The Early Years
One day while my mom was home and super pregnant (with me!), she opened up the front door to her upstairs condo to find a cat. This cat was a grey and white tabby with a medallion of grey in the middle of his white chest, he looked young, probably 6-9 months. She was surprised when this cat had the audacity to just let himself in the house, but she let him because he was so cute! Fast forward a couple months to the baby shower that was for little me, still in mom’s belly! The party was going on, people were eating hor dourves, and enjoying in light conversation. One of the guests noticed a cute little kitty roaming around and milling about the guests. She approached my mom and asked where she had gotten her cat because it looked surprisingly similar to her own cat! My mom explained how the cat had come to live at her house. This shocked her friend because her cat had just run away and she had been looking around and posting fliers up for him! Well, turns out… IT WAS THE SAME CAT! The lady ended up letting my mom keep the kitty (since he obviously wanted to live at our house). For the rest of my mom’s pregnancy, that kitty always wanted to be near my mom’s belly- if she was sleeping, the cat was next to her belly, if she was sitting on the couch, the cat was trying to climb on top of her belly, and anytime she was anywhere where he was able to get to her, he would try to be touching her belly. Once I was born, my kitty was always near me- he was basically my big brother! He slept in my crib when i was a baby, he slept on top of my head when i was a kid, and he slept in my room once i got my own room. I loved that kitty and I believe that he was one of my soulmates and the reason I love animals as much as I do.
Staying on the topic of my love of animals: I rode horses for about a year and it was one of the best times of my life! I was assigned a trainer and my own horse, Misty! (Okay, she wasn’t mine, but she was the main horse that I rode). She was a black thoroughbred and the most beautiful horse at the stables! She had such a mellow personality and was so patient and kind with me. She taught me how to take care of animals and how no matter how powerful an animal is, they can still be incredibly gentle and kind. I rode her once or twice a week and was in charge of cleaning her hooves, bathing her, and exercising her on my days at the stables. My trainer’s horse was named Autumn, and I am still convinced that he despised me. Whenever Misty was getting her check-ups or if she happened to be off training with another person, my trainer would make me ride Autumn (except on the rare occasion that I would get to ride the miniature horse, Peaches!!!) Now, on this one occasion, Misty was at the vet getting checked up; when I walked up to her stall and she wasn’t there, I knew that I would be riding Autumn. Even worse, my trainer informed me that we would be practicing leg pressure by riding bareback (no saddle) without hands (he had reins, but they would be tied and I would be expected to have my hands behind my back).
5th Grade Awesomeness
Aw man… 5th Grade was my absolute FAVORITE grade that I experienced. I was originally put in a bilingual class (English & Spanish) in which I knew only one person. Keep in mind, I had gone to this Elementary School since Kindergarten, so the previous 5 years… so I had friends. My mom asked me who was in my class with me and I only said one name – which happened to be the one kid that my mom didn’t like me hanging out with because she thought that the girl was a bad influence on me. She went to the school principal the next day and asked to have me transferred to the other 5th grade class (where all my friends were). I sure am glad that she did that (my mom always made sure to make friends with the principal)! From that day on, the best year of my life began- all thanks to Miss Millat!! This is the only class that I have ever been in where creative personalities really shined. Miss Millat understood, whether she knew it or not, that different people had different ways that they learned and she catered to each kind. There weren’t assigned seats, the table configuration changed at least weekly, and every project was fun, nothing in this class was ever boring. If she was going to lecture us, she had us sit on the ground as if we were listening to a story and often her lectures didn’t feel like lectures. Each unit we learned about had a project (or two) attached to it that involved the entire class- these projects would usually join together to create the “lecture” for the unit. For example: When we learned about the solar system, each table (4 people) was assigned a planet that we had to make a wall display about- my table was assigned Uranus. Together we had to find photos, facts, and details about the planet and make an interesting display on the wall next to our table, then we gave a verbal explanation of our planet to the class. This helped the people who were auditory learners- the verbal presentation, visual learners- the wall displays, and tactile learners- creating the wall displays and seeing how other groups interpreted the project. Three of my favorite projects that I did in 5th Grade were some of the biggest projects I’ve ever, to this day, done. The first project was recreating a spacecraft. It wasn’t specified what kind of spacecraft, it just was our interpretation- ours, a group of 5th graders’. All of us went home and found a bunch of household items: cardboard boxes, bottle caps, random cables and cords, Nintendo game controllers, jars, washers, nuts, bolts, a computer keyboard, etc. With Miss Millat guiding us, we all worked together (taking turns in small groups over a week) to build our interpretation of the cockpit of our spacecraft. We all voted on naming our spacecraft after the Challenger shuttle mission in which a faulty piece of the shuttle caused it to explode, killing a teacher. We named our craft “Challenger III” in her honor. Over the following weeks until Open House, we each got to take turns playing in the cockpit (that was one thing that I really enjoyed about Miss Millat, she allowed us to learn by using our imagination and playing.) The second project that I loved was the life-sized blue whale that we made out of black trash bags, duct tape, and a fan! We drew the whale on the asphalt outside of the classroom, laid down the trash bags over the outline, taped the bags together using duct tape, then traced an outline over the bags, cut out the whale shape, taped the sides together, and finally put the fan in the tail of the whale so that it could be inflated! We then added ribs, sea weed, organs, and facts about blue whales on the interior of the inflatable whale. The final project (my favorite) was that we had to make videos of our versions of the historic events leading up to and of the Revolutionary War. I was a part of the group who recreated The Boston Tea Party, Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” Speech, and The Ride of Paul Revere. That was my introduction into the wonderful world of film! This class was the class in which I learned the most about myself, how I learn, the things I like, film, and being creative. I am a right brain thinker and 5th grade showed me that it was fully acceptable to be a right brained thinker in a school system that rewards left brain thinkers.
