Chapter Two: Two Years, Three Schools

Chapter One: Guard Dogs and Barbie Dolls

When I arrived in L.A. I was in complete shock. I was seven-years-old and I hardly spoke any English. With my family spending most of their money on plane tickets, we had to stay with my grandparents in a two-bedroom apartment in Van Nuys, which I didn’t know wasn’t the safest of neighborhoods. So basically, the five of us shared a single room.

My dad gave up his job as a journalist and became a part of tech support for a non-profit clinic; at least that’s what I think he did. Since the clinic was in San Diego and we couldn’t afford an apartment there, he drove there for the weekdays and I really only saw him on the weekends. Fun fact: this was the first time I ever had Cinnamon Toast Crunch and I became obsessed with it for a while. I also made a few friends who convinced me to ride down a hill on a shopping cart.

That was a terrible idea.

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My siblings and I in San Francisco

Pretty soon my brother and I had to start going back to school. Of course, that was terribly difficult with our broken English. It was the first time my brother and I were in separate classes so I was just overwhelmed with it all. I didn’t understand what the other kids were saying because their use of slang made it even more difficult. Being “that weird kid” I didn’t make a lot (or any) friends and spent a majority of recess and lunch with my brother, who also found it trying to make friends.

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Me and my siblings in Palm Springs

With the the help of my dad’s sister, who had already been living in Northern California for a few years, we were finally able to move to Chula Vista just a few months later in 2001. It’s okay if you don’t know where that is; it’s quite a boring part of San Diego. Well, it’s just a few miles north of the Mexican border. My brother and I had to go to transfer schools once again but at least I got to see my dad more often.

I adjusted a lot better in my new school. In fact, a few of the friends I made that year are still my friends to this day. Maybe I was able to fit in a little more because my English had improved. Nonetheless, I was still “that weird kid” and so I spent a majority of my time reading to improve my language skills. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone… I used to steal books from my class. I especially liked the Arthur chapter books and the Magic Tree House. Hey, I was seven! Give me a break.

Actually I kept doing that until I was ten. I stole the Harry Potter books… Ahem.

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My family in Las Vegas

Once again, my parents worked most of the day because the pay for non-residents was quite low and they had three kids to take care of. My brother, sister, and I were home alone until about 6PM when my parents would get home. One day my sister actually called the police and they came storming into our house. They were pretty understanding about it.

Throughout elementary school I did what any other new kid would do: try to alter my personality to fit in. I spent so much time being ostracized that I just wanted to feel like I was a part of something. Now I know that most of those people weren’t really my friends. They befriended the person I wanted them to believe I was but at the time it seemed like the only thing I could do.

In the middle of my fourth grade we moved once again, about ten miles south of where we were living. However that meant I had to transfer schools again, this time to a Spanish-speaking one. The teacher had to make special copies of the homework for me because I was one of the two people who didn’t understand Spanish. Well, Tagalog has some similar words to Spanish, so at least I wasn’t completely lost. I tried to make the best out of the situation but I felt like I just couldn’t.

Not only did my only friend move away after a few weeks, but suddenly my mom began disappearing for days at a time.

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6 thoughts on “Chapter Two: Two Years, Three Schools

  1. Hiya Deirdre! 🙂

    This was obviously very difficult for you, Deirdre. Do you think the kind of thing you went through as a child growing up helped bring on the illnesses you have now? I had a genetic predisposition to be the way I am but I’m sure where and how I grew up contributed. When I say that I’m not saying I had a bad childhood but it was difficult.

    I think a lot of kids change who they are to fit in, especially in high school. I remember doing it once myself but that was in Primary school (I’m not sure what the U.S.)

  2. Sorry about that, pressed the wrong button (>_<)!!!

    I was saying I wasn't sure what the U.S. equivalent is for Primary school. But it happens a lot when we grow up, which you'll already know anyway! I didn't have many friends in school either growing up, then when social anxiety developed it crippled me and I couldn't go out at all, so I had zero friends and missed nearly all of high school. At least you had some good friends, the ones I had were assholes that were into drugs and criminality. I'm glad I never bothered with them after the age of 12/13.

    I didn't want to make this comment about me, just wanted to show I understand, to a degree, where you're coming from! 🙂

    Enjoy what's left of the weekend, Deirdre! :O)

    – Phil

    1. Helloooo!

      Yeah, I think so. I mean bipolar disorder is genetic as well but I think the stresses that accompanied my childhood contributed to its manifestation, especially early in my life.

      And I think primary school is elementary school, and secondary is high school? haha, I don’t know either but that seems to make sense to me.

      Wow, 12/13? I don’t think I really settled into who I really am until after high school! It took me a really long time to stop being a doormat to others just because I wanted them to like me. I’m a lot happier so to say without the “obligation” of fitting in.

      My weekend’s been filled with German, which isn’t too bad. haha. Hope yours was good!

      – Deirdre

      1. I’m assuming there’s a history of bipolar and other mental illnesses in your family then? There was in my own, not bipolar, but depression, though I developed anxiety and OCD as well (There was no history of that), which my younger sister seemed to develop as well though not as bad as myself.

        UK education system goes like this:
        1. Nursery school (Age: 3 to 4)
        2. Reception class (Age: 4 to 5)
        3. Primary school (Age: 5 to 12)
        4. High school (Age: 12 to 16)
        5. Collage [Optional, not everyone goes] (Age: 16 to 18)
        6. University: [Optional as not everyone can afford this] (Age 18 upwards, anywhere from 3 years to 5 or more depending on what you’re studying)
        I think that’s what it is now, well it was when I last looked! Don’t quote me on it! 😛 But yeah, high schools here used to be called ‘Secondary’ that changed a while ago, it’s just ‘high school’ now.

        I didn’t settle in to who I was for a long time after that age, in fact I believe we change throughout our lives, the me now will be different to me 10 years from now, with some things the same.

        You know, it was less of an obligation to me and more of a annoying pretense you had to put on for others because that’s what you were taught, you know? “Be friendly, be nice!” and all that stuff, now I realise I can be friendly and nice, just not to the people I don’t like! 😉

        My weekend was spent catching up on study! Wasn’t great, but I caught up, which was a good feeling! 😀 Btw, German? I’m assuming that’s something to do with your Uni course? As long as it brings ya happiness then it’s all good!

        – Phil

      2. Yup. There’s a history of mental illness in general in my family, especially on my mom’s side. My mom and one of my aunts has the same disorder as I do.

        Oh! So yeah, primary school is basically elementary school here. Your “high school” is middle school to the middle of high school here. And then your college is the second half of high school.

        haha, I’m not the best at hiding who I don’t like since I’m so blunt about almost everything.

        I’m learning German right now! Learning languages comes pretty natural to me, along with math, so I love taking those types of subjects. I’m planning to continue my other languages when I go to a four-year university this fall.

        – Deirdre

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