My high school mascot was a pretzel.

I know.

It gets worse. Thisand middle-child statusexplains a lot of my issues.

On the upside, you won’t find my alma maters in the fray of mascot-related rhetoric lately making news. Ex: “You can eat us but you can’t beat us!” and rival schools trampling pretzels by the bagful is as controversial as it gets in Pretzel City, USA.

Life as a Pretzel, you ask? I didn’t keep a diary in the 1900s (chronology my kids love to remind me of), but if I did, high school might have read something like thiswith an abundance of misspelled words:

8 February

Dear Diary,

It’s over. The season. My life.

I lost the game for us. Seconds left. Me with the ball. Freshman-me. Why ME? So much noise. “Pretzel Power” cheers from the stands. I see Michelle but there’s a defender between us. She looks like Brenda on 90210.

Why didn’t I just shoot? Did the DUMBEST THING EVER and telegraphed it! I NEVER telegraph it. She steals the ball and it’s over. I threw our season away. I threw it away to BRENDA! Can’t go back tomorrow. Can’t. I HATE Brenda.

February 10

Dear Diary,

Seniors were cool about the game. Didn’t blame me. Got Pretzel Pride Awards for making it to regionals! Mom and Dad are framing it!!!

February 12

Dear Diary,

Gulf War = weird. CNN is all-the-time news. Bomb strikes over and over, then commercials and it’s cat food or Mr. Clean. Then back again with the bombs. Hope no one’s in those buildings. Guess they’re the enemy.

Are they?

Jesus said love your enemy, right? Like the Samaritan? Second grade Sunday school FLANNELGRAPHS!! The beat-up guy looked so gross.

Stomach hurts again today.

February 13


Tomorrow = V-Day! Wonder if I’ll get a carnation in homeroom? Best school fundraiser besides those chocolate bars w/caramel inside. Yum.

Pink = friendship  Red = love  White = secret admirer

What if he sends me a pink one and we’re just friends?????

February 14

Dear Diary,

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!!!!!

White! Got to homeroom SHAKING. 6 WHITE FLOWERS on my desk! Secret admirer?? I’m freaking out, then I see him on the way to 1st hour. He’s like, “They were supposed to be RED!” ♥♥♥

So NOT friends—but in a REEEEEEALY GOOD way! Held my hand all the way to Biology!! Protozoa.

Sorta cool: Got my name in the Pretz News for the game even though we lost.

PS: AND he walked me to lunch! ♥♥


Lest you think I had reached my nadir with Pretzel, this next blurb on my mascot resume is so bad I usually skip it. Pretzel, at least, is a conversation starter. But this is the Mudroom, so I’m coming clean with my conversation stopper. I give you college at the end of the 20th century, via email (which was all the new rage) . . . and with minimal spelling errors thanks to that small miracle, SPELLCHECK.

To a friend . . .

Fri 9/14 7:51 PM

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!  Waving from across the lab!

Loving electronic mail! This guy from HS just sent me the entire script of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Preseason started. Officially a Crusader!

Never thought being a Pretzel in high school was a thing, but my new teammates think it’s insane and now it’s my nickname. Is it that bad? Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Crusaders . . . Pretzels. What’s the big deal?

Guess growing up Pretzel was my not-quite-so-normal norm. All relative, right?

Tue 10/1 7:11 PM

Girls on my floor are doing that spiritual journal thing. You? Feels like I should.

So weird we can’t dance here. Not sure how that makes you a better Christian. We do it anywaymy suitemates and I. Don’t tell!

Just heard 1-East has a “90210 Underground” viewing on Mondays in someone’s room. Want to go? I won’t tell!

Mon 1/12 7:23 PM

Cramming break!! Only my 5th tonight.

See the paper today? They replaced “Crusaders” with “Mastodons” on every page. Yep, editorial staff protesting “mascot insensitivity.” SO they pick the most embarrassing object on campus possible!! I walk past that thing on the way to Geology 3x a week. If THAT becomes our new mascot, I’ll die.

I REFUSE to be a Mastodon. Not like it’s a pretzel or anything! Ha!

Speaking of ancient and dying!!!!  – History of Civ. exam tom. up through Middle Ages. Dang. Lots of wars. Black Plague. Lots of deaths. Millions. How can a war be called “Holy”? Tried to study during chapel this morning, but the speaker kept interrupting me. (How rude!!) “Love your neighbor” served up a bit differently. Did you skip?

