Saturday, April 26, 2008

High School Reunion

Yesterday I went to my high school reunion. The reunion is actually a three-day affair, but one day is really all I can handle. It's the first reunion I ever attended.
It was ... interesting.
I attended a couple of classes and that was great. The interaction, depth of discussion and mutual respect among the students wasn't just a time-induced hallucination on my part. These kids really do delve into the material with very little teacher prompting or leading. As I told Mr. Vorkink, after sitting in on one of his senior religion classes, "This place ruined me for education." It showed me an ideal that I very rarely have gotten to revisit since I left. My college students rarely discuss things (unless I put them into small groups); they report their opinions to me sequentially, almost never picking up and building on what the previous person said. Maybe what's great about the Harkness method is not just that everyone talks, it's that everyone listens.

So yeah, that part was great. Seeing people I haven't seen in a couple of decades, and then some, was, at times, almost like hallucinating. A face would trigger a flash to a moment or an image I hadn't considered in all those years time. It was exhausting, in a way. None of my really close friends from those years attended, but there were plenty of people I knew. I also realized that the setting for almost all my nightmares of being late for class, not being able to find the right classroom, not knowing the subject for the final for the class I forgot to attend all semester, the setting for all those academic nightmares I still suffer with some regularity, was Phillips Hall. Good to see the marker of my slumberous angst in all its solid, gracious glory after all these years.

The cocktail hour and dinner was somewhat of an overload for me and brought back almost every old concern that I'm not good enough, smart enough or rich enough to be part of that world. So many lawyers, venture capitalists, finance types and doctors. Actually, the doctors tend to have turned out to be pretty cool people. I mean, everyone was nice, but hearing about the constant global business travel, African safari vacations, the summers on the Cape, and all those business cards with VP of something making lots of money written on them, what I do, lecturing at the state uni and living a small and normal life, made me start to feel inadequate. The two things that seemed to uphold my credibility were the 12 years I spent living in Japan and that I am a parent.

I could have gone back and spent today at the reunion, but yesterday was enough. I got to talk with some very nice people I never really knew when I was in school with them, I got to hug some folks I haven't seen in a really long time, and I was really happy to be sought out and warmly greeted by someone who, in retrospect, I had often wondered if my callous teenage self had treated with less care and concern than he deserved.

And one lesson learned way too late: don't put an idiotic photo that you unwisely think is so cool in your yearbook. You will have to wear the damn thing around all day long 25 years later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Fever

It was beautiful yesterday; temps around 80 and sunny. I decided to skip out early and went home around 3. Too nice a day to stay in the office.
So I went home... and vaccumed the house.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I heard the first ones yesterday when I was walking the dog. There is no happier sound in spring.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Well, Duh!!!

How dumb am I? Just this evening I realized that the whole Facebook concept came from the Face Book that was published every year at Phillips Exeter, where I went to high school. It was a little white book with everyone's mug shot. It was how you figured out the name of the cute guy you saw in the dining hall and how Mr. Mahoney could walk by just about anyone on campus and greet them by name. (Freaked me out when he did it to me since I'd never spoken to him before.) I can't believe I've been on Facebook for close to a year and have read several times about the kid who started it being a PEA grad and never put it all together.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My girl turns 13 today. She looks and acts like a teenager. And she's growing every bit as gorgeous as I ever imagined. In turn, as the way these things go, I am fading (slowly? quickly?) On my way to becoming invisible. Something we all know happens. I'll look back on this ten years down the line and scoff at how little I knew, no doubt. Forty-three really isn't so bad, but I feel it sometimes. The incremental fading away.
At thirty-three I didn't feel age. I was not invincible as in my teens, but I was on my way to becoming my strongest. Hard. Tough. Knuckle push ups and 700 squats to start things out. Ninety minutes of mixed martial arts followed up by an hour of capoeira, just for fun. The bruises and aches were the same as they would have been if I were twenty-five. But if I had been twenty-five I probably wouldn't have had the stamina to bear it. I built a hard shell to contain everything that was falling apart.
More moderate now at forty-three. Physically things still aren't too bad. But the world sees me differently. Maybe it's because I work on a college campus, but I recognize times when I'm on the verge of being invisible. Is it them or is it me? I wonder sometimes. Not yet at the point where students tell me, "We just can't imagine you ever having been our age." Still, I speak of years and events and sometimes have to check , "Where you guys around yet when this happened?" I still say Walkman out of reflex even though I'm on my second iPod.
Sometimes I'm glad I got labeled "the fat one" or "the smart one" so early on. It meant I never banked all my self worth on beauty, which I thought I lacked. I had to find something else. I mean, I tried to do my best with what I've got. Don't we all? But good day or bad, good year or bad, appearance wasn't really what I was counting on, especially not as a young woman.
So, now mother of a teenager growing brighter. She shifts. I shift. It will be good to remind us both that how we appear to the world is secondary to who we really are and will be. She may not realize it, but someday she'll be where I am now and I'd like her to remember that it's nothing to fear. It's just how the wheel spins.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Lost in Translation

These computers and the Internet can do some pretty slick tricks, but they still can't translate for you.
Just ask these Chicago Cubs fans who thought they were proclaiming the inevitability of their new Japanese import's success. What their signs really said were, "Yo! It's a coincidence!"
Nice to know it's still gonna be possible to make a few bucks off of translation for a while.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Winter-- Are We Done Yet?

The first crocuses finally made their appearance this week, despite yet another Friday morning snow. They really aren't the most impressive of flowers, but at least they give me some hope that this long, long winter has got to be coming to an end sooner rather than later.