Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.

No words today, just pictures of a recent get together when, thanks to our friend Kim, we were fortunate enough to discover glass slippers, an accessory that flows seamlessly from wine to chocolatini and back to wine again. My Ibuprophen bottle will back me up on this. I was hoping to produce an end-of-year wrap-up post but, really? That thought was just too overwhelming. WAY too overwhelming.

Suffice it to say it's been an amazing year. I thank you for being here with me.

Also, as far as the photos go, it's getting to be a lot of work to be a blogger and not on Facebook all at the same time. Not to worry, though, I plan to continue to muddle through somehow.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Paparazzi Birthday

The honorees in a move almost unheard of in the rarefied world of the much-photographed, agree to actually pose with a large percentage of the paparazzi stalking them. From left: Eva, Mary Ellen, Grandmama, Brenda, Gina, Patsy, Uncle Tom.

I was fortunate today to attend what may well have been the most well-photographed party in the history of Western Kentucky. My Grandmother and Great Uncle both celebrated their birthdays bathed in the blinding glow of constantly flashing digital cameras at my aunt Patsy's house. The honorees, eighty-eight and ninety respectively, took being enthusiastically herded from photo op to photo op with great aplomb. I daresay the pair may have even enjoyed it.
Here we see but a fraction of the paparazzi in relentless pursuit of their photographic quarry.

Uncle Tom opening a present. When I was little, probably five, he sat me on his knee and we had a very serious discussion about the fact that I had a regular uncle Tom and also, a great (him) uncle Tom. He explained that it's like he was an uncle twice over and suggested I could differentiate him from my regular uncle by referring to him "Uncle-Uncle Tom". I did. For about thirty years and he never got tired of it. That I know of.

I snapped this photo just as my Mom walked over, placed a hand on Grandmama's beautiful snowy white hair, and told her she has been the best mother anyone could ever hope for. I kid myself that this exact same image isn't right now sitting on fourteen other digital photo sticks.

The Pink Ladies: Bethany and Patsy.

The Pink Ladies and? An interloper who was later reported to have been heard several times pointedly referring to her red sweater as "dark pink".

Here Patsy and Brenda demonstrate the lost art of Cake Wrangling. Right after they simultaneously got a firm grip on and lifted the desert, the rest of us rushed in and spun the table around. (What, you think it's easy? This meant we had to put our cameras down.)

Could these two possibly be any cuter? Looking at this photo causes all the smartassery to just drain right out of me.

Friday, December 26, 2008


At first? She was proud of herself. Proud that she had not only jumped on the couch, but also that she'd made the precarious crossing from couch to coffee table. She pranced around gaily for a few minutes enjoying the view from her new perch and the fact that she was now officially as far off the ground as her big sister.

But then? Reality set in. And that reality was that going anywhere else was going to necessarily involve the "jump-down". And the jump-down has been the very last maneuvering skill to be reacquired since her surgery. In fact, the jump-down doesn't ever happen anymore unless it happens unconsciously. As in, she is sitting on my chair and, suddenly, hears the sound of the treat jar lid rattling. This sound will automatically cause her to lose her mind and quite forget the fact that she's jumping off of anything. I'm pretty sure she'd hurl herself off the Empire State Building if she heard that tantalizing sound in the distance.

But today, the treat jar wasn't rattling. Today she was just stuck and so she went to Plan B. And that is crying. It usually works. She produces a sad little yodeling sound, it is multi-tonal and pathetic. However, since this whole situation evolved about two feet away from me, I wasn't exactly about to come running, worried about what her situation might be. When the yodeling began, and it occurred to me she was marooned, I did what any good Mommy would do. I grabbed the camera and started snapping.

And then I lifted her onto the floor. (Oh yah. I'm a hard-ass.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Deco Lady...

...finds a home in my hallway. A Christmas gift from my mother. LOVE it! (Click for a larger version.)

