Honesty Time

Keeping it real since 2013


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True Life: I cried at Hunchback

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Disney fans, movie fans, theatre lovers and fangirls, cultured folks, and friends of all of the above, may have heard the growing praises for the new musical adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

And if you haven’t heard yet, you should.

By the way, the show may be produced by Disney Theatrical Group, but this is not marketed towards children. The Disney name doesn’t even appear on the poster or any merchandise. While some people are oddly turned off by the dark tone, I love it. There was a talkback with the cast after one of the performances and, I believe it was Michael Arden but stop me if I’m wrong, said it best when he said that he grew up watching the movie, but now this version of the story has grown up with him. Love it. So true. I adored having the songs and characters I already knew being explored in a different way. It is also more faithful to the original story by Victor Hugo. I don’t believe that stories need to be dumbed down or sugar coated for audiences, so I heartily applaud the truthful, faithful, and emotional storytelling of this adaptation.

Talk Back with the cast. Yes, Patrick Page has on a Spiderman shirt.

Talk Back with the cast.

Truth: The first night I saw it, two ladies behind me left at intermission because it was not the Disney that they were expecting. Those who react to a show in such a way are closed minded and missing out on life’s experiences. Suit yourself, but if you choose to leave a performance because it’s not playing out exactly as you wanted it to, then I find you to be selfish. Good day, sir.

I mentioned for a split second up there “the first night I saw it.” Which means, yes, I saw it twice. I went back two days later because I couldn’t get the show out of my head, and emotionally, I wasn’t done with it. The first time I was mostly in awe. I was sitting very close, and being an all around theatre person, I spent the entire show trying to take in the whole story, the set, the lights, the costumes, the sound design, and everything. My jaw was dropped the entire time, not only because I was a full time Chuckie Finster Mouth Breather that night, but also because I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. The second time was less of a shock, so I was able to delve into the lyrics and narrative a bit more, which resulted in a lot more tears than the first night.

Yup. I’m a big crier, even when it comes to works of fiction, and I’m never ashamed to admit it. I still get misty when I listen to Big Fish in the car, and don’t you dare get me started on the face-rain that happens when Sirius Black dies.

Yes, I sat nice and close. The set was a sight to behold.

Yes, I sat nice and close. The set was a sight to behold.

Here are 7 reasons why you’ll cry because of Hunchback.

  1. Your high school student walks out on stage and, surprise, is part of the production. Ok, fine. This isn’t applicable to most people, but it was for me. The choir accompanying the professional cast on the stage is made up of your everyday, talented folk from New Jersey. My student, now a senior, auditioned and was given the once in a lifetime chance to join this production. As I no longer work at that school, I had no idea he was doing this. One of the kindest and most genuine students, he is also hard to miss as he is tall and sports a curly, ginger head of hair. He walked right out and sat in the first row of the choral boxes, and I couldn’t mistake him. Apologies to everyone who sat near me as I exclaimed “That’s my kid! That’s my student! My student is up there!” I tried to be quiet but who knows how quiet I was. I was so proud. I love my students with all of my heart. And so, I cried.
  2. The show is starting. I tend to get misty eyed and let a stray tear loose when I listen to overtures, both in recordings and at shows. I feel that I am blessed to witness the gift that I am about to receive. When the opening is as powerful and well-done as it was with Hunchback, the chances of this happening are quadrupled. Thank you, orchestra and Continuo Arts choir. For most people, it might be a goosebumps moment, but, like I said, I’m a crier.
  3. Ciara Renée is singing “God Help the Outcasts.” Have you ever been an outcast? Do you understand that feeling of otherness? Come, child, here, have some tissues. Not to mention that Ciara had REAL ACTUAL TEARS in her eyes, so if I was welling up, seeing that made me actually cry. I cry when other people cry too. I’m a crier. Also, as a theatre lover, I can appreciate a truly well-done stage picture. The end of the song had Esmeralda singing out to the world (or, er, the house), with Quasimodo lurking farther up, against the colorful stained glass. Feeling the same feelings, but being so far apart, trapped inside the breathtaking prison, the merging of two people into one shared situation… it was a lot for my emotions.
  4. Quasimodo is singing “Heaven’s Light.” Michael Arden is the best Quasimodo I can imagine. His physicality was not a caricature, and he was honest. His honesty allowed Quasimodo to have a little humor, a lot of authenticity in his feelings and actions, and a truly broken spirit. His voice, though mangled a bit in speaking as the half-formed, mostly deaf young man, was clear as could be while singing. Arden’s tone was as pure and striking as the bells above him, and by the end of the song, I was brought to tears simply by his voice mixed with the ringing of said bells. I can’t even freaking tell you what he was singing about because by the end of the song, I was so emotional that I had no idea what was happening.
    Side note: Has that ever happened to anyone else? You’re so into something, you’re responding emotionally, you love it, but what the hell just happened? All memory of the actual content gone?

