Today he thanked me for the first time for carrying his books.

Ah, young love.

What must it have been like to be a popular, athletic boy, the elite of my adolescent years?  To have girls fawning all over me, whispering and giggling whenever they saw me, offering to carry my books or wanting to borrow my pen, simply because I had used it?  To be thought and written about to such an extent, in such detail, as to defy imagination?  If I applied half the time and energy to publishing a memoir as I did to boys just during eighth and ninth grade, I’d be working on my second book.

The more I dissect these notes, the more I just sit here shaking my head and wondering how we all made it to adulthood relatively successfully.  Could we really have been the same girls who wrote these?  It doesn’t seem possible.


Hi! Guess who’s pen I’m writing with? T.’s! Big wow! Today he thanked me for the first time for carrying his books. It’s about time! I think I’ve found another person to like too. Who is this new Love of yours? I’ve gotta go for a while. I have to write up an experiment for Mr. H.

I had to give T. his pen back. Gosh, I can’t remember liking T. last year. I think I did but I’m not sure. I can’t remember his being in my classes. I know he was in a couple.

I would never have been able to sit up in front of the class like you do, especially our English class!

Did you know that J.D. is practically in LOVE with Doggie? ICK!

Didn’t it just make you sick yesterday in gym? S. just can’t stop showing off can she?

T. is getting crude. I am not going to listen to his and T., and Cs’ conversation going on behind me. I don’t want to know T. to be like that.

See ya,
W/B soon!

I was just thinking, are you sure you don’t want to get T. Not the first way, though.

P.S. Does T. still like L.?

[page 2]
Hi Heather!
Here’s a nice big piece of (almost) blank paper for you to write on.

Jesus, Im not trying to write a poem.

I was looking through my files this evening and just realized that the school year my notes began was forty years ago.

Forty years ago.

I’m pretty sure I can’t believe I just typed that. I guess if you’re ninety years old and someone’s great-grandma, forty years doesn’t seem like a big deal. But even though I’m only 52, the thought of my 12-year-old self, in middle school, hormones oozing from every pore, is so absurd it almost doesn’t bear thinking about. Maybe I’d feel more in touch with that ‘tween of yesteryear if I had a daughter of my own. Or maybe not.

It took me a bit to decide which note to post today. I finally decided on an anomaly:  this particular note is a poem written by a boy. I’m not exactly sure which boy, as I only have a first name. Nor am I certain of the year it was written–only that it was between 1977-1983. It was written on two pages of Fairfax County Public Schools interoffice memo paper, the subject of which is “Dear Jesus!”

Guys, if you struggle with creative expression, maybe you’ll find some inspiration here.

Its hard to love somebody
Its even harder to let them know
One minute everythings perfect, you think
she really understands
The next, she acts like she dosn’t care
and wants to make other plans.
You try to make her undestand,
that you love the little things like
holding you hand.
It would be so much better and easyer
to sleep, if I knew and was sure
she was mine to keep.
I wish we were the only two
on earth, I wish even more K. L.
could have an earlyer birth.
Its really hard to tell somebody you
want them alone all to your own
God help me, I love that girl to the
bone. I want her to understand
that I love her body, I want to
take tender loving care of it and explain
its not in use. I love every part
like my dad loves the moose.
It hurts so much when she gets
mad. I turn my bluest and it
looks kinda sad. Jesus, Im not
trying to write a poem, Im not
writing this so everybody can
read it Im writing this because
I want to ask you will you
help me find this girl and keep
her forever I can’t make it
without her. Her name is M.C.,
please do me a favor and
let her know shes got the
world if she wants it.
I need a miricle if I want to smile
Love your best friend
Babes if your around, I love you to death!

I told my mom I want clogs for my birthday & she said MAYBE

Happy belated birthday, girlfriend. I hope you got those clogs.

I love you.

[Note is in tiny envelope that says:  
Re-used envelope!
I forgot to open the card & so today I was going to throw the box away & found the card, it had monee in it!]


Bonjour, gawd I’m hungry!  It’s not 10:55 & I’ve been here since 7:45.  So far 8 judges have talked to me.  There’s this real cute guy sitting right across from me, we’ve been talking since 8:40, and he’s really nice.  (He even gave me some of his Doritos!)  He plays trumpet 4 Kilmer.
Good, now the food stand is open, be right back . . . . . . . . . . . .
Here I is, relief, a Snickers!  Sweettarts!  Coke!
Still no more judges.  I’ve got 8 already & we still have 45 more mins.
I just got another judge (MIT).  9 now!  
12:05 All right we can go home!
Hi, I’m home, now I’ve got to wash de auto so gotz to go!  W/B
Happy St. Patty Day!
C-ya later
Did you c Paul McCartney & Wings Over The World?  I fell asleep at 10:30 cuz I took a bath.  Then I did every exercise on our list even 200 of those leg things to tighten yore tummy.  Whew!
Yesterday I got a “Hawaii” T-Shirt from me Grams & Gramps4 me b-day!  It’s reel purty.  I told my mom that I want clogs for me b-day & she said MAYBE.  W/B  C.

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.


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.


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!”
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!

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.


(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
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.
C-ya round
Now to fold this sucker!
K’s playing restaurant, Miklshakes are $10 & Chinese food is $50!!!!

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
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.
See ya tomorrow!
P.S.  Smile for the shutterbug!

Copy of a girl's note

Battlestar Galactica photo courtesy ABC-TV