Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Follow the Fun

Tomorrow morning I'm leading 10 teenagers and 5 other chaperones to New York City.

It should be interesting.

I'll update here as I can, but you're also welcome to follow the fun on the official trip Facebook page:

Yes, I will be posting on Facebook.  That's how devoted a teacher I am.

Wish us luck!

Summer Cat

Warm kitty, fluffy kitty, giant ball of fur...

Shaved kitty, happy kitty, purr, purr, purr.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My First Day of Summer

If you call Saturday the first day of my summer vacation (which you should not because it was a Saturday), then I spent it at Jack's 4th birthday party (where he gleefully defeated a burglar!), planning the Asia trip with Jason, and staying up way too late writing a talk.

If you call Monday the first day of my summer vacation (which you should not because it was also Memorial Day), I spent it seeing X-Men: Days of Future Past with Lisa and her brother followed by lunch at Panera, making Miranda's awesome salad dressing (and salad) for a barbecue at Rachel's that evening, and more trip planning with Jason.

If you call today the first day of my summer vacation (which you should), I spent it taking Natasha to the vet for shots so she can get shaved tomorrow, joining Fara and Tammy at Fara's house for a delicious pot-luck lunch and a screening of The Bookthief, errand-running, dying my hair (yet again), and general trip preparation for New York City.

Any way you call it, it's been a good start to the summer.


Hurrah!  Not only am I done with school, but I'm done with my public speaking gigs for the time being!

My speeches all went well.  My graduation speech was heralded the best, largely because I know how to keep it short, dang it.  The longest introduction of the day ran about 4 minutes, most were in the 2-3 minute range.  Mine was 30 seconds.  This was especially appreciated by my fellow faculty members when we had to move the graduation ceremony indoors due to rain.  Because we don't have a space large enough for 300+ people, the decision was to hold two graduation ceremonies - one for A-K and one for the latter half of the alphabet.  With every speaker going twice, my skill (and foresight) for brevity was showered with praise between the double ceremonies.

I'm especially fond of several of the students in this senior class, so I was particularly glad for the New York trip.  It meant that I didn't have to say any final good-byes to some of these kiddos, which softened the blow of the day.

My Sunday talk & lesson also went well.  When my Bishop asked me to speak, he gave me the topic "Developing our Talent for Spirituality" (based on a 2001 talk by Carol B. Thomas).  He suggested that I may have particular insight to offer, since I spend so much of my time at work identifying and developing talent.

That could have been an interesting take on it.  So would have been my second idea - to look at the problems of comparing talents, using the Salieri/Mozart rivalry in Amadeus as my throughline example.  However, when I sat down Saturday evening to really put my research and thoughts together, I wound up going in a completely different direction.  I also wound up staying up until 3:45 AM writing the dang thing.

It doesn't fit the genre of my typical (and preferred) talk.  No real storytelling, infrequent humor.  The comments have been positive, though.  I think my animation as a speaker made up for the research-heavy text.

I was concerned about the balance of the meeting overall.  I didn't know which speaker I would be, nor did I know who else would be talking.  I guessed correctly that I was the second (of three) and that I was the only woman.  I fretted for a moment at giving a more "masculine" talk (i.e. cerebral v. emotional), but it turned out that the third speaker was a gentleman who tends towards the "feminine" style - i.e. lots of crying, stories about "sweet spirits," and the moral delivered by a 4-year-old protagonist of his primary story.

So it all worked out in the end.

If you're interested, you can access a pdf version of my talk here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Like I Do This for a Living or Something

For anyone involved with the educational system, May rivals December for the craziest month.  There are so many ceremonies, celebrations, tests, and traditions to wrap up each school year that it feels as busy as the midst of the holiday festivities.

For me this year, May also seems to be the Month of Public Speaking.

Last week I...

- Played Quizmaster (emcee) for a trivia night for Enrichment*,
- Gave a small speech to honor of one of my drama students at the Senior Awards night**, and
- Gave a presentation to the parents of the students coming with me to New York***.

This week I will...

- Introduce the valedictorian at graduation,
- Speak in Sacrament Meeting, and
- Teach in Relief Society.

Tonight a member of the ward called me to see if I'd give a prayer in Church on Sunday.  When I explained that I was one of the speakers, he said he'd 'let me off the hook this time.'

Thank goodness for that.

* To great success, I will note.  I was hesitant about how pub trivia would be received by a crowd that isn't tempered by alcohol.  The ladies loved it (with the exception of one person who was offended by a Brigham Young joke), and they insisted on doing all of the bonus rounds I had prepared.

** Where I was introduced as "the impeccably dressed and purple-haired Ms. Waterhouse."

*** By far the toughest (and scariest) crowd is a group of parents I'm asking money from to take their children to a Scary Big City.  They were annoying silent throughout the presentation, giving only small chuckles at the jokes I threw in with growing desperation.  I was reassured afterwards that they aren't all absolutely terrified/resentful when several of them came up to thank me for giving their kid this opportunity.  Still, parents = stress.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


The yearbook came out recently, and I had the chance to flip through a copy before handing them out to my students.  Rather than the brick-like tomes of my high school days, MTHS's version is a slim 40-some-odd pages put together by our librarian and a couple of her TAs.

She does her best, and there were some fun parts to see this year.  She even made a point to come to the musical opening night to get some pictures for a page about the show, something that rarely happens since the show is so often up against the publisher deadlines.

I discovered that there was apparently a "Best Teacher" contest, since the winners were announced amid the senior pages:

No one i talked to was aware of the competition, so I assume it was some sort of senior vote.  Being an occasionally competitive being, I was a little disappointed that I didn't win.  I reasoned with myself that a) Dean and Danielle are both great teachers and b) the "best teacher" label often goes to the teachers students currently have - hence the teachers who have mostly upperclassmen frequently winning.  Then I turned a few more pages to the teams and clubs section and discovered:

An entire page dedicated to "Waterhouse FUN."

Okay, that seems a bit odd.  I think this is another case of teaching photographable subjects, but it feels a bit inadequate to have drama field trips, speech meets, and set painting all summarized under my name, especially since there is no further explanation for the content of the photos.

Ah well.  It almost makes up for them leaving out any mention of speech team.  ("What the crap?!" the speechers demanded as they stormed into my room in a rage upon discovering this.  I tried to reason with them. "I'm sure it was an accident."  "We're State Champions!" they exclaimed.  "We're the only team in the school who won State!  Why would they leave us out?!")

I can empathize with the yearbook staff - I know what it's like to work for months on a project that people only see mistakes in upon reveal.  It's a tough job, but I can also empathize with the satisfaction that comes from working on a project that will shape the memories of a part of their lives for so many years to come.

Then again, it may not shape memories so much as create mysteries.  I, for example, have absolutely no idea when this picture of me was taken:

You would think I'd remember the occasion that led me to curl my hair and wear an outfit made of scarves, but no.  I have no memory whatsoever of that day.  Spirit week, perhaps?  Maybe Halloween?

Or maybe I've just been teaching too long.


Lisa raised her right hand.  "I would like to solemnly declare that I have a testimony of packing cubes."

She's going to Europe in a few weeks, so most of our conversations lately are about travel tips.  I've joined her for a couple luggage store runs as she searches for the perfect bag, and she made her declaration while we were looking at carry-ons out at Park Meadows.  ("Do you want to come luggage shopping with me at Park Meadows and then get cheesecake?" she asked.  "The cheesecake is to make the trip to Park Meadows worthwhile."

"You had me at 'luggage shopping,'" I said.)  (Although the cheesecake was delicious.)

I have not tried packing cubes.  I roll my clothes already, and I couldn't imagine that a few fabric cubes would make enough of a packing difference to justify the extra space they must take up.

Still, Lisa's testimony made me curious, and I found a set of Sharper Image cubes on clearance for $16.  "What the hey?" I figured.

And then I tried them.

That's my smaller carry-on bag, the one I often think is too thin to really do what I'd like it to do.  And inside the right half of that bag (HALF!) is six shirts, two sweaters, two pairs of pants, six sets of garments, and two dresses.

I just kept pulling stuff from my closet and rolling clothes up to fill the space.  I actually could have fit a few pairs of socks in there too, and had plenty of room in the other side of the suitcase for toiletries and shoes.

Guys, I have a testimony of packing cubes.  Tell your friends.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Prom Safety

The local emergency response teams put on an annual assembly at our school for the juniors and seniors the week before Prom.  It's the message you would expect on such an occasion - "Don't drink and drive."  It's the message we got the week before Prom when I was in high school too.  Of course, being Colorado, we now have the addendum of "Don't get high and drive."  Go us.

Every two or three years they throw in a bonus - they stage an accident scene.  And so a state trooper came into my classroom a few days before the assembly and asked me if I could round up a couple of actors to help them out.  And maybe we could do a little gorey makeup, just to make it look realistic?

I rounded up eight seniors who were also major drama kids with assistant periods.  They were excited, to say the least.  After we assigned parts (the driver, the dead, the critically injured, the minorly-injured-in-shock), we discussed wardrobe (prom-wear that can be trashed) and I told them I'd mix up a fresh batch of blood for Monday.

