Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Search and Recovery

It's been awhile since I've blogged.  This is a great disappointment to me.  Part of this stems from good old fashioned Catholic Guilt, and another part stems from the fact that I always got "that speech" when I didn't do my homework.  You know the one -- "We're so disappointed in you.  We know you can do better. Why would you wait until the last minute?"  And so on.  I can hear it every day that I don't blog and I flash back to elementary school. 

When I was in third grade, after having to miss recess who-knows-how-many times for not getting my work done, I was diagnosed with a learning disability.  When told I would have to go to special classes, I vowed to my parents that I was quitting school.  Fortunately my parents decided not to indulge an eight-year-old drop-out, and I went to the classes in the afternoons a few times a week to work on my motor skills.  This consisted of stringing beads -- in fact, we often would "race" to see who could string more beads in some specific increment of time.  It was highly stressful.  (Yeah, go ahead and laugh. But thanks to Ms. Bradley's techniques, I can now type 120 wpm.)  I'm sure we did other stuff in that class, but all I really remember is stringing beads.  Whatever else we did, it worked. 

I was released from special ed classes and sent back to regular classes relatively stigma-free.  Unfortunately, though, nobody ever worked on my lack of organizational skills (or at least, I never went to special classes for it).  This problem still rears its ugly head periodically in my life.  This week, in fact, I've been trying to organize some video interviews for a conference at work and for the life of me couldn't get my shit together.  I spent the better part of the afternoon today wrestling with an Excel spreadsheet.  My desk looked like a bomb exploded on it.  It was not good for my self esteem. 

This reminded me of another time, in the fourth grade, when I had let my desk get to a biohazard level of disgusting.  I literally could not find a pencil, my lunch, or the kid who sat next to me because the desk was so full of junk.  Apparently my teacher had noticed, because after lunch, just before we started math lessons, as she waited -- and waited -- for me to hunt down my homework (or worksheet, or eraser, or my Safety Patrol Belt), she came around and watched me root through the junk.  That's when she snapped.  I mean, teaching 30 nine-year-olds all day long would get to anyone, but throw in a packrat/hoarder/Fred Sanford-clone and it was enough to send her over the edge.  And then . . . it happened.  She took my desk, tipped it over, gave it a little shake, and dumped the contents all over the floor.  I'm pretty sure we found the Lindburgh baby in there.  I definitely found an old lunch.  I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the floor rooting through the papers and culling the herd for stuff that wasn't necessary. 

If a teacher did this to a kid today, she'd probably be sent to Siberia to mine for quartz or something and the kid would have to go through grief counseling, but I'm pretty sure I deserved it.  Besides that, when your mother is a very active PTA parent and spends 24-7 at the school, you can't get away with anything.  (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my mother told her to do it.  I really was a mess.)  You might feel bad for me, but don't.  Mrs. Williams was a great teacher, and one of my favorites.  And I got to miss math that day.  I'm pretty sure it was the day we learned how to balance checkbooks, because I still don't really have that skill.  But what I do have is that little angel hovering over my shoulder telling me what I should do all.the.time.  And today it told me that I should blog.  So I am.  And I'm going to tell you the same thing I used to tell my parents every Sunday night before the diorama that I had two weeks to complete was due . . . "I promise I'll do better.  I did read the book. And math is boring!" But you know what, I always did well with writing . . . so, yeah, I'll do better.  Really.


  1. You and I are a bit alike... although, I'm not what I'd call disorganized or messy, but I do suffer from dyslexia and have a hell of a time balancing my check book. I also got sent to some special ed programs when I was a wee lass. Unfortunately, my classmates weren't kind about it.

    I find that you can never force organization on a person who just isn't organized. I've tried with my mother for years, but her innate scatter brainedness has defeated me.

    I wish you luck, though. ;-)

  2. I've pretty much resigned to the fact that I'll never be organized. But I've gotten much better at hiding it. The weird thing is, I am nutso organized about some things, whereas others I could care less. And I'm not scatterbrained...I just don't keep my stuff orderly. And my desk, unfortnately, is still a disaster.

  3. I went to Catholic school too - was it one of those desks with the shelf under the desk top? I kind of miss those desks.

  4. This was actually public school. The desk had like a pocket or whatever...I guess it was a shelf, but it was closed in on three sides. And I was a MESS! LOL!

  5. I too am sooooooo cluttered. I have to be SUPER 2000% organized and put together to NOT be cluttered. Like I can't have TOO many clothes or TOO many pens or TOO MANY anything to keep it clean. Everything must have a label and a drawer or a hook or it all goes to craziness. IN law school I had labels in the bathroom that said "extra toilet paper" "hair brushes" "cleaning supplies." In my closet labels that said "underwear" "socks" "gym". This may sound crazy but sometimes having a system that someone else comes up with (in this case my best friend) and puts into place for you is the only answer. I still struggle but the system helps. Anyways, you aren't alone. Cheers, T.