Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Beth Smith
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Email Beth



I was born on May 23, 1981 in Alaska. My parents both majored in English at St. Joseph University in PA, where they met and fell in love and got married. My older sister was born within their first year of marriage. I was born eight years later after their move to Alaska. My father was and still is, working in business. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and cooked a proper dinner for us every night. I didn't grow up on Mac and cheese, but rather salmon and eggplant and wild rice. I didn't eat at a McDonalds until I was about 11 yrs old, and I promptly got sick all over a card shop that my dad and I went to after eating at McDonalds.
My family moved from Alaska when I was about 5 yrs old, so I don't remember a large amount, but I remember a few things. My best friend, Sarah, lived next door and her older brothers would pick on us. One time, one of them, I don't remember who, knocked me off my bike, causing me to land on the driveway flat on my back. I remember crying, my older sister, Genevieve ran over, checking my head while I lay prone, and Sarah asked me why my tears ran into my ears because her's always ran down her cheeks. Then one of her brothers whacked her upside the head and called her an idiot. But we weren't dumb, just really young.
One time, after a huge snow storm, Genevieve and our fairly new little sister, Megan, and I went out to make a snow house. We packed Megan into a cube of snow and made her be the TV. She was usually very happy about almost anything, so she didn't care about what role she had, just as long as she was included.
In spring I'd run out and try to eat all the strawberries that grew in our front yard before Genevieve could pick them to make strawberry shortcake or whatever. This really pissed her off and I have always found that amusing.
One time my family and I went to visit a Russian Orthodox cemetary. I thought the graves were little dog houses with no doors, because they looked like that, only brightly painted and some had those Russian dome things on top. That was when I was chased by the biggest dragonfly I have ever encountered. I screamed and ran to my parents, told them about it, and my mother laughed at me. I don't blame her, I can get pretty dramatic.
Other things about Alaska: We had a tree crash on our roof after it snapped from an ice storm. There were earthquakes and polar bear warnings, even though we lived in the "biggest" city in Alaska, which really isn't saying much. We regularly had a mommy moose and her moose baby come into our garden and eat our flowers. We have pictures. On one side of us there were mountains as in "purple mountain majesty." Seriously. On the other side was the icy ocean. I've never been anywhere since that felt so raw and real.
Then we moved to Florida. Whenever someone hears this, they exclaim "Whoa! Big change!" and I roll my eyes. Duh. That's like when it's really hot out and someone goes to you, while you are sweating profusely and trying to breath, "hot enough fer ya?" Yeah buddy, sure is.
Anyway, my family lived there for two years, and it was like a vacation! We had a pool! EVERYONE on my street had a pool! And we went to the beach all the time! My friends and I would pool hop after school and on the weekends. I had a best friend, Alex, and I think he was my first, and so far, only love (at age 6-7). His family and my family matched. He was a middle kid, like me, he had a little brother Megan's age, and a significantly older brother that was Genevieve's age. It was great! Parties and watermelon all the time.
Alex and I were inseperable, and we tried all sorts of things together. One day we were talking about the differences between boys and girls, and he whipped out his little weiner. So I showed him my baby bean, and then he informed me that his older brother put his own thing into girls. So we tried this. With him laying on top of me, I asked him "Now what?" and he told me I'm supposed to turn on my stomach and he goes in my butt. So we tried this. Then mom called us for dinner.
When I moved from Florida, Alex gave me his favorite Lego man, which I still have around here somewhere, and he kissed me and promised never to forget me. Then when we pulled out of the driveway, he cried. So I cried. Everyone was crying. It was horrible. We were on our way to Pennsylvania.
I was a swimmer in Florida, just like everyone else. But I was different because I was better then the average kid. I didn't need my swim teacher after the first couple lessons, and he'd just let me swim with minimal assistance. I flew. I could really cut the water up. My older sister was pretty damn good too. The little sister however, was never for swimming, though she sure did try. Later she became a local basketball and lacrosse star. One time, when in high school, she was photographed by the paper. Under the huge photo of her about to rip some other poor lacrosse player to shreds, the words "BOLD MOVE" were printed. She sure is one bold mover.