Bullying in Middle School
Middle school, it’s not easy for anyone. I feel like kids are at their cruelest in middle school, and my experience supports that. I wasn’t a skinny kid, I was pretty squishy, but I wouldn’t consider myself fat either. I was also trying to find where I fit in- I was in the school concert band, I liked the color black, I had short brown hair and glasses… so wannabe goth geek? Well, I had like 4 pairs of the same black jeans and 2 black sweatshirts with my middle school’s logo on them; so that’s what I wore to school everyday: black jeans, a shirt, and a black sweatshirt. There was a girl in my P.E. class who also had short brown hair and wore glasses… and she didn’t like that people compared us, sometimes even saying we were twins or the same person. Every single day that I went to P.E., this girl would make fun of something about me: my clothes, my hair, the fact that I hadn’t shaved my legs in two days, I didn’t use the right body spray/lotion/deodorant, etc. She thought she was popular and tearing others down, especially me, made her feel powerful I guess. I always tried explaining that she was wrong, about how I had multiple pairs of jeans and sweatshirts, so of course I washed my clothes and didn’t wear the same thing everyday without washing them (that was one of the rumors she spread about me.) Nothing I said would help or do anything. I just chose to ignore her, but it really took a toll on my self esteem. I attribute this time in my life to the development of my body dysmorphia (thinking you look different than you actually do, in my case, I see myself as heavier than I actually am.) I have worked very hard to accept myself as I am and build up my self confidence over the past 20+ years; all from the words of a mean 12-year old girl who probably had self esteem issues herself and just wanted to feel popular. Bullying is not okay, please don’t do it and if you have or see kids that are bullying or being bullied, please do everything in your power to stop the bullying. This world needs more lovers and less bullies.
Finding My BFF
The best thing to happen in Middle School was meeting my absolute best friend ever! I don’t recall which day it was, but it had to be within the first two weeks of 7th Grade. I was at a new school and a lot of the people I knew from Elementary School ended up going to another Middle School. So, like the ridiculous introvert that I am, I sat all alone in a corner of the courtyard during Lunch Hour. I just figured that I would eat close to my locker so that I didn’t have to carry my books more than was necessary. Well, one of those lonely lunch days, while I was finishing whatever I was eating, I made eye contact with a girl who was eating lunch with her friend at the next planter over. Surprisingly the gestured for me to come over to their planter! We started chatting and they said that they recognized me from 1st period band (I played clarinet and they both played flute.) From then on, her and I just hit it off and have remained friends (BEST FRIENDS!!!) to this day (over 20 years later!)
