Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Okay, this is my last post about high school in terms of me and my therapy. Yeah, I am still doing my internal work that led to my bad decision making later in life.

If you will recall, I mentioned three junior high schools: Wilson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. Well... my mom and I went round and round about this before I wrote that blog. I kept saying to her that there were four junior high schools, but I couldn't think of the name of the fourth. She couldn't either and she knew the locations of the above three.

She says to me, "If there was a fourth, where was it?"

This was not a fair question. I didn't know where Lincoln and Roosevelt were located. I still don't. Let me put this into perspective for you. After I got my first car, I did minimal driving. I drove from my house to school and back. I could drive to my various friends' houses. However, one night at the dinner table, I said this, "I don't know what I am going to do tomorrow. After school I have to go to Somewhere (on the other side of town) and run some errands and then I have to go back to the high school for play practice (or some sort of practice, I don't remember)." My brother laughed out loud. He was four years younger than me and could easily do this. My parents looked at me like I had grown an extra nose on my face.

Finally, my mother says, "You are kidding, right?"

I say that I am not and they go over the route with me. The only way I knew how to get to school was from MY house. I was having to come at it from another direction and I was clueless. Yeah, this dysfunction created a lot of problems for me for a long time. In other words, I spent a lot of time being lost. It took about ten years for the concept of north, south, east, and west, to actually stop being conceptual and actually be REAL. Once that happened, driving got a lot easier. Yeah, I know. Sometimes book smart and street smart are two really different things. One other thing I learned. Being lost isn't always all bad. You can find shortcuts. Moving on...

I thought of the fourth junior high: Kennedy. I have no idea where it was located, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, our high school was huge. My graduating class was huge. The best thing about the merger of all of these junior highs was that they filled in that socio-economic gap that we had at Wilson. It no longer existed. When that happened, all of the rules changed. In fact, the kids on the hill didn't feel quite so entitled anymore. They were outnumbered here. So, the things that brought people together changed. Of course, people that grew up together and had been best friends stuck. However, a lot of new friendships formed based upon mutual interests. For instance, people who played sports could actually become friends in this environment. At Wilson, that wasn't really possible if one person lived on the hill and the other person didn't. Now, it was. Like I said, the rules changed.

As for me, my friends became 1) choir people 2) theatre people 3) smart people. Yep, I was taking all enriched classes for college, so I had a lot of classes with the same people all day. Guess what? A lot of those people were kids from the hill at Wilson. However, the switch had flipped. Why? Because I was one of the smart people. The rules had changed. Our class had about 300 people in it. I graduated #23 with a 4.0 GPA. I actually got invited up to the hill to study with some of these people who previously wouldn't talk to me. We become pseudo-friends. Study buddies. You know geek stuff. Same went with choir and theatre. Although that was more fun and the friendships were more real. In any event, all the disdain and disrespect that flew at Wilson evaporated at Newark High School. I don't know if it was like that for everyone. But that was what it was like for me.

So, Robin, if life was so freaking awesome in high school where is the therapy coming in? Well, it is that darn tape loop from Wilson that would still play in the back of my head. I didn't understand about tape loops then. I sure didn't know how to turn one off. So, it didn't matter how good things were going, there was always a lingering feeling of doom.

1)You're not enough. You'll never be enough.

That one liked to kick in when things were going really well. Things would go good and that tape would start to play. Suddenly, that urge to look over my shoulder. Check and double check. Just an ick feeling. Something bad is going to happen today.

2) Unpretty.

Boy, that one was completely unshakable. I was an expert at self sabotage. Anytime I thought someone would ask me out, I managed to make that not happen. And if it did. After we were going out for a couple of weeks, the feeling of insecurity ran so deep, that I would break up with the guy. I am too busy with music, theatre, etc. No time for you. Adios. Heaven forbid someone actually make me feel good about myself and pull that tape out of my loop.

3) I am not good at sports.

We only had gym sophomore year. Maybe just one semester. It is funny because I just don't really much remember it. By this time, I really wasn't good at sports. My brain had won this battle. And I read most of the time, etc. I was out of shape. I truly no longer was good at sports. However, this must not have been as traumatic as Wilson, b/c I hardly remember it.

As I said, I was really involved in theatre. I know that I wrote a blog about when Mrs. Booher took over the theatre department. That was this huge blessing for me. We always did a musical in the fall and a straight play in the spring. My junior year we did OKLAHOMA. That was fun. I didn't have any sort of big role. The seniors got those. However, it was fun being in the chorus. I auditioned for the straight play, expecting the same. It was UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE. I hoped to maybe get the role of a student. I actually got a pretty big part. Not the lead, but the other teacher, Bea. I was shocked.