    Photo by Jerry Dalia. Source: Playbill.com Michael Arden and Ciara Renée during "Top of the World"

    Photo by Jerry Dalia. Source: Playbill.com Michael Arden and Ciara Renée during “Top of the World”

  5.  Ciara Renée and Andrew Samonsky are singing “Someday.” I wish there was a recording of them singing this for me to play over and over again. Part of the power of a lot of this show, but in particular this song, is how the themes are, sadly, always applicable. She’s singing about justice’s dawn, and learning to live and let others live, which is something we, as a world, struggle with immensely. Then they sing something to the effect of “someday, these dreams will be real/’Til then we’ll wish upon the moon,” which is one of the single most beautiful vocal moments ever, and the exact moment when, if you aren’t already dabbing your eyes, you’ll be scrambling for your tissues. You can listen to the super hip, super 90’s All-4-One recording, but it’s just not the same (literally. The songs are different from each other, but close).

    You’re welcome for this fabs 90s style music video. Yas.
  6. Michael Arden is breaking the fourth wall (as is done masterfully so many times during the show to aid in narration, as the style calls for storytelling, and not just action) and giving a bit of an epilogue to Quasimodo’s story. The story he tells is almost direct from the book, in a chapter entitled “The Marriage of Quasimodo.” By this point, there was a distinct little river streaming down from one of my eyes and I gave up on trying to wipe it away. That’s some real honesty time there. I don’t want to spoil it, but the words were sweet, simple, and really hit the audience members right in the feels. Love and devotion and loyalty are eternal, y’all.
  7.  Oh, well, here comes the finale. The entire cast and choir are singing. Erik Liberman, as cunning Clopin, comes to end the show, just as he began it. And then everyone joins in. And they’re just singing “bells, bells, bells, bells” and they’re just standing in a line. And then they’re not even singing any words anymore. But they’re singing with such conviction. And pride. And they move downstage. And I’m still crying, and then the lights go out, and then I’m on my feet applauding.

I could continue to gush about all aspects of the show… Patrick Page is the world’s best, most human villain and I’d also like to listen to him talk all day long. The sound design was brilliant in a way that I know most non-theatre enthusiasts are sure to notice, but not understand as I do. The congregants were versatile and fluid in their movements from one part to the next, taking on each little role with a firm mastery. The lights exemplified the perfect use of color theory that I wish my students would pay attention more attention to. Hello, all that orange and blue? The teal and purple? Quasi almost always being in what reads as a pure light? UGH love it.

But I have to leave it here. I could go on all day. I almost have. Sorry not sorry.

Be ready for wherever this show lands next, and catch it when you can. You will be sorry if you miss it. There’s only one more week left to see this show in its current life at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey. You can bet that when it goes to Broadway (and it has to. It’s too powerful to just sit on a shelf now), I will see it again.


