Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Top 25 Memories of High School

Top 25 Memories of High School
(Thomas Jefferson Patriots)

25.) Mornings in the auditorium. This place was the first stop of my mornings. It is the place where Tina, Susan, Gladis, Jeanette and I (along with a bunch of our other friends) would catch up, joke around and basically get ourselves into a good mood for the day that lay ahead of us. And while I don’t remember all the things we chattered about on those mornings, I remember lots of smiling and laughing and that’s why it sticks out in my mind.

24.) Getting caught cutting through the field during the TJ mile. I don’t think very many of the cheerleaders actually enjoyed the TJ mile, but it was one of those things that had to be done. I can’t remember exactly who it was, but I think it may have been Christy who decided we could cut across the football field and get it done sooner and that no one would notice. Boy was she wrong! Somehow we got caught and I remember for a few times after that, Ms. Cadigan would follow us in her car to make sure we ran the ENTIRE mile.

23.) Singing in the choir. Whether it was singing in show choir with Ms. McIntyre or the women’s choir with Ms. Kiefer, there was something magical about being surrounded by music. Music has always been a big passion of mine and being part of a choir was an awesome experience. Hearing everyone singing in harmony would send chills down my spine. I sung with the choir at two graduations (one of which was my own) and even got to compete at UIL one year. However, my favorite performance was always the Christmas show.

22.) Spirit Week. Hawaiian Day, Twin Day, Tacky Day, etc…seeing everyone show their school spirit during homecoming week was fun, but breaking the dress code was even more fun! Sadly, because the dress code changed so drastically when I was a senior, we did not get to celebrate that week as we used to. *tear*

21.) Finding out crazy or funny stories about other people. It was always fun to listen to stories that happened either before I started at TJ or just the things I never got to see with my own eyes. For example, I heard from someone in my newspaper class that Leslie Lewis once called 911 on Ms. Blakely’s classroom phone. Perhaps the most infamous story that preceded me was the Nina Castro incident and how she fell during a stunt and broke one (or some) of her teeth. Somehow stories like those always made me feel less awkward.

20.) Breaking my tailbone. While I am on the subject of awkwardness, I might as well bring this incident up. The story of how I broke my tailbone (or “broke my butt” as some so delicately put it) isn’t very interesting (I fell down the stairs at home and my backside broke my fall, if you will), but what followed has its place in my memory bank. I remember that the doctor told me there wasn’t really any way to cast that area so I was supposed to sit on this donut-shaped pillow. Needless to say, this was pretty embarrassing, and although I was in excruciating pain, there was no way I was going to lug that pillow around school. Instead, I took a small square shaped pillow to school and used that. I was still teased about my broke butt (although, in my mind, not as badly as if I had chosen to use the donut pillow) and it even won me an award (“Person who broke her butt bone and lived to tell about it”) in my newspaper class.

19.) The crazy, kooky teachers at TJ. The teachers I had at TJ (and even some of the ones I didn’t have) will always hold a special place in my memories. Just to name a few: Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez, Ms. Lowe, Ms. Turek, Mr. Speer, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Trevino, Mr. Summers, Ms. Cadigan, Ms. Gay, Mrs. Distin, Mr. Hughes, Ms. Hinds, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Trevino, Ms. Bryan, Ms. Watkins and many others. They were all amazing educators and you could see they all truly cared about us students, even on a personal level. I will never forget any of them.

18.) The rivalry with W.T. Who? This rivalry was one of the many things I loved about TJ. I remember they burned down our guardhouse one year and spray painted some of the portables another year, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most was when we stole their Longhorn banner and painted it TJ colors and hung it up in front of the school. Even though Ms. Wilson was mad, you could tell that Mr. Dupree thought it was funny although he did make the seniors take it down. W.T., W.T., W.T Who! Who!

