Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

So...I went to a middle school orientation last week. I should have been thinking about my twins: how they would adjust come next year, what they would love, what would give them pause. But of course I didn't manage to do what I was supposed to do, for I am too self-absorbed! It must always be about me! Me! ME! And that is how I fell down the memory well and directly into my own junior high school experience.

Which was horrible.

So awkward.

Bad hair, owl glasses, Chinese slippers. Tough girls who smoked and swore and had hickeys and who scared the crap outta me.

Algebra. Absolutely did not get algebra.

And there was some guy who had the locker above mine, and he'd always reach down and grab at my non-existent boobs. This was so traumatizing that I cannot remember his face or name.

Kids at this age are the worst kids EVER. My science teacher's husband committed suicide by jumping in front of a train, and on her first day back at work one of us said, "How do you feel about trains now?"

Girls would get in fights, and the object would be to inflict embarrassment by ripping each other's shirts off. And did any of us try to stop these fights? No, we'd stand there in a circle, screaming, screaming.

I was called "schoolgirl" and "virgie."

I do not recall a school library; I do not recall a school principal, school office, or any place or person of comfort other than my childhood friend, Paul, who walked to school with me every day.

I was pulled out of a class once a week—I can't remember which—to attend something called "High Potential." Every week at the appointed time, I would raise my hand. "Yes?" the teacher (male) would say.

"I have to go now."

"Oh? Where do you have to go?"

"To my HP class."

"What does 'HP' stand for?" he'd say, even though I did this every week, and even though he already knew.

"Um, high potential."

"You think you have higher potential than the other kids in this class?"

"No," I'd say, my face turning red. "I don't know."

"Well, someone apparently thinks that you do." And I would just stare at him, stupid in my owl glasses and bad short hair and red face. "Well, what are you waiting for? GO!"

And that, my friends, is some of what I can recall of junior high school. The idea of my own children having to be dropped into such scenarios makes my head hurt. But I have to say that the school I visited did not at all appear to be the same sort of lawless jungle that mine was. But we'll see, right?

We'll see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing, Neatness, and Idol Robbery

You know that writing tip about keeping a notebook by your bed and trying to write stuff in it before you're fully awake? I wanted to report that this advice is a load of hollyhocks (what are hollyhocks?), a load of rotting durian, a load of fast food shrimp poppers (what?), a load of dirty kleenex,'s not! This totally works, particularly for someone like me whose plots (such as they are) are hard won. So, yes. As soon as you feel yourself starting to wake up, grope for your notebook and get to it. You should clip your pen on the notebook the night before, silly, so you don't double your groping efforts. If you have to fumble around too much, you're liable to become too alert, and then all is lost for that morning. Also the night before, make sure there's a page open already. Also, don't put on your glasses. Do all this and you will be magic.

You know what else would be magic? One of these slightly creepy hanging lounges. They are distributed via Dedon, and they are cleverly named "nestrests." I want one. I have no place to hang it, and even if I did, I would be too scared to climb out on a branch and somehow scuttle myself into the little opening, but I want one nevertheless. Hmmmm...I see that now that they don't necessarily have to be hung somewhere. You could just, you know, set it down in a corner and climb in. It would cut off my peripheral vision, which is a good thing because my peripheral vision is always revealing Grapenuts on the kitchen floor, pencil shavings near the dining room carpet, a bit of spilled juice on the counter. Such distractions are...distracting. This brings to mind something else. Was your house ever a mess growing up? Because I can honestly say that I do not recall my growing-up house to ever, ever be in the state of hopeless disarray usually displayed in my grown-up house. How did my mother manage that? Or maybe it was sometimes messy, but my overall memory is of calm and order. Or maybe what you end up remembering about your growing-up house is not whether it was messy or neat, but whether or not you were liked and loved and cared for.

I'll end with some random thoughts:

I think my daughters are secretly crushing on Justin Bieber, but they are afraid to admit it because they think I'll be disappointed. This is what my harsh judgements have done: they have turned them into closet Bieber-ites.

I think dental hygienists inflict violence on gums.

I think writer Vince Gotera's daughter, the incandescent Amelia Blue Gotera, was completely robbed! Robbed! ROBBED of a spot on this year's American Idol (she made it through the first day of Hollywood, as far as I could tell—no small feat, that). I have watched this video like 50 times. I love it. Love her, her voice, and this song:

It's raining hard here. We're off to the movies...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

E-diction Free. For Now.

During a disorienting flurry of putting on jackets, throwing out trays of garbage, and gently elbowing our way through an obscenely crowded In 'N' Out Burger, I lost my 16-month-old iPhone.

Of course I raced back to the restaurant, and of course no one had turned in my phone (Why? Why? Why are people like that? Dude, I would never steal your phone; why would you steal mine?). I returned home dejected, disabled my number, kicked myself for not having Mobile Me so that I could track down the whereabouts of my device, and then promptly settled into that gross, violated feeling that comes from knowing that far too much of your life is likely being perused by a thief.

Next came the intricate dance between Apple, Evil Phone Company, and Bewildered Customer (that's me). The essence was this: if I waited until July, I could save myself $200 on the new 4G. Now, I have been known to suffer bouts of severe fiscal irresponsibility, but in this case I made a Very Good Decision and opted to wait until July. I was forced to unearth my 2G which is at this point, let's face it, basically a relic of ancient Alexandria. Evil Phone Company smugly informed me that I'd have to find an equally old version of iTunes if I was going to use my 2G. To this I said, "Ha! Ha! Haaaaaaaa! I've got you, Evil Phone Company!" Because guess what? My old laptop still has a super old version of iTunes on it! See? See? Sometimes you shouldn't automatically upgrade your shiz!

Once all that was settled, I began to experience withdrawal symptoms because—and this is the least of it—this phone is s-l-o-w. Worse, all I can do is text, check e-mail, and have unsatisfying interactions with the Internets. No New York Times app, no app, no Evernote app, no Wurdle, Facebook, or Twitter apps, no nothing. I had only the faintest idea of how desperately wedded I'd become to the downtime entertainment afforded to me by my phone. My dear, dear phone.

I moped for a few days, but then a feeling of sublime liberation settled into my bones. No longer did I cradle my phone as if it were my fourth child. No longer did I reach for it absentmindedly while standing in line somewhere. No longer did I feel compelled to sneak a peek at Facebook and Twitter just because I could. And, perhaps best of all, no longer were my kids constantly fighting me and each other to get their small, sticky fingers on it. In short, I was free. I am free. Until July 1st.

*I couldn't find credit for the photo above anywhere. If it's yours, I'm sorry.