Friday, April 16, 2010

Old Haunts

Yesterday I met with one of my best friends. Rather than go and do something fun, like, you know, eat or get books or something, we decided to revisit the scene of our greatest triumphs, the highlights of our lives.

Wait, did I say triumphs and highlights? I meant, revisit the scene of our greatest insecurities and unhappiness. Maybe I'm speaking for Natalie here. So I'll just make this about me.

Cue dramatic, ominous music:


Copy this down in your journal, folks. You can't fail!

I'm going to exaggerate just a tad. But come on, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I wasn't cool in high school, right? No one as well adjusted as I am could possibly have been happy those years. (Heh. Kidding. But I personally have the theory that no one is cool in high school, no matter what their social status is. Everyone is scared and lonely and trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in the world. It's certainly easier for some than it is for others, but I'm proud of the fact that I was a huge, huge dork. And weirdo. And nerd. And, as one of my favorite teachers that I said hi to yesterday put it, "Crazy Militant Feminist." That was an exaggeration on his part. Mostly.)

I'm rambling. Onto the tour!

Scene of my many triumphs of amazing athletic prowess
aka Sometimes I sat in the bleachers, but only when I couldn't get out of it

This was the location of my senior prom. Yup, prom. In the gym. But no worries--they draped a huge, army-camo parachute from the ceiling, so it was really pretty. Put butcher paper to cover the lockers, too!

The worst part of all is, I wrote a really funny newspaper article poking gentle fun at the whole thing (and the fact that my graduating class NEVER had an off-site activity) and, umm, made someone cry. Bad, BAD high school Kiersten. High school Kiersten would have cried if she knew she made someone cry.

But in spite of the dominance of the gym and the celebration of athletics, you cannot find more talented students in the arts. Did your high school have a full orchestra and band to accompany its plays? (Okay, if you live in Utah, probably. But still. Talent, talent, talent.)

Practice that I felt like a creeper taking pictures of

Sometimes I wish I had been more involved in high school. I did choir and newspaper and Mock Trial (ROCK ON), but I never really got involved in anything. Maybe that's the secret to happiness (or happier-ness) in high school--finding something you love doing that takes up a lot of the time you'd otherwise spend napping, or wallowing, or crying. Now, if there had been a napping, wallowing, crying, and reading quietly in your room club, I would have been president. And vice-president. And mascot.

My favorite/least favorite brother has it figured out--band, choir, drama, you name it. He has fun. Also, I'll say it for you: "HIS HAIR."

I was always too afraid of looking/feeling dumb to get involved or be passionate about anything. And you know what? That was dumb.

This is a fairly accurate representation of my level of school spirit then.
"It's a sword. In a rock. Seriously? I'm gonna go home and take a nap."

But I'm kidding. I totally took the following inspirational wall decoration to heart:

I put 100% effort into putting in the least effort possible!

In fact, my senior year there were some classes I skipped more than I went to. I think/hope they've cracked down on that. You could get away with a lot as long as your grades and test scores were good. It wasn't a very good system. Unless you love naps.

But it wasn't all bad. Every day I got a nutritious lunch:

Sugar, or salt? ALWAYS sugar.

And then went to this place:

and walked straight past it rather than walking in and trying to find someone who would think I was cool enough that they wouldn't mind me sitting by them. I'm sure people wouldn't have minded, but it was always the fear that they would--can you tell I was scared a lot in high school? I wasted a lot of time being scared.

So I'd go off to a favorite teacher's classroom and meet a few other friends who daren't brave the cafeteria or the even cooler "commons" area, and we'd download stupid songs on the computer to bug the teacher, and write out weird slogans on the board. (I believe my favorite was "Kiersten and Leah for Supreme co-Dictators of the World." I don't think Leah and I have plans for world domination any more.) (Well, maybe she does, I'll have to ask. But I'm tired just trying to handle my kids--the world can take care of itself, thankyouverymuch.)

It's interesting looking back. I got asked to every dance, had a couple of boyfriends, and a group of good girlfriends. (I was desperately, achingly lonely and had insomnia.) I got good grades and killer test scores and my teachers loved me. (I flunked three terms of math and hid it from my parents.) I was smart and funny and confident. (I was painfully insecure and worried that no one would ever really know or love me.) I was on the ball and a high school success story. (I struggled with depression.)

And I suspect that everyone I knew, everyone you knew, also had a whole hidden subtext to their life. Probably still do. Maybe that's why I write YA--it was all a mystery then, and it still kind of is.

But it wasn't all miserable. Evie, my MC in PARANORMALCY, would be horrified to know how I really felt about high school. She has a tendency to idealize it. But don't worry, Evie. I did have...

A locker. And, yes, lockers? AWESOME.

And surviving high school and taking those experiences to figure out who you really are and who you want to be and find out a way to make a happy life for yourself? Even awesomer.

So I guess high school wasn't so bad after all.

Except that gym. Really. That still sucks.


Kristan said...

Oh. Wow.

Between this and Natalie's picture of the statue... Wow.

"I put 100% effort into putting in the least effort possible!"

HEE. At least you can have a sense of humor about it.

Natalie said...

Dude, that DID turn out differently. I'll have to do the funnier version...

Kiersten White said...

Yes, I suppose High School Kiersten came back from the dead for a bit : )

But really, if I didn't have all of this to draw on for my writing, it'd be really boring, right?

Natalie Whipple said...

Yeah, you'd be SO boring without high school Kiersten:P

writtenwyrdd said...

Kiersten, your little brother looks like the better-looking version of the guy that plays
Ron Weasley!

Revisiting high school is an odd experience. Try it after a couple of decades and it's really weird.

Claire Dawn said...

You and Natalie went to school together?

I must be the abnormalest person on the planet, but I enjoyed high school. I didn't think I was particularly popular or antyhing. When I was about 13 I had a run-in with a rumour and I couldn't shake it.

Having a bad reputation is a fantastic freedom. It's the worse thing that can happen in school and if you already have one, then you're free to live as you please!

Lakien said...

Aw, lockers... That would have been useful. My sister is now a senior in the same high school I went to, and it's kinda nostalgic hearing her talk about it. I might go there eventually just to creep around and feel nostalgic. Hm, I need a partner-in-crime... *going to look for friends willing to feel nostalgic*

Elizabeth Poole said...

Wow! I didn’t know you and Natalie knew each other in high school! I thought you met through blogs! That is so cool!

I have a pet theory that if it weren’t for our experiences in high school, we would never have anything to write about. I don’t write YA, but my feelings and emotions from that turbulent time still fuel a lot of my character’s actions. Not that they are all stuck in angst, but the general searching for who you are, and wondering if anyone feels the same way you do, and so on.

By the way, I LOVE the dress you’re wearing! It’s gorgeous on you. I love the color.

Thanks for the post. It's hard putting yourself out there in such a way sometimes.

Kiersten White said...

Actually, Natalie and I had classes together but never knew each other. We did, in fact, meet through blogs, and only after several months put two and two together!

Claire, I like your perspective : )

Dara said...

Really interesting how you and Natalie met!

You could not pay me enough to set foot again in my high school. Then again, my high school gets more and more dangerous every year (no joke) so I wouldn't want to risk my safety.

The last time I was there, it was for some awards thing my sister had her senior year...four years ago.

I still remember the horror seeing that they had taken pictures during "pep rallies" my senior year and posted them all over the main hallway--and my less than enthusiastic face stared back at me. So not pleased :P It's like a part of my soul is now captured in those halls...

Valerie said...

It's like you've been reading and quoting my high school journals (except for the part about being asked to all the dances and having boyfriends because um... yeah, didn't happen.) but the rest was totally me. Great student, tested extremely well, teachers loved me even as I was secretly failing my classes and by my senior year essentially doing no homework at all and skipping constantly.

It's so interesting to look back on. I think that's why I write YA too, because after high school you realize how much everyone was struggling and you're right, it really is all a bit of a mystery. It's probably all therapy for me, writing about teens from the other side. You know, as a survivor!

Also, I was totally thinking your brother has awesome hair right before you said it! Awesome post!

heidikins said...

Dah! Crazy memories!!

Also--I hope Mr. B is as caustic as ever. ;o)


Jessie Oliveros said...

Co-dictator? I wish I would have known. I would have voted for you.

ella144 said...

Your brother looks like Peter Pan!

High school was so confusing and scary and I'm really glad I never have to do it again!

But I'm glad I had to do it once.

Kiersten White said...

Ella, I like that: "But I'm glad I had to do it once."


Lisa said...

Wow! That's a big ass high school! I agree with you, no one is cool in high school, and even the so called cool kids suffer from major insecurities. I'm always telling my oldest daughter "just wait till you go to college. It's so much better!"

Oh and btw, you are just too stinking adorable. Love the dress :)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

Loved high school in Utah. Except for the angsty parts. And they were many. It was a good experience to live through and move on from. I wouldn't change a thing.

Marsha Sigman said...

I handled my high school insecurity by being loud, sarcastic, and aggressive. Actually, that still kinda works for me.

I promise I am much nicer now. Still loud though.

Krista V. said...

