Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I seem to be drawing a blank when it comes to posting something on the blog. Distracted by this and that, weird things that shouldn't matter, but somehow do. We're okay. Roger's appointment with the oncologist did not answer any questions. The doc is being very cautious and wants to wait another week before deciding if Roger should continue with the Xeloda or move on to the 5FU and Leucovorin. There's really been no change with his rash, so it's hard to tell what's up and why. So, we've been distracting ourselves with work in the garden; keeping our little kale, chard, and onion starts from baking to a crisp in the early autumn heatwave; taking cool morning walks, scaring the band-tailed pigeons from their roosts. I'm also still learning how to use the camera. It's challenging, to say the least. This photo of the quail is taken through our kitchen window. Such elegant birds.
But what's also been bugging me to distraction is my high school class had its 40th reunion this past weekend, and I didn't go. It was in New Jersey, and I am not there and haven't been since graduation in 1970. It probably didn't help that we moved so far away from our roots all those years ago, so that there has never been one moment in 40 years where I ran into a single one of these people... not at a grocery store or the park or out on the trail. Some of my former high school classmates are Facebook friends, so I've been seeing a lot of photos of the reunion parties. Looking at all of those faces again, something happened that I did not expect, they made me sad. They reminded me that I was not close to them all those years ago, and not only that, but that my brother, sister, and I were pretty much outsiders. One day we were regular teenagers and then we "turned on, tuned in, and dropped out." It's true. Who knows why it happens? Why someone hears a different drummer from the rest. But it does happen. (How did Roger find The Realist when he was in high school, when it was very first published; or why was he drawn to San Francisco for jazz and the Beats in the late 1950s?) My twin brother put on bell-bottomed pants in 1968 (which at the time was a statement of outrageous provocation). I was sent home from school for wearing a skirt too short. We let our hair grow; we painted flowers on our bodies; we protested the war in Vietnam; we got high and went to the Fillmore East to hear rock and roll; we made friends with other outcasts and wrote poetry about our plight. When I looked at the high school reunion pictures, my heart sank. I remembered that these kindly old faces did not protest the war. They did not go to Woodstock. They did not hear the drum we heard. They held pep rallies. They went to football games. They went to the prom and to graduation. We might as well have been on different planets. Yes, they were my high school cohort, but they were not my tribe. For a few days, those photos and memories made me feel like a lonely 17 year old girl again. Maybe the 40th reunion of Woodstock last year was the real reunion for me. Sigh.

Photo from 1974, the year I would have graduated from college if I had gone straight from high school. Instead, that's my dad, boyfriend, and me building a cabin on the ten acres of land Michael and I had just bought in southern Oregon. I heard a different drummer...


  1. A lot of people do get more interesting as they age. Actually, just a few years out of high school, I was surprised to find that a couple former jocks had turned into pot-smoking musician types. One former classmate, a working-class guy I always thought was pretty decent, lists his relgious beliefs on Facebook as "Wiccan." I've had people apologize to me for treating me as an outcaste back in high school, and one former cheerleader told me she regularly reads my blog. (Which might freak me out if I spent too much time thinking about it!)

  2. It's true, dave, some do get more interesting. What I noticed in the photos was that a lot of the folks at the reunion didn't look like they had. LOL! Damn, I'm a harsh judge.

  3. I do so relate to your post today. I'm a lot older than you and graduated many years before you and Roger, but I was one of the different ones, I was the one shut out even by my own relatives when I married a black man in Texas in 1963. And yet, I have been reunited with cousins whose parents wouldn't let me in their houses and with high school friends that didn't even know about my husband. They all met my kids and still had no idea they were half black -- well, my husband was quite a mixture, too. It's just all so strange, dumb when you look back. Whatever, I don't regret anything that I did then or now. And pictures that I see of many of my classmates get the same reaction -- who are these OLD people!!!

    Holding good thoughts for Roger and for you.


  4. i have some great connections with college friends -- but absolutely nobody from my high school class. my best friend of those days, we are in loose touch, not even FB friends. another friend from the class above me, we found some common ground more recently -- and now can tell the stories we never could at the time.

    hope things get sorted out better for roger. and hope this heat breaks soon.

  5. Oh. The. Quail. Photo. I don't know what is this "I'm also still learning how to use the camera." You use it beautifully!

    High school? Outsider. In touch with one person from high school (actually from grade school, but more contact once we were in high school). Other than that, folks who wouldn't give me the time of day in high school were soooo friendly after we graduated, but that was too late, as far as I was concerned. J. Mascis's sister was my classmate and used to nag me every year to go to the reunion. Not interested. High school was a place I just wanted to escape the whole time I was there.

    How frustrating it must be to not have an answer about the rash. I hope Roger isn't suffering too much and can endure another week of it. How long between chemo doses?

    By the way, I've never listened to Dinosaur Jr, so the name dropping is just silliness on my part.

