Archives for posts with tag: high school

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First Crush.” Who was your first childhood crush? What would you say to that person if you saw him/her again?

I liked boys early. By the first grade I had my very first crush. His name was Bruce…he was blonde, and cute, and, of course,  had no clue that I existed.

And he turned out to be my brother-in-law.

Yes, almost 25 years later, I married the brother of the boy I had my first crush on…which to me is mind-blowing because Bruce was someone I had held a grudge against for years. Yeah, that first grade crush didn’t last for too long.

When I was in high school, I was very aware of my social status in the hierarchy of cliques. In short, Bruce was a popular jock, and I was a nobody. That alone could cause me to foster resentment against him. The fact the was dating Brenda, a girl I did not care for from my days on the volleyball team, did not help his case any.

One day in gym we were playing softball. I was pitching, and he stepped up to the plate. I threw one in the strike zone, which he caught in his hand, and as he hurled it back to me said, “Can’t you throw any harder than that?”

What a turd, right? That pretty much sealed the deal – I hated this guy.

My sophomore year I had to have surgery. I had an ovarian cyst, and had been cut open from hip bone to hip bone. I was not allowed to participate in gym for 6 weeks in order to allow my incision to heal. My first day back we were playing ulitmate frisbee under the guidance of a substitute, who looked just like Sam the butcher from the Brady Bunch.

I was taking it easy. However, at one point Bruce had the frisbee and I managed to corner him in the gym, my arms blocking him as he pivoted to try and find a way to throw the frisbee. Next thing I know, he leans into me, and jabs me with his elbow right in the gut….and my incision.

The area of the surgery was still pretty tender, and I went down fast and hard. I told the teacher I needed to go to the nurse, explaining that I had just had surgery and that Bruce had elbowed me hard. Yes, I was hoping to get him trouble, but this was a substitute, who really didn’t care. The incident pretty much went unoticed.

As I sat in the nurse’s office with an ice pack on my abdomen, I was seething with anger. In my eyes this was a deliberate attack. Didn’t he know that I just had surgery? Hadn’t he noticed that I hadn’t been in gym class for almost two months? Did he need to win a game of ulitmate frisbee that badly? Plus, he hadn’t even gotten in trouble! These are the thoughts that swirled through my 15 year old head as my belly throbbed. And Bruce? He was now officially an enemy.

Years later I would see Bruce from time to time. My sister’s husband played on a softball team with Bruce, and a majority of his six brothers. I’d sit in the stands and watch him will a cool eye of hatred. He’d say hi to me sometimes, and I give him a nonchalant “‘s’up” in return, not really wanting to acknowledge him at all. Part of me felt stupid about it. After all, the frisbee incident had happened years and years ago, but I just couldn’t seem to forgive and forget.

Then a few years later, I met his brother Brian, who eventually became my husband. I’ll never forget when we planned a trip down to Florida to visit Bruce for the first time, before we were married. I was so nervous! I’d told Brian about the frisbee story, and he just chuckled at it, saying it would be good for a laugh when were were down visiting Bruce.

Let me tell you, it was super surreal staying in the house of a guy I had hated so vehemently in high school. But he was really nice, and very friendly. I met his wife and his two children, we went to the beach and had a nice couple of days. During a night filled with “remember when’s” I told him the story of how he elbowed me in gym.

He had absolutely no recollection of it. At first I found that astonishing. How could he not remember the act that I had harbored such indignation towards for all these years? But then I really thought about it.

Had he known I’d had surgery? Probably not – I was totally off his radar. To him, all he was doing was playing frisbee, and trying to win. What I saw as a deliberate and mean-spirited attack was nothing more than an offensive maneuver to him;  something so insignificant that he did not store it in the old memory bank.

Funny, right? Funny how two people could view the same incident in totally different ways. Now? Out of all my husband’s brothers he’s one of my favorites. And when I think back to Bruce cockily throwing the ball back to me and asking if I could pitch any harder, I want to laugh out loud. Because if you had told me that he was going to be my brother in law one day, I might have just fainted in disbelief.



