Sunday, January 02, 2005

For a good time, go see "The Incredibles." Sarah Vowell, the coolest geek of our times, voices the teen girl -- reason enough to go.

What I Threw Out
(more notes on divesting myself of a few scraps of my childhood)
  • to do lists (“homework / clean room / pack for camping trip”)
  • scraps of paper with summer camp graces lists
  • Grease props folder: check list, by acts; an ugly note added to a bossy one I left
  • elementary school notebooks apparently used only for games of Dots, writing notes

From the Girl Scouts box

  • a lot of the reporting-back part of badge work, such as:
  1. an activities booklet for someone home sick (something Beth and I actually did for SW) with human interst stories (Steve Clark with big, 70s hair) and comics, decorated with stickers
  2. items for the Hostess (?) badge: pictures cut from (probably) the Best catalog of glassware and dishes (fancy and every day – I liked floral patterns at 13, and also glasses decorated to look like packs of Lifesavers), and a menu for Tea that included spiced tea
  3. booklets on citizenship and the environment
  4. Awww! Look at this! My first letter in response to one written to my U.S. senator [I kept this one]. And who would that have been, in 1981? None other than Senator John Warner! My (badge requirement-generated) letter seems to have addressed national parks. “Like you,” he replied, “I am concerned that pollution overcrowding, littering and vandalism may eventually destroy our parks. . . .” Senator Warner mentioned a reduced federal budge and the need to cut staff in the department of interior and, “[t]herefore, much of the responsibility for the maintenance of our parks will fall on responsible citizens like you.” Aw, dissin’ big government to a 13 year old.
  • Evidence that in 1983 I sold 25 boxes of cookies – to family, mostly
  • lots of crafts; mostly, pictures of cats
  • A sign in marker on cardboard: “CITs ONLY (all two of us)”; Happy Birthday signs made by M.S.
  • Wow, a letter from, I think, a Junior GS troop leader listing all the things I did to help her troop during GS year and on a campout. She’d have been a good reference had I ever been motivated for anything that needed one: “You graciously came to our meetings and helped in a confident manner. You helped by guiding them in” and then she lists a ton of things. Did I do all that? I have almost no memory of it. I think that the pin that she enclosed with the letter was the then-new 3 faces trefoil. I do remember having that for several years (before trading it to a Girl Guide from South Africa) and that I would tell people it was a thank-you from a troop I helped. Of course, having been involved in the bureaucracy (a word I do use neutrally) of Girl Scouting for so many years, my second instinct is, You had no business doing those things with a troop without (as I recall) so much as Program Aid training! Then again, that 2 years of helping with this troop and a council event (did I mention vintage thank you notes from the Ws?!) did spur M.S. and I to become CITs and from there, well, you get to the state my life is in now.
  • Hunh. Here’s a reasonable life-skills teaching activity involving splitting up daily responsibilities with a partner (“husband”) and indicating how much time is spent on each activity. It looks like I imagined us in our mid-20s with a kid, a dog, and jobs! Well at least the man of my 20s did cook dinner, as I projected, while I cleaned the house.

Out of a high school creative writing class folder:

  • A Richard Wright piece on learning to fight to save the grocery money. The teacher photocopied a book then mimeographed it: it looked like any other handout. Sometimes I criticize my public high school education for not exposing me to much that was challenging or cutting edge. The scant documentary evidence I have in hand (in the recycling, actually) suggests that I was, it just didn’t sink in. It’s something I think about as I substitute teach: of course they don’t know x, y, or z in the 8th grade. We all have to keep practicing these things – memorizing, writing over in out own words, whatever – before we internalize and apply them.
  • Excerpts from a book called Fiction Writer’s Market
  • I will keep actual writing, though I am not sure why, since I could barley bring myself to read it. The beginnings of maybe two pieces that I looked at seem trite and silly. Where did I get those silly names and concepts: on story opened with two characters walking to their dad’s office – not only nothing that I ever could have or would have done, but also nothing anyone I knew did.

Song sheets from 6th grade chorus:
“Rock Around the Clock,” “Rockin Robin” and “Blueberry Hill” – but wait! That’s not all! You also get “Amazing Grace” and “I’m Gonna Sing” with that immortal line, “I’m gonna pray (repeat) I’m gonna pray when the spirit moves me unto the Lord.” As a special bonus, we’re throwing in “Medley of Civil War Songs” with (as best I can tell) bits of “Tenting Tonight,” “Dixie,” and “Goober Peas.”

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