Well obviously I inspired myself to write this piece, but also my teacher Mrs. Mahmoud inspired...
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Surviving Catholic School…The Early Days
There are a lot of ways I could start this, but I better start off with my early years. I was born on October 5th 1993, and I was a very small baby. Growing up, my mother and father noticed I wasn’t getting any bigger (for a five year old I should have been what… 40 pounds maybe and let’s say two and a half feet tall. ) I was only around 28 pounds and only about two feet tall. Now that wasn’t far from average, but I didn’t really change from this weight. I had asthma and had to take a lot
of treatments, one almost every day. I know my mom was a bit worried. I remember her taking me to the grocery store and telling me to pick out any cookie I wanted (but being me, I only picked out the Snackwells.) She really just wanted me to gain some weight because I was the smallest in my preschool class. I remember never really wanting to eat and always being really, REALLY hyper. When I got to third grade I think this is where I started gaining weight. Our doctor told us that I didn’t need to take treatments anymore and that I could just use an inhaler from time to time. Boy, did I wish I kept the treatments! They were apparently better than Jenny Craig, for an eight year old at least. In any case this is one way I felt different than my peers at school. One could say I was one of the bigger kids in class… how embarrassing. Speaking of school, I absolutely adored it. I mean who wouldn’t love getting told what not to do every day by a priest in church and that basically everyday of your life you are doing something wrong and being a SINNER! Yeah, I would definitely have to say I loved good ol’ Holy Trinity. Every day in that school they would beat in our heads what they thought was right, and not that I don’t believe in God, but I’m glad I am able to think for myself today. There is one thing they did accomplish though… they sure do know how to instill that catholic guilt! Going to Holy trinity made me feel better than people, that’s what catholic schools do to you. They say treat everyone as if they were your brother, unless they believe in abortion, or are gay, then make them feel worthless, and oh yeah since you go to a private school you’re the best. How long did I go to this school one might ask? Well, for nine whole years. Now, it wasn’t all bad. It really did teach me a lot about God and the way of the church, but I don’t go to church. I pray… isn’t that enough? I remember one time. It was the beginning of seventh grade, and the school got a new principal. The principal was so mean! Well he was making everyone, in every grade, in the whole school do Mass cards. I had a teacher, let’s call her Miss. B. Well, I told Miss. B that I did not attend church and that just because I go to school here doesn’t mean I can do these cards. Miss. B told me personally that it was ok and she would take care of it. What happened? I was getting zeros for all my Mass cards and I was starting to get a bad grade! I have never got a terrible grade… especially nothing less than a C and especially not in a religion class, but now I was getting a D in religion and it was all because I didn’t go to church? I told my mom what was going on and she called the school. She had a big fight with the principal and he was very rude to my mother. My sister then called the school back and started talking to my principal. She said this “what about the people who aren’t Catholic? They don’t go to Mass but they still go here. What do they get for a grade?” And all he said was they go to different things like synagogues and temples, they still fill out something. This was a lie, because they didn’t do it at all. I remember that was the day my principal made my whole family start going to church. I mean church isn’t the worst thing in the world but did we really belong there if he was making us go? Not that that wasn’t bad enough in school they started making every class participate once a week in church activities. I got through seventh grade, but now it was eighth grade. This year was so bad and confusing for me. Here’s a fun story… One day our eighth grade class was picked to do the reading and carrying of gifts for church. My Teacher Miss. S picked me to say the reading before communion. I wasn’t that nervous, but I really didn’t want to mess up. I mean I was going to be saying this in front of my entire school and our priests and everything! The day came where I had to read. It was my turn to walk on the altar, the reading was suppose to be up there for me already to read and go sit down when I was done. It sounded easy right? WRONG! I walked up there and I saw the book, but it wasn’t opened to my page I saw that it was opened to the halfway spot so I accidently started reading in the middle then I proceeded to realize this and apologize and turn the page and start from the beginning. I thought I had finished and I was happy and I sat down. That was the reading Miss. S gave me and everything seemed to be fine. WRONG AGAIN! The priest seemed to be angry and got up then he announced to the whole church “hold on stop the music I have to read the real reading of Mass”. I was completely mortified. My teacher gave me the wrong reading and I read it to everyone else. I just started to cry. I was so embarrassed. Everyone in my class was trying to make me feel better they were telling me it was ok and that I did a good job anyway, but I know I didn’t. To make matters even