“Lesson Planning” by Katherine Montgomery


Pertinent Excerpts from the Notes of Winna Ashbaugh
Regarding AP Chemistry, Period 3, Fall Semester

Monday 8/25, 5:55 pm
Lesson 1-1
NSE Standards met: UCP 1, 5; SAI 2; ST 2; HNS 1, 2; SPSP 5

Guess what? I made it through the first day at my new school and I didn’t even burn it down, lol.

Why did I just type that? “lol”? And not just “lol” – COMMA “lol”. The acronym wasn’t even capitalized. Winna Ashbaugh, you are 32 years old. Get your shit together. Do you want to end up like Jason over in the Biology department, naming all the mice ‘Holmes’ and overusing the word ‘hella’? Be the change you want to see in high school vocabulary!

Not even 24 hours into the school year and I’m speaking in the third person. Jesus wept.

So Charlie just came into the office and wafted dinner under my nose. So, with absolutely nothing substantive or of any educational value contributed to this log, I go forth to engage in intelligent conversation with another human being.

OK, yes, I see now that that implies that teenagers are not human beings, and you know what, I’m leaving it in.

Tuesday 8/26, 2:30 pm
Lesson 1-2
NSE Standards met: PS 1a, 2b, 2e, 3b; UCP 1, 2, 5; HNS 3

So I do actually feel a little bit guilty about how sketchy my day-one notes were, but apparently not enough to have rectified it last night. I attribute that to first-day giddiness and a general lack of professionalism. Here we go. Only ten students in this section. I love love love how small the class sizes are at this school! Fuck you, public school, huzzah for St. Adrian’s Prep, etc etc etc.

No IUPs or formal accommodations recommended for this group – they all seem engaged, outgoing, show signs of life and critical thought, e.g. breathing, eye-rolling, furtive attempts to SnapChat. Direct instruction with some Socratic method seems effective so far. I’m excited to get these kids in the lab. Let’s blow some shit up!!

Addendum, 5 pm: OK, so probably nothing, but Jason’s mouse, over in Biology? Let’s just say Holmes took a trip to Reichenbach Falls, and the cause of death was not suicide. Weird, right? Somehow I thought that a posh private school would feel, I don’t know, like, more secure maybe, and all the kids would be these eager little angels who always do their homework and never sass you, and certainly never do dark shit like dismember field mice and write cryptic shit on the walls with their limbs.

Teenagers, amirite?? In the immortal words of Mr. Jason Downing: “Hella not cool, guys. Hella not cool.”

Friday 8/29, 4 pm
Lesson 2-2
NSE Standards met: UCP 1, 3, 5; SAI 1-2; ST 1; HNS 1; SPSP 2, 5

Whew! Made it through the first week. Is that, like, that hardest week, or the easiest? Don’t tell me, future Winna. I don’t want to know.

We had our lab orientation and have made some clumsy movements in the direction of doing science. I partnered all the kids up, so 5 lab groups total. I decided to color-code them, since there are so few. There’s something you can’t do at public school! Can you imagine? I’d run out of colors and we’d have, like, “Orangine Group” and that shit. All the pairs seem to be doing really well together, except for Turquoise Group: Deacon and Elan. It’s not that they’re actively disruptive or even that they need to be redirected very often: they just have that shifty look that sets my teacher Spidey senses tingling, like they’re only here long enough to figure out how to rig a cherry bomb.

Also, is it just me or has the rate of sketchy-ass kids applying themselves in Chemistry freaking skyrocketed since Breaking Bad started airing? Thanks for nothing, Brian Cranston. I was really enjoying my self-selecting sample of easy-to-manage nerds.

Now that I re-read that last bit … you know, I’m probably just twitchy since the Holmes incident. I’m sure that Deacon and Elan are very nice boys, aside from their douchey names.

I just wish that they would blink sometimes.

Tuesday 9/2, 2:15 pm
Lesson 2-3
NSE Standards met: UCP 1, 2, 3, 5; HNS 2

When I first mentioned on-campus housing to Charlie, the response I got was, “No way in hell I’m living in a dorm with a bunch of teenagers.” Then we did the tour: acres and acres of wooded countryside, beautifully manicured lawns, an old chapel with big brass bells, fluffy sheep wandering by idly like little lost clouds. Even Charlie was forced to admit that it was quaint as fuck, and that was before we even got to the mossy-stone, ivy-draped, rent-free bungalow.

