Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Narrow Misses, Part 4

When I left for college I was ready to end my relationship with my high school boyfriend, but I was only 16 so I did it somewhat vaguely. Muttered a bit about wanting to date around, maybe too under my breath. He wrote me long letters and called but I didn't answer either for a couple of months. Thought this sent a clear enough signal.

He came to my college one weekend and partied with a high school friend. I happened to be in the same guy's dorm that night hanging out with some friends. I bumped into him and was startled. He was obviously inebriated. He pleaded to continue our relationship, I said I really didn't want to talk to him and it was over. Next came a string of female four letter invectives that sent me running into a room and climbing on the top bunk. He came after me. Luckily it was so loud four other guys rushed to my aid as he was screaming and cursing. They tried to reason with him, to no avail. He had to be dragged away by a cluster of men. I shakily climbed down from the bunk, called a girl friend, and we went to the grocery store. I needed to do something mundane, in bright lights, to clear my head.

I'm telling these stories not for pity, I'm long over them, but because this Fall I'm doing some clearing of attic clutter. And it feels good, but it's hard too. I'm reframing past experiences in a whole new wonderful lens. You see I blamed myself for not breaking up right. But it wasn't my fault. Adolescent kids don't always break up right - there is no couples counseling we are just feeling things out. My lack of interaction over months was a clear signal, and I didn't invite that violence from someone I loved. He was in pain, I get it, pain induces rage. But it's no excuse. I've forgiven him. He came to my wedding last month, and I was happy to catch up with his parents there too.

When I approached a male partner, my work brother, a conservative, in anger over Trump's remarks when they had just leaked out about grabbing girls in the pussy he said, "Oh that's just locker room talk. Girls are just as bad." I said a few choice words and then backed off. I cannot change this mentality. No, girls are not as bad. Girls can talk pretty salty, but they don't brag about assaulting men. They don't drug them, rape them, and then laugh and egg each other on. I'm pretty sure that a guy wouldn't be much use after a roofie, but most girls wouldn't dream of doing that. There are exceptions, I know, but it's not all pervasive.

When I broke up with my college boyfriend for the second and almost final time, it was after a winter formal. We all went to a separate location, had a formal dance, and stayed in a hotel room in the facility. He was getting too drunk and no fun so I started dancing with a platonic male friend - fast only, no slow dances. I noticed he was missing so went to try to find him in our room. When I walked in he was shaking and threw me up against the wall in a state of rage. Accused me of cheating. I was so mad I slept curled up in a ball on the floor.

His last girlfriend had cheated on him, and I was a victim of that projection off and on for two years. That was the only time he physically assaulted me, but there was plenty of verbal shit. In college between our Freshman and Sophomore years it was particularly awful when we were apart. I remember my parents pleading with me to talk to him because if he didn't know where I was he would call the house phone until 3 am over and over. The happy bespectacled Kid Rock could turn on a dime, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now I am Facebook friends with his wife, and enjoy watching him grow older. He's going bald and has a little gut and has two beautiful children. I'm happy he's settled down.

I read a story a few years back - can't remember if it was an article or a short story or a novel, but it has stuck with me because it was so heinous. A woman told of a bad marriage. Her husband was no help when her kids were a toddler and a baby, he moved downstairs. She was doing everything with them at night and working a full time job. He became addicted to bad porn. She knew this because she had to go downstairs every morning before the nanny came to close it out on the computer and clean up the chair. She begged him for a new computer chair, one that wasn't full of his stains, but he was a tightwad. He only regarded her with anger and disdain. Then when Viagra came out, he obtained it for him and his friend, she overheard a phone conversation. At some point he decided to shift the party from downstairs to upstairs. He knew she wouldn't agree, so he decided to drug and rape her. A handful of times. He wanted to try out the new drug.

