I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose this topic. Because it’s SO hard to write about! Mostly when people think of idols, they think of someone that you REALLY idolise. But as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that I don’t really idolise the people who influence me, or who I find fascinating, or inspirational. I think I did in some ways when I was younger, because there wasn’t any sense that these were people just like any other.
Ok I just remembered a story.
I have always been a huge fan of Billy Connolly. Ever since I can remember. Not just because he’s funny, but because he seems to be able to articulate things that I could never express. And I’ve always loved his child-like wonder at the world. However I must note that he seems to be losing that as he gets older, his comedy has changed from delight and wonder and general hilarity at the world around him, to something more akin to a grumpy old man having a rant. Fair play to him I say, he is 70 now, he actually is an old man and he’s as welcome to grow and change and shift his perspective on the world as much as anyone else. But the humour and passion he had as I grew up is what I loved most about him.
Anyway, it was well known amongst all of my friends that I’m a huge Big Yin fan.
So you can imagine my dismay at what happened one day in about 20 years ago. I am about 19 years old. I was on my lunch break from my job in the advertising department of a local AM radio station (a country music station, God I hated the music that was being played then!) and browsing through a nearby music store (for those of you who go back that far in Brisbane, it was the Brash’s in the Wintergarden, which is now HMV). I’m standing there idly flipping through the CD’s, when I look up at the tall man on the other side of the CD rack. “Hmmm, that guy looks like Billy Connolly.” I think to myself.
The man who looks like Billy Connolly goes over to the counter and speaks to the girl behind the counter. The man who looks like Billy Connolly has a thick Scottish accent. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! It IS Billy Connolly!
The man who looks like Billy Connolly, and IS Billy Connolly, turns around and walks towards me. I stand there wide-eyed, looking at the man who looks like Billy Connolly and IS Billy Connolly. My brain is thinking “Say hello. It’s Billy Connolly. Be cool! Say something! At least ask for his fucking autograph!” My body will not comply. I stand there with my mouth open, fixed to the spot, trying desperately to get it together to say hello. The man who looks like Billy Connolly, and IS Billy Connolly, catches my eye. He smiles warmly, winks and says “Hello.” in that lovely accent of his. I STILL stand there like a stunned mullet, unable to move, smile, nod, anything. The man who looks like Billy Connolly, and IS Billy Connolly walks past me, and leaves the store, and is gone.
I stand there for a little while, completely gobsmacked. I then trudge back to my office, sit down at my desk, and promptly burst into floods of tears of frustration and embarrassment.
I’ve always regretted that moment. I have met lots of other awesome famous people in the years since that one, and always managed to be coherent and talk to them. I’ve made great men laugh, told amazing women that they’ve inspired me, had friendly banter with the most droolsome actors, and hugged amazing musicians. But I will never forget that moment back when I was 19 and the man that I admired the most at the time walked briefly into my life and I made a colossal idiot of myself!
When I was a teenager, it was the ’80s. God that seems like such a long time ago now.
I went to school in a public State School, and had a really hideous uniform. The junior part of the school wore a grey princess line pinafore with a white button up, collared shirt underneath, black Bata Ponytails and white ankle socks for the girls, and grey shorts and button up, collared shirts, and black Bata Scouts with grey knee socks for the boys. In winter we could wear a maroon jumper. The seniors wore a white button up, collared shirt and a grey sack of a skirt for the girls, grey shorts for the boys. More Bata shoes and and white ankle socks for the girls, grey knee socks for the boys. Our sports uniform was a maroon skirt (it started out as a flat wrap skirt when I was first in high school but they changed it to one of those awful pleated netball skirts when I was in year 9 or 10), a white polo shirt (which they later changed to this hideous collared v-neck t-shirt that clinged to budding young breasts terribly) with black “runners” or sports knickers worn underneath. The boys had maroon shorts and a white polo shirt. It was all pretty ugly and impractical.
My teenage years were tough for a lot of reasons, but I think in this post I’ll remember all of the positive things from that time.
