The High School Years

Being Unique: or Just Plain Weird, Whatever…

This week I learned a few things about myself. I am not judgy, I accept things that I now see others may have difficulty with.

Am I naive? No.

Live in a religious bubble? Nope.

Have my head stuck in sand? I don’t even like the beach.

I guess I just see things differently than others. While I may not agree with another person’s decisions on how they choose to live religiously, or perhaps their sense of fashion, or what they eat or don’t (like Vegans), I don’t look down on them or think my way is the BEST way…unless we are talking about my kids.

I took this excerpt from one of my posts on my business blog (which I neglect to keep current – but the articles are really good) because the message is important:

“There was a time in college when all the ladies in the dorm decided to go on the cabbage soup diet.

A few points to keep in mind. We were young. We were stupid. We stank up the joint. Besides cooking lots of pots of soup, each apartment was making their own version, there was the after effects of eating all that cabbage.  There was not enough air freshener in the world to mask what was going on.

What I learned from the cabbage soup phenomenon?  Don’t always do what everyone else is doing.”

girl bulliesAs an adult, of course I see the need for each person to self-express, and that’s whats makes us interesting. At my most recent book-club meeting a topic came up about bullying and I was shocked that the majority of women, all ages represented, NOT including myself were bullied as children at one time or another. I’m not tooting my own horn but I saw people and still do, as just people. Whether it was the boy who ate seaweed in 5th grade, the teenager with Downs Syndrome who came to the high school event, my college roommate of color, or the current neighbors with the nose piercings. All these people have parents, who love them. They all have mouths with which to communicate, they all have their own ideas about what looks nice, what tastes good and what art is.

But what I found surprising is what happened to those kids who were bullied, meaning how they turned out. Low self-esteem, adolescents who turned into adults with clear PTSD and are even shocked when they are liked for just being themselves.

I took this even one step farther, not just as a student, friend, or neighbor but as a parent of a child who was clearly bullied for being different. As a mother, it was difficult to watch my child grow up without friends because he was labeled “weird”. What the other children and worse the teachers failed to understand was that he suffered from SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder. When he couldn’t deal with the annoying noises a pencil made or the way a material felt when it accidentally rubbed against him, other people saw this as a behavioral issue and often got him sent to the principal or singled out or made fun of. He was isolated in a way that a mother like me couldn’t understand. In my mind, EVERYONE had some issues, be it a lisp or a stutter or a limp…I never understood why these kinds of people needed to be treated any differently, or if they did, in my mind it was to be extra sensitive to them and make MORE of an effort to be friends with them. As a mother I saw that he was bright and cute with a nice smile and had just as many Hot Wheels as the next kid. Sure I also saw the meltdowns and fits of rage when he couldn’t deal with regular things, like the smell of ketchup, but perhaps I overlooked what the rest of the world saw.

 wordle 1

 

Life is unfair and unkind that way. We are often challenged to be unique and special but then are confronted with fitting the mold. Each society and culture has their own model, I just wish there was a way we could create a Utopian society where we all agree that being different is okay, within the expectations of our own community and family needs.

Maybe I like the ‘weirdos’ because I am so plain. I keep it simple. I like to wear mostly black. I eat copious amounts of unhealthy food balanced by a really great salad once in a while and exercise only when I feel guilty or jiggly. I’m the average height for a typical Jewish woman. I’m sometimes funny, mostly thoughtful, and basically care about friendships, family and the environment. Nothing about me stands out as far as I know. If I had to choose one thing about myself that would be ‘weird’, and only because of this most recent dialogue among bright, intelligent, successful women, is that I am overly sensitive to other people. Sadly this is a unique trait. That most people are NOT like me in this regard is what I find most disturbing. Let’s try to be better. I know I always say that. I truly mean it. Let’s be kinder, more patient, and understanding to ideas or people who seem different than us. Are you with me?

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She Knew It All

Well, that’s how she acted anyway. Ugh, every conversation had her sticking her nose where it didn’t belong and making definitive comments that sometimes didn’t make sense but said with enough confidence that others believed she might be right. I was so sick of it. I wondered if others felt the same way I did but it’s not like I’d indulge my desire by gossiping about her just to find out. She just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want to ‘save’ her from herself, I didn’t care to be her friend, I didn’t want to be associated with her or mentioned even in the same sentence as her…it was THAT bad. But these thoughts made me feel like a bad person. Love your neighbor as you love yourself…problem was she always had good intentions…but she upset people with her actions and speech.

I was able to spend the majority of my time NOT in her presence so at least there was that. However, every single time she was around, she would loudly spew her opinions and make every one else feel small. I know the theory behind it. The Bully Syndrome, I call it. They have insecurities (though most don’t see it that way) and instead of feeling small themselves they pump themselves up by teasing others or acting overly confident and making sure their voice is heard.

Being a quieter person, I observe more than I indulge in a conversation. I say something when asked or when something witty or cute comes to mind. Sure I have insecurities just like the next person, but I never felt like I had anything to prove. I never felt like I needed to be louder than the next person, or make anyone feel small. I never understood why someone would need to do that to others.  Humans are complex characters though and none of us are wired the same. We are products of our environment and I didn’t know her history or her family life growing up so who was I to be making judgement calls on her? Perhaps she is damaged like most of us and never sought help. I’d like to think this is it.

Am I willing to help? No way, I am not touching that scorcher with a ten foot pole. She can be mean (without trying to be) and I am a sensitive girl, plus, like I said, I do not interact often enough with her to be warranted into inner circle status. Which is fine.

I generally get along with people and avoid confrontation so I’m not going to make a big stink. Even though she said something so hurtful to me in the last week, I am willing to move past it without dealing with it head on. I don’t think she even realizes that what she did was wrong, because she always thinks she is right.  Perhaps she uses this method as a defense mechanism. Perhaps her outrageous behavior is covering up her tortured  inner world. Or maybe she is just mean, I only took Psych 101 so I am no expert but what I do know? Negative comments and being a know-it-all is a turn off to others.

“There are spider webs in our unconscious minds. Every person alive today has his/her share of unrealized desires, fears, and latent projections”

So I am no better or worse than she is, perhaps, but I definitely handle my actions in a more appropriate fashion. I was raised in a blue collar family with a high importance on manners and proper etiquette and behavior. I know my place and when to speak and when to listen. She clearly doesn’t and I feel sad for her. But I also am upset that she gets away with it. She comes off as rude and often I feel others see her as a bully as well, the problem is no one is willing to step and try to ‘help’ her because we know we can only help someone if they ask for it.

Soon enough she may have so little friends that she may be forced to question her actions. Do I wish that on her? Absolutely not, but I’m also not going to risk my precious and sensitive heart and soul at her possible thrashings and verbal abuse.  I will pray for her that she learns her lesson and sees the error of her ways.

The one thing she didn’t know? How many people she hurt along the way.

