I developed an appreciation for music early in my life. Unfortunately, my appreciation did not dictate future talent.
I had tricky parents. I did not make this mess. Generally speaking, I was a well-behaved toddler. My parents did this and then put me in the mess just to take a picture of me that would imply guilt on my part. Kinda think I look mad.
At some point, I turned 3. Evidently it was a mind-boggling occurrence.
I was quite photogenic while trying to sleep.
I contemplated life at the kitchen table.
There was a time in my life when I wasn't a skeptic, and this is proof. I do believe this was immediately before I learned the truth about Santa and skepticism set in. Finding out about Santa brought into question all other characters about which I'd been told: the Easter Bunny...Tooth Fairy...and God. I never believed in any of them again.
My cousin got married and I got a perm for the occasion... these pictures are the unfortunate result of that and 80s fashion.
The following is the result of a visit to my dad's... Like most kids, my parents separated and eventually divorced. I spent most of my time with my mom, and the occasional weekend with my dad. On this particular weekend, I was very sick and had been to the doctor earlier in the day. I remember not being thrilled about being outside having pictures taken. More excellent 80s fashion is represented here.
When I was 7, my mom and I moved from Middle of Nowhere, KS, to The Worst Place in Arizona. Second grade was the worst year of my childhood. I learned all about racism by being the token white kid on an Apache reservation. I was not warmly received, and I didn't understand why. I also learned that there were people (kids, even) capable of surrounding horses in the streets and stoning them to death...of hanging kittens by their tails and letting them die. It was also the year that my father disappeared...intentionally. I wrote to him to see if I could spend the summer with him. When I got no reply, my grandma went to check on him. He was gone, and my letter was still in his mailbox. If it weren't for my teacher, Laura Rouyer, and the 2 kids pictured with me here, Candice and David, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have survived that year with anything left inside me.
Then we go through a long period of time during which there were very few photos taken. While I'm sure this isn't entirely true, I wasn't able to find many pictures from third through eighth grade. More exist, and if I find them, I'll share. I'm sure they're awful and embarrassing...all those awkward years... Anyway, you'll have to deal with plain old text to fill in this gap.
After one year on the reservation,we moved. When I was 8 years old, I spent my first summer in the town that I still live in today. It rained more back then...the monsoon was much more impressive. I remember riding my bike in the downpour, getting soaked, shivering, not caring...being a kid was great. The childhood that I want to remember started here. There were trips down to the river to check out the lair of Goatman, long summers spent entirely outside, sleepovers, carnivals every year around my birthday (I was lucky enough to have a birthday during Butterfield days AND Homecoming). Every kid who grew up around here spent at least an hour a week at Zearings - the best candy store in the world - having samples and listening to stories. There was the smell of honeysuckle and jasmine that lingered near the railroad tracks around sunset, mingling with scents of barbecues and plastic pool toys. I met all my best friends, and a good number of the people I still talk to now. It was all good times. There were probably bad times, but I don't remember them. I'm thankful for that... It's nice to look back and see only the good.
I think it was probably in the end of 6th grade that things changed a bit. I started hanging out with different kids. Half way through 7th grade I was one of the bad kids. I like to blame the best friend I had, Deirdra, but in the end...I had a choice in all of it. I had a good time, still, but my memories are fewer. Sadly, I remember a lot of the bad times, too. Most were self-inflicted. It's tough not knowing who you are or who you want to be; it led me to a lot of bad decisions that ultimately got me no closer to knowing anything about me...at least not in the moment. I think it was the summer between 7th and 8th grade that I saw my dad again. He gave me a little advice - smoke pot, not cigarettes. He'd anticipated me spending time with him, but I refused. I went out partying with locals and drove my grandma so crazy that she sent me home.
I got through middle school only having failed P.E...a couple times. This was the night of my 8th grade graduation. Freshman initiation had started pretty early that afternoon, and I'd been out at a party in Happy Valley. I'm actually surprised I made it to graduation. While you can't see it in this picture, I wore my boyfriend's wallet chain as a belt.
The summer after 8th grade, I spent some time in KS. That was the year I had my first summer love, and it was the one to which I've compared all others. Sometimes I think he's the one I compare all men to...even now. Maybe not him, per se, but the feelings of then. I think I had a thing for leather jackets and muscle cars before him...but those are things that appeal to me even now.
High school was a mess of weird, and only lasted a year and a half. Some people just aren't cut out for it, and I most certainly fell into the not cut out for it category. I enjoyed socializing, but hated waking up and dragging my ass to school at 8AM. I also don't recall actually doing any work while I was there, outside of English class anyway. My mom, who was my French teacher, grounded me in class once instead of giving me detention. You have no idea how grateful I am that there were no cell phones or Facebook (no internet, really...it existed, but no one had it) and that most people didn't take pictures...my experience might have been different had it been more documented. Here's a random selection of inoffensive high school pictures.
When I was 15 I got into some trouble which resulted in probation when I turned 16... leave it to the courts to take forever. What does a 16yr old me on probation do? Drop out of high school, start taking college classes, and work full time... all while maintaining a fairly unhealthy party life. I was also an angsty teen who wrote angsty poetry. I'm guessing it had to do with boys and all the things in my life that were unfair. That was pretty much my life for a couple years. I even went to some raves. Here's a pic of me with Deirdra, the girl who was my best friend from 7th grade on, at some rave.
