It's true what they say. A house is not a home without a 50 cent bottle of Louisiana style hot sauce. Who was it said that? Ah, of course. The Louisiana Condiment Advocacy Board. Don't know how I got on their mailing list, but I can't complain with the stellar culinary results of a quick stop at the neighborhood HEB supermarket. That huge batch of lentil and carrot stew I cooked up over the weekend, now has fire and fight. A couple of dried chipotles into the stew pot was a nice touch, but, still it lacked an edge. Now? Kicks like a stew should.
Friday I received a call from the Company: the gig where I, on occasion, pick up temp work scoring standardized tests. I started a project today. I'm hoping to get two weeks out of this one. It'll be two anemic paychecks, as I'm working nights on this one. 4.5 hours per day.
I had been told over the phone that I would be scoring a reading component of this test. Fine. Reading, and particularly writing, are the fun ones. But when I signed up, I discovered it will be math.
At the training session I spoke up.
“Um, I believe my employee records must mention somewhere to not allow me within fifty feet of a math test that needs scoring. I know for a fact that I failed the math orientation test when I signed up for this company.”
One of the other scorers rolled his eyes.
“It's fourth grade!”
“Oh. I did not know that….”
As the team leader began discussing the training material, I tried to recall what math was like when I was in 4th grade. I think I did okay. Keep to the add / subtract / multiply / divide stuff, and I'm fine — those functions so ubiquitous that my cell phone can do them. And, yes, I am smarter than my cell phone. But it's not one of those fancy kinds.
My final falling out with public school came with my first exposure to algebra. When was that? Sixth grade? Seventh? Up to that point I loved numbers. To me, they were inextricably tied to science. And that's what I wanted to be as a kid. A scientist. Or a writer. There was a beautiful order to numbers. Patterns in their behavior. The playful, upward progression of a Fibonacci series, or the enigma of pi. A pristine poetry, or so I thought. However, on the first day of algebra, I saw those damn letters squatting right there in an equation. They didn't belong. They were supposed to join together. Make words. Yes, words! Those willfully slippery things I love as much now, as I did then.
That was the beginning of the end. It's hard to fake comprehension in a math class.
My middle school years were spent at a science Vanguard school — sort of a junior Magnet school. The two guys running the science programs were fantastic. One was a botanist, the other a herpetologist. It was all life sciences — with a smattering of physics and chemistry. I can't recall a scrap of math.
The Science Magnet I went on to for high-school chewed me up and spit me out. I was sent packing. Mainly because of my failing in math. Very sad. I mean, I had this amazing cytology class. Cytology … in high-school! The chemistry teacher was a bit of an asshole. But funny, and brilliant.
I soon found myself in the high-school I would have been at all along, were it not for my excursion to that realm where I just couldn't measure up.
Failing grades there, prompted my great aunt to offer money to send me to a private school for rich fuck-ups. And thus I was able to purchase my high-school diploma — a year early, even — and get out, and on with my life.
But I do love math. I'm just a mess when I try and do algebra and calculus. I could blame dyslexia, but I don't buy that. People over-come all sorts of limitations. Really, it's about just doing the work. Much like learning languages. Total immersion.
(And, yes, Jennifer, I know. I should track down a good college math lab.)
Yesterday I had called for a production meeting. When it was pointed out that Sunday was the Super Bowl, what could I say. A good filtration device. If fucking sports means that much to you, we really shouldn't be working together.
Sports fans and nationalists need not apply. If uniforms excite you (and NOT in a fetishistic manner), I can guarantee, I just won't be able to understand that sweet, subtle essence that makes you, you.
Anyway, I was expecting– Scratch that. I was hoping for 10 people. I got 4.
Carlos showed up. In fact he was the first one there. He'd already been to an audition earlier in the afternoon. Chris, dependable as always, showed on time. And an actor Carlos wanted us to work with, Roze, drove down from San Marcos with his daughter.
It wasn't a complete waste. I got to meet Roze. Great guy. And it was nice talking to people about the script and the project. These sorts of meetings help to generate momentum and enthusiasm.
Ah …. Enthusiasm. I remember that. It seems so distant. I need to find a project that gets me excited again. Maybe this one will be it.
But I recall those days, not so many years ago (four, in fact), when I was making films with fellow students. It was amazing. We were all committed. 100 percent.
Film instructor and UTA Art Department head Andy Anderson, used to accost every student who said he or she couldn't make a shoot because of, I don't know, “I've got to study for a chemistry test.” “Oh? Well, do you want to be a chemist? Or do you want to make movies? Because the rest of us, we're going to be making movies.”
Enthusiasm? Yes, yes. I'm trying to foster it. Tough, at times.