Who Am I?

https://i2.wp.com/us.cdn4.123rf.com/168nwm/braverabbit/braverabbit1206/braverabbit120600008/14268290-cute-little-cartoon-girl-with-question-mark--high-quality-3d-illustration.jpgI used to know. I remember when it was easier but I didn’t think so at the time. I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was shy. I was average. I didn’t stand out, wasn’t opinionated, always had at least 1 or 2 best friends.

Identifying who we are or how we want to be perceived varies depending on where we are in our lives.

Turning point? I was 11 years old when I answered that question for the first time. Because of a virus, my kidney’s stopped working and I was placed in the ICU of the pediatric ward in Newark, New Jersey’s Beth Israel Medical Center. I didn’t think of myself as the girl with the IV pole, or the girl in a wheelchair, or the girl with a pee-bag, or the kid in dialysis. I was the girl with purple arms. That was the first time I identified myself as being unique, different, not like anyone else. I remembered asking my mother if I would ever look normal again. She explained about the procedures of taking blood so often leaving my arms purple and that eventually the skin wouldn’t be bruised and I’d return to “normal”.

As a parent today I can’t imagine what that must feel like to have to answer such a question.

In high-school I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was shy. I was average. I didn’t stand out, wasn’t opinionated, always had at least 1 or 2 best friends. The next time I was aware of asking myself this question was when I was confronted as a high-school student by a youth group administrator. He felt my friends were bad influences on me and mentioned how he thought I should look for a new group friends. Horrified and angry because as a teenager you define yourself by your associations. They were my people. I was part of them, we all thought the same things, acted the same way, made each other laugh and they were always looking out for me, protecting me, were protective of me. I was the girl everyone loved to protect. I didn’t understand why he’d say such a hurtful statement but after we went our separate ways and I was able to see things from a different perspective, I understood what he was trying to tell me. Still, I didn’t love it, but I got it. I wasn’t anybody in my own right. I had to ask the question, who am I?

Spending the summer away from my core peer group gave me new insights. I lived abroad meeting new people, some from other countries and again I was confronting myself, defining the kind of person I wanted to be. Excited to begin college, a year and a half later, I was ready for change. I was the student who started on probation and finished making  Deans List and on my way to getting a degree. I was a Ranger’s fan. I was a youth group adviser. I was the owner of a goldfish. I was the bridesmaid.

I graduated and received a service award because I wasn’t only studying, proving to myself that I was smart enough if I just applied myself. I worked at making it an experience to remember including all aspects of dorm, social and academic life. I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was no longer shy. I was better than average. I didn’t stand out more than the next guy. I started to form my own opinions. I always had at least 1 or 2 best friends.

Now, after being married for almost 15 years, having 5 children, working at 8 various jobs and the proud owner of a domain name I am at that place once again. How do I define myself? I am a blogger. I am a glorified secretary. I am a mother, a friend, an Israeli, an American, a Jew. I am 40. I am “Chubby”. I am happy. (when I’m not crying). I am still annoyingly short. I am reserved and thoughtful. I am trying to not be average. I  want to stand up for what I believe in. I formulate my opinions based on educating myself and listening to others.  I still have at least 1 or 2 best friends.

I am secure (but I still won’t eat by myself in a restaurant). I am confident (but I still don’t like being the center of attention). I am sensitive (to the point of no return – can we say BIG FAT CRY BABY?). I am funny (and often embarrass myself just to get a good laugh). I am creative (and doodle most of the time during office meetings) . I am still evolving. 

Change is good, growth is necessary.

I look forward to asking myself this question 5 years from now.

Challenge of the day. Can you answer this question?

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Who are you?

This J-Dub Eats Caak

I’m not sure how one spells caak (rhymes with snack). Basically it’s a Middle Eastern treat. It’s made up of wheat flour, water, soybean oil, sesame seeds and yeast. It’s a tasty, crunchy, savory bread snack that I first was introduced to in high-school, but never ate it. Why? Well that was THEIR food. I grew up eating potato chips and pretzels, well my brother did mostly, Chubby got apple slices and carrot sticks, but occasionally snuck in a Ring Ding…or 2…or 3.

Now, when I said THEIR food, I was referring to my Sephardic classmates. I went to a private Jewish high-school predominantly made up students of Syrian descent. It made life interesting for the few Ashkenazi kids in each class but we were taught both customs and a new vernacular.

It was the first time I was referred to as a J-Dub, which is kind of derogatory. Syrians called themselves, SYs (ess-why) and the Ashkenazi kids were called J-Dubs {which stood for Jewish, White (dub as in ‘W’)}. We were used to it and it was never said in a derogatory way.

Girls were known as ‘G’ s (gees), one girl being a ‘G’ (gee) and if you were nutty people called you ‘mejnun’. There was a lot of pig latin mixed with Arabic words and initials as well. If you were cute, you were called ‘aboose’, something gross was ‘ert’. When they wanted to say how something was so absolutely amazing, they’d say it was ‘not normal’ and when they couldn’t deal with something they finished the sentence with ‘I can’t’. Some of the girls get married at a really young age (18 or 19) and what we normally call a bridal shower for them is called a ‘swanee’ (swaa-knee)- which I think is like a Henna Party. I was invited once to a Brit Milah (circumcision for a Jewish boy on the 8th day of life) of a “Syrian” friend. There was an assortment of food (really just appetizers that she called mazza (rhymes with plaza – which mean small bite). I’d heard of this word but never really tasted this food, much like caak.

There was yebre (stuffed grape leaves)

and kibbeh (deep-fried, shaped mostly like little footballs (or meatballs) made of bulgur and stuffed with meat, minced onions and usually spiced with cumin) 

and lachmajin (little meat pies – chopped meat with tamarind)! Platter of Homemade Lachmagine by Lauryn Weiser

Now that I live in Israel, these foods are not as foreign to me and we eat them every once in a while. We still very much stick to our shnitzel (breaded fried chicken cutlets) & cholent (stew) on shabbos (the Sabbath – day of rest) but since blending with our new culture more and more these foods are ‘normal’ and often exciting for the kids to eat.

עוגיות עבאדי (צילום: יחסי ציבור ,יחסי ציבור)So last week I was in the supermarket looking for a snack that wasn’t the same old boring repetitive treat for my children. Now that camp is over and they are hanging out in the house and hungry ALL THE TIME, I need to keep the pantry constantly stocked! I mean, I expected the 13-year-old boy to act this way, but it’s everyone. They are bored. I know this and while even though I want them eating healthy snacks they are right, that food is bo-ring and not always filling! I suggested making peanut butter cracker sandwiches and came home to a really sticky counter, lines of ants, and crumbs galore. When I saw this product feature on the right, I was reminded of my high-school days and decided to buy it. Translated they are called ‘western cookies which sounds weird in English but is much more normal in Hebrew. Now, my children want it all the time. Part of me wants to learn how to make them, of course, nothing like a challenge! Instead this week I decided to make funnel cakes. Totally NOT a middle eastern snack but while I was thinking of my childhood there was always that booth at the beach, down the shore, selling them, and they looked amazing. Of course keeping strictly kosher my parents would never buy them for us, and truthfully, I don’t think we ever even thought to ask for them.

