Tag Archives: Nostalgia

A Sixth-Grader’s Nightmare: Christmas Edition

6 Dec

709fd2be62450971e334b29ee4c7f54aMortified. Horrified. Petrified.

I used to flip through teen magazines to the back section, a place where girls would write in to share their most distressing personal tales of embarrassing mishaps. “It was mortifying!!!” said every girl ever.

How awful! That would never happen to me, I thought. And as I chuckled over their misfortunes, in the back of my mind, I prayed that similar events would never happen to me.


It was my sixth-grade year. Instead of a traditional Christmas chorus concert, the entire grade put on the play The Runaway Snowman. Four kids would lead the production while the rest of the grade chimed in as the choir. I was one of those lucky few selected to fill one of the acting/singing parts.

This is it, I thought. People will recognize me, my talent, what I can bring to the table. As a sixth grader, I was consumed with the ideas of popularity, fitting in and standing out (go figure). And without athletic talent, this was an arena that I could perhaps shine in somehow.

So after many practices, our class was ready to present the show to our parents. It was a Friday afternoon and I spent the entire school day beaming. I was a star, I was brimming with absolute joy and excitement. My fellow cast mates and I were let out of class early to prepare for the production. A band director’s office was our costume slash prop room, and we had carefully laid out our clothes and makeup ahead of time.

After the lead character, the snowman, had put on his ensemble and headed out the door, I prepared to put on a dark blue jumper dress and a pair of my mother’s high heels. Not only was I playing the part of an adult woman, I would look the part. Absolutely stunning. There was a boy in the choir that I had been crushing on hard core. I kept thinking with the blush, lipstick and outfit (forget the thick glasses, buck teeth and braces), it would be hard to not take notice of me on stage.

And standing with just my Pocahontas underwear on (I was changing from my sports bra to a training bra), it happened. The door opened. And not one, or two, but four of my fellow male classmates happened to be standing right there. Wide mouthed.

I didn’t know what to do. How did they get in? Why were they here? What did they see?

I started to scream, “Get out! Get out!” I suddenly crossed my arms against my bare chest, realizing what they had just seen.

And the guys started screaming and running from the door, almost as horrified as I was.

I leaped under the teacher’s desk, crouched, breathing heavily. Was this a dream? It had to be. No way would something this horrible happen – it was too humiliating.

The frightened boys had come into the classroom to get the props for the stage, and I had forgotten to lock the door for privacy.

Something that people have nightmares about just happened to me. A 12-year-old girl just gave some of the cutest boys in school quite a show.

I couldn’t go back out there, even with just 15 minutes until the production would start. It took quite a bit of coaxing from the director to get me to show my face, and the confidence I had displayed earlier (after displaying my assets) was completely out the window.

For months, I couldn’t live it down with students teasing me about the incident. The boys were also unable to make eye contact with me or utter more than two words at a time in my presence.

Honestly, I hadn’t remembered the incident until a few days ago. Repression has most likely hidden many of my middle school slip-ups – especially terrible ones like this one.

After the event, it was difficult to visit that embarrassing moments page in the magazines. Part of the fun was knowing those events couldn’t happen to you. But I now knew for a fact that they could.

And although it was the worst thing that had happened to me at that time of my life, a few years later, I would understand that I could fill a couple pages with horrible moments similar to this one.


Boxes of Childhood

24 Jul

I’m planning on going home for a wedding in a month, and my parents asked me to do something specific: Go through my old toys and collectibles. By collectibles, I mean paperback Sweet Valley Twins books and Barbies with missing legs.

I have been curious about what is in all of those basement boxes. I mean, I went through my childhood bedroom before I moved out east and purged basically everything and anything besides one closet shelf and one box of books. On the shelf is a box of papers from college and high school that I deemed worthy of not being pitched. My trusty clarinet lies resplendently in its case, and a couple handmade quilts made by my grandmother sit next to it.

But the basement? Wow. I’m going to imagine that these are a few of the things that I will find:

I have slammers, pogs, containers - the whole enchilada.

I have slammers, pogs, containers – the whole enchilada.

Pogs. I have a shit ton of Pogs. Did I actually ever play the game? No. Never. But I had the best, THE BEST, collection out of anyone in the fifth grade – and I planned to keep it that way. There used to be a hologram store in the Mall of America. I spent all my saved allowance money one year on silver, shiny wood pieces with ever-changing scenes. Well, I also spent some money on some fake eyeballs and boogers to freak everyone else, but priorities, man. There used to be a baseball card shop in our small town. Many Saturday mornings, my dad and I spent time going through the huge trash can bin in the corner of the shop full of beautiful, beautiful Pogs. Due to this process, I have the entire collection of Simpsons Pogs – every character showcased. While I never played the game (because you would likely lose a few), I sure did trade some. I was quite the miser and knew if I was getting a good deal or getting screwed. One time, I wiped this girl’s collection of mint-condition first-edition Pogs. The ones that came from Hawaii. She got one of my cheap wildlife collections. She liked Pandas, I liked money. That’s that. So I know that each and every one of these Pogs will still be sitting organized in their baseball card-style binders.

This was my absolutely favorite folder of all time. I think I may have got it for my homework a few years in a row. Not ashamed.

This was my absolutely favorite folder of all time. I think I may have got it for my homework a few years in a row. Not ashamed.

Lisa Frank memorabilia. I have a box, I know I do, of all of my middle school and elementary school projects and papers. Yeah, not throwing that away. That’s inked gold, in my opinion, like all of my journals and diaries that I have kept over the years. Papers will be contained in glittery unicorn-covered folders. For sure. There is a likelihood that unused LF pencils, erasers and other desk supply items will be there too. Because I always got double – the regular yellow No. 2 pencils and pink erasers are what I actually used every day, just so I could stare at all the brand new shiny LF material all the time. There will also be a Garfield pencil from a guy that I had a huge crush on in 4th grade, and a disgusting box full of hair ties from my “sorority” in second grade. We pretended we had “secret sisters” like our own mother’s clubs and we gave each other gifts of things we found around the house. Like dirty hair bands. Yay.

This is not what it looked like. I can't find the image right now. It was clear, full of purple glitter liquid, and I thought the scent was so great. Now, I hate almost every B&B scent. Almost.

This is not what it looked like. I can’t find the image right now. It was clear, full of purple glitter liquid, and I thought the scent was so great. Now, I hate almost every B&B scent. Almost.

Bath and Body Works Freesia. I am expecting this. Yes, I am. In sixth or seventh grade, I don’t remember which, B&B products were all the rage. And for a group of my classmates, this slivery $12 hand liquid was amazing. We carried our bottles everywhere and set them on our desk, like it was a necessity. Just this giant bottle sitting there. We would only use dots of the liquid as an empty bottle would be totally not cool. Anyways, I barely ever used the stuff, , and I don’t ever remember throwing it away. I’m scared to find out what kind of congealed goo I’m going to find.

I had a few of these in my collection. The Genesis one for sure.

I had a few of these in my collection. The Genesis one for sure.

My tape collection. I was given my first tape player at a wee age. And my beloved tapes, in their red plastic box, were my go-to stress reliever as a 7-year-old. Well, that and Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. So many stresses. Wilson Phillips, The Jets, Madonna, Atlantic Starr, and Janet Jackson. I fell in love with my mom’s Pretty Woman soundtrack and my dad’s The Best Of The Beach Boys. Those were quickly stolen and added to my ever-growing collection. I listened to Mariah Carey’s Fantasy on repeat for so long that I had to piece the tape together after it shredded in my broken player. It worked, with many, many pauses and slow-motion singing  included.

Whenever you saw this display in the front of the restaurant, it was go time. More than once, did a worker give my a boy toy and each time it was exchanged for a pretty-haired doll. Can't fool a child on a mission.

Whenever you saw this display in the front of the restaurant, it was go time. More than once, did a worker give my a boy toy and each time it was exchanged for a pretty-haired doll. Can’t fool a child on a mission.