Labor Day with Charlie in our little cottage was heavenly and relaxing and perfect and it made coming in today feel really, really hard. And on top of that, as if the kids weren’t already an inch from crawling screaming out the windows, Maintenance shut down the air conditioning in three-digit heat. (Incidentally, I am really sick of global climate change.)

It’s kind of a funny story, actually. About the maintenance guy, I mean, not about global warming. Obviously global warming isn’t funny. Unless, you know, you think dead polar bears are funny. Which I guess you would, if you were a seal, but also, if you’re a seal who’s aware of human-driven climate change that brings up this whole other slew of questions like, dude, why are you just barking and eating fish all the time when you could be joining the international conversation like a responsible citizen? Freaking seals. This is totally why I am not in the Biology department.

But the maintenance thing wasn’t ha-ha funny, more like huh funny. The A/C was working fine; beautifully, in fact. The maintenance guy bounces in a little before 10 am, right as I’m getting my handouts ready to go for third period. I remember being a little confused, because he’s this young, sort of skinny ginger in Carhartt’s with longish hair, and honestly, aside from the monster ring of keys he’s got on his belt, he just doesn’t seem like a janitor. He’s just so cheerful, and he doesn’t have that ‘My day consists of unclogging toilets for minimum wage’ look in his eyes.

Anyway. The guy doesn’t even really acknowledge me – he’s dragging a ladder behind him, and he sets it up under the vent, and then taps all up and down the duct as if he’s expecting to hear something, and then he pulls the grate off and pokes his head in. And then he gets really still, and everything gets really quiet, and then there’s … sort of a skittering, and a raspy shrill noise, like the rusty-ass old muscle car that Charlie refuses to get rid of makes.

I might not be God’s gift to inductive reasoning, but I am pretty damn sure there is something up in that vent.

And then it’s quiet again, and the guy is still again. He very, very slowly pulls himself out of the vent, and fastens the grate carefully back on, and descends the ladder with this incandescent smile on his face, and says in this bright, airport-announcement voice, “So sorry, Ms. Ashbaugh, but I’m afraid we’ll have to do some work in this part of the building, so we’ll be shutting off the air conditioning for the remainder of the day.”

And I sort of nod and try to look like I do a lot of DIY and know what I’m talking about, and I say, “Going to try to clear out the vents?”

And he says, in exactly the same voice, with exactly the same smile on his pale freckly face, “There’s nothing in the vents.”

And then he grabs his ladder and clears out just before the bell rings, and I have to haul ass to get my whiteboard set up and then proceed to attempt to teach sig figs to disaffected youths while we all sweat our balls off so that Captain Soylent Ginger can roam the vents in order to definitely not exterminate the animal(s) that is/are definitely not up there.

Thursday 9/4, 7 pm
Lesson 3-2
NSE Standards met: PS 1a, 1b, 1c; UCP 1-2; SAI 2; HNS 1-3

I’m worried about Miranda.

I wasn’t sure at first. The initial few weeks were all setup and admin and review, and sometimes it’s hard to get a read on unfamiliar kids. On top of that, with the new setting I’m feeling a little bit off my game. Little things, like I walk away in the middle of preparing a 1 molar solution of HCl from my 12 molar concentrate supply, and when I come back, I can’t for the life of me remember where I set down the supply jug. I mean, jugs of hydrochloric acid don’t just wander off, do they?

I found myself, irrationally, listening for sounds in the vents.

Anyway, the point is, I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now I’m pretty certain that Miranda is going to need help. She doesn’t have an executive dysfunction diagnosis, or any other form of accommodation, but she’s showing a lot of symptoms.

Coming to class late/unprepared: Not only did she not arrive on time on Wednesday, but she also didn’t have her textbook, her folder, anything to write with, or her homework. Also, there was a thick, viscous, red-brown fluid underneath her nails and on her shoes, and her hair looked really ratty, almost as if it had been singed. (Look, I get that Miranda isn’t a cheerleader type, and that she doesn’t feel the need to be glossy and perfect – I actually really appreciate that grunge look she’s cultivating. But today’s ‘look’ felt less like an expression of disdain for the sheeple and more like … refugee.)

