Posted tagged ‘Eighth grade’

“Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories – and telling other people a somewhat different version of our stories.”

March 4, 2017

Winter is rearing its ugly head. Today is downright cold. It is 20˚ right now and today’s low will be 8˚. Gracie and I were going to the dump, but I think now I’ll just stay comfy and warm at home. Gracie is asleep on the couch beside me, her usual spot this time of day.

When I was a kid, my mother had a picture with a little boy in a blue bathrobe standing by a soapy tub. There was also a poem in the picture about taking a bath and cleaning up after yourself. That picture hung on the wall across from the toilet. I used to read the poem every time I sat on the throne as my dad used to call it. The bathrobe had a fuzzy texture as did a towel on the boy’s arm. I don’t know what happened to that picture; I’m thinking it was probably thrown out when my parents moved. I saw that same picture, with the fuzz, hanging at a B&B in Ireland, in Youghal. I tried to buy it. They didn’t want to part with it.

I had to memorize all sorts of things for school when I was a kid. The worst was when I was in the eighth grade. I had a crazy nun named Sister Hildegard. She used to eat candy from her desk drawer. It was no secret. We knew she did from her chewing. Once she even spit nuts on my paper when she talked to me. She called us devils and said she would write thanks be to God across the whole blackboard when we graduated. She made us memorize the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I got through all of the Declaration of Independence and part of the Constitution when I decided I’d had enough. My desk was directly across from Sister Hildegard’s desk with only a small space between us. I put my history book on the floor opened to the Constitution. Every day during history I’d recite a new section, but I cheated by looking at the book on the floor. Soon enough anyone who could get away with it did the same thing. Sister Hildegard would have called me an occasion of sin.

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

July 30, 2015

If I could go back in time, I don’t know exactly when I’d choose. Lots of places in time were wonderful for me. When I was eleven comes to mind. The teenage years weren’t even on the horizon yet. Boys were around but had no real importance in my life. I loved school. Riding my bike all over my little world took up many a Saturday in the summer. In the winter was the matinée. I was a girl scout still and did fun overnights at the camp in town near the zoo. I remember the cots there were the old canvas ones tricky to open. We made camp fire stew for dinner. We hiked on the trails through the pine forest which smelled like Christmas. Life was easy when I was eleven.

I might give thirteen another look. We were the big wigs in school, the eighth graders. I was finally a teenager though nothing miraculous happened. Boys were barely interesting but were definitely seeping into my consciousness. The future was rearing its ugly head. I had to pick a high school. My friend and I colluded and were accepted into the same school. That was cause for jubilation. I had the best fun inthat eighth grade. The nun was crazy, not harmful crazy but old age crazy. We got away with everything. I, who seldom crossed the line, spent most of my eighth grade over the line setting a trend for the rest of my life. The line became arbitrary. Life was fun when I was thirteen.

I think I’d be twenty-one again. I’d get to vote for the first time and legally drink for a change. That was my senior year in college. During second semester, every Friday, we had a happy hour beginning at noon, a couple of hours before our last class of the day, and ending in the late afternoon at a bar owned by a friend’s family. It was always elbow to elbow with people, most of them my classmates. We were enjoying our last times together after four years of closeness. That was also the year I was whacked in the head with a sign which said in capital letters DECIDE. I had to plan my future. That was a bit scary so I hedged my bets. I applied to law school, interviewed for a teaching job and applied to Peace Corps, my first and only choice. The rest were back-ups just in case. All three came through, but I accepted Peace Corps, something I had wanted for so long. I remember the day the mailman brought my special delivery acceptance letter. It was in January. I was elated. Life was scary and life was crazy when I was twenty-one.

“It is indeed a mistake to confuse children with angels”

May 16, 2014

The day is a beauty, a sit on the deck in the sun and smile sort of day. My deck still looks like winter so it is time to break out spring, to uncover furniture, hang candles, plant window boxes and free the flamingo and the gnome from their winter quarters.

Even when I worked I changed from my school clothes to my play clothes. It was always the first thing I did when I got home. When I was young, my mother reminded me, but that wasn’t really necessary. It was part of the afternoon routine: get home, drop books on the table, put the lunch box in the kitchen and go upstairs to change. This time of year we had lots of light for playing after school, and we had lots of pent-up energy from sitting down most of the day. We usually played until close to dinner time. Homework was done right after dinner at the kitchen table. There was never much of it when I was young. Usually it was finish a work page or learn spelling words for the next day’s test. There were always ten words. The work pages were usually arithmetic, a few problems in division or multiplication. When I was done, I could watch television until it was time for bed. When I think of it now, I realize every day was the same but no day seemed the same. I never thought of yesterday or tomorrow. I was totally involved in today. I was a kid and that’s what we did.

The only thing I remember about my eighth grade graduation was it was in church. The school had no gym or auditorium. We took a class picture with the pastor of the parish and we were in our fancy clothes. There were over ninety of us which meant 45+ students in each of the two eighth grades. I remember the rows of desks. My favorite seat was by the window because of the bookshelves flush against my desk. I used to stash my radio there, put the earphone in one ear, hide it with my hand and listen to music. Once I got caught, but the nun only asked if I could hear well enough. I figured she thought I was a bit deaf. I also used to hide candy there. Fireballs were a favorite. I never got caught. My heart was broken when the nun changed all our seats trying to break up the talkers, and I ended up front. I had to be good. I was too close to the nun’s desk. I did manage, though, to break a rule or two. On really nice days, I hid my brown bag and went out as if I were going home to lunch, and I sometimes came back late but never got in trouble. Other times I’d leave early with some lame excuse like going to the library, and I always got away with it. I was a favorite and I took full advantage.

“Any subject can be made interesting, and therefore any subject can be made boring.”

May 27, 2011

Today is beautifully sunny and warm. When I went on the deck earlier this morning, I could smell the sweetness in the air. It smelled of flowers and herbs and a touch of the ocean. A slight breeze rustled the leaves of the trees in the backyard. I have a few flowers wanting pots so I’ll be outside taking in the sun and potting some plants for the deck. The fountain needs some tubing so I’ll visit the hardware store late in the afternoon so as not to waste a minute of the sun. It has a tendency to disappear.

I don’t remember my graduation from the eighth grade, and that amazes me as memorable events in my life usually hang around in my memory drawers just waiting to be tapped. I figure it could have been in the church as that was large enough or even the town hall with its stage and rows of wooden chairs. I do remember wearing a frilly dress. The boys wore jackets and ties. The nuns wore habits.

Today is a tabula rasa day. I don’t seem to have much going on in my head. Maybe it’s the sun and my wanting to be outside. Maybe it’s because I haven’t really been doing much of late. Polishing bookcases, doing laundry and changing my bed make for boring conversation. Perhaps I should embroider a story, an adventure, but you’ve been around every day and would know it was make-believe. I did buy a new piece of luggage, a duffel on wheels, and I’m now a Global Entry Member. That means I get to go to the head of any US customs’ line. I just have to wave my passport and card and someone will take me to the head of the line. I’m figuring the person I cut in front of won’t be too happy.

Well, that’s it. The sun is calling my name. I’m done for today!