Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you strong

No air conditioning means no sleep.   This is the second house sitting gig, where the air conditioning failed during my first week.  The repair AC guy is due tomorrow at noon.  At least the air failed before Bruce and Jeanette left for Europe.  

So because I couldn’t get to sleep in an 89 degree bedroom, I binge watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix.   Yes, I should have read a book.  “13 Reasons Why” is a controversial drama about high school, teenage angst and ultimately a girl’s tragic suicide.  It made me think about why I hated high school.   In 2002, I attended my 30-year reunion , only because I had moved from Anchorage in 1995.  Why go to a high school reunion if you still live in the same small town.   I walked in and thought to myself, “what was I thinking?”  I hated high school, and turned around and walked out.

West Anchorage High     

“13 Reasons Why” is a very dark look at how kids can be incredibly cruel to one another, bullying, spreading rumors, and telling lies — however, attractive they all are.  It could be an interesting instructional tool to teach self-confidence, maybe.  The show also depicts teachers, a counselor and administrators completely clueless.   I have great respect for anyone working in high schools today, especially teachers.  Kids and classrooms are so different now.  We didn’t have social media, cell phones, internet, or Donald Trump as President.  

My Dad was arrested in my sophomore year, and spent 6 months in jail.  If there were other kids with a parent in prison, I certainly wasn’t aware of it.  Dad was released and lived in a half-way house and then came home.  As part of his sentence for vehicular homicide, he was not allowed to drive. I spent my senior year as a chauffeur so he could work.  Taking my Mom to her job at Providence Hospital, and Dad to his office, before school.  Picking him up for lunch and after school taking him to appointments.  It wasn’t your typical high school experience.  I am not complaining.  “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”   My family’s adversity made me stronger, self-sufficient and a loner.  I never considered suicide.

I flunked physical education (PE) classes, and challenged my teachers.  The football coach was my civics teacher, and he didn’t know much.  When he told me I had to wear dresses, I walked out.  Civics was the only class I actually had an interest in.  At least we had better role models in elected office, but for President Nixon.   And he was a teachable moment.   It has to be a whole new challenge for civics teachers with Trump in the White House. Of course, Trump provides daily opportunities for fact checking research assignments.

The girls in “13 Reasons Why” were really cruel to one another, and the boys mostly jerks.  Not how I remember high school, but I am sure the show is an accurate depiction of many schools today.  I had a few friends at school, but their parents didn’t want them to come to my house, because of my Dad’s alcoholism.

I had no intention of going to college straight after high school.  I worked, traveled to Europe, and took a few classes at the community college.   Thanks to a friend of my Mom, I got a great job on the ground crew at Alaska Airlines loading food service equipment.  That job introduced me to unions, I was a member of the Machinist (IAM), and became a shop steward.

That job set me on my course to become an advocate, and join the labor movement.  I didn’t have a plan, the path found me.  Like the Grateful Dead “Box of Rain” lyric, “Someday I will find direction around some corner, where it has been waiting to meet me” .    Direction has always found me, even without a GPS.

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