Continuing on my quest to answer some of the questions from The Grandparents Book, I am inspired to answer a question about favorite or most influential teachers. I am going to talk about this on account of the crisscrossing blue swells putting me off balance on my paddleboard early this morning. Mr. Munroe, was a principal, a radio host and my 5th grade teacher. I have a vivid memory of him bringing me quietly from my desk to look out the third floor tall, wood paned window of the brick schoolhouse, Larrabbee, which still stands on a little hill on the Southside of town. There has been discussion to demolish it, but it was there last time I was in the neighborhood. I believe it was spring. He was showing me the white dense piles of clouds pillowed against a Caribbean blue sky. There were so many cartoon shapes among them that I could have imagined all day. I didn’t know at the time why he pointed these out to me in particular, but on that day, it made me feel special. Now I know that he already knew something about me that I didn’t even know then. I had a keen imagination as well as a deep almost fantastical appreciation for the natural world. John Munroe, with that resonant radio voice of KGMI was a pretty cool guy to have known that about me so far in advance. Then there was Mr. Dombroski, my math teacher in junior high. I was horrible at math. None of it made sense to me. My father, I think actually enjoyed math and understood it but was appalled I think, when he tried to help me learn at the kitchen table how fundamentally incapable I was at learning the very basics. I would weep. I suspect he wanted to weep too, but he just got mad. Much much later in life I was to learn (due to some memory testing…no worries, just ADD) that I simply didn’t have the grey matter to retain any of it. I just about killed myself trying to get my RN. Had a 4.0 GPA, was hopeful about continuing on from my LPN to RN, even thinking about going for a nurse practitioners license or something. It was chemistry. It was the periodic chart and all of those numbers about the atoms and how far they were apart, and how many particles each had and whether they were negatively or positively charged. I used a tutor. I used coffee. I spent hours and hours but just couldn’t keep the numbers in place long enough to pass a test. One of my unfulfilled dreams, I guess you’d say. But back to Mr Dombroski. I received at the end of my year with him my first ever certificate for ANYTHING having to do with math. It was “most improved.” I was very proud of that, it required a lot of after school work and a lot of personal encouragement on that kind teacher’s part. But really what got me there was geometry. I GOT geometry. It was very visual, the shapes were fascinating. Fascinating I think, enough to help me retain a few formulas; enough to pass Junior high math. I have the same affinity for physics as I did for geometry. The imagination runs wild. No, of course I can’t understand the formulas laid out in greek in the physics books, but boy oh boy, give me physics for a lay person and I am head over heels in my imagination, I am in the clouds again, I am watching sunrise colors turn, knowing how little of it my human eyes can see…I am watching the overlapping waves in front of my paddleboard here in Loreto, thinking of how they cancel each other out, thinking about photons being individuals yet acting like waves, depending on how we look at them. I’m thinking about the Golden Mean as I watch the waves curl, look at the perfectly mathematical seashell winding like a diminishing spring in a perfect coil. I’m thinking about traveling, then I’m thinking about time traveling. I’m thinking about Schroedingers thought experiment with the cat in the box, and is he alive or is he dead, and does it really depend on whether you look or not? I’m thinking about wave theory and violin strings and string theory and hey, maybe I’m not traveling at all, maybe I’m still at home, and never left. Maybe I’m standing looking at those so white billowing clouds with Mr. Munroe out the schoolhouse window and it changed my life and I took another path! Or, on the other hand, Mom might say, maybe you just shouldn’t paddle in crosscurrents anymore
Way cool, Julie. Miss you lots.
This is why memories and sharing them is so important. You never know how relateable they are. (Really enjoying your simple but solid watercolors..need to try some art approached that way instead of getting bogged down with frivolous detail) Your recollection (I thought you had no memory!) of your fifth grade teacher is the same I had with my fifth grade teacher Mr. Gallegher, who was a bit of an artist himself. He told me to draw a realistic hand, and for the first time ever..like magic..I did. Then he had me draw a hand resting on a face which I did with suprising detail and accuracy. I was like, where does this come from?! I wish he was around now so I can tell him of his positive guidance..which has always been so important to me..positive reinforcement. And because we are related, I had a horrible time with math also. Learning the times table chart was the beginning of my despair with learning things..was smooth sailing till I hit that storm of numbers. And like you, I got Geometry. There should have been a school at the time for us types, then I wouldn’t have had so many years of self doubt trying to fit into the cookie cutter mold. I still have these feelings of doubt, like I don’t fit, and don’t know what to do with my chosen skills..
Dazzling language! You’re a fine storyteller, Julie Mortimer.