Chapter 5

We start on high school…lets see what I remember.

Once again I do not remember my first day. I was in orchestra still and ran track. I had no other extra curricular activities. I tried out for the drum and bugle corp but I did not make it. Life in high school was a whole different ball game. I was more into boys but still dressing in jeans and t-shirts and add a ball cap. (which I had to take off in class as well so hat hair applied to me as well) I carried my pens and pencils in my back pocket.

I had several boyfriends throughout high school. The boy I really liked was just a friend and I think this is all he saw me as. I think I was looking for someone to fill a void in my life. I just needed to have someone in my life at all times. Not sure how different my life would have been if I could have been happy in my own skin and being just by myself.

I thought I had friends in high school but as I went through school I realized they were not really my friends. If I could go back and redo high school I am not sure if I would. It wasn’t much fun for me. But if I knew then what I know now…I could probably change how it went.  My sister didn’t even acknowledge being related to me.
(We were total opposites)  I had people in all different clicks that I talked to so I didn’t actually belong to any click or group. I was in orchestra 2 out of the 4 years and in track as well. I was not the best at either but it was something for me to do. I enjoyed track…I ran the distance heats.

As far as the schooling part. I enjoyed the math (except geometry) and sciences. I hated history and most English classes (although I am big on correct spelling). I loved my grammar and composition class. I do not remember all of the rules for writing and how to create paragraphs and such. If I do happen to misspell some words I do apologize up front. I also really enjoyed wood shop! I love to make things.  I seemed to enjoy all the things that were more fit for boys than girls. I also did not like dressing like a girl too often. Every once in a while I liked to feel pretty but I just didn’t feel pretty. I guess in todays times that would be considered I think being gender fluid. I could relate both ways and felt more like a boy on some days and some times felt more like a girl. In those days it was called being a tomboy. Although I always knew I was a girl I just didn’t like doing girly things.

The girls in high school used to love to torment me. One girl used to try to challenge me to fights. She would tell me to meet her after school and I would find a way out where she wasn’t at. I did not want to fight anyone. I had girls that would call me names in the hallway and then tell a teacher that I called them the name and I would be the one in the principles office. Rumors that I was easy went through the school…not sure if that was the girls or the boys but wasn’t easy for me. The first person I had sex with was the first man I married. But high school is all about being social with the right people. If you were not one of those people you were an outcast. I felt like one of those by the school kids teachers and my own family. I felt alone but put on a smile and kept trying. I am not close with any of the people I went to school with. I am Facebook friends with some of the people from school. But I do not hang out with any of them outside of that.

In between my freshman and sophomore year I was walking home from a friend’s house and was pulled into al alley and raped by 2 black guys. I do not know who they were and I never saw them again. But it did have some effect on me…of course. I did not tell my mom or any other family members. I just dealt with it internally. The reason I did not tell my mom was because I didn’t think she would do anything about it…only because she didn’t do anything about what my uncle did. Again… I didn’t know at this time that she did not even remember the conversation we had that night I just thought she didn’t care.(this fact caused a lot of issues with my relationship with my mother)

If high school isn’t hard enough having a strained relationship with your mother makes it even harder. My mother worked a lot of hours and went to school…first to get her LPN and then to get her RN. (As an adult I know how hard that was) As a child that made me feel even more unwanted than before. She would bring in her friends to live with us and she would spend all her free time with them and we were shoved completely out-of-the-way most of the time. The attention I did get was not good. I got grounded a lot…most of the time for things I didn’t even do. Some times it was for things I did do and probably deserved it.  But there were instances that I didn’t do what I was accused of doing and was willing to supply proof and she wouldn’t listen to me. She would take the word of a friend’s daughter that doesn’t even know me over mine. That was hard to take and just made me more of an angry teenager. She also favored my older sister…so anything that was between us I was the one that was in trouble. (I would learn in my 40’s that my older sister had the same name as the child my mother gave up for adoption when she was 14 or 15) It just feels like everything was stacked against me growing up and I feel I came through it pretty well.