Browsing through one of my cookbooks (its a vice, I LOVE cookbooks) I saw a picture and decided I was going to make my own funnel cakes. Owning a funnel is a key factor and not having one is a sure way to fail this endeavor. However, I am resourceful and decided to use a turkey baster! Suffice it to say I made a disaster of my kitchen until I got the hang of it. Deep fried these pretty web like pancakes (in way too much oil) and sprinkled them with powdered sugar. Some of them came out stunning, ‘legit’. I stacked them in paper towels just like the directions said. What the directions didn’t tell me was that these treats get real soggy and it’s best to eat them right away. Of course there were some takers immediately, there usually is, and the recipe said it would make 10 pieces and I ended up with about 20…which no one ate, naturally because they got soggy.

As experiences go, I’d say I overall enjoyed it. Trying something new gave me a sense of adventure, and I highly recommend it. I was sticky and it was messy, but it was fun, educational and the kids loved it. Now onto baklava!

The Fishy Kiss

Happiness comes in many variations. I have always been a big fan of the fishy kiss, it makes me happy.

Sure the Eskimo Kiss and the Butterfly Kiss are good options as far as fun kissing goes, however, I have been captured on film more often than not with the fishy-kiss-look. Here I was 18 years old and super classy. That’s my friend Robyn at her graduation, we were a year apart and she had been one of my closest friends in high-school. We did everything together, had a zillion sleepovers, had quadrillion private jokes, gave each other the case of the giggles and could make eye contact and know what the other person was thinking. We’d send each other friendship cards and she’d make me the best mishloach manot (a Jewish tradition of giving your neighbor 2 cooked foods with different blessings) around the holiday of  Purim. She’d fill a huge basket with jumbo sized chocolate bars and bags of chips and jumbo sized Mike and Ikes…it was heaven. Likewise, when she turned 21 I gave her a huge bottle of Absolute Vodka with lots of pretty ribbons, we got each other, almost always.

Over the years we kind of lost touch, reconnected for a bit because we lived in the same town as married couples and then had sporadic email correspondence once I moved countries.

As teenagers we would often go to her sister’s house for the weekend to ‘get away’ and we would always be bombarded by her nephews who were real cuties and we always fishy-kissed which would cause them to giggle. It works on my kids today, still. I love watching their faces try to make the fishy lips and when we finally connect – the smiles and giggling are contagious. Someone captured the oldest nephew giving me a fishy kiss at my wedding but it doesn’t look kosher so I’ll leave that one out. Of course, he’s like 20 today so that could embarrass him!

They were 4 sisters and I loved everything about their house. Even though one sister was married with children and not living at home I still felt like a part of their extended family. I was invited to all their affairs and I can still walk their old house in my mind. I can visualize the painted portraits of the girls as children that graced the wall of the dining room, I can remember the smell of the upstairs bathroom, I remember her younger sister coming home from a trip in LA where she saw the pilot show of FRIENDS, I remember hanging out in their pool, lounging on their deck, making tuna sandwiches, watching movies in her basement, everything! We even spent 2 summers in the Catskills together and “studied” abroad for 1/2 a semester. She forced me to get my driver’s licence when I was 20. We’d travel to work together and even once, the car broke down on the highway and we had to go on foot to search for a phone to call for help. She’d drive because I had no license and I’d throw quarters out my window over the top of the car to try to hit the toll booth basket. We made mix tapes and got our nails done. We did everything together!

Life has a funny way though of separating you from your good friends as you choose different paths. While she went back home and studied locally and married one my classmates, I went off to NYC to meet lots of new people, make new connections and branch out of my cocoon. Even though you move on its vital to hold on to old friendships, to remember who you were and how that helped you to become the person you are today.

As we grow older we see certain events though various lenses. While some of my friends have had parents that passed on or they themselves struggle with still finding out who they are and where they fit in, I feel my sensitivities are heightened to their emotional needs. I have always been an emotional person. I cried at Kleenex commercials…the fabric of our lives…and at movies…ET phone home…crying is nothing new to me. It does not embarrass me, I dunno’ maybe it should.

But today I cried, and not because I was at the dentist and she hurt my face, or because the bill for 10 minutes of work/pain was pretty steep but because I found this picture.

There is another fishy kiss picture with my dad that I came across and that made me think of Robyn as well. She just recently lost her father and now that both her parents are gone I feel emotionally overwhelmed for her. I  emailed her my sympathies and we’ve been in contact, but I wish I could just give her a big hug.

We often find solace in, and seek comfort in solid old friendships. I know I feel this way about her even though we never speak on the phone and we are probably really different as adults than we were as kids. It is my hope that my children are creating those bonds as they grow up.

We steer them in the right direction, we bathe them, we dress them, we try to make sure they look presentable so at least they look appealing enough to make friends. Once they are out on their own though, they are…out on their own. I watch my children as their friends come to pick them up for activities or to just hang out and I am pleased. Most of their choices are solid. There is the occasional argument, but that’s normal, especially with girls, and they make up quickly.

I just hope that one day my girl’s will find their Robyn. Someone dependable. Someone trustworthy. Someone they will laugh with so hard they may tinkle their panties (can happen to anyone!). Making this kind of friend is pivotal in your life. If you haven’t already, I say, what are you waiting for? Let the fun begin. You’ll thank me for it. I promise.

Out With The Old, Saying Goodbye to Spring Glenn

Why oh why do we hang on to old stuff? Ratty Beavis and Butthead t-shirt, with shredded neckline? Lipstick of the 80’s that made us look part-robot? High-heeled shoes that were worn once, ‘that’ time when the colors teal and coral were in?

We feel a certain nostalgia and are often clinging to items that remind us of a day gone by. The older we get the quicker our memory goes, well at least those with Alzheimer’s running in our family, and though that sounds like I am trying to be funny, I mean it in the most serious way. There is a part of me that keeps that lipstick in my bathroom drawer, cluttered by a gajillion other items I’ll never use like the this bottle of Tresamme hot oil treatment, yet it remains. It’s absurd, I know. No one ever sees my hair since its mostly covered by head scarves or a wig, and it doesn’t even NEED a hot oil treatment! I have been meaning to purge, to just let it all go.

I simply cannot. I know it will feel good to rid myself of the St. John’s sweatshirt an old boyfriend bought for me, I’ll probably miss it for like a minute and would be able to make room for new, non shredded clothing. Yet I am attached. Not because I loved that guy, far from it, he barely spoke English (no judging), but because it reminds me of ‘that’ time. Up in the mountains, for the summers living a cleaner version of Dirty Dancing, living across the lake in bungalows set far away from the hotel patrons. Those silly youthful nights are remembered every time I take that sweatshirt out, since that is where I met this pretty foreigner, upstate, the second summer.

