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Every now and then I wonder where I would be if my mom hadn't spent all the time and money trying to get my brother and I a good education. When I was young, my family wasn't poverty stricken but we weren't rich. My parents couldn't afford to send my brother and I to a private school and my father would never send us to a Catholic school after his experiences growing up. So we went to public school.

When I was in kindergarten I couldn't tell the difference between b, d and q. Strangely I didn't seem to have a problem with p... Who knows. By the time I was in first grade I was still having problems with b and d. I was also getting in trouble when I would be asked to read aloud in class because I would read a little bit then skip down a line or two and kept reading as if nothing was wrong. The teacher would ask me what I was doing to which I would be confused. I was just reading what she asked me to read, I had no clue I was skipping lines. This drew some attention to why the b and d confusion.

I was given tests and diagnosed with dyslexia, they tested my brother as well and they said he had is as well. My brother is two years older than me, I think they caught it too late for him to ever really learn to deal with it very well. He always made it seem like he wasn't even trying, but I knew it was just too hard for him.

When it came time for my English lesions I was sent to another classroom for my lessons. It was called RSP. When I was in second grade my teacher was explaining to a fifth grader in the class how to spell "hear". She was not telling him how to spell she was explaining it to him. It made me feel so stupid to be in a class with kids two years older than me that didn't even understand the concept of things. While other kids in my grade were learning sentence structure and the basics, I was doing busy work, copy that we have written for you to write. I didn't learn the basics until much later. It was a giant waste of my time.

Luckily my mom was very proactive and she somehow got us private tutor lessons through Long Beach State college. One or twice a week we would meet with really cool college students who were studding learning disabilities or teaching. They were the ones who finally taught me how to tell the difference between a b and a d. It involved writing the word boy and dog and then turning the word into a picture of a boy with glasses and a dog with a big nose. Every now and then when I'm really tired I still image the picture to help me.

I was stuck however with the useless RSP class throughout elementary school. The class was the opposite of helpful. I felt like I was not as smart as other kids. I didn't believe I could grow up and become anything I wanted to, I wasn't smart enough. My main goal in Jr. High besides survival was to get out of RSP English which was below, below English. By the end of my seventh grade year they said I could move up to below English next year. I did really well in below English. I also began to feel better about myself. What happened at the end of my eighth grade year changed my life.

I was asked for some unknown reason to be in a magnet program designed to get white kids into downtown schools to keep the racial balance. My grades were not exceptional. I pretty much got Bs in all my classes. I don't know why I was picked by my guess would be that my science teacher who loved me might have submitted my name. She love the fact that I had an aunt who lived in Antarctica and that I knew way too much information about penguins because of it. This teacher who love me so much, always called me by my brother's name. He had been in her class only a month before she kicked him out, but he made such an impression on her so much that I just started to respond to his name. Why fight it.

I was excited to be able to go to this new downtown school. I felt smart. I felt like I would no longer be living in the jaded shadow of my brother who found great pleasure to pick on me with his friends. I was the kid that other younger kids picked on. Now at this new school, no one knew me. I could be someone beside bad boy Mike's little dorkey brother. I wasn't even afraid about the reputation the school had, I was too excited.

All the high schools had a reputation for drugs or sports or something, but my school Polytechnic and Jordan high just had a reputation for being dangerous and bad. I beg to differ, it was a bit of a culture shock my first year. I was the only white boy in one my PE class so I had a few nicknames, White boy, surfer dude, and skater. It didn't seem to matter that I didn't surf or skate.

I also had to adjust to the hard classes. They didn't have a below English class for me to take, I had to take an accelerated English class. I barely passed that year. My teacher was a man hater, she once pointed out the balding pattern each boy in the class was going to have. I kind of enjoyed it because she concentrated on the one guy in the class I really hated. She was an evil woman but she did get us to read most of the classics. We read more Shakespeare and Dickens in her class than I have read since.

I loved high school. It was hard, it was a hard time, But I was free of my brother. I was free of being the one all the kids picked on. Now I was just some Doogie Howser (I was the shortest kid in my school) white boy. I was now the guy who didn't really belong to any group but was welcomed to visit most. I was good friends with the Samoan girls, all the Philippinos and even some of the popular kids.I wasn't popular but I also wasn't unpopular and that was fine with me.

As the years went on I grew out of my shell. I really began to feel I wasn't stupid. I still didn't think high enough of myself to try to apply for prestigious colleges, actually I didn't apply to any. I decided I should just go to City College. It was cheaper and it gave me more time to figure out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. After all I only had so much money saved up for college.

My first year of college wasn't that much different from High School. The biggest difference was in my English class. I barely passed. Partway though the semester I went to my speech class instructor and asked for help. He was amazing, he read all my paper beforehand, corrected them and gave me ideas about what should be rewritten. Even with all his help I barely passed. It's kind of strange that I learned so much that year, but from my speech teacher not my English teacher. I think he had a lot to do with the way I write. When I transferred to Cal State Fullerton I learned a lot from another good teacher. It was a communications English class. We should write fake newspaper articles. He would give us a story to write and we would all write the same story, usually only five sentences. So it was important to put as much information as possible in each sentence and make it interesting. Our teacher loved the use of the semicolon. I never knew how it was used before this class.

I was the first person in my family to graduate form college. A lot of people really did help me get there. However if I had been forced to rely on California's public education alone I wouldn't have made it. I once had to take a regular chemistry class instead of the magnet program chemistry class. I got a B in the class. Did I learn any chemistry, no. I learned that if I asked questions every now an then the teacher would like me and give me a good grade. This crazy teacher assigned no homework and who knows what he what we were supposed to be studding. In his class I learned some sign language, how to pick locker style locks and that (quote from teacher) "A number five blasting cap would kill 15 percent of you if it were to explode in the middle of the classroom." Isn't that nice. I also learned how quickly we would die in a vacuum but I don't remember how long it was. Hopefully I'll never find out. What blasting caps and vacuums have to do with chemistry I may never know. To this day the only chemistry I really know is that salt is somehow related to NACHO.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2003 09:13 am (UTC)
i love your writing
can i add you as my friend? i want to continue reading. thanks.

Aug. 24th, 2003 10:49 am (UTC)
Re: i love your writing
Of course you can miss trixie. It still seems kind of weird that people want to read what I write. I try to keep it interesting, I try to to use all my Irish story telling abilities. I love livejournal.
Aug. 24th, 2003 03:56 pm (UTC)
Re: i love your writing
i love livejournal also. i just added you as a friend. thanks.
Aug. 25th, 2003 12:46 pm (UTC)
Re: i love your writing
you're irish? well this journal just got a lot tastier ;)


I liked it even before I knew you were irish.
Aug. 24th, 2003 09:53 pm (UTC)
I'm having a very hard time picturing you *from your LJ picture* to be any of these things you say you were. You are very attractive, yet you say you were "dorky" in Junior High. Thats just hard to believe. :)

None the less, you write very interesting entries. I'm glad I added you to my list...
Aug. 25th, 2003 11:17 am (UTC)
I didn't grow into my looks until my twenties. I was a very awkward kid. at my 10 year high school reunion I was voted most changed. Quite a few people who knew me very well in high school didn't recognize me at all. When I was in jr. high I loved neon colors and would try to wear as many as possible. I pains me to think about what I used to wear. I wish I could have used the excuse my mom dressed me funny but the blame was all mine.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )