When I look back at my childhood, I hardly ever think about the fourth grade. My teacher wasn’t particularly memorable. I had no strong feelings about her either way. Her classroom had the only piano outside of the music room and she was obsessed with teaching us how to speak French. I learned to sing a lot of songs in French that year. I don’t remember any of them now, but speaking (and singing) in French is the first of only five things I recall from that school year.
The second thing I remember is the time I lost three teeth in one afternoon. That meant three trips to the drinking fountain and three envelopes for tooth storage. It seemed important at the time, and it probably earned me seventy-five cents to spend on candy. In 1985 I could have bought two candy bars with that cash.
I was runner-up in the district wide spelling bee after spelling “course” instead of “coarse.” That’s right. Runner up.
That’s all I want to say about that.
And I will never ever forget the Mother’s Day program that year. Instead of making the usual three-ring bound cookbook covered with wallpaper scraps, we invited the moms in for a live musical performance. We sang the annoying song, “Parents Are People.” Its melody is seared in my brain for life. Google it if you dare.
But the most memorable event in fourth grade was the official breakup of the friendship between me and my best friend, Angie. Continue reading →
Every night my internet goes out just when I want it the most. It means I have to turn on my iPhone’s hotspot to get a connection, which does work well for the few minutes I need it to. It happens at the same time every day. I could call someone about this, but I am lazy. That’s the truth- but what I tell myself is that they will probably just charge me additional money to not fix the problem, or to make it worse. Which is also true. I find this all very disappointing. I just want it to work without a lot of hassle. Or even a little hassle.
Do you ever have moments when you notice just how much the world has changed and it seems kind of insane? It’s funny to think about things I once wanted, and to realize how many of those things have become obsolete. It makes me feel like I have lived longer than I actually have. If I feel this way in my thirties, what will my sixties be like?
My phone is obvious. Every time I watch a TV show from the nineties where the plot revolves around people not being able to reach one another, it seems absurd. Was this really how we lived? Now characters are forced to lose their cell phones, get lost in places with no reception, or just angrily ignore each other’s phone calls in order to keep the plot going. Because while cell phones solve a lot of real life problems, they offer an inconvenient solution for sitcom writers.
But we don’t just have cell phones. We have everything I ever dreamed of as a child in the palm of our hands. And I am pretty indifferent about it most of the time. That’s the insane part. Continue reading →
For the first few years of my life no one was mean to me. I had siblings, but they were old enough to find me charming for at least the first four years. I was used to older kids being helpful, so the first time I was treated badly by one was very upsetting.
The first memory I have of this kind happened when I was about four years old. It was my one and only visit to any kind of jail. It didn’t seem strange to me that we were there. We were visiting a relative who I knew and loved, and I had no conflicting thoughts about it. I think sometimes as grownups we are unaware of how children take things at face value. I had consequences for my actions all the time as a way to teach me how to behave as an adult- so I would learn, and never have to experience serious adult consequences like jail.
In my four-year old mind, my relative must surely have been sorry and wouldn’t make that mistake again. I held no judgment. I couldn’t wait to visit, and was extremely thrilled to be patted down and searched by guards. Also, I had been promised another child my age would be there, and we would be outside by a play area.
And it all came true. There was a nice little boy my age, and we did have fun on the playground….until some bigger kids came. Continue reading →
I have a very clear memory of the day I learned to read a calendar. By this time I understood the concept of measuring time and how the days of the week went. My young brain had easily accepted how the months of the year were made up of these weeks, and all the reasons behind why there were more days in some months than others. The whole thing came together for me in a nice little package that I could reason out.
But something about that calendar really bothered me.
I remember sitting in the kitchen, staring at the wall calendar with my parents. I asked them how they knew, just by looking at the calendar, which week it was right now. I mean, sure it’s Sunday. But how do we know which Sunday it is just by looking at the calendar?
We just know.
We always stay aware of time, and we just know what day it is. So, when we look at the calendar we already know if it’s the third week of the month or the fourth week, and which day it is.
