Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aging (not so gracefully)

My age has never really bothered me all that much. I've heard talk of friends crying all day on their 30th birthday or pulling the covers over their heads and reluctantly emerging days later in honor of their 35th or 40th, but I've always thought this was absurd. My 35th birthday passed less than 6 months ago without incident, but this week I have felt the sting of aging in a series of not so subtle moments.

Incident #1 - After sitting indian-style watching an episode of The Office with Steve on the couch, I hopped up to get a fudge pop out of the freezer. I was seized by shooting pain from the sole of my right foot through the crown of my head and was forced to hobble the rest of the way grabbing my aching back all the way. It occurred to me in that moment that I was the spitting image of my grandma.

Incident #2 - The middle school where I teach was put into lock down by the local police this week because a student threatened to harm himself and could not be located. This involved locking teachers and students in classrooms. I did not have students when the lock down started, so I took care of locking my empty classroom and headed across the hall to hunker down with my work best friend (WBF) and another teacher (Science Daddy - don't ask). Maybe it's my gender, maybe my age, or maybe just the stress of the situation, but by the time we realized that this was not just a drill I realized how badly I had to pee. About 45 minutes in I was seriously considering taking care of business by hanging my bum over one of the science lab sinks. Good thing I didn't because about 20 seconds later a police officer unlocked the door and escorted us, gun drawn, to the gym to wait out the search with the rest of the student body. I had to hold a lock down drill of my own until I was released to go to the restroom.

Incident #3 - I've had reading glasses for over a year, but lately I've found myself wearing them more and more each day, especially given my job as a reading teacher. Walking down the hall wearing my glasses the other day I found myself thinking, "Man, I wish these were bifocals." Nursing home, here I come.

Incident #4 - While chatting in the copy room with a 23-year-old punk kid teacher (I hope you're reading this!) the conversation somehow meandered around to a single friend of mine. He says, "How old is she?" I say, "My age." He replies, face all crinkled up in a grimace of distaste, "Ewwww..." He then tries to backpedal, but it's no use. I recall the days when I was the youngest teacher at school, those days are long gone.

As old as I feel, the good news is that my hubby is aging just as gracefully. He pulled a hamstring fielding grounders at our 4-year-old's baseball practice this week. We're quite a pair.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I try to remain well behaved. I try to keep my composure in all situations. I try to keep a straight face at times when laughter is out of place, but I am physically incapable of holding back a giggle, a guffaw, or a belly laugh - no matter how inappropriate the timing.

I got a little emotional in the middle of my wedding. Most people would shed a ear or two, I found a snort laugh fighting to escape and in an effort to hold it back, I shot snot out of my nose. The pastor felt sorry for me and gave me his hanky. Ewww.

Most teachers can keep it together when an 8th grade boy cuts the cheese in class. Last week I could not maintain my decorum when a human fog horn sounded in the middle of class and I went into a full body laugh reminiscent of a seizure, complete with a river of tears before the smell hit. When the cloud descended it wasn't quite as funny.

Someone once told me I was possessed by the demon of laughter. It's true. Not even I could make that up. We were at church camp the summer after 7th grade and my friend K was in my cabin. Now let's be honest, the middle school girls cabin is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it is not to be entrusted to novices either. But on this occasion, out of sheer desperation - I'm sure, the job was given to a rookie. Big mistake. Big mistake...

Rookie counselor decided that on the third night of camp, instead of hanging out, singing Bon Jovi at the top of our lungs, and dancing around to Little Sally Walker, walking down the street... that we should have a serious time of prayer before bed. We'd all been going to camp together since the 3rd grade and this was a new one on us. From the top bunk, K and I observed the looks of shock on the faces all around us. We all reluctantly bowed our heads and the rookie started praying. Every time we thought she was done, she would take a breath, pause, and keep going. We were fueled only by sugar, bad camp food, humid Texas air and adrenaline from lack of sleep, so as I caught K's eye, she caught mine and we started to giggle. Try as we might to hold it back it just got louder. We tried to stop. Truly we did. But only one thing could put a stop to our untimely fit of the giggles.

The rookie stood up and at the top of her quavery voice said, "You have the demon of laughter. The demon of laughter is in you." I was shocked into silence. She was serious and she was mad. That memory is burned into my mind, but not because I was embarrassed. Not because I thought she was right. Not because I couldn't wait to tell my mom what she said. But because I could never reconcile the idea of laughter and demonic possession being even remotely related.

So, last night - over 20 years since the camp incident - I was browsing K's art gallery web site to see her newest paintings. I can't think of her without thinking about our shared moment of laughter, so when I happened upon her painting titled "You Make Me Happy", I snatched it up because I want my home filled with memories, happiness and laughter. Even the kind that sneaks out at inopportune moments.