i love learning. i always have, i still do. even at something silly as birthing class, i have my notebook and pen at full attention ready to scribble whatever essential, or not so essential information is spewing form the teachers mouth.

i have always loved learning. filling my head with knowledge. i like to know the most i can about any subject. during one period of my life i had a short lapse in this desire of knowledge and learning. it was called college. it was not the high point of my life.

in second grade i was in a new school, in a new state, with new big front teeth. i met my best friend lizzie, and made friends that i would grow with for years... and i loved learning everything. i can remember nearly everything i learned that year. mrs green was my teacher. she was also a very successful mary kay lady. i remember thinking that was the coolest. she was not a warm and fuzzy teacher. she was very straight forward and matter fact. very type a. still i liked her very much. she taught us many many things, many of which still stick with me to this day.

we learned about alaska and hawaii that year. we learned about the culture and the food and climate and animals. we learned about the language and the little things that made those places so special. she brought us fresh pineapple when we learned about hawaii, and smoked salmon when we learned about alaska. everyone got to experience a little taste of the land. when we learned about alaska, we had a project whittling sculptures out of a bar of ivory soap. like the eskimos sculpting animals and sculptures out of whale bone, we sculpted baby seals, and wolves, and polar bears out of ivory soap. i made a seal. it was terrible. art was not my strength. when we learned about hawaii. we had a big luau in front of the school. we learned a classic hula, and had a roast pig. everyones parents were invited, and we shared all the information we learned about hawaii with them.

she could have just read us books and showed us movies and we could have colored worksheets until our fingers were permanently stained with marker and crayons. but that was not mrs greens style. she taught us much more hands on. and i drank in every moment, and every piece of information.

we learned about the titanic. i loved learning about the titanic. it was the most interesting thing i had learned thus far in my school career. i could imagine i was on that boat, that i was the unsinkable molly brown. the titanic still intrigues me to this day. we built our own boats of clay during class one day. we had a little box filled with water, and a handful of grey smelly clay. we learned that when you make your clay into a ball, it sinks, but if you can change the shape of that clay, you can make it float like the titanic. the goal was set. the object was to build your boat to be unsinkable. my boat looked like a bowl, and it only floated for a short while, but it floated. i tried to rebuild it, to try and try again to make it better... but it only got worse. we learned how a boat works first hand, she didn't have to teach us like that, but she did... and i remember.

we did timed math tests, addition and subtraction. she taught us how to add by counting points on our numbers. still to this day, this is how i add. i have to picture the number in my head, or actually write it down, and count the points. we learned how to tell time. i already knew how to tell time, but i helped john, he sat next to me. he didn't know how to tell time or draw a star. i helped him with both.

we learned about cowboys, and arctic animals, and poetry. we dissected a cow eye, and grew meal worms in cups. we watched caterpillars cocoon and grow into butterflies. we read a lot of books. we sang songs, and memorized poetry, and played with glass beads on the floor.

mostly, she taught us to write. she instilled in me a love for the pen and the page. we wrote articles, and stories, and paragraphs. we wrote songs, and poems, and really short research papers. when we wrote a story we really liked... we got to take it to the kohl elementary publishing center. we could type up our stories, word by word, covering page to page. we could choose a size and a fabric and a binding and they would put our pages together to make a book. a real book with a cover and a back and spine. with numbered pages, and illustrations, and a title page that stated with pride, this book written by Melinda Sue Herman. i wrote many stories that year, i made many books. How We Moved to Colorado was my first published work. i was so proud to take that book home to my mom. she was thrilled. she kept it out displayed in our family room until i graduated form high school and they moved. The Spectacularly Muddy Circus followed soon, and it could never live up to my first work, as they usually do. there were many others that year. i found that i loved writing. mrs green encouraged my writing. she always told me how great my stories were, and how how proud she was of my books and stories.

on the last day of second grade she gave me a letter. thanking me for being a good student, and telling me to never stop writing... to keep writing every day. she told me to remember her when i write my first book. i have that letter somewhere. i will never throw it away. the encouragement i received from her, the belief she had in me, carried me many years. it made me believe i could do it. it made me think i really could write. it reminded me to write every day. but as time went on, i forgot her encouraging words, i forgot that someone other than my mom believed in me. and i saved writing for the saturday nights when i had nothing better to do, i put it in a box far far away from my everyday life. i told myself i was no good, that i wasn't good enough, that i could never live that dream i had as a little girl and be a writer someday. i allowed my childhood dream to slip out of my hands, and out of my mind. but it never left my heart. that dream is still alive. and as i think about the way i loved to learn, the way i absorbed every tiny piece of information that mrs green gave to me, i wonder what made me forget her words of encouragement and challenge to me. why did i forget that one little thing she taught me?

i still love to learn, and i wonder if i can learn again that love for writing that was instilled in me then, i wonder if i can learn again to dream like a child, and believe in myself like i did then... i wonder if learning today is the same as it was then.


  1. Anonymous15:16

    Keep on dreaming and writing...you are gifted in both of them. I love
    you and burst with pride everytime
    I read your blog. You are gifted...keep on with it.

    I love you,
    Your #1 fan -- Mom

  2. melinda, you can write. look at how many people read your blog! obviously you've got something good going here. i think you're an excellent writer and look forward to your blog more than anyone else's.

    let's both write a book so we can quit our jobs and just go on walks around the lake, then drink frappuccinos all day while we watch smut on tv.

  3. holly, that sounds ideal.


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