Merry Christmas to All

My son, Chase, this morning with his good buddy B-Frank. His shirt says, "Sarcasm. Just one of my many talents."

Honestly. Where does he get that stuff?

(Hope you have a wonderful holiday.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wine + Crafting = Shut-Up

I had some of my BFFs over recently, the core group of which has been getting together in December for years now. We drank wine, we ate food, we did our first ever "art project" a wacky undertaking (my idea, of course), that included snapping a black and white photo of ourselves on my couch, printing that image for each of us, and then cutting out and inserting that image into some wintry landscape photos I had taken a few years ago of a (then) snowy Redwood Forest. There were stickers involved. Also? Snowflakes.

(Did that make any sense? Anyway. It was fun.)

All of this is to explain the photo above taken by Christa (who did an excellent job of covering the event, I might add, my camera stayed on the tripod most the night) of our friend Julie. While the rest of us were carefully cutting out our images, painstakingly inserting them "just so" into the landscape, and pondering our many snowflake and sticker options, Julie cut to the chase. She had her image roughly cut, glued (yes, with a glue stick) to the background photo and a "Shut Up" sticker slapped on there before you could say....well, "shut up".

The photo pretty much says it all. Much hilarity ensued.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Fond Farewell

Despite my earlier declaration that it is best that I never come in possession of the entire Ken Burns Civil War Series, I went right on out to the library not long after in the hopes of doing just that. This lead to a discovery on the library's part that they did not have the series in it's entirety in DVD form which meant I had to request it through an inter-library loan. My request was fulfilled today when I paid a visit to check out Hannah and Her Sisters (a Christmas favorite) and found my loan request in its entirety waiting for me a full two weeks sooner than expected.

Of course, I've spent the evening enthralled by Part 1. I could hardly believe I had forgotten how this section ended: with the reading of a now famous love letter from a soldier to his wife. Sullivan Ballou, a 32-year-old Union soldier from Rhode Island, penned the letter in July of 1861 while he was stationed at Camp Clark near Washington, DC. It reads:

My very dear Sarah,

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .

Major Sullivan Ballou would die a week later at the Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas as it is called in the south). The letter would not reach his 24-year-old wife, Sarah, by mail, but would be found among Sullivan's effects when Rhode Island officials gathered their dead from Virginia. At the time of his death, the pair had been married six years and had two sons, Edgar and William. Sarah would never remarry. She died at the age of eighty, fifty-six years later, and was buried next to Sullivan in 1917.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wishful Drinking (or Finally, a real memoir!)

I am more than a little excited to learn tonight that Carrie Fisher a writer, actress, humorist, and self-proclaimed product of "Hollywood in-breeding" (her parents are Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher) has finally, after a long string of thinly veiled novels based on her own life, come all out with an actual memoir for real. Released the 2nd of this month, "Wishful Drinking" chronicles the star's dysfunctional life up to an including her bipolar disorder, shock treatments, and waking up with a corpse in her bed (the dearly departed was male but also gay, so not a Private Benjamin type situation).

Like everyone else, I loved Carrie as Miss Cinnamon Buns aka Princess Leia, but my real girl crush didn't start until I read her first novel, "Postcards from the Edge", loosely based on Fisher's experiences in rehab and recovery and the subsequent perils of living the life of a recovering addict with a Hollywood diva for a mother in the never-never land of Tinseltown. The move of the same name was highly anticipated, but let me down in casting Meryl Streep as the Fisher character against the brilliant choice of Shirley MacLaine as Debbie Reynolds. I personally couldn't get passed the fact that Streep and MacLaine aren't nearly far apart enough in age to actually be mother/daughter (hello?). Still, thanks to MacLaine, the movie, while not an overall success, gave us some incredible moments like the whole "it twirled up" confrontation.

Fisher would go on to follow up "Postcards" with "Surrender the Pink", "Delusions of Grandma" and "The Best Awful" three more obviously autobiographical works packaged as fiction. Having enjoyed all these books, you'll understand why I'm a little excited to finally have added a book by Fisher to my Amazon shopping card that is overtly biographical.

