The Hunchback of Rural High #MondayMemoirs #KwentongUPRural

I was never popular in high school. If I ever was, that could be because I was considered weird, which never offended me. I welcomed being voted as Weirdest Girl in Class two years in a row. For me, that meant I was not one to conform just to be called cool. Besides, when you’re a writer, people just tag you as weird. Hollywood fed us that idea.

Most probably, though, if I ever was popular, it was because I was the Hunchback of Rural High. I was the short girl looking like Quasimodo.

I didn’t use to be like that. I did not have a humped back prior to high school. I was a shy kid in grade school who only started coming out of her shell in fourth grade. By sixth grade, I was jumping from tables, singing the oldie La Bamba shamelessly…Then a teacher sent me back into my shell, accusing me in front of the other kids because she supposedly didn’t like something I said about her favorite student.

I was dumbfounded and confused. I did not even understand what she meant until days later! Worse was, she thought wrong as I was not referring to him. Unfortunately, my self-esteem already suffered because of it. Why a teacher should even get offended by a student practicing the right to choose who to like or not is beyond me. By the time I reached high school, I was starting to develop the humped back.

Well, that was my backstory, no pun intended. High school started and soon, boys from my batch would sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) theme song whenever I passed by. But I never hid or ran away; I just passed by poker-faced. I knew they’d get tired of it one day. Thankfully, the bullying didn’t go further than that. But of course, I resented what they did; I had feelings, too. Some years ago, an old teacher reminded me of the time I had the guts to tell him to tell those boys, whom he was friends with, to get off my back (again, no pun intended).

The funny thing was, to be honest, I resented them because I thought they were referring to the “mutant” part, which, for me, translated to “uber-ugly girl”.  It was months after that I realized they didn’t exactly mean it that way. They meant something else. Surprisingly, that lifted my self-esteem a bit. I was glad they were referring to something else that I could do something about.

So, I did do something about it. I started trying to fix my Quasimodo posture. If you think it was easy, it wasn’t.

It took a lot of effort and self-awareness to prevent the slumping whenever I walked. I could actually feel the physical pressure every time I tried to keep my back straight. If you were near me enough, you’d probably hear me groaning a bit. It worked, though. I may not walk straight as a model, but I got my intended result. I didn’t know the reason for the humped back until Home Economics in the fourth year: a book explained that slumping was a sign of insecurity. I thought, Well, that figures.

The teasing stopped. A boy in senior year attempted to revive it by singing the TMNT song as I walked nearer. It was the classic case of someone bullying somebody else to compensate for his own low self-esteem. Instead of feeling hurt or getting mad, I was amused and tempted to say, “What, you’re still not over that?“ He never tried again.

 

My whole high school life was like everyone else’s. I had to struggle with different issues (body changes, grades, crushes, friendships, lack of confidence). However, if there’s one thing that made me different, it was this early experience.  It hurt emotionally and physically, but that was part of what made me, me.

I don’t resent those boys anymore. I forgave them a long time ago. I’m thankful they somehow taught me to stand up straight. Take it figuratively, take it literally, it’s up to you. Besides, I kind of liked the ninja turtles 😊

 

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Usually, I don’t follow the Philippine time when I post stuff. But I wanted this posted already before I forget or lose interest again. While it’s still Sunday in most readers’ part of the world, it’s already Monday here, so this counts as a #MondayMemoirs post.

I’ve already mentioned about my turtle “background” before, but this is a bit more revealing and personal. I wrote about it because our high school reunion is coming and I’ve been asked to write my HS experience for our unique souvenir programme. I was able to submit three write-ups (Rattling Cages and two trivia pieces). Unfortunately, this one did not meet the deadline. I was supposed to share this after the reunion, but since it’s not going to be part of the programme anyway, I went ahead and shared it. (By the way, my school was the U.P. Rural High School, ergo, the use of the “Rural” word.)

I do have a DISCLAIMER: I don’t, in anyway, hate my old school. This is not to speak ill of it. I shared this because (1) my growth was important to me, and (2) to show that things like this happen anywhere. Ultimately, it is up to us to choose which life lessons we’re going to keep and how we will use them to our advantage.

Any comments or thoughts? I won’t mind. Let me know below! Or maybe share your own experiences? 😉

Real Que Horrors!!! (and some more growing up to do)

Kafka on Growing Old

An apt image I found, by Suzi Crafter, from http://suzicrafter.blogspot.com/

November just ended. We left the scary month that seems to always give life to the dead because it got designated as the Halloween month. But how many times have we heard it, that’s it’s not the dead we should be scared of but the living? Other than that, I think we should also be warned about HOW we live. Too many horrors in this world…

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Finally finished reading two weeks ago a 220-paged ’50s book now-considered a classic. Normally, I find books I decide to read either “just okay” or “very good”. Rarely do I find books I don’t like or I hate. Seems like I’m deciding between these last two with this book. I’m disappointed. It’s such a hype. I waited for it to surprise me in the end, that was the main reason I stuck to it. But I felt the same way I felt when I was at the start.

We were talking about this book a few weeks back. I agreed with one that’s it’s full of angsts and I said that’s exactly why I can’t seem to like it — too angsty even for my own taste. Another said that that’s what makes it beautiful. I don’t think too angsty is beautiful. It’s a book about someone who always finds something to complain about. He hardly sees good in anything. The book ends like he hasn’t even learned his lesson. I found nothing of the said beautiful part in the angsts I read.

The thing is we already have our own angsts to take care of. We do not need to read more of it. At least I don’t. It’s really a waste of energy — physical, mental, emotional. I know ’cause I get periods of it. So do most people.

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When depression hits, I still complain about:

A who made me look bad to the boss before

B who made me get the flak for her incompetence as a leader (better me than her, right?)

