Crafty Love! War Damn Eagle!

It really sucks that as you get older you end up with best friends who live states away, as life paths diverge. I am really missing them, whose crazy work schedule is making it harder for us to talk as often as we’d like and are used to. Thank God for texting secretly while at work and for Skype! LOL!

Back in high school, I was a marching band person. I started to say “band geek” but at my strange small town high school, being in band didn’t make you a geek, and it actually upped your cool factor in some cases. My friend says, “That’s what all former band geeks say.” LOL.

Our band contained a lot of really popular people. For example, I was in band and also Student Body Vice President. I think the reason band and popularity went hand-in-hand in some cases was because we were the kind of people who liked and accepted everyone and were not snotty. We realized that sometimes the people who are considered outcasts are the coolest people you could ever hang out with. And we marched with a lot of them and became good friends.

The Colorguard performed with the Cheerleaders at football games. (We had a signature thing called “The Butt Dance.” Which involved a lot of ass shaking. Don’t ask.) We were very serious about our band competitions and won most of the ones we competed in. Our friends who were not in band usually came along to hang out because they were so much fun. I mean, who doesn’t love road trips, costumes, cheering audiences, watermelon shaved ice, and cuddling with cute boys in bleachers? Ah, high school.

I have to admit, marching band was one of the most fun things I did in high school. It was such a rush to be out on the field, under the bright lights, before a screaming crowd. And when we won our trophies at competition, we were notorious for storming the field as the other schools waited politely behind a chain link fence. We plowed over the fence. 🙂 We devoted hours and hours to practice. We were dedicated. We did not tolerate slackers. At least, not on that field. You better fucking roll your feet, heel-toe, goddammit! Or else we’re gonna get yelled at when we have to watch the video of that game! And our section is gonna have to run laps!

And the trumpet players had the best lips. Oh, the muscular wind instrument lips. 🙂

So because I was in marching band, I went to every football game our school played, at home and away, for four years. And to this day, I understand the rules of the game very minimally. I was usually more interested in watching boys in bleachers than football. We had a spirit team that used to drive an old pick up truck around the track at time outs wearing rainbow clown wigs and rile up the crowd. I would safely say that they were the school stoners. (Our principal was great at getting everyone involved in the perfect way for them as individuals. He came up with the spirit truck just for the stoners, in fact.) It was the perfect job for them, and we loved them. There were always so many distractions. What are we doing after the game? That was all that was on anyone’s mind for the most part.

But I actually kinda enjoy watching football now, at least on the college level. I only watch college sports, really. Professional sports bore me, and I am too pissed off by how much money they’re making to take them seriously. They’re slow and lazy. College players work their asses off because they want to get a huge paycheck for being slow and lazy. But while they’re working towards it, there are so many shining moments of glory.

I really prefer college basketball and always have, BUT! This fall when I go visit my Alabama friends, I am going to go to my first SEC football game at Auburn (hopefully when they play Bama) and see what that is all about. I love a good rivalry. In high school, it was R-S Central vs. East Rutherford. College was Carolina vs. Duke. Apparently (not that I know first-hand since I am not from the deep South), the Auburn vs. Alabama rivalry is one of the fiercest.

I cannot wait to see some angry chanting and some awesome college marching bands (you see where my heart lies). Can’t wait to tail-gate while playing cornhole and drinking Southpaw. Can’t wait to get decked out in navy and orange and shout “WAR DAMN EAGLE!” And high five people at touch downs and wrap up under blankets in crispy fall air. That is sounding particularly good right now since we’ve had weeks of 95 degrees. Who am I kidding? I’m just looking forward to being able to wear a scarf! I look really cute in scarves. 🙂

So here are some Auburn colored Etsy finds I want to take with me!

Auburn University Cornhole Board
$160 by Cornhole Nation
Perfect for tail-gating!

It Takes Two Baby Scarf
$45 by Nanna’s Knittings
Auburn colored scarf to wrap up in!

Atticus Finch Is My Co-Pilot T-Shirt
$20 by Inexplicable Confetti
What I”m wearing under my scarf and over a thermal long-sleeve. The book was set in Alabama, you know.

Dreamcatcher Earrings
$180 by Kalliope Jewelry
A little bit of hippie flair to finish off my ensemble. Gotta keep it true to me, yo.

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Skittles and Driver’s Ed

Oh, Driver’s Ed. The summer between middle school and high school, we were required to take a two week class described as “the book portion” of Driver’s Education. I wouldn’t be allowed any hands-on training for another two years, when I turned fifteen. But for some reason they thought studying the rules ahead of time would be helpful.

