Gram A.

Sometimes I hand-write my blogs to feel it more. To re-live the experience more. To remember more. I’m not sure why, but it just seems like all the memories flood back more when I do that. I am taken right back to the day. I am taken right back to the memory. I can hear her soft voice. I can hear the love and the excitement in her voice. I can see her and hear her again as I hand write the words. I can sense her.

She came to visit often. It seemed often anyway. It was the Euclid house. Mind your manners was her motto. It was instilled in us. As it should have been. 

She brought food when she came to visit. Always the white bakery box. Always long johns. Filled with the white creamy frosting-like goodness. Topped with crunchy chopped peanuts. Perfection. Always. Always fresh. Always tasty. She also brought bell peppers. Colored peppers. Always red and orange, sometimes yellow. 

Those two items always remind me of her. I peruse the peppers in the grocery store for several minutes before ultimately picking what I perceive to be the perfect ones. I wonder if she did that too. 

If I see long johns from a bakery, I can’t help but compare them to the ones she always brought. 

I think the food was her way of showing us love. It seems like she would also bring fudge sometimes for mom. Mom loves fudge. I don’t. Maybe a teeny tiny sliver and that’s it for me. 

There was one time Gram brought me a pair of tennis shoes. She either brought them with her or we went shopping while she was visiting. I can’t remember what brand they were. The toes were slightly pointy. They were blue, kind of like blue jeans, and they had orange laces. I thought they were hideous. I was not a fan. I couldn’t tell her that though. What kind of grandkid says that to their grandma? None. No kid should ever do that. 

So, I sucked it up and I wore the shoes. 

The irony of that gesture and the help she gave at that time, is not lost on me. As a grandma myself, I can totally relate and I can totally understand. 

I do that with my own kids now. I help out when I can. I see what Gram was doing back then, so, so many years ago. The circle is complete. The lessons were taught. The help has been given. The action has been taken. 

Whether she knew it or not, she helped prepare us for life. She gave us life lessons. She helped form who we became as adults. 

Whenever I see the orange and blue color combination, I can’t help but think of those shoes. I can’t help but think of her. I can’t help but think of her soft voice and her soft skin. I can’t help but think of her instilling things in us. Helping us without us even realizing what was happening. Forming us. Molding us. Loving us. Thanks Gram A. 

Butterscotch

She always seemed so old, as I saw her through my kid eyes. She didn’t come to visit very often. It seemed like we visited at her house more than she visited here. Her name was Hulda. Her husband was Hans. My great grandparents on my mom’s side. 

They lived in Viborg, South Dakota. My place of birth. Their house always smelled like coffee. Always. It’s what they did. And they apparently did it all day long. The house also smelled like moth balls. Weird. Such a strange smell. I wonder what they used them for. I liked their small and cozy little house. Boy did she make us mind our manners. It was always please and thank you and you better not forget it. I wish I could remember her voice. I try and try to go back to her house and play out a scene, trying to hear what she is saying. She let us drink coffee with sugar cubes  and she gave us butterscotch hard candy. I thought that was cool. I just can’t quite get her voice yet. It’s so close. I just wish I could get it. I would love to hear it. 

An Interesting side note about butterscotch. A few days ago when I was walking back into the office from lunch, and out of nowhere the word “butterscotch” popped into my head. I had no idea why. I wonder now if it was because of Grandma Nelsen. I have been thinking of her quite a bit. Trying to remember the bits and pieces of our kid life with her and visiting her and grandpa at their house in Viborg. It was inviting and warm and cozy. I loved it there. 

I remember one time Grandma Nelsen coming to visit us in Pierre. I think she came with Grandma Esther.  We were super excited because on Saturday of that weekend, we were going to go to rummage sales. Grandmas and rummage sales were a killer combination.

Grandma Nelsen always wore a dress. The grandma kind of dresses. She seemed kind of heavy set. The grandma kind of heavy set. She gave squishy hugs. The grandma kind of hugs. 

It’s funny at that time it was always the last name with the Grandma. Now it’s usually the first name with the Grandma. I wonder when that changed. It was always Grandma Nelsen. When we were younger and would visit Vermillion, we called Granda Esther, Grandma Anglin, and then eventually as we got older, it shifted to Grandma Esther. 

