Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poetic Justice

I went to summer school right after seventh grade, my first year in Junior High. It wasn't to make up any classes, but to take a couple extras that have turned out to be just about the best classes I've taken.

I didn't go to summer school very often. I think I went after fifth grade, when I took some sort of craft class and learned how to embroider. That was nice to learn, but it didn't lead me to any kind of greatness.

My seventh grade summer school classes were: How to Study, and Typing. The studying class didn't turn out the way I expected. It wasn't about managing your time, rather it taught us the tools that were available to help us. We learned the Dewey Decimal System and how to use the card catalog at the library to find books that would be our resources when we wrote papers. We learned about the Periodical Index for looking up articles in magazines. And they took us to the library to practice.

They also told us some helpful tips on how to improve our odds when we're taking tests: how to know whether you're better off guessing or leaving a question blank, and if you should guess, how to have a better chance of guessing right. For essay questions, they advised us to organize our answers well--the typical "Say what you're going to say, say it, then say what you said" approach to writing an essay. Our teacher said that sometimes, even when you don't know what you're talking about, when your answer is structured well, they think you must have it right and you get a better score. I remembered that tip.

We even had an assignment in that class to "buy" three stocks and track their progress over the course of the class. Since summer was just getting started, I bought Coke, figuring the demand would only go up by August, and I bought Gerber, because babies always need to eat. I don't remember my third stock, but by the end of class I had made a bit of money on my "investments."

I haven't done much with the stock market, in terms of buying individual stocks, but the rest of the studying class has done well for me, with all the research papers I had to write all through school and especially while I was getting my degree.

The typing class gave me a head start over a lot of the other kids, who didn't take Typing until ninth grade. But I didn't get very fast, since I didn't type every day.

My poor mother, who is a very light sleeper, was subjected to much misery when I was in high school. I'd write my essays and term papers long-hand on the day before it was due, and then I'd start typing on the electric typewriter: CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! DING!

By one or two in the morning, my mom would come down the hall in her nightgown and bathrobe, shoo me away from the typewriter, and start typing at about double my speed or more. She said that if she typed it, she'd get to sleep a lot faster than if she let me keep plugging away (with proper form) at my pitiful speed.

Eventually, I got married, moved to California, and had to do all my typing for myself. And after I started working in the computer industry and writing romance novels and short stories in my spare time, my typing speed improved to the point that my mom would have been able to stay in bed if I'd typed that fast in high school.

This week, though, the shoe is on the other foot. My daughter's English final set of assignments is due no later than 6:00 tonight, and as she optimistically described what she had to do and how long she expected each one to take, I could see some serious disappointment written on the wall.

One of her assignments was to type up her structured journal assignments from about a dozen essays she had to read this semester. It was already written out long-hand, and I couldn't see how she'd have time to finish the rest of her papers and the journal in time. So I suggested that I could type up her journal while she worked on her research paper. It wasn't cheating, just like it hadn't been cheating when my mom typed up my papers way back when.

She had some of it started, so last night I picked up where she left off, and the two of us worked until three in the morning, got up at 8:00, and started working again. We both finished around 4:00pm and fought with the printer a bit, but we got her work printed, and she's off to turn it all in at school before the deadline.

My wrists ache.

Mom, this is for you! Thank you for all the typing you did for me. I guess it's my turn now.


janice said...


Yep, that's what my heard when I tried to type my papers. She too wanted to get some sleep and finished them in record time.

Romamnce novels? How come we never heard about this before? I'm impressed Skye!

SkyePuppy said...


I was in Romance Writers of America for most of the 1980s, and I started several books, but only finished the rough draft of one of them. It was 100 pages too short.

I sold a Romance short story to Woman's World, because as the editor said, "It's not too romancey." Finally I realized I just don't have a romance writer's mind.

I'm a blogger.

Malott said...


Well now that you've opened up this little can of crawlies, I think it's only fair that you give us a sample of your former art.

Nothing too steamy, mind you!

Tsofah said...


Thank G-d for computers now! They are not as noisey as typewriters.

Now, as far as your writing goes...I don't think you are just "a blogger". I do not think writers and editors and publishers and such ask to have just anyone to share another person's writing with them. Yet, you had one such person ask that of you, didn't they? Yep Yep Yep Yep Yep!!!!!

You writer you! ;-D

Christina said...

I didn't use typewriters (much), although I did use one briefly in high school. Then I went "high-tech" (at least in our house) with a very loud word processor that had quite possibly the loudest ever printer. (Rebekah probably remembers this from my first year or two in college!)

While all the other kids my age were using computers, I was lagging behind the old-fashioned way. Finally, in my junior year of college, I bought my first (extremely outdated and poor-performing) used computer. Even that was better than the word processor.

Today, I have my own new laptop, and my, how far I have come in my typing skills. I don't come close to typing properly (was really never taught) but I use both hands, most fingers and can type at a very respectable speed.

I don't miss the typewriter or the word processor AT ALL!

And by the way, you're a good mom, Skyepuppy.

SkyePuppy said...


I think it's only fair that you give us a sample of your former art.

I'm told that "No" is a complete sentence.

SkyePuppy said...


And by the way, you're a good mom, Skyepuppy.

I had a good example!