Writing My Life

Now and Then


… I think maybe the world is supposed to end tomorrow or something …

I just learned from watching the 10 o’clock news that the world is supposed to end tomorrow at 4:00 P.M. I thought I had until 2012, gosh darn it.

Who is right? Reverend Harold Camping who resides, preaches, and prophesies in Oakland, CA. Or the 5125 year Mayan calendar, upon which the flopbluster movie 2012 was based.

Because of the late notice, I haven’t done much to prepare for the event. I don’t know how I missed the one Utah billboard planted near Lagoon that announced the earth’s demise or the thousands of placards and brochures being passed out across the nation or David Letterman’s Top 10 list of “How to Make the Apocalypse More Fun.” 

I always thought that NO ONE knew the day or the hour that the Lord would return to the earth, not even ad men. I understood that “He cometh like a thief in the night” – NOT at 4:00 in the AFTERNOON when I’m attending a play with my sister and mother.

When I was little – not in girth but in height – I had nightmares about the world’s end. Of course, my dreams weren’t of earthquakes or tidal waves but of the BOMB. Fires roared everywhere around a big white house where I stood on the porch watching people running from the flames. It was pretty traumatic.

I had never heard of the RAPTURE before living in the south, and I happened to be in Georgia when the LEFT BEHIND series of books were flying off shelves. Everybody was talking about those novels, including the teachers and students at the school where I taught.

One day after the dismissal bell, I step out of my shoes, shed my sweater, and dropped whatever I was holding all in a small pile in on the floor. Then I rushed to the rest room. My colleague next door walked into the classroom to  chat with me. All she found were the shoes, sweater, book and papers. Maria then announced that the Rapture had occurred and Renae had been taken; the rest of them were left behind.

This was quite surprising because my team mates were Baptists and Methodist – sects that really don’t think Mormons like me have a chance in h… of being caught up in the Rapture!

Before bidding you all farewell, I’d like to thank the Rev. Camping and the Mayans for the warning, but if I’m not ready for such an event by now, I doubt I will be.

If the good fellow is right THIS TIME, I won’t be able to finish my month of blogging every day, and I won’t be able to claim my badge from NaBloPoMo.

If he is wrong, I’ll announce it tomorrow right here in this spot. In the meantime, have a good day tomorrow as it just might be the last.

Leave a comment

… END of the retro-techno-bully story …

A few days ago I posted a little chapter from my adolescent years about “techno-bullying” back in 1960.  Recently AND coincidentally, while searching for some pictures for my mom, I stumbled across my old Alameda Junior High School memory book from the 1962-1963 school year. I received the book at the end of ninth grade, and like a wannabe year book, it is filled with classmates’ salutations and signatures.

As often is the case, most messages are only about 3 or 4 lines long, but I did find a few notes that filled half to whole pages. One of those was from the girl I called Sandra in the aforementioned post. This is what it said:


It’s been a long time now since I first met you. It’s been a long enjoyable time! You made my years at school lots of fun. I’m glad you’ll be going to the same high school so that we can finish school together. It’s been lots of fun this year and I’ve watched you change from that tall scrawny kid to a very pretty young lady! Seriously!! Well, good luck always, and don’t ever forget me – ok?

Loads of luck and Love! 

I was more than surprised to find such a message because I had associated that girl with her unkind act for so many years that I didn’t remember we had managed to get past that difficult incident. While kids tend to write gushy things in memory or year books, I feel that her words were sincere. She had grown up.

Why is it that we seem to always remember the bad things more vividly than the good? She and I didn’t end up finishing school together because my parents moved, and I attended a different high school. Because our town only had 2 high schools, I think I saw her a few times when Poky and Highland High played sports against each other. After reading her note, I picture those mini-reunions as happy ones.

It does, however, take a while for many adolescents to grow up. In the same memory book, I  found a note from one of the boys who liked to give me a bad time, and he started it with “Hi Butterball” – obviously, he also realized I wasn’t “tall and scrawny” any more. Surprisingly though,  he’s one of my Facebook friends! You just never know!


