Governor’s School: The summer program

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In the summer of 2000, between tenth and eleventh grade, I had the opportunity to attend South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. I went for the creative writing program. It was held on a campus near downtown Greenville, S.C., about 2.5 hours away from where my parents lived. Sure I’d gone to overnight Girl Scout camps, but this was the first time to be away from my parents for an extended period of time. And it marked the first time I had to live with a roommate. This was a big deal.

I was excited about going but nervous about what the experience might be like. My style of writing was mostly to wait for inspiration to strike, to have an idea or a vision of where things were going and to complete the piece at that time. There really wasn’t a concept of brainstorming and editing, no stressing over word choices and trying to make things sound better. My approach was to really wait for inspiration and pounce in the moment. It was one of the rare times when I could be spontaneous. So I was nervous about how my writing approach would be tested and shaken up, having to meet certain expectations and requirements within a set time frame.

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Becoming a Lady Ram

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First, I need to offer a glimpse of playing basketball during sixth grade. It was pretty routine with practices and games. I do remember jumping the bleachers. Seriously we jumped from the floor up to the next bleacher, and then continued jumping up.

It looked something like this video, except we were jumping on bleachers and not the stairs. It required a higher vertical jump. And the part I remember most is how scary it was; I was afraid of completely missing the next bleacher. I never did miss, but that scared feeling never went away.

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I became the chameleon: Missing out on community

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Artist known as Invisible Man

Upon reflecting some on what I wrote for sixth grade (read that here), it occurred to me that I had actually transformed into that chameleon that I so desperately wanted to be. (If you missed that one, you can find it here.)

I really thought I reached that level much later in life, but in all honesty, the proof is shown during the misery of sixth grade.

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Poem: Nobody (2 versions)

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This poem is a bit psychotic and probably sounds suicidal. While written during my second semester of college, it really channels the depression and isolation I felt in 6th grade (If you haven’t heard that post, you can see it here.)

I only went so far as to pick scabs in the way of self-harm. In no way am I condoning or encouraging self-mutilation. But to a degree I can understand what leads a person to that point. When you’ve been bullied physically, verbally and/or emotionally, you can feel powerless and that maybe if you’re the one causing pain, you can gain back some control. But you’re only sinking deeper into a dark place.

I’m not sharing this poem to glorify anything but to illustrate the emotion of this time in my life. If you or someone you know is suicidal or may be at risk of committing self-harm, please seek professional help to work through the problems. Help is available. Talk to trusted adults.

And if someone comes to you and shares about their problems, LISTEN! Listen and take them seriously. And seek intervention.

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Giraffes and chameleons

I have long had a fascination with giraffes and felt a kinship with them. They are the tallest mammal, have long legs, and can be very awkward as a newborn learning to walk. With their height, they are very noticeable; you would not want them on your team when playing hide-and-seek!

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