This weekend Keith and I attended my 40th high school reunion in Houston. What a hoot!
Fajitas almost as good as Keith’s
Loved seeing my yearbook near the door. Being yearbook editor taught me invaluable life lessons. Plus it was just fun.
My friend Ted and I were Madison’s “Gemco Debate Representatives” in 1974, arguing the heck out of students across HISD. I took the third place $500 cash prize – an enormous help with college costs. I think tuition at the University of Houston was then $9/hour.
Ted – a long-time State Department guy in Washington D.C. – and I now. Both of our hairdos are a lot shorter. Mine is also a lot grayer.
Patti and I were best buds, often playing tennis at ungodly hours because that was the only time available to each of us. I doubt she pictured herself in the legal world for umpteen years, and I know I never pictured myself with AT&T for 35 years. But you know what? We’re both happy.
Four Things I’m Glad I Learned in High School
1. How to organize – thanks to working on the yearbook. Yearbooks before ours had lost money. I was determined ours would end in the black – which it did, by a whole $50. But we did that by meeting all our publishing deadlines. I will always be grateful to my favorite teacher of all time, sponsor Marilyn Dodd.
2. How to “cut it by 10%.“ Mrs. Spain – our senior honors English teacher – routinely collected essay assignments, flipped through them, handed them back and instructed each of us to “cut it by 10%.” She then compared each version to ensure we included the same ideas/points. At first I bristled. Then it got to be a challenge. Finally – a talent which served me well in employee information development, headline creation, quick tweets, etc.
3. How to disagree respectfully. I’ve never liked reading Shakespeare, but, of course, there’s no opting-out of the Bard in high school. We had to read “Hamlet,” and I tried desperately to write the required lengthy essay by parroting all the things I thought Mrs. Spain wanted me to say. All those “deeper meanings” and the like. Kill. Me. Finally I just stopped and really thought about it. “If a guy came up to me and started yacking about his father the ghost and his mother the tramp and abandoning his pregnant girlfriend and treating his best friend like dirt, I would think he was a selfish nut job.” So that was the angle of my paper – Hamlet was a self-centered whackmole. I got one of two A’s in the class, but mine was the only paper that strayed from the traditional view. Debate class and intramural debate also helped tremendously. I didn’t always like arguing “the other side” – but I could do it then, and can usually see it now (even if I don’t agree.) BTW – Get in my face or ignore me, and I can argue very disrespectfully, too.
4. Images matter. Or that picture really is worth 1k words. Our yearbook photos were less-than-stellar. Really ate at me. A year later – when the chance came up to learn to use the nice 35mm SLR Vivitar belonging to the owner of Remco TV Rental – I jumped at it. Learning to take good pictures has helped me personally and professionally. (So why did I forget my camera the night of the reunion and have to use my iPhone?!)
Four Things I Wish I’d Learned in High School
1. Start saving. I’ve always been fairly thrifty, but I’ve wasted a lot of money, too, that I wish I had now.
2. Read more and more broadly. I read a lot in high school, but it was almost all World War II and Civil War history. I didn’t appreciate an engrossing novel until early in college, when my sister Judy and my mom were trading sackfuls of Nero Wolfe mysteries and I picked one up as a lark.
3. More of the “why” as well as the “what.” I temporarily memorized buckets of European history dates but even now am uncomfortable fitting them into timelines of modern day events i.e., why do they matter? I don’t doubt they do matter, but I can’t explain them. I’d rather know the “why” and look up the date. Ditto hydrogen orbitals which I can dutifully chant – 1S1, 2S2. 3P6….but what do they mean? I might have done better in college calculus if I’d ever understand why I wanted to measure the area under a curve.
4. Stop and have some fun. My workaholic tendencies have not always served me well. I don’t care about football, but wish I’d gone to more than one game just to be with my friends. Money was tight, but I could have gone to a few more movies just to hang out.
Four Things I Do Miss from High School
1. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day.
2. That wonderful smell and sound of a textbook cracking for the first time.
3. Christmas break.
4. And mostly….eating lunch with friends.
Four Things I Do Not Miss from High School
1. Gym suits.
2. Green beans dripping from the gloved hands of cafeteria servers.
3. The “designated smoking area” outside the main building door.
4. Caring what people think.
Whew, this blog has worn me out….