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These pretzels are making me thirsty!

Actually, right now I'm eating popcorn and M&Ms. In bed (the crumbs are on John's side, heh heh). And washing it down with a Mike's (light) Hard Lemonade. I figure it's fine since I ran two miles today and mopped the kitchen floor and battled an unnaturally strong water bug over the weekend. Oh, and then there was that near nervous breakdown on Sunday, too. Yeah, I deserve the white trash snack at the very least. And maybe also a hot stone massage, or, you know, a padded cell and some restraints.

For once, I'm actually not ready to discuss or analyze Bryce and his issues in this forum; I'm still digesting too many thoughts, emotions, and options. Anne Lamott suggested that instead, I write about my experience with school lunches, so here we go.

Since I went to Chicago Public Schools for elementary school, we actually did not have a cafeteria. They trucked in boxed lunches every day, and we all ate at our desks. Oh, sure, it sounds glamorous, having lunch delivered daily to our elementary school, but no. The "boxes" were flimsy, flat ventilated containers of what tasted, looked, and felt like FDA rejects. The best day was pizza day, unless you got a box that had been stuck on the bottom, in which case your cheese and sausage (if that's what they really were) were stuck in a gooey, warm mass on the top of the paper-thin lid when you opened it: yuck. An anal kid like me would insist on scraping every last cheese and tomato sauce molecule off the top of the box and back onto the soggy, white, pinhole-covered crust in an effort to make it right, to fix it, to complete it.

One day in second grade, the class trouble maker decided to take my quirks and wield them to his sheer entertainment. I was picking at my low grade beef, trying to find the most consistent non-grisel-y texture, and a look of horror came over his face as he stared at my plate: "Look at that! Those are roach eggs! ROACH EGGS ON YOUR PLATE!" I turned my head back to my white plastic spork/foon, suspended over the gray lifeless mass on my spongy cardboard lunch plate. Yep, it looked like roach eggs, alright. On a gullible, stupid impulse, I tossed the fork away and the food went flying a few desks away. My teacher, my favorite teacher ever, the teacher who always liked me because I laughed at the jokes that nobody else understood and I always followed directions and I was quiet and cooperative and I did good work and I came to school on time and was a low maintenance, high performing second grader, looked up from her (probably gourmet) lunch just in time to see me flinging food across the room. Our eyes met. My heart fell. There was no understanding or concern in her eyes, no look that suggested she might need to investigate the situation before jumping to conclusions about her star pupil: only anger and grave, grave disappointment. "Kristen, did you just THROW YOUR FOOD?" My face was in flames, I stammered, "Yes, but, but, he told me it had roach eggs on it and--" she wasn't listening. Another teacher, a teacher who didn't like me (she was just jealous of my obvious good standing, the insecure hag) walked in right then. My teacher looked at her, and in the now silent class, announced to Jealous Hag Teacher, "this is one of my best students. I don't know what is going on today. She just threw her food across the room!" Jealous Hag Teacher glared at me and said something unclever and rude, like, "well, well." My teacher then sealed my fate: "Kristen, go stand out in the hall until I tell you to come back in."

Great, I thought as I stood in the dingy, narrow hallway like the little delinquent I'd become at the hands of the class troublemaker (who kept his mouth shut and got off scott-free by the way): just look at me now! As I was standing there, my cheeks still burning in humiliation, my feet and hands trying to find a natural pose while I stuck out so obviously from the painted concrete block walls, I heard footsteps coming toward me. What now? Oh, crap, it's a parent! Another adult to shame me. Clop, clop, clop, clop. It was somebody's mom and I started to drop my gaze to the dirty tile floor, but she caught my eye first. I searched her face for what I knew would be a silent scold, another hurried adult assumption based on a lack of information about me, and I prepared to harden my face in return, but I didn't have to. She looked at me with a soft, slightly amused glance that my adult memory interprets to mean that she knew I didn't belong out there. She smiled a peaceful, understanding smile. My second grade self was confused by that smile, but thankful for it anyway. After Jealous Hag Teacher left and I returned to the classroom, I felt somehow silently, secretly vindicated.

Enough memory mining. Back to littering John's side of the bed with popcorn kernels and pretending life's one big, entertaining sitcom with quick resolutions and easy answers. Or at least more laughs than sobs.

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