he didn’t hear anything improper, but I was still embarrassed.  I put my head on my podium and let out a breath or two before looking up at them with puppy dog eyes and apologizing.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I wrote a girl up in this class for cursing right in front of me?

To their credit, they laughed about it and a few said they were going to write about this moment as their facebook status.  I’m sure this incident will be a conversation at a few dinner tables or via text messages tonight.  Thank God social networking wasn’t like it is today when I first began teaching high school.  I was instructing a senior course titled Advanced Writing Skills, and we were in the computer lab that day.  I was trying to put together a few cables between my computer and the TV so I could show them a PowerPoint on the day’s lesson.  I was crouching down, and when I stood up quickly, I didn’t realize I was too close to the desk.  I hit the crown of my head on the corner of my desk.

Tears came to my eyes and a pulsing, throbbing sensation sent out pain signals in my brain and on my head.  I swear even my hair follicles hurt.  I became nauseous and dizzy.  I lost track of time and where I was.  In all my pain and agony, I placed my hand on my head and said the first thing that came to my mind:  “Fuuuuuuuucccccccckkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!”

My students stopped typing, and I was brought back to the present when a few sweet girls asked, “Are you alright?”

Dazed, like a deer in headlights, I shook my head “no” and cringed a few times.  In a flash, I realized what I had said.  All students’ eyes were on me now, and one boy’s jaw was slightly open -I don’t know if he was impressed or offended.  I shook my head again, and in my embarrassment I rushed an apology and said, “Oh holy shit, I’m sorry.  I just cursed in front of you!”

A few students giggled, and I realized my error.  Trying to correct myself, but angry that I had dropped my guard and released my drunken college girl potty mouth, I said, “Aw damn’t!  I did it again.  Shit.  Sorry.”  I put my hands to my face and laughed and cried at the same time.  Once I had gained composure, and students had overcome their shock, I begged them to not tell their parents.  Seeing how I was 23 at the time and they were all 18, they stuck by me and showed me great solidarity.  I believed that for the longest time until one day the school nurse, whose daughter was a student in that class, teased me and said, “I hear you can make a sailor blush, Megan.”  Oh. . .mother of pearl.

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Lunatics

Full moon = Full on crazy.

I should’ve seen it coming when I noticed a few wasps in my living room.  They were dazed and confused, but seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Or, I should’ve realized crazy was the theme today when I noticed a spider crawling on the top of my shower curtain.  I jumped out naked and nervously turned off the faucet.  Grabbing my towel and my robe, I sloshed to the spare bathroom to shower there – all the while afraid that I had baby spiders living in my shampoo, loofa sponge, or face wash.

Crazy started at about 8:15 a.m. when I arrived to work (a solid 15 minutes later than usual due to the spider incident above mentioned).  I “hit the ground running” feeling scattered and underprepared, though I had spent a good portion of the previous day writing lesson plans and grading.

Crazy was on the rise when I asked a mouthy sophomore girl to step out into the hallway because she was being spiteful and rude.  A few minutes later, after getting my other students on task, I stepped outside to talk to her.  She was nowhere to be found.  A few emails and twenty minutes later, I found she had taken herself to the Assistant Principal’s office and tried to “tattle” on me for kicking her out of class.  Later, she came to me to ask me for notes, and challenged me on why she got a zero and an absence in my class.  She couldn’t understand that what she did was skip class, nor did she think it was fair or right when I explained to her that she was responsible for the makeup work in class.

Crazy came to a boil when, at hall duty, another “classy” young lady decided to challenge my authority.  I asked her to stay in the cafeteria and to close the door.  She “told on me” to her friends, who all turned and taunted and made faces.  Classy got right up to the glass door, did some wild, taunting hand gestures, looked me in the eye, smiled a rebellious smile and said, “What  ya gonna do about it bitch?”  What I did was march her ass to the Assistant Principal’s office.  Classy back-tracked her story and said that she was just singing and dancing with her friends.  It still didn’t get her out of a day of In-School-Detention, but I commend her on her blatant, ridiculous lie she told with laughter in her voice and stupidity in her heart.

7th hour rolled around and I had to explain myself at least 3 times in 3 different ways and hand out worksheets that they either lost or threw away last week.  Once I had them in the English Writing Lab, I had to make them log off their computers and march their asses back to class just because blank Word Documents were on the screen.  No one could shut up long enough to hear me say, “I mean it.  Let’s go,” until one meek and mild girl finally stood up and pushed her chair in and walked to the door.  Twenty more minutes of cracking the whip and ripping out sheets of paper from my own notebook to give to students with no material, and I was beat.  Crazy was knocking at my doorstep, and I finally decided to let her in.  I sat and stared out the windows of my classroom listening to a police siren and watching dark clouds blot out the sun.

