I can't remember exactly, but I do know there was a teacher in my formative grade-school years that taught me arithmetic, spelling & reading and who quite frankly, did not like me. I don't know... Grade 1 or Grade 2.

I remember sitting in the back of the classroom, on the floor, in front of a book shelf looking through a wonderful book with absolutely fabulous pictures in it that took my imagination to all the places that a small child's imagination should be. I was completely caught up in it.

Lost to all noise in the classroom, I looked up in a fog to see my teacher bending over me, chastising me for wasting my time by reading a book that was "way over [my] reading level."

Aghast that the book might be snatched from my hands, I rather boldly told the teacher: "I can read this!".

She called my bluff. She grabbed me around the collar and marched me up to the front of the classroom and commanded me to read out loud to the entire class... which I proceeded to do for quite some time, making up a great deal of the story from the pictures but reading every word I was capable of. Of course, there was no stumbling over sounding out words that I was unfamiliar with, so it may even have sounded better than if I was actually reading the story word for word.

The teacher let me do this until, by page turning, I was about half way through the book, and then gruffly told me to sit down. At least she didn't call my bluff again and accuse me of faking the story. The other kids seemed to enjoy my performance.

The thing was though -- that teacher -- ever after scared the pants off of me in arithmetic & spelling whenever I made a mistake. She was sarcastic, bullying & singled me out enough times that I learned to be very very quiet when she was around.

Thus, maybe because of that experience or maybe because my mind is the way it is (who knows), I was never very good in math & spelling -- counting on my fingers to this day if I need to add something up and I don't have a calculator. But... I always remained a reader.

In high school, they gave me a calculator and taught me algebra and I found that extremely easy -- so go figure. The spelling, coupled with reading & spell check just naturally fell into place somewhere along the line.

Fast forward to my mid-life and I found myself in a job that used math all the time. The strain on me was incredible. A lot was algebra but a lot wasn't. I learned to look for "reasonableness" and triple-checked my work, so I was slow, but fairly accurate. The job paid extremely well so, despite the stress, I persevered. But I remained forever afraid that someone would stop, point a big finger at me, and shout... "You don't know math! You're faking it! What are you doing here!"

Never happened.

Now... here's the crux of this story: Mid-way between my 25 year employment using math every day, I woke up in the middle of the night, wide awake with utter and blinding insight. I understood math! I could see all the numbers floating in the air, arranging themselves and it made sense. I could appreciate the beauty and elegance in math. I was one with numbers. It was a euphoric feeling and I went back to sleep with deep satisfaction, confident my life had reached a turning point.

The next morning -- any insight I had gleaned was completely gone and I struggled for another 10 years or so more, hiding my math disability from all.

The final few years before I retired I did contract work. Some jobs paid $50 an hour, some paid $15, but I enjoyed the variety and it kept home and hearth together without having to put up with too much workplace crap.

At one point during those contract years, I took a class on "How to Find Work" sponsored by the Government. They put me through a battery of tests, several of which involved math (among other things) and in the end, told me I should have been a locksmith. I was in my 50's, a female, having worked mostly in offices all my life and they told me I should be a locksmith?

In any case, it also turned out I scored higher in math than most people my age. To say that this was a huge surprise is a huge understatement. You have to understand, anything math-like makes my brain turn completely off. Telephone numbers, dates, ages, time, bills, distance, weight, temperature, etc. etc. and my mind goes to a quiet, blurry, fuzzy, foggy place where all sound is muffled and the environment is akin to being inside a cotton ball. I write things down to compensate and always have a calculator near by.

This is the end of my story dear readers... but I have one last thing to say:

If I have to count on my fingers to add, and am better at math than most people... there's something desperately desperately wrong with a lot of things -- but I don't guess anyone needs me to tell them that.