Today my 13 year old started high school. Sorta.

She’s actually in the 8th grade, but they attend our county’s high school. This is a good thing for many reasons.

  1. The high school is TONS closer to our house than the middle school – the drive took just about 10 minutes this morning.
  2. The 8th graders have their own wing, so they don’t interact all that much with the upperclassmen. Except for at lunch. I wonder how that will work out…
  3. They start an hour later than the middle school. This means that not only does my daughter get to sleep later, but I still get to take my morning walks. If I’m out the door by 6 in the morning, I am back in time to wake her up at 7.

Having experienced my first day with this new schedule, I was amazed at how wonderful my morning was despite the fact that I was up at 4 a.m. with killer cramps that 6 Advil and 1 Meloxicam could not conquer. I just felt like I had so much time!

The one thing that wasn’t different? My daughter’s crappy attitude. On the ride to school she was sullen, with her head against the window, not talking. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she didn’t feel well. This is the same commute I made a hundred times during the 7th grade.

My girl does not like school.

I try to tell her it’s her job…school is her 9-5 until she graduates and gets to join the real world…which isn’t nearly as fun as she thinks it is. I would kill to be done by 3:45 with nothing more to do than some homework. Try working a full day and then having to cook and do dishes. School looks like a pretty sweet deal.

But even if she’s miserable, I’m not. I LOVE this new schedule! I love High School!


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “From You to You.”

Right now it’s 1979 and you’re in highschool – most likely 10th grade. I know it sucks right now. I know you get bullied by those horrible, souless girls from Edgewater. But you have your best buds John, and Joe, and a family who loves you, so hang in there. And while we’re back in ’79, here’s a few things to think about…

I know you think you have a fat ass, but you don’t. The 50 year old version of you would LOVE to have the ass you have now. So when Brendan D. makes that joke in history class about you needing to wear a “Caution – Wide Load” sign, smile at him sweetly and ask him how it feels to be the product of so many years of inbreeding.

Don’t ever cut your own bangs. You are going to make a horrible, horrible mistake and cut them ridiculously short.

When you stay home from dress rehearsal to watch the episode of “Little House on the Praire” where Almanzo kisses Laura for the first time, you are making the right move. After all, those school plays directed by Mrs. Marshall are always going to star the same kids she favors, and you will always, only be cast in the chorus.

You’re going to quit the volleyball team. I know it’s no fun because the girls who are supposed to be your team mates barely give you the time of day, let alone a pat on the back. I know that they get to go to fancy sleep-away volleyball camp and learn all sorts of intricate plays. But when Mary M., who knows full well that you were NOT one of her fellow campers, complains that you don’t know anything and are dragging the team down, maybe you should do something besides stomp off to the locker room and quit.

Instead, maybe you should ask her if she earned her bitch merit badge at camp on the very first day.

If you haven’t already, forget about Leif Garrett. He sucks. Tear down the 996 photos you have haning in your room and repaint. But don’t let Judy and John have access to the paint. They are going to paint a huge cock on the wall that you can still see, even though you feverishly painted over it, when the light is just right.

Keep seeing Rocky Horror. Throw rice, shoot water pistols, hurl rolls of Scott toilet paper. But don’t idolize Janet as much, and don’t bore your chorus class with your Janet “quote of the day” on the blackboard. You were a dork for doing that.

Right now you are staunchly opposed to smoking, but believe me, you are going to start, and you will smoke for a very long time. Don’t grub cigarettes from people at college parties – don’t even start. It is going to be very hard to quit, but if you don’t heed my warning, FYI – you do manage to kick the habit in your 40s.

When you are in NYC with John and Dave W., and a man hands you a flyer for a sex club, don’t read it and ask if oral sex is when you just talk about it.

You are going to Czechoslovakia this summer. When you are walking around a spa town, I think Piešťany, a man is going to walk up to you and grab your boob. Cock block that asshole. Aside from that, remember everything about this trip – keep a diary so you know what you did everyday. Later on, you will have slides of this adventure to look back on, but it won’t seem like enough.

