Dyscalculia: The Reason I Can’t Do Math

Well, I figured it out, folks.

After countless years of striving to perform well in math–that sounds weird for some reason–and busting my ass studying for tests that I end up failing the next day, despite my being an annoying optimist throughout that time, I have discovered my problem–

I have Dyslexia–shit, I mean Dyscalcium.

No!

I have Dyscalculia, which I thought was some fresh way of labeling dunces who can’t make it to Calculus without passing College Algebra. Sure described me well, eh-heh…cough.

Apparently, Calcul–some-random-crap affects a person’s ability to comprehend math equations, perhaps even the ability to recall certain formulas after the person has studied them time and time again. It also prevents them from understanding advanced concepts–they cannot get past the introduction stage.

So, say I write out the Quadratic Formula. I might be able to remember it.

But what if I write out the Hyperbola formula, fifteen times?

Still won’t be able to get it; and this is not only the Calcity-Calc disability, but a symptom of ADHD and math anxiety: not the fear that math mafia gangsters will come steal your abacus–instead, it is becoming uncontrollably nervous before a math test out of fear of, dare I say it, performance issues.

Sound like any of you people?

I had no idea of it until this day. It would have been splendid news six years ago, but, alas, the world of science is slower than molasses–I mean, how long did it take ’em to figure out what molasses was, anyway? I coulda been a better math student is all I’m saying; granted, I’m pretty much done with math for-ever, except for when I have to pay a tip and pay for gas and calculate taxes and pay my bills and…

Aaugh!

Math is EVERYWHERE! There is NOWHERE I can hide!

Somebody, shield me with a Dickens novel! No, not A Christmas Carol, it’s too small!

Is that–

Oh, thank God, I thought you were handing me–

A MATH BOOK?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

This Life of Mine

Recently, I have realized how fortunate I am in this life of mine. I have a caring family, a supportive house, food, and clothes; not to mention, I have the opportunity to experience a university and become educated enough to pursue a lifestyle of my choosing.

My ultimate dream? Be a professional goddamn writer, to see my books on bookshelves; but, the truth of it is–all I want is to be happy. I care not whether I have bags o’ money running out the windowsills, or owning the largest mansion in America, even the world.

Material wealth means little to me; granted, it keeps me alive, but tis’ not my lifeblood.

I am able to think those thoughts and dream those dreams, because I live in a place of good fortune, a place where determination is my motto. I will head off to college in two months with the mindset that whatever comes out of these upcoming four years will be taking me the tiniest step closer to where I want to be in this life of mine.

And isn’t it incredible? We all have our own lives, our own motivations, the somethings no one can take from us without putting up a fight. It is will. It is will, and it is confidence. Those are our superpowers in a universe of chance, since all that happens is determined by the roll of the dice, right?

Or wrong?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

An Introvert’s View of the Bar

TV’s everywhere–that’s the way it was at this wing/burger/bar joint thingie. I think it was called Buffalo Wild Wings, or something like that; a pretty insignificant place, if you ask me. Who just eats wings? Hello! Stomach overflow equals throat posing as a sewer drain, except it all goes out, rather than in.

People must like sports, since that’s all I saw on the screens. Baseball and wrestling–two sweaty dudes growling at each other, when they could kiss and get it over with–and golf–I think–and gambling and cock fighting. Don’t worry, I’m kidding on that last one: no poor chickens have to suffer being televised while they fight for their lives and attack with their pointy, grain covered beaks.

There was also a Katy Perry advert, but who cares about that?

I got to see varieties of people; in fact, diverse would sum up the experience. Halfway through dinner, I watched this crap load of folks sit down at two different tables–and they filled both. Musta been a family reunion; that, or they’re scheduling business meetings really late nowadays.

Ah, and now we will discuss the pie chart on page 3480. Please take out your pens–

Sir?

Yes, Schreiber?  What on Earth have you done? Get that barbecue sauce off my hand-drawn graphs!

I ate quite a bit, too. For those who don’t know, window washing can slim you good. I have to’ve lost eight pounds in the span of two weeks! Talk about working overtime…

No? Didn’t get it? Me neither. Wasn’t supposed to be funny.

Heh.