I was a music fanatic. I watched Video Hits on a Saturday morning, Countdown of a Sunday evening, and later Rage through the night and into the early morning. I bought every music magazine I could get my hands on when I had the money, and taped all my favourite songs off the radio. When I could I bought records and cassettes, and always put my order in for music for my birthdays and Christmas. My bedroom was completely wallpapered with pictures of my favourite bands and artists out of magazines, not a bit of wall visible. I covered my school books in pictures out of magazines too. When I was about 16 I started going to live gigs too. The first Australian band I saw were Icehouse, and they were shit live. The first international band I saw were Transvision Vamp, and while they sounded good, the lead singer was so fucked up on drugs she could barely stand, was wearing a filthy pale pink dress and couldn’t remember the lyrics.
A significant moment in my youth was Live Aid. I was completely blown away by Do They Know It’s Christmas (which people think is naff now, but it was a really big deal at the time) and when I heard Bob Geldof was getting together musicians from all over the world for a HUGE concert to be simulcast globally, to raise money for famine struck nations in Africa, I knew that I wouldn’t miss a minute of it. I remember sitting through the whole 16 hours or whatever it was, set up camp in the living room to watch it all. I remember using the live crosses to Molly Meldrum to go to the bathroom, because even then I loathed Molly bloody Meldrum! I remember Phil Collins jumping into a helicopter, then on to a concord so that he could do both the London and Philadelphia gigs. I remember watching Freddie Mercury completely blow everyone away with how amazing and powerful his voice was, and his fantastic stage presence. I remember Bob Geldof raising his fist in that moment of I Don’t Like Mondays and the whole world just stopping, holding their breath and letting that moment sink in, as to what we’d all done. And I remember his embarrassment at being hoisted up onto the shoulders of Paul McCartney and Pete Townsend at the end of the gig, the tears streaming down my face that it was coming to an end.
The first movie I went and saw without any family members was Ghostbusters. I saw it at the drive-in with friends, some of whom were older boys with cars. My parents would never have let me go if they’d known, but I was at a sleepover with a friend, and off we went. I remember it was a ute (pickup for those of you outside of Australia) and we backed in and watched from the tray of the ute. It was AWESOME. I think I was 13 or 14.
I remember getting drunk for the first time at a party too. I had somehow procured two flagons of very cheap, nasty port (we called it monkey blood because it looked like Mercurochrome, that antiseptic stuff you would paint on wounds) and drank the bulk of them. I woke up in a garden behind the house, covered in dirt. I remember trying to sneak into the house un-noticed because I felt so gross, only to be met in the hallway by the hottest dude in my school. He simply hugged me and said “You had a big one last night huh?” and we were firm friends from that day on. Sadly I’ve lost contact with him. He probably still has my initials, tattooed on his ankle in maths class when we were about 16.
What about you? What are your defining moments from your teenage years? Do you remember all of your firsts from those years?
Good lord I think I have my life back! After the past couple of months of complete chaos at work, almost nil social life and a whole lot of exhaustion, Christmas feels like it has reset my life back to one where I had time for myself, a social life and all of the things I’m passionate about, like blogging.
And the first thing I want to do is get back into the Big 50! I know a lot of other people set it to be done in 50 days, but that was never my intention. I just wanted to set myself 50 topics to have a go at, to keep me thinking about different topics.
So we’re kicking back in at Volume 14, which is Shopping.
Now this, THIS is a topic I really know something about.
I love shopping. Oh how I love shopping, always have. I’ve never got any money, never save properly, simply because I love to shop. I figure that I have one life, and shopping makes me happy, so I’m doing whatever pleases me, so long as the bills are paid of course.
Historically, I always shopped for accessories. Cos you know, fat girls aren’t allowed to shop for clothes. I was always about shoes, handbags and earrings. And books. But since discovering fatshion blogs all over the internet, I’ve found a love of clothes shopping too. I still have a far more limited range of stores I can buy from, but I’m finding those that work for me and I love regularly browsing their wares, both in store and online, and snaffling bargains!
