The Intelligence Test

Pizza Slice

The Intelligence Test

By Amee Lynne Shelley

The yellow flyer was posted outside my History of Western Civilization class.  Students who volunteered to take an intelligence test would get lunch and a $25 gift card.  It was the perfect incentive for a broke college student. I already knew I was a genius. This intelligence test was nothing to fear. I signed up for it.

I showed up at the designated place and time.  The Department Chair thanked us for volunteering and then introduced us to our examiners. Mine was a doctoral student named Steve. He was tall and wore a brown sweater. He had brown rimmed glasses that made him look very smart. I pushed my glasses up a bit on my nose. I was smart too. The intelligence test would prove it.  I followed Steve to a small table in the corner of  the room.  After a few hours, the test ended. I went back to the waiting area.

The pizza came while I was waiting for Steve. The other students and I quickly grabbed the hot slices and put them on our paper plates.  I chatted with a cute computer science major.

“It’s taking Steve a long time,” I thought.  “Why can’t he just hurry up?”

Finally, Steve walked into the room. I jumped up. “What did you find?  Did it prove I’m exceptional and one in a million? ”

Steve smiled.

My heart stopped. I knew that smile. It was the fake smile.  I gave that smile to the annoying neighbor kid that lived next to my parents.  He had talked for 20 minutes nonstop about his Lego blocks. I wanted him to just go away, but I couldn’t figure out how to exit the conversation. I had given Lego Kid a fake smile. Steve was now fake smiling me.

“Let’s go back to the testing room,” Steve said.

I walked behind Steve into the room. The walls were brown. We sat down at the table and Steve adjusted his rimmed glasses. I took mine off and nervously fiddled with them.

“The intelligence test was first developed in 1904 by two men named Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon. On this assessment, we look at your score and compare it to scores of other people who took this test. The mean is fixed at 100. Two-thirds of the people will get scores between 85 and 115. Your scores fell within the mean range of intelligence.”

I looked at Steve. He gave me another fake smile. I knew what it meant.  Steve thought I was average. I must have starred long enough for him to worry that I didn’t understand what he had said.

“Let me explain it a different way.” Steve got up and walked over to the whiteboard. He drew a bell curve. This is all the people who took the test. Steve put a little x in the middle of the curve. “This is you. Your score fell within the mean or average.”

I cut him off.  “I know the definition, ” I snapped.

I wanted to cry. Steve ,the future psychologist, thought I was dumb.  Those smart people who invented intelligence tests back in 1904 thought I was dumb. My little x was stuck right in the middle of average land on the Bell Curve. Was I even smart enough to be in college? What if Steve was right? What if I really was just average? Could average people grow up to be incredible? My plan for being famous and brilliant seemed to be farther away than when I first walked into the exam room.  Maybe I was fraud who had somehow tricked a college into letting her in?  I bit my lip and swallowed more tears. I may be average, but I wasn’t going to cry in front of smart Steve. His x was probably way up there at the top near the genius people like Albert Einstein.

“Was it an interesting experience,” the Department Chair asked as he handed me my gift card. “Worth a few hours of your time.”

I looked beyond him and saw the trash can spilling over with pizza boxes and greasy paper plates. I thought about Jacob and Esau from the Bible story. Esau had sold his birthright for some dinner. Had Jacob worn a brown sweater that day?

“Yeah,” I lied as I swallowed more tears. “It was educational.”

I starred at my $25 gift card on the way home. It wasn’t enough. If it had been a $10,000 gift card or a million-dollars, it still wouldn’t have been enough.  No sum was worth the discovery that I was just an average girl.

 

 

What’s in a name?

I swished my broccoli from one side of my plate to the other side with my fork. I normally loved broccoli with cheese but tonight I didn’t have an appetite.  I had serious information to share with my parents and I was afraid they wouldn’t like it.

