Birthday Countdown

liliales birthday countdown: 2001

Hey, I got a little behind in the game! And with only a week to go, too. Well, life, and everything, you know. Often more important and interesting than sitting at a computer. 

Anyway. Some aspects of our years in Rumson run together for me. There was a big summer storm the weekend we were having a garage sale, and we had no power for a couple days, plus it was all mayhem everywhere. And once we had a blackout; that I could look up because PSE&G lost a big part of the grid, and if you are on the east coast, you'll remember that. 

But 2001, well, of course what stands out in my mind was that really good math morning we were having; our second day of school for the new year. And the phone call, with the man yelling and telling me New York was under attack. I ran down the block to the main street and then headed up the street, to see if I could see planes or anything, and then ran home to turn on the TV. And a building came down before my eyes. We've all seen it hundreds of times, but that was the first time, right when it happened. 

And later that day, the eastern horizon was black and orange. We drove up to Sandy Hook and stood on North Beach with about 20-30 other people, just staring at the skyline. 

It was at least two years before I got used to the hole in it, especially as I'd always look north as I drove over the Rumson-Sea Bright bridge, to see if the sky was clear that day. And the city smelled charred for months, with this strange haze that we'd wear home on the train and have to scrub off in the shower. 

A couple people from our town died that day, and there was a memorial for them down by the river. But across the river, in Middletown, they'd lost dozens. It was physical, palable, everywhere we went for a long time. 


liliales birthday countdown: 2000 music memories

I had a 13 year-old then. The other girls were 10 and 9. That influenced a lot of the music we heard and chose to listen to. Not just because of the radio, but whatever was on TV and in the movies, and at friends' houses. 

Not sure anything was bigger than this one...and I'm okay with that.

 

Here's another fun hit from 2000, which, well, kinda makes you think the world is okay, and it'll keep spinning along the way it always has.  

And I am pretty sure I heard this song every time I walked into the little grocery store closest to us, in Fair Haven. 
  


liliales birthday countdown: 2000

At the end of 1999, the kids and I put together a time capsule of our portion of the 20th century. We didn't yet know we'd be celebrating the end of the millennium in an entirely new part of the country. 

At that time I was very into Bobby Darin, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the new Cure album, Bloodflowers. We went down to Detroit to see them in concert, which seemed really amazing after all those years of never even considering such a thing. I still have my t-shirt, but I don't really like shirts that weren't cut for women so it stays in a drawer. 

2000 was one of those years we have now and then in which quite a few super famous people died. And VH-1 Classic started that year! At first that was very cool because they showed whatever we used to actually watch MTV for. 

Shortly after the baby turned two, we moved to Rumson, New Jersey, three miles from the sea. The six year-old had his arm in a cast from falling down the stairs. And it was quite a chaotic event, getting the eight of us across the eastern part of the country to the new house, which was very old and a bit alarming to confront at first view. However, the little town was very nice, there were many little girls around for my daughters to play with, we lived down the street from a riverside park, and as we crossed the bridge to the next little town over, we could see the New York skyline off in the distance. Even now, my heart races a little bit, thinking about it. 

There were some big adjustments to make, and it took awhile to settle in, but I felt like I'd "come home" for the first time since I was a teenager. 
Moreme


liliales birthday countdown: 1999

embrace
madness swirls, darts away, returns
slithering in to take hold.
grasping and gulping i apply the disease; 
a coat made of sooty smoke 
and even after it has fled, once again, 
you can smell the residue on my graying skin
begging, aching
rain pour down and wash me clean
weak spits of snow are the reply

little match girl where are you now?
i have homemade soap to sell 
and candles to keep you warm, for a while.
not much else to offer— 
cheese and crackers and a six dollar bottle of belgian beer
that somebody brought by.

aura made of clouds gathered thickly 
guarding my soul
the rest was stolen during the last flood, 
or washed away.
galatea in solitude

the base is cracked upon which she stands,
they knew much of earthquakes in her ancient land
was it the wrath of gods and goddesses spurned;
their rare and precious gift returned?

did pygmalion watch in sadness or relief as she slowly hardened into stone?

now she is posed and waiting through the centuries
to be sculpted back to life
she does not know that in her own gracefully chiselled fingertips
she is already holding the knife

I think I started to recognize who I was when I turned 34. It wasn't who anyone else had much thought I was up to that point, which might have been the source of a lot of my trouble. I'm a fairly passive person, and also very internal. So whoever I was inside isn't who anyone else chose to look for (and define, as people seem bound to do,) and it hadn't really occurred to me that others saw everything so very differently than I did. 

