Tag Archives: school days

Throwback Thursday: Highlights from 1997


In the fall of 1997, I was a senior in high school. I was not academically inclined, so I had quite a few study hall periods between all my art classes. If I wasn’t hard at work on my next weekly sketch, I was bent over a spiral notebook, spilling my deepest thoughts onto the page.

Here’s a glimpse into my mind at that time. My thoughts of today are in italics.

9.17.97 It’s D-lunch study hall again and I have nothing to do. Ok, so I was dreaming about our future house, my room specifically and I want to paint the ceiling a dark purplish blue color and get a ton of those little sticky glow in the dark stars to put on it. That would be SO cool. Ok, I legit think this would still look really cool. What can I say, I’m 7 years old at heart. Still, the idea of painting over that is what keeps me from ever doing it. 

9.18.97 I really have to go to the bathroom- if you know what I mean. I feel like my hair is absolutely repulsive. It’s funny, I’m always so concerned about what I look like but I never notice much about what other people look like. I don’t know what I meant by the first sentence. Maybe I had to go #2. And my hair was pretty much the best it was ever going to look in those days.

9.24.97 People really need to come equipped with brake lights, turn signals and warning signs. After walking to study hall, weaving my way in and out of clumps of slow or non-moving people, I wish there was some way to know what the person in front of me was planning to do. It’s very annoying to be walking behind someone who keeps slowing down, or worse yet, spins around to go in a different direction. Maybe I’m just a klutz, but I crash into so many people, it’s ridiculous. This was before I was a licensed driver, and so I did not know then that all the turn signals, brake lights and signage in the world would still not help you really know what the hell the slowing driver in front of you is going to do.

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My proprietary design for adding signaling features to humans beings… and apparently removing their hands in the process.

10.6.17  Well, it’s been a while since I wrote. I really don’t feel much like writing, but Mrs. Hadeka says that 95% of what even the greatest writers write is just junk. So here I am trying to make the 95% junk.  This is great! I’ve definitely kept up cranking out a lot of junk over the years. 

11.5.97 I was just walking down the hallway and I came around the corner and this girl was talking to a teacher about some quiz or something. The teacher said “92” and the girl went “YES!” and pulled back her arm. I was thinking how funny it would be if she elbowed me as I walked by. I still crack myself up with these kinds of thoughts…. like “what if such and such happened?” and then I will laugh to myself and people wonder about me. 

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11.6.97 Well, my skirt is coming along pretty good (disregarding the fact that I had to stop working on it because it got stuck in the sewing machine and I can’t get it out.) I laughed so hard I cried when I read this just now. That skirt was a sexy crushed blue velvet number that I was so proud of once I got it unstuck from the sewing machine. I wore it for years!

12.16.97 This morning was a bit weird.  had to make up the Chem test that I missed last week, and the sophs who were in the classroom when I went in were dissecting fetal pigs. Ewww. What a horrible thing to do. What do they do, get a pregnant sow and open her up and take out the fetus? What do they do with the sow? Eat her? How gross! That makes me so sad. What is up with the world today? Yes, I was a bit naive at this time. I don’t know why it didn’t cross my mind that sows actually had litters of piglets, so it wasn’t like a one-fetal-pig-per-sow ratio. And duh, they obviously would have gotten them from the meat-packing industry when they killed the pregnant sows. Of course I still think it’s a horrible practice, but we’ve got a long way to go before people give up their precious meats.



Well, that in a nutshell was my view of the world in 1997. Pretty sheltered, yes. Of course I left out a lot of my deepest blatherings… the “Why doesn’t he like me as much as I like him?”, and “I can’t believe I thought he liked me, I’m so stupid.” Ya’ll don’t need to be reading that.

Everybody’s Got Something


It is the first day of first grade. I’m decked out in my favorite dress (blue, of course) with matching barrettes in my hair. I haven’t yet grown to dread the bus ride or the seemingly endless succession of school days that lie ahead. I climb onto the mostly empty bus, take a seat about halfway back and wave goodbye to Mommy.

Down our road and around the corner is a new housing development with lots of young kids. As the bus nears the stop, the kids scurry to pick up backpacks and lunch boxes and cluster in a group by the curb. They pile onto the bus and I take note of the familiar faces. There’s Dana and Chrissy and Emilee, all girls from my class last year. There are a lot of older kids I don’t know, and a couple of the boys sneer at me as they pass my seat, but I do my best to look past them and connect with my friends. I see a bald head pass by… who is that? Her eyelids are droopy and she looks barely awake. Even though I had not heard of cancer before then, it is clear to me that this girl is very sick.

As we travel on to school I begin to wonder where my friend Jessica is. I hadn’t seen her get on the bus. Then something dawns on me. I turn to look at the mysterious sick girl sitting a couple of seats back and realize that it’s her. She looks almost nothing like the energetic, goofy girl I remembered from kindergarten.

I soon learned that Jessica had leukemia and that the chemotherapy had temporarily taken her hair and her energy. In the years to come, I would find out that the treatments for her leukemia had done a lot of damage to her body. She ended up enduring more gruesome medical treatments than I ever did. Yet through the years she always seemed to have a smile and a positive attitude.

I wish I could say that knowing Jessica put my own troubles in perspective. Perhaps it did a little bit, but I still spent a lot of time feeling overly self-conscious about my looks. Jessica’s hair eventually grew back and by then she was energetic and bubbly once again. Those of us who were closer to her saw the scars from her heart surgery, and understood that her kidneys and bladder had also been damaged from the treatment.

Looking back as an adult, it is horrifying to comprehend all that Jessica went through. As if having leukemia and chemotherapy wasn’t awful enough, the process of ridding her little body of cancer essentially ruined the rest of it. While I was having plastic surgery done on my face, she was having open-heart surgery. While I was taking antibiotics to battle my ever-present ear infections, she was taking medication to keep her body from giving out way too early.

When we went on an overnight class trip, she asked me to help her put on a diaper before bed. Due to the kidney/bladder damage from chemo, she was already incontinent at the age of 11. Meanwhile, I just needed to take out my dental appliance and clean it, put some Vaseline on my eyes to keep them from being stuck shut in the morning, and put my ear drops in. Despite my ever-present self-consciousness, and her seeming lack thereof, I did not want to trade places with Jessica.

Perhaps it is an unfair comparison. Really the only thing we had in common medically was knowing that being in the hospital meant you were in for some kind of pain and suffering. Luckily for me, mine usually only lasted a few weeks post-op and then I was back to normal.

Many years later, I was browsing an online newspaper from my childhood hometown. Amazingly I came across an article about Jessica. Through this article I learned that she’d had a successful heart transplant. It took my breath away to know she’d gone through this. I now know that she is married and that she and her husband adopted several children. Considering what she went through, it’s amazing that she is still alive. Talk about strength and perseverance!

So why do I share this story? Perhaps Jessica’s situation impacted me more than I knew. Despite all that she went through, she never gave up. Perhaps it helps me remember that no matter how bad you think you have it, you can always find someone who’s got a rougher road.

It’s not even always about physical stuff either. There are so many people who’ve got invisible hurt going on. You just never know what others might be dealing with, or may have gone through in the past.

Maybe you were born missing a body part or two. Or maybe some body parts didn’t form right. Maybe your parents got divorced when you were little. Maybe you never even knew your biological parents. Perhaps on the outside, your family seems “normal” and happy, but there is anger, bitterness and grief. Maybe you never learned how to deal with your emotions. Maybe you’ve got a chemical imbalance and you can’t control your thoughts or your behavior like other people can. The list goes on.

What it all comes down to is, everybody’s got something. I’ve often wondered if anyone really does have it worse than anyone else, or if it all evens out somehow in the end. What do you think?