Tag Archives: school

Advice For the Class of 2015–Welcome to Adulthood!

Hello Class of 2015!

Congrats on moving that tassel over to the other side and grabbing that diploma. Now I know you’ll be getting tons of great advice about adulthood from family and overpriced Hallmark cards you’ll take the money out of and then pack/throw away, but I’m a true helper.

How? Because I know eventually your idealism will be replaced with realism and if you’re not prepared, life can feel as rough as waking up in a frat house called the “Ass House” wondering how your bra got on the ceiling fan…hypothetically speaking.

Anyway, here are a few bits and pieces about adulthood that may or may not pertain to you, but that you should be prepared for nonetheless. Remember, you’ll get the job and “hopes and dreams” stuff from everyone else. I’m just keeping it real.


It’s true. Being an adult is mostly being tired all the time and acting incredulous any time someone tells you what the date it. “What? Where did the summer go? How can it be December already?” Yeah. Get used to that.

And while you think you’re tired now from studying (partying) and working (at a job 20 hours a week), it all changes when you’re an adult. You don’t even have to stay up late, as in, after 10 p.m. One morning you just wake up, look at your alarm clock—the lamest game of Whac-a-Mole ever—and count down the hours until you can be back in your little nocturnal worry pod of overanalysis (your bed.)

So there’s that.

When you do pull yourself out of bed you will learn that “Snap, Crackle, and Pop” is no longer referring to cereal, but rather the sound of your joints.

Coffee seems to be a staple of adulthood, and while you’re probably spending 20 percent of your paycheck on overpriced bean juice in the form of lattes and mochas from Starbucks right now, get used to the plain stuff. Or at least that’s what I’m told.

I haven’t had coffee in more than 12 years because of health issues, which gets the same reaction from people as if I told them I club baby seals (which no, I don’t do either.) 

Anyway, if you drink coffee as an adult, you have to talk about how much you like coffee, need coffee, and want an I.V. of coffee hooked into your arm. At least that’s what I gather from social media, which brings me to my next point.

For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite overreaction—usually be someone on the Internet. Learn to weed through the noise and for god sake, live life offline and don’t depend on the validation from strangers. No one really cares what you look like in the bathroom mirror. Except you. Sorry.

As an adult you will concern yourself with more important things like remembering to put out the trash and the recycle bins on the same day—and if you do it before the neighbors, the feeling of satisfaction is equal to at least, like, five Instagram “likes” or whatever currently floats your boat.

Other notable accomplishments?

Putting laundry away the same day that it’s done, going to the store and NOT immediately making a list of the things you forgot at the store, using up a bottle of shampoo and conditioner at the same time, sneaking an expired coupon past the cashier, bringing in all the grocery bags in one trip—no man left behind!—winding up a garden hose in under five minutes, and making the right decision as to whether or not you should cut the grass now or if it can wait until later. Is it going to rain? Am I safe?

The weather. You will talk about the weather a lot. Or gas prices. 

“Make it a double” will no longer refer to the trendy drinks at the bar—when you’re legally old enough to drink, of course—but rather the Sleepytime Tea you will need to try and relax at night.

And if you’re single and your pilot light goes out more than you do—NO JUDGEMENT I LOVE MY COUCH AND MY COUCH LOVES ME, SO JUST MOVE ON—a “booty call” will only refer to being butt dialed by your gay best friend.

Whatever. I’m in a committed relationship with various vegan edibles and we’re very happy together.

My point is that things change, but don’t worry! Even though this sounds a little bit less than exciting, remember that every day really is a gift. True, some days it’s a regifted package of razors from the dollar store or something you would like to return for store credit or Kohl’s cash, but it’s still better than the alternative.

So go forth and prosper. Delight in your youth and the future that you get to write—yes, write. Don’t just text. Like, pick up a pen and some paper and write. But don’t ever become a writer—they have issues.

Or so I’m told.

Good luck!

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Why I’m Glad I Grew Up When I Did

Children of the ’80s and early ’90s had to endure the mental anguish of trying to manually untwist the insides of  a cassette tape, but all in all, I look back and think we were pretty damn lucky.


