Fear and Loathing in Sacramento, or: How I Became Ms. Megan

I’m currently working on developing and organizing excerpts from my memoir for my book proposal. Here’s a look at Chapter 10 from my time in Sacramento.

Sacramento, CA  |  excerpt from Ch. 10 “Fear and Loathing…”

The first thing Shayla did when she climbed on Brendan’s back during Boys and Girls Club after school was pee. All over his sweatshirt.

The rambunctious first grader with the huge laugh had wiggled her way into Brendan’s seemingly impenetrable, tough-guy quiet. And then she peed on him.

These things happened pretty often, really. The adorable children of the school were always doing something cute, and it often involved their new friends on Gold 5. There was Kimberly, who ate her finger painting during snack time and promptly threw up all over the picnic table. There was the fifth grader who liked to throw the football into groups of girls at recess. There were first graders who’d curse and fight on the playground. And there was Shayla, who peed on Brendan.

The elementary school was a short walk from our lovely accommodations on the all-but-abandoned, decommissioned Air Force base in Sacramento. The sprawling city sits in the bowl of California, where the mountains trap the heat and smog. Our Air Force base, where we’d all trained at the start of our service, consists of a hotel, a group of dormitories, offices for the Forest Service, and lots of empty airplane hangars. Taco stands, Mexican and Asian groceries, and convenience stores line the main thoroughfare outside our dorms. Every morning we’d cross the street and walk the few blocks to the school, passing the tiny, rundown apartments and modest homes many of the children lived in.

We were their new buddies, the coolest kids in school. As the 4th team assigned to the elementary school, the kids were familiar with our gray shirts and khaki pants. They waved to us as we walked in the school for our first day, shouting “Hi, AmeriCorps!” One little boy surprised Kerri with a hug, nearly tripping her as she walked through the school’s gate.

It didn’t start out so exciting, though. Grant revealed our project to a team of mostly disappointed corps members at a conference in Baton Rouge. Being back in Sacramento seemed like a punishment when other teams were heading to Alaska or Utah or a sandy island off the coast of Alabama called Dauphin. And only a few of my team mates were interested in working in a school; the rest of us either hated the idea or were indifferent. Mostly, I think we were still waiting for that “sexy” project, the one where we’d be in a beautiful place doing something that wasn’t so behind-the-scenes or down in the dirt. We were all not-so-secretly hoping we’d be the one team sent to Hawaii or Alaska, jogging on a tropical beach or kayaking through a fjord for P.T. Instead, there we were, right back where we’d started.

I’m working on a sample chapter. Check back later or read more about my project here.


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