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Posted March 01, 2012
SUCKED THROUGH A BLACK HOLE
When attending school, I never liked any subject having to do with math and the sciences. I would go so far as to say I was repulsed and had a mental block. I'd rather be sucked through a black hole than learn anything on the elements table other than H20. With one exception. My 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Jones, made everything sound so interesting and taught by telling stories.
My favorite tale of his was the one about visiting a snake handling church. When the snakes were turned loose and he asked about an escape route and was told there wasn't a back door he replied, "Where do you want one?" Perhaps that story had more to do with architecture and shop class, but I still remember the look on his face to this day when he grinned and told that rattling tale.
Then there was my 9th grade French teacher, Mr. Carson. He was a spoiler for fantasy and fairy tales while showing slides of French castles. After I was heard oohing and aahhhing over how lucky it must have been to be a princess with a handsome knight pounding the turf astride his mighty destrier to the rescue, Mr. Carson chuckled. "Genevieve (there was no French name for Vicki so I chose Genevieve), those damsels in distress locked away in ivory towers hadn't bathed in three months when the knights in shining armor galloped in. And the knights hadn't bathed either under all of that hot chain mail. Gross. Get over it."
Only when I was carp-smacked across my wild imagination with that vestige of truth did I finally come to my senses. I suppose my visual would be akin to a skunk rescuing a dead fish. But still, I was traumatized as badly as I had been when I realized the Easter Bunny wasn't real. It took a few months for the sting to subside. But that was minor compared to someone telling me Santa was nothing but a whopping fabrication. My heart ached over that revelation and the bubble lights on the Christmas tree seemed to be less bubbly and intriguing ever after. But I am thankful the person telling me that wild story was off base and had heard only an ugly rumor and had mistakenly passed it along.
However, I was miffed at Mr. Carson for a good long while. He'd spoiled my fantasy. What I didn't realize was that he'd done me a huge favor. He helped me begin to think scenes through. Mr. Carson and Mr. Jones taught me much more than an English teacher using a textbook ever could.
What does math, science, skunks, and dead fish have to do with fantasy and fairy tales?
Everything when it comes to writing. Unless I'm in the math and science field, I don't have to know why pie are square, but it helps to know a tad about various subjects. For instance, get sprayed by a skunk or smell a dead fish and I'll be able to describe my experience by using words like rotten, foul, odoriferous, blech, raaallllph...smell the picture?
Also, it wasn't until I began reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time that I became interested in black holes. When I found an author I really enjoyed, I read not only their fiction but their nonfiction. I discovered Madeleine was the most fascinating woman. She read science magazines and kept up with what was going on in outer space. So I decided to try boning up on black holes.
To my surprise, it was sort of like growing up and realizing that beets and artichokes really did make a salad more colorful and interesting and that tackling an onion for a burger wasn't as tear jerking if it was held under water while being disrobed. (When slicing and dicing one just has to bite the bullet and weep.) Suddenly, with the help of videos of a theoretical physicist by the name of Machio Kiku, I learned to embrace the mysteries of the universe. I enjoyed star gazing and visiting planetarium's. I even asked for a telescope for Christmas one year.
And horror of horrors, I'd begun to write a few chapters of a science fiction book--something I never desired to do--but it evolved from…somewhere!
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