Even better news is that Fisher is out promoting her newest work most recently on NPR on December 16th. If you're a fan, this 30 minute interview on Talk of the Nation is worth hearing. Carrie is also on the road with her one-woman show with the same name as her newest book. The show will open in Seattle in March. I just might be crazy enough to head on up there and see it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Out There


Last night I spent the evening helping out a good friend who found herself in an Event Bind. Sort of an oxymoron that presupposes event planning and execution is ever anything BUT a bind, but I guess it's a question of degrees. In my friend's case, it was the day before the event and some of her catering help sort of went away.

Thus we found ourselves (literally) buying Sam's Club out of french bread and dinner rolls, steering overloaded out-of-control carts dangerously fast around corners at one point traumatizing a man to the point of fear who we inadvertently bumped the cart into and then proceeded to trail in a manner that I suppose he perceived as menacing but which was, in fact, just random on our part, and searching the west end frantically for suddenly elusive poultry seasoning.

I've long been annoyed at the institutional size of seemingly everything at Sam's, but for once found myself strangely gratified to, finally, actually have NEED of 20 sticks of butter and 80 stalks of celery and 20 1 lb loaves of french bread in one single night. Eventually, with my Mom's help, I would work into the wee hours to prepare a crunchy Asian style slaw and dressing (or should I call it stuffing?) of sufficient quantity to serve 200 people. We slid the last freakishly large pan of piping hot dressing from the oven at around 2 o'clock this morning, both tired to the point of giggling hysterics but at the same time a little amazed by the accomplishment.

Both Tallulah and Mom's dog, Dudley (a dachshund), were no less hysterical having never experienced excitement quite like it. Not only was there endless motion and ferrying of pans of stuffing back and forth between our two ovens, but also an incredible bonanza of a near constant shower of falling chopped veggies, bread crumbs, and various other manna from heaven. The project left both under-sized dogs producing explosive poops and horrendous drunken sailor-like belches by the end of the night.

In my case, it was good to be busy. Earlier in the week, I learned from a seemingly innocuous routine phone call the distressing news that funding for my job will cease in approximately 30 days.

Yes. You read that right.

I couldn't help but notice that I received this really bad job news almost a year to the day from the date that my marriage imploded in '07. Both incidents conveniently timed to not only completely f*** with my life, but also? My Christmas.

[Dear Fate: Lay off, will ya?]

The good news is that one doesn't survive such a train wreck without gaining a little perspective. Or at least this one doesn't. This whole last year has been one wild, crazy, feast or famine ride but ultimately? When I need money? I have it. When I need help? I get it. In other words the universe has done a pretty fine job of taking care of me and there's no real reason to think that it will suddenly stop now.

Also, I think the message for me continues to be that I very well may not be a person whose future includes a steady, stable job. Rather, It's looking more and more like I might be one of those people whose career will be more varied and unpredictable. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but as I've written before, I come from a clan of people who crave stability, a secure predictable retirement, and a 401K. NOT people who live on the edge trusting fate for sustenance.

The universe continues to shake me by the lapels and slap me senseless whenever I show signs of feeling the least bit complacent or secure.

'Tis not for me, it seems, that life of safety. Not any more.

Just the same? Next mid-December? You'll excuse me if I barricade myself and my dogs in an underground bunker in an undisclosed location. Without a cell signal.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Checking In

I've so dropped the ball here of late--I'm sorry! I haven't forgotten you guys! I promise a beefy post as soon as possible. Stuff is happening.

[Above is a recently scanned photo of my son Chase and I taken when he was but a wee two months old. What a precious little guy he was!]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hung Up

Among my many strange obsessions (i.e., tiny things, sparkly things, retro things, girly power tools, socks) are: things that hang. Clearly, I need to become an artist specializing in tiny retro hanging sparkly works that I craft with small power tools. While wearing socks. I wouldn't expect you'd ever see or hear from me again.

