A Door You Don’t Want to Open

From my junior high school yearbook.

By high school I’d decided that I wanted no trinkets (such as yearbooks) to remind me of the four miserable years I’d spent in high school. Truth be told, I probably brought on my own misery by telling my classmates that everything they held dear was stupid.  Football – stupid.  Proms – stupid.  Cheerleading – really, really stupid. And what was smart?  Protesting senseless wars, archaic dress codes and, well, just about anything. It’s a miracle my classmates didn’t drown me in PE, which I probably also protested. 

However, before I became such a sanctimonious nincompoop, I was an insecure junior high schooler desperate to fit in.  Not only did I buy yearbooks, but I had everyone I ran into sign the darn things, even the teachers!

Recently I cracked open my junior high school yearbook. I was looking for a name mentioned by a friend that sounded familiar.  I didn’t find the name but I was opening a door that should have remained forever closed.

First to the good memories: Above  is my favorite science teacher.  He was young, red-haired and fool-hardy enough to lead an astronomy club full of thirteen-year- olds up to the shingled rooftop of a four-story building where there was nothing to stop anyone of us from rolling off the edge.  

My German teacher insisted we call him Herr Assmus. I guess he figured that if he was going to be teased for his name by students, he might as well go along with the gag.  However he had his limits. One day, after being forced to teach German in a room also used for Sex Education, he erupted in a fury: “I cannot teach German with a penis staring at me!”  Then he proceeded to rip a diagram of a  penis off the wall while we all cracked up. 

This teacher hated me.  I had absolutely no homemaking skills and practically burnt down her kitchen.

My art teacher reminded me of Tony Randall from the Odd Couple.  Fastidious and neat but always smiling. 

Our custodian was always on the spot when we forgot the combinations to our locker but never scolded us.  I guess that’s why he got a special place in the yearbook.

 Nori had it all:  Looks, athletic ability, and a stable family. He was also an alcoholic. I went out with him once in high school; he picked me up drunk and took me to a party with other football players and their girlfriends.  There he proceeded to get even drunker and wandered off to a bedroom where the school’s “easy” girl serviced the boys while their prim girlfriends sat together and gossiped. One of the other football players became disgusted with the game and took me home. Not long after, Nori drove off a cliff up at Tahoe.

After his death, we found our his other “shameful” secret:  he was Jewish.

Blake took one psychedelic too many and ended up in the state mental institute. When we went to see him, he claimed to be Jesus. Not long after, he also died.

Dee was so cute and bubbly that all the boys had crushes on her, even the ones from out in the sticks where she would have been called “colored” or worse.  She disappeared from school one day without a word.  Months later we found out from our sex education teacher that she’d bled to death in an alley in Oakland, California after an illegal abortion.  I often think about her. Fourteen years old. 

My mother tried to set me up with this guy because his father was a self-made millionaire. He had a Trump-like personality and actually shot someone he’d never met in the back thinking he’d get away with it. Pretty boy didn’t last long in jail. 

Above is the James Dean of our class. His rebellious streak got him slapped around (and worse) by the male teachers (hey – this was a different time).He’s probably in jail but I liked him.

 This gal actually murdered someone and got away with it. But it was okay because he was a Piute Indian and she was the daughter of a prominent socialite. On her picture she wrote “Nancy is a queer.”  As far as I know, she is still alive.

Okay – we didn’t all turn out to be murderers or drug addicts or dead in an alley somewhere. Jon, who was a neighbor of mine, is a lawyer who worked in the Obama administration. The last time I saw Johanna and Lucille was at the premiere of their art show at the De Young Museum. Steve was Mr. Popular all through school because he was kind and thoughtful to everyone.  He’s a basketball coach out in Winnemucca.  

Oh and I found a picture of my ex-husband as a thirteen year old which you don’t get to see  because I want you to have some respect for me!

My advice to you all is stay away from those old yearbooks.  Reopening them is often  like playing the game Jumanji.   

To see legitimate doors, check out Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoors challenge. 

#ThursdayDoors: PostSecrets

Technically this is not a door; it’s a bridge in the Navy Pier area of Washington DC. 

The shipyards are now dormant and the area is being “gentrified” which means impossibly hip restaurants and bars now line an area formerly full of sailors. The view is amazing.

Although I have no idea what we’re looking at.  I wasn’t the driver, but it was definitely off the beaten track..

The above building, on the other hand, is right in the middle of the action. It’s the National Postal Museum. The museum is worth visiting even if you don’t give a damn about postage stamps.  The building itself is a treasure with marble columns and gorgeous woodwork, vintage mail trucks and postal boxes and many interactive exhibits.  One of my favorite exhibits was PostSecrets, which is described as “an ongoing community mail art project” where people send in anonymous, homemade postcards containing their deepest, darkest secrets.

