Entries from September 2009 ↓

Fashion backward….

It’s cold here.

And yesterday, a young student (OK, they’re all young!!) mentioned that her winter clothes are all in storage and the only jacket she had was a jeans jacket. She’d gotten it out to wear to an ’80s party.

Meanwhile, i too am wearing a jeans jacket. From the ’80s. Started out with a button that read, “Thought i’d be dead by the time i was 30, but things didn’t work out.” Lost that one and replaced it with “Middle-Aged and Proud of it.”

Probably should replace that one at this point. Thinking something like “Grannies for Health Care Reform!”

Living vicariously…

As part of my “touch-em-all” tour this year, i’ve dropped in on lots of old friends – and their kids!

i love their kids!! i love it when their kids drop in on me!! i’ve been to the Hersheypark and ridden the thrill rides with them, i’ve helped them with their homework (geez, hope i was right on that crossword puzzle!!), i’ve watched them run around at the pool, i’ve taken them hiking to the top of Green Mountain where ladybugs abound, i’ve played Guitar Hero Metallica (and failed miserably!) and went to Disney World with the nephews, all a blast!

Last week, i was invited to speak about social media to the Capital Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (thanks folks!!). In the process, i visited my old friend (we worked together at the Florida Insurance Department a long time ago in a Tallahasee galaxy far, far away) Michelle.

Michelle and Matt have quite the family. i used to “perform” (be wrapped in toilet paper) at oldest daughter Caroline’s birthday parties. She now has an 8-year-old daughter. Josh is a sophomore at the University of Florida and spent the summer riding across the country on Bike & Build, stopping along the way to build Habitat for Humanity homes. What a wonderful, articulate kid!

Then there are the kids at home – younger Caroline (hope i’m spelling that right!) is a popular senior at Leon High School. i had the honor of proofreading her UF application, which confirmed what a special young woman she is.  i got to watch some sports on TV with young Matthew, a Leon sophomore who’s a big Miami fan.

Grace met me at the door Wednesday night, showed me my room, helped bake three different chocolate desserts Saturday afternoon and took me on a walk around the neighborhood. When she went for a sleepover Friday night, she took along her “binkie” – one i wove for her some 11 years ago. Jack, the youngest, was thrilled Saturday when mom brought home the new Beatles Rock Band – and he knew so many of the songs!!

As you can imagine, Matt and Michelle lead busy, busy lives – and they also watch after her sweet 89-year-old mom, who’s still living on her own. Really, i can barely keep it together working my little teaching job some days. i can’t imagine what it would be like to keep track of even one kid in addition.

But it’s always fun to drop in and visit – and i’ll have to find time to do that again next summer, when i can spend more time corrupting these children with biking, canoeing and the IMAX!

In the meantime, to Michelle, Matt and all the friends and families who’ve hosted me thus far this year – thanks tons!! You’re the best!

A much-belated thank you to Mrs. Bailey

Mrs. Bailey was my seventh and eighth grade teacher at Collins Community School in the early 1970s. Yes, she taught two grades, with one grade typically out of the room for classes such as science, art and P.E. She handled the basics, such as English, history and math.

I don’t even remember her first name, and i’m not sure i ever knew it. She seemed old (who knows what that really was back then!) and was definitely old-school. It was the era when girls were first allowed to wear blue jeans to school, and she once hauled all the female students into the cloak room, closed the door and told us to stop wearing pants so tight that our butt cracks showed. Another time, a tampon dropped from someone’s purse and landed on the floor. Off to the cloak room for another lecture, in which some of us had to confess that, um, we’re unfamiliar with that product. Or related products even.

Mrs. Bailey did have a huge influence on me in one area: reading. Or maybe i should say literature.

Junior high was definitely not a highlight for me, a scrawny kid with glasses, braces and stringy brown hair. Hated the social interaction. Loved the books.

And Mrs. Bailey had her own private shelf of books in a corner of the large room. It was there i found Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun” and John Hersey’s “Hiroshima.”

Trumbo’s story of a World War I soldier who’d lost all his limbs, but not his mind, was then about 35 years old. This story, based in a brutally, but not fatally, wounded soldier’s hospital bed, was pretty disturbing for a 12- or 13-year-old.

As was “Hiroshima.” It was a slim book (probably part of the attraction), originally a long piece in the New Yorker. Hersey told the story of a group of atomic bomb survivors, the horrors they witnessed and their struggles to survive the radioactive aftereffects of the bombing.

I already possessed a fairly strong anti-war sentiment, the result of watching the Vietnam War on the evening news, and probably of listening to may parents’ conversations about the war. I have no idea what Mrs. Bailey’s take on pacifism was – were these books a clue? I don’t remember her discussing the issue.

Clue or no, those two books stayed with me. I read them again. I’ve given them as gifts to nieces. “Hiroshima” tops the list of books one of my classes may choose from for a book review.

To Mrs. Bailey, i say thanks.

And peace.