Tag Archives: high school

The First Kiss Is The Weirdest

Jana: Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Congratulations on Valentine’s Day!

I’m sorry, I don’t know why I congratulated you. It was an awkward way to fill a sentiment about this holiday that people have such varied feelings about. Like, I’m sorry if today is sad for you but happy if it’s happy for you! I don’t know. Today is weird.

Catherine: TODAY IS AWFUL. Today is the day where I go out with my lady pal and we  get drunk but not so drunk that we can’t drive safely to work the next morning. It’s a bad day, guys. A BAD DAY.

Jana: Regardless of where you are romantically today, at least you’ve all at this point been kissed at least once. Right? Well, most of you I guess. Or I’m gonna say it: if I have, I bet all of you have. And I have, guys. For lots of obvious reasons (social anxiety, recurring nose warts) the first kiss didn’t come until 2002, but it came. This is the story of my Very First Kiss.

Like so many of my tales, this one takes place on a high school chorus/band trip. Let me explain a little bit about the chorus/band trip. These trips were simply weird excuses to take hordes of eager, hormonal students on a bus and let them stay in a hotel. As cover, we always did one “concert” for some poor unassuming middle school audience, but the concerts were never the point. The point was the bus ride and the hotel. They were the entire reason for anything. They were EXCITING AS FUCK.

This particular story occurs during my second chorus/band trip, in April of my sophomore year of high school. Having somehow survived the tumultuous ending of my first, kiss-less relationship the previous year, I decided to hop back on the bus and give it another whirl. Things had changed since last year: I’d started wearing eyeliner, for example, and I had a few more t-shirts from the Gap. Despite these leaps forward, I remained, as my friends lovingly put it, a lip virgin. And so I was. My lips were untouched by man or anyone but my mom, really. And I didn’t have any plans to change that – I really think that I felt pretty content with my fate, which I assumed to be no kissing until at least college and possibly age 40. I was cool with it.

So, that’s how I started the trip.

The journey was long: for some reason, we were going to Quebec. On the bus ride there, we watched Goodfellas, and when we finally arrived we went to a Hard Rock Cafe. It was all very exciting and new, and even though I didn’t drink yet, I felt something similar to an alcohol-induced thrill – there were so many cute upperclassmen and we were all staying in a hotel! My sober delirium continued when, on the first night, a bunch of the cute upperclassmen guys came to HANG OUT IN MY ROOM. See, I was rooming with a girl who was – while still a band geek like me – just cool. She’s just somebody who has it together, and isn’t scared to talk to people, and knows what’s up. I shall call her Stella. So Stella just like, invited the dudes to come hang out, and they DID. It was, in my eyes, miraculous.

During that first night, I spent some time flirting with one of these cool upperclassmen (truth: he was younger than me, because I’m so old for my grade. THE BOYS ARE ALWAYS YOUNGER THAN ME. But in this case, he appeared entirely older because he was a junior). I didn’t dare to imagine that anything would come of the flirtation, but I did sort of admit to myself that it was happening, and I went to bed elated.

Here I am on the boat cruise! I'm pretty sure I felt GREAT about my belly shirt, long jean skirt, french braids, flip-flops combo.

Here I am in Quebec! I’m pretty sure I felt GREAT about my belly shirt, long jean skirt, french braids, flip-flops combo.

Stella had also noticed the flirting, and the next day she knew what she had to do. I think we went on a boat cruise of some kind, during which she hatched her plan. Afterward, back in the hotel, she made the arrangements. It was like this:

She cleared our room.

She talked to the guy in question (we will call him MICHAEL).

She ordered me into the room. “Michael is waiting. Get in there,” she said.

I went to the bathroom in the hallway and almost puked from anxiety.

I entered the room, where Michael was, indeed, waiting for me.

The rest is a little blurry, but I know that we began by sitting side-by-side on the bed, and that he made a joke which I believe referenced Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh, although I really can’t imagine how he worked that in or why it was relevant. But whatever, I laughed – or, more likely, I choked on nervous sounds. And then it happened: he reached for my head. WE WERE KISSING.

That’s mostly what I remember. I think at one point we like, laid back, and kept kissing, but that was it. I wasn’t at ALL focused on the sensations of the kiss, because all I could think was HOLY FUCK I HAVE TO CALL MY BEST FRIEND AND TELL HER ABOUT THIS. My best friend, see, had also not yet been kissed. She and I were the last holdouts, like nervous, adolescent WWII buddies. All that mattered about the experience was sharing it with her.

I don’t know how it ended – how do makeout sessions end? I guess we just got tired. I think we joked around a little bit more, and then he left. And I RAN to the payphone booth, located in the hotel hallway, to call my friend.