Those summers were the most outrageous I have ever spent. I totally went out of my comfort zone. True, I went with a best friend and another girl that I was friends with from high-school but we shared these new experiences for the first time, chilling out with kids from New York. They all seemed so much more knowledgeable than me in ways of flirting, hanging out, etc…and were certainly more aggressive than I’d have ever been. It was super-duper fun, all.the.time – besides trying to sleep in the dead heat where you’d sweat from just breathing – but even that was something we joked about later on.

This was the dining-room of the Davidman’s Homowack. Once, a guy I was in love with (not the foreigner) was asked to move someone’s Lexus and he asked me to drive with him! I can still remember the smell of the leather seats. All we had to do was move it from the parking area (featured here in front of the dining room) to the tennis court area right across the street. But we didn’t do that of course, we took a grand tour through the estate. It was 10 minutes of bliss. I smiled for days after. Can we say a collective “loser!”?

This was also the same kid who was trying to impress the group with a roundhouse kick, asked me to stand still, as his leg came around and I got a size 11 sneaker in my eye. Boy was I seeing stars and not the kind with a little cherub floating by either! And again, “looooooser”!

It was a pretty cool hotel as far as I was concerned even if they had not decorated since the 60’s groovy motif. It included a bowling alley, which we used and danced in. There was a game room that we spent way too many hours killing the high scores on the pinball machines and Centipede and Pac-Man. There was an indoor mini golf course, an ice skating rink, and an indoor and outdoor pool. There were rowboats and a lake and a golf course.There were night acts; musicians, singers, magicians, comedians. We even named a kid Scooter *(Muppets reference) because he was the guy in charge of the lights at these shows. Not sure I ever knew his real name. We worked hard but played harder. We went out dancing in the evenings at other hotels that made these “nite clubs” for teens. Anyone who wants a real glimpse can check out THIS link, I was immediately thrown back in time.

I smiled looking through all the old pictures, so many of my memories flashing before me. I was a camp counselor for 2 summers. We were lazy and silly and made lots of trouble. I met some really crazy cats there to which I am proud to say I am still friendly with today and smile when I hear their names. I memorized the words to It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock to impress Sneaker Boy. We’d eat salty french fries doused with ketchup late at night in the Tea Room. I was even given a surprise birthday party in the Pool House which served as a the guy’s sleeping quarters. Our boss, an older women, had a double pierce in one ear which at the time was the fashion, and of course I thought was ludicrous.

Of the many experiences there are some that stand out more than others. We got scared walking over the bridge late at night by cats with glowing eyes, we witnessed a dead deer, we’d watch the huge goldfish swimming in the lake as we paddled by, we played human bowling and it was the first time I ever heard of, and never in my life would try something so ugly, called a cheese roulade that was served as a Saturday Night special. It was the first time I met a transvestite or anyone told my friend -out loud anyways- that she had child-bearing hips, or witnessed a knife fight with ex-cons that were hired as kitchen help.

Memories are funny. The ones that hurt the most are often the ones that stay with us the longest. It is just as important to hold on to the funny, the good, the happy memories of one’s childhood. As parents it’s important to help create happy memories for our children.

When I see my ratty old sweatshirt these thoughts come to mind. These cherished, yet wacky memories. It’s for these reasons I hate to depart from it. It’s for these reasons we hang on to our “junk”. One of these days I’ll chuck it I’m sure, perhaps after I find some of these from Great Adventure.

My College Essay, By: CheriB

As  I mentioned in a previous post, I had no real plans for college after graduation. I was a free spirit (read lazy) and was going to play it by ear. I was going to Israel for a year and I was most interested in having some time off with no pressure to figure things out. I wasn’t even taking the year for credit.

There was a recruiter for college that worked at my seminary; hook, line and sinker baby. I was a prime candidate. She saw me a mile away and was super friendly and asked what my plans for the future were. Um, what plans? She gently offered a direction that I was still not too sure about, college. Isn’t that for kids in the ‘Y’ class? (I was in the ‘X’ class).  See the chart below if necessary.

She convinced me to pop into her office and fill out an application, have a discussion (read interview) and see if I would even get in. Very sneaky, see she posed it as a challenge. I was just dumb enough to believe that. I thought she was just being nice and friendly. So in I went with a friend.

Background: This was my second year of seminary. I completely blew off the first one not taking  tests for credit, not caring about grades.  I was learning about life, man. I even failed a class called ‘Emunah’ which on principle I am opposed to. That’s just not possible, since I’m a believer.  The first year I never lifted a book. I would meet up with friends or basically hang out.    The second year however, most of my friends left the country and so I decided to go with THE.BIGGEST.BOOK.LEFT.BEHIND. Gone with the Wind. My friends all laughed saying I’d never be able to commit. For realz? I was so far in the South that my Rebbe would scream up the stairs begging me to put the book down and return to class after the break. I would beg to finish the paragraph. This book hugely influenced my future.  So much so that on that very day when I started my college application it was all I could think about, getting back to read more.

I was thrilled when I reached the essay question: Name a book that has most influenced your life and why.  I had this in the bag!  I wrote pages comparing my life with that of Scarlett O’Hara!

She and I had been through a war (Okay mine didn’t include any dresses made out of curtains and a love-story, but still)! I wrote and wrote until my hand hurt. I read it over and over and just knew I’d be getting into college. That acceptance letter was golden.

Sure enough I got bored with just hanging out and decided to go back to NY. I did very well and while most of my friends were forced to take English Comp. I and II,  I was exempt. Booyah! Take that- ‘X’ class. Not to discredit my high-school placement system but seriously a little effort on their part may have helped me along the way. What is it with Guidance? Unless someone is seriously troubled, disturbed or violent they don’t reach out to students. I floated by. But NO more!

The second I got off the plane I looked for my mom and begged her to take me to the video store to rent the movie. Suffice it to say I was disappointed for 2 reasons.

  1.  It was TWO tapes!!! Imagine that, 1037 pages could not fit on one tape.
  2. It was in black and white. So archaic.

Margaret Mitchell so eloquently described every scene so vividly that I could almost feel the heat of the fire. I could see the huge plantation when I closed my eyes, so when I watched the video my heart sank a bit. From that day forward I knew I’d love reading. If there is a movie out today, I’d rather watch it before reading the book or it can’t compare at all. It happened with the movie The Firm. Great book, lame movie. However, I had friends that only saw the movie and raved about it! One’s imagination is a gift that keeps on giving and has an endless bounty of fortune. No one can ever take it away. It is priceless and helpful and always available.

My mind, thanks to Margie, had taken me to places that I’d never been. After reading the sequel written by a different but just as expressive author I was all about going to Ireland. I even started reading with a brogue! Little known fact: There are thirty-two Irish accents. I’m fairly certain I used them all together without meaning to! Since then, not only have I loved escaping into worlds beyond my own I have loved learning other languages. I have mastered the art of conversational Pig Latin too. The talent never ends folks.

