Hopscotch

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The edges of the hopscotch squares, the mirror of a childhood pastime. Many different countries play this game and the rules are slightly different in some, as a video I found explains.

Edge, Mirror

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Chasing the Icecream Truck

I remember those days very faintly. Chasing down the icecream truck with the money mom(my) gave us out of a little savings jar.

Today I did that again for the first time in years, because #YOLO. And it took me countless minutes to find the damn thing. I had to follow the sound of the familiar icecream truck sound (it sounds like “does your chin hang low, does it fall on to the floor”). I finally caught up to it in the sweltering heat of early summer. The truck starting backing up and pulled up to the sidewalk. I walked up to it and and the college looking dude asked what I wanted. I looked at the menu on the side of the truck and decided on the cookies and cream bar. In went my two bucks that didn’t have much other use and out came an icecream bar.

Countless

A Fizzy Memory

My earliest memory, as best as I can recall, is drinking my first can of soda, Surge, which has recently made its return to stores everywhere (back in September 2015 that is, not sure if it’s been pulled off shelves since). This is like the more “grungier”, less corporate version of Mountain Dew (the logo says it all) and I remember it definitely containing a lot more sugar and being on the level of an energy drink.  Actually, you can find many brands of citrus flavored soda in stores that probably taste the same as Surge or Mountain Dew and not tell the difference, even if you were blindfolded.

One day mom brought home about two cardboard crates (used for mass production) of a variety of off brand soda. The first time I popped open a can of this 90s drink and heard the fizzzz, I instantly felt cool. But even back then I knew too much carbonated beverage was not good for you, so of course I went easy on it.


Daily Prompt: Childhood Revisited 

What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

New Kid On the Block

Daily Prompt: The Outsiders

The summer of 2003 will always be the turning point in my life. My small clan moved away into an old farmhouse located way back in the sticks, nearly isolated except for another house that was on the other side of some trees. It was hot, it was sticky. That ratty couch I initially slept on. The lights were old, the water was bad. Nothing in the fridge was good to eat. Cupboards full of mysterious items, many of them probably over 20 years old. About 20 cats were walking around, most of them mean and unfriendly – one always hid in the ceiling that I blocked off with a wine rack one day, the cat trying to get in to my amusement. I had no room because the upstairs was taken by my sisters, so I had to construct one out of wooden boards that were lying against the door, dividing a place off in the living room. Slept on a mattress lying on the floor. It was dusty and dirty. A window was broken where I slept, letting flies and cold air in. Life couldn’t have dropped any further for me after living in what I thought was an immaculate palace compared to these conditions. For the first time, we were actually living like hillbillies. My mom even had this idea to hang clothes on a line outside but abandoned it, to my relief. Thankfully, we aren’t living there anymore.

For the first time, I would be going to a new school in a new city where I knew no one at all and no one knew small town me. Middle school. Sixth grade. The big transition in my life, going away from the kiddies in elementary to the beginning of my teenager life and beyond. I turned 12 and though I didn’t know it yet, my own body was betraying me. Sprouting up acne all over, my nose growing at least an inch.

There was never a time like middle school. It had to be the worst transitional period in my life. I was constantly laughed at and the target of finger pointing and whispers. And it didn’t help that I couldn’t say anything back. Truly an outsider I was during that long and torturous year. I really missed my old friends back in my hometown, who would have understood what I was going through and might have supported me, since they totally knew what I was like.

The kids let me have it during the first few days of sixth grade. I was teased and made fun of. My old pair of jeans were too short and my new shirts were from the clearance rack – stuff nobody wanted anymore. Was called a geek. Pathetic and shy. Endured ridicule and humility everyday.

The demographics at this school were completely flipped. At my previous school, it was all Caucasian, but here the majority was African-American with whites mixed in. In my homeroom class, I really felt out of place. Sat at the back at the room in front of one student who didn’t like the way I smelled, which was true because I had never taken the task of bathing seriously until this point of my life. It seemed as if noone liked me, not even the teachers. I cried once when I had a paper late and the teacher called me out on it, singling me out. I buried my head in my arms, already feeling eyes on me and the humility.

The final day of sixth grade, I sat by myself on a hill in the back of the school overlooking everyone, taking in one of the worst years of my life. This was the end of the year picnic for all the students and faculty. It was supposed to be a great day with everyone being cheerful, and that everyone was, except me. I guess I just had a chip on my shoulder after spending the entire year as the definite outsider, all these insults being directed at me. It wasn’t made any better when a teacher quietly whispered about my appearance while I was getting some icecream from a table, burying me deeper into this yearlong depression. Really immature, I must say.