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What It’s Like To Get a Surprise Call into Work… On a Monday

As a substitute, I am aware that I may wake up in the morning to a phone call which asks, or requires, me to get up and go to work. I don’t usually answer last minute calls from one of my schools, because it takes almost an hour to get there, and I must leave at 6:50am in order to make the 7:50 bell. The other school is only 10 minutes up the road and starts at 8:30.

 

Guess which one I got a call from this morning?

pillowkitten

Via Tastefully Offensive

 

At 6:30?

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And then I was on the phone until about 6:40 trying to get my plans and the FYI for the day.

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I had planned on waking up at 8. It’s Monday, dammit.

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Via Tastefully Offensive

 

Clothes? What are those? How do they match? What is life?

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But somehow, I managed to leave the house at 7:00, which isn’t too bad, but not great. So I put my shades on and pump up some Kinky Boots tunes.

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Because otherwise I’ll never be awake enough to drive.

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Of course because I’m 10 minutes later than I usually am, I must hit an insane amount of traffic.

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You know, to make Monday worse.

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And then I finally get to the parking lot, but I have no idea where I’m going because the whole thing has been redesigned with assigned spaces and I’m looking for my spot like

dogdriving 

And then I meet the freshmen today for the first time, which wasn’t supposed to happen until next week and they’re like

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And I’m like

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And then I told them to sit down and read and we’re both like

 ccfreakout

And then I saw kids that already know me  from my other classes and they were like

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And I was like

EXCITED! EXCITED!

EXCITED! EXCITED!

 

And then I had lunch. And that’s where I am right now.

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Mondays. That’s really all I have for today. I was planning on writing something very different, but my blog writing time was taken away and looking at GIFs during my lunch seems productive, even though I won’t be able to finalize and post this until I actually get home.

Cheers. 


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From Past to Present: Back To School Feelings

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Elementary School

When I was in elementary school, back to school time was rough for me. I mean, I’m sure I loved learning, but I always remember being anxiety ridden because a new school year meant change.

New teacher – and I had just bonded with my previous teacher, and now no more! New classroom – everything is in a different place, how far are the bathrooms? Where do I put my stuff? New classmates – are any of my friends even in this class with me? No? Just great. Are the bullies in this class? Is my teacher a bully?

(Yes, my 4th grade teacher bullied me. It exists. And I’ve even seen it in recent years as an adult…)

 

Here I am in my 8th grade picture - right around the time I started to look like a young Harry Potter (I wasn't wearing my glasses here, obvi)

Here I am in my 8th grade picture – right around the time I started to look like a young Harry Potter (I wasn’t wearing my glasses here, obvi)

Middle School

When I transitioned to middle school, I was much happier. We changed classes every 40 minutes or so, so I was never with one teacher or group of kids for too long. I had more chances to be in a class with friends, and I was quite often, even if it was just Phys Ed or music.

I was still bullied, but it was easier to escape as each bell rang. I also started to love learning and reading. Some of that is probably attributed to the Harry Potter series actually. As I’ve mentioned before, when I started 5th grade, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone finally hit popularity in my neck of the woods. I started having “favorite teachers” who were always around, no matter what grade I was in. They were there for me to visit them during lunch or after school, always. 6th grade English teacher and 6th grade scial studies teacher? I kept in touch with them until I graduated high school – I even did my Senior Service “internship” in their classrooms.

We had already learned all of the basics in elementary school, so now we could expand on our learning. I loved it. Back to school time no longer meant anxiety over change, but instead anticipation (the good kind. Like when Doctor Frank’n’furter says “antici…….pation!”) and growth.

 

High School

High school really makes or breaks a person. I think that, for the most part, high school broke me, and I spent most of college gluing the pieces together again.

So, back to school feelings in high school were mixed. On one hand, I was thrilled to get out of the house and go back to learning. But, my social life did not grow in high school and I was still the outsider. Really, really an outsider. I was bullied in younger grades for reasons I will never know, so instead of not knowing why, I gave people a reason to dislike me.