Grandma Nelsen died in 1974. She was 78. I can vaguely remember her funeral. I do remember walking from the parking lot to the church. It was so bitterly cold and windy. I wasn’t quite 10 years old. We did it again two years later when grandpa died. He was 80. Same month, January. He missed her. He was such a sweet old man. 

On this particular visit we couldn’t wait to go to rummage sales with the grandmas. Sherry and I went with them. Grandma actually reminded me of Vicki Lawrence on Mama’s family. Not the hair, but the way she dressed and the purse she carried. The grandma purse. No over the shoulder strap for these ladies; in the crook of the elbow and nowhere else. That is where purses belonged. 

We went to a rummage sale on one of the President streets. Polk it seemed like. Grandmas knew their way around rummage sales. I remember just watching. She would pick up something and move it around in her hands and set it back down. She would go to the next thing and do the same thing. Always looking for the best deal. The best price. The best quality. 

I found a coin purse. It was small. The kind that clipped together at the top. It had some type of pattern on it and I thought it was amazing. Why did I feel like I needed a coin purse? I didn’t even have a purse and this tom boy would not be carrying one any time soon. Maybe I thought I could just put this in my pocket and never need a purse. Grandma Nelsen bought it for me. 

We had a great day rummaging. She and Grandma Esther bought us small trinkets or books or whatever great deals we thought we couldn’t live without. It was nice to get spoiled by our grandmas. It was a special day. It just felt that way.

Screaming, Yelling, Blood and Tattling

It was just another day at the Euclid House. Yelling, screaming, tattling. It must have been a weekend because mom was home. It could have been evening, but it seemed like it was during the day. 

As you have seen from previous blog posts, we were just a little bit naughty. Some people may say we were just kids being kids. Okay then.  

We had been playing in my and Sherry’s room a big part of the day. I wonder where Jeff’s room was, and Wendy’s. I can’t remember. Strange how some parts of the house have faded away. This part hasn’t though. Our room was right by the laundry room. In fact, the sound of the washer and dryer would put me to sleep at night. There was a bathroom at the end of the laundry room area. The other way was the kitchen, dining room and living room. The house kind of went in a circle. You could get to the bathroom from two sides. Maybe the master bedroom was at the other side of the bathroom. Apparently Wendy and Jeff didn’t have bedrooms, because I can’t remember them. 

There was a weird root cellar room that you could get to from the kitchen. Maybe it was just a kind of basement. It had a dirt floor and wooden shelves. Anyway, that’s a story for another time. 

On this day other than screaming yelling and Sherry tattling about everything, we were kind of getting along playing in our room. We usually were doing things we weren’t supposed to, like lighting matches and starting fires. Today was different. We were playing Superman or All Star Wrestling, without the wrestling, just the flying through the air. We climbed up on the dresser which was one of those five drawer tall ones. It was against the wall by the closet. I think the paint was kind of a faded pink or peach color. It was solid wood. No tipping over when kids climbed up it. The bed was against the far wall. We pushed it there so we could get more air time. 

Shit got serious in that bedroom when the butter knife went in the door frame to lock the door. It was happening. Obviously, we knew we shouldn’t be doing what we were doing. Everything was set in place; the bed, the dresser and the knife. I was going first. I didn’t care if Jeff was older. I climbed up on top of the dresser and took a flying leap to the bed. I landed face first on the bed. The bed scooted further along the floor until it was fully against the wall. Oh My God was that fun!!! I wanted to do it again and again and again. I felt like I was flying. I was squealing with delight.

Back up to the top of the dresser. Jeff climbed up and we were both crouched down on the dresser. We couldn’t stand completely up because the ceiling was too low. Jeff was going to take his turn. I told him to just count to 3 and go. It was easy. Just jump out and fly. I wanted him to hurry up so I could jump again, but he was taking his sweet time. I was wondering what his problem was. There was absolutely nothing scary about this. Nothing. Then I noticed, he slipped as he was trying to jump. He had socks on. Why??? 

