Part of the reason there’s more photographs at this point is the emergence of social media. Another part is cameras on phones getting progressively better. I also didn’t have a cell phone until the middle of ninth grade, so the earlier photos required having a camera that isn’t also a phone. But a big part is my social turning point in ninth grade. I was unable to speak to most people for awhile in eighth grade, communicating through notes only. I made a conscious decision to figure out how to make friends. I started having a lot more friends after throwing myself into any opportunity for socialization.
We had a pool behind the garage. We played a lot of silly games in the summer, and as you can see, at one point things escalated to the point that the inflatable whale ascended to the roof. We also played capture the flag a lot whenever we had enough people. One night we used the pool as the spot you have to go to if you’re tagged in enemy territory. This photo also shows the extent of my photo editing skills at fifteen.
I wasn’t kidding when I said we played Risk and Twister while handing out the band uniform hats. In this photo, we’re playing a variant of Risk we made up. Instead of rolling the dice, you play a game of Twister to decide who wins the battle. After eight hours, we called it quits in the opening stage of the game.
Here we’re playing an actual game of Risk. My strategy was to ally myself with Daniel and Soren to destroy AJ, then ally myself with Daniel to beat Soren. All along I didn’t really carry my weight in destroying enemy units, but I did amass a large amount for myself. I swept the board fairly quickly. Later we played a version of Risk involving the pool.
Jacqui gave me a French braid on the bus one day. Several of my friends rode the same bus, so the ride home was generally pretty fun. One time several people were to my place, so we all got on the bus, including Daniel who wasn’t invited. The friends who would normally get off before me just waved at their stop.
We did a lot of things that had a high probability of injury that summer. In retrospect, I’m amazed nobody went to the emergency room.
I was trying to make the LOL face. My eyes going in opposite directions is definitely not the LOL face, but I do appreciate the photo of a face I can make that most people can’t.
Once school started, we took our summer antics and applied them to the school year. Pictured here is the reason there is a ban on Twister in the halls at my high school.
My clique was called the posse. We met in the library before school every morning. We had the same table every day. Our antics were enough to merit comparison to the Community community, as we definitely monopolized parts of the school. The amoeba was an even larger group that met in front of the cafeteria before school. It was a group of outsiders, mostly. Drug users, sluts, radical Christians, the Jewish student, criminals, nerds, etc. It dissolved over the course of my sophomore year. The posse dissolved after I left.
I was really into Key Club for a couple years. I would volunteer for everything I could. I ran for freshman rep. Josh and I made a music video for it. I still lost. But the next year I got to be secretary, which was an experience I still draw on today.
I’ve never been in the basket of a floating hot air balloon, but I have been inside one of the balloons. This was at the Balloon Festival. God bless Indiana.
I spent an afternoon at Valparaiso University with a girl I had a crush on. We both went to a theatre workshop, and then we laid on the sidewalk and talked for a few hours. At one point there was a bee flying around, so I jumped on it. I’m not sure how I managed to hit the bee in mid-air with my foot, but I did. I also like the circle of sidewalk we were on because from it you can see the union, the chapel, the arts building, and some fourth thing I’m not remembering. They were analogous to the things I lived for at the time: God, love, friendship, and music.
Every year the Builders Club and Key Club and other volunteers would participate in the Pack-a-Thon. There was a charity race, and the gift bags for the runners need packing. So we pack at a breakneck speed for eight hours. Then we got pizza and soda. It’s really weird what we were able to make fun.
As the boxes got low on supplies, we had people sit inside them to reach them more easily. Also made for some fun photo ops.
Silly Bandz bracelets were popular for awhile. I happened to be really into Jesus at the same time.
There’s a game called The Game. There’s two rules: if you think about the game, then you lose the game; and if you lose the game you must announce it. The unwritten third rule was that you are always playing. After some guy from the amoeba stayed up for 27 hours, he declared 27 the number of The Game. To this day I can’t look at 27 without losing the game.
Some maintenance went wrong in the high school, setting off the fire alarm. We had to be outside for a long time. My friends and I thought it’d be funny to order a pizza delivery. We didn’t actually have money, so we didn’t actually reveal ourselves as the ones who placed the order as the Papa John’s driver arrived to thousands of students standing around the building. Daniel told his parents who made him send an apology note and twenty dollars. This picture is the response he got.
The original caption for this picture was “You cannot conquer the world with nuclear world; you may only destroy it.” I think the second “world” was supposed to be “war”. Anyhow, I liked playing Freeciv, and so did Soren, so he would bring his desktop to my place and we’d link our computers with an ethernet cable to play together. One day I actually had a LAN party. I feel old.
