July 19, 2012
Mel wrote a delightful post a few days ago about visiting her old elementary school.
Rather than address the memories I’d have of my school in her comment section, I thought I’d talk about some of them here.
I have a very good memory of my childhood. Very, very good. So I could go on for pages and pages with memories of elementary school. Instead, I’ll take you through a virtual tour, starting at the front door (which no one ever, ever used — everyone always went through the parking lot).
There’s the supply closet. Once I was wowed by the sheer number and variety of stickers.
There is the office. I rarely went there except a couple of times when I was punished for talking, and a few times when I was sick and had to lie down, and that one time in 6th grade when I was hit in the head with a dodgeball.
That section of concrete is the “stage” where the school plays were held. There’s the spot where I sat when I was Assistant Director of the play in 8th grade, a job which mostly consisted of holding up signs for the actors to “smile” or “slow down.”
There is the spot where we got our milk every day. Everyone got milk except for one boy who was allergic. I can still see him standing next to the line, waiting while everyone else got milk. He died of a heroin overdose a few years ago.
There’s my second grade classroom. That was the first place I ever felt really smart.
There’s the second and third grade bathroom. No one ever used the first stall. Even if there was a long line, everyone would leave it empty, unless a teacher came in and forced us to use it. There was nothing wrong with it except that it was the first stall.
There’s my third grade classroom. There is the spot outside the classroom where the whole class stood for almost an hour one Monday morning, until the principal came and told us that our teacher had moved away forever and we’d be getting a new teacher in half an hour or so. He told us she moved away, but no one was ever satisfied with the explanation, because it didn’t make sense that she’d leave without saying goodbye or without giving enough time for a replacement to be arranged. The new teacher had been called back from maternity leave. One time her baby spilled milk all over our spelling tests, and she had to iron them. I saw that teacher a couple of years ago; that baby is now a doctor.
There’s the playground, and the huge open field where on a clear day you could see the ocean. There is the volleyball net next to which one of the P.E. teachers gathered the girls in 5th grade and told us that there were tampons and pads in the teachers’ bathroom and we could go any time if we needed to. I had no idea what she was talking about.
There is the bench where we used to spend the entire recess trading jelly bracelets, until they were banned from school. The next year we traded Garbage Pail Kids, until they were banned.
There are the tetherball posts. For a while in second grade I actually got to school early enough to play before school instead of being barely on time or, more commonly, late. Every morning for a few weeks I played tetherball with a kindergarten girl. That was the first, and perhaps last, time that a friendship felt effortless.
There is the spot where I saw my first pair of Air Jordans. I had no idea who that jumping man was.
This is where we lined up after recess. That’s the spot where my 4th grade class lined up. We had assigned spots in line, so we were always next to the same person. The boy in line behind me whispered in my ear that I was a piece of shit, every day for months.
There’s one of the other third grade classrooms. That’s the room where the spelling bee was held. I did not win. The same word knocked out me and 13 of the 19 other contestants.
There’s my fourth grade classroom. One of my classmates once saw the teacher’s drivers license on her desk. We learned that she was 40 years old. She was unmarried, so the fact that she was as old as 40 made us sad.
There’s the art room. I was not good at art.
There’s the music room. I was great at music. If you look through the window you can see the piano that my best friend played in the seventh grade talent show while I sang. Somewhere Out There. We both wore mouse ears.
There’s my fifth grade classroom. One of the best years of my life, no question. She was a great teacher.
Up the stairs. These are the stairs that once smelled horribly like rotten eggs. There was a lot of debate about whether it was a lot of eggs that had gone bad, or a stink bomb, or the world’s worst farts.
There are the classrooms among which we rotated for sixth grade. One of them is the room where we all had our own dictionaries, and we liked to look up naughty words like bitch and damn. That is the same classroom where the chess tournament was held at recess. I lost to a kid who was specifically known as being dumb. I am not good at chess.
There’s the trash can where I accidentally threw away my lunch, thinking that it was the lunch from several days earlier that was rotting and collecting flies in my bookbag. In fact, I threw away the brand new lunch. I had to go to the office for crackers and peanut butter, the only time in my 7 years at the school that I ever needed the makeshift lunch.
In the hall, a few steps from the trash can, is the place where I first heard someone say the word anus. I didn’t know what she was talking about.
