Monday, April 30, 2012

The Clique

After years of paying Catholic school tuition, my parents decided to save money and send the three oldest to PUBLIC SCHOOL. We were baby Christian martyrs among the pagan Roman hordes.

My younger sister had it the worst.  Situated in a deteriorating, thug-infested neighborhood, her junior high was surrounded by a tall fence and rolls of twisted chicken wire. Need I say more? She still hasn’t forgiven my parents for her painful adolescence.   

Meanwhile, my older brother and I went to the same high school, so we had each other in an emergency. After years of torture at the hands of menopausal nuns and sadistic monks, my brother was finally a freed man, attending a new school where he was known as “the cute, new guy.” You know how that goes.  His foray into public school was nothing like my sister’s.   

Me.  I was lost.  In my old life, I’d known who my friends were and where I fit in. Now in a school the size of a small Texas town, I was faceless and friendless, a nobody, but maybe if I kept to myself, no one would mess with me, and I could sneak by the next three years without anyone getting hurt (meaning me).

On one of those painful first days, I sat in the cafeteria munching on a forgettable meal, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, when an ex-schoolmate from my younger Catholic school days ran over to me as if we were long lost buds.  Patti was so happy to see me again.  She grabbed my tray and dragged me over to her group of girlfriends.  Suddenly I was Sandy from Grease, and here were my Pink Ladies to the rescue (except I’m not Australian and there is no Danny Zuko in this story).

They adopted me into their group that very second, even though I was brand new and they had known each other since elementary school. At first I didn’t think I was going to fit in, but I soon realized they were in a lot of my honors classes. They kept asking me to sit with them or work with them on projects.  I belonged once again. They made public high school tolerable.

 I lost touch with half of them after high school, and the rest after college, but their kindness endeared me to them forever. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

We Cool


Back in the day, I was friends with a junior high crowd who always ran for class president and got selected class sweethearts. 

We were the “cool crowd,” the trendsetters.

In the seventh grade, one of my BFF’s hosted the first boy/girl dance party, and all of a sudden this light turned on in my brain.  Boys weren’t yucky. Another friend was the first to go “steady” (this meant nothing more back then than holding hands and smooching with mouths closed), and I was even more intrigued by a new notion.  Boys are not yucky and kissing boys is good.

When Mother Superior discovered these new events, she dragged our whole gang into her office without benefit of lawyer representation or being given our Miranda Warning.  Sensing she may have been too late to stop our sinful  spiral, she  called for stricter intervention – she summoned the parish priest.

Father stood like Moses before the sinning Jews at the foot of Mount Sinai and warned us about the evils of handholding and how that eventually led to even more sin – kissing. Now he really had my attention – kissing someone other than your old great aunt must really be fun.

It was when he tied in all this sin with the commandment on coveting that he lost me.  I had no idea how my interest in smooching had anything to do with my neighbors.  Mrs. Cowser lived alone with three Chihuahuas, and the Delgado family stayed up all night and ate all day long. I had no desire to covet anything they owned. I just wanted to hold hands with a boy and experience smooching.   

He finished his admonition by proclaiming there would be no more boy/girl parties, there would be no PDA on campus (and that included hand holding), and the boys and the girls were not to associate with each other during our free time - recess and lunch. We were asked to agree to the new rules and some of my friends nodded and a few actually agreed out loud.

But there were some of us who just stood there weighing our options.

Let’s just say, you don’t get to be “cool” by following all the rules.  Coolness transcends convention. The Truly Cool live on the periphery, defying restrictions. We real cool.

Monday, April 16, 2012

53 Blog Writing Weeks

1.     If the 60’s are the new 40’s, someone forgot to tell my butt.

2.    I made Dick and Jane readers out of yellow scrap paper.

3.    The trick here is to tell about your worst date in 25 words or less.

4.    I gave away my identity in tiny bits and pieces.

5.    There once was a little girl who loved to read, write, and do multiplication.

6.    No, I am not a vampire; I am a Boomer and I am aging.

7.    Guess who is struggling to keep up?

8.    I taught thousands, now all grown men and women.

9.    His ruthless abandon with onion, garlic, and everything chicken left me weak.

10. I decided to scuttle my ships and march toward my destiny at all cost.

11.  My oldest grandson turns ten, a full dime.

12. Life is a game. Play it well and there will be no regrets.

13. Let’s view the 4th of July not through sunglasses but through the eyes of an immigrant.

14. A well-constructed sentence is a thing of beauty.

15. What really hurts more than anything is ego.

16. I get vicious when people come in late then expect me to move over so they can have the aisle seat.

17. “Write what you know.”  Just what exactly is that?