Lack of focus in the classroom/trouble sitting still: Maybe I’m just getting spoiled by the private school population and I’m forgetting what normal, human students are like, but compared to the rest of the class, Miranda was a hot mess this week. It started with little things: doodling, looking out the window instead of writing and watching the board. When I would call on her it was always clear that she’d been listening. Then it started to escalate: asking to use the restroom multiple times per period, and then being gone for over 10 minutes at a time. Now she’s muttering to herself and focusing her attention on blank spaces of wall, or chairs where no one is sitting, and I will be completely shocked if she can recall anything from today’s discussion of atomic structure tomorrow.

It’s a pretty classic case of E.D., or maybe a mild case of A.D.H.D. Open and shut.

I’m sure that’s what it is.

It’s just that, whenever Miranda mutters to herself and stares at an empty chair?

Deacon and Elan stare at it too.

Monday 9/8, 6:20 pm
Lesson 4-1
NSE Standards met: PS 6a-6c; UCP 1-2; SAI 1-2; HNS 1-3

I think I have inadvertently committed that greatest of new-teacher sins: the Lounge Faux Pas.

Is there a different set of rules for teachers who go private? Is it like when an assistant D.A. gets burnt out and goes to work for Evil Partners In Evil Inc. or whatever? (Um, Charlie, if you happen to glance over this, just kidding, baby.)

It’s not even like I did something majorly unfortunate, like take the wrong Tupperware from the fridge or drink the last of the coffee without brewing more, or ask Ms. Lewis if she’s pregnant again. (Seriously, Jason, what the hell? She’s, like, a hundred and five. You teach biology.) Nope, not me. Like an asshat, I asked the room at large if anyone else has noticed a recent change in Miranda Samson.

Past me, if you’re reading this, DON’T DO THAT SHIT. IT GETS REAL IN THE TEACHER LOUNGE.

It would be one thing if it were just me. That happens sometimes – a student doesn’t like your teaching style, or your grading structure, or, I don’t know, just your face.

But it’s not just me. If it were just me, when I asked about her, the other teachers would maybe pause to chew their sandwiches, think for a second, and then be all like, “Nah, Miranda’s good. It’s you.”

They would not, after being asked about her, unanimously and simultaneously cease all side conversation, put down sandwiches and forks and spoons and cups, fold their hands in their laps, and gaze wordlessly at their shoes and refuse to say anything for the remainder of lunch.

What I’m saying, here, is that the good people here at St. Adrian’s believe in occasionally giving the rookie a good old-fashioned stonewalling, and it’s fucking frustrating as fuck.

OK. Charlie just gave me a glass of Sauv Blanc a minute ago and I am feeling much more articulate now. Breathing normally. Off to stuff my face with dolmas and reflect on the dubious wisdom of privatizing public services.

Wednesday 9/10, 5:45 pm
Lesson 4-3
NSE Standards met: UCP 1-3; UCP 5; SAI 2; HNS 1-3

So, here’s something to chew on. At our regular Reality Show and Beer Fun Nite yesterday, a friend asked if St. Adrian was the patron saint of anything, and I realized I didn’t know. She made a bet that he’d be the patron saint of teaching fluffy baby birds to sing or some shit like that. Then we googled it, to settle the bet.

St. Adrian is the patron saint of plague, epilepsy, butchers, soldiers, and arms dealers.

That loop of rope on the St. Adrian’s Prep crest, the one that I always assumed was an arty honor cord, like Oxford dons wear?

Nope. When you really look at it – that’s a noose.

Tuesday 9/16, 11:15 pm
Lesson 5-3
NSE Standards met: PS 2a-2c; UCP 1-3, 5

I usually cut through the churchyard on my way home from work, and normally it strikes me as picturesque – but I made the mistake of staying a little bit too late in the Science building grading, and by the time I was walking home it was dark.


You know that scene in the horror movie, where the clueless blonde wanders into the creepy place with the monster in it, and then is all like, “Oh noes, a monster, I shall now stand here and be horribly eaten!”?

I have three pieces of news to report. Item one: Monsters are real. Item two: I am not blonde. Item three: commercial weaponized mace has no appreciable effect on monsters. (Professional development note: if possible, perform further tests to see whether or not a combination of phenacyl chloride and oleoresin capsicum, perhaps in higher concentrations, has any effect on monsters. Publish findings in the newly founded online scientific journal Holy Fuck, Monsters Are Real, OK, That Happened, Now Let’s Kill Them.)

