Sunday, August 31, 2014

Burning in the outside lane.

This fall is one of great moment and change. I am not just talking about the painting I am doing this week in the downstairs bathroom (we've had one functioning bathroom for well over a year, maybe two, that's how we roll in this house) but the advances our kids are making in school.

The boy has moved from one elementary school to another, as his sister did before him, to take advantage of programming. And she is now in middle school.

Middle school was possibly the worst period in my life. There have been terrible events, which can be managed in one way or another or not at all, some brought on by my own poor judgement and others entirely by fate.

But the extent to which I went from being a confident, creative soul in fifth grade to feeling entirely defeated in sixth grade was unnecessary. Say what you want about adolescence, and about the cruelty of children, it didn't have to be that way.

Perhaps there are things I will be entirely unable to protect my daughter (and son) from, but she has already marched into this new, expansive phase of her life with bravery and far less fear than I possessed at that time. She walks to school with a pack of friends (she walks to her neighborhood school, who does that anymore???) and is confident in her talents and aware of her weaknesses.

Her school, part of the most unfairly maligned school district in America, has many outlets for artistic creativity, whereas the middle school I attended, part of a district consistently rated in the "top ten" public school districts in Cuyahoga County (one can only assume they factor in high marks for racism, Antisemitism, homophobia and a general hatred for the poor) did not.

I had nothing to do in middle school. No outlet for my writing, for drawing, for acting, for anything. I was treading water, getting in trouble, weathering abuse, biding my time. It was awful. But the music was awesome.

Middle School Playlist (1979-81)
Turn It On Again - Genesis
Sat In Your Lap - Kate Bush
Dream Police - Cheap Trick
Deathwish - The Police
Only a Lad - Oingo Boingo
Landlord - The Police
Through Being Cool - Devo
Cool For Cats - Squeeze

Not emotionally nor physically prepared for running this afternoon. I felt a bit queasy, had spent an emotional afternoon having brunch with some friends (old and new) and yesterday I pulled a muscle in my right calf and it had been troubling me ever since.

I am to be on my own with the kids tonight, with one hour to either nap or run. What to do? I geared up, and this time brought a water bottle with me. It's so humid, I get so thirsty.

After a quarter mile, I felt sick to my stomach, exhausted and despondent. I drank some water and continued. Three miles later, I hadn't stopped running. Good for me.

Temperature: 79°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Last night my wife and I saw Boyhood, which is nothing short of amazing. I was seriously disoriented by the end, it is a dizzying, remarkable ride.

My wife pointed out that the final line of the film, a beautiful if simple observation, spoken by the main character who we have literally (I can say literally) watched age from 6 to 18 years old in the span of two and a half hours, could be sued to describe director Richard Linklater's entire aesthetic.

"It’s constant," he says, "the moments, it’s just — it’s like it’s always right now, you know?"


Henrik said...

I have very little memory of Middle School. It was like a murky mush. All my strongest memories are from Elementary and High School.

I really want to see Boyhood. It fascinates me. The line you quoted reminds me of the title of the superb Daniel Kitson play "It's always right now until it's later."

pengo said...

Re: Middle School. You have obviously buried that time deep in your subconscious.

Henrik said...

I suspect you're right.