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  • Writer's pictureClaire Marie

Math Geek to Word Nerd

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

I started off in school as a pretty strong student then hit a few bumps in the road. We moved after second grade and again halfway through third grade. Fourth grade found me back where I had started first grade, then 5th and 6th at another school, changed again for 7th through 10th and finished high school at yet another school. Phewww!

Somehow through all of that, I became a math geek, no thanks to either my fourth grade or seventh grade math teachers. Glasses started in fourth grade causing me to be moved to the front of the classroom by the chalk board and missing Roman numerals in the accelerated group. Then my seventh grade teacher didn’t recommend me for Algebra in 8th grade but that was overridden and I did take Algebra from Mrs. Kasilus (fka Mrs. Slater) - also my favorite high school teacher.

Throughout those years of gravitating toward math, Mom repeatedly reminded us (my siblings and myself) that her forte had been English (or what is known as Language Arts in schools today). She was thrilled with my aptitude for numbers but disappointed that I struggled with English and disliked reading. Mom constantly corrected our grammar while repeatedly reminding us of her years teaching. On the other hand, I loved math and finished out high school in AP Calculus, scoring a 5 on the AP Exam - best you can get. I did have a few moments of enjoyment with history my Junior year after several awful years, then barely scraped by English in my Senior year. I’ll leave Shakespeare for another day. 🤮🤐

When I arrived at college, I was expected to get some sort of business degree to go along with my love of numbers. I was also slowly becoming the family accountant so I started looking at becoming an accountant and/or CPA, but that was boring and I was SO not getting the whole debits and crebits thing (thanks for the terminology KS). Then I migrated back to “real” math, briefly considering becoming an actuary, which led me to a professor that didn’t exactly like that I wasn’t going to class but acing all the tests. That changed the next class I had with her (still able to ace her tests, but failing for lack of attendance) which aided me in a downward spiral toward academic suspension but I bounced back, attending a different college where I half migrated back to accounting.

That particular detour (along with a part time job at a used book store) also helped me discover a broader view of literature and less hatred of reading. My prior experiences had me trudging through a full dismal quarter of Faulkner that was offset with the fascinating discovery of Steinbeck’s East of Eden - a book I chose to read because I had watched the miniseries. (TV was my favorite entertainment.) I had been introduced to some of the authors in my early high school years but didn’t really appreciate them - in other words, they were BORING. There was also something about watching a movie then reading the book that worked for me, but I still gravitated towards math and accounting. Then I got my M.R.S. degree in 1987.

Fast forward to the early 1990s and I’m back in college. After working as an accounting clerk for quite a few years, I figured I should just get that accounting degree after all. One full year of classes later, enter pregnancy and life focus changed again.

Now we’re closing the 90s and there’s still no college degree. I’m still working in accounting in some sort of role, including a few years at CPA firms, while raising two children and discovering that my first round at marriage just wasn’t working. (Throw that M.R.S. degree out the window.) Life is suddenly focused on maneuvering through the world as a single mom. I take a test - a long and boring test - only to be faced with some disconcerting information. I am NOT a natural math geek. It's true that I often use my fingers or a calculator to count, but apparently my true aptitude is in the area of language arts.

Huh? What was that? Exactly my response. I’m the one who avoided term papers at all costs - there were no such things as word processors back in the day either and typewriters were a horrid way to get words on paper. Reading was so boring. Poetry sucks. Whatever. Life goes on.

A few more years pass, I have remarried and I’m still working in the accounting field. The hubby starts encouraging me to finish my degree to go along with the work I’m doing, then two and a half years later, I finally have that accounting degree just after celebrating my 40th birthday. (I'm not sure why, but I have been accused of being a "late bloomer".) I even learned to write a term/research paper and I have accidentally discovered a love of writing. And, yes, while typewriters suck, word processors are AWESOME! Oh well - back to bean counting, but here’s a crossword puzzle for distraction.

A few more years pass, okay 15, and I’m finally getting back to writing while word games are a near obsession. I’m even managing to write on a regular basis, exploring my own style while also feeding my inner squirrels. I have discovered that writing feeds an often-buried creative side that could use some nourishment. Subjects vary and I may be self-published but I’m actually doing it.

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