There was this time when I went to a convenience store to get something cannot remember what I went to get at this point. As I was leaving there was this guy asking for directions and I was trying to help him out and he asked if I wanted a ride toward my house as a thank you and then when he would let me out at my street I would give him directions from there to get him where he needed to go. I was young and still very naïve and he was not too old and didn’t look dangerous…well I agreed. When we got to my street I told him but he did not stop. I felt panic at that point and at the light there was a car stopped and he had to stop. when he did I jumped out. I forgot to grab the bag of stuff I got at the convenience store. I think about what could have happened if that car had not been stopped at that light. Plus to top it off my mother got mad at me for losing or miss spending the money she sent with me. (she thought I made up the story because I used the money of candy and junk for myself)

I tried to get away by getting married between my junior and senior year of high school. I was 16 and I guess she was ready to get rid of me too because she had to sign for me to get married and she did so. Yes I was way too young and had no idea what I was getting into. He was not the nicest of people after we got married. (But he of course isn’t the only person to change getting married) It was a very short marriage and although it is on the books I really do not count it. I count it as a life learning experience. People can be so cruel. He was physically abusive and a cheater. When I left he took my grandmothers gift of 12 person place setting of dishes that was hers and broke all but one piece of everything. I could not ever apologize to my family enough. I was divorced and back to living with that woman 7 months after I got out. More rules than before. Life was so sweet! Yes that was sarcasm…I should have been grateful she allowed me to move back in. But it was rougher…she had more love and respect for the people she pulled off the street and gave a home to than her own child. I didn’t have children with him and I am thankful for that. I just wish I had learned that people lie and are not always who they say and show they are. But I am a stubborn person and I always try to think the best of people…(don’t know how).

I did graduate although we had to wait and see if I passed my sophomore history class that I had to take a second time. Which I did…I love history more now. I think it was more the way we had to learn it. I hate books and having knowledge shoved into my head that way. I hate to read, I love listening to books on tape. I have to re read a paragraph 3 and 4 times and still ask myself what I just read. I soak it up better when I can flood my ears with the information otherwise my mind drifts onto other things.

Look I know high school isn’t easy for a lot of people and I do not know their stories. I only know mine. And I really hated high school and really would not want to go back unless I absolutely knew what I know now before heading into that first day. But then I probably wouldn’t have the 3 children and grandchildren I have now. So… no if I had done this and if I had done that then life would be better….because I do not know for sure that things would have turned out any better if I had made a different choice at any given moment. So I am grateful for the life I do have at this very moment. Although I do work way too many hours and I am looking for ways to cut back on that. But then again I have been saying that for years. So I need to try harder and trust that others will take care of things when I am not there.

I may come back and edit this one if I come up with more memories from high school.

Thank you all!

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Chapter 4

So I move on to junior high school. I remember the school and basics of these 2 years but trying to remember names of a lot of people and details of day to day life is not so easy. I still do not understand why but I will write what I can…

I do not remember the fist day of junior high school but I remember some of my classes especially orchestra. I wasn’t the best violin player but I did enjoy it. At some point pretty early on we were asked to volunteer to play the string bass. I volunteered and was put in a room with book and a bass. I was given the basics and since I already knew about playing a string instrument I was left to my own devices. It took a few weeks before I rejoined the rest of the orchestra. I did enjoy it. By the second year I was in the youth string orchestra… top players of all the junior high school students. It was a way of getting away from my regular life and do something I was proud of.

I also ran track. I was a distance runner…mile, 2 mile, mile relay and the 2 mile relay. I wasn’t the best but I did my best and really enjoyed it. I also did basketball for either 7th or 8th grade…I do not remember. I was on the B team…again I wasn’t the best but I tried. I was trying to find ways to be out of my house and doing something structured. I also tried out for the cheerleaders but I wasn’t in the girly popular crowd so that was a no go.

I took a home economics class. I learned to sew in this class…that I still do to this day. It was helpful for what ended up being a part of my longest career choice so it was a plus in my life. I made a skirt and a book bag. I cannot say I learned to cook there…my step dad taught me how to cook. He was instrumental in my ability to do just about anything in life. He taught me just about everything that would be useful in my life. Step dads are much more valuable than they are given credit for. (at least the good ones…there are bad ones too)

I had some friends in junior high school although I only remember a few names and only 1st names for all but a few of them. It started to become more clear in junior high school that I was more of a tomboy than a girly girl. I was much more interested in jeans and t-shirts and playing sports with the boys than to wear makeup and skirts. I was interested in boys not girls but didn’t feel the need to doll myself up. I wanted the boys to like me for me. I have always hated being fake. What I find interesting is the boyfriend I had through junior high school was my neighbor and he would figure out later that he liked boys…So not sure what to think about that. I wish him all the happiness in the world but does make me wonder about the whole tomboy aspect of that.