Now: Pinterest and “vision boards”

Then: A bulletin board filled with color-coordinated push pins, pictures of teen heartthrobs, quotes created from random cutout letters that end up looking more like white trash ransom notes and school pictures of friends that perfectly captured their awkwardness. Speaking of which…

Now: Selfies (for the record, I have never taken a “selfie”)

Then: Cameras. People took pictures when something special happened, not when they ate breakfast. As kids, school picture day was a big deal with the most important decision being what “laser”-color background you wanted. You couldn’t wait to get the free black plastic comb so you could bend that sucker back and forth a few times until it got hot and brand the kid next to you with a touch.

And the anticipation of getting a roll of film developed really can’t be overstated.

Now: Jeggings and skinny jeans

Then: Stirrup pants and stonewashed jeans. Pants today are basically tights, which were something I loathed when forced to wear. Stirrup pants—they’ll stay in place forever!—and stonewashed jeans—they’ll hide any wear and tear!—were designed for function much more than fashion.

Now: Blogs

Then: Diaries, and god save anyone who tried to pick the flimsy lock and read the drama of trying to decide what color rubber bands to get in your braces. Thoughts were private and you didn’t WANT to share every detail of your day, mostly because like pictures taken of yourself in the bathroom—see above—you were aware that no one would care.


Now: Politically correct “holiday” parties with “refreshments” from Costco or Whole Foods in which there is no trace of sugar, peanuts, lactose, gluten or fun.

Then: Actual Halloween/Valentine’s Day parties with room mothers who would bring in homemade goodies and roller skating parties with a “couples” skate when pre-teens with sweaty hands would shuffle across the rink together with Boyz II Men playing in the background.

Now: Reality TV

Then: The only real slime on TV came from “Double Dare” and we had actual TV shows with actors and a real TGIF lineup. I’m talking about Full House, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Alf, that smart-mouthed, cat-murdering alien we loved.

Now: Smartphones and texting

Then: Landlines and notes. I remember dragging the cord into my room to have what I’m sure was a very important discussion about Punky Brewster or zits. Instead of texting and getting instantly rejected, we were forced to actually write notes, those of which an inordinate amount of time was spent folding into a specific shape for delivery.


Plus, we knew how to spell and how to write—even cursive. OMG. LOL.

Now: Ecards

Then: Because computers were huge monstrosities with a four-color screen, use was relegated to games of Junior Jeopardy or Oregon Trail. While we eventually got Print Shop to make birthday cards and banners, hours were spent cutting out construction paper to create our own cards with scented markers we had to resist the urge to lick.

Also, the joy of getting a card in the mail also can’t be overstated.

Now: Kindles and iPads

Then: Scholastic book orders, Book-It and the smell of library book pages illicitly dog-eared and worn. It was fun to wait for the order or go to the store. True, Book-It rewarded kids for reading with a free personal pan pizza full of grease and devoid of veggies, but we all lived to tell—and read—the tale.

Plus unlike a Kindle, books don’t break when you drop them.

Now: Instant gratification

Then: Patience

Okay, maybe not patience, but we had to wait for our favorite songs to play on the radio, stand in a line without checking a phone and make up games or Mad Libs on car trips instead of watching a DVD on an iPad. We kept ourselves busy by creating things instead of relying on something else to keep us busy.

True, it might have involved law jarts and hypercolor T-shirts—Sweaty armpits? Show them off with your heat-sensitive teal shirt and hot pink pit stains!—but at least no one could take a picture on their phone and share it on Twitter.

Ugh, like, gag me with a spoon.

I’m glad I grew up when I did.

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Perfect (Playground) Pitch

Playgrounds and jungle gyms were staples in my childhood, and despite the many injuries and near-miss catastrophes, those were good times. And while I’m not sure, I think kids today are missing a lot of the fun, what with their plastic playgrounds and “soft surfaces.”

It’s sad to think that they might never experience the thrill of woodchips and pavement gravel embedded in their knees or get 3rd degree burns from a hot metal slider. Oh, the memories.

But let’s also be a little practical here.

While the general premise of a playground is great, there were some questionable choices in earlier versions. I can only imagine what the first “playground pitch meeting” sounded like decades and decades ago.