Once I finally got a chance to gather my stuff, I realized I had left my flashdrive in my other classroom, 3 flights down.  I shoved my papers and books in my bookbag, wrapped my purse around my arm, shoved my keys in my pocket, and grabbed my sweater from the chair.  I huffed and puffed down the stairs, and as I was rounding the corner, my clickity-clackity cute flats slid across the slick concrete floor.  My left ankle gave way and down I went -kersplat!  My bookbag knocked into my hip, but softened my landing.  I got up saying “Dangit” (surprising for me), but was thinking “Holyhell, sonofabitch, muthafucker that hurt”.  Luckily “Dangit” came out first because two doe-eyed teenaged girls were standing there asking me, “Are you all right?”

I limped to my car after getting my flash drive from the other room.  I called my friend Mary, told her briefly about my crazy day, and agreed to meet her for dinner in South City St. Louis.  I had to take an alternate route to get on the interstate when a traffic jam caused by a traffic accident was blocking my path ahead.  A shoeless woman with a cut on her knee waddled by me as I turned my car around.  Then, three police cars and an ambulance screeched by me, as I inched my way towards the interstate.

Once in St. Louis, as I was turning onto Grand, Mary called and said that she could feel the crazy vibe while still in her car.  She said she went to turn down her car’s radio but realized the blaring was from a house nearby.  We should’ve known that crazy was in full swing just from the noisy, raucous traffic driving by too quickly as we sat outside at the cafe trying to have an intelligent conversation.

Each of our Crazy was competing for attention causing us to get distracted, lose our train of thoughts, drop our food out of our mouths as we talked, and break eye contact whenever a fire truck with flashing lights and blaring sirens raced by or a police helicopter flew above the buildings.

We gave each other a hug and said goodbye, and I thought my crazy day had finally had a positive ending to it:  I got to see my friend and hang out with her even though it meant wading through the crazy to get to that point.  Little did I know that I would wind up sitting over a half an hour in construction only because crazy drivers flew by me on the shoulder and the left lane trying to squeeze in to the one open lane.

After arriving home and letting my dog do his thing, I went inside to change in my pajamas.  Just then a wasp flew by me.  I ran upstairs, nervous and a bit hysterical.  I finally calmed down and changed into comfy sweats and a t-shirt.  Now, I’m thinking I need to drink a mug of hot cocoa, prop my semi-swollen ankle up on some pillows, and pray to God that the Crazies don’t find me in my sleep.

Yoga and Hiking

My friend and fellow yoga teacher and I hiked the trails at Vallmeyer Salt Quarry in southwestern Illinois today.  It was a beautiful October day:  warm, sunny, and glorious!  We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect outing.

We got out of her SUV, slapped on our backpacks, and pulled out a map from the trail description in the parking lot.  We were so excited to be out in nature that we took off at a fast clip.  That soon turned to a lot of huffing and puffing when we realized we were heading up a steep incline that would take us to the scenic overlook on the bluff we were climbing.

Sarah led the way and I followed like a puppy not wanting to stray too far from its friend.  I’m afraid of heights, and I became more aware of that fact as the trail narrowed and climbed.  I told myself to just breathe (which was a bit difficult because my heart was racing), but then I calmed down and realized I was safe and in good company.  It helped too that I’ve been taking the 3 flights of stairs at work for 2 months now.  My butt is starting to bubble and firm.  Look out Kim Kardashian.

Throughout the hike, Sarah and I visited, laughed and talked about life in general.  Sarah has been a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me in the 8 years I have known her.  It was good to get to know her more as a person than as a yoga teacher in the classroom.  I felt so honored that she shared life stories with me, and I was happy to hear her rebellious, raucous laughter.  It’s exactly what my heart needed today.  Red-heads are good for that.

One of my favorite parts of our hike:  finding inspirational moments to just break out in yoga poses.  We climbed on a boulder and did whatever pose came naturally to us.  We rejoiced when we saw a beautiful field of corn and the rolling bluffs looming over them.  I did wheel pose and Sarah did a sublime mountain pose with arms out-streched.  It felt good to have the sun on our faces and the warm air embracing us.

After the trail, we drove to the park nearby and did yoga on our mats in the shade.  Four Harley guys sat underneath the nearby pavilion as we finished our stretches.  It was humorous to hear them cursing “God dammit” and trying to figure out their cell phones as we sat in silent meditation.  I also heard the chirping of crickets, a buzzing of an insect, the dog tags on the sheepdog’s collar as his owners walked him past us.  The breeze and shade soothed me and I felt at peace knowing that all good things are coming because all good things are with me right in the here and now.  I don’t think I could have asked for a better friend or day to help me get back in touch with that free and happy side of myself.  Namaste, Sarah.