Like with Jesus. All that time I thought me and the various churches of people were on the same page about that, but it turned out they weren't thinking what was inside my head at all. I didn't have a strong sense of right or wrong about most of the differences I saw in other people; they were one way and I was another. But realizing that if Jesus was who they said he was, then he could be very little of what they said he was, that was truly enlightening. That was wrong. So I went back to my childhood thinking tree, at least in my mind, where I could contemplate it all without all the layers of veneer that had been slathered on over the years. Not just about Jesus, but about the math I never learned, and the music on the radio in towns which didn't have the secret club password, and the art I always wanted to wrap myself in even though I never got "the artist" badge. 

And then I turned myself into a cool kid on the outside, instead of just on the inside. 

In 1997, I'd started this garden in my backyard, with zinnias and tomatoes and herbs and some other things. And the following year a lot of it sprang back to life on its own, like magic. That was a magic I realized I could do. I mean, manipulating the right kinds of energy: that's all magic is. It's physics married with desire. So I was sustained through early 1999 with the promised of renewed growth.

this will be my testimony...

the verbose can run out of things to say
a heart filled with shouts and screams
can fall mute and shrink away
while the deafening silence of a heavy snow
can blow out the eardrums
of a hibernating spirit

this will be my testimony...

all in this universe mourn the death of a star
some are reborn from the ashes it leaves behind,
some get sucked into a singularity
of depression and loss
compacted into nothingness
never to escape

this will be my testimony...

in my backyard under 15 inches of winter
flavors rest and wait
hope to freshen the breath,
faith to soothe a cough.
joy to add depth to some soup
patience to perfume my bathwater

Season's unbroken cycle
brings comfort to their peaceful repose

My poetry improved tremendously after that stage. And I realized many things are not as difficult as they appear to be, even though there were many times, in the middle of fresh or renewed pain, I felt that this could not be so. The lowest place hadn't even been reached. But I knew that I was standing on the surface of something larger and more wonderful than I'd realized since childhood.

And so this is the point at which, though there were still some very bad years to come, I'm more comfortable in the aftermath of them to keep the pain and grieving tucked safely away from the parts of living that need to get done and which are still ripe with pleasurable opportunity. 

Happymichigan


liliales birthday countdown: 1998

In 1998 I hadn't been to church in awhile due to the sciatica and these really severe headaches I had on and off for a few months (and I could write, seriously, a book about my church-going days, and maybe I should,) and when my daughter started asking questions I couldn't get answered the right way, I stopped sending the kids. The man had already quit the thing, though he'd been devoted in a more hard-core way, if not to say more deeply, than me. He then went through various phases over the years, I learned from them, but realized I was really just about being tao from the beginning. It took awhile to conquer some of the bitterness I had about the organizations tied to religion, but I've mellowed over the years. 

Well, calamity struck again, and I went into labor in late June in something of a state of shock, but determined to make everything as good and healthy for everyone as I could. The labor was ages long, but the midwife was sublime. It was just me and her and the man, though he was on the phone for the most active part of it. We won't go into that; it was an era ago. 

That delivery was the saddest yet most joyful one of all, and that kid has been nothing but joy to me, even though he was very emotional and would cry at the least little thing for about two years, during which time he also rarely slept. He is a beautiful specimen of humanity, and though it was very difficult for the first few months, during which time I was mostly alone with all six kids, I have always seen him as a true gift to my life. There is not a day in which I have not actively felt this, over nearly 14 years.

