Archive for June, 2012

Things I Miss from 1975

Back in the 70’s, when I was in high school–oddly enough the same time that Paul and Caroline in Forgiveness Fits are in high school–when we dressed for 50’s day, we knew that no one would ever dress up for 70’s day.

We knew our decade had few redeeming qualities.  I don’t miss the hair, and I don’t miss the clothes.  But there are some things I miss.

I miss the standard issue Rubbermaid spatula.  I know we can get a silicon spatula that tolerates heat.  I know the no-name brands are just as good.  But I miss my soft Rubbermaid spatula.  It was perfect.  And it’s gone.  (As is most of Rubbermaid.  Sigh.)

Here’s another thing I miss:  pineapple-grapefruit juice.  If I could be beamed back to 1975, I’d get myself three cases of the stuff.  Sweet and tart, it tasted like candy in a juice glass.   Don’t even get me started on how it tasted over ice with a splash of vodka.  I can’t find it anywhere.  My friend Mr. Google can’t find it either.  I miss it.

And I almost hate to mention this one, but I miss my garter belt and stockings.  Sure, we had pantyhose, which we’ve apparently abandoned now, but I discovered quite by accident that wearing an old-fashioned garter-belt with stockings was a million times cooler on hot days.

What do you miss from 1975?


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High school valedictorians around the country often quote Dr. Seuss’ wonderful book about growing up in their speeches.  My daughter’s class chose the title as their theme for their Baccalaureate ceremony.  The title alone conjures images of a life filled with meaningful travels and adventures.  There’s just no way to improve upon this perfect little book.

Until this dad came along.  Every year, starting with Kindergarten, he asked his daughter’s teachers, coaches, and Principals to write a paragraph about his daughter inside a copy of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”  Can you imagine a more perfect graduation gift?

What special gift did you receive upon your high school or college graduation?


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In one of the early scenes of my book, high-school student Caroline reads her Bible at lunchtime while sitting alone on a bench in a courtyard. Readers overwhelmingly assure me that no teenage girl would read a Bible at school.  I added a few details to make it seem more likely.

But I do wonder about the larger question.  Yes, it’s unusual to read a Bible in a public high school.  But what about other places?

Are you comfortable reading your Bible in public places?  Which ones?  How do you feel about seeing people read the Bible (or other holy texts) in public places?


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Goodbye, Fighting Sioux

From KXLY News in Spokane:  “Voters in North Dakota decided to change the mascot of University of North Dakota. They will no longer be called the “Fighting Sioux.” The name change came amid NCAA threats to sanction the programs.”

I’m half Scottish, and my ancestors lived in the Highlands.  Should I be offended by the Shadle Park Highlanders in Spokane?  Is the team honoring my people–or poking fun at them?  When I was in high school, Shadle’s band included a bagpiper and Highland dancers.  A past piper was hired to play at my father’s funeral.  I can’t imagine what I would find offensive about this.

What I might find offensive is a mascot named after the awful people who drove the Highlanders from their lands in the Highland Clearances:  the English, or what most celtic people call the Sassenach, or Saxons.  But I managed to attend Ferris High School–home of the Saxons–without once being insulted for my Highland ancestry, though as my book indicates, I didn’t quite feel welcome there.  Maybe they should drop their mascot name.

So count me as one who feels this is political correctedness run amuck.  If the “Fighting Sioux” must be dropped, so must the famously insulting term, “Fighting Irish.”  Those Irish immigrants were once known for their belligerence, you know.

A nearby high school recently dropped their Indian mascot in favor of “The Eagles.”  The other two mascots in that town?  Spartans and Patriots.  Some day in the future, I think people will wonder why it was acceptable to honor the people of Sparta and those who lived in our American Colonies, but not the Indians.

What do you think??

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Sometimes events become so widely commented upon that we bloggers have no choice but to weigh in ourselves. Such is the case with this year’s most-shared graduation speech, by English teacher David McCullough.

My view reflects my status as what I call a “late Boomer,” one of those kids born after the “early Boomers.” The “early Boomers” came of age in the 60’s and got all the press. They organized protests and sit-ins, and burned their draft cards. “Early Boomer” women got the same jobs as “early Boomer” men. They hated Nixon, hated their parents, and named their children Willow. In contrast, we “late Boomers” came of age in the 70’s. With no trails to blaze, we hung out at the mall, attended emptying high schools, and became the first viewers of MTV and SNL. Our President told us we had a crisis of confidence, and we had no trouble believing him. Have you seen the movies of the late Seventies? Chinatown. Marathon Man. Dog Day Afternoon. Taxi Driver. Everyone dies. And then, we got married and had children.

Finally, we were in charge. Finally, there was someone on the planet who would listen to us.  Boy, did we screw up.  We have raised the most entitled and whiny bunch of navel-gazers on the planet.  We didn’t mean to.  It’s just that all those downer movies and speeches and the economy led us to believe we had so little to look forward to.  Instead, the economy went nuts, and we had our children during the good times in the 80’s and 90’s.  We were like Depression-era folks, telling our kids how awful it was in the bad old days, before we all had cable and color televisions and computers for finishing our homework.  We bought our kids graphing calculators and told them about the $100 Texas Instruments calculators that could do square roots.  We filled the coffers at Gap Kids and Abercrombie and Fitch and the American Doll store.  We reveled in the marvelousness of it all.

And into this atmosphere comes English teacher David McCullough, who finally sets them straight.

“Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.”

Bless you, Mr. McCullough.  Bless you.


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A Thousand Views

Right now, this blog has been viewed 992 times, by people all over the world.  My map shows visits from Korea, Senegal, and Norway, from Canada, the US and Mexico.  I’ve had a visitor from China, but of course China blocks the internet, so he shows up as a visitor from California.

At some point today or tomorrow, visitor number 1,000 will click in.  Before that happens, I’d like to say THANK Y OU.

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That’s what this blog is meant to promote: my writing.  It’s just so darn tempting to write about the blogs other people write, and to contribute to things like National Migraine Awareness month.  But not today.  Today, it’s all about ME.

Here are the current opening paragraphs of Forgiveness Fits:

We tend to love what we know.  It’s the familiarity, the perceived degree of comfort, that attracts us, reels us in like a powerful angler catching the perfect rainbow trout.  Me, I knew life in the military.  I knew a dozen schools, people of all races and backgrounds, and cities all across the country.  I recognized change, disruption, and forming friendships based on little more than a momentary need.  Hey, let’s go play on the swings!  Because we giggled together as we pumped our legs and swung high enough for the chains to go lax, we became inseparable.  Wanna come over and watch television?  We stayed up until after midnight watching an old movie and quoted the lines the following week at school, best friends.  You!  Over there!  We need someone to play outfield.  I missed every ball hit in my direction but made five new friends that one afternoon.

And then my dad retired, and we moved to Spokane to be near my mom’s sister.  I recognized nothing.

Want more?  Forgiveness Fits

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