It is with enthusiasm and voices that I continue to read. My children find me most entertaining. If anyone asked me to date the best book I’ve ever read, it would be hands down Gone With The Wind, but next to that, comes a close second with Henry Winkler’s Niagra Falls Or Does It? It’s the only one of the set so far that we’ve read but I am sure the FONZ will come through for us.

I highly recommend these 2 books. I would even suggest them to the ND book club. I was once a part of one here.  I’m also fairly certain I got kicked out…or they disbanded which would make me feel a lot better about not receiving the group emails anymore. I know there is a new one that’s been formed since.  Somehow I think they are reading more thought provoking material, which I have no time for, clearly.

What the H@*% Was That?

https://cheriblevy.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/scared-little-boy-cartoon-thumb7248295.jpg?w=250Of all the things that are most scary either as a child or an adult, there is at least ONE that will stand out in your life as THE.Scariest.Thing.EVER!

As a child I remember being afraid of the dark, afraid of scary noises in the dark, afraid of scary noises when I was in the house alone, or even now ANY noise while in the house alone seems scary. I heard some beeping the other day and my mind traveled so far off the deep end that I imagined there was a bomb somewhere. It was his laptop. Phew! I am not crazy. I am not crazy.

I was afraid of going to the dentist (because of his nose-hairs~ absolutely valid), of the empty field across the street (that in daylight was perfectly normal as far as empty fields go), I was even afraid of tall people. Now they only intimidate me slightly. I feared jumping from the high diving board, went up once to prove I could do it (dumb sibling peer pressure), belly flopped. Was in pain, like, forever! Amusement park rides were terrifying, they still are. I have memories of being whipped around feeling like my head was going to pop off, or riding the Tilt-A-Wheel just knowing I was going to hurl as soon as it stopped and don’t even get me started on the Merry-Go-Round. That is like begging for a massive headache with a touch of nausea.

I was afraid of daddy long legs, grass hoppers (so unpredictable), spiders, or – basically hairy things in general, on the flip-side, those dogs that look naked are so frightening. I didn’t think I was afraid of dogs until a little yip-yap was chasing me down the block. I was so nervous I threw a plastic cup at it (only thing in pocket), which was pretty stupid to do in my neighborhood because the wind just took it away and yip-yap kept “playing” with me. Then I felt really bad for littering the universe. Finally I yelled at it in Hebrew and ran away, I know I am pathetic, it was small enough to squish with the bottom of my shoe! The only dog I ever loved was not even my own, Tex ( I am fairly certain he bit my mom), it was Bailey. Anyone who lives in my neighborhood knows and loves Bailey. I was afraid of bats – they were in camp…at night, but come on, everyone is afraid of bats. The inside of tomatoes – seriously? Why are they so snotty? Jello, puddings and custard, jiggly food is weird and creepy.

The worst is scary movies. What is WRONG with some people? Why would anyone want to be scared on purpose is beyond me. In college I went with a friend and we took some of our NCSYers to a movie. I think it was SCREAM. Holymoly Guacamole! The entire audience screamed at the same time. I can safely use my Spanish here and say Amigo, yo era tan estúpido which for my non-Spanish speaking friends means, Man I was so stupid. Thanks to my brother and cousins, a family trip in Florida once found me in a room with a shnauzer as we watched A Nightmare on Elm Street. POW! Double Whammie.

But on a serious note, when I studied in Israel post high-school, the Gulf War broke out. It was truly terrifying even though, we made fun and called Saddam Hussein, So Damn Insane. We made Hebrew jokes: What’s Saddam’s favorite snack? SCUDay Marak. But it was scary. We packed up soldiers kits. We taped up windows for the elderly. We ran to the cheder atum (sealed room) when we heard the siren go off at any time day or night. We carried our gas masks whenever we left the school grounds. We would sit for hours in our gas masks until we were told via radio that the coast was clear. This was by far the scariest thing I endured to date. I am most certain I suffered from PTSD. I would jump out of bed when the fire engines would scream through town in the middle of the night in suburban NJ.

I worked on Wall Street when the towers were hit. I was on maternity leave but my husband worked in a downtown government building and was evacuated and walked for blocks to flee the awful events of the day. LIFE IS SCARY. There are dangers all around us. It’s how we handle these situations that separate us from the weak and meek. We each have the ability to overcome our fears by looking them in the face and saying, I’m on to you. We are encouraged early on to be brave. From the first time we are urged to take our baby steps or learn to ride a bike, or as my daughter just experienced need to have blood-work done we are overly praised for a job well done, even if we cried out of sheer fear through it.  In the few minutes it took me to park the car, my daughter and husband had already finished the procedure. She cried and cried and I felt awful for not being there to hold her and calm her. However as we left, the nurses called out asking if I was the mother. I of course responded yes and there were words of praise about how brave she was. As we walked out the door, a complete stranger who also had blood-work taken praised my daughter for being such a big girl.

Even though just yesterday there was a terrorist attack not more that 10 minutes from my home. He was caught, I was not anywhere near home when it happened, but my children were local enough. He was caught and killed thanks to our brave soldiers (to donate click here). I have faith in Hashem that we are being watched. Our soldiers are there all the time.

I was asked often how I could possibly have made aliyah. Life was certain in America. We had jobs, a home, family close by, Costco. Wasn’t I afraid of the unknown, of terrorism, cats and jukim? Yes. Of course I was nervous, but there is a difference between the good and bad kinds of “scary”. I knew that it made sense for us. I was not afraid of those things. I was calm about our decision. I still firmly believe that we made the right decision though it is a difficult one, even if I get stuck in a bathroom with no toilet paper and there are people banging on the door screaming at me and I forget how to say, “I REALLY NEED TOILET PAPER”  in Hebrew. True Story.

Hair Today, Idiot Tomorrow

No one is a REALLY cool freshman. People may tolerate you because you are either really good-looking, rich or an amazing athlete but for the most part? LOSER. I have been known to act impulsively from time to time, then of course regret my quick decision-making almost before it is too late to make a change BUT, I deal with it because I am a lemonade person.

There were the times that when propositioned to stand in the center circle and speak to over 100 of my peers I of course was eager to please and responded with an enthusiastic “yeah, that’s awesome”, but at that moment with hundreds of faces staring at me, my inner voice was screaming, YOU ARE THE BIGGEST IDIOT ON THE PLANET! My face would be pasty white, dry mouth/fuzzy tongue appeared and my heart would race a mile a minute. I was a shy, well liked child. I was not made for public speaking. So people were patient and I usually stood there for a few seconds turning, getting my bearing, psyching myself up. As soon as I started talking though I found my groove and got smiles and cheers afterward. I am fairly certain it is because of this that I was encouraged time and again to agree. It made me bold.

