Follower Q&A

So, here are some questions I’ve been asked by my followers, be it twitter, tumblr, or here on my blog.  Most of them were answered privately, but I thought I’d compile them and make them public knowledge.  I do this sort of thing from time to time, and I have had a pretty interesting crop of questions lately.  Enjoy!

What was it like attending a private/church school?

Interesting.  It started out ok enough, but things can get a bit hairy when you attend a church school which observes religious beliefs different from your own.  I have always been a very open, accepting person and I have no problem whatsoever with religions that differ from my own or the people who practice them.  I do, however, have a problem with a particular religion viewing their beliefs as the only “true” religion, and thus, the only true way to God…and I have a problem with those who observe said religions trying to shove it down my throat, making it their constant mission in life to convert me.  Going to a church school like the one I attended for 8 years, you are required to attend theology classes and chapel services.  Things I never had a problem with until I got older and some of the staff began treating the students who had different beliefs with disrespect.  My particular beliefs are actually quite similar to those of the school’s.  I attended a church at that time that was just a different branch of the same religious group, but the small differences were made into very big differences eventually.  The last straw for my parents was when I had my personal bible taken from my locker by the principal.  I was reprimanded publicly for possessing a bible other than the school’s required translation, even though I wasn’t using that bible for school use.  I just had it in my locker.  It was shouted into my face that my personal bible was a translation “from the pits of hell” and would not be tolerated and that I should be ashamed.  It ended with my dad having a long conversation with the principal that resulted in my being taken out of school at the end of that school year.  I got my bible back though!

But overall, I enjoyed my time there.  I grew up with the kids I went to school with.  It was small and everyone knew each other.  I made long-lasting friends and connections in that school.  I was bullied there, but growing up with physical handicaps would have made me a target at any school.  It was probably better being where I was, considering most of the kids knew me and left me alone.  That left only a few who didn’t know me and felt it necessary to bully me.  While some of the educators there had very different opinions from my own, many of them were wonderful people and I loved them.  I also credit going to that school with my success in school.  That school held its students to a much higher standard than the state did.  I entered a public school in 9th grade and was miles ahead of the other kids in my class.  I had always been “smart.”  I typically scored at the top of my class even at the church school, it was just me.  Entering that public school, though, showed me just how far ahead I was.  It also prepared me for university, which I was able to get through quite easily.  Nursing school is never EASY, but as far as the “book” knowledge, I had that covered.  I graduated from high school and university with honors, and I think that was partially due to attending the  church school.

Tell us a little about where you grew up.

I grew up in a very poor neighborhood of North Little Rock, Arkansas.  Poor and rough.  There were some very scary people living around us.  We didn’t have much money, but I never thought of myself as poor.  I never had to go without anything and I went to a private school with a tuition every semester.  That’s part of why we lived where we did.  My dad grew up in that neighborhood, so that’s where my parents lived when they got married.  It was inexpensive to live there, so they stayed there in order to keep me in my private school and ensure I had what I needed and usually what I wanted.  I had a good childhood there.  I had a few friends around, but not many.  There just weren’t a lot of kids on my street my age.  Our house was small, it had one bathroom and two tiny bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room.  That’s all.  My first house I bought on my own after college was substantially bigger.  That was home, though.  I still think about that tiny house all the time.  So many memories are there.  My little bedroom, the furnace in the hallway floor that I fell and burned myself on many a winter night.  The kitchen window I was hoisted into on several occasions when my parents would leave the house and forget their key, locking themselves out.  Yeah, that happened way more often than it should have.  You would think my parents would have heard of a key ring.  The neighborhood was close to downtown, so it was close to where my parents worked in the center of the city.  It was close to the Arkansas River, and my dad said that had something to do with why the soil was so fertile.  I loved that little house.

We ended up moving away from there, finally, when I was 11.  Two rival gangs got into a fight after a party going on near my home.  The fight led to a shootout.  We heard gunshots outside, numerous shots, and my dad picked me up from my seat in the living room and ran me into the bedroom, literally throwing me under the bed.  My mom wasn’t far behind me.  I remember dad lying in the floor blocking the door, in shock to the point I was unable to scream when the shots were being fired outside the room.  I remember him calling the police and being told they were already on the way.  We could hear them on our front porch and in our yard, shooting at each other and screaming.  I was terrified for my friends–Ronnie, the kid across the street who was my best friend, and our neighbors, Mrs. Chism and the Shooks, all elderly.  They loved me and treated me like I was their grandchild.  I’d visit them often and received gifts from them every Christmas.  I remember after the shooting incident, our house had a for sale sign in the yard less than one week later.

What “handicap” did you have as a child?  Does it still affect you as an adult?

I had something called a tethered spinal cord, which is technically a form of spina bifida.  The difference is that it usually has better outcomes and your spinal cord isn’t exposed.  It does, however, cause physical problems and requires neurosurgery to correct.  My spinal cord has been repaired, but I will always have spine problems.  My spine didn’t develop normally after a certain point.  It was normal up to the lower part of my thoracic spine.  My lower spine vertebrae get smaller progressively from the point where the normal development stopped.  This results in a very narrow spinal canal which makes any injury to my spine more severe than it would be for a person with a normal spine.  That plus having a weak spine to boot, left me pretty well jacked.  To look at me, you wouldn’t know I had spine problems apart from having a slight limp, but it actually causes me severe pain every day now after sustaining a fractured vertebrae and herniated disks.  Unfortunately there isn’t too much that can be done for me now.  Just have to live with it, which I do!

Who is your favorite celebrity and why?

Well, anyone who follows me on tumblr knows I have a lot of actors and actresses I admire.  The top two being Barbara Stanwyck and Carol Burnett.  If I had to choose one of them, though, I’d have to go with Carol Burnett.  I admire her for so many reasons.  The first–and most obvious–reason being her insane talent.  She can literally do it all.  She can sing, she can dance, she does drama, and of course is one of the greatest comediennes ever born.  She’s also a brilliant writer and one of my top 3 favorite authors.  She is also a very kind, generous person.  She does so much good for others and she’s highly respected.  She appreciates her fans and, despite being a huge celebrity, writes them all back when they write her a letter.  That means the world to a fan, the fact that the person you admire is willing to acknowledge you.  She is just an amazing human being.  Her movies and, of course, her show are some of my favorite things to watch–and I watch them over and over.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

America.  I love it here.  It’s familiar to me.  That’s not to say I don’t like other countries, because I do!  There are many places I long to visit.  I want to visit the places my ancestors lived.  I want to visit so many places!  When it comes to where I call home, however, I want to stay right here in the United States.   We have our problems in this country, but what country doesn’t?  My ancestors chose to make the journey across the Atlantic from England and Ireland and they did so because they wanted to raise their families here.  I love that they did that and I don’t have any plans to leave.  And specifically, I want to stay in the South U.S.  The South is home to me.  The culture is very different in the south from other parts of the country.  People here tend to be friendlier and the pace of life is slower.  People aren’t in so much of a hurry and that appeals to me.  People in the South also have a strong sense of pride about their beloved “Dixie.”  I love to venture out and see the world, but I like to come back and settle in to the comfort and familiarity of home at the end of the day.  I live in Arkansas, and it is a beautiful place.  A fact most people don’t know about this state.  My family moved from state to state when they came to this country, but finally settled in Arkansas.  Put down new roots and made memories.  This state has history for me and my family and is very important to me.   I love the natural beauty of my state with its mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests.  This place will always be “home” even if I don’t happen to live here.

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