- What was moving out of your parents’ home like?
I moved into an off-campus dorm when I was 20 and never really moved back. At first, I followed the leads of many dorming friends, and went home on weekends. It started to feel weird, going back, and I found myself getting into my red pickup truck later and later on Friday evenings, and then on Saturday mornings. After I guess two or three months of this, I casually mentioned to my dad that I might start staying at the dorm, since it was closer to work (I ran an afterschool program at my alma mater, but did a lot of work on site on weekends because I worked better when nobody was around, a recurring theme in my life) and, you know, things like the library and computer lab. My dad said, “I didn’t raise you to stick around. Go do your thing and know you’re welcome here any time for any reason.” I casually said the same thing to my mom, and she said something vague about koi, and any Japanese boy knows he’s supposed to be tough like koi. So I never really lived with them again, except as a transition between other living situations. I think, though, that I may be moving back in. They could use me, and I want to be available.
- What makes popular kids in high school popular, and how were you like or unlike them?I’m going to answer this from my long experience as a high-school teacher. One answer is the research-based answer, which agrees with my experience. The other is slightly more cyncal than the research-based answer, but I like mine better than the true answer. In elementary school and leading into middle school, boys are popular if they’re good at sports. They don’t actually have to play any, but if they’re good at them, and if the other boys know it, they’ll be liked. Girls are popular if they’re willing and able to be mean to other girls. They don’t actually have to do it, but they’ll be popular if the other girls believe they’re capable of it. Thankfully, in high school those things are still true, but there are other ways of being popular too. Those other ways take a lot more time, though, and more convincing and more luck. I was unlike them all and was never even remotely popular until maybe 11th and 12th grade, when I just learned to be nice to people.
- When you were in high school, where in the neighborhood did schoolmates hang out?
I went to a small private high school, and we lived all over the island, so when we were younger (and less mobile and less independent), none of us hung out around campus, but when we got older, there was John’s Grocery, a tiny mom-and-pops that finally shut its doors for good just a few yeras ago, and the 7-Eleven just down the street. A little further out, we’d see each other all the time downtown, where the common bus trasnfer stops were, usually at the McDonald’s on Fort Street Mall. It’s still there, one of the very very very very few things down there that’s exactly where it was when I was in high school. At night, especially after basketball games, we could run into each other at the Zippy’s on Vineyard, but many of my own classmates don’t remember that it didn’t open until just after our senior year began.
- What was learning to drive like?
It was a piece of cake. I got my permit at 16, but back then you could keep renewing your permit as long as you wanted until you got your license, and for some reason I never went for my road test until the summer after I graduated. Passed everything on my first try, of course.
- What were your most difficult and least difficult subjects in high school?
Chemistry in 10th grade was really challenging. I started the year with Cs and ended with As,
but it took a lot of work. It was really the first hard course I ever had. I couldn’t cram for tests in the hallway in the ten minutes before class and then ace the tests. I couldn’t let the assignments pile up, then crank them all out on the last weekend before the end of the unit, because they were too hard and that wasn’t enough time. I was actually grateful for that course,
once I knew I was learning how to do schoolwork. I’m still grateful. My least difficult class has always been English, ‘though all through school, right up to graduation, my favorite was math.