So summer of ’86 I was happy to have been hosting my super cool first cousin from Florida. She was going to be a counselor with me at summer camp and I was so excited. She showed up with a hairdo that I thought looked wicked cool on her and so I decided to mimick the look. While it was certainly unique and style appropriate for the ’80’s, and was super fun to play with I pretty much looked like a fool. While she was tan being from Florida with naturally stick straight hair, I was snow-white, with wavy hair, or what was left of it. I thought I looked cool that whole summer, until I got the bunk photo back. I am seriously surprised that people even talked to me. I made some really close friends that summer too, looking back at the photos, the other kids looked NORMAL. Not me though.

Summer flew by and high school was about to begin. It was then that I realized what an idiot I was. Where was my sense of individuality? Maybe with my cousin next to me we looked okay, but as a freshman, standing there meeting all these new people for the first time with spiked hair like a porcupine?

Freshman Orientation, Dr. Krug played Simon and Garfunkel to teach us some sort of lesson totally lost on me because I was so embarrassed and just wanted to hide at home for about 6 months to see some normal growth. Oh I was a rock, I was an island. I was an IDIOT! We were brought into a large room where we played human bingo (good try but pretty lame – I didn’t learn anything about anyone I had not already known) and then the lights dimmed, thanks were praised to the man upstairs. “Hello Darkness My Old Friend”, the song began…and I connected. For a few minutes no one was looking at me, darkness was my friend. (Being completely honest, no one was probably looking at me before either). I relaxed and thought about ways to cover up my mistake until it would grow out a bit. I thought about the bandanna look, wondered if hats were allowed to be worn at school, and even if maybe Miracle Grow was only for plants. I did love the look while I had it though, thought it was “choice” and used my fair share of gel working those spikes, baby.

No one is a cool freshman, especially with spiked hair. I had my friends, even though we were in different classes, I survived. My brother was a senior and I was pretty much ridiculed. I was the meat in a Freshman Sandwich (bread being 2 seniors, who’d come from behind and squish me). There was a game called Walling Down The Freshman (where the seniors would rush in a straight line and then accordion you to the nearest wall – SQUISH). I was even once thrown in a locker until a friend heard me calling for help. I know what you’re thinking. Cheri is so sweet, why would anyone do that? – Um because I was a freshman with a hairdo meant for dummies.

Why would I cut my hair that way?

I looked so cute in 8th grade, very preppy. I could have entered a really awkward stage not bringing attention to myself, which I was great at. I was the quiet one. My girl friends would sit on my lap, I never ran to the back of the bus, I just wanted to pass through mostly unnoticed. IdiotSpikeDo was not my coolest move by far, in fact it was hellacious, lame and I looked like a total dipstick, but thankfully there are very few pictures, that I know about anyway.

We want to look cool in the eyes of our peers and sometimes act impulsively and foolishly. Being true to yourself will give you all the confidence you’ll ever need. It wasn’t long before my hair started to grow out. It’s not like I was one of the few of my friends who thought having one side shaved and the other side a bob giving this weird lopsided look, and I wasn’t trying to rock a mullet. I wasn’t wearing a pocket protector or braces. I was a freshman. If I could have 1 year to truly be a blundering idiot so this was it  and I was going in full force. Most know about the bathroom story and the principal so I’ll probably leave that one in the vault, but of course it happened that year. My hair eventually grew to a somewhat normal style and my freshman year finally passed. I was tired of being a poser, after that year I was back to my regular self. Sweet, quiet, shy Cheri. I mean, hey, I was still totally boss and kept my collar up you know, after all I had a reputation to preserve, being a preppy at heart. It was time to match my hairdo to my plaid skirts and penny loafers!

notice my collar :)


“I Got The Mott’s”

applesauce cups

When dealing with difficult situations sometimes the best way to handle it is with humor and laughter.

As a child, most of the times, my behavior was deemed inappropriate due to either laughing at myself or getting others to laugh. For example: I was about 5 or 6 years old when my mother received a phone call alerting her that my great grandmother died. Her face was somber and she wouldn’t respond while I asked her repeatedly, Who is it? Who is it? Who is it? Then she whispered, “Bubby died”. And I started laughing. I mean slap your knees, double over in pain kind of laughing. I think even my brother started laughing, you know when it starts to be contagious and there aint no going back until you’ve either wet yourself or you’ve got tears rolling down your face? Obviously it was a nervous reaction because I loved my bubby to pieces. For real. It was totally NOT a funny moment. Well I mean looking back at how we reacted like hyenas is funny. But not laughing at Ida Amrom’s death. Her funeral was actually on my birthday – totally NOT funny. I didn’t really understand what was going on as I got left behind at Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Abe’s house in Brooklyn. But, I do remember getting to watch the black and white TV in their backroom behind the dining room. I loved TV. I loved the commercials the most.

G-d Bless TV commercials. There was this catchphrase I remember repeating over and over again. I never really liked applesauce, not that it mattered since as a  chubby kid snack-time for me usually included baby carrots and an apple and not cool mini applesauce cups. But the commercial had me repeating the line whenever it felt right. Basically I applied it to everything. I even still use it today.

For example:
Husband: Cheri, did you pick up the dry cleaning?
Me: I got the Mott’s

Child #4: (screaming from upstairs while doing her homework) Mommmaaaay!!!!
Me: Huh?
Child #4: Did you get the gluestiiiiiick?
Me: I got the Mott’s
CHILD #4: WHAT DOES THAT MEEEEAAANN? Is that a glue-stick?
Me: Exactly

Child #3: (on the phone) Mommy, don’t forget I need money for the trip.
ME: I got the Mott’s
Child #3: What did you get?
Me: The Mott’s
Child #3: I don’t understand
Me: Because you’re 9
Child: so…?
Me: Sooo, I got the Mott’s
Child #3: Sometimes you can be so weird. I’m hanging up now.

You get it. Eventually they caught on that if I responded to their millions of requests in this fashion it meant all was good.

Other catchphrases that I used over and over to respond to questions with humor instead of honesty usually got me the most looks from my mom that basically said: Oh you just WAIT ’til we get home!

Once,  when a cousin with a hairy mole that I had not seen apparently since I was a baby hugged me in front of my mom and the rest of these family members, made some chubby comment in front of a crowd,  of course I responded, “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” . There it was, the look.

My mom would make these vegetable patties that were legit A.W.F.U.L. and I had a gag reflex even thinking about eating one, so I’d stall and ask her what was in them, like it made a difference. Her response usually went something like: It really doesn’t matter because you’re eating them anyway. My responses would vary between, “Ancient Chinese Secret Eh”? and “Where’s The Beef?” Oh yeah. I got the look. Every time.

Those were certainly classics. Even today though when I see it’s my spouse calling on my cell, I’ll sometimes answer with a healthy, “Whaaaaaazzzzuup?” just to get a giggle. The best is that we can go about 30 seconds of that just going back and forth before we give in and usually hang up without even having a conversation. Or I may just answer the call with, “Dr. Galazkiewicz?” and he immediately gets me and responds, “Yes, I am!”