17.) The Holocaust studies class. Ms. Cadigan taught this class beginning my junior year, I believe. It was an elective that I decided to take because I honestly didn’t know much about it. It always seemed as though it was but a mere blurb in our history books when discussing World War II and I wanted to know more. Although it was not easy material to take in or digest, it was an eye-opening experience. I learned so much about tolerance and the power of influence on people. I feel as though I learned a much deeper lesson than the simple facts and tidbits that most people learn of. I will carry those lessons with me forever.

16.) Walking on air stunt. I am unclear on all the details of this memory, but I believe it was during the time I had just made it into the JV Cheerleading squad. I think we were practicing a stunt and Sabrina Sariles was the flyer. Something went wrong, however, and she fell (I think she may have even hurt herself). But, being the kind of person Sabrina was, she joked about it and called it her “walking on air” stunt. I think this sticks out in my mind because Sabrina was someone who I looked up to when I was just starting out in cheerleading.

15.) Lipids. When I had Ms. Mitchell for Biology, Jerome Williams was in my class and every answer for every question asked was always “lipids.” It always used to crack me up and actually it still does. Ms. Mitchell probably thought he was crazy…hmmm, maybe she hit on something there.

14.) Winning 3rd place in the science fair (9th grade). Everyone always assumed I was this goody-two-shoes nerd who loved doing homework and assignments, but in reality, I was a huge procrastinator. I absolutely hated doing science projects and as per my habit, I put it off until the very last minute. The day before the project was due, I was at my boyfriend's house, furiously typing away as well as trying to create my graphs and charts. I stayed at his house until I had to return home, and the project still wasn't complete. By this time, I was supposed to be heading off to bed, but I still had to affix everything I had typed onto the board. So, there I am, sitting in the closet with the light off and the door slightly ajar (so I could have some light), permanent marker in hand, putting the finishing touches on my board. When I got to school the next morning, I looked at everyone else's board and suddenly felt extremely embarrassed because they had decorated their boards so nicely. Mine, on the other hand, was black and white. Black type, white copy paper and black permanent marker, with crooked and sloppily written headers. At this point, I was hoping to simply receive a passing grade on this assignment. At the end of the day, imagine my surprise when they announced my name as 3rd place winner for my grade level. All I can say is that it must have been extremely well-written or I was just a master at BS'ing my way through that because I was certainly not expecting that. In fact, would you like to know a secret? I procrastinated so much that I never even had time to do the actual experiment! What do you think of this nerd now?

13.) Code names for crushes. This may seem a tad bit goofy, but then again, so were my friends and I so I guess it's pretty fitting. We were a loud bunch (to say the least) and we figured if anyone ever overheard us or if our letters to each other ever fell into the wrong hands, they wouldn't be able to figure out whom we were referring to. So, we came up with code names for our crushes, usually relating to some event we saw them at or associated them with. For example, there was a football player that I had a crush on who was a white boy. And seeing as how there weren't many white students at TJ, he became known as "White Boy" (hey, I never said we were very imaginative). There was another guy who was a band member that one of us had a crush on and we called him "Nacho Boy" because he worked the nacho booth at the Cowboy games. I know I will remember these nicknames always.

12.) Working with the special needs students. This is probably one of my fondest memories of high school. There was a group of the special needs students that liked to watch the cheerleaders practice and perform, but one girl who loved it more than anybody. Her name was Hai Tai and she thought the cheerleaders were the best. We watched her, day after day, watching us and decided to invite her to practice with us. She practiced some of our cheers and I think we may have even tried a simple stunt with her. She had so much fun and we loved the energy and spirit she added to our squad. We had her perform with us at the pep rallies and she even got her own TJ cheerleading uniform. We garnered enough attention that the Dallas Morning News even did a story about us. When they asked me why the students at TJ seemed to be so accepting of her when a lot of other schools might have turned up their noses at her, I simply replied that we were such a diverse group of students, accepting her was simply a natural reaction for us. I will always cherish this particular memory because she brought out the best not only in myself, but in everyone at TJ. I have never been prouder.