Playground pitchers (PP): Children need something to climb other than trees, so let’s construct a whole ground for play on cement, cover it with splintered woodchips for safety and then scatter pieces of metal equipment throughout.

Committee (C): Go on…

PP1: First, we’re going to include a swing with both black rubber seats that will reach inferno temps in the summer and wood seats that provide the likelihood of ass splinters. Don’t worry though, as the splinters will be ignored when swingers get blisters on their hands or their flesh stuck in the metal chains.

There’s also the slight chance that riders might get overzealous, pump extremely high and then jump off and attempt to be Super Grover at the suggestion of their mom, badly bruising their tailbone and then blogging about that 25 years later, but the odds are slim to none. (Editor’s note: Yeah, it happened.)

PP2: Speaking of metal, we will provide numerous unsupported slides of heights from 10-feet to 12-feet with a nice concrete mat at the end covered in woodchips for those riders who slide down headfirst.

PP1: Next to the slides we’ll provide monkey bars so that “chicken fights”—American Gladiator-like contests in which foes hang from the bars and attempt to pull the other off the structure—can be staged. We also see children climbing on top of the monkey bars and hanging upside down above cement by their legs like cave bats.

PP2: The next piece is a “teeter-totter.” One kid sits on one end while the other—preferably of similar weight, but doubtful—climbs up onto the opposite end. They push off and up and down they go!

PP1: With this there is the slight chance that one will purposely get off when at the bottom of the teeter-totter, causing the other user to crash down to the ground at a dangerous speed, possibly breaking their tailbone. Depending on weight distribution, there is also the risk that one user will purposely get off and catapult their counterpart across the park, but that could be fun, too!

PP2: Finally, the “merry-go-round,” a metal structure with rails that children will grab and run around with to speed the structure up before trying to climb on it like Jackie Chan jumping on a moving train. Once on, they hold on for dear life to the handles (and their recently ingested lunches) and either wait for it to stop spinning or drag their feet off the side through the woodchips to slow the thing down.

C: I like where you’re going with this. And just think! In the winter the slide can be iced up, creating a kid cannon that will launch them clear into a hardened pile of frozen snow.

PP1: Exactly. More importantly, those that don’t survive the playground will be weeded out of society, but better to find out early, right? After all, much like lawn darts and eyelash curlers, it’s not the toys that are inherently dangerous. It’s how people choose to use them.

C: Agreed. Add a tetherball court—ropes, balls, children with bad aim. A little knock on the head from a tetherball is an easier way to learn the lesson of avoiding rapidly moving objects than letting the kid step out in front of a speeding car someday, smug in the unrealistic expectation that bad things can’t happen.

This is really a win all around.

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Bus 315

Sun tan accentuated by pastel dress, white socks, charm bracelet and mullet?


Polo shirt, navy corduroys and R2D3/C3PO backpack?



Two nervous moms seeing their whirling dervishes off to the bus stop for the first day of kindergarten, secretly glad to have them out of their hair after a summer of knock-down drag-out kickball games, Barbie mutilations and Double Dare in the front yard?


 My best friend and I were off, but school wasn’t the first thing on our minds as we made our way down the sidewalk. What we were really looking forward to, what we had heard so much about from the older kids, was the bus stop and the ride to school.

All the fun happened at the bus stop down the road, which was actually the driveway of two neighborhood kids who assigned themselves entirely too much importance based on that fact.

At the bus stop, backpacks full of Trapper Keepers, sack lunches and permission slips were thrown to the side so the fun could begin. A dozen of us would play Mother May I?, Red Light, Green Light or dodge ball, often getting our clothes dirty before we even set foot on the bus.

When the bus did finally show up—bus 315—Mrs. Hooper would greet us with a smile, something she did every morning of my elementary school career. She was intimidating that first day—a large older woman with crazy gray hair and sunglasses the size of her head—but she gave us candy.

It wasn’t a tough sell.

That first day we learned that the bus was more than just a way to get us to school, but rather a way to build character. There were really no rules on the bus, at least any they could really enforce. Since Mrs. Hooper had to watch the road, she could yell all she wanted, but short of stopping that bus and turning it around, couldn’t actually stop anything that went on in the back.

