Useless Grand Ideas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


Useless Grand Ideas

Dedicated to Awesome First Lines That Pop Into Your Head Before French Class

He was staring. She was staring. They were all staring at me like I was insane—and I probably was, but not for the reason they thought. No, they were staring at me because I was outside—just as they were—walking on the little cement sidewalk that cut through the miniature courtyard between the main hallway and the language wing of our high school—just as they were. So why were they staring? They were staring at me like I was an idiot because it was the middle of winter in little ol’ Iowa and I was not wearing a coat. Or a jacket. Or even an attempt at a sweater. Yes sir, I was in the buff walking through the snow of no return. Okay, I wasn’t really naked. I had faded denim over my legs, markered-up Converse on my cold feet, and a t-shirt that read ‘Disturbed: Tour 2006-2007, Cedar Rapids, Iowa’ over my chest and half of my arms. I also had my nerd-glasses on, but all they did was prevent me from running into one of the jacket-clad, snow-loving, I’m-going-to-freeze-and-die-if-I-am-out-in-ten-degree-weather-for-less-than-thirty-seconds students walking hurriedly past me. Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s not like I was relishing the below-average and freezing winter weather. On the contrary. In fact, I hated the cold. I despised it. I absolutely loathed every little tiny thing about it. Snow: Yuck. Freezing wind: count me out. Ice: pain in the ass. Literally (I fell a lot). Yep, Iowa winters sucked, and I would be the first and last and every person in-between to admit it.

“Then why live in Iowa?” you ask. Well, you see, it all started when I was four. Children my age usually did not have the freedom to choose where they live, so my dear mommy and daddy decided to move me and my two year old brother up to Iowa to be closer to her family. Most of my dad’s family had passed on and my mom’s family was suffering a bit, so it seemed like the best option. So, we packed up our bags and—Wait! I haven’t even told you were I am from! So, let’s start over. My mommy lived in Iowa her whole life, but when she finished college, she moved down to accept a teaching job in Houston, Texas.Well, there’s this whole long and involved story that really isn’t that interesting on how she and my father met, but we won’t go into that. So, long story short, my mom and my dad met and fell madly in love and got married and had me. Catherine Elizabeth was brought into the world on April eleventh, nineteen-ninety-four. They were so happy to have me, their cherished little bundle of pink polyester blanket and baby-slime. And that’s basically it. Oh, except for the fact that they were just so ecstatic with me that they decided to have yet another bundle of fluff. My brother, William, was born almost two years later on January the twenty-ninth. So, here we were, one big happy family living in suburban Houston with one orange tabby cat and a pecan tree in the front yard. We had it good.

Now, back to the story. When I was four (And William was two), we (our parents) decided to load up the minivan and drive us up to eastern Iowa. All I remember from that trip is that the cat rode in the moving truck.

There’s lots of fun interesting things that happened after we actually arrived in Iowa, but fortunately for you and your bored-O-meter I’m not going to go into them.

Blah. Blah. Ten years pass…etc.

So here I am, growing up in Iowa, hating the cold, hating the corn (another long story), and hating the small-hick town-ness of it all. Now, Cedar Rapids is not tiny by comparison, but it’s still just a little more boring than I’d like it to be. There are several determining factors for this resounding hatred, but again, I will not go into them for they are not the most colorful stories in the Corn/Grain/Frost/Snow Belt...Actually, come to think of it, maybe they are.

Anyways, here I stand, opening the door to the foreign language wing of my high school, ready to get my butt out of the freezing, abominable Iowa cold, when the door doesn’t open. I tug and tug, but it is shut. What the hell? I think. It was open a second ago when that red headed girl with the furry coat and pink Dolce & Gabbana knock-off handbag went through it...

Finally, the door opens. And who do I see on the other side chuckling and smirking at me like I thought what he had done was funny? Well, I will leave his name undisclosed, for I do not wish to cause gossip and hatred towards this particularly lovely young man who has been a butthead since he cheated off my spelling test in second grade. “Ha-ha, very funny,” I say as I stomp through the doorway.

He laughs and says, “All in good fun, Catherine.” Ha. Yeah. Right. Ass hole.

He walks away, but lucky for me, I get to see him again in less than thirty seconds when we have French 1 together. I almost do a happy-dance at the thought.