C who said my idea wasn’t working but look what they are doing now with MY idea (that was actually the BEST thing that was happening online in 2010)

D and E who made total lies to cover their sorry butts from F who had always hated my guts and took the opportunity to accuse me based on aforementioned lies and CC’ing the Bigger Boss in an attempt to make me cower (and he thought I would back down…No. Effin’. Way.)

Etcetera, etcetera. Blah.

But that’s just it. They’re “etcetera’s”.  They’re things/people we really shouldn’t even need to give the time of day to mention or even think about, because they DON’T MATTER. Once upon a time, they did, and we had our reasons to gripe. But we have to move on. Time to leave the etcetera’s behind.

Yes, like I said, I still gripe once in a while about them. Our memories are wired to our hearts after all. At least I am learning to let go and have gotten tired of the angsts, actually, that I don’t talk much about them anymore. Can you get tired of yourself? Yes.

Depression, complaints, ANGSTS. Who needs them? It’s not the end of the world.

Yet.

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If you wanna know how big the world was when you were born, check this page out: The Guardian. I did.

Mine said 3,988,880,570. United Arab Emirates was Fastest Growth Country with 18.37% (grew to 453,530 that year) and Equatorial Guinea was Slowest Growth Country with -4.88% (shrank to 249,569 that year). Wow. And now we just welcomed the 7-billionth babies.

Interesting, yeah. Did this make me happy? Not really. Just goes to show how much we screwed up the planet. Imagine, 7 billion, and counting, and what do we have to show the kids? It’s like handing down an old, beaten-up, malfunctioning car. It could just die on you anytime. You’ll never really know.

And that’s what we’ve been doing, beating up the planet, doing all the worst things imaginable to it. You’ve got brains enough to know what I mean.

Our procreation could be the death of us all.

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Speaking of procreation, it is something some people should be disallowed to do. They have no business making babies at all!

I can still remember those videos I saw recently.

— the toddler in China that got hit and ran over by a vehicle, twice, then again by the next vehicle, and people didn’t do anything to help her

— the little girl (in Japan, if I’m not mistaken) who was sitting alone and unprotected on the window sill and then  falling many floors from the building

— another video in China that I found showing a vehicle running over another toddler that, at least from what I could gather from the video, miraculously survived well enough to stand (if s/he was crying, I could not see)

— the baby her mom killed in the US and she’s getting off lightly

…and so many etceteras that DO deserve our attention.

What kind of parents and adult relatives do these kids have??? I want to know.

Why, just the other night, I was on my way home and there was this little boy playing dangerously on the street. Good thing the drivers could see him and were honking their horns. On a busy street, not one adult cared enough to do something. Maybe they didn’t know because they were so busy. But it was not an excuse for those who knew.

I approached him to tell him to stay away from the street. He wriggled from my light hold and to my shock, quickly — and thank goodness,  safely — crossed the street. I noticed a man sitting and just watching, grinning like an amused effin’  hyena. Then the woman-vendor near me yelled at him to say, “Hey! Are you stupid? Why wouldn’t you even take care of your nephew?”

I think they were both stupid.

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Time Flies by tiddlyinks

Time Flies by tiddlyinks, from http://cherylxue.blogspot.com/

December just started. Time does fly. Unfortunately, maturity is left in the dust. It’s easy to get old. No matter where you are, you get old. It’s the growing-old part that has a lot of catching up to do.

Rattling Cages

Sophomore Jinx???? Nah.

Rattle cages, we did

“You know, we think that we all grow out of it? That’s a lie.  Some of us will always be rattling cages.” 

– from Never Been Kissed

The first time I heard it, this particular quote stuck like gum to my hair. Truth is, I’ve  never really bothered to pull the gum out. Perhaps, simply because it “stings” of reality. Not that it hurts. It just reminds me of much simpler, less tumultuous times called “high school”.

People say that adolescence is the period of much confusion. I say adolescence is the start of much confusion, and you can be sure of more to come. You become wiser through the years, assuming that you are capable of such a thing. But the demands of the modern world and dictates of old beliefs are always there to test you. Sometimes, you just want to shout, “STOP THIS WORLD! I WANNA GET OFF!” But sorry, it just isn’t going to happen. Not in this lifetime.

So once in a while, perhaps during your quiet, meditative moments, you wonder just how your old friends, old enemies and old-whatevers are faring. Your thoughts come rushing down memory lane faster than you can say “Whoah!” You wonder what they are now, where they are, if they are already blissfully married or still happy in Spinsterville. Have they remained or become successful? Or is that person you so-despised in high school less successful than you are? (Evil thought, but c’mon, admit it.)

It all boils down to one question: How much have they changed, if there have been significant changes at all? Change, after all, is constant. Cliché but true, ask our now-ancient textbooks. From the very first day of our high school lives to that special last day of our whole high school experience, there’s no escaping change.

It’s like when people leave. They leave us or eventually, we leave them. And then they surprise us by becoming that hot model in the states, or that top executive in some top company, or that person who’s far from the success we always thought s/he’d be. Sometimes, they surprise us by going ahead to make it first to heaven.

So you take a pause to wonder how Fate deals its cards and where you figure in all of it. Is this it already? Are you still on your way to wherever you’re supposed to be heading? Have you progressed as much as you should have? Eventually, we find that despite all these changes brought on by distance and experience, we haven’t really grown up after all.

We still don’t know the answer to many of life’s questions. We still feel lost most times in this universe. We are, in other words, still God’s little children.

And so, inevitably, once in a while, we still rattle cages, making noises and trying to see what happens. When you think about it, it’s not so bad after all. It’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s called living. We grow old, grow up, and continue living.

Hopefully, we’ll forever rattle cages, make noises, and bring the house down. That’s what life’s about 🙂

Copyright © December 2005 by J.Gi Federizo