This answer was unacceptable to me. What was the point of a calendar, then, if we had to already know what day it was before we could read the thing? Continue reading →
I didn’t have too many big birthday parties growing up. Most years we just went out to eat at the place of my choice- and I usually chose Pizza Hut. Of course, in the eighties Pizza Huts were a little fancier. The pizzas cost more, and you actually ate inside the restaurant. Every Sunday my dad’s side of the family got together at my great-grandma’s house, so there would always be cake and ice cream that week, and I would get some cash. I usually shared this party with my older brother, whose birthday is just four days before mine. Continue reading →
There are days when you feel good about the things that are going right in your life, and there are days when you feel like maybe you are a complete failure. Things aren’t really black and white. Sometimes we sacrifice in one area so that we can benefit in another. So maybe I am guilty of spending time thinking about the sacrifices- but I am great at talking myself out of it. Usually.
I have made sacrifices in my career and income that benefit Teghan. She attends a good school and has extended family around her because of those sacrifices. Those sacrifices allowed me to spend time with my sister before she died. These things are obvious priorities. But it’s hard to go backwards. It’s easy to do a job that you know well, but not so easy to know that you passed this point in your career a long time ago. Life is full of give and take, right? That’s helpful.
But do you know what else helps? Thinking about how far you have really come. I was reminiscing about the jobs I had when I was young and didn’t know enough to stay out of the retail business. Or worse- that brief job I held at a pizza place when I was fifteen (across from my high school). That pizza place was where I first discovered that I was clearly not cut out for food service. That, and the four days I once spent working at a doughnut shop drive-thru. Continue reading →
Very few things in life are better than listening to music alone in my car.
It has never been on a top ten list or anything, but that was clearly an oversight. I just forget sometimes. The biggest thing I have in common with my husband is that music will trump everything else when given a chance. And lately we haven’t been giving it a chance. It often gets replaced by secondary loves.
For example, Dave is completely focused on artwork right now. He has partnered with a friend on a comic book project, and his recording studio is getting dusty. Meanwhile, here I am stringing words together. Here, there and everywhere– as if anyone really needs to know how I feel about life. But these things are very close secondary loves, so they do hold us for a while.
I used to be better at combining them.
But it’s the car ride that gets me. Sometimes I drive to work in silence, but it makes no sense. Technology is too perfect now for driving in silence. So I plug in my phone and listen to something. Today I actually wanted to wait in a drive-thru longer so I wouldn’t get home too soon. I wanted more time to listen; to think about what the world is like inside that particular soundtrack. Because the world can look and feel different when you change what it sounds like.Continue reading →
Facebook is a strange human experiment in friendship.
In some ways it really shines. It keeps me in touch with family members, who I may otherwise have let too much time pass without contact. It keeps me in the loop of my friends from Illinois since moving back to Michigan (and with the ones who have also spread elsewhere throughout the country and world). It allows me to meet new people from all walks of life and make connections that were never before possible.
It also changes the natural course of things as we knew it. If you are of a certain age, that is. Suddenly friends who had drifted out of our lives are there again. Which is great….and weird. Because some of these familiar strangers, whose children I have never even met, know some of my deepest secrets. Some of these now casual acquaintances once knew me better than I knew myself, and it went both ways. You know who you are.
And then there are the misunderstandings and expectations of each other. Some people like to share in this type of platform, and others do not. Some people like to watch it all unfold from their secret little corner. Some of us take risks, seek approval, or hold our own approval up as some kind of prize to be won. Some of us care, and others- not so much. Continue reading →
Usually on Veterans Day I put together a short family history project to share with friends and family on Facebook. I post old letters, photos, and histories of various relatives and their roles in past wars. I haven’t been all that motivated this time. I have quite a few letters and photos of my mother’s parents who were both veterans of WWII. As I was looking back through old projects, I was struck by how much I didn’t know them.
I mean, we all have very different phases in our lives. If I make a timeline of my life, plotting every five years where I was, who I spent time with, what my daily activities were…it’s an eye opener to the way life changes. I have already lived many lives, in many places, and with many different people.
When I knew my grandparents they were in their retirement years, and I was a kid. We couldn’t possibly have known each other that well. My grandpa wasn’t exactly a kid’s best friend. He wasn’t mean, and when I watch old home movies I can see that he was always quite kind to me. There just wasn’t a lot of interaction. I am sure we would connect much better as adults, but he died when I was thirteen years old. There is so much I would like to ask him now. Continue reading →
I enjoy scary movies. Even if I am spending an evening alone in this big old house, I will still be willing to watch a scary movie. I will regret it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it.
I love a good ghost story. Ever since my slumber party tween years, they have been a favorite. I find the stories of the unknown fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me the ways in which our brains interpret these mysteries; as if we are somehow equipped to understand the very parts of our brain that remains unknown to us. Continue reading →