When I enter the classroom, Mademoiselle Lange is sitting behind her desk staring at her computer, undoubtedly doing something (who knows and who cares what?) pertaining to her pom squad. I take my seat behind my best friend (by the grace of fossils, several of my friends are in seventh hour French with me), Marlie. “I hate snow,” I mumble to her and she laughs.

“Don’t we all?” she says. Hey, maybe I wasn’t in this alone, after all.

Just when I begin having lovely thoughts about the lovely ice and snow and bitter wind, a lovely person sits down next to me. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that lovely Mister Door-Holder-Shutter’s seat is right next to mine. Woo. Hoo.

“Hey, Catherine, did you get that vocab. sheet done?” he asks.

“Yes,” I answer simply.

“Can I see it?”

“No, you may not.”


I look over at his puppy-dog eyes and can’t help but refuse him. “No, you may not copy my sheet. You should have done it yourself.”

“Aw, I didn’t have time,” he wines. “I had basketball last night.” He is also a huge jock, so “jerk” was kind of a given anyway.

“So? What do you want me to do about that?”

“Let me copy your paper. Quick, before Miss Lange sees.”

“No thank you. You may not.”

“Come on, Catherine,” he mutters between his teeth. “Just let me see it.” His eyes widen as he attempts to threaten me with the sapphire crystals of doom.


“Okay class, get out your vocab. sheets,” Mademoiselle Lange instructs, walking to the front of the classroom.

“Hurry up!” Mr. Cheater-pants hisses at me.

I ignore him.

We go over the vocabulary sheet in class, lucky for Jock-face, so he is able to copy down everything we say. My secret revenge did come into play once, however. When Miss Lange asked him what une salle manger meant, he could not answer, because he did not know that, loosely translated, une salle manger meant “dining room” because he did not do his homework. So, ha! Jerk Boy, ha!

The rest of class went by decently. We got a crossword and another vocab. sheet so we just had a work-day. Luckily, Butt-Face only talked to me a couple of times, asking me what a word meant or inserting his comment on whatever conversation I was having with Marlie. Whenever he did this, I either promptly ignored him or told him to butt out. He did.

When class finished, Copy-Boy met up with his girlfriend (who was also in our French class) and they walked out their door in their jock-plus-perfect pretty-girl glory, leaving me and the nerd-herd (my group of friends) to exit without interference of the popular kind.

We said goodbye to our friends and Marlie and I took another shortcut through another door that led out of the foreign wing, past the technology building, and through the foyer which cut across under the arcade to the music hall—our final destination. You see, we didn’t earn the title “nerd herd” for nothing. My friends and I truly were nerds. But right now, I’ll just tell you about Marlie and me. We both played clarinet in the ninth grade band and we had to retrieve our instruments from the band storage room before we left to go home. Despite what you think, band geeks can pick locks. Well.

A few things that I rather not discuss at the present time happened while we were getting our clarinets, most of which involve the guy I was gushing over flirting with me and me flirting back (I later found out he “liked” another girl…jerk-face. Seriously, though, the story is long and involved and terribly personal, so no offense, but I’m going to choose not to share it).

Blah. Blah. We waited until my mom got to school (since we were only fourteen, we couldn’t drive yet) to pick us up. Well, again with the snow. It was still snowing out, obviously (I already told you we were in Iowa in the middle of winter), so what do I do? I slip and fall on my butt. Yep. What did I say? Ice: pain in the ass.

The rest of this story is pretty boring, so I won’t even bother telling it to you. I did my nightly thing: Go home. Homework. Eat dinner. Homework. Get ready to rest my eyes. Homework. Fall asleep on my geometry book. Ugh. Geometry. I won’t even go into that.

