My Junior High School Reunion

Campbell Hall Junior High Class of 1979 –
event held November 16, 2019

 

Back in May of 2019, I reconnected with a classmate from junior high school.  The two of us have bumped into each other a number of times over the decades, so our catch-up talk last May wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been, but then my classmate mentioned the fact that he had recently seen two of our classmates for the first time since our eighth grade graduation in 1979.  This prompted a lively discussion about the fact that it had been 40 years since our junior high graduation, and progressed into toying with the idea of putting together a junior high school reunion.

I know some of you who are reading this are wondering why we were so fixated on the idea of a junior high reunion as opposed to a high school reunion, so I will give you some background on the school we attended.

I went to a school (Campbell Hall in Studio City, CA) which used to force the boys to find other schools to attend after 8th grade, creating an all-girls’ scholastic environment for those who chose to remain in the school for high school. Though I hadn’t given it any thought back then, separating the boys from the girls after junior high was pretty pivotal, given the fact that we were in that awkward pre-teen/early teen phase, not wholly sure of ourselves, and about to embark on that coming of age period which always hits a teenager like a ton of bricks.

The ladies have a good laugh!

 

After discussing the idea of a junior high school reunion further, my classmate and I decided to go for it and organize a reunion for the class.  This entailed me spending six weeks digging for 69 of the 72 classmates (minus my classmate Josh, another classmate who had passed away, and me), a task which became rather engrossing.  I was successful in finding 56 of the 69 people, and put feelers out to see who might be interested in attending such an event.

Once I contacted former classmates, it was time to plan the event.  We ended up having a wonderful 40 year junior high school reunion in November of last year, with 19 classmates attending.  In fact, it was such an enjoyable event that I hosted another, smaller event in December.

The feedback from the events was remarkable, uplifting, and gratifying.  Here are some of the messages I received from former classmates after the events.

 

I didn’t want the morning to get too far away without jotting down the quickest note to make sure before the feeling faded into getting on the 405 and going to the office on a busy Sunday, that I am grateful beyond what I am able to write (I am not good with words – 54 and still struggling not to write like a teenager) and that for an unanticipated couple of hours last night I was pulled back into a space that I had forgotten. I spoke with people I didn’t know, had forgotten or had faded to such a space as to almost never existed, but there you all were and I was happy – so happy – to be in that encouraging, fun and open space and listen and share so much – with other people that I had realized over the weeks of thinking about this, that also wanted to be there – and that was a good thought: others were like me and wanted to participate. I completely regret having felt the pressure to leave 1979 and return to 2019 and a silly job that I enjoy today (I just can’t pull off those late nights anymore and function in the office), but not as much as I did this funny sweet dream I had last night with everyone and that I could not have seen without both of you finding the inspiration and making it happen.

I want to stumble for more words and I wish I could hold this feeling of happiness and some melancholy also (often why I never try to indulge my sentimental side) – that let me revisit this sweet memory of being a 12-14 year old.

Just a million thank yous for capturing some lighting in a bottle for me – my heart is grateful.   – Steve Plutte

 

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to reconnect and catch up. I am still smiling as I think about the wonderful evening you put together. From the buttons 🙂 to hearing about what everyone has been up to, you truly provided an amazing experience not to mention a platform for us to continue the connections.

While I am trying to keep this short, I can’t end this note without sharing that my friends/family here at home have told me ENOUGH quit talking about what an impressive and fun group of people your classmates are!  – Heidi Smith 

 

I am so thankful to every single person who attended the reunion events, who believed in Josh’s and my vision of bringing everyone together after being apart for a staggering 40 years, reconnecting, and sharing some very special memories.

A True Survivor

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Copyright : guita22

Now that we are all settling into a new normal with the global COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, I’m almost thankful that I grew up in a poor household.  Because I saw my mom struggle to make ends meet as a single mother, I learned some valuable lessons about how to brave any storm.

As soon as the wave of panic and dread began to sweep across the globe amid COVID-19 concerns, my survival instinct kicked up big time. I began hunkering down, planning a strategy, a game plan.  I turned to my childhood comfort food, white rice (I limit my current consumption to a small amount of jasmine rice) to stretch out my meals, a trick I knew all too well from my childhood.

What really surprised me was how a number of extremely wealthy people I know completely buckled under the pressure, lost all their coping mechanisms, and allowed their businesses to evaporate because they didn’t want to think outside the box and re-strategize.  It was astonishing how the same people who used to intimidate me and make me feel inadequate were so quick to give up.  All the shiny things don’t matter when one suddenly has to think about how to keep a roof over one’s head and put food on the table.  Food, shelter, and essential items will always be more important than driving a fancy car or buying designer clothing.

Everything has shifted profoundly, permanently on this planet, and we are all being forced to pay attention and shift our priorities.  We miss the people we cannot see in person, which hopefully means that we will hold higher value for those friendships and bonds.  If mankind is being forced to reinvent itself, then let’s get this done!

How To Interpret Genetic Ancestry Reports

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Image ID : 111916745
Copyright : Ioulia Bolchakova

 

If you’re curious about your genetic makeup, and you are considering obtaining a DNA kit, don’t be surprised if there are some inconsistencies, especially if you order kits from more than one company.  Variations in sample populations are quite common, resulting from closely related genetic populations which may be lumped into one broad category.