Michael and I never dated, although we remained friends throughout high school, and I think he knows that he’ll always live in my memory as the first guy who was willing to kiss me. Also, he’s very successful now, whereas I actually have less money than I had in 2002, so I’m sure he doesn’t regret that we never repeated our tigger-fueled makeout sesh.

So there you have it. I owe Stella everything.

Catherine: Just so it’s crystal clear, not having a first kiss till Spring, 2002 would make Jana 16 but VERY NEARLY 17 at the moment of impact. I want like, everyone to be as aware of that fact as possible. That, to me, is very informative information (and yes informative and information mean the same thing, but I think they couple really well together in this instance so shut up about it.)

When I was in eighth grade I also went to Quebec and ALSO went on a weird boat cruise. What is it with schools and Quebec? Weird. I went with the French class, which makes more  sense than your trip, since they speak french there or whatever. But I didn’t take french. So I’m really not sure how or why I was allowed to go. Like, everyone else on the trip spoke french but me and I DON’T KNOW WHY I WAS THERE. One of the main things about that trip that I recall was that a bunch of the girls let the guys write stuff on their stomachs on the back of the bus? And I remember thinking, this is so SEXY. Also that I had a really bad haircut and pants with stripes down the leg were IN.

But besides all that, if you’re happy today – fuck you.

Just kidding.

No, I’m not kidding.

Jana: She’s kidding.

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Happy Anniversary: We Embarrass Ourselves In Song

Did you guys know that today is our blog anniversary?

Well, not today, specifically, but around this time. Ok fine, it was last week and we missed it. We forgot. We’re sorry. We’re busy people!

Anyway, to celebrate one year of sharing all of our embarrassments in this public forum (which, by the way, has meant a great deal to us), here are more embarrassments for you, the public, to consume.

Jana: As a high schooler, I took voice lessons. I took them SERIOUSLY, too, because I believed that I was a talented singer, as evidenced by the accolades I’d received for my starring role in “Peter Pan” in eighth grade, if not by the fact that I’d never been given a solo or been admitted into any select singing groups since entering high school (not because I didn’t audition, guys). This, I believed, was a great injustice; my cross to bear. My parents and voice teacher agreed with me.

My voice teacher was (and is) a wonderful woman who gave voice and piano lessons in her living room. Once a week, I stood there and sang various scales and “On My Own” from Les Mis and felt like – NO ONE KNOWS, but I am Very Talented. Sometimes the kid who had a lesson after me would overhear the end of whatever I was singing, and tell me I had “a nice voice!” as I exited the house. I lived for those moments.

Once a year, in the spring, my teacher held a recital. I participated in all of them, but the one that I want to talk about occurred in the spring of my final year as a voice student, and as a high school student, and as a legal child. That’s right: I was eighteen. A full five to ten years older than every other recital participant, whose ages ranged from about six to about sixth grade. I WAS THE OLDEST ONE.

My teacher’s son, who was in maaaybe 5th grade, had put together a band for this recital, and they had all learned to play Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” which was a big hit that year. Would I be the vocalist? My teacher asked me. YES, I SAID. I said yes. I have no idea why I said yes to this. I just said yes, and went to one rehearsal, and then showed up at the UU church on a Saturday afternoon to sing lead vocals to Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” against a backing band of fifth graders.

And, I invited friends.

That’s right, two of my best friends were there. They heard me belt out “why you gotta go and make things so complicated? I see the way you actin like you’re somebody else gets me frustrated…” while wearing a floor length black skirt and a purple cardigan from Weathervane. Listen: they saw me. People saw me. I WAS EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD.

That’s all. Happy Anniversary! Here’s to another full year’s worth of horrible memories.

We hate ourselves.

Catherine: I love this. I obviously just fucking love this. And you idiots are lucky I let Jana post that picture of us. It’s a real doozy.

Dear readers, I am going to share with you a brief tale from my own singing misadventures. As you may recall I went to Catholic Lithuanian Heritage Camp (if you’re just joining us… that happened.) Every year there was a Talent Night that people would be all shy about being into, but then be really into it, but not like, SHOW that they were into it. There were a lot of repressed feelings is what I’m saying.

One year I had sang “Somewhere Out There” for the “audition” (nobody got turned down, ever, so it was just a rouse) and afterwards I was bullied by the camp bully to SING IT FOR HER. She had heard someone say I sang well and she THREATENED ME TO SING in a VERY SCARY WAY outside by the fire pit during free time before swimming. Terrified, I obliged. This was the same bully who later stole my disposable camera. When I told a counselor about it, she was confronted, at which point she claimed that the last name written on the camera in Sharpie – my distinctive Lithuanian last name – was her cousin’s last name and they had given her the camera. These were lies, people, and when I developed my film there were about five pictures she took of herself, selfies. I digress.

