first day of school

Well friends, summer is coming to an end, and so is my month-long blog vacation. (I like to imagine the blog on a literal vacation. Went on a little blog cruise, ate way too much blog buffet, then one night at the karaoke bar, met a nice little blog from Phoenix and had itself a fling…so much long-distance commenting now. It’s sweet; they’re trying to make it work…)

There’s no excuse that good. I’ve just been disconnected. And I’ve let this group challenge slip. Hard. But the latest group question (mine, incidentally) feels appropriate for this week:

:::  Since this is the season of bouquets of sharpened pencils (You’ve Got Mail, obv), tell about a favorite school supply memory. This could be “I always loved markers!” or a specific anecdote about a particular item you remember (which, for me, might be my Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. pink. cats on it. the best.)

There was no question mark involved in there, I know. But…you get it.  :::

So… to answer my own question: I think 4th grade was the year when we were first allowed to have Trapper Keepers. (That’s right, because I once inhabited a universe in which one was not allowed to have a Trapper Keeper. The 90s. A simpler time.) A lot of elementary school is a blur now, but I do remember the excitement of brand new school supplies. Roaming the bright and shiny aisles of Wal-Mart, official supply list in hand, I was free to decide what kind of person I wanted to be that year. I had a lot on my mind: When am I too old for kitten photo folders? Am I still a Tweety Bird person? Or is this more a Magic Eye kind of year?

Big decisions.

But when it came to my first Trapper Keeper, there was no contest y’all. (Ladies, I think you feel me…) It had to be Lisa Frank.

And this Trapper Keeper, you guys. It was everything a nerdy girl could want. Bright pink, happy kitties (of course), and ample space to store all my folders and doodles. Bellissimo.

I still feel like smiling when it’s school supply season in the land of retail. Few things in life hold the simple promise of a brand new 8-count box of Crayola markers…

Yesterday was the first day of school in Springfield. And tomorrow is move-in day at ol’ Drury U. My first day of college was 10 years ago. Let’s digest that for a second.

♥ The first of just so many roomie photos ♥

It was a muggy, rainy August day in Springfield — not unlike today. Perfectly imperfect for hauling boxes of belongings up two flights of stairs in already under-air-conditioned conditions. I had a lot on my mind: What happens if my computer gets wet? Will my hair withstand the humidity? Am I still a Spongebob person?

And I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing. Just none. But at least my cluelessness was carefully organized. Orientation and freshman seminar classes and a campus full of peers all figuring themselves out, too. Sweet, sweet institutions of higher learning…move-in day to graduation, it’s clear where the whole thing is headed. (Even if it isn’t so clear where exactly you are headed…majoring in English and creative writing just because you want to follow your dreams, for example…)

Back to school. August-to-May. That’s how I measured my life for 17 years.

In adult life, beginnings and endings are rarely so clearly defined. And even when they are, nobody gives you a supply list for, say, ending a relationship or starting a new life plan. (But if they did, curiously some items would remain the same: kleenex, snacks, something to write with, and, of course, new shoes.)

Declaration of Independence

(Some clichés are too good to resist…It’s a holiday. Let me indulge.)

We’ve started a new Blog Challenge (again), and this one seems more manageable. Each week, one of us will ask a new question. This week Whitney inquired:

What did you accomplish in the last year?

I actually want to focus on something I was not so great at, which I would like to improve in the coming year. (Which is year #29. Let’s not talk about it…)
Yes, I am being Michael Scott in a job interview:
What are your strengths? / Lemme tell you about my weaknesses… 

I did accomplish some pretty baller things last year (birthday-to-birthday):

Participated in a surprise group dance number at a friend’s wedding reception (life list goal accomplished).

Started learning accordion, which is as awesome as it sounds.

Got runner-up in a national writing contest. (A one-liner writing contest. We’re starting small… but I got a free book! And my name on a website!)

Fit into pants I wore in high school (sweet red plaid Abercrombie situation circa 2001. For sure).

Went to Memphis to see my best friend from college marry the boy I introduced her to. (A long time ago. They get all the credit for the nuptials.) Still, “happiest day” doesn’t begin to describe.

Also saw Graceland. TCB.

Started writing for a TV show. Jokes that I wrote have gotten laughs on TV! For real, you guys! (The Mystery Hour, Saturdays @ 11 on KOZL. Check it, local peeps!)

Had a great relationship, lost a great relationship.

And now here we are. That catches you up to Sunday. And it’s that final one that gets me thinking about next year. As does the current message on my kitchen door chalkboard:

In case my cursive is bothersome, or the image doesn’t show up, it’s this:

You yourself, as much as anyone in the universe,
deserve your love and affection. –Buddha

(And the subtitle scrawled above, by Buddha’s bitter and less-famous cousin: AND NOBODY ELSE WANTS IT ANYWAY. har har.)

This. THIS. If I can internalize and put into practice one thing this birthday year…I think this mantra could save me a world of trouble. Perfectionism, conflict, jealousy, procrastination, burn-out, blow-ups, etc…. So many problems in my life get worse when I forget to take care of myself first. (That’s true for everybody, I think. Women in particular.)

There’s rarely just one thing (or one person) to blame when a relationship stops working, but I know one thing for sure: It’s in my disposition to put all my happiness eggs in a significant other’s basket. And that works for a while, because he’s happy that I’m making him happy, and I’m happy to be making him happy. But then, after a while, I don’t have enough happiness eggs left for myself. And then he wonders why I’m too sad to make omelets. And so he leaves.

(Oversimplified egg analogy…but not terribly inaccurate. There’s also some sort of “chicken” comparison in there, but I won’t make it.)

So that’s my goal for year 29: Take better care of my eggs. (or something)

Meaning, love myself first. Buddha knew it. Oprah knows it. Momma’s going to learn it. Then, omelets for everybody!

New Blog Challenge! :: Images

More details to come, but for now I’ll just leave this here…
(Don’t you love a good mystery???)

Max Ernst "The Kiss" (1927)

 [ Image source & painting info on Guggeheim.org ]
I suggest you read up, especially if you’re into “exuberant lasciviousness”…

This was one of my favorite paintings at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection* in Venice. It’s just so striking and strange. Haunting but also happy. Feels a little incomplete. And that BLUE! Couldn’t you just swim in it?

Take it away, blog challengers!

Everyone else: you’re certainly invited to be inspired, too. What do you think?

*I’ve waxed gaga over this place a handful of times before. (At least once during ABC Challenge.) Let’s all go to there…