White bread

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.


hey chic!

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.

Later!

Love moi

Do you feel spirited?

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.

Luv,
C.

Sexual harassment – 80s style

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!

My arm is broke off.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(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!!!!

The appeal of the posse

In the interest of doing pretty much anything rather than studying for my Spanish 101 class, a couple weekends ago I spent about ninety minutes on something I’ve been putting off for the past year.  Now that my personal statute of limitations has passed on this particular event, I think I’m ready to write about it.

If you’ve seen the ultra-cheesy 1997 sci-fi flick Starship Troopers, you’ve seen a movie on which my friend Darren Rydstrom worked as “loader, second unit.”  (Oddly enough, his first name is misspelled in the credits.)  Parts of this movie were filmed in Badlands National Park, just an hour east of where Darren and I lived, 30 years ago, in Rapid City, South Dakota.

photo0122

The urbane, golf-playing, cocktail-sipping, cigar-puffing camera operator/ director of photography Darren was known in the biz as “Daz” Rydstrom.  I didn’t know that Darren.  My Darren was a year younger than me, lived across the street and had a three-legged tabby named Tripod and a trampoline in the backyard.

young man holding video camera

Later on he had a motorcycle instead of a trampoline, but Tripod-lovin’ backyard trampoline Darren was the Darren I knew best.

man and motorcycle

My Darren and I did silly, fun stuff like flying a kite with a glow stick tied to it at dusk, so that neighbors who drove by and saw us looking up asked if there was a UFO in the sky.  We climbed Little Devil’s Tower with a friend visiting from the east coast, camped overnight and, the next morning, found our camp covered in ladybugs.

man and woman in forest

young man sitting atop rock looking through video camera

We spent college breaks together:  on summer nights, we laid on the trampoline, looking at the stars and talking for hours, scaring ourselves when we heard deer moving nearby in the dark.  Or, with a group of friends, we’d take blankets out to the middle of a horse pasture adjacent to our neighborhood, and do pretty much the same thing.  One time, the two of us were sitting in my driveway, watching lightning and sharing a clove cigarette–which is what you did in the 80s, right?–and my mom happened to come out of the house right when I was taking a drag.  And it was no big whoop–I was in college, and I knew that she knew that I wasn’t a real smoker.  Plus I was with Darren, who could do no wrong in my parents’ eyes.

During Christmas break, we’d bundle up and drive around Rapid City, stereo blasting Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust or whatever 80s cassette happened to be in the tape deck at the time, shooting whatever looked interesting:  him with his video camera, me with my 35mm.   When we were back at our respective schools, we wrote letters and called each other occasionally.

In July 1988, our families were evacuated from our neighborhood, caused by the locally famous Westberry Trails Fire, which burned within about a half-mile of our homes. Darren, of course, spent a significant amount of time before evacuation filming the blaze from the roof of his house, and then fought the fire with his mom, Jerie, as a Doty VFD volunteer.

Once when I was living in Reston, Virginia, we met up in Washington, DC and spent a day walking the National Mall and visiting the Smithsonian.

young man and woman in reflection

young man seated in front of fountain

It was around this time when we finally decided to kiss, just to see what would happen.  I’ll refer you to a specific scene in P.S. I Love You for the outcome of that ill-conceived experiment.

Darren’s Grandma Harriet lived in Denver the same time I did, so we got to see each other several times during the 1990s.  Grandma Harriet drove us around in her Audi sedan, and once took us to lunch at Denver Country Club.  (She was a classy lady in more ways than one.)  One time, Darren took me to the mansion in which his dad, Don, had grown up.  He walked right up and knocked on the door, introduced himself and asked if we could come in so he could show me the house.  And, because he was Darren, the current occupant was delighted to comply.

Over the years, we saw less and less of each other.  After moving around quite a bit, I eventually ended up back in Rapid City.  Darren would come back to the Hills for visits at Christmas and during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August.  He’d call and leave a message, and I’d be busy or out of town (especially during the Rally!).  I kept meaning to visit him in SoCal, but never did.  Once in a while we’d e-mail each other.  Then Facebook came along, and I was at least able to stay more current on his adventures.  I was amazed at the places he wrote about visiting, the people he met and with whom he worked, and the way he was blossoming professionally.  I was so proud of who he’d become and what he was accomplishing.  He was living the dream, as far as I could tell.

One of the things he told me most consistently over the years was how much he wanted to be married and have a family someday.  In fact, some of our more contentious (for lack of a better word) discussions concerned my determination to never have children and how that could possibly be the case.  I always wanted so much for him to find the perfect woman–not a glamorous, superficial, affected wannabe.  But that never seemed to happen.

