Yeah, so, the Riverfront Times did a profile on me. And in the way of such things, its kind of weird to see myself depicted by someone else, and lots of little details seem just…off, but most of them are, you know, little, and I’m basically just shrugging, no big deal. I’ve seen other people who I knew fairly well turn up in news stories or columns and seen the way the reporters’ depictions seem…more or less alien to me, not really like the person that I know. It’s one of those things that happens. (And something to keep in mind when one is tempted to make judgments–particularly moral ones–with nothing more than a news article to go by.)

There was one detail, however, that I do feel compelled to correct. I’ve already spoken to the reporter about it, and he said he’d fix it in the online version, but of course the print version is what it is. So I’m going to mention it here, too.

The article said that I had found solace in science fiction during a time when I’d been bullied and harassed in high school. (Rosati-Kain, for those of you with enough connection to St. Louis to be wondering, and/or don’t want to read the entire article for that detail.)

In fact, while I was indeed bullied and harassed in elementary school and had a horrible time and I suspect this drove me to spend even more time reading than I might have otherwise (which possibly isn’t saying much considering how much I loved to read), high school was an entirely different story.

In fact, it was obvious from the very first day of freshman year that high school was going to be different. Classes were classes, so far so good, but I dreaded lunch. At my K-8 elementary school we’d all had to sit each class at the same table, and of course I knew that no one wanted me there, or at least (in retrospect) it amused some of my classmates to be sure I never got the impression anyone wanted me there. I didn’t see any reason things should be different in high school, but being able to sit wherever I wanted might mean that at least I’d be left alone. When lunch time came around, I went through the line and got my tray and then started looking for an empty table. Spotted one and headed over–and didn’t get three steps before a table full of people I’d had a couple classes with waved me over. “Ann! Sit over here!”

My first thought was that they were having me on–playing (or attempting to play, perhaps I would decline to fall for it) a cruel joke, luring me in so they could mock me. But then I thought, you know, Ann, these people don’t know you. They don’t know that no one is supposed to like you. They most of them don’t know each other, either, do they? It’s the first day of high school and everyone here is from all over the city. Maybe…maybe they’re just being friendly.

And you know what? They were! I had a great time at lunch, and ultimately a great time in high school. Not counting the various normal emotional upheavals, right? But nobody ever treated me the way I’d been treated in elementary school. And I had friends. Some of whom loved to read science fiction and fantasy, and some of whom didn’t, but really it didn’t matter.

So I really feel strongly that I need to correct that. I was not, ever, at any time bullied or harassed in high school.

I do understand how the mistake happened–lots of people are bullied and harassed in high school, and the conflation of my experience in elementary school with my high school is understandable. But it’s inaccurate.

So–no. Actually, high school was great, for me. And I’d just like to thank the folks–most of whom I’ve lost contact with over the years but still–who called me over to their lunch table that day, and who were friends or friendly acquaintances at a time when I really, really needed it and didn’t in the least expect it. I have never forgotten it.

3 thoughts on “RFT

  1. I went to Metro High School! Rosati-Kain sounds nicer. Metro was supposed to be this progressive school where the students were empowered, but it was actually incredibly stifling and rigid. The motto was “The School Without Walls” — we called it “The School With Bars Instead.”

    I remember sitting in a senior-level English class. (I was also taking AP English, but this didn’t excuse me from taking the regular senior English class too — rules are rules! Even when they’re DUMB rules!) Anyway, we’d just read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “How Do I Love Thee” — you know, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways / I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach…” etc etc.

    Anyway, after we’d had time to sit there and read the poem, the teacher passed around one of those purple mimeograph multiple-choice quizzes. And the first question was “How many ways does she list?”

    Now, aside from STAGGERINGLY MISSING THE POINT, this was a *multiple choice* question! So does “to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach” count as one way, or three? Because there was only one right answer!

    I remember another time in my history class when we were doing ancient Egypt, and I got really excited about the chance to write a paper on the god Set. I spent a lot of time in the Wash U library reading about the development of Egyptian religion and I was super proud of that paper. It came back with a C. I asked the teacher why and he said that he had not read my paper (or indeed any of the papers), but the grade was based entirely on the fact that I’d given references in-line when he’d specified MLA format for the bibliography. When I pointed out that I had used *MLA in-text format* he told me to redo the bibliography and he’d change the grade to the a B. And so it was. Rules are rules!!

    That kind of stultifying, soul-crushing approach to the material typified my high school experience. I was pretty miserable, mostly not because of the other kids, but because my days were spent being corralled like livestock through material that was systematically drained of any spark of creativity or life.

    1. Ann says:

      Holy cow! That story about the history paper is horrifying!

      I remember there were some Metro kids who rode the Lindell bus. Black jackets, yes? I knew it was supposed to be some kind of non-traditional school but I didn’t know more than that. It sounds terrible! Soul-crushing is about right.

      RK wasn’t, you know, high school utopia. We had our share of obtuse teachers and rules that didn’t make sense. But in a lot of ways it was pretty cool.

  2. This story is very sweet =]

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