I can tell you, based on my actual driver’s test, that I did much better with the hands-on, actual driving portion of the exam than the written part. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I hadn’t seen the questions in two years that I came within one question of failing the written portion. I remember the question I missed. It was related to blood alcohol levels and legality. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what that had to do with obtaining a license to drive. Then I was thinking, “Why do I need to know the consequences for something I’m never going to do?” Now I get it.

Our book part of driver’s ed was held at the high school, which would have been a cool introduction into the next level of life, but the high school I was to attend was in the process of being built. Mine was the first class to attend all four years in the new school. My Driver’s Ed class was at the old school, where my grandmother and countless cousins had gone.

The one thing I remember about those two weeks were the breaks. At every break we were given, we made a bee-line for the vending machines, because we had never had vending machines at school before and it was a novel concept. It was adultish and cool. Someone actually trusted us with change and junk food in the near vicinity.

Every day at break, we bought hard candy. I don’t know what everyone else bought, but I bought Skittles. Every day. Crinkly red plastic tubes of M&M shaped sour candies. Taste the rainbow.

Every day with my crinkly red tube of Skittles, I sat on a low brick wall with people I didn’t know and had not grown up going to school with. We talked about what high school might be like. No one could say exactly. We leaned heavily towards those kids with older siblings who were already there. But since we were going to a new school, all the rules were different, and no one could say how it would be different exactly. Even the kids who were already in high school would be new again. We were in a unique position of  avoiding the typical freshman torture. We’d be in a new environment, but so would the upperclassmen.

We sat there eating Skittles, doling out everyone’s favorite colors accordingly, bonding over the sharing of them, taking heart in the fact that we all felt just as lost as the next kid who was claiming the lemons.

Back in class, we had to sit through boring videos about teenage car accidents, and we wondered why they thought we’d be that stupid. I think the class was taught by some coach or P.E. teacher. We all rolled our eyes and suffered through. And we passed strawberry Skittles underneath the desks to our new friends from across town who we’d be spending the next four years with, in what ways we hadn’t yet imagined.

To this day, I can’t eat Skittles without thinking about being 13 and in Driver’s Ed the summer before high school began.

Yellow Index Cards: The Male Reproductive System

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Yellow Index Cards: Boys

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Our favorite, most entertaining guys in our AP Bio class. They made us laugh every day. The one in the middle, D, went through a pretty serious do-rag phase, illustrated below.

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Yellow Index Cards: Senioritis Not Just for Seniors

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Tick…tick…tick…
Blah…blah…blah…
Debator! (Did you know you can letter in debate?)
“Everyone knows that! At least, I do.” (Valedictorian)
A and M passed out on back row, no doubt hungover.
“Can we have the test tomorrow?” (That usually worked if someone asked. We usually did.)
“Anybody got a joint?” (Mumblings of this sort could be heard constantly from that  table.)
And then that would be me and Jenny passing notes.

Yellow Index Cards: The O.J. Trial

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If you look closely, you can even see a tiny black glove on the TV.

Thoughtful Thursday: Another Planet

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I have a habit of making lists, and some lists I’ve had going since I was in about 7th grade are “Books I Want to Read” and “Books I Have Read.” My 7th grade English teacher started them for me on a jumbo index card, in her enviably pretty and small cursive handwriting with her signature blue rollerball pen. The advent of websites like Goodreads and Shelfari have made this task so much easier and more enjoyable for me. I started out at Goodreads, but I’ve since migrated over to Shelfari, just because I find it more visually appealing with the graphic display of books (with actual covers) on shelves, which is one great thing about going to bookstores in the first place. I’m sure plenty of people prefer the streamlined minimalism of Goodreads. But I like bright colors and pretty pictures. It does not take much to please me.

These sites make me happy because I can’t tell you how many times throughout my checkered techno-past I ended up with multiple Notepad documents strung out across so many floppy disks, and scraps of heat-sensitive receipt paper from my years working retail in college and reading book reviews while waiting for customers. Eventually, a nicely consolidated list in Microsoft Word vanished along with my hard drive’s pulse one summer. So, my lists at this point are patched together from memory, but now when I add to them, I am comforted to know they probably aren’t going anywhere this time. I really like it when technology brings to my life a tiny shred of stability.

I bring this up because a book I finished recently had been on the “To Read” list for 8 years, and I just got to it. That’s how backed up I am. This is partly because I don’t like chronological anything, usually. My photo albums jump from “The Last Day of 5th Grade” to “College Road Trip to Chicago” to “High School Graduation,” and so on. And I tend to read books as I am able to find them for free or cheap instead of deliberately tackling each successive title in perfect order.

 Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School by Elinor Burkett was published in 2001, and I believe I read about it in the Fanfair section of Vanity Fair magazine at work while the seconds shimmied towards midnight. I remember strange things sometimes. Other things that I actually need to remember? Not so much.

The author actually spends a year at a Minnesota high school, talking to teachers, administrators, and students. The book focuses on the graduating class of 2000 (I think, don’t quote me), which was only four years after I graduated. I was struck by how much less these Minnesotan kids seemed to be learning than I did. And not because of a lack of effort on (most of) the teachers’ parts. Words that came to mind about these students: lazy, sense of entitlement, unprepared, lacking big picture thinking skills, eogtistical in a way that was beyond that of normal teenage self-indulgence. The author argues that the Self Esteem Movement of the 1970’s in education is what produced generations of kids who all think they are special and individually important — the exception to all the rules. And that makes a lot of sense until I think about my own generation, and how if that had been such a successful “movement,” then we should all have a lot fewer problems and a lot more self-confidence than we ended up with. I don’t recall being taught “good self esteem” in elementary school, like the kids in this book. Maybe they didn’t do that in the South, thinking it was a bunch of bullshit. Sure, there are a few people I know my age who feel good about themselves without too much effort or struggle. However, I don’t think that came as a result of being taught that as schoolchildren. Depending on the person, I think it came from other sources entirely.

When I was in school, I don’t know if I just didn’t realize how bad things were in so many areas, or if things really weren’t as bad then. Then again, I was always in the honors/advanced program, where we actually learned stuff, and we didn’t have behavioral problems. My graduating class, as well as the one just ahead of me and the one just behind me, was extremely competitive. I graduated 14th in my class with a 4.987 GPA.

There are things I recognize as huge problems with the system now that I’m older and have two teacher parents nearing retirement and a teacher boy-person who only started teaching a couple years ago. Some of it sounded really familiar, like the social dynamics and castes. But so much of it I was a little stunned by. Maybe a big point I’m leaving out is that I graduated before anyone had ever heard the word “Columbine,” and these kids graduated the year after it happened. Maybe that makes all the difference.

There were parts of this book I sort of skimmed through (teachers unions bitching about new contracts, for one) but only because I felt like I’d heard it all before. Analyzing the educational system is something I was raised doing at the dinner table with my parents over green beans and sweet tea. Some of it did not require a recap. In any case, finishing was sort of a let down only because I didn’t have anyone to discuss it with. But I’ve passed it on to Swamp, so hopefully he’ll give his new-teacher insight sometime soon.

Yellow Index Cards: More Attention Seeking

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The teenage hypochondriac, and the candy canes she sent herself for Christmas.

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Yellow Index Cards: Look at Me

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So, I like Julia Stiles, but I long for the day that she is interviewed by Mr. James Lipton and he asks her to talk about this scene from 10 Things I Hate About You, the marvelous teen comedy adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Bianca Stratford, to her older sister: “Where did you come from, Planet Loser?”
Katarina Stratford (Stiles): “What, as opposed to Planet ‘Look at me, look at me?'”

I think there is one of those girls (or maybe several) in every high school…the ones who think they’re way cooler than they actually are. Ah, teenagers.

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Yellow Index Cards: Hospital Helicopter

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I think this is my favorite of the Yellow Index Cards. I would normally save the best for last, but I really needed this to laugh at today.

The back wall of our classroom was all windows. They looked out onto the front lawn of the campus and the rural two-lane highway on which we sat. The building was very new and modern. In fact, my graduating class of 1996 was the first class to attend all four years in the “new school.” The older historic structure in town, where my grandmother had graduated in 1944, was remodeled and turned into a middle school.

One day, in the middle of a lecture that involved transparencies on the overhead (this must really show my age), a medical helicopter flew by on its way to our tiny local hospital. Usually if someone was medivacced to our hospital, it signaled an injury so severe that our small facility was the quickest option for treatment, even if it wasn’t the most well-equipped. Needless to say, this was not an every day occurence.

Mrs. Robertson was a little…shall we say…oblivious. In more ways than one. But on this day, when her class full of students rushed to the bank of windows to ooh and aah over the helicopter buzzing by at eye level, she didn’t even notice. She never looked up from her teacher’s edition textbook. As we had gotten up, she has been immersed in her book, trying to find a specific passage. She found it by the time we all got back to our seats and continued her lesson.

It was the one time that semester when that sisterly connection I told you about Jenny and I having in that class all the time actually flickered amongst all of us. Questioning faces, heads turning every which way, silently asking the persons on the other side of the room, “Did that really just happen?”

And then we went back to our sketching, sleeping, note passing, and candy eating. Just another day. Typical.

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