For anyone who’s not familiar with #tbt, it’s an Instagram hashtag that means Throwback Thursday. But Tuesday starts with a ‘T’ as well so I’m going to capitalize on that technicality and post an old picture today. Well, the photo itself isn’t old, but the subject is. This is my little Samsonite suitcase that I bought back in 1997 to take to Europe. It’s not readily identifiable as a Samsonite anymore because the badge got ripped off on one trip or another in the last couple of years so you’ll just have to trust me on the brand. I remember going into JC Penny to buy this little guy before I went to Europe. I needed something with wheels for mobility, but small enough (it’s a carry on size) that I could easily carry myself when necessary. And I got a green suitcase because I wanted it to stand out a little from the sea of black you usually see on baggage claim turnstiles. See those pink and yellow neon ties on the side handle were? They were added so that we could easily recognize all of the suitcases from our large group at every airport (London, Munich, and Amsterdam). I can’t believe those ties have stayed on for nearly seventeen years! I also can’t believe I fit three weeks worth of stuff into that little green suitcase. I took this picture on my way home from a business trip last August because I thought it might be my last trip with that suitcase and I wanted something to remember it by. Not that I have any reason to replace it at the moment, but I don’t think it will be too long before I do. Thanks for all your years of faithful service, my trusty Samsonite!

I’m in Wikipedia!

OK not really, but kinda. I don’t remember what I was searching for yesterday, but I ran across the the Wikipedia page of René Clausen, the conductor of the 1997 Florida All-State Chorus that I was a part of. Here’s the excerpt that I was most intrested in:

The Salutation of the Dawn: The lyrics of this piece were taken from the Sanskrit poem, “The Salutation of the Dawn.” It was first performed by Florida All State Chorus in 1997 and was never performed again until 2009 when it was revived by the Maryland All State Chorus directed by Drew Collins.

So in a roundabout way I’m in Wikipedia!

Random photos #1 – High school flashbacks

My Lincoln High School academic letter. I took this picture when I was in Tallahassee in December, cleaning out a bunch of stuff in my childhood bedroom. I got the letter itself in ninth grade and then got the three little lamp pins indicating I maintained the same level of academic “excellence” in tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. I was very proud of that. The other pins I got from National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and chorus (both regular choruses and ensembles). Put together this paints a pretty good picture of my high school experience in a one square foot area!

It all started with these immortal words, “If it has green legs, then it is a Figgy.” Our geometry practice book for Mu Alpha Theta was trying to teach us about conditional statements, but my friends and I latched onto the concept of Figgys and never let go. I believe the name of the figurine in this photo was Marta (I had another one named Mikki who was lost in tenth grade) and she was indeed a Figgy because she had green legs. I obtained her on a trip where I stayed in a Choice hotel (hence the word “Choiceasaurus” on her side), but I can’t remember where. Marta was one of our many Mu Alpha Theta good luck charms and she was with me at every math competition during my high school years.

Bananas in Pajamas

At the Mu Alpha Theta National Convention in 1996 I was in between my junior and senior years of high school and competing in the pre-calculus division. In the past I had been in the upper echelon of students in my division, but that year I knew I was facing a lot of stiff competition from my own school alone, forget the rest of the country! With that in mind I didn’t have any lofty expectations for winning awards that year. This is why it came as a huge surprise when I earned the fourth highest score on my division’s individual test, and therefore a spot on my school’s pre-calculus team. I proudly took my place on the team although I was a bit skeptical about my ability to contribute when the other three team members where way out of my league math-wise. To be honest, I don’t remember how helpful I was to them during the team competition, but one thing that happened I’ll never forget. One of my teammates, Dan (not my husband), had a Bananas in Pajamas doll with us for good luck. We always had several talismans with us during competitions, but that’s a subject for another post. The four of us were able to answer one of the team questions much faster than anyone else so we turned in our slip of paper very quickly and had a mini celebration right there at our table. The competition was being held in a gymnasium on the UCF campus and the place was filled with pre-calculus teams from all over the country frantically scribbling away, trying to answer the question at hand. It was absolutely silent in there. I don’t know exactly how it happened – the Bananas in Pajamas doll was either dropped or kicked – but suddenly it started singing, “Bananas in Pajamas are coming down the stairs! Bananas in Pajamas are coming down in pairs!” It was so loud in that gym! Dan frantically tried to shut it off, his face getting redder and redder, while the other three team members (me included) stared at him wide-eyed. When the banana finally stopped singing we all started laughing hysterically – as quietly as possible, of course. It was absolutely hilarious. It still makes me smile. I don’t remember how well we did in that competition, but I’ll never forget the Bananas in Pajamas incident.

Summer 1996

This photo was taken a little more than fifteen years ago. It was 1996 and I was about to start my senior year of high school. In June my family had adopted two adorable kittens, Bob and Tom, and we spent that entire summer watching them do cute things. We were so in love with them that at first we didn’t even notice their abnormal tails! (Fairly common birth defects, according to the vet.) The fact that they were the last two in their litter to be adopted should have tipped us off, but nothing could convince us they weren’t perfect. The dynamic duo was part of our family for more than eleven years until we lost Tom to kidney failure in January 2008. Bob has been an only cat (and loving it) since then, but the way it looks right now he won’t be with us much longer. He got very sick on Monday and had surgery last night to remove a potential abdominal blockage, but the vet couldn’t find anything. The prognosis is not good. It’s been more than fifteen years since that roly-poly black and white cat came into our lives and it’s sad to imagine a world without him. Even though I haven’t lived at home much since I was eighteen, Bob still talked to me on the phone just about every time I called my parents. Hearing him meow or purr always made me smile. We all love you, Bob, and we want the best for you. I’m praying that you pull through this.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday 7/13/11

Camp For All Seasons Cadette/Senior Aides and Junior Counselors 1994

Camp For All Seasons Cadette/Senior Aides and Junior Counselors 1995

P.S. I plead the Fifth when it comes to the picture from 1993. It’s absolutely hideous so there’s no way I’m going to post it here. I look fairly decent in the 1994 photo, which is amazing considering our showers usually consisted of hosing ourselves off on the pool deck after night swim. My hair is looking a bit dirty in the 1995 picture, but it’s those awful oversized striped shirts that draw all the attention. My eyes!