So here I am, standing in this graveyard while A Being Of Great Evil, who shall hereafter be referred to as Fuckmuppet, glowers at me and drools phosphorescently.

So I thrown down my can of mace, because USELESS, and then I hear this sort of snickering. My teenage-asshattery Spidey senses are tingling like whoa. So I hold up my hand to Fuckmuppet in the universal sign for “Dude, I got to go deal with this shit for a second, but don’t go anywhere, because we totes still have business,” and I take a gander around a couple of the larger tombstones and who should I see crouching there but MOTHERFUCKING TURQUOISE GROUP.

So I walk up to the Hardy Boys and ask, as I feel is only appropriate, “What the living fuck is this?”

And Deacon gives me a look that I’m sure works on his mother, but I am not buying that shit and I say so. Elan just sort of shrugs – so I kick him in the kneecap. He squeals.

At this point, I guess Fuckmuppet is either tired of waiting or he doesn’t know ASL, because he crunches up behind me and puts a single, long, dirty fingernail to the back of my head.

I get that woozy, room-spinny feeling that precedes a blackout, and I can see Deacon and Elan just sitting there, smirking. I feel something …

It’s hard to describe a change when it’s happening to you, you know? Like, physical vs. chemical change is one of the very first things we talk about in chemistry, and I have a million examples and metaphors for them: ice melts (physical change), leaves change color (chemical change), stars go supernova (chemical synthesis). But I honestly couldn’t tell you how Fuckmuppet changed me, because I wasn’t the observer. I was the sample. All I can say is that it felt like the things that made me myself were all in this little test tube, and that finger was like the world’s groddiest pipette, slowly extracting my essence, and all I could think is, “Holy shit, Fuckmuppet is going to titrate me.”

And I think about Charlie, and how thirty-two is a little young to bite it, but it’s been a pretty good run actually, and I really wish I’d gotten around to making that will.

And then, suddenly and blessedly, there is Miranda, with her Serbian refugee hair and her blood-stained kicks, gripping an epee with a gorgeously worked hand-guard and standing en garde like a punk-rock Errol Flynn, and girlfriend stabs Fuckmuppet in the face.

Between you and me, past Winna, Miranda is totally getting an A in AP Chemistry.

Fuckmuppet screams. The foil, which looks so delicate, glows as bright as magnesium on fire. Miranda rips it free. The two of them circle each other, and everyone else is forgotten.

Deacon and Elan have left the shelter of their tombstones and are orbiting like lesser moons. I, in turn, am a mote of dust, a piece of warm debris.

My hand closes around something cool and cylindrical.

Fuckmuppet is big and hellish (in the literal sense that he (?) is probably from Hell), but he’s not that smart, and Miranda is …

Beautiful. I don’t want to sound like a creeper, Charlie and I are very happy together, but I can’t think of another word that does Miranda justice. She is numinous. She floats from parry to thrust; her slender, ethereal blade is as strong as tungsten carbide; her face is full of grace.

I can see that Deacon and Elan have made some bets on this fight, and they do not have any problem fixing it if they can. Well, unfortunately, I am not an emotionally mature person and I, too, am capable of cheating.

Additional news, item four: commercial mace does, in fact, work on fizzbitches with douchey names.

Miranda finished off Fuckmuppet a few moments after I sent the Brothers Cryamazov shrieking down the lane. (Dude, Miranda didn’t even laugh at that. Don’t these kids ever fucking read?)

I asked her while she cleaned off her blade if we should, like, stake Fuckmuppet and then burn him or some shit. “Nah,” she said. “The groundskeeper will take care of it.”

(Let’s just put a pin right in that, future Winna.)

It got a little bit awkward for a minute after that. I filled the silence by saying, “I really appreciate you saving my life. I have, in fact, see all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I am just going to go ahead and assume that this is not your first rodeo, and that you are out here kind of a lot.”

Miranda gives me this great big smile. “Winna, winna, chicken dinna.”

It’s the stupidest fucking joke, but I laugh and laugh – probably 40% because I’m coming down off the adrenaline jag and I’m so fucking thankful to be alive, and about 60% for a reason that only another teacher would really understand:

Miranda remembered my first name.