Most of the postcards are humorous but some are so worrisome that the founder of the project has regular meetings with a suicide prevention organization.

Unfortunately this museum doesn’t get the foot traffic they deserve.  Did I mention that the entrance is free, and that it’s right across from Union Station?  So, no excuses. If you’re ever in downtown DC with a few hours to kill check it out and maybe even confess your deep, dark secrets anonymously via a post card.

Check out other doors perhaps some hiding deep dark secrets at Norm Frampton’s place.  

#ThursdayDoors: Cloud Gates and Pierogies

I wish I could say that I start each new vacation looking forward to expanding my horizons, meeting new people, riding a zip line through the jungle, or even joining an archeological dig.

The Cloud Gate in Millenium Park – if you could find the “gate” where do you think it would lead?

But alas, I’m a person ruled by my taste buds and not my head. Before even heading for the airport, I’m thinking of all the food adventures awaiting me. You might deduce that I’m some sort of a foodie interested in haute cuisine.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

From the original doors

I’d rather have Potato Pierogies and Gedadschde at a place like Berghoffs  (above) than nibble on an elegantly presented morsel of steak tartare served on ginger-roasted sea urchins. Berghoff’s Grill, one of the oldest in Chicago, is the sort of place where they don’t make you feel like old Aunt Nellie who lives on fried spam and canned peas if you ask about the ingredients. The matronly waitresses call you “honey” and it’s assumed you want a beer to go with that humongous Bavarian pretzel hanging in the middle of the table for sharing and dipping.

My favorite eatery in Washington DC is also a “grill:”  The Old Ebbitts Grill.Aside from its long list of famous regulars, this establishment (which claims to be Washington’s Oldest “Saloon”)  is famous for its decor. the game heads hanging on the walls were supposedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt.

The Cabinet Room is famous for its collection of  paintings of tropical birds by Robin Hill.  However, it’s used primarily for private parties and thus we were unable to get a peak inside.

How about you – are you a pierogie or tartare sort of traveler?

Check out other doors at Norm’s place.

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#ThursdayDoors: Cooler by the Coast

Rockaway Beach, Pacifica California, 61 degrees

I’ve been trying to get back into writing after quite a stint away thus my blogging pace has slowed. However, every now and then I have to get out of the house and when I do I try to snap a picture or two for Norm Frampton’s always entertaining weekly doors party.  

My “doors” – a fun cafe in Half Moon Bay

Mural in the cafe. Another flying fish: the Honolulu clipper.

Even when the weather is unbearably hot here in California, the Pacific coast is always at least 15 degrees cooler and so that’s where we headed last Thursday when we needed to put miles on our car so it would pass the smog test.  You probably wonder why we hold onto a car which we drive so rarely that it doesn’t pass the smog test.  Well, it’s not just any car.  It’s a 2001 Lexus IS. Damned addictive to drive and cute as hell.  We bought it when we both worked for dot.coms which were supposed to make us millionaires.  Ha!

Because we live due east of downtown San Francisco, the most direct route to the coast is through the City.  However traffic is insane and then there are all those hills “climbing half way to the stars” with cable cars and buses and Ubers and taxis and trolleys all fighting for a lane. Lest I forget the bicyclists who think they own the whole damn street. So we generally go either north or south and then cut over to the coast via roads less traveled.  Last Thursday we drove south then west to the beaches, Pacifica to be exact. The reason, we wanted to see the Tom Lantos Tunnels which were completed in 2013 after many years of struggle and debate, both ecological and financial.

These tunnels go directly through Devil’s Slide, a massive landslide covering the stretch of Highway 1 between Pacifica and Montara. The mountain literally decided to join the sea taking the road with it. For years they kept fixing the road and for years the mountain kept moving. Finally they gave into nature and built the tunnels.

Exiting the tunnel when fog hugs the coast is a bit like seeing that light at the end of the tunnel as you lay dying.  On that cheerful note, I’d best be getting back to work!

#ThursdayDoors: The Camp Store

Options, options, too many options!

I haven’t been blogging much recently for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been trying to figure out how to self-publish using Createspace.  Or perhaps that should be, how NOT to self-publish using Createspace.  Sheesh. Right now I’m at a loggerheads involving pricing and distribution and waiting for a callback from their support staff, so, why not skip on over and join Norm Frampton’s weekly doors event I thought!

The second reason for not keeping up my blogging schedule is, I’ve been down in San Diego helping take care of a two month old baby, my grandson. He lives with his family across the street from a state-run campground with a Five Star view. And how could it not?  It’s literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Below is a pebbly beach which almost disappears at high tide.