Seventh grade was better, the insults dying down, but the teasing and taunting a bigger annoyance – and my grades plummeted. I got an F in a class for the very first time. At least I made a couple of friends this year and actually had some fun and was able to laugh along.

Eighth grade was an enlightenment. I moved back home to familiar territory. Now I started to earn respect. I was feeling older and more wiser now. My grades improved, but I still was terrible at math, especially Algebra that I was just getting my feet wet in.

And from there, everything only got better, the horrible pubescent years forever over. It’s been ten years since I left that poor school. I now look back on it and laugh, now realizing it wasn’t that big of a deal after all.


Tell us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

Throwback Thursday #1

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Welcome to Throwback Thursday, where we reflect on our past and look back at the technology, events, and different kinds of culture considered nostalgic in our lives.

It’s time to go back to when there were only 151 Pokemon and the original Pokérap was a memorable thing for kids to watch and listen to. Any kid born in the early to mid ’90s would remember how crazy popular the Japanese creation was. Since my graduation from Pokemon and any similar children’s interest around 2002, there have been two more Pokéraps, which I haven’t listened to but look really bad on paper, really cheesy indeed. Also since the time I officially outgrew the series, there have been 570 more “species” of these Pocket Monsters introduced, new ones being “discovered” all the time in the fictional universe of Pokemon; it looks like the iconic Ash Ketchum won’t be able to “catch ’em all” anytime soon. Amazingly, Ash has hardly aged in the movies and anime series, staying 10-11 years old, as if hardly any time has passed between him meeting Pikachu and capturing a whole lot more Pokemon that weren’t even around when I first hooked onto the craze, long after all the boys in my second grade class obsessed about it everyday.

I remember watching the original Pokemon TV series on VHS, starting with the very first episode, but unfortunately I only got to see the first few episodes since obtaining the videos was difficult and rather expensive for my mom to buy. The great thing is the original and all the subsequent series afterward are available online for free, an implausible option 15 years ago when popping a VHS into the VCR was a thrilling feeling, that nostalgic whir-whir-whir and click! of the electric motors reeling the magnetic tape into place and the blue screen on the TV flashing the word “PLAY” before kicking into the video.

Above is a picture of me at around ten years old, wearing a Pokemon t-shirt and sporting a rather cool grin. Back when this picture was taken, I think just before the whole family began the trip to Williamsburg, Virginia (a really boring but historical place for me) one still had to have a working telephone connection to get on the Internet and whenever a person would pick up the phone, the connection would be lost. There was still a thing called a modem (a picture of a pool comes to mind) that made itself very apparent with its lengthy and noisy start-up. The last time I remember using dial-up was in 2004. Now Wi-Fi is available nearly everywhere and YouTube videos are able to be streamed in 1080 HD and beyond, whereas back in the web’s stone age would be virtually impossible.

Until then, here is a Pokerap by CollegeHumor for 718 Pokemon before three more were recently added – and it doesn’t look like the creators are going to stop anytime soon.

The Thread of Music

Music from any age never dies, but only gets better. There is a thread stretching all the way from the age of Beethoven to the age of Adam Lambert and other modern pop stars, and it will never be broken, only singed, burnt, drenched and changed colors with the passing of time.

When I was spending my early childhood in the 90s, the 70s and 80s were not far behind and were still considered “fresh” and a part of contemporary, mainstream radio. They are the songs that would often hit the air waves and shaped my overall perception of music. They are why I have a liking for music from different eras and can appreciate the different cultural trends. The era of animal named bands, disco and the silky pants, the rise of electric rock, the big hair of the 80s, and the boy bands. Radio stations played more Beatles hits during my early childhood than any other time, since the Fab Four’s era was less than 30 years gone and adults still could fondly remember the “good ole days”. The last time I heard “Judy in the Sky”, a song with hidden meanings and probably a nod to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, on the radio was when I was about six and I haven’t heard it on the radio since, only through a curious search on YouTube.

As we have gotten deeper into the 21st century, older music has moved over in favor of newer hits from younger artists. The early 2000s seem so far away now, mainly because I’m way past a kid now and am continually adapting to the changing sounds and trends. A lot of it has to do with the way listening to music has evolved, from cassette tapes to CDs to iPods, and now to Pandora and Spotify. I remember when the NOW! series was at number 5 in 2000 and rocking out to “Kryptonite”; now it’s past 54 and I don’t really seem to care anymore, but the concept is still strong with many.

I was born at the beginning of the 90s, so of course I got a taste of the music my parents used to listen to, until my generation, the millennials, started to develop and break off from the pack, throwing out a few rules laid out before them. I appreciate music from all genres and eras, because they give me a peek into what the culture was during those times.

Back in the first house I remember as a child, my mom used to have an 8-track player/record combo lying on the kitchen counter. The technology of 8-track tapes had gone out of style by the mid 90s where I was at but mom still had a whole collection of them and would play them in the afternoons or evenings. I remember for a short while my mom playing the song “Secret” by Madonna on the old 8-track while holding my then only baby sister and dancing and singing to her.

MC Hammer, Nirvana, Sir-Mix-A-Lot, Whitney Houston. Those are a couple of names that kicked off the decade that saw the rise of the Internet and personal computing. Pretty mild songs for the most part, some a little rebellious, many packed full of soul and R&B.

Then the late 90s came, the time that I like to call “my awakening” as well as the segway to the new millennium, artists like Britney Spears, N*Sync, The Backstreet Boys, and Smash Mouth carving out the image of my true childhood that I remember the most. The time between me being a kid and listening to long gone songs such as “Every Morning” from Sugar Ray and then getting into the modern days of Rihanna and Taylor Swift seemed to last a long time.

If I could and had the time to do so, I would lay out my entire life in the form of a soundtrack. It would be interesting to see the changes in the world’s and my musical taste. I like to think the music I grew up on in the nifty ninties could only be described as a blend of the 70s and 80s before it driven by a rebellious culture shifting teen generation, while music today really has no identity – it is a product of all music that artists have created and nurtured since the earliest methods of recording music were invented.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Papa Loves Mambo.”

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

5 Things I Remember From the 90s

5thingsthursday

Welcome to the second edition of 5 Things Thursday, where I dive into five interesting things from one interesting group of my choice.

This week I muse about 5 things that I find nostalgic from my 1990s childhood. It was a wild and fun time, with so many fads and waves of pop culture coming and going as quick as a train.

  1. Nintendo 64

A great game console that ushered in the era of 3D gaming, especially for Nintendo. It was a sleek and stylish “Family game system”. Some of my favorite titles for the 64 were the Mario Party and Mario Kart series (the early games), Super Smash Bros, and Donkey Kong 64. I never actually had that many games for my console, choosing to play some of the favorites over and over again. That infamous controller caused a lot of pain for users when they got blisters from violently moving the joystick around. I had that same problem while playing the challenging mini-games of Mario Party.

2. Bill Nye the Science Guy

What would science class be without our beloved bow-tie all-around science genius? I loved when the teacher would announce that we were going to watch Bill Nye, as well as the rest of the class. Hearing the iconic theme song (“Science Rules!”) really got me interested in learning about science and everything else such as biology and geography. The show had a great mix of education and humor, appealing to kids and adults. Everything from “Consider the following” to the cheesy science renditions of popular songs back then made this a part of ’90s pop culture. Okay, I hated the cheesy music videos.

3. The Oregon Trail

This is a game I loved and hated. The fact that it was SO slow and the difficulty in finishing the game quite high made me want to give up on it completely. But nearly every kid in my classes at elementary loved this game, that I just had to join in. It was really educational and taught me about the Oregon Trail and what the families faced while riding it – a lot of bad stuff I must say. “You’ve got dysentery” – more evil and unforgiving than the “Game Over” screen.

4. M.A.S.H games, Cootie Catchers, Paper airplanes, etc.

All three of those things and others were staples of the classroom from about second to fifth grade. It was fun to predict your future through a game of Mansion Apartment Shack House (MASH) and the outcomes caused laughter or embarrassment depending on the person. Or how about the cootie catcher. I loved creating those and putting down the most absurd possibilities. Even though it was more of a girls game, it was entertaining and invoked lots of socializing. The paper airplanes usually came out during break periods in class and all pandemonium was let loose. I remember this one sandy-haired kid putting a load of orange goop on the side of his plane and flying it across the room. Sometimes one would land on the teacher’s desk or hit them and break time would be over. To this day though I still can’t create the perfect paper airplane, since my wings always come out wrong and the plane drops limply to the ground.

5. Myst

This is likely the most challenging and strangest point and click game I’ve ever come across. And the most realistically looking one. There is just one man on the island, controlled by you. There are a bunch of puzzles that have to be solved and clues are scattered around, some in not so obvious places or ways. The first time I played this in 1999, I was lost and a bit creeped out by the secluded island and those books in the library that had strange messages playing from them. I finally beat this in 2011 through the use of cheats since there was no way I was going to solve this brainteaser of a game otherwise. It didn’t ruin the game because I still appreciated the vagueness and depth of it (there were some interesting backstories told through the books). When I played this I always thought there was someone else on the island watching me or going to sneak up on me at any moment but that was not the case.