Apparently we did, at some point, take time out of our note-writing to pay attention in class. At least one of us learned about her skeletal system.
If only she’d been paying attention in 9th-grade English.
Today is going to be a pretty good day. Mr. G. is grading my South Pacific test. I think I did alright. Friday night should be fun at C.’s maybe her parents will give her stero back. I missed one out of 31. I hope that is an A It is because they are worth three points each. I missed the one that I ask him about Well, that’s O.K. Next we have to go and look at George the Skeletion (S.P.)
Come over at 4 and will make the cake. Tell D. to try to decorate (S.P.) C.’s locker. I cann’t wait to give you your present on your birthay.
See ya later, M&M
I’m in second and I know all the bones in my body. My pelvis sticks out and so do my clavicle. I also have a big cranium. Heather “A” just said he was coming over today to pick up the Elvis Album come over. Found out he is staying after.
I continue to be eternally grateful to the friends who (mostly) dated their notes. This one was written towards the end of our junior year by a friend whose father worked the majority of his career for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, commuting daily from Herndon to downtown Washington, D.C., and traveling all over the world as a matter of course. In fact, he was one of the scientists originally tasked with researching the effects of increased methane on earth’s atmosphere in the late 1980s–so, naturally, we told everyone he went to Africa to study cow farts.
This is the typewriter referred to in L.’s note:
You can read lots more about IBM Selectric Typewriters here, if you like.
At the risk of sounding like my father, who’s known for starting childhood stories with, “When I was your age, we had to walk five miles to school every day barefooted, uphill both ways, through ten-foot snow drifts . . . ” I ask everyone under age 30 to imagine, if you can, learning to type on a machine similar to the Selectric II, only it did NOT plug in, AND you had to manually return the carriage with your left hand at the end of each line. That’s what we got in 10th-grade typing at Herndon High School in the early 1980s. When I think about that, at one end of the spectrum, and texting on my iPhone at the other end, I get a little freaked out.
L.’s Bonzo Home 123 Independence Ave The Big Wash, DC 11234
May 19, 82
Heather Baby 9 Lust Lane 7th Heaven USA
This may be the most official letter you ever get from anyone so, hold on. As I type you are enerting upon the time of 8:26 AM this very muggy morning. I am enjoying the fine comforts of my daddys neato office, typing upon a cool to the max IBM Selectric II typing device and I am making mega mistakes, but you will not be able to see all of them thanks to the expressly adanced technological designing of this fine device.
So, how is Bronze Boy? FINE as usual? I thought so. Did M. stay all day or just til she wore out her welcome? I thought so. See, I have been thinking alot lately. I’m sure you thought so, too.
We lost our game last night, 20-29.We really sucked royally last night. So many errors, I only hit one grand slam(drag) and two singles. I was off (o-ops).
Lets see what other exciting information I can relay to you. How do you make those cute little soldiers? !@#$%¢*()_-+=qwerytuiop ½¼asdfghjkl;’zxcvbnm,./, well I can’t seem to find the right keys to make little soldiers. I am making even more mistakes, and I don”t feel like correcting them, cuz I have been typing for one hour and fourty five minutes. I typed up the program, for my mom’s recital tomorrow night,and now I am typing to you.
Do you know what they want me to do? I didn’t think so, well they want me to answer the tolophone!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, you read this correctly, the BIG TELEPHONE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It hasn”t rung yet but when it does I will probably have a massive coronary. So , watch out cuz I will just pass out. I cannot handle the pressures of every day telephone calls. Suey, every time I hit the correcto key I make the same mistake again. Gaswear.
Well ,I thank you for the fine attention you have paid, and have a nice day.
At the tone the time will be 8:48 and 40 seconds ……………. BOING ……….
I am the captain of my ship–as well as the author of today’s note from 1979 or 1980. And, as you’ll see, in 9th grade I was already on my way to becoming a master of race relations and cultural sensitivity. (My former boss and friend, Kirk Koepsel, once told me, “Sarcasm doesn’t translate into writing.” I have always hoped this isn’t true, but if it is, please know I was just now being sarcastic.)