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys. We were never allowed to eat at the Golden Arches very often, but every once and awhile, it was okay. Especially in the summertime. Each year, the offerings of miniature Barbies sent my family flying for plain hamburger dinners. My dad has been quite the collector over the years, and helped nurture my love of Pogs, baseball cards, and miniature Barbies. I have this Barbie carrier filled heavy with these toys, and I played with them sometimes more often than their larger leggy friends.

I had most of the PP play-set, but the gazebo was my favorite. It turned in a circle, while the magnetized orange-haired girl danced. And it played a haunting music box sound.

I had most of the PP play-set, but the gazebo was my favorite. It turned in a circle, while the magnetized orange-haired girl danced. And it played a haunting music box sound.

Toys. Of course. The Barbies, O’Jennys, Precious Places, Little People (not exactly PC, I know), Ghostbusters, She-Ra and her castle, and Carebears. At one time, I had quite the collection of stuffed animals. But after my mom and doctors realized I had a non-stop sinus problem and allergies, those were thrown out. But my pillow Rainbow Brite was my best friend. She went with me everywhere, and was so thread-bare that she could no longer be thrown in the wash. I slept with that doll for longer than I’d care to admit, and once when she was left in an Omaha, Neb. hotel, I threw an absolute fit. Luckily, a hotel maid realized that it was a beloved item and mailed it back to me. She will never, ever be thrown out.

This is the exact Rainbow Brite pillow form that my Great-Aunt Luella used to make the doll for me. She doesn't exactly look like this anymore. There might be a slight resemblance in the boots.

This is the exact Rainbow Brite pillow form that my Great-Aunt Luella used to make the doll for me. She doesn’t exactly look like this anymore. There might be a slight resemblance in the boots.

I’m actually kind of excited to sort through all of that. A nostalgic trip back through the years. I’m sure many memories will come peeking out – with all the smells and sights those boxes contain.

Oh, and one last thing that will be in there that I just remembered. This is really weird, but here goes: Plastic baby fetuses. Yes, I just said that. At the county and state fair, the pro-life booth would have these container on the table chock full of them. My sister and I innocently asked for them all the time and stuffed them into our jean short pockets. We have bunches. Seriously. Why, you wonder? At that time, there was no baby Barbies. And when you wrapped each up in a little piece of cloth, there’s a baby for Barbie and her boy-toy Ken. We never thought anything of it. Well … until now. So, I will, uh, leave you with that. Don’t judge.

I Don’t Have A TUMA!

12 Apr

I experienced a blast from the past last night when I realized that Kindergarten Cop was available On Demand. And I demanded it because it’s awesome. There was so much I could have done last night, but man candy Arnold Schwarzenegger swept me back to a world where men wore hot pink and women wore jeans that went past there navels. A magical place, really.

Not only should this movie have received an Academy Award for Being The Supreme Shit, but it really opened my eyes to cinema and all the questions I had. Was Crisp (why was his name a cracker texture?) a misunderstood product of bad parenting or just the evil spawn of his mother Cruella de Vil? And why did I crush on him so hard? I felt so bad about it then, but he looked a lot like Val Kilmer and man do I still have the lady hots for that piece of man pie. Also, why did teacher Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller) have the same haircut and perm as the drug addict who was later killed off? THAT confused me immensely. I remember trying to separate the two in my mind to no avail. Was she a teacher by day, druggie by night? Anyhoo, it boggled me for a few years.

My questions now are a bit more logical: What happened to the previous kindergarten teacher? Fired due to Arnold’s excellent police work? And how was he able to maintain his teaching profession without a license? Was he THAT good? Must’ve been. How can you go around LA carrying around the massive guns that Arnold, ahem, John Kimble, lugs around? And by that, I mean his log-shaped arms. And what did Kimble’s partner Phoebe actually do with her time in Astoria, Oregon? I mean besides eating 20 meals a day and shagging her chef fiance? Brilliant police work, if you ask me.

While I ponder these burning questions, bigger than the questions of life, here are a few of the best quotes from Arnold’s masterpiece.