For my 16th birthday, I got a package from my father. There was a manuscript and a letter. He apologized for being a bad father, but said that it was because of his book...he had to get it written...and that I'd understand when I read it. I didn't read it. I also got released from probation 6 months early for good behavior. Honestly, I think it had more to do with the probation office being understaffed.
At 17, I decided to figure out computers. We'd had one for a while, but no internet. Can you even imagine not having that now?? The computer was a big monster of a thing...heavy, slow, bulky...and I loved it. I ended up meeting people all over the world, and also ended up taking off across the country to meet those people. This is me somewhere in South Carolina. I liked the south...apart from the people and the humidity.
I also had the greatest pants in the world, and bedroom walls that were layered with anything and everything.
I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. I was surprised to find that it felt good and was relaxing. It turned out to be a funny night, though...went with a mean-looking greased-up Italian guy who had a thing for guns as fashion accessories...and I wore a white tank top. After getting the tattoo, the whole front of the shirt was smeared with blood and ink, and I had a big bandage on my arm... and a guy who looked like he took pleasure in hurting people at my side. He was about as vicious as a stuffed kitten. People stared all night... we had a good laugh picking up the A&D in the baby stuff aisle.
Not long after this, Deirdra moved. We'd been growing apart for a while, mostly due to me trying to get my shit together and preferring not to spend my days in a drug-induced haze. Her leaving may have been the best thing that happened in my life, because with her gone, I had no one trying to bring me back into all the bad stuff I was trying to get away from. The day she left, Februray 17, 2000, was the day I sobered up for good. I'll never elaborate on the use, but the quitting was great. I went to the park next to my house and watched the sun rise while listening to Underworld - Born Slippy on repeat.
It was only a few months later when I took off again... this time to Scotland. When I was 11, I was obsessed with UB40 and England. Thanks to geography lessons that were clearly lacking, I thought the whole island was England. I always thought that northern part was prettier. Anyway, 11-year-old me decided that when I turned 18, I'd run away to northern England and get married. So, I almost did. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't really know it was a different country until I was planning my trip. I look back on all that happened while I was there fondly, though a lot of it really sucked. It was a good experience to have. Sometimes I wish I'd been older or more aware of the world...or even slightly interested in cultural differences...it would have been enlightening had that been the case. I stayed just under 4 months, and left engaged rather than married. Here I am on the second day there:
When I came home, I began a new form of rebellion...my dirty (not really) pseudo-punk phase. I suppose it wasn't really rebellion, since there was nothing to rebel against at that point in my life. I started by chopping off my hip-length hair and wearing spiky things and lots of plaid. I dated musicians and went to shows and spent time in practice spaces. It was all a good time... sometimes I really miss those days. They were the beginning of the end. And honestly, I was adorable with spikes... I was actually 20 or 21 in these pics, but was unable to find the ones from when I was 19...soooo, just imagine that I looked roughly the same, but the background was different.
Nineteen was a year of closure. I saw my dad again, and though it was against my will, I'm glad I did it. We spent one day together. It was strange to see similarities between us: how we took our coffee, how we sat... we went to the old house, the one in which many of the first pictures here were taken. It'd been more than a decade since anyone had lived in the house...and it hurt a little to see it falling apart.
When I left Kansas that time, I decided that I'd write one letter to my dad. If he wrote back, I'd try again to have a relationship with him. He never wrote back.
Sometime around here, the back injury I'd suffered as a teenager (tree climbing and skateboarding gone wrong...not at the same time, but in the same week) got really bad. It'd always hurt...docs always said it wasn't serious. Turns out it was a slipped disk and my spine was wrapped in scar tissue. It pretty much hurt to do anything..sit, stand, lay down...sleeping wasn't easy. I spent lots of time with chiropractors, and found a little relief.
I also graduated from the community college I'd been attending for...a lot more years than necessary to get a 2-year degree. I don't remember how old I was... 20 or 21? Sorry for the lack of photographic evidence here...
One of the greatest moments of my life happened - I met Davey Havok. It was my first and only real fangirl moment...I approached him with absolutely no idea what to say, but he spoke first, saying he loved one of my Gir patches. It remained THE best moment of my life for quite a few years.
Time went by kind of quickly from here... I made the friends I have now, and became closer with some friends I no longer have. It breaks my heart a little that Something Corporate - Konstantine came on just now, and it was one of the songs I loved during this time. I had a job at the high school, which was something that was both good and bad. I was a library aide, but was usually all alone in the library. When I applied for the job, I never thought it'd lead to where it did.
Then I had THE summer. Everyone has one... that summer you look back on when to remember when everything was just...perfect. It was all long nights at Denny's, hanging out with friends, conversations that meant everything at the time, chasing boys (a missionary, a forbidden, and one that makes me think of Hinder - Lips of an Angel...), sunrises, sunsets, and AFI. This is me with Adam, a high school friend, Brother Joe, and Linda - the only one to look good and well-rested after seeing AFI at KFMA Day.
