September 1, 2011

who needs a degree when you're schoolin' life

September now and it's 94°F! Reminds me of the years when I would plan (what I believed to be) a bangin' first-day-of-school outfit—e.g., sweater vest, skirt, and knee socks (prep school look) or wide-leg jeans, Bewitched T-shirt from Piranha Alley, and my dad's Pendleton flannel (skater/retro/grunge/ill-fitting look)—only to have the First Day roll around and it be super humid and hot hot hot. Some years I'd sweat it out, since first-day-of-school outfits reflect lots of careful shopping and flipping through magazines and coordinating and conferring—a curatorial exercise that, for my friends and me, filled up at least a couple weeks in August.

"So what are you wearing?"
"What are you wearing?"
"I asked you first."
"I haven't decided yet, but it's gonna be WILD."

Other years, when comfort trumped style, I'd spend the first week of school sporting pedestrian summer wear—souvenir tees (Myrtle Beach, SC; Mackinac Island) and shorts—and count down the days til I could rock wool sweaters and skirts and sweater vests. No one told me back then about "transitioning my wardrobe." It was strictly summer style or fall.


Some people say they're "school people," others not. I'm in the former camp. I need mentors and advisers to look up to, discussion to reinforce anything learned, deadlines to get anything done. It has been a while since I went back to school, and every year in September I miss it: that who's-gonna-be-in-my-homeroom anticipation, that better-be-my-best-friend-and-my-crush semi-panic. I miss a new locker and new locker combo, blank notebooks, mechanical pencils, my protractor (so awesome, so seldom used), fresh kicks, fresh starts...

Goes without saying, but in adulthood, outside of academia, we have to initiate fresh starts on our own. Fortunately, they don't have to coincide with any particular month or semester or season of the year. But starts of the "fresh" variety require effort and accountability, not just an eye toward progress but action...stuff that's built right into the school model—stuff I often lack out here beyond the schoolyard and syllabus-less.

I'd like to have new folders and a new schedule and a head-turning new outfit, but what I'd really like is for a teacher to shoo me to class.

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