My senior year, the musical was L'IL ABNER and I got the role of Mammy Yokum. That has to be one of the best parts ever. I still have the corn cob pipe. That character was a hoot to play. In the spring, the straight play was ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. There are only three female roles in that play and two of them are the old ladies who keep killing people off with arsenic. It is a comedy, for the record. Had I not just played an old person in L'IL ABNER, I would have been totally jazzed about that. As it was, I was meh. My unpretty tape loop kicked in. The thing is that I was also in Acting Ensemble, and we were putting on shows, and I wasn't playing old people there, and I should have sucked it up. However, my unpretty tape loop was playing.

The worst thing in the world happened. Mrs. Booher asked me what part I wanted to play in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. She asked me what part I wanted to play. Me and my unpretty tape loop. And I told her Elaine. That was the smallest female part in the entire play. However, she was young blah blah blah. And that is how she cast me! And that wouldn't have been so bad if one of the actresses playing one of the old ladies hadn't sucked lemons. I mean she just couldn't act. Mrs. Booher worked with what she had. She cast a plump girl and a thin girl to play those parts. The plump one was good. The thin one was not. My best friend's brother came to see the play, probably because he had some friends in it, and he actually said to Jennifer, that it was a relief every time I came on stage because that is the only time that play didn't suck. Keep in mind, her brother didn't like me. He found me annoying. So that really was a compliment!

I know that Mrs. Booher had to have regretted asking me what part I wanted once rehearsals began and she saw that this girl couldn't carry her weight in the role. I know that I regret it now. In fact, I have regretted it for years. It never occurred to me that in high school and college would be the only time I would get to play old people until I was actually old. It was a gift. An acting gift. I was so blinded by my unpretty tape loop I couldn't even see it. I wish that she had dragged me into her office and explained to me what a gift it was. Or cast me in the part I was meant to play because it was the right thing for the show. And then say it just like that if I asked why I didn't get the part of Elaine. I feel certain that she asked me what part I wanted to play because she respected me as an actor, and she wanted to give me the gift of a choice. How many high school directors do that for their kids? Not many, I am thinking. I love her for it, but I wish she'd just cast me in one of the lead roles, because high school kids don't have a clue as to what they are doing. Besides, how do you explain you want a small part because you feel unpretty?

Don't forget to turn off my music player at the bottom.


  1. hey I was in up the down staircase as well..I was one of the students...I ALMOST got the part of the teacher but the drama coach thought I just looked too young.
    too cool.
    well, if you can learn anything from your experiences...learn this:
    Don't sell yourself short.

  2. I learned Louisville by my boss having me run errands all over the place. He's give me an address and tell me what part of town it was in and off I'd go. A map helped. Now days if I had GPS there'd be no problem.

  3. Hey Robin,

    As you noticed, I took a little break from the blog last week ... too many things piled up. But now I'm back and catching up and have to say, I love the new look of your blog! Very nice. And having quickly read through about a week's worth of your blogs, I am struck once again by how you manage to reach right down to the nitty-gritty stuff and hit home.

    I'm guessing we all have some stupid tape looping through our heads, telling us we aren't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. I also wish I had a big old switch I could turn it off with in my own head!

    I'm glad adults are recognizing the damage of bullying now, but when you and I were kids, it wasn't really talked about much, was it? Instead, we were left on our own to try and figure out how to cope. And inevitably, I think we believed the lies of the bullies ... the lies that now are stuck in our heads, haunting us from time-to-time.

    Sometimes I try to counteract the lies with positive messages, but truthfully, I often find myself listening to the looping tape before I even realize I'm doing it. If you figure out where the "off switch" is hiding, please let me know! :S

  4. You sound adorable! And an absolutely normal teen. We all felt awkward and gangly, and many of us sabotaged our success with boys cause we were afraid or just not ready.

    Don't therapists start way earlier than teen years, though?...like looking at your childhood years and nitpicking at it until they are torn to shreds? Isn't that the root of all problems? To be fair, you examined your parents' personalities, but not enough. (And perhaps you can not really do this on a blog if friends and family members are reading your posts).

    PS...It's a Greek artist that did the umbrella artworks in the sunset? We have his work in many places here, such as the metro...forget his name. It'll come to me!

  5. Hello. I think a lot of people have these bad internal tapes playing. But wow - look at how amazing you were at high school with all that acting! It's a shame that teacher didn't see the real reason you had asked for a smaller part, but in a way also a compliment as she trusted your judgement. I hope your therapy is helping you, good luck with that journey.

  6. Hey Robin,

    I gave you a belated mention/thank you on Middle Passages today.

    I don't have enough words, or time to discuss junior high or high school...other to say that I was glad to let it all go in college. By my 5th reunion, it didn't matter at all anymore, and I went and was myself and had a blast. All these years later, I don't even bother with reunions. School was such a hiccup in life.


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