Since sometime after our wedding, I have been in a very strange, relatively uncomfortable life place. This place was one in which I did not know what door to open, or through which window to climb. It felt like the walls were closing in, and there were simultaneously no openings at all, and too many to make a choice. But a choice was going to be required, and quickly.
You know that scene when Luke and Leia and Han are trapped in the trash compactor? It felt a lot like that. I was trying to pry the walls apart with a big stick, and, although I have a better grasp on physics than Carrie Fisher, they still kept closing. I was about to get crushed, or pulled under by a giant tentacled thing, and I couldn't imagine R2-D2 on a computer panel somewhere disabling my life path trash compactor. I was freaking out.
So, a couple months ago I had a meeting with a good friend, one of those people with whom I seem to share brainspace, with whom I have worked on a thousand projects, and who understands my mixed metaphors. I asked her to meet with me because I was in this weird life place, and I thought if anyone could help me talk it through and figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up it would be her. We did talk through a lot of stuff, and I realized something in that meeting -- a thing that at the time I thought was a bad thing -- I realized that my life comes in waves, and that I always just ride the wave, landing wherever it drops me, and I live in that place until the next wave comes along to carry me somewhere else. I don't drive my life, it carries me. In that meeting, I thought, "NO! I'm going to drive, darn it! It's time I took control and MADE this darn life go where I want it to go!" I began framing out the life I thought I wanted to live. I began making plans, decisions that would force my life to go forward in the direction of MY choosing, gosh darn it!
And the next wave hit. And it's a big one. The kind that surfers fly halfway around the globe to ride. And it is exciting and terrifying and amazing and frightening and exhilarating and all those -ings all at once. R2-D2 disabled the trash compactor, and my wave has carried me to an amazing shore --think Galapagos Islands and then add unicorns and a couple saber-toothed tigers-- that's how awesome and completely scary this life shore is.
At this point, I'm sure you are all (the 3 of you who actually read this far) wondering what the crap I am talking about. Mixed metaphors aside, I have been given the opportunity to teach theatre at a school that consistently rates among the top high schools in the country, a school in which the arts are valued, where, in fact, they just spent several million dollars on renovations and additions to the arts infrastructure, including improvements to many of the spaces in which I will be working. Walnut Hills High School has a lovely 1100 seat auditorium, (with full fly space) and a real, functional black box performance space. Today, three full weeks from the start of classes, a representative number of students and parents showed up to help move things around, clean, and sort. This is a school where the students look forward to class, and parents are eager to help where they can. This is a school where my having been a theatre practitioner makes me a valuable member of the team. Officially, I will be teaching Creative Dramatics to 7th and 8th grade students, and Stagecraft to high school students. I will also be directing two of the five fully supported productions, and taking on some portion of the Technical Director duties, and, I'm sure, many of the costumer duties, too.
I am unbelievably excited. It hasn't quite sunk in yet that I really have this amazing job. They gave me keys today (I have a classroom!), so it is starting to get real, but it hasn't made it all the way past the "I'm helping my friend set up his theatre department" to the "I'm helping my friend set up OUR theatre department" This is an opportunity to do all those tech-y things that I love to do, and impart some of the actor-y stuff that I know, too.
I love being a teacher. I love the smell of sawdust and scenic paint. I love that I already have a bruise on the back of my hand from dropping a platform on myself. I love that I am irritated by all the cables that have been improperly coiled, because that is going to be lesson #1 when my class moves onstage, and will take all of at least one class period to set to rights. I love that in this process I'm finally going to have to put on my big girl panties and learn how to do a light plot. I love that this job, more than any other I've had, is going to keep me on my toes and require me to keep learning something new every day, and force me to remember things that I forgot ten minutes after Tom Monaco said them fifteen years ago.
I am terrified that I'll screw this up, but I'm going to take a great big breath, dust off my Backstage Handbook and read it cover to cover, enlist the help of all the real teachers I know to write a syllabus, gather my badge and my keys and dive in. This wave is gonna roll for a while. Thanks, R2-D2.
I am the Unanticipated Teacher!
Here we go...