And let's face it. That might be a good thing.

Pictured here is a mobile that I have been coveting for some time and finally took the plunge and bought during a recent tribulation in the lakes region (don't ask). I would have bought it sooner but it cost (are you ready for this?) thirteen dollars. Yet another strangeness: a reluctance to buy things that I really love even if the price is perfectly reasonable. Note: this quirk does not, for some reason, apply to clothes and make-up.


The mobile did not come with the Christmas wonderfulness you see already in its little clips, those were a most fabulous Christmas gift that I realized were far too lovely to use for their intended purpose which is as cocktail napkins. A few minutes attaching them to the mobile clips and VOILA! a one-of-a-kind Christmas decoration. You see it hanging here from my dining room light fixture, since I haven't yet decided on a perfect final spot for it.

It's hard to see (click for a larger version), but they read:

It was a bitch to clean, but during the holidays, Mrs. Douglas loved to wear her grandmother's fir.


Monday, December 15, 2008

No Time

Here's a quick photo of Tallulah, visiting at my office today. Her recovery from her recent spaying (on Wednesday) continues apace, however, I wasn't quite ready to leave her and her stitches in the crate just yet. She's lost a bit of weight since the procedure, but is nearly back to her perky self.

Lots of posts rolling around in the noggin', but no time to get them down. Hopefully, that will change soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blog Alert

For all you sisters out there now officially addicted to the Chick Flix Series from Maiden Alley Cinema, know there is, officially, an Official Blog. It's official!

Find it here and bookmark it.

(Yes, there will be a quiz.)

Monday, December 08, 2008


I would have thought this a physical impossibility based on past experience. Yet, here it is. FurGirl managing to tuck her whole, entire big self inside Tallulah's puppy bed. There is some overhang around the edges? But no part of this dog is touching the floor outside the bed. I checked.


Kentucky 101: Part One

I have a terrible tendency to live in my head. I think this is one of the things that makes me a writer by nature. It wasn't until I was thirty that it occurred to me that this was sort of a bad thing, I was shaken awake by a book coupled with some life experience and other realizations, and it has since been my constant struggle to be present for every wild, wonderful, terrible, boring, silly moment of this one amazing life I have been given.

I have a penchant for history that I think feeds into my "live in my head" tendency. It would be so easy for me to begin to devote myself to the study of this or that era and spend my time in a dreamy reverie of imagining life in a different time and place. I nearly plotzed with delight upon discovering the PBS series based on the premise of taking ordinary modern families and, to the greatest extent possible, stripping them of every modern convenience, placing them in another historic time (right down to replacing their underpants with their historic counterpart), equipping them with nothing but the tools and resources of the time, and then filming their experience. The resulting series: 1880's House, Frontier House, Colonial House, 1940's House, Manor House is some of the most fascinating programming I've ever watched in my whole entire life. Ken Burn's famous documentary series "The Civil War" is something, given half a chance, to which I could devote days and days. I own and have read, of my own free will, the Diary of Mary Chestnut. I've read countless biographies: Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Ben Franklin to name a few.

All that is to say, then, that it may be a little dangerous to put me in a college history course.

That is, however, where I found myself this semester past, due to the fact that one cannot get their paper without: Kentucky History.

Ya'll. We are nuts in Kentucky. You only have to live here a little while to know it and you only have to take one semester of Kentucky History to come to a certain realization: we come by it honestly.