During the summers (when I wasn’t at my grandparents farm working) my step dad and I would do a garden and raise rabbits for food. The first time I had to kill a rabbit I was to hit it in the head with a hammer. I didn’t hit it hard enough and it started squealing and going in circles. I had to grab it and hit it again. (that was very hard for me) But I survived and I never had to hit one twice again. When I went to gut it I found some babies in her. So I grabbed a dropper and some towels and nursed them. 2 of the 3 survived.  We raised them to eat them later. He also took me fishing and taught me how to be a lead on a John boat going down a river and navigating the rapids. We used the rabbit manure for the garden. (Best fertilizer I have ever used) We would spend a lot of time at the 80 acres his family owned north of town. I loved this land. I think those 80 acres gave me a refuge from life. I loved walking in those woods. I used to sneak out there and just walk the woods when I needed to think and get away from my life.

In the fall my step dad would take me to the 80 acres to pick persimmons and to did sassafras roots for tea. That is my favorite tea of all time… he would give me swig or two of apricot or blackberry brandy just to keep me warm. It would get pretty chilly out there. Never got me drunk or anything like that so don’t get any ideas on that. My mother and I never got along and my dad was vacant in my life so he was the adult I connected with. I am glad that he taught me what he did during my formidable years. All girls need to learn a few things so they are not dependent on anyone for anything.

I did have an 8th grade graduation party to try and get more friends before we went to high school. A few people showed up but it just wasn’t my thing. I had fun but sucking up to people was not something I was comfortable doing. I wanted the boys to like me but couldn’t bring myself to be more girly to do it. I am not weak and cannot play weak to win a boy over. Made my life difficult but well adversity makes people stronger in life.

If I remember correctly it was during these 2 years of school that I met my biological. I last saw him when I was about 2 or 3 maybe. Either way I didn’t remember him. I found out that my sister had been in touch with that side of my family the whole time. I never saw any of the birthday cards or anything. Being that I had a strained relationship with my mother I was vulnerable to any sort of affection from him. I had fun during that visit. Asked for him to get custody of me even my sister went along. His wife Donna was so nice to me and I loved the way she was with my brother that I had never met. I was so hopeful just to be sent back to my mom. Dad did not fight for me and he just sent me gifts after that. Money does not buy love. So both of my parents didn’t want me and it made me feel alone. I did like the thought of the large family I had on my dads side. They were all so close and I didn’t have that in my life. It was like a slow torture…

I think this is why I was so attached to my step father. He showed interest in me and my life. He showed me parental love and taught  me like a parent does. It was also during this time that I called my step dad “dad” in the middle of a conversation with my step-sister while we were cooking in the kitchen. BIG MISTAKE! Next thing I know there is a butcher knife stuck in the wall beside my head. She threw it at me… needless to say I never called him dad again after that. I am sure she wouldn’t mind at this point but after that I was respectful of her feelings and never did it again.

Chapter 3

So now we have hit close to 5th grade.

The summer between 4th and 5th grade we were moved to Springfield and we were moved to the upstairs of a house where a girl Paula and her parents lived. I became friends with Paula as she was my age and we would play together. I was quite upset that mom was no longer with Bill the fireman and was with my best friends dad. This was not good for me at all. My friend was blaming my mom for breaking up her family. I don’t blame her I would have felt the same way…I kind of blamed him for breaking up my mom and Bill. So.. but she blamed me as well or at least took it out on me for a long while. Eventually it got better but that was very rough.

We would finally get out of the cramped upstairs area in this house and get a house for us to live in. We moved to chase street and I lived in this house until I was old enough well sorta old enough to move out. (that is another chapter later).

So this is where I remember my first teacher…Mrs. Macioci. I loved her!! She was a great teacher and got me into tumbling. I really enjoyed that. I remember 3 friends from 5th and 6th grade. Kerry, her brother Clint and James. I do not remember the names of anyone else off the top of my head. I am sure I would remember people if I looked at a year book of sorts from that time but just off the top of my head that is it.

6th grade was the most beautiful teacher I have ever known of. She had long dark brown hair that reminded me of the original Wonder Woman. Mrs. Sanders. She was beautiful inside and out. She was an awesome teacher. There would be only 2 other teachers that would affect me as much as her. (again that is a later chapter)

So during 5th and 6th grade I would make friends with my next door neighbors and we would ride our bikes and explore the train tracks behind our house and the hill beside that that goes into the train yard. It was like a mini wooded area with pathways and big rocks and such for exploration. The tracks directly behind our house were for storing cars it wasn’t a throughway for the trains. We would play at the school playground and ride all over the neighborhood. Clint and Kerry were great friends and we had a lot of fun together.

I do remember that there was an eclipse during this time. We had to make boxes to look at the eclipse. That was so long ago but I remember having to find a shoebox for this project. I felt so special that this had happened in my lifetime and that I got to see and be a part of it.