There are the seventh grade classrooms. The one at the end is the one where I had pre-algebra. That was the only class at the school that used purple mimeographs. One time the teacher asked me to get some worksheets from the supply closet. There were thousands, maybe millions, of mimeographed worksheets. I bet the kids today are still working through those giant stacks. And I bet it still smells exactly the same.
There is the bathroom where I got my first period in sixth grade. I thought I’d pooped my pants.
Down the stairs. No one ever used these stairs except for the aforementioned rotten egg day.
There are the eighth grade classrooms. That’s the English classroom where we recited lines from Julius Caesar from memory, all together. “You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things, o you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome. Knew you not Pompey?”
There’s the part of the parking lot where we had ballroom dancing lessons. Four years of weekly ballroom dancing lessons. I was one of the only kids at school who didn’t take additional ballroom lessons after school at cotillion class. My afternoons were otherwise spoken for, with some combination of three other types of dancing and/or two other sports and/or two types of music lessons, depending on the year.
There is the lawn where junior high kids ate lunch, unlike the elementary kids who ate in their classrooms. That is the table where my best friend told everyone that I liked Kevin while I watched, helpless, open-mouthed. As if there was anyone who didn’t already know that I liked Kevin. I was still mortified.
There is the site of all of our assemblies and pageants and shows. For a school so academically focused, we sure did a lot of singing and dancing in addition to all of our poetry recitation and speeches.
There’s the spot where the school hosted a class reunion, one year after graduation. I was shocked to see that they had added a recycling bin — after only a year, things had already started to change. That was the last time I visited the school, 22 years ago.
What highlights would we see if you took us on a tour of your elementary school?
June 9, 2012
This afternoon we decided to take Burrito and Tamale for Indian food, then go to the market afterwards.
Last time we went out for Indian food, I had to run Tamale’s jeans through the washer four times to get the tikka masala stain out.
So, today I made a point of wearing dark-colored clothes that I didn’t care about getting stained. It was 95 degrees, so that left out the long-sleeved part of my wardrobe. I grabbed an old dark purple t-shirt; it’s in perfectly fine condition, but I’ve had it forever. Also, there are giant dolphins on it. My mom bought it when I was at the height of my dolphin phase, when I was 16 or so. I normally never leave the house in shapeless graphic tees, even to work out, but between the heat and the potential for permanent stains, I thought, who cares.
We enjoyed a delicious Indian meal, and finished with no stains — on me, anyway. Tamale’s doll is covered in all sorts of curries.
After dinner, we went to the market. In the bakery aisle I saw a woman that looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her. She looks a bit like the wife of DH’s friend, and I know the wife’s sister lives an hour from here, so I thought maybe it was her. I was running through the possibilities in my mind, staring at her, and simultaneously she was doing a double-take and obviously trying to place me. She spoke up first. “You look so familiar. Where do I know you from? I’m Jane.”
Oh! Jane from high school! Of course. She was one year ahead of me. We weren’t friends, but we had several activities together. I didn’t recognize her because it’s been 20 years since I’ve seen her, almost to the day, and also because she is probably 20 pounds lighter than she was in high school. Then, she wasn’t heavy and wasn’t thin, like I was. Now, she’s super fit.
I, on the other hand, look exactly the same. I weigh about 15 pounds more than I did in high school, but that’s carried in my body, not my face. My face, and my hair, are exactly the same. Exactly. At the 10 year reunion, one classmate said, “You haven’t changed! No, I mean you really haven’t changed. It’s a little creepy.”
Jane and I did our chit-chat and then said our goodbyes.
We ran into each other again in the produce section. “Hi Jane!” exclaimed Burrito. A little more chit-chat, more goodbyes.
And then as I headed into the dairy section I realized: not only do I look exactly the same as I did in high school, but I am wearing the same clothes.
April 26, 2012
My dear you are the most wonderful person in the world and you will have such a wonderful success in your new job.
I am so happy for you!!!!
I have never, in my whole life, written anything like that to any friend. To anyone at all, in fact.
At first I chalked it up to English not being her first language, but apparently she’s like this in her native language too.
It’s just who she is.
For many people, if they sent a message like the one above, it would be disingenuous, if they could even get away with it. Not this friend; she really means it. She is genuine and open and so warm.