I followed no rules, laws, or even mere guidelines of fashion. I constantly wore my head phones to shut out the world and appear a little tougher, a little darker (Yeah, I was sooooo dark listening to Evanescence in my Walkman). I collected spooky things (I still think they’re kind of cute, honestly). I sulked and stalked the hallways.

I grew out of this by senior year, when people realized who I really was. Some people told me that they were actually scared of me in previous years. I guess I had accomplished my goal, but I was no stronger for any of it.

So how did I survive? English class was always a highlight of my life, every year, no matter who the teacher. Going into sophomore year, I heard that I was going to have the bomb history teacher. I looked forward to that, and I was pleasantly surprised to realize that this teacher would indeed help me get through the year. He cared about his students, had a sense of humor, told stories, made history relevant to current times (I know, I know. History is always relevant but it was always my weakest subject), drew comics on the board, played review games with us, and let us listen to hip music during classwork time.

The real reason I was ever excited to return to another year of high school?

My music department. The choir teacher was my angel, my best friend, and my mom-away-from-home. The choir room was my safe haven. Sure, I wasn’t friends with everyone in the department, and even some of my “enemies” and “bullies” were there, but there was something harmonious about the room (wait… oh. What did I just say. I didn’t mean to pun that sentence up, I swear) that kept us all from killing each other.

The teacher had a serious, vested interest in our day-to-day lives and where we were going, or how we were growing up. I didn’t just learn about music, but I learned about life and myself. I no longer sing (I’m really not good at it), but I still cherish every lesson that I learned.

Here I am in my white-face clown makeup for Cabaret, lovingly holding onto the coat rack that I moved for all of the shift changes.

Here I am in my white-face clown makeup for Cabaret, lovingly holding onto the coat rack that I moved for all of the shift changes.

I spent all my free periods in that room, and I spent countless after school hours waiting for a ride or just hanging out in that room. When I made my triumphant return this past school year, that wonderful choir teacher excitedly showed every one of my new pals from the musical all of my favorite places to sit. “She would sit right there by the folders, or right here by the piano. We’re so happy to have her back!” I had such a strong bond with her, the room, and the class, that I always looked forward to choir first out of everything in the school year.

What else came with the music department? The aforementioned, often mentioned, wonderful all-school musical. We didn’t audition until after Thanksgiving, but I waited all summer for it. I really did. My first two years of high school were the worst for me, in terms of self-esteem, I suppose, because I never auditioned. I was always an usher, a painter, and a helper. Junior year, I finally auditioned and made it in. It was the best experience of my life.

To be honest, I miss it so much still, even though I’m involved again. The memories of Musical are so positive and so strong that they could probably produce my Patronus. No, they definitely could. It would be a really strong Patronus produced by memories of group bonding and hand games, the thrill of performing, the laughs during dance rehearsal, more life lessons learned from the choir teacher during music rehearsal, and my triumphant return for Urinetown.

Back to school in high school clearly meant Back To Music for me. I miss it, still, sometimes.

 

Drew University

In college, back to school was yet again something different from my previous years. I was more myself than I had ever been before, and college was the highlight of my social life. I made new friends and had no fren/enemies (not until junior year at least). Back to school at college meant getting back to my friends, who I never saw during the summer, and back to my freedom.

My mom runs a tight ship, and as an adult, I’m thankful for that because it put me on the right track, but it was exhausting. (Still is sometimes, but I love you mom). Back to school was freedom and a return to familiar faces and routines.

If Elementary School Allyssa had gone to college, she would have hated it. A new dorm every year. New schedule. New People. Too much newness, every year. But for Almost Adult Allyssa? Perfection. A breath of fresh, crisp, new air every year was what I always needed.

Yet, I still looked forward to reoccurring and annual events (WWW, Ho Ball [kind of], 4 shows a semester, finals week [yes, I liked it, it was fun minus the exams], FAP, etc), because I like routine. I often took classes with the same professors over and over again because, like my choir teacher, I needed a mentor who would be a constant support me during my four years (I never really found one, though I did get close. Damn, my choir teacher is STILL my role model and mentor).

