Tag Archives: fashion

We All Remember At Least One

classroom

Remember raising your hand so long your arm started to cramp and you had to do that behind the head support move with your other arm?

I started the 4th grade in 1987 in Ms. Griffith’s class. I finished the 4th grade in 1988 in Mrs. Chun’s class.  Her husband proposed to her in front of our whole class with a singing telegram.  Our class sang at the wedding, I caught the garter.  We did a class play of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I was Edmund.  I remember how she would sing with us each morning and how she put her hand on my shoulder with empathy when we got back from Christmas break and I told her that I didn’t get the GI Joe Aircraft carrier.  Even though she was my teacher, I think I maybe had a little bit of a crush on her, she was kind and pretty and always seemed interested in what all of us had to tell her.  Her’s is the class I see in the forgotten corners of my mind when I think back to elementary school.

The middle school years can be tough on everyone and the feeling to fit in is almost palpable. I will never forget saving my money from mowing lawns and heading out to the mall, going into a cool clothes store called Chess King and buying Skidz. It was the coolest outfit I had ever owned and for once I was going to have the name brand clothes just like the cool kids. I remember wearing them on a Monday morning and feeling like the king of 7th grade. I think they went out of style the Wednesday of that same week but I didn’t get the memo and wore them again and endured some ridicule.  That was the last time I wore them, middle school was hard.  I will also never forget Ms. Hall, she was my English teacher and she taught me lots of things, the most important was that teachers don’t have to be the enemy. Ms. Hall was funny and cool and I remember that older kids from the high school would come by sometimes to visit her. She would joke with us and laugh with us and made me feel like her classroom was a safe place where the middle school pressure to be something you are still too young to be can be overwhelming.  When I made it to high school I went back and visited her, I felt like the coolest kid ever.

images

try not to be so jealous of my style

In high school I seemed to find my way a bit but I still had plenty to learn.  Mr. McCloud taught me that being sociable was a good thing but it was also ok to apply myself and that I was smarter than the effort I put forth.  Mrs. Moody & Mrs. Evans taught me how to be a part of something that was bigger than me and put a class clown up on a stage and let me spread my wings in a more productive setting than the back of Mr. McCloud’s Algebra class.  Mrs. Rivers taught me that the movie “Gone With the Wind” left out quite a bit of the book and that sometimes taking shortcuts aren’t the best idea.  She also taught me it isn’t much fun getting an F on a test.

In college I had a philosophy professor (I don’t even remember his name) that not only taught me about existentialism but also that joining in on the conversation, attending classes, and taking an interest could make college a good experience for what happened inside of the classroom as well as what happened outside.

In 2003 I remember helping my wife hang paper on a bulletin board and getting her first classroom set up just right.  It was what she wanted to be ever since she was a little girl.  Most of us lose on making it to what we wanted to be when we grow up.  For most of us it turns out to be “this is what I do” not “this is what I am.”  Not for her though, a teacher is what she is.

I am sure that there were parents that summer that got their kid’s class list and weren’t thrilled that they got Mrs. Holland because it was her first year and you just never know about first year teachers.  Fast forward a few years and it is common knowledge that if you have a third grader getting ready to start the year, you hope that they get to be in Mrs. Holland’s class.  Kids from the high school come back to visit her and by the time they are freshman it has been over 5 years since 3rd grade.  She makes a difference in those kid’s lives. The kind of difference that they still remember when they grow into full size people.  She has this unbelievable gift that sets kids at ease and somehow they instantly know that they can trust her.  She pushes them to be better and to grow and in her classroom is often where the bloom of a person begins.  She doesn’t do teaching, she is a teacher.

