April 25, 2003

What I Remember of METCO

Thirty years ago this September, I started Kindergarten in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. What I didn't notice then (how could I? I was four and half years old, and had known nothing else) was that the town was predominantly white. There were black kids at school, sure; and by first or second grade, I think, I was aware that they took the bus to school. I'm not sure when I learned that they didn't live in Needham.

I must've known by fifth grade, because after school one day I saw a girl who was a year ahead of me walking across the softball field toward the edge of the school grounds, and was immediately concerned. "She's going to miss her bus!" I said to my friend. The friend replied, "She lives here." Me: "Really?" I think this was my first inkling that a black family lived in Needham, that black kids didn't just arrive on buses.

By eighth grade, I knew that a couple of my friends lived in Roxbury, but I still didn't know that Roxbury was predominantly black, and I wouldn't learn until high school that it was considered a place where white people just didn't go. I got it confused with West Roxbury, where my grandmother was in the hospital and where some of my mom's piano students lived.

I'm not sure when I learned the term "METCO kids", but certainly I knew it by ninth grade. I remember the METCO buses lining up on Webster Avenue behind the school to drop students off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, and that some days the buses left later so that METCO kids could participate in after-school activities.

I must've known by tenth grade that one of the goals of METCO was integration, because I remember thinking when I passed the three or four tables of METCO kids all sitting together in the cafeteria at lunch that it wasn't working very well. I still saw my friend Chris from eighth grade in the halls sometimes, and I was immensely proud of him for his success on the basketball team, but I'd lost track of my friend Robert. I didn't participate in sports myself (not that the jocks seemed particularly well integrated, either), and all of my close friends were white.

When I announced that I was moving to North Carolina in 1984, one of the black kids in my class told me he'd never want to live in the south. "Black people are different down there," he said. My cousin, who had moved to Needham from Florida a couple years before, had voiced a similar sentiment, and I had thought he was just being a racist southerner.

What I didn't know until maybe 6 or 7 years ago, when I saw a television movie about busing in Boston, was that Boston was more racist than the South in many ways. In the South, people were just more open about their racism. In the North, you could live in a white suburb, and you never had to tell anyone what you really thought (and believe me, when it was suddenly kosher to voice negative opinions about other races, I got an earful—from a member of my own family, to my great shock). But back to busing: I'd had no idea how acrimonious the issue had been. I know I was young, but how could I have been so oblivious to this?

Thirty years ago, Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. of Federal District Court found that Boston school officials had deliberately created a dual public school system, one that discriminated against black students. He ordered forced busing to desegregate. Violence erupted as white parents threw rocks at buses carrying black children to their neighborhood schools. Thousands of white students left the system and enrolled in parochial schools. [full article (free registration required)]

I knew that many kids in my town attended parochial schools, but I hadn't realized that it had been caused by busing. As it turns out, it wasn't. What I learned today was that all the fighting was over a forced busing plan in the city of Boston. METCO was completely voluntary, and it was founded in 1966, almost a decade before Judge Garrity's ruling.

Once again, I feel as uninformed about the events of my own childhood as I did when I saw that movie on busing. It was only in trying to find the definition of METCO on Google that I've discovered as much as I have, and now I want to find out more. I've put The Other Boston Busing Story: What's Won and Lost Across the Boundary Line on my Amazon Wish List for that reason.

I'm also starting to wonder if it's time for another trip to Needham, this time with an archaeological goal in mind. I've been to Hunter, NY and Rochester, NY with each of my parents to discover their personal histories; maybe it's time to explore my own.

Posted by Lori at 12:16 PM
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July 20, 2003

Georgia on My Mind (and On the Trash Heap)

I'm about to do something drastic. Well, drastic for someone who loves to journal, scrapbook, and otherwise preserve memories and mementos from various stages of my life. I am about to throw away my University of Georgia rugby t-shirts.

True, I haven't worn those t-shirts in years. They're too big, acquired in a time when I thought wearing long shirts to cover my big butt made me look thinner. And unlike some other XLs and XXLs that have been foisted on me more recently because the petite girls (and guys) snapped up all the Ss, Ms, and Ls, they're not soft enough to be worn as pajamas. The words "RUGGER HUGGER" and "Georgia Rugby ~ There is no substitute!" are cracked and scratchy, and both shirts have small holes.

