This year's speech schedule is all kerflooey. Speech teams have been disappearing steadily thanks primarily to budget cuts. As a result, it's been trickier than usual to schedule a full season of meets. I started off with 11 on the calendar, but we're now down to 8. The sparse pickings are why I broke two of my Rules of Sanity this year:
1) Don't schedule meets the same weekend as Drama plays, and
2) Avoid meets that are really far away.
The Advanced Drama class did indeed perform Much Ado twice on Thursday. Both shows went well, and the biggest issue was that one kid didn't show up. Fortunately, it was my technical director, which meant that I could step in and run the lights and sound after recruiting one of my non-class theater kids from the audience to take over my seat at the follow spot. That's a much easier role for me to fill than if, say, Claudio hadn't shown up.
My Intro to Drama class were mostly terrified by this production, since it brought home the reality of their own show in two weeks. "What if someone doesn't show up from our play?" they asked, wide-eyed at the thought.
"Then we'll figure something out," I said. They still looked terrified, so I added a reassuring, "It'll work out."
"But how will it work out?" they ask.
"I don't know," I shrugged, "It's a mystery."
Being newbies to theater, they don't know how true those words of Stoppard's are.
Friday morning was the traditional Celebration of the Glory That is Us. This was even more of a love-fest than usual, with students requesting a turn over and over again to give kudos to their fellow actors and techies. I think this was because they were still running on the euphoric fumes of the night before, rather than having a weekend to cool off as they usually do.
Those fumes kept a lot of us going as I and half the class got on a bus immediately after classes Friday to drive to a speech meet three hours away. When we picked up Paula, she quickly noticed how exhausted I looked and offered to have the bus drop me off at the hotel while she took the kids to dinner at the nearby mall. It was sweet of her, but there was no way I would be able to sleep while on chaperoning duty.
(Side note: I never understood why my mother would wait up for me or my siblings to get home. I wanted to stay out late, and she would say that she needed to get some sleep. I would tell her to just go to sleep, then, and don't wait up; but she always protested that she simply couldn't sleep until we were home. If it's any retroactive comfort, I get it now, Mom.)
We took the kids to the mall and tried to give them two hours to play. They protested, saying they needed more time to practice that night given that I was taping them in at unholy hour of 9:00 PM. We settled on 90 minutes and sent the children on their way while the other chaperones and I headed to Joe's Crab Shack across the parking lot for a leisurely (but not quite as leisurely as we had hoped) dinner.
We got to the hotel a little after 6:30 and threw the kids in the pool. They splashed and flirted and swam for an hour or so before putting on pajamas and regrouping in the lobby to practice their pieces. Thankfully, Paula spotted the number of trips they were making to the hotel's free coffee pot and summarily cut them off. "You will sleep tonight!" we told them.
At 9:00, as promised, we did room checks and taped their doors. I wound down in my hotel room with some dessert I had gotten to-go at the restaurant before settling in for a few fitful hours of sleep.
By 5:30 the next morning I was making the rounds of untaping and wake-up knocks. We had a quick breakfast and were on the bus by 6:15 to drive the additional 50 minutes to the meet.
Despite its distance, it may turn out to be my favorite meet of the year. The hosting coach did not offer debate due to a lack of judges. As a result, we actually finished 90 minutes early! We were out of there by 3:30 and Paula and I made a quick and non-too-difficult executive decision to not stop on the way home. The kids protested a little, and I had a flurry of text messages about 2.5 hours into the drive. The "zombies at the back," as they called themselves, pleaded with me to stop the bus because A) they were hungry, B) they needed to use the facilities, and C) one of the senior boys had brought along a cat-shaped keyboard that "meowed" each note and he had apparently been playing it non-stop for the last 2.5 hours.
I texted them back saying that we were too close to the pick-up point to stop now, to cross their legs and squeeze, and I sent a message to the offending senior commanding him to cease and desist lest the wrath of Vatnhus descend upon him/the keyboard cat. (Vatnhus being another new nickname of mine. This time it's self-appointed, as I had written that week's speech letter in the form of a Norse myth/Bible-speak and therefore created a new translation of my own name which I and the children all quite enjoy.)
They were dutifully quiet, enough so that I heard a mewing version of the Harry Potter theme drifting up from the back of the bus. I stood up and walked to the back of the bus (oh! the powers of Vatnhus, the only being who can walk while the bus is moving!). When he saw me coming, Paul immediately started shrieking that he would save the Keyboard Cat, while curling his body around it. I calmly stood over him, and asked if he could play a song for me. "I haven't had a chance to see it in action yet," I said.
He tentatively uncurled himself, then handed the keyboard to the girl sitting in front of him. "Here, Maya," he said. "You play something."
Maya took the proffered instrument and picked out a melody on the keys. "That's pretty cool," I said. "Can I try?"
Maya turned it around to face me. I picked up the keyboard, then marched back to the front of the bus amid cheers from the tormented-no-longer students and one long, agonized "Nooooo!" from Paul.
I only had to wait around for one kid's parents after our arrival, and by a little after 7:00 I was back at the condo. I quickly threw everything and Natasha into my car and drove down the mountain so I could sleep in my own bed for the first time in a week. I was absolutely bone-tired, and as I fought to stay awake on the drive I vowed to never again do a speech meet immediately after a play production.
At least never again after I do it again next week.