He was sprawled out like a starfish. I saw him land beside the bed on the floor. Oh wow, it looked like his face hit the bed frame. Dang! I thought oh, at least he didn’t get hurt. Then he got up and blood was running down his face. Oh No! We were going to be in big trouble. As soon as the blood started, he started screaming. Of course. Now we were really going to be in trouble. I was trying to get him to be quiet because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Not good. 

Pretty soon, mom was banging on the door trying to get in the room. “Um, just a minute,” I said. She asked what the hell was going on in there. I opened the door and Jeff ran out to the kitchen. Blood was running down his face. Mom sat him up on the counter and was wiping the blood off his face. Holy crap! He had giant gaping cut right above his eye. I could see the bone.  It was really cool!! Now, I kind of felt sorry for him. Until he opened his mouth. I was so worried about him, until he opened his mouth. He told mom I pushed him! What???? I didn’t push him. He slipped. What the hell did he think was going to happen when a person wears SOCKS to jump off of something. Seriously! What did he think would happen?

I got the death stare. You all know that one your mom gives you when she doesn’t have time to beat your ass, but wants you to know it isn’t over. Yeah, that one. 

Saved by the cut. They left for the ER to get stitches on the eye. 

Moral of that story is that your brother shouldn’t be so accident prone. 

Minutes To Memories

I had been waiting since November. I purchased the tickets then. The concert wasn’t until April 18th, 2019. A Thursday. I dragged Tayler with me. Even if she wouldn’t have been able to come with me, I still would have gone. By myself. I would not have felt one bit awkward going by myself, sitting by myself and tapping my foot by myself. 

The concert was at the Civic Center, in the Fine Arts Theater. A small venue. A more intimate venue. Up close. People shuffled in, drinks in hand, merch bags in hand, and excited. Most of the people were in their 40s and 50s. Some other lucky kids had been dragged along by their mothers too. I saw a few. Lucky kids. 

People were getting restless, waiting. It took a while. There was about a 20 minute documentary-type film that was shown before the actual singing started. It was interesting listening to him in that voice. A young kid voice. A punk voice. He had such a baby face. He fought authority back then and he still does today. 

The set list was amazing. The sound was amazing. The band was amazing. He was amazing. I felt so lucky to be able to see him again. I loved him all through high school and always fantasized that he would be my person. I mean, he was only 12 years older. Big deal. That’s nothing. He is 67 now and he is still rocking it. 

I caught Tayler tapping her foot to a lot of the songs, even though she thought we were going to the Tom Petty concert. GAH!!! Rest In Peace Tom Petty. I set her straight.

Here was the set list:

1. Lawless Times

2.Troubled Land

3.Minutes to Memories (one of my all time favorites)

4.Small Town

Here he took a little break to interact with the crowd with the long gone song.

5. Long Gone (from Bowlin’ Green) – so fun!!

6. Stones In My Passway

7. We Are The People

8. Lonley Ol’ Night (another favorite)

9. Check It Out

10. Longest Days

11. Jack & Diane

12. Easy Target

13. Overture – in other words cigarette break I told Tayler that when this happened it meant it was a cigarette break for him. He came walking back in, strutting in really, while playing his guitar and blowing out a mouthful of smoke. I love him!!

14. Rain On The Scarecrow

15. Paper In Fire

16. Crumblin’ Down (the crowd went wild with this one, everyone was singing) 

17. Authority Song/Land of 1000 Dances

18. Pink Houses

19. Cherry Bomb

20. Long Gone reprise. 

He really is an amazing artist. I feel fortunate to have been able to see him. I feel fortunate that Tayler was with me. I love spending time with her. I love watching her enjoy things. I glanced at her a lot. She reminds me a lot of myself. I want her to do well. I want her to be happy. I want her to have a great life. Life is fragile and we just never know what is going to happen, so enjoy every single moment you can. As Mellencamp says in Minutes to Memories, “you are young and you are the future so suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can”. Be silly. Be fun. Be present. And most of all, be yourself. 

And whenever he tours again, I told John, the hubby whose name is John, that he is coming with me. 

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)

The excitement was killing me. It was my favorite place to exist. It was my favorite place to escape. Hurry up. Hurry up. Almost time. Saturday morning.

Winter was over and spring was beginning. It was the new season. The fun season. Something to do on the weekend season. 