worse, the priest had to re-read the f*ing reading I just read because it turns out that was the GOSPEL reading for that day. I really hated my life in that moment. Yeah, Holy Trinity was a real blast. Speaking of school, I had some really cool friends… I remember my first day of kindergarten. I walked in the classroom and a really tall girl and an Asian girl were standing next to each other. They looked at me and the tall girl said something along the lines of “ok you can be our friend.” I never really thought about how she said this, but little did I know she would be the leader of our “pack”. Her name was Marina and she was horrible. This should be said with emphasis she was a life ruiner. She seemed to be in charge of me and the other girl Amy. It was better to be friends with her then to not be friends with her though. It was seriously insane how she bossed us around. One might think it was normal for a five year old to be pushy and rude, but it just got worse as we go older. One day, I want to say it was second grade; I was really pissed off at Marina for something. I don’t quite remember. We were on the bus- side note I took the bus, yeah that’s right. We were called busers and we were the coolest in the whole school, no not really. Anyway Marina and I were in a fight and she stole my seat on the bus! Everyone knew you didn’t do this! This was an unwritten rule. So I started yelling at her. Thinking back on it I can’t believe the bus driver didn’t stop us. Anyway, I started yelling at her and she got on top of me and was hitting me so I pulled her hair and wouldn’t let go. Needless to say, I won that fight. That was my first and only fight and I was a champ. Not that I condone fighting, but if you’re in one you better win. Marina and I weren’t friends for a while after that; that meant me and Amy weren’t either. Amy was a follower I hate to say it but she was. She did everything Marina told her to do and it was kind of sad. There were days she would fight with Marina and then be friends with me again. Amy was really the only person in school I really liked though. I thought we would be best friends forever. I should have seen through her in grade school so I wouldn’t have been so hurt in high school, but that’s another story. Yeah, Amy and I were inseparable, when we weren’t fighting or mad at each other we were the best of friends. I knew I could trust her with anything… or I thought so at least. It was a very twisted cycle, but truthfully Marina was just a bad influence. Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? A lot of people think that’s how it’s like in high school. Well, they would be wrong. High school is so much better than how grade school was. My whole life throughout Holy Trinity reflected the movie Mean Girls. If you’ve seen it there is a three-way call scene where two girls are talking and then Regina doesn’t know Gretchen is on the phone. Well I’ll never remember how many times that happened to me, but it always got me in trouble. I remember one phone call vividly. It was in the summer and Amy called me and was talking like normal. She then started to talk about Marina. She goes “Bailey do you like Marina?” I replied with “Well, yeah I mean I guess she can be mean sometimes.” Wrong answer because then both Amy and Marina were angry with me. I was so angry. I couldn’t believe she three way called me! In third grade Amy and I decided it was best to stop talking to Marina because she made bad choices and we didn’t like what she was doing. I mean who has a “boyfriend” in the third grade and I’m not talking about “Aw look at those two little tykes they’re so cute they’re boyfriend and girlfriend.” She said she had a real boyfriend that was old and it was creepy… Normal people don’t have boyfriends, but Marina did. Well, Marina didn’t like this and she told our teacher that we wouldn’t talk to her. She turned everything around on us and we had to go to “counseling” with our teacher! She was now making us be friends with her. This happened a lot through junior high, I’m not going to lie; Holy Trinity was a sick place and if they didn’t like what you were doing they would bring in people to talk to you. I think even in seventh grade they brought in a therapist for our class and they didn’t even tell our parents… who does that? Speaking of seventh grade this was a sad point in my life. I had been bullied enough by Marina, but this meant I didn’t have any friends. She pretty much controlled the whole class by now and I was all alone. Amy was still friends with her and I lost my best friend. We got some new students a couple years earlier, and everyone thought they were twins. They were really smart and one skipped a grade so he could be in our class. Their names were Andy and Matt and of course Marina got to them. By seventh grade everyone was so mean I couldn’t take it. I was sad all the time and I wanted to switch schools so badly. The only reason I didn’t was because my mom and sisters had all graduated from Holy Trinity, so I had to too. One day I remember in seventh grade the eighth graders weren’t at school, so that meant the deserving seventh graders got the last seat on the bus. No one knew how badly I wanted that and I deserved it. I guess one could say I was a legacy; it was another unwritten rule. I got on the bus excited to get MY seat and who was sitting there? Marina in one and Matt and Andy in the other. They did this on purpose they were laughing at me. I asked politely for Matt and Andy to move, but they wouldn’t. They just laughed and said find another seat. I was being humiliated in front of everyone that took the bus and it was so embarrassing. I said something about how they didn’t have any friend anyway, but I remember I muttered it. What a mistake that was; because Marina heard me and yelled they have friends you don’t; look around no one’s your friend. A girl in our class also took the bus, her name was Mary and she was a loner. No one really talked to her, but she stood up and said I’m her friend! Then she proceeded to grab my hand and take me to sit with her. I don’t think Matt and Andy thought I was going to do what I did next, but I started to cry. It was getting far too real for them. I could tell that they felt bad. I heard them saying something about how they were just kidding and not to cry, but I said just stop talking to me, and I just kept crying. It was the longest bus ride of my life. Mary kept saying it was ok and not to cry, she said that I was her friend and not to worry about them they were just jerks. Finally the ride from hell was over and I ran inside on to my bed and just started bawling. My mom came in and asked me what was wrong. I told her everything that had been going on and she called the school. That was the day my mom also gave me my signed Daniel Radcliffe picture. She really knows how to make my day better, but I was really upset. The next day at school we all got called into the principal’s office and we had to talk about what was going on, but nothing changed. No, actually Marina got rewarded. Our Spanish teacher always gave her presents and singled her out from everyone in our class, and I noticed everyone in class was ignoring me. They weren’t being mean and they weren’t being nice, I was just being ignored. I hated this school. Finally! I was in eighth grade! All I had to endure was one more year of this crap. One more year and then I could go to high school. Eighth grade was interesting to say the least. I wasn’t an outcast anymore. I became friends with the sporty girls in school and I finally felt like I had people to talk to. Marina was the one who was the outcast. Everyone saw through her façade and no one liked her anymore. So what does Marina do? She tries and becomes friends with me again! Are you kidding me? I absolutely hated this girl, but me being the mature person I am wasn’t a b**** to her. I simply acted like her friend and talked about her behind her back like a normal person. Now I know that isn’t the most mature way to deal with someone like that, but what can I say? I was fourteen years old. I didn’t really care that much about being mature. Eighth grade was kind of fun. We finally got to go to work at the dances and decorate for them. Although typical for me another one of my embarrassing life moments happened in eighth grade. It was last period and the eighth graders (that being us) got out early to change and set up for the dance. We had to be in the church basement for the dances, and the basement was actually nice. The girls were in the bathroom and we were all changing and getting ready. I was sitting on the floor because I was putting my shoes on. Now I was tired from a long day at school and I decided I would just change on the floor too. I asked if there was anyone coming in. Alice, a girl in my class checked for me. She checked for me really quick and said no. So I had my shirt over my head when something flew in the door and I hear a gasp. I was mortified. Andy threw something in the girl’s bathroom just to be funny and he had caught a peek of me. I thought I looked disgusting, and I’m sure he did too. I couldn’t come out of the bathroom. I just had to sit there and sulk. Alice said no one saw anything, but I know he did. I came out and everyone acted like nothing had happened which I was grateful for, but then what did I see? I saw Marina talking with all the boys in our class, which there weren’t a lot so it really wasn’t a big deal, but it still hurt my feelings. I finally got over that, but I was so insecure. I was insecure all through my Holy Trinity years though. Have you ever looked back on your life and thought “What was I thinking?” Well, looking back on my life in Holy Trinity I think that so often. I ask myself why you were so rude. Why were you so mean? Why didn’t you just try to open up and become friends with people? Then I answer these questions and many others with “Well, Bailey I know no one really deserved your friendship and you were just nervous and insecure. I know you just didn’t want anyone to hurt your feelings or make fun of you, and most people are stupid.” I feel like that whole school made me insecure, even the uniforms. What uniforms you say? Terribly ugly green yellow blue and red striped plaid uniforms. An ugly white polo with a little cross stitched in the upper right corner and the girls could wear skirts and the boys could wear blue pants. Don’t even get me started on the dress code. No crazy hairstyles, no makeup, no nail polish, no heels over two inches, boys have to wear a belt, black or brown knee highs, only one piercing in your ears, and probably others, but that’s all I have right now. For a girl with 9 piercings and who dyes her hair every other month this school really wasn’t for me. I remember one year I came to school with, my hair dyed. All I had were chunky blonde highlights. They cost about 60$ and I really loved them. My old principal saw me one day and called me down to the principal’s office. I hated the principal’s office. I was in there way too much. Half the time I didn’t even do anything wrong. Anyway my principal told me my hair was against school policy and that I had to change it. I was so upset. How was he going to make me change my hair when it was my body and it was only blonde? It was so ridiculous, but my mother had to spend another 30 dollars to get my hair toned and the color pretty much out of my hair. I cried so much. This was seriously so upsetting to me. How could someone tell you what your own body can look like? I remember one day like it was yesterday. It was eighth grade and before school started all the classes had to line up and just wait. Now when one is starting to grow up and trying to become a woman don’t you think they’ll want to try and look pretty and maybe wear some makeup? One day I tried just that. I wore a little bit of eye-liner. Not a lot just a little on my bottom lid and I even think it was brown so it didn’t stand out as much. Apparently I was wrong. I got yelled at by my teacher and she told me to go wash it off. I was astounded that they could even see it. I said I was sorry and that I tried to wash it off, but it was from the night before I swear! I felt so caged in at this place. Such a “Holy” school really felt like a hell-hole, and that’s not a dig against God by any means. It’s like the saying I love God, but I hate religion and everything that goes along with it, now I might be going off on a tangent here, but why won’t God love me if I want to dress and act like myself? I just have to be a clone of the next girl in my class? I couldn’t dress like myself or act like myself is really what I’m getting at because Holy Trinity pretty much didn’t let me have my own thoughts. I had to follow all the rules or I would just get in trouble, but God does love me just the way I am, in a way he’s like Bruno Mars. How did every other person feel about the dress code? They tried to defy it too. The boys would never wear belts which was dumb because that was the least of everyone’s worries. It was actually kind of funny I remember the teachers would say that they were going to staple the boys pants to their shirts if they didn’t wear the belts. However, some of them still didn’t want to listen and they got detentions. Let’s go back to our favorite person, Marina. It truly astounded me, and still does, how every teacher loved her even though she never wanted to follow the rules. Let’s go through her wardrobe shall we? Hair- dyed bottom of it was freaking red! Ears- double piercing and a cartilage. Nails-Painted. Skirt- way too short. Shoes- heels above two inches. Like, what the hell? Apparently she was just a rebel without a cause who didn’t care what anyone thought. Yes, she did get a lot of detentions, she did get suspended, but she never changed, and everyone still loved her and wanted to be her friend… until eighth grade that is. Like I said eighth grade was such a crazy year for me. It was also the year I got my first real boyfriend. Now, in junior high we all know we have boyfriends that don’t really count. My first one of those was Arthur S. Arthur and I were best friends in kindergarten and in third grade I liked him so much! We got along so well and I figured hey we should “date”. Now I’ve said before normal people don’t date for real in third grade, but little girls have cute little crushes. This story is a strange one. It was Halloween, and I remember it like no other. I invited Marina and Arthur over to go trick-or-treating. This is back when we were all friends and everyone liked me. Before Arthur came over I was talking to Marina and I remember telling her “Marina I really, REALLY, like Arthur… I hope he likes me too. I sure hoped he did, because we were still best friends and I hoped he wanted to be the first “couple” in school. What a joke…Marina told me I should tell him when he got there. I pondered on this thought for a very long time and decided I could tell him. Arthur got there and we all went trick-or-treating with my mom and two sisters. When we came back home we all stared in awe at our candy and since it was a nice night out we stayed outside and talked. I remember I had to go inside for a second and when I came back outside something was weird, but being me I ignored it. It was finally time. I pulled Arthur aside and I told him. I told him that I really liked him and I think we should date. That’s how it worked right? Apparently he agreed and now we were dating. This was so exciting. The first couple in our class and we were best friends. The key word here being WERE. Everything got very awkward. We kind of stopped talking so it wasn’t like we were in a relationship at all, except for the notes that I would send him… I was cute like that. One day I heard a rumor. Someone told me Marina forced Arthur to like me! I was crushed. I asked Arthur if this was true and he admitted it and I distinctly remember calling him a douche bag. Needless to say we were over. We practically didn’t even have a friendship now. I shouldn’t have gotten mad at him though, I should’ve gotten mad at Marina, it seemed like she was the cause o all my problems. She was a less pretty Regina George… referencing Mean Girls again. It’s funny how one remembers more of the bad in their life than the good, but to be honest my entire career at Holy Trinity wasn’t bad. I did have a lot of fun times there. One of the best times was in eighth grade. That year things really did turn around for me. I got my friends back and I had a lot of good times. At Holy Trinity we had this thing called “Grandparents Day”. I didn’t have any grandparents left… God rest their souls, so I felt pretty left out. I did however have a super cool science