College had the perfect balance of sameness and newness to keep me satisfied. I still miss it.

 

Back To School – Adult Edition

I don’t know when I’m going to start going in, but the new school year is upon us and I am more excited than ever before. My kids start today, but I most likely won’t start having hours in the department until the Fall Drama really kicks into gear.

Back to school as an adult participant in education means that I get to return to being a mentor. I like to think of it as paying it forward. I had an extraordinary mentor in my choir teacher, and I aspire to be like her every single day of my existence.

So far, I have mostly succeeded. I may not be a full time, bona fide teacher yet, but I work closely enough with my kids that I feel that I am pretty close.

Kids reach out to me through email or through my “Teacher Twitter” on a regular basis, even in the summer. Kids come to me during their free periods, lunches, or after school hours just to talk about life, or school, or work.

The best part of going back to school is that I work with the same kids every year. Most teachers only see their kids for one school year. I follow the same kids their entire 3-4 years of high school (Yeah 3, long story), just like my choir teacher, who got to work with us every year that we chose to take choir. My kids are bonded into my program (it’s their major, so they can’t drop out of theatre even if they tried), so I see them change and grow with each school year. It’s magical to see it from this side.

Of course, each year I get to meet a new group of 30 freshmen, who I will begin to form a bond with as soon as possible. I get butterflies the first day that I meet them. I love the rush, the introductions, and even the embarrassment of trying to learn their names. I work so closely with the freshmen every year that we have no choice but to get along. Whether they choose to utilize me as a mentor or not is up to them, but I will always be there for them if they desire.

So happy first week of school to my kids (who will never see this, and if they do, they have either long graduated or are really good detectives), and I can’t wait to see you.

We’re going to make magic this year.


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Overheard: Phys Ed Edition

Happy summer! Longer, warmer, sunnier days are officially here and, in most places, school is out for the summer! Hooray! My last day of the school year was actually almost two weeks ago, though my kids just graduated last Wednesday.

In honor of summer vacation, I’d like to share a few final pieces of school year fun, in remembrance of my ridiculous classroom location and in honor of the bizarre, hysterical, and out-going kids that I work with on a regular basis.

Lucky me! On one very special day, the partition that separates my usual classroom (the drama classroom) from the gym was left open. You see, in case I haven’t mentioned already, I share a fake wall with the gymnasium, so kids are always shouting and basketballs are always hitting my wall. I can hear almost everything through that flimsy partition. Having the partition wide open made me more distracted than usual and I had a much easier time hearing everything that happened in the gym. On this particular day, it seemed as if all of the students were a little hyper, and that let me hear some very amusing conversations. Here are some of the odder ones.

  • “A! C! That’s an ACE!” No. Just…no.
  • “Up top! Up Top! Oh yeah!” Is this how we still ask for high fives? Are we Barney Stinson?
  • Pokemon music. Definitely the battling music. Who is playing Gameboy during phys ed? And I am not ashamed that I recognized the music almost immediately. No shame!
  • “You are the dancing queeeeeen” Probably the most bizarre choice for music I have heard from this class.
  • “Okay, everybody on the bleachers! We’re going to split you up now.”
    “I don’t want to be halved!”
  • “Boom! Roasted!” You have to imagine this being said as if the kid who said it was Baby Brent from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Just do it.
  • Baby Brent Boy: “Get off the court!”
    Girl: “I’m not on the court!”
    Teacher: “Get off the court, you’re in the wrong attire!”
    Girl: “I’m not on the court! I’m just passing through!”
    Baby Brent Boy: “Boom! Roasted!”
  • “My bad my bad my bad!”
    “SEMEN” How does this follow that? Who shouts out that word? Especially in school? That’s super inappropriate and I hope to not hear that again.
  • Barking. Someone was actually barking. This is odd, but then I also remembered that we had a kid, back when I was a teenager, at my high school who also barked a lot. Is this a thing?
  • “VERMOUTH”
    “VERMOUTH!”
    “VERMOUUUUTHHH” or at least that’s what it sounded like to me. It could have also been “Red booth!” or “Big moose!” But “Red Booth” just makes me think of the book The Phantom Tollbooth. Now I want to read that again. Oh, childhood.

