Tag Archives: Lower Moreland

Dear Teenage Me, On the Night of Your 30th High School Reunion

I see you, way back there in 1987.

I know what you’re thinking.

I’ve just told you that you just came home from your 30th high school reunion, an occasion you swore you would never, ever go to.

(Never, ever. That’s so cute. And naïve.)

Instead, you had one of the best nights of your life with people who (I know, you’re not going to believe me) are genuinely great to be around.

They’re funny, smart, accomplished and you have a lot more in common than you think.

But now, in the me decade of the ’80s, you’re just trying to fit in. To feel accepted and seen in your small school where the same kids you stood with at the bus stop on your first day of elementary school will be the same kids in most of your classes and the same kids you’ll cross the graduation stage with 12 years later.

Yeah, newsflash (or spoiler alert, as we say in this era): despite the hell of algebra and the horrors of gym class, you do graduate. You’ll go to a college where, unlike Cheers, nobody knows your name (at first) and then you get a job or five, and maybe lose a few of them. You’ll make some money and the economy will make some of that disappear, too.  Same with your friends; you’ll keep some, make more, lose some of them, too.

In essence, you get a life.

That’s a bit of a ways off, though. For now, though, you’re in a competitive pressure-cooker where everyone is expected to excel. In everything. ALL. THE. FREAKIN’. TIME. It’s easy to feel less-than, that you don’t measure up, that what you do in these years will be remembered forever, would haunt you.

Or so you think.

Here’s what I’m trying to tell you, 30 years out.

The things you think matter today, in 1987?

Are going to be very different things in 2017.

(Oh my God, you have no idea how different things are going to be in 2017. Believe me.)

You know how I know?  Because last night, 30 years later? People who once seemed to have it all (and it all together) were admitting that…they…really…didn’t.

“I know, I know, I was such a loser….”

“…it was not always easy to see that [the good in people] in high school – when you are so self absorbed.” 

Wait, what? Him?  HER? They were feeling like this too?

What would it have been like, had we known? What damage could have been prevented? How different would we have been? How much fewer scars would we have had, then and now?

Who would we have noticed more closely?

It turns out that we were all insecure and unsure, trying to find our way. And we still are, in a sense. We’re sandwiched between our perplexing teens and our aging parents and facing an uncertain future on several fronts.  With seven classmates gone and losses of others in our lives, there are likely more years in the rearview mirror at this point than there are ahead.

But we know a few things that we didn’t know then.

We know that things get better. In so many ways.

And we know that we’re not alone gathered here in this thing called life.

And we finally, finally learned the most important lesson of all.

We never were.

 

 

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At Lens Friends, You Call the Shots

A message popped up from my sister in law a few weeks before the holidays, confirming the dates for our annual family trip back to my hometown of Huntingdon Valley.

She was trying to finalize a gift for our mother. And with all three of my mom’s grandchildren scheduled to be in the same corner of the state at once – a rarity since my husband and I (the owners of two of those children) moved six hours away to Pittsburgh – it was the perfect time to give her a portrait session with those grandchildren at Lens Friends.

I had never been to Lens Friends, the “Do It Yourself” Photography Studio located in the Valley Courtyard Shoppes in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

My sister-in-law, on the other hand, is a regular.

After our 30 minute (and then some) session, I can see why.

That’s because Lens Friends isn’t your everyday photo studio. There’s nothing stuffy or pretentious about this place. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Lens Friends is all about having fun.

The concept is unique: at Lens Friends, you’re the photographer. Forget the chain store cheesy creepy dude that scares the living bejaysus out of toddlers and their parents. You’re the one calling the shots here.

That means if you don’t like a backdrop? You can change it. You want some people in some photos, others in different ones? Various poses? Done. You can even use your camera if you really want to (but the ones at Lens Friends are pretty awesome).

Best of all, there’s no haggling over packages; at the end of your session, you get a CD with every image from your session. No waiting for proofs or any of that nonsense.

I admit, I was a little skeptical as to how this was going to go. I shouldn’t have been. Kara greeted us with a big smile (and my sister-in-law by name) as soon as we walked in the doors. Almost immediately, the kids (my niece as well as Betty and Boo) were drawn to the props that were everywhere.