“I’ve made a decision”, I said solemnly. “You didn’t know how to spell my name when I was born. I’ve fixed that problem though.  I will no longer be Amy spelled ‘A-M-Y’. You may now call me by my real name which is Amee spelled ‘A-M-E-E’.

Mom and Dad didn’t smile.

My younger brother John put his fork done and starred at me.

“Amee spelled “A-M-E-E” is better, I explained. “I just made it up today and I like it”.

“A-M-Y is your legal name”, Dad replied. “It’s on your birth certificate and you might change your mind and want to use your real name. It’s the name your loving parents gave you at birth”.

“We gave you that name, because the baby book says it means love”, Mom jumped in.

I was unmoved by their pleadings.  I liked my spelling better. I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind even when I got older.

“Henceforth now and forever, ” I  declared,  “A-M-E-E is the only  proper way to spell my name”.

My parents smiled and gave me the ‘Oh, aren’t our children cute’ look. Then they went back to eating dinner.

My brother John had more to say about it. He scrunched up his little face and pounded his hands on the table. “You are not allowed to change your name without consulting all of your younger brothers. We say no”.

“I can do what I want”, I cried.  ” I’m 11″.

And so 11-year-old me changed my name. It wasn’t legal, but all of my real friends and family knew how my name was  spelled. I told every school teacher at the start of each  school year how I spelled my name.  My coworkers knew that HR would give me a paycheck with A-M-Y but A-M-E-E did the work and spent the money. This is how it went for the next 30 years. I never went back. I was A-M-E-E, because I said so.

During the divorce process, I decided to finally make the real spelling of my name official. I legally changed the spelling. I am ‘A-M-E-E’ henceforth now and forever.

My sister Jenny threw me a Name Reveal Party to celebrate with decorations, cake and presents.

My name

She got me a big box and filled it with balloons. The nephews and niece went crazy when I opened the box and balloons came flying out.

A Big Box

It was a great day.

 

The Dress part 2

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about getting rid of the dress I wore to my 10th grade winter formal. I was afraid that by letting the dress go I would forget a magical evening. I’m once again faced with saying a farewell.

How do you say goodbye to your wedding dress?

My wedding dress

I haven’t written on this blog about my divorce. The reasons are private. I wish nothing but happiness for my former spouse. There is still the subject of the dress though. It really is not good for one’s mental health to see your wedding dress hanging in the closet every day.

I must admit that there was a time when I thought the best thing to do was to go to the desert and have a large bonfire.  I even imagined myself inviting my favorite friends to a wedding dress burning party. We would all roast marshmallows and dance around the  embers of my marriage.  Although it was a fun daydream, I knew I couldn’t do that.

At the end of the day, I still believe in the goodness of people and the power of God to make everything right in the end. It’s like that scripture from Isaiah about turning ashes into something beautiful. I couldn’t burn my wedding dress for the same reason that I always stop and blow dandelions whenever I see one. They are symbols. Dandelions. Wedding dresses. Cute kids dressed up in their Sunday best at Church. Beautiful sunsets. Elderly couples holding hands. People having fun together. Making cookies for your friends. These are some of the little things in life that symbolize friendship, love and hope to me. Symbols are powerful. You just can’t burn a symbol.

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I did find a new home for my wedding dress. I donated it to a charity’s thrift store. I also made a financial donation to an organization that helps children in memory of my marriage. Beauty from ashes and many more years of dandelion blowing.  That’s the goal. For all of us.

With Love,

Amee

Happy Me

(It’s August, 2019.  It’s been 16 years and a few months since I wore my wedding dress. I’m still myself. That’s a major accomplishment.  I’ve always wanted to be Amee when I grew up.)

Back to School Photo

It started out as a joke, but it has become one of my favorite traditions. Here’s my 2019-2020 Back to School Photo.

