They called us eggheads back then.
Egghead, dork, nerd, geek—pretty much the same except for the generation—someone who doesn’t fit in, whose interests are different from the norm.
I was a pretty good student in spite of being half asleep from taking antihistamines from July until some time in October, when we finally had a good, hard frost in Southern Illinois. In addition to always having a stuffy nose, I had a bad complexion, dishwater blond hair that hung in scraggly curls instead of a smooth pageboy, and I wore glasses.
Needless to say, I wasn’t part of the “in” group. I wasn’t part of any group; I just kind of hung suspended in social mid-air, a loner except for one or two friends who thought I was kind of weird, but were willing to hang around with me anyway. (Many years later, one of them generously introduced me to her sister as “the most avant garde of my high school friends.”) Escaping into books and the security of family protected me from the psychological damage some young misfits can suffer. (Although some might argue that bit about psychological damage.)
Having recently given up my plans to become a world-famous artist, I started high school wanting to be a physicist. I was interested in the electro-magnetic spectrum. Not even sure where I got that—maybe from a Robert Heinlein novel. But I had a little trouble with algebra that year—it just wasn’t easy for me. Then I had more trouble with plane geometry in my sophomore year, and then back to a little trouble with advanced algebra in my junior year. I also took chemistry that year, and though I loved it, I had a little trouble with it, also.
About mid-year, I was walking down the hall between classes, lost in my own little world as usual, and it came to me that having a little trouble with a lot of classes added up to a lot of trouble, and I began to second guess my career choice. A career, I decided, should be based on what you’re best at and what you love to do. So what was I best at? Well, I could always count on A’s in English and social studies. And what did I most enjoy doing? Reading. I read everything from the encyclopedia to classic novels to pulp science fiction. And it didn’t just come to me—it came to me like a voice from the heavens: “Idiot! You want to be a writer.”
I’m sure I stopped and gasped. I don’t know why I took so long to understand that very vital fact about myself. But once I did, I quit seeing myself as a mediocre science major and started seeing myself as an excellent English major who was taking science classes for research. And I went ahead and signed up to take physics my senior year with a changed attitude. You know—research.
Although I majored in journalism in college and worked as a journalist for many years, I never let go of my high school dream of writing novels like the science fiction and fantasy I loved so much. Recently, my urban fantasy novel, “When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing,” was published by Etopia Press.
Sometimes high school dreams come true.