… maybe techno-bullying ISN’T a NEW trend …

I wrote this narrative to use in a writing lesson with 9th graders special ed students. I’ve often thought about that experience and how it affected me. The incident occurred in 1960 when there were no cell phones or home computers. Nevertheless, the good old telephone could be used as a weapon in spreading ill will!

By the way, the following piece is INSPIRED by actual events. No one ever remembers the exact details, and I changed the names because some of my school friends read my blog.) 


I had known Sandra and Mitzi since fourth grade. Those two were the dynamic duo of Lewis and Clark Elementary School. The tiny girls looked nothing alike, but each was a cutie in her own way. Sandra’s olive skin, dark eyes, and short, natural curly hair contrasted with Mitzi’s fair skin, blue eyes, and long honey-blond hair.

Those girls were the type that every girl wanted to be friends with, and because they were actually shorter than most boys, the guys liked them, too. Even in fourth grade, boys chased Sandra and Mitzi during recess, and slid lovey-dovey notes to them during class. I know because I read a few before passing them along. That was when they didn’t even know my name.

Couldn't find my 7th grade picture, but this 8th grade photo is close enough.

By seventh grade, the guys were taller; so were Sandra and Mitzi, and I had finally stopped growing. I was still taller, but at least I didn’t tower over the two by a head and a half. That was the year we became friends.

For some reason the two buddies didn’t have any classes together, but I sat by Sandra in my first three classes and by Mitzi in my last three. We had gravitated to each other because there were so few people from our elementary school in our classes. We knew no one, except Tommy and Billy who were super goofs that irritated us every time they opened their mouths.

“Hey,” they called to me. “Runnin’ ‘round with the big girls, huh?”

“Mitzi, where is your Siamese twin?” Tommy asked my friend. “Little desperate to be running around with BearTracks, aren’t you?” That’s what they called me and I hated it.

So it went, but the two pest-boys were right about one thing: I had become friends with two very popular girls. While I couldn’t totally explain the phenomenon, I was feeling pretty good about myself – until November.

As Thanksgiving approached, Sandra and I decided to have a party over the break, and as we talked about who to invite, I was surprised that she was debating whether or not to include Mitzi.

“She’s really changed since we started junior high, don’t you think?” I didn’t know what to say because I DID think she had changed; she was NICER, but obviously Sandra didn’t think so. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my new friendship with her so I just asked how she thought Mitzi had changed.

“She is SO stuck up. Don’t you think so?” Again, I was worried about what I should say to that. If I agreed, she might tell our friend, and Mitzi would hate me. But if I disagreed with Sandra, she might think I liked Mitzi more than her, and so I copped out.

“If you promise not to tell Mitzi, I have to agree with you. Ever since Brent Caldwell started calling her, she really thinks she’s something.”

Sandra jumped right on that, “I KNOW! She doesn’t have time for her friends anymore because she’s always talking to Brent or hanging around him. And I don’t even think he’s that cute. Do you?”

Now I thought Brent Caldwell was the most gorgeous boy in the whole state, maybe in the world, but I answered, “Are you kidding me? I don’t know what she sees in him, and he’s such a jerk, too. One day I walked up to the two of them when he was talking to Mitzi, and he totally started flirting with me! Right in front of her! I couldn’t believe it!”

Sandra added her opinions; we said good bye, then went our separate ways without coming to a final decision about whether or not to invite Mitzi to Sandra’s party.

A few days later, Sandra and I were walking home together, and she asked if I could come to her house to plan the party. I was so excited because this event was going to be a Renae and Sandra production instead of a Mitzi and Sandra social.

While talking about food, music, and decorations, Sandra interrupted the planning to ask what I was wondering, “Well, should we invite Mitzi or not?” I just shrugged my shoulders because I really didn’t want to make the decision. “It’s your party, Sandra. Do what you want,” I finally blurted out because she wouldn’t stop staring at me.

Finally, she suggested that we call Mitzi and see how she acted towards us. “I’ll get on one phone and you get on the extension, okay?” Sandra ordered. “But don’t tell her you are on the line, and I’ll just talk to her for awhile, and then you tell me what you think. Besides, I don’t want her to know that you and I are planning this party.”