  6. You are totally Groovy my dear! :)
    We can completely relate.

  7. Hey everyone, thank you so much for your indulgence on this. I was a little surprised by my renewed teenage angst about it. Seeing all those faces just set off an emotional chain reaction, especially since I recognized only one person who was truly a sympathetic friend.

    I guess Roger's health seems pretty damned good, considering I've been distracted by something so utterly absurd!

  8. i ran across an old boyfriend recently, and he has turned into a teabagging toad. i thought he was just an asshole because he was immature, but apparently i was generous in that assessment. surprising how much that bothered me.

    eh, we ended up better places.

  9. I drove by my high school when I went back to visit family last month. It had been closed, half of it torn down and they are building a senior citizen home there. It was brand new when I started there and I was in the first graduating class in 1974. Sheesh! I've lost touch with anyone that mattered to me back in those days a long time ago.

  10. kathya - teabagging toad. hah!

    A couple of thoughts, Robin. First, I revisited the teenage angst myself recently. I was not exactly an outcast, but I wasn't all that popular, either. When I first got on FB, one of the guys I graduated with was trying to get our entire class to become "friends". After enduring a couple months of information and photos from complete strangers (and quite frankly, who weren't real friends 30 plus years ago), I decided to "unfriend" all but two. It made me sad, though. I still don't fit in.

    And second, I experience that same "tummy ache" when I watch my teenage kids negotiate their way. Sometimes I just have to go to my room with my weepy, pitiful self. I don't want my unresolved emotional issues to get in their way!

  11. And, oh my, that quail is a beauty!

  12. Great quail shot! Gorgeous!

    Hope the rash issue resolves, but I guess it best that you're being cautious about it.

    yes, I went through high school reunion angst this year too, my 35th. I decide not to go. Lucky for me, though, I did have a tribe and we started an alternative high school. We are working on a reunion next year for us "altys" to take place in, where else, Big Sur.

    I guess we just have to admit we weren't in with the cheerleaders or the jocks. Still aren't. YAY!!!

  13. Once again, the parallels are awesome. I will elaborate on that another time. Just one thing... I too was sent home form school for having too short a skirt. I think I was all of 12 years old.

  14. Love that Quail shot. What a beautiful bird, definitely outclasses ours.
    In school, I had a toe in just about every clique. I believed in equal opportunity. Teenangst is rough but thankfully we pretty much out grow it.
    People do change. The pimple faced boy that followed me around became a neurosurgeon and that really cute heart throb we all craved, last heard was driving a potato chip truck and was on his third wife.
    Hope roger can get that rash under control. Doesn't sound like the doctors are too concerned. Hope it doesn't hurt.

  15. I've had nothing but good surprises with my high school reunions, and I've attended every one since the 20th (our next will be the 55th). I've learned that people become much less judgmental and more accepting and interested in others as they age. I've become friends with some who never spoke to me while in school. Maybe, had you gone to yours, you'd find the same thing.

  16. Great photograph of the quail.

    I have not attended a single reunion. I do have one best friend from those days and have not been in touch with any of the others.

    I stubbornly refuse to join Facebook, but my friend said that as soon as she joined, tons of high school classmates wanted to friend her. She laughed and said, "And I didn't even LIKE them then."

    In high school I was a typical nondiscript student from a small town. It was when I went to college that I learned about the real world. It was quite an awakening.

  17. I didn't go until my 25th, and I enjoyed that one well enough because, I think, by that time most of us were beyond comparing degrees, salaries and expense accounts.

    I planned to go to my 40th 3 years ago, but my travel plans changed at the last minute. Someone set up a maillist, though, for everyone to write a bio or something, and it was sort of stunning to read what some had accomplished - heads of medical departments, playrights, etc.

    I was outside the mainstream "popular" stuff, but had a fun coterie of band geeks, one of whom I married.

  18. Oh, that sweet quail reminds me of the bunches of them we saw in Joshua Tree several years ago...
    Re being an "outsider": My mother told me years ago that at age 5, I informed her I was from Mars. (!!)
    I've been looking at some of the personal videos on a site called It Gets Better, directed at LGBT youth who are at risk; there have been several suicides triggered by bullying lately, and Dan Savage, sex columnist for our local weekly "The Stranger", started it off with a video of him and his partner. The videos are very touching, but one thing stood out to me: Kids can suffer through hell in high school, gay or straight or whatever.
    Until you find your niche, often after you're out of there.
    Yeah, it was fun being a "band geeK" back then,and it's fun now!

  19. Slightly different path, similar feelings. ~ Another Oregonian, but I only arrived here 10 years ago.

  20. I've never been to a reunion, nor will I ever. All but a handful of those I attended with went out of their way to torment myself and others and I see no reason to give them a chance to inflict more.

    Perhaps a lot of it was my being 2 years younger than a lot of them; I've explored it trying to find out how I caused it and have finally decided it isn't worth the time.

