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Memoirs of an American Teenager
Author's note: I really hope that people will get a new look on life once they see it through my eyes.
“My dearest son Jonathan, I want you to know how proud I am of you that you have made it this far, here you are sitting with your big brother with whom I have entrusted with my most precious possession, you. I know that he will help you to deal with your fears and anxieties of being in a new school. I want to ask you to please let go of your nervousness and enjoy the company of your friends which some of these friendships will be lifelong I am sure. Remember that you are not alone in this journey, there are others who are also very nervous and excited to be here this weekend without their family members and out of their comfort zone. Get to know them; ask questions, get their XBOX Live ID, emails, ask them if they have seen some really cool UFOs lately. Remember that in this adventure mom and I will be there with you every step of the way just as we have all your life.
Let go and have fun make these next for years some of the best by getting involved in your school, taking care of it as it will take care of you and most of all remember that the spirit of Jesus will always be with you. Love Dad/JG”
– My dad, written to me during my Freshman Overnight.
“To my dearest Jonathan, I have been so proud of you since the day you were born. You have been such a good boy all your life and I have no doubts you will continue to do good as you start your freshman year here at Jesuit.
You are the sweetest kind boy, especially to your baby nephew Kingston who looks up to you and will be following in your footsteps shortly. You have grown up to be a respectful young man with God in your life, and we are very happy that you will continue to have Jesus in your school as you have in the past. Dad and I have no doubt that you will get through these challenging times as you have many times in the past. You are now attending the best high school in Northern California and I couldn’t be more proud of you. I know Jesuit will help you to become a role model to your peers and a successful young man of the community, I pray that all your dreams come true for you and that God will always send his angels to watch over you. I love you and will always be there for you.
My mom’ s letter to me during my Freshman Overnight
I grew up in Vacaville California, a small town compared to the cities around it. My parents always seemed a tad different than every other parent that I came into contact with. My dad’s name is Jose and my mom is Terry. My dad was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and grew up in the slums there. His father, Rodolpho, left him at a young age and put him in the care of his grandma and aunts. This was in 1963 so America was still the “Country of Dreams” and America was still dealing with the Vietnam War. Rodolpho came to America as “Pablo Ramirez” and talked to his friends that he knew in America and got false identification so that he could work. Meanwhile in Mexico Jose grew up with his two sisters and one brother. His brother, Rodolpho Junior (Rudy for short), was Jose’s older brother and they always got into fights. My dad told me that when he was little his uncle used to put salt on his and my uncle Rudy’s back and told them “You are both brothers, lick the salt off each other’s backs!”. Rodolpho got enough money to bring his children to the States and they settled in Azusa, California where my dad spent his teen years. My grandpa, Rodolpho, earned his green card with his real information and settled down with his family and assumed the role of two parents. My dad’s mother died after the birth of his younger sister, Mari, and he was so young he has no recollection of her. My dad went to Azusa High and spoke only Spanish. He took mostly ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and was in the marching band. My dad ended up getting bullied by “cholos” in his school. He took up kung fu and kept at it for seventeen years. My dad was working with his brother and his dad as graphic designers and drew stickers and decals for companies like Powell Peralta and Birdhouse. Which were companies that were just getting big and Stacey Peralta is actually the same age as my dad and grew up quite close to him in Venice Beach. My dad ended up with the decision to go into the Air Force to better his life, and he offered his brother to come with him. His brother declined for reasons rather unknown. Jose was taking a big cut in pay going from working overtime all the time, to basic pay as an Airman in the US Air Force. He soon was stationed at Edwards AFB in Southern California and bought a small house for him, his German Sheppard: Lobo, and, his two Dachshunds: Bart and Willy. He soon found a woman and got married and they lived in the house for a number of years. When I was told this I was flabbergasted because I thought my mom was the one with multiple husbands and divorces. Him and the woman started to grow apart and asked for a peaceful divorce. He stayed in his house while the woman moved in with her mother. Soon after, he was stationed at Norton AFB then to Travis AFB. One night he decided to go to the Travis club for the G.I.s… My mother was born in Manila, Philippines on Clark AFB. Her dad Lt. Col. John McGuinness was stationed at Clark because of World War II. So he and General Douglas MacArthur were good friends since they were both high-ranking officers in the Army. Lt. Col. McGuinness found a native woman there and decided to start a family. Soon enough they had nine children who were raised with a silver spoon in a foreign country. I honestly don’t know why but when American children were a part of a military family in a foreign country makes them seem on top of the world. My mom tells me stories of her getting a toy everyday because her parents owned the toy shop. My mom is the youngest of all of them and her oldest brother, Johnny, was already off to college. All of the brothers went into the military and became successful except for one of the brothers, Richard. Not that he didn’t become successful; it was more that he didn’t join the military. When my mom got older they all went to the states and settled into Vacaville California, fifteen minutes drive to Travis AFB. My uncle Dick has been confronted by all the brothers who went into the military: William, USAF, James, USAF, Thomas, USA, Bernard, USAF, and the oldest and most successful Johnny, USMC. Johnny was initially the one who interrogated the rogue brother, and Dick was too thick skulled. Soon they just dropped it and all the brothers became high ranking officers in there branch except for Thomas and Benny who went in enlisted. My mom soon attended Vacaville High School with her sisters. She was the short and very slender and always had caked makeup and wore high heels to school. She proceeded to act like an annoying cheerleader till after she graduated and met a man named Keith. She and Keith soon