In a state built on the production of whiskey, horseflesh, and tobacco, it's not real hard to figure out why your average Kentuckian of yore is some drunk pissed off somebody riding a too fast horse, sucking on a corncob pipe, and looking for some ass to kick (in other words, native Kentuckians: your (and my) great-great grandpappy). This is how the Bluegrass state lost more soldiers than any other in the War of 1812. And why when Aaron Burr, the Vice President shot Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury in a duel...where did Burr run to and hide out? Why Kentucky, of course! Come on down, have a drink and a smoke, we know how to keep a secret down here (and our pie is divine)! Ever wonder why the Kentucky state line takes a nonsensical jog at the southwest corner? It's because when the surveyors showed up, and plotted the line, a certain farm owner's land ended up on the Tennessee side. And this farmer didn't want to live in Tennessee, see, he was a Kentuckian, he said, and, by the way, he had a vast store of whiskey. And surveyors + food + whiskey = the state line gets moved.

Which brings us to, God help us, Kentucky politics. I'm not going to comment on current KY politics, although, the mess in Frankfort is pretty legendary and continues. But I will say, on a note closer to home, I'm fond of recounting the story of a certain newly elected official's first meeting with his staff. This official, once everyone was seated a the conference table, took a deep breath and said to the assemblage, "Okay, let's start here (gesturing to the employee nearest him) and go around the table and ya'll tell me who's your mama and who's your daddy." Not, mind you, their credentials, or their history of working for the organization, or professional accomplishments, or a little something about their department but, more importantly, who's yer daddy?

Now, this particular elected official had been around a while and his objective was actually friendly, in that we play a little game down here in the south sort of like the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon. And that is, we figure we know a lots of people, and upon meeting someone new, we'll sorta go 'round and 'round each other's friends and kinfolk until--we happen upon a mutual acquaintance--thus getting a fix on who this person is. The conversation will go a little like:

Person #1
So, are you one of the Huckleberrys from Fancy Farm?

Person #2
No, I'm from Possum Trot

Person #1
OH! A Possum Trot Huckleberry. Didn't one of ya'll marry that girl that used to sing at Tater Day?

Person #2
That was my uncle, Rufus Huckleberry.

Person #1
Rufus Huckleberry is your UNCLE?! I'll be darned! Why Rufus and I go way back...

And, etcetera. So, essentially, this official was trying to be neighborly and play a round of Seven Degrees of Kentucky Bacon with his new staff, thereby gaining an immediate understanding of who they are and where they come from. Trouble was? Not everyone at the table was a native Kentuckian.

Which can only mean one thing.

Those people? The people not from Kentucky?

Aren't from around here.

Which means? Ain't no amout of bacon chewin' gonna acquaint you with this person. And that casts those that aren't from around here in a certain suspicious light. Oh, you'll still get an extra hushpuppy with your catfish and a big slice of Derby pie for dessert. It's not that they don't like you, but more like maybe they might just step lightly around you until they gets to know you a little better. In fifteen years or so. This phrase is also sometimes used by way of explanation.

Person #1
What's he doing?

Person #2
Don't know.

Person #1
Is he putting ketchup on his biscuits?

Person #2
He ain't from around here.

Person #1

[To Be Continued...]

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Another World

I'm posting here one of the many photographs I took of the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Forest (click for a larger version). If you've never been there, please just go. It's an indescribable feeling to walk among these great, silent giants, the largest living organisms in the world. The oldest of these trees is 2,500 years old.

Older than the Parthenon.

Not so long ago, it was believed the unexplored redwood forest canopy was a kind of desert environment, which makes no sense even to me even as uneducated as I am about these things. Once some brave soul finally shimmied up there, a very different picture emerged. It was one of a whole other world teeming with undiscovered species busily living out their life cycles as many as 38 stories off the ground. This discovery lead to further study and a still growing body of knowledge about these California giants.

Richard Preston, a biologist and expert in such things as the Ebola virus, developed an interest in the redwoods when he began tree climbing as an activity to share with his children. I'm posting below his TED Talk which is a full twenty minutes long, but packed with amazing, thought provoking and fascinating facts about the redwood forest and an alarming (and unreported) environmental situation at the end.