Where did you go to high school, Kiersten? I went to Davis. (Which doesn't even exist anymore. They tore the old building down to make way for airport-high-school. Honestly, I think I'd cry if I had to go to that soul-sucking place every day. Sure, the fire alarm didn't work (you knew it was a real fire if the secretary came over the intercom and said, "Uh, we need to evacuate the building") and half the building would collapse if there were ever an earthquake, but hey, that school had character:) (Oh, and did I mention the flight of stairs that when from the first floor to the fourth and completely bypassed the second and third?))

I did mock trial, too. I was a witness, and my policy debate partner was my lawyer, so we were always pretty in synch:)

Jade said...

That was what my high school experience was missing--a locker! In Australia you just have to lug all your books around in your bag. You guys were spoilt!!

Megs said...


If I knew as much as I now know then, I would have done so many things differently. Like actually be a the kind of best friend I should have been and stopped feeling sorry for myself as I watched all of my friends go to dances and be involved in stuff and still get good grades.... You may have been a nerd (;)), but I was a total loser. Honestly though? I look back on it with a strange kind of fondness.

It was definitely strange going back to *teach* there. But I'm grateful for it, because now I have some really great memories of that place too. :)

I guess it all contributes to life and experience, eh?

Kiersten White said...

Ah, Megs, we were all losers : ) And I was a terrible friend.

Lisa--Thanks! It's new : ) I wanted to feel cute going back there...

Jade--You know, I've talked to people from other countries before and they all think lockers are super cool. It inspired a whole character trait in Evie!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

What fun! I read Natalie's blog as well. Looks like you had a great time.

Mark and Mal said...

Hi Kiersten! I'm a new fan in that I am finally commenting on one of your posts and an old fan as I have been reading your blog for a while. I feel like you just summarized my high school experience, ironically I went to your high school, was friends with your younger sister, and lived just down the street. Just wanted to let you know I love your blog and I am looking forward to your book and you inspired me to start writing again and... I think that's it. So thanks, I think you're awesome.

Maggie said...

Hmm. I'm in high school now. I'm a sophomore. Hah, honestly? I'm feeling like if you were still in hs now, we would be best friends :P

Haha. It's not so bad here, but I'm definitely ready to get out of here. As of yet, I haven't quite adopted any of those fond moments that you say you did. But I'm looking forward to them. Want to leave or not, I love these kids. :)

Thanks Kiersten! It's fun hearing your thoughts on being in school!

Kiersten White said...

Thanks, Mal! Good luck with the writing!

Maggie--Good friends are key : ) And you sound like you're on the ball. I would have been lucky to be friends with you!

Erin said...

hah! love that they have updated all of the inspirational sayings! so world classy!

two things.

first, i wish that it had occurred to me in high school that you can actually be *friends* with siblings. less loneliness for the both of us. i was stupid.

second, although high school was in many ways a total nightmare (and i in fact still have nightmares that i didn't actually graduate and have to go back), i would love to do it all over again -- knowing what i know now. knowing what i know now, i think it would be great fun! i would just NOT CARE about what anyone thought and even dare to like, SIT IN THE COMMONS AREA if i felt like it, and talk to people and be friendly and stuff. i guess i just hope i can help my kids be that way ...

Kiersten White said...

We were both stupid, Er. And yes--if only we could go back knowing that we could actually, you know, HAVE FUN. Live and learn : ) And I'm glad we're friends now.

Whirlochre said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that when both Paranormalcy and the Punktuations have achieved their imminent world wide success, the photo of you with the sword will feature on your first CD of angsty guitar ballads.

Ashley said...

Wow! It looks almost exactly the same. I didn't know you put up those signs! Good for you!

Jill Wheeler said...

LOL at the cheesy hallway signs. We have many of those!

Ebony McKenna. said...

Years after leaving highschool I still had those awful dreams where I'm back there, looking at a blank timetable wondering where the maths class was supposed to be.

Bleugh. Shudder.

Sooooooo glad high school didn't last forever. It just felt like it at the time.

Samantha Bennett said...

We also had school dances in our gym. I would sneak to the bathroom during slow songs so I wouldn't have to dance with anybody. Insecure high schooler? Check!

Falen said...

i'm always sad when i hear that anyone had a tough time in high school. I loved high school and never wanted to leave.
Also we did have a full orchestra and band for our school plays. I was in the orchestra and we were the best in state for quite a few years.
Orch dorks rock!
Yay for schools supporting the arts!

La Reina said...

Supreme Co-Dictator of the World checking in! And yes - I'm too am slightly, if not entirely, completely, utterly, insanely, ridiculously exhausted from my post-high school adventures to harbor any serious ambitions for taking over the world at the moment. But...I am studying maybe once I'm all PhD-ed up and you're the famous author, we can resume our evil plans and take over through subtle marketing ploys and subliminal messages in your published texts....secret meeting next week? :)