Something told me this was not a good idea, but being the wimp I was, I nodded in agreement and headed to the basement to pick up the other phone.

After a few minutes of friendly chit-chat, Sandra paused in the conversation with Mitzi and then asked, “Hey, what do you think of Renae?”

I was stunned. Why would she ask a question like that? And then I thought maybe she wanted to see if Mitzi would say something rude about me and that would determine whether or not Sandra would invite her old friend to the party. Still, I did not want to hear Mitzi’s answer because I really did like her. I held my breath.

“Oh, my gosh,” she started. “I can’t stand her. She is so conceited, and I seriously don’t know why.”

My heart sunk, my stomach churned, and then I heard Sandra say, “I KNOW! She used to be so sweet, and now she is the most stuck-up person in our school.”

I couldn’t believe what I heard, and tears started welling up. Part of me wanted to scream into the phone that I was listening to every word they were saying, but somehow I realized they knew that. Mitzi spoke up, “Can you believe she’s even trying to take Brent away from me. Every time we’re all together, she totally plays up to him right in front of me! But he can’t stand her and she doesn’t even see that.”

Carefully, I placed the phone in its cradle, quietly climbed the stairs, and let myself out.

1 Comment

… may be LOW-TECH, but homemade Mother’s Day cards are still the best …

This past week I received an email from JibJab – the site where you grab some photos and lop the heads of friends and family and stick them on site’s videos or postcards for a hilarious effect. The site had all kinds of funny options customers could send their moms, and I will probably send one to my mom.

However, I couldn’t help but think about cards I used to make for her. Here are a couple I created for Mom in 1956 and 1957 or ’58. You will notice the “clip art” is either non-existent or lacking and Spellcheck failed to correct a few words, but the sentiments – strange as they might be came from my 7 and 8 year-old-heart.  Well, maybe I “copied and pasted” one or two lines for the first poem.

Connie and I probably created this poem in 1958 when I was in third grade. I was still writing "r's" like Mrs. Quidor and the Palmer method taught me.

I went to a little more effort to create this card when I was in 4th grade in 1959. The front of the card is on the left and the inside verse is on the right. I even included a little Hallmark logo on the back to make it official! After all, didn’t card companies create Mother’s Day? (By the way, neither of these creations were school assignments!)

Because of the drawing, complete with halo AND horns, as well as the guilt-ridden verse, I have to guess that I must have gotten into some big trouble a day or two before Mother’s Day!

My mother NEVER hurt my EAR, but hey, it rhymed with DEAR!

Notice the "horns" on the anGLE's head holding up her halo. Interesting.


… maybe the yummiest candy bar in the WORLD …

The first photo I took on our trip to Bryce Canyon was of a candy bar – I’m serious. We walked into a Chevron mini-mart after gassing up the car to grab a snack. As I perused the aisles, I experienced a blast from the past.

Settled in next to Reece’s Peanutbutter Cups, Hersey bars, KitKats, Twix Bars, etc. was an Idaho Spud. NO, not one of those potatoes that have made Idaho famous, but that incredible confection that combines “a light cocoa flavored, soft marshmallow center drenched with a dark chocolate coating and then sprinkled with coconut.” DE.LI.CI.OUS.

THE One AND Only Spud!!!

The shape is SUPPOSED to look like a POTATO!

I hadn’t enjoyed one of these delicacies since I LIVED in the Gem State, and so I didn’t care that it cost more than 5 times the amount I used to pay for the candy bar. At first, I worried that it wouldn’t live up to the memories I have of biting into chocolate-covered softness, BUT IT DID! It was every bit as scrumptious as I remembered.

I think this retro-version was smaller than the candy bars I bought back in the day, but it was just as messy. I was covered in coconut and so was the car seat!

I also enjoyed reading the snippets of history found on the wrapper, but in researching the Idaho Candy Company, home of the Spud, I learned the candy dates back further back than 1930, the date printed on the packaging.

On the way BACK from Bryce, we stopped again, and I bought one of the bars for Mom. She was as excited as I was – doesn’t take much to please us Idaho women!