I was in grade school, probably 5th or 6th grade, possible even junior high. We lived at the Prospect house during that time. We actually moved to that house when I was in 4th grade. 

The corner of Euclid and Capitol was the place to be. Every Saturday morning.

This is where the cool kids hung out. I remember getting there early because I was so excited. It’s been a curse my whole life. I can’t do late and on time is late to me. I have always been places early. I never disappointed.

Was it still going to cost 40 cents? Was it still opening at the same time? I wonder if I would wear the same size. I just didn’t know and I just couldn’t sit around and wait to find out. I had to leave early and get there. I had to be in line. I just had to. 

I’m not sure if Sherry was with me or if I just went by myself, but I remember sitting on the sidewalk, taking off my shoes and the guy came out. He was the guy. The guy who took our money. The guy in charge of in charge. He always wore boots and jeans that seemed too high waisted. He always wore a belt and a t-shirt. He was tall and skinny. He was just different enough to be dangerous. He always teased us. He told us the price was $1. I about died. I wouldn’t have enough money. He must have seen that I was ready to cry. He said he was just kidding and started laughing. I wish I could remember his name. 

We had to step up the high step in order to get in the building. This was a boat marina in the front of the building and the basement had boats. The upper floor, behind the store part was the most amazing roller rink. There was a long counter, made of wood, with shelves behind it full of roller skates and then there was a door into the marina store. They had candy for sale. We couldn’t buy candy when skating. Well duh, because could you imagine if something got on the floor! The floor was a gorgeous, shiny and smooth. It was made of hardwood. You always knew which skates were the best and you secretly hoped you got the same ones every week. The sound of the skates being plunked down on the counter was music to my ears. It was loud and made me giddy. I remember the smell, musty. It smelled good. I remember how it looked. It was my favorite place. There were benches to sit down on all around the circle floor. I remember by the door going in there was just a huge pile of people’s shoes. And then jackets and coats, partially hanging up and partially on the floor.

The announcer — the guy, would play the music and would call out what kind of skate it was. It was forward, just backward, couples, and singles. Sometimes just girls and sometimes just guys. Sometimes three people would skate and most times it was just everyone. 

I remember the Badger boys. Gary and Merle. Badass motherfuckers. Merle had an eye patch sometimes. He wasn’t a pirate, he had a glass eye. All the girls wanted to skate with them and all the boys wanted to be them. They had swagger. They were fun to skate with. I skated a few times with Merle and once in a great while with Gary. Jim Hull and Vonda Thompson skated as a couple and they were both amazing skaters. They were skaters to watch because they were amazing and talented skaters. We called him Jimmy back then. I still call him Jimmy as I think about it. I wanted to be like them. I always tried to perfect the backward skate. That was always something to work on. You knew you arrived when you could skate backwards with the leg crossover. The whoosh sound of the air as we went faster and faster and faster. The music was loud. The louder the better. All different songs, all different artists. I clearly remember the guy playing Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)  by Looking Glass almost every time I went to the rink. 

We skated for hours. Non-stop. A short rest when we needed or we would sit out from couples skating. Tired and sweaty at the end of the time. I never wanted to quit. I wanted to skate and skate and skate. It was social, it was fun. Everyone was nice, nobody was a jerk. We all had fun. We all forgot about everting except skating. We had a blast. When the time was over, it would still feel like you were skating. The legs were tired and we were tired, but we never wanted to be done. 

I loved the roller rink and I was so sad when they moved it down behind McDonald’s. It was never the same. It just wasn’t as fun. The roller rink was located like I said above at the corner of Euclid and Capitol, the current Olinger Law Office building. 

I heard Brandy the other day. It took me back to skating and the memories came flooding back. Some of the other songs I remember were: Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me; Brand New Key; The Lion Sleeps Tonight; A Horse With No Name; Rockin’ Robin; Black and White; and Joy To The World. 

It was a simple time. It was a great time to be a kid time. 

Birthdays and blues

The tradition. The birthday tradition. I don’t remember when it started. I don’t remember why it started. I can’t imagine a young foodie like myself would not have liked regular birthday cake. I also can’t remember if it was just me who had the alternate birthday cake tradition. Did Sherry have it too? What about Jeff? Wendy? Maybe. I only remember me, because after all it was about me. It was my day. It was my birthday. 