John Kimble: Oh, come on … Stop whining! You kids are soft. You lack discipline. Well, I’ve got news for you. You are mine now! You belong to me! No more complaining. No more “Mr. Kimble, I have to go the bathroom.” Nothing! There is no bathroom!

Low Life: So who are you, man? John Kimble: I’m da party poopa.

Joseph (student): Boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina.

Joseph: My dad is a cynagologist and he looks at vaginas all day long.

John Kimble: I have a headache. Lowell (student): It might be a tumor. John Kimble: It`s not a tuma!

John Kimble: Emma, take your toy back to the carpet and sit down. Emma (student): I’m not a policeman, I’m a princess! John Kimble: Take your toy back to the carpet! Emma: I’m not policeman, I’m princess. John Kimble: Take it back! Emma: Alright.

Emma: My dad works on computers all day and is the boss of his company. And he has a mustache and a beard. Yeah, he doesn’t have that much hair and his head is so big that he can’t wear any hats!

Phoebe: You’re not so tough without your car, are ya?

John Kimble: Who is your daddy, and what does he do?
John Kimble: You should be reading stories about bears that go shopping!

John Kimble: SHUT-UP!!!!! SHUT-UP! SHUT-UP!

John Kimble (seeing kid eating other kids’ lunches): Are these all your lunches? (Kid shakes head.) John Kimble (picks kid up): You mean you eat other people’s lunches? STOP IT!

John Kimble: They’re six-year-olds. How much trouble can they be? Phoebe: On second thought, take the gun.

For the love of band geeks

9 Oct

Dammit, I hated that hat. With my entire soul.


Sweaty and itchy.

I would sit in the high school band room in total dread of tugging on my uniform for a home football game. The polyester purple pants, white jacket, and hat. Oh, the hat. It wasn’t just some cap you threw on easily. No, it took mad skills. The snaps on the inside, the plastic neck strap that made you break out, and the plume. The gold and white feather that never pointed right needed to stick straight up. Not that it ever wanted to do that. Instead, it had it’s own mind and felt the need to appear at an angle or even attempt a curve.

In any case, I dreaded it. Absolutely hated the concept of pulling on that get-up.

Then why be in band, you ask? Well, because I absolutely loved every minute of it. Concert band, jazz band, small group, and even marching band. I looked forward to early morning practices out on the field or in the band room. When the bell ring meant that it was time for band — I ran for it. The first one there to greet the rest of the band geeks.

The moment we pulled on the uniforms, though, was a different story. Partly, it was because I am a bit OCD and need for certain things to be perfect. I was always first chair clarinet — from fifth grade until I graduated. (It wouldn’t have worked any other way. I seriously would have sabotaged someone else’s audition if I thought they would be a threat. Still would knock a girl out if I had to.) I admit, it caused a bit of a superiority complex. If I felt that some people didn’t live up to their band duties, I let them know. I remember one occasion, as a lowly freshman, when we were practicing out on the green. Some of the older flute and clarinet girls weren’t paying attention to the director and were being SO ANNOYING. They were talking to the flag girls and it was upsetting to me. So after a few minutes of this going on, I set my foot down and yelled, “Hey, can you girls shut the heck up and pay attention.” (Didn’t say heck.) This made me sooo popular. (As if I didn’t already need help in that department,.) So while I made it a priority to perfect my footwork, I judged others as being mediocre (which would make me look bad.)

I made this statement abundantly clear to my band director, parents, and friends as the reason I didn’t want to perform in marching band — yet, it wasn’t the complete truth. (To some point, it was.)

I just didn’t want to perform in front of anybody. Wouldn’t it be just okay if we did this in secret? Let our parents come and see every once and while, but not the rest of the school? That is why I dreaded pulling on that uniform. Being in band wasn’t a popular choice at our school. Being in a sport, yes. Not band. Yet, I loved it. Always had. The only way to get out of marching band during the fall trimester was being a cheerleader or a football player. No coordination kind of knocked both choices out for me.

