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Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Aliens Stole My Brain!

I've never been the most focused individual. (In fact, my ex-husband used to say that it was a good thing that I didn't do drugs, because I was already a stoner without them.)
From the time I was a kid, my teachers would complain that 'Belinda is a smart girl, but she's always off in a dream world.' I always felt guilty...I was a lazy kid, a lazy teen. I was much happier inside my head reading a book than applying myself to housework or chores. In time, (skipping a lot of years here) I realized that was simply creativity without any focused direction or discipline. The day I got my laptop, my life changed.

But lets go back a ways. When I got out of high school, I immediately bopped on over to the college, took a semester of ill-advised music classes and promptly dropped out. In time, I grew up a bit, returned to college and this time around, I stuck with it. The major love of my academic career were the classical history classes of Professor Cliff Minor.

Now Professor Minor was just the most wonderful fellow, all dry, acerbic wit and great brilliance. He'd look at a panel of Egyptian hieroglyphs and translate them just as he would translate a poem from Golden Age Greece. He'd then bring it around to where we could understand, usually by using some pop culture reference. I took many of his classes, enough to say that my focus was on Classical History. I took copious notes, produced dozens of papers and in all, I really flew. My grades for this notoriously tough prof generally were B+ to A-, based on my writing. Yeah...comma splices. Still doing it.

There was only one problem: because of an auto accident a few years earlier, I have a flawed short term memory. Those notes, textbooks and essays were my lifeline to holding onto my education. All of my notes were original...we weren't using computers extensively at that time. Many of my textbooks are now out of print. This spring, the storage building that held all of my education was accidentally emptied by a contractor who was clearing out an adjoining building. They had the wrong address. All of my education (and many other things) went to the dump. At the time, the loss didn't really hit me, not compared to the loss of family heirlooms and expensive dog show equipment.

Lately, there's been a poem that's been niggling at the back of my mind; an obscure Greek poet, but I couldn't recall his name. My m/m space opera An Uncommon Whore contains references to Greek culture, specifically to Spartan culture. I wanted to find the poem and refresh my memory, as I'm working on the sequel to that book. So automatically, I get up to walk next door to the truck shop and dig into my notes...but they're gone. Its all gone...

In desperation, I go online to look up my old professor at the University; he liked me and would willingly allow me to pick his brain. In fact, he'd be glad to let me come down and sit in on classes.

He retired.

So I do the obvious thing, I log onto the internet and start putting in the bits and pieces of the poem that I do remember, and in time, I found it. Here was the recent object of my obsession:

Some barbarian is waving my shield,

since I was obliged to

leave that perfectly good piece of equipment behind

under a bush.

But I got away, so what does it matter?

Life seemed somehow more precious.

Let the shield go; I can buy another one equally good.
~Archilochus~ (7th century, BCE)

So while my brain is a bit leaky, what I thought I lost isn't really gone, I just need to go searching for it. It hurts when I think of all my notebooks and research papers mouldering in a dump somewhere, but the whole point of those years in college wasn't merely to fill up my brain, but to teach me to learn and research and interpret my findings.

The first time I started college, my grandfather said, "That's good...that's really good. They'll never take that away from you."

I'm not sure who "They" were supposed to be, but maybe he was seeing into the future when some idiot contractor read his work order wrong and dumped my boxes of education into a trailer and hauled it away. They might have taken the physical artifacts away, but if I really need it, its all out there waiting to be rediscovered.

Happy Tales!
Belinda

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