The troopers dropped off a wrecked car that morning, so while the rest of the juniors and seniors were inside the auditorium getting Part 1, I led my people to the parking lot to set up for Part 2.  They picked out their spots, we arranged the bodies (already primed with blood from the makeup room), and then I dashed about adding injury details, fixing skirts for modesty, shooing the boys away from trying to crawl inside the car, and pouring out artistic puddles of blood on the pavement next to them.

When we heard the crowd coming, the actors kicked into gear and I started taking photos.
(Rachel - enjoy this flashback to our high school days!)

Zack, Katie, and Chris (the driver).
The corsage is a nice touch.

Christina (dead) and Rochelle

Rebecca (dead) and Jacob

Kaily on a stretcher.
She wanted a gash in her stomach.
Originally it was to simulate her crawling through the broken car window.
They decided after I added it that it was instead the result of the illegal abortion
they were performing in the back seat of the car at the time of the crash.
I'm pretty sure the trooper's presentation didn't cover "Don't perform illegal abortions and drive."
Closeup of Katie and Zack.
Zack's injuries went from "minor scrapes" to "bullet wound in the chest"
around the time that I handed my tub of blood off to the boys
so I could put some bruising powder on Rebecca.
Katie on a stretcher

The bodies covered up while they use the Jaws of Life on the car door.
The "minorly" injured wait anxiously for news of their friends.
The driver gets tested.

...and arrested.
(Chris asked them before the performance if they would use a taser on him if he tried to run.
"No," the trooper said.
"Please?" asked Chris.)

Some of the cops did not take their acting as seriously as my students did.
Obviously they have not had the Fear of Waterhouse put into them.

In the end, the crowd loved it, the kids had a blast, and many of the first responders commented on the "realistic if a bit over-zealous" gore.  They especially liked the embedded-bits-of-gravel-and-glass-in-the-wounds touch (aka Rice Krispies + food coloring).  We had time after the rest of the crowd dispersed for a group shot and a couple of close-ups:

Then we discovered the real scene of the crime:

Thoughts on Having Purple Hair

Yup, I'm still purple.

It's been a little over five weeks now.  I've redyed it twice, both times on my own in my bathroom with a bottle of grocery-store brand dye ("Lusty Lavender," I believe).  The color goes quickly, and by the end of 2 weeks my hair is much more pink-brown than purple.  This is the primary reason that I'll probably give it up towards the end of the month when it's time for my next haircut.  I keep imagining having purple hair in Asia.  They would love my purple hair in Asia.  But it would only be purple hair for part of Asia, and then diminishing shades of lavender and pink for the rest of the time, and that's just not as fun.

I'm getting used to the sight of myself in the mirror - I don't startle myself when I first see my own reflection, at least not as often as I did five weeks ago.  I am getting used to seeing rivulets of purple water streaming down my skin and the drain when I shower, and I am only wearing about 2/3 of the colors in my closet at the moment.  Sometimes I miss wearing red.

I will say this, though.  I have never had a hairstyle before that prompts so many strangers to stop me and say how much they love my hair.  I forget I have purple hair (it is out of sight after all), and then I catch a little kid staring at me and wonder what I did wrong before I remember, "Oh.  It's my hair."

Total strangers come up to me on the street or in the grocery store and tell me they love it.  People in Boulder especially loves my hair (naturally), and the tattooed bagger at Whole Foods gave me a side-eye as his colleague rang me up tonight.  "I love your hair," he said.

"Thanks," I replied.  "I like yours too."  His hair was bright red-orange with deliberate black roots.  It was meticulously coiffed.

"Thanks," he said.  "We should hang out sometime.  We could... fascinate people together."

With this hair I feel more proper wearing heavy eyeliner, big jewelry, and all-black clothes.  Tonight, on my way home from work, I was at the grocery store in tan dress pants, a turquoise blouse, and demur earrings.  I don't look at all like someone who would have purple hair, but there it is.  I don't look like someone who would hang out with the 20-year-old tattooed grocery-store checker and fascinate people, but there it is.

I think it's the actor in me who loves this, loves that I look like a particular someone to other people.  It's not who I usually am, but it is a still a part of who I am.  And I think I am going to miss having other people notice that part of me.

Thursday, May 01, 2014




Don't tell Ullr.


We did a show tonight and the skies are completely clear.

I can't believe it.

We aren't going to talk about it out loud, though.  There is still one more show tomorrow night, and all hell could break loose between now and then.  Oh, sure.  The reports might look like this now:

But you and I know better....