But I digress. Anyway, swimming was for me. It turns out that I was meant for the water, but not really for physical competition. I'm more of an endurance person. I can beat you with sheer grit and exhaust you to death, but if you sprint, I'm dust. But despite not being all that competitive with sports, I stuck with the swimming longer than I really wanted to, mainly because whenever my mother poses a question, it's not so much a question but her opening statement to what is sure to be what she refers to as a "lively discussion where emotions sometimes get heated." I call these "discussions" fights. Perspective is funny, but not so ha-ha.
I think the reason I started hating swimming was that I was always placed to do the butterfly stroke, the hardest pain in my ass stroke there is. Turns out I was really good at it, but only because my shoulders are hyper-extended and can make a full 360 rotation. Now, you try it. Hold your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers and without breaking contact, bring your hands to rest in your lap. If you can do this, you have hyper-extended shoulders and might be really good at swimming the butterfly. Go try it out!
I also hated swimming because Genevieve became not only my somewhat over-bearing sister, but my coach.
So, I stopped. And I got fat instead.
I was in sixth grade, in what was going to be my last year in Catholic school, and I was getting more depressed and eating more junk than ever. I was so gross and miserable! It didn't really help that Megan was super cute and super pretty and super skinny and I was the fat depressing older sister who was going around picking fights with everyone and anyone.
At this point, I started writing dirty stories and drawing dirty pictures and felt the wrath of God breathing on my neck. So I told everyone that I was going to be nun, which made the priests and nuns that taught me overjoyed. A couple months after I declared that I wanted to lead a life of servitude, I was sent to my first funeral. It was for one of my lay teacher's father. It was open casket. It confused and depressed me. When I told my parents, they got all fired up and pulled my little sister and I outta there and told the school and the church that they had no right in taking on the role of parents without asking permission first.
And I decided that if I wanted to serve God, I'd better read the Bible and pay attention. I didn't get through it all, but I have gotten through a fair amount. An unexpected side affect of reading the Bible was loosing my faith. The more I read, the more I thought that religion is bogus and that these are just a bunch of stories to teach us all how to treat each other with some kindness and a little love. I stopped believing in God, stopped going to church, and stopped feeling really attached to a lot of things that had held me together before. I have yet to figure this angle of my life out yet, and the scandals over molesting priests isn't helping me return to my former religion any faster. So, to those priests, Thanks assholes.
Speaking of molestation:
No, not me.
But we used to have this neighbor with two sons, one a year or so younger than Megan, and one quite a bit older. After dinner in the spring and summer, he'd run next door and yell for Megan to come down to play with him because he really loved her. She thought he was a cute little kid, so she loved him too.
Then she stopped wanting to play with him when he came a-calling. I have a day burned in my memories because in retrospect I should have seen signs and kicked some ass, but of course I was in middle school, feeling like I was in hell, and miserable. But one day, this little cute kid was screaming for Megan to come out to play, and we were sitting on our beds in our room, and I was like "Hey, go out there! He just wants to play with you!" and she looked a little scared and weird and said she didn't want to. But then Mom and Dad called up for her and said she was being rude. What we didn't know until many years later was that the older brother had gotten hip to how his little brother and Megan played together and had started using his kid brother to lure Megan out of the house so that he could molest her. To make her do things that she can't even today entirely recall. There's a detective out there looking for this bastard, and I hope he never finds him because I'm ready to rage all over his ass.
But other than that, childhood until middle school was great. Middle school became one humiliating experience after another. I was fat, I got huge boobs right away, and was accused of stuffing. So, I hunched over and wore really huge clothes. Because of my bad posture, I was nicknamed "sculiosis girl". Even this one girl who actually did have a pretty bad case of sculliosis taunted me with it. I thought that was cruel.