I looked forward to my birthday every year for the angel food cake. For the strawberries. For the cream. We never had birthday parties. Just us. 

Yesterday was my birthday. Yesterday I had the tradition. Angel food cake, strawberries and whipped topping. It was good. It wasn’t quite the same though. I healthed it up a little bit. I used fresh strawberries and canned whipped topping, instead of whipping the cream myself and instead of using the sugar-laden strawberries. The traditional strawberries were those little tin frozen containers that you had to use some type of key wrench-type thing to open. They were doused in sugar syrup and tasted heavenly. The kind of sugary sweet that you wanted to let run in your mouth when the container was held above your mouth. It was so good. So sweet and so comforting. The angel food cake was more dense than the traditional round ones. It was a rectangle shaped frozen one. I just had to let it thaw. It still tasted good. The strawberries are what I prefer, fresh. They actually had flavor. And the whipped cream in the can, it worked for its intended purpose. 

I got out my plate and carefully measured out each ingredient. So many grams of cake. so many grams of strawberries and so many grams of whipped cream. It is amazing once you start measuring things out how much you can start to see where you went wrong previously. You start to see where you would overeat. It is eye-opening. I have lost over 30 pounds doing this and I am not going back to the before. I won’t let myself. I saved room for my tradition today. I wanted to feel like I did when I was a kid. I wanted to be excited. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I did. 

My tradition seemed like it tasted just as good. I enjoyed it just as much. I thought. Towards the evening I started to feel a little sad. Not sure why. Maybe because none of the kids were here. Maybe because the house was quiet. Maybe because I wasn’t a kid anymore. Maybe because I was missing dad. It just felt like any other day, except I had cake. It didn’t feel like a birthday day. It didn’t feel like a special day. Just a day. 

It is so easy to feel sad about days gone by, about being a kid and being happy at the littlest of things. Missing the simplicity, perhaps. But, at the same time, I love being present for the now, for the exciting things happening. I love watching things unfold and happen how they are supposed to. I love being positive. I love seeing positive things and I love getting to live this life, even if the birthdays or the cake or something else makes me a little bit sad once in a while. 

Tayler’s Cupboards

First grade, second grade, third grade, fourth.

The memories packed in the cupboard. 

Pencils and glue and hair ties too. 

Tape and markers and super balls to bounce. 

Barbies and papers and trinkets and a bell. 

Two cupboards filled to the brim. 

Full of memories from the life of a kid. 

Standing, nightgown on. 

Tinkering and playing and thinking out loud. 

Far off places and toys that talked. 

Books of angels and animals and even rocks. 

Stickers and lip gloss and dice.

Standing there for hours playing until she knelt. 

Imagining and singing and laughing to herself.

When she was done she shut the cupboard and said goodnight.

Just because she got older didn’t mean she discarded her belongings as junk. Far from it. 

She stored more memories.

The cupboards are full. 

It’s been over 16 years. 

I can’t clean them out.

It makes me miss her being little still.

The life she made. The memories she made. 

A huge part of her childhood is buried in there. 

She won’t let them go. 

It’s something I can’t bear.

The child who is now an adult. 

The child who entertained herself for hours. 

The child, self-sufficient in everything she did. 

The child who grew up. 

And the mom who did too.

The child who still peeks into those cupboards and laughs out loud. 

Memories of more simple times. 

Memories of fun and laughter. 

Memories of a lifetime. 

Always there. 

Jump Rope Contest

Remember last week when I told you about learning how to do double jumps and how hard I worked to perfect them? Well, every year there was a jump rope contest. Each school was represented. There was the girls and the boys contests. The PE teacher, who was Mr. Bucklin at the time, chose who from each class would represent their school at the contest. 

We practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. I was in 4th grade at the time at Lincoln Elementary School. The house was the Prospect House.

Every recess a bunch of us girls jumped rope. A lot of times I played football with the boys, but it was jump rope season now and that meant practicing every chance I got. There were several good jump ropers in our grade and we all wanted to go to the competition. 