Like this guy.

Boo spent most of his time attached to this bear.
He was in a silly mood this morning … to say the least.

After a few quick adjustments to the camera settings, some switching of the backdrops (we wanted less of a holiday look), and a couple of pointers and tips on shootings, we were on our way.

Boo was having an off day. He was being goofy, sensing a new audience for his performance and putting on a show. Our new friends at Lens Friends took all this in stride and never made any disparaging comments, which tells you something about how they work with kids with special needs, like Boo.

In fact, as a parent of a child with autism, I think Lens Friends would be the perfect photography studio to work with kids on the autism spectrum. There could be a lot of stimulation with the props, sure, but that might allow a child’s natural joy, curiosity, and wonder to come shining through.

Which is exactly what we want the world to see in all of our pictures, regardless, don’t we?

As our session was coming to a close, I realized that I would have loved a new headshot for my new professional work-related purposes. I thought of it too late, though.

(This one of me is the best I could do. It’s cropped and untouched from a family photo we took.)

You, however, are in luck.

This Friday, January 18, Lens Friends is hosting a “First Impression Headshot Networking Event” where you can get a new headshot for all your social media needs. Best of all, it’s completely free!

Where: Lens Friends LLC 2531 Huntingdon Pike Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006 
When: Friday January 18, 2013 
Time: 5-8pm 
Pop in with your business cards, have a bite to eat, glass of wine and update your headshot. Be creative – what do you want your headshot to say about you and your business? Free to all Business Owners. 
Please RSVP by calling Lens Friends at 215-938-9801. 

It’s a great chance to discover all that Lens Friends has to offer, which is – well, more than meets the eye. 

You can find more information about Lens Friends and prices for sessions here on their website.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Lens Friends in any way for this post. I’m just a happy customer, and I’m thrilled with our photos. And I know, I know … it is odd to have a post about a visit to a photography studio without a bunch of the actual photos from the session itself, but you know my policy here on the blog about not publishing recognizable photos of my kids. I just don’t do it. But trust me … these new friends at Lens Friends are really good.

I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you! copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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25 Years Later, It Gets Better

Fancy boutique where I did a work event.
Photo taken by me ~ March 2010

My 25-year high school reunion was Friday night.

I wasn’t there.

Now, 25 years ago, if you had told my 18 year old self that I would not be at this milestone event, I would have probably rolled my eyes, flipped back my hair, and said something like, “Ohmigod. There’s a shocker. Like, tell me something I don’t know.”

And if you had told me that I would have REALLY WANTED TO BE at my 25 year high school reunion, I would have been convinced that you had me confused with somebody else.

You see, our high school was not a four year affair. Ours was a small, suburban, very affluent school district where the kids you stood with at the bus stop on your first day of kindergarten were the same kids you were crossing the graduation stage with 12 years later.

There wasn’t any room for mistakes. What you did would long be remembered, would haunt you. Escape was a long way in the future.

If you moved into the district in, say, 5th grade (as my family did), you had a particularly tough time. Friendships and cliques were formed early and bonds were tight. And if you didn’t live in one of the “right” neighborhoods, or wear a certain brand of designer clothes, or find a brand new car of your own in the driveway on your 16th birthday, it was very, very, very difficult to fit in.

To feel accepted.

Academically, you didn’t have it much easier. This was a competitive pressure-cooker and you were expected to excel. In everything. All. The. Time. It was so easy to feel less-than, that you didn’t measure up.

Some people cracked.

It’s a miracle more didn’t.

I deliberately only looked at colleges where not a soul from my class was considering. No matter that I didn’t stand a chance in hell of getting into even one Ivy League university – much less all of them, like several of my peers did. When senior class rankings came out, I went around telling people that I – right there, ranked smack dab in the middle of our grade – was “the valedictorian of the dumb half of the class.”

Because that’s how I was conditioned to see myself.

I selected a college that was the complete opposite of “Cheers,” where no one knew my name – at least, not at first.

And then I exhaled for the first time in years, allowed the healing to begin.

But despite that, the old black feeling still creeps in.