had a girl named Jennifer. Soon vicious fights started to break out between her and Keith and they soon got divorced. My mom then found a man named Brad who was a lot more muscular than the man before. They soon had a child named Alexis and soon fights started happening between my mom and this man. She soon started to get into bigger fist fights and it escalated to domestic violence. Brad was a very muscular man as pointed out before. He used to bench press around two hundred forty while he only weighed one hundred eighty. My mom said that while he worked out in the front yard girls used to drive slow to watch him, and she used to think “wow”. This man used to uppercut her while she swung the iron at him. It was common for the police to be called to their household. My mom soon partnered up with her friend Darrel and a man with a tattooed eyeball in the middle of his forehead, and just got out of prison. One time they all tried to kill Brad in his sleep with his own weights, but he sensed it and got out of the house. Soon the police caught up with them because my mom held a gun to Brad. So my mom, the guy with an eye tattoo, and Darrell started to run and jump a train. When they got into the train they tied up the conductor and my mom lost a flip flop in the process. Soon after she had to testify before the court, and God was with her because Brad was never there on the court dates so she never had anyone to testify against her, so the court dropped all charges. All of this in front of Alexis who was around five at the time. One day my mom went to Travis AFB with a few of her friends… …Both of my parents went to the club on Travis AFB and my dad called dibs on my mom according to the story and it went uphill from there. I was told that I was made in my Aunt’s bathroom, and then I was told that I was made Kauai. I am not sure which is truly factually but it makes me uncomfortable listening to where I was actually made. It’s a little different how my family so willing to talk about “s***” as in literal feces and also where I was made. They, as in my family, are a little too open on more impoliticly correct things to say that make most people feel uncomfortable. I started my educational pipeline in Vacaville Christian Academy for preschool. My mom and dad apparently wanted me badly so I was like a blessing to them. At the announcing of my birth my anti-positive fully negative aunt told my mom that she was going to die in child birth. My dad was more shocked than angered that she made this remark. At first my mom wanted to stay away from her because she was always negative. Never once was she positive about anything except for her son’s fraudulent diplomacy any academia. This negativity was never really present (or noticeable) to me when I was in preschool and up till seventh grade. After I finished my time at Vacaville Christian Academy I went over to Notre Dame Catholic School. My parents always tried to put me in the best education they could possibly put me in. At Notre Dame was where I had most of my ups and downs and spent the majority of my life. I was always smothered by my aunt being told the success of her son and his intelligence. I was told that he always had A’s and I wondered if he was so smart why didn’t he go to Notre Dame where I went? I always scored in the 98th percentile of anyone of my age; my whole class scored that high. Why was it so hard for him to go to Notre Dame? Well when I asked that I was told that Notre Dame couldn’t accommodate him and that he was too smart to go there. Bulls***. When I entered 5th grade I went into this phase where I copied everything my friend Sam did, I was a little brat. My friend Sam has and still is one of my best friends since then. He was into oldies rock and had hair like one of the Beatles in the 70’s. So soon enough I bought a Black Sabbath CD and tried act “rocker”. Before this I was into rap and of course like all little white boys and teenage white girls I tried to sing along and thought as myself as “cool”. I soon started to try and draw guitars. Sam always drew guitars in this composition journal and of course I had to do the exact same thing as him. We actually tried to start a band called Unbalanced. We made an album cover and it was a sorry excuse for one. We used Photo Booth on his iMac and Garage Band to try and make the band work. I remember our first single “Mirror on the Wall”, thinking back that was a horrible excuse for a song, but good effort. In 6th grade everything took a turn for the worst. My dad was a Jet Propulsion Specialist in the Air Force and one day he climbed up a big ladder onto C5 cargo plane with a 100 pound toolbox. Soon enough one of the brackets holding the ladder together broke and my dad swung the 100 pound toolbox behind him and ruptured a few disks in his back. He started getting severe pain in his back so David Grant Medical Center, the hospital on Travis AFB, started giving him shots in his stomach with needles as big as toilet paper rolls. On one of the appointments that he that he had to get shots the lady that was giving him shots in his stomach used the same needle twice. This caused an infection in my dad’s spine and he contracted Spinal Meningitis. This devastated the whole family, especially me. I was never told anything; everything was kept a secret from me. I was only told that my dad was really sick and that I couldn’t see him. Little did I know my dad was in quarantine in the hospital and was incredibly weak. I was stuck with my thick skulled sister and I didn’t see my dad for weeks at a time. I remember one day I went to go pick up my mom from seeing my dad and they were helping my dad walk again, I saw my dad limping and holding on to the IV drop pole in the hospital gown. Till today it’s a tear jerker and puts a knot in my throat, my own father. During this period my grades started to fall drastically and I was failing most of my classes. My principal called me into her office with my parents near the end of my 6th grade year. During all of this my dad was admitted home and got to stay with us when they discovered it was viral not bacterial. My principal was going to fail me but she assessed my previous work effort and my current situation and she decided to give me most of the worksheets that I missed and have me do them all over the summer.
My grades soon recovered in the 8th grade. My grades were at their peak and were better than they have ever been the 9 years that I went to Notre Dame. I thought that I was on top of the world since Notre Dame only goes up to 8th grade, I thought I was badass. I started having these pains in stomach that were unexplainable to me. They started around the last few weeks of my 8th grade year and I started coming home from school very often. My mom soon told me that it was acid reflux. This was when my anxiety problems first started. I soon wasn’t able to stay at school for more than a few hours without me feeling like my stomach caught fire from the inside. I remember one whole school week I went home every day.