Rugger Hugger and Georgia Rugby ~ There is no substitute! shirts

Still, I've been reluctant to part with these two shirts (and several others from the same era) because they chronicle a part of my life. The fact that that part of my life is a distant memory now makes the shirts all the harder to toss: they are the only remaining evidence of how I used to spend my Saturday afternoons in college, of friends named Nick and Sky and Fruitfoot, of rugby songs sung at the top of our lungs at parties after the games, of the verse I added to "Mobile" and made Ryan sing for me because I was too chicken to do it myself.

The body looks like that of no woman I know, but I used to have hair like that.

I've been to two rugby games since that time: USA vs. China here in San Francisco a few years back, and one in New Zealand in 1998 (I still have the t-shirt from that one, and I'm not ready to give it up yet). While I still appreciate the game, it's the people who played it at Georgia in the late 80s that I miss.

I'll be keeping my pink t-shirt from the 1989 Rugby Ball (which is soft, sturdy, the right size, and well-designed to boot), so I won't be jettisoning all of my rugby memories. In fact, as I think of that shirt now, I'm remembering the knee I skinned that weekend and that oozed for days, baked beans made with ketchup and mustard and brown sugar and cooked over the fire, of drinking too much and doing stupid things, like climbing over the fence around a nearby country club pool to go swimming in our underwear, and like trying to take pity on a virgin in the back seat of a car and ending up making it harder for him because of my obvious indifference. Er. Maybe I'll throw that shirt out too after all.

I haven't worn the Five-Eight and Violets Ts, also from the late 80s in Athens, in years (for the same reasons as the rugby shirts), but I think I'm going to hang on to those and possibly frame them for posterity. The now-disgusting Public Nuisance shirt that I helped to make in the early 90s, using spray paint and a stencil Jimmy cut from a discarded piece of cardboard using an Exacto knife, I think, is tougher to let go of. It's so gray and icky that it would resemble a punk rock Shroud of Turin if framed, and I'm not sure I want to wear it close to my body anymore, despite its extreme softness. (I wore it under sweaters and dress shirts for years, as a way of preserving my indy rock soul in corporate suit environments. At least, that's what I told myself.) I think the fact that I had a hand in making it gives it more sentimental value, even as its value as an article of clothing or a work of art has faded.

Public Nuisance! Public Nuisance! Well I like to drink, and I like to smoke, and I like to give the girls a poke...

Still, the pile of white t-shirts in my closet is now dangerously close to toppling, and I fear I must put that "if you haven't worn it in 12 months, throw it out" rule into effect. I wore my 1996 Netscape Developer's Conference shirt to the gym just the other day, so it's safe. It's really just the Georgia-era stuff that's on the chopping block, and it's certainly been more than 12 months since I last wore any of it. These shirts have been packed into boxes for the last time; they've made at least 7 moves already, and most have made at least 5 since they were last worn. It's time to say goodbye.

Posted by Lori at 1:07 PM
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December 16, 2003

My (Work) Life, In Boxes

I'm unpacking and sorting through my office boxes today. It's so weird to look through old notebooks, e-mails, calendars and other random bits of detritus from seven years (and several cubes) at Macromedia. I have logs of how I spent my time when I was in developer support, lists of bugs I'd filed or intended to file, meeting notes, half-written articles for the developer center, copies of my tech review of the Dreamweaver 4 API documentation (complete with angry notes in the margins, like "IT'S A BOOLEAN!" and "Code blocks are not separate from the runtime code—they ARE the runtime code!!"), postcards from vacationing friends and co-workers, conference swag, boxed copies of every release of Dreamweaver, and every manual I ever wrote or read. I'm saving a few small things for my scrapbook and some of the API manuals as writing samples, but the rest has to go—there's no room for it in my house or my life.

This is just the start of a big day of weeding; I wouldn't be surprised if a few more photos of t-shirts and other memorabilia showed up here, so that I can part with the objects themselves without regret.

Posted by Lori at 10:26 AM
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January 4, 2004

The College Board

Fig. 12: BreakAway stickerFig. 3: Norrell pinThe other night, while watching Clean Sweep (our current favorite home-improvement show), Al said to me, "What would be the one item of mine from the Keep pile that you'd like to see leave the house?" I replied that had he asked me the same question in Mountain View, I would have said his giant television—but since it fits better in our Philadelphia living room, it didn't bother me as much. I'd have to think about it.

