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Old 03-25-2018, 10:25 AM
Vince (Offline)
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Default I don't nkow - test


I was not particularly worried about starting Elementary School believing that I was like every other boy my age. After all, many kids had gone through it before me so why not me? But school gradually showed me that all kids were not the same. I found that school sorted us out and taught other lessons besides the "Three R's".


At first, things went well enough but as soon as I started working on spelling and math I hit a wall. I discovered that I couldn’t preform like the other kids. They seemed to get the hang of simple math and spelling quickly. I did not. Numbers and letters were piles of slippery stones and I struggled to keep my balance while learning to navigate them.


My internal difficulties became very public when classroom games involving math or spelling were played. I tried but could not keep up. The point of the game, most often, was getting the answer first and while I came up with the answer, it was never first. I knew I must not be as smart as the others and after a short time resigned myself to that fact. My teacher, however, was unwilling to accept my limitations. She thought, out loud, that I was not paying attention nor was I applying myself.

In the middle of these games, she would stop, single me out and ask the questions to me directly.


"Vincent take 2, add 3, subtract 5 and multiply by 4. What do you have?"

A headache was all I had.

My mind fled when my teacher fixed her spotlight stare on me. My inability to answer was there for all to see. After a few seconds the other kids laughed, then they just sat and watched. I felt like a bug under a magnifying glass. Stony silence may not have been the best idea but it was all I could manage. My silence spurred my teacher on to try harder to pull answers out of me. But no amount of effort on her part could put an answer in my head that wasn’t there. This drilling with no result other than embarrassment for me and frustration for her became a daily ritual. My stomach would twist when the games began.

A particularly nasty time came one morning during math class. My teacher wrote a simple addition problem on the blackboard turned to the class and said the words I dreaded most – "Vincent come to the blackboard and do this addition".

I thought, why don't you just kill me and stop this pain. I wanted to run away but there was no place to run – I was a prisoner in the classroom and had no choice but to face my problem there. I stood and walked slowly to the blackboard. It was a very long walk. On the way, I frantically first tried to do the addition in my head. Failing at this I tried to think of a way to get out of the situation.

With no hope and no idea what to do, I arrived at the black board. As I stared at the dancing numbers, my heart raced and my stomach churned. The only thing not working was the part of my mind that dealt with math.
Seconds, crawled by as I stood there. My teacher said something but I could not hear her, as the noise in my head was too loud. But I could hear my classmates laughing, laughing at me. I felt smaller and smaller but I was still standing there. Finally, my teacher gave up and banished me to my seat. I was replaced at the blackboard by a classmate who quickly solved the problem.

This was the lowest point in my young life as I sat there contemplating a grim future of school stretching endlessly before me. I knew I would be unable to face much more humiliation like this. I wondered why I could not do the "work" like the others. Was I stupid? The teacher seemed to think I was not trying hard enough and if I only would try harder I would "get it". I doubted that, but resolved to try harder. But I knew if I could not keep up with my peers, I must have ways to protect myself from the pain of their derision.

I was so deep in these thoughts that I did not hear my teacher announce recess. When she came over to me and told me to go outside for recess, I told her I felt sick and could I just stay in my seat. It was not a lie. The thought of being at the mercy of my fellows so soon after my humiliation turned my stomach.

I was allowed to sit there and at lunchtime I ate at my desk. Mixed in with my
burning embarrassment was anger toward my classmates. Why had they laughed at me? I saw nothing funny in my suffering. But unable to figure it out, I knew I needed to find ways to take the sting out of their laughter. After all, given my problems with numbers and words, I knew I was going to give them many chances to laugh at me. This was not going to "go away", so I needed to find a way to get through it.

It seemed to me that I should do everything I could to avoid situations in which I was vulnerable and failing that I should make my classmates laugh "on purpose" before "my mistakes" caused them to laugh. Somehow, making them laugh, felt like I would have "control" and it would not hurt so much. I made up my mind to start to immediately put these plans into practice.

That afternoon, I avoided any questions; I tried to be invisible. I did not look at the teacher hoping she wouldn’t notice or call on me. Even when I knew the answer I didn’t volunteer. It was better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt, as my Grandmother was fond of saying.

I discovered that I had something of a talent for being "clever" with the very words I could not spell. A talent that my classmates enjoyed but often the teacher did not. I had found a workable method to avoid ridicule but had to learn how to be careful in its use. The line, I found, between funny and obnoxious was a thin one. However, it was made clear to me when I crossed over it. But even being disciplined for such a trespass was better than being laughed at for my shortcomings.

This worked well until the end of the year when it was decided that I would not be advancing to the second grade. I had started school one year younger than my classmates had due to my fall birthday. This was the "straw" that made the choice to hold me back easier for my parents and teacher but not for me. I thought, another year of banging my head against things I had not gotten this year. Plus, everyone knew I had failed to pass and I would see them all everyday next year. There it was another thing with which to deal.

