Tuesday, July 12, 2016



I had a Grade 2 teacher who taught us spelling.  She was talking about words that look alike but are different and she put up "dessert" and "desert."  Then she told us that we would always know how to spell them properly if we remembered that there were two "s's" in "dessert" because everyone loves a second serving of "dessert" but you would never ask for a second serving of a "desert."

I had so many questions, I mean after I managed to get over the WTF phase of the whole exchange.  I wondered if she knew that "bosom" only has one "s" when we have two of them??  "Balls" has two "l's."  We were heading for the seventies and women were strapping on their bras and going to Girl Guides and learning how to start fires.  There were wars to be fought and if she knew something that these women needed to know, she should have shared.

I learned a lot that day.


I learned that I went to school with a whole bunch of losers.  It wasn't just my brother.  First of all "dessert" and "desert" don't sound the same and they are not spelt the same so I was confused as to why anyone needed that explained to them.  And then there was the point that difficult words in spelling bees were more likely to be words like "Czechoslovakia" and "bourgeois" and "prospicience" and not "dessert."  I was deeply disappointed that our teacher was so quick to lower the bar of our life expectactions and was clearly organizing our line in front of the life labelled "mediocre."   I wanted greatness.  I  was aiming for "vivisepulture" and "odontalgia."  I did not do lines, or sitting quietly and waiting for "common" to overtake us in our sleep.

As I sat at my desk and looked out the window across the prairies at the wheat and the cows, I realized that I was in one of those Scandinavian films where everything is in black and white and the camera takes close-ups of people's noses and ears and they talk and say things that make no sense but that really constipated people somewhere will watch and nod, and talk about how profound it all was and how it completely addressed the current political situation.

My teacher was one of those off balanced, creative geniuses, who should probably be locked up but wasn't.  I knew it was just a matter of time before she probably cut off her ear. 

I remember everything started to move in slow motion and the cows "mooed" and this fog rolled in.  My childhood was over.  Time to grow up.  I might be Scandenavian but I hated Lutefisk.  I was shutting down the insanity.

You see, I recognized that my teacher likely suffered from pica and she was clearly crying out for help.  She confessed about confusing dessert with sand  and sand eating most likely meant "pica."  She shared it with 6-year-olds because she felt safe with us.  Well, at least me.  She probably knew the rest of them were probably only ever going to make it to the "dessert" round of the "Spelling Bees for Dummies."  I immediately knew that she was suffering from some kind of parental neglect and I wrote down the names of her parents on a piece of paper that I tied to one of the chickens legs and told them to run it over to the CIA and have them "taken out."   All the pigeons had been stolen by eastern Canadians because we had won the Grey Cup and they were sore losers.  I also knew that pica explained my teacher's developmental disabilities.

Some teachers are sent to teach the children and others are sent so that the children can teach them.  I read that in a story once, handed out to me in a street publication, by a half-naked guy screaming that the world was about to end. I used some creative license in the retelling of the story because I am a writer and I have a license for creative.

I made my teacher a really nice card and I wore my stethoscope to school the next day and offered to give her artificial resuscitation.  She declined and gave me a detention for inappropriate touching.  I only got three buttons undone and technically it was the stethoscope that touched her breast but problems with body image might have been part of her whole pica thing she had going on.  She had clearly slipped into the denial phase of the illness somewhere in the night.  Which is why you must never delay treatment.  She was lost to healing, forever.

I have thought of her often over the years.  I see her, in my mind, wandering the dessert, licking rocks ... asking for seconds.  I feel like we let each other down.  She failed to educate us, and I failed to save her.

There is no law about saving people.  You can let people die and you are good to go.  People do it all the time.  I am in the clear but I am pretty sure that I could sue her for failing to teach me anything.  I could make a case for the fact that none of my fellow students ever escaped the farm, probably limited in their options because they only know how to spell "dessert."  Even though I am pretty spectacular, I could argue that I could have been SUPER spectacular, had she made any real effort.  I could sue her parents too … for the whole pica thing and the trickle down effect it had on me.

I have never been able to go into a desert.

And I can barely eat dessert . . . unless someone holds my hand and adds an extra scoop of icecream.   


It's funny how these things come to you.  Some people say spending time in Second Life is a waste of time but here I am, doing a picture of Bliss in the dessert and all of this has come to me. I was just crying that I  probably could not afford the pencil crayons I really wanted so I could take a picture of them and make all the other women in my adult colouring group jealous . . . and then this all came to me.   And I am probably going to be rich because of it.


Those bees that are dying all over the world are not just random deaths. 

I can bring it.

I brought it.  

Dead Bees.

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