And finally, something bizarre overheard in the hallway, because it’s interesting out there too.

  • “Dude, I already told you, I don’t want a milkshake.” What’s wrong with you? Why not? Is someone offering you one? I’ll take it. I’ve been craving a milkshake for days now, so I regret not running out there and asking the kid to go get me a milkshake.

I know summer just started, but I’m already looking forward to September, when I will hear more insane quotes from students. My job may stress me out, but when I realize that I genuinely get to laugh big, belly shaking laughs multiple times every single day, I realize just how lucky I am.

And to keep the laughter rolling, here’s some more Baby Brent, just because I love Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs so damn much.

Also for fun, here is how I celebrated the first Monday of summer vacation: in a sugar-shock food coma. My friend and I decided to eat all the sweets we could, and make an awesome gluten free cake (recipe modified to be GF), which is not pictured because I honestly can’t even go look at food ever again, so a picture will have to wait.

Frosting, fluff, Nutella, Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter cup, cookies (don't worry, they're probiotic so they're healthy?), Cheetos, Skinny Pop (hahahah skinny), and the fixins to make a cream cheese coffee cake. Sassy.

Frosting, fluff, Nutella, Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter cup, cookies (don’t worry, they’re probiotic so they’re healthy?), Cheetos, Skinny Pop (hahahah skinny), Mac and Cheese, and the fixins to make a cream cheese coffee cake. Sassy.


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Observations on Being “Old”

Hey. I’m 24 now. So that happened yesterday. When I say 24, I feel old. At least I’m not 25 (sorry to all of my friends who are), which is definitely old. That’s a quarter of a century! So why does 24 feel so old? In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not.

The other day, while going for a run (uh… A jog? A walk?) on the local high school track, my friend and I discussed the flier that we got in the mail detailing new hires and retirees from our school community. One of our math teachers from middle school is retiring this year after 40 years of teaching. My friend was all “40 years? How is that… Oh. Oh my god. We’ve been out of middle school for 10 years.”

That realization sank in and it was weird. That’s a double-digit number. Obvious, I know. Ten years is definitely a big gap though. Especially when I consider that, as a 14-year-old, I was definitely not at all who I am today. I didn’t even have my wisdom teeth taken out yet!

This year also marks 6 years since graduating from high school. 6 isn’t that big of a number. However, it still seems like yesterday that I was in the choir room of my local high school, maybe at a musical meeting…

Wait. No, that actually did happen last week. We announced next year’s musical. That happened.

This is how I start researching for a show. Pinterest and iTunes sing-a-long parties!

This is how I start researching for a show. Pinterest and iTunes sing-a-long parties!

It’s been 6 years since graduating from high school and now I find myself back there on a regular basis. Working. I do the costumes, hair, and make up for their all-school musical productions. That’s weird because I’m pretty sure I just recently gave my senior speech about doing theatre for the rest of my life and living in a cardboard box. But it was 6 years ago.

The kids, both at that school and the school in which I typically work year-round, always ask me what year I graduated. Then they go “Oh well, you’re not that much older.”

No, I’m not, but I certainly do notice the age gap a lot. They teach me things, I teach them things, and then I hang my head in sorrow when they don’t get certain references. It’s bizarre being the adult in the room and finally understanding how all of my teachers felt when we didn’t understand their jokes.