11.) When the JV football team was better than the Varsity team. When I was a sophomore, I was a JV cheerleader and didn't know much about cheerleading or (honestly) football, either. I learned a lot from the JV footballs players and was able to finally understand a sport I enjoyed. What was most fun about being a JV cheerleader, however, was that our JV football team was spectacular. While it wasn't really recognized at first, by mid-season, we had a lot more people showing up to support the team at the games. The funniest thing was that there were a couple of Varsity cheerleaders who were envious of us JV cheerleaders because our football team was doing better than theirs. When I think about how much I wanted to be a Varsity cheerleader, it made me grin from ear to ear knowing that they wanted to trade places with us. Sure, it was because of the guys, but hey, it was a good feeling anyway.

10.) Bus rides to the football games. Eventually, I did make the Varsity cheerleading squad and one of my favorite things about it was riding the bus to the football games. We shared the bus with the Liberty Belles (drill team) and we always had so much fun together. We would sing silly songs and joke and talk, get ourselves fired up to do our "thang" when we got to the football field. It's such a wonderful feeling being part of a team and there was always a sense of togetherness and excitement on those bus rides. We even sang to the bus driver! How much fun is that?!

9.) Meet and greet with the opposing team's cheerleaders (going to the other side). The cheerleaders were definitely a fun and goofy group of girls and we always had tons of fun at the football games. One of my favorite things about the football games was going to visit the cheerleaders of the opposing team. To add to the fun, we always gave each other "alter ego" (if you will) names. They were supposed to be names that were either stereotypical "white girl" or names that couldn't possibly be ours. Anyway, we'd go over to their side and we'd do one of our cheers and then we'd take them to our side and they would perform one of theirs. I thought it was exciting meeting other cheerleaders, but what I loved most was the song we would sing on our way over to the other side. Normally, we would link our arms and start walking and singing (the captain would start it off and we'd all echo afterwards), "O-la, O-la, A! Roll now, roll to the beat now. I don't know...just what is...cheerleaders are crazy...they be wearin them daises! (cheerleaders are goofy...cause their hair is so poofy...cheerleaders are can throw em and toss em...cheerleaders are spastic...they can stretch like elastic...cheerleaders have come on let's hear it!) So, the first part would repeat and we'd change the ending (I put all of the ones I could remember in parentheses). It was a funny song that I won't ever be able to forget, but I love it!

8.) Making Varsity. When I first tried out for cheerleading, although I would have loved to be on Varsity, I was simply hoping to make the squad, period. When I made the JV squad, I was ecstatic.I enjoyed cheering and I learned so much from the other cheerleaders. All in all, it was a great first year. However, the second year I tried out, I had my sights set on Varsity. Unfortunately, I just couldn't pull it off to make the Varsity squad and I was devastated. After a few tears and a few pep talks, I was ready to make the best out of what I had been given. You see, although I didn't make Varsity, I was the top JV cheerleader so I had done a lot of improving since I first made the squad. That gave me the confidence boost I needed to go forward. I did catch a break, though, when one of the Varsity cheerleaders had to quit the squad. Since I was top JV, I had the opportunity to join the Varsity squad, if I so desired. Of course, I made the decision to join in and it was one of the happiest days in high school. I know some people may think it's silly, but I loved the uniforms, loved the other cheerleaders and couldn't wait to partake in the perks of being a Varsity cheerleader. That was one time I can always recall that I felt as if I was floating on air.

7.) Pep rallies. By nature, I am not a morning person, but there was always one morning that I was more than happy to hop out of bed for. That day was pep rally day. Since most of my high school memories involve cheerleading, this should be a no-brainer. The thing I loved most about the pep rallies was the energy and excitement in the air. I never felt as invigorated than when I was in the gym getting ready to cheer my booty off. Something about the entire school body (give or take) getting hyped up for the game that night (or weekend), the band playing the national anthem and the competitiveness between the upper and lower classmen never made me feel so alive.

