It’s My Birthday (Groan)

Due to my crappy memory for anything besides Simpsons quotes and sports statistics, lots of my childhood memories come from parental second-hand stories. My dad tells embarrassing scatological stories of my first few years with an uncontrolled bladder and my mom mostly fills in details from questions about my elementary wanderings. One story that can be corroborated was around my 5th or 6th b-day. During the common “Happy Birthday” song, I burst into tears. On a grainy home video, I’m sitting at the head of the table in a darkened room with a little conical hat, fires burning atop my sweet cake, family illuminated in shadows performing that droning incantation and you can see it coming. My face drops and I lose it. Even as a tiny kid I didn’t like that song.

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Thinking About Memories and Anniversaries

“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

–Lennon/McCartney

The year of anniversaries. Ten years ago, 2009, Obama was inaugurated and I tried to get my students interested in watching history in the making. Not everyone is interested in history. Kids ask, “Why do I need to learn history if it already happened?” “Why do I need to learn about dead people?” I usually respond with some confounded response about how history lays bricks for future roads. Continue reading

God Bless The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead, the quintessential hippie rock band, forged in the belly of the San Francisco underground Acid Tests, has kept us all rolling, twirling and tripping along with them on their long, strange trip since 1967 with the release of their first album. They have gained and lost band members, written timeless songs, and allowed us all an excuse to feel that freeing feeling of communal liberation that is, a Grateful Dead show. Continue reading

To Drink, or To Get Drunk…

“Don’t puke now Sabia.” So the quote reads in my senior yearbook. My friend wrote that to me as what I can only assume is the thing he remembers most about me from our four years together in high school. I was a puker. I was a drinker. So, I didn’t think it was that strange at the time. (My Mom didn’t like it I remember.) I wasn’t really addicted to drinking. I was in love with the atmosphere of getting drunk. Continue reading

Remembering New Jersey in Korea

It’s no surprise that many of my blogs of reminiscing begin with: “When I was a kid at the Jersey Shore.” It was and remains a magical place for our family. There is a wide, off-white sandy beach, a small downtown with ice cream shops, miniature golf, a small arcade, a movie theater, and even a boardwalk for romantic post-pizza strolls. That’s not even to mention the Sabia/Sedlacek compound. We have the “dock on the bay” complete with boats and jet-skis, railings and pilings for karate kid bay jumps—a semi-private haven for all our tomfoolery. It made for great vacations. Continue reading

Guns, Killing, MTV and The American Celebrity

Back in 1992, a new band named Pearl Jam made a seminal video of teenage angst, called “Jeremy.” “The boy was something that mommy wouldn’t wear.” The boy screamed and cried for attention and never got it. He felt awkward at school and felt awkward in his own skin. It’s the high school curse to never feel at ease anywhere you are. Continue reading

The Sounds of Music

The Sound of Music, a whimsical musical which belies the serious undertones of the Nazi takeover of Austria, features songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, came out in 1965 at the moment of America escalating the Vietnam War. It is a war movie, despite the happiness of its songs. It is magical, it is fantastic, and it is a classic. And I never saw it until I was 30 years old. Continue reading

Music: of the People, by the People, and for the People

Did you ever wish you could go back to the first time you heard a song? Back to where you were when “Thong Song” blasted out of your friend’s convertible one crazy midsummer night, or any of the wonderfully great rap songs of the 90’s that helped define summers. What about the first time you heard “November Rain” or “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ripping your eardrums open without ever thinking of turning it down. Continue reading

What’s My Age Again?

For years, I’ve always looked younger than my age. I suppose at 12 I may have looked twelve, but after that, I was always mistaken for a younger version of myself. Once, around 27, a local campaigning politician came to the door of my parents’ house and asked for my mother or father. I replied they were out, and she asked me if I was old enough to vote. Continue reading

First Grade Moments

Today, my favorite student (any teacher will be honest and tell you they have a favorite) shocked me again.  Olivia is the happiest little lark I’ve ever met.  She is about 5 or 6 years old, never frowns and has a bright round face with a perfectly infectious smile.  She used to call me over to her table, “Teacher, teacher, come here.”  She’d motion with her hand as if she had a secret to tell and look at her feet trying to remember why she’d called me over. Continue reading