Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Homecoming Court Dropout

I think you could probably sum up my public education years with one simple word: Unremarkable. It wasn't great and it wasn't horrible. Not a lot happened to me between the years of kindergarten and 12th grade that you wouldn't find in a Disney PG-13 movie.

I wasn't a brain, nor was I stupid. I didn't fit into any particular group of kids, because I didn't DO enough of any one thing to place me with specific cliques. Not the athletes or the brainiacs. Not the beauty queens or the freaks. Not the serious musicians or the artists or the drama students. I was a reader and a ferocious journaler. I did have friends and I belonged to a few school clubs and I wasn't the last kid picked for whatever you'd pick a kid for, so don't cry for me, Argentina. I would later place into an advanced composition class that would save my life in more ways than one and help me to see writing as a great magnetic force for good in my life. (But that's another post)

One group that stood out was the ruling class of popular girls who all took dance at MP's Dance Studio.

Some of the most vivid memories I have of junior high were the after-lunch recesses where all of the girls who took dance hogged the sidewalk while the rest of us stood by and watched them go over their dance routines. They held out their arms just so and did the Time Step and called out the names of the other moves while they were doing them. And then they critiqued each other's performances (always tactfully) and then did them again. Sometimes we--the little people-- were even asked to watch them and clap if they were good...or spot an error...though how we would have known the difference is beyond me.

They pursued perfection with a determined single-mindedness as though preparing for a command performance at Radio City Music Hall. Either that or they were just a bunch of show-offs for those of us whose parents weren't enough inside the information loop to sign their daughters up for dancing school. I still can't hear the words "step-ball-change" without throwing up a little in my mouth. You know the car commercial that says, in life, you're either a passenger or a driver? I was a passenger. But it gave me a great opportunity to observe people, a skill that has been a huge benefit for me.

Cut to my sophomore year in high school. I'm a skinny girl with an unremarkable face I haven't quite grown into and braces that won't be off for several months. One day in homeroom we're asked to nominate three girls from each homeroom for the homecoming court. There's a guy there who nominates me. He was new to the school, so that explains his momentary lapse of reason. At first, I'm flattered. Nothing like that has ever happened to me...and (plot spoiler!) it won't ever happen again. I knew all the usual suspects who would end up on the ballot, and as the names begin to form a long and frightening list in my head, the reality of what was going to happen hit me. It's not that I ever expected to not. People like me don't get that kind of recognition in our youth. (You know...the dancing thing and all) I just knew that others would see my name on the ballot and wonder what in HELL it was doing there. It wasn't the losing part (which I had IN THE BAG, ladies and gentleman), it was the act of losing so publicly. And doing so would have sunk my fragile self-esteem into the ground like a spike being driven by a dead-blow hammer.

So I had my name taken off the ballot. I'm not sorry I did it. I've never been sorry. I'd rather know for sure where I am in life than to fruitlessly dream about a place I can never go.

So exactly what does this have to do with the BlogHer conference in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer? More than you'd think. It's a fear thing. It's very easy to hide behind this blog and the moniker I use. I can say what I want...or Wordgirl can, anyway. But slap a nametag on my chest and shove me into a room with my real face and a bunch of women who have been co-conspirators in the blog game much longer than me? Risk coming face to face with people I read but who have NO EARTHLY IDEA who I am or why I'm there?(Though I'm sure they're all lovely people) No....let's not and say we did. Mmmm-kay?

But I'm willing to start small. Some of the Texas bloggers are making noises about getting together. Sarcastic Journalist, Debbie Does Life and Shrinking Violet are definitely on the short list. And you know...I feel that's something I could do. No ballots, no crowns or popularity contests. Throw in a margarita machine and I can almost guarantee it.


Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

I hear ya. I have an unfair advantage because my best friend has a blog, as does another friend. I haven't met anyone else.

I will hopefully meet with a couple of fellow local bloggers this year, but I am nervous because I am quite dull in person. There is NO WAY I would go to a conference. Seems just a little to formal for my taste.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

You have said exactly what I feel. What a painful way to meet people! I'm perfectly happy getting to know you all online, and potentially meeting a few of you in the future. I feel no need to masochistically shove myself into a room full of people I know are much more clever/pretty/skinny/popular/smart/hip than I am. You may as well have never taken the damn braces off, huh wordgirl?

1:09 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

That whole post made my heart ache. I was never popular either. But I didn't ever care because all my friends were out of school. And when you're in 10th grade, there's something really great about knowing people with JOBS. Now I see people with jobs (myself included) and I think, "Sorry bastards...the lot of us."

I wish you hadn't taken your name off the ballot. I wish people would have wondered who you were to have gotten such an honor of being nominated and searched you out to see and not to judge. I think you're all really great, hip, funny, and beautiful people. You're the popular crowd in my eyes.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Is it possible that you and I had the same exact high school experience. I've been meaning to write about my stint in the Miss Teen USA pageant, yes you read that right. It sounds so much like your homecoming story.

As for Blogher, I am so with you and Mignon - too much pressure for me. Besides, we are going to have our own mini conference at some point and the best part is there will be Margaritas and we don't have to talk about our blogs.

1:40 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Anywhere there are margaritas, you will find me!!!

I don't have to meet you to know that I already like you Wordgirl! We have so much in common its spooky.

I have met via blogging so many neat people. My fear is that I will be disappointing in real life.

2:13 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I must interject at this juncture to reaffirm the difference between un-popular and not being popular. I had no enemies and--as a rule--people liked me. I had of whom is still my best high school/real life friend ever. (Take a bow, Steve) I was about as threatening to the "social" crowd as a glass of milk, but I wasn't an outcast or anything. Any my high school reunions (both of them) have been thoroughly satisfying because, you know, the middle class DOES RISE. Most of those guys and girlies don't look so hot now. Late Bloomers Unite!!

3:03 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I mean "and my high school reunions". Doh!

3:07 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I think I would be a bit too nervous to attend BlogHer, but even if I wanted to go I couldn't -- it'd be way too expensive.

I would have taken my name off of the ballot, too.

3:33 PM  
Blogger mE said...

I'm there in the corner, propping up the wall with you.

Every time the Pirate or I have a high school reunion roll around, we go through the same process, with him deciding to go and me deciding I'd rather not.

Luckily the Pirate is not organized enough to send in his registration form himself... so I get to stay home without openly refusing to attend.

Introverts of the World, Unite (but not in the same room)!

(saw your comment on Katherine's blog re the paper sack, and know a kindred sartorial spirit when I see one)

3:41 PM  
Blogger ElisaC said...

Just FYI: anonymous bloggers can request that their pseudonym be the name on their name tag. Sorta not your point, but I thought I'd point it out :)

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Daxohol said...

You know, you got me thinking, and now I have to go post it.

Great post BTW. An interesting POV.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I would love to go to Blogher, personally, but 1) I know next to nothing about it and 2) I think my husband's brain would explode if I actually went to a blogging conference. Unless it was free. Then he'd want to go too!

But I have the same worry as some of the commenters- that I'd be disappointing in person. I talk too much and I think I look like a bitch and that would probably throw some people for a loop!

6:25 PM  
Blogger Melanhead said...

I had almost the exact same high school experience as you. I was actually one of the Drama Nerds, wearing Broadway musical sweatshirts and hanging out by the theatre during lunch, but 99% of the rest of my class didn't even care about the shows we did, unless of course one of the Popular Kids had the starring role.

Hey, if you Texan bloggers arrange something, can a Louisianan blogger piggy back, or will you tell me Don't Mess With Texas Bloggers?

That would make for a GREAT t-shirt! Somebody contact cafepress!

6:54 PM  
Anonymous jess said...

I dunno, you seem pretty darn popular on this ol blog to me. I'm going (*in a whisper* to blogher) and i fully expect to meet people that are prettier, funnier, younger, thinner and those that are older, wiser, fatter...

To me it seems like a great way to meet some like-minded people and "inter-friends" in real life. Plus, learn some stuff too.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

I would love to meet those of us who frequent each others blogs. I think getting together with the people closest to you is a great idea.

I agree with taking your name off the list, if what you say is true. I also agree with meeting perfect strangers, whose blogs I have not even read.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Rock said...

You know WordGirl the HS stories are rushing on me - do I have to go to the place where I was a "band fairy" and wound up beating the quarterback of the football team to win the Senior Presidency?

Well stay tuned. Cuz I did.

12:00 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

Too bad I live on the other side of the country. Getting together with you Texas gals sounds fun!

4:52 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

B-List Blog Chicks unite!

Let's all be big fish in our own little margarita pond!

6:36 AM  
Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

Seeing as how I don't generally like Other People, I won't' be going to a conference. But meeting a few peeps at a time, no problem!

7:49 AM  
Blogger GraceD said...

Friends of the Half Sky,

As a member of the BlogHer 06 Advisory Board, and a fan of the Wordgirl Herself, I am here to dispel your worries about BlogHer.

Stay with me, now:

The conference is not formal. Not at all.

No pressure at the conference, just an incredible amount of good information, discussions, and tequila shots afterwards.

There were no a lists, z lists or bitch lists. There were, however, a bunch of us mommybloggers defending profanity on our blogs. Tequila shots followed.

I was a hippie-dork-loudmouth-punk in high school. I continue to be as such. No homecoming court for me. Still, I'm on the Advisory Board. That should say something about the inclusionary spirit of BlogHer. In fact, that says a lot.

Should you decide to go to BlogHer, hunt me down. It should be easy - just look for the hippie chick.

Finally, who lives in Austin? I'll be at SXSW in March and would love to knock back some Shiner Bock with "y'all" (said with solemn reverence.)

Peace through blogging,

11:37 AM  

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