Speaking of funny–

Nope. Got nothing.

Desert was mighty tasty, a delicious platter of ice cream and cheesecake balls–surprisingly, cut from actual cheesecake animals–as well as a couple cinnamon tortillas to finish it all off. Hungry yet? I hope so: that meal description was a bitch to get right.

The verdict, though? Bars, while enjoyable, are not a necessity of life, despite what Greg believes. Oh, and, uh, Greg, is the guy who slipped on those beer stains and decked his head smack dab on the tap. Ouch is what I say; and, if I were older, fill ‘er up.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Photo Credit: Fabian Perez

Without Boundaries

Did you know that, last week, I drove on a road without any markers. There were no yellow lines, nor white lines, not even those funny little hash marks I like to watch evolve into the lines. T’was a blank road, but for these tiny plastic colored boxes that people carelessly ran over. It wasn’t as if those were the only things keeping us from total road anarchy, or anything!

I gotta tell ya, it was frightening. Frightening, why?

I was scared of crashing. I was scared of having no direction.

I was scared of being free.

Eventually, that stretch of road ended, then came the regular, painted pathways for all us  tired drivers. The fear had dissipated, sure; but I felt disappointment creeping within my relief. The adventure had come to an end–now the same ol’, same ol’ repeated itself as it had done so many times.

The blank road left a mark on me, not a mark that you can see; actually, it’s a mark on the mind. An imprint. If being free frightened me, what did it say about my reliance on rules and the general structure? What did it say about the sense of confidence in myself, in my motivations?

Sure, the rules are necessary. Half of the world would probably be brimstone and nuclear radiation if not for those pesky things; however, being without them for barely a minute made me wonder about how terrifying it can be to break the rules, or to go down your own path.

Being a trail blazer, rather than a trail follower, is not an easy task. I would not hesitate to say that pursuing such a path can cause you to feel alone, or perhaps separated from the rest of the common world–and it has those effects, but through them, I realized, comes benefits.

I can join a flock as easy as anything, but to create, to engineer, my own flock…

Why, I’d have to be the craziest person in the world; I would have to be declared mentally insane–have to be chained to the walls of a prison for the nutty–to want to experience so much isolation.

And mayhaps I am the craziest person in the world.

The way I see it, though–if I can have conviction in what I believe, what I feel is honest to my self, then I am fine with being the craziest person in this whole, wild world, so long as  the Earth keeps turning, and the rest of this rolling landscape of truth and lies, of blame and guilt, of honesty and falsity, stays its form, never unrolling out of its original clay.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

The Old Song and Dance

I heard the Mexican version of A Devil Went Down to Georgia today, and I have to say it was pretty impressive, despite the howling vocalist who, whenever the fiddle went into its solo, cried to the moon.

C’mon, we’re talking devils here, not werewolves.

The construction workers had their stereo blasting in one of the houses I cleaned; in fact, right when I walked into the place, a singer did the ol’ ai-yai-yai-yai! on his song. What a way to invite someone into an atmosphere is what I say–that, and the workers were singing loudly along to a couple of the songs. Hey, it made me smile. What else is there to do in that situation?

Some of these houses can be so damn filthy, you know? You’d think if the workers spent half of their energy belting out Spanish serenades, they’d be able to use the other half to not mess up a house after it has been cleaned. We then have to re-clean it, if you did not get the picture. Yes, this includes the bathroom and the basement and the garage and anything else capable of collecting dust and carpet worms, or, those pesky wriggling rug scraps I always seem to miss with the vacuum, which is comprised of a dust bag and a single pole, as if we were stuck living in the friggin eighties.

I have become somewhat of a working amateur, what with my speed at wiping out disgusting tubs in which dirt has engrained itself, as well as the craft–I meant to say craft–of window washing: a wash of a sponge, then a rinse of a squeegee. Simple as pie, or easy as cake–oh, what the hell is that phrase?

You also tend to pick up some Spanish when you’re working around Spanish-speaking folk; for example, I have added la extension and no comprende–what they usually say after I foolishly talk to them in plain English–to my vocabulary. It’s pretty easy to tell, too,   who can speak English fluently, and who cannot speak it. Heavy accents sometimes signify more of a comfort in the classic Espanol than in old-fashioned Americana chitter-chatter–vice versa for the other side.