This time I lost only about 35 of the 45 lbs or so, and so even though I weighed over 120 at the end of summer, I was healthier, and he was fine, and his brother was fine. But that fall, we were the poorest we've ever been, because of several co-mingling occurrences. Our heater went out and took a few days to be fixed, and it was kinda terrible, but I learned a lot from it. People brought us stuff and tried to be well-meaning, and some of it was very awkward, however, I have first-hand knowledge now of how to help others when and where I can, so that's a good thing, as well.

I was homeschooling all my kids at this point, long story for some other time, and it was crazy chaos sometimes, but good for them, I think, in the main. 

You might laugh, but here is the song I could not stop playing late that year, nearly endlessly on a cassette in the van. 

  

 


liliales birthday countdown: 1997

I'd gained more weight with that pregnancy, close to 50 pounds. Okay, here is a report on my weight through all this kid-having up to this point. 112 lbs, gained 32, lost 37. 107 lbs, gained 32, lost 32. 107 lbs, gained 45, lost 35. 117 lbs, gained 32, lost 31. 118 lbs, gained 45 lbs, lost 50 lbs.  

Each of those weight losses took place over about a two month period,and then I'd stay the same weight until a new baby started up. But the 5th time, I lost 50 lbs so fast, the baby stopping thriving. We didn't realize it at first; he was between his two and four months checkups, and at four months, he hadn't gained any weight in several weeks. It was so scary. But I'd been so depressed I had a hard time eating. He had to have extra strong formula, because I couldn't feed him enough. I did get to keep letting him nurse, though, which was good for us in other ways. (It wasn't PPD, by the way; it was wholly tied to an actual extreme event that flipped me out.)

Later in the year it appeared life was bouncing back. We went on a camping trip, oh, I gotta dig out those photos, but…I got pregnant. 

Now that time, it was just being a bit stupid. But there's this whole story, as well, and oh my gosh, life without this kid having been present is completely unimaginable. Anyway. I was less upset about it than the other time because I felt like I'd been given a chance to complete something well. I hired a midwife, went through it all a little differently. I had horrible sciatica that kept me kind of immobile, though, and gained 45 lbs, which makes that a little worse. Catch-22. But that's for 1998. ;-)

My oldest daughter was ten that year, and listening to a little bit of radio pop, so I remember the Spice Girls and others from that time. It wasn't a bad year for pop music, actually. And there was a good Blur album, and Ultra by Depeche Mode, with Dave Gahan back from near-death, sigh.
  

Oh! I meant to mention in the last thing, that it was fall, 1996 when we got our first home computer and internet. It was a Macintosh Performa, and we had a free Compuserve account to use with it. Good things and bad things came from that, but mostly good. Gosh, I really need to get out those photos and scan them.  


liliales birthday countdown: 1996

Early in 1996, I was pregnant again. This was a pure accident, and lest random internet "experts" who don't know us deride us for what we might have done differently 16 years ago, let me point out that I have what might be termed a "willful womb," which rejected more than one form of birth control in some earnest attempt at making the world a finer place through my abundant progeny. 

Well, I was sad and angry about being pregnant. But I'll back up and share a memory of having the flu during a wild epidemic, and my son, not quite two, got it as well. He starting tanking late at night, as little kids sometimes do, so we brought him to the E.R., where they were so filled to the gills with sick people, they were laying them out in rows. The I.V. fluids were going in wrong, and his arm swelled up, and then they made a private space for him by putting a crib in a sort of utility closet. And he improved over the weekend. 

So then I was pregnant and we really needed a bigger place, and found a large duplex on a quiet street, and I was sad for all of us that I was going to have another baby, but at the same time, I wasn't sad about meeting my new kid. 

Star Trek: First Contact came out shortly before he was born, and the man and I took turns seeing it. We were big fans of ST:TNG; that is, I was a huge fan, and he was as big a fan as he ever gets about TV. Then it was Thanksgiving, and I went into labor, for about 24 hours. I chose the other hospital where we hadn't gone during the epidemic because, well. 

I had the same transition in labor problem I'd had with three of the other four kids, but the doctor refused to give me an epidural or anything, and the delivery was my longest (an epidural can slow it down more, but it never did for me,) and the baby was born blue, but after a few minutes he was the most exquisite-looking newborn I have ever seen. I mean, this can't be overstated. Eventually, I'll dig out some pictures to share from this era. 

And then my life fell apart again, for the second time of what I'd now say are six times. We won't be discussing much of that, though. I have no wish to burden others with my worst memories. 
 

 


liliales birthday countdown: 1995

Three significant things about 1995. We moved again, this time across Michigan to Saginaw. But we couldn't find a proper house to rent, and got a large apartment, instead, at "garden level." My oldest daughter sort of foundered for months in a class for slow kids while waiting for a spot in the gifted school to open up; a sort of bizarre irony. The next one was in kindergarten, and the teacher had little patience with her the way her preschool teachers did. But she was still sweet and enthusiastic and warm to everyone she saw. 

 Toy Story was released that fall. Changed all our lives, in a way, hard to explain. At the time, the artistry and character of it blew us away. I still think it's one of the finest films every made.
  

And at Christmas, Dean Martin died. I hadn't thought much about him over the years other than that he was funny and kinda cool. But the announcement of his death was when I began to sit up and take notice. 
 

 


liliales birthday countdown: 1994

In 1994, I gave birth to my oldest son, we moved to Michigan, just a couple miles from the Lake, and I worked to make my little girls believe life could be exciting and grand and full of possibilities. Life seemed beautiful, but really, really hard.

I want to back up and point out a couple things that come to mind, before I forget them again. In the weeks before my son was born, in the spring, I almost never slept, it seemed. I was up very late into the night every night, watching Talk Soup and developing a grand passion for Greg Kinnear. Later on, after he was born, I'd watch the late night show while nursing the boy. 

The day I went into labor, I woke up knowing it would be that day, and I was so happy. I had to go to a Girl Scout Leaders conference, and I warned them I was in labor and that it might accelerate. All day long I had regular contractions, and that afternoon I took some long walks, then put dinner in the oven for the family, and then it seemed time to go. It was a beautiful labor but one of my most difficult (though not at all longest) deliveries, even though he was the smallest kid at only 7 lbs 13 oz.

A few weeks later, as movers came in to pack us up to move from Kansas to Michigan, I remember sitting for hours and watching OJ drive that jeep. Kept waiting for it to get more exciting, but it never really did...

Shortly after we moved, I took the girls down to a place in Indiana to see The Lion King while the man stayed home with the baby. :-) And there were sunsets on Weko Beach, listening to a local man play "Taps" on his trumpet.

That was the first year I got to use the "internet," at my husband's job. No, that's quite not so. I'd watched him try it out the year before, but really just as a bystander. I remember we were told we'd be using something like this in the future. It wasn't something I could imagine quite the way we see it now. 

 


liliales birthday countdown: 1993

In 1993, I was training to ride a century, and was up to about 60 mile rides when I discovered I was pregnant again. I tried to keep it up for awhile, just to be in good shape, but all my pregnancies started with overwhelming nausea and heartburn which lasted for many weeks. 

We lived in a duplex at that time, in Olathe, Kansas. I planted my first tiny flower garden there, a ring of zinnias around a tree in the front yard. And we lived next door to a doctor and his wife and their adorable little girls. I learned a few good things from both of them. Our daughters had an inflatable pool in the backyard, and just around the corner was a little lake stocked with catfish that we would walk to. My oldest daughter was a Daisy Scout that year, and I helped out with the troop. 

The second daughter was chosen to be a "typical" in a preschool for children with developmental delays. We took her to a sort of tryout and were told that all the kids who passed it would be put into a pool, and names would be drawn for the four openings. But when we got home, there was an immediate phone call saying they wanted her especially for it. It was a great program for her to be in, though I hadn't even intended to send her to preschool. So I had mornings with my youngest daughter, who was passing through an odd screaming stage, and it was all fairly peaceful at home, with the man cycling every day to Westport to work at an ad agency.