Toward the end of high school, I made it pretty obvious to all my fellow students that I marched to the beat of a different drummer. I didn’t need their approval. But who was I kidding? I yearned for it just like the next kid. It killed me that I wasn’t nominated for homecoming court, yet I pretended that I was super happy about it. When I wasn’t told about our senior prank until it was over and done, I acted too cool to care. And if I wasn’t asked to the school dance or was only asked as a back-up, I cried on my bed at home.

Each time I put on that uncomfortable uniform, I thought I would die out on the field. But I didn’t. Sure, there were a few kids who would laugh and point at us. And most of us didn’t sit in the cool student section of the bleachers. It felt awful. Yet, I always was able to forget it, even for just a few minutes, hanging with my fellow band geeks. These were my peeps. They were quirky, different, and possessed a sense of humor that was only funny to us. We spent many years together — attending parties, band trips and listening to great music with one another.

Now, I don’t regret my time spent in band geekdom. Most of the friends I still keep in touch with from high school spent time practicing scales or playing “25 or 6 to 4” and “Proud Mary” in pep band during halftime at basketball games. And that is where I found my best friend and love of my life — hitting a snare drum with all his might.

There have definitely been many more moments of insecurity in my life since then, and I am a bit more able to admit them. But that is one part of my life that I am glad to have experienced, even if it made for a few uncomfortable moments. My only regret from that time period was not being able to loosen up and see that the “uncool” thing was actually pretty freakin’ awesome.

“Hot Crossed Buns” for life.

Against the grain

10 Sep



This time of year always brings back a flood of nostalgia. For my days running cross country, sweaty band uniforms and out-of-date textbooks. There is also this overwhelming feeling that a fresh start is more than possible. Crisp air and browning leaves seem to indicate that “it’s okay, this is a new beginning.”

I’ve been wrestling with that thought as I start a new life out east. Every day I pass the World Trade Center, a humbling reminder that nothing in my life is very hard. I can grumble and complain, be upset that not everything is going my way, and I look up. The towers stand majestic among the noise of jackhammers and honking horns, as construction continues and traffic never stops.

Although I miss my family terribly, I’ve needed this. To start over and move on from my past. In my life, there are a few things that I will always regret and are harder to forget. A dear friend of mine recently said that there is a reason why those sad moments happened in your life, to make you who you are today. I couldn’t agree more. But more than once I have looked at those times with a tinge of bitter sadness and wish for a different scenario. I’ve tried to keep those regrettable moments to a minimum as of late, but never succeed fully. I am getting better at it, though. Those instances may feel good at the time, but leave a festering scab that continues to peel.

Now, though, I am learning with difficulty that some moments, while tough, aren’t so regrettable. That while you may feel sad about the situation, it is clear what needs to happen. Such as ending a friendship or cutting off a relationship completely. That has happened in my not so distant past, and although I don’t like being an instigator, I also had to do what was right. You know, I’ve begun to trust my gut instinct and not run away from what it is telling me. It has taken me so long to not be completely impulsive and to listen, really listen, to what I need to do. In this instance, it wasn’t completely clear at first, as the past collided with my present thoughts. The memory of anger and betrayal over lies and manipulation took over, as my brain became frenzied and my face a tomato red.

Rather than go with my anger, I went on a run. I left those feelings of regret on the pavement. I knew I had to go against my own grain and do the right thing. In this case, the clarity became crystal. This relationship jeopardized what was most important to me: family. I knew that there was a right and wrong in this situation and no grey area. I’m not happy about what I had to do, but I don’t regret it. I would do it over again if need be.

I hate finality. I hate ending a friendship or cutting off something that is not healthy. A voice always enters my head saying, “Oh, don’t do that. You don’t want to do that.” But this is a new season, a new start. I’m not a child anymore, and must make decisions that are hard, and just move on.

This time of year, I think of not only the past, but also what I have had to leave behind. I’m a different person than I was five or ten years ago, and I am glad for that. I am nostalgic for those friendships I had so cherished, the newness of love and the innocence I lost. Now, though, I get off the subway and head to my destination. It’s my present, the here and now, that I must value most of all.

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