Sunday, January 4, 2015

Fifth Grade Notebook

After her last visit to my home, at the end of which Cathie ominously announced to all within earshot that she would expect me to clear out all of my possessions from her house within 48 hours, Cathie returned with a fierce vengeance yesterday.

She's been threatening me to relieve her of the obligation to store my hoarding for many years. But until recently, I didn't have the space to take back what was rightfully mine.

I heard the screeching of her breaks in my driveway and I knew the woman was on a mission. She approached the door with the same indignant velocity that I had only previously seen her utilize on Sundays between the years 1989 and 1998 when my abhorrent Sabbath Day behavior forced her to almost ritually drag me out of the Mormon congregation by the ear on a weekly basis.

It is that repeated childhood experience that my sisters and I long ago concluded is the exclusive reason that I have no feeling in either of my ears to this day.

And before you go calling the Department of Child and Family Services, give Cathie an opportunity one day to tell you about the "Pulpit Butt-Slapping Incident," as it is commonly referred to by my family members on the rare occasion that we dare to speak of it. Even a non-exaggerated account of that story will have you submitting Cathie's name for a Nobel Peace Prize due to her profoundly remarkable exercise of restraint as a young mother.

I heard the knock on the door and the moment I opened it Cathie forcefully announced that her large vehicle was filled up to maximum capacity with "your crap." I followed her marching body to the car and saw that she wasn't lying.

The timing was odd, because merely moments before she arrived, I had finished unpacking the very last box that had been sitting in a back bedroom, taunting me for the last month by serving as a constant reminder me that I wasn't totally moved in yet.

Faced with the choices of tacit compliance or suffering the motherly wrath, I began unloading Cathie's vehicle alongside her, filling a room in my basement with treasures I had not seen in at least a decade.

I heard the vehicle start just as I was setting the last box onto the floor. Without even saying goodbye, she drove away, a whiff of victory in the exhaust emitted from the back of her car.

I left the piles of certain nostalgia in the basement to be sorted out later. "Later" arrived this morning, when I ventured back to that room to see what, exactly, had been deposited into my new home.

And my oh my. Every single piece of my childhood education that has been saved is currently taking up residence in those boxes.

I've written here, somewhat extensively, about the child version of Eli. Besides the dramatic readings of my childhood journal, I've had little evidence to back up the countless assertions that I was a freaking weird kid.

I was a loner. A space cadet, both inside and outside of the classroom. I lived in my own little dream world. I was somewhere around 4% as cool as I thought I was. And I don't know that I even thought I was all that cool in the first place.

I opened the first box and to my delight discovered something I had totally forgotten. When I was a child, from ages 8 to 12, I developed what must be the most useless skill I have ever learned in my life. I began to draw mazes. But these weren't ordinary mazes. These were miniature versions of extremely complex puzzles. I have no idea whether any of them were actually possible to complete. I never was able to verify this because these mazes were for display only. The ten-year-old far-too-tidy version of myself would never have allowed anyone to even touch them, let alone draw on them.

No. They were kept safely in a notebook, in a very secure place. ALL TWELVE HUNDRED OF THEM.

Warning: if you look directly at it for too long, you'll be hypnotized and I'll be forced to manipulate you into thinking Tami is pretty.

Just underneath the maze, was a notebook. One I had apparently used in the Fifth Grade, as my teacher, Mrs. Daniels, is referenced in it throughout.

This notebook contains multiple scripts for nonsensical plays and skits written by myself and my best friend Sam, who is one day going to sue me for everything I'm worth for the amount of things I have been sharing about his childhood lately.

Amid these scripts is what I can only imagine at the time was a very important document, which lists the names of my fifth grade classmates. At the bottom right corner is a key, displaying symbols that helped me classify each classmate in one of several, apparently mutually exclusive, categories. These include such labels as "cool," "hate," "nice," "mean," and "ok."

To no one's surprise, Mrs. Daniels received one of the very few coveted "cool" labels.

I realize that I'm risking a significant amount of backlash by posting my thoughts on the listed individuals, now twenty years later. But if Lindey wants to talk to me about why I hated her in 1995, she knows where to find me.

Fortunately this notebook also contains some of my most important poetry.

And also, without explanation, this:

I may have peed a little when I looked at the back cover and found this:

I truly cannot wait to open the box that is labeled "Sixth Grade, Eli."

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. This is brilliant! You're literally the coolest people I've ever met

    1. Person. Although your different ages all seem cool to me and somewhat like multiple personality, so maybe I'll stand by people. :-P

  2. You stole my maze book and I want it back!

  3. You should scan a few of your mazes and let us "Strangers" try to complete them.
    ...It would make my day at the office a lot more interesting.

  4. Can we petition a dramatic reading of your poetry?

    1. For the love of Tami, please do a dramatic reading of anything you find in those boxes!

  5. I used to draw mazes like that too! I periodically think back those mazes and wonder how I became such a boring person after showing such high potential for being useful and interesting.

  6. "Warning: if you look directly at it for too long, you'll be hypnotized and I'll be forced to manipulate you into thinking Tami is pretty."


    1. Ok, so I tried out some of the mazes. The bottom left part was too blurry so I couldn't really run through any of that area. For the rest, I was looking for an opening into the mazes as a "start" area. Some went on for a while then stopped. Some were over quick.

      Geometrically, it's pretty cool to just look at it. And the fact that you did it in grade 5 is pretty impressive. Your mind can be quite creative.

    2. Well if you look very closely, the start is at the very center of the maze. Please spend your entire day trying again.

    3. Aw crap! Fine I'll start over.

      BTW, have you notice how attractive Tami is lately?

  7. All of the above is true. All treasures from my house and his elementary school days etc. that should never be thrown away and.... I am waiting for my thank-you for years of material for your blog! :) :) He was not a strange kid...he was the cutest dang kid I have ever seen (next to his 3 sisters!). Let's just say he had his finger on the pulse of Elementary School and Middle School and High School and College and Law School (wait until you see that stuff!) or...he was very bored in class. The pulpit incidence of 1985 will have to be told at some time. ;)

    Cathie XoXoXoxoxoxox

    P.S. You forgot to mention that was my third trip! ;) :)

    P.S.S. That Halloween poem is my new favorite thing you have written. :) Write more poetry.

    1. I love that Cathie still posts as anonymous.
      My mom, also named Kathy, would post on my blog (if I had one and was a famous blogger) as anonymous

    2. Am I the only one who is slightly suspicious that this is really Cathie? Or maybe Eli has just fed us too many horrible stories and shown so many pictures of Tami WITHOUT WARNING, that my brain is now poisoned and no longer as trusting of mankind as it could be...

    3. Oh, it is truly me.

      Cathie XOXO

    4. Yeah, I'm still not so sure. But no way I'd make Eli hate me by possibly doubting his mom's word, so I'll just say "Hi Cathie!" :)

  8. I love these glimpses into the life of Young Eli. It makes things so clear...

  9. I really wanted to read your poem but I couldn't decipher some of the words. The cursive, then possible misspelled words.

  10. Am I the only one who thinks we NEED a post about the butt slapping pulpit incident???