At that time, and briefly, college rock was modern rock, and this is one of my favorites from that year. More on 1993 at a later time.
 .


liliales birthday countdown: 1992

That last #lilialesbirthdaycountdown was a bit serious, eh? Oh well, whatever, never mind, on to 1992. ;-)

Some favorite albums from that year, among plenty of other good ones:

The Church: Priest=Aura
Peter Murphy: Holy Smoke
Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit

1989-1992 was so important to me musically, I think I'll compile a "best of" track listing a little later on, sharing a bit more here or there. 

I still enjoy Wish by The Cure, though it isn't one of my favorites. I was going to share "High" or "Open," but really, this is my favorite song from that year, and I still find it dead-sexy after twenty years.

The Sweetest Drop


liliales birthday countdown: 1991

1991 was such a long year. During that year, I got divorced, got married again, and had my third child—almost on the last day of the year. It was a year full of hopes and money pressures and a great chasm of unknowing. A lot of healing didn't get done, and mostly, it never did, mostly, the need for it just sort of expired after many long years of more kinds of more trouble. 

Baby #2 and I watched the Gulf War at night. Kid #1 and I watched Nickelodeon cartoons and Full House. The man and I were very into stand-up comedy on A&E. Sometimes there was a little money for a movie, and sometimes we were digging for change in the couch so I could buy food to cook for dinner. The pregnancy was an actual condom failure, but I found a program that gave me top care at a good hospital for only $800 altogether. He worked nights at a funeral home to pay for it.

At Christmas time we entered a decorating contest to win $50 from the apartment management. We thought we did a great job for no money, but something much glitzier won the prize. We wondered how much they spent winning it...

And right before I had Baby #3, the family car died. My old two-seater was all we had for a little while. But the man gave me (on cassette) my first Frank Sinatra LP—Sinatra Reprise: The Very Good Years—as a gift after I gave birth, and he got me upgraded to a private room so I could listen to it in the hospital. A tax refund paid it off later.  

Sinatra Reprise


liliales birthday countdown: 1990

I turned 25 in 1990. Mom wasn't there. Other people were. What else do I remember? So much terror, chaos, fear, uncertainty, and a desperate kind of hopefulness that waxed and waned. 

A little gentleness in visits to Loose Park, driving across the state to see the Arch and the zoo in St. Louis, and hours and hours of listening to music, often in the dark. 

Top Three Favorite LPs of 1990:
Peter Murphy: Deep
The Sundays:  Reading, Writing, Arithmetic
They Might Be Giants: Flood

There isn't a bad song on this record. 

 


liliales birthday countdown: 1989

A year during which I turned 24, met the fickle, fitful and enigmatic other side of an eccentric coin, and watched my mother die with no understanding it had been occurring for at least two years.

But the thing is, 1989 was a great year in music. Four of my favorite albums of all time were released in 1989. Kate Bush: The Sensual World, Depeche Mode: Violator, The Cure: Disintegration, and Tears for Fears: The Seeds of Love. I love all four of those albums as much or more than I did then. There are many other good ones from that year, too. 

1989 was one of the worst years of my life, but I have had at least a good half dozen of those, so it's hard to have clear perspective on it. I remember very little about anything going on outside my own life during that time, just the music. When I do a "soundtrack of my youth" list, which I think will be fun, I'll include several songs from that period of time, because they were profoundly influential, in a positive way. But what I want to share right now is a song from The Seeds of Love, which blew me away the first time I heard it, and I still think it's kind of amazing after all these years. It is eight whole minutes long, but if you like it or love it, consider it a gift. 

The female singer is Oleta Adams, who got her "big start" recording and touring with Tears for Fears. #lilialesbirthdaycountdown

The Seeds of Love


liliales birthday countdown: 1987

I mentioned yesterday that 1986 was the year I went in earnest after the college rock stations. That was because I'd enjoyed the post-punk new wave thing, and had also been listening to the r&b station for quite awhile, but the radio was becoming extra irritating to me after high school. It was like choosing between Applebee's and TGIFriday's. 