After my mom was fed up with it she taught me the power of TUMS. Tums worked amazingly well, I honestly couldn’t thank the makers of Tums enough. My anxiety started to get so bad that I would have to take 3 Tums every morning for months at a time. I soon started to become desensitized to the Tums and they stopped working. I started having this problem after the Tums stopped working and I always pooped. Every morning I had to poop because my acid problem mixed with anxiety gave me these weird thoughts that I was going to die or my parents were going to die, I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
One day I had a physical with my primary physician Dr. Collins. We were already late to the appointment and Dr. Collins already had a full day and had to get with his next patient by the time we got to the facility. We got into the exam room once we checked in and the nurse gave me a medical gown to put on, she told us that Dr. Collins was with another patient. When Dr. Collins finally came in he told us that he doesn’t have enough time to check me out and had to postpone it. We told him we had a quick question, and he responded “What?” we told him about my anxiety problems and everything that was going on. He told us about this man located in downtown Vacaville named Dr. Fine, and we made the nearest appointment with him.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect with a name like “Dr. Fine”. I was expecting a man with little Harry Potter glasses that looked like Heinrich Himmler; I got scared to this thought. Once we got into the office in my green P.E. uniform my parents and I sat there with angst. We had to flick a switch on with the number that corresponded with his name. In our case it was 3. When Dr. Fine opened the door and flicked the switch off that we switched on I was shocked. The man before me was the exact opposite of Himmler. This was an old Jewish man, very lanky and eccentric. We get into his office and he points out a black couch that is for the “subject”. There were 3 other couches in there, 2 white ones for the parents and another black one for Dr. Fine for one-on-one patients.
The first thing Dr. Fine does is looks us up and down. He points at me and basically yells “You’re showing anxiety” then moves his arm till its pointing to my mom “You’re also showing anxiety” then looks straight at my dad and goes “I don’t know if you have any anxiety because your good at hiding it” my dad chuckled at this. We proceeded to explain what happened to my dad and my problems with anxiety, turns out that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Dr. Fine became a big part of my life: he was the one who kept me sane.
Turns out most of my family suffers from anxiety disorders. My cousin Priscilla suffered through high school and couldn’t finish college without Prozac. Some days she says it’s a two Prozac day because there is too much anxiety. Her sister, Cherie, has it worst. One day she said that she was dying and that she had a hole in her throat so she went to the ER. The ER people told her that it was in her head and that she was having a panic attack and there is, in fact, no hole in her throat. She didn’t accept that, so she gripped the bed and they had to pry her off. She is 30 years old and people seeing this lady made them thank God that they weren’t that crazy. Sad, so sad. I actually wrote an article on this in my blog called “A PIECE OF MY MIND: a look into the day and life of a teenager.” Here is a copy of the article.
“My name is Jon and I live with anxiety. Living with anxiety is a hardship that 1 in 4 adults have to deal with at least once in their lives, double the chances in women than in men.
I live with panic attacks and the statistic does not affect me because I’m only a teenager in high school. As of drafting this out i am just getting over a panic attack and trying to tell myself that panic attack symptoms are just dramatic versions of the humans body natural reaction to everyday things or stuff like that.
Symptoms of a panic attack, which often last about 10 minutes, include:
Pounding heart or chest pain.
Intense feeling of terror.
Sensation of choking or smothering.
Dizziness or feeling faint.
Trembling or shaking.
Nausea or stomachache.
Tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes.
Chills or hot flashes.
A fear that you are losing control or are about to die
These symptoms that I have listed can either read you like a book or not describe you at all! These symptoms are just a small fraction of symptoms that are from panic attacks. Everyone’s body reacts different to panic attacks and its predeceasing disorders, so you may experience different symptoms than the next guy but you will always have one thing in common, panic attacks.” (A PIECE OF MY MIND-WordPress)
When I was writing this article I was actually recovering from a panic attack and the panic attack I was recovering from was the first time to use a paper lunch bag (Dr. Fine’s advice) and it actually worked. Also before this article was written my aunt actually came up to me and told me “Jonathan, this is unhealthy! You need to fix this anxiety and it’s not right for you to be dealing with this at your age!” almost like I was faking it for attention unlike someone I know (her)! Nowadays she always asks me how I deal with panic attacks and what they feel like because she states that she gets them and she tries to confirm symptoms that she “feels”. I always say that “Symptoms are different for everyone”. Somehow she states that her getting “sick” has dropped her immune system and increased her chances for illnesses that other people around her have.
It wasn’t until my 8th grade graduation that my anxiety sky-rocketed. That day my mom, dad, and me went to my graduation mass and at this mass they said good bye to the graduating 8th grade class. My parents and I sat near the back of the pews. During the middle-end of the mass I saw my friend’s mom whispering and indicating my dad to her husband. I was wondering what was going on so I look to my right and I see my mom trying to talk to my dad and my dad had his head into his hand in a way that wasn’t normal. I figured that he had a bad migraine or something but I wasn’t sure. My friend’s mom kept indicating to my dad and I kept wondering what was going on. After the mass ended my mom said that I was to wait there at the school (the school and church were connected) and wait for them because they are going to run home and get a lens for the camera or something of that nature. Soon they came back and we went through the walk and Pomp and Circumstance. I got a lot of rewards for my ill participation; the ones I most treasure were the ones from my teacher/friend Mr. Grogan.
After my actual walk with my green gown and everything I had a dance. Through the years of going to Notre Dame the 8th grade dance was always looked forward to, and now that I went through it I ask myself “What’s the hype?” My mom told me she was going to take my dad to the ER at David Grant on Travis. I was at my dance and the girls were grinding each other. I never quite understood why the very white/preppy straight A girls would grind on each other, and I mean ALL of them. After the dance my mom picked me up and I didn’t know the whereabouts of my dad nor what happened to him. While leaving the school I realized that it was my last time at that school, so like every other kid like me, I stuck my finger out of the window and showed the school my lovely pet bird.
We soon got word from the DGMC and they said that my dad had a cerebral hemorrhage AKA stroke. This shot my anxiety level straight up while my sanity plummeted. I didn’t know what to do with myself while our family’s stronghold was slowly crumbling down. The doctor told us that he won’t be the same as before and reasoning would be skewed. My mom told me that his speech was slurred and that he couldn’t talk. We went to go see him and he was resting in bed, I was almost in tears seeing him. His eyes were closed and he was resting, he could barely talk. I went to hug him while trying to move the rock from my throat. The doctors were right he was never the same that day, neither was I.