Mr. Bucklin was super tall. He had blond hair and glasses. He was really nice and we all liked him as a PE teacher. He had a hard job. He had to choose who was going to go to the contest. It was narrowed down between me and Marianne Bassett. Marianne was a really good jump roper. This was going to be a tough decision for him. 

It was the day. The day of decision. The day to see who would represent the Lincoln Elementary School 4th grade class. Would it be me or would it be Marianne? 

I can still picture us on the playground, jump ropes in hand. We were on the west side of the building, near the double doors. That was the flattest spot on the playground. It was good cement, like sidewalk cement, not the other rough stuff the rest of the playground was made of. Mr. Bucklin had us start with plain old jumps, then we moved into criss cross and backwards jumps, criss cross backwards, fancy foot work and double jumps. We got to show off a little bit. I remember doing criss cross double jumps backwards and frontwards. Marianne could do them too. I don’t know how he was going to pick. Why couldn’t we both go? Well, it doesn’t work that way, obviously. He finally picked. He picked me!! I was elated. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to go to the contest. I felt bad for Marianne though. She worked just as hard as I had. 

The contest was a few weeks later. It was at the Junior High school in the gym. It seemed like there were a ton of people there watching. It also seemed like there were a ton of competitors. It is kind of a blur what happened next. I can’t remember if girls went first or if boys went first and if each grade went in order. That part is a blur. I do remember the jump roping part. I remember there was a line of judges and we were facing them. They would call out the jumps that we were supposed to do. I specifically remember doing double jumps during the contest, and jumping fancy footwork style too. I also remember making sure not to miss. I don’t know if points were deducted for missing, but it would only make sense. 

It was hot and it seemed like the contest took forever. When all was said and done, I won!!! I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my parents. At the same time I wondered why they hadn’t come to the contest and watched. I always wondered that. Always. 

Our house was about three or four blocks from the school. I ran all the way home. I always took the shortcut home. Up the alley. That’s the shortcut.  Up the alley from the Zesto. I slowed down when I was almost to the house. I could see dad out watering the grass. I walked up to him with my hands behind my back and was pretending to be sad. He asked me how I did. Instantly the giant smile appeared and the hand came flying from behind my back holding the first place ribbon. 

He was happy for me. I was happy for me. I won the jump rope contest. 

Determined. And stubborn.

 

I was about seven or eight years old. It was the Euclid house. When I put my mind to something, I didn’t stop until I accomplished what I set out to do. Like a goal. You know that about me, if you have read my posts. Remember the broken collar bone? Yeah. I was determined. And, I was stubborn. Some might say I am still that way. I think they are pretty good traits to have, to a point. Determined is great, stubborn maybe not as much. I have gotten way better and have learned to control my stubbornness. I’ve grown. When I was a kid though, it helped me become better at things. 

At the back of the Euclid house, outside, there were steps that led to the upstairs apartment. Two women lived there, Myra and Sharon. They were nice and put up with a lot from us. I am sure we were loud and obnoxious. We were always outside so I am guessing they could hear us all the time. The steps were made of wood. I used those steps religiously to up my jump rope game.

I was learning how to do double jumps. These days they are called double unders. I couldn’t do them. I was mad and frustrated and frankly pissed off. Why couldn’t I do them? They seemed easy enough. You jumped and twirled the rope underneath your feet twice. Big deal. Why should that be so hard? Why couldn’t I just do that? I loved jumping rope. I had a jump rope in my hands most of the time when I was a kid. I loved it. It was fun. It was challenging. That’s why I loved it. 

The rope itself was not made of rope. It was made of plastic. That part had to be perfect. Not too thick, not too thin, just right. Like Goldilocks. Red Owl (now Dakotamart) is where I bought my jump ropes. They had the best ones for sure. I bought a lot of them. The worst part about finding a favorite jump rope was when they were used so much, they wore out in the middle and broke in half. The concrete did that to them. Back to square one. Good thing jump ropes were cheap. They came in many different colors and lengths. The best way to measure was to step on the jump rope at the center and to hold the handles to your armpits. That was how to measure for length. If it wasn’t measured correctly, jump roping did not work. At all. It messed up the timing. 