I’ve been keeping a running list of a few references from pop culture and history that have come up more than once in my schools, or moments that have reminded me that I am no longer a kid. Here are just a few of them:

1.     Slang is ever evolving.

I know that our language is changing constantly, but sometimes I just sit and think about the slang and go “Where on Earth did this come from?” When I graduated high school, it was the year “OhSevs” and “obvi” we were “totes” the coolest seniors ever. “Abbrevs” were all the rage. Now we have junk such as “#yolo” which I just can’t stand. This year, the kids taught me what “ratchet” means, which was new to me, but apparently old hat to a friend who works in a school in another state. Where did that even come from? Most of their slang is driven by social media and being judgmental of others. And I thought we were trying to stop bullying? Totes sad.

2.     You do know that this movie was released in VHS form first, right?

I think my mind was actually quite blown the day that a freshman said to me “Oh, you like Jurassic Park too?! I grew up on it! Yeah! It came out when I was little.” Excuse me? Child, perhaps it was finally released on DVD when you were little (and I checked, it was), but I saw it when it came out on VHS and I had to listen to the majestic soundtrack on a cassette tape. Don’t even get me started on cassettes.

3.     98 Degrees

Once, the kids were having a dance party to Backstreet Boys’ Millennium album while getting ready to embark on a field trip. Let’s just ignore the fact that the kids were only about a year old when these genius tunes came out, and jump to the fact that we started talking about boy bands. It’s nice that the kids still appreciate real pop boy bands and that they don’t all thrive on the Disney Channel-created pop stars and whoever those boys are from England? Australia? Both? I excitedly told them that I heard a rumor that 98 Degrees might go back on tour. They had no idea who 98 Degrees was. No. Idea.

I know that they weren’t the best boy band or anything, but they were awesome. These kids have no idea that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were once an item, and why that was such a big deal. They don’t know the “Chicken of the Sea” joke from Newlyweds. They don’t know how cool 98 Degrees was when they sang “True to Your Heart” for the Mulan soundtrack. They just don’t understand me!

4.     Twerking

What is this, I don’t even…? Stop that.

5.     Tamagotchis

I remember when I was in 2nd grade, Tamagotchis were huge. We would bring them to school and hand them off to our student teacher, as if she were the babysitter. It’s nice to know that student teaching wasn’t all it was cracked out to be back then, either. But anyway. A true product of the 90s, Tamagotchis were a fascinating new piece of technology that let us be responsible for something less expensive than a puppy, but with just as much poop.

I found my 3 virtual pets. I even had a Sabrina the Teenage Witch Salem Giga Pet. I was so cool.

I found my 3 virtual pets. I even had a Sabrina the Teenage Witch Salem Giga Pet. I was so cool.

Now, there’s an app for the iPhone that brings back the nostalgia. The kids are all excited about it, but not in the same way that I am. The app has the real, true Tamagotchi. There are a limited number of critters that they turn into and there was only one game. My students remember the larger versions that you could connect with a friend’s Tamagotchi and play games together. Their Tamagotchis can even have babies. What? No, no, no, children. That’s not the Tamagotchi that I knew, loved, and mourned over when it died.

6.     Dictionaries

I taught a reading and study skills intensive course over the summer. One of the units we went over was how to approach a word that you don’t know by using context clues, root words, and the dictionary. Part of their homework was to look up certain words in a dictionary, and then look at how the book was organized.

“So… we can do this on our iPad?”

Shock and horror, very few of those kids had tangible paper dictionaries in their houses. They would never know the joy and frustration of leafing through those pages and looking for that one word that they needed. Now they just type it in and the technology pronounces the word for them and everything. Lazy.

7.     The Clintons

Recently, the teacher I work with mentioned something about Chelsea Clinton, and when the kids asked “Who?”, she mentioned Hilary Clinton. For a moment, I had to step back and think wow, these kids know her as Hilary’s daughter. All of my life, the Clinton’s centered around our former president, Bill. But he is, quite literally, history to them.

8.     Furbies

I also found these. However, I don't know where the actual Furbies are. They are probably watching me from somewhere creepy.