6.) Homecoming. Homecoming week was one of the most awesome weeks of the entire high school year. And it wasn't only about the dance either. There was spirit days, decorating the halls, the big pep rally and of course, the game and dance. It was amazing walking down the halls that were lovingly decorated by the student body and having the pep rally in the auditorium, not to mention that it was during the last period of the day! I was weighed down by the mums I wore and got to perform special cheers reserved solely for homecoming week. And at the game, you got to see past graduates, which was always fun. I think that if you ever participated in any of the above activities, I don't have elaborate much more than that.

5.) Helping Tina with her captain audition. My best friend in high school was Tina Gomez. While I was in cheerleading, she spent her time in the Flag corp. It was sad not being able to share that time with her, but we always cheered (excuse the pun) each other on. She told me that she wanted to try out for captain of the Flag corp and I was super excited for her because I knew she would make it. She asked me to help her come up with a routine and while she needed no help with tossing that flag around, I helped her to come up with some moves. What we ultimately decided on was a few dance moves and used a chair as a prop. I even remember the song we used for the routine (an NSync song called, "It makes me ill")! It turned out to be absolutely fabulous and of course, she made captain! Even though this memory involved someone else's joy, for me, it is an interchangeable feeling. Her joy was my joy. That's the way it was and the way it will always be.

4.) Prom. I have no doubt in my mind that this would make the top ten of almost anybody's list of high school memories, but it definitely sticks out in my mind. It was a night I will never forget. The first component of this magical evening was my dress and his tux. I went shopping with my mom prior to the event and was having a hard time finding something I liked. I didn't want to have a dress like everyone else's and I also wanted to make sure it was flattering on me. I ended up choosing this black dress that had beautiful lacing on it and some sparkly, shining pieces on it as well. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and it was a perfect fit! I knew that I had found "the" dress. My date's tuxedo was a simple, yet elegant black tux with a silver vest. The most fascinating thing about our choices was that the colors of the prom were black and silver! Our pictures were stunning and I loved how we matched perfectly with the background. The second component was the company. I had such a wonderful time dancing with my friends, laughing and enjoying some of our last moments of high school. The last component to a practically perfect evening was the last song played at the prom. The DJ choose K-Ci and Jo Jo's "All My Life" and that was our (me and my date's) song. I don't think I could have planned that evening to be more wonderful than it was.

3.) Football games. Yes, another reference to my cheerleading days. But, honestly this memory holds so much more for me than that. I could probably list a stockpile of things that I loved about football games. The excitement in the air could be felt as soon as you stepped off the bus. You could hear the band and the football team warming up, the air was usually crisp and cool and there was "just something" about being there. I will never forget the performances of the Liberty Belles, the band, the Flag corp or Mr. Summers providing the energetic and colorful introductions. I loved helping to get the crowd pumped up, performing the cheers and chatting with friends & teachers a little during halftime. At the end of the evening, even though I would go home completely exhausted, it was always well worth it.

2.) Graduation. You would think this would be my number one memory of high school, but it just isn't so (you might be surprised at what is actually my top memory of high school). I don't think this needs much of an elaboration, but it was definitely a monumental day for me. I was awash of so many different feelings. I was, of course, happy to be graduating from high school, but I was also sad at what I was leaving behind. I accomplished so much during my four years of high school (personally and academically) that I didn't want to see it come to an end. The graduation ceremony was such a spectacular event that by the end, I was in tears. I was so excited for everyone and the opportunities that lay ahead of us. I will certainly never forget that day. It will live in my heart for the rest of my life.

And now we come to the end, number one. Well, actually it isn't the end at all, at least not for me. To get to my number one memory of high school, I have to rewind back to the beginning...