Flash forward a year, I had come to camp prepared. I had spent hours on AOL searching for the song lyrics to all my favorite songs – Alanis, Natalie Imbruglia, Jewel – the ladies of the 90s. This was all in preparation for that year’s talent night, because I was an artist, and that meant having my act together. Feeling wise beyond my years at 15, I settled on singing a Belle and Sebastian song, because I was different, see. I wasn’t going to sing “On My Own” (as someone always did, out of tune, and with a little bit too much fervor.) I was going to sing a song that spoke to me, that expressed my deep, deep feelings, and my immense  maturity. I was going to sing, “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying.” So sing I did, a capella, to a crowd of people who DIDN’T KNOW THE FUCK WAS GOING ON. As I started the refrain – I shit you not – an immense thunderstorm started and the lights went out for a moment. Should I keep singing? Everyone was suddenly chattering to themselves, startled, and looking out the windows. I powered through because I was an ARTIST and this song was REALLY IMPORTANT. I fell asleep in my cabin that night with my discman on, listening to Miss Saigon, thinking about how nobody understood me (this wasn’t in fact a particularly unique truth, but it was certainly the case.)

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An Individual Wave of Feminism, Or, My Childhood

Jana: I was a feminist child.

Here is what that means: as a little girl, I was a subscriber to and avid reader of “New Moon”, which was a magazine by girls and for girls that talked about how to be an empowered girl. The only stuffed animal I cared about was my stuffed pig, aptly named “Piggy,” and the most important thing about her, in my mind, was that she was a GIRL. This was a major point of contention when I introduced Piggy to new people – I found that people assumed that Piggy was a boy unless I specifically indicated otherwise, so I made sure to always discuss her gender during introductions.

“New Moon” also made calendars. In 1999, I cherished mine.

I played sports with the boys at recess, and I was always ready to yell at anyone who had something to say about boys being better than girls at anything. I thought of my lack of personal hygiene as somewhat of a defensive stance against society’s insistence that girls be pretty. And I was NOT ok with popular music that put women down.

This? All this? The clothing and, I can only assume, the wrist guards? My feminist cause.

There is one incident in my life that has come around to haunt me many times, and it occurred in the fourth grade. That year, my entire class took a trip to “The Farm.” As the name suggests, The Farm was just  – yup – a farm, located in New York State, and every year classes from my hippy private school took week-long trips there. For one week, we helped milk cows and herd cows and garden and cook. Despite some extreme homesickness and massive amounts of complaining about the healthy food, I mostly loved it.

In fourth grade, though, a new boy had joined the class; I shall call him Dave. Dave was, for lack of a better word, contentious. He was misogynistic only to the extent that a fourth grade boy can be misogynistic. In handwork class (yes, everyone took “handwork”), while we sat knitting hats, he talked loudly about how HOT Tyra Banks was. For reasons that I couldn’t exactly identify, I was offended. He played soccer with me and the other boys at lunch, and he was openly surprised that I wasn’t terrible. I was offended. Basically, he was just always gettin up in my face about how cool boys were, and I saw it as my personal duty, on behalf of my gender, to take him on every time.

So, we took our trip to The Farm. As luck would have it, Dave and I were put in the same activities group. One afternoon during a free play period, the whole group was hangin around on the tire structure (which was GREAT). He started singing a song that was popular at the time: “One, two, three, four, get your woman on the floor,” he sang. BRRRRRRINNNNG! Went the Feminist Alerts in my head. I felt my face get hot.

Get “your” woman “on the floor”? Oh HELL no. First of all, no one would EVER call me “his” (I’d read numerous stories about this in “New Moon”). Secondly, get her on the floor? Come on. This is the 90s! You can’t just PUT your woman on the FLOOR (I think I also sensed something sexual about that line, but couldn’t define it, but figured I should be mad about it). I yelled these things at him. He sang louder. I said he had BETTER STOP. He sang even louder, and got his buddy to join in. Finally, seeing no other recourse, I kicked him. In the balls.

I wasn’t AIMING for his balls, that I can remember. I was just kicking! But, that’s apparently where it landed, and I guess it really hurt.

Anyway, he told on me. We had a long meeting with the teacher, during which I SOBBED. I wanted HIM to apologize. He did, but I could tell he didn’t mean it. “Not just to ME!” I insisted. “Don’t you understand that this is about women everywhere?” He looked at me like he hated me, and like he wanted to get back to the tire structure.

