NoJoMo 1

List your schools, through high school. Describe a memory from each.

As an Army brat, I attended a bunch of schools growing up. I thought maybe I should try to write something down about each of them before the memories are gone. I spent most of my early childhood living in Newport News, Virginia, having moved there when I was still an infant.

Preschool/Kindergarten: Trinity Lutheran School ( in Newport News. My wife and I ended up in that part of town sometime in the past year, which might have sparked this prompt. There was a parking lot/blacktop between the main school, and the preschool next door. I seem to remember that we’d assemble there, though I don’t remember if that was for getting on or off the school buses. When I was a kid, that seemed like a huge area. As an adult, it looks pretty small. As for a particular memory, there, there aren’t a ton, really. I really seem to remember things like folks getting sick, in trouble, etc..

First Grade: MacArthur Elementary School, Leavenworth, Kansas. ( I had to check their staff directory to see if the teacher I had is still there. She’s not, so I won’t allow my simmering spite to seethe into this entry. There were two big things, of course, that happened that year. First, as a young kid, I was getting into baseball, and the Kansas City Royals won the World Series. And, to keep with the spirit of avoiding seething spite, I’ll save talking about the San Francisco Giants for a later entry. Bigger than the Royals, though, was Challenger. We, the students, had been at lunch, and the teachers were smoking cigarettes, watching the launch in the teachers’ lounge. With Krista McAuliffe aboard, they were all about paying attention. At the end of lunch, they gathered all three first grade classes into a single classroom, where the teachers tearfully told us that it’d blown up.

Second through Fourth Grade: Mark Twain Elementary, Heidelberg Germany. There is no website for this school, because it closed. ( I still have Facebook friends who I met while there. A single memory is tough to find, really. The whole experience is kind of intertwined with the bigger part of living on the razor’s edge of the Cold War. So, what can I talk about that isn’t related to mutually-assured destruction? Fluoride. And, cue General Ripper. ( The water in Germany isn’t fluoridated. So, every few weeks, the nurse would bring trays full of fluoride for us to swish. Three minutes, if memory serves. The green stuff was okay. The pink stuff was tolerable. The yellow stuff, ick.

Fifth and Sixth Grade: Newington Forest Elementary School, Springfield, Virginia ( I was supposed to be part of the last sixth grade class that attended, but, looking at the website, I guess sixth grade has migrated back. Neither of my teachers is still there. Memory would be of a question to the PE teacher. The answer? “The man will know.” Speculate about what an eleven year-old boy would ask in a special class taught by a male PE teacher.

Seventh, and the first half of Eighth Grade: Osterholz American High School, Osterholz Germany. Another school that’s long closed, now. ( The whole situation, there, was strange. During the winter, we’d get on the bus from Bremerhaven well before the sun came up, and get off just before it set in the afternoon. The post near the school closed at the end of the first year I was there. I had something like six lockers, because the school was such a ghost town that second year.

Second half of Eighth Grade: Hanau Middle School, Hanau Germany. Closed. ( That whole experience is a blur. I’m hoping my last job will fade, similarly. A blip on the life timeline. But Hanau wasn’t as bad an experience as the last job. When I think about that time, I think more about what I was doing outside of school.

Freshman Year: Heidelberg High School, Heidelberg Germany. ( Closed last year. I played football, which was really my life back then. Significant memories, naturally, were from things outside school. Yes, her. Her, too. Nevermind. When I interviewed for a job, there was this woman on the interview panel. After the interview, I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head, “I know this chick.” I got the job, and had been working there for something like four years before we finally made the connection. She was a couple of years older than me, and had been a cheerleader when I played football. Holy shit. I let her borrow my yearbook for awhile, and she gave stories about going to one of these all-classes reunions. She then left, and I’ve lost contact with her again. Hmmph.

Sophomore Year: Carlisle High School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. ( Again, football. I was very much out of place, and really probably had one of my first big MS flares They did six-week marking periods instead of quarters. The Honors English teacher offered a pretty significant extra credit opportuniies; one of those was writing in a journal. Over the first marking period, I wrote more than the required twice a week. Mostly, if memory serves, I wrote about angsty teenager bullshit. But it was something I could do as I languished in the basement of my dad’s quarters in “Smurf Village.” So, was I emo? Perhaps a bit. But I was also fifteen. I was entitled. I was in a little town. I didn’t really have friends. I had acne, a computer, and a puppy. Anyway, I was the only person who chose to do the extra credit assignment. Naturally, she read every word with great interest, and came away quite concerned about this troubled teenage boy. Off to the guidence counselor. And no more writing for me, really, until I was introduced to Open Diary in 1999. You could say it turned me off. Is that a memorable “moment?” As memorable as the colonel with the neck as big as his head quietly telling the Buddy Ryan fan head football coach that he didn’t need to scream at his players. Pfft. Out of curiousity, I had to take a look to see if that teacher is still there. Yep. “Click to e-mail.” Yeah, I’ll pass.

Junior and Senior Years: Menchville High School, Newport News, Virginia. ( No football. Drill Team/ROTC. Memorable moment, would have been extracurriculars, too. Prom, standing with my best friend’s prom date, watchign him and my girlfriend act a fool on the dance floor.

So, that’s the rundown. Back to writing. Also, since it’s November, facial hair is growing back in.