Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Week

When I named this blog The Wild and Absolutely True Adventures of Meg, it was because to me, it seemed wild that I was actually moving to England to teach. It would be a huge adventure, and everything would be absolutely true.

At some point, I learned that whether I'm gallivanting around England or chilling in my home state, my life just is Wild and Absolutely True. Like anyone else, it's a series of ups and downs, goods and bads. I like to think I meet it mostly with my sense of humor intact, and therefore, the name of this Little Pink Blog of mine is appropriate. 

Never has it been more appropriate than this week. It wasn't a bad week, really--it had it's ups and its downs, and I certainly had a few moments where I wanted to scream. It was simply wild. And everything I'm about to share is absolutely true.

Let's start with the infection.

On my face.

It started last week. A blemish. It got irritated. It got a little messy. And then, suddenly, it was the weekend and I had a growing patch of angry red along my jawline and upper neck. It was bumpy and itchy and--worst of all--draining. The clear goo would dry into yellow salt-like crystals on my face. I put gobs of Neosporin on it, but it kept spreading. On Sunday, I called Kaiser, and made an appointment for Monday afternoon. By Monday morning, I could barely face going out in public...and it didn't help that I'd had only three or four hours of sleep.

By the time I finally saw a doctor, late in the afternoon, I had been wearing a collared shirt, a scarf, and a hoodie all day. I was sweaty with all those layers in heated classrooms. My deodorant had worn off. I had sat through my entire piano lab class, barely interacting with the students, working on grades at my computer, feeling like a huge spotlight was shining on the scabby, itchy huge patch of my jawline that was infected.

Even the doctor was amazed. "What did you react to?!" he exclaimed. 

"I have no idea," I replied. At that point, I didn't care. I just wanted it gone. The doctor prescribed me an oral antibiotic and a steroid cream. After a lengthy wait in the pharmacy, I was finally home, and started my regimen of cream and pills. Thank the good universe, it worked--and fast. I still have redness and a bit of scabbing on my face, but no more bumps, no more itching. It's nothing a little bit of extra makeup can't camouflage. 

On Tuesday, the Large Suburban High School put on Every 15 Minutes, a drunk driving awareness program that takes two days. On the first day, a student is pulled from class every 15 minutes throughout the day by a Grim Reaper, and joins the Living Dead. They walk around for the rest of the day, not allowed to speak to anyone. Their parents get a phone call from the police: "Your child has been killed in an automobile accident." An obituary is read in their class. During the day, a crash scene is simulated, and area police, fire, paramedics, life flight, etc. respond. Students are made up to look injured, and one student is pronounced dead at the scene--and removed in a coroner's van.

I went to the crash scene this week, and it is brutal. As the students filed into the bleachers, it was all chatter and noise--typical high school. The cars were covered with tarps. When the tarps were pulled off, it went eerily silent. There's not a lot in this world that will silence several hundred teenagers.

It was a moving experience--I've seen it before, back when I was teaching in Antioch, but it had been a while, and I feel more connected to this school. My choir kids who saw it (only juniors and seniors) asked if we could talk about it in class that day, and I let them, for about fifteen minutes. Yes, we had a concert on Thursday, but we also have a need to discuss these things. 

Also on Tuesday, one of my choir students was walking around, holding her head. "What's wrong?" I asked her, as she flopped down on a chair near me.

"I might have a concussion," came the muffled reply from behind her hair.

"What happened?"


"Of course." (It's always soccer.)

I paused for a moment, then, "I think you should go to the nurse."

"I'm fine."

"I'll have someone walk you up there. On second thought, I don't want you walking. I'll call her."

She may have repeated the "I'm fine" but I can't be sure, as I was bustling off to my office to call the nurse.

While we waited, my student shuffled her way outside for some fresh air, so when the nurse--and my boss, Mrs. Principal--arrived, it was to find me fluttering around by my classroom door. The nurse had a wheelchair. My student took one look at it and said, "I'm FINE!" to the nurse. I leaned in and gently-but-firmly told her I insist she go to the office. Then I glanced up at Mrs. Principal, who was sort of half-smiling at me, mouthed, "thank you!" and scuttled back into my classroom as the bell to start class rang.

Later, I saw Mrs. Principal again and she grinned and said, "Crazy concert week!"

I just laughed. "Yes!"

So Tuesday was a little hectic, but we got through it. I had that evening at home to relax, and then a long-ish day on Wednesday. I had lost 3rd period to the Every 15 Minutes funeral, so I had an after school dress rehearsal for my kids. To bribe them to be there, I ordered pizza. It was hectic, as these things always are, but we got a lot done and I felt good about where we were. I went home that evening tired, but ready.

Of course, on Thursday, I had concert drama--well, accompanist drama. I was missing three students that evening. My concussed student didn't make it, and I had one at the doctor's office figuring out why her voice wasn't working (turns out she had major inflammation in her throat, poor thing). One student was a no-show because of "a headache," which had my teeth on edge. 

The show went well. I was home by 9:30. On Friday, I gave myself leave to be later than usual for work, and we did a whole lot of nothing much in choir. The kids helped me fold programs for that evening, and we set up the choir risers and sound shells again. Otherwise, I let them relax and save their voices. 

Friday's concert went even better than Thursday's, though my accompanist gave me enough Diva that I found myself texting Summer asking her to tell me to calm down. 

In the midst of all this wildness, though, I had moments of pride and joy. My choir president, J., who would approach me when she could see me trying to put out a fire and say, "Shall I get everyone to work on _____?" Then she would gather everyone together and get them working on something, freeing me to focus on finding the damned fire extinguisher (the figurative one). Or N., one of my baritones, who just gets the riser crew moving without me needing to say anything. He's also amazingly effective at calming everyone down and making them feel good about choir. He led our energy circle on Friday and had everyone smiling and laughing and feeling like a team. Another baritone, whose mom told me he's always singing his choir music in the car, in the shower, around the house (as he blushed and said, "Oh, MOM!!!"). I love these kids. 

Yesterday, I slept in for a change, then got up and took 110 Grinch Crinkle Cookies I made last Sunday out of the freezer. It was the annual Christmas Cookie Exchange at my mom's friend's house, and I'd been looking forward to this all week. We had a lovely time, though I admit I was yawning a lot. I spent the rest of the day being mostly lazy, just getting a few little things done. Today, again, I slept in, and though I did some shopping and cooking, I've also had plenty of time to sit and relax. The coming week is easy--choir will rehash the concerts and turn in music tomorrow, and we will set about cleaning up the choir room and filing music.

My piano class has a recital on Wednesday, but otherwise, the most taxing thing on my To Do List this week is updating my syllabus for the new semester that starts after Winter Break.

And finally, while I was originally sad that I wasn't allowed to sing in Sac Choral's Home For the Holidays concert, I am now glad I didn't--it was last night, and I was pretty much a lump of goo by then, unable and unwilling to fathom driving all the way to Sacramento (about 45 minutes from where I live) and going through the motions of singing a concert. This semester has been a mad rush--a good semester, to be sure, but so very busy. My body and my mind are feeling it. Two weeks off will refresh me so much.

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