Sunday, September 29, 2013


I should be getting ready to go to church. Instead, I am snuggled up on the couch with an electric blanket, hot cup of coffee and a kitty on each side of me. I have a cold-turned-respiratory-infection and I'm not happy about it. Thankfully, I was able to convince the McDoctor at urgent care that I needed an antibiotic because of the Humira I'm on, which affects my immune system. Unfortunately, he assumed I was a crack addict when I asked for Tussionex (sp?) cough syrup. Because my coughing was making it impossible to sleep, I needed something. Cough syrup w/ codeine has no effect on me (yep, tried it multiple) but I get great cough relief w/ Tussionex. Great, right? Not really, b/c Tussionex is a pretty strong narcotic and McDoctors who have just started practicing medicine have been brought up to assume everyone is an addict. If I were an addict, I certainly wouldn't beg for THREE MEASLY DOSES of cough syrup. I was able to get a bit of sleep last night by sleeping in the lazy-boy chair, so I wasn't laying flat.

Good heavens. I've now prattled on forever about a stupid cold. Let's change topics.

For several weeks I had planned to go see one of my former students (Mike) at a reading he was doing of some of the columns he writes for our local arts magazine. I was going to meet a friend for supper, then we would head to the reading. Then I got this stupid cold. Not wanting to interrupt Mike's reading with my sneezing, snotting and coughing, I decided to stay home and watch the live stream on the internet. This was a good choice, and not because of my snotting & coughing - it was a good choice because of the crying.

I met Mike when he was a freshman at UWEC and he decided he wanted to join the forensics team. He was so soft-spoken at first, I couldn't imagine why he wanted to do forensics. He really was one of the first "students can totally surprise you" lessons I learned early in my forensics coaching career. Mike surprised me. Underneath that shy exterior was a man with incredible wit, a masterful command of the English language, and the ability to tell a story that made you feel all the feelings.

I got a little teary watching Mike read from his columns because he still has that ability to transform an observation of daily life into a story that makes you laugh and think and, sometimes, to cry. That's a pretty incredible talent. Mike happened to read one of my favorite columns, and I've linked it here if you are interested in reading it. It includes the story behind the phrase "500 pounds of brave in my mouth" - which has become a mantra I repeat often.

Thank you, Mike. You are part of the reason I try not to make assumptions about students. You helped me realize that being soft-spoken can be it's own kind of brave. You remind me that we all need "500 pounds of brave" in our mouths.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting Mike's column, KJ! Loved it and I can hear him reading it. I remember him as a sweet freshman as well :) Where has the time gone?