As I read I thought, what a fucked up, distorted mind. What a completely fucking idiot. Utter lack of respect. Who in their right mind would do that to their wife who they made vows too, the mother of their children? It took her 2.5 years to put it all together, he left clues. She finally developed a vague sense of something wrong, and confronted him in couple's therapy. He vaguely acknowledged, and promised to never do it again. She stood up with a level voice and told him to find another place to sleep, she was calling a divorce lawyer.

It would be another month or two before all the pieces fell into place. Minds are curious and wonderful things, they wait until you are ready to confront your demons. I didn't even know him, but I was ready to gnash his guts out with my teeth and feed the intestines to the pigs. I know rage, and I imagined the cad who might confront her from behind in a dark alley. He would probably get his eyeballs ripped out, she enjoying it gleefully, maybe even eating them maniacally.

This happens. Women blame themselves over and over for this shit. I know, because I have a lot of girlfriends, and they've been through some awful things. Things I would never repeat, because I was told in confidence, but things that would curl your hair. But women are not to blame. White male entitlement is to blame. I know, because I was smart and I worked damn hard. Twice as hard as the lazy dumbass next to me, but he was still regarded in a higher light.

I'm flying to Washington, D.C. next month, during the inauguration. I'm going to the Women's March on Washington. I've already agreed to lead the Sunday School afterwards. Me!! I can't wait to do it, and to tell them all about it. For women, life can be like Groundhog Day. Physical and sexual assault are ubiquitous. But we remain kind, good, and full of action and warmth.

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." - Khalil Gibran

Monday, December 26, 2016

Narrow Misses, Part 3

When I was in college, hell, no different from now, I listened to music in my car at a very high volume. It's a nice private space where you can sing at the top of your lungs and no one will shush you or act embarrassed.

There are a lot of train tracks in Conway, AR. So it was not uncommon to sit on one waiting for a light to go green. Once I was sitting in my Jeep, music loud, singing, and all of a sudden there was banging on my window. Startled, I turned the music down and opened the window. It was mid-afternoon, broad daylight.

"Get the hell out of the way! There is a train coming!"

Sure enough, I missed the warning sounds because I was lost in the music. I could see it rapidly approaching and gunned the accelerator right before I missed an impending doom.

There was a girl who worked at a restaurant in Conway, the one with the good cheese dip. I forget the name. Everyone asked, "What happened to her?" She wasn't well enough to wait, she just bussed tables. "She got hit by a train. Lucky to be alive, but severely compromised."

I was glad that random stranger saved me from her fate.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tumor Board

The Nightingale: I've got another case. She's in her 70's, she's frail. There it is. The radiology. See those three lesions? It's BAC. What do I do with that.

Bronchoalveolar carcinoma. Slow growing, and insidious. In pathology, we call the growth pattern lepidic. It grows along the alveolar parenchyma like a butterfly.

Rad: Is she a smoker?

The Nightingale: Yes, but. Her son blamed her condition on her smoking. I tried to tell him it's more complicated than that.

Ancient thoracic surgeon that smokes cigars in the doctor's parking lot: She's not going to die of that. Tell her to keep smoking. I'd keep smoking if I had that diagnosis.

Rad: I only worry about her lung capacity. You say she is frail. These things can percolate for years, then they get bigger.

Ancient surgeon: Yeah, I'd follow her every six months with radiology.

Rad: Is she a candidate for SBRT?

Stereotactic body radiation therapy.

The Nightingale: I could offer her that. Absolutely. But right now, watch and wait, right? That's the consensus? Next case?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Diva Cup and Zombies

I left my office today and got sideswiped. There were hordes of people in the lab hallway.

My office is separated from the other pathologists, the clinical lab, transcription, and histology by this hallway. About three months ago the entire hospital traffic from the main hospital to the food and gift shop was re-routed for 10 weeks due to major construction. We were warned, we were prepared, but it was still Hell. Every time I left my office I had to check both ways to ensure I wasn't flattened by a wheelchair or trampled by a listless patient in a nightgown. Traffic varied - it trickled, it was steady, there were hordes. The worst was getting called to a rad needle or a frozen section and being hampered by what we eventually all dubbed zombies. And I thought it was over for good.

