Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Remembering the good

I never got my senior yearbook.

It was something like $65 at the time. And I thought that was astronomical. It kind of was.

I didn't like asking my parents for money with the whole impending college thing, and I had a $6.85/hour job but spent all of my money on chipotle and gasoline. Gas was $4/gallon at the time and I drove a Jeep Wrangler for the better part of my senior year, which just guzzled the guzz out of it.

I was pretty involved in high school. Choir, cabinet, TI, theatre. I worked with the superintendent on a huge presentation. I was voted Most Outgoing. I should have cared, but I just didn't then.

I'm sure I rationalized not getting one in some way or another — maybe I'd just eventually marry my senior crush and we could share.

At the time, I think I wanted to just get out of there.

As it turns out, I am not marrying my senior crush. (For the record, thank Jesus.)

And so, a half-inch size slot on my bookshelf remained empty.

But nearly a decade later, the fact that I never had it made me really sad. I'd never even seen the thing. And as people from my school started living their stories — some really tough, others deeply beautiful — I realized the longer I waited to track it down, the harder it'd be to ever see it.

I emailed my wonderful guidance counselor who sifted through storage and tracked it down for me. It was nice to catch up with him, and see that he's still there doing great things. He even shipped it to my house. (Sidenote: Who knew all I had to do was wait seven years and I'd get it for free.)

I found the book on my doorstep a few days later.

Naturally, the first thing you do is look for yourself, so I opened it and went to my photo.

I looked like hell.

A memory came back that they'd decided you had to use their in-school photographer instead of everybody's senior portraits, and so I'd actually never seen my photo. I was in that awful greenish stage between dying my hair brown and fixing it back to its natural blonde. And I hadn't quite figured out what to do with my cowlick.

I flipped to the choir page. Buncha sophomores.

Went to the cabinet page. I'd missed the meeting on picture day.

Turned to the big panorama of my entire class, thinking I don't remember all crowding into the gym to take a senior photo. That's because I wasn't there that day.

Was this a conspiracy?

As I kept flipping, I was reminded about how much I'd grown since then. How much my heart had grown. And I was really, truly proud of the pages that I did appear on. Speaking about character to underclassmen at a Teen Institute retreat. Working on Verve, our student magazine, where I first discovered my passion for storytelling.

It was as if the universe wanted me to remember the good stuff, and forget the bad.

I smiled.

I flipped through class photos and pointed out people to my fiancé. My best friends Lucas and Maddie, of course. But also people who surprised me.

"She was in choir with me. Made me laugh so hard every day."

"He was an amazing artist. Brilliant designer."

"Some of my favorite conversations happened with her in AP Calculus."

I wanted him to know about these people — these incredible people — the ones who've made lasting imprints on my heart, even though I hadn't talked to them in years.

The little things — the day-to-day things. The little, positive bites of memory are the things I end up cherishing the most.

This is the only photo I could find from HS journalism class. Notice giant 'Yearbooks for Sale' sign above my head. I had no excuse.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A story about poop

Those who know me know there is nothing that gets my blood boiling more than litter.

"Oh, no, she's said the word ... here we go guys." - those who know me.

It's not just the very act of littering, which, of course, is an effing horrible thing to do — you know, the whole completely disregarding the planet and the wildlife who live in it thing.

It's the people who have the nerve to litter that really rankle me.

What I hate most is this: the mentality that throwing a piece of trash somewhere is actually an acceptable behavior.

Because what kind of mentality must you have to not only overlook the environmental damage you're making, but even just to blatantly shirk the general landscape of the place that you live. And to think that your tiny contribution to a bush's litter-to-leaf ratio would not add up to a greater, larger, more devastating, ecosystem-ruining and human-life-as-we-know-it-ending problem is pure self-regard.

And it's not just this one thing, littering, in a person's psyche that makes them do that. In fact, I believe littering is just a symptom of a more horrible psychological problem — one psychologists like to refer to as narcissism. It's a problem that plagues this nation, and it's this tragedy of the commons that makes driving on I-70 through Frackville, Ohio such a goddamn miserable experience.

To think that if you're finished with an item the best place it should travel next is in some bushes on the side of the road willy nilly, my god.

What kind of people litter? The answer is garbage. Garbage people.

So that not-bitter litter rant brings me to my poop story.

On my dog, Pete, and my usual walk this morning, we waited for a woman in a mini van to pull out of her driveway as she blocked the sidewalk waiting on traffic. (Don't worry guys, I waved her ahead and she waved back in appreciation. She's not the bad guy in this story.)

Pete clearly hadn't seen my little hand conversation with this nice woman, because he was very impatient, pulling from side to side as the 10 pounds I had on him worked its booty off to keep him in check.

She pulled away and we proceeded.

Then Pete pooped in her yard.

Almost as if to spitefully say, "I'll show you, slow van." (Of course not to say that. After all, he's a dog. Not a cat.)

Shit, I thought.

Not cuz he was, but because I'd forgotten the cute little plastic bone that goes on the end of his leash and is filled with little green biodegradable bags so I can be a good neighbor and also not leave crap around the world like I so passionately loathe. (Sidenote: Leaving poop in the woods or in a bunch of bushes is completely different than a 16 oz. styrofoam MegaFreeze cup on the side of the highway because fertilizer, biodegradation, etc.)

I felt horrible.

There it was.

Pete's steaming pile of stink.

Staring at me.

I looked around.

The giant dog at the end of his leash tugged on my wrist.

I'll finish the walk and put Pete in, then return with a bag and dispose of the waste, I thought.

We continued our walk.

We got closer to the baseball fields just down the street, a park where I usually let Pete sniff and pee.

We approached some bushes I have to pull Pete away from on a daily basis. They're filled with giant burrs that stick to his cotton-ball furr like bubble gum, and apparently they have the best smells.

I started to tug to keep him out of the bush. Until I saw it. Sitting right on top of the sticklers, practically floating with an angelic glow behind it. The voice of monks singing praises. There it was. A perfectly intact plastic bag.

I grabbed it with only the kind of joy a child feels when Santa brings exactly what she'd always wanted. I dusted it off. I held it high above my head.

Not today Garbage People.

Not. Today.