I also found these. However, I don’t know where the actual Furbies are. They are probably watching me from somewhere, creepily.

I know that Furbies just came back in a really big way. They are more advanced than the guys that I had (see: Tamagotchis), but I’m glad that this is not the incarnation of Furby that I grew up with. The old ones were cute at first, sure, but then things started getting weird. Furby would wake me up at odd hours of the night, long after I thought I had put him to sleep. I never knew what he was saying to me. For all I knew, he wanted my soul. I have to say though, at least ours just stared at us with dead eyes, because now they can look at you with empty, sad, glowing eyes. I think sometimes their eyes even get angry at you. Those electronic eyes… no thank you. I hear that some of them rock and roll out of control? An angry eyed Furby, vibrating its way closer to me? No, for once, I am glad that I had the less advanced technology. You enjoy those nightmares, 21st century kids.

9.     Why would I want to see your belly button, 14 year old?

I love my students. They know that, I know that, everyone knows that. I enjoy coming to work and playing games with them, or listening to their monologues, or giving them advice about school and life. However, I don’t love them enough to want to see exactly which bra they’re wearing or if they have their belly button pierced or not.

How did the sheer shirt trend start, and who decided it was ok to market this, paired with only crop tops and bras, to teenagers?

When I see a sheer shirt, I think “Oh hey, I have a really cute cami that could go under that!”

When they see one, they think “I hope everyone likes my belly button!” Right? Is that the thought process? I think that shirts styled in such a way are better left for the beach, the runway, or night clubs.

Also, I was watching She’s All That the other week and I was questioning their fashion choices as well. I know they aren’t real high school students, but it was scary how closely it mimicked what I see now. Yikes. The 90s are back!

10.  My Costume References Are Never Understood.

Last year’s spring play was really weird. I don’t even know how to describe it. We all (the students and I) like to pretend it never happened. However, it was a fun show to costume design. Bowling shirts, cheerleader costumes, Broadway t-shirts, sequins, and so much more made up the wardrobe. There was a character who was supposed to be an alien, but she needed to be trendy. Of course, my mind shot right back to 1999 and Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. I wanted pink tights, bright colors, and her hair held in pigtails by things that looked like Slinkys. No one understood my reference. By the way, did you know that Zenon takes place in 2049? Once, that year seemed impossible, but now it’s not too far away.

In the same show, I needed to outfit a whacky theatre teacher. The teacher was supposed to be a little bit of a space cadet, but also very artsy. My costume concept inspiration came from Endora, from Bewitched, and Professor Trelawney, from Harry Potter. Guess which one the students didn’t understand? Classic TV sitcoms are almost unknown to my students, whereas I grew up watching the re-runs on “Nick at Nite” all night long.

Also in that show, I had to make sock puppets for a rather silly intervention scene. I made one look like Helga from Hey Arnold, but none of the kids understood why the girl sock puppet had such an unfortunate uni-brow. Poor Helga.

This is Helga, my masterpiece.

This is Helga, my masterpiece.

11.  The Biggest Offense: 10 Things I Hate About You

Nope. Nope. They don’t know what this movie is. No they don’t. Excuse me, you study drama? You’re a teenager? You like Joseph Gorden Levitt? And you have never, ever seen this movie? Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace love of my life, is rolling over in his grave right now. Stop this madness and go watch this movie. If they don’t, whatever. They’ll just never understand how weird it was that Alex Mack played a preppy girl and that Heath Ledger wasn’t always the joker. Fine. Suit yourselves.

 

I feel kind of like an old fart after writing all of this. As I embark on my 24th year, I know that next year I will meet students who are another year farther removed me and my favorite childhood memories, and who are another year closer to being born in the year 2000. I will continue being the “adult” in the room. I will try to teach them everything I can and share cool pop culture with them from my school years. In return, I’m sure they’ll fill me in on all of the new slang and YouTube dance trends, whether I like it or not.