Thursday, February 13, 2003

I thought of another really great memory of one of my best days at school. The spelling bee was definitely a great day, but what I think is even better was when a group of us wrote a play for the school.

It started out like this. I, along with about 5 other guys, was in an advanced reading group in 6th grade. We shared the same classroom with the other group, but we had different assignments. The time came for each of the reading groups to perform in a play for the school. I guess it was an annual tradition for the 6th grade classes. Send us out with a bang.

Anyway, that year, the main reading class was going to do Pandora's Box, and our group was supposed to do King Midas. The problem? In King Midas, there's only one girl part -- his daughter. She's only in it for the second that he turns her into gold. Not very fun for me. And the guys thought it was pretty lame too.

So we asked our teacher if we could write our own play. She was pretty skeptical. After all, it was a pretty big undertaking -- writing the script, designing the sets and costumes and, of course, acting in the play. But we assured her that we could do it. We would stay after class, work as hard as it took to make it work. So she agreed. I'm still glad she gave us a chance. I'm sure it could have been a disaster, but I guess our enthusiasm helped.

So we wrote a comedy about Frankenstein. One of the guys in our class was almost 6-feet tall at 12 years old, so of course, he was chosen to be Frankenstein. Then we had Dr. Frankenstein, Igor, and old blind man and his grandaughter (me) and a policeman. The plot was basically that Dr. Frankenstein creates the monster (along with some well-written puns ... well, they probably weren't that well-written, but for elementary school kids, they were pretty humorous), the monster escapes and invades the old man's house who thinks he's their long-lost Uncle George (again, funny to kids) and then the cop comes and takes him away.

I know the plot doesn't sound great, but it really was fun, both to write and to act in. And the best part was that the kids laughed in all the right spots and cheered so loudly when we were done. It was a great success. The props were great too. We drew cobblestone walls for Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory, we used black lights for scary effects and we even created the front of the old man's house.

That was a pretty great day and definitely wanted to make me write more. I have a secret dream of being an actress, but I'm afraid I'll have to settle for the starring role as "Old Blind Man's Grandaughter."

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I found this great list of questions about how to interview your mother, and I thought that they would make great writing ideas. And they would help make this blog site a place for truly "random thoughts." So here goes.

My worst day of school was probably when I was in the 1st grade. I had started 1st grade in Germany, when my dad was stationed there. I loved that school; the teachers were always doing creative things like teaching us to knit an American Flag, or having Japanese parties complete with chopsticks and Japanese menus. After a few months, my dad was transferred to New Mexico. We lived in a little trailer when we first move there, and I went to my new school there. But then my parents found a new house to rent in a different school district, so a few months later, we moved again, and I had to go to a third school.

Being an incredibly shy child, just starting a new school was stressful for me. Meeting new kids and not knowing whether they would befriend me or make fun of me made me very anxious. But to have to do that three times in one year was just too much.

My first day of that third new school, I didn't want to go. But of course, I had to. My mom dropped me off at the door of my new classroom, and the teacher showed me to my desk. In the front row, no less. I would rather have taken a back seat where I could remain anonymous, but that's impossible when you sit in the front. I sat down at my desk, looked around at the sea of strange faces, put my head down on my arms and cried. All I remember was a little boy sitting next to me saying, "Teacher, she's crying." What's worse? Being the new girl, or being the new crybaby?

After that, things went better and I found some new friends. I stayed in that school until 3rd grade when we moved again, but that day was probably the hardest.

My best day of school was probably when I was in 5th grade. Each class had a spelling contest to determine who would be the Spelling Bee Champion of that grade. The entire 5th grade class assembled in the lunchroom and the teachers proceeded to give out spelling words. If you missed the word, you were out. The crowd thinned out until it was only me. I felt so good. I was a champion. I couldn't run fast or play kickball very well; I wasn't good at tetherball and couldn't draw very well. But I could spell!

