Monthly Archives: January 2021


“You’re weird.” I think that started in Kindergarten. I had to wear corrective shoes, so not sneakers. I immediately stood out from the crowd. I had a vast vocabulary as a first grader, but I didn’t start reading chapter books until Fifth Grade…The Robe by Douglas Lloyd. I heard that phrase “You’re so weird!” every day, multiple times a day, for all of elementary school. I was imbued with the connections between subjects, music and art, art and history, history and literature, literature and math, math and science, science and music, and around and around and around it goes. I took for granted that everyone thought this way. They don’t. People didn’t understand my jokes. I was (and am) loud when I get excited. When we started on the SRA reading program in fifth grade, I zoomed ahead and got through all of the fifth grade requirements, the sixth grade, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade requirements. There were one or two others in the class that did that too. That would be two or three of us out of a class of thirty that reached ninth grade level in fifth grade.

Because our elementary school was a lab school, we were the mice they experimented on. No one in public school got as many standardized tests as we did. Where the rest of the class was worried about content, I learned how to take tests. You didn’t have to have a whole lot of content mastery to do well on the test. This surprised some teachers. I was the exception, not the rule, though. Therefore, they didn’t have to make adjustments. I was the outlier. I was weird.

Somewhere along the way, weird translated to stupid. I transferred to public school in seventh grade because my teacher at the lab school was psycho. I was in tears Every Day with this woman! Remember that I hadn’t started reading chapter books until fifth grade? I decided for my 1000-page per month book-reading requirement that I was going to read David Copperfield (850 pages). My psycho teacher said I couldn’t do it, so, of course, I did and wrote a book report on it. She accused me of cheating even though I could quote her passages and explain the whole plot to her without notes. My folks adamantly denied I had cheated. It made no difference. She flunked me on that project. I transferred before the winter break. At this time, I’d already studied Spanish for 3 1/2 years, so vocabulary words in my English class were easy–Latin roots etc. made new English words easy to understand. Though in the fifth grade classroom at the lab school, we had experimented with the “New Math,” the public school seventh graders where I now found myself were just getting into it. My teacher was not very familiar with “New Math.” They discouraged mental flexibility and solving problems without pencil and paper. For the tests, I wrote the answer and then went back and did all the steps.

The question I had to answer was this: 12 – x = 7.

  • Soooo in my head it came out in English. What’s the difference between 12 and 7? The answer is 5. I couldn’t just write 5 and go on to the next question though. So on the bottom line I wrote “5 = x”
  • Then I filled in all the steps: 12 – x – 7 = 7 – 7
  • 12 – x – 7 = (7 – 7) = 0
  • 12 – x – 7 = (12 – 7) – x
  • (12 – 7) – x + x = 0 + x
  • (12 – 7) + (-x + x) = 0 + x
  • 12 – 7 + 0 = x
  • 5 + 0 = x
  • 5 = x


NOW go on to the next question. What a horrendous way to spend twenty minutes. Only one other person in that class was done in twenty minutes. He was the smartest kid in the class. Everyone else took the full fifty minutes. My teacher assumed I’d given up and was surprised there were any answers on my test when I turned it in. Then She accused me of cheating. I wanted to issue a challenge to the other kid that had finished in twenty minutes, but this was public school. You don’t have competitions to improve your skill. It might make someone in the class feel bad. I asked her how I could have “given up” after twenty minutes and a full thirty minutes before those sitting around me and copied from people who didn’t pass the test and still get a 95% on it? The look on her face confirmed she was unfamiliar with logical debate. From then on, we had to bring our work up to the teacher’s desk as we finished it instead of just passing it forward at the end of class. It was a race now between me and the other bright kid, and we were always first and second. Sometimes he won, sometimes I did. Now I was REALLY weird. Girls are not supposed to be good at Math–we were supposed to be brilliant at English and Spelling and Social Studies. Julie and Paula and I were also good at science. Julie and Paula got a pass because they were smart. (?) I was weird so I wasn’t supposed to be smart? I was loud and obnoxious, so I couldn’t be smart.

OK, everything will be different when I go to college…oh well. Nope.

I could hear better than anyone in the music department. I could even identify metronome beats per minute without looking at it. So it would go tick tick tick tick and I’d say, “Ah, that’s 84 beats per minute,” and be right. This is a trick. This is not a tool. It not a skill that anyone would want to acquire. I took the final exam for ear training and sight singing and passed it without taking the class. I was once again accused of cheating. I was now expecting this type of reaction. I invited them to test me again on any other song they chose. They didn’t. But then they had me as “dropped from course” instead of passing it. I didn’t even realize they’d done that until I went back to school in ’86 and got a look at my transcript. Every time I did well in a course, regardless of the subject matter, I was accused of cheating. I guess it is suspicious to have someone that was weird be good at anything. I took Calculus, Fortran IV (dark ages with punch cards!) and Assembly language computer programming classes and they thought my boyfriend was doing my homework and were surprised when I got an A on the final exam. I took Renaissance History and Renaissance Literature, and they were surprised that a music major would get A’s on the final tests. I only had to take English Composition and Grammar once and apparently that’s unusual among music majors.

Then I went to get a second degree in Business, and when I did well on the accounting classes and the business law classes, they were surprised that I had another degree in Music (the horror!) I took a Geology class and not expected to do well because business majors didn’t take Geology classes. I took advanced statistics and business majors were mostly into marketing so when I did well there and was actually tutoring some of the other students, it was because I was cheating–my husband was helping me write the computer programs that I wrote in Basic to do my homework and check my students’. (Remember the boyfriend from earlier? Same guy. We got married!) Nope I didn’t cheat; that was all me. And I was pregnant. I was weird because I actually liked Macro and Micro Economics. I took the GMAT and got 650+ and that did not surprise anyone. They were surprised that I took the test at all. After all, business majors who are mothers of four kids do not usually go back for a masters’ degree. And, I didn’t. We moved and I hadn’t been accepted into any Masters programs. It reinforced my belief that maybe I wasn’t as special as I thought I was.

I have been head-butting the “you’re weird, you can’t be innovative or smart or wise” all my life. It’s only been in the last 10 or so years that I quit fighting. I had looked back on my life and realized that it didn’t matter how much I knew, how long I’d studied, how well I remembered things, or how I expressed my wisdom. I was not at all as special as I thought myself to be. If the first thing EVERYONE thought was that I was not very bright, that I was a goof off, that I was a trouble maker, or that I was an arrogant self-centered narcissist, MAYBE THEY WERE RIGHT. I tried not to stick out. I tried not to show what I knew while secretly hoping someone would see me for me besides my husband.

Long-term friends now recognize that I have a lot of intelligence and skill in a wide variety of subjects. But most people’s first impression of me is that I’m not very smart. I still get that look of shock when I speak from the perspective of a fairly intelligent being with an integrated approach to things physical, mental and spiritual. I guess I’ve spoken about this before.

Unfortunately, I am extremely intolerant of ignorant people. Given the overload of information that is currently from a multitude of sources, I find that people that latch onto the things that make absolutely no sense MADDENING! I cannot understand how anyone could fact check the things they see online or hear on TV or Radio espoused as the “truth” and ignore (hence ignorant) the facts and the context of said information. So sometimes I let my “intelligence, wisdom, and factual grounding” blow-up on the screen. It’s like I’m reading or listening to something really foolish and I say or post, “Wait just a dam minute! Do you hear what you’re saying?!!! Shut up and do some detective work before you start spouting off stuff you clearly do not understand! You are making yourself look like a foo… Wait? you got 500 likes and people agreeing with you in the first minute since you posted something this stupid?” And from the ignorant person I get, “Where’d that come from? I thought you were enlightened! You’re just as delusional as ______________(fill in the blank with the most esteemed expert in whatever area you want to discuss)” So now I get blasted by all of my ignorant friends and all HIS ignorant friends as someone who’s obviously been deceived. I’m now a member of the sheeple? Excuse me? So given a choice between overwhelming factual proof and incontrovertible evidence versus the overwhelming negative responses and personal attacks what should I do? Unfriend a person because they’re ignorant? I keep backing myself into the patronizing activity of these doofuses with the head patting, “It’s ok, I like you even if you are woefully uninformed about the FACT that the earth really is flat…” Once again, I’m not as smart and informed and wise as I think I am. I feel like I don’t belong here.

