The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Back to School

Remember the first day of school? I mean, the first EVER. When you didn’t know what to expect and you were nervous, and didn’t sleep the night before? And your mom brushed your hair so hard your head hurt and made you wear shiny new shoes that slipped when you walked? I still remember my first day at Sadie Halsted Elementary School (I still have absolutely no idea who Sadie Halsted was, or what she did to get a school named after her), right down to the dress I wore. Remember those dresses that were all one piece but were supposed to look like a skirt and blouse (no doubt to keep hooligans like me looking at least moderately neat and tucked in)? Mine had a plaid skirt and a cream colored top, and it tied in the back. Which was how I figured out that wooden chairs + bow at back of dress = knot digging into small of back all day long. Remember that? I also remember that I was the girl who didn’t think to put shorts on under my dress so I could play on the monkey bars without the boys being able to look at my panties. Of course, the 6-year-old boys didn’t give a rat’s tushie about our panties…but they loved that we would scream if they did the whole “I see London, I see France….” thing. There was a little girl in my class named Sandy who had blond hair in a blunt cut and who wore red stretch pants instead of a dress and I remember being dreadfully jealous of her because she could play on the bars all through recess and not worry about her panties. Or London or France. I was also jealous of the shiny blond hair (I had brown ponytails) and especially the red pants, as red was my very favorite color.

All of which goes to say that I am returning to school tomorrow. I took some summer classes, but this seems more official, somehow. Like a dork, I’ve already picked out my clothes--blazer, striped shirt, dark wash jeans, boots:(I do have the excuse that I have to get up earlier than Mr. K, and don’t want to wake him up picking out clothes in the wee hours….but we all know the dorky truth) and I’ve packed my books in my backpack (which has wheels—when did textbooks start to be so darned HEAVY?). It feels like a new beginning which, in a way, it is. Okay, the real beginning was quitting my job and signing up for those first classes. But whether it’s the Autumn air or just the fact that school, in my mind, starts in the fall, regardless of what one did over the summer, it feels like tomorrow is the start. And I am spinning, (just click for a rather different definition of spinning than you may be used to) of course, because I have to get perfect grades if I’m going to have any chance at all of competing against those other 299 – 499 other applicants for the 40 – 50 spots. It’s always such a good thing to have outside pressures to be perfect….when one is already a dyed in the wool perfectionist.

When I started this learning business the first time, I carried a Snoopy lunchbox with a thermos full of milk in it, and I fretted all day about getting on the right bus. I also fretted about being able to find the restroom, finding my classroom after recess, and being seen as dumb. While I can definitely find the restroom by myself, and I’m driving a Toyota rather than riding a yellow bus, I still worry about being seen as dumb. Some things never change. (You want to really laugh? I just stopped to proof this and realized that I’d misspelled dumb…as dum. Shades of Homer Simpson, I swear to…..) I’ll probably skip the Snoopy lunchbox, too, in favor of a Luna bar and a bottle of flavored water stuffed in my backpack. But I’m thinking that we really don’t change all that much. I don’t worry about the boys seeing my underwear, but I still want to fit in to some extent, I still want to look smart, I still want to “do it right”. And I still don’t want to get lost, although now “lost” is more likely to mean losing the more ephemeral path to my goals than the one to and from the girls room.

Huh. I didn’t know this was going to be a serious post…but so it seems to be. Funny how I think I’m so tough….but that inner turmoil finds a way out just the same. I’m plain old scared of failure. Wouldn’t you think I’d some up with something more original?

Ah, well--I have gotten some knitting done, and I bought the buttons for Bianca.

I thought I wanted wooden ones, but then decided I wanted something with a shank for reasons I could not possibly explain. You know that little sweater-making voice in your head that just starts shouting “No, No!! Not THOSE buttons!!” but never really tells you why? No? It’s just me? Hmm. This cannot be a good sign. (Remember that bit in the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy" where the woman turns to the guy and says, appropros of nothing, "Are the voices in my head bothering you?" I'm starting to worry that this may be me....) Anyhow, these are little leather buttons that came in this saddle color and in dark brown. I liked the saddle because some of the little tweedy bits are in this color. (By the way, full comedy points to Mr. K who, when told about these “tweedy bits”, replied “I tawt I taw a tweater! I did! I did! I did tee a tweater!’’ That’s TWEEDY, not TWEETY!)

Come to think of it, that whole bird thing might just be the reason for this:

The handsome Ed, keeping my knitting in line while I work on the next piece (I know he's slightly blurry....please don't tell him, though. He's sensitive.).

Naturally, having gotten the back, the right front, and ¾ of the left front finished, I’ve already begun to consider the next project, possibly the Samus jacket from Knitty. As good as the designer looks, I fear I’d look like a safety cone in that shade of orange…so maybe a light, heathery green? I know that you all know I’ll change my mind 12 times and end up making something totally different…so I appreciate your patience with my delusion.

And lastly, a chuckle for you: I went to pick up my husband’s extra pair of glasses for him today at the optician. They were paid for; I only needed to collect them (which is good, as I’m still slightly less than 100%). I was quite surprised when, instead of simply handing them to me, the girl had me wait. And wait. And wait. I came to find out that it hadn’t occurred to her that if my husband wasn’t with me, it probably wouldn’t be possible to fit them… she had me waiting for someone to come fit them for me. I had to wonder—did she think I had his head in my purse?

I’ll let you know how the first day of school goes. I won’t lose my sweater, or my lunch, or my cool. Well, okay. Maybe my cool. Just a little.


  • At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    You are not going to look stupid (I have proof of that on my pc) in fact you will most likely blow them all away...because you are smart, charming, and competent, *you* really are. I love those leather buttons, always have, always will, I think they'll look absolutely perfect.
    "The Gods must be Crazy" I loved that film.
    Samus is a beautiful cardi, go for it. Soft heathery green is always a good choice.
    Hello Handsome Puss Ed, xoxoxox
    Funny story about the optician's office..what are some people really thinking? pull up those big girl panties and ...carry on...

  • At 6:41 PM, Blogger Faren said…

    My mother graduated as a RN the same year my older (2 yrs)brother graduated High School, so I have some idea of what you are going to go through. It is tough, but working as a nursing aide, I have also seen a few nurses that I have to wonder how in the world they managed to pass the class let alone the state boards. Must have slept with the teacher, or bribed them with yarn...anyway, if they can do it, you should be able to manage it!
    I remember those dresses, mine was a black skirt with a white top, and that bow in the back was uncomfortable.
    The button looks good with the sweater. I think it would take me forever to do a sweater if I actually ever got up the nerve to start one!

  • At 5:18 AM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    Marianne, I'm taking you with me--you're just too good for my confidence! And Faren, I know just what you mean about some of those nurses. How in the world did they get there? As an MA, I had some as patients who didn't know as much as I did! It was a little worrisome. But you really do need to start that sweater--I know you can do it!! I'll tempt you, now: the Bianca jacket knits up so fast you wouldn't believe it. Truly.

  • At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just remember, There's no crying in baseball...or math class.

    School's fun!


    (I don't start again until next week. Small reprives.)


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