    Life is now...


  21. Love the quail photo, Robin. It looks like you're on a great learning curve with the new camera.

    Regarding the rash thing, have you tried doing anything for it. If not, I can give you some suggestions for things that seem to help people who get the "Tarceva rash" for that particular chemo. There's a reason that these rashes develop. Hopefully, Xeloda works like Tarceva in that, the worse the rash, the better the drug is working for you! Anyhow, I can send you links to specific info if you like. Just let me know.

    And as for high school reunions. I was such a wild renegade at school that I didn't fit in with the gang who would have been into things like yearbooks, reunions, etc... I was busy playing guitar on the beach, listening to Hendrix, doing pen and ink drawings of Mick Jagger, Bowie and others, and running with some older kids who were in CEGEP and an art teacher who was quite a renegade himself. I never wore a mini-skirt. I was more the jeans, headband and see-through indian shirt with no bra type. My biggest fears at the time were of getting the cuffs of my jeans tangled in the chain of my 10-speed racing bike (first kid in the school to have a 10-speed!!). Have never been to a reunion. I think the gang that works on those were a very different crowd. Never saw them in the art room -- that's for sure! (o:

  22. Easy to say, and hard to do I know, but I'd stay busy and attempt to put any "wondering" on the back burner, as much as possible.

    As for HS reunions - I've been asked to go to all, since leaving in '71. The "couple" of people I had something in common with I'm still in contact with and have been through the years. Otherwise, didn't know most "mainstream" people anyway, hence have no interest to see them again.

    Of course, that's all people talk about out here, and they all do go, even though they see one another almost every day.

    Cheers and our Best to Roger too!

  23. Thank you all so much for your enlightened comments! I do sense a bit of a consensus here about reunions. While some really do find them enjoyable, the rest of us look at them like a date with the plague.

    I see why we gravitate to each other here in internet land.

  24. Robin, you should host a 10-year reunion of your blog. Should be comin' up in '13 or so? I think that's when I started. But you've got more room, and more readers. ;-)

  25. Funny, the year your twin brother put on the bell bottomed pants, my conservative parents dressed six year-old me as a "flower child" for the "Tot Lot" float in our tiny town's Memorial Day Parade because they thought it would be cute. This would have been ten or eleven, maybe twelve years before the first and only time my parents smoked marijuana "to see what all the fuss was about." I'm pretty sure Mom accidentally found some weed in my room and needed her questions answered without stirring up a bunch of trust issues or something. So Mom & Dad got stoned with my teachers and freely admitted this a couple of years after the fact and who really gives a shit, except at least I had honest parents who didn't meddle too much?

    My 30th reunion was four hours away this summer. What kept me away was mostly learning, through Facebook connections, how I was perceived in the so-called glory days: people thought I was serious, intelligent, aloof, and prone to casting aspersions. Can you imagine that?

    If I have to do it, I prefer reuniting one-on-one. It's just easier to know a person when they're removed from their group, and spending time with people you can't know is a waste.

  26. I'm sure this post touches a lot of people, since we can all relate. I'm sure a lot of those people at the pep rallies wish they had seen more of the truth around them, and not caved into the pressure to conform. I also don't really like facebook for the same reason... it rekindles all the dysfunctional, meritless hierarchies of interpersonal relationships that aging liberates us from. I check facebook maybe every other month... I'm more into my fictional page now anyway :)

    Keep marching to your own music!

  27. Funny it would affect you that way.
    I always go to my high school reunion and am always amazed at how easy it is to slip right back in to easy conversations and laughter with the old crew I ran with.
    For an hour or three, time seems to roll backwards.

  28. Your dad was there, building your house with you? I'm about as far-away-on-another-planet from my family as you were from your highschool age-mates...

  29. You guys leave the absolute best comments. We are utterly enriched by what you write to us here. So, you make me wonder, what if we went to high school together years and years ago? Would we have liked each other?

  30. Fringedwellers, unite! One of the hardest things about going against the flow is feeling alone. No matter how strongly we know in our hearts that our beliefs are good and true, we are social beings who crave the company of others. The beauty of the internet is that we can be alone, yet still connect with like-minded people. Also, being an ambassador of a different way of thinking is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication and continual replenishing of the soul. I thank my lucky stars to have been raised by such independent thinkers, such counter-culture freaks who nurtured my sense of self, faith in my inner moral compass, and the wherewithal to trust my subjective experiences as vital and integral to the raising of collective consciousness. So there.

  31. Re: HS---there are many ways to be an outsider. I was neither braniac, popular, or class clown.
    I was an above average student, shy, didn't become "cute" until college. I just floated thru anonimously like many others. I had a small close group of friends, of which 2 are still close. I went to my 10th and 20th, and had a better than expected time at both. People were nice, friendly & cliques no longer have any meaning. Who knows, I may go to my 40th next year! Or not. :-)