(Copyright 2002. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

Making a permanent impression since 1994

-- Notebook --

Sept. 16, 2002

Freshman confusion on the second day of school 

By Katie Jordan

"Everyone's a little worried the first day of high school."

Yeah, they told us: On the first day everyone's confused; everyone's shy; everyone loses something vitally important, whether it's their schedule or themselves.

Basically, the first day of freshman year is an embarrassment waiting to happen.

Yeah, well. They should have warned me about the second day.

I don't mean to say that I didn't get lost, say something stupid, and generally make a complete fool of myself on the first day. I did.

But somehow I thought maybe the second day wouldn't be so overwhelming. I thought I might miraculously not get lost. I thought it would just generally go better.

I thought wrong.

Oh, it started out all right. I asked a teacher if we were supposed to go to homeroom today and they told me no. So I ended up in the right place, to begin with.

In fact, drama class went well, too. I made it there in time and had no problems except deciphering the seating chart.

Did you ever hear the phrase "the calm before the storm?”

So drama was over, and I'd had a blast. Unfortunately, gym was next. I don't like gym, even when I know all we're going to do is get handed papers about grading systems and make-up work. I think it might have something to do with bad experiences as a child, or my complete lack of physical ability.

So it would have been bad enough going to gym class if I'd known where it was – which, of course, I didn’t.

I was lucky to meet a friend of mine in the hall who was also headed to gym. She wasn't sure where it was either, but between us we basically decided -- or guessed -- that it was somewhere down the hall. I figured that if we were wrong, the gym was big enough that we'd find it eventually.

But after some walking and a lot of guesswork, I decided not to test that theory. So I did the only thing to do in the face of a crisis: ask someone who knows what the heck they're doing.

So I called out to the nearest person in a suit, "Uh, excuse me, Mr. Teacher Man?"  Yes, in the face of crisis, I always know just what to say.

"Yes, Miss Student Girl?" he replied. I'm not sure whether he was annoyed or amused, but as he's not one of my teachers, it didn't really matter.

"Um, do you know where the gym is?" No, Katie, no he doesn't. He's only been working here for years.

Well, he told us where to go and we made it into the gym just in time to sit on the bleachers for 10 minutes waiting for the teachers to arrive. Thank goodness.

After a long speech about gym clothes, make-up classes, participation and such, we got to look around in the locker rooms and the torture chamber -- uh, I mean the weight room, yeah … right.

Then it was off to my next class, English. I was going to use my best strategy for not getting lost: follow somebody who knows where the heck they're going.

Unfortunately, the crowds at Eastern are huge, and I couldn't find anyone to follow. So I was on my own. It was time for me to test myself.

I failed miserably.

I found stairs, after a little hunting, and I was headed in the right direction. I thought.

That was before I jumped up and down to see some room numbers over the crowd. No, that didn't seem right at all. I decided to backtrack and see if that was the right way.

It was. No, wait. It wasn't. Or was it?

 I was confused, so I kept walking. I figured, if I went around in a full circle I'd run into the room eventually, unless I was on the wrong floor, which really wouldn't have surprised me.

Nope, I found it. After the bell rang.

"You have the first lunch wave, so you can just go down to the cafeteria," said the teacher. Great. And after I went all the way around the school to get here.

So I dropped my bag on an empty desk and went on downstairs again. And no, I didn't have any trouble finding the cafeteria. There were two other people going there ahead of me.

So I got in the lunch line behind another friend of mine, and started to tell him how badly my day was going so far.

Then I realized that I left my lunch money upstairs in my backpack.

Some people would rather go upstairs to get their money than not eat lunch. But I wasn't going to go all the way back there now, especially since I wouldn’t go without a meal.

After all, I had a mint. And I did find a table to sit at with my friends, so lunch wasn't a total bust.

Then I had to go back to class, this time with a group. Together we found the stairs and went up.

And then I told them which way to go. Why?  I honestly don't know. Maybe I was possessed by mischievous demon. Or maybe I'm just a complete and total idiot.

Anyway, you can predict what happened. We had to wander around the school before we found our room. After which I promptly told the others never to listen to me again.

English was alright, too. We did a few activities, as opposed to listening to the teacher drone on about the same stuff we'd already heard a million times. It was a nice change.

Then we went to history, where the teacher discussed all kinds of things, from plays to Europe to the weather. It started to rain right before school let out.

So I marched soggily along to find my mother's car in the packed parking lot. Good luck.

The Tattoo's Insider's Guide to High School