Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Old Middle School and Nostalgia

This last blog entry reminds me of a couple of different things. A couple of months ago my friend Vicki and I went back to our old middle school for Career Day. It was really cool and nostalgic. A friend of mine teaches 7th grade Science and she needed at least 2 people to come in and talk about their job. She really thought of me because I work for a newspaper and she thought that would be an interesting topic. I reminded her that I had attended Hamilton Middle School and that made it even better. I told her I’d invite my friend who I met at Hamilton when we were 11 years old and we’re still friends at 35. I thought that would be interesting for kids to hear and realize that some of the friends they will make in this time of their life may be friends for life.

So Vicki and I set out to speak to this 7th grade class that was as interested as a class of 7th graders can be. Some of them looked so little! Is that how we looked at 13? It seems hilarious now. I think Vicki and I were the ones who enjoyed the experience more. We walked around the first floor and we saw 2 of our old teachers, our gym teacher (my old swim coach) and our Spanish teacher. We even took pictures with them. I also went by to see my bus driver who still teaches Shop there. He used to teach and drive a bus when I was a kid. He remembered me but apparently I didn’t make as big of an impact on his life as he made on mine because he wasn’t too enthusiastic. Maybe that’s just his way but he was kind of lukewarm. Funny because I have so many fond memories of riding the school bus and he was our driver for three years.

I also went by the library and chatted with the librarian as I fed the baby. It was kind of bittersweet and nostalgic to sit in a room that I loved so much when I was in high school. I was a library clerk one semester as an elective when the library was on the second floor and I remember when this library was built the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years.

Nostalgia seems to be the word of the week or the month. It’s a topic that’s been on many people’s minds. Maybe it’s the weather. There’s something about Spring and Fall when the weather is especially nice in Houston that makes me feel giddy, nostalgic, and like I’m waiting for something to happen. I always tell people that beautiful days are dangerous because I quit my job eleven years ago on a beautiful Fall day.

I was feeling especially nostalgic last week. I was thinking a lot of old friends and old times with fond memories. I thought of my girlfriend in Spain and I even wrote her a wistful e-mail telling her I miss her and that I can’t wait until I can visit her with the children and we can sit and chat in a cafe while they play nearby.

One day, also last week, I turned on some music in the office and I was playing 80s tunes. A woman commented on how that music evoked memories of her younger years. I agreed that it did the same for me. She then talked about nostalgia and how she sometimes longs for old times and that she can’t believe the years have passed her by the way they have.

I told her I could understand what she meant but at the same time I felt like I’ve moved on now to a different phase in my life and that our lives are made up of different phases. I’ve accepted that this is the phase of my life that I’m passing through right now and because of that I don’t really miss the old days. I’m just glad I have fond memories to think about and that I had a pretty happy childhood.

She agreed but she also said that it was probably easier for me to think that way because I’m married and I have children. She doesn’t, so she doesn’t have those things to mark a new phase in her life. I thought about that and I could see her point but at the same time this made me sad for her. We all need to learn to move on, whether we have a husband or children or not.

Then this past weekend one of my good friends came by to visit and we were talking about this same topic. I told her the same thing I told this co-worker and she agreed. She has two little ones too so she could totally relate. We were watching “Something’s Gotta Give,” and we were commenting on how that will be a different phase in our life when we’re that age and especially if we find ourselves single again and with grown children.

Life is a series of phases and the exciting part about it is that we don’t know where we will find ourselves next. We should always expect the unexpected. That’s fine as long as we don’t lose ourselves along the way.

7th Grade Science Project

I actually wrote this the other day but I'm barely posting it.

I have a new reason to be physically tired. We are going on a family vacation on a cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel in exactly 6 months. I have resolved to walk every day Wed-Mon for the next 6 months. (Not Tuesdays because that’s our meeting night.) I’m going to walk at Studewood Park and if it rains I’m walking at the mall. EVERY SINGLE day, six days a week. On the weekends I may just walk here in the neighborhood. I have got to stick to my resolution to exercise more and to cut down on the sugar and the carbs.

The challenge is going to be to have the time to walk and to write. I have to do both! Those are my 2 big goals for the next 6 months. Lose weight and finish my novel!

I want to do a good job on this novel too. I don’t walk to do a half-butt job either. I have a gauge I use to decide whether I’ve done a good job or not. It’s my middle school science project. I can’t remember any more if it was 7th grade or 8th grade but it was one of those years that I had Mr. Novak for science. He was a really young cool teacher that you loved to hate. Anyway, I decided on a crappy science project subject that I did at the last minute, of course. But the worse part of all was that I didn’t even take the time to cover my back boards with material or to have a nice presentation. All I had were naked boards, the report taped to the boards, hanging haphazardly, some diagrams, and the glass and candle. It was pretty sad!

What made the story more sad was this. My math teacher, Ms. Boins was walking down the aisle of the cafeteria tables looking at projects. I was down a little ways looking at someone else’s nice project. I was watching them from the corner of my eye walk from project to project and she would comment on each one. When they stopped in front of mine I saw him lean toward her and whisper something. She said, “Thank you Steve! Thank you!” I knew by that comment and action that he must have told her that it was my project and that I was standing nearby because after she said that she did not make one comment about my project. She just moved down to the next one.

I was so embarrassed! I felt so ashamed for not doing a good job. The worse part of it was that I knew I hadn’t done a good job. I knew that I had not given that project my 100%.

So now that’s my gauge in life. Do I feel like I did about that science project? I felt that way about my thesis. I just feel like I did not give my thesis my 100%. I don’t want to feel like that about this novel. I want to do a good job that I’m proud of and I don’t want to feel like that 7th grader again.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Survived the Drive

I survived the drive to New Orleans in a Suburban with 2 small children, a mother and father in-law and a husband. Four adults and two babies. I can’t believe we made it in one piece. Actually it was a good drive. Both kids went to sleep for a little while so I got to nap too. Baby watched a Baby Einstein DVD on my lap top and Miranda watched The Incredibles. I had a good conversation with my mother-in-law.

I could tell that Rey was a little annoyed when we got to New Orleans. My in-laws insisted they had a coupon but the coupon wasn’t good on a festival weekend. Rey told them not to chance it and to let him make reservations for them but they wouldn’t listen. So when we got here sure enough they didn’t honor their coupon. Good thing we still kept our reservation.

The reason for our visit is because my step-daughter Mandi is going to be in a school play tomorrow and Saturday. While I’m here I want to do 1 or 2 touristy things. I want to go to their art museum to see their European and Impressionist collection. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow during the day before going to see the play. I also want to go down to the Quarter while I’m here. I always enjoy doing that.

OK, I’m signing out for now.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I'm All Grown Up!

Okay I never worked on my novel today. I really had every intention of doing 2 things today. Walking and writing. OK, no, I also wanted to do laundry and fold clothes. But none of those things happened. Instead I gave in to Miranda’s pleas to finish planting the flower bulbs in our yard before it got dark. I put the baby in his bed and popped in Baby Einstein while Miranda and I finished up some planting in the yard.

Then I cooked dinner. After that I vegged on the sofa, read a book for a little while on my bed, while the baby played and tried to destroy my book, then he got tired so I made him another bottle (yes this was 3 hours later), I took a shower and spent about 30 minutes or an hour surfing for cheap hotels in the New Orleans area, among other errands I had to do. We have to go to N.O. this weekend to visit my step-daughter Mandi who will be the leading lady in her school play. I spent too much time on that hotel searching. I also had to pay my phone bill and log on to my work e-mail to type in a bunch of reminders into my calendar.

As I took a shower and the warm water washed on me, soaking my hair, I made a mental list of all the things I had to do when I got out of the shower- look for Toll Road letter to change my billing information, send myself a reminder to write a character-witness letter for an acquaintance, change the billing info on my cell phone bill too, book a hotel room for this weekend.

As I took a bath every few minutes I had to run down the mental list again because I was so afraid I would forget to do one of those things. Then I remembered my mom and dad.

I remember being a little girl and my mother always being tired and exasperated. She was very impatient with me and short. My father would excuse her to me by telling me that my mother had a lot of things going on in her mind. He would say, “Tu mama tiene muchas cosas en la cabeza,” and he would gesture up to his head in that habit he has of talking with his hands. As a child I was intrigued by this idea and I thought of all the things she could be thinking of. Now as an adult I totally get it. My mother felt like I do when I’m making these mental notes to myself.

I can’t believe I’m a grown up now!

But I must say this. My novel is falling together beautifully! I love how it’s working out. You all don’t know how badly I wish I could just take a week’s vacation, take the kids to the sitters every day for half a day, and write write write until I finish it. I want to finish it so bad. Well I mean I want to finish my first draft because what I’m doing is writing straight through with no real editing. When I’m done with all the chapters then I’ll go back and I’ll revise and rewrite. The reason I can’t take the one week’s vacation is because all my vacation is spoken for. I’m in N.O. this weekend, but with the kiddos, so no real writing time. They have to go to visit their big sister. Other vacation time is already scheduled for events.

Okay, so the novel is doing good and the shower for my best friend Vicki Saturday went very well. My little one kept telling me yesterday and today, “Vicki’s shower was really great, wasn’t it?” I’m signing off for now because it’s 12:30 and this time change is going to kill me tomorrow.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Old Blogs I Never Posted


In search of barbacoa. I went in search of barbacoa this morning but it was too late already, after 11 but not quite 12 so I thought that maybe there would still be some at my favorite place- Matamoros. They were out so I had to go to my second choice- Gerardo’s. Their logo and sign boasts they’ve been in business since 1977.

The funny thing is I’ve lived around this neighborhood my whole life and I’ve actually owned a house in the neighborhood for three years and this was my first time in there. I knew I would like the barbacoa because my husband has bought it there before and my friend buys it there all the time. She’s lived in the neighborhood around the corner from Gerardo’s her whole life.

What a waste of a beautiful weekend! It was so beautiful here this weekend and I never went outside. What a shame! Yesterday I lazed around all morning and finally went to go do a lot of laundry. So that was one thing I got done. The second thing we got done was Rey cleaned the house. So we did accomplish 2 big things but we didn’t enjoy the beautiful weather outside! We also visited last night with one of my very best friends who’s moving to Hawaii in a couple of weeks.


Another beautiful weekend! Yesterday it rained in the evening but the morning and early afternoon was beautiful. We went out for a couple of hours in the morning but we spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready for a party we had to go to in Rosenberg. We really enjoyed it, especially Miranda. She danced the night away as usual.

Today we’re on our way out to buy Miranda a dress for the Memorial Thursday. That’s the Memorial of Jesus’ death for those of you who don’t know. It’s very special and we do a special meeting that day where we pass the bread and the wine. We only do that once a year. So since it’s a very special meeting we traditionally buy a new dress. I’m going to go see what Easter dress specials are out there.

I have such a busy week that this is the only day I can really do it. Monday is also free but you never know what can happen and I don’t want to take any chances and I don’t want to wait until the last minute.. Tuesday I’m on the Nuestra Palabra show so listen up! Wednesday is my reading and Thursday is the Memorial.