1.) The first day of high school. I like to think that back then that I had an advantage when I began high school. You see, my brother was a senior and I knew a bunch of his friends who were also seniors at TJ. But, you know how sibling relationships are usually when it comes to school. I wasn't allowed to speak to my brother or his friends while at school because I was a lowly freshman and he was a "senior." Pssh. Whatever. Due to this, I was back at square one again. I took it all in stride anyway because I knew I had to go, so I put on my bravest face and ventured into Thomas Jefferson High School. I couldn't believe it when I made a friend the very first day. It was a major sigh of relief for me because I was terrified I wouldn't make any friends at all. However, I was saved...saved by none other than Tina Gomez. We both ate lunch together and had a few classes together as well. She was my angel of the first day of high school. Who would have known that this girl would become (and remain) my best friend? Certainly not I, but that's exactly what happened. Who would believe that two freshman, on the first day of school and a random encounter would lead to an inseparable duo? Sounds like a plot for a sitcom, but it really happened to me and that's why it is my number one memory of high school.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Entry #2 --- My Past...and Forgiving Myself

My past seems to haunt me on a continuous basis. It’s not everyday, but I get these flashes in my head that are like instant replays of the past mistakes I have made. And when I think about all of that in the context of who I am, I truly begin to wonder how I ever did those things. I have never arrived at a solid conclusion of the reasons for doing the things I did. I could blame it on a million different things…the alcohol, my mistrust of men, my rape, the state my life was in, my relationship, etc. And yes, I finally changed and reclaimed that good part of myself, but I don’t know if I have truly forgiven myself for everything. And somehow, I don’t think it’s because I can’t; I think it’s because I haven’t truly allowed myself to see the things I did and the people I hurt in the process (including myself). It was only today when I had another flashback that I finally saw the awful transgressions I made. So, I wrote a list. I didn’t read it as I wrote. I only read it when I remembered all that I could and finished writing it down. Looking at that sheet of paper was one of the most difficult things that I have done lately. When I saw it, in my own handwriting, I was deeply ashamed. I was ashamed of my behavior, the way I treated those I loved, the way I treated people I didn’t even know, the way I treated myself and the way I turned my back on God. It has never been in my character to do things like that and I realized I had lowered myself to a place I never wanted to be. I don’t think anybody would purposefully choose to be at the bottom of the barrel like that. What’s funny is that I have been having a lot of dreams lately that seem to symbolize that there is something in my past that I need to let go of. I have just assumed that the dreams were referring to my miscarriages and the deep desire to have a baby. But now that this has come up, I am beginning to wonder if my dreams refer to this particular part of my past. It would actually make a lot of sense because when I did these things and even for a time afterward, I never acknowledged my part in all that I did. I mean, I knew that what I was doing was wrong and I did feel bad about it, but I still continued my actions. I can’t say for sure why I kept doing the same things, even though I knew in my heart they were wrong. Looking back, I remember telling myself that what I was doing was justifiable because I was being treated so badly in my relationship, but I do not feel justified in doing those things. The more these thoughts and images continue to plague me, the guiltier I feel about my actions and myself. I can no longer make excuses or pretend that it never happened. So, here goes: the actions I committed in my past were my fault; they were not responsible or mature decisions and I accept full responsibility. I cannot and will not make any excuses for my behavior. It was wrong and because of my carelessness, I hurt a lot of the people who love (or loved) me. I do feel that I am a different and better person today and because of that, I need to forgive myself and let this go. Although I will not ever forget it, I feel that if I don’t let it go, I may fall prey to making the same mistakes again and that is the last thing I want. God has seen fit to offer me a second chance to do things the right way and I intend to do just that. I am blessed beyond anything I could have ever expected as far as this is concerned, and I will not forsake that blessing. And I do not want these memories to continue to haunt my soul anymore. Everyone makes mistakes in their lifetime and mine were huge. I am glad I learned from these mistakes so early on because I will carry the wisdom I gained for the rest of my life. It is ok to forgive myself because the past is over and done. Nothing in the world I do will change what I did back then so I can’t keep persecuting myself. Change is an ever-present force in my life and I just need to “keep moving forward.”