Next year their won’t be any kids or parents excited because they got Mrs. Holland.  After 10 years in the classroom it is time for a little break.  She is going to stay home and cherish being a mom while our girls are still young.  I am sad for this batch of  rising second graders that they won’t get to experience a third grade year with her but I am more excited that we get to have her all to ourselves for a while.  You see, she isn’t just a teacher. She is also a mom and that is another thing that she doesn’t just do, it is something that she is.

mom-tattoo

I couldn’t be more proud of the impact that she has made in her first 10 years of teaching and I know that there will be times that she will really miss it. She has been “playing school” for as long as she can remember and today she exclaimed with a tear in her eye that it was her last day to play.  I know that she will be back in a classroom one day and I can’t wait for this next little chapter of our lives where we can grow as a family.  She is so excited to be taking this break because even though every school year brings a fresh batch of 3rd graders, your own kids are only young once.

No matter how old we get we can all remember at least one teacher. The one that explained it different or the one that held our hand when we needed it or made us laugh and feel like we belonged.  None of us would be were we are today if it weren’t for the impact of  teachers and I just happened to be lucky enough to marry one. Teachers of the year come and go with each new calendar  year but for dozens and dozens of kids, Mrs. Holland wasn’t a teacher of the year, she was the teacher of their life.

Here’s to the next chapter Mrs. Holland, cheers!


Book Learnin’

Sweet

School Supplies 

School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day.  In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in.  You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.

I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me.  It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain.  The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges.  Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.

The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities.  Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in.  Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.

I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise.  Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”  Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect.  There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course.  Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.

I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning.  Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.

 

Weak

When The Fat Lady Sings 

Yep, you read that last part right.  Today the high in Atlanta  is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school.  Where does the time go?  Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right.  While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation.  The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity.  You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.

You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag  on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo.  At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).

You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside.  Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside.  Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.

I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation.  For me, I was like  a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him.  That day was always a last day and never a day before a first.  I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.

 

 


Mr. Sandman Bring Me a Dream

I don’t think this classifies as sweet or weak but it was definitely weird.

Remember Me?

Doogie Howser sings Bring Me a Dream Season 4 Episode 10 (Vinnie deals with insomnia) You should click this.

I was in a city, Denver I think, and I was walking down the street with some time to spare before meeting the rest of my group at dinner.  I walked across the street and into a shop and started looking at clothes when I realized there was a particular theme to this clothing.  Kermit the Frog.  The shop had every item of clothing imaginable from formal wear to socks and underwear and they all had something to do with Kermit the Frog.  At the time this didn’t seem the slightest bit strange and I flipped through a rack of plaid green shorts as my attention was drawn to an old familiar voice.

I looked up and I saw an old friend that I hadn’t seen since high school walking up to me to show me the leather biker jacket he was purchasing.  It should have been odd to see him so far from home but we began talking like old friends and commenting on the jacket and how instead of a leather strap at the top of the zipper it had a green bow tie.  I noticed a girl behind him obviously flirting with him and commenting on his selection as well.  I also recognized her from high school but he acted like he didn’t even know her.  I should have realized that something strange was going on but didn’t find anything odd until I turned around to look at the shorts again and they were gone.  Everything was gone.  I saw two sales people both vaguely familiar rapidly removing the racks of merchandise into some sort of closet.  The room was suddenly empty and I was alone.  I couldn’t find a door to leave and a woman that once again I recognized pointed to a side door and told me I could exit there as it was the last door unlocked.

I walked out of the building thinking it was a bit strange but not unsettled in the slightest.  It was almost time to meet my friends and kids and I had a long walk ahead of me.  To my surprise a guy pulled up in an older red pickup truck.  It was a friend that I haven’t seen in close to ten years.  Again, we had gone to high school together.  I got in his truck and realized that he was part of the group of friends I was there with.  He told me that the group had changed plans and we were meeting at a different restaurant.  He said it was closer and really good and we started heading in that direction.  I fiddled with my cell phone and then looked down and saw my bare feet.  What the Hell?  Where had my shoes gone?  I had them on just a……I suddenly realized I had no idea how long I had been barefoot but was certain that I had left wearing shoes.

My friend said it was no problem and we would swing back by our hotel so I could put on another pair.  We pulled into the parking garage in the basement of the hotel and then suddenly I was in my room;  on my knees in a closet trying to find two shoes that matched.  There must have been a hundred shoes in a pile and the task wasn’t easy.

The door to the hotel opened and the room was flooded with people.  Some close friends that I see all the time, others friends from long ago that I haven’t seen in years.  None of that seemed strange.  My wife walked in with our oldest daughter and two other little girls who I recognized but I don’t remember who they were.  My daughter was crying.  My wife was glowing and telling me about a place she had found in the city that had all of these free games you could play that were very challenging but had great prizes if you won.  She had been there for a long time and my daughter was upset because the games were too hard for kids.

I guess I found a pair of shoes because the next thing I remember we were all walking into a restaurant.  It was open air in the middle of town and was a Mexican place I am pretty sure.  The waitress arrived and began taking drink orders, she talked to us all like she knew us because she did.  We had all gone to school with her years ago.  It didn’t seem the least bit odd that we had all shown up together in her restaurant.  There was a sudden rustle and I realized my wife had just gotten out of bed.  I peered at my phone and it said 5:44.  I had overslept.

This morning at 4:30 my wife’s alarm went off.  She said her clock said 5:30 but the TV said 4:30 and she asked me to check my phone to make sure of the right time.  It was 4:30 and we both drifted back off into dreamland.  In what seemed like about 3 minutes I was getting out of bed and rubbing my eyes.  What in the world kind of dream was that?  I walked into the bathroom and my wife was brushing her teeth.  We both commented on how fast the past hour had gone by and I told her that I think when a half-dozen people you knew in high school show up in a dream, it may be time to stop reading Facebook right before bed.


When Did Giving You Money Stop Being Enough?

Sweet

100 % More Country Stats 

About a month ago WordPress launched a new blog statistics page that shows the country that the click to view your blog originated.  If I am representative of many new bloggers, we begin writing because we have a creative side that needs to get out or have something funny or interesting to say and keyboards rarely interrupt or doze off in the middle of our diatribe.  Then in some mysterious way we kind of get sucked in to who is reading our stuff and even resort to surfing around other blogs leaving lame comments in hopes that they will return the favor.  Honestly I have only heard of that method of generating new readers.  I have never tried it myself.

I will be the first to admit though, that knowing people are reading your blog or even winding up there on accident because they Googled the word squatchy is pretty sweet.  For a certain period of time we get sucked into the statistics page and even neglect things we once held so dear like Facebook to see if anyone new has stopped by to read our nonsense.  I think it is a phase that we bloggers mature out of and realize that the reason we started a blog wasn’t to win a Shorty award or turn our blog into a NY Times bestseller.  We hold onto the dream of one day being Freshly Pressed but for the most part go back to our roots and write because we have things to say, not because we want to pump up our stat bar.

That was me, a happy maturing blogger that had gotten over my stats obsession and had shifted focus to writing what I wanted to write and enjoying the community of readers and fellow writers out that make the blogging process so rewarding.

There timing was impeccable.  Just as I had situated myself on the high road and stopped measuring my self -worth with my blog stats, WordPress showed me a page full of awesome little flag icons that tell me all of the places in the world my blog has popped up on a screen.  Just like that, I am sucked right back in.  I don’t have a huge map in my office that I put thumbtacks in every time I see a new country or anything, but based on the stats page this blog has been either viewed or accidentally stumbled upon in 57 different countries since the new feature started.  It probably seems silly to most people but if I see that 4 or more people in Paraguay clicked on my blog I decide it wasn’t an accident and I think it is pretty sweet.

This may be the closest I ever get to a glamorous life of international travel and I am OK with that.  So if you are reading this today or randomly landed here after Googling “ideas to disguise a TV remote” (true story) Where ya from?

Weak

What Happened to “Here’s your Receipt, Have a Nice Day.” 

