Buried treasure

My office at home is a mess. Well, actually, it looked great, but that’s because the boxes I have yet to unpack from moving to Seattle from Boston a year and a half ago are stacked so neatly. The boxes are filled with all sorts of goodies, like bills from Boston that I paid two years ago, the bouquet I carried at my sister’s wedding, and all sorts of odds and ends that I probably wouldn’t miss if I lost the entire box.


It’s a good thing I take after my grandpa and never throw anything out. Because in going through two boxes, three file cabinet drawers, and several expandable folders in search of a particular project from grad school, I found some really cool stuff. Like my “scrapbox” from high school. I didn’t have a scrapbook, so I just threw everything into a box to scrapbook later when I grew up and could afford one. In this box was the buried treasure referenced above. I found:

  • My Galva High School Scholastic Team Study Notes, informing me of all-important information such as RALPH WALDO EMERSON – THE TRANSCENDENTALIST! and EMILY DICKINSON – “greatest Am. female poet!” who was the “spinster of Amhearst.” My coach really liked exclamation points and all-caps, and he also couldn’t spell well, apparently. I want to read it now and see if the greats we had to memorize are really the greats I learned about in college. For example, does anyone know who Bret Harte is? Apparently he was a “local colorist influenced Twain.”
  • A manila folder entitled in purple and red marker “Artwork & Writing Attempts.” I wish I had a digital camera, because I would show you my teenage handwriting, which makes me giggle because I used to think it was so elegant. Plus you’d be able to see the reason why it’s both purple and red. The original purple reads “Art & Writing,” but in a fit of self-consciousness at the quality of my work, I added “Attempts” at the end, and apparently thought that “Artwork” sounded better than “Art.”

What’s really fun about this folder is that it contains my entire junior and senior years’ English journals, rich with entries such as:


Felipe says I should write about him. So there, I wrote about him.

Okay, so now what should I write about?

In answer to your question, yes, I do date Tim. Tim and I have been going out for about a year and nine months now. We started dating my freshman year.

It was January 13, 1990, after the basketball game against Cambridge. I think we lost, but I don’t remember. It was semesters day, so my brain was fried (I thought). (Now that I’m older I know that freshman year tests are nothing compared to junior and probably senior year!) There was a social hour after the game. I went, and Tim went. We danced, and I asked if we were official. “Yep!”


I do remember Mr. Bittle [a teacher who had died about a year previous in a drunk-driving accident–a teacher for whom I and my sister had babysat]. I had him for English I first hour. He was a really neat guy, and always late! I remember sitting in the halls waiting for him to get there. He’d come walking slowly down the hall, coffee cup always in hand. Usually he would just laugh at us for having to sit out there and wait. Once in a while, he’d tease us that we were late and that we’d have to go get a pass since we weren’t in our seats!

I then go on to talk about how I liked his replacement, Mr. Prusator, because he taught us grammar (something Mr. Bittle, love him dearly, ignored because he didn’t like it), and then ramble on about how I wanted to join a drum corps (which I did, the summer after my senior year in high school).

Fun! Not nearly so easily made fun of as my freshman year journal, for that same Mr. Bittle. I even have the journal entry that I wrote my poetry in which prompted Mrs. Kemp—the coolest English teacher I’ve ever had—to write “PLEASE SEE ME TODAY. IMPT.” on the entry, and that day she told me she wanted to enter my poetry in the NCTE English contest. I didn’t win anything, but it was so cool she thought I was good enough to enter, especially because I’d always considered myself an agriculture girl, despite my lack of interest in science. It was the duty of every good farm kid to save agriculture, you see, especially the Family Farm. But experiences like the entire two years I had Mrs. Kemp were the ones I looked back on with joy, which eventually helped me realize the career path I truly wanted to take. (It just took a few years for me to figure it out. See how I became an editor for more on that.)

  • Also in the folder: all of my senior year of high school English papers. I didn’t even remember reading Joseph Conrad’s short story “The Lagoon,” probably because I skimmed it to write the paper. Hence the 85% grade…
  • Also in the folder: all the papers I did for my Animal Science class, one of the first classes restored to my high school when the agriculture program was reinstated my junior year. The writing in papers on such subjects as porcine somatotropin and the blood of farm animals was looked on with a much less critical eye by my ag teacher. The papers received such comments as “Great! Well explained!” which I doubt I would have ever heard come out of Mrs. Kemp’s lips. 🙂
  • In the same box, I also found an article I discovered in grad school that I’ve been meaning to read since then but had lost. I found “Editing Books for Young People” by infamous children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom while looking for something else, and it sounded intriguing but I was under a deadline, so I copied it and set it aside for another day. Finally, that day has arrived! I think I’ll make a separate post about specifics within it, though, because it’s a great article for children’s book editors, even written almost thirty years ago.

Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. I sure did. It makes me want to go read all of the journal entries and see what I can mine out of them for a book.