I'm going to run away and join the TED. You should totally come with.
[Edited to add: I've given up trying to embed the video. Follow this link to see it.]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Looking Back

My oft-denied Facebook habit waxes and wanes. It may have peaked, however, on Thanksgiving day when I received a message from a BFF of yore. And not just a little bit yore, either, I'm talking fourth and fifth grade type of yore. This initial message lead to others and a hook-up through the site with two other very good friends from that time in my life which is to say, collectively, the fourth through the ninth grades. Six formative years.

The facebook photo that started it all posted by the friend behind the camera in this case. That's me at the back at about 13.

Those years of my schooling were a bit unusual because I attended a fundamental Baptist school during that time. A school that forbade much of what we consider normal coming-of-age stuff. Like, for instance, rock-n-roll. Short skirts. Dancing (think Footloose without the breakthrough). Also there was no saying of bad words. Like, for instance, "Gosh".

I call this "Conservative Cheerleader". And it's sad, because I could have totally rocked a short skirt at this point. I'm putting this one at about 1976, just before the make-up moratorium was lifted (PTL!). Still, I can almost smell the "Love's Baby Soft" and the four coats of shiny gloss in "Bubble Gum", my preferred lip scent of the time, wafting from this photo.

Now, understand. When I went home? I could (and did often) slap on a halter top and tune into some WLS (Chicaaaago!) or spin my Donny Osmond 45's on my pea green portable record player (along with Elton John, Abba, and The Who) and dance around in my unfinished basement on roller skates all night long. At the time, it struck me as not at all odd that there were two sets of standards in my life: one for school and one for home. I never paused to consider that my home life (not the least bit wild or crazy) was still wildly more permissive than my school life. Looking back, I think it's a darn good thing, actually, that was the case. I don't know how a person survives that kind of repression at home AND at school.

Ran across this one in the yearbook and it barely scanned. I'm about 14 here. It's notable for two things (choir robe aside): first, there it is, my Dorothy Hamil 'do in all it's glory! I've often reminisced about it, but never realized or had forgotten that there was this photo evidence of it. Secondly? Those shoes. They were Mary Janes! They were wedges! They were Mary Jane wedges! I never tired of them. Still wish I had them, in fact.

Eventually, a series of circumstances would cause me to leave the school and the church all together. My last year there was my freshman year of high school. I made the decision not to go back during the summer. I entered the public school, for the first time since the third grade, as a sophomore wearing jeans to school for the first time ever.

Was the public school a shock for me? I have to say, not really. It was more like a relief. It was where I needed to be.

Synchronistically, I ran across my box of yearbooks while digging out Christmas decorations last week right around the time I started corresponding with these old friends. As I flipped through the pages and looked at the old pictures I was struck by how many people from that conservative place that signed my yearbooks called me "strange". A typical entry by a fellow classmate would read something like, To a strange person but a great cheerleader, keep God in your life! Or sometimes they would sign off with a bible verse citation. Apparently? Darn near everybody considered me "strange" as the word appears over and over written in careful school kid script and applied to me. At the time? This struck me as not the least bit, well, strange. Looking at it as an adult, however, I have to wonder...was I strange? Or was I a "normal" (if there is such a thing) kid in a strange place?

I suspect a little bit of both.

Ultimately, this lead to asking myself, maybe for the first time, am I a liberal because of that very close and prolonged encounter with narrow-mindedness? Or, was I by nature, a budding lefty predestined by nature to inevitably clash with that conservative lifestyle. The whole chicken or egg thing. I suppose I could have developed my philosophy completely aside from that experience. But it seems unlikely, doesn't it?

And anyway, it doesn't much matter how I got here. I'm here. That's the thing.

My twelfth birthday slumber party. Milk and cookies. I'm the wildly happy one with the mouth open smile.

But it was hard back then, very hard, to leave all the friends I'd had for so long and strike out, all alone, to a new (huge) school. Fourteen is not exactly the age one dreams of being a maverick loner. Fourteen is the age when your friends are...everything. It makes me think of the last lines in Stand by Me:

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?