And all the good stuff went on in the back. 

Oh yes, the back seating arrangement was a symbol of status where seats were saved and secrets, snacks and homework answers were shared. You learned about drinking or smoking as heard from someone’s older brother’s friend, gross inside jokes were created and seats were vandalized with markers and colored gel pens.

Stuck up front in those green vinyl seats, we longed to inch our way to the back.

But for those first couple of years, we just went along for the seatbelt-less ride. Even on that first day, it was evident that riding the bus made you tough. You had to get up earlier, stand out in the cold and deal with bus stop bullies. The bus is where the best flavored Lip Smackers were traded and playground strategies were discussed.

If weather or a dentist appointment caused you to be picked up and dropped off one day by your parents, you couldn’t help but wonder what you missed that day on the bus, who sat in your seat or racked up the Red Rover points.

But on that first day of school we knew none of those things, we only knew school had begun.

Well, and that we looked like total bad-asses. 

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Simple Math

It started with Goldfish crackers.


While the details are fuzzy, I remember that it was sometime in October and that on this particular day it was raining outside—indoor recess. Stuck to the board was Wilbur—a brown (felt) bear the first-grade class dressed each day with weather-appropriate clothes. Sporting a yellow rain slicker, boots and an umbrella under a (felt) gray cloud and a handful of raindrops, there was no question as to the conditions outside.

The conditions inside most likely included a fascinating discussion about shapes, colors and the pros and cons of multinationals and globalization in a modern society. That’s not important. What was important was the seating chart, for the stars were aligned—or grossly misinformed—and my desk at the time was conveniently located in a block of four with two of my best friends, both boys and both my neighbors.

Yes, they participated in the deterioration of Barbie’s reputation.

For the sake of their self-proclaimed innocence, let’s call them Mike and Danny. Danny was my best, best friend, but I kept Mike along for the ride—even marrying him once or twice in his basement and often skating sweaty hand in sweaty hand to couple’s skate at school skating parties in later years. He served a role.

With the polygamous nature of our playgroup, I think Mike knew and served this role well.

As for the day in question, we were doing some sort of math exercise that involved using Goldfish crackers as counting pieces. The details aren’t important, but what is important to note is that Danny had to leave for weekly speech therapy. His Goldfish crackers,  unmanned and vulnerable, would not be joining him.

I was hungry—or I just wanted them, again the details are fuzzy—and the Goldfish were consumed. Mike wanted in. I obliged.

Two for me, one for Mike. Two for me, one for Mike. Two for me, none for Mike, as our mid-math snack was cut short by the intrusive presence of the authoritative adult that has instigated this cracker caper in the first place. Apparently our behavior was being frowned upon and warranted a lecture.

Mike cried like a kindergarten baby, blubbering out promises to give our lisping buddy all the Halloween candy he anticipated hoarding in the coming days.

I was stoic, annoyed with both the interruption and the insinuation that I had done something wrong. I knew I should feel bad. The reaction from my teacher, the sobbing fool next to me, and the quiet hush that had fallen over the class were telling me as much.

But it was Danny. It was crackers.

So while the teacher was lecturing the class on what was most likely the importance of sharing and stealing, I was building a solid argument up in my head. I wasn’t a criminal. I knew right from wrong, good from bad, snacking from stealing.

There were countless times before and would be countless times in the future when Danny would take (and eat) things that were mine, when he would participate in some plot against my scheduled script of play, when he would be told to “get off my property” or kick me out of his tree fort. I failed to see the importance of a handful of crackers that could be easily replaced and forgotten.

It was Danny. It was crackers.

Emboldened by my rationalizations and oblivious to danger, I looked left. I looked right. I looked down at the remaining fish on Danny’s desk, baiting me as they were with their innocent smiles and bright orange glow.

It started with Goldfish crackers.

It ended with crumbs.

Simple math.

This post is in response to this week’s  Red Dress Club RemembeRED prompt to “Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall.” I’m sure I have others, but this one popped up first.

It’s time for show and tell. What’s the earliest memory you have of elementary school?