Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I know you have been violent to others. Like me.

I know this note reads like the stream-of-consciousness of a crazy person, but it is a direct response to a conversation Chris and I had in Mr. Heinecke's 8th grade English class. I can't fully explain the possum or kangaroo references, but I was probably thinking of ways to use up my excess energy - due to the serious caffeine addiction I had.

Mr. Heinecke rarely called me by my first or last name. He usually called on me by saying "Yes Ma'am," because I was a snobby know-it-all. When he assigned writing a response to the movie "Black Sheep" I refused, citing the film "immature" and "stupid" and while the rest of the class was excited to spend the day watching the movie, I actually moved my desk into the hall and worked on my essay alone. I'd decided to write on the BBC version of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" which I'd taped off of PBS; I was also quite fond of the thesaurus:

"Mrs. Danvers was insanely rancorous with Mrs. De Winter. She was upset that Mrs. De Winter had moved into Manderly, the manor where the story primarily took place and thought that she did not know how a household should be run. She was also irate that Mrs. De Winter was slowly taking over Rebecca's spot in the household. She was enraged and resentful of the fact that Mr. De Winter had married very soon after Rebecca's death, and was embittered that the new Mrs. De Winter was so young and did not come from a wealthy family. Mrs. Danvers was acrimonious and resentful of Mrs. De Winter."

I don't know how many more ways a 13-year-old girl can come up with to say "angry" but it's likely I knew them all; I was pretty angry back then. I was transitioning to new friends after a weird year in a new school district, not sleeping much (see caffeine addiction mentioned above), my sister (who I was apparently mean to - sorry about that) was also just moving into her teenage years, and though I didn't know it at the time, my mom was starting to get really sick.

I also had a lot of insecurity about how smart I was. The "West" that Chris asks about beating was the rival junior high in our school district, which seemed to always edge us out in Knowledge Masters, a competition like Quiz Bowl. West had a system that involved tryouts and alternates for their team, like football, and designated "captains" for every subject. Our school's team was hand-picked by the directors of our gifted program, who had already expressed their ambiguity about my participation. I desperately wanted to be on the team, but when the list of names was posted, mine wasn't there.

I was eventually asked to join the team a few weeks later when another member had too many extra-curricular activities and resigned. He suggested me as a replacement, and when friends of mine on the team got behind the idea, the directors did too - but I never forgot I was second (or third or fourth) choice. I was on the junior high team for two years and the high school team for one before I was asked to co-captain the high school team my junior and senior years, and I have never felt the need to rub something in someones face as badly as I did that day. It took every ounce of maturity I had to not run across the football field, get a visitor's badge, burst into the gifted offices and announce loudly, that I, the fourth-choice girl, was going to captain a team, so they could SUCK IT.

Of course, being on a team and being a captain are really different, which took a while to learn. Since my junior high didn't have "captains", just the directors of the program, and was more of a hodge-podge, I think I can understand why I wasn't the first choice to be on the team. Maybe. Let's just say I'll never forgive them (I'm not perfect!), but can understand.

When building a KM team, it's very important to get the right balance - some energetic kids, some calm kids, kids who are strong in different areas. I knew I was very strong in literature and logical reasoning, but was also a bit of a mess. I'm sure the violence Chris refers to in his letter was, on one hand, the fact that I'd hit him in the arm a lot when he annoyed me, but on the other hand my general state: Caffeine-induced mania, lack of sleep, a good amount of anger and snobbishness - not exactly the description of a good team player, no matter how smart you are.

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