So I came on over and hugged the shit out of her.

I made her come back to the bungalow with me to get cleaned up and meet Charlie.

Charlie was sitting out of the front porch with two glasses of wine: one for her, one waiting for me. She saw us coming, dirty and bloody and disheveled, and – this is why I love this woman SO FUCKING MUCH – she just smiled and kissed me and then went to go get an extra glass for Miranda.

Friday 9/19, 3:45 pm
Lesson 6-1


I know it was you. Don’t give me that bullshit about how she fell down the stairs. I might not have special powers, but you know what I do have? AN INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY OF SODIUM HYDROXIDE AND A MASTERS DEGREE IN FUCKING YOU UP.

“Fell down the stairs.” Miranda has fucking cat-like balance, assholes. Shit, maybe she’s genetically part-cat, I don’t know how this shit fucking works. You know what I do understand the workings of? The carbon bonds with which your fragile bodies are held together. So just try that shit again. I fucking dare you.

Addendum, 4:15 pm: OK. So. I went ahead left a copy of the above gentle reminder in the locker of each of the aforementioned young gentlemen, along with a small token of my seriousness. Was that the most professional and adult response I could have had to this disciplinary situation? Some (including perhaps my fellow staff, the principal, the county superintendent, and the state accreditation board) might say no. I refer them to the immortal words of Oscar Wilde: “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught to assholes with douchey names unless you have access to large quantities of highly volatile chemicals.”

Yeah, yeah, you got me, I altered that quote slightly, but you know what, Oscar would totally back me up on this if he were here right now.

Future Winna, if one of these students has resurrection powers, just – just don’t even tell me, just go ahead and start bribing that kid to bring back Wilde, Austen, and Wodehouse and if that works out and they’re not all weird and zombie-ish we will start the best fucking book club ever.

And future Winna, don’t give me any sass about the world needing the powers of resurrection for something more noble than book clubs, either. We deserve this.

Thursday 9/25, 2:30 pm
Lesson 6-4
NSE Standards met: PS 2c, 2f; UCP 1-2, 5; SAI 2

It is a truth universally acknowledged by professionals in varied states of inebriation that the difference between doing science and fucking around is writing it down.

You can write anything down, really, including “Oops, and now I am on fire,” “Well, that was wrong,” “Do NOT go in there, it smells like twenty diseased skunks farted,” or “Please send all hate mail directly to my intern Stacey” – still science.

The only thing that’s not allowed, really, (aside from the obvious ethical no-nos) is basing conclusions on unsubstantiated assumptions. Because that’s how you end up with phlogiston, people.

Now, normally I am the first person to the phlogiston-theory-bashing party, but today I am feeling a little bit more vulnerable than usual, because I have made an ass of u and me, if you see what I’m saying.

Today I went to see the head of St. Adrian’s Prep guidance counseling department to check in about my students’ college readiness. This is not an earthshattering act of norm-flouting, but rather a regular, necessary, and dare I say admirable educator activity.

So I was not prepared for the reaction I received from guidance counselor Chris Hightower, which was blinking, stuttering, and then, in a small, strained voice, the utterance: “College?”

To which I replied, “Um, yes. Is the name of the school not St. Adrian’s Preparatory Academy? Do we not advertise, in the very title, college prep?”

Mr. Hightower took his sweet time rearranging the stack of mail on his desk, cleared his throat, and said to the stack, “St. Adrian’s is not a college preparatory academy.”

“So, OK, but, um, what are you preparing them for, then?”

Mr. Hightower looked up at me with wide, guileless, limpid eyes and said, “Oh. You know. Things.”

I thought about asking him to get more specific, and then I realized that I didn’t really need him to. St. Adrian’s is apparently the premiere place to send your kids if you want them to wear striped ties, develop entitlement issues, and get ready to deal with Things.

Which, I mean. I guess that’s better than another graduating class of Wall Street one-percenters, right?

Oh my God, I just thought of something, who gives our commencement speeches?? Is it Batman? PLEASE SAY IT’S BATMAN.

Monday 10/6, 3 pm
Lesson 7-1
NSE Standards met: UCP 1-2

First off, let me just say that I totally get why, out of context, leaving a motion-triggered noxious gas bomb in the lockers of a certain two juniors might have seemed a bit extreme. I get it, I really do. This is because I am a fully actualized adult, capable of introspection and sympathy. Unlike a certain two juniors.