I should probably mention at this point that Darren was killed in a helicopter crash two years ago today, while filming a new Discovery Channel reality show.  Sadly, like the way I find out about so many things these days, I learned this devastating news on Facebook a day or two after the accident.

This was the second time in six years a close friend had died abruptly.  Both deaths occurred in early February.  Both friends were healthy, active men in their forties.  Both of them were world travelers who packed more living into less than fifty years than the majority of us could in twice that time.  One was married with a young daughter, and happened to be my boss, as well as my friend.  The other was Darren.

young man squatting on wall with pine trees in background

Back to what I spent those ninety minutes on.  I had a couple VHS tapes with footage from 1988 and 1989 that Darren had put together for me a long time ago, and, around this time last year, I asked Loving Husband if he’d record the content onto a DVD for me.

I finally it watched it, and now I can’t decide if I’m glad to have this access to the past.  I think, ultimately, I am–but it definitely comes with a price.  That price is to relive us–our friendship, our youth, our carefree banter and laughter, our total disregard for the inevitability of adulthood, old age, and eventual death.  To see a youthful Darren briefly and falsely brought back to life on a TV screen.  To see myself as a beautiful, young college student without a care in the world.  Maybe it’s better, as Death Cab For Cutie so eloquently puts it, to “depend on that faulty camera in our minds.”  I’ve forgotten much more than I remember about us and our friendship and the time we spent together.  But I’m grateful for every moment.

man and woman smiling together

This morning I looked at a text on my phone just as I was leaving for work.  The message was from my dear friend, Wayde, with whom I exchange random Seinfeld quotes several times a day.  My boss who died suddenly in 2007 was Wayde’s boss as well, and when Darren was killed, Wayde was one of the first people I called.  This morning’s text read, “With Darren’s help, we’ll get that chicken.”  The time stamp was 3:14 a.m.  (Wayde doesn’t sleep well.)  According to Los Angeles County officials, Darren’s death occurred at approximately 3:40 a.m.  I knew immediately who had really sent me that message and why.

I called Wayde on my way to work and, between sobs, told him what he’d inadvertently done–and how grateful I was that Darren had chosen to communicate with me through him.  And as sad as I was this morning, for the rest of the day, I was comforted by the knowledge that everyone and everything is connected, there is no death, and Darren is an integral part of my Nonphysical Posse, if not the ringleader.

Looking at the hundreds of pictures posted on Darren’s Facebook page by his friends around the world, it’s hard not to feel jealous and left out of all the places he’d been and good times he had with so many people who aren’t me.  But I also read messages from people who’d only met him once, for a few hours, and considered themselves fortunate.  They too were deeply affected by his death.  That’s the kind of person he was.  As with my brother, I always felt better for his physical presence with me.  I’m certain every one of his Facebook friends, his parents and his sisters would agree.

We all knew and loved a different Darren.  I loved my Black Hills Darren best.

And with his help, we’ll get that turkey.

Man stabbing at turkey with pitchfork
Darren Arthur Rydstrom        |       11/13/66 – 2/10/13

 

If I had a bunny, I’d call it Led Zeppelin.

Did you ever have a friend you thought was so much more sophisticated and worldly than you? I felt that way about one of my best friends in 8th and 9th grade.  Along with the perceived worldliness, and more so than any of my other girlfriends, K.’s notes can be counted on to mention various aspects of pop culture–sometimes at great length and in unexpectedly sophisticated language for a young teenager.

K. was what you’d call a latchkey kid, as many of her notes mentioned coming and going when no one was home–a completely alien concept to a kid like me whose grandmother lived with her.  K. and her parents lived lakeside in Reston, Virginia–“the first modern, post-war planned community in America,” as Wikipedia explains it.  They had their own dock and a small sailboat.  K. had a snake named Slither and took riding lessons on a leased horse named Hester. She was allowed to drink piña coladas, went to a Schick Weight Loss Center (more on that in a later post), had a prescription for one of the earliest available versions of Retin-A, knew how to cook, took public transportation by herself and had her own bathroom.  If that’s not sophistication, I don’t know what is.

K. even had a darkroom, of which I was immensely jealous, since she was able to make 11 x 14″ prints of her photographs of the boy we both had a massive crush on.  When I say massive, I mean M. A. S. S. I. V. E.–there is no way I could possibly overstate this.  We stalked this poor kid for two years.  More on that later as well . . .


