Wednesday, November 30, 2016


"I didn't understand the difference between intelligence and knowledge. So I assumed I was an idiot." J.D. Vance ~ Hillbilly Elegy

In some respects I am and always will be a 7B1.

In seventh grade we moved from Shawswick, a country school, to Bedford Junior High. I don't remember being tested, but what I do remember is ending up in the 7B1 class. It didn't take long to realize that 7B1 was the lowest level of the seventh grade class structure. Once that became clear to me I accepted the fact that wasn't as smart as some of the other kids my age, otherwise I would have been put in a higher bracket. It was just a fact of life evidenced by my continual struggle with math and reading.

That classification stuck with me for years. Even when my twin sister and I were accepted at college I figured it was because the school needed the money not because of my dazzling SATs. My family scratched together the additional money we needed to supplement the grants and loans we were awarded along with work study. It was a semester by semester endeavor.

It wasn't until late my Sophomore year in college that a friend majoring in Early Childhood Education suggested I take a skills test. Turns out I'm dyslexic. Not in the totally non-functional way, but in the just enough to flip digits when ciphering math and losing tracking when reading kind of way. Who knew?

So with that little bit of self knowledge I slowly started doing better in my studies. 

I majored in Art. 
I never dreamed of majoring in anything else. Truth is Art and Music saved me, although I never realized it was a special gift. It came so easy I thought everyone could do it. I just thought they put efforts in other more academic things. Of course learning to read music was out of the question.The first time I took Psychology in college I failed. A year later I aced it. I completely made up my final term paper using handmade drawings and diagrams to illustrate my thesis. I had to dig just to come up with a believable bibliography. When I got the paper back it had an A+ on it. The professor requested I see her after class. I bolted. I was afraid my fraud would be discovered. Now I wonder how my life would have changed if I had "fessed up". That was when I realized that I might actually be smarter than I thought.

And yet, it wasn't until after I had graduated from college that I got up the courage to try to read a book all the way through, cover to cover, for the first time. I was 23. I went to the bookstore and picked the thinnest classic I could find . . . The Scarlett Letter. After that I pushed myself to read another, and then another, and then another until I became a consistent reader. Oh sure, I might be slower than most, but now after all these years of reading and continual learning I feel that I truly understand the difference between intelligence and knowledge and the reality of disability vs. potential.

What's really funny is in the end I married into a family of Educators. When I first met my father-in-law he asked me what my career aspirations were. Poor guy never realized I actually made it up on the spot. Turns out what I told him was the exact path my work life took. I've been working in the IT field for nearly 20 years now.

So in the end the 7B1 classification was just a label and not reality. It's my history to be sure, part of who I am and the person I've become. Through persistence and perseverance I have to say I'm feeling pretty confident in my abilities these days and it turns out I'm a pretty smart person after all, if I do say so myself!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Real Friends

Something about clicking a link to add a friend and clicking a link to remove a friend has always seemed too easy to me anyway. Facebook isn't real-life. It's make believe. It's how folks create the life they want to present to the rest of the world. The REAL friends you have are the friends you care about. Friends you call regularly, go out to dinner with, sit on the beach with, take weekends or vacations with, who accept you for who you are, and can disagree with but still love dearly. And then there's your kindred spirit friends you don't see for months or years on end, but when you finally get together it's like time never passed. There's a lot to be said for that. Oh sure, it's fun to get in touch with old classmates, college acquaintances, and buddies from old jobs - but after its all said and done your real friends are right here by your elbow either in fact or in heart no matter what stupid things you might say it do.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our United States

Our United States of America has always been a churning changing place. A delicately balanced, close to the edge, proposition. Each election we give her to another batch of dreamers who we hope will bring her to her glory. It's strange we never believe she is at her best in the present. Instead we are nostalgic for "the golden years" when she was that Great City on the Hill. But if we were honest we'd have to admit that that time only exits in our minds. She has always been in the throes of childbirth, a changeling, an elusive goal.

That doesn't mean we don't hope to make her great, to lift our lamp beside the golden door. But let's not fool ourselves. She is always in the making and never completely ready for the dance. She is a living breathing organism made up of this ever changing political stew of ideas and hopes and dreams. She is not breakable, she is resilient and shapeable.

We are the fortunate children of former immigrants who hoped to give us a better life. A life that has always been more perceived than actual. America is our ideal. A moldable framework we shape over and over again. She is not meant to be rigid institutions or stodgy legislation. She moves, she breathes, she flexes and stretches with the times. Our treasured Constitution is very much alive. We constantly apply it to our changing world. Even when we try to "hold to the original intent of the framers" we're basing our judgement on the current perception of history.

So here's what I have to say during this unsettling time. Don't be afraid. Hold on to your ideal of our country and its people. Fight for what you believe is right. Make your voice heard. Don't be shy. Be active in the making of this great country. Hold elected officials accountable. This is what America is all about. This is what makes Her great. This is what makes US great.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Being Right

As humans we need to feel special simply because we are ego based beings. It's at the core of who we are. And even though I can only see the world through my own eyes, don't have a frame of reference other than the one colored by my own experiences, and can't divorce myself from myself that doesn't give me a pass to do or say whatever I please.

Relationships are delicate things. The things we say to each other either without thinking, calculatedly, or in total disregard of someone else's feelings are some of the most ugly and unforgivable things we do as a species on this planet. It's a sad commentary on our society that this sort of behavior is so pervasive today.

When conversations devolve into competitions intent on showing off status (who we are, the people we know, what we do for a living, our political leanings, our religious dogmas and all the other things we think make us better than other people) we do a great disservice to the those around us. It's not like anyone else really cares about our status except us. If anything it becomes an obstacle.

But, if we can keep our egos at bay long enough to give each other room to share and talk and participate in the general conversation of life then we learn how important each and every one of us are to our own survival. We all have something to contribute. We all have value and purpose.

That one-sided conversation we were having was actually hurting us and preventing us from sharing our hopes and dreams and experiences. It was keeping us from being close to each other and caring about each other and getting through the tough times despite all our differences.

You see, my friend, in the end "being right" never out weighs being love.