I never thought I’d like online shopping. I normally like to touch everything I’m browsing, because I’m such a texture junkie. But I’ve found some really good online stores, like We Love Colors, Evans, The Book Depository and Yours, that I enjoy shopping with online as much as I do in brick and mortar stores. I’d shop in them if they were brick and mortar stores local to me, but it’s great to have the online option too.
In the past I’ve been called a shopping addict, and even had it suggested that I have a “problem” or that I’m using shopping to fulfill some need. Strangely enough, the people who made these statements were usually gamblers, or smokers, collectors of something useless, or spent all their money on some frivolous hobby. I don’t have any other vices, work hard and pay my bills. How is enjoying shopping hurting anyone?
One kind of shopping I don’t like is grocery shopping. Hate it in fact. I don’t need to buy much, but when I do, I usually try to do online grocery shopping. I just hate pushing a trolley around supermarkets with rude people pushing me out of the way, kids screaming and running around, and bored, underpaid supermarket staff. Not to mention lugging it all home on public transport. Ugh!
So do you like shopping? What kind of shopping do you like, or are there kinds you don’t like? Do you shop online? Tell me about your shopping experiences!
Oh I had ’em all. Some of them I don’t remember, some of them I remember all too well. But I was a SICKLY child.
My Grandma tells me that when I was just a baby, before I turned 2, I had gastroenteritis so bad that she thought I was dead.
I can remember having mumps, on two occasions. I remember having one mump the first time, and then both mumps the second. Mump is a funny word you know. Mump. Mump.
Apparently I’ve had both measles and German measles (Rubella). I don’t remember the regular measles at all, but I do remember having German measles. I remember feeling sick and my mother coming into my room to get me up for school and the look of shock on her face when she saw me. I remember looking down at my chest and seeing this weird rash. I think I must have been about 10, it was definitely before we were lined up to get the Rubella vaccination, which was at about 11 or 12. I remember the girl in line before me having a complete and utter meltdown and having to be strapped to a gurney to get her shot. I was scared and when I got in there, the doctor jabbed me and I said “Is that it?” I had been sure they were going to torture me or something from the previous girl’s antics.
I got the chicken pox at 12 and I remember it REALLY clearly. Because I woke up on Christmas Eve with the chicken pox. You never, ever forget having chicken pox at 12 on Christmas Day. Especially if your shitty little cousins spent the whole day chanting “You’ve got CHICKEN COCKS!!” at you. I remember being in a lot of pain with the chicken pox. We were staying with my great aunt and uncle, and I remember sleeping a lot of Christmas day with their new kitten curled up asleep beside me. It’s like she was comforting me.
The worst thing about chicken pox though is it means you can get shingles… and I got shingles as an adult, let me tell you, that sucks worse than having the chicken pox at age 12 on Christmas Day! My God I’ve never known pain like it. I thought I had spinal cancer. It really freaked me out. I hope I never get it again.
As well as illnesses, I hurt myself a few times rather spectacularly. At 5 I stood on a sewing needle, the eye end punctured my foot and broke off, and then buried itself deep into my foot. It went in just below the ball of my foot, and the surgeon removed it from an incision beside my little toe. I still have the scar 33 years later! I also stacked my bike once and ripped open my left knee, and have to have stitches. It was full of dirt and rocks and crap too. And I can just remember being about 6 and having some kind of pinched nerve in my hip that left me paralysed from the waist down for awhile. Must have been scary for the adults in my life. I just remember being carried everywhere like a baby.
So what about you? Have you had any spectacular or memorable childhood illnesses? What about accidents and injuries? Did you have annoying younger cousins who made fun of you for it?
Oh where to start on this one??
I have always said that I would rather be blind than deaf, simply because I couldn’t live without music. It makes up some of my earliest memories, has punctuated my life, can change my mood in an instant, and is the thing I turn to in times of celebration and need.