I came up with a plan on how to finally master the double jumps. I thought about it for days. I tested it multiple times. I was sure it would work. How could it not? I was determined. And stubborn, so it had to work. My plan was to start out on the bottom step. I would stand on the step sideways. I would then jump off the step to the side and perform the double jump. I figured I would get higher in the air and then be able to turn the rope faster and therefore be able to get it twirled twice under my feet. A few times I jumped too far to the side and lost my balance. Several times I landed on my knees. But I was determined. And, I was stubborn. I kept trying. Nothing was going to stop me. Timing was everything, when it came to jump rope. If the timing wasn’t there, it just was not going to work.  

I would get off the step and practice other jumps. Criss cross, backwards jumping, backwards criss cross, front criss cross, moving the feet AND the elusive double jump. I still couldn’t get the timing down. Back to the step it would have to be. 

Standing on the step, I got the jump rope behind me and told myself this was it. It was time to get this. Because I was determined. And, I was stubborn. I jumped and twirled the rope at the same time. It felt like slow motion. It felt like this time it was going to happen. I could feel it. The jump rope twirled twice under my feet and I landed on the ground without falling! I was elated. I did it. I did a double jump. I did it! Holy crap, time to try again. I got up on the step again. I repeated everything as before, step by step. I did it again! It worked, again! I was so excited. 

Well, you know what came next, right? Of course I had to try it off the step. I made it a big production, even though I was by myself. I acted like I was on a stage and I had no choice but to do it. I had no choice but to get this jump. I was determined. And, I was stubborn. I got in position. Feet together on the ground, jump rope behind me. Deep breath. 1-2-3. I jumped and twirled. Twice. I got it. Again. It felt good. It felt, almost easy. Had I practiced so much that now every piece was going to fall into place, every dot was going to be connected and all of my hard work was going to pay off? Could it be that easy? Could practicing so much really pay off? Why yes, it can. It really can. That is the only way we are going to get better at something. Sometimes we want it right now. I should say a lot of times we want it right now and we are not willing to work for it. I see it all the time. We need to be patient and we need to work and practice something if we want to get better at it. That should be common sense. 

After I got the one double jump, I started practicing more and more. I started stringing together one after the other, until I could do 25 unbroken double jumps. I then started practicing backwards double jumps until I perfected those as well. I was so happy with my progress. I was determined to reach my goal. And, I was stubborn.

Be determined. And, be stubborn. 

Because It’s Educational

Her name was Debbie. Debbie Sayler. She was my friend. A good friend. She had brown hair and glasses. She was tall and slender. Skinny. It was the Central House. We lived there briefly before we moved to the Prospect house. It was after the Euclid house. Debbie lived on Capitol. Down towards the west end of town, West Capitol.

We played together a lot. Either at my house or hers. It seemed like the time spent at each house was equal. I always liked going to her house. Her mom was really nice. There was always crafty stuff going on at their house. I wanted to be crafty. I was not. 

We played together and sometimes did school work and other times we played games or just did other things. 

On this day, we were bored. It was warm outside so we went out and sat on the front steps. We sat there and talked about things that were important in our lives at that time.  

 At some point in our young lives we both watched Sesame Street. Sesame Street was a very educational series, with puppets. We learned a lot from Sesame Street, particularly the formation of words. Remember the segment where Maria and one of the puppets would have a lesson in sounding out words or forming the word and then putting it all together? A typical word may have been something like the sw sound and then the ing sound. One person would say the sw sound and the other would say the ing sound. Next they both would say the word together. So it would be sw, ing, then swing. Pretty cool way to sound out words. Pure genius. 

Debbie and I did that too. We were having a lot of fun. We couldn’t stop laughing. We played this game for quite a while. I’m not sure whose idea it was. I will concede we were both at fault. Our words were more creative than Sesame Street’s though. Our words were swear words. Because why wouldn’t they be? It was educational. Sesame Street said so. And, we were learning. We were using the lessons we had learned. 

We thought we the funniest kids ever. Over and over and over again, sh— it —shit. We would look at each other as we sounded out the word and then would burst out laughing. That was our main word. The other was damn. I don’t think we did the f word, but it’s entirely possible. We played and played and laughed and laughed. 

I always had fun playing with Debbie.