It’s here right now, in the midnight hour as I write this, as my inner teenage self wonders about the reaction of my classmates to this very post (some of them read my blog now, for gawdsakes) while my 43 year old self knows that I’m different and that I shouldn’t give a damn. About what anyone thinks.

It crept in the night of the 25th reunion, as I sat home refreshing Facebook for photos, watching the series finale of iCarly with my twins who had just turned 11 (the same 11 year old kids I was told in high school by more than one doctor that I would probably never have). I looked across the room at my husband, recovering from cancer surgery. Had I been back in Philadelphia, I wondered how I would have answered the “so, what do you do now?” question from my still-overachieving classmates. Somehow, “I’ve been unemployed for nearly six months and am working on getting a freelance writing and consulting business going,” would not cut it with this crowd.

I might have lied.

For you can build a life, conquer demons, add a bunch of accomplishments to your resume – but throw a couple months’ rough patch ‘atcha and it is enough to bring that old black feeling right back.

As the weekend rolled on and as the recaps and updates from my former classmates were posted on Facebook, something started to happen.

People who once seemed to have it all (and it all together) were admitting that…they…really…didn’t.

“I know, I know, I was such a loser….”

“…it was not always easy to see that [the good in people] in high school – when you are so self absorbed.” 

HIM?  HER?

*
Back in the 80s, some of my classmates had a math class where they created a paper computer. Believe it or not, it was supposedly cutting edge (no pun intended) for its time.

I wasn’t smart enough for that class.

Twenty five years later, I would never, ever have imagined where that paper computer would lead – that something called Facebook would make it possible to finally understand that there were others (maybe more than a few others) who felt the way I did, too. Who were insecure, who were unsure, who felt like losers, who were just trying to find their way.

I’ve been thinking and remembering a lot over the last several days, and I keep coming back to this:

What would it have been like, had we known? What damage could have been prevented? How different would we have been? How much fewer scars would we have had, then and now?

We’re on a post-reunion high, an adrenaline surge. I’m expecting us to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” at the 30th. The other day, one of our classmates posted a video of his band to our class’s page. It’s good. Really good. He wasn’t one of the popular guys, but I always thought he was nice enough.

“Weren’t you always quiet in high school?” one friend wrote.

“Just unheard,” he answered.

And that’s it, I realized. In the end, that’s all we wanted back then. To be heard.  For myself, that was it. Like everyone else, I just wanted to be noticed not for what I lacked but to be applauded for what I had and could do well. What a difference that would have made.

That was my writing. It was, at times, the only thing I had to hold onto.

Sometimes, these days, it still seems like it is.

Back then, all I wanted was to be recognized for it – and I wasn’t. That craving eventually backfired in a prank that wound up hurting a lot of people in a middle school bullying incident that, to this day, at age 43, I still deeply, deeply regret. I don’t need to go into specifics. More than a few will know of what it is I speak. Suffice it to say that if you recognize yourself in this very long-overdue apology, know that I am truly beyond sorry and that I hope you can somehow forgive me.

We live, as we all did.

We learn, as we all did.

But now we know a few things that we didn’t know then.

There are others with us along this lonely path.

Most likely, they’re hurting too.

And no matter what – no matter what – it gets better.

It really, really can get so much better.

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What Was That Line About Any Club That Would Have Me as a Member? Sign Me Up. Now.

Oh, my. The things I am finding out about my high school now – and I have Jill Kelley to thank.

(Ms. Kelley, as the world has come to learn, is one of the women reportedly involved in the General Petraeus scandal. You may have heard something about it.)

As I wrote in my previous post “Fast Times at CIA High,” I happen to share a high school alma mater with Ms. Kelley. But even though 8 years separate our paths along the same hallowed halls, we apparently had very different experiences. According to the UK’s Daily Mail (about as far from our high school as one can get), Kelley was a student member of “a club that introduced her to the world’s most influential men.”

Stop right there. I need to know right now.

WHAT HIGH SCHOOL CLUB WAS THIS??!!

You mean to tell me that 25 years later, I’m JUST FINDING OUT NOW that MY HIGH SCHOOL had a club that could have INTRODUCED ME TO THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL MEN??!!!

You know how much teenage angst and tears and listening to bad ’80s music that could have saved me?!?!

