Monday, November 14, 2011

vicissitude

When I was in high school (oh, just a few moons ago), I had an advanced English class that was taught by one of the best teachers at my school. Now that I look back, she could easily have been the mother of Harry Potter – down to the round John Lennon style glasses & a short black hair-do with severely cut black bangs.


P1010001d2 One of my best high school girlfriends, Sandi, had such a way of writing and always used twenty dollar words in her papers. She was also very good at using a Thesaurus to find words similar to other words. I wanted to write so eloquently, as Sandi did.


P1010021j1 An assignment was given – a big assignment with major points going toward our final grade in the class – and it was due in a week. No pressure. Oh no.


Not.


One.


Bit.


If I could only crawl inside Sandi’s head to see how her brain connected her thoughts to form the words that her pencil scribed onto the paper. (Back in those days, we did not have computers – it was the old fashioned pencil and lined paper to put our words on).


P1010003w1I donned my thinking cap – pulled it extra tight as if the snugger it would fit the more it would squeeze all of my creative thoughts into one little ball – to form those perfect words into sentences that were creative, thought provoking and that might actually sound intelligent. Like Sandi’s. Out came MY thesaurus, too. Page upon page I scouted out “smart” words – those five, ten and twenty dollar words that I thought might impress my teacher and get me that A that I needed to make the grade to graduate in that white robe and gold tassel – to be a lifetime CSF member!


P1010016m1After working through the wee hours of the morning to finish that “must be perfection” paper, I was satisfied that this was by far the best paper I had written all quarter.


P1010231 A few days went by before the graded paper, with the best handwriting I could have scrawled out on the white lined paper – even at 2 in the morning, came back. Of course, she had to place it face down on my desk. Fear crept in my body – why did she do this? Was she trying to create paranoia or just trying to tease me, like leaving that last chewy chocolate chip cookie in the cookie jar to see who would be the selfish squirrel to snag it.on my living room wall shelf As I looked around the classroom, I could see that other students had their papers face down, too. Ok, she’s not picking on just me…it must be a teacher control thing. The could be Potter mom told us to wait to turn over the papers and went on to give us her lecture about how disappointed she was in some of us. Oh good! Just keep putting that hot poker in my heart. hutch good pic It seemed like an hour went by before we could flip our graded paper over. When the red light turned to green, I hesitated. The room was filled with sighs of relief from other students and other sounds of disappointment. What would my reaction be?doogie and tableOn the top right corner of my paper was a letter written in red ink. The letter was not the letter I had hoped for. Below the letter was a note that the tight faced teacher had written in her distinct back-slanted and very small handwriting. Further down on the page were words circled in red, more side notes, more circles, more side notes, and more circles. My paper looked like a crime scene with so much red ink on it!


P1010002p My heart fell to my toes. I got a C-. Yes, just dig the knife in a little deeper with the MINUS sign. After reading the comments, tears welled up in my eyes. I had misused the words in so many “described” ways. Where was the hole for me to crawl in? This meant that I would not be getting the grade I so needed to graduate with honors. I was .5 points away from it. All because I tried too hard to write the paper using those twenty dollar words. All because I was trying so hard to be like somebody I was not.


P1010014l I went home and drowned my sorrows with a half dozen chocolate cupcakes that my mom had made. My room was my retreat away from the world – and there I cried for hours. The light from the large window in my room faded to darkness and a bit later I heard my mother at my door asking me if I was ok. No words could be formed from my parched mouth. The door-knob turned and the silhouette of my mother came towards me. She sat on the ground next to me, at first saying nothing – just quiet, as if she could read my mind. I finally told her what happened. Mom understood me because she was an over-achiever, too. She had the same disappointment as I did – she was a fraction away from graduating with honors.


