Let’s hop back into our story in May of 2010 with a huge update that I hadn’t been in the hospital since November of 2008! That’s a really long stretch of time for me. Of course, I still had the never-ending symptoms and missed a ton of school. But I was learning what foods would work, how to more efficiently distribute my energy so that I didn’t wear myself out and keeping that straight ‘A’ student life alive. All of this while managing my home health care visits, ordering TPN supplies weekly, keeping up with doctor appointments and doing my TPN set ups.
Looking back, it’s pretty impressive that I was able to keep up with all of these things (mind you, I’d been doing this since day one of TPN when I was thirteen). While some people would question why I was put in charge of everything, I’m really glad that my parents chose to give me these responsibilities because it wasn’t so mind boggling and terrifying when I got out on my own. I knew my stuff and was confident in my knowledge and abilities.
In 2010, my junior year of high school, I found my passion for art. My horizons were totally broadened and I am so thankful for this shift that happened in my life. I ended up taking three art classes that year (Remember the online Physical Education class that I got a B in? Well, I had to take that class online because I had filled my schedule with art classes! Ha!) And I didn’t just hang in the art room during art class. I went to school early to hang out in the art room, I also stayed late. Heck, I was even one of those art kids who ate lunch with my friends in the art room. I felt so at home in that art hall.
I found out about a pre-college summer session offered at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California. I applied, was accepted and somehow made the decision to pick fibers and textiles as what I wanted to study while I was there. I had absolutely no idea what I was jumping into, but I was so excited.
I packed my stuff up and made a road trip from Texas with a cousin who was in the process of moving to Southern California. She dropped me off with my Aunt Judy in the San Diego area and we made the rest of the drive to Oakland together. I must have been feeling pretty good at this point because holy smokes that is a lot of driving and travel is something else that also gives me problems!
Once I got there and settled into my first ever dorm room, I felt so at home. I had the most amazing time during those five weeks. I learned skills I’d never even heard of at the time – screen printing, block printing, embroidery, felting and all kinds of other skills! I also met some of the most genuinely beautiful people I’ve ever met. I still keep up with several of them and adore them all so very much.
This was the first time I had been on my own away from home for an extended time. I still had to manage a home health nurse, supplies and getting my TPN to my dorm. That was still all on me in addition to new things like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and all of the normal every day human things. But I did it! This was one of my ultimate goals – to prove that I was capable.
This is not to say that I didn’t have some super crappy days. I remember a night where I was in so much pain that I was sweating. It was a weekend and the girls who were living in the adjoining room had gone home since they lived locally. I ended up being so embarrassed and scared to wake my roommate while I was crying that I went to lay on one of their beds and turned their tiny little fan on me. It was so embarrassing, but I got through it.
On the last day of pre-college, my dad and Aunt Judy came to see the art show that we had put together with the things we had created while we were there. There was also a ceremony and I received one of the very few Awards of Excellence, an automatic acceptance and a scholarship to their school for the following year had I wished to attend. I cried like a dang baby. In that moment, it wasn’t about the money. It was the fact that I had accomplished my goal, not only to my standards, but I had exceeded their expectations and was considered “excellent,” even when I had nights of crying in pain on someone else’s bed! This accomplishment was a huge thing for me.
My senior year, I continued with studies of art. I had another year of three art classes a day. I took what I’d learned from my brilliant textile professors at CCA and ran with it. I also had classes with one of my favorite teachers of all time – Mr. T. He is one of the most encouraging and curious humans I’ve ever met. I’m so thrilled that I got to experience his classes with the group of students that I did. It felt like family in that class. We’d have milk and cookies for breakfast some days. We had a curiosity candy jar for when we asked good questions and we were always encouraged to think outside the box.
If you’d like to take a gander at my high school portfolio, you can find it here! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on phones though!
I also had an amazing group of friends outside of art class. Cale Sears had been my best friend for quite some time. It’s been tricky to know where to add him into the story since we have known one another since the third grade! He’s always been there for me like no other. He has always loved putting on big events. One really fun memory I have of our senior year was an event Cale put on called “Jam4Japan” to raise funds to send to Japan after their massive earthquake. My friend Richard and I sang songs and during one of them, Cale got up there and whistled (because he is a professional whistler.) Also, my friend Laura and I asked Richard and Cale to prom with us at Steak ’n’ Shake by having our waiter write out “Cale & Richard, Prom?” in ketchup on a tray. Then, we ended up ditching prom and going to see the band, Arcade Fire, instead! I could go on and on with Cale memories, I should probably start a separate blog for those!
Anyway, as you can see, the trend of this story is that while things were a bit messy with my health, I always kept the fun rolling. I loved my senior year of high school.
While I loved California College of the Arts, I found another school called Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland at ‘Portfolio Day.’ This is an event where art kids show their work to prospective colleges or talk to different art schools about their offerings. (Side note – I was SO extra that I built a portfolio by hand out of cardboard and fabric. That’s what’s pictured below. I know what a weirdo!) If you can’t already tell by my last comment, I was ALL about everything being made by hand. If it were up to me, there would be no computer-based art at the school I picked. So I did just that, Oregon College of Art and Craft was exactly what I was looking for. At this point, they had exactly seven programs, book making, fibers, painting & drawing, ceramics, photography, wood working and metals.
I ended up being offered a scholarship that covered all of my tuition and they flew me to Portland to visit the campus in May of 2011. It was absolutely amazing. I fell in love immediately and knew this was where I needed to be starting the next step that fall.
I got home from Portland and graduated from high school about a week later! Then just five days after that, all heck broke loose and I got my first port infection. So get ready for some fun filled adventures tomorrow in my next post!