My aunt soon changed the story of her illness to the doctors saying that she also had a stroke. I honestly don’t know how she got so much hatred in her. She made her son change his name, first and last, so that her husband’s family can’t find him, she’s angry that her husband had a kid with some girl 30 years ago, and she got mad at her husband’s family because they took the child in and now the child is 30 years old. I love my aunt but she needs a lot of help. She makes up all of these bullshit illnesses and it’s almost like she is mocking my dad, a war vet. If it wasn’t for my dad she would be speaking Mandarin. I have told my mom many times to sign her u p for Intervention on A&E. Me being all into mental illnesses I self-diagnosed her with Munchausen Syndrome, well her Munchausen is getting out of hand. Of course she’s mad at them but she can’t just change her name and her husband’s name and her son and his children’s name to her maiden name, all of that is just overkill. When my dad contracted spinal-meningitis she actually told the hospital that her brother-in-law got spinal-meningitis. They then decided to run a bunch of tests on her, keep in mind this is all for attention, then they gave her a spinal tap. Now if you are in the medical field you will know that that is horrid. She just claimed the pain for herself. If you are not in the medical field a spinal tap is when they stick a thick needle with a chamber into your spine while you are bent over and suck the spinal fluid out of your spine to test. I think that’s the last time she will ever do something to that extent.
Just recently she came over and said that she was burning up with a 102 fever, what utter bullshit. She sat on our couch like a limp dick and held a hood over her head. I love my aunt but it has got to stop. She has caught this manic depression in the midst of this and tries to get attention. We aren’t going to throw her a pity party. She started this new thing when you say “Oh I’m tired!” her come back is always “I never sleep” every freaking time and she stages it so that she can tell you. Like I always look tired and she always goes “What’s wrong?” and I would say “I’m just tired” and again it just falls out of her mouth “I never sleep”. She then gives these pity speeches on how she never sleeps and that she can’t reach REM stage IV sleep (AKA dream sleep). I actually spend the night at her house a lot because of her grand kids always stay over and Uncle Jonathan is there idol. I sleep there and she is out like a light. She sleeps better than me! If she doesn’t sleep then why does she have scary dreams of ghosts and made up stuff to scare me? What the hell? Her lies have huge holes in them and she needs to stop lying because she’s going to get trapped one day. She then states that her son was accepted to Annapolis (US Naval Academy) after me expressing my interest in the Air Force Academy. She also states that her son was INVITED to UC Berkeley yet needed a letter of recommendation. Doesn’t make sense to need a recommendation when you have been cordially invited! I just hope that my aunt finds help soon. I love my aunt and I don’t want anyone else to think different but she is mentally unstable along with the rest of my family.
I recently read the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and I highly recommend it. This book is the core of my knowledge of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and the war in the Middle East. He cleared up a lot of things for me since I grew up during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, keep in mind I was in kindergarten when 9/11 happened. I honestly don’t understand what is wrong with our education system today but the knowledge of the War in the Middle East is really skewed. During my 8th grade year one of the gossipy girls in my class asked “Aren’t we at war with the Muslims?” I was so shocked when I heard her ask this because I thought everyone knew about Al-Jazeera and the s*** liberal media. I guess now looking back it was just me and my friend Josh, who is a future Frogman, who had our facts straight about this.
It is truly shocking the ignorance to race that people have that a simple teenager can point out about everyone. I read this article recently that after 9/11 people started to burn mosques and beat the pulp out of anyone who was brown skin. Mexican people started to get beat up, Indians, Filipinos, literally anyone who was of brown skin tone. It’s horrible. My cousin, Priscilla, just visited and she is in a little bit of a financial crisis right now and she needs to find a man. So my parents and I are trying to drill it into her head that she needs to join the US Air Force as an officer because she has a degree in Social Science. She got scared that she might have to go deploy out to Iraq or Afghanistan and she addresses them as “killers”. Now I told her that her remark was a tad drastic, and of course an intelligent opinion from a 14 year old is never one to pay attention to. She said that all of them slaughter their wives and sell them for profit, and she literally yelled at me in the car (we were driving on the freeway). Her being so damn educated I would think that she wasn’t so negative about this because this is a sensitive subject. Of course she has an opinion on this war and any war but she has to get her facts straight before she can argue. Saying that they slaughter their children and wives is accurate if she addressed the crazy jihad, but she didn’t. She said all of them did. That’s just stupid.
There are villages in the mountains in the Middle East that are run by the Pashtun people. These people were addressed my Marcus in his book and they are the reason why Marcus is aliv-e today. If my cousin’s comment was factual Marcus’s head would’ve been severed. A comment like what my cousin made is highly ignorant because so many people would have died with a pillow case on their head in front of a camera, people with families, men and women who have sacrificed for her and for everyone in the States.
The racism in my family doesn’t only prosper in the presence of Middle Eastern people or any mention of the war in the Middle East but when talking to people of immigrant races or dominating accents. My mom has a gift of getting what she wants and bartering with people in different ways. When we talk to someone in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant the workers usually always speak broken English because it is there second language. My mom who speaks fluent English for some reason unknown speaks broken English back to them, and who ever she is talking to doesn’t seem like they care too much about it. Not only does she do this with the Asian community but also with African Americans. Her voice morphs to the situation it seems.
I actually have a pretty good idea on what I am actually going to do for the rest of my life. Growing up in a military style home I believe influences this idea but anything could really have triggered it in my brain. Over hard contemplation on different career options I think I’m sticking with going into the military. Even thought just going into the military is a good choice I believe I should be the best at what I do. I think I should actually succeed at it and go through a service academy. Though this is my plan A goal I still have a plan B… and a plan C. I have always been told that going into the Air Force Academy is one of the hardest things to do. I know I might have a good chance if I do well in high school but the thing is I should go to a school of my decision. Even if I don’t get into a service academy I already know the colleges around me that host AFROTC and even OTS would be an option right out of college. The only problem with this is that I want to go through graduate school but hopefully the Air Force would actually pay my way through the rest of my education pipeline. If I do get into the Air Force Academy hopefully I could actually submit a form during my junior year to become a CCT Officer after I complete my training pipeline after the Academy.