You are going to contract an ovarian cyst. This will require surgery, and after that surgery a popular boy will hit you in the stomach during a game of ultimate frisbee in gym class. You will hate him, and rightly so, for a very long time. But here’s a news flash. He winds up being your brother-in-law.

When your sister throws a party, and lets you join in, a very cute boy, on a dare, is going to pick you up and tell you how cute you are. Try to keep a straight face…because you have a nose full of snot that is going to spray out all over your mouth and chin when you laugh.

That creepy neighbor Wayne, who watches you and your sisters while you sunbathe, is going to forceably kiss you against your will in a few years. So when he asks you inside his home under the guise of helping him and his wife move, politely refuse.

You will be in the New Jersey Miss Teenager Pageant. Learn the words for “Good Morning” in Slovak, because during your interview, you are going to get the one judge who speaks Slovak, and muttering out “Dobre noc” (good night) doesn’t fool anyone. Oh, and while you are in the front row on stage singing the obligatory lame pageant song directly in front of the judges? While you remember the dance moves, the words to the song are going to fly slap out of your head. You will smile lamely and continue dancing.

That being said, when they call out the name “Tracy” during the top 10? It ain’t you.

There you go, mini-me – a handfull of useful advice to get you through some of the tough times during your 14th year and beyond. I hope this makes life a bit easier for you than it was for me.


When I was growing up in northern New Jersey our town’s Rec Center used to hold ski trips. The kids would meet in front of the Rec Center, board a bus and head up to Vernon Valley for an afternoon of skiing. There were times where my mom and I, while running errands in town, would pass the Rec Center and I’d watch all the kids lined up with their bags and their skis waiting for the chartered bus to pick them up.

And I was so envious of them.

I grew up in a pretty wealthy town. We were not wealthy. We weren’t on skid row or anything, but there was no extra money to be spent on nonsense like lift tickets and ski rentals. So, Rec Center ski trips were out of the question for me. I acted like I didn’t care – like those kids were all assholes.

Some of them were. But a lot of them weren’t. They were kids I ate lunch with, or might walk part of the way home with. But they could afford to go on the Rec Center ski trips, and I couldn’t. So like any brooding teenager is apt to do, you viewed them with a cool loathing rather than blatant envy.

I did eventually ski though. While I might not have been able to go on the Rec Center trips, my Junior year in high school I became friends with this guy Paul whose parents had a house by Hunter Mountain. Ah Hunter… One of Upstate New York’s finest ski lodges.

For the next 6 years or so, Paul would call me on a random Thursday night and say, “We’re heading up to Hunter tomorrow…wanna come?” It wasn’t always winter either. Sometimes we went up in the summer and attended a festival at Hunter Mountain. Sometimes we just went up for some R & R. But if it was winter? We went skiing.

I was never a great skier, but I learned how to hold my own on the intermediate slopes. I only rode an actual ski lift a few times and dreaded/planned my departure from the chair the entire way up. My trip down would take my about 25 minutes as I would slowly shoosh my way down making a very wide, very horizontal path.

Susie Chapstick I was not.

I remember one weekend a whole bunch of us went up to Paul’s house. It had snowed gangbusters the night before so conditions were going to be phenomenal. The day turned out being a real keeper – temps hit the mid 50s; folks were skiing without coats. We went back to the house, put beach chairs in the snow and drank a case of beer.

It was AWESOME. I left Hunter in February with a sunburn.

My best ski trip ever though, was when I was in Austria. When I took my semester abroad, our school sent us on a ski trip to Semmering. Having not skied in a while, I decided to use the free ski instruction the lodge provided. Our teacher’s name was Norbert, which I found humorous…were his parents undecided between Norman and Burton?

