Why Would Anyone Want to Go Back to Middle School?

Yep, that's me. A proud Pilot Butte Giant.
So, I started working on this memoir, Overdue Apologies, five years ago as I finished up my mfa at Antioch. And even after reading those early pages, the workshop leader asked, "Why? Why would anyone want to read this?" Maybe it was a plot problem, or maybe it was because very few people want to read about middle school. There are tons of YA novels for this age, but very few memoirs, and I think I know why. Most people don't want to spend a whole lot of time revisiting that teenage angst, let alone several years writing about it. 

Besides, middle school is awkward. Our bodies are changing, our hormones are raging, and our brains are not yet fully-developed. It is an emotionally charged time of all or nothing. I teach middle school, so I'm reminded of this on a daily basis. And although I teach in LA, at a middle school very different than the one I attended, many of the issues students face are the same: She likes him? He's going to ask her out? She said what about me? Ugh! I hate her!

Looking back at the diary I kept at the time, I either LOVED my family because they were the best, or I HATED them and couldn't wait to get away. Same thing with friends and boys. Love or hate. Best day ever or worst day of all time. There wasn't a whole lot of middle ground. But despite all the intensely awful times I survived in middle school, I also have some intensely wonderful memories as well, intimate friendships, adventures with friends at malls and movies, and many significant firsts.

So even if you hated middle school, even if you really don't want to go back to that time, I dare you to anyway. That's right, I've been playing a little truth or dare for the past five years or so, trying to tease out the truth of my middle school days, and now it's almost done. So I dare you to go back there with me.

I dare you to remember middle school.

Overdue Apologies: March 10, 2012.


Valentine's Day Cake Tradition

For many years, I've baked this cake from Martha Stewart for David for Valentine's Day. It's a white layer cake with raspberry meringue frosting (or seven minute frosting) and it's always tasty. But this year David wanted to make cupcakes so we made David's first batch ever using the same recipe.
~We halved both~

White Cake

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted cake flour, plus more for pans
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and add sugar.
Combine milk/vanilla and add to butter/sugar mix alternately with the flour mixture.
Fold in egg whites after beating to form stiff peaks.
Spoon into lined cupcake tin and bake for 20 minutes.

Seven Minute Frosting
Mix one third of the frosting with 1 cup raspberry jam to use for layering or on top.