Yes, I still want to see their cute kids and their latest fur baby antics. I love their vacation pictures. But I wish they’d stay out of philosophy and science and politics and religion because on the ladder of awareness and scientific study and theological background, they are not even on the third rung. When they expose their lack of understanding, I have to show extreme restraint to keep from pouring slime all over their heads. I realize I’m not at the top of the ladder and someone above me might be fighting the same urge to pour on me. But I think I’m miles above them. And this is my problem. I am weird. My greatest fear is that I’m only on the fourth rung.

What this is demonstrates the fact that where I think of myself on an intellectual and philosophical scale may be incongruent with my actual position.

Do I have to turn this car around?!!!

How many of you are parents to elementary age kids? Have you ever used this phrase during long trips?

The difference between long trips and being at home is that everyone is in a confined space and going someplace. When you arrive, there is adequate space to run around and play and hang by your knees from some terrifying precipice. But while you are in the car, you can play car games or listen to music and that’s it.

Since we had 3 kids in the family, I, as the oldest, would sit in the middle of the back seat to separate my brothers. This did two things: it mitigated my cigarrette-smoke-induced car sickness, and it kept my brothers from beating each other to a pulp. By the time they were in upper elementary school, they’d graduated to “He put his fingernail on my side of the car,” (hence putting me in the middle to prevent that) and “He looked at me funny!” You could predict with 98% accuracy that this would begin about forty-seven minutes into the car trip. If left unchecked, the animosity would escalate into name calling and tears. Why tears? Because if they started threatening each other, my dad would attempt to paddle them while simultaneously driving the car and he wasn’t specific on his targets. If he did not, I would ball up my fists and hit each boy in the chest in a single move that would impress Chuck Norris. Either way, there would be tears. (Because I never got caught doing this, I rarely got in trouble at the same time as my brothers.) Nevertheless, my dad would pull the car over and tell them to be quiet before he gave them something to cry about. He had a technique of spanking that was somehow related to his skill as a percussion instructor. There was this snap of the wrist that would sting…

What did my brothers call each other? Booger-head, ugly-face, stupid, meanie, nose-picker… They had limited vocabularies.

We find ourselves in a confined space, going nowhere, and having differences of opinion. Of Course, we have differences of opinion! We all have different cultures, different growing environments, different experiences. We have the benefit of having lived through our own private hells. We have seen the beatific and the horrific. We are now adulting. (Adulting never used to be a word. Adult was what you aspired to be as soon as you discovered you could walk from here to there but had to hold hands when you crossed the street.) We do not have the luxury of being “sent to our rooms” because our rooms still have modes of communication. So we find ourselves in an enormous car as part of 328 million people in the back seat.

What brings this up? I’m seeing people who are parents and grandparents NAME CALLING! That’s right. But now they have bigger vocabularies, though, in most cases, not more extensive imaginations. We see people bullying others who don’t agree with them. We are seeing people shoving and pushing others and threatening violence and not a clue what they’re fighting for or against.

Remember when we misbehaved and we got grounded? We railed against the total injustice of it and tried to sneak out the window or send messages to our friends to break us out. There was always someone like the Fonz who would influence the “bad” side. Well, we got grounded because we did something stupid that endangered us or the people around us. Well. Duh! If you had the flu, didn’t you stay home from school and everything else? If the only thing you had to do was put on a mask to go out, wouldn’t you have done that? Well, we went out in the middle of a pandemic with no protection and no sense and got grounded, and the first thing we did was rail against an all-powerful government. Doesn’t that sound like teenagers? Yeah, throw those books on the floor and stomp around your room. The adults are watching the news and drinking wine while the kids are locked in the bedrooms.

Oh and our parents would tell us what to think when we were young, too. “Danged WPA! Look at these political cartoons in the paper! The country is going to the dogs I tell you!” Then we’d listen to the news and get a running commentary from our folks. After graduating from high school, we were expected to listen to the news and make our own decisions.

Well, now the commentary is coming directly from the newsmen. You tune into whatever politics you like and get their version. You find the same facts as every other news provider, but you get a completely different interpretation. We don’t ask questions regarding what we hear, we just want to know is that news or fake news? How can there be fake news? Isn’t that against the ethics of the news organizations? What escalates the situation is that people are NOT doing their own thinking and are lashing out at everyone around them with no big sister to chest punch them into submission. They are using unreliable sources of information. They’re taking rumor for truth. They’re ignoring rational thought and logical debate and have descended into elementary school behavior! You are ADULTS!