P1010005k1If only I had been myself and not tried to write in a style that was not my own. I learned that it is okay to try to better yourself, however be authentic. P1010046 I learned a valuable lesson that day in the could be Harry Potter’s mother’s classroom,: a little VICISSITUDE change is good now and then, but keep it real, keep it simple, just be yourself. (I will stick to the 19-cent words.) Remember to give yourself credit for who you are and to use your God given gifts to be authentic. Take those gifts, talents, blessings – whatever you call them – and run with it.


Looking back, I laugh at myself. I did look better graduating in that blue robe – it enhanced the color of my green eyes – rather than the drab white, which only would have washed my freckly complexion out! Yea, I will keep telling myself that. Sandi looked beautiful walking across the stage in her white robe with the gold tassel hanging down from her cap. She always looked better in white anyways!



36 comments:

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Beautiful post Becky, and I think we can all relate in one form or another. I missed the platform similarly, but because I was put in a Math class that was way over my head. The problem was,I knew it from the get go :-( Yes I remember the tears when I was not on that roll, but it was a lesson well learned. Thanks for sharing yours.

Jocelyn @
http://justalittlesouthernhospitality.blogspot.com

Miss Jean said...

Great post! It's a perfect example that bigger isn't better. That having more doesn't mean you win. That being true to yourself, in whatever way that means, is what counts. Oh, if we could only grasp these life lessons when we are young!

(Actually, your teacher sounds like she looked like Edith Head! TeeHee!)

WinnibriggsHouse said...

A lovely story, and one to be learned well!

Anonymous said...

Such a great post. It is well written and spot on! Thank you -- it's just what I needed to read today. Have a great week!

Kim K. said...

What an inspiring story with lovely images to match. I think we all can relate to this message. Thanks for sharing.

Linda said...

What a wonderful post....and...beautifully written I might add!! I am glad you decided to be your own charming self...if only more people could learn that same lesson!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Excellent post Becky...worthy of an A+ for sure! You are a wonderful story teller and I for one very much appreciate your being yourself.
♥, Susan

Susan said...

Wonderful post! You took me back to high school. Somethings we never forget and sometimes we learn valuable lessons from those moments that were so difficult.

Debby said...

I think we have had had this moment of being something we really weren't.
A hard lesson to be learned. How important to be ourselves. Great story and love the tour of your home.

Debbie Kay said...

We are all good at "something" but we are not all good at "everything". I am so glad God made me "good enough for Him".

You are beautiful and talented inside and out my friend.

P.s. email your address to me, I have a little something for you.

Smiles,

Debbie

Pink Roses and Teacups said...

Becky,

I had to look up that word, cause I didn't know what it meant. lol I know people who use big words like that, and I feel intimidated. Sometimes it seems like they like to show off with their big words. I can feel your pain, as the same thing happened to me many times. We are who we are.

Hugs,
Debbie

LeAnn said...

Hi Becky,
What a cute post, you are a wonderful story teller, you sell yourself short, I think you write brillantly. I am back at blogging, my daddy passed away two weeks ago and I think it is definitely going to be good therapy for me.

Hugs to the pooches.

xo

Julie Harward said...

Great post..good writer you are, good lessons...wonderful pictures..thank you! ;D

Sinta Renee said...

I love your story/love the post. Thank you for the reminder of a lesson to remember.

camp and cottage living said...

Becky
So much to be learned from your story. I remember a writing class I had in college where I was so convinced writing something really dramatic was the way to go. In the end, after a lot of red marks, I too found that writing what I knew and from my heart was really what my professor was looking for. Only then was I rewarded with an A and a writing award.
Too bad I've gotten so slopping with my writing now!!

TheCrankyCrow said...

Great post Becky - but, wow - made me consider things in some very different perspectives. I guess I never thought of that "white robe and tassel" (ours were actually just red robes like everyone elses, but separate tassels) as something other classmates might actually want....to me, it was something that just happened and that anyone could have should they want it. And, funny too, that I sometimes go back and edit my posts and remove words that I think people might not be familiar with or find odd...but I have to really think about it because they don't strike me as odd. I lived inside books as a child and words were my best friends....Perhaps I need a lesson in just being true to myself now....Smiles & Thoughtful Hugs ~ Robin

Pondside said...

