My Maine Concern, #2: POOH SCHOOL

Welcome back to my ongoing story series about growing up in Maine!

So this time around, I’m gonna tell you guys about my preschool.

Me and all the other toddlers in the bumfuck  Greene area ended up thrown haphazardly into Pooh School: the most country-ass preschool you ever did see.

Now Pooh School was smack dab in the middle of a farm. This is not an exaggeration. Miss Gayle, our headmistress so to speak, was farmer turned founder. The preschool was perched on a few sprawling acres of land, including the main building, a pool, and playground/petting zoo surrounded by poorly blocked off woodland area.

map

Now when I say the woods were “blocked off”, I mean the teachers at the preschool strongly cautioned us to stay away from the woods. There really was no fence or anything of the sort to keep you from just… wandering. It was hard to distinguish playable woods from forbidden woods so honestly the teachers were relying on our overactive imaginations to keep us from venturing too far.

into-the-woods

A half-assed reprimand was not enough to keep us idiots out of the woods, but usually something mildly devastating would happen and prevent us from further exploration.

For instance, the shorts incident.

There had been some juicy talk around the lunch table concerning a tree that had fallen down in the woods. It was far enough to alert the teachers of our absence, but not enough that they would bother to punish us. Imagine us all, huddled around in our little Ocean’s 11 pitch scene.

oceans-11

However, having no concept of currency and an inability to assess risk, jumping on a tree in the woods was good enough for us.

We had all hobbled our way down the hill and walked for what seemed like hours into the middle of the forest

edited-map

We lined up along the trunk, navigating the mossy balance beam like the best of ’em. The end of the tree was raised a few feet off the ground and every Maine kid worth their salt knows, it isn’t a true routine without a dismount. My friends had all jumped, one by one, and landed giggling on both feet before looking up at me. I paused – the crippling self-doubt and general paranoia had started early on in life for me – and I was looking down the barrel of a gun.

Because peer pressure and the need to prove one’s self starts just as early, I bounced once, twice, three times before hurling myself off the end.

There have been many, many times in my life where I’ve genuinely wondered what I did to deserve something so wretched. I’ve wallowed in self-pity, allowed myself to conjure theories about my past lives as a killer or a thief, unwilling to repent and therefore condemned to suffer in this life. I’ve come to realize however that sometimes shit happens and that is why the end of the tree caught the seat of my small cotton shorts, ripping the entire backside nearly off.

I only hope that you have friends like I did that day, one resolutely decided to walk in front of me and the other in back. We trudged back up the hill that way, I being the weepy, humiliated meat of a solemn and regretful sandwich. I don’t even remember the aftermath. It was probably such a horrific chastising, I’ve repressed it. Scrubbed it from my memory just as Miss Kim would, pouring Peroxide into the open wound while you screamed bloody murder from the tiny, desolate bathroom.

The women who ran this place were saints, given the havoc we would wreak. If it weren’t for these women, I’d probably have every type of Hepatitis and look like a Pollack painting.

miss-gayle

Miss Kim could bring you back to life with a bottle of Peroxide and a tongue depressor.

It’s also important to note that they had two giant St. Bernards that ran rampant through the school. They were taller than most of us and we naturally assumed they were bears. At least I did.

st-bernard

I suppose I shouldn’t speak for everyone, considering I think most people survived Pooh School with significantly less psychological trauma. I have always been a magnet for carnage. It followed me around like a pet, tapping me on the shoulder to remind me of my daily ass-kicking.

There was that time they showed an Eyewitness documentary (do you remember those fuckin things? They had books and documentaries and are responsible for 90% of my learning) about dinosaurs. And I was not. having. it.

dinos

I’m not afraid of dinosaurs now, nor do I remember having one explicitly back then, but I was not about that documentary at all. I like to sit and watch it now because I am a masochistic little shit.

Join me on this little trip back in time. Miss Frizzle not included.

There was also the time I had the flu and sat in the corner, shivering uncontrollably under several layers of sweaters.

Also the time my dad took me and my friends for a ride in the trailer he attached to the back of his bike (this preschool was like, ten minutes away from my house – so my dad just rode his bike with me in the trailer behind. You cannot get more small town than this.) and the trailer tipped and I landed on my side, skidding through the gravel. The unpaved driveway was basically just rocks, proceeding to scratch through the clear vinyl and leaving a set of claw marks across my right cheek. I know I should thank whomever is responsible for saving my face from a Wolverine scar, but sometimes I wonder how much cooler I’d be.