You WILL get along and you WILL be nice to each other or I WILL make you VERY uncomfortable! Don’t Make me turn this car around!

It’s Dark out

“Dear Diary, today the sun didn’t rise. We’re hoping it’s just a temporary thing” ~Writing prompt from Ben Fegan

I got up at my regular time, but it was still dark. This is normal for this time of year, but usually I can see some greyness in the sky. As I sat in my computer room watching the church service, the pastor brought up the fact that although it is after 8:00 AM, we should be seeing some light come through the stained glass windows. He then offered a prayer for our current conditions.

I looked out my window, and there was no sign of a sunrise at all. I contacted my daughter who lives in Pennsylvania and asked her if the sun was up over there. She said there wasn’t even a glimmer. I was starting to get worried. I checked outside again to see if I could see any clouds. Stars. The moon was in the east. I looked at the weather to see if there was a giant storm or some other weather event. The TV newscasters were going nuts about this. The weather channel people were saying that the clouds were still moving, and the storms and weather fronts had changed but not disappeared.

They had people all over the globe reporting the never ending sunset, the perpetual noon, and the day of darkness. Scientists and experts were being interviewed for explanations, and the universal answer seemed to be a shrug and an “I don’t know!” There were people having candlelight vigils, prayer meetings, another run on toilet paper, conspiracy theorists… Not a single person had a good explanation for the phenomenon. Whom do you consult when something so unexplainable happens? Climatologists? Survival experts? Spiritual leaders?

We started thinking like SciFi writers. But people in our family rarely think like anyone else. We needed to know where it was noon on the planet, so we looked at the live cameras online. The best we could figure was that it was “stuck” over the Pacific ocean, not directly over Micronesia, but close. That meant that the ocean was absorbing all the heat from the sun and gradually it would start causing more evaporation. On the other side, the Atlantic ocean and most of the other continents would become cooler. It became clear that soon, the only habitable land would be where it was early morning and early evening. There would be enough light to allow plants to grow, and not so much that they were fried. Those places that were in the dark would soon have no access to the sun’s heat and basically freeze. The plants would die, the food sources would dry up, the water would be caught up in ice, and no one would be able to live without light and heat for very long.

The other thing that nobody considered, except those in the far north, is that days of continuous light can drive you just as crazy as days of continuous dark. The westernmost part of California, BC in Canada, and Alaska would soon be the only areas in the US that could sustain life in North America. Western China, Mongolia, Central and Eastern Russia, all these sparsely populated areas would be habitable for those in Europe and Asia. Parts of Western Australia, SE Asia, India, might be habitable, but places like Hawaii, Eastern Australia, Japan and Korea, would be burnt to a crisp.

Our first priority was to see if there was someplace we could move in order to survive, but we had to find out why the Earth had stopped spinning. How do you restart a planet?! Monday, we decided on Alaska and started loading things into our cars. I took my yarn and needles because with cotton thread and wool, I could make clothes suitable for the weather. We emptied our savings accounts and started driving. Our youngest and his wife and her sister and father loaded up 5 cars and we started our convoy. Our middle son and his family loaded up their cars and the grandparents and kids and started about the same time we did. There were lots of tears because TVs, books and favorite toys and movies had to be left behind. We planned to pick up our daughter and her family in Kearney 3 hours later. But there was an intense argument because so many of the relatives were unable to move due to age and health, and the rest didn’t want to leave them alone. She told us that when a decision was made, she’d let us know. I cried my eyes out because I didn’t want to leave them.

My husband, stoic that he is, reminded me that it would take a long time for the effects to be fully felt, and by that time, we’d have a place to live and possibly room for the rest of the kids as well by the time they got there. I got a text from our other daughter and they were flying to Vancouver which was on the edge of the habitable zone. She suggested that we get plenty of toilet paper so we’d have some currency when we got to Alaska. Gallows humor. They had some friends in Vancouver they could stay with until they could find a place.

