too smart for my own good: growing up twice exceptional and girl.

Shout out to the girls who were too smart for your own good, you just need to try harder, boys don’t like you because you use big words, you’ll understand when you’re older. The girls that started out Hermione Granger, grew up to be Laura Wingfield. The girls in schools where forgetting to turn in your homework with every question right wasn’t the same as not sitting still in class, sensitive and anxious and lonely wasn’t the same as can’t make eye contact so you never got a diagnosis. Your parents and teachers saw so much potential they couldn’t see what was keeping it from showing on your report card.

In second grade, I took a test that told me I was reading at a college level. Later, took another test that told the school district I could join the gifted program. Another test convinced Beloit College to overlook my two-point-something-something GPA and never materialized final high school transcript. I could always pass tests.

No one ever thought I was “hyperactive,” but I did dance, swimming, gymnastics, cheerleading, soccer, softball, art classes, horseback riding, Girl Scouts, and clubs and clubs and clubs. Over the summer I would lose contact with the few friends I had made that school year and, after coming home from one day camp or another, check out dozens of books from the library, reading more than one a day, reading all night. Every summer since both series ended I re-read all seven Harry Potters and re-watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. Rory and Hermione weren’t afraid to be the smartest person in the room and they both turned out ok.

I went through these phases where I couldn’t bear to stray from a single topic. Once it was outer space. Once it was ancient Egypt. Once it was dance history. Once it was Spring Awakening. I couldn’t stand not knowing everything about the things I loved but learning something I was bored of or never understood was torture. No one ever figured out that I hadn’t understood a math class since first grade.

This February, I dropped out of school (bipolar). Last April, I dropped out of school (depression). The March before, I dropped out of school (cytomegalovirus). Junior year of high school, I started taking classes online because leaving the house everyday to go somewhere I hated was too hard. Seventh grade, I switched from a Catholic K-8 to a public middle school. Third grade, I did the opposite. Sixth grade, I never got my spring report card after missing 3 straight weeks for a migraine that wouldn’t end.

What’s the difference between a temper tantrum and a panic attack? Where’s the line between bratty and bossy and impaired social functioning? How far is disobedience from executive dysfunction?

Continue reading “too smart for my own good: growing up twice exceptional and girl.”

rip mr. reed.

Today I found out that one of my old tap teachers, Prof. Robert L. Reed, has passed away. I haven’t been a part of the dance world in years – a catastrophic ankle injury at 15 meant it was easier to quit than do the level of PT and training necessary to ever get back to where I was before I was injured – but his passing hit me really hard today.

Mr. Reed and I in class when I was 11 or 12, me in the yellow tank top (I thought I was really fat here).
Mr. Reed and I in class when I was 11 or 12, me in the yellow tank top (I thought I was really fat here).

Mr. Reed’s St. Louis Tap Festival was a life line for me and other hoofers from Missouri to the best tap training in the country and access to first hand tap history from the founders of the art form. I got to meet people like Dr. Jimmy Slyde and take class from Marion Coles, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Dr. Ernest Brown, Bril Barrett, Karen Callaway-Williams, Avi Miller and Ofer Ben, Mr. Reed himself, and countless others who have shaped the tap world, all because of Mr. Reed’s commitment to sharing the history and living legacy of tap with the next generation.

Mr. Reed taught me the shim sham, how to do wings, how to “respect the dance” as he always put it. He never put up with any bullshit in class, and would call you out on your mistakes, so when he pointed out something you did well you knew he really meant it. I think the St. Louis Tap Festival was the most valuable dance training I got as a young person trying to make it in the dance world.

And one more story. Mr. Reed always wore this really distinctive smelling cologne, and by the end of the week at Tap Fest, both classrooms and the lobby area always totally smelled like this scent he wore. I don’t know how to describe the smell at all, but even though it permeated through everything it wasn’t strong or overbearing at all. Every so often now I’ll be on the train or walking through a crowd and will catch a whiff of some man wearing that same cologne, and am instantly taken back to the hours and hours I spent dancing and watching others dance in those freezing cold rooms at St. Louis Tap Festival.

Rest in power, rest in rhythm, rest in peace, Mr. Reed.

“May the tap gods be with you, and always remember RESPECT THE DANCE. Go in rhythm.”

Mr. Reed’s family is asking for donations through GoFundMe to help pay for his funeral costs.

 

today i saw seven bunnies.

It’s been raining here, and all the plants and wildlife seem so much more alive than they do in oppressively hot and humid Julys.

Today on a ride across town with my mom we saw seven bunnies, and a pair of twin fawns and their mama.

Our house has literally become overgrown with ivy, wild grape, and something else that crawls up walls after a month of steady rain. We keep referring to our Grey Gardens situation and spraying with Round Up (blah, blah, we hate Monsanto, too; maybe I don’t like everything being extra alive, though).

A few years ago a friend and I discovered that there is a huge herd (do deer live in herds?) of deer in the cemetery near my house and ever since then I’ve gone on summer nights to see them. It’s where I learned to drive, mostly, and my grandma is buried there so I know all the roads really well. This year it seems like there are only four or five deer out and about there, but maybe we’re seeing different ones each time we drive through.

Now my grandparents drive through looking for deer too, and they report back to me almost every time I see them on how many deer they’ve seen and when. En-deer-ing.