Then one day we started reading Jack London's "Call of the Wild" and I was renamed Buck because the few people that knew I was from Alaska told everyone, and apparently around here that's something to make fun of. So, I'd get questions like "did you live in an igloo, Buck?" Yeah, but it was a pain in the ass in the summers cuz our roof kept melting. "Did you live with the eskimos?" Sure, and I killed me my first bear at age 4 with my ulu knife.
Some of those kids believed me and seemed impressed. I would take them for a ride and pity them for never really knowing about things going on beyond their school district. But it didn't matter that they were silly and stupid because I was still the fat girl with huge breasts who walked around so ashamed.
One day, I was having a routine physical. My doctor looked a bit concerned with how much weight I'd gained in the last few months and asked me about it. I told her I wanted to loose it. She told me that was good because I was at an age (13) where boys and girls were going to start dating and no one wanted someone as big as me. I went home and cried and ate a whole box of cupcakes. I also began thinking that it wasn't just me that hated myself, that clearly, just like my doctor told me, I was somehow made unlovable because of the size of my ass. So, I became way too caught up in myself and decided that being surlier and angrier and more hateful was what I meant to do. And I started slicing into myself. And I don't think I'm over that particularly biting remark yet.
By this time, Genevieve had been going to college in Chicago for a couple of years. I barely noticed because I barely knew her.
Anyway, from that doctor visit on, I felt like boys were beyond me and would never want me. But who always loved me? The girls.
I was also finding out that I was pretty good at drawing things and people. So, by the time high school rolled around, I had pretty much found a calling, other than being a nun: art. Hurrah. I had purpose. Suddenly, the popular kids were all impressed with my little doodles and would ask me to draw out tattoos for them. I just couldn't come to their parties. But that's fine, because I was too timid and green to deal with the things they were into, like drinking and sex and drugs. I just wanted out and had a feeling that my little doodles were my ticket away from these people who'd so easily made my life miserable. I felt hope.
I then got cocky because I rose in ranks and became one of "the" artists in my high school program. I felt awesome!
I won awards and got all A's and scored a 5 on my AP exam and went onto art school.
And it was great! I became a camp counselor during the summers, teaching art to little Girl Scouts. In the fall I went into school and did what I loved all the damn time! I met the coolest people, the ones I'd actually want to get drunk with and loosen up with. Then I met a crazy lesbian a couple years older than me and tested out my curiosity with her. She fell in love, I told her I was there just for shits and giggles. I had the break all connection to her, and she became crazy in love. One night (I was sleeping nude cause my dorm room was so hot) she broke into my room and I woke up while she was in advance stages of making her moves on me. I screamed and thrashed and kicked her out. Then she made artwork about me, where she took these old nude photos of me and reprinted them and tore them us and arranged them in a crucifix on an abandoned door. She scrawled my name on it, and violently gouged it out with a ball-point pen. Later, she would randomly pop into my life and look at me with a stare that goes through me. I saw her the other day at the grocery store where a friend and I were picking up some lunch. We turn around and there is the crazy lesbian staring at me, and I ignore her, but my friend had once shared a studio with her and won't be so cold as me to someone. She started talking to her but the crazy lesbian stared at me and asked me why I wasn't in Colorado.
Oh yeah, I had recently moved out to Colorado shortly after I graduated last May with my best friend, Sunshine. She was out there to be with her girlfriend. I was there to try it all out. I hated it and left after a month.
Anyway, I'll give the crazy lesbian a name : Jen. That's really her name. I try not to speak it or think about her because that was one of the worst decisions I have ever made. However, at a party she threw, I met the boy that I would loose my virginity to. I'll call him Mr. Pornpants. That isn't his name, but it should be. I'm afraid that should he and I loose touch and he suddenly pops back into my life (which he tends to do) many years down the road, and is balding and has a spare tire, I'll still want to jump him because I have yet to find a chemical reaction like that.