What I don’t understand is that everyone underestimates the Air Force. I guess they never heard of the AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) because it is one of the best in the world. The Air Force are actually the first on the ground when there is war or combat in foreign land. There is this elite group called Combat Controllers and they only number around 400-800 men. These are the guys who actually get dropped into hostile territory to get rid of the threat on the ground when the Marines or the Army come in. The Marines are never really the first to fight since someone has to clear the threat on ground so the y don’t get rained on by bullets.
Combat Controllers aren’t the only ones who are apart of AFSOC. Everyone has, at least once, heard of Supermen. The Supermen of the military are Air Force Pararescue, AKA PJs. These are the guys who rescue the downed casualties in war. The Air Force does hell of a lot more than fly a plane and sit behind a desk.
I think it might be me growing up in a full military family and living with all of the shiny benefits that come with the job. My dad always reminds me that I’m enjoying the fruits of his labor, and the fruits are very delicious. This may be what motivates me to always try and get a job through government or state because all of those kinds of jobs are flexible and they pay pretty good money.
After going to the Air Force Academy I hope to serve my 20 years with the Air Force and hopefully a few of those years as a Combat Controller on missions. After this I was actually looking into federal jobs with the FBI HRT, if you don’t know what that is it’s the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. It is a group that deals with hostage rescue around the world and they usually want prior military servers with them. On the website they actually mention that you should have served in the military in any of the four main branches in the Special Forces, and it read that if you were in the Air Force you had to serve as: Tactical Air Control Party, Pararescue, Combat Weather, or Combat Controller.
While I was in the 7th grade it was known that I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and to get there I needed to get my A game. I just turned 12 in September of the same year and I remember my dad talking to my friend’s dad about something called the Civil Air Patrol. I honestly didn’t know what this was that my dad was putting me through but I tried it. The meetings at CAP Squadron 22 were 3 hours long from 6 to 9. I remember I went out into the parade field on the side of the building and that was where and formation was held. The first meeting that I went there I went with my neighbor Elijah and we got there and I wore a shirt and some jeans and Elijah wore wrinkled BDU fatigues and dull boots. Obviously they gave him funny look because they all had crisp uniforms that could make a Training Instructor cry.
We all gathered in the classroom and all of a sudden “aTTenTIOn” it was loud and emphasized. All of the none cadets jumped out of their shoes when they heard it, including me. I honestly was scared for a moment when I heard it since I never heard anything louder that was unexpected. When I looked around I saw everyone like statues with glazed-over eyes that seemed to focus on nothing. I looked over at whoever screamed and it was someone I would get to know pretty well: Sgt. Stark. “File outside for opening formation” then everyone was gone in a single file line out the door. We ran down steps into a tan abandoned-looking hallway and ran into that parade field that I talked about earlier. Another man in uniform, a big man whom I would also get to know pretty well, “Alfa Flight FALL IN!” everyone was filed in front of him. I ran to the formation with all of my might and finally made it into formation. “Dress Right Dress” and every one’s arm shot up “Ready-Front” and there arms dropped. I watched with my peripheral vision the men in fatigues walked in precision around the sloppy formation.
After the formation was over and we were filing back inside I saw my dad smiling at me standing on the side of the hallway we came from. We met eyes and I strung my hand across my neck, back and forth, shaking my head and mouthing the word “No”. I was terrified on how long my dad was going to keep me in the organization, turned out it didn’t do much harm. After I got more involved in CAP I actually found out that there was a Basic Cadet School for all of the Cadet Basics and Cadet Airmen. After my dad got notified I got my forms and filled them out and off I went to BCS. We arrived at the squadron around 6 in the evening and it was pitch black except for a spotlight. I got a haircut right before this and it was a skinned flattop and I was pretty porky in BDUs so I looked like a wanna-be. Elijah and I both had our luggage and there was a line forming on the main side walk entering the staircase of the squadron. On the staircase, facing us was my chief C/CMSgt. Harris. He sat there and looked all of us over and screamed “You must be in the position of Parade Rest while waiting”. We could hear the screaming of all the flight sergeants outside in another courtyard in the main building yelling at all of the kids that went before us. After hearing this I thought to myself what am I doing here? What have I gotten myself into?
It was soon my turn and I got through the notorious chief and got up the stairs into the squadron building. I dropped off my luggage to the contraband searchers and went to in-processing. The in-processing consisted of dealing with officers that looked too tired to be performing that job. After I got through in-processing with all of my paperwork and everything I got barraged by a bastard that played the role of first sergeant. I was yelled at while running down stairs and yelled at into the court yard. I ran into my flight which was Charlie Flight and proceeded to be yelled at while trying to recite the Cadet Honor Code and the Cadet Oath. It didn’t really work out trying to correct my mistakes since I was still cornered.
Soon enough this pretty attractive Asian girl walks in with 2 diamonds on her neck, which means she is a major. She came up to my flight and greeted us “How are you doing today, Charlie Flight?” and the good majority responded “Outstanding, Ma’am!” except for me. I responded by saying “good” or calling her sir I can’t really remember, but it was horrible what happened next. All of a sudden I had 3-4 of the Instructors yelling at me and telling me to get her greeting correct. There was so much un-descriptive yelling that I just blocked it out and let them vent, until I was brought back to reality by one of them getting in my face and spitting at me with their mouth full of railroad tracks. After the shark attack was over we proceeded to go march down the street wearing reflective belts yelling cadence with a fat road guard. We finally got to where ever we were supposed to go and it was the Travis College. When we got there we waited outside and Sgt. Stark (my flight sergeant, the irony) handed to us our textbook type handouts.