I learnt music when I was a kid. Many, many years of it. I learnt the organ. I know! For a few years while I was at a very good music academy, my teacher, a deliciously camp man named Francis (we once had a fundraiser to buy Francis a pair of purple leather pants. I kid you not.) allowed me to play any instrument that interested me at the time, so long as I didn’t tell my mother. I really liked the saxophone, violin and drums. I think that’s what made reading music “click” in my head, trying it out on various instruments. I remember him saying I had a natural gift for the saxophone. I asked my parents if I could switch from the organ (cringe) to the saxophone, but they wouldn’t let me. I can still play the piano and read music (though I’m a little rusty).
I used to play a game as a kid called “What’s that song?” The idea was to listen to the radio and the minute a new song started, I’d have to name it and the artist before the intro had ended. I was always REALLY good at it too. Could remember hundreds. I used to play another game where someone would give me a word, and I’d sing a song with that in the lyrics. Another one I was really good at.
In High School, I was known for my weird music collection. I’d have badges stuck to my bag of bands that my peers had never heard of. Nobody of my age knew who Frank Zappa was at school, and I had some pictures of him stuck to a folder, with his name underneath it, and suddenly my nickname was Zappa. The jerks turned it into an insult, but it was the first time I’d been given a nickname that I loved. I was weird and it was worth it if I got to listen to awesome music. Later my love of “weird” music made me some awesome friends and a couple of great boyfriends too.
In my early 20’s, I had a music store. It was only a small one in a country town, but my passion for music meant that I really engaged with customers because I had such broad tastes. I made a lot of friends through that store. It was a bit of a haven for all the odd-bods and offbeats of the town. You can imagine in a country town, a lot of the population is pretty conservative, so being offbeat is tough. Where better to head than the music store?
My music collection is huge. I have boxes and boxes of CD’s. I have stacks and stacks of vinyl. I even still have a shitload of cassettes. Don’t ask about my iTunes. A friend of mine used to rifle through my CD’s and say “Geez Kath, you’ve got something to offend everyone in here.” I took it as a compliment, which is how he intended it. I love something from every genre. And some things that defy genre. I have some stuff that is so middle of the road you’d want to puke. I have stuff that I bet you’ve never even heard of.
I can’t live without music. I have it playing more hours of the day than I don’t. It’s my lifeblood.
What does music mean to you? How significant is it in your life?
I got my first penpal when I was 9 years old. Her name was Claire and she was the 11 year old niece of one of my mother’s colleagues, a woman who had migrated to Australia from Scotland. Claire wasn’t very nice, she thought everything I told her about in my letters was “stupid”, including me, but I was hooked on writing and receiving letters, so I kept writing to her.
When I was about 12 and started buying Countdown and Smash Hits magazines, I started writing letters to the people advertising for penpals in there. Some of them wrote back. One who was fairly local (Brisbane to my Rosewood, about 45 minutes drive apart) and I became friends for a few years. Later in High School, I wrote to people who had advertised in Dolly magazine, THE teenage girl magazine of the time. When I was 16, I had a penpal advertisement in Dolly myself.
It went in to the January 1989 edition. By Easter, I had received over 500 replies. I wrote to all but a handful of them (I got free postage in those days!) and struck up a correspondence with more than half. They ranged in age from a 12 year old girl to a 45 year old man.
I know what you’re thinking about the 45 year old man writing to a 16 year old girl. But you know, I wrote to Nicholas for about a decade, I still have most of his letters and he never said anything inappropriate, never asked me personal details, just told me about his farm and the music he liked and we talked about TV, movies and books we loved. We would trade mix tapes and I found so much amazing music through him. We lost contact during one of my frequent moves. I often wonder what happened to him, he’d be in his 60’s now.