Fig. 1: UGA bulldog sticker strip"What item of mine would you get rid of?" I asked. Without hesitation, Al said "Your bulletin board." Me: "The big one? Why?" Al: "Because it's huge and messy and looks like something you'd hang in a college dormroom." (Al isn't big on anything that reminds him of a college dorm room or a frat house; he likes clean lines and nearly-bare walls. I could have argued the "huge" point, given that the bulletin board is about the same size as his television, but I let it go.) I guess he's right that it's sort of messy, but until now I've never even considered getting rid of it. For me it always had too much history attached to it: It's a chronicle of my time in Washington, D.C., Connecticut, and California! It has irreplaceable stickers stuck to it! Where would I put those buttons if I couldn't hang them on the bulletin board?

Fig. 4: WETA Member stickerI thought about it for a few minutes, and then I said, "I can get rid of the bulletin board. I have a smaller one if I need a place to stick things, and I think I can let go of all the stuff that's attached to the big one." I meant that in the emotional sense as well as the physical sense.

Fig. 6: Parenting by CHOICE buttonThat brings us to this entry, which is all about letting go of the emotional attachments, so I can let go of the board and its physical attachments. It probably won't be of interest to anyone but me, but I've found it useful to blog about this stuff so I can get rid of clutter without jettisoning the associated memories. It's like a scrapbook for items that can't actually fit in a scrapbook.

Fig. 2: Nirvana sticker

The College Board, as I have come to think of this thing that my husband would like swept away, is home to the following items (in roughly chronological order):

Fig. 5: Anti-Bush/Pro-Choice stickerFig. 22: Ice Chalet sticker1.  A strip of UGA bulldog stickers, purchased while working at the UGA Bookstore in 1989 or 1990. I don't know what I'd intended to stick the bulldogs on, but I never got around to it. They ended up all together in the lower left corner of the cork board.

2.  A Nirvana sticker, front and center.

3.  A tiny Norrell pin, from my days as an office temp. I arrived in Washington, D.C. with $100 in my bank account, a $99 speeding ticket in my pocket, a B.A. in English, and the ability to type 80 wpm. I quickly learned that no one was willing to pay a just-out-of-college English major the $22,500 I'd figured it would cost me to live in D.C., so I started temping within days of my arrival. My cost-of-living estimates turned out to be frighteningly accurate; my first year of temping earned me $19,000. Can you say "credit card debt"?

4.  A sticker indicating that I contributed to WETA, one of Washington, D.C.'s several NPR stations. I also gave to WAMU, which I listened to more often; I'm keeping the coffee mug WAMU gave me as a thank-you gift.

Fig. 8: I was COUNTED! sticker5.  A sticker reading "Anti-Bush, Anti-Court, Pro-Choice." I believe I acquired this when I participated in a Pro-Choice march and rally in D.C. The Bush in question is George H. W., not his offspring; I couldn't have imagined in 1991 that it would still be relevant in 2004.

Fig. 7: Clinton/Gore campaign sticker6.  A button that reads "Parenting By CHOICE Not Chance", acquired at the NOW store in D.C. I love this button; maybe I should keep it.

7.  A Clinton/Gore sticker from when I volunteered for their campaign in 1992.

8.  A small, pink, round sticker that says "I was COUNTED! April 25th, 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation". I remember that the organizers told us to wear white (it shows up better on TV, apparently); I wore a long white skirt, a white blouse that looked kind of like a doilly, and my green 8-eye Doc Marten boots. I also wore 45 sunblock on my bare arms and face, but I forgot to apply the stuff to my ears. They fried like bacon, scabbed over, and fell off in pieces over the next two weeks.

Fig. 20a: Macromedia sticker  Fig. 20b: Shockrave sticker

Fig. 9: WWF sticker9.  A World Wildlife Fund sticker I got for contributing to the cause.

Fig. 10: UGA Alumni Society sticker10.  A University of Georgia Alumni Society sticker I kept even though I didn't contribute to the cause.

11.  An Apple Computer sticker I got from work, circa 1994.

12.  The BreakAway sticker that came in the box with my new Bell bicycle helmet. The bicyle I bought at the same time was stolen two weeks later when I accidentally missed the frame while fighting to close the Kryptonite lock. I kept the extra front tire (and the lock, which were all that remained) as a backup in case the replacement bike I bought the next day ever needed one. I finally gave it away in 1998, after the second bike was stolen from the garage of my apartment building in San Francisco. The shattered Kryptonite lock, which was all that remained this time, was unsalvageable. The Bell helmet was stolen with the bike.

