September 5, 2014

Looking back

Every school year I have my students do a website scavenger hunt so they have to look around my class website at least once. Hopefully they'll find something useful and use it regularly throughout the year. If not, at least I tried.

One of the questions is always, 'what do you wish I had on my website that I don't have?'

This year, one of my students said that he would like to have my background there. So in stream-of consciousness, quasi-chronological order I offer up my background.

Let's see...

I was born in New Albany, Indiana. Actually, I was born in a hospital across the river, but my family was always a New Albany family, so let's just say I grew up in New Albany.

My parents were and are married.

My sister, Amellia, came along three years and a couple of months after I did.

We had a series of dogs when I lived in the house: a pit bull, a mutt, a German Shepherd, a standard poodle, a Rottweiler, a Brittany Spaniel. There were also some fish here and there, but they never seemed to last too long. No cats, no birds.

I went to Silver Street Elementary School, a school that has since been closed and that was about four blocks from my first home. The only real stories I remember from Silver Street are that, according to my parents, I asked in first grade if I could work ahead in the math book. My teacher said yes, and a week later I took it back and asked for the next one. Apparently I had finished the entire year's math by the end of first quarter or so. I started doing math with the second graders, and by Christmas time or so, I was simply in second grade with the latest birthday in the class.

Grandma and Grandpa - my dad's parents - lived a block or so past that, and my sister and I would usually head over there after school if we weren't walking directly home.

My other grandparents lived across the river in Louisville, about half an hour away. We saw them less frequently, maybe once a month during the school year but more than that in the summer, I think. Memory tends to blur the details, admittedly.

Junior High - not Middle School at the time - was a few blocks further at Hazelwood Junior High School. If I wasn't walking to Grandma's house after school, I would walk another couple of blocks to the high school where my dad taught and that I eventually attended after three years at Hazelwood.

My mom, by the way, first worked in Louisville when I was born, took time off when I was born - even volunteered in my elementary library a morning a week where she said she got conjunctivitis (pink eye) pretty much every week - and eventually became an executive assistant/secretary/second person in a two-person office until I was out of the house.

Dad was a social studies teacher until a year or so ago when he retired after forty-six years teaching in the high school he attended. He's a member of their Hall of Fame - and of the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, too, along with at least three of his former players. He was my coach for four years (two on varsity but never in the top seven), too. We successfully avoided having each other in the classroom. He bit the bullet and switched what he was teaching (his favored government for his less-favored US history) so that didn't happen.

I was a good student...or a really smart student, anyway. I wasn't prone to studying or to doing homework in advance or to taking great notes or anything, but I did well in school all through high school, eventually finishing fifth in my class of about four hundred graduates. I was a national merit finalist, too. I can take standardized tests like nobody's business. Yeah, I still know my SAT and ACT scores. I did well but certainly not perfectly, that's all you need to know.

I met The Girl in junior high school, seventh-grade English to be specific. We were in the same social circles for junior high school and started dating during our junior year. She was the first person I dated, and I was tentative to say the least. Plus, I couldn't drive because I was a year younger than the rest of the folks in the class, so everywhere we went is where she drove. We went to prom, and the dating kind of ended soon thereafter. We didn't break up, we just didn't see much of each other over that summer.

We started dating again as seniors, and I got to drive to prom - on a river boat, kinda cool - that year. When the year ended, we dated through the summer and headed separately to college (for me) and France (for her).

I was at Wabash College, an all-male, small, liberal arts school in Crawfordsville, Indiana, so the prospects of dating somebody else while The Girl was in France weren't great for me. Plus, I kinda liked her, so I stayed true to my overseas girlfriend. I joined the Lamba Chi Alpha fraternity, finished third (or fourth, maybe, I don't remember) in the intramural ping pong tourney, made a number of really good friends - some of whom I've kept, some I haven't, admittedly.

The Girl came back the next summer, and we started dating again. She kicked me to the curb by the middle of my sophomore year, and I got into a bit of a funk. Soon thereafter, for some reason, I decided that I needed to head overseas, myself, and found the University of Aberdeen program through Wabash's study abroad program.

So, oversees I headed - after a summer of a whole lot of tennis, eating right, losing a bunch of weight - to the University of Aberdeen. I made some friends, dated the second and third women that I'd ever dated, and had an absolute blast. Studying in Scotland was a giant, huge, big step for me. I think I've talked about it before, but I can easily say that the time away from people I knew, the chance to define myself however I chose and to find out what parts of my world mattered were all huge in realizing who I wanted to be. I've sadly only stayed in contact with one friend from Scotland, and he's a good friend who lives like a mile from my house now and was the best man in my wedding.

When I came back from Scotland, The Girl actually came looking for me. We've dated ever since, moving to Cincinnati in 1997 - right after she graduated from Indiana University and getting married in 2000.

I graduated from Wabash with honors - magna not quite summa, as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, honored with a chemistry major and a student teaching award - and took a job at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, home of the Braves. The Girl was a year behind in Bloomington at IU, so I was mostly killing a year, living forty-five minutes to the west.

After she graduated from IU, we moved together to Cincinnati, finding a third-story apartment a block from the UC campus (on Riddle Road.) I took a job at Mt Healthy, and The Girl landed as a long-term substitute on Allison Elementary in the Norwood school system and working twenty hours a week at Starbucks to get benefits as we weren't married yet.

We moved into a home on Philomena Avenue in Northside for a few years and adopted two dogs, LeRoy and then Harlan. While we were on Philomena, I moved from Mt Healthy to Princeton High School where I've been ever since...well, other than moving across the street this year.

And that's how I got to where I am...

Anything else you want to know?

No comments: