Page 13 - Survival Guide

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LIFE'S LESSON
IGNORE THE LABELS
The need not to look foolish is one ofyouth's many burdens;
as we get older, we are exemptedfrom more and more.
- John Updike
I can still tell you that the ceiling in my seventh-grade English classroom had
exactly 244 tiles.
I was pretty good at counting by that time, because all throughout elementary
school I was constantly counting ahead in my reading books to figure out exactly
which paragraph I would have to read aloud. That way I could make my decision
ahead of time.
It
was always either,
(1)
Practice in my head so that by the time my
tum arrived I could read it without screwing up; or, (2) Raise my hand so that 1'd
be in the bathroom when my tum arrived.
And I should clarify something else: my seventh-grade English class was
actually a sixth-grade class. I attended a private Catholic school from first through
eighth grades, and sometime early on in those eight years they began sending me
down a grade for English. Though I received A's and B's in math, science, and
social studies, I still managed to get D's in English.
The one area of English that saved me was spelling. I've always had a good
memory, and for spelling tests that was all I needed. I didn't bother learning what
words meant or how they were pronounced. As long as I could remember for one
day the proper way to arrange letters, I could pass a spelling test. And then I could
forget them.
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