Like I said, he and I met at a party that Jen was throwing. She had been working at some performance gig with a couple of his roommates and so he came along and I came along and we met. He had had a girlfriend at the time, and I was still caught up with Jen, as much as I didn't want to be. Oh, by this time in my life I was getting my weight under control and working out with my roommate four or five times a week at the local gym. I was starting to feel really great. Anyway, fast forward to Mr. Pornpant's New Year's Eve bash. I had a great time, mostly. Sunshine passed out at 11pm and I kept checking on her to make sure no one violated her in her sleep. A friend of mine from Slovenia got really high and disappeared for most of the time. Another friend who had recently been dumped (as in on CHRISTMAS) by her fiance, kept spontaneously stripping and I kept having to dress her. But I was happily wasted. And then Jen decided to try to claim me as her own, physically threatened two really nice guys that were just talking to me, and grabbed at me. So, we had a much publicized and video-recorded fight.
Then I didn't see or hear from Mr. Pornpants until the first week of the following April. I didn't really care because I was caught up with school and he and I had never really been friends. I just knew that the first time I saw him I wanted to go crazy on him. So, one day where I was particularly gross after being cooped up in my studio for ever, I came home. And immediately got a knock on my door. It was Mr. Pornpants. So we talked and he told me how he and his girlfriend had broken up a couple months before and how he'd tried three other times to catch me at my place, etc....how nice. I felt really nice and a little confused because I had no idea what he'd want with me. Anyway, we then embarked on an open fuck-buddy senario. Mind you, this was the guy I lost my virginity to. So, I was damaged by this because I wasn't ready to be used. I still wanted to have a real relationship, and I thought I could change him. Whatever. So, after a month it ended badly. We didn't speak for a year.
Then I get a phone call the night before my Senior Thesis show.
No, I don't let him come over. But we start talking again and finally meet up and it's cool and then he's on me and I'm all happy about that.
And this continues for awhile. And I start getting emotional, so I run away to Colorado.
And I come back and he's suddenly Mr. Exclusivo with some other girl.
And then he's not exclusive with her. And then, a couple weeks later he is again.
So, now he's moved to Brooklyn and I am in Philly. The rest of my romantic life is not much to speak about.
But anyway, my senior year at college was a nightmare. I had a nervous breakdown where suddenly I just didn't do anything. I'd sit around and think about quitting. And I went back to that nasty habit of slicing myself. I didn't produce anything to speak of and often didn't produce at all. I still somehow managed to stay on dean's list, but I think that was solely the product of my previous reputation. That and I think my teachers thought I was so fragile at the time that if I failed, I'd go over the edge. If I hadn't had my friends there, I don't think I would have ever gotten out of bed, ever.
Then I started getting over that. I had a decent show, graduated with honors. Then I run away to Colorado. Then I come back and have been looking for work ever since. But in the mean time, my friends and I have started some projects, like a band, and a drama club, and a book club. I've retaught myself some stuff on the piano, and I design and make things for the fun of it. I'm also taking a Statistics class right now, to flesh out my degree and prepare for possibly getting my teacher's certification. I just got back from it about 1/2 hour ago. It's the first math class I've taken in 6 years and it's kicking my ass.
My younger sister is happily making her way through college. She's a sophomore, and in love with a really good young man. She studies drama and English and thinks Shakespeare is a genius.
My older sister has been married for about seven years now, to another really wonderful man. They have lived in Chicago for awhile, but come next fall, they are moving to L.A. so he can go to film school and they finally won't have to deal with those bitter Chicago winters.
My parents are still together, probably always will be. My mother and I until recently didn't have a great relationship. But I'm working on it from my end. She's the type that doesn't think she needs to work on our relationship. I've always been a daddy's girl.
And that's about it. Really after my childhood, most things are a blur.