These books were engraved into our memories since most of our time there was spent reading the stupid handout textbook. After that we went into one of the classrooms and one of the adult officers started talking to us about how we want to be home and it must be a culture shock and what not. After we got out of there we proceeded to march around for no apparent reason. We then got back to the squadron building and we set up sleeping bags on the floor to create a somewhat make-shift barracks. I remember a red-haired kid that slept next to me and looked at me and said “a full day of in-your-face tomorrow” I just gave him a funny look and responded “yep”. I was deathly afraid of what was in store for the next 2 days. C/Sgt. Stark was my flight sergeant and I remember one time we were doing PT with him and when we were doing push-ups he screamed “COME ON! YOU GUYS ARE PUSSYS!” so I proceeded to be called a pussy and this didn’t quite appeal to me for the next day.
I fell asleep pretty easily but when I got up it was harder than I thought. Sgt. Stark ran up to us and all I could hear was inaudible screaming. “GET UP, GET UP!!!!” Somehow I got up by instinct without the bastard dragging me out. Instead of crawling out of my sleeping bag I somehow got to my feet from instinct. I slipped my running shoes on and I slept in my PT gear. We all formed a line and we speed-walked down the front stairs of the squadron building into the parking lot. Being an Air Force Base it was windy as hell at 0430 in the morning. My eyes were tearing because of the wind and my semi-conscious state. The tearing turned into streams down my face and everyone around me was shivering violently. We marched down to the Travis Gym and out onto the track. My first thought was “s***” because I hate running. Alpha, Bravo, and my flight were in PT formation, the first sergeant called a right face and we all turned right in a 2 step movement. The dreaded call that I heard “DOUBLE-TIME, MOVE!” and everyone started running. I thought I was going to die since I don’t have any real endurance to long distance running. Somehow my flight was filled with all of the fat kids and the under-matured. I kept hearing my flight commander screaming “THIS IS A RUN, NOT A WALK, CADET GODINEZ” I hoped he understood that I was extremely tired and hopefully he would’ve cut me some slack, he didn’t. I proceeded to get yelled at and heard the fattest kid in the flight get screamed at. We responded cadence to our first sergeant, and he even started to get tired. I had to pee very badly by the time the run was over. We proceeded with push-ups and sit-ups then the staff timed our runs. I went around the track timed pretty well I had an 11:00 time then the Asian major told me that I didn’t finish my run so I had to run another mile and it wrecked my time to around 23:00 minutes, bastard.
I had to pee immensely and I was barely pinching it off, I was about to explode. We got back into formation finally at the end of PT and the fattest kid in the flight raised his hand and says “permission to use the latrines, Sgt. Stark” once I heard this I was on emergency mode I had to pee so badly. I raised my hand and asked the same question and of course the answer was no. I got agitated with my flight sergeant and we kept doing drill faces until something happened. I was standing there trying to put my head in a different place because I was going to explode. I was sitting there and I seriously started to pee and my reaction was “oh s***”. Stuff like this is what you don’t want your peers to really see you doing.
The feeling that I felt wasn’t relief because I held it so long that the pressure built up and my bladder was sore from holding it so long. So after relieving it didn’t feel any better, I just felt more embarrassed. There was nothing that I could do about it since I smelled like urine and ammonia and always got weird looks from everyone who saw my PT pants. I felt terrible the rest of the day. We went through the showers but Sgt. Stark ran into the showers and actually pushed a kid out, and we only had 30 seconds. Since we just turned on the water and didn’t even touch it I ran and tried to put my clothes on while Sgt. Stark was still yelling at me. I went through the day and changed into my BDUs putting them over my soiled PT shorts.
Soon after we marched to the chow hall to get breakfast we went to classes for the rest of the day. I remember I sat in the back of the classroom with a kid who kept throwing up in the bathroom because he kept getting migraines. His eyes were bloodshot and it really scared me. I remember I found out that he threw up when he went to the bathroom right before our break. During our break we had to clean the facilities and the bathroom. When we cleaned the bathroom one of my friends and I were assigned to cleaning the stall. When we cleaned the stall there was vomit smeared on the toilet seat, and of course, I didn’t want to clean it.
Finally it got dark outside and it was time to go to sleep, but instead of sleeping we studied that stupid handout textbook. Finally we went to sleep and we lost 1 person in a day and a half. It was finally the last day, Sunday. We went through the same deal of PT and breakfast and a few classes. We got to a full school formation, Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie plus the staff in formation. Finally this was our last formation of the BCS and it was THE formation that concluded it. We went through all the drill and all of the parents were on the sidelines. We got our certificate of completion and saluted the BCS commander, then finally we went home.
After the BCS I started to get more involved in CAP and I soon had around a dozen qualifications threw them. After I got out my qualifications expired, but I still had the certificates.
During the time where my anxiety spiked at the end of 8th grade I was really worried about my academic record because I was missing so many days. I soon started to ask my parents about home school. I don’t know exactly why because I can never get a straight answer but they seemed offended by the question. I was still in Notre Dame and I really thought that home school would give me time to gather my thoughts before high school. Somehow my parents thought that I would become anti social or something. I’ve nagged and bugged about home school, but no break. Never can I get a straight answer and that agitates me. I don’t know why they seem to not like home school since I see these testimonials that say “o you get straight As, o you’ll be more successful” if my parents saw this I hoped they jumped on board.
I thought to myself maybe if they are told by someone with a degree they might get the idea, and boy did that work. I decided to confront Dr. Fine about it during my next appointment since he is “The Man with All the Diplomas”. So when I did confront Dr. Fine about it he told me to make a presentation for them, to sell it. I thought I was good a selling. So when we got home the first thing was I made a folder on our iMac called “special” this was my home school folder. I soon started looking through the HSLDA website and different websites on home school, always clearing my history. Finally I finished the PowerPoint presentation and named it “10 Reasons to Home School Your Child” I think I still have it on my hard drive. I actually started to ask people on Yahoo Answers to help me out with home school information and also included it in my presentation.