According to the Daily Mail article: “[Kelley] was a student member of the World Affairs Council and would have been given the opportunity to meet dignitaries at the highest level including presidents, prime ministers and princes.”

PRESIDENTS, PRIME MINISTERS, AND PRINCES??  What, like hangin’ in the cafeteria? Passing notes in class? Slow dancing to Alphaville’s “Forever Young” at the prom?

You have got to be shitting me.

This is what I need to know. High school peeps who were in the World Affairs Council, names and numbers of all the world’s influential men you met.

And then I need a certain DeLorean so I can go back to my future and get a mulligan for my life.

I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo ChroniclesIf you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Fast Times at CIA High

I’m kind of starting to wonder if my little suburban Philadelphia high school was actually a breeding ground for the CIA.

Yeah, that CIA.

You see, it seems that we’re on our SECOND national imbroglio involving the Central Intelligence Agency and a graduate of my alma mater.

Who’da thunk?

According to my intelligence gathering efforts thus far, the traditional media has yet to pick up on this. An incredible coincidence, in my view, especially when one considers that Lower Moreland High School graduated (in the years in question) less than 200 students per class.

Thus, allow me to be your humble public servant.  Two female graduates from the same tiny high school with connections to the CIA is … well, let me just say that it is not every day that my hometown makes national news. (Although it has been happening with more and more disconcerting regularity.)

Our first CIA connection (that I know of, anyway) was Valerie Plame Wilson, former United States CIA Operations Officer …and 1981 graduate of Lower Moreland High School. You’ll recall that unfortunate business back in 2003 when Washington Post columnist Robert Novak named Plame in his column as a CIA operative, events which led to the end of Plame’s career.

Although I grew up in Lower Moreland for almost my entire life – including the years when Plame graduated from my high school – I’d never heard of Valerie Plame before she made national news.  Still, it’s enough of a small town that I genuinely felt sympathetic for her as the situation unfolded. She seems bright, intelligent, the type of high-achieving person we tend to graduate in our supercharged, competitive school.

Now, remarkably, we have ANOTHER Lower Moreland alum connection to the CIA. This would seem to be the flip side. I speak, of course, about America’s newest reality soap opera, As the CIA Turns. This one stars The General, The Biographer with the Snickerworthy Book Title, and The Unpaid Social Liaison (who knew that was even such a thing?) with a cameo appearance by The Shirtless FBI Agent Friend.

And you thought life would be boring after the presidential election was over.

The Unpaid Social Liaison is, as we all know by now, Jill Kelley, Lower Moreland graduate from the Class of 1993.

We owe a national debt of thanks to an unnamed ex-classmate for enlightening us on the former Jill Khawam as she was in her Lower Moreland days. Doesn’t seem like much has changed, at least according to the public’s perception of the woman responsible for bringing down General Petraeus et al.

Back in the day, the Social Liaison was known for hobnobbing at swanky Philadelphia restaurants and mixing with high-powered attorneys (easy to do in our town) and pining for a nose job. (There’s where I feel sorry for the former Miss Khawam. That had to be horribly traumatic for her, graduating high school with the same nose she was born with.)

Of course, this is all one sided. Who knows if this unnamed ex-classmate really isn’t a spurned schlub who views this as karma, as payback being a bitch for only wanting his own Private Social Liaison with Miss Khawam on the notorious hill behind our school.

Still, it makes you wonder if there really was some truth back in the day to those rumors that the CIA was accused of killing President Kennedy (speaking of someone with a history of infidelities). I mean, when the powers-that-be have enough time to amass 30,000 pages of emails from women who – c’mon already! – just need to duke it out in a good old fashioned catfight, then anything is possible.

In the meantime, since this situation is fluid and still developing, I offer a word of advice to those of you students following in our footsteps at our high school:

Make sure you give much thought as to whom you name as Most Likely to Succeed because … well, they just might surprise you. Better yet, consider naming a Most Likely to Become a CIA Operative. Or Most Likely to Become Involved in a National Scandal with a General.

And, oh yeah. Wear a wire.

You never know. Your homeroom security just might depend on it.

I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

photo and text copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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