Nobert? He turned out to be a real perv. While doing snowplow turns down the bunny slope, he would shoosh up behind me, wedge his skis between mine and push his pelvis against my ass in very firm, very suggestive manner. It wasn’t just me… he did it to all the girls. He got very drunk at the lodge party later that night and tried very hard to grind us a wee bit more on the dance floor.

But during that day, as I made my way down the slopes an hour south of Vienna, I thought about those kids that used to go on the Rec Center’s ski trips. I could never go, but here I was in Austria. AUSTRIA. On skis. Me.

Beats the hell out of Vernon Valley.

Bully Girls

My hometown was small by most standards. My graduating class only had a little over a hundred kids – everyone knew everyone or at least had heard of everyone. But my freshman year of high school, I was introduced to an influx of new students from two different school systems.

The first were from our town’s Catholic School. It seemed like those kids went one of two ways once they entered the high school…straight and narrow, like they were taught, or slightly to totally rebellious, finally free of the restrictions that their former education had bestowed upon them.

The second group of kids were from a neighboring town on the Hudson River that had no high school of its own. We shared our school system with them and they came in by the busload every morning.

With both groups of kids came some serious mean girls.

I don’t remember having too much trouble in elementary school or middle school. There were girls who were bitchy, who I didn’t like, but I don’t remember anyone being really mean. I’d also spent the last 9 years sharing classrooms with these kids; we all understood each other. Even if you didn’t necessarily like them, chances are your parents knew their parents or you’d been friends at some point in the past, but kind of went your separate ways therefore holding little animosity for them.

When I started high school that dynamic went out the window like a gum wrapper on a windy day. The three school systems, all with very different sets of kids, collided and, in my case, clashed.

I don’t remember exactly when it started – maybe a few weeks in. It probably began the first day I wore my Leif Garrett T-Shirt. Not the coolest move, I know; I might as well have been wearing a bulls-eye on my back. I wonder if One Direction fans get picked on these days?

There was one group of girls in particular, all of them tough and on the ugly side, that would torment me. They’d say stuff when we were at our lockers…poke you or slam your door shut when you were trying to look for a particular book or grab your lunch.

One time I went into the locker room after gym to find my t-shirt cut into shreds – another Leif Garrett shirt. I had to wear my sweaty gym shirt the rest of the day.

When I passed them in the hallway I cringed, knowing they would say mean things to me and also knowing that I really didn’t have the guts to say anything back. I told them to shut up once and was threatened with an ass kicking.  That was enough to gag me for life. I was neither a lover or a fighter back then.

My mom knitted me a pair of ivory leg warmers my freshman year. It was the 80s and they were in fashion, but nobody at my school was wearing them. I remember the first day I wore them, I was so proud – I felt like a trendsetter. But it turns out I didn’t really have the balls to be a trend setter.

Those mean girls? They spotted me wearing them outside the cafeteria and followed me down the hall pointing, laughing, and jeering. A real trend setter wouldn’t have cared and would’ve worn them with pride. Me? I never wore them to school again.

Same with my funky hair accessory. I bought a cool stick thing that held a bun in place. First day wearing it? More jeers, taunts and pointed fingers.

I put up with them most of my Freshman year, until my older sister got wind of it. She was a Junior and hung out with a crowd that had some respect amongst the tough kids. Unbeknownst to me, she took these thugs aside with her own group of girls, older girls. She told them in no uncertain terms that if she heard me complain about them once more, that they’d need crutches to climb on the school bus the next day.

After that they left me alone for the most part, but still glared at me in the hallways. I didn’t know about my sister’s role in it till way later, when my friend John told me. John – who helped me pen our song parody “Animal Girls” to the Animal House theme.

And it wasn’t just this group of girls. There were girls from the Catholic school that were on the volleyball team with me. While they might not make a habit of berating me verbally, they were masters at excluding me; never letting me play pepper or run laps with them.

On the court they’d be supportive if another team member would miss a shot, with calls of “Good try! Shake that one off.” But if I screwed up? Eyes rolled, and I’d most likely hear something along the lines of “Come on, already! Wake up!”