But deal with it I must, so I polished up my "clever" kid act and over the summer got ready for the new school year. A lot of work went into maintaining a blank face, no matter what happened. Jokes were funnier and fear or embarrassment was not easy to see on a blank face. Over time I got very good at keeping a "straight-face", in fact, to this day I have trouble smiling. It is difficult and doesn't look right to me.

The new school year started and I fell into my routine, always on edge trying to be aware of everything going on in the classroom. I was doing ok for a while and did manage to pass to the second grade at the end of the year. But the system had a new challenge for me – a standardized test to measure aptitude and intelligence.

To my surprise, I did very well on this test. I scored at high school level. But this was not all "good news" for my grades did not match the test results and my teacher


and family started blaming my poor performance on my being lazy, day dreaming and not applying myself. Instead of getting better my classroom life got more intense. I was put near the front so I could be watched and pushed. My strategies did not work as well under my new circumstances, so I was back to constant tension.

Over time, I discovered I was learning but not like the other kids. I just knew things without knowing how I knew them. Often studying for a test I would despair, as I couldn't seem to remember anything. But given the test I just wrote the answers down not knowing from where they came. As well, if called on in class, I would start talking and if I talked long enough the answer came out. This last thing took some getting used to but I learned to make the first part of my speech a kind of prolog to my final answer. This accomplished two things – I gave more right answers and got called on less because I gave long answers.

Well, life got much better, far less tense and more predictable. Whenever I "gave up" and just gave an answer or just "listened" not trying to learn, I gave a good answer or just learned. It was when I was tired or under pressure that I could not produce.

I now realize that I was dyslexic. What I was starting to do then was to find other ways to manage life because the standard ways did not work for me. This has been a continuous life long process for me. But this is not negative or positive; this is who I am and how I approach life. I tend to notice things others don't, I think of ways to do things that are not typical and being clever (some days more than others) has helped me to get things done in my life.

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Old 03-25-2018, 10:31 AM
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still won't let me edit - Oh well.
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Old 03-25-2018, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Vince View Post
still won't let me edit - Oh well.
No more block of text. Yay!
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Old 03-25-2018, 11:58 AM
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Seems like school, especially in the old days, had a way of humiliating just about everyone. We just to do "round robin" reading, where you went around the room and EVERYONE had to take a turn reading the passage. There was a stutterer in my class and the teachers had no mercy. She forced him to take his turn every time, amid giggles and "spit it out!"
I can imagine the horror of going to the board when you haven't the foggiest idea of the answer.
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Old 03-25-2018, 12:44 PM
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thanks for your help Nick
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Old 03-25-2018, 12:45 PM
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It was an ugly time but it taught me lessons that the teacher never did - at least on purpose.
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Old 03-25-2018, 03:56 PM
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Awesome. Will come back when not drunk and I don't have thisfucking brace on my arm cause I'm an old fuck trying to prove he's not
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Old 03-25-2018, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
Awesome. Will come back when not drunk and I don't have thisfucking brace on my arm cause I'm an old fuck trying to prove he's not


What’s your window for not being drunk? I mean, per day...


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Old 03-25-2018, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
What’s your window for not being drunk? I mean, per day...


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Bout 2 hours. But mostly it's this brace. Wanna give vince a line edit, and it hurts too much to type right now
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Old 03-25-2018, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
Bout 2 hours. But mostly it's this brace. Wanna give vince a line edit, and it hurts too much to type right now


Gonna hafta quit that around 40. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to write the same. And if you don’t want to be a fat pig switch to vodka.


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Old 03-25-2018, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Vince View Post
thanks for your help Nick

Don't mention it.
I'm a fuggin saint.
Doin' such stuff is all part of my job.


Aw crap!
I screwed up on the humility aspect again.

Yeah, like I would wanna be perfect.
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Old 03-26-2018, 07:38 AM
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I wasn't (you started with contractions, why not keep it up?) (particularly- delete, unnecessary) worried about starting Elementary School believing (that- delete) I was like every other boy my age. (After all,-delete) many kids had gone through it before (me-delete) so why not me? But school gradually showed me (that-delete) all kids were not the same. (I found that school- delete) (add "It") sorted us out and taught other lessons besides the "Three R's".

Here's a sample line edit. I'm not saying use it, but just notice what I did. Avoid repetition and unnecessary words and phrases.
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Old 03-26-2018, 09:32 AM
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Some parts are passive writing. It's good, but is this your "real voice"? I think you may have tried a little too hard to write and lost the power of your core in the process, with the subtly intellectual style. My comment is extraordinarily subjective, so don't take it too seriously. Good, poignant subject matter too.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:01 PM
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Nick, fugging great and humble wow. I am diminished in your presence.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:04 PM
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daes13, I hear you - will try to be briefer but even as a kid i thought and talked like that - not sure why - might have something to do with the old movies I watched.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:07 PM
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jimr,
will keep your thoughts in mind - I did talk like that - I used to catch grief for it as a kid.
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Old 03-27-2018, 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Vince View Post
Nick, fugging great and humble wow. I am diminished in your presence.
Provided me with morning chuckle.
Thanks.
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Old 03-27-2018, 12:19 PM
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Its nice to know that grumpy old guys like us can still laugh
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