I do not have an expressive face; I do not feel emotions as strongly as others; I do not tend to say expressive sentiments. Most people, except my children and my husband, and perhaps my blog readers, see very little emotion from me. Even so, it feels marvelous to be on the receiving end of such effusiveness from this friend, or my closest friend, or my husband, or my children, or my late mother, all of whom are tremendously expressive (of the full gamut of emotions, not just love). I may not express much emotion, but I’ve surrounded myself with it.
How effusive are you?
February 2, 2012
Oops, I only managed to post one Thoughtful Thursday in January, so everyone who commented on that post is a member of the February Intelligentsia. It was a particularly difficult question, though, so you earned it.
#28: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#24: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#24: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#20: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#16: Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy
#12: Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair
#12: Tara from Turkey In My Oven
#10: just-gave-birth-to-a-marvelous-daughter St. Elsewhere
#9: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#3: Sara from Aryanhwy
#1: soon-to-give-birth Celia from Breeder Beware
#1: Chickenpig from Better Full Than Empty
#1: Sam from Communique
#1: Two Kayaks from As Big As the Sky
One thing I really sought out in choosing this house is that it is in a neighborhood — a true old fashioned neighborhood, the kind that doesn’t seem to exist anymore, where the owner of the market knows everyone by name, where almost every dog owner we have passed has paused to introduce Burrito and Tamale to their dog.
As for my actual neighbors, the previous occupant of this house gave me some advice I have found to be true, “The neighbors to the south are really great. The ones right behind you have lived there forever, they can refer you to any sort of handyman, plumber, etc.” And that was it. She specifically did not mention the neighbors to the north; I don’t yet know whether they are neutral or bad.
It’s funny that I should seek out a neighborhood, given that I am not very neighborly. In our old house, we barely interacted with our closest neighbors — not that I didn’t try, but after the 4th no show to a party, I stopped sending invitations. When I ran into the neighbor a few months ago, she said, “Your baby must be so big now!” More than two years after they were born, she did not know I had twins.
In the house before that, we interacted with only one neighbor. He was extremely neighborly, but he never got our names right. Never. Each time we’d see him (almost daily), it was a fun game to see what he’d call each of us.
My mother, on the other hand, was beyond neighborly. She knew every person on the block, and she’d fill me in on all of the minutiae of their lives over the phone. “Doris’s daughter got a new job.” “Ethel’s son came over to do laundry again. He never sees his mother unless he wants to do laundry.” “The kid next door was mad at me because I only bought 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from her, but I have 4 other Girl Scouts I have to buy from!”
I like the idea of neighbors. In practice, though, I don’t enjoy small talk, and I’m not great at feigning interest in others. I like having someone that I could call to borrow something in a pinch, but I rarely do the work to foster the relationship beforehand. Presumably as Burrito and Tamale get older, I will appreciate having kids around with whom they can play, and adults around who will keep an eye out. If a neighbor ever asked me to do something neighborly like water their plants while they were out of town, I’d gladly do it, but no one ever asks. When it comes to favors for me, I rarely want to impose on anyone. Maybe all of that will change, now that I live in a real neighborhood.
What kind of neighbors do you like to have? What kind of neighbor are you?
July 20, 2011
(Sorry to my RSS subscribers about the truncated feed — battling a fucknut blog scraper.)
Day 20 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood.
Today’s prompt: What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? Did you repay the kindness? Did you blog about it?
Due to a confluence of ongoing limbo, the most hated person in my life pulling her same shit, and having to spend most of my time doing things that are neither enjoyable nor beneficial, I’m in a bad mood today. Then I saw the Summer Camp topic and thought, “Oh good, this will lift my spirits.”
And then I couldn’t think of anything.
I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any big kindness anyone has ever done for me.
Little ones, sure, but nothing extraordinary.
Which is pretty sad considering that I try very hard to be kind to others.
On an earlier day of camp I talked about birthday cakes. I have baked literally dozens — I’m sure well over 100 — birthday cakes for others, and in my whole life no one has ever baked me a birthday cake. Unless you count the ones I’ve baked for myself, which really shouldn’t count. Boo hoo, poor me. There’s no shortage of cake in my life, but still.
I don’t bake cakes so that others will bake them for me. I don’t perform kindnesses so that others will be kind. I do it because I do it. But when all I can recall are mediocre store-bought sheet cakes and some extraordinary unkindnesses, it makes me sad.
Finally I thought of a set of true kindnesses I’ve received: the relatives and friends who came to stay with us when Burrito and Tamale were tiny.