I sat my parents down in both chairs around the computer as I controlled the keyboard. I went through the presentation walking on thin ice. My dad was ready to rip my head off because he has denied my claim on home schooling for many months by now. My mom is starting to get annoyed and pushing me away, I was struggling. Finally I got through the presentation and everyone scattered like rats once they saw the concluding slide. I tried to grab my dad who swiveled his chair around to get back on his computer. When I turned him around his face was bright red. He erupted and started yelling at me. Apparently he didn’t believe that I was disciplined enough to home school. I was too lazy, as if it was pure out of laziness. I told him that I wanted to be successful and how it would help my chances of going into the Air Force Academy. Others would disagree on this but I don’t care. The Academy doesn’t look at school; they look at grades and extracurricular activities.
It was hard for me to explain anything to my dad. Both of my parents absorbed nothing from anything that I show them. It is just so irritating being told that you have a voice and that you are always being heard and listened to. If you have ever been home schooled and enjoyed it I salute you. If you were home schooled and didn’t like it you didn’t do it right. Of all the methods that you can home school a child you should be able to like it. I always admired the kids that seemed normal and were home schooled. The kids that I have mostly seen that were home schooled seemed a tad different.
Well I will be frank and the home school kids that I have dealt with are douche bags. Not necessarily them but just their actions are stupid. I used to be in choir while I was at Notre Dame and we had the best choir master, Ms. Kienzler. There was a boy that always bragged about his straight As named Drew, and as you guessed he is home schooled. His mother is Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force so I would imagine that he was pretty mature, he wasn’t. I remember we were at a choir workshop type deal and we were all in a line facing outward. Everyone was just talking until further instruction so Drew yells “hey I know how to get out of a full nelson” I thought he was directing the comment toward me so I was like “cool why don’t you show me” not knowing what a full nelson was. He proceeded to explained to me what to do to him, so I did.
After I got him into a full nelson I didn’t know but everyone was watching us orchestrate this weird dance. Next thing I saw was the ceiling. He spilled me on the floor and started laughing at me, that’s the immaturity I talk about previously. Everyone was laughing at me while I was still on the floor. This was the only hesitation for home schooling myself.
I actually have found alternative methods to home schooling that I feel would be better for me rather than my mom trying to find curriculum since she wouldn’t be the best teacher for me and my dad’s excuse for not teaching me is that he is not a teacher and doesn’t have a teaching credentials. Not necessarily the best excuse for not teaching your own child but still it would be better for the parent to be the primary teacher for the child.
Holes like this in the education system are different than what I would do. The main thing that confuses me is the teaching of foreign languages. The purpose of a foreign language to me is to be conversationally fluent and I don’t see that in the American school systems. Foreign languages should be taught to let someone become conversationally fluent and not what is an infinitive or not. I am fluent in English and now that I am fluent in English I am learning all of the parts of speech and infinitives. At birth we learn by people talking to us, not by learning grammar at the same time as the word. We should start talking to people in different languages instead of trying to tell them each and every nook and cranny of the language. Let them take Spanish Grammar after they become fluent in the Spanish language. Right now I am learning conversation Russian and I think I learned more in a few days than I did in a year of Spanish in Notre Dame.
This is what I hope to accomplish while home schooling and hopefully I can get someone’s attention about it. Hopefully when my dad reads this he will have a change of heart on the subject of home school.
After going to Notre Dame my parents started me on this track to success where I would go to a private high school. At first my parents wanted me to go to Justin Sienna in Napa, until the open house. We went to the open house there and its looks didn’t seem to add up with their mission statement or what they preach. The school was a tad smelly and it seemed very dirty, they actually gave out free cookies, that’s a plus. We proceeded to go to different open houses for other high schools that include Christian Brothers and Jesuit High School. Christian Brothers was not a memorable open house, but I think Jesuit put time into their open house. The Jesuit open house started at the newly built Athletics Center and once you enter they had the famous Jesuit High School Chamber Choir singing a song and it creates this feeling of intelligence. They had the student paintings hung up on easels sitting in a semicircle right at the entrance of the building.
My mom soon started signing me up for shadowing at the schools. Shadowing at the schools means that you follow around one of the students for 3 periods of their day. Of course I didn’t want to do it because its high school and everyone is bigger than me so I was a little intimidated. The first school that I shadowed at was Christian Brothers. I shadowed a freshman named Kaalen. I was wondering how he got friends so quickly and it was only October. We went through most of his classes, and me with anxiety didn’t mix.
We were sitting in his French class and my “pee-pee panic” kicked in. We were sitting there and then I suddenly I had to pee like a race horse. I was actually shadowing with another kid who looked like an 18-wheeler, he was huge. I proceeded to ask Kaalen how much longer so that I can pee because I had to go. The only problem was I couldn’t ask him myself since I had to ask that big guy and I asked him to ask Kaalen many times over. Kaalen soon tells me that I can go in a few mintues and he gives me a specific time. After around the third time asking him to ask Kaalen he turns around and tells me to “get a watch”. If this kid wasn’t as big as he was and I wasn’t as weak as I was I would’ve punched him between the eyes. I soon calmed down and held it until Kaalen let me pee. I was eternally grateful that he let me go to the bathroom because I was going to explode.
After I shadowed at Christian Brothers I liked it but it wasn’t the best school that I have experienced. I then shadowed at Jesuit High School. This school was very ridiculed by Christian Brothers because they are competing schools. I remember the kid that was touring us at Christian Brothers said to my parents and I “Don’t go to Jesuit, it’s an all guy school and that’s not how it is in the real world, they fart and burp in class and no one cares, that’s not how it is in reality.” That guy was a liar. I arrived at Jesuit and I sat in the Dean’s Office and watched my parents walk out of the room leaving me with strangers. I was soon picked up by my shadow and we exchanged names on the way to his first class. His name is EJ and his first class was some advanced literature class. They were taking a quiz on Shakespeare when my “pee-pee panic” kicked in. It was 8:00 in the morning and I was getting pretty bad acid at the same time. I was talking to EJ and I was whispering to him that I had to go to the bathroom. Trying to be cool because he was a senior I leaned in and whispered, “Hey man is there a bathroom around here?” which was a lame attempt at being cool. He soon led me outside and pointed out the bathroom nearest to the classroom. When I entered the classroom before they started the quiz I was greeted by guys calling me shadow and tussling my hair. This honestly was a friendly gesture but it annoyed me a little bit.
