The Decade That Was

I cannot believe that it is almost 2010. It seems quite impossible, honestly.
Looking back over a decade is a tough job, so much has happened and in terms of personal growth–a phrase I hate but must use anyway!–this decade has been HUGE for me. And I now present to you my from-memory-only recap of this decade in my life. Obviously I’m sure I’ll put some things in the wrong year and mess it up in other ways….but this is how I remember it!
(P.S. soundtrack: Glee!)

2000: I ushered in this year with a panic attack, because I was *sure* the world was going to end. Remember Y2K? I was quite certain that was the end of us! I remember waking in the morning with tremendous relief.
I’d just been to Thailand and Vietnam in the fall of ’99 and that spring I finished out middle school at the private Episcopal school I’d attended to for three years. If we’re being honest–I suppose I should be–that was the year I started cutting myself. Eighth grade, and if memory serves, it was early 2000, January or February. So there was that…which was obviously huge.
I remember graduating and being very proud. My grandmother was there and I was happy to be leaving, although nervous about high school. I had a really hard time finding a good HS. I applied a zillion places and got into very few, and at that point I really wanted to attend Thornton but I didn’t yet know if there would be a place for me.
So! Graduation, and then I went onto Thornton. Thank God for Thornton. As a freshman I was quiet and shy and didn’t talk much (I know, I know, its hard to believe!) But I liked Thornton. Of course the self-injury got worse and worse over the course of the year, but I also met my therapist who would go on to play a HUGE role in my life, and I started slooooowly making friends. I don’t remember much else about that year. I’m sure we went to Maine and MA in the summer and I had fun and it was also hard and all of that!
2001: My first winter in high school. I don’t remember a ton about that. Obviously, the defining event of 2001 was 9/11. I will never forget that day. I will never forget the principal gathering us in the Big Room and saying he had “really terrible news” and I will not forget the look on everyone’s faces and the terror I felt. And I will not forget the footage on the television, and the incredible fear, and the fighter jets we could see from the backyard. I don’t remember a lot else from 2001. That was such a huge event. It was literally years before I could hear a plane flying overhead without panic!
2002: I feel like the anthrax scare happened that winter, but I could be wrong–but no outside sources! What I remember about that is that we were reading Brave New World in my English class and we were reading something about biological warfare or something and then BOOM! it was suddenly dangerous to open ANYTHING especially if it might have some white powder! So that was nuts.
the BIGGEST EVENT OF ALL was getting Zoe! My darling little snuggly perfect puppy, seven weeks old and the love of my life instantly.
What else? That would be spring of my sophmore year. For both my FR and SO years I played on the basketball team. I think I scored maybe twice the entire time but I enjoyed it, I think. The exercise was good for me. I took the buses home, listening to my CD player (back then, kids, we had CDs….) oh! and I think this was the year I got into Ani Difranco, thanks to Courtney. (thanks Courtney!)
Oh and I think this was the Year Of The Snipers, too, because it’s important to have something bad happen every fall. ::groan:: This was also the year I interned at Young DC and got to see my work in print. I believe it’s the year I did a piece–front page, above the fold, very exciting–about self-injury. I loved writing for YDC. Aging out of it was sad!
2003: got off to a bang when in February I met with my therapist, parents and principal and was told I was being hospitalized for self-injury. At the time I was FURIOUS and completely enraged and felt horribly betrayed and all kinds of other lovely things. In retrospect I am surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I was out.of.control. So that was a fun eleven days. Those deserve a blog post all their own, honestly. But it did help, a little bit. I think.
I remember being in Maine that summer and hearing about Katrina from my second or third cousins across the street. The boys, who are 10 years younger than me–so 7 at the time–were saying that alligators were eating people. I didn’t understand how serious Katrina was until later.
What else? I think this is the year I went to visit Hollins with a teacher and 2 other students and we got stuck and had to have the van towed. That was interesting. I visited colleges with my dad and came down with the flu in, I believe, Vermont. I think I went to an Ani concert in Manhattan with Nicole. This, I guess, was the year I went to Whale Camp on Grand Manan and although it was hard in some ways it’s how I fell in love with Grand Manan. A love affair that continues to this day!
2004: God I was scared of leaving Thornton. I felt safe there and I’d actually made friends–good friends–and despite my general mental illness I had fun a lot, too. I loved a lot of the people I went to school with and I still feel very attached to them. Graduating was wonderful, because of the way TFS grad was structured–people stood up and said things about me and I felt so bathed in love and caring. My grandmother was there, and several aunts, uncles and cousins, and Ashley and Nicole and my parents of course, and special guest my sister Katherine! I’d met Kat only once in my life, when I was four, and it was very exciting and scary and nerve wracking and wonderful to see her again.
I also took part in a DVD about self-injury to be distributed to DCPS.
