Friday, August 12, 2005


An awesome find by way of Megan, this gem is probably from around seventh or eighth grade. I rode public transportation every day of my public education (the occasional trip in with mom not included) on account of the desegregation program that was in effect in Arkansas until only a few years ago. Kids were recruited from incredible distances to be exchanged with students in Little Rock schools so that racial disparities could be diluted, and as a result hundreds of backwoods vermin like myself got the opportunity to go to good schools (deseg also funded fantastic advanced education programs to keep the white parents placated about sending their yound off to the Big, Dangerous City®).

Depending on which year of school we're talking about, my daily commute home would take anywhere from 45 mintues to 2 hours. Before I learned to sleep on the bus, and before I owned my first walkman, this was a big, fidgety problem. It was for most of us, still to young to sit still for any appreciable amount of time, so my bus drivers (almost all of the good ones) would dose us with our choice of Little Debbie snack cakes and cokes (as seen here) to keep from losing control. It worked pretty well.

Let's see, in the foreground we have a washed-out-by-the-flash Katrina. She was in high school and had a Corvette (seriously, with a license plate that read "KAT"), but her parents wouldn't let her drive it to school. She played trumpet in the Mills High band.

Behind her is Sarah Ronsick, long a friend of mine and co-nerd from years in TAG--we always hated that the specialty programs were abbreviated TAG (rhymes all to easily with other terms), so after years as a TAGFAG I was relieved that it became more fashionable to title it GT. Sarah was from a military family, though, so I lost touch with her before high school.

The same goes for the twin brothers seated behind her, Roland and Tim Goode. I was sure that these two were gay, even then, but they (as well as Sarah) were from a military family with an extreme religious devotion. I liked the Goodes, though, but lost contact with them in much the same way that Sarah drifted away.

Behind one of the Goodes on the right are Alexis Moody (who, as he grew older, began to insist on being called Marq--his middle name--though my dad always called him Alexis anyway) and Reggie Bolden, both of whom I'd grown up with as Gravel Ridge neighbors. Ale, um, I mean Marq lived literally five minutes by bike from my house, so we spent a lot of time together when we were really young. He even found a lost cat of mine once. He had a community pool in his neighborhood that he'd always get me into. Marq went on to be a star baseball player for our high school, but I don't think he pursued it. I saw him about a year and a half ago at UALR, dressed for success, and he was finishing up some business classes.

Reggie Bolden was our version of what I would imagine it would have been like to grow up with Carrot Top as a neighbor. Intelligent but easily coerced, Reggie could always be counted on to lick a wad of spit off of the bus floor on a dare, or to take a punch from everyone because it would be fun, or otherwise injure/endanger himself for laughs. Reggie ended up going to UNLV on a soccer scholarship after which I never heard from him again (except that he'd become quite the little slut of a boozehound).

I can see Chad Hudson's blue and white striped shirt peeking out from behind them. Chad was my best friend for years (not to mention the first penis I'd ever seen) until he fell in with the cool kids somewhere late in junior high, after which I immediately became a favorite target for him and his new group. My brother saw him not too long ago, selling used cars.

I'm the hot blonde at the back of the bus, gracelessly posing for the camera in those kooky upstart years before puberty hit me like a ton of bricks and made me start insisting on being grunge.


Thursday, August 11, 2005


The California voyage approaches on the horizon...


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Habibi visits 

As this term races to a close (only two course meetings to go), I was graced by an extended visit from Becky Lockhart, a close friend with whom, in spite of an almost year and a half gap since the last time we were in the same city, I've been in almost constant contact since we met at Arkansas Governor's School during our junior year of high school. People who think my hometown is small would do well to meet Becky for an even stronger record setter: Jeff's Gravel Ridge, Arkansas (pop. 3,232), meet Becky's Hogeye, Arkansas (pop., um, Becky's family). Nestled far into the Ozarks, Becky was raised on the Lockhart farm, where hundreds of cattle, buffalo, chickens, goats, peacocks and emu kept her entertained. She used to bring me gigantic green emu eggs and peacock feathers as sort of a gag gift, but I always thought they were the coolest things--I mean, seriously, who the hell else can ask, "can I have another emu egg the next time you visit?" and rightfully expect to receive one? Few, I'd imagine.

Regardless, Becky was the most hardcore punk I'd met by the time we got to Governor's school, and by the time we'd gotten to college she had more piercings and tattoos than anyone I'd ever met. We both went into molecular and cellular biology, albeit at different institutions, and now, roughly a year after finishing her master's in immunology she's working for hospitals and labs that pay her to fly all over the place to learn new techniques. When she saw the opportunity to come to D.C. to learn realtime PCR and some oter swank stuff at USDA, she called me up and we planned a visit. Hooray, friends!

I think one of the ironic highlights of the trip happened yesterday, minutes before we went to meet her colleagues in Greenbelt. At a thrift boutique on U Street, we were thumbing through a rack of gaudy t-shirts, beleaguering our budgets. I was in the middle of commenting that the next time I'm in Arkansas I should pillage the Salvation Army bins for fodder to sell at D.C. boutiques at top dollar when I came across this gem:

Becky models our civic heritage.

We erupted into laughing shrieks of joy. The look of horror on the shopkeeper's face prompted an explanation that, yes, Toad Suck is indeed a real town in central Arkansas, famous (for Arkansas) due to it's fantastic name and annual festival (Toad Suck Daze). I would have bought it had it not been an XL and $40. Every child goes through a phase of collecting these shirts at home, emblazoned with all the permutations possible: Toad Suck Park, Toad Suck Petting Zoo, Toad Suck Frog Giggers, and so forth. I could make a killing selling my childhood stash here!

This man, asking for advice on his outfit, agrees.

It's all about the Virgo medallion... that and the unevenly-buttoned shirt.


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