A Brief History of (My) Time, Volume 2

13 Apr

Ages 10-18:  Adolescence – Always a pretty mediocre/terrible student, I suspected that I was either really stupid or smart in a way that school just couldn’t access.  The Jury is still out but considering the fact that I was rejected from all of the graduate schools I recently applied to, and coupled with the fact that I tried to spell jury with two Rs, I think you can tell which way the scales are tipping.

Where things went wrong:  I have a distinct memory of my 3rd grade teacher telling me that if I didn’t learn my multiplication facts, I wouldn’t pass the 3rd grade.  My mother, God bless her and send her to a spa please, tried everything.  The most memorable strategy involved rewarding me for correct answers with Lucky Charms marshmallows and “punishing” me for wrong answers with the cereal.  It occurred to me at one point that I could just not learn to multiply and see what happened.  When my teacher called me (each student was called one by one to the little corner “office” to take their oral multiplication test) I told her that I didn’t learn my multiplication facts and had no plans to.  I told her she could just relax for a few minutes because there was no way I could pass that test.  She was taken aback, and once she regained her composure, she said, “Well, you know that this means that you won’t pass the 3rd grade.”  I replied, “No, I think I’m still going to pass.”   Bold moves, Liz.  Bold moves.

And wouldn’t you know it, the very next year I was sitting front and center along with the rest of the 4th graders at Pullen Elementary to watch Mr. Smith itch his balls with his pocketed hands.  This was the beginning of a terrible, dangerous, realization that I could just pretty much just do what I wanted and not really concern myself with what other people expected me to do (not to mention the realization that middle aged men sometimes scratch themselves in front of children).  This, more than the fact that I have no idea how to divide, or spell even basic vocabulary words, is the most grievous way in which I feel Mt. Pleasant Public Schools failed me and sent me down a path of degenerate freethinking artistry.

Onward and upward:  Jr. High and High School are a blur of boyfriends, hijinks and meticulously planned outfits (the Multiples had long since been replaced by coordinating skirt/shirt/vest sets with argyle knee socks and my ever-expanding collection of chunky mary janes – I was very inspired by the movie Clueless).  Oh, and Christian Fundamentalism, but there just isn’t space to unpack that trunk of junk here, so I’ll save that bit for another post.  Let’s just say I found a whole new outlet for my love of rebellion and telling other people what to do.

I had grown up dancing but at this stage in my life things started to get more serious.  I began dancing everyday and finally found a place where it made sense to me to work my ass off.  Smart girl:  “no, no, don’t pick math or science to master, choose DANCE – lucrative careers abound and it’s really neat to lose all of your toenails every couple months!”  I also loved to sing (the sound of my own voice?  yes please.).  These “talents” coupled with my established bossiness and flair for inflicting emotional turmoil on those around me led me to audition for musicals and plays.  Thank God for the wonderful teachers involved and the academic eligibility requirements that these thespian adventures carried, otherwise, who knows if I ever would have graduated.  To give you a picture of what I was working with here, you should know that I took math class with students who wore helmets to school and I was still one of the more geometric-ly challenged of the bunch.  They guy who sat next to me fell out of his desk on a regular basis (it should be noted that this particular student did not have a learning disability, but was VERY high most of the time, and also, helped me with my homework from time to time).

During this time, I participated in an apprenticeship program for dance educators and fell in love with teaching dance (read:  taking pre-schoolers to the bathroom, cleaning up after them when they didn’t have the wherewithal to ask, and finding ways to relate dance concepts to the Disney Princess franchise).  In my usual custom, by the 10th grade I decided that I didn’t necessarily need these grownups at the studio telling me how to run things, so I started my own dance company.  Why not?!  Delusions of grandure have always been my specialty.  Within 3 years the company had 20 members and put on a full-length evening concert with a two night run.  I recruited my dad to build a stage (as the ill-shaped, carpeted monstrosity at Mt. Pleasant Community Church simply wouldn’t do) and shocked the crap out of the church’s tech guy when I handed him a rider complete with a timed light plot indicating which instruments I wanted him to use, how the hang should be structured and what color gels I wanted.  I was pretty pissed that the church had such a limited selection of gobos, but I got over it.  God help you if you were late or unprepared for one of my rehearsals.

The saga continues……

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2 Responses to “A Brief History of (My) Time, Volume 2”

  1. John Klak April 15, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    I know you weren’t a great academic student (at least math and science stuff) but I never thought you were “dumb”. I do have a very fond memory of you and Leah trying to put a bed frame together for a play pro. show. “How many dancers does it take to put a bed frame together? Apparently it takes more than two.” You have so many talents that you were smart and bold enough to pursue. You also were lucky enough to have parents that supported the pursuit of your passions and that has made all the difference. “Smart?” I’ve got a million questions for you in your areas of expertise for our “upcoming project.” By the way, one of your talents is apparently writing because you are doing a great job of writing this blog. Keep it up. Maybe you’ll be able to collect all this into a book some day.

  2. Littany April 16, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    I am dying laughing here at work (because it’s Friday afternoon at 4pm and why would I actually want to be doing real work). I too was traumatized by the ever classy Mr. Smith – though not by ball scratching that I had completely forgotten about until now, but by the fact that he didn’t understand that when you made a 9 year old girl cry over a math probem, she isn’t going to come out of the little girls room because you’re yelling through the door at her.

    You’re such a great writer and I really do look forward to reliving my Mt. Pleasant days via your posts!

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