Now you must be asking yourself, “Why did she even tell me any of this?” I’ll tell you why, dear reader. I told you my story for entertainment purposes and entertainment purposes only. I thought that, maybe, you might be interested in reading a day-in-the-life of me. Or, a few hours of a-day-in-the-life of me, really. When I sat down in French class, that day the people stared at me because I was lacking a coat (which, by the way, was because I think that people are wimps and I thought it was a waste of time to put my coat on for the thirty-second walk from the main hall to the language wing), the first lines of this piece fell into my mind. ‘He was staring. She was staring. They were all staring at me like I was insane—and I probably was, but not for the reason they thought.’ I knew I had to do something with them. I thought, maybe a novel about a girl who meets a guy, or loner who discovers a hidden talent, but none of my grand ideas would suffice. They were all surface-ideas. You know, the ones you think will make a fantastic story, just because the title or the first line is awesome? Yeah, those ideas. Trust me, I’ve had my fair-share of those kinds of thoughts and they are not to be tampered with. Write what you feel, what comes naturally to you. Don’t try to glorify your life, your experiences, or your writing.

So, all in all, what I’m really trying to tell you by writing this piece is: Iowa winters suck, and so does sweet corn, and so does ice in general, and so do pain-in-the-butt jerks who want to copy your French 1 homework. That’s right, people. Say what you want. Do what you want. And don’t care who gives a flip either way.

Submitted: January 04, 2009

© Copyright 2023 Catherine . All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



Nice little story.I enjoyed reading it.I remember those days.Sometimes I wish I were back in school lol.I guess on reason is because I miss band lol.I played drums in band.I thought this was a good story.I've always wanted to try to write a short story but don't think I could.The closest I came to one was the the short story poem I did "One Foggy Night."Keep up the good work Catherine.

Mon, January 5th, 2009 3:29am


Thanks. Haha, sometimes I wish I was OUT of school. Band is one good reason to stay in, though. lol.

I'm sure you could write a short story if you wanted.

Thanks for reading:)

Sun, January 4th, 2009 7:59pm


I really really liked this one...reminded me of my school days and also of the fun days as well as days filled with tensions of exams and the pressure to do well...but all in all i had fun....and this one sure made me go back to my school days....

Sun, January 11th, 2009 9:36pm


lol. Thanks! I'm glad it held a sort of nostalgia for you:)

Thanks for reading and commenting:)

Sun, January 11th, 2009 4:45pm


Oh, I feel sorry for you. People look at me strange here in Cali for not wearing a coat to walk from Art to Econ. In CALI!! It's only like 56 F here. That's not cold! So, anyway, I can imagine the stares you get.
DISTURBED IS BOMB!! Just have to say that. I saw them live this summer shortly after we stopped the state from burning.
And it's kind of weird, but I sort of felt like I was you as I was reading it, especially the comment about glasses. I have some awesome double framed glasses and people comment on how strange they are all the time. And I'm totally blind without them (well, not really. I just have no depth perception. And when you're as big of a klutz as me, it amounts to the same thing.)
And HIGH FIVE FOR WOODWINDS! I play flute! But I'm not in band, wouldn't fit into my schedule.
But I want to be in a band. I play bass too.

And I should not be allowed to have cold pills and coffee on the same days. Anyway, I just want to say I liked this. In fact, I likeyed it.

Okay, I'm leaving.

Wed, January 28th, 2009 2:55am


haha. Thanks for reading and for the comment! Good to hear from you:) Let's's my comments on your comment: Meh! 56 degrees! gah! we've only had, like, two days over freezing in about a month. Seriously, the local news channel is counting. . . And, oh yes! Disturbed! I saw them when they came here a couple years ago with Flyleaf, Stone Sour and Nonpoint. Woot! *crazy face* Okay, sorry...just had a moment, there...Yay! for nerd glasses that prevent us from falling flat on our faces and severely incapacitating ourselves! ... Sweet! That's awesome that you play flute AND bass! High five for woodwinds AND string instruments that make good use of airline cables! haha. Okay...sorry, I'm kind of hyper now too. I've been working on a speech for L.A. since about 5, all about Shaker funerals. *tired/bored dance* bleh. But, it's almost done! I just thought I'd take a quickie break and come to booksie, and what do you know! an orange box! woo-hoo! haha. and cold pills? yikes. *watches Polly bounce off wall* ...

LIKEY!!!! woo-hoo!!!!

muahaha! Thanks again!

Tue, January 27th, 2009 9:27pm


haha I enjoyed this. You took a very simple day that you said was usual for you and made it amusing and interesting. You have a unique writing style. Way to paint the ideal picture of high school life!

Thu, February 19th, 2009 10:26pm


Thank you! :)

Thu, February 19th, 2009 8:07pm

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