Friday, June 25, 2010


Once upon a time, my mother had a little flock of children who she gathered together at night. There we sat under the evening lighting, practicing spelling words until they ran like trains through our brains. Ah, the bliss of filling one's mind with spell-checkability. My sister and I were both hailed by our teachers as the only students who could write perfect papers with perfect grammar and spelling. This continued for many years. Anytime someone needed to know how something was spelled, I rattled it off unconsciously. Grammar was second nature, even if diagramming sentences was not my favorite thing to do in sixth grade.

[Needle ripped across a vinyl record] Then one day I started filling my brain with data systems and virtual storage and accessibility vs. mobility and programming language. I could now speak in zeros and ones, but all of that knowledge needed a place to live. Without any discussion, my brain made an executive decision: N.O...L.O.N.G.E.R...N.E.E.D...S.P.E.L.L.I.N.G...F.U.N.C.T.I.O.N.A.L.I.T.Y...

Alas, I have been cast into the ranks of normal human beings who likewise require spell check, and can no longer send off e-mails without checking the spelling. It is a strange feeling. As I recently watched the National Spelling Bee, I noticed the immense pressure under which those kids exist. All of those languages filling their heads, and was it possible that some of those parents seemed more competitive than nurturing? I couldn't be sure, but I wondered if someday, they too would find themselves with a brain that casually tossed their spelling capabilities out the window somewhere along the road between Arizona and Nevada.

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