Almost 22 years after I placed that ad in Dolly magazine, I still write to one of them. Her name is also Kath, she’s about the same age as me and lives on a farm in Western Australia. About 5 years ago we finally met when she and her husband and daughter came to Queensland for a holiday. The following May, I flew to Western Australia and had a holiday with her and her family. We still write fairly regularly, but these days it is via email. I consider her one of my best friends, despite the fact that we live so far apart. We’ve watched so many things unfold in each others lives over the years that we are fairly well connected despite the distance, and always seem to know just when we need each other, and what to say. She’s one of the special people in my life.
Nowdays, I do all my writing online. I keep in contact with friends via social media. I miss writing on paper with a pen. Sometimes at lunch time I will go and hide in a nearby cafe that always seems fairly empty, and write in a notebook. Quite often I write blog posts, or just thoughts about something down, but the act of writing with a pen and paper is something that is soothing to me. I hope I never lose the skill of being able to write the old fashioned way. My handwriting is never going to be called anything special, I learnt to write just as they were changing from cursive to the standardised printing, so I have a funny mix of styles, and my mother used to say my handwriting was like me, big and loopy. But it’s as much mine as my fingerprints, so I like it.
Do you write with a pen and paper? Have you ever been a letter writer? Do you like to read letters? Tell me your stories.
Ok, before I go on to do this post, I just wanted to thank those who have already donated to my Operation Baldy fund, I’m sitting at $270 raised in the first 24 hours of the project! More than a quarter of my $1000 goal already. If you’d like to contribute, and every dollar is welcome, here is the Linky Linky for paypal. If you’re in Australia and don’t use Paypal, leave me a comment (it gives me your email address) and I’ll drop you an email to sort something out.
Now, without further ado, let’s get back to the Big 50 posts!
Phobias huh? Well, I am definite arachnophobe. Spiders terrify me. You know how some people think it’s really funny to put a plastic spider in the visor of a car and scare someone? Yeah, don’t do that to me. Particularly not if you’re in the car with me. You will crash the car as a result of my panic.
Actually I really loathe that idea that it’s funny to prey on someone’s phobias and play practical jokes on them. Phobias are not rational, nor are the reactions that people have when confronted with whatever they are phobic of. Nobody should be induced into that kind of fear as a joke.
A friend of mine tried to cure me of my arachnophobia by taking me to the movie Arachnophobia. I spent the entire movie in his armpit, sobbing hysterically. Didn’t work at all.
There are a lot of phobias I don’t understand. Like clowns or birds or cockroaches. I don’t understand them because those things can’t kill you. Spiders, snakes, heights, sharks, water, all of those things can. That doesn’t mean those phobias aren’t valid, just because they’re of things that aren’t as dangerous.
Years ago, I had another friend who was terrified of birds. Unfortunately, I found out this fear, which he was deeply embarrassed by, when I chased him with a bantam chicken in a friend’s backyard one evening. I was horrified to find out he was THAT terrified of birds and that I’d done something like that. I’d never have done it if I’d known.
I don’t really have any other phobias. I have a healthy fear of things like sharks or snakes or heights, but nothing that really sends me off the deep end like spiders do.
What is your phobia?
I love my job. I really do. Sometimes little things drive me up the wall, but I wouldn’t be a human being if that didn’t happen. But at the crux of it all, I love my job and am passionate about what I do.
I am an IT librarian. When I tell people I’m an IT librarian, they instantly assume I work in a library, but I actually work in an office. I do get to visit libraries though. I work in a support team for 32 libraries (soon to be 33), one mobile library, one city archive and of course our own office. Many people assume that librarian is a very generalised role, but not in many cases. While most of us are good Jack/Jill-of-all-trades types, we often have very definite areas of specialisation that we are passionate about. It never ceases to amaze me when I realise that someone is surprised that I or my librarian colleagues are very knowledgeable about things that are way outside of the librarian stereotype.
Initially I wanted to work in libraries because of my passion for reading and books. But over the years, while those passions have never left me, my passion for libraries is about so much more. Reading, particularly recreational reading, is still at the core of why my job is important to me, but that core has expanded to include literacy, critical thinking, access to information, education (especially life-long learning), community, social inclusion and equity. Add that to a healthy passion for my home city, and I’m in a career I always feel like I can really get my teeth into and be challenged by.