That fall I attempted a full time gig teaching gymnastics, but it didn’t work out. No good at all. I am a great teacher and I was then too, but the full-time thing was hard and I didn’t like the gym owner. By December I’d quit and found a gig nannying FT and was also planning on going to Montgomery College so I could get health insurance. This dovetails nicely into…
2005: I went to MC. It was not good. I was there solely for the health insurance and trying to do that as well as nanny full time was no good at all. Just a really bad spring all around. The babies I was working with were delightful but otherwise…disaster! So I quit all those things by the time summer rolled around. This is also when I stopped going to the expressive group therapy I’d been attending for a couple years, led by a woman I’d met at the hospital. Not seeing her and those girls was quite hard for awhile, although it was time to leave.
That summer we found health insurance that I could pay for myself, for maybe $150 ish a month, so that was GREAT. And that fall I started babysitting kindasorta fulltime, patching things together. This is when I met a lot of the kids I still care for now. Actually, of my current families, I think I met 3 this year…the other I’ve known since I was in middle school. I think this is the summer where I spent 10ish days with my grandmother in Maine and we had so much fun. We went for long walks on the beach, read together in the kitchen, and just had the greatest time.
2006: I don’t remember anything special happening this year. I was getting better, healing more and more, working more and more competently, and things were sliding into place in many ways. But I guess I don’t remember much else about that year! It was fairly calm, I guess, which is good. I know I spent a week with my grandmother in Maine. We bought wetsuits and she looked a bit like a chicken in hers. We rode bikes to the beach and once I rode mine into the ocean, because it was old and the brakes sucked. I treasure those memories.
Actually, I think this was the year I discovered Cedar Lane, which is HUGE. hugehugehuge. I love CLUUC and I started teaching there and felt at home so fast. It was the first place I went where everyone assumed I belonged, that I was a capable and competent adult, and maybe because they believed that, I was.
2007: Hoo boy, what a year this was. First of all, that summer my grandmother died while I sat with her and I saw her take her last breaths. That was incredible. Terrifying and beautiful. And incredibly hard. I’d learned to drive at that point and after I got sick of the house I’d go for long drives. That’s when I learned to drive, along roads in Maine, thinking about my dying grandmother. It was tremendously hard and I am so honored that I was there. I got closer to my cousins–we didn’t have much of a choice!–and spoke, very well, at my grandmothers’ funeral.
Then I started at UDC that fall. I started slow, just 2 classes: Comp 1 and history and philosophy of early childhood ed. (Should I have started differently? Probably.) I did extremely well, though, and I wrote some interesting papers and it was good. At that time I still thought I would transfer so I focused a bit on that, but I was also getting used to UDC. I think I taught OWL for the first time, which was a revelation. And Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, which in my memory will always be associated with my grandmother.
2008: Hard to believe this was just last year. I got my tonsils out, that was exciting. At some point in here I gave up the idea of transferring and decided UDC was a good place to stay. I worked hard. I quit with a family whose girls I loved.I started analysis, which was huge. I took creative writing, which was incredibly helpful, and learned that I can do math;) I don’t have to like it, though! I kept teaching at CLUUC, loving OWL as usual. We visited Grand Manan as a family for the first time and it was incredible, best vacation ever, and I miss it right now. I met my friend Laura, taking a chance that ended up quite well.
2009: Well. It started well enough, I guess, just another semester at school and work, and then we did camp in the summer, that was great fun. I really enjoyed our two weeks. And we spent a week in MA with cousins, which was terrific. I really enjoyed that. Then we went to Grand Manan and that was great. Except we were waiting to hear when my dad would have his kidney surgery, so that put a bit of a damper on things!
And the fall, of course, involved lumbar punctures and blood patches for me, and more importantly, 2 huge surgeries for my dad, and for several months I thought he would die. So that changed everything, of course. You don’t spend awhile thinking your father may well die and come away unchanged. It was terrifying. And then in the end it was all right.
I also started gymnastics and it was incredibly fun and freeing and I am incredibly bummed that, just as I mastered the front tuck on the tramp, I broke my stupid ankle and we will be in 2010 before I can go back.
So…what a decade it has been. It’s hard for me to believe that I’m the same person who could hardly talk as a freshman, who was so insecure and shy and scared. Of course, I’m not exactly the same person. I found some courage, this past decade. I didn’t know I had it in me, and if you’d told me in 1999 what would happen over the course of the next ten years I would have said I couldn’t survive it. But I did survive all the bad stuff, and there was such amazingly wonderful stuff, too.

I don’t know what the next decade holds. I hope I’ll finish school and start teaching and have kids and visit the chimps in Seattle and the gray whales in Baja and write at least a couple books and fall in love head over heels.
May my dreams, and yours, for the next decade come true.


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