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Memoirs of a Nerd

This morning, shannon_a wrote a journal entry about some of his academic memories, so I thought I'd write about some of mine.

My first really viscerally vivid academic memories come from second grade. Before that, I mostly remember which boys I had crushes on (Travis Beasley ... what a hunk!), stuff I got in trouble for (who knew that jumping over lunch boxes was wrong?), and times when I got hurt (fell off the monkey bars in my Brownie uniform, and thought I was gonna die!). Almost entirely playground memories, rather than academic ones.

I remember that my first-grade class had three Kims, and so we were Kim C., Kim Q., and Kim F. I remember that a boy named Ralph tried to kiss me, so I bit his thumb, 'cause I didn't like him. I remember that I liked playing jacks. I remember a movie we watched when it was raining and we couldn't go out for recess, and it was all about safety, with Jiminy Cricket singing, "I'm no fool, no sirree! I'm gonna live to be a hundred and three! I play safe for you and me, 'cause I'm no fool!"

I remember having to make a choice of whether I would go with my class on a field trip, or go to my weekly MGM class ... and I chose MGM. (Yeah, I was an uber-nerd.) I remember watching my class walk away on the field trip, but I don't remember where they were going. I remember making kites in MGM, and nursing butterfly chrysalises until they hatched, and growing a lima bean in a petri dish with a wet paper towel in the bottom until the root had sprouted and then planting it in a dixie cup that I kept on the window sill in my bedroom.

But my first truly academic memories are from second grade, and both were traumatic.

I got sent to a different class -- Mr. Griffin's third grade class -- for part of each day. (Oddly enough, I can't remember my main teacher's name, but I remember Mr. Griffin very well. Weird.) Initially, they sent me to Mr. Griffin's class for both English and math, but the first day I was there for math, we were supposed to do a bunch of math problems he'd written on the board. Some of the math problems had this weird symbol I'd never seen before: a line with a dot above and a dot below. I had absolutely no idea what this meant, what the teacher wanted me to do. After a while, I just began crying, because I'd never been so lost before. I was used to being smart! Mr. Griffin came over and talked to me ... and I went back to the second grade class for math for the rest of the year.

My other academic memory from second grade was a spelling bee. The third grade class was having a spelling bee competition against the fourth grade class, for some unknown reason. The spelling bee lasted a really long time, and I was the last person remaining on my team (even though I was a second-grader and the rest of my team were third-graders). There were still quite a few fourth-graders remaining, so they just kept cycling through on their team, but I just kept answering for my own team. Finally, after a really long time, I was defeated by the word "downstairs" ... because they said I'd spelled it with a "u" instead of a "w". I was mortified! How could I have misspoken? I *knew* how to spell "downstairs"! It was so unfair! I was humiliated! I'd said "u" instead of "w"! I would never live it down! I'm sure no one else remembers this spelling bee at all, but it still rankles me 25 years later.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2003 01:32 pm (UTC)
Ack. What is it about spelling bees? I can still remember every word I ever lost a spelling bee on: parallel, moratorium, cajolery, receipt... Whoever invented these things should be drawn, quartered, castrated and shot. Not necessarily in that order.
Feb. 13th, 2003 01:47 pm (UTC)
I always wanted to be in a spelling bee, but they never had one.

I also fell off the jungle gym and thought I was going to die! God was that awful. We used to do this thing where you hooked one leg in front of the bar, and let the other dangle straight down behind it, and then you could spin forwards over the bar.

Well, I decided to be really cool, and do it backwards. Only problem was, I didn't think it through. When you go forwards, when your front leg no longer supports you, the back leg catches the bar. When you go backwards, when you get upside-down your legs make kind of a U, and nothing supports you. I went straight down, hit my head on a rock, and suddenly couldn't breathe. It was the weirdest feeling, I couldn't cry, make a sound, or breathe. I could see the kids and teachers running over to me, but couldn't do anything about it. I really thought that was it for me, I would die any second.

Luckily, I just got the wind knocked out of me, had a big bump but was fine a little while later :D

Maybe I'll make a classroom memories post later :)
Feb. 13th, 2003 02:28 pm (UTC)
Wow, you did GREAT on that spelling bee!!! You were a 2nd grader who outlasted all the 3rd graders and most of the 4th graders, too. It's possible you did NOT misspeak, but that they were trying to save face for the 4th graders. It is also possible if this was something that went on to the another regional level that you were technically too young to enter it as the school's rep.

I made it to regionals in 4th grade, competing against kids up to 8th grade.. I got 4th place.. The word that put me out was "Contagious", but I got to the G and suddenly was thinking "Must have courage.." because a panic attack was hitting me. I somehow tranposed in my head the word "Courageous" for my word "Contagious" and ended it with "EOUS".. BZZZZZZ WRONG!!!! Having heard the rest of the bee, I think I would only have gotten 2nd place anyhow even without the mistake. I didn't know half the words the winner knew. I was much enamored of his intelligence and developed an instant crush on him much like men watching beauty pageants.. ROFL.

Smart is Sexy.
Wow, I'm a nerd ;)

Feb. 13th, 2003 02:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Memories of a Nerd
What's MGM class?

I feel off the jungle gym and actually had acrophobia until I was sixteen and learned about using gradual exposure to treat it from a psychology book...
Feb. 13th, 2003 03:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Memories of a Nerd
MGM = "Mentally Gifted Minors"

It was a special program for smart kids. Later, it transformed into GATE (Gifted And Talented Education), which also included kids who were musically talented and whatnot. MGM was just the smart kids. They took us out of our regular class once each week and gave us more challenging, interesting stuff to do.
Feb. 13th, 2003 03:56 pm (UTC)
I remember that Jiminy Cricket song. But then, my mom loved (loves) Disney stuff, so...

Okay, so in second or third grade, we had a math textbook and math workbook. One night, I started working in the workbook, and just kept going (I think the assignment was like, "Do this page as a minimum, but as many as you want more than that" or something) until I was pulled away to go to my sister's recital or something. I probably got through a good third of that book and would have kept right on going until bedtime if I hadn't been pulled away.
Then in fourth grade, we were allowed to do math at our own pace; after we'd finished the textbook (a friend and I finished with well over a quarter of the year left to go - he finished first, the bastard) my teacher had this box with a bunch of index cards with math problems from what I assume to be 5th-8th grade work. Those were fun times; everyone stayed in the same room working on math, but everyone was at a different place in the text.

Heh. That was back when it was cool to be smart. Then Middle School hit and suddenly I was a nerd that nobody wanted to be around. Kids are cruel! So cruel! Kill them all!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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