I went to Thomas J. Rusk Middle School in Nacogdoches Texas for most of my Middle School writing career. As I recall, there were eight buildings on campus and at least one spiral staircase. That's about all I remember about it EXCEPT for the awesome librarian named Mrs. Adams. Disclaimer #1: I Googled Thomas J. Rusk and according to the Internet it has now apparently been downgraded to an Elementary School:  http://tjres.nacisd.org/. Was it ever really a Middle School? I don't know. I seem to have repressed most of my childhood. Disclaimer #2: Everything in this blog is from my "memory" and therefore not necessarily true.

But I digress: the point is that Mrs. Vernita Adams saved my life in Junior High. She's the only positive memory I have within the jumble of fighting bodies that was TJR. And to me, she will always be that angel of mercy I can still (vaguely) recall. Dark skin. Short graying hair. Blinding halo. Was I the only one who could see it or were there other kids who remember her with the same gratitude? Either way, thank you Mrs. Adams. During my 6th grade year, I checked out (and read) more than 200 books. I know this, because I have a certificate. Yes, I was that kid.

"Have you read this yet?" She would ask, holding up a book as I walked into the library. Like she knew I was coming. Sometimes it was The Tempest by Shakespeare. Sometimes it was a Black Stallion Book. Sometimes it was something I'd never heard of, like Why Have the Birds Stopped Singing. But I always read it.

I can't find anything I wrote during that time. I think I was in survival mode. But I do remember getting in trouble in class for putting a novel inside my textbook and reading it during class. I also got in trouble for putting a novel on the floor under my desk and turning the pages with my toe, and I did make  this  awesome journal entry:

"Wow! I'm ticked off. My day was horribly AWFUL!!!!!!!!!! First: I got hit by a rubber band (on the bus) Ouch!! That hurt!! Second: I got hit (on the bus) by a glass Coke bottle. Would that make you mad?????!!!! To top it off, when I got home, mother showed me a note from the public library. It said: 

Cynthia Loveland 
Ozma of Oz
All Things Bright and Beautiful
I about started crying!"

Ha! I've always thought it was hilarious that it was the overdue books that almost put me over the edge. Oh 6th grade how I miss your stresses!

At the end of my 7th-grade year, we moved from (what I believes was) my 5A school in Texas, to a B school in Pe Ell. Washington--the Trojans. And don't you think I wasn't told what a Trojan was the minute I moved there. "Hey welcome to Pe Ell. Do you have a boyfriend? We're the Trojans. Those are condoms. How gross is that?" Coincidentally, there was a teacher there whose name was Mr. Gross.

The move was bittersweet. I was not sad to leave TJR. It had been a scary school made legendary by the Belt-Buckle-in-the-Head fight, the Pushing-a-Kid-Down-the-Stairs fight, the Knifing-the-Teacher fight and so on. There was a hill out behind the school called Cancer Hill where the teachers would go smoke with the students (as I recall).

The Trojans were different. Pe Ell is a tiny logging community in Western Washington State-- population less than a thousand. There were like...12 kids in my 8th grade class. I was involved in every sport--volleyball, basketball and track. And I collected cards like these:

 ...and I played in the creek in the back yard, fishing, catching minnows and chasing down baby ducks (one of which I caught, then insisted had been abandoned and begged my mom to let us keep it. We named him Dudley Doolittle Duck).

 According to my journal, I wrote a play but wasn't sure what it was about. Yes. That sounds about right.

Next episode...high school. Prepare yourself.

Blog off.