That was mostly that. But to this day, Dave has yet to forget it, or to forgive. Getting kicked in the balls is a real thing, huh guys? He ended up going to a high school near mine, and when I was introduced to someone who turned out to be a mutual friend, he was like – “Oh jesus, you’re the girl who kicked Dave in the balls? Shiiit. He haaates you.”

Addendum: I, seriously and honestly, wrote my college essay about this incident. I’m also not sure why.

Catherine: JESUS.

WHY DON’T I HAVE A TIME TRAVEL MACHINE TO SEE TINY JAN KICKING A KID IN THE BALLS.

WHY WHY WHY.

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I CAME OF AGE IN A BAKE SHOPPE

Jana: In high school, I was lucky to be employed. First, I worked at a doctor’s office. There, I filed things, listened to office gossip, and was paid $10 an hour, under the table! But when fall came I gave up that incredibly sweet job for my true love, soccer (I hated soccer). And then when the season was over, I found myself without the hourly rate I’d grown so accustomed to. I needed something else. Something BETTER.

Luckily for me, my best friend, Nell, worked at the local bakery, Ye Olde Bake Shoppe. The Bake Shoppe was just one block away from the high school, across from the grocery store. They sold cakes and cupcakes and blueberry boats and eclairs – even cannoli. The shoppe was owned by an old Italian couple, whom I shall call Peter and Martha. Peter was generally grumpy and racist. Martha was generally sweet and apologetic. It was the classic family-owned joint!

Here we are, taking pictures at work. But not wearing makeup. But WEARING a bejeweled “Brooklyn” t-shirt, and a pendant necklace.

First, let me tell you a bit about Peter, the man. Peter never learned my name. I know this because a customer once requested a cake for “Jenny”, and Peter’s response was: “Hey look, someone asked fer your name!”. I NODDED, so he of course still believes that my name is Jenny. Peter was racist, which we knew because when one of our good friends came in, an asian person, he requested that we ask him not to come around anymore. “Bad for business, those people,” he said. WE NODDED, because we knew how to stand up for what was right. And, when a vendor tried to sell Peter a new drink, something called Vitamin Water, to keep in the cold drinks case, Peter ran him out. “Mark my words,” he said to us. “That’s goin nowhere.” We, of course, nodded.

Now, when I entered into the bakery picture, Nell had already been there for a few months, and Peter was QUITE taken with her. He trained me on frosting cupcakes, saying, “Have you seen Nell frost? That girl really has somethin, I’m tellin ya”. I silently nodded and tried my hardest to make a swirl at the top of the cupcake. I could tell by the look on Peter’s face that the swirl was passable, but disappointing; this assumption was later confirmed when Nell received a 50 cent raise, while I toiled at $6/hour for the entirety of my career there.

Still, I worked there for over two years – we both did. One thing we came to learn was that the “day old” baked good table actually consisted of baked goods that were at LEAST a week old. We quickly learned to lie about this to customers on a daily basis. Lying was a major part of the job. For example:

Customer: Excuse me, is this coffee fresh?

Me (huge smile): Sure is!

Customer (pumps coffee pot): Um, it’s actually empty.

Or, sometimes customers would come in to pick up a cake when Peter and Martha were out, and Nell and I, alone, would have to take the reigns and write the message – something like “Happy Birthday Emily”. Not so hard, you’d think, except that we were actually terrible at this. Our solution was to take the cake in the back of the store, do what we had to do, and then shove it into a box and tape it shut. Usually, the customer would request to see the cake, and sometimes we could get away with saying the box was already taped up. But with persistent customers, we just fuckin opened that shit up and then endured the horrible moment when the person saw the cake: WE BOTH KNEW, them and us, that something horrible had happened. But no one said anything. They paid. We cursed ourselves. It was over.

As the years went on and Peter and Martha began to begrudgingly trust me, I spent huge amounts of my alone time in the bakery, and I passed the time by writing notes to myself (I called it my “bakery journal”). I recently came across these notes, and I will share one with you:

This is obviously all mortifying, not the least of it that I thought I might just find myself in the next two weeks. GOOD LUCK. 

Obviously, this was an important time in my life, one during which I made huge strides towards maturity. It was at the bakery that I wrote most of my “poetry,” and it was there that I logged the majority of my young-love-obsession hours. Here is a final piece that I wrote, in which I bare my soul. Standing amongst the buckets of frosting (which I very frequently had spoonfuls of), I came to be who I was.

Teenagers have DEEP THOUGHTS.

Catherine: Little Jana, civil rights activist. Enacting change one docile nod at a time.

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