Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Riffling through My Mind ... Again

I haven't really been keeping up with journaling; sorry about that.

I did some deciphering of my history today, and I have to say, I'm a little surprised at what I found. I was doing some chronological checking to make sure I wasn't off my nut doing my Georgia Kids Life blog stories, and I discovered that I've got an interesting time line of events running right through my life. Funny how I didn't notice any of them.

For example, the Vietnam war ended while I was in the 3rd grade. I don't recall any of it, really. I know it was the first broadcast war in history, and was on every night, and all that crap. I guess I was just shielded from it somehow. I never had really politically involved parents, and my father had already served his time nearly 10 years before the end of the conflict. I had an uncle in the military at that time, but he really didn't have a lot to say about it. He was on the USS Kittyhawk, so I don't think he saw much of the Vietnam that we've come to associate with that time. He wasn't in the jungles and surviving harrowing village scouting trips ... nothing exciting like that.

I do remember the oil crisis, but can't remember what year(s) that covered. It was in the Carter administration, so it had to be around '76, right? Or was it the Ford administration, which would have been between '72 and '76? My wife is much better at these things than I. I remember the bicentennial celebration of '76, and the tall ships sailing off New York (or was that DC?) on TV. I can remember things like Mark Spitz at the Olympics, and some of the Super Bowl games that were played (Steelers vs. Cowboys, Vikings vs. Raiders, Cowboys vs. Broncos, Redskins vs. Dolphins, crap like that in no particular order). I can remember movies ... Jaws, The Exorcist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky, The Legend of Boggy Creek, The Hills Have Eyes, The Black Hole, Alien, Star Trek: The Movie (or Motion Picture, or whatever the hell the title was), The Godfather I and II. And I can remember some great TV shows too. Things that are part of our culture now, but were only a dim memory for me until I was older: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Happy Days, Gilligan's Island, M*A*S*H, Night Gallery, The Night Stalker, The Love Boat, Love: American Style, The Greatest American Hero, Spider-Man, Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, Ultraman, Johnny and his Giant Robot, The Banana Splits, Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, The Lawrence Welk Show, Saturday Night Live, and the whole plethora of Saturday morning cartoon shows that were composed entirely of 7-1/2 minute shorts. Not a single half-hour show among them.

I can remember snippets of things from my childhood -- some of them good, some not so good. Most not so good, actually. I can remember wetting my pants in 3rd grade because I was afraid of the teacher. Her response to children asking to go to the bathroom, and insisting they do that at recess, always seemed unreasonable to me. And her name: Mrs. Smith. She seemed like a nice lady, but I guess that was a peeve of hers. I actually did it twice before confessing it to my mother. She then had a meeting with the teacher, who changed the way she responded to me from that day until the end of the year. I'll never forget her, because after that, she didn't seem so scary, even though she was a tall, imposing woman that towered over my mother ... and probably my father, too.

I can remember being spanked once in first grade by the teacher for being out of control and fooling around, making people laugh. Can you imagine such a thing now? Hoo-hoo, the lawsuits! But it was fine then. And I remember my parents gladly signing the permission slip to provide corporal punishment as needed when that became a requirement not long after that. I never got spanked again, but I did that once. I can't remember the first grade teacher's name anymore, but I remember her face. If you're still alive and reading this, thank you. It made me a better behaved child in school. If you're not ... well, there it is.

I can remember Mrs. Mac(Farland) in 2nd grade; she was a large, lump of a woman that was matronly and kind despite her troll-like appearance. Nothing outstanding there to recall, I guess. I can also remember Mrs. Malloy, whom I had for both 4th and 5th grades. She was a "pressure-phobe." She didn't want to teach fractions, or have us participate in Science Fairs or Spelling Bees, because her daughter was forced to be in a Spelling Bee once and nearly (or did) suffered a nervous breakdown. She was kindly, and sweet, but my education sort of started to suffer at that point. Other students in the school were better spellers and farther along in mathematics, and when I visited a private school in 5th grade -- which I attended the following year -- I was completely lost in the concepts they were studying. When I brought this up -- because I was made a spectacle of and asked about my "visiting day" when I returned to my public school -- her answer was "Yes, we should be studying fractions, but really, how often do you need that? How often, really?" I don't know, Mrs. Malloy -- daily, maybe? Go figure.

Because of that, I never really grasped math. I think there was too big a leap for me somewhere along the way and I never fully caught up. I don't, of course, blame Mrs. Malloy for that, but if the foundations had been properly laid, perhaps things could have been different. On the other hand, my brother got the same opportunities I did, and the benefit of more years of private schooling than I did, and he's a dumbass, so maybe that had nothing to do with it. Anyway, I was very fond of Mrs. Malloy, and after that it was off to private school with me.

The concept of changing classrooms for different subjects, and having structured "periods", was odd to me. It took a lot of getting used to. After a time,of course, I didn't have to think about it anymore, because it was all dictated for you. Go to the room you're supposed to be in for your next class when this one is over, and that's it. High school was a new adventure in that, though. Despite the tiny size of the school, both structurally and in student body numbers, it took me time to figure out where I had to go and I always dreaded having to learn a new route to my classes. I guess, despite what I may have thought about myself, I've always hated and resisted change. I like my routines, evidently, and I don't like going new places, meeting new people and doing new things. Even today, I hate driving in a strange town or state, God forbid country, without at least someone to pass the time with or assist with road signs and map reading and such.

In 6th grade I made new "friends", which I supposedly had through high school, since a lot of us went to the same school as a logical jump to the next stage. Once a parochial school boy, always a parochial school boy. I found them to be nice, but things changed quickly for me after a short time. I was an outcast, and not widely accepted by most of the other kids. It wasn't as bad as it was in high school, where I was anonymous and sort of a loner in a school of only about 500 students, but it was always that way for me. I was just ... never able to fit it.

So many things ... so many. And yet, I struggle to find something to write in my blog. I think most of the problem is that I don't believe a lot of it's worth reading (maybe an audience would disagree, but I'm pretty boring overall). The rest of it is that I don't remember a lot of it clearly. I don't know if that's due to the chemicals I've ingested over my lifetime (I was a sickly kid and took no less than one experimental medication for it) or because I just don't want to remember a lot of it.

Hopefully, this post will spark something interesting. Tomorrow's the 4th of July, and so being off, maybe I can reflect tonight and let my fingers probe the darker recesses of my brain and see what I can find there that would be worth sharing -- and that I don't mind sharing.

See you all then, hopefully.

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