high school

ISO: a Miracle

I made a lot of great friends at college, especially with other English majors.  Misery loves company, n’est-ce pas?  When you are agonizing over translating Old English, trying to come up with the most profound literary interpretation in order to impress your professor or writing complicated lesson plans that are so idealistic that they have no chance of ever working in a real high school classroom, it is helpful to have a group of people who understand the agony and the ecstasy of devoting one’s life to lit-tra-ture. Or, as other majors might interpret it, those of us who are foolish enough to major in something that typically requires you to become a teacher or go to graduate school in order to find gainful employment.

I was particularly close with the English majors in the teacher prep program since we had a lot of classes together, particularly Katie and Angela.  Katie and I were friends.  Angela and Katie were friends, so as these things go, Angela and I became friends since we both hung out with Katie.   Katie decided she didn’t want to teach as we were preparing to student teach.  Angela and I both completed student teaching, but I decided after graduation that I didn’t want to teach either.  Of the three of us, Angela is the only one who stayed in teaching.  This Fall, she started her 14th year as a high school English teacher in Wake County.

Late last night, Katie texted me to tell me that Angela had a severe stroke and was in the hospital.  She was awake and alert, but the stroke had damaged 1/3 of her brain, and she has lost the ability to speak and has no function on the right side of her body.

I am stunned, and I can’t stop thinking about her and this tragedy today.  Along with her family, teaching was everything to Angela, and it looks like her career is, if not over, in serious jeopardy.  Going to school part-time, she completed a Master’s degree a few years ago and had achieved National Board Certification as well.  She is a great teacher, the kind of teacher our schools desperately need more of.

I’m just having a hard time fathoming this tragedy.  One minute she’s fine; the next minute, her life has changed forever.  It’s something you don’t think will happen to people in your age group. Strokes are for older people, not people in their late 30s.

Angela, I’m thinking of you and sending every bit of strength I can your way.  Your Meredith family is thinking of you as well.  You have a long road ahead of you, but I know you and how stubborn you are.  I have no doubt you will fight and persevere.

If you can, please send any good wishes and prayers her way. This is the season of miracles and if anyone could use one and deserves one, it is Angela.


You Oughta Know…About Me in High School

This time last year I was in the 9th circle of graduate school hell known as writing my Master’s Paper, so I couldn’t participate in Liz’s inaugural Senior Hottie photo extravaganza.  All that madness is over, thankfully, so I am thrilled to be able to participate this time!

Prepare yourself.

Actually, it’s not that bad.  The really fun pictures are tucked away in the garage, and I can’t get to them before the contest ends.

My apologies: our scanner is acting up too, so we had to take pictures of the pictures, so the quality isn’t great.  I think you’ll be able to capture the essence though.

Let’s return to 1995, shall we?  My soul belonged to grunge, but my wardrobe was The Limited.  I hoped someone would feel as much for me as Gavin Rossdale obviously felt for his lady in “Glycerine.”  I roared with Alanis Morrissette on “You Oughta Know.”  I attended a Hole concert and captured a doll part. Anything Pearl Jam or Nirvana was in rotation.  My hair was long, and I was tall and skinny.

I was a theater geek, and this was my costume as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. Yeah, “Sunrise, Sunset” and all that jazz although now that I think about it, the costume screams “Little Shack on the Russian Prairie.” Small town, small budget.

Senior prom! I went with my friend Abby, and my mother made my dress. Look at how thin I was! Also?  Look at those eyebrows.  Yikes!

Before class, a group of us “smarties” would gather in the library to exchange insults and jokes. Behold me on the far right rocking my Limited slip dress and Mary Janes.

Graduation night family dinner w/ my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This is how we do it in NC, y’all. I don’t even remember what we ate, but the sunburn on my face is courtesy of an afternoon at the pool the previous day. Oops. That box?  Contains a kitten given to me as a “gift” by a friend.  My mom was not amused.

Now let’s return to present day.  I’m 17 years older.  I’m 30 pounds heavier. I have to admit I’m not thrilled with either of those.  When I look at pictures of myself now, my eye immediately notices the bags and wrinkles around my eyes.  Getting old sucks.

Instead of slip dresses from The Limited, I wear tweed from Talbots. Apparently I never outgrew the Mary Janes.

Though I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school or do much dating at all, I am humbled by how much love I receive from my little boy.

Instead of taut skin and long hair, I now have wrinkles and a newly-short ‘do

I think my contest category would be “Are you really the same person?

So tell me, what do you think?  And what do you think when you look at high school pictures of yourself?

For more Senior Hottie fun, head over to Liz’s place.


J and I have been paying some long overdue attention to our house.  We’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering and throwing away stuff we’ve accumulated that isn’t us or no longer (if ever) necessary.  First, we tackled the bonus room and other rooms.  Next, we emptied the guest room.

Our newly-empty guest room

Our focus this week has been the garage, and I’ve learned a few things:

  • It’s incredibly embarrassing that we’ve accumulated enough new crap to fill a dumpster only 2 years after the last dumpster rental
  • I’ve become ruthless when it comes to junk: throw it out!  We obviously haven’t needed it or missed it.
  • J is a paperwork hoarder – it is astonishing the number of boxes containing old paperwork we have schlepped from residence to residence.
  • What were we thinking putting a box of empty gift boxes from Christmases gone by in the loft instead of the trash?
  • If anyone needs furniture/moving blankets, we’ve got you covered

A couple of the boxes were items from high school and college that I have saved.  A few playbills from plays I was in.  A few papers I was especially proud of.  A folder containing lesson plans from the unit on existentialism for the 10th graders I student taught.  And notebooks containing my writing and thoughts.  J kept remarking that I had a weird expression on my face as I went through those boxes, and he was right.  It felt weird.  I didn’t remember some of the events I’d written about – fairly trivial in retrospect but misery for the 17- and 18-year old me.  I wasn’t very happy in high school, and my freshman year of college was one of adjustment.  Not academically but socially.  I’ve always struggled to find the place where I fit in, and those years were not my best.  The words, the poems…it took me back.  I’m sure that a lot of what I felt was typical teenager angst, but the misery leapt off the pages (Amber, if you are reading this, I bet you understand).

I finally told J that I wasn’t ready to throw away the stuff, but I’d be happy if we could shove the boxes into a corner somewhere and I could try to forget they existed.

I don’t know why I’m hanging on to what I chose to keep.  Do I want Daniel to find my old notebooks and read them?  My essays and stories?  Sure!  Indulge in the brilliance that was my college years (ha!). My notebooks/diaries? Not really.   Those notebooks were used sporadically, so the context is missing.  But I can’t help but feel like they are a tiny bit precious.  They contain a little bit of the teenage me.  Maybe they are my horcrux(es?).

So those items escaped the Great Purge of 2011.  We’ve made progress in our de-cluttering, cleaning and sprucing up.

So have I.

How do you feel when you come across items from your adolescence or past?

We rearranged our hutch to contain the items we liked