Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do Over!

I've just started reading Do-Over! by Robin Hemley in which he repeats certain experiences from his childhood. Some he messed up himself, like flubbing his one line in a school play and some were the fault of others, such as his entire Kindergarten experience (it was his teacher's last year of teaching before ending up in the looney bin, so you can imagine how she managed to traumatize the kids.)

While he was doing all this things, people would tell him that they wished they could have do-overs on some things from their own lives. So I got to thinking about what I'd re-do.

  1. My semester in Paris. I was homesick the entire time and didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. On my second trip to Paris, a Frenchman who'd gone to school in Rochester, NY told me that the first 4 months of living in a new country are the hardest. I lived in France for 4 months, so apparently, I would've felt better about the entire thing if I'd gone back after Christmas as originally planned. (I was supposed to spend the holidays with a friend in Poland, but then she telegrammed to say she had appendicitis, so I cancelled my trip and went home for the holidays. And then the Gulf War broke out. Since there had been bombings in Paris during Desert Shield, it was assumed that Desert Storm would bring more of the same and I wasn't the only one who decided not to come back.) So living in Paris again is on my To Do Someday list.
  2. Home schooling. The more I read blogs by secular home schoolers, the more I feel that I would've been happier being home schooled. At Montessouri, where everyone works at their own pace, I did Kindergarten and the first half of first grade during K and then they skipped me to second grade, where I finished first grade, did all of second and took French with the third graders. Once I switched to a school where everyone learned as a group, I was bored out of my mind (and only religious fanatics were home schooling back then, or so it seemed). Plus, I'd forget things as soon as the test was over. That's not really learning, it's test prep. So I'd love to spend a week free range learning, just reading about whatever I was interested in at the moment.
  3. Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout for 2 years and my sharpest memory is of the leader at the end of the year sitting us each down separately to ask what we'd done towards earning badges that year. Even though no one had told us that we should be working on that by ourselves and keeping track. My friends coached me for this inquisition (Donna had taught me to put on eyeliner at her house, so that counted for the makeup badge, etc.) Some of our meetings revolved around a badge-earning activity, but not all. How fun would it be to go through the girl scout manual (and then the boy scout manual because I bet there's still some stuff that they teach the boys that they don't teach the girls) and do what it takes to earn every badge there is, or at least every one I want to. Those badges are about life skills and not construction paper, which is what I remember most.
  4. Prom. Our school wouldn't let us go to prom without a date. Their reason? If we went alone, we'd steal each other's dates. (So much for all that character building that allegedly happens in Catholic school.) I gather that the class that graduated before we started pulled stuff like that. We also weren't allowed to wear graduation caps because some of them had thrown their caps at the assistant principal. I wish I'd raised a stink about how ridiculous they were being, so I could've just gone without all the pressure of getting a date. I also wish that I'd been cool enough to not go to prom at all and organize and anti-prom party, but my mom really wanted me to go and she made me an awesome dress, so there is that.
So what would you do-over?


  1. Well not to sound like I am ripping you off but I would like to go back to college and really apply myself. I was coming from a very structured boarding school to nothing. As a result I went to Drunken State. When I went to said boarding school I ended up basically dropping out of Boy Scouts (I think I have a handbook I can lend you by the way) I was very near to becoming an Eagle Scout. I really regret not doing more to that end.

    Basically I wish I had applied myself more in the past in general. If I had done more PT in the Navy I would not be so rotund. Although I did have to lose weight to get into the service.

    I know the "crappy" Woodstock was in '94 but I chose to work that weekend instead of blowing it off and going to the concert.

    When I was going through my divorce I could not make the court date because work (Frito Lay)would not let me off the week of July 4th to go to court and I was unable to delay the proceedings. As a result my ex-wife disappeared with my son for several years. I wish I could that over again.

    As the song goes "Regrets I have a few. But then again too few to mention" Never the less they are there and they help comprise what and who I am today. Do I wish I could change most if not all of that and more YES. The other shoe when it falls says I would not be me though.

  2. Interesting list. I think I would like another chance at my study-abroad experience too (mine was a year at a Swiss university). The first few months were indeed the hardest, and by the time I felt like I was really getting the hang of things it was time to return to the USA.

    It sounds like unschooling rather than homeschooling might be the ticket for you. :)

    The big thing I'd probably redo is what I did after college. I'd been awarded a Fulbright to go to France to teach, but for some reason my brain went on vacation and I declined it in favor of going to graduate school right away.

  3. OK, total dork time, but this is the "something I didn't do" (as opposed to regretting some stupid decisions I made, which is a whole 'nother list) that I always remember:

    I was president of my college Chess Club in senior year. I had a good relationship with the maintenance crew, the facilities team, the Office of Student Activites, and the theater dept. I know... just *know* that if I had organized it, I could have run a chess tournament where the final game would have been a "live" one with a real chessboard painted on a corner of a lawn and people as pieces. It would have spent nearly every cent of my goodwill capital, but I always regret not moving my butt and at least making the attempt.

    Of course, if that's my biggest regret, I've had a pretty good life! Of course, there may not be enough room on the interwebz for all the stupid things I've done... :o)


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