Halloween 2017


I was going to go with Carl Spackler, Bill Murray’s gardener character from Caddyshack, but then realized that a dirty T-shirt, rolled up khakis, work boots, a hose wrapped around my shoulder and my son’s camo bucket hat might be a little cold for a day in the classroom. Plus I think Caddyshack might be a little more important to me than it is to my students (ya think!?!).


Luckily, I have options: Nacho Libre (also too cold and not wearing a shirt to school just might be a little red flaggie), Ben Franklin, Yoda, Vincent Van Gogh, Dracula, scary clown, happy clown, baseball player, surfer, fisherman, skier, tennis player, golfer, there’s lots of options when you are a proud man-child with a love of costumes. http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2016/10/01/inventor-patriot-politician-teacher/


I go with Derrick Zoolander because it’s the most comfortable plus I have the “Blue Steel” look dialed and I get to say to students,


“At the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, we teach you that there’s more to life than just being really, really, really good looking.”



But I’m also trying to shake my recent funk. Things are kind of sucking right now. Golf season ended with a whimper, the girls are arguing about their dance for the Homecoming Rally (I haven’t mastered the Soldier Boy dance moves that I will be throwing down during the dance), my son is sad about something but doesn’t want to talk to me (might be fear of dad and his impending goofball rally performance), students are failing tests (the fires mean that I have two fewer weeks to get through units like DNA and Electricity and Graphing Quadratic Functions). And the aftermath of the fire is kinda like this Zoolander wig (uncomfortable and strange) but I can’t just take the fire off like I can the wig.


I remember a similar malaise after 9-11 when the world just seemed different. Things that were basic in life were no longer basic. A safe home, a good life, a direction to strive for, goals. The things I didn’t have to think about because they were always present were suddenly tenuous. Or maybe they were still there but the mindset had changed from solid to fluid. It was tough to motivate and move forward when all I wanted to do was check out and hibernate.


And some of the worries are justified. When I filed for FEMA benefits I discovered someone has used my Social Security number to file a fraudulent claim (wanna make a bad situation much worse, complicate it with a little identity theft). My super smart solution during the first days of the fire was to keep my roof wet by putting a rotating sprinkler on the chimney while we were out of town for three days. We returned to an unburned home but a soaked living room and a house that smelled just like a campfire after you’ve doused it with water.


But, shake it off man; today it’s pumpkin seeds and fun. Remember fun? It’s that thing we used to have before Trump and fires and seriousness and Facebook, and obsessive phone disorder. Days at the beach, painting in the fields, fishing, drinks with friends, that kind of thing. Seems like so long ago.


But because we are in charge, we get to make up the rules. I really did not want to dress up today, I did not want to go buy pumpkins to carve in art class, I did not want to convince my reluctant golf team to learn the dance for the rally Thursday, I’m not really even that excited about going to see Poltergeist at the Community Center tonight. But I know I should and I will because I know that going out is better than staying in. That dressing up shows students that life should be fun and that adults are also able to laugh at themselves and take life a little less seriously. Also, that after tragedy it’s important to get back up and get back to normal or even improve on normal.


We are hosting a neighborhood potluck on Sunday, a time to get to know the many people we have lived around for 18 years but talk with only during crises. It’ll be simple, put some tables and chairs in the yard, make a pot of soup and make some new friends.


I will overcome my identity theft issue; the money in expenses from the fire will (mostly) get repaid or written off. My family is healthy and my house is standing. I will learn the Soldier Boy dance and fully embarrass myself at the Rally. The sun will rise tomorrow and the earth will continue to spin. Winter will wash away the ashes and the fire will become a tragic memory.


Shake the funk Sonoma.






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