Tuesday, October 7, 2014

MUSH: Sophomore year

 (If you're just joining us, the beginning of this series starts here. Thanks for reading!)

After 9th grade was over, I decided to try to put the past behind me. I was 15 and about to start high school. My heart had been broken, but I needed to move on. I still had a lot of life ahead of me. So the first thing I did was chop my hair:

This was my school picture but I actually did this over the summer

Scrapbook page from Super Summer and the mission trip I went on to New York between 9th and 10th grade

I had been really involved in D's youth group for a long time because that's where my crew was, but I needed to reestablish myself with our youth group at my church. We had gotten a new youth pastor, Brother Jody (aka Bro Joe) and I really liked him and was excited to go to Super Summer and a mission trip to Buffalo, New York that summer. Super Summer was pretty crappy because D was there, but the NY trip was amazing. We spent a day in the city and I have several pictures of the twin towers that I came to appreciate later. I also became really close with some of the girls in our youth group and that was needed. We drove to Buffalo, New York by the way. In a bus pulling a Uhaul. It was a loonnnngggg drive. I got to see parts of the country I had never seen before and we also went to Niagra Falls!

When school started I had another opportunity to run for student council and I was elected. I was an expert politician at this point, and used the tactics that worked: stickers, candy, and fliers. Ha! At this point student council was my "thing" and I really wanted that to be on my college resume from 7-12th grade. I also attempted to start a Christian club at Mills. We had a Christian club at NWJH called BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) and it started when we did SYATP (See You at the Pole. A national day of prayer for students.) Being a leader was important to me and also living out my faith. I was not very good at it because I often was just winging it, but I know I tried. I was also fortunate that several friends that I knew from NWJH came with me to Mills. Namely, Melissa and Casey.

Tenth grade was really amazing in the sense that there were no cliques in our grade. It was so very different from what I had been exposed to in junior high. Everyone hung out with everyone. There wasn't a ton of gossip. People were really motivated to study. And by really motivated I mean that there was an expectation that you were up every night till the wee hours of the morning studying. This was what the really smart students did. And we were all smart, but compared to others I was low on the totem pole. I enrolled in some hard classes because my other classmates were doing that, and I got in over my head quickly. The other thing I noted was that even though we were in the TAG program at Mills, there were also what we referred to as "regular" kids there. I'm honestly appalled now that we used that terminology, but we did. It was as if we were two schools in one. We didn't usually have classes with the non-TAG students. We did play sports and do extra curriculars together, but if you were in the TAG program, you were in class with other TAG kids and had TAG teachers. So that was different.

I remember after the first nine weeks I was not doing well academically. I had AP Art History and AP Biology. Most of the kids at Mills had taken pre-AP biology in 9th grade but that was not offered at our school. I signed up for AP Biology, thinking I could do it and it was hard. Science was not hard until that year for me, but I thought I was getting it and I was not. I was studying and taking notes and for the first time in my life I was failing anyway. My parents started to get super worried about me because I was so stressed and talked about pulling me out of that school, but I did not want to go back because that felt like defeat. Finally we decided that I would move classes, but there was no more room in the pre-AP biology class so I got moved to "regular" biology, which was a non-tag class. What was pitiful is that TAG kids started making fun of me for that. Like I was demoted or something. It was crazy. I learned so much in that class though and had zero regrets that I moved. I think you can begin to see the pattern of competition though in the kids in the TAG program. I'm pretty sure that even though my dream was having a decent GPA and a long list of extra-curriculars for college scholarships and such, my classmates were dreaming of a 4.0 or higher, (if you took AP classes, your grade was weighted so an A was a 5.0 and a B was a 4.0, etc. so you could technically have over a 4.0 at graduation and many did) a perfect ACT and PSAT score, and all 5s on their AP tests for that college credit. Yeah. I was in a whole nutha league. In my mind it was still better than all the drama I had dealt with the previous three years though. At least I was with people who were focused on school and not other people. For the first time in my life, I was doing life with people who were focused and mature and determined in their education and I liked that.

But we played too...

Our friend Klansee hosted a Halloween party that year. That was the first time I had dressed up for Halloween in  years. It was also a good opportunity to get to know some people better.

D was at school with me but I only had a couple of classes with him and that was good. I also felt like since we were both outside of our element, the pain wasn't as intense as it had been. And other boys were paying attention to me which felt good. I know that I pined away for him though. For far longer than I care to admit. He was my first love and I don't know how anyone ever gets over that easily. Well, at least not if you were on the receiving end of the break up.

Another thing that was different is I rode the bus to school many days. Our school was a solid 30 minute drive from my house, without traffic, and riding the bus it took us over an hour to get to school. In addition I had the crazy bus driver from hell who went out of his way to hit pot holes, and curbs, and brake hard, and drive too fast so that we were slung around all over that ever lovin bus. I actually got car sick on more than one occasion. We also sold our house out in the country and moved for a few months into a rental house in town. In 1999 (second semester of 10th grade) we bought what I would call my dream house in town, on a lake, in a beautiful neighborhood with gigantic houses.

My 16th birthday was approaching and I was desperately hoping for a car. Melissa got a car and rubbed it in my face daily. I kind of thought I wouldn't get a car though and since it had been so long since I had a dog of my own, I told my parents that if I couldn't have a car that I wanted a dog.