I grew up on the east coast–elementary school in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area and intermediate and high school in a D.C. suburb–so, consequently, my formative years were blessed with a fair amount of racial and cultural diversity. I had White friends, Black friends, and every shade of brown in between. There were plenty of Latino, Indian, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern kids at Herndon Intermediate and Herndon High School. In 9th grade, I had an Iranian friend whom I asked to teach me some Persian (Farsi) words and phrases. Sadly, all I can remember today is halet chetore, which means “How are you?”
However, my closest friends were White, and, if I think about it, I can only remember being at their homes, knowing their families and spending most of my one-on-one time with them. Time spent with friends of color was always in school, or at school-related social events–rarely individually, and never at home.
What many of my peers probably don’t remember is that I attended our senior prom with my friend K., a Black football player whose family had moved to Herndon from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). I am ashamed to confess that I told my parents I was going with a different (read “White”) friend because I didn’t think they would approve. K. and I wore matching tuxedos, and double-dated with the mutual friend and his girlfriend, who deigned to join the three of us in our dapper finery and wore a dress instead.
It’s particularly fascinating to reflect on the scenario briefly referred to in my note–of which I have absolutely no recollection–at age 51, when I spend half of each workday in a community college diversity center. I’m far from being the most culturally fluent person in the room, but in the past couple years, my horizons have expanded enormously thanks to my job. My Latino boss–with whom I have almost daily conversations about some aspect of cultural competency–has brought both Tim Wise and Robin DiAngelo to our school to speak on White privilege. I’ve read several of their books, I participated in a year-long Inclusion & Cultural Fluency leadership training series, and I’m learning to speak Spanish because my inability to communicate with so many folks has been driving me crazy for a long time.
In other words, I’ve made a personal choice to improve my cultural competency and increase my understanding of White privilege. This is a priority I will work on throughout the rest of my life, whether or not I continue to pursue a career in higher ed. I may not remember why the Korean boy made me nervous, nor why I thought I needed to “feel sorry for him,” but from the perspective of more than thirty years later, I now know to challenge myself when I have thoughts like these.
How’s life? mine’s just boreamundo. actually it’s pretty gross. my life is in a rut. it’s been there for the longest time. but i’m planning on having a heap o’ fun this weekend. Friday night I’m going to a party, Saturday night I’m going skating, now I have to find sompin’ to do sunday.
i told C. about ya not being allowed to go to Roanoke. She’s really upset. I think we could try and talk your parents back into letting you go.
I sit with this Vietnamese Korean guy in Bio & M. isn’t here. He carries a Korean-American dictionary around with him. I feel sorry for him but he makes me nervous.
This class is sorry. I wish I could’ve gotten into Mr. S. 2nd period, because I’m pretty sure that’s where A. is now.
Mr. S. sez they need pitchers on the softball teams ‘round here.
I know y’all have been waiting with bated breath for the next note. And I also know I keep saying this, but I really should post more often.
So, at long last: here’s a gem from 10th grade (1980-81). While you enjoy it, ask yourself the following questions:
Would you appear in public wearing all white?
Do you remember being completely mortified in 10th grade biology by the chapter on reproduction?
Do your kids see you more often than once or twice a week?
Do you feel spirited?
How do, mademoiselle?
I hope you’re not so spastic today! You ought to be in our biology class. Mr. S. says things you wouldn’t believe. And today I was looking through the book & discovered the chapter on reproduction—w/ illustrations! There’s no way in the world I’m gonna do that chapter w/ J. as my partner!!
I have some good news. Mr. H. ordered a couple more desks yesterday so there is a lot of room left for you—4 whole desks. Pleeeaassse switch to 3rd pd! Pleeze?
Do you feel spirited? I honestly did have on all white this morning. I took it off ’cuz it looked weird & ‘cuz I wouldn’t dare going into Hist. & Math in all white! Juniors would murder me!
Have fun at the game. I wish I could come, but I already promised D. I would sit tonite. I hope she comes home super early ‘cuz I desparately need sleep. I even have a 9:30 a.m. hockey scrimmage tomorrow. Ho, boy—no sleep!