And of course, I think I have Pooh School to blame for my hard-fought childhood battle against claustrophobia. I was in the bathroom once and some older kid just decided to lean on the door, leaving me banging and crying and wailing on the other side, trying to escape. This would eventually lead to my refusing to close the bathroom door through Kindergarten and early elementary school. We had super heavy metal doors and I was horrified of being locked inside, so teachers would have to stand in front of the door so the other kids didn’t tumble in while I peed.

All that said, it was a pretty great school!!!! It’s where I met the kids I would grow to become best friends with, following them through school all the way into college. This also meant we knew each other far too intimately, cruelly reminding each other of our childhood horror stories. So is the fate of a small town kid. All in all, I’m grateful. Thanks everyone for not letting me die.

eerica

Advertisements

learning to read. again.

So recently I picked up a new book and read it, cover to cover.
It was not a huge book. It’s actually a pretty quick read.
station-eleven
So why is this important? Well the thing is this is the first book I have picked up, and read — in its entirety and finished without putting it down for months at a time — in…a very long time.
I can feel your judgement bleeding through the screen so lemme just
judgement-2
I love reading – I truly do – but I only just remembered how fun reading really is. I blame this on school.
“But Erica all you do at school is READ”
YEAH I KNOW
the thing is, reading for school and reading for pleasure are not the same thing.
Reading something to learn something is even different from reading something for school.
The thing is, I love learning just as much as I love reading, but that doesn’t mean I always loved school.
This is because the minute you force me to read something, I am struck by an unbelievable urge to not.
bok-trash
I’m like that with a lot of things. And I’m not really a rebellious person by nature.
me
I am sure if I picked up Lord of the Flies again tomorrow I would:
A. Probably enjoy it very much
And
B. Be a lot less pissed off while reading it.
I know I’d really like this book because even though I was forced to read it, I still managed to feel some sort of general contentment leaking out around the cracks in the all-encompassing displeasure.
I must say, though, I read one of my favorite books on assignment.
In Cold Blood is a strange, gripping tale on its own, but add into it a book report and a general rejection of authority (apparently) and you have me, perched on the edge of the bed, eagerly flipping through Capote’s book, eyes glued to the page, enthralled.
I had left 90% of the reading until the last minute and my only saving grace was my sudden, unexpected enjoyment and resulting hurry to consume the thing. Imagine my surprise.
I’ve been out of college since May and now have so much free time to waste how I please ??¿¿?¿ and so I’ve gotten back to my books.
This is proving to be an interesting task because I have this terrible, terrible habit of getting into a book, setting it down and…never picking it back up again. It’s not because I don’t like the book – in fact, I’ve done it with several books I find myself enjoying. (I think the only book I’ve willfully abandoned was American Psycho because a panic attack every 50 pages quickly became unnecessarily taxing).
american-psycho
So my first venture back into my suspended books is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third book  in the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson.
I honestly don’t know how I put this book down before. It’s amazing. And I’m not surprised because the other two books were amazing too! I honestly couldn’t tell you why I do these things.
I’m actually attached to the story and I’m tearing  through it (commuting on the subway lends a lot of reading time)
train.png
Maybe that’s why. Maybe I have attachment issues. I mean certainly I have attachment issues, I just didn’t think it extended to paperbacks. Fuck.
UPDATE:
When I started this post, I had just started re-reading TGWKTHN. It’s been a few weeks since I started this post (idk why it takes me so long plz have patience) and since then I have re- read / finished it and have since read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and am close to finishing another previously suspended book, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
I’m wondering if I should be concerned. WELP.
siiiigggg.png

My Maine Concern, #1: that time I went to school in a Wal-Mart

Yes hello and welcome to the second ever post on TOSPT!

This post is going to be a part of an ongoing series where I talk about things that happened to me growing up in Maine. I seem to never run out of Maine stories so it seemed like a good idea. We’ll see. So anyway, let’s get to it.

*****

Maine is so fucking weird. Maine is a place that seems to be stuck in this purgatory between the contemporary world and 1500. You have all the modern conveniences of smart phones, chip card readers (is this a convenience???) and Dunkin’ Donuts, but people still routinely shoot and kill animals for food and heat their houses with wood stoves. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Mainers take such pride in the traditions of old, but maybe Grubhub would be nice.

So with that in mind, try and imagine Maine in the mid 90’s – early 2000’s. The world is venturing boldly into the realm of new technology and Maine…is trying I guess.