Me and Tippy

So for my 16th birthday I got Tippy. And that little dog is now old and senile and partially deaf and blind and still running around my house at 15 years old. Ha! She has been an excellent companion.

scrapbook page from my 16th birthday

My friend Jenny convinced me to run for the Miss Mills Pageant in the spring. I had been in a pageant only once when I was like 4 and so I had no clue what I was doing. You have to do a talent and wear an evening gown and a casual outfit and do an interview question. I have no earthly idea why I decided to do it because it stressed me to the max. Casey actually choreographed a really awesome tap dance for me to do. I doubt I did it well, but I did get on that stage and do it.

 My parents bought me a beautiful (and expensive) teal colored dress that fit perfectly. I felt confident during my interview and I know I did my best. My aunt was screaming my name while I was dancing though which was super humiliating.


At the end of the day my sweet friend Kelsea (who was a year older than me) was crowned Miss Mills, my friend Jenny was given second runner up, and I was awarded Miss Congeniality. In truth I think winning that meant more to me than anything because it was voted on by the contestants.

We also had good times at my house. My room in the new house was painted lime green and I loved it with a deep and heartfelt kind of love. It was my first room to decorate myself and I was super proud of it.

This is Chad, Casey, and Liz in my room. This photo was taken with this really cool Polaroid camera that produced pictures the size of negatives. I had lots of fun with it. You can see the art on the walls too. I really came to love art history while in that class that year. I still have a passion for it.

Me and Lisser (Melissa). At this point we had been friends for over 10 years. Thanks for asking me to sit by you on that first day of kindergarten friend. 

Casey, Me and Melissa at a pool party the summer after 10th grade. Oh what I would give for that body again. Gracious.

Scrapbook page from M-fuge. I went to M-fuge (now Fuge) for the first time the summer after 10th grade. Fuge is a church camp where you spend your days doing mission work/ministry in the community where your camp is, and at night you have a traditional camp. I went for three years and it was AWESOME.

Family picture at Six Flags. The boy on the left is my brother's friend Scott who became a little brother to me too.

I haven't talked much about my family. There was a lot of change that started happening my 10th grade year. My dad had wanted to move our family to Jonesboro for his job and was met with a lot of resistance from  us. I remember having a fight with my mom one night and her divulging that the reason dad wanted to go was something unbearable for me to handle at that point. She dropped a bomb on me. My image of my dad changed that night and all the lies I was already believing combined with the unfiltered knowledge my mom had just shared made it very difficult for me to truly respect my dad for a while after that. My mom truly became my best friend at that point. I confided in her and defended her and kept her secrets, which were many. We didn't move to Jonesboro, but to the new house on the lake. I also found out during that time that the reason we had sold our other house was to get out of credit card debt. My parents made a big production about talking to us about debt and how fast it can ruin you and to never do that. I was always really responsible with money and even felt the gravity of the things my mom bought me or I asked for, so the lesson stuck.

The summer after 10th grade, I got a blue Chevy Cavalier. My dad surprised me with it one night at church. I was so ridiculously excited about that car. So I started driving a lot more. I feel like my relationship with Spencer changed a lot this year and we became close. He became a friend instead of my annoying little brother. He would ask me to drive him places and I did. I loved hanging out with him and his buddies. He and Scott were so freaking hilarious (and still are) and would make home movies. I dearly wish I could see some of those home movies again and Youtube them.

Spencer played baseball and that summer I was a score keeper at the baseball fields. This was my first real job. I also took on a job that summer babysitting two kids from the town I lived in. I had my own checking account and Dad told me it was my job to put gas in my car. Gas that summer was, I kid you not, around .62 cents a gallon, so filling my tank up cost like $12 bucks. Oh to have gas that cheap again!

At the baseball fields I started noticing this umpire named Ricky. He was super cute and kind of flirted with me too. We became friends and started talking and hanging out a lot. He went to a different school than me but I was thankful for his friendship that continued for many years. And that's really what it was, even though I wanted more at the time.

My mom's started having migraine headaches sometime around this point in my life. I remember we began to really worry about her because she started to act strange during her headaches. I felt very protective of my mom and I remember one night we all went to the baseball field except mom. I left the game early to come home and check on her. As I walked through the garage door into the kitchen, I saw mom coming into the kitchen from the living room. Her hand was shaking badly and she had a really strange look on her face. In a split second she put her plate on the counter and then went to her knees and then hit the ceramic tile floor. She tried to get up but her chin was spewing blood. I absolutely freaked out. I remembered my first aid class that we took in 9th grade and grabbed a towel to put pressure on her gaping wound. My primary concern was her. She seemed like someone who had really low blood sugar. She couldn't talk and was having tremors. I didn't know whether to call 911 or what to do, so I ran next door to get help. Our neighbor came and helped me get mom in the car so I could drive her to the hospital. We literally had to carry her to the car. I was terrified. Dad met me at the hospital and the doctors ran lots of tests and the only thing they could figure out was that mom had low Potassium. They stitched her up and ran Potassium through the IV and sent her home.

I honestly was worried that something very serious was wrong with my mom. She had preached my whole life that I needed to be thankful I had her because she lost her mom, and I was suddenly facing the very real possibility that she could die. We didn't understand what was happening, but that episode repeated itself many times. She had lots of migraines and I started to pick up much more responsibility around the house: cleaning, cooking, going grocery shopping, running errands, etc.

That's what good daughters do, right?


  1. I love the Shana stories!! And the Christian group at NWJH was BASIC-- brothers and sisters in Christ

  2. Replies
    1. Uhh, of course! You were my buddy! How are you bro?


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