What are we gonna do ‘bout Sun. I think C. said she could take us. All we need is a ride home. Maybe I can—I’ll have to check next time I see my mom. I haven’t seen her since Mon. from 5-6 pm. [I’m pretty sure this note was written on a Friday, so WTF?]
I just goofed on a Math test.
I have a Hist. test on Monday; a French dialog on Monday; & a biology Chapt. test on Wed. Plus I have to read 1 English book & 2 history books. Plus I have to make all those Christmas gifts. Also, I have to dance, babysit, guitar lesson (when do I ever practice?), build a float, & do all this other crap. I AM SO OVER MY HEAD!! HELP ME, I’M DROWNING!
I feel like Frampton’s song: I’m swimming in a circle I feel I’m going down There has to be a fool to play my part
Well, I better finish, it’s 1 minute ‘till the bell rings.
I mean, other than the fact that I haven’t posted since December. I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
1. My gas mileage. I just filled up last week, and got over 800 miles and 99 MPG on the last tank. I drive a 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In. It’s ridiculous.
2. How much I love our yard, and the fact that we can finally say the front landscaping is 100% finished. Check it out.
3. On the other hand, after 3.5 years, I continue to feel the pain of buyer’s remorse.
4. That 30 Rock has finally replaced Seinfeld as my favorite TV show ever. Good god, Lemon!
5. That I feel like the co-caretaker of a small petting zoo. Five critters is too many, but they’re family now–for better or worse.
6. That it may be time to start looking for a new job. Like most career paths I’ve tried during my professional life, I’ve discovered working in higher ed isn’t as glamorous as I originally thought–especially not at a community college. There’s a lot of truth in the way community college is portrayed in Community, but it’s like a gazillion times sexier on TV than it is in real life. And the drama! Dear god, the drama.
9. How exhausting it is to be an introvert in a world where extroversion is prized and expected.
10. How it mostly sucks to be a big person, except for the alcohol.
11. That literally almost every person I see anymore is glued to their smartphone, and that I’m expected to watch out for them. Walking, cycling, driving–doesn’t matter. No one watches where they’re going, and no one makes eye contact. It’s just sad. And how the hell can anyone see that tiny screen without reading glasses?
12. Todos en español. After five terms, I should hope so.
13. That I really need to re-focus on the good and wonderful things about this world and the people living in it. Because damn.
Let me be perfectly clear about this: I believe my cat, Chai, is the reincarnation of my former cat, Sputnik.
I am completely serious. I believe in the recycling of souls, also known as reincarnation. Of course, billions of other people also believe this, but I suspect a significant number of these folks are Hindu or Buddhist. I, on the other hand, was raised in a church-going Lutheran family. I started questioning things pretty early on, however, and have not been a Lutheran–or even a Christian–for the majority of my life. Though I believe very firmly in a higher power, I choose not to refer to it as “god,” since I associate this word with Christianity. And pretty much everything about Christianity makes me intensely uncomfortable. Instead, I think of it as Source, or Source Energy, the term used by the teachings of Abraham-Hicks.
The biggest shift in my worldview began in 2003 when I began attending classes at Creative Living Institute at the recommendation of a friend. Mary Graham’s lessons opened up a whole new world for me that made more sense than anything I’d ever been exposed to before. I learned about numerology, tarot cards, astrology, auras, chakras and meditation, among other things. I knew what reincarnation was, of course, but Mary talked about it in a way I hadn’t considered before: that souls travel together through time and have “contracts” with each other, and that everything comes from the same source energy and is thus connected.
With this abbreviated background in place, let me tell you about The Man.
Sputnik was my soulmate, my familiar. We found each other at the Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado, in February 1991 when he was about six months old. He was the first cat I adopted on my own, and for whom I was the sole caregiver. I loved him with every fiber of my being.