It seemed strange that nobody on TV was telling people to move, and when we got on the road, it was nearly empty. This seemed mighty suspicious! We spent the night in Cheyenne, WY. Our oldest boy had managed to get a bus ticket to Cheyenne, but he wouldn’t arrive for another day. It was decided then that my hubby would lead the convoy up to Alaska and I would wait for our oldest and catch up to them later. We figured that the kids wouldn’t be able to travel as long and they’d stop sooner. We agreed to meet in Vancouver.

It has been three days without sun and people were starting to get quite anxious. Finally, an investigative reporter nailed an astrophysicist and asked, “What aren’t you telling us?” He looked down at his notes then stared out past the crowd of reporters. He looked down again and sighed. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it will be one of two things.” He sighed again, then looked past the crowd and nodded. He cleared his throat, and hesitated. Then he sighed again. “We’re either going to get a new moon, or we’re going to be blown to bits.”

You could hear a pin drop.

“About three years ago, a massive asteroid passed very close to Jupiter and disrupted the orbit of one of its moons. The moon broke free and we really thought it would be pulverized in the asteroid belt. It did get hit a significant number of times, but it didn’t break up and continued on its trajectory. Mars is on the other side of the sun at this point, so there’s nothing to run interference between this moon and our planet. Now the moon that is approaching is much smaller than our own, and though it didn’t even have a name when it left Jupiter, it still is of significant size. Should it hit our moon, it would disintegrate it and of course the fallout would be an extinguishing event. If it should hit our planet, it would also be an extinguishing event. If, however it were to be captured by our gravity, it would significantly change our moon’s orbit, our orbit, the tides, and the climate of the planet. But the Earth would resume her rotation.” Just then, the sound system went dead, and 3 heavily armed men grabbed the scientist from the lectern and rushed him out of the building.

We sat there in the motel in Cheyenne just staring at the TV. Then the set went black. We went to the lobby and did a facetime with the rest of our kids, except for the oldest who did not have his phone on. It was decided that since we didn’t have a timeline for whatever event was going to play out, we’d continue to Vancouver and meet up with the rest of the family. We figured that at least we’d get to see the sun one more time before everything went to hell. Instead of leaving me behind to wait for the oldest, we figured one more day wouldn’t change our chances. There were still no urgent messages to move to the light edge, so maybe people would not panic.

We were wrong. You could hear the rioting starting within hours of that announcement. They were looting and vandalizing the downtown areas of all the major cities. “Let’s steal this 72-inch TV so we can watch the moon coming in to destroy us!” That made no sense, but then people don’t make sense. It was 8 AM next morning at least according to the motel clock. It looked like 8 PM the previous evening. We went out to find something for breakfast. None of the restaurants were open and the grocery store was boarded up. We returned to the motel and had the “Hot Breakfast” they advertised. Hot was oatmeal. Everything else was cereal and fruit and yogurt. Even the coffee was only lukewarm. We dug out some cards and played some games and talked and told stories. The next day, our oldest arrived at the bus station and we went to pick him up. He just had the one suitcase and we fit it in the back of the car. Then we headed toward Vancouver. We got stopped at the Canadian Border…no passports.

“You’re kidding right? The world’s going to end and you want to check our passports?”

“Well, sorry sir. You may have heard that the world isn’t going to end after all and then where would we be? Canada all crowded with Americans, that’s what! No, eh, I’m not going to be responsible for that you know. Sorry.”

We noticed a commotion at one of the other entry points. Suddenly 10 cars just zipped through the gate. We weren’t the only ones that noticed, and soon another bunch of cars changed lanes and went through the same gate. Then a second gate went down. We looked at our attendant and he was staring at the line of cars and the gates starting to remain open. “You know, I don’t get paid enough to stay here at the end of the world and then get shot, eh? Enjoy your stay in Canada.” Then he lifted the gate and our little convoy went through. We all tipped him $20 as we drove through. Just then we heard a gunshot and everyone started speeding away from the gate. We went into town to find a place to stay.

Twelve years in Vancouver now. We now have Man in the moon and Boy in the moon. The little one is farther out than our big one but it still messes with our tides. The latest report is that a Day is now 167 hours. We’ve heard that the temperature on Hawaii has dropped into the 100 degree range and things are starting to grow again. Our home state in the Midwest is thawing and believe it or not, the big old trees are still living! Congress is looking to pass a unified time bill so everyone can be on the same page. They expect that it may only be 3 days in committee. Is that Three-167 hour days? I guess we’ll see.