Mon 1/19 4:31 PM

Dropped the spiritual journal. No time AND it was more about who I liked than who I should love. Heh. Glad the newspaper finally gave up. Once a Crusader always a Crusader!

See you tonight for 90210 Underground??????


A new century, two C-sections and one iPhone later . . . still there were elephants lurking in my mascot closet. (Mixed metaphor intended.)

Texts to an old college friend:

Mon, Sept 1, 9:03 AM

First day of school!! No tears! He beelined for the dinosaurs at preschool. She was out of my arms and into 2nd grade! Sigh.

LUV this place! Kids with fams from all over the world. Reppin with the school shirt:

I know!!!! But it’s NOT a skunk. NOT!

Can’t wear the preschool one. WON’T! I draw the line at “Tortoise.”


Tuesday, Dec 17, 3:33 PM

@ school, waiting for firstborn pickup.

Cool: Was reading little guy a Christmas storybook. Woman across keeps 😊. Asks about it. She’s wearing a hijab. She’s still 😊asks more ?s. Got to say a bit about Jesus as a baby. It was good. Hope we talk again. Maybe I’ll ask her some ?s. Glad I didn’t have my old Crusader T-shirt on = awkward.

Wed, Oct 12, 1:04 PM

FINALLY!! You hear!??? Changed it: Crusaders to Thunder. Proud of the alma mater, but: Now it’s a SOUND . . .

At LEAST they vetoed Mastodon. Loud noise—beats tragic war & 30 million-year-old elephant.

Husband WILL tease. He should talk. His INTIMIDATING mascot:

Our kids clearly have our DNA! Drove by their future HS yesterday:

For real! No chance with us as parents. Generational sin!

Convo w/kids years from now: “Sorry, Luvat least you’re not a sound, a food commodity sold at 7-Eleven or a semiaquatic, buck-toothed rodent.” Then again, do they sell gyros at 7-Eleven? Would they use real lamb tho???


Now approaching the quarter century mark with all of its twists and turns, and I’m finding some things actually do come full circle . . . mascots, journals, 90210. And maybe a thing or two about love:

16 Mar 16, 2019

Trying this “spiritual journal” thing again after like a million years.  Needing to process all the things b/c none of the things make any sense. Is that why “old” is synonymous with “grey”?

Shooting at Christchurch mosquesheart breaking, maddening. 51 dead. So much hate in the name of religion. Thinking about the woman I met at school pickup a few years back. Does she even feel safe anymore? Does anyone? Have we made NO progress since the Middle Ages? In ANYTHING??

Wonder what Jesus was thinking of when he answered the religious lawyer with the Good Samaritan story. Was he thinking of the Crusades, the cotton fields, the concentration camps? 9-11?

Was He thinking of this?

8 August, 2019

Watched part of the 90210 Reunion yesterday. Painful! Brenda . . . still sucks. But it’s less fun to think so. (Part of me actually feels sorry for her!)

In other high school drama: reunion invite arrived today. Maybe I’ll go someday. Once a Pretzel always a Pretzel. 😊

13 October, 2019

Frustrated driving home. Car ahead of me was crawling. Fought the urge to tail it. Then remembered something the Mr. sometimes says,

“It’s like when you’re on the road: People passing you are ‘reckless, speeding, dangerous!’ And the ones driving slower than you are ‘too cautious, too conservative, too distracted by their phones.’ But you, dear, are always going the perfect speed.”

Is life really all that relative to me?

Beaver trumps Pretzel. DAM! 😉 Hate it when he’s right.

18 August, 2020

Washington franchise is FINALLY dropping Redskins!!! A bit of light in this dark pandemic. What’s taken so long? This is a BIG DEAL. More to follow, I hope.

Reading about the Good Samaritan parable in Leslie Verner’s book, Invited. Her words keep haunting me. She says, “Walk your Jericho Road.” A lifetime of looking at Luke 10, and I’ve never actually pictured myself IN the narrative. Not me. I much prefer driving (not walking) on by with the AC on, the volume up, and the doors locked.

How many times have I been too cautious or reckless, too conservative or liberal with my speed, or too distracted by my phone to notice who or what is face down in the ditch?

How many have I passed on by?

SO twisted.

SO wrong.


I’m so sorry.

Time to get out and walk—with You.


Header Image Credit: congerdesign from Pixabay

Nichole Woo
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