However, I remember quite a few pop hits from 1987, and will carefreely admit that I enjoyed some by Michael Jackson, U2, and George Michael. And this, which was such a "guilty pleasure." I rarely enjoy slow love songs from, oh, most of the years after I was born. I still like this one though, because I love to sing and harmonize, and it's good for that. Way cheesy, though, and the look on my son's face at this moment is priceless.

Forgive me this.
 

Continuing on the 1987 reminiscence train...I still miss this guy. I mean, besides the fact that he was so beautiful. People should not die the way he did. But I can't digress in the dead pop star direction too far; there are too many of them, it's too sad. 
 


liliales birthday countdown: 1986

I'm skipping over the rest of the childhood and school memories, and will add them to the blog soon, probably back-dating them. For now, #lilialesbirthdaycountdown will be a tribute to what I enjoyed each year in music, movies, etc. starting with 1986, the year I turned 21. 

For my 21st birthday, my brother gave me a small bottle of Gucci #3 parfum. The real deal. It was exquisite, and I was shocked at the loveliness of the gift. But I have very few personal memories from that time forward that I'd like to share, so I'll skip over most of the rest. 

You young people here in the United States. You have no idea how we suffered through the late 1980s in music and fashion. The early 80s; so cool. Then it all went wildly mindlessly out of control. It's really no wonder those plaid shirt kids showed up a few years later, beating back the demons of the Tanner family. But there was still cool stuff around in the late 80s; it was just sorta "underground" for a little while unless you lived in a big city.

1986 was the year college rock became just fully essential, but it wasn't easily tuned into where I lived, so I had to do my best. I filled in a lot of the gaps starting 3-4 years later, actually. But I think this is the best and most obvious choice to start with, from the 1986 album The Queen is Dead.

 

Movies I enjoyed in 1986:

Ferris Buehler's Day Off
Pretty in Pink
Stand By Me
F/X
Top Gun (but my kids have never forgiven me for making them watch this one time.)

Movies from 1986 that I enjoyed a couple years later: 

Highlander
Blue Velvet
Platoon

And one I've only lately started to appreciate:

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home


liliales birthday countdown: 1977-1978

I have a great deal I want to write about junior high and high school, but I'll be getting back to it at another point. Here's a brief post about 7th grade, for now. 

So, 7th grade. Let's see. I had a huge collection of gauze button-down blouses, and I got saddle shoes, because that was a thing that year, and I'd recently been ill-advised to try the Dorothy Hamill haircut. But when my hair is short, it looks like I electrocuted myself and there weren't the products then that there are now, and I wouldn't have had the desire to spend hours on my hair like the girls in my elementary class who suddenly became cheerleader wannabes...

and this is the thing; a higher proportion of girls from my school became part of the popular in crowd and cheerleaders the next year. So they were even further from me than before, though I now feel a few of them would havechosen to be my friend given a different set of parameters. 

I could talk endlessly about 7th grade, though I don't know why. I lost the spelling bee because I got nervous on stage and spelled a word wrong that I knew perfectly well. That 2nd place trophy was small. I didn't wear a bra, and was made fun of in gym. I think possibly the girls were suddenly embarrassed to see a bare chest when they wouldn't have been previously. So my aunt gave my mom this bra my cousin didn't wear, and it was a white stretchy thing with red piping on it, but the girls thought it didn't look "real" enough. 


liliales birthday countdown: 1976-1977

These couple of years' memories are all kind of smushed together here. But it's all kind of one and the same...

The end of 5th grade was when we discovered cute pop stars (and also those giant Bonne Bell Lipsmackers. I was distraught at the end of the year to realized I'd left my Peach one in my school desk.) Shaun Cassidy was new. Brooke Milvain introduced me to Tiger Beat magazine, but I wasn't into Leif Garrett as she was. My long-haired love came a couple years later. I did have over 200 pinups of Shaun Cassidy on my bedroom walls by the following year, but my real musical crush was on this guy, who sang this song to which I related so very deeply, I played it over and over again. And yes, saw him do this performance on The Midnight Special. #lilialesbirthdaycountdown 

know, right? But that was the year some of the girls started "going steady," and I knew that would never ever happen for me.
 