Although it’s location and view are Five Star, the camp is quite equalitarian. You’ll find million dollar, high tech Winnebagos sitting next to folks with just a tent and camp stove. I didn’t take any pictures (sorry Norm), because I figure people don’t go to campsites to be featured on #ThursdayDoors. However I did take photos of the stage (above) where camp rangers give presentations on ecology during the day and movies are shown at night. They have doors of a sort but I have no idea what’s beyond them.

And lest you wonder where the heck the real doors are – drum roll please – I present the camp store.

A place where you can purchase items you’ve forgotten such as toothpaste and aspirin.

After a long day of changing poopie diapers, getting spit up on, and making endless bottles, what better way to relax than watching the sun go down on a pebbly beach.  Have a lovely weekend everyone. It’s supposed to be hot, hot, hot here.  Rats!

#ThursdayDoors: Cheating Bigly

Doors leading to the outdoor sculpture garden.

This week for ThursdayDoors I cheated bigly.  I hopped on BART and took a ride to downtown San Francisco, where if you can’t find an interesting door to snap, there’s absolutely no hope for you.  However the purpose of my trip was not to take pictures but to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.

For those who don’t know San Francisco, the MOMA is about three blocks south of Market Street which is about as close to a main drag as you’ll find in the City. Above is the Lotta Crabtree Fountain where every year on April 18th the survivors of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire are honored.

There are a many fine old doors in this area but to get good photos of them you’d have to have a death wish. Traffic is ridiculous. Above is the Hearst building which maintained its original doors although the building has obviously been modernized.

Next to the MOMA are the Yerba Buena gardens “the cultural center of San Francisco.”  Many of the gardens and restaurants in this two block complex are actually on the guarded second level and thus free of the homeless population known to panhandle in this area.

The Martin Luther King Memorial on a gray day. I like the solemnity of this memorial more that the rather grandiose one in Washington DC..

Across the street from the gardens is St. Patrick Cathedral originally built in 1851.  Although it’s dwarfed by the other buildings and hotels in the South of Market or SOMA area, it remains as they say “an island of calm and tranquility amidst chaos.”

And they do have a lovely door.  Hop on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event to see other doors from around the world.

Oh – the exhibit was great.  If it comes to your town, do try to see it.

 

ThursdayDoors: Prayers for the Hopeless

Last week I did my patriotic duty and showed up for jury duty. Unfortunately I showed up on the wrong day. Heck, I wasn’t even there in the right month.

I blame my blunder on having to reschedule twice and, in the process, getting confused. Yeah, right.

Anyway,  not wanting to waste a morning (and because I had no desire to get back on the freeway during rush hour) I decided to wander around the small but historic town of Martinez California.

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Martinez is the county seat, thus most of the courthouses are located here. The sheriff’s deputies don’t let you take pictures of the security entrances for some reason so I took the above shot from across the street.  The men standing in front are offering free prayers for those entering the courthouse. The town is filled with signs also offering hope to the hopeless or the guilty but only if you’re willing to pay

Martinez is also full of antique stores. I’m not sure what the two have in common.  Perhaps you know.

I stopped at funky cafe down near the railroad station

where, while waiting for an egg sandwich, I picked up a black journal lying on a driftwood table.  It was filled with drawings and scribbles from patrons also waiting for egg sandwiches:

One person loved her thighs.

Another waxed philosophical.  He or she is far wiser than me.  But perhaps “My Life is a Mess 101” is a college class.

This one had a slightly more positive message.  Perhaps a bit of weed helped.

Some drew pictures describing how they felt with no words.  I’m not sure but the guy in the upper left of this scribble seems to be holding both a joint and a penis.  If I were to guess, I’d say a disgruntled teenage girl drew this picture.

Every page of the book was filled which meant I was not invited to participate. As I flipped through the pages, a young man, not more than fifteen, with torn and dirty jeans and carrying a heavy backpack entered and asked politely to use the bathroom.  The staff, themselves all young, tattooed and multiply pierced, agreed then stood beyond the counter whispering. The boy was in the bathroom for about ten minutes, then exited and asked to buy a chocolate croissant.

“Did you run away?”  the staff asked almost in unison to which he answered, “No I’m homeless.”

As I left the cafe, one of the older staff members (the manager?) was sitting at a booth with the homeless youth. The scene lightened my mind as I walked back to my car past the prayers for the hopeless brigade and the bail bondsmen’s offices. I knew that magically a blank page had appeared in the black journal for someone lost.

Please visit Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors event for more pictures of doors and their stories.