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March 2, 2006


Just before the 6th grade my family moved back to the United States from Israel. I was 12. I remember being terrified about the whole thing having great concerns over my ability to read, speak, and write in English. As it happens, I read very slowly and have a tough time with seeing if a word is spelled correctly. I wasn’t at all concerned about my ability to fit in since I felt I had navigated those waters swimmingly in the previous moves.

A week or two before classes began my mom and I met with a guidance counselor to select a course schedule for me. In addition to other things, there was a music requirement for all students in the middle school: you could choose from music theory, the chorus, or from playing an instrument in the band or orchestra. In Israel I sang in the school chorus and liked it a lot, I even had a pretty decent voice (I don't anymore). But when asked how I would like to fulfill my music requirement at Welsh Valley Middle School I said music theory thinking that surely that's what the cool kids were going to take. I remember quite clearly my mother was a bit surprised by my decision and I should have headed that warning because of what I can freely acknowledge now that I would have denied with my dying breath back then, Parents Know Best.

So music theory it was. That error, combined with several other critical errors made in the first three days of school, branded me for a long time after as the Lamest Person Ever.

Needless to say that once the opportunity came about I switched to chorus, nonetheless remaining branded until a few years later when I chose to not care about it since despite it all I made a few very good friends, friends I have maintained throughout my teenage years, one who is still among my closest friends in the world. (Don’t you love when a sentence is so long it becomes a paragraph?)

For the past several years there has been a song that pops into my head from my days in the chorus. I could only remember a few of the verses but I sang it anyway, making up words as I went along. I turned to my friend Jessica, who in addition to risking her own reputation to become my friend very early on in the game, was in the chorus.

Jessica tells me everything I want to know about this song. That its first line comes from Walt Whitman. That the song is from the musical Fame. That she too has a Branded for Life feeling about this song - she had a solo part in the song, a solo for which she one time missed her cue, for which she was called a Mic Hog by another girl. And of course, Jessica fills me in on the lyrics:

I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun

And I’ll look back on Venus
I’ll look back on Mars
And I’ll burn with the fire
Of ten million stars
For in time, yes, in time
We will all be stars!

Oh! The lessons we could learn from these lyrics if only we had the sense back then that we do know.

Other mistakes I made in those first three days:
1) Wearing the same pair of pants two days in a row. They were pink and had an embroidered waist. I remember my mom really liked them. There is a good chance she picked out the outfit I should wear to school those first days. In Israel we wore a uniform to school. The notion of a closet filled with clothing didn't exist in my world.
2) English as a Second Language class which was held in a lobby in plain view of the entire student body. Is there no mercy in this world?
3) Not having a clue what the Big B on all the girls oversized sweaters stood for.

Posted by talia at March 2, 2006 6:46 AM


I often think we should be given two passes at this world. The first time should be just rehersal, the second time the real thing. During the second time we will know better, have less mistakes. We will have some of our own experience to learn from. It is so much easier to listen to ourselves than to our parents. By the time we realize that our parents are not stupid, we are almost parents ourselves.

Posted by: Nurit at March 2, 2006 7:49 PM

What was that big B? You may have been lame back then but you sure are cool now!

Posted by: Yossi at March 11, 2006 5:03 PM