Wednesday, October 20, 2010

That's Why I'm Never Going Back to My Old School

Well I did not think the girl
Could be so cruel
And I'm never going back
To My Old School ~ Steely Dan

Probably one f the hardest lessons to share with your teenage kids is that, in the grand scheme of things, high school doesn't matter. I don't mean the education or the grades - obviously that's important. There will be people you will meet and hold dear to you through time but the social hierarchy that is "HIGH SCHOOL" (all caps, chiller font with foreboding strings attached) will become such a small part of your life that you'll wonder why you let them cause you such grief. My apologies to those of you who may have been cheerleaders or football players or homecoming queens who still feel those are the best years of your life. For some of us, dare I say MOST of us, they were not so.

At the time you live those years, you feel as they represent your life. Who you are and all you ever will be. Your life is dictated by those narrow parameters set years ago. You are categorized. The brains. The stoners. The geeks. The jocks....the rest of us. You vacillate between wanting to blend in and striving to be noticed but by the right people. If you were raised with rules and boundaries, you push against those boundaries, trying desperately to make a name for yourself among the crowds that are held in high esteem. What you don't realize is that those people will come out of high school and will be the little fish in the big pond of the real world.

When one's level of popularity is based on looks or athletic prowess, you never really learn to treat people well because you don't have to. Somehow, people hang around you even when you treat them like crap because, let's face it, they're afraid NOT to be your friend. High school is a small village where you really can't get away from the people that you don't like or that taunt and bully you. You may have to ride the bus with them or even live near them. You feel like your whole life will involve these people and don't realize that you can leave the village. Sure, some will become business people with some level of success based on their high school stature (if you're a fan of One Tree Hill, I'm talking Dan Scott, here), but in the end, most will spend their lives trying to be what they were in high school. You know what? There is just no real world equivalent of the homecoming queen and in the real world, if you're not a nice person people don't want to be around you.

As I've watched a number of the "It Gets Better" videos that are part of The Trevor Project, aimed at the kids who are being bullied because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, I've been reminded how it felt to be pushed around and scared at school. I won't give value to the the so-called friends that put me through those brief periods of fear or the ones that disappeared from my side when it was happening but I can only imagine how a teen going through years of this treatment would think that this represents what will be their life. How awful to think that suicide is the only way away from the pain. Guess what kids .... high school is NOTHING! I can't speak for coming out; I can only speak for coming into your own. - becoming who you are and being proud of who you are. Screw the people who don't like you or don't like who you are. You CAN get away from those people and find people who will take you for who you are.

And as a final note, I would like to apologize to Matthew Phillips. At Del Mar Middle School in Santa Cruz, Matt was that kid with goofy glasses, acne and high water pants. He was teased and I know I took part in laughing at him at least once. I remember it made me feel powerful to be on the other side of the taunts for a change. And it made me feel awful. I don't think I did it twice but still remember that one time. I am not proud that I didn't have the balls to stop other people. I am sorry Matt. I hope you came into your own, got tough, got rich and kicked a little bully ass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Summer Sun is Fading As The Year Grows Old

I love the fall. The covers of magazines in October and November with the golden leaves, the squash....everything in the bronze tones of the season. The Fall catalogs come filled with plaid, cable knits and corduroy. I've always felt drawn to the golden elements of my birth sign and, though Leo is a summer sign, the various traits of the Sun, fire, sunflowers.... are what drive me. I want to explore in the autumn months. Pumpkin patches. Autumn leaves. I want to wear sweaters even before it's cold. When I feel the first chill in the air, I crave a ride through the hills, a bowl of soup and freshly baked bread.

Some spousal manipulation garnered a trade: a drive for autumn colors in exchange for a day taking pictures at a motorcycle track day in Willows. Mark promised to pull over whenever I spotted a picture and was true to his word though it's painful for him to pull over just after he's managed to put the pass on two or three RVs only to have to pass them AGAIN, after I've taken a few photos. Our summer has kept the air so warm, I wasn't sure we'd find the colors I was looking for and, as it turned out, I was right. I suspect another two weeks will be needed to turn the leaves to reds and golds.

Since we were heading east, we went north on Highway 3 out of Weaverville, hoping the Trinity Alps might have seen a chill. Looking up to the trees coating the mountainsides, it's easy to see the changes are afoot but just barely - the hint of colors mottling the canopy is just barely visible. Areas near water, where the more easily manipulated deciduous trees reside, teased me with yellow. We stopped for a brew in Weed at the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company and found a fun crowd in there on a Sunday afternoon. Mark had the Abner Weed Amber Ale while I tried the Stout of Jefferson, a seasonal they had on tap. They knew we were visitors but, when I told them we were from Humboldt and were no strangers to microbrews, one local sighed and said... "you are SO blessed in Humboldt" and began to tell a story about a business trip, a surfboard and a waved that kicked his ass. Fun crowd. We left them discussing the scores of some sport we don't follow and headed out to I-5.The Thunderhill Raceway is in Willows, just a half-hour or so from Chico, so we trusted Victoria, the bitchy Brit in our GPS to guide us to the nearby Sierra Nevada Taproom. The place is enormous - a far cry from our Humboldt microbreweries with its tanks resembling grain towers on the roof. The food was tasty - Mark had a steak and I tried the Grilled Lamb Pizza on a crust you could watch them tossing in the open kitchen. The decor was gorgeous. We polished off our brews - I tried the Tumbler, a nice brown ale because I was drawn to the Autumnal scene on the label, and Mark had the Stout. We called it a night fairly early in preparation for 7:00 gate opening at the track. The wind was already gathering speed at 6:00 when we met Tom and Dan for breakfast.; not cold but the leaves were stirring which is never a good sign early in the day. As the sun came up, we gathered at the track gate, everyone scoping out what the other guy brought. Suzukis, Yamahas, Ducatis... all planning to turn their road-race bikes loose on the turns of the SCCA track. The people at Pacific Track Time run these track days allowing for three levels of riding, twenty-minute periods for each. Each group (in theory) would have four blocks before lunch then another four after. Although there is likely some unofficial racing going on, the intent is just to ride fast and get the yayas out. The wind made the riding, or at least the turning, difficult allowing at least two riders a helicopter ride to neighboring hospitals with injuries. The waits for the medical crews and air ambulances delayed the riding a bit but all in all, everyone had a great time.
The day got warm - brushing close to 90, I suspect which the wind cooled down only slightly. I spent my day wandering the track with my camera thinking how fun it would be out on the track, with no worries about traffic except for a few other bikes. Maybe one of these days I'll take the opportunity to let someone else take the pictures. For now, I still need to get back out to check out some autumn leaves.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's the Time of the Season...

