Wednesday, March 24, 2010




1 : a rounded knoll or hillock
2 : a ridge of ice
3 : a fertile area in the southern United States and especially Florida that is usually higher than its surroundings and that is characterized by hardwood vegetation and deep humus-rich soil

the word "knoll" immediately makes me think of that part in Clueless when Cher says to Tai, "Loadies generally hang on the grassy knoll over there. Sometimes they come to class and say bonehead things, and we all laugh of course, but no respectable girl actually dates them." but i'm not going to talk about that.

i'm going to talk about florida.

everyone in my fifth grade class had to do a report on a state. to be democratic, the teachers put all the state names into a hat and passed it around the room for us to blindly choose. i wanted so badly to get california. everyone in racebrook elementary school dreamed of the california life. most likely everyone in the entire state of connecticut did this. we wanted glamour, hollywood, sandy, white pacific beaches where the only thing blocking your rays was the occasional surfer that jogged past your towel. instead we had rocky patches of coast on long island sound, littered with old folks playing bocce ball. when the hat began it's trek around the room i crossed my fingers, praying for california.

i got florida.

to the average northeasterner florida means two things: disney world and old people. although i dreamed of traveling to fantastical places like ORLANDO or EPCOT CENTER or MAGIC KINGDOM, i knew these destinations were not in my future. they were only words i heard on TV. my family could not afford to go to places like this. we did go to the amusement park at lake quassapaug once. it had one roller coaster with no loops.

my grandmother's sister ruth and her husband mac had a winter condo in florida. they would go down there in late autumn and stay until april, avoiding the harsh connecticut winters. sometimes my grandma would go down there and stay with them for a week. one winter, mac died while they were there. ruth had to have his body shipped north. she got alzheimer's soon after and used to call our house looking for her mother. during a really bad period she was calling 40-50 times a day. we had to leave the phone off the hook.

my project on florida was pretty sad. i was bummed i didn't get california; life didn't seem fair and i was insubordinate toward my schoolwork. florida did not motivate me. part of the project was making a fake travel brochure. what i turned in was probably the most awful piece of artwork i have ever made. i drew a half-assed image of the state on a piece of cardboard and attached a slip of paper with some FUN FACTS! like the state bird (the mockingbird), the state nickname (the sunshine state), major exports (oranges and grapefruits), and a crappy drawing of the state flag. this brochure did not make florida seem like a desirable destination.

i did not include anything in my lame florida project about HUMMOCKS. i wonder if florida looks better from the peak of a hill thick with hardwood vegetation and deep humus-rich soil. i wonder if on this hill you are immune to the incessant humidity and mosquitos and grandparents. i should really rethink the travel brochure to include this concept:

Come to Sunny Florida, where you can stand on a fertile HUMMOCK overlooking a sea of condo communities while you drink a glass of Tropicana Brand Orange Juice!

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