As Freshman year we all began to get into the same sort of vibe I had with the kids from my first 9 years of school. While there were kids I hated, I avoided them and they stopped being quite so mean. Maybe they just grew up a little, or even realized I wasn’t such a bad kid.

Was I ever popular? Nooooooo. I had a group of friends…2 or 3 seriously good ones, and a large group of secondary friends that you could count on seeing at every party. But I’ll tell you, my senior year I got year book signatures from kids I never would’ve thought would give my the time of day. I guess we’d all sort of mellowed after 4 years together.

I see these girls on Facebook under the “people you may know” sidebar. Yes, they may have grown up and matured, but as far as I’m concerned they can pretty much screw themselves. I rather friend Casey Anthony. Or OJ Simpson. I wonder if they ever think back and admit to themselves that they were douche bags. I seriously doubt it. The world rarely works that way.

There are folks that say they’d love to relive their high school years. My husband is one of them. I’d only go back if I could do it Peggy Sue style – knowing what I know now. And you know what? Those girls would be there and they would still pick on me.

But now I think I might just laugh at them. Laugh right in their ugly faces, turn around and stroll down the hallway in my ivory leg warmers.


Next Saturday is my daughter’s high school graduation. We are having family come up from Florida, down from New York, and in from Pennsylvania. My house is very, very small, so we are relying on our yard/garage/deck to make the after party festive and roomy. The only thing that can ruin it is rain.

The ladies in the front office at the high school said they have never, ever been rained out. It may have drizzled for a portion of the graduation, but in all the years that they can recall, Fluvanna County High School has never had to move the ceremonies indoors.

Rain would suck. I would only be allowed to have 7 people attend the graduation ceremony in the event of rain, and I’ve got 14 coming. After that I’d have to host a party for 16+ in a 12 x 20 room. Sound like fun?

And here is the forecast…

Picture 7Thanks, Mother Nature. You suck.

But you know what? It’s still a week away – jet streams could shift, right? RIGHT? I mean, it may not actually rain during the the ceremony or party. It may rain the day before, or at 8 pm that night. Right? RIGHT? I am just going to focus on that 40%. It’s less than half – the odds are still in my favor.

I went through this when I held a Halloween party for my youngest last October. It was an outdoor party, and if it rained I was screwed. Early forecasts called for rain, but it held off until later that night. Question is, can I dodge another bullet?

On the upside? Most of the company coming is my family, and they will excuse/help/pitch in for anything and everything. It will be alright even if it does rain.

But I don’t want it to. I really don’t want to see any rain.

“Don’t tell me not to live, just sit and putter
Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter
Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade!”

Keep your fingers crossed.


As of this morning, Saturday, May 18th the forecast is as follows…

Picture 9Now, I’m singing That’s the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it, uh huh uh huh!

The Bucek girls played volleyball.

My sister Wendy played all 4 years in high school. She was team captain. My sister Judy played all 4 years in high school. She wasn’t a captain; one of her team mates played Vball in the junior Olympics, and so naturally she was chosen as leader.

I had always been athletic. I played a zillion years of town sponsored softball, rode my bike everywhere, and was a fair track & field competitor. So when I entered into my freshman year at good old LHS, I tried out for the volleyball team. It was almost a given I was going to be on the team. Coach Springer knew that I came from good volleyball stock, and she knew that I had attended Battag’s Volleyball Day Camp for 2 weeks over the summer.

Oh, that day camp. It was 10 days of pure torture. From 9 am to 4 pm you did nothing but drills and serves and dives and jumps and spikes – with an hour for lunch where you ate your warm sandwich and soda and then stared at the wall for 45 minutes. By the time I got home I would crawl up to my room, flop on my bed and pass out until morning. It took me 3 days before my body stopped being one giant sore muscle. But, it did hone my skills, which gave me an advantage over the other girls who just strolled into the gym during the week of try-outs.

I made the JV team and was after a time named captain. This thrilled not only me, but my parents as well. I was following the fine tradition of Bucek women who commanded the court and net. I loved that I was on a team. I loved my polyester mesh jersey and my maroon knee pads. I was ready to start my career as an LHS athlete.