Camp For All Seasons

Camp For All Seasons (CFAS) is the Girl Scout camp just outside of Tallahassee and it’s a place that I’m very familiar with it. Not only did I camp there with my Girl Scout troop (Appalachee Bend Troop 258 from 1985-1996) quite often when I was growing up, but I spent time there three summers in a row as part of the staff between the ages of 14 and 16. I wasn’t old enough to be a full fledged counselor (they were usually college students) so instead I worked as a CSA for the first two years and a junior counselor for the last one. CSA officially stood for “Cadette/Senior Aide,” but considering how the counselors ordered us around, we called it “Camp Slave Association” instead. We were paid almost nothing for our efforts – I think I got $35 per week when I was 15 – but it was a lot of fun. I worked at the pool and the lake, and even though I wasn’t old enough be an official lifeguard, I performed all of the same duties. I also taught swimming lessons, taught canoeing, and pretty much did anything the real lifeguards told me to. This included things like cleaning the pool before breakfast, putting kickboards away, helping the campers with their swimming caps, administering eardrops, making sure the campers showered after getting out of the pool, cleaning the bathroom, etc. Definitely “Camp Slave Association.” I loved working at Camp For All Seasons, though.

The purpose of this post isn’t to describe my high school summer job, though, but to relate a funny story from my first year at camp. In case you weren’t already aware, summers are hot in North Florida. Brutally hot even, but there were only four air conditioned areas at CFAS when I was working there – the infirmary, the director’s office, the counselor’s cabin where they spent their days off, and the CSA lounge. The CSA lounge was one of four rooms in the loft of the main lodge and it had an air conditioner in the window, which made it our favorite place to hang out when we had any free time. As an aquatic aide I stayed in another one of the rooms in the loft (the proximity to the kitchen was great), but we weren’t allowed to run the A/C in the CSA lounge next door at night or we definitely would have slept in there. We CSAs and junior counselors were usually given some time off from our duties after dinner so we would all gather in the lounge and gossip. What else did you expect from a bunch of teenage girls? But sometimes we were too tired to talk and we fell asleep instead. We worked from 7 AM to 10 PM every day – our jobs were really demanding! I remember one particular day, probably near the end of the week when we were all exhausted, picking my head up off the floor in the CSA lounge where I had dozed off and seeing about twenty other girls all fast asleep. Some on chairs, some on the couch, and the rest on the floor, like me. I smiled, put my head back down, and went back to sleep. I was going to enjoy every minute of that nap in the glorious air conditioning. Even eighteen years later I remember that moment very vividly. I think it was the camaraderie I felt with my fellow CSAs combined with the knowledge that I was escaping the oppressive summer heat that made it so memorable. I wish had a photo of us all sleeping in that lounge. I’ll bet it would be hilarious!

P.S. I scanned some photos from CFAS a while back, but then my laptop started acting up and now I can’t find them. I’ll scan them again tomorrow and post them for Wordless Wednesday.

Florida Writes

Anyone who went to middle school or high school in Florida probably remembers the Florida Writes test we had to take in both eighth and tenth grades. I had quite a few teachers tell me I was a good writer when I was in school, but I never thought much about it since math and science were by far my favorite subjects. However, when I got a 5.5 out of 6.0 (in increments of 0.5) on my Florida Writes test in eighth grade I was surprised and proud. It made me think that my teachers weren’t just being nice when they praised my writing skills! But even though my test score was just 0.5 points away from a perfect score (and I was one of only two eighth graders who had received it) it wasn’t high enough to deserve recognition at the Cobb Middle School year-end awards ceremony. I remember a girl named Julia who earned a 6.0 on the test got a certificate and I was extremely jealous. So when Florida Writes rolled around again in tenth grade I was determined to improve my results. I have absolutely no memory of what the topic of the test was or what I wrote about. I don’t even remember how confident I was that I would get my coveted perfect score when it was over. I guess I completely forgot about the test for a long time (it took forever for them to be graded), but the day we got our scores back was pretty funny. I remember sitting in Mrs. Gaskin’s English class one day, socializing before the bell rang, when my friend Gabe walked over to my desk, gave me an evil glare, and said, “I hate you.” With no further explanation he walked away and sat down at his desk. I was completely bewildered. Thinking back on it, Gabe probably had more than one reason to hate me at any given time, but I had no idea why he decided to articulate the emotion at that particular moment. Then it all became clear. During class that day Mrs. Gaskin revealed our Florida Writes scores and I was thrilled to learn that I had achieved the perfect 6.0 score that I had wanted so badly. Gabe wasn’t so happy. Turns out he had seen the results on our teacher’s desk before class and he wasn’t at all pleased that my score was higher than his (though I have no idea what his was). Sixteen years later his reaction still makes me laugh. Gabe and I were very competitive in other subjects, but I never would have thought he could hate me because of Florida Writes!