One of my most favorite lines I ever read was that “laughter is a smile that burst”. Like I said, I wasn’t a funny kid. I was not the one with the witty comeback, in fact I’d come back to my brother a few days after an insult and throw one back at him and it always ended badly. Sorta’ like George Castanza’s “jerk store” comeback. Failing miserably, I found that when I had these one-liners mimicking commercials I felt real satisfaction. Like someone should have been patting me on the back and saying, “there you go kid, you found your thing”.

It is my complete nature to want to make people happy. If there is something I can do, anything I can do, that may cheer someone up I’d try it. I may not be the one to think of it, but by the power of suggestion, bippityboppityboo, I am the girl wearing the clown costume visiting sick kids. True story. I made them cry though…clowning apparently NOT MA THANG. It may be why I don’t love dressing in costume as an adult, gotta’ remember to add that to the list of things I’d ask a therapist when I hit 40.

If I were to be asked nowadays what’s the one phrase I use most often, it would probably be from a homemade commercial for Kix. The kid’s facial expressions are priceless and I often see my 4 yr. old make them as well. As a mom who has a child that is forever finding ways to climb up on something dangerous I hear myself quoting, “superman, get down from there”.

Enjoy:

 

The Skirt of Doom

It’s not good to believe that certain objects have special or unique powers.  Not to put down your rabbit’s foot or voodoo doll, those are OBVIOUSLY working for you.  If we believe that there is a Higher Power at work than these earthly material things are just that. Things, with no power at all. I felt the same way until… the Skirt of Doom.

I was fairly excited to wear the new cream colored velvet skirt that my mother bought for me. I was of course a freshman, going away to a shabbaton in Lakewood, N.J. ,  I think. I was excited on all kinds levels.  I was going to hang out with my friends (at least in this realm I was still sorta’ popular with my crew). I am fairly certain my hair grew out enough to not look like an absolute moron.

We were all sleeping in the main shul, bottom floor of the building in sleeping bags. I was always a slowpoke at putting things away, getting dressed, finding my stuff…you get it so I was hanging around still when a girl I knew asked me for help. She suffered from scoliosis and needed help putting her back brace on. She asked me to tighten here and there and then we went upstairs to the main room for the big circle. This is where I mentioned that sometimes I’d get in the middle there and freak out in front of my friends because I offered to say a few words…but this time it was someone else center circle, PHEW!  So we found seats together. It was fairly quiet and my friend I imagine was feeling ill because she promptly leaned over and threw up ALL OVER MY NEW SKIRT.

Right. Ew.

 I tried to clean it as best I could but well, I still smelled pretty rotten wherever I went. I finally had a chance to run down and change but then all my stuff smelled pretty bad.  My mom had the skirt cleaned and it was almost as good as new.  So, I decided it wasn’t fit to be a shabbos skirt anymore and that it would transition into an everyday skirt.

One morning not too long after that episode I chose to wear it to school. Being from a small community we took a minivan to school and wouldn’t you know it.  As I was climbing the stairs I hear a loud and very understandable riiiiiiip. Yeah. That was me. The girl with her panties showing through possibly the biggest tear of all time. The fabric was shredded. The driver refused to wait for me to run in and change the skirt. I had to wait until I got to school, a 20 minute drive, force everyone off the bus first, and then with one hand grab the pieces together and with  crimson face walk to the main office in the hopes that there was an abundance of safety pins that I could manage to somehow salvage my dignity.  As if.

I swear that this skirt was carrying some negative energy.  I loved it at first. Of course because it was new, and so very soft, there was this appeal, this pull, this need to have it and wear it. Even after the dry cleaning though with its funky chemically smell and slight coarseness, I was still excited to wear this “new” item.  One can only be pushed so far. That noise and realization of the severity mid-step up to the minivan was enough to release me from the magic of it’s powers over me. My mother could not/or would not bring me a new one. I had to walk around that day feeling like  a fool.

I sat at the edge of my seat so as not to bend the material too much and thereby expose my thighs – oh yeah, I spinned the skirt around so I could have some control over what people may or may not have seen at any given time.

I spent a lot of time in the bathroom that day. Oh, and with my head in my locker until the bell rang between periods. The hardest part of this day was surprisingly not the brilliant meneuvering. It was at the end of the day when I had to climb back up the stairs to the minivan. I literally had to rise against adversity. However that day it did not help. You got, pop, POP. riiiip. Ugh.

The Crush That Ruined The SAT’s

SAT’s are Standard Aptitude Tehttp://maidelle.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/sat1.jpgsts for American students mandatory if one is planning on attending any American  college. An American student (almost) never will be taken seriously to any higher learning institution without taking this test. The high school I attended prepped us big time, even since we were freshman we were taking the PPPSAT’s then as sophomores we were taking the PPSAT’s and as juniors we took, you got it, the PSAT’s. We got one more shot for a practice test as seniors but then the real deal. My parents never signed me up for a special study course or bought me an encyclopedic sized SAT for dummies or anything so I was pretty much on my own. What you see is what you get…or more likely not get, since the scores may be too low to go to your elitist university. I had not taken my future too seriously though and I was taking one thing at a time, pretty chill. I was going abroad, so I had a plan. I’d figure it out from there.

I’ll set the scene for you. Woke up, I believe on a Sunday (not even fair to start with, but whatevs…) got dressed, totally bummed at having to waste the day in some shul taking this very long, brain intensive exam that included reading comprehension, math skills and a boatload of vocabulary. Number 2 pencils sharpened and ready. Knuckles cracked. Ready. The ONLY word I remember being on the exam was “wharf”, which had nothing to do with the word ‘dwarf’, much to my surprise. Not that any of it mattered. I had done fairly well on my PSAT’s so I was convinced it was no biggie.

The whole class piled in and sat down 3 to a table. I was in heaven baby. The guy I had a crush on was sitting at my table. Blushanomics 101 here I come, ready to take notes on every blink he makes; Oh Isaac Newton you sneaky peaky,  for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I occasionally listened in school and applied the information where I saw fit. Example: I will stare until he looks my way. When he turns, make it look like I am concentrating, avoid eye contact. Use peripheral vision until the coast is clear. All clear? Continue to stare while blushing and oopsidaisy,  he is staring at me. Now what? Smile so outragiously big your inner voice is calling you “FREAKAZOID”. Nice move. He raised his eyebrows and nodded ever so slightly. Then he shrugged his shoulders. *sigh* Oh well.

Isaac Newton for all those who don’t know was a fairly perceptive dude. He figured out that there were 3 laws of motion. First, there is the law of inertia (big word, I know). Basically it means that if something is sitting idly untouched it will not move unless something makes it move. And the opposite applies, if something is moving, it will continue moving unless something makes it stop. Thanks Newton for making that a ‘Law’.  Example: Due to speeding, I missed the stop sign and finally came to a halt when the sirens, flashing lights, and mega loudspeaker forced me to. If this were NOT the law,  I may not have been ticketed – True story. The second law of motion states that the amount of force you apply to an object will equal the speed of that object with time. Example: When playing punch for punch with my older brother and he punched me REALLY hard, within seconds my whole body flew backwards into the fridge. True story. Which leads me to the third law of motion. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Example, said fridge fight: Brother is happy. Brother hits sister. Sister gets hurt. Mother is angry. Mother hits bother. Brother is punished. Brother is sad. True Story.

