When Life Should Have Sunk In (Part 1)

In the last stretch of my morning run the other morning, I stopped. There is a definite need for new running sneakers. As my foot shifted around in my shoe, as my breath was caught, a smile broadened across my face. My eyes focused up the street. At this intersection, which is a three-way stop in this neighborhood I’ve known my entire life, the .2-.3 of a mile to the abode I’ve grown up in is a glorious stretch. It’s been seen and walked through different eyes. Right now, it’s spring 2014. Let’s go back to…

1995 – 1996

The same stretch of road is an arduous trip. The designated late bus from Camillus Middle School dropped us off from school at the intersection, the distance from my house listed above. When you took the late bus home, it was because you had an after school activity, athletic or academic. The late buses never adhered to the normal bus route in order to save time and effort.

I graduated from the West Genesee school district, which I attended my entire grade school tenure, K – 12. The district is notorious for its band and lacrosse programs; I participated in neither. My elementary school was located practically down the road, and the high school was around a 10-minute drive away. However, my middle school was a haul away. Many mornings were spent with my head against the window, staring at the landscape, struggling to stay awake. For three years, my sixth through eighth grades, the 20+ minute drive was taken to the far end of Camillus.

In these three years:

  • With the combination of another elementary school (there are four in the district), new friendships were made and groups of friends were established. With consideration of time, especially the distance that life after high school imposes, Facebook is the best thing that helps everyone stay in contact with one another without having to actually talk.
  • My interest in women sprouted (despite not recognizing or acknowledging my first crush in elementary school).
  • I came in first place at the science fair, tying with a couple girls (both of which I had a thing for at separate times in my middle school years, and one who I stupidly refused to dance with at the eighth-grade/middle-school graduation dance).
  • I received an award in math, which was received in eighth grade. The reason behind my receiving the award, my name placed upon a plague to be displayed for all of eternity in the halls of Camillus Middle School, is unknown. Yours truly must have blacked out or had been asleep that second half of the school year. Apparently, I can do math well when I’m semi-conscious.
  • I unwillingly denied any sense of hopeless romance by displaying my cowardice and not talking to the girl in Cape Cod (summer 1996). (You may have read this post before, but it’s the only known source of my mentioning this — what can only be described as — life altering mistake of avoidance.)
  • I truly enjoyed school.
  • I realized my love of writing.

But we’re here to talk about Seventh Grade.


Do not adjust your computer screens.
This is/was me.


My favorite year was seventh grade. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my sixth or eighth grade teachers — they were all pretty great — but the seventh grade staff really stood out. Mathematics and I, after seemingly turbulent sixth grade experience, began to reconcile with the basis of a love-hate relationship. Wildcat alumni, please remind me if our nation’s history was taught it seventh and eighth grade — there is belief that it was, and the years were divided. I can recall the beginning of our country’s start in Mr. G’s class. I cannot remember if we were studying the Revolutionary War, talking about the Donner Party, or diving into the Civil War when snow began to fall. It was definitely winter when panic truly set in. We were in the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed, and the snow-covered area was dismal enough to spark thoughts of hopelessness. We were all screwed, especially if the world was to end that school year. With consideration of both wars during their winter months:  freezing, starvation, sickness, death. With consideration of the Donner Party:  freezing, starvation, insanity, cannibalism, death.

Now that I think about it, it might have been the Donner Party, the devastation that occurred between the two wars. There is recollection of looking back, thinking of not wanting to be trapped out in the wilderness, lost.

Hmm. Cannibalism.

Okay then. On to happier thoughts, and speaking of consumption…

Mr. G (his name is too long to spell, and I’m feeling lazy) would play a game of hangman on a regular, possibly daily, basis. I’d guess correctly quite often, and the reward would be a piece of candy — small Snickers, not the bite-sized ones, or other famous brands. There is seriousness with my competitive nature, my winning. It had gotten to the point where I had a small stockpile in the felt locker organizers that hung inside and upon the door. It had gotten to the point where boasting my victories to my mother would inspire her to buy a bag of candy, giving it to me; it was my duty to give it to Mr. G., my social studies teacher, who got a kick out of this. He told me that I’d only be winning it back.