My moms boyfriend and her got married during this time and he started to teach me a lot of things. I learned how to make a garden and how to fertilize it and how to aerate the soil. He took me fishing and taught me how to cook freestyle. That is like when you figure out how to put together what you have on hand and make a meal out of it. That was the best life lesson for me on cooking.  Using and making do with what you have…not making a list of a bunch of items you need to make one meal. When you are not wealthy or your having a rough time being able to make a meal of sorts out of what you have is wonderful knowledge to have!! now I am a tomboy and cooking and being in the kitchen is not my thing but this was invaluable information that did help me later in life.

During the summer months we would go spend some time on the farm in Warrensburg. Loved and hated those summers. We did a lot of hard labor but it taught us work ethic. I loved that we bailed, bucked and stacked hay. the smaller square bails not the large round ones they have these days. My sister would learn to can in the kitchen with grandma while I helped grandpa out outside the house. We used to mow the more that acre yard with a push mower. Oh those hot summer days…I wonder if this is why I love being outdoors so much these days. Oddly enough I would rather be outside in the hot summer heat than inside.

Insecurity and Self Doubt

I have had a lot of things going on in my life. Work and home. I have remained strong for the most part. I have a lot of self doubt. And that is all on me. I try not to let others know how insecure I am. Sometimes it takes over and I think the worst of others and what they are thinking of me. I am trying to be a mentor and guide for others and it makes me feel like a failure when I think that I am not good enough to even be a mentor. I know I have a lot of knowledge to give but I keep getting knocked down and made to feel like I am incompetent. It is hard when the people you trust and look up to are the ones knocking you down and talking to you like you are stupid and have no idea what you are doing.

We all have moments of weakness and self doubt and insecurity. It is how we deal with it. I have recently been under a greatly increased amount of scrutiny in my job. I am trying to deal with it in a positive manner but have become very worried. It seems to me that they are telling me that everything I am doing is not good enough. I put in 12-14 hours a day Monday through Friday for many years now. I have given up my life for this company. And for the longest time I was praised at how well I was doing a great job and just needed to continue doing what I was doing. Then something changed and I was all of the sudden no longer doing anything right.

I have taken some time off over the past couple of months. Which is when all of his comments started. I have been dealing with employee shortages and people quitting and not showing up or calling in sick and all of those things without him knowing details for a very long time. He had to deal with it for 2 days here and 3 days there…(he would text me almost all day on at least one of those days off complaining about my staff). So I really didn’t get to take any time off because he wouldn’t leave me alone long enough to spend time with my family.

His comments were worded just so that I have come to think he was going to fire me. Or worse try to make me quit by forcing some issues with me. I have a strong personality and so does he and for years that has led to a great collaboration us. At this point it has become a bit of a power struggle. I had an employee that left me 2 times. The second time he left it was right after I went to bat for him to get a raise. (and he got it) He then puts in his notice right after. And this was the second time. On his last days he would not be respectful addressing myself or the owner. Calling him buddy after he was told that the owner did not like being called that. Another manager hired him back after myself and the owner was against it. I have repeated stated that he is an awesome young man. He is great with the customers and he is a very likable young man. I have also stated that I do not wish to have him back at my location. He is not loyal to me and has stated that he wants my job. The owner has stated that he wants to put him at my store and that he has grown a lot while he has been gone. He is now married and is now more grown up. That being said. He is not loyal to me having left me twice now and the second time right after a raise.  I want people that are loyal to me in my employ.

The owner put in my store on my last two days of vacation and the people on my payroll got their hours cut in the process. This does not make me less paranoid about him trying to out me. But I am not sure how to deal with this. Go in and be honest or just go with the flow and not say anything. I have a hard time not standing up for myself and what I do not want but this is a touchy subject with him. So I have a decision to make.

I have enlisted the help of a close friend and coworker to help me streamline all of what I do to make the owner happy again. It doesn’t seem to be working but I know I am not horrible at what I do. I am pretty darn good at what I do. So I have to figure out what the owner is saying…looking between the lines…

  • Why is he looking so hard to find something wrong?
  • What is going on in his world to cause his mood change?
  • What is going on in the business to cause his nervousness about the smallest of details in my store?
  • Is there anything I can do to relieve him of some of this stress?
  • How is his personal life?

Well he has had some issues in his family that has caused him some stress. The company has purchased another piece of property that the company now needs to make payments on. He is part of a 3 person incorporated ownership…so he does have others he has to answer to. All I can do is keep running my store and do it the best I can and take his advice to heart and try to make sure that all of his suggested that can be implemented are implemented as quickly as possible.