I feel a little bit bad that the Directors are ready to blame our dissipated and violent student body when, in fact, the blame for the incident falls squarely on the shoulders of their violent and dissipated staff.

Not that bad, though.

And, for what it’s worth, Miranda thought it was hilarious.

Friday 10/10, 8 pm
Lesson 7-3
NSE Standards met: UCP 1-3

Saint Adrian in a banana-hammock, what a day that was.


Wow. And there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

It is very clearly martini time. What I mean to say is, it is time to now have all the martinis. (And also split all the infinitives. Self-grammar-slam!)

Addendum, 11:32 pm: OK, so I think a surfeit of martinis means that I can finally think about what happened today. I mean, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m, like, 95% sure Alcohol Fixes It.

Ahg;afuhel.kwÏ?JkVb? ?

Hahah – I totally passed out on the keyboard for a second there. Drunk Winna is nothing if not SUAVE. That’s OK. Future Winna cannot hear our slurring through the computer, Current Winna!

(Also, even I find it douchey that I am now speaking in not only the third person, but in timeline-distinct third-person. THAT SHIT IS JUST TACKY, CURRENT WINNA. Also, any first-year psych major can tell that you are using humor to mask your inner psychic pain. Which is only about 15% less unfortunate than displaying your inner psychic pain.)

Okay. The mockery of my subconscious has sobered me. I think I am ready to go Judy Blume on this shit. Let’s do this.

Dear Diary: Today Jason in Biology kicked the bucket.

I mean that literally. He kicked a bucket that was full of high-concentration hydrochloric acid – which, also, that’s where that went! – and it kind of a little bit ate right through his left leg and almost killed him.

But it did NOT – because MacGyver.

OK, post-five-martini Winna; upon reflection, I think we may need to elaborate.

Right. So. It was afterhours, but not super-late – still light out. Jason and I were both still at school – he was grading or whatever, and I was prepping the equipment and materials for Monday’s lab.

He’s walking down a dark hall when it happens. He trips and knocks over the bucket, and then after a few seconds of pause (for the acid to react with the water and hydrogen in his skin and rip all the moisture out of his cells, generating enough heat to give him some pretty solid secondary burns) he starts to scream.

I know it’s Jason even before I come running because he’s howling, “It hella hurts! It fucking hella hurts!!”

So I get over there and I see what’s happening, and it’s clearly a chemical burn, but it takes me a minute to figure out what type of burn, because it’s not like the bucket came with a helpful label, and then I sprint back to the lab and grab the most innocuous base I can think of (which happens to be a big old carton of sodium bicarbonate), sprint back to where Jason lies screaming, and dump the whole carton over his leg. The acid-base neutralization sinks in, and while I’m dialing 9-1-1 I hunt up all the OTC painkillers I can find in the teacher’s lounge and get as many of them into Jason as I can manage. So, re: my early comment, at this point I felt like a MacGyver goddess.

While we were waiting for the EMT’s, and after he’d calmed down a little, I asked him how it happened. He sort of hesitated, and then said, “I wasn’t looking where I was going,” then mumbled something about Holmes. Because this could mean anything at all given his vernacular, I give him my what-the-fuck look, and then he says more clearly: “I thought I heard Holmes in the vents, OK?”

Wow, Diary. Where to even start. Just kidding, I know where to start, let’s start with the asshole who stole my HCl and put it in a fucking nondescript bucket in the middle of a fucking hallway. And from there, let’s jump to, um, has Jason not accepted the death of Holmes the field mouse, or given the St. Adrian’s work ethic is it possible that Holmes is, in fact, arisen and living in the vents? and finally HAHA I FUCKING KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING IN THE VENTS SUCK IT MAINTENANCE GUY.

Hmmm. I think “Suck it Maintenance Guy” is an appropriate way to end this account of the day’s events. Current Winna out.

Tuesday 10/21, 3:41 pm
Lesson cancelled due to how the school was on fire

Hey Diary, how was your Tuesday? Did you, like, do the diary equivalent of your laundry and watch reruns of Star Trek: TNG? Maybe curl up with some old diary entries and read yourself?