Boy, can full-time work make you tired. Did you guys know I walk up and down stairs almost all day? It is a job in of itself! Jeez Louise and a bucket of cheese, talk about not getting paid enough. I mean, I’m sure I need the exercise, as I’m getting to the point where the Freshman Fifteen is becoming more of fact than fiction, but come on, people!

Ah, well, at least I have writing, without which I’d be liable to crack, or, you know, go completely nutso.

I hear we’re cleaning a sanitarium tomorrow.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

An Open One-Year Anniversary Letter

Dear The World,

Once upon a time, I started a blog. This was to be an ordinary blog; in fact, it was a summer assignment for my high school English class. I had always expressed interest in blogs and the art of blogging–it seemed so down-to-Earth and personal, at least from what I had read and seen.

I started this blog with the intention to complete my assignments and talk about the books I had been told to discuss. That intention carried me somewhat far, but, a few weeks into the process, I thought of writing a post about a random horror movie I had recently watched on Netflix, and so I did.

Even though the movie post didn’t get many views–to be honest, there was no attention to me at all on the Interwebs–I still had the spark of wanting to write differently, to write out of my own head, which is what I do. This is stream of consciousness writing, no planning whatsoever.

The thing that strikes me now is how ashamed I was of wasting my time on a blog that was obviously going to go nowhere fast, when I could have been spending my writing energy on the novel I was finishing. It was, to me, an act in futility: simply write out the assignments and be done with it.

But that is not how I saw it, that is not how I see it.

There was a moment, a singular moment, that changed my point of view. See, I was sitting in my high school library, reading as always, when a senior guy walked up to me and said one of my posts had touched him.

The post in question: Small Town Losses. It was a tribute to a lost friend and the effect it had had on our small town; and how, despite the tragedy, we still banded together as a unified people. I think that post touched a lot of people, perhaps it is still touching them whenever they read it for the first or the second, or the fifteenth time. If so, all I can say is it is my pleasure.

His comment threw me into a loop. I don’t generally believe most of the stuff I write is heartfelt or touching, let alone therapeutic. I see what I write as the thoughts of my psyche, always revolving around instances which may have no outlying significance, but which, within, are bursting with importance.

His comment caused me to evolve. Where previously I had been writing for the sake of my own sanity, I was being forced to realize the impact of my words. It is not for my sake that I was given the ability to write, it is for those who read the words and receive some emotion, some feeling which reaches to their core. It is for those who cannot themselves speak of what they experience, and who would rather see their beliefs and desires and fears expressed for them.

Writing isn’t for the writers. Writing is for the readers.

A year in, I have changed, contrary to the thoughts of my younger self. This blog is more than just an outpouring of random thoughts of a southpaw–it’s an outlet that can help people understand themselves, so they can be what they were meant to be, or do, or create. It took almost a year for me to see it, others, I suppose, less; but don’t we all at first ignore the perspectives of others towards ourselves?

I think we do, but, I also think we eventually see the validity in the opinions of those others, as well the vitalness of what they say and how it relates to us. A matter of perspective, really.

Thank you, Readers, for helping me see the weight of words on the heart.

Thank you, Readers, for sticking with my cheesy voice for a whole year.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

The Working Life

Guys, I gotta break something to you. It’ll be tough to hear, but here goes…

I…I have a job.

A full-time job, to be exact. I’m a window washer, dudes–no stains stand strong under the weight of my sponge and squeegee! It’s a pretty sweet gig, considering I get to see how restaurants operate before opening time, and I wear a nifty utility belt that would make Batman jealous.

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-Batm–wait, Batman, where are you going?

To wash windows, Boy Wonder! Screw the Batarangs. I’m off to follow my dreeeam!

We have to wake up early, see, because restaurants can’t be cleaned during business hours. Such a pain, if you ask me. Don’t know why I shouldn’t wash windows and drip water all over the floor while people are eating their fresh food. God, society is so puzzling sometimes.