Now I do have a lot of insecurity that I am making the owner happy like he was just a few short months ago (where he was saying that I was awesome). And I am not sure if I will have a job for much longer. I cannot seem to make him happy about anything but… I have been doing this since 1994. I have spent the majority of my life in this industry. And more that 18 years with this company. And I still have a lot to learn. And I have a lot of self doubt that I can continue with this company that now seems to no longer appreciate the time and effort I have put into making it what it is. I made this my life. Big mistake on my part for sure. I have always had a need to prove my worth with long hours and extra stuff. Doing more and more and more…

I have decided to spend less time at work. And only give what I can without losing myself in the process. This will be very difficult since I have made my job who I am. I have to go on a search of who I am and figure that out. But first I have to stop working so much to figure that out.

Do only what you can because the extra really isn’t appreciated in the long term.

Keep your head up…

I have busted my butt for many many years. I love the company I work for and live my job. But, sometimes you but your butt for a company and they take advantage or neglect to even notice all the hard work you do for them. I have been with this company for 18 plus years…and I generally just let things slide and roll off my back but recently I was compared to another manager just like myself within the company as we were equals and I stood up for myself saying that we were not equals although we are both part of the same team. And we are…we are all part of a big team. But my knowledge about our industry and abilities within our industry is far greater than that of the other manager and I stated this. 

I am not trying to be arrogant. Although it usually doesn’t go over well when a woman stands up and states that her worth is greater than she is being given credit for. I know my self worth although I do not normally say anything I feel that I should stand up for myself.

I was right! 

The owner is finally taking notice. Confidence is all people need. It took a lot for me to actually say anything. For years I have been told how I was as good as other people and although I knew that I was better than some I was afraid to say anything. I didn’t want to seem arrogant or cocky. I didn’t say anything with attitude or anger. I was confident and matter of fact about what I said. Like he should have known. It has helped and I am even happier at my job than I was before. I didn’t think that could happe. But it has.

You have to stand up for you! If you don’t then know one else will. 

Hello, My Name is Kim Smith

Hello,

I am Kim Smith your average every day woman. I work hard for my money. I am a wife to my wonderful husband Ron. Although I didn’t get it right the first time. I didn’t give up. I have not had your run of the mill life. I am 48, on my 4th and 18 year strong marriage. I have 4 wonderful children. Although they each have given their own set of challenges I love them all very much. I have 5 wonderful grand daughters! I have an awesome  and challenging career managing a dry cleaners.

I was raised in a poor home with a step dad and step siblings. My step dad taught me how to work on cars and raise chickens and rabbits for food. He also taught me how to grow a garden, and fish. We went floating down the river for a week every summer sleeping on the river banks. Great memories. As a young adult I made one bad decision after another. But through those decisions I made I became a stronger person because I did not give up. I did not roll over and just sink into an oblivion of depression. Most people would have if they had gone through the what i have been through. I am a winner just because I never gave up and I persevered and came out the wonderful mentor and leader I am.

I want to thank all the people I have in my life right now. They are my support team and the reason I never gave up dispite all of the battles you are helping me win the war.

Now about the knowledge I can share with my readers and viewers.

I am the manager of a dry  cleaners. But in that process of getting to where I am I have learned every position there is in a dry cleaners. I can wait on a customer with finess and knowledge of that item. I can check in their item insuring it is directed in the correct area for the cleaning process needed for that item. I can prespot and clean any item that comes in the door and if I can’t I will let you know when you drop it off what the concerns I have with cleaning that item it. I can press any item that comes in the door from the standard shirt and pants to antique wedding dresses. I pressed the original dress Shirley Jones wore in the musical The Music Man when she came through Springfield on tour doing The Music Man with her son. It was very delicate being a dress from 1962 and not preserved as well as it could have been. In short I can work any position and clean or press just about anything you put in front of me. I have restored some antique and vintage items and well as saved items that had red wine spilled on them. Now that being said I cannot get every spot out of every item. I have failed to get some spots out. But through failures comes a learning experience. I learn and grow every day.

I also have knowledge from my time as a Detroit Metro Transit Police Officer. We were trained by the Detroit Metropolitan Police Academy. I come from small town  Missouri and was enforcing laws in big city Detroit. It was a major learning experience. I met a lot of wonderful people and had a ton of fun during my stay there.

I have also learned a lot about a lot of different things during my lifetime. I can do drywall… and I am quite good at it. I can work on an older model car as well as figure out how to work on current pieces of equipment if I need to.  I do sewing and have made some clothes and I have made some quilts. I can do anything that I put my mind to.

If you have a question for me just ask.  And I will do my best to answer it.