Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Algonquin Regional High School - Trip Report

Happy Holidays everyone!!! The holidays have got me a bit behind on my blogging -- way too much time spent buying last-minute gifts at the mall!! -- but I wanted to tell you all about my great trip up to Massachusetts last week. So let's start with last Tuesday...

Last Tuesday, I visited Algonquin Regional High School in Northboro, Massachusetts. It was my very first high school visit, and I LOVED it. Except for the fact that high school starts really, really early. Here's a quick recap of my day:

5:30am - Alarm beeps. Attempt to shut off alarm. Knock Chapstick off table. Cannot live without Chapstick. Dive under bed to search for Chapstick which has rolled across the room and under the dresser. Flatten onto floor. Find Chapstick. Return to bed.

5:45am - Alarm beeps again. Look at window. It's dark. Also, the shade is down. The two things, while seemingly related, are not. It's actually dark outside, and the alarm is beeping. Shut off alarm. Drag self out of bed and into shower.

6:15am - Agonize over whether I should wear my black pants or my black pants. Decide on my black pants. (Yes, I obsess over minutiae when I'm nervous. Not to imply that pants are minutiae. On the contrary, clothing oneself is key to a successful book event.)

6:30am - Get in car. Notice thermometer in car says 6. Just 6. Think it's broken.

6:45am - Drive from Worcester to Northboro. Eat Christmas cookies for breakfast en route. Nutritious and delicious. Thermometer now says 0.

7:00am - Arrive at Algonquin. Unsure if queasiness is due to nerves or cookies. Am met by my fabulous host, Algonquin librarian Cheryl Lewis.

7:15am - Set up in library classroom. (Setting up involves propping two books up on stands, finding my notes, and checking to make sure I'm still wearing pants.)

7:30am - Give myself a pep talk: You can do this. You're smart enough, you're strong enough, and you've got enough gel in your hair.

7:35am - First presentation/workshop: Creating Characters. In the workshop part, we develop new motivations for Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. My personal favorite: Cinderella is petrified that the prince will step on her glass slipper as she dances. I think this is a completely reasonable fear. Her shoes are glass. This is not a sensible fashion choice. How do you dance in glass shoes? There's no support. No cushioning. Poor girl's feet must be a mess of blisters by the end of the night.

That should totally have been how he recognized her: seeks out his bride based on blisters. Really, it doesn't make a lick of sense that he seeks out his future bride based on shoe size. Lots of people have the same shoe size -- hence the whole concept of a shoe size. Even if hers are really small, there should be some eight-year-olds running around with similarly petite feet... okay, I'm digressing.

9:05am - Second presentation/workshop: The Joy of Revising. For the workshop portion of this talk, I ask everyone to write the worst sentence they could possibly write, and then everyone votes on the worst and works on that one. Some of my favorites: "My cat is fat." "Frank do be cool.
" "The purple shirt is purple."

10:10am - Third presentation/workshop: also the Joy of Revising. See above.

In the question-and-answer portion of the talk, a student asks if I've never met a fairy. I haven't. (I did once receive a letter from the Tooth Fairy, though. She said she had brown curly hair like my mom, and I thought this was quite an extraordinary coincidence.)

Afterwards, learn that students in one of the prior classes
have nicknamed me the Fairy Woman, which explains the student's question. I've never had a nickname before. I like it. Wish the title came with wings. I really want wings. I know what you're thinking: how will she ever find clothes that fit if she has wings? Well, if I had wings, I'd clearly be famous and asked to endorse many airlines and other flight-related products and therefore be able to afford designer wing-friendly clothing. Or else I'd be locked up in a research lab and dissected.

11:30am - Lunch with Cheryl Lewis. Turkey artichoke sandwiches and very fun conversation. Outside, it's now 25 and feels quite balmy. Plus the sun has risen. And I'm still wearing pants. Yay!

12:35pm - Fourth presentation/workshop: How-I-wrote Into the Wild plus a workshop on point-of-view, during which I retell Snow White (complete with my favorite ending: the evil queen dances to death in red-hot iron shoes at Snow White's wedding, and my major complaints: what's up with the prince liking the dead girl, and why is Snow White not brain-dead?). The students share some great retellings of the Snow White wedding scene.

2:00pm - Meet with the Algonquin Regional High School Book Club. All the members had read Into the Wild -- it was their December book. See, here's the lovely bulletin board with all their books, including Int
o the Wild:

Looky, looky, that's my booky!!!

Chat for an hour. So much fun! The time flies by. I could have talked with them for the rest of the day. They were awesome.

3:15pm - Stay late to talk to one of the book club members, who had questions about publishing. (Really, that is one of the primary reasons that I do school visits: to be able to tell kids who want to write, "I did it; you can too.")

So that was my day! I'll blog soon about the following two days, which involved school visits to Melican Middle School and a book signing at the Borders in Shrewsbury, MA.

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At 1:54 PM, Blogger h. said...

Wow. Congratulations on your successful pants choice, notice no one raised their hand to say, "Huh, so why did you wear those pants?" Your day would have really sucked if you'd forgotten your pants. It is so much better to be called the "Fairy Lady" than "that Lady Who Forgot Her Pants" or even worse, "The Pantless Wonder". I still remember the day my high school history teacher wore new pants. They were acid wash jeans, and replaced his normal (and horribly out of date) flared jeans. I'd better stop now, I've been dated by pants.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

H: Definitely want to avoid the Pantless Wonder moniker. Unless, of course, the "wonder" part meant that I'd have cool superpowers...


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