We went through most of his classes and I got familiar with everything there. At the last class I sat next to another shadow and I thought that he looked a little funny little did I know that his name was Sudhir and he would be one of my good friends. I told my parents that Jesuit was really the most pleasing to me and they treated me pretty well. We started with the application process which took a year, literally. One of the last components of applying was the testing. The day that we went up to Jesuit for my tests, which would take over 4 hours, my Uncle James was driving and I was very nauseas in the back seat. I sat in the back with a plastic bag and was yelling to pull over while my dad was telling my Uncle James to keep driving. Right when we turned on the street to Jesuit I threw up in the bag and I heard my Uncle James’ “Ooh are you okay back there?” I really didn’t want to take the test.
We finally got to Jesuit and my mouth tasted like stomach acid and I looked horrible holding a plastic bag full of throw up. We walked through the black gates on the side of the main entrance holding the bag of vomit looking for a trash bag. We made our way across campus and into the gym to take the test. The principal made a few remarks regarding the test that we were about to take. They finally called our names and we followed in a straight line to the room that we were to take a test in. I spent the next 4 hours taking the test and I was suffering through it in terms of my stomach issues.
After the test was finally over I was still feeling really sick and we left. Later in the year my dad came into my room while I was on the computer and showed me the letter from Jesuit that said if I was accepted or not. He came into my room and showed me the letter and said “you didn’t get in” and I just said ok very disappointedly. Later in the hour I read the letter and it said “Congratulations! You have been admitted admission to the class of 2014 of Jesuit High School.” I was surprised that my dad actually said that I wasn’t accepted but it was exciting. It was like I achieved something when I read the letter.
The acceptance to Jesuit came with a price: I had to attend the Jesuit High School Summer School for Algebra Review. I took the class and it lasted around 19-20 instruction days and I passed it with flying colors. I was finally able to enjoy what I had left of my summer so that I could relax from education. I went to my Uncle Bobby’s house once and he is old and he jokes around, we told him that I got into Jesuit High School which is apparently a big deal. His response was “So you’re gonna become a priest?”
“Please excuse my language, but that’s bulls***.” This statement struck me the hardest after having a routine meeting with my school counselor. I explained to him my situation on how I submit an application form to a charter school that specialized with home school and he got really close to punching me in the face. I was trying to tell him how the situation laid out and he said that if his kids were to do anything like that they would never see the light of day again. Honestly I don’t understand how this happened and I became victimized in this regime. I actually made this appointment with my counselor because I missed about a month of school. I was in the middle of coming and going after Christmas break. I didn’t know what school I was to be going to. I am not sure why but in this age I am utterly confused at any decision that I make or any that are made for me. In mainstream media I see the average adolescent be portrayed as this lifeless douche bag of whom their own parents don’t want to interact with and they are antisocial, rude, incoherent, stupid intellectually, and every other insult I can think of. We are portrayed as the worst nightmare a parent could have and are just going through “phases”. I don’t want to be like that, I feel it’s wrong. It’s like clockwork that I am going through everything that my parents and every other person that’s over the age of 20 says. Like they mapped out my life and what I will go through in my adolescence. I try and be a great and better child to my parents everyday and my goal is not to be like the cousin I have that thinks that all of the Muslims butcher their wife’s heads. We recently watched the movie The Rite together and after we went to WinCo to pick some food up. We started to get into the conversation of religion and God. Being a Catholic and have taken classes on Theology and passing with good grades I knew a good amount of knowledge about the topic of religions but this cousin of mine is the most incoherent and ignorant person in terms of a professional and intellectual argument. She reveals to my mom that she is Agnostic and believes that there is a creator but as human beings we are not able to identify the creator. She started to argue with my mom because my mom said that being Catholic is the way and she needs to go to church. My cousin started to banter and say “well, why did my mentor die of cancer?!” This question kept being asked with increasing volume as my mom tried to answer it. I got tired of this bullshit and tried to calm both of them down with the correct answer, we don’t know. I specifically got tested on scenarios like that when I took my Theology class and the answer is I don’t know. My cousin couldn’t except that and proceeded to say that we weren’t being “Catholic” enough because we didn’t abide to all of the Catholic teaching to the dot. Besides this utter crap that was stirred by her nonsense I try and be as professional as possible, which was Impossible at this time. Now my life seems to take unexpected turns that seem irrelevant to try and keep my life as simple as possible. There seems to be no easy way to get around things now. My grades are pretty bad since I have a 2.45 GPA and I want to get into Stanford, Georgetown, and most of all the Air Force Academy. Thoughts of me getting my GED have come in my head every now and again because of the sheer struggle I am going through as a high school freshman and going through life as it is. Now I see why suicide is an outlet for a lot of teenagers who can’t handle the stress of mixed hormones and being graded insanely in school. Luckily I have parents that I can talk to and a therapist that I sometimes agree with. Even when I am mad at my parents I somehow can’t stay mad at them for more than a day no matter how hard I try. There is always a sense of belong in the family that I was put with and I think it was meant to be. Unlike the confused men who try to be women or people who are put up for adoption. I can see my dad’s mind slowly diminishing as it becomes harder and harder for him to remember what he has done 5 minutes ago. This may be the end of this story but hopefully there is more that I could accomplish since I am only 14, I have been thinking that this could be studied in colleges, at least I am still dreaming.