18. Dating Rule # 1:  Never date a man with better hair or a better chest than you.

19. My grandmother was a no nonsense lady with a stern exterior, but she loved and cared for us.

20. I decided to run away.  I was nine.

21. We spend our lives crossing off days on calendars in anticipation or reluctance of some future date.

22. Funny thing about regret, it doesn’t ensure remorse.

23. Real sentences are immensely better grammar and syntax learning opportunities than a worksheet.

24. “Come to my house every day, Comadre, to work out, and when I look better, we will go to the gym.”

25. I may be gray and my collagen may be collapsing, but I still know how to rock and roll.

26. I had my arthritic butt whupped by octogenarians who out-downward-dogged me.

27. It is not often one attempts such an intrusion.

28. Mom and Dad became parents for the sixth time.  Mom was 77; Dad was 83.

29. I met my husband on the Internet, eHarmony to be exact.

30. My free membership was running out and I was still dateless.

31. How can you not fall for someone who calls you Goddess every, single day?

32. There’s a reason the word EXERCISE consists of eight letters.  It is a double four-letter cuss word.

33. He looked at me as if I were speaking in tongues.

34. I read a book on body language, ingesting enough info to make me a dangerous armchair expert.

35. 2012-ers are so frantic preparing for the end of time, they forget that life is measured by how we live it, what we accomplish, and how we made a difference.

36. I’ve been snookered by Snickers, seduced by salty chips, two-timed by tacos, and hoodwinked by hotcakes.

37. I forget my dad is gone and I reach for the phone.

38. Let’s mambo!

39. Two hundred fifty years and ten generations of oral tradition will one day make an interesting read.

40. My head looked more like a clump of old, dry oregano than the salt and pepper it is now.

41. I have no idea why my brain chose that memory, a random photo one finds in an old shoe box.

42. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there lived a little boy and his grandmother.  They were best friends.

43. There are things that cannot be undone, words that cannot be retracted, actions that cannot be rescinded.

44. We each respond viscerally to the assigned book we read.

45. Why do I live here?  He is 5’8”, smiles a lot, and kisses me every time he walks into the house.

46. One should never retire “from;” one should retire “to” something.

47. “Show not tell” – what exactly does that mean?

48. I could do this.  I could write a novel.

49. Voice is a flavor, a fingerprint, a signature.

50. I am all ears, all thumbs, and all the better for it.

51. Goodbye donuts.  Hello Nikes.

52. Courage is not pompous or selfish.

53. The women in my family were worried that by the time I finished with college I would be past my Sell By date.

This blog marks its first anniversary today. Thank you all who read it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Children

I never wanted any.

I’d had enough of changing diapers on younger sibs by the time I finished high school.  I love kids, but I was going to college.

My family, especially the women, said it had more to do with my (lack of) looks than intelligence.  They all worried that by the time I finished with college I would be past my Sell By date.  They worried the mainspring on my biological clock would be rusted, and my hourglass figure would resemble more a weatherworn sundial.

I didn’t care.  After college, I was off to see the world.

Las mujeres (the women) reminded me that a woman’s religious obligation was to marry and have a large, Catholic family.  Religious?  Half of them hadn’t stepped inside a church more than twice in their lifetimes, once for their baptisms, the second time for their weddings.  Three times if they’d had a quinceañera.

I was going to live my life soltera (single) – no husband, no children, and no cat either.

Eighteen months after I graduated from college, while I was saving for grad school, I got engaged. I know, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

My fiancé wanted six children, and I still wanted a PhD.  We compromised – two kids for a master’s degree. We even shook on it.

There was a collective sigh of relief from the women in my family.  I was a little past my prime, but since I had finally gotten with the program,  there was still time to oil up my gears and get them going once again.

Honestly, I have never regretted my children.  I never wanted any, but raising mine into people I like and love has been my greatest achievement. The only tiny thing I would change. . . . Since I gave up Rio, Rome, and Madrid for them, I would have snuck the names of those cities into their given names somehow.  Now that would have given las mujeres something to really talk about.