From the first moment I saw him in his kennel, I knew. An adoption counselor placed him on my lap in a visiting room, and he immediately rolled over on his back, waving his paws in the air. I named him Sputnik because I liked the sound of it, and because I liked the band Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
My friend David almost immediately dubbed him “Little Man,” and that nickname–along with several variations like “Little B” or “The Man”–stuck till the end of his life in 2010. He was extremely naughty, with a penchant for blueberry muffins left out overnight on the stovetop. He tipped the trashcan over and dug through the contents almost every day until I wised up and bungeed it shut. One day I returned from work to find every piece of jewellry I owned strewn from one end of the apartment to the other. Oh yes, he was naughty. And I adored him. He particularly loved playing stalk and chase, and being held above my head to be “flown” around the house, complete with airplane sounds. David tied a rubber cockroach to a long piece of dental floss, creating a cat toy for Sput second only to “Mr. Purse Strap,” which we finally just threw out a few years ago.
I adopted a brown tabby kitten from the Dumb Friends League in 1993 and named him Biscuit. “The Boys,” as they were known, provided my husband and I with many years of love and entertainment. They left this world within a year of each other at the ripe old age of 19.
We moved from South Dakota to Oregon in early 2012, and, though we had Sidra and Nemo, two female cats we’d adopted in Rapid City, I knew I had to find another male Himalayan mix like Sputnik. In May 2013, I found him on Petfinder.com. Actually, I found a brother-sister pair who had been rescued from the shoulder of Interstate 5 near Springfield, their mother having been killed on the highway. I made a phone call, loaded a pet carrier in the car, and off we went.
Though we were prepared to adopt both kittens, the rescue assured us that, based on their young age and personalities, they wouldn’t be the least bit traumatized by being separated. So Chai came home with us on May 26, 2013.
Chai is very self-entertaining, as are many cats. One day I noticed him playing alone in our guest room, and watched as he pawed at the rug (like he was digging a hole), then put his head down and did a front roll into the spot where he’d been “digging.” Sputnik used to do the exact same thing. I’ve never seen either of our girl cats do it.
Last week, I was in the bathroom flossing my teeth, and Chai joined me on the counter. Then he did something he’d never done before: he got into the sink and began pawing at the sides, curling himself up in the round space and looking up at me. Nemo will sometimes get on the bathroom counter, but she has never once gotten into the sink.
I took an almost identical photo of Spunik in our apartment sink in 1992. I spent a lot more time in front of the mirror in those days, and he was right there with me, most of the time. I think he even supervised the night I tried to pierce my own nose with a sewing needle. (That didn’t end well. I had to have it done professionally.)
If it’s true that souls can choose to travel through time together, it’s entirely plausible that the Little Man bided his time out there in the Nonphysical from 2010-2013, saw an opportunity to come back to me and took it. This probably sounds pretty crazy to someone who doesn’t subscribe to this particular worldview, but that’s OK. I don’t really care, because the truth of it resonates within my higher self.
It was only within the past five years or so I actually looked up the word “Sputnik” and discovered its literal meaning is “fellow traveller” or “travelling companion,” depending on which website you use.
There are so many reasons to feel connected to Source.
Transcribing K’s note below made me wonder just how often this type of situation happened during my six years of intermediate school and high school, and to what extent it’s still happening. I’m pretty sure if this occurred nowadays, the geometry teacher referenced would be suspended without pay–or possibly fired–and both he and Fairfax County Public Schools would be sued from here to eternity.
It is simply mortifiying to think about this happening to K or any girl around her age. I can’t imagine how humiliating and embarrassing it must have been for her. K was short and very amply endowed, even in seventh grade. She was extremely self-conscious about her appearance: she viewed herself as overweight and spent huge amounts of money, time and energy on losing weight, as well as her skin, makeup, hair and clothing. Read more about her in If I had a bunny, I’d call it Led Zeppelin.
