Saturday, October 20, 2007

nora at nineteen

Sheeh, tell a few bad jokes and your readers turn on you!

Crabby Dad, I do have to tell you that your joke might have been repeated last night in an establishment that serves Guinness. And Bad Influence Girl and I might have both said the word "perineum" at the same time during an unusually quiet moment in the bar. Kim, we'll call you next time, we can working on our stalking plan for you-know-who.

So in the interest of not getting any more cyber-groans over jokes or blurting out body parts in the Red Key, I'm taking Ralph's advice and writing about my life at nineteen years old.

I turned 19 on May 19, 1980.
I was just finishing up a rough year of college. My freshman year of Purdue is a bit of a blur, not because I was partying -- I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was one of those high-school students that sailed through school with out ever taking a book home. I had no study habits and was also terribly shy and socially immature. Which was the perfect combination for bad grades and hiding out in the dorm laundry room on Friday nights. And to add to the fun, I got braces the week before I started college.

Near the end of the school year I'd met a group of group of punk-rockers. Chris Clark of band Dow Jones and Industrials ran for student government president to promote the band's new record. And, they won! I'd gone to college without at typewriter and had taken to using one in the student government offices to type my papers on. Shortly after they got elected Chris and the rest of the crew dropped by the offices to scope things out. You can imagine the scene.
Skinny (I think I weighed 95 pounds then) braces-wearing shy Nora hunched over a typewriter that she probably was not supposed to be using, doing her best to look invisible.

One of the guys asked if I could type. Since I was pretty much caught red-handed with my hands on the keys, I murmured "yes." I wound up helping them with some projects and was grateful that such cool kids took me under their wing. I think there was also some value to sending innocent-looking me to get checks signed from the dean for their projects. I enjoyed my time with them and did a good job sitting quietly and soaking it all in.

That summer I lived back at the farm and I worked two jobs that were depressingly alike. Both as nurse's aides -- one at a nursing home and the other at the local hospital. It was not a bad summer, but nothing special.

On a day off I ran up to Purdue to register for Fall classes (way before signing up for things on-line, in fact for my computer class that semester I wrote programs on punch cards) and dropped in on my friend Carol. I didn't know Carol very well, but she was one of the punk-rock group and was always nice to me. I wound up spending the night and Carol and I started a life-long friendship.

I spent that year in the dorm and trudged to classes, changing my major every week or so. I continued to volunteer in the student government offices and started coming out of my shell. I loved how the punk-rock crowd was not judgmental. They didn't care that I didn't dress like them or what kind of music I liked. It was a real eye-opener for me.

Soon I was involved in fun projects -- a Halloween party that filled the Armory, a giant Fli-Back competition and a Ganja Giveaway at a football game (a trip to Jamaica). I dressed as an artichoke and talked to pre-schools about the importance of nutrition during our self-proclaimed Vegetable Awareness Week. I might have also worn the same outfit and held a sign up that proclaimed "****** ****** is my favorite vegetable" when a certain president came to town.

I've spent the evening looking at scrapbooks-- unfortunately everything is too glued down to scan, and realized that being 19 was a real turning point for me. I was living between two worlds that year -- innocent dorm-dwelling girl and innocent sneaking-in-to parties to hear Dow Jones play chick. Sort of like my life right now. Not-for-profit director by day, music writer by night. And, sadly by dating life is about the same.


Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

Well, Nora, first of all there were more than a few bad jokes - there were eighteen of them to be exact.
I have a hard time picturing you as shy. It does sound like nineteen was a turn point in your life.
I haven't talked to Cliff yet, but I imagine he will go along with this - both Cliff and I will give you a dollar if you dress up as an artichoke at Blogstock.
This was a relly good post.

King Tiger said...

We Need pictures from 19 in 1980 (or thereabouts).

I challange you, you post from then and I will put up by HS senior picture complete with baby blue suit.

Kim said...

Day-um Nora! You've got some kind of memory.

I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone much of what I did when I was 19! I was attending Ball State that year, so I was probably in the midst of working three jobs and trying to study. Beyond that, I'm clueless.

Great post!

Cliff said...

Computer programs on punchcards. The acadamia nuts who run those institutions have always been sooo relevent.
Ralph I would pay much more than a dollar.
Did the punk rockers have any idea that even the high school band kids wouldn't hang around with you?

Jerry said...

Ah yes. I remember Nora at nineteen (and nine, for that matter). Such an awkward age.

And don't ever mention punch cards again. I think I blacked out for a minute when I read that.