31 March 2008


so today was the first day of a new quarter. i stayed up a little too late last night, given that my class started at 9:00 this morning. but by the time i was walking from my car to my classroom, enjoying the bright sun and brisk air of a california spring day, i was feeling good. excited to start a new quarter. resolving to work harder, to be more responsible to myself and others for the work i need to do.

and class started out swell. i introduced myself. i had the students introduce themselves and bantered with them a bit. they were visibly loosening up within the first ten minutes of class. things were peachy.

and then, fifteen minutes into class, i started feeling warm. at first i thought it was because i'm wearing both a button-up shirt and a sweater and the room was warm. but then the skin on my face started getting clammy. and i felt a bit light-headed. and i knew it wasn't good. so i aborted. no more syllabus review. 25 minutes into class, i skipped to our last activity--a ten-minute diagnostic freewrite.

so my kids start writing. i sit down and hold my head between my hands, breathing deeply. and i seem to be doing better. i cool off a bit. i'm not so woozy. but after about eight or nine minutes, i just know i'm going to throw up. and there's no bathroom anywhere near. here's how it went down:

me: {scanning room to find trashcan, which is all the way across the room right next to the door} ok, go ahead and wrap up what you're writing.

students: {dead stare at teacher, who is obviously in physical discomfort.}

me: just go ahead and put your papers on... {duck head and hold it between my hands as i fight off sickness}...on the empty desk on your way out.

students: {start packing up and leaving papers at front.}

me: {stand quickly and begin walking towards trashcan} and if i throw up {pass gas while walking} as you leave... {reach trashcan, lean over and vomit} i apologize. {lean over trashcan and vomit more.}

students: {shuffling out of the door, mere inches from me leaning over the trashcan, vomiting repeatedly; trying not to stare too much.}

one considerate student paused on her way out to ask if she could do anything for me and to offer me her water. the rest fled as quickly as they could. for which i do not blame them. because, after all, "what to do when the teacher vomits in class on the first day" is not really standard classroom etiquette.

i've been laughing about it since the moment i leaned over that trashcan and ralphed. absolutely hilarious. it does make for some lovely irony that my assert-authority-and-scare-students-just-
enough-while-still-reassuring-them-that-the-class-will-be-fun shtick got derailed by unavoidable bodily functions. at least i can't be accused of boring my students on the first day.


  1. That is too funny! I can't believe it happened...what a great way to make a first impression. I'm sure those students will remember you for a long time!!

  2. i'm guessing that Facebook has been blowing up all day with news of your projectile exploits. i'm hoping we aren't sharing a room this quarter. mine didn't smell like puke...

  3. They will remember you forever. In 8th grade history class, a girl ralphed and our teacher said "you probably won't remember anything you learned in this class, but you'll remember Tiffany puking."

    Spot on!

  4. j(wh) and i were pondering whether there is cell phone footage of it on youtube, seymour. alas--no luck. and the first thing i did, after i finished throwing up and drank some water, was calling the comp office to report my numbers and ask them to have facilities come change the trash bag. cause i'm thoughtful like that.

  5. i do intend to turn it into a memorable event, zeeny and bekah. in fact, i'm already plotting ways to turn it into the perpetual joke of the quarter. may as well put the whole incident to good use...

  6. Way to make a first impression. So sorry! You and I need to get together my dear.


  7. Yeah, I still remember JoMarie Venti puked in the third grade. I don't remember anyone else in my elementary school.

    I hope you are feeling better.

  8. I am still laughing at the thought of it, and horrified for you at the same time! I wouldn't give up on you-tube just yet...you could be FAMOUS! Well more famous! Hope you are feeling better!