Hi Heather! Geometry was embarassing! Mr. S. likes to make up stories about people in the class to help explain things. So guess who was in his story today! Me and P.D.! He started out, “You all know K.D., don’t you?” and of course they didn’t because they were all sophomores, but one guy said, “She must be a freshman.” Then Mr. S. said, “Have you ever seen her walk down the hall? She’s no freshman!” Embarassment!!!!!!!!!!! Then he proceeds to tell this story of me and P. driving down the highway when he hears this thumping which he thinks is my heart but it turns out to be a flat tire which I have to change while he watches the traffic. So embarassing! Hey there’s cute little R.L. walking along the road in the rain! Poor baby! How was the Ortho man? Fun I bet! I have to go to Dr. B. at 3:30. Fun-ness! R. is on the bus looking very cute in his red, black & white shirt and gorgeous new white Adidas jacket. Well, almost home! Bye!
2015 is kind of a big year for me. This is the year I turn 50, as do all my girlfriends with whom I graduated high school. We’re getting together for a week in October at a beach house in Oak Island, NC, to celebrate and/or commiserate. By that time, only one of us will still be in her forties, but she’ll be the one who gets to have her birthday while we’re all together. Maybe it’ll be less traumatizing for her that way.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I kind of lost focus on my memoir. You’ve probably been wondering, “Geez, when is she going to post another one of those notes?” Well, wonder no further. Below is one of the oldest notes in my possession, written in seventh grade by the friend who most recently turned 50. (You know who you are.)
It is now my goal to have every note transcribed and an agent procured by the time we get together in mid-October. I’m going to need you to help hold me to that, since I am, at heart, an incredibly lazy person with the attention span of . . . well, Happy Dog.
(Whose attention span, by the way, has not increased one iota in the past two years since we adopted her.) I’m really good at starting things with the appropriate amounts of enthusiasm and focus, but not so great at finishing them. Truly, this is one of my greatest and most crippling faults. But publishing this book is incredibly important to me, and I fully intend to see it through.
So, without further introduction, I give you:
Oh merd! Dallas just lost MERDE & double merde!)
Superbowl Sunday 1/21/78 Heather, High! I will be when Dallas wins. They’re behind now, they had better win. If they don’t I’ll lost a whole 50¢! Today would be 7 months. In this one song on my Helen Reddy record it goes “love and I were strangers til you and I were friends. Into the shadows of my life, you have brought sympathy and sunshine. I wish that we could still be friends.” They later it goes “Broken hearts will mend.” Maybe, but it sure as hell takes long enough. (excuse my Français) Oh, great! 35 to 17. Looks like I had better get my 50¢ out. This just helps make all the other little events lately, even betterly worse! That includes last night; I was going to Grand Visitation with D.G. and another girl, with a lady from our bethel. We had to go to Alexandria. As we got close to the off ramp the cute little decided it didn’t want to go. So here we are all dressed up sitting in the car off the side of the Hiway. We sat there for about 40 min. There was another car behind us w/ problems. We kept watching him get in & out of his car, hoping that if he got his car started he would help us, only if he was nice. The lady that was driving us is about 25 & her mother had given her this scream thing to have in case someone was after her, so were safe. (har har) So finally a tow truck stopped & after about 10 minutes got the car started. So now we go to Landmark Center & she calls her husband, now it’s about 8:15. He says he’ll be there in a half hour. So we’re sitting in the Sears automotive parking lot. D. starts to read “Cruisin for a Bruisin’” then gets tired of it about 8:30. So I start reading it. About 9:20 the ladies husband get there, he’s going to follow us home. So for starters we get on the wrong road. I continue using the headlights behind us to see. Finally we get here at 10:15, I stepped out of the car & into a cute little puddle about 20 (maybe 30) feet deep, in my good shoes and freeze my feet off, but the husband guy got out of his truck to tell his wife something and thought it’d be cool to just skate on over . . . so he crashed to the ground. The End. My arm is killing me to death. I have to go to the dentist at 9:15 to get my teeth cleaned. My dentist, Dr. Repole, is the foxyest (sp) guy! Tall . . . Dark . . . &&&&& HANDSOME!!!!!! I have to go. My arm is broke off. W/B/soon C-ya round C. Now to fold this sucker! K’s playing restaurant, Miklshakes are $10 & Chinese food is $50!!!!