I feel like High School is either the best part or the worst part of someone’s life- but my High School experience was overall good, but the BEST part of High School was 100% Marching Band! I was in Marching Band at my High School for a four years, Freshman through Senior year. The best year out of High School was actually my Freshman year (I know, opposite of what the movies taught us). My freshman year was the year our Marching Band was super legit! The Seniors were like Gods to us, they were so amazing, talented, smart, and adult-like; we all looked up to them and felt super special when they looked at us. The first taste of this world that I felt so at home in, was even before my first year of High School started- Band Camp, the 2 hottest and most hellacious weeks of the summer. If you’ve ever played sports, I believe this is called the “pre-season.” Well, my first Band Camp experience was… sweaty. I wore jeans everyday and honestly (as someone who now lives each day over 78*F in shorts and tank tops), I don’t know what I was thinking! They worked us for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks. We learned how to march (it’s a LOT more complicated than you think), read drill charts, memorize music, and work as a team. From day 1 all the non-freshman knew that we were a good group of freshmen- they would tell that it just clicked for us. We would use Friday night football game halftime shows as dress rehearsals for our actual main events, Field Shows (Marching Band Competitions). Field Shows were my favorite parts of Marching Band. There was one particular Field Show that I remember very well. We competed in the morning with all the smaller bands, we had about 65 members if I remember correctly). At the awards ceremony for the morning round of competition our band ended up winning Overall Sweepstakes, which is the first place of all first places. Since we won that, we were asked to come back and compete with the evening competitors- Marching Bands with upwards of 200+ members! Well, we were all hungry, so we did what any group of teenagers who could drive to lunch in California would do, we went to In-N-Out. Once we all finished eating, we headed back to the field… but we were running a bit behind schedule! We were slotted to go on early on in the evening, so our bus drivers got us there as fast as they could. We were told to get fully dressed and put together our instruments while still on the bus. Most of us were able to do that, but some people were still only half dressed when the busses pulled into the lot. We all jumped off the bus and ran (carefully) across a soccer field in order to get to the football field where we were supposed to be performing in the next 3 minutes! I jumped off the bus as the drumline was pulling their drums out of the bus’s storage areas- if you’ve never seen a drummer run full sprint while wearing a snare drum, you’re missing out! We all made it to the edge of the field with enough time to fall into our ranks and take a breath. My favorite memory from that day was hearing one of our (very intimidating) marching instructors say to us, “You’re already winners guys. Now, go out there and have fun!” And that’s exactly what we did! (Fun fact: I watched my trumpet-playing friend slip and fall on her butt in the mud during our performance and half of us were laughing rather than playing, but we won like 2nd place or something in the evening awards!)
First “Love” (Spoiler… it wasn’t actual love…)
My first boyfriend… I had a crush on this little drummer boy (well, he was 6’3″) since the 8th grade. When I was a Sophomore, I finally felt comfortable and confident enough in my skin to be like, “I like you.” So, I eventually started asking him to hang out more and I’m pretty sure one of my friends told him that I had a crush on him… My big thing was taking him home after practice. So one day, when I was driving him somewhere (I had a car and my license and he had neither), I said, “hey, I like you, wanna be my boyfriend?” I know, super smooth. Well, he said “yeah, sure” and we dated for 5 months… omg so meaningful! Then out of the blue, one evening, he was like “I don’t see us having a future” and dumped me… Then started dating my friend… That’s when I found out that High School relationships feel like they’re something, but they’re nothing like the are in the movies! Just a bunch of dumb kids with too many hormones!
How We Met
I met my now husband while at work. He recalls seeing me while walking to his car (before we ever met!) and thought that I was cute or something. I officially met him when I auditioned for a puppetry role in a show that he did. He told me later that he had fought for me to be cast in the show so that he could get to know me better. Well, I got cast in the show and he was one of my instructors. We became fast friends and ended up hanging out a little more once I made friends with the rest of the cast. We dated other people over the next few years and even stopped speaking for an entire year (I was a different person then, a worse person… I’m glad those days are behind me). When the time was right, we finally got together as a couple.
On a whim, I bought tickets to a play in London, so the two decided to plan a trip! This trip would take them to London, Cardiff, and Paris. Over the next 8 months, I planned out all the details: the place to stay, the things to do, the places to go. While I planned the trip, Art secretly began looking for the ring, planning a secret dinner with both sets of parents, and asked permission to ask me to marry him. My mom and grandma said yes (of course) the night before the couple left for Europe! On the seventh day of their trip, their final day in London before catching a train to Paris (and after a lot of secret location scouting on his part), Art asked me if we could return to Kensington Palace, a place we both fell in love with on their first day in London to take a photo that he wanted to get. Art and I went back to Kensington Gardens and found the perfect spot for this photo Art had in mind. Having done this at multiple other landmarks, I found a bench to sit on while Art meticulously set up his camera. After about 20 minutes, Art was finally satisfied with the placement of his camera. He called me over and we posed for a photo (or five, the camera was set to take continuous photos every few seconds.) After Art were sure they had gotten their photo, he turned to me and said, “There’s just one more thing…” With a deep breath, a sweet speech, and nobody around, Art asked me to marry him. With tears of joy streaming down my face, I said yes… as the camera kept capturing photos. We then went on to spend the rest of that trip as Husband and Wife-to-be in London and Paris!
Our wedding was magical. The theme of our wedding was Geeky Chic (this was discovered after all the planning was almost complete). Art and I really wanted to incorporate our geeky fandoms into our wedding but in a subtle way, not in a kitschy way. The whole day still feels like a dream, a perfect dream. I loved seeing Art all dressed up in his suit (which he got the day before because the dry cleaners lost his actual wedding suit!) and just getting a whole day to celebrate us was so amazing! I literally cannot put into words how lovely our wedding was or how much I love my husband, but luckily I have a bunch of beautiful photos and a video that captured the events of the day, our day!