I feel like this was the last time you could really get away with shit – at least when it came to kids and early childhood education. This was the last time kids could split their head open on some rusty playground equipment and parents would say “well at least you got your Tetanus shot. I think.”

dumbass-idea

 

And this mentality is how I ended up going to school for a year in an abandoned Wal-Mart.

My elementary school was tiny, in size and in population. The actual building was so small, we had a few portable classrooms out on the front lawn. You really haven’t lived until you’ve had to put on a winter coat to go to the bathroom.

campus

I guess you can only put up with chipping paint, sub-par heating and outdoor classrooms for so long. Somehow, my tiny elementary school had saved up something like a million dollars (how? T-ball? Bake sales? I’m convinced there was some Black Market shit going on here) and decided they were going to do a complete overhaul of the school. They were gonna tear that shit down and build from the bottom up. Probably because Asbestos.

The thing is though, it apparently takes longer than three months to build an elementary school (who knew?) and so once summer vacation had ended, us kids didn’t have anywhere to go. This is every kids’ dream, mind you, that your school is literally *gone* and you will never do math AGAIN.

Well, as we all know, adults ruin absolutely everything. They inevitably had come up with some sort of solution to get us back out of their homes and back into school, but no one was prepared when we were told we were going to school – in a Wal-Mart.

what

From where I lived it was a half-hour drive “into town”. Town had all the new big stores and one strip mall that was probably about as big as a single Terminal in an airport. A small, small airport. There was a Home Depot, a few fast-food places and soon to be a brand new Wal-Mart. Now this was back when not all Wal-Marts were the size of a small city and Super Wal-Marts weren’t really that large (or super at all, really). This new Mega-Ultra-Big-Ass Wal-Mart they were building in town was going to be directly across the street, leaving the dilapidated shell of a Super Wal-Mart behind. And this is where we were going to spend the school year.

No one knew what to expect. Parents, children, teachers – all of us were equally ignorant when we attended “school” that first day. My bus ride had gone from 2 minutes to 25, and now involved a highway, crossing a large body of water and, like, actual traffic.  Now, we had all watched The Magic School Bus and were inappropriately excited.

magic-school-bus

We are dropped off in front of The School Formerly Known As Wal-Mart and proceed to enter into complete chaos. This Wal-Mart had not been entirely remodeled in the shape of a school, mind you. They didn’t have an extra million to throw around, after all. It was just what you’d expect from an empty Wal-Mart. Chipped linoleum tile, various exposed wires and pipes strewn about, as well as dark, dank and deeply unsettling public bathrooms.

walmart-2

The only real modification was a series of interlocking cubicles acting as individual classrooms creating a large labyrinth in the middle of the building. Not an effective labyrinth by any means. Most of the adults were tall enough that they could easily peer over the wall into the neighboring “classroom” and stare forlornly at their fellow teachers.

recess

It was at this point I came to understand the dire necessity of walls.

The teacher at the front of the classroom would be explaining long division while another would be shouting about Abraham Lincoln three cubicles down.*

*This is a necessary hyperbole. I have no accurate recollection of any learning whatsoever from that time. All I can remember is noise. Strategies varied amongst the teachers – some tried to keep their voices down while others chose to scream, determined to be the loudest voice, to rise above the din. This was a constant, consuming, cacophonous clamor that filled my days for an entire year. This mess was only ever interrupted by recess which meant you could lie down on the cracked, graffiti-spattered pavement behind the building, stare into the sun and pray for a quick end to the universe. It really wasn’t that bad I guess.

Until someone kicked your only soccer ball onto the roof, in which case it really was that bad.

good-life-2

I honestly hadn’t thought about School-Mart in years. One day I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about Maine and it’s eccentricities before I remembered

convo

I suppose if someone asks me about Maine, I really only need to tell them that story. I think it represents the state itself in a lot of ways. A sleepy, abandoned space – probably unfit for human habitation – injected with life. Re-purposed, reinvigorated and forcibly introduced to the new generation.

What a stupid fucking idea.

sig

about meeeeeeee

HOWDY

My name is Erica and this is my blog.

shirt

I really like frozen things (waffles, ice cream, snow)

eggos

Probably because I am very hot (temperature, not aesthetic)

sweat

I am genderqueer (she/her or they/them)

gender-spectrum

 

On good days I am an actor who likes to write, draw and read.

On bad days I am still all of those things but more horizontal.

horizontal

I hope you will join me on this journey because I have no idea where this is going.erica