I stormed into transcription. "What is going on?"

"They have re-routed to tile."

"And that takes like one day right? Why weren't we warned?"

"It's going on until January 6."

As if that wasn't enough, the construction started and the sounds were vaulted directly to the ceiling above me. I might have to buy some more earplugs tomorrow.

I left around noon to meet an OB/GYN friend. My son had left some presents for me in her car when he was at a sleepover with her son last weekend. I had seen her office a few months ago, pre big time renovation, and wanted to see the finished product.

I texted her from the seventh floor. "There is no 770. I'm in neurosurgery. Help."

"You are in the wrong tower."

When I made it to the right tower she excitedly greeted me in the waiting room.

"I just got a whole shipment of this lubricant! All natural. Isn't the bottle lovely?"

"What is that for?"

"Um, sex?"

"I know, I've just never used it."

"It's more popular with the post-menopausal crowd and breastfeeding moms. And women who hate their husbands."

I met her partner who I had helped out with a case of pinworm on the cervix earlier this year. We laughed about posting pics in our relative PMG fields on Facebook. They started talking about this revolutionary thing for menstruation, called the Diva Cup.

"What is a Diva Cup?"

"You don't need to know, if you have been on IUD for ten years."

"Yes, but for my daughter. I want to know."

"It's this cup, you put it in in the shower in the morning. You don't have to change it for twelve hours. Beats tampons and pads by far. Might not want to have sex with it, but maybe you can."

"I would think it might get bumped against."

"Girl, you only had two kids. We both had three. Big difference. It's like a cavern in there. Diva cup won't affect anything."

Party Post

KC posted about my wedding over at MiM today! Squee! Check it out.

Celebrating with Gizabeth

Sunday, December 18, 2016

An Ode to the Bralette

When my daughter asked me to go with her to the mall the week before Christmas Eve I felt like I had been asked to be waterboarded.

"Ok, anything for you sweetie."

We headed there and luckily, as a native of Little Rock, I knew the back roads and could find a decent parking spot.

On the way up the stairs to Dillard's she was telling me she wanted to find a bralette.

"What's a bralette?"

Eye roll. Go figure.

We made it to Airie on the third floor and I settled down to being the Mom who looks at her daughter and approves clothing. But I was still curious about the bralette. How, I wondered, was it different from the bra?

While she was trying on clothes I decided to ask the sales clerk.

"I'm a 36 C, or B. C now." Weight gain has its perks. It's universal. But I'm still determined to get back into the jeans I could wear back in the Spring, ones I have worn for most of my life. No rush. I've stopped getting on the scale daily. I'm going to take it slow. It's not that I don't love how I look, it's just I'm a little bit frugal. It might be expensive to buy all new jeans. I'm only about 8 pounds away. Not really sure. I stopped getting on the scale. I vow to enjoy the holidays.

"You need a large. That's my size too."

I went over to the 50% off bin and grabbed about 10. Tried on three, and fell in love. Screw more trying on, if the rest doesn't fit, I'll just donate to Goodwill. I'm done with the dressing room.

Epiphany. I haven't had such a comfortable bra since my night nursing bra. It was white and cotton and elastic and wonderful. But these were lacy and racy and beautiful. And they didn't have the ridiculous padding and shaping that I had tried to escape for the last 20 years. Even if bras are designed by women, they must have been controlled by men. The only ones I love I bought 15 years ago and cannot find, despite much research. Ones that still have wires, but no crazy padding. These bralettes were a cousin of those. A superior cousin, one that didn't gouge and bleed me as it was falling apart on a plane or at work. I felt like I was in Heaven.

I told the sales clerk: "I feel like this is the day I learned to ride a bike. Or drive a car. These are amazing. I have my underwires, but I cannot imagine I will ever use them again."

Meanwhile, C was texting me. "Where are you? I'm at Forever 21."