And several people who drove an hour or two to visit when I was in the hospital trying to prevent Burrito and Tamale from being born too early — including my massage therapist, who not only drove far but didn’t even charge me for my hospital bed massage.
Or the neighbor who left me flowers on the day that my mother died, the note unsigned and saying nothing except a little heart. Which normally would be a small kindness, but on that day was huge.
Or today when I glumly asked, “Who wants to give Mommy a hug?” and Burrito ran over as he usually does and threw his arms around my neck. Then immediately after Burrito finished his hug, Tamale, who loves to give kisses and does hug back but never initiates hugs, for the first time ever, came over and hugged me.
I would gladly exchange a lifetime of sheet cake for those hugs.
January 3, 2011
Burrito, Tamale, and I had the pleasure of seeing them both when they were in the neighborhood (neighborhood = 100-mile radius). The twins and I had last spent time with them, as well as Reed, in New York five months ago.
Before that, during the brief period between bedrest for placenta previa and bedrest for cervical shortening and preterm labor, we all went to the beach.
The first time I’d met them, I was 8 weeks pregnant with Burrito and Tamale. Tessa accurately predicted they’d be a boy and a girl. Reed’s prediction: dog and cat.
This time, Lori’s family has been enduring great difficulty, and they took a break with us by engaging in some retail therapy. Tessa helped me pick out some baby shoes, Lori eyed some yoga wear, and Tessa shopped in half of the stores in the mall. We also had lunch, and Tessa helped me feed the twins.
When I drove them home, Lori sat in the front seat and Tessa sat in the back between the car seats.
Background: It takes zero effort to get a smile out of Tamale, and very little to make her laugh. Burrito is a tougher crowd. He rarely smiles at strangers, and a very short list of people are able to elicit laughter.
The perfect moment was sitting in the front seat with Lori and hearing three little giggles behind us. Tessa did a great job of making not only cheery Tamale, but reserved Burrito, laugh hysterically. In turn, she was delighted by their laughter.
Babies and kid smiling (and laughing) in back seat. Dear bloggy friend in front seat. Perfect.
August 5, 2010
Our acquaintances the Moneybags family just came to visit. I don’t care what they think, I really don’t, so I was surprised at some of the thoughts I was having.
Before their visit, as I was at the store buying milk: “I wonder what they’d say if they saw that I bought generic milk to save 20 cents?”
Then there’s my car. My tiny little economy car which offers a stark contrast to their luxury SUV which costs 4 times as much. They actually did comment on my car, how small it is to hold a family of four. “Where do you put your stroller?” In the trunk, duh.
I have a beautiful, special house. Everyone says so. Whenever anyone comes over, I try to tidy up (except in the first months after the twins were born, when visitors were lucky to find me wearing anything that wasn’t pajamas). As I went around the house before their visit sprucing up, some of my favorite distinctive articles of furniture and decor seemed small and shabby compared to the opulent objects in the Moneybags’ mansion. Some rooms are hodge-podge based on what came with the house (like curtains) plus our own stuff, but in others, I have made a concerted effort to pull the room together into a cohesive scheme. I quite like it, but it seemed silly in light of the Moneybags’ professional interior designer who orchestrated every single element of their home.
Did I mention that I don’t care what they think?
I don’t go through life feeling inferior to anyone (except for 7 years when it came to childlessness), but something about having super-rich people in my house got to me. It’s probably exacerbated by the fact that money is a big problem for us right now. Mr. Moneybags earns in a day what we earn in a year. He just bought an extra house; we are barely making our mortgage. He buys his kids $1000 toys. I wouldn’t do that even if I could, but it would be nice if buying them a $10 toy weren’t a major decision (or one that usually ends in a No). I’m sure they have their problems, and I would never for a moment change my life for theirs (or my house for theirs, yuck), but their impending arrival made some of the worries that I’ve had lately bubble up to the surface.
When do you find yourself feeling inferior to others? What do you think those feelings say about you?
July 22, 2010
Burrito and Tamale have been the recipients of many generous gifts, but the majority of their clothes are hand-me-downs — many of which were barely or never worn. To continue the cycle, and to get all of this stuff cleared out of my house, my intention has been to pass along their outgrown clothes and gear to others.
My nephew Murphy has been the recipient of all of Burrito’s clothes. Tamale’s belongings have been waiting to find a home. There are several candidates, but no one leaps to the front of the pack.