Back to school Amee

Eight years ago, I was scrolling through Facebook. Many of my friends had posted their kid’s back to school pictures. The photos were adorable. The kids had smiling faces full of hope for the future.  I don’t have children so I didn’t have any “back to school photos” for my family and friends to admire. As I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself, I had a crazy thought. What if I took a back to school photo? What if I took the picture from the perspective of being really tired after your first day back to school?

The photo was funny and made me laugh. Next year, I took another  photo. I now have 8 pictures of me sprawling across beds, floors, desks etc.

The photo still makes me laugh every year.  It’s going to be a great school year.

 

 

Wrinkle Prevention

I was in a doctor’s waiting room the other day reading a magazine. There was an article that caught my eye. It was all about preventing wrinkles. Apparently, you can do face exercises to counteract wrinkles. This really interested in me, because as a 40-something year-old I’ve started to develop some laugh lines. The face exercises  involved frowning like this.

Frown Amee

I looked so funny that it made me laugh. Oops. Mission Defeated. I guess I will just have to live with the wrinkles.

 

 

Decision Overload

Have you ever noticed how many styles and brands of toliet paper there are at the store?

TP

15.  There are 15 different options.  Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that. I just recently learned that myself.

Yesterday, I was at the store staring at toilet paper.  I had made decisions all day at work and all day in my life. I was tired. I couldn’t make any more decisions.  So, I didn’t. I just stood there and started looking at all the options. I even read the backs of the different toliet papers.

After agnozing for what felt like forever, I finally picked the brand on sale. I went to pay for my purchases and a little candy bar found its way into my shopping cart. I don’t remember analyzing that decision.

I’ve been thinking about my decision overload experience. At first I  thought I was crazy. Does it really take 5 minutes to pick out toliet paper?  I did some research though. It’s actually a real thing. It’s called decision fatigue. Decision fatigue can cause you to either not make a decision or to make a rash decision. Universities have studied it and they have found people make worse decisions when they are tired, hungry, overwhelmed, stressed and worn out from working all day. Yep, that makes sense.

What has been your experience with making decisions?

 

 

 

 

 

My Parents Love Me

I’ve written before about my incredible parents. I had another experience today that confirmed again how much these two human beings are good people who love me.

Today was a hard day and I was feeling a bit emotional.  In the middle of this day, I was accidently forgotten and not given Skittles like everyone else in a Church class.  I felt left out. I knew it was an accident. It wasn’t anybody’s fault and I wasn’t angry at the person who forgot me. It just happened in the craziness of the moment. My logical side knew it wasn’t on purpose. My emotional side started remembering every other time in my life that I have been left-out or not gotten what I wanted.

I try to visit my parents a few times a month. Today was one of those planned visits. I ended up telling them how I felt.  Yes, I’m a 40 year-old who sat on my parent’s couch this afternoon and cried that I didn’t get candy. It’s not about the candy though. Even though it was completly an accident, my feelings of being left-out were real. We talked for a bit. I felt lighter when I drove home. It helped to talk about my feelings.

Then my Dad did something so incredibly loving and kind. He came and gave me a bag of Skittles.

skiddles-candy.jpg

Let me tell you something about my folks. They are true believers in keeping all of the 10 Commandments. They don’t lie, cheat, covet or do any of those other don’ts. Mom and Dad go to Church every Sunday and growing up my siblings and I would never even think about asking to go to the movies or the mall on a Sunday. It wasn’t keeping the Sabbath day holy. My parents also hate Skittles. They don’t keep them at the house which means that my father made a special trip to the store just to buy them.

He went to the store for me.   I felt so incredibly loved. As I held the bag of candy, I remembered a scripture written by the Apostle John.

“We love Him because He first loved us”. (1 John 4: 18-19)

The scripture is speaking about my Savior Jesus Christ and his great love for all mankind. Today it was also talking about my parents and their example of true love for me–their daughter.

I love you, Mom and Dad. You will always be my favorite people.  I am who I am today because of your goodness and light. I will remember your example of Christian  discipleship for the rest of my life. I hope to be like you when I grow up.

