|8th Graders Doing the Wave!|
That constipated beast, Los Angeles, was in our way.
It was dark (and late) when we finally rolled up to what the GPS told us was the location of our hotel room.
As fatigue would have it, it turned out not to be our hotel room. It was, instead some swanky villa estates. But we couldn't tell for sure that we weren't in the right place because...well, did I mention it was dark? And late? And that we'd been driving 9 hours?
I flagged down a security guard at the swanky villa estates and was given directions. They involved going out the way we'd come, turning right, and right, and right again.
No, we couldn't shortcut, or believe me, we would have pulled a Sammy Keyes.
After three rights we almost blasted past the hotel entrance because it was dark. And late. And we'd been driving for 10 hours. Did I mention that?
Sure I did.
And in case you're wondering, the dark part is true. I don't know whether this desert town's residents are into the green aspect of starry night lighting, but the roadways were just...dim.
And, seeing how it was late and we'd been driving for 11 hours, I'm sure we were a bit dim ourselves.
The hotel room may not have been inside a swanky villa estate, but it still turned out to be way too much luxury for two weary travelers. Unfortunately, the restaurant was already closed.
Luckily, the PTO prez had left a gift bag for us
Which was a good thing because there's no way we wanted to venture out for dinner and we were famished. It was late. And dark. And we'd been traveling for 12 hours!
Sorry. My intention was not to go on and on for hours about the trip. The traveling to do school visits is always the hard part. And I shouldn't complain. At least Mark was with me this time!
No, my intention was to tell you about a freaky coincidence.
This middle school in the starry night desert booked me almost a year ago. They have Swear to Howdy as part of their core curriculum. I will just come out and say that I am an instant fan of any school that has STH as part of their curriculum. Not because it's my book specifically, but because of all my books it's the one that takes courage to adopt. It's meant to be a discussion book. It serves its purpose well, and in the process has been known to make a certain type of educator uncomfortable.
So knowing that this school loved and taught and discussed Swear to Howdy, made the 13 hour drive seem worthwhile. A frog stranglin' rain couldn't have kept me away.
Anyway, sorry. Right. My intention was also not to talk about STH. My intention was, as I said before, to tell you about a freak coincidence.
In anticipation of my coming to visit, the school encouraged kids to also read Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, or Flipped, or The Running Dream.
A lot of teachers read The Running Dream.
The freaky coincidence? Last week, the elementary school adjacent to this middle school was struck by tragedy. An elderly man hit the gas instead of the brake and rammed his car through the fence and into a metal box of some sort, causing metal parts to go flying onto the playground. One boy's leg was so badly injured by flying metal parts that doctors wound up amputating his leg below the knee. "It's the same leg as [TRD's main character] Jessica," the vice principal told me.
He also told me that in the one week between the accident and my arrival, the schools had already done bake sales and raised $12,000 dollars.
In a very odd way, it felt like my book had come to life. For the boy's sake I would erase every page if it meant what had happened to him could also be erased, but that's not possible, so the goal's got to be to get him, like Jessica, to a new starting line.
After my presentation--which contains slides of an amputee putting on his prosthetic leg--I asked the students to include the boy when he attends their middle school next year, and I think they will. It's a really good school, with a brave staff. I think maybe I'll go back someday.
Even if it's a 14 hour drive to get there.