The spelling champions from 4th-6th grades got to go to the junior high school to compete with those kids. In hindsight, that doesn't seem fair, but I did pretty well. Out of all the kids from every school in the district, I wound up with about six 8th graders left. The word I lost to was "archive." But the bad part is, we had just had that word on one of our lists in my reading class, and the teacher had spelled it "archieve." Obviously a mistake on his part, but when the spelling bee leader called out the word, I recited how I remembered it on my reading list. Oh, how I was crushed to know it was wrong. I had even thought it seemed wrong on my reading list, especially knowing how it sounded, but I trusted the teacher.

When I tried to explain to my mom on the way home that the teacher had been wrong, she thought I was just making excuses. Until I showed her the list. Then she knew that I really was a spelling champion! Ha! That was just a joke. Life went on as normal, but I can always hold onto the fact that I was a spelling champion for a while. (Until I see those geniuses in those national championships ... then I don't feel so smart).

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I need to get better at writing every day. Lately it just seems like the day passes too quickly (doing monotonous adminstrative work will do that to you) and then it's time to go home. It's hard to write at home because my daughter likes to play with the keyboard while I'm typing. I'm worried that she'll accidentally press F1, control, delete, shift (or some such combination) and delete the whole computer. Imagine how my husband, who hates that I download software to view picture CDs, would feel then.

I guess the problem is I don't have much to write about. Oh, sure, I can gripe about work, but I've already done that several times in this blog and I think it's pretty boring and pathetic. Maybe I'll be able to write soon about the fabulous new job I've snagged. I could also write about my daughter, but I don't think there's room enough in this section to write all the things I feel about her. I'll just keep that inside where it stays special.

Let's see, what else is there to write about? What's going on today? Oh, the biggest thing, according to the news is the rain. That's the top story -- above the pending war in Iraq, or the mysterious disappearance of that pregnant woman. It's Storm Watch 2003!!!! The exclamation marks are essential because it's such big news! People everywhere are running for cover (of course the video clips show people with perfectly dry hair talking about how much they love the rain).

I shouldn't be smug because I did actually have to turn on my windshield wipers today. In the past, the Storm Watch warnings occured when there was such a slight mist that it could have been heavy humidity or a thick marine layer. So today's rain really looks like rain, but it's far from the "storm" they've announced, complete with video animation of thunderclouds and lightening. Has there ever been lightening here?

The reason it's such a joke to me is that I lived in Florida for 12 years and it really rains there. And not just a heavy mist. Downpours that soak you to the skin in seconds. In the summer it rains every day in the afternoon for an hour. Locals know that if they just wait a while, it will be done and the sun will be out. My sister and I, when we first moved there, would go to the beach, only to have it start raining an hour later. We'd pack up our stuff and head home, only to see bright blue skies when we got there. We finally just sat on the beach in the rain (it felt good against our hot skin) and waited until it stopped.

But the bad rains occur at other times of the year, when rainstorms approach without warning. You could be out eating lunch and all of a sudden, the sky darkens to a late dusk color and opens up into a sheet of rain that you can barely see through. It makes for some pretty funny looks when you get back to work all drenched to the bone.

Once when I was in college, I parked in one of the larger parking lots. The university was a commuter school with 35,000 students, so the parking lots were very expansive. And you'd never get the same spot from one day to the next. When I got out of class that day, it started to rain, just slowly at first, but then turning into one of those drenching downpours. I couldn't remember where I parked and the rain was so heavy I couldn't see more than a foot or two in front of me. I must have run around for 20 minutes looking for my car. Finally, I spotted it, and as I was walking down that aisle (there was no use running at that point because I was already soaked), this guy asked me if I wanted to use his umbrella. Nice sentiment, but a little late, don't you think? When I got in the car, it looked and felt like I'd been swimming in my clothes. My car seat took two days to dry.

So these "Storm Watch" warnings here just make me laugh. But I must admit that walking in the lightly falling rain to get to my car at lunch today was a refreshing change.