Monday, October 14, 2013

Feast or Famine

There's a golden six weeks or so each year - a time when the balance between work and non-work is just right.

This isn't that time.

I've been quieter on my blog because, as is so often the case, I'm busy.  I'm busy, and the topics I keep wanting to write about are the kind that require more than a photo update or a 5-minute write up.

So, I shall attempt to summarize all of my thoughts of the past month in a 5-minute write up:

I went to a theater teacher's convention here in Denver. 

Notable occurrences include:

- It was like a marvelous dream to have a day where going to work meant getting up at 7, taking public transportation, having a glorious 45 minutes to get lunch, and being able to associate with adults all day.

- I love DCTC.  It's one of my Hogwarts, and has been ever since I first saw a play there on a field trip way back when I was in high school, oh so long ago.  I don't get to live there, but I do get to visit a few times a year.

- I learned (again) that when I panic about comparative credentials, I'm usually ahead of the crowd.

- It turns out that two of my fellow Smoky Hill High School Theater alums are theater teachers in the Denver metro area.  We discovered each other mid-sessions; and while it was fun to see them, I was reminded why I don't want to go to any high school reunions.

- I've also given a lot of thought to my own high school drama experiences.  I was a part of a tight-knit circle of super-dedicated theater kids.  We were writing plays, designing sets, going to see plays, and creating our own shows year-round, usually with little or no involvement from our teacher.

My students are nowhere near this level.  I have been assuming that it's my fault - that I'm failing as a teacher to instill similar passion and independence in my students.  Now I wonder whether I was just a part of a really unusual group of kids - one of those freak classes that come through once or twice in a career.

Again, here I am learning that I am not the norm.

I miss having time to work out.
I went to the gym 5, 6, 7 times a week this summer and at the beginning of the school year.  Not so much anymore.  I can sacrifice TV or reading or even Christmas gift crafting for gym time, but not work or necessary household tasks or work or proper sleep or work.  Sigh.

It's getting colder:

I took my students to see Death of a Salesman at the DCTC.

I really didn't like this play when I first read it in high school, and I was unsurprised to find my opinion hasn't changed.  However, this was a solid production, in the round no less, and I was surprised to see how much my students responded to the themes and characters of the play.  It's depressing, sure, but it also addresses issues of family loyalty, parental expectations, and measures of success in ways that are still relevant even when door-to-door salesmen aren't just dead, they've been buried for 60 years.

Speaking of the DCTC
I arranged for a Teaching Artist from the DCTC to come to my school to teach playwriting workshops for seven of our classes (two of mine and five English classes):

The fellow in the blue shirt on the left is David, their Educational Director.  He contacted me about this opportunity when his department first won the grant that funds it, specifically citing the great rapport I've built between their programs and my students over the last four years.  That was nice to hear, and the workshops went beautifully.

The First Speech Meet of the Year
I headed up the mountains and through stunning fall foliage to Vail with 24 students this weekend for our first meet.  Happily, we came home with a ton of awards.  Even happier, there were no medical issues on this trip!  (Not that there have been many in the past, but I had to be trained in some especially squeemish emergency procedures for one kiddo on this trip.  I was quite happy to turn said kiddo over to the parents Saturday night without having to use the issued rubber gloves.)

Dwindling Meets
Sadly, this meet brought news of yet another future meet being canceled.  This coupled with the cancelation earlier in the week means our already-lean season is getting harder and harder to fill.  It's not good for the kids to go three weeks or more without competing, and yet there are no competitions to which we can go.  I spent part of my day today cobbling together an alternate plan of running a semi-and-largely-informal meet at our school and then taking the team to an improv show in order to make up for yet another lost competition.  It's far from ideal, but with budgets (and therefore teams) being slashed all around, it's getting harder and harder to maintain a full season.

A Family Visit
Andy, Jenn, and my parents all came out to Denver this weekend.  The primary purpose was to visit the baby, of course, but there was a secondary goal of celebrating my and Andy's birthdays.  As previously mentioned, I missed hanging out with them Friday and Saturday, but I did get to join them Sunday for Sam's blessing and joint early-present-opening at the Mason's.  After Mom and Dad took off Sunday afternoon and we gave the Masons a bit of peace and quiet, I got to catch up with Andy and Jenn a bit more over dinner.  At the surprisingly-tasty Bonefish Grill we discussed family relationships and noted how as adults you have to make the choice to be friends with your siblings.  I made that choice quite deliberately in my post-college years, and I am always glad to rediscover how much I love hanging out with my siblings, both natural and by marriage.

Okay, that was more than 5 minutes, but I feel somewhat purged in my narrative build-up.  At least enough so to turn back to work:

It's the end of the quarter, grading awaits.  And so, good night!

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