Soren’s in this one. I met him in first period honors Literature in sixth grade. We went to different elementary schools, so when we talked about technology at a level nobody else in the class could understand, our classmates realized we were somehow different. We both did excel in classes with minimal effort, much to the chagrin of the students who tried hard and still couldn’t compete with us. For most of the year we were rivals, but by the end we acknowledged each other as geeks, which was a strong symbol of friendship. We were usually together for the rest of middle school. Not to the exclusion of others, but people did start referring to us as a pair.
Eugene’s in this one. He was very proud of his hair. We met in sixth grade Social Studies. In our assigned seating, he happened to be one seat behind me. During our first test, I had lost all of my pencils by that point in the day, so I asked him for one. He later told me that at the time he thought I was mentally impaired because I had severe exotropia. The next day we got our tests back. I got 100, he got an F. He realized he was the opposite of correct. We kept talking though, so he became a close friend. Soren and Eugene had an interesting dynamic together given their very different approaches to life. Eugene lacked in academics, but he was an expert level dirt bike racer. Expert is the highest level minors are allowed. He was sponsored by Bawlz energy drink.
Andi’s in this one. I met her on the first day of kindergarten. She was very kind to me, sometimes being the only kind child to me. We were both at the yellow table for kindergarten, so we had plenty of time to chat. Dylan and Brody were also at the table, and it was probably the most dynamic group of the class. In first grade, Andi and I were in different classes, so maintaining the friendship became more difficult.
Jacqui’s in this one. She and I became friends in sixth grade after she stood up for me when another student was stealing my belongings. She was also quite smart and nerdy, so we got along well.
The doghouse sold popcorn, candy, soda, and hot dogs during football games. It took me until age 26 to realize it’s called a “doghouse” because it sells hot dogs. Anyhow, my friends, the most involved band nerds, and I would work before the games preparing the popcorn and hot dogs. As a reward, we got unlimited popcorn and soda. That popcorn was great, and it made me raise my standards for what I pop at home. We also did silly things, like put a freshman in the freezer.
There was glass on the front of that case, but then we threw the same freshman into it. He was completely uninjured. I told him it was because he was wearing flannel.
Another annual event was trick-or-treating at the apple orchard. Children walked through the building in a line, receiving one piece of candy from each adult or teenager that they passed. Before it started, we noticed there was a long line outside and we had free apples, so we started walking up and down the line offering apples.
Josh’s pillow ended up in the skee ball machine. Also, usually you have to leave your ID as collateral when you rent bowling shoes. We forgot to bring ID, so we used the pillow as collateral. In retrospect, I really appreciate the level of silliness that place tolerated.
The ticket machine was broken in such a way that I could get any number of tickets I wanted, albeit at a somewhat slow rate. There was also a Halloween special that tripled any ticket total, so I had a massive amount of tickets. I bought everyone cowgirl hats with them.
This literally happened again. Wind picked it up and threw it down the hill. I think we actually recovered it, though. But this was near the end of our trampoline days anyway. I get a weird feeling when I remember that there was a last time we played our creative games on the trampoline. We didn’t know it was the last time, time just got away from us.
My skills with technology were growing, and with them my confidence. I took apart my laptop to fix something, then put it back together. Then I started taking apart as many laptops as I could find, always putting them back together. Also, I’ve since learned the trick to not losing keys is to not use the keyboard as a plate.
The head football coach did a bit of a rude parking job. Those doors open outward, though, so I’m not sure why he’d set his grill up for denting.
In tenth grade I performed in my high school’s showing of The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood. In this picture, we’re building the set. The big thing in the middle of the stage was a clever contraption: it was on wheels and could rotate to be either a forest or a castle interior at will. Those are the two main settings for the play, so it made scene changes fast.
Someone etched this into the wall at my high school. This just looks like chalk, though. Still, some of us thought it was funny to direct our classmates to 4chan.
Funk was a great tuba player. He was a senior when I was a freshman. He had “FUNK” written on the wall in the hall with the music classrooms. He and AJ would often get into fights. For example, AJ wanted us to headbang while playing “Crazy Train” whereas Funk wanted us to not have so many dance moves for every song.
I liked to decorate my room in December. The year before the one pictured I bought a lot of decorations at 90% off in November. Then in the next December, pictured, I spread fake snow all over, set up the penguins I won in a raffle, and ran string lights all over the ceiling.
I really loved playing tuba. It’s too bad the person I got into a romantic relationship with demeaned the band nerds to the point that I mostly quit. She also had me quitting extracurriculars like jazz band so I would have more time with her after school. I say “She had me quitting”, but of course it was ultimately me who made the decisions to quit. I suppose life is often all about exchanges we make.
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