Drugged by Laughter

Yesterday’s stress resulted in me arriving home an exhausted, upset, diverted couch blob who wanted nothing more than to drink alone.

Yet, I resisted the temptation to indulge in George Thorogood-style antics. I usually don’t stress too much over work, but yesterday was different. And I guess it’s because I’m so deeply committed to doing what I think is the right thing–for my district, for my school, for my colleagues, for my students. My students are at the center of all I do in my professional life though it may not appear that way on the surface to many.

To clarify, after eight years as the local union president (I’m currently in my 14th year on the local board of directors), many of my colleagues just see me as the union gal. Not as a teacher. Not as someone who cares about kids. Not as a part of their team. But as the one to seek when in trouble with the administration or when they want a raise. This attitude has long frustrated me as I understand the definition of “union” differently than they do. They see the union as a service they pay for rather than a commitment to work collectively for the good of our profession as I do. I learned a long time ago to understand, even if I don’t accept, my colleagues’ views of me or their definition of “union.”

As a long-time advocate for my profession and figurehead for a large organization (I headed over 1,200 members), I faced challenges with a healthy dose of laughter and a thick skin. Now I’ve segued into a different role on the board, a role that allows me to have more time to join teams at my school site and play a more vital role in the site-based decision making. My drive to be part of the action rather than a bystander guides my daily decisions. I joined the site Leadership Team, became a grade level leader, took on a role as an attendance advocate and response to intervention team member, and fulfilled a request to join the textbook selection committee for our high school adoption cycle. I don’t have to do any of the these things. But I choose to do them because I believe in what I do.

Yesterday’s frustration stemmed from a colleague undermining me. And it has been gnawing at me from the inside because this action by a colleague threw shade on my integrity. I arrived home crushed. So I turned to showering unappreciated attention on my cat. When that didn’t work, I really considered meeting good ole George’s pal Johnny Walker. Then thought the better of it. I knew I needed to do what I’d always done before. Find some laughter.

That’s where one of my besties comes in. She gave me a call. I unloaded my frustrations. And before I knew it, I was laughing my badonkadonk off. I related my prior night’s dream about slurping on a giant Fat Tuesday 190 Octane over a Vegas weekend laughing at my subconscious brain freeze. We agreed that we needed a weekend away from the world soon and would look at our calendars. The thought of a girls’ weekend away from the world buoyed my spirits. Before signing off, I thanked her for helping me find my happy place and dissipating the pall that hung over my day. Afterward, the funk of the day mixed with the giddiness of laughter left me feeling slightly buzzed. It’s funny how our emotions manifest in our bodies–whether it’s tight muscles or adrenaline spikes, our bodies are pretty good gauges of the our emotional state. The pleasant tiredness I felt last night said it all. Laughter had drugged me into complacency.  And all without Thorogood’s buddy Wiser.

“I Drink Alone” by George Thorogood

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