Have you bought anything lately?  I am not sure exactly when it happened but it now seems like every transaction concludes with me getting a to do list.  I just gave you money.  When did that become not enough?  Here is the thing, I don’t want to be entered in your sweepstakes. I don’t have time to go home and spend two hours filling our surveys for every store I walked into at the mall today.  I am not going to go to this website and make sure I rate your service excellent just because you told me to.  I have stuff to do like spend 30 minutes thinking up back stories to who is reading my blog in Morocco.

Is it too much to ask to go back to the way things were?  Are people doing this?  Are people actually winning a $1000 gift certificate to Lens Crafters?  If I call the cable company because my favorite show Happy Endings isn’t coming in clear do I get to talk to a real person faster if I agree to the short 5 minute survey at the conclusion of this call?  I get it, in today’s world of business buzzwords, every single breath we take needs to be measured and the results quantified.  Somehow, some out of touch with reality power point slide has trickled all the way down to me standing in Sears pretending to listen to your spiel waiting for you to let me go so we can finally do something fun and get free samples in the food court.  If my opinion is really that valuable to you can’t you just install one of those Facebook “like” buttons next to your cash register?  I would happily take a second of my time to high-five a blue glowing thumbs up button if I knew I wouldn’t have to take home a four foot long receipt with different sections circled and your name scrawled across the bottom in a plea for me to rate you excellent.

If you work in retail you probably hate this more that I do and I truly empathize with you.  Getting a sales pitch, a guilt trip, a chore list, and a pocket full of paper when all I wanted to do was buy socks is totally weak.


Jesus May be the Reason for the Season, but This is a Solid Contributor.

Sweet

Keep the “Chewy” in Christmas 

If you were to take Christmas trees, baby Jesus, giant inflatable Santas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Stockings hung by  the chimney with care, wrapping paper, yuletide cheer, and Mariah Carey’s Christmas album and melt them all together in the Wonkamatic, you would be left with Brach’s Christmas Nougat.  For me, this is the King of Christmas candy.

It is easy to overlook this gem because much like the babe lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Christmas Nougat is often out-shined by those treats that found room in the inn (or in this case, the end-cap of the candy aisle.) I am not suggesting that a simple piece of candy can save us from our sins but I am reminding you that just like the Son of God, great things can often be very unassuming.

So when you are out in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping dropping $8 on Chocolate oranges or Toblerones (has anyone ever had a Toblerone outside of December or an airport?), remember to take joy in the simple things.   The humble Christmas Nougat wrapped in cellophane and lying in the bottom of a candy dish is totally sweet.

Weak

I have a Secret (and it has nothing to do with Santa) 

Today I am wearing socks that don’t match.  Now settle down, it isn’t as if I am sporting a brown and a blue or a striped and an argyle.  I simply have on two black socks with a very subtle thread pattern that happens to be slightly different on each foot.  Maybe I am the only one with this problem but I would suspect that out there among the masses there are other households with secret bags or baskets full of misfit socks that have lost their way.  It is often an intricate recipe of sock eating spin cycles, rogue socks separating into different loads of laundry, and a dash of “I folded all of these clothes, no way I am spending the next 5 minutes matching this sock soup at the bottom of the basket” that result in the odd sock stash.

I don’t understand that when I buy 3 pairs of navy blue socks they all have to differ just slightly enough that I am shoehorned into 3 combinations instead of the much larger number of options if any of the six socks could be paired together (I have a friend that will tell me what that number is on the off-chance he reads this thing, but I am too busy comparing candy to the Prince of Peace to be bothered with mathematics.)  Fortunately for me, my pants are long enough to hide this slight wardrobe malfunction and I will remember  that whichever leg I decide to cross, will be locked in for the rest of the day in social settings.  I have been toying with the idea of just throwing away the whole odd sock bag and starting fresh this year with socks that are the same and have colored toes or something to make them easier to identify and match.

I mean, seriously, I have a degree.  I have an important job in a professional setting, other people don’t do this right?  Standing in the laundry room barefoot clutching 3 different socks in my hand and rummaging through a basket playing my own little version of Where’s Waldo is totally weak.


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