teacher. Mrs. Rossi was one of the coolest teachers I’ve ever had. I’m not going to lie, she was crazy and I’m pretty sure she was stuck in the 80’s, but she was so funny. Mrs. Rossi had medium length black hair and she wore a ton of makeup, but it looked good on her. She always reapplied her makeup in class, but didn’t think us kids would notice. She would take a stapler and a piece of paper and hold them up so it looked like she was just reading the paper, but we weren’t dumb… She was so funny, she would always wear shoulder pads and she always had lipstick on her teeth. Anyway, getting back to “Grandparents Day” I was talking to Marina… and I was saying how I was sad because I didn’t have a grandparent. We were in Mrs. Rossi’s science class and she overheard us. She said that she would be my “grandparent” and I thought that was so nice of her. The day came and she took me out to Uncle Bub’s for lunch and got me ice cream! It was one of the most fun days in eighth grade. Eight grades was also the year where I got a boyfriend… and he was a boyfriend that was actually meaningful. It was in February, the day after Valentine’s Day to be exact. He was my best friend and I had asked him if he wanted to go to the movies. I really wasn’t thinking about going out with him or anything. We went out to the movies to see “Juno”… how very appropriate…not really, but it was funny. He held my hand and we just continued watching the movie. After the movie was over we stayed and talked; I asked him what was up and we decided we wanted to be more than friends. Although we really didn’t want to tell anyone at school, because we didn’t want people to make fun of us. So we had a secret relationship. It was actually really dumb looking back on it. In school he acted like he didn’t know me at all and the only person I told was Amy my best friend (yes, she was my best friend again). It seemed that I was the only person working in this relationship and it felt like he didn’t like me at all. I kept trying with him though; in fact we went on a second date to the movies! We went to see “Jumper” and I think we both felt like this was the date to take a big step in our relationship. Again we stayed after the movie and waited until everyone left and we kissed. We had tried kissing in the movies, but it was just really awkward. Well, little did I know that this would be even more awkward. We both just were kind of smiling stupidly and didn’t know what to do. We felt dumb and so we just walked out of the theater and went home like nothing really happened. We had been dating for about a month now and he and I sat on opposite side of the room in our classroom. I used to leave him little notes and I would try and get his attention. He never really seemed to care though. I remember he wanted an email and I said I would make him one. The email is important because about a week later He sent me an email. Does anyone know what the email said? It said something along the lines of I’m breaking up with you sorry. What? Was he serious? he really broke up with me over an email… which I made for him! This was just the cherry on top of a perfect relationship. All I remember was calling Amy and crying over the phone. Well, then all hell broke loose in the eighth grade class. Andy and Matt found out and they told Marina, and her kind of being my friend and kind of not she came up to me and said, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me. I didn’t really know what she was talking about, but then again I did know. I was like what, and all she kept saying was it wasn’t her place to talk about it. What a b****… clearly you are talking about you’re just manipulating me in trying to beg you to tell me. Well, I didn’t I just said fine. And I walked away. The amazing thing is once everyone did find out about what happened and how he broke up with me they all hated him. It was so weird it was like this brought our class closer, and instead of me being the person they outcast he was. It was such a strange transition. In any case I was still so ready to get out of that school, but at least everyone was friends with me again. I just figured that junior high relationships were pointless too and then I became really dramatic and thought no one would ever like me. My years at Holy Trinity were finally coming to an end. Graduation was coming up, but more importantly the graduation dance was coming up. Every eighth grader looked forward to their eighth grade dance, yes I know I’ve spoken about dances before, but this one was the mother of all dances. It was only for eighth graders and the parents were allowed to come. I remember it being the one night we all actually got along and finally put everything aside. We were finally acting like adults; I found we were ready for high school. This being our last big blowout we all said something like oh we’ll keep in touch… but you know how that goes. The day had finally come we were all more than ready for it. It was graduation and we could not have been happier. Our class president gave the goodbye speech we walked outside threw our caps up in the air and just like that it was over. I thought I would be super happy because of everything that had happened, but even with the bad experiences I’d had, I was really going to miss Holy Trinity. I mean it had been my life for nine years and now I was going to go to high school? This idea was so scary to me. I was not even ready for this. I really didn’t know what to do, I was nervous about everything that comes along with high school. I guess I just had to take it one step at a time.