That was on the bottom floor. The mall was hot and crowded. I was sweaty and uncomfortable. I looked for stairs, and found them to the second floor, but not to the first where she was. Escalator was stressful and out of the question. I found the elevator and rode it with old women and women with strollers.

I met C in the food court. "Mom, what took you so long?"

"Well, escalators stress me out. I have an irrational fear. I can face it, but didn't feel like it today."

"What? Really? Escalators?!!"

"Um, yeah. I could have handled it if you were with me. The ones in the main mall are so out in the open. I feel like if I step on one I will  be riding into oblivion. It's so crazy, I know. These are nothing in comparison to the DC Metro. They are ten times as long. I was sweating and shaking the whole time. I think I will be fine on the ones at Dillard's." And I was.

I'm wearing bralettes for the rest of my life, I think.

Narrow Misses, Part 2

When I broke up with my college boyfriend for the third and final time, I was done with dating, apart from a couple of unsuccessful forays, for five years until I met my first husband.

My friend Jen would get me through the last two years of college. We did everything together. Ate meals, went on group camping trips, studied until the break of dawn. Once we were headed to some apartments to party on a Friday night with a 12 pack of beer in the back seat of my Jeep, each of us sipping a cold one in the front seat. The apartments were less that a mile from the dorm, but somehow I managed to garner attention from a local cop.

Our "Oh shit" buzzer went off when I noticed the blue lights in my rear view mirror. I raced to cover the cooler in the backseat and we buried the two open beer bottles in the console as I pulled over on the side of the road. We were only 18.

I rolled down the window and smiled at the officer sweetly. "What were we doing wrong?"

"Do you know what a California stop is?"


"You just did it. It's when you pull up to a Stop sign, and instead of stop, you just slow down and go right through."

"I am so sorry. I'll never do that again."

"That's all right. You girls stay safe. And pay attention to the Stop signs. You stop a full three seconds, count them, before you make a turn."

"Ok, we promise. Thank you."

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Morning Baseball

Not my term. Cid Vicious. I know nothing about sports. But I get it. This day was crazy.

Parking lot 7:45 a.m: Headed to bronch lab. You are on standby for CT.

In between needles I triaged 8 cancer cases.

Bronch lab: You've got it. It's malignant. (Go Cid. He's so refreshingly fast).

CT: I think it might be lymphoma. History doesn't fit - multiple liver lesions, but get flow. I'll tell CP call doc.

Bronch lab: More blood and B9 bronchs. Hopefully it will be in the cell block. Not on smears. (Sorry Cid).

CT: Lymph node? I guess maybe follicular lymphoma. That's what we usually see in the abdomen. But get flow. This isn't obvious high grade lymphoma. Flow will tell if it's clonal.

Rad: Did I tell you I was moving to Atlanta? Not until March. Marietta.

Me: What??!! You haven't been here that long. But good luck, I love Atlanta. Sis is a P.A. at children's hospital Scottish Right. Bro is a criminal defense lawyer. I've been there a lot. We will miss you, but you are going to a good place.

4:00 - There is this doc, on the phone. He wants to bring you fruit.

Me: I remember him. Cleared him on an autopsy a few years back. He talked to me about spirituality and Buddha for a half hour. Not ready for that today. Last batch of fruit was rotten. Take a message. I've had a day, and I'm done. I'm ready for the weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tumor Board

Dr. Owl: I'd like to present a patient. Can you pull him up?

Radiologist types in name and retrieves MRI for the big screen.

Dr. Owl: This guy has cancer, it ate up his entire face. Wait. What? That can't be him. Before therapy? No, oh! You have the wrong name.

Radiologist: Oh! Heh Heh. Funny how two wrong letters can do that. And the fact that the other guy also had a head MRI? Weird.

Dr. Owl: I threw chemo. And chemo. More chemo. And chemo. It kept coming back. And coming back. And coming back. And coming back.

Me: What type of cancer was it?