Oh, you want to hear about my Tuesday? Not much to tell … morning lab, lunch, prep for afternoon class, lightweight apocalypse.

I should really design a severity scale for those: for the time being, let’s say it was less dire than a giant lizard invasion, and more dire than learning that dolphins are sentient and Flipper was talking shit that whole time.

I have a great idea for the lead article in the debut issue of Monsters Are Real, OK, That Happened, Now Let’s Kill Them: “The Effect of Satanic Ritual on Field Mice and Methods For Neutralization.”

Also, did you know that the most weight that the average air vent can hold is about 150 kilograms?

Also, did you know that the ritualistically sacrificed field mouse can undergo a sophisticated necrotic metastasis and gain up to 160 kilograms in weight?

So yeah. That about sums up my Tuesday.

Addendum, 7:30 pm: Miranda asked me to look into a few solutions to her monster problems. Get it? (That joke never seems to get a reaction. Ha!) I just need to get down my observations while they’re fresh before I design the experiments later on.

The entity formerly known as Holmes the Field Mouse showed little to no fear of fire, water, or more traditional chemical weapons. (Note: any connection to Fuckmuppet’s immunity to standard mace formulations? Is it possible that they possess an agent that neutralizes normally noxious chemicals and even allows them to be metabolized? This would also fit with Miranda’s theory that Turquoise Group was actually feeding Holmes hydrochloric acid.)

Transition metals like silver have some effect when used in weapons – however, volatile alkali metals, such as sodium metal combined with water to create a massive explosion, appear to be more efficacious. Also, no regrets. The school’s pool was ugly anyway.

We did not have the opportunity to run tests with any of the f-block radioactive elements, as I have not historically kept samples of unstable uranium isotopes on hand. Teacher wishlist that shit. ‘Hello generous parents and donors! As much as we appreciate the brand-new stable and the just DARLING renovations to the garden’s hedge maze, what we really need for this coming year is about a million dollars in cash, the contact information and compromising photographs of a Department of Energy official, and a very heavy lead box. Cheers, everyone, and thanks for your continuing support!’

As much as it pains me to admit it, having a Biology person on point would make sense. Jason has first-hand (and first-foot, haha, oh, I am really an awful person) experience; however, this is also the man who called his own ambulance “dank” and tried to flirt with both his EMTs simultaneously.

It might be educational to have Jason look at tissue samples from Turquoise Group and then maybe do a spectral analysis to begin formulating combative compounds. That is, if we had any knowledge of where to get tissue samples from Turquoise Group. Deacon and Elan are still missing. MIRANDA AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM, LOCAL AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS. SCOUT’S HONOR.

Wow. So much to do. It’s going to be a busy year.

Monday 12/15, 4:30 pm
Lesson ideas for next semester

Liquid nitrogen: its properties and practical defensive use

Polymorphic structures in Satanically-altered flesh

Combustion of non-newtonian fluids and the creatures made up of them

Acid-base interactions and first aid: how quickly can you identify the chemical your partner has just been splashed with?

Temperature & Pressure: how you can manipulate your opponent’s very matter

Chemical weapons in nature: poisons when roughing it

Electroplating your favorite weapons

Name that monster: identifying species through blood analysis

Bang for your buck: bomb creation for any situation

Wednesday 12/17, 12 pm
End of Semester Evaluations

It’s always interesting to go through student evaluations at the end of the semester and compare them to this log.

Only one student in this group used the optional free-response section this year.

“I’d rather deal with all the world’s monsters than teach high school. Ms. Ashbaugh does both.”

Thanks, Miranda.

And don’t give me that face. I know it was you. You want to be anonymous, stop dotting your i’s with tiny skulls.

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About the Author

Katherine Montgomery teaches at a small private high school in Northern California. She lives with her husband, a grey tabby, and a border collie mix in a house in the woods, and only rarely encounters rodents of unusual size.

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  1. When I started reading this story I was dubious. I’m always up to try new things but I’ve never been fond of the ‘diary entry layout’. I’m glad that I stuck with it though. Winna is the teacher we all wish we had in high-school because we know that with her understanding and guidance, we could have finished in the top 1%…or at least not failed…or maybe just enjoyed school a bit more.

    I created an account just to say job well done. This story, was awesome in the very definition of the word. It inspired awe.

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