Thursday, January 26, 2012


I caught a cold this past week, which was not a raucously awesome time. I didn’t get sick last winter, though, so this year I was pretty much doomed. It’s like hitting too many green lights in a row: You can only cheat the system for so long before getting stuck behind a bus for five cycles at the same intersection.

Actually, I’ve grown so used to getting a head cold for Christmas that the first warm rivulet of post-nasal drip oozed with the nostalgia of holiday tradition.

The saving grace was that my job offers not only sick days, but also the special bonus of actually wanting me to use them instead of coming to the office to spew contagion like a germ land mine.

This culture of not infecting others (Ha! Culture!) is taking some getting used to. In college I would just snargle my way through classes and into a puddle of pitiful, late-night studying and nose-blowing. During fall-semester finals of my senior year, I eventually followed the combination of an overflowing waste basket and NyQuil-induced forlornness to its natural conclusion:

In twenty-five years of phlegm experience, though, I’ve only ever lost my voice once—naturally, at the least convenient time possible. I’ve already mentioned my abortive stint as a 1st-grade teacher with Teach For America, which put me in front of a roomful of six-year-olds over whom I had effectively no control even when I could shout.

The day I started to lose my voice, I stubbornly decided not to need a substitute. I tried to encourage the class to keep their volume down so that I wouldn’t have to overtax my vocal chords, and since my go-to tactic is “THREATEN WITH RIDICULOUS THINGS,” that’s what I did.

In the end, I did have to take a couple of days off. I left some helpful notes for the sub, though.

Weirdly, when I got back to school, the students turned out to be better behaved than usual until my voice came back. They were oddly accepting of games like, “OK class, we’ll be learning about even numbers in Impossibly High Squeaky Voice today.” Maybe I was right about the substitute in the first place.

A helpful friend made sure to preserve my dulcet tones for generations yet unborn. This video features me attempting to sing our class song—music by Woody Guthrie, lyrics by me, and hand motions/frantic jumping by Miss Boling’s Class.


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