 I don't remember turning 11. Odd. I remember that spring was the final one for our Girl Scout troop. That was also the Bicentennial year, so there was a lot going on. (don't worry, they won't all be this long...or maybe they will...)

Why does this remind me of Watergate, several years earlier? That was my first big news event that I followed, starting in 3rd grade. Anyway. 

6th grade. My teacher was a man, Mr. Ganson. Every day, if we were silent, he spent the last half hour reading to us from this great series of books. It was his tradition, and the other 6th grade class was jealous of us. That was the year all the girls had crushes on the various Brians/Bryans and Johns/Jons, and if I even looked at a boy sideways, he was repulsed that I, too, might have a crush on him. But other than thinking some of them were cute, I really didn't. 

That was the year you didn't have to give a Valentine card to everyone in the class. I worked for hours on my box. I covered it with this old vintage-style black and white wallpaper, and then added shiny red stickers. I was so proud of it. And I got one valentine, from the one other kid who gave them to the whole class...

Also, my mom, who was an avid antique collector, gave me a hundred year-old lunch pail to use. I loved it. But even though I had the right Dolly Madison snack cakes and the correct Charm's Ice Cream Pops, everyone made fun of it, so I stopped carrying it. 

[redacted] ...wish I still had it.

By the end of the year, I still hadn't done much 6th grade math, still stuck in that other class, and the others of my original group were doing Pre-Algebra. And that spring, when we went to the Junior High for our special visit, there was a bad storm with tornados, and we were stuck there for several hours. As usual, the worst hit was just a few miles southeast of us; a high school gym was destroyed that day. 

Oh, and the song we were all very into that year? :-)
 

Two other things about 6th grade, that someone just reminded me of. I spent an entire afternoon talking my parents into letting me see Saturday Night Fever, so inappropriate for an 11 year-old. But I could talk them into stuff. 

And—for some reason, my brother picked on me endlessly, so meanly, and he doesn't even remember doing it now so I can't ask him why. But we were in the car, and he was next to me, my older brother visiting from Canada on the other side. It was all quiet and pleasant, and then I punched him, hard, and made his nose bleed. No one understood why I did it, and I couldn't explain it to them. I wasn't particularly sorry, though.


liliales birthday countdown: 1975-1976

In 5th grade we were tested and put in "levels" with 4th and 6th graders, and I was in the top level in all subjects but math. Now, I'd always been a top math student, but I was put in a middling level while all the other smart kids were sent up. My mom was told, "oh, it's fine, they get to work at their own pace, so she'll be with the others soon." Like, instead of letting me retake the test? I dunno. But the teacher I was assigned didn't believe in letting anyone move up a level unless the whole class did, contrary to how it was set up. So by the end of 6th grade, I was two years behind the other smart kids in math, who'd all gotten to progress at their own pace. It basically ended my "math career," because I learned almost no math for the rest of elementary school, but that's for another year's discussion.

I grew eleven inches in 1975, and that was awkward. It was the beginning of my real awkward years, actually. I was never very good in art (oh, your brother was such an artist,) but I have a way with a portrait, and I drew a boy named Doug, in chalk. It was good enough to be put on a wall, but I didn't like him, and I snuck in and drew little stick people sliding down his nose into a swimming pool, and was sent to the principal's office for it. 

Two important TV memories; the start of the awesome Barney Miller, which Dad and I always watched together, and Monty Python's Flying Circus, which our whole family loved. We were all...a little different for our space and time. Dad and I took a long walk one day down to the cow plex, where they were giving away puppies. I talked him into bringing one home for my brother, hoping that would make him like me better. We named the dog Monty Python. But Monty and I bonded fiercely and instantly...

And then there was the music. Oh, so much music that year. My brother (Bob, 6.5 years older) and I joined the Columbia Record Club, and each got a Beach Boys album and a Wings album, but then he got probably other cool stuff while I got Captain & Tennille records. The first LP I bought was actually Wild Cherry, paid $4 for it, and never really liked any of the songs except the hit, as that was a departure from their preferred style.