Hi H.!
Guess who’s pen I got hold of again!  Just kidding, this one is my old papermate.
Did you know (oops, stupid pen!) that I owe you 3 notes!  I don’t like this pen, hold on.
That’s better, I guess.
Back to the note you wrote last Friday.  Even no empty barrel would look good on T.!  Why do you always go to the band room?  You know, I think T. is getting his brain back (Thank God!).  We’re getting soft, H.!  I don’t have the heart to do the “trick” anymore (at least not yet).  But when we do get fired up again we have plenty of “stuff.”  Thanks for T.’s phone number.  You wouldn’t know his address, would you?  It’s too bad you didn’t get to shake G.’s hand, Oh well.  You wouldn’t want to shake it now though, with a tick in it!  I can’t stand ticks!  They make me sick!  I don’t think T. is going on the Walk for Mankind either, By the way, when is it?  You’re right about my needing glasses, they’re coming in soon I think.  But I’m nearsighted so I didn’t have any trouble seeing your picture from last year!  It was good!  My school pictures never turn out!  I don’t even know why they bother to take them.  I bet T.’s turned out good!  He’s absolutely photogenic!  T. is so-o-o-o-o wonderful!  He’s helping me to overcome my shyness by his just being nice to me!  I don’t have much problem looking into those GORGEOUS Blue-Grey eyes of his!  I’ve heard that you can learn almost everything about a person by looking into their eyes, too.  And it’s true!  I think it’s fantastic that a person’s eyes are the “most revealing part of their face” because T. has been “Gifted” with such beautiful ones!
Mr. H. never lets our class see anything backwards!  I guess he doesn’t like us [sniff].
The guys that threw pudding at us were that kid G. with the red hair (you know, he beat up S.) and some friends of his.
I bet when T., T.P., D.R. (ick) and C.R. wore their Adidas (sp?) shirts it was planned.  That’s just to much of a coincidence.  I didn’t know C. had an A. shirt.  But of course!  You have to have an A. shirt to be cool!
T.P. is cute.  He was in my Industrial Arts class last year.  So sweet!  So was J. (J.)!  Did you know him?  He moved to Fairfax, poor thing.  He says it’s pretty scary over there.  Once he found a dead body when he was doing his paper route, and people keep setting things on fire!
Oh, Love of My Life come home!  So adorable!  He’s even cuter now than he was last year!
My poor knees!  They don’t like to run.  This afternoon I left my jacket in French so I took my books out to the bus and ran back in to find that Mlle. S. had locked the room (terrific!) so I had to run all the way back out to the bus.
You are so lucky to have all that stuff in your basement!  I bet you could really build up your muscles lifting weights!
T. asked me the same question a couple of days ago.  I don’t have a favorite group really.  I’m not one to buy records that much.  I’m content with my radio.  But I do like the Beatles (Yeah!), Styx, Blondie (hey wow! my nickname) and of course, the wonderful Queen!  Have you heard that new song by Alice Cooper that’s sad.  Let’s see, I like Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues and the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon.  I like Renegade, (doesn’t everybody) and have you heard Superman by Herbie Mann?  It’s so neat!  I like the beginning best.
It is pretty nice living on the lake.
I love to go sailing and swimming in it except that I’m alergic to something in the water.  I also just like to look out my window at it.  It’s so pretty!
I would LOVE to live on the beach!   I know who you would like to take long Romantic walks with!
I love riding but I quit for the winter.  I’m no pro but I’m okay.  I ride English.  I’d love to learn Western, it would be so fun, but they don’t teach that ‘round here (can’t spell today)  Have you ever tried jumping?  It’s so fun!  But I don’t think I’d ever get over 3 feet.   I’m too chicken too.  I’m at about 1-1 ½ feet now, maybe 2.
What happened on Battlestar Galactica?