Posted on the wall above my desk at work: Multi-task: to screw up several things at the same time.

I am so frustrated with my lack of blog-posts. Not that I think you people (all three of you) are impatiently waiting for another fabulous missive from my direction but, lets face it, sometimes one stops looking when enough time passes. Someone (PT Barnum? Walt Disney?) is reported to have said "always leave them wanting more" and it seems a better choice than "write something....ANYthing, doesn't it? Truth is, nothing much has been happening in my life.

The pumpkin spiders are decorating my porch for the fall. The autumn is beginning to see more wear. I'm still wondering what happened to September, let alone July and August. The dismal summer weather wasn't really a problem for me. We've had some nice days and some dreary days but I haven't been cold. Perhaps it's because my internal temp is rising, documented by the bloodmobile when I donated last. I've been getting a wee bit warm. Not flashing though it's debatable whether I'm dealing with Mr. Gore's global flashing or "my own personal summah". Could be the days are just warm. Or I'm old.
Home improvement has not really progressed but it's a good news/bad news thing. Mark's business is doing well, leaving him too freaking tired to work pounding nails and screwing drywall once he gets home. Can't blame him because I'm the same way. Work. Sit with a cocktail. Eat dinner. Crash. Repeat. Until Saturday when I whittle through the list of do-mees I've made for myself, interspersed with entertainment of some sort. I'm somewhat ADD when it comes to entertaining myself. People asked me if I've been out paddling and I have - a bit. My few paddles have been around the bay. Alone except for one with Hope and Nick. Nothing spectacular. Truth is, alone is boring but it's better than not going. It seems that when Explore North Coast has planned paddles, I've got other plans. One of these days, the Cock Robin Island or Mad River paddles will be on a Saturday when I'm free. I don't venture out into unfamiliar territory on my own so I'm left to the familiar. *sigh* But I'm not a single-focus girl - I have other interests. When the weather is good, I want to walk on the beach and watch the surf and photograph the surfers. And I love to garden. Pick berries and make jam from them. And cook. I'm up early and going so as not to miss a moment of the day. I hate the down-time of waiting for company so go alone.

When the cold weather of fall and winter hits, my ADD doesn't go away but it shifts to indoor crafts and baking. Now that it's getting cooler - and AFTER I get my garden cleared and winterized - I'll make something out of the stones, beads and shells I've set aside for necklaces and earrings. I have plans to make more grocery bags. And get back to some sewing. While the bread rises.

My mind, this summer has been occupied with thoughts of my food and where it comes from, spurred by a viewing of Food, Inc, the Local Challenge thrown down by the Co-op and my one summer read, Plenty which is the CR/HSU Book of the Year. It's driving me a little crazy and would love to spend time driving around exploring the farms that produce the local foods I buy, much like they did in Plenty, but I don't care to go alone but don't have anyone to go with, so I don't. I didn't. Whine. Whine. Whine.

I've actually been considering a drive to Santa Cruz to attend my high school's homecoming football game. Why? Not sure but it sounds like it could be fun, or at least the drive down will be nice. High school was far from being my glory days and the people I will most likely see are not those who had any use for me in school. The ones I would like to see have no interest in reliving high school (ugh...*shudder*) so are no where to be found. I don't want to feel like I have to drink vast quantities so I can feel like having fun (THAT would be more like the high school days I remember...) though I wouldn't mind sneaking a flask into the game, cheer, reconnect. I'd also like to go visit my godmother and her huge and fabulous family. I wouldn't mind taking my kayak if I can find someone to act as a guide since it's been years since I've played around the old waterways.

My mind is still reeling with the things I want to do over the summer... and it's gone! What did I accomplish this summer? Zip. Zilch. Bupkus. I didn't travel. I didn't kayak enough. No major projects completed. I didn't drink too much. Or eat too much. Or exercise enough. Or sit too long. But I was SO busy, doing what, I can't recall. I canned some tuna (luckily it will taste better than the bland color would indicate. And, as a switch from canning whole tomatoes, I turned a HUGE quantity of tomatoes into a few tiny jars of tomato paste by cooking the hell of the puree. This was a new thing and I liked it so much, I've ordered up two lugs of tomatoes from the CR farm to do it again this week. I like learning new things. I took a wire-working class at Heartbead in Arcata which was fun and I'll probably join them again at the end of the month for another wire working class that will teach me how to encase the rocks and shells I've collected in wire to use as centerpieces for jewelry. That's something. But is it really enough to explain where the summer went?