When I first started in the job I am in now, 9 years ago, I mostly catalogued photographs of Brisbane all day. I did have some support role in IT, but predominantly I spent my time working on digitising and cataloguing the photographic collection. Over time my role has evolved (and I’ve been promoted within the same position) to a much more varied scope. Nowdays my areas of specialty are library IT asset procurement and management, AV in libraries, social media in libraries and special equipment in libraries. So from sourcing and purchasing computers, printers, projectors, LCD/Plasma screens, audio equipment, AV system management equipment, cameras, iPads, eBook readers, game consoles, DVD players, television/Pay-TV resources, and any other doohicky or gadget that crops up as relevant/useful/required by libraries, to managing the installation of all of that, staff training for it all, and then asset management so that we know where all of that equipment is at any given time, what it’s worth, whether or not it’s working, if it needs repairs, when it’s time to replace it and what to do with it when it needs disposing of through to training staff in how to deliver all of that stuff to our customers, I’m kept pretty damn busy and challenged all of my working life.
At the moment we’re at the pointy end of building one new library (due to open in December) and relocating one rather large library to a temporary location (for 18 months or so) so that a fancy pants new version can be built for them to go to in the long term. We don’t do projects this big very often, but when we do… boy, do they take over your life. And now more than ever, are we, the librarians, being called on to do so much of the planning, research, project management, implementations, installations, trouble-shooting, crisis averting, shiny-making, and overall nitty-grittying of these big projects. It’s AWESOME that we’re so much part of the creation of our own libraries, but it’s damn hard work and you have to learn so much, and think on your feet all the time.
ALL the time. Two nights ago I woke at 3am shouting the name of the relocating library into the darkness. That’s how much it takes over your life.
But I love it. It means a lot to me. It’s far more than a job. It’s a vocation, a calling. It matters. And my contribution makes a difference.
Ok so do I talk about my first EVER job, or do I talk about the first job I had when I left school?
Let’s talk about both!
When I was 12, I got a sneaky job as a “tea and tidy” at a local hair salon. Sneaky because even back then, employers weren’t supposed to hire anyone under 13. But I was super keen and they liked me, plus I looked older than 12, so they let me start work a few months before my birthday. This is me when I was just past my 12th birthday:
Where did those long legs go? How did I get so brown? My mother did Hobbytex (you can see a bit on a picture to the right of my head) And look at that old television. Oh God, VINYL! And not ironic hipster retro vinyl.
A “tea and tidy” basically does that – makes tea and tidies up. I also learnt how to mix hair colour and perming solution, and wash people’s hair. They used to give me all the old ladies to practice hair washing on. I quite enjoyed it and loved the bit of pocket money it gave me. I used to spend it on records (yes, vinyl, shut up) and music magazines. Countdown magazine was my favourite. Shut up, I’m old ok??
I worked through most of my teens in part time jobs. Babysitting, at a florist running deliveries all over town and doing prep work (why did I lose the skill of tying amazing ribbon formations?), doing typing for people, cleaning, selling Avon, in a cafe, even as a telex operator in a factory office. SHUT UP, I SAID I WAS OLD OKAY??!!
Once I left school I got a temporary role in a book bindery. Mostly making tags, tickets and notepad kind of things for the local meat works, who were the biggest customers. Then I went on to work in a surplus store, in the army disposal section. I loved army disposal, I hated that fucking job. I worked for this awful, awful woman who hated me and made me clean the whole massive store, including everyone else’s departments, while she and the other two women watched me over coffee. I would have to run down from the back of the store whenever someone came into my section and serve them, and then run back to wherever I was cleaning.
I told her where to shove that job eventually (and she asked me if I’d recommend a younger friend who would work really hard – like hell!) and ended up as a live-in nanny for friends of mine. Whenever they were at work/uni I cared for the two boys and was with them for quite a while.
I did some youth work for a bit, mostly with homeless kids. It burned me out pretty quick, so I worked behind bars for a bit. Pouring beers and mixing drinks was very relaxing after social services. Sometimes I waited tables but I hated that.
I then went on to work for a radio station, in the advertising department, both selling advertising and writing and recording it. It was a country music station during the peak of Billy Ray Cyrus “Achy Breaky Heart”. Needless to say my office was the only room in the building that had the ceiling speakers disconnected.
I had a music store for a few years. Loved being in that environment, HATED not having a life. Small business ownership sucks.
Then back to a myriad of things from child care to working in a book store, in another music store, a bit more bar work, a bit more youth work, and then I was unemployed for a couple of years while dealing with a rather massive depressive episode.
Then one day I got work experience in a library through a compulsory Centrelink programme. They loved me so much, they kept me for a second week. Then the head librarian faxed head office my CV every Friday for 8 months until they finally gave me an interview for their casual pool. I got the job, worked for 3 weeks casual, got a temporary role, then another, then another, then an early incarnation of my current role (9 years ago)… and have never looked back!
Well, so much about being about my first job… this post is about almost all of them!
What was your first job?
Ahh school. What a varied 13 years that was for me. It was some of the best times of my youth, and also some of the worst times of my life.
I did 12 years of school in Rosewood, which is to the South West of Brisbane. From Kindergarten through to the beginning of Year 12, I went to school with mostly the same kids. It was only at Easter in my Senior year that my mother had the bright idea of forcing me to move to another town and therefore another school (yeah, that’s a REALLY good idea) that I went to Beaudesert High. Not only is Beaudesert High one of the most disgusting schools about (well, it certainly was in those days), the whole town is a dump that I’d be happy to never see again. The only thing that ties me there is my grandparents.
School was rough for me a lot of the time because of the bullying, but I loved classes and learning and had some fantastic teachers. I would read anything that was put in front of me (I had read the entire small school library collection by Grade 3) and in primary school loved writing, art, science and social studies (mostly history and geography in those days). My primary school was on the other side of town to where we lived, so it was a bike ride or a long walk for a kid to get to school then. I loved that ride or walk in the winter time, but it was really tough in the stifling heat of summer.
High school was even tougher, but I also found that I was really good at some things, so I poured myself into them. More reading, and the teacher librarian practically adopted me. I pretty much lived in the library. I was also really good at English and History, so I poured myself into projects from those subjects. I was a big old nerd, and I still am. I found more valuable friends in high school, and deepened friendships that I had in primary school, which was great. And I discovered my geekery was very, very welcome around older boys who were also geeks. I had so many great friends, all the fellow geeks, nerds and weirdos from grades older than me in the first half of high school. It was never anything sexual (well, I did have a couple of boyfriends out of that pool) but simply that my weird arse self got along with geeky boys a few years older than me than anyone else. I also seemed to be a friend magnet for every gay male in a 20km radius too. Sadly a lot of those guys are no longer with us, having either taken their own lives as a result of bullying and shame, or their lives being taken from them by a drug addiction they used to escape the bullying and shame.
When I changed schools in Senior year, I ceased to care about studying. I didn’t care about doing well in school and going on to university any more. I figured if others didn’t care how their actions affected my education, then why should I care? So I just goofed off, wagged a lot of days, and spent my time avoiding a whole new set of bullies. I made some friends, that’s all that really got me through. I just scraped a pass for senior. Where back at Rosewood I was in the top 10 percent of the school.
I’ve managed to connect with the few good people I wanted to connect with from my school days, all of them from Rosewood. It’s funny that so many of the kids that never would have spoken to me before, or even actively bullied me, now keep requesting my friendship on Facebook, and beg me to go to school reunion events. Most of them haven’t grown at all since they left school – they just have a smaller and smaller pool of people who will tolerate their bullshit. They don’t seem to want to move forward at all, just stay perpetually in high school mode.
A lot of people view school as this rosy time they look back on, but not me. I believe now is the best time of my life, and it’s only getting better.