My parents

With love forever,

Amee

 

 

 

The Alarm Clock is Against Me

I think my alarm clock is against me. Take a look at this picture.

Alarm Clock picture

The Snooze button is huge. It’s larger than the button I press to get going for my day. My alarm clock does not want me to get up. It wants me to keep sleeping. It wants me to be late for work. This realization made me giggle this morning. I added it to my joyful list.

The conspiring alarm clock is my #311 joyful moment since I started this blog. What made you joyful today?

 

 

Cookie Cutters

cookie cutter picture

Some people live in this world

Like a cookie cutter.

Never being more than

What everybody else is

Never doing more than

What everyone else does

Never venturing out to discover a beautiful world

Beyond their mold.

I wrote this poem when I was in high school. I rediscovered it today when I was cleaning out some papers.  At the end of the poem, I had written the following in bright red ink.  “I pray that is not my fate. It would be very sad if as a really old 40-year-old I wake up with gray hair and realize that I am a cookie cutter person without a single spark of Amee left in me. Oh, how very tragic indeed.”

At first, I laughed.  I am now that really old 40 year-old with a few gray hairs starting to appear out of nowhere. 40 just doesn’t seem as old as it used to be. Then, I got reflective.  Have I turned into that cookie cutter person that I feared so much? Am I a person who just lives her life, checks off her to-do list but has forgotten she was going to change the world? Am I still me? ”

It was a hard question to ask and an even harder answer to accept.

Sometimes, I am that cookie cutter person. Life. Work. Family. There are molds you accept in order to get a job done.  You can call it growing up or you can call it the great tragedy. It really depends on your perspective. Other times, I am still the sparkling soul who loves greatly, grieves greatly and wants to leave her mark on this spinning planet in some heroic way. There is one thing for certain. I must never stop being Amee.

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A Royal Wedding: The dollar store version

My Aunt and I went to the royal wedding this morning. You might have heard about this wedding. It’s been on the news for months. Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle  forgot to send us an invite, we did our best to enjoy the festivities on a teacher’s and an artist’s salary. (In case you didn’t know, I’m the teacher and the Aunt is the artist.)

We watched the ceremony on the TV while sitting on my hand-me-down couch. We wore  plastic tiaras that I bought from the dollar store. We ate pastries on my thrift store china and toasted the new couple with sparkling apple juice that was purchased with a coupon.

We both oohed over the wedding dress. It was simple and beautiful.  The news said the dress is estimated to cost 100,000 pounds which is around $135,000 US dollars. Given that the average American worker has an income in the $40,000’s, you would have to be pretty rich to afford a dress like that. The social justice side of me started calculating how many school lunches you could buy for disadvantaged children with that kind of money. The “Happily Ever After” side of me started imagining that it was my wedding day with a beautiful dress, adoring groom and enough money to never have to worry about paying the bills ever again. The last part about having enough money to never have to worry about bills sounds very nice.

It was a lovely wedding. The couple seems to really like and love each other. I enjoyed watching the little glances between them. There’s something sweet about watching a couple in love. You feel hopeful for the world. The real star of the show was the Episcopalian minister. He was delightful. Reverend Michael Curry gave an amazing sermon. I said Amen a couple of times when he was talking. I completely agree with him. God is love and we can make the world a better place by treating each other like brothers and sisters. He was also just plain fun to watch. He was so animated and passionate about the word of God. It was like I was sitting in a revival meeting and not a wedding.

This is what the Esteemed Duchess of the Dollar Store looks like at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. I’ve got frizzled hair, bags under my eyes but I’m still smiling.

1 am photo

Her Royal Highness Princess Aunt Marla declined to have her 3:00 a.m. photo taken for this blog. There are some benefits to being an average American at times. Privacy is one of them.

food for the party

It was a memorable royal wedding even though it was dollar-store style. I’m a little tired. I think I will go back to bed now for a much deserved nap.