I love babysitting for the kid I babysit for, he’s so cute (cute eyes)  Hes just a little over 2 years old.  
I’m glad you enjoyed last Saturday.  I had fun too.  Maybe we could go again sometime.
I am just about to finish my Poetry project.  What a pain!  Wasn’t T.’s good?  What was your dad an usher for?  That was nice of him to give you that chain.
You never told me about your “very good” dream!  You probably won’t remember it now since it’s taken me a week to write you back!
We have a dart board too.  I’ll have to get it out and set up my own little 3-way game of darts (with T. and N.)
Yes!  I got zapped!  What a pain!  Oh well, I did it all the times I had to and my wish was supposed to come true today but it didn’t.  RATS!  Did your come true?  I didn’t see the Charlie Brown show.  Rast again!
Oh good!  “Hey Jude” is on the radio (W-P-G-C!)!  Yeah Beatles!
I’ve started saving my notes.   Most of which are from you!
That was a cute little note you gave me today!
Are your cousins nice?  W. seems like the perfect age.  D. sounds like he’s at the cute age.  And A. sounds like she’s at the nice age.
I wish those pictures had turned out better.  I’m going to take a whole bunch tomorrow to make up for it all.  What a bummer!  Only 2 really printable photos of T.!  The copies are not expensive but I wouldn’t make you pay anyway!  ‘Cause you’re my friend (Right?)!
I’m just the same way, it’s so boring staying home when we don’t have school!
When is Memorial Day?  I’ll have to check that.
Those articles from the Police Report are really cheery!  What do they mean by “committing an unnatural act?”  Nobody had better commit any unnatural act against our sweet T.!  I’m not really suprised that so much happen’s in Herndon!
Wow!  That’s amazing that T.only weighs 130 lbs. especially if its all muscle (which of course it is) because muscle weighs more than flab!  G. weighs 160 (about) and he’s 6’2” so that makes a difference of 30 lbs and 6” which is 5 lbs per inch!  G. must have heavy bones.
I love your doodles!  They’re so cute!  I wish I could draw but I still draw like I did in 5th grade!
Guess who sings backups on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”.  You won’t believe this, Brooke Shields!
Oh, I was walking home from the bus looking at those beautiful pictures and J. strolled up beside me (he rides my bus) and asked to see them.  So I handed him the one where it says “Best Wishes” and then the one “To one of my best friends” and he laughed at that one.  Then he asked me if I liked T., now what am I going to say?  “Yes” then he goes into his “aw-w-w-w-s”.  Then he said something I didn’t hear so I come back with this intelligent remark, “What?”  “Are you going to go for it?” and not wanting to sound dumb but not really understanding what he meant, another intelligent answer, “Yeah, I guess.”   J. can be so nice.  Since he knows T. maybe he could put in a good word.  Naw.
I forgot to tell you about this, but in Science (thrilling!) I showed T. my picture of my bunny and he said it was cute and asked if I had named it yet.  “No, I can’t think of a good name” (I’ve been calling it Bunny”)  So he said “How ‘bout T.?”
Me:  “I thought of that.”
T:  “Or Led Zepplin?  If I had a bunny I’d call it Led Zepplin.”
Well, not really wanting to call my sweetie Led Zepplin I’ve decided to name it T.  Almost perfect eyes too.  If you just added a dab of blue to them you couldn’t tell the difference between T. and T.  You have to see my T.!
Today I was so happy when I got home, after having such a fantastic day and getting that little bit of “support” from J.  I walked in the door, threw down my books, and
SCREAMED!
I just had to let all that happy excitement out!
Well, since it’s 7:15 and I haven’t touched my homework, or my poetry I should go, although I hate to.
Anyway,
See ya tomorrow!
Luv,
K
P.S.  Smile for the shutterbug!

Copy of a girl's note

Battlestar Galactica photo courtesy ABC-TV

Some idiot on Uranus

H,
Il ya trios très, très étudiants ennyue (‘cuz 2 boys) dans cette class.  (There are 3 very, very bored students in this class.)  J.S, C.R. & Moi.  HELP!  I’m all done with my homeowork so I is faking doing it in order to fill my desire to write to you.  The 3 of us elected not to take the test.  Ain’t we smart?  We get to put it off until Friday.  Mr. C (hope he doesn’t come over here) gave us a lecture on things to come.  Blew my mind!  Talk about things from outer space!  Some idiot on Uranus decided to give us these stupid formulas to confuse us and weaken our minds.  Then they’re gonna invade our souls!  Watch out!  I feel them crawling through my skull!  Help!
Oh-oh!  National emergency.  Here he comes.  Gotta go for a sec.  Hope you studied some more for the spelling test.  I didn’t.  I guess I’d better if I have time after bestowing you with my wonderous flow of elegant & colloquial vocabulary & enhancing your unfortunate surroundings.
I’ve been thinking about it, & I really do want my jewelry back.  I really love my Frampton ring, my French ring & my skeleton necklace; plus the others.  Problem:  I don’t want to create trouble.  I’m almost sure that that’s the girl who took my stuff.  If I see her again & she has my stuff, I’m gonna get Mr. P.  No, Ms. H.  She’s more into it.  I really don’t want to get beat up, but I’ve got to look at the bright(?) side of things.  Maybe it’ll improve my looks.  If not, then at least I’ll have a ligit excuse to cover my face.  Also, I’ve wanted to get in a good knock-down fight, but it’s just be dreaming.  I certainly don’t want a gang fight.  At least I never go anywhere alone.  Maybe they’re like C.W.; all words but no action.  I sure hope so.
I gotta game today.  I’m soooooo nervous!  This is gonna be the real test if I made the team, what string, & what position.  So far I’ve been playing left & right wing, 1st string, no substitutes.  But with my ankle, I don’t don’t know.  I usually don’t express pain very well, even if I’m dying.  So when I mutter & complain ‘bout something, that means it seriously hurts.  And this is about to do me in.  I’m in so much pain & agony.  It hurt so bad to walk down the stairs.  Going up is not too bad, there’s not much pressure on my foot.  But going down, “THUD”, it hurts like merde.  I don’t know how I’m going to play today.  Is it better to be a benchwarmer or play crappily?  Maybe I’ll play then keel over when I inevitably get kicked in the same place.  Make it look good.
Well, I’ve got 30 seconds ‘til the bell rings.  Luv ya,
C. briiing


