In Blog

Last night, I watched the documentary Spellbound, which had been recommended to me by several people. Spelling is in the air these days—the national spelling bee was just last week, right?—so it seemed a good a time as any. I thought it was really good, but the footage of the bee itself was hard to watch. It’s difficult for me to watch other people be really nervous: it’s like secondhand anxiety. I kept realizing I was biting my lip as the kids stood there, in the bright lights, s-l-o-w-l-y spelling out a word, terrified. The worst was when they (and you) knew they’d already messed up but they had to keep going anyway. Yikes. All in all, though, very good. I recommend it.

I was proud of myself, a few times, for knowing a word before the person spelled it, and then equally embarrassed when I was so sure of one and wrong. I can’t remember ever doing well in school spelling bees. I guess it’s not altogether surprising I spell better when I can write the word down on a page and look at it: only then do I often realize something’s off. Still, there are words I ALWAYS get wrong: embarrass, separate and conscious are the top three, but there are tons of others that continually pop up on my spellcheck. You can count on spellcheck for that kind of thing, but it’s not helpful at all with other proofreading issues, as I continually remind my students. This often provides for unintentional humor, all the better to breakup the monotony of paper grading. Like my student who wrote the line “it was still, quiet….like the clam before the storm,” (gotta love that mollusk imagery) and the story that was titled, erroneously, “Love, Sweat Death” (it was supposed to be Sweet). As a class, though, we loved that so much we used it as the title for our group anthology.

So it’s not all bad, I guess. Still, a misspelled word will jump out at me, nagging, if I see it on a sign or a menu or whatever. It’s my mother’s voice that I hear, her gene I think in me that makes me want to correct it instantly. That’s one thing, though: standing on ESPN spelling, another altogether. I couldn’t do it. I’d meltdown before I even got a word.

To balance out my little bit of culture (documentary! educational!) I watched “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” where I saw 80’s supergroup The Motels do a cover of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” that was so different at first I didn’t even recognize it. Plus, there was Vanilla Ice, and I LOVE Vanilla Ice. So much for intellectual discourse. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.

have a good day, everyone!