I could hold them for a future niece, but DH’s sister may not have a girl next time around (whenever that happens), and the other siblings aren’t yet at the stage of having children.
I could hold them for the DH’s best friend, Mr. OH, who will have a second child in a few months — but they aren’t finding out the sex, so it may not be relevant anyway.
I could give them to a coworker who is pregnant with twins after a long IF journey. Between the twins and the infertility, she should be the obvious choice — except that I can’t stand her husband. I tried to give him another chance now that we have the twin connection, but he was even more obnoxious than I remembered. Also, they’re not finding out the sex either. Mathematically there’s a 75% chance that they’ll have at least one girl, but it’s possible that they could have two boys.
I could give them to my friend who is definitely giving birth to a girl in a couple of months. They don’t need anything they can get the way that parents of twins do, and the baby would have plenty with or without me, but I like both her and her husband tremendously.
Would you base hand-me-downs on obligation? Need? Liking? Keep it in the family, keep it in the circle of friends, or just get it out of the house? Stay in a holding pattern of possibility versus embrace certainty and get it over with?
June 17, 2010
- A college friend I’ve mentioned before, whom I long ago anticipated would have fertility problems. When I announced my own pregnancy to her I included a subtle hint about my own difficulties conceiving, and she took the bait. I’ve since been able to give her advice and support as she moves up the ladder of the treatment process. Now, success!
- A graduate school friend I’ve also mentioned before in the context of wanting to make pregnancy announcements sensitively.
- A co-worker I haven’t mentioned before who has really been through the wringer in terms of failed treatments and the adoption process. Over the course of the past decade all of the women in her division, all around her age, have gone from childless to having one child to having two and being done; meanwhile, her tally has stayed at zero. Until now, thanks to DE! I’m not sure if it’s just a sign of her openness that secretaries are randomly telling me about her DE conception, or whether I should be horrified at the breach of privacy. Let’s be optimistic and go with the former.
With each of these, I was genuinely happy to hear the news. Not just mildly “oh how nice” happy, but really, genuinely happy for them.
With other pregnancy announcements I’ve gotten since Burrito and Tamale were born, from purported fertiles, I’ve been “oh how nice” happy. Just as if they announced an engagement, or a new job, or anything else.
Back in the day, 1.5 to 8 years ago, I was often not-so-happy to hear pregnancy announcements. From those I knew had struggled, yes, happiness. From everyone else, whether or not I liked them, anywhere from a jealous twinge to a meltdown.
When I was pregnant, finding out that someone else (fertile or not) was pregnant was a combination of, “Our babies will be close in age!” and “What if my babies die and their baby lives?”
Goodbye, bitterness. So long, fear. Goodbye and good riddance.
How do you take the news of a pregnancy announcement these days? Does it depend on the person’s history? How has your reaction changed over time?
April 1, 2010
Naaaah, April Fools!
Perfect record of #15: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#11: Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy and 32 Candles
#11: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#10: Jill from All Aboard the Pity Boat
#9: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#6: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#6: Mel, a.k.a. Lollipop Goldstein, from Stirrup Queens
#5: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#4: Stacie from Heeeeere Storkey, Storkey!
#2: Michele from My Life After Loss
#2: Rebecca from Northern Grin
How many offline relationships can you maintain? How do you feel about the number of relationships you have?
There are several friendships that I consider real, true friendships, even though we aren’t in frequent contact. When we see each other in person, it’s like no time has passed, but we email or call every few weeks, every few months, or even less. If I needed something, there are about half a dozen people on whom I could call. The infrequency of our contact is usually based on their time constraints or correspondence patterns than mine. If they wanted more frequent contact, I could probably manage.
There’s only one friend that I communicate with several times a week.
There are several relatives with whom I communicate several times a week, but generally our conversations are quite superficial. Nowadays, they’re almost entirely about the babies.
Since I mostly work from home now, I don’t have work acquaintances that I see on a regular basis.
My husband is the only person I talk to every day. Well, I suppose I talk to the babies every day, but they don’t talk back yet.
I wouldn’t mind another friend or two who lives nearby, since everyone that I care about who doesn’t live in my house instead lives hundreds or thousands of miles away. I have plenty of relatives and enough true friends, but it would be nice to see them a little more often. Ultimately, though, if I have my husband and now my children, my social circle is complete.
How many offline relationships can you maintain? How do you feel about the number of relationships you have?