Now that was a good story you've told on yourself. You learned a great lesson from that paper - and you learned more about just who Becky was !

Vee said...

What a fun post and you sent me running for the nearest dictionary! LOL! (We've all had a teacher like that one, I think.)

Kathleen Grace said...

A thought provoking post my friend. Sometimes it takes us many years to learn the lesson of self acceptance and being ourselves. Comparison with others is one of those things that seldom makes us happier or better people, but learning to take the talents God gave us and use them to the best of our abilities makes us the best we can be:>)

The Green Pea said...

Hello Becky, I think you look great in white now and like your wings too.
You are an Angel on this earth that God has blessed with so many talents.
Love, the other Sandi

sue said...

Your post was eloquent beyond words. Brought me back as well, trying, trying and trying, never quite reaching the goal. Your life lesson is well received.
sue

Janet said...

Thanks for the reminder Becky, sometimes we all need to remember that being authentic is and should be "good enough".

Janet

Ann at the Handley Bungalow said...

Thanks for reminding me to be my authentic self... that God has blessed each one of us with individuality and we should be proud to be that special someone and NOT someone else! Use your gifts and talents! Also loved all of your pictures from your darling house. So fun to look at!

Kath Soderstrom said...

One of life's lessons learned the hard way. Great story!

chasity said...

fantastically written becky :)

My Vintage Blankie said...

Very sweet Becky and so true are your words. Thank you.

Karena said...

Becky...I think that was a brilliant post...we need to be reminded that the best we can give ourselves is sometimes in the trenches of a hard lesson...we grow through the experience and hopefully meet a wiser "us"...on the other side...blessings and hugs

Karena A Loblolly Life

Mimi Sue said...

A great lesson to learn...Be yourself! Mimi

"Create Beauty" said...

Becky, I give you and A+ on this 'paper' ~ it is a treasure!!!
Perhaps you learned more by that grade than you would have achieved in life having worn the white robe.

Looking at your beautiful photos while I read your story was also so inspiring!!!

~ Violet

Cotton Candy Dolls said...

Beautiful post!But then again you always write beautiful posts! :)
I love that photo of your dining room buffet with the hen salt & pepper shakers,what a cut way to display them. I also like that rag doll! Did you sew her? would love to find the pattern for her. Also those chocolate muffins or cupcakes look so good!!! Can I have the recipe to those?? pleeeesssee! :)

Elsie said...

Becky Becky Becky what do you mean 19 cent words.....you my dear can write the most wonderful post. You make me laugh so hard. Yep I can relate but my words were only about 5 cent ones. You have a way of writing that is so captivating.
Your pictures are beautiful just like your words.

Stephanie said...

Becky, You always seem to write a special post and you are a Blessing to so many of us.

Stephanie

Low Tide High Style said...

Such a beautiful post Becky, truly touching and full of wisdom!

Kat :)

Lori Lucas said...

Let me tell you that as an English teacher, I could not WAIT to get to the part of your post where you were turning over your paper. You had my complete attention....and anticipation! But, I very carefully read each word AND I even took the time to scour each and every picture for the sweet and small perfect details you have throughout your home. I LOVED your story and loved the pictures! I have not heard anyone use the phrase "$20 words" in such a long time. Loved it!!!! One more thing....I wish students today had that much drive and ambition! Lori L

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to read that this same sort of thing happened to others! I did not tie the knots on my Art portfolio thereby receiving a C in Art, keeping me out of the National Honor Society. Happily I see it did not change the arc of my life though at the time it seemed insurmountable. The beat part of the story though was the end where you saw that your friend looked beautiful in white. What a gracious and kind friend you are!

Kim said...

Your words are golden.

Just like your heart.

A beautiful and authentic post that you have gifted us ...

Thank you my Beckers.

Love you,
Me