Organizing these notes first by school year, then by writer, made it easy for me to see patterns in their subject matter.  These are the main topics I noticed, in order of their prominence:

  • Boys
  • Girlfriends and associated activities (sleepovers, roller skating, shopping, bicycle-riding, watching soap operas)
  • Academia (classes, homework, tests, teachers, grades, extracurricular activities)
  • Popular culture (movies, music, products, TV shows, etc.)
  • Family/parents/siblings
  • Riding the bus

If I were to make a word cloud out of the above topics, “Boys” would be in, like, 150-point font, and everything else would be maybe 14-point.

C. has been one of my closest friends since sixth grade.  She was a competitive athlete and our class valedictorian.  Needless to say, much of the content of her notes has to do with A) field hockey and soccer practices and games, and B) classes, tests, homework and grades.  As you can see, she also took French, as did several other of my girlfriends.  I was quite vexed when they wrote in French, because the only French words I knew were “moi,” “bonjour,” “adieu,” and “merde.”  (I took four years of German, which was far more useful in my very ethnic family.)

By the way, I selected the title phrase because I recently shared a Facebook post entitled “What is Uranus Made Of?” on Husband’s Wall.  We’ve been asking each other this question for weeks.  It never gets old.

Clark Kent was cuter than Superman.

H,
How do, you know I don’t have a think to talk about except SUPERMAN the movie, you will believe a man can fly.  I saw it Thursday night, isn’t that great?  Now I don’t have a thing to talk about except cute Clark Kent, boy was he cute, I wouldn’t mind being Lois Lane, Clark was cuter than Superman, you know they are one and the same.  Now I don’t have anything at all to talk about, you know, how do you find enough things to write your letters that long.  Did you sell any subscriptions?  I didn’t.
This is a very boring letter because I don’t have a thing to write!  Guess what!  It’s snowing!  I’m sooooooooooo informative.  By the way, Nooooooooooooo.  You are making me sick with this Lover boy stuff.  Hee Hee.  You know I like T.  I hope mole man and everyone worked out.
Well bye now,
T (felix)
((spy #1))


Clark Kent vs. Superman: who's cuter?

Who is cuter?  You be the judge.

One of the many delightful things about transcribing these notes has been researching all the references to 70s and 80s pop culture in an effort to date them.  Because Superman was released on 12/15/78, I know this note was written in 8th grade.  One of my closest friends, bless her, dated almost all her notes–but the vast majority of them are undated, requiring the highest caliber investigatory skills to figure out when they were written.  Though I haven’t been able to date all of them, most of the time–using references to teachers or classes, boyfriends, songs or albums–I’ve at least been able to deduce what grade we were in.

Then there’s the juxtaposition of my life now, in comparison.  When I first started this project last December, I’d seclude myself in my office for six hours at a time, enjoying hot flashes and drinking copious amounts of wine, listening to BestNetRadio 70s & 80s Hits, bawling my head off as I thought about how long ago all this was and how old I am now.  Poor Husband.

Valerie
Okay, I’m not really all that old now.  But it sure feels like it sometimes.  Seven months and several hundred notes later, I’m much more in control.  At least the hot flashes have stopped for the time being.

Clark Kent & Superman photo courtesy http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-alter-egos.php
Valerie photo courtesy Act III Communications