The first kit I ordered was from 23andme, and the results were consistent with what I expected to find on my report.  It confirmed that I was pretty much 50% (49.6%, to be precise) Japanese, and the other 50% was mostly Hungarian, 5.6% Greek, 2.3% Italian, and1.8% German and French.  Several years later, I ordered kits from Ancestry and MyHeritage, which only served to complicate the picture.  Ancestry’s report was the most simplified, with 50% Japanese, 45% Hungarian/Eastern European, and the remainder scattered among Italian, Greek, and English.  MyHeritage reported 46% Japanese, 36.8% Eastern European (no breakdown for Hungary specifically), and the remainder broadly European with no breakdown for Greece, Italy, Germany or France.  Once I sifted through all three reports simultaneously, I was able to interpret my genetic background, but I could definitely see how some people might be thrown off by a genetic report which was too general or broad.

Genealogy Strand Genes DNA Research Genealogist Word 3d Illustration

 

One important and confounding factor to consider is that we don’t express all 50% of the DNA we get from each parent, which skews the DNA analysis even further.  The best thing to do when interpreting a genetic analysis is to take it all with a grain of salt.  The science behind genetic analysis, while mostly accurate, also has a margin of error.

If you are trying to decide on a company to use for your genetic testing, it really depends on whether your primary objective is to uncover your genetic makeup for your family’s genealogy, obtain health information, or to connect with lost family and relatives.  For those more interested in genetic health markers, 23andme constantly expands its testing, so you will get regular reports as new genetic markers are added to the list.  Ancestry and MyHeritage are both fantastic for exploring your genealogical tree, and both offer multiple resources and archived records to members.

Genetic Ancestry Tests And The Rabbit Hole

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Source: 123rf.com

If you are considering ordering and completing one of those genetic ancestry tests (popular ones are 23andme, Ancestry, and MyHeritage, all of which I have now completed), be prepared for the possibility that you might be on the crest of a journey down into the rabbit hole.  I’ve heard far too many stories of people who made startling discoveries relating to their genetic background and genealogy which at times resulted in conflict within the family.  Mysteries may unfold which leave you with more questions than you may have ever had about your family members or your ethnic makeup.

If we consider the phrase, going down the rabbit hole, we can enter said rabbit hole without thinking that the journey will be as long or as confounding as it can be.  That’s how it was for me initially, and now I find myself searching more than ever before for the puzzle pieces which could solve the many mysteries my biological father left when he died. Although I knew the circumstances surrounding my conception were akin to a soap opera, I never in my wildest imagination expected my story to unfold the way it has.

Before I dive into my own story, and wiggle through the proverbial rabbit hole, I’m going to share this passage from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”:

“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves; here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labelled `ORANGE MARMALADE’, but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.

`Well!’ thought Alice to herself, `after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!’ (Which was very likely true.)

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time?’ she said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think–‘ (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) `–yes, that’s about the right distance–but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I’ve got to?’ (Alice had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say.)”

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Copyright : Eugeniu Frimu

 

Thanks to 23andme, a half sister I had never known about contacted me at the end of January with the startling news that we were indeed siblings.  Three days after our initial contact, another half sister surfaced on the site, and we slid down the rabbit hole even farther.

It took some time for the other half sister to respond to our connection requests, but we three are all now in communication with each other.  I have met one half sister and was even able to help her celebrate her latest birthday in February.  The other half sister is lining up a visit so that we can all three see each other face to face and forge the bond we never got a chance to develop as children.

We also have a half brother whom we are trying to locate, but there are numerous barriers, including the fact that we don’t know his name or birthdate, are unaware of which country he currently resides in, and the fact that he evidently is the type of person who would not welcome the news that he has three half sisters.  I have known about this half brother since our father’s death in 1997, but he never signed up for genetic testing analysis, which means we don’t have the convenience of a genetic testing service to do make the connection for us.

We want to find out more about our family tree, but it will be difficult at best to ferret out such information because I have limited knowledge of our father’s mother tongue (Hungarian), and I have no idea who would be privy to such information.  Our father’s place of death is also a mystery, which also means that it will be challenging to discover where he was interred.

Curiouser and curiouser, indeed.

A Great Solution For Hot Flashes

Several months ago, I began using a product called Personal Summer Comfort®, an all natural supplement designed to treat hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.  I went through menopause several years ago, but my thermostat is constantly set on high, and there are times, especially when the mercury climbs outside, when I burn up like the Mojave Desert.  I know you ladies who suffer from hot flashes are well acquainted with that sudden burst of intense heat which is guaranteed to make its sufferer completely miserable.

Personal Summer Comfort® is a high potency formula featuring a combination of herbs which work in tandem to support the nervous system and alleviate those dreaded hot flashes.  Rosemary has proven effects on estrogen balance by its ability to flush the liver of estrogen while also promoting the formation of 2-hydroxy estrogens, supports thyroid function, and  lowers cortisol levels. Sage, oat straw, sarsparilla, spirulina, and kelp, substances which are known for their effectiveness in treating hot flashes and night sweats, are used in this formula as well.

I opted to try Personal Summer Comfort® in the gel-caps, but for women who have trouble swallowing capsules, there is also a liquid formulation.  About a week after I began taking this supplement, I noticed that I was able to sleep at night without fighting a strong urge to throw the covers off my body.  I also noticed that I could comfortably cruise through my day without so much as a warning mini-hot flash.  I have even been able to run a flat iron through my hair on a hot day, a task which was absolute torture before I began taking Personal Summer Comfort®.

I always use myself as a guinea pig for supplements and other products which I endorse, because I have to believe in the product in order to promote it.  Well, I can honestly say that I am a big fan of Personal Summer Comfort®, and I’m thrilled that I can now recommend a product to my menopausal patients and friends which is completely natural, safe and highly effective. 

This is also a great time to start taking Personal Summer Comfort® if you have been suffering from hot flashes, night sweats and irritability.  With summer just around the corner, we ladies need all the help we can get to stay cool and calm!

Check out Personal Summer Comfort® at:

Personal Summer Comfort Homepage

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