Monthly Archive: October 2008

Madly in Love in Middle School

This week I’ve become consumed by a powerful obsession that has precluded all other activities. I haven’t been blogging much. I don’t want to sleep. I forget to eat — which hardly ever happens. I want to do nothing else but spend time with the object of my affection. I’ve fallen in love, as middle schoolers tend to do. I have only recently become acquainted with the guitar, but I am completely, head over heels, crazy about it.

My introduction to the guitar was a fluke (or perhaps, as you romantics may believe, it was destiny). The other day, when I was on campus at my elementary school, one of my best third grade friends, whom I’ll call Lisa, pulled me into an after-school guitar lesson. Lisa is the most adorable little blond creature I know, yelling my name with glee whenever she spots me, giving me bone-crushing bear hugs, and swinging my hand as we walk down the halls. She insisted, “You HAVE to come to guitar!” and since I’ve always wanted to try it anyway, I attended my first lesson with the Little Kids Rock program. The nonprofit trains schoolteachers to give lessons at their sites and, stunningly, provides instruments — in our case, guitars — that the students get to keep. The Little Kids Rock programs, as well as programs run by foundations like VH1’s Save the Music, have often filled in the gaps that have been left by budget cuts in public schools.


P.E. Class: I’ll Take the Physical Challenge

The experience that I remember most vividly from middle school is P.E. (Physical Education). I remember hating the class because I didn’t consider myself the least bit athletic. When I was little, I’d enjoyed playing pickup baseball and basketball, but I later developed a performance anxiety that held me back from doing any official team sport. My P.E. teacher, Mrs. Garner, always seemed surprised at my lack of sports interest and skill because she swore that I “walked like an athlete.” I did not find this complimentary at the time, envisioning myself swinging my arms in a lolling, ape-like caveman stride. Did I actually walk that way?


Back in middle school, the only things I remember liking about P.E. were:

1) Square dancing, especially with my crushes.

2) Pickleball, a game like ping pong played on a tennis court. We were coincidentally playing Pickleball this week, and I found that I still have some skillz.

3) Mr. Turner, the hot new 25-year-old P.E. teacher. I imagine that good-looking Mr. Andrew Ryan, who graduated from Altimira the same year I did and now teaches P.E. and Leadership, is the new Mr. Turner for the current middle school girls.


Middle School: Some Things Never Change

Middle school. Junior high. These are words that often bring up humiliating memories of sweaty palms at school dances and frustrated tears in the girls’ bathroom. People tend to raise their eyebrows when I say that I’m returning to middle school and say, “Well, THAT should be interesting. I would never go back.”

I first set foot on the campus of Altimira Middle School as a grown-up a few weeks ago, when I introduced Reschool Yourself at the weekly staff meeting. Afterward, I stuck my head into the gym and watched the kids run around in their P.E. uniforms, a flood of memories of relays and tumbling and square dancing came back. Without warning, I felt tears welling up. It was bizarre, because I hadn’t realized that my middle school memories still carried such a strong emotional charge. Clearly, there would be some psychological processing in my future.


Keeping Secrets in Sixth Grade

Today I started middle school — a different campus, and completely different world. There’s nothing I’d like better than to share my first action-packed day of sixth grade, but unfortunately it’s after 2:30 a.m. and I need to be up in less than five hours. I’ve spent all night developing the plans for the spring phase of Reschool Yourself and can’t wait to share those with you, as well. Apparently my middle schooler classmates have taught me the art of keeping a secret…and then blabbing it the next day. As soon as I have a moment, I’ll write about:

– Changing in the locker room and running the track in P.E. clothes

– Standing around in a patented pre-teen cluster at lunch

– Triggering a variety of memories about classes, teachers, and personal dramas

I’m going to try a new approach of simply documenting what I’ve experienced each day without necessarily commenting on its greater significance. I hope this will let me share more as I go, and I can put on my psychology hat later. For now I’ll say that I’m in sixth grade this week, seventh next week, and eighth the following.

Ugggh, I just remembered that I didn’t do my homework, and there’s a test on the Language Arts selection first thing in the morning. Guess who’ll be getting up extra early to cram?

Assessing Old Habits As a New Chapter Begins

I’m back home, and after a week of balanced living on the east coast, I’m finding myself already getting sucked back into an unhealthy routine. For the past few years it’s been this way: extreme relaxation on vacation, then extreme stress as soon as I went back to work. I would love to find a balance someday soon.

Right now I wish I’d scheduled in a few extra days to recover from jet-lag and finish processing my elementary school experiences, but I’m scheduled to start middle school tomorrow. I had also hoped to start rested and energetic instead of draggy and coffee-fueled, but alas, it will not be so. Sigh…it’s true that old habits die hard. At least I’m making progress in other areas, which helps keep the little setbacks in perspective. Perhaps starting a new chapter of the project will help me make some positive changes. Here’s today’s progress report.