House calls are interesting. What a way to start a paragraph, huh? They’re interesting. Makes you wonder, don’t it? I wondered today; in fact, I wondered about the cute beagle following me around a house and freaking out when I powered on the Shop Vacuum to clean out the tracks of the windows. I wondered what his owners would have thought if I left with a dog shaped bulge underneath my shirt.

Boss is cool; granted, this is my first job, so I don’t have much experience with the work environment. We can wear what we want. We can eat what we want. We can drink what we want. We can smoke what we–hold up, I think I remember smoking be a big no-no in this job.

No, I don’t smoke–at least, I don’t smoke until I get home. Heh. Get it?

You guys are boring.

I did have my first embarrassing moment this morning, and since all of you are now dying to know what went down, what was so crushing, I shall tell you. I wrecked my shins on a table at Village Inn and almost knocked a pile of dishes on the floor. Yeah, talk about amateur…actually, let’s not talk about amateur, makes me feel worse than I already  do. Of course, it didn’t help when, right after I fell, an old man having breakfast asked me if I was okay.

Well, I busted my shins, cut up my hands, and made a general fool of myself, so…

Getting paid pretty well, so it makes the constant bruising and scratching worth it, not to mention the lifelong embarrassment and anxiety issues forever requiring weekly trips to a family psychiatrist.

Yes, and you said you burst into tears whenever you see a window?

Doc, I told you to shut the blinds! Shut ’em! I’m begging you!

Mm-hm. That’s the life of me, as of now, and likely for the future. Thought you all needed an update, seeing as how social media is just not enough of an up-your-ass privacy invasion. No way. We have to go deep, you see? It’s the only way to go about life anymore.

On another note,

Anybody interested in having their windows cleaned?

I’m a specialist.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Graduate.

You will all now address me as The Graduate, your supreme overlord. The Graduate is the most powerful being in the universe, and with his trusty diploma, he can accomplish virtually anything–except picking up girls. Wah-Wah.

I’m kidding. Don’t say it if you don’t want to say it, but, if you are feeling generous…

Well, folks, this whole year has been leading up to this moment. I have graduated from the institution in which I have been held captive for four years, suffering the tyrannies of  the Board of Education and their malevolent curriculums! Oh, I can’t stand to think of it now, makes me shiver and tingle inside, or is that because I have to pee?

T’was a brilliant ceremony, quite sophisticated, since, as you know, I am the most sophisticated person in the world. I top Jay Gatsby in the amount of bad ass parties hosted–ahem, at least, that’s what last year’s census told me. I received my diploma with excellent poise and form, an act to make the strongest of men break down in tears of utter respect for the beauty of simplicity.

I shook hands with my teachers, many of whom smiled and gave the customary good luck, and, in the past week, I have accumulated quite the sum of money. It is a lot. I can sleep on the stuff; although, much to the contrary of what millionaires–like myself–confess, it is not comfortable sleeping on a mattress of one dollar bills.

Our family ate at a German restaurant, aptly named Edelweiss, otherwise known as the greatest German restaurant this side of the Colorado-German border–and, yes, that is a thing. Musicians played for us, an accordionist and a guitarist; in between songs, we spoke about our various heritages and how much Indian traits we had, considering the guitarist was of Cherokee descent, and I, and my mother, are from Oklahoma.

But enough of history. Shall we focus on the present, or the future?

The future is college–and I have talked about it countless times in countless posts, so I will not bore you with repetition. Rather, let’s start a conversation about how damned frustrating tassels can be, because I am sure many of have gone through the hell of flipping the tassel out of your eyes and onto the top of your cap; but, you’re S.O.L, seeing as how the cap is a flimsy piece of cardboard that does not allow to bend your neck downwards for one second.

Screw you, Cap and Gown Manufacturers, wherever you’re hiding! I have no idea how you sleep at night, and whether or not it’s on coins or dollar bills! But I stopped caring five seconds ago, so there!

Whew, that felt nice, just like graduating.

Good-bye high school, and hello college.

Dammit! I mentioned college again!

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Novels Are Tough

Well, I finally finished writing it. It’s simple now, right? All I have to do is send in the manuscript to a publishing company, say, “read my shit,” and it’ll be accomplished, right?

Riiiiighhhht?