Dr. Owl: Squamous cell carcinoma.

Radiologist pulls up correct scan, and a collective gasp arises from the 25 or so doctors in the room.

Dr. Owl: Yes that's it! Impressive, huh? You could put a fist through that hole in his head. I started him on OPDIVO, a year ago, back before you had to do a PDL-1 to get approved. No progression. Stopped it dead in it's tracks.

The Nightingale: I'm from Texas, and a couple of years ago a Texas researcher started going on about immunotherapy, and everyone was like Pooh! But now look at this. It's amazing.

Dr. Owl: So do I just keep him on it? It's been a year. He's doing great.

The Nightingale: We don't have long term follow up studies. It's too new. I would keep going with it.

Me: I had a case like that in residency. It was basal cell carcinoma. He ignored it until it ate half his face. Went to his liver. Only time I've grossed half a face.

Swagger and Sagacity: Yes, stay on OPDIVO. And get him a bathroom scale from Sears. Better than any follow up PET or MRI. If your patient is gaining weight, you are doing the right thing. Are you going to get a plastic surgeon on that?

Dr. Owl: That's out of my hands. I'm leaving that up to Dr. ENT.

The Nightingale: Next case?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cher - Just Like Jesse James

Narrow Misses, Part 1

There are many times in my life that I should have been killed, or at least gotten a DUI. But the gods intervened in my favor. Too many to tell in one blog post, so this will be a series.

The song I listened to last night reminded me of one time. I was status post college, living in an apartment down by the Arkansas River. Two of my best friends from college, Jon and Brandon, lived in a condo down on Main Street. Main Street wasn't developed like it is now. But Jon's apartment was incredible, a true testament to his calling. He ditched his doctor job for decorating. That was the future though. At this point, he still had his eyes on the doctor prize.

At the time I was working three jobs - DNA researcher by day - with a Jack White look-a-like Ph.D. candidate teacher. Psych counselor on nights and weekends. Taking classes at UALR to get into medical school when I could fit it in. Weekends were spent with Jon and Brandon. We would pre-drink until after midnight. It was beer back then - I didn't develop a taste for wine until my late twenties. So I was still pounding the beer.

One night I went to their place to ring and couldn't remember their apartment number. Didn't want to random alarm all the guests, so I decided to go call and ask from a pay phone - this was pre cell phone days. I found one on Main Street, about a block away from Juanita's. Just as they gave me the number to buzz, I was startled by a policeman who pulled up between me and my Jeep and the pay phone. He got out of his car and dressed me down.

"What the hell are you doing out here at this time of night? If you were my daughter . . . Did you know there was a guy about to do something to you? I pulled up at just the right time, and he ran away."

What could I say? Thank you officer.

Later at Jon and Brandon's I did what I did most nights before we headed to Discovery for a night of dancing and watching drag shows. I sang. Mostly Cher. My fave was Just like Jesse James, and they thought I sounded just like her. So much so that 20 years later at my cousin's birthday party - it had a mystery guest theme where they taped a name of a famous person to your back and you had to try to figure out who you were - I was flummoxed. Finally Jon told me - you are Cher. Don't you remember?

One night I was at Disco with another friend - a cool nurse at the psych unit who looked like a platinum blonde 1950's pinup. I was enamored by her, but she wasn't a reliable partner in crime. I discovered, around 3am, that she had abandoned me for some guy. I was a little alarmed, because a creepy guy had been stalking me all night and I was over it. No more dancing until sunup. I needed to leave.

As soon as I left, I heard him behind me. Fuck, I thought, and started to run. Back in those days, when you pulled up to disco at midnight, you had to park a football field away. I ran harder and faster than him, and was thankful I had my hardtop instead of my soft top on my Jeep, but my heart still pounded. As I climbed into my Jeep and started the ignition, he started pounding on the doors. "I just want to talk to you!" Hell no. I pulled away.

Jon and Brandon would have never abandoned me. They kept me safe, and often climbed in bed with me in the wee hours of the morning, making me feel safe and happy in their completely platonic love for me. I feel lucky to have had them in my life back then.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Police officer: So the only thing of value was a rock? Tell me about the rock. When was the last time you saw it?

Me: It's a rare rock. I bought it this summer and was transporting it to my office. I left my car unlocked, accidentally and uncharacteristically, overnight. When I left for work at 7:15, my car had obviously been ransacked. I don't expect to find the rock, but when I posted in Foxcroft neighborhood it was apparent to me that many other cars were ransacked last night.

Police officer: It happens in every neighborhood. What is so special about this rock?

Me: It was named after the founder, I think it was in 1976. He named it for his daughter, Larissa, and the Spanish word for sea, Mar. Larimar. You can find more on Wikipedia. It's only found on one square mile of the Earth. A perfect storm of sea and copper. It's beautiful. Here's a pic I found on google images.

My rock is not as big as this, it's about the size of a lime, but less round. It cost around 600-700 dollars. The one I really wanted was 3K. Too much. There is only one rock dealer for this rock, that I know of, in the US. They are based in Colorado.

Police officer: When I hear the words rock dealer, I usually go in a different direction, in my head.

Me: Yes, some girls collect jewelry, other rocks, but I'm a fossil and rock collector. This is the most I've ever spent on a rock. I know I'm not going to find my rock, I've already given it up to the Universe. But I wanted to report so you could maybe step up night patrol around here. It's a problem.

Police officer: Yes, it is in every neighborhood. One guy in the Heights caught some of them on deercam. We arrested them. Your stretch is very dark - you need more motion lights. There aren't enough street lights.

Me: Yes I've noticed that. Tried to exercise before dawn, and got so scared I went back home to the treadmill.

He was very nice. We chatted about kids and pets: geckos, snakes, cats, dogs, and ferrets. We both agreed spiders were not an option: me relaying my freak out pull over on the side of the road if a miniscule spider falls from my visor - him telling me about shooting a tarantula because he was afraid to get too close. He talked about how beautiful my house was, and wanted to know more about a mural in the living room.

Me: Oh that's my cousin Eleanor. She's super talented - traveled the world and trained in printing in Knoxville and in advertising in Atlanta at Portfolio. She's hiked Machu Picchu. I think most of this is Turkey. 

Police officer: Check pawn shops and Craigslist. But I doubt you will ever see your rock again.

Two minutes later the doorbell rang.

Police officer: I'm glad you told me it was in a white box. I think I recovered your rock in the drain next door.

Me: Can I give you a hug? Is that ok? Thank you! I'm so excited. Happy holidays to you.

Now all of Foxcroft neighborhood knows me as the crazy rock lady. I'll own that.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dinner Conversation

"Mom I'm so excited I got a part in the 5th grade Christmas play."

"You did? What is your part?"

"I want it to be a surprise. I didn't get the part I really wanted, the lead Benjamin."

"Who did?"

"The music teacher's son."

She's the one that does the programs. "Nepotism!"

"What's that?"

"Well, it's when you give a job or role to a family member over other qualified people, but don't tell them I said that. It's kind of a mean thing to say. Anyway, he's a good actor too."

"Yeah, he's a good actor, maybe better than me, but I'm a way better singer."

"Oh, try not to compare. You are both good actors. And yes you are a very good singer remember how everyone was talking about your performance in the class opera last year? It was amazing. And next year you will have the new drama teacher in middle school. His kids are way younger than you, no competition there."

"Did you ever try out for a play?"

"Me? Yes! But not until 10th grade. I was so shy. The first year I got a part in Oliver Twist. It was a small part, selling roses on the street. I had a solo. Want me to sing it for you?"


"Will you buy my sweet red roses two blooms for a penny."

"I like that."

"Then my part got stolen from me. There was this girl, she was a senior and very loud, and she wanted my part. Next thing I knew a few days later I was the girl selling strawberries singing Ripe! Strawberries ripe! That was her part. I figured she complained to the director, who was really just a nice art teacher. It was a bit of a stretch for me, because I'm not a soprano."

"Yeah, I like the other part much better. Weren't you mad?"

"A little, but I was excited to be a part of the production, and I really didn't want to deal with any drama with this girl. It wasn't worth it. I just sang the part I knew I got in the shower, on the way to school, etc."

"Were you ever in any other plays?"

"Oh yes! I had a much bigger part the next year in the fall musical. It was The Music Man. I played Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn. She wasn't the lead, but she was the mayor's wife, kind of the comedy role. I got to dress as the Statue of Liberty and pop out of a Grecian Urn! It was so fun. Everyone was very surprised. Even my school headmaster came up and praised my performance. He told me he thought of me as the girl always looking at her feet in the school hallway not a stage ham."

"I want to watch that musical. Did you ever do any others?"

"You should YouTube some of the songs. No, I didn't. My senior year I did other stuff. We'd better get to the play downtown. Opening night of A Christmas Story."

By the Spring of my junior year I was in a rebellious mood. It's kind of tough being a rebel when you are a white girl in an elite public school, but you cannot help the situation you are born into, and I was determined to rattle the cages as best I could. I started by plotting a coup. I and all my friends had been on the Pom Squad or cheerleaders for the last three years. It's what you did there. Being gravity challenged, I was on the Pom Squad. I enjoyed the fellowship and the dance routines - I was good at it, but all the extra duties were beginning to grate on me. Helping the cheerleaders cheer during basketball season, when there were so many games. Making posters and care packages for all the basketball and football players every homecoming. I like to show off my bubble letters as much as any teenager, but what about me? I showed up at every game. I never got a sign or a care package. Screw this gig.

So I started talking to my friends. "It's going to be our Senior Year! Last year of high school. Do we want to spend half our nights and weekends cheering and traveling when we could be partying and going to the movies? I'm quitting. Please join me." My insidious plot worked. I decapitated the senior leadership from the Pom Squad and managed to get one of the most popular girls in our class to quit cheerleading. The coaches were livid. I received some lectures. "All the Moms are so angry with you. I'm so disappointed in you." I smiled sweetly, told them I was sorry, and thought I don't really care.

By Senior year, I was wanting to replace Pom Squad with a different sport. Me and four of my guy friends - all of us had hating team sports and loving academics and art and music that was not on the radio in common - decided to start a swim team. We found a place to swim and a couple of coaches and carpooled each other to the practices. A few months in, one of the guys pulled me aside at my locker. He told me he was feeling really uncomfortable and had to tell me that the junior coach was making very lewd statements about me during practice to all the guys. They hated it. They didn't know what to do, but thought I should know. I was so angry. I knew just who he was talking about - he leered in the worst way. I stewed on what to do for a couple of days.

The next practice came around, and I told my friends to count me out. The next morning they rallied around me and tried to persuade me back. "You are the best one on the team. Please come back. You are our only chance of winning. The head coach said he would do anything to get you back." I told them sorry but no chance in Hell. I thought winning is not nearly as important to me as not being made and object. I'll swim alone.

Later that Spring, I was publicly tapped with the homecoming queen to spearhead a Just Say No to Drugs campaign for the entire school. They called us up at assembly and handed us green Just Say No ribbons. This didn't settle well with me - the admin didn't even ask me. Four days later I made an appointment with the vice principal. I sat in his office and told him I had to decline. I hadn't done drugs, but would feel like a hypocrite being an ambassador to a campaign I didn't fully support. I told him I believed some drugs are ok, even illegal ones, and I hadn't ruled out experimenting someday. He respectfully accepted my resignation, and another student was named to fill my place.

I didn't tell Jack all of this, but someday I will. When I graduated in the Spring of 1990, even though I pissed a lot of people off, I felt good that I had stuck to my principles, rather than maintaining the status quo.