Fig. 13: Bass Northwest sticker13.  A sticker from Bass Northwest, a super cool store devoted to bass guitars in Seattle, WA. I visited this place while on a train trip around the country in 1994; a matching sticker is on the cover of my journal from that trip.

Fig. 14: Baggage-claim sticker14.  A baggage-claim sticker from the return flight to IAD from LHR. I went on two business trips to London when I worked at the World Bank; I can't remember which one this was.

Fig. 15: Mecklermedia name tag15.  A Disney-quality Mecklermedia's iWorld name tag that I wore at one of the many Mecklermedia conferences I attended as an employee/speaker. I worked at Meckler for one year before leaving to join the company everyone thought I worked for.

Fig. 16: Kareem Campbell sticker16.  A Kareem Campbell sticker that I think came in the box with a pair of skateboarding sneakers I got on a trip to Maryland. I never did get a skateboard to go with them, and they weren't that comfortable to walk in, so they were long ago given to a friend's kid. Thus ended, at age 28, my dream of being a skate punk. I think the dream started at 28, as well.

Fig. 17: Ask Me About Dreamweaver button17.  An "ASK ME ABOUT DREAMWEAVER!" button. I can't remember if it was made for UCON in 1997 (where we announced that the product was coming) or Fall iWORLD 1997 (which coincided with the release of Dreamweaver 1), but I remember wearing it proudly.

Fig. 18: USGA membership sticker18.  A USGA membership sticker. I think my mom bought me the membership when I finally started to understand how she could find golf fun and signed up for 6 lessons.

Fig. 19: c|net sticker19.  A huge c|net logo sticker that I think I acquired at a builder.com conference in New Orleans in 1998.

20.  Two Macromedia stickers: One with the logo and web address of the company, and one with the logo and web address of the now-defunct shockrave.com.

Fig. 11: Apple Computer stickerFig. 21: SkateWorks sticker21.  A nifty Skate Works sticker I picked up on a visit to the Redwood City shop. I can't remember why I went.

22.  My Ice Chalet admission sticker for the 06/15/2000 Open Skate. I don't think this was the first time I used my brand-new hockey skates, but it was one of the open skate sessions I attended in an attempt to learn how to skate before buying hockey gear on June 20.

23.  A Switch sticker that commemorates Al's third gift to me, given in November 2000, two weeks after we started dating: a Burton snowboard with Switch bindings. I'm still speechless.

Fig. 23: Switch sticker

Posted by Lori at 12:41 AM
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May 26, 2005

Looby, Shattered

While vacuuming the kitchen this morning, I got the cord to the vacuum wrapped around my Loobylu mug and yanked it to the hard, tile floor. Needless to say, it shattered. :(

The mug had been fading for months, thanks to our overzealous dishwasher, but I was still very much attached to this mug. It captured a moment in time, a moment when I was just starting to read other blogs. Loobylu was among the first of my daily reads.

I know I can get another Looby mug, but it won't be the same. Looby looks different now, and I don't think this design is available anymore. <sigh> At least I'll have the memory of my last mug of tea with Looby, and of Austen reaching for it with both hands, raising it to his mouth, and making what he thought was the same sucking motion I was making at the rim.

the stains are from my morning tea

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February 16, 2009

NaNa Shoes

I've had these shoes since the early 90s, and I've been extremely reluctant to part with them even though I only wear them about once a year now. They represent a time for me, a style, my personality in a pair of shoes. I still remember the time a woman asked me in an elevator, "are those NaNa shoes?" Why yes, yes they are.

NaNa shoes

My friend Amy had a pair, and as soon as I saw them on her, I knew I had to have them, too. I wore them mostly with short skirts and black tights, sometimes to my job at the World Bank, sometimes to clubs. I wore them out and got them resoled. I can still hear the clunk and jingle of them.

I finally decided to let them go. I considered posting them on Craiglist or eBay, but instead I sent them with Al on his latest Goodwill run. I could picture some thrifty hipster coming across them and falling in love the way I did, and it made me smile.

Posted by Lori at 2:02 PM
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