no hair past the collar


Scott asked a great CODE WORD question last time, so I’ll repeat it here: “do you still feel the tension/excitement/stress building around this time of year like you did when you were in school?”

Let me be the first to say ABSOLUTELY. Whenever I see the back-to-school sales for pants at department stores, and kids at Target buying backpacks, my stomach hurts a little. I absolutely loathed school, and considered it an existential jail sentence (even if I couldn’t express it as such).

I do, however, have a deep longing for stationery and art supplies, so the thought of going through the aisle that sells protractors, Trapper Keepers and Husky Pencils still turns me on. I loved the idea of having my own little plastic pencil sharpener, and can still pinpoint the smell of wood and graphite coming to a sharp point at my little desk. You?


0 thoughts on “no hair past the collar

  1. Caitlin

    I definitely still get a thrill from the back-to-school time of year — maybe because I spent so much of my adult life continuing to go to school. I just bought kindergarten pencils for our daughter today, and it made me happy. I too love school supplies. And all the possibilities that empty notebooks and unchewed pens and unscribbled planners imply.
    In medicine, the new year starts in July, when the new interns start and the rhythm of the hospital year begins again. But it’s not as fraught with meaning and expectation as September.

  2. caveman

    I saw a commercial for LL Bean backpacks the other day and almost started crying.
    I can’t believe the Principal would crowbar his photo into every class picture. What an egomaniac. You’re not going to hold me back any longer Mr Thompson…if that even is your real name.

  3. Big Scott

    I dunno. I’m conflicted about this time of year, I guess. I commented to my wife the other day that there were parents all over the country that were doing the exact same thing that we were doing; distilling our love into little pieces of plastic, wood and graphite and stuffing them into a brand new, made in Indonesia back pack. It’s kind of sad, in a way. On the other hand, I think the first day of school is one of the best days of the year if you like kids. Seems like every kid I know is caught between trepidation and overwhelming excitement. It feels like their entire world is fraught with possibilities.

  4. dean

    That photo has some bad fashion. I also noticed that your classroom is a tad low on the Diversity Scale. What, no busing?

  5. MarkC

    It is different for me now because about 7 years ago I moved to the “other” side of the equation and started teaching statistics. The first few times I teach a new class are quite stressful, but now it is very routine and I really enjoy teaching.
    So no sense of dread at all anymore, but, like Ian, I loathed school as a child really until college. My son will be going to school in a few years so those old feelings might yet rear their ugly head, but I hope not.
    My one vivid memory about back to school was in a mall in Bangor, Maine. We spent our summers in Maine on a lake and we had gone to town to shop and see family. It was early July and there in the mall were huge Back to School signs up, and I thought that was bizarre and depressing as school had just ended a couple weeks before.

  6. eric g.

    My wife just said to me last night “Don’t you get sad and tense seeing all this back to school stuff?” And yes, I do. I HATED the start of school back in the day. And I don’t even have kids (yet).

  7. GFWD

    I used to love the start of school. Enjoyed shopping for school supplies and used to relish setting up my notebook or Trapper Keeper or clipboard “just so”. I was a big fan of that clear plastic insert with the zipper where you could put your pens and pencils in the notebook. Remember the erasable ink pens? And I loved those eraser that you added on to the back of your pencils. The coolest, however, was the NFL pencils.
    My mom was a teacher, so I used to even volunteer at the elementary school a week before school started, so that I could help the principal get books to the classrooms. I’d work all morning and afternoon for the low, low, low price of a lunch at Hardee’s. I used to enjoy shopping for clothes and my sister and I always took that “first day of school” photo by the front door. I loved getting the school shoes that you wore to and from school but had to change when you got home to play outside.
    I get a little wistful going past the aisles at Target because a big part of me wants to load up the cart on school supplies. But then reality hits and I realize I can just hit the supply closet at the office. Sigh. When I mention these things to my wife, she pauses, looks at me gently and then proclaims, “you were a nerd, weren’t you, honey?”
    They loved the turtleneck growing up in Iowa, didn’t they?

  8. jersey

    This time of year reminds me most of heading back up to college for the year. God, I loved that time of year. No classes the first week back, all you had to worry about was drop/add, settling into the house, catching up with friends, girls nicely tanned and in their summer dresses, drinking beer of the front porch. Ah, the nostalgia!!

  9. michelle

    Ian, I was somewhere between 1-2 years old when that pic was taken.
    I *loved* school when I was a kid. Even though I was really awkward and not necessarily popular until the 7th grade, I loved it – loved the boundaries, loved how I knew what it took to succeed, loved my good teachers, loved feeling successful. Starting in junior high, and culminating in college, though, I loved school a lot less. By the time I got to college, even though I still loved the learning part, I always felt like a round peg being forced into a square hole. I think I know now that I was just majoring in the wrong thing and hanging (or rather, trying unsuccessfully to hang) with the wrong crowd, but I totally missed out on the fun that 99.9% people report on having during college. I’d love to go back and do it all again, and focus more on academia than tapdancing and drinking Zima. I was just never cool enough to hang with the theater crowd.

  10. CM

    YES YES YES! It always represented such a fresh start – anything could happen in a new school year. I still feel that way. There’s the air – the way it suddenly turns cool (at least here in the Northeast) as if the weather knows everything is starting fresh. The breezes tumble past you in the morning along with the sounds of the buses rumbling at the corner.
    I love fall in general. Changing leaves, pumpkins, everything. Even football season is part of it.
    Glad I’m not alone!!

  11. Bob

    I *love* this time of year. I get to buy all the ridiculously cheap stationery I want, and I Dont. Have. To. Go. Back. To. School. Couldn’t be happier about it.


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