God, talking to you guys is like talking to a brick wall. Seriously, do you need some water? Are your throats parched? Worst. Audience. Ever.

I was saying–look at that, you threw me off track. Novels are not an easy task, and I learned that the hard way, having written two in almost under a year. Young amateur like me, I thought, “boy, oh, boy, I can’t wait to get these ideas down on paper!” And it’s not a bad idea, just a lot of time to work on one book over another.

It’s like a coin flip: you have to decide which one you want to complete first, usually that is the one with more promise–the one with a story that makes you sob whenever you read a particular scene. Hard choices, I tell ya, not one of them is easier; however, it is so worth it.

Novels fulfill you in some crazy writing way, as if Buddha and Gandhi had a brain child, and it was the nirvana that comes from scrawling all those thoughts down on paper, or laptop, or tissue/napkin–hey, it happens. You put so much of yourself into the darn thing, once you’ve finished it, a piece of your heart has broken off and is left in the book forever…or, until you rewrite it, again and again and again and–

Actually, I never get it when people are always complaining about how many rewrites they have to complete. Average Joe says he has to do seven rewrites. How in the holy hell is that possible? Then Average Joe’s cousin, Simple Bob, talks about his eleven rewrites! Oh Lord, get me an oxygen mask–I’m running out of air because I’m screaming my lungs out!

I could not stand it if I had to rewrites over the number three, maybe that’s just me–and yes, it probably is just me. Please excuse my out-of-this-world perspective; it’s only a little  strange, like me, in general.

But I’ll let you all get back to your reading and writing and eating and shi–whoah, let’s not go there, shall we? Getting a tad tipsy, aren’t we? Been drinking too much off the water fountain?

How about we get that book published, then you can go crazy.

Unless I already am crazy…

Think daily,

A Southpaw

It Hit Me

The favorite conversation of people just out of high school seems to be something like, “it hasn’t hit me yet…that we’re out of school…forever, like, I mean, forever…” I’ve been hearing it for some time, tossed here and there, in and out of random conversation. Of course, I never really joined in, considering I kept telling myself it had already hit me–out of high school, big whoop.

Well, I thought wrong, like I always do. It’s that youthful arrogance, gets the best of me sometimes. And where I thought the reality had passed over me subtly, it instead did so abruptly.

See, I was walking back from a three mile run, coming down my street. Nothing particularly interesting was going on in my head–just the normal thoughts and thingamabobs that pass through the head of your average teenager. Then I saw the boy on the bike.

He was no special boy, had on a red helmet and a yellow shirt. His bike was a small black Huffy, if I remember correctly, and it had no training wheels. The importance of the lack of training wheels–his father was standing beside him as he pedaled his bike across their driveway, his hands careful around the boy’s back, being sure for balance.

A car had pulled up to their driveway a few moments earlier; in fact, that was what caught my attention. Out came an old man in a square black hat, carrying a bag of some sort, and an old woman with her purse in a nice dress. These, I assumed, were the grandparents of the boy; and I was proven right when the father pointed to them and told the boy to show grandpa his bike.

It was nothing significant, you see. A boy learning how to ride a bike with the help of his father, and his grandparents standing beside the both of them, watching in the joy that can only come from having walked both of those lives. No, the events weren’t important, but the situation, the coincidence, was everything.

I almost stopped walking, this strange feeling rising in my gut, of–of something; hell if I knew what was going on in there. The father was pushing the boy along on his bike as the grandparents laughed and pulled more bags out of their car–what on Earth was causing this sensation in me?

Then, I realized.

It was life.

I was witnessing these separate generations of collective lives, with me having only now begun to set out on my own life. Touching would be barely skimming the instance; rather, it was delightful–it filled me with a happiness and a shock, at understanding what could, what might, lie in store in the future.

Could I end up being a parent?

Could I end up being a grandparent?

Life is chock full of surprises, as they say; and, right then, I got it. It hit me. High school is over, not too many tears are shed over that, but I am moving onto somewhere new: a locale of brilliant spontaneity. Who knows what’s gonna happen? I wish I did, but at the same time, I don’t.

And to think–

All of that came from a four-year old boy riding his new bicycle.

Think daily,

A Southpaw