After that... I dated some people and took more classes and went to some shows..and generally bummed around for a while. I worked at a Chinese restaurant for a couple years, and actually really liked it there.
My 24th birthday was marked by the body of a family friend being found. She was old, and it wasn't really a surprise. It really set the course for the year, though.
Around a month later I was sitting in my room listening to Rise Against - Swing Life Away. It's funny how some songs...some moments...are linked forever. The phone rang and I ignored like always. My mom answered and I picked up bits and pieces... "Oh, no.." "How?" "When?" "Was there a lot of blood?" She hung up and came into my room and I knew my dad was dead. Planning a funeral for someone you don't know is hard...I'm so thankful that his brothers did the hard stuff. I wrote some stuff up, and included some lines from the letter he sent to me when I was 16. It was all surreal. In a way, it still is. Fall in Kansas is unbearable now.
I lost a cousin and a few friends before my next birthday.
I realized something after my father died, though. I'd been staying pretty much in the same place...just in case he called...just in case he wrote...I'd be there. It was stupid, I know, but...therapy works wonders in realizing hidden motivations. By my next birthday I was enrolled at the University of Arizona, had a somewhat (at the time) serious boyfriend, and was living in Tucson. I moved every year...sometimes more than once. There were some tough times in the beginning, but...I loved all my time at UA. This is me in my first apartment there, paying tongue-in-cheek homage to the time I spent in Scotland.
I worked at the library while I was an undergrad, and it was pretty awesome. It was there that I made the college friends I've kept. I handled some great books, too. Most of my days were spent processing books for Special Collections - rare or old books. My favorite was a signed, numbered copy of The Galilee Hitchhiker by Richard Brautigan. This is a picture of most of the people I worked with over the 3 years I was there:
Everyone has a college relationship, right? The somewhat serious relationship I moved to Tucson with turned into that relationship. I was with him for most of my time as an undergrad, and it was mostly good. We broke up a couple times, got back together a couple times, and even got engaged once. It was what it was, and I got a good friend out of it... but the final breakup was a bit rough...for about a week. It was compounded by the death of my hamster and a trip to Kansas. The trip to Kansas taught me a good lesson, though... I had no real right to be a whiny brat over a relationship ending. We drove through Greensburg about a week after the tornado devastated the town. It was humbling.
And here are some of us library people...at a wedding in Vegas. I think there was a divorce a couple years later, but can't be sure.
And for no reason at all, this is me at Ren Faire, wearing a viking helmet.
Not long after that picture was taken, I got my Bachelor's degree in psychology. Lot of good that's done me :) Again, no pictures... and in fact, I skipped that graduation entirely. I was all ready to start work on my Master's degree in library science, though! I'm pretty sure the job at the high school is what ultimately caused this degree choice.
Grad school started in July, with the first on-site stuff to take place at the beginning of August. A couple weeks before classes were set to start, I had a feeling that something was...different. My suspicion was confirmed by a visit to my mom's friend Mary's house. Mary is a woman who doesn't exist entirely in this world. I walked in the door, and the way she looked at me was all the pregnancy test I needed. I also knew I was having a boy. I was sure in that moment, but the next day I took a real test anyway...
My on-site week of school was marked by nausea and discomfort. This is me at about 6 weeks pregnant:
I switched my in person classes to online classes and stayed in bed, mostly, until October. Morning sickness was miserable. At some point I had a dream about my son, and his name was Oliver...soooo he got a name. At 20 weeks I saw him for the first time, and was told that he was, in fact, a boy.
And then I got fat. REALLY fat. Pregnancy brought about a whole new understanding for what it must be like to be obese. I'd never given any thought to what it's like to carry extra weight...but omg...it's tiring. Most of the pregnancy was uneventful. I did my classes and prepared to move back in with my mom after Oliver's birth. The transition from Tucson back to small town was not something I really looked forward to, but I told myself it was the right thing to do. There'd be no struggling...I'd be with my son...I'd finish my degree...It was a good choice.
Midwives are funny things. Mine never believed me about anything. I told her from the beginning that I was having a boy, and that he was due March 28. All she said was, "We'll see." At the end of my pregnancy, my weekly appointments were on Fridays in the afternoon. On the 13th, I asked how big Oliver was...and she squished around on my belly and said he was about 7lbs. I asked how much he'd gain a week, and she said half a pound. I told him he was being evicted in 2 weeks, because 8lbs was my limit. She told me it didn't work that way.
I went into labor on the 25th, but it was slow going. At my appointment on the 27th, the day I'd set for Oliver's eviction, I was finally admitted to the hospital... This is me before going to the hospital:
Oliver was born on March 28. The midwife was right about his weight, though... he was 8lbs 3ozs.
This kind of ended the time of documenting my life with pictures of myself...and began the time of documenting my life through the growth of my kid. He really is the most amazing person I know. Since he's been around, I've gotten my MA (nope, no pictures...), had some jobs, tried some things I never thought I'd try, made some friends, lost some friends, and found a new path. It's through his experiencing the world that I find my peace.
I'm still working on the next chapters :)