If only the SAT’s were that exciting and relatable I may have done better or been more interested in the reading comprehension sections at least. I basically stared at this guy who I thought was dreamy the WHOLE time, but PRETENDING I was busy with my exam until I heard the volunteers voice, “pencils down in 5 minutes”. Zoinks! I basically colored in my scan tron sheet with a snake design A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, and so on. So suffice it to say, I didn’t do so well. But that’s okay because I had no plans for college just yet. I was going to “study” abroad, and was gonna’ figure it out. And clearly I did. -Side Note: Funny story about my essay to get into college – keep posted. I finally grew up and learned to appreciate reading, and eventually remembered to look up the word ‘wharf’. It’s nice to know that I am still friends with dreamy though. It may have taken longer to get where it seemed everyone else was going but after a year of introspection and adventure I was getting to the same place, and I was not so far behind. That’s the funny thing about life sometimes. Us earthly beings have this thing about time. We are completely hung up on it, live by it, organize our entire day based on it, need it in order to succeed. But we know G-d is timeless and is not bound by time.

“Pencils down”. When you’re time is up it’s up. Make the most out of each experience by taking that experience and finding the value in it. Every action taken has worth. BUT it’s a bargain, you could get stuck with the opposite reaction. I am happy to have ‘wasted’ my time staring at dreamy. I was not ready to make life changing decisions, (well, that was fairly obvious huh?) I wanted to coast another year,  it was my spiritual year, I was acting G-d-like, not bound by time. My parents were cool with that, after all it was the cheaper alternative. When I finally made it to college I was ready. I was mature enough to be bound by time, and I did a pretty decent job and had a blast along the way. Getting there is a post waiting to be written but it’s a hoot. Keep posted kids, it’s a great story.

Hair Today, Idiot Tomorrow

No one is a REALLY cool freshman. People may tolerate you because you are either really good-looking, rich or an amazing athlete but for the most part? LOSER. I have been known to act impulsively from time to time, then of course regret my quick decision-making almost before it is too late to make a change BUT, I deal with it because I am a lemonade person.

There were the times that when propositioned to stand in the center circle and speak to over 100 of my peers I of course was eager to please and responded with an enthusiastic “yeah, that’s awesome”, but at that moment with hundreds of faces staring at me, my inner voice was screaming, YOU ARE THE BIGGEST IDIOT ON THE PLANET! My face would be pasty white, dry mouth/fuzzy tongue appeared and my heart would race a mile a minute. I was a shy, well liked child. I was not made for public speaking. So people were patient and I usually stood there for a few seconds turning, getting my bearing, psyching myself up. As soon as I started talking though I found my groove and got smiles and cheers afterward. I am fairly certain it is because of this that I was encouraged time and again to agree. It made me bold.

So summer of ’86 I was happy to have been hosting my super cool first cousin from Florida. She was going to be a counselor with me at summer camp and I was so excited. She showed up with a hairdo that I thought looked wicked cool on her and so I decided to mimick the look. While it was certainly unique and style appropriate for the ’80’s, and was super fun to play with I pretty much looked like a fool. While she was tan being from Florida with naturally stick straight hair, I was snow-white, with wavy hair, or what was left of it. I thought I looked cool that whole summer, until I got the bunk photo back. I am seriously surprised that people even talked to me. I made some really close friends that summer too, looking back at the photos, the other kids looked NORMAL. Not me though.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hji.co.uk/hjimages/images/qhs1648/hji/medium/1987-spiked-blonde.jpg

Summer flew by and high school was about to begin. It was then that I realized what an idiot I was. Where was my sense of individuality? Maybe with my cousin next to me we looked okay, but as a freshman, standing there meeting all these new people for the first time with spiked hair like a porcupine?

Freshman Orientation, Dr. Krug played Simon and Garfunkel to teach us some sort of lesson totally lost on me because I was so embarrassed and just wanted to hide at home for about 6 months to see some normal growth. Oh I was a rock, I was an island. I was an IDIOT! We were brought into a large room where we played human bingo (good try but pretty lame – I didn’t learn anything about anyone I had not already known) and then the lights dimmed, thanks were praised to the man upstairs. “Hello Darkness My Old Friend”, the song began…and I connected. For a few minutes no one was looking at me, darkness was my friend. (Being completely honest, no one was probably looking at me before either). I relaxed and thought about ways to cover up my mistake until it would grow out a bit. I thought about the bandanna look, wondered if hats were allowed to be worn at school, and even if maybe Miracle Grow was only for plants. I did love the look while I had it though, thought it was “choice” and used my fair share of gel working those spikes, baby.

No one is a cool freshman, especially with spiked hair. I had my friends, even though we were in different classes, I survived. My brother was a senior and I was pretty much ridiculed. I was the meat in a Freshman Sandwich (bread being 2 seniors, who’d come from behind and squish me). There was a game called Walling Down The Freshman (where the seniors would rush in a straight line and then accordion you to the nearest wall – SQUISH). I was even once thrown in a locker until a friend heard me calling for help. I know what you’re thinking. Cheri is so sweet, why would anyone do that? – Um because I was a freshman with a hairdo meant for dummies.

Why would I cut my hair that way?

I looked so cute in 8th grade, very preppy. I could have entered a really awkward stage not bringing attention to myself, which I was great at. I was the quiet one. My girl friends would sit on my lap, I never ran to the back of the bus, I just wanted to pass through mostly unnoticed. IdiotSpikeDo was not my coolest move by far, in fact it was hellacious, lame and I looked like a total dipstick, but thankfully there are very few pictures, that I know about anyway.

We want to look cool in the eyes of our peers and sometimes act impulsively and foolishly. Being true to yourself will give you all the confidence you’ll ever need. It wasn’t long before my hair started to grow out. It’s not like I was one of the few of my friends who thought having one side shaved and the other side a bob giving this weird lopsided look, and I wasn’t trying to rock a mullet. I wasn’t wearing a pocket protector or braces. I was a freshman. If I could have 1 year to truly be a blundering idiot so this was it  and I was going in full force. Most know about the bathroom story and the principal so I’ll probably leave that one in the vault, but of course it happened that year. My hair eventually grew to a somewhat normal style and my freshman year finally passed. I was tired of being a poser, after that year I was back to my regular self. Sweet, quiet, shy Cheri. I mean, hey, I was still totally boss and kept my collar up you know, after all I had a reputation to preserve, being a preppy at heart. It was time to match my hairdo to my plaid skirts and penny loafers!

notice my collar :)