"If writers possess a common temperament, it's that they tend to be shy egomaniacs; publicity is the spotlight they suffer for the recognition they crave." Gail Caldwell, from her book "Let's Take The Long Way Around"

"To look life in the face, always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. . .always the years. Always the love. Always the hours." From the movie "The Hours", based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham

"Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly." Baz Luhrman, "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)"

"A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls." Walt Whitman

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant or talented?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Back to Life, Stuck in Reality

In sixth grade at Grant Elementary School, I was free of Melinda.  She was in a different class.  So was Michelle.  I started to be friends with different people.  I was best friends with a girl named Paula for a while.  I also met Leah Melber and Jennifer Peterson, who would later become part of a larger group of my close friends.

In sixth grade, I was put into a group of GATE students (Gifted And Talented Education).  Every Friday afternoon a small group of us - maybe 15 - would do creative writing for the last hour or two of school.  I loved it.  Creative Writing was perfect for me.  It was also the first time I was selected for a group of smart students, my first exposure to an "honors" type class.  And Melinda wasn't in it.  Gradually, through sixth grade, I started to believe in myself again, started to feel okay about who I was.  I got to play the lead in our class play.  My mom made me a beautiful blue dress for me to wear.  It was exhilarating to be in the limelight.  I really enjoyed acting and even thought I was a little good at it.  I have to thank Mrs. TenBrink, my teacher, for helping me that year, and maybe she didn't even know she did.

She gave me the responsibility of going ahead of the class after lunch or recess to unlock the classroom door.  I would race ahead to the door and unlock it, pretending to be Nancy Drew, pretending I was sneaking in somewhere, looking for clues.  I would pretend to look through the easy reader files, creating a sense of urgency and suspense, knowing the class would walk in anytime.  And as soon as I heard them arrive, I would race to my seat.

Once we were reading on our own after lunch or something and I accidentally fell asleep.  Mrs. TenBrink came quietly over and woke me up.  She sent me to the nurse for the rest of the afternoon.

Maybe she knew something was wrong at home.  Maybe she'd heard about the Melinda situation.  I don't know, but looking back, she really took the time to make me feel special, even though sometimes I thought she didn't even like me.  She probably had to be sure she wasn't treating me like the teacher's pet, but grown-ups can tell, I guess, about some kids.

My dad came once to talk about his career as a lawyer.  It wasn't the first time he'd done this.  In La Crescenta he came once and talked to the class.  At Grant, he arrived after lunch.  Mrs. TenBrink told me someone was waiting for me in the classroom, so I dropped the Nancy Drew act that day and ran into the classroom to find him.  He was hiding in the closet.  I opened the door and gave him a huge hug.  I was so happy to see him.

Later, kids in my class wrote letters to him, thanking him for speaking.  My dad kept those letters, but who knows where they are now.  Most of his possessions were kept from us after he died.

Home.  Do you see how even at age eleven I had two separate lives?  I guess I compartmentalized the two.  maybe even three, since life at my dad's was totally different as well.

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