Tuesday, June 10, 2014

GUESS WHAT!? . . . nevermind . . .

Guess what!? I'm craving spaghetti, which means only one thing: I will be throwing up later tonight. I never crave spaghetti unless I'm about to get the stomach flu. It's a strong indicator.The fact that everyone else in my house has the stomach flu is also a strong indicator. And also the fact that I have a funeral to go to on Thursday. The last time I had a funeral to go to on a Thursday I also got the stomach flu. I went anyway, and made it all the way to the church, but not all the way out of the car.

I would love to explain these two deaths to you, but as soon as I start, my words get tangled up in my emotions and I think, nevermind.

I have a student who says this all the time. But first he raises his hand with astonishing enthusiasm. He raises his hand with his whole body, but as soon as he tries to gets his thoughts from his hand to his mouth, his body deflates. "Nevermind," he says.

Nevermind is the writing mantra I have had to adopt since I've become a teacher. I do try. I really, really do, every so often (four times, to be exact) try to get my thoughts from my hand to my mouth (or vice versa in my case). But halfway through the process I have to duck and cover because another set of thoughts come rushing in, demanding my attention. They come in waves. Endless waves of never ending, half finished thoughts.

Either that or I lose my train of thought.

In March I started writing a post called Sometimes I Don't Feel Like a Fatherless Child after I attempted to sign my son out of school early and ended up standing in the hallway with sweaty eyeballs listening to his seminary teacher compassionately explain to the class what happens to souls after they commit suicide.

Nevermind, I thought, halfway through the post.

I also started a post called, No Room in the Laie Inn, after I found out that BYU-H was getting rid of their sports programs. 

Nevermind, I thought, after working on it for hours. There ain't even room in the Laie Inn for the Laie Inn.

And what can I do about it, anyway?

Then I wrote a post called Life Before about how it felt to find out my brother-in-law has Leukemia.


I wrote other things too. I wrote some hilarious jokes about how many socks it takes to raise three teenage boys, and I wrote some hilarious bios for my son when he was nominated to be in a beauty pageant. He asked for funny, and I gave him funny. You know I did. But he didn't find any of it funny. Probably because it was all true. I had to explain to him that great humor is derived from not-so-great truth.

Am I right, or am I right . . .

Wait, what was I saying?

I just lost my train of thought.

Nevermind.  None of this has anything to do with what I wanted to say anyway. What I wanted to say was, GUESS WHAT!?

I have this other student who always greeted me this way. "GUESS WHAT!?" she'd say, just like that, in all caps. I always expected something extraordinary to come out of her mouth, but it never did. She just wanted to remind me that I needed to get her grade up. She was passionate about me getting her grade up. This helped me see the importance of being passionate about what you say, even if it doesn't make sense. And what I am about to say does not make sense, but GUESS WHAT!?

I think I'm in love. With being a high school teacher. I think I get it now. The appeal.

Crazy, huh?

As part of my final exam this year I asked my students to tell me the most important thing they learned this year in history and language arts. They said they learned that teachers make typos too, and I'm grateful I could be the one to teach them that. But GUESS WHAT!? They said other things too. Not the things I expected them to say, like "I learned that George Washington was a studmuffin,"  or "I learned that slavery sucks," or "I learned me some mad annotation skillz, and MLA format rulez."

But they didn't say these things. They said things like, "I learned that writing is inspirational."

"I learned how to tell a better story, and how to live a better story."

"I learned that sharing my opinion helps me, but it could also help others."

"I learned that true courage is being true to yourself," "that in order to be self reliant I have to be self reflective," "that I have the power to do anything with virtue, honor and courage," "that we all have the ability to do something amazing," "that I can help people," "that I should doubt my doubts," "that I can make decisions."

"I learned that I write good stories," "that if you want something, go and get it," "that you shouldn't do good to appear good, you should do good to be good."

"I learned to figure out where I stand on issues," "that conformity is the thief of originality."

"I learned to own my actions and thoughts."

"I learned to embrace my differences."

Some students wrote whole paragraphs, and one sweet girl went home and typed two pages about what she learned. Single spaced.

This is why I'm in love. Because what's not to be in love with, right?  What's not to be passionate about?

And GUESS WHAT!? There ain't no nevermind in passion.

(But there is passion in the stomach flu) (Just sayin')