And now for the plot change so typical of Tracy.

Most of the other girls on the team were of the “popular” set. They wanted little to do with me, and offered me no support. If they missed a shot during a game, they were given a “good try” and a high five. If I missed a shot, I was greeted with a “COME ON!” and a scornful glare. When I was good, it was ignored or just accepted. But as the season dragged on, the animosity I felt and the realization that I was a total outcast began to affect my game.

There are those great athletes who don’t let pressure get in their way. Look at little Kerri Strug – the American gymnast from the 1996 Olympics. She had hurt her ankle, but still needed to deliver a stellar vault to win gold for the US team. Had that been me, the American team would’ve had to settle for silver, and I’d be shamefully riding home in the back of the bus.

By mid season I wasn’t even starting anymore. I couldn’t bump to save my life, and every spiked ball landed in the net. I could barely get a serve in bounds. Those girls had totally psyched me out. But in time, with the pressure of playing gone, I began to improve during practice, and coach put me back in. I finished the season a decent player, and was glad to get away from the daily interaction with my heartless, bitchy team mates.

My sophomore year I played again, and got a repeat performance of my first year. I started out great – was team captain again – but after weeks of knowing I was totally on my own on a team of ten, I began to crumble and play like shit. This time, coach actually rescinded my captain’s title, which just about destroyed my ego. The bench and I got well acquainted and outside of practice my knee pads and my ankles were inseparable.

The summer between Sophomore and Junior year, the rest of the JV team went to a sleep away volleyball camp up in Massachusetts. We were preparing to enter the varsity level, and needed to know more complicated offensive set ups and what not. My parents could not afford to send me. They had 2 kids in college at the time, and a high falutin’ sports camp wasn’t in the budget. Part of me didn’t care – I didn’t relish the idea of spending a week with that crowd anyway.

start here and move there. now start there and move here. no, not there, THERE!

So I stroll into try-outs/practice a week or so before school starts and find out I am going to be a setter rather than a hitter. Ok – pressure off a bit. However, the setter is a key position in many of these fancy player set ups – you need to run all around the court and not be off sides and blah blah blah. These girls had been drilled day in an day out for a week and knew this shit forwards and backwards. I was just getting my feet wet.

It might have been around the 3rd day of practice when while trying unsuccessfully to find my proper position in a 5-1 offense rotation while having to stomach countless eye rolls and groans that it happened. Mary, a very pale, moon-faced and utterly popular team mate of mine put her hands on her bony hips and said, “Springer, if she can’t get this by now I don’t see any reason to have her on the team.”

Enter the camel with one too many straws on it’s back.

I said, “that’s it,” pushed down my knee pads, and headed for the locker room to get my stuff. Coach Springer was right behind me, and I told her through tears and a shaky voice that I quit. I was done. I could not endure another season of volleyball with those witches. She tried to talk me out of it, but I was not to be consoled or coaxed. I was done.

My parent’s weren’t happy either. I remember it got to the point where I really had to sit my mother down, look her in the eye and say “I hate playing with those girls. I HAVE NO FUN. NONE.” That’s when she got it.

For the next two years I couldn’t stand volleyball season. I hated seeing those twats walk around school on game day in their jerseys. And with the exception of one season of winter track, I didn’t play another sport in high school. I knew that it would just be more of the same. All the “cool girls” played sports and I was never, ever to be admitted into that circle.

I still played though. In college I would play intramural sometimes, and after college I played for years and years with a group of folks at a local park. I even played in a few beach competitions down the Jersey Shore. But even then, I felt a real sense of shame every time I missed a shot – Some folks would treat me just as bad as those girls did…you know, the type who can’t lose at anything? It would be the end of the world if you missed a serve or a spike. But others, who were there to have fun and play a couple of good games, would smile and pat your back and say “shake it off.”

I just wish my high school team had been filled with a few more of the “shake it off” kind.