This supplying my teacher with bags of candy occurred a few times.

This was the year of my being torn between biology and English. Let’s start with science . In sixth grade, we studied mostly human physiology. Eighth grade was halved into chemistry and physics. Seventh was dedicated to biology and earth science. Thank you, Mrs. Po, who helped introduce me to my pro-environment quality.

We identified species of flora and fauna using field guides. We learned about biomes, communities, ecosystems, and more. We learned about parasites and symbiotic relationships. We went for walks in the trails behind the school. We even had amazing field trips. This was the year of the infamous Beaver Lake field trip where my two friends should have realized they would eventually be married years down the road.

Mrs. Po is partially to thank for my decision to join E.C.O.S. (the environmental club) in high school, why I wanted to pursue environmental studies (at first) when applying to colleges (the schools that I had do decide among included SUNY E.S.F. and Paul Smith’s College).

Lastly, we have the English class. We have Mr. Kane’s  class where my eyes were opened even farther, but this will be saved for Part 2.

16 thoughts on “When Life Should Have Sunk In (Part 1)

  1. Middle school was awful and middle school girls are pure concentrated evil.

    You are totally adorable! I would have had a crush on you with those glasses.

    1. It’s hard to tell from my perspective if they were evil or I was so bashful or dumb or cowardly. Despite the necessity to use the glasses, the specs were taken off quite often due to my “looking (not-so-much) better” with them off.

      Thank you, though!

      The girl in Cape Cod thought I was cute, but I screwed that up, as well, by not talking to her. My cowardice has lingered, and it comes up at the worst times. However, I am a great wing man.

      1. Trust me when I say, middle school girls are fucking evil. I was one once. I’m a great wing man too. Don’t beat yourself up so much! It’s okay to be shy. Some ladies dig it.

  2. I pity poor you, face pressed against the window for that long middle school bus ride. Torture.

    My junior high was three miles from my house by the school bus, but if I cut through the woods behind our house, it was like a mile. Warm days I would gain a half hour of sleep by running to school.

    But my high school was 12 miles away, no woods to cut through, only big roads and really big roads. One days it started snowing real hard when we were in school, and they called school off early. Oops. We were in split shifts. Some administrator decided that the early shift kids would get the buses, and the late shift kids would have to fend for themselves. Me and my friend Bob Rivera, a late shift kid who lived a couple blocks away in my development, hitchiked home together in a snowstorm, 12 miles. We were 10th graders. We got a ride pretty quick.

    By the way, you should have danced with the poor girl. Have you looked her up on Facebook? If she lives here and is single I think you owe her coffee at least.

    And you rocked those seventh grade frames. The ‘do was a tad stiff, though. Bad hair day? I had one every class picture day.

    1. Spit shifts? I’ve heard of block scheduling, but that’s a new concept. That stinks that the later shift students had to fend for themselves. Rough. At least you had adventures to school while growing up.

      The haircut was a bit of a poor option, I definitely agree with you on that. Why did I not choose smaller frames? No idea. Growing up is all about making poor style choices, and I basked in the failure. I got smart in high school, a time when I switched to band T-shirts.

      Both girls have since gotten married. There was no way I’d end up with either, and it was personally decided. It’s not that they aren’t pretty, they are. However, when 16 hit, and I was working… I found that there were prettier girls out there; hence, my swearing off dating girls from my school.

      There was an agreement with a few friends that Westhill girls were the beauties of the area. I took an interest in a lot of Liverpool girls, which are the breed and bane of my existence. But the closest friends were the B’ville girls.

      Then came proms… six of them and an FM formal, but that’s segment of my life is another story in itself.

      1. It better be more than one story in itself. Six proms and a formal. That may be a Guinness record, Chris, and I think that you like Guinness.

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