Mar 27, 2007

track back to the past

i made the 5 hour drive down to my parents' house last weekend in order to attend my cousin's wedding. i won't even go into the wedding details, how much i drank or that i *may* have started to throw a little pity party for my poor single self halfway through the reception. i do, however, have to give a big shout out to my cousin for not doing the god-forsaken bouquet toss. i swear i would have hidden in the bathroom and let my fellow single ladies (aka the group of 6-9 year old little girls) fight it out for the hope of being the next one to enter marital bliss.

but, i digress. saturday morning i woke up early and saw that it was going to be a beautiful day. bright, sunny and warm - just what i was craving coming to the end of my long chicago winter. i sat outside on the porch, drinking coffee and reading. mid morning i decided to get off my ass and go for a little walk/jog. now, i have to preface this by saying two things: a) my jogging is the furthest thing from fast motion you will ever see and 2) there are hardly any sidewalks in my tiny little hometown, so i had to go out to the middle school and use the track to do my thing.

as i turned up my ipod and started my 3 1/2 mile journey around the track, i started reminiscing about the days when i attended school in the building in front of me. once surrounded on 2 sides by corn fields, the school grounds now fade into housing developments and neighborhoods. it made me think of when we used to split into small reading groups in 8th grade english, sprawling on the floor, pushing desks together, or whatever we could do to establish different camps for each group. my group always sat at the back corner of the room right next to a tiny vestibule that housed a door to the outside, aka freedom. we would dare each other to run out the door, touch a stalk in the cornfield, run back and collapse with our book before our teacher could catch us. ah, the good old days. no way any kids in that classroom are doing that now. they'd run right into a construction zone and be caught for sure.

i laughed to myself at that memory and started thinking back on other times and events that had taken place when i was in middle school. middle school was the time when we were all realizing we wanted independence, realizing that we wanted to be grown up. unfortunately for us, we were far from adulthood, though we felt fully justified in pretending we could make the best decisions for ourselves and viewed our parents as annoying nags that existed only to remind us of rules and consequences. we wanted to go places with our friends, stay out late, go to concerts, and dress and behave however we wanted. (looking back, i really should have listened to my mother when she told me how ridiculous tight-rolled jeans looked. gag.)

feeling trapped between childhood and adulthood, we did what we could to assert ourselves and act on our own ideas and opinions. that time was also a time of many firsts. i remember with vivid detail my first kiss in the locker bay - he was tall and tasted like strawberry candy and even though the kiss was sloppy and strange, the new sensation left me feeling dizzy and my stomach doing somersaults. it was also a time for my first perm - dear god, that's a first that never should have occurred, but in the spirit of the early 90's there i was - 13 and permed like a poodle. my middle school years also brought my first school dance. getting ready with my friend and being dropped off at the dance was so exciting. we giggled and talked about who we wanted to dance with and what we thought everyone else would be wearing. once there, we looked around with great anticipation as though this dance might just be the singular most significant event to happen in our young lives. man, were we wrong. but, we had fun and we both got to dance, quite closely i might add, with the boys we liked. at the end of the night when her parents picked us up, we floated home, sure that we had just sealed our future happiness somehow.

there were spring break trips with friends and their families, parties (the infamous ones at a certain friend's house because her mom let the boys SPEND THE NIGHT - a fact my sister and i have only recently divulged to our own parents), group outings to the mall, high school football games on friday nights, and anything else we could do with a gaggle of friends and away from the parental units. middle school was the first time i took a foreign language class - si! -, the first time i had to pick up a needle and thread in home ec (my teacher told me i was the slowest one in the class), the first time i operated a bandsaw and jigsaw via industrial arts class (i rocked on the woodworking), and the first time i stepped into a darkroom to learn how to develop pictures. as much as i complain about the small town mentality of the school system there and the lack of creative and cultural courses, i felt that i was being exposed to a lot of new and different things from 6th to 8th grade.

i don't know why i felt compelled to write about my middle school days, other than the fact that my memory was jarred when i was walking there at the track on saturday. but looking back i remember those years pretty fondly. i doubt, however, that my parents would share the same sentiment. they call 7th grade the "year of hell" for both me and my sister. and here i thought i was trying to do them a favor by letting them know that i didn't need parental advice or assistance anymore and would be just fine doing things on my own! (except for making money, driving, buying clothes, cooking dinner, etc, of course) hmphh. ingrates.

aaaaaaand we've finally reached the interactive portion of today's blog. what are your best/worst/weirdest memories of middle school or junior high?

Mar 19, 2007

"i'm the master of low expectations." (george w. bush - 6/4/03)

at the end of my recent visit to the UK, my sister's father-in-law was kind enough to drive me to the airport. politely pretending not to notice my attempts to hide my tears and sniffles as we drove away from my brother-in-law, sister and precious niece, he made small talk about the weather, that day's upcoming rugby match between england and france, and explained to me why he was taking the route we were on as opposed to taking the expressway. as the tears and sniffling subsided, we began chatting about other things and the conversation eventually turned to politics. we were discussing the front-runners from each party for the next presidential election and both agreed that there really is nowhere to go but up when you're talking about the next president of the US. and then came this comment....

"you know, i think i can safely say that most people here look at the united states and see this highly industrialized country of 300 million people and we wonder how george bush was the best person you could come up with.... twice."

all i could do in response was laugh and assure him that there are many, many americans who feel the exact same way. and while i did find the comment to be humorous (as was intended), it also made me feel a tad embarrassed to be reminded that other countries look at our president and see a bumbling idiot - a fact the american people have resigned ourselves to with annoyance, frustration, and much shaking of our collective heads.

i'll look forward to talking politics again with bruce after the election of a new president. after all, we have nowhere to go but up, right?

Mar 13, 2007

need something

not sure what to write. brain is not functioning at full capacity. first full day back at work after london vacation. need more sleep. need more cold medicine. need more cowbell. cowbell. need to hide from email and voicemail. need to be outside in the gorgeous sunny weather playing tennis. or drinking. whichever. need to be able to form complete sentences rather than just fragments. need coffee. have now typed the word "need" so many times it is ceasing to look like a real word. need spellcheck.