Creative Physics

Perhaps physics would explain how this little guy can hang on to these bricks so handily. Will he fall? Will he change color? Stay tuned to the next installment of Mr. Lizard: This is Your Life.

Words written in my novel so far: 50,046

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Weird dreams I’ve had lately: 8

Apologies to all of those whose blogs I have not visited this week. I will be back in blog-reading form next week.

We were all at breakfast the other morning, my husband’s t-shirt on inside-out, my daughter’s hair full of crazy, bedhead curls.

“I had the strangest dream last night,” I said, trying to avoid pouring orange juice in the cereal bowl.

“Mmmph” came from three directions.

“I was talking to Brad Pitt’s kids, and then, all of a sudden, I was a detective, running into a room trying to ferret out a bad guy. I had a gun, but I was really scared, but I needed to wrangle him out of hiding. I was singing, ‘John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt’ at the top of my lungs, over and over.”

My husband crunched on some Honey Bunches of Oats. “Well, that would scare anyone.” He paused. “That explains why you were whimpering. I thought about waking you up, because I thought you were having a bad dream. But you were… singing.”

In my dream, I was yelling, but tomato, to-mah-to.

My waking life has actually taken on some bad dream characteristics, while I’m here filling in at a science office.

They do things differently here.

Like: writing 14:00 for 2 p.m. Why is it that I have to think really hard to come up with what time 16:00 is?

There are a lot of rules here.

Like always doing stuff the same way, over and over. Who knew they did stuff like that in science?

It’s reminding me of why I didn’t excel at chemistry. Or biology. Or physics, for that matter.

In high school, my friend and I sat on our high stools in the physics lab and wrote long creative writing samples to each other:

“Anne ______: This is Your Life. When last we saw Anne, she was riding away on an elephant, in search of the mysterious mousetrap. When she traveled deep into the jungle, who should she see but _____…”

Long, far-fetched stories about swashbuckling pirates, movie stars or love interests who closely resembled people in our class filled spiral notebooks.

Physics was an advanced class; I don’t know why I was in there. Physics applied to my life inasmuch as it related to my inability to wake up before 10 a.m. on a weekend (an object at rest tends to stay at rest).

But the boys in the class above us were in there, and all of their parents had conspired to name them with double initials. Our “This is Your Life” stories included DD, RR, SS and other double-named heroes. One of them liked to prop his large, bare feet on the foot rests of the stool beside him. We found this irresistible.

“When Anne saw the hero, RR, walking in the sand, she could tell it was him by his bare feet. ‘RR! I can’t believe you flew to Belize to have dinner with me!'”

We would always wrap up our stories with soap-opera-esque questions: “Why was RR at the beach? Are his shoes still lying by the side of the road? Will Anne convince our tall, dark and handsome hero to wear shoes with his tuxedo when he escorts her to prom? Stay tuned…”

I don’t know why we were never caught. Probably because our teacher was bored by our antics and positively scintillated by mousetrap cars.

Or maybe he felt sorry for us because our creative writing smacked of bottom-of-the-barrel romance novels. “Poor girls. I can’t confiscate their notebook; it’s all they have. These two clearly aren’t going to become astrophysicists.”

When we weren’t sitting on high stools, we were down on the floor, taking part in “hands-on activities.” I’m still not sure what we were supposed to learn by rolling things around in the hallways.

Now, 24 years later, I am taking careful notes about numbers and dates and times and using controls and rules. Karma, my friends. I could write a good “Twilight Zone” episode with my learning experiences this week alone.

The takeaways from this week:

1. ‘John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt’ is apparently a go-to comfort song for me. I did not know that.

2. If you are going to use the time in science class to write creatively, go ahead and start on your first novel. You could get way ahead of the curve.

3. The iPhone 5 is out. Did you hear?

Were there ever classes that you wish you’d tuned into? Or do you feel that activities like creative writing were better uses of your time?


33 thoughts on “Creative Physics

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    To this day I have no understanding of economics. I don’t know if it’s because I completely tuned out of it in my high school class or because I lack the neurons for such a task. I suspect the latter. I will take DNA over dividends and bonds and finance statements any day.

    What is it you’re doing at the science office? If it’s none of my dang business, just say so. 🙂

  2. Holly says:

    The irrestible, propped-up bare feet cracked me up. At least you found a way to make that class interesting. It could cure insomnia, that teacher and that class.

    I wasn’t aware of your love of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” I can’t believe you were actually singing in your sleep–that must have been hilarious for D.

    • annewoodman says:

      I forgot you had the same class and same teacher! A barrel of fun, wasn’t he? We did find rather creative ways to inject fun into otherwise dreary subject matter.

      I do remember loving that song as a kindergartner.

  3. Andria says:

    My senior year in college I still had to take a science course, and somehow I ended up in Physics of Musical Sound. I never felt I was very good at science, so went in with great trepidation. Little did I know that physics is the math side of science and I loved math. I enjoyed the class thoroughly and learned a lot about the music.

    • annewoodman says:

      I’m glad it worked out for you, Andria! I had a statistics class that I did okay in as a surprise that way. I didn’t love it, but I did understand it, amazingly. I guess that’s why it’s good to try new things: you never know what you might excel at.

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    Okay, I was the good girl who really paid attention in all her classes. And, yes, my grades showed it. And I was so not popular because of it (and a host of other reasons….).

    But accounting as an undergraduate did me in. Even though I’m fairly logical and good at math, I just couldn’t get into accounting.

    By the time I finally break down and get a smart phone, they’ll probably be on the iPhone 187. 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Don’t worry. I’m right there with you. I don’t see the point in getting a new phone if the old one works.

      JM, I can’t imagine you not doing well at accounting. It sounds like there’s plenty of math in your job. But maybe accounting is a whole other kettle of fish. ; )

  5. My friends and I used to mess about in biology class a lot. Biology was actually my favourite science but we had a teacher who couldn’t control us. He got his own back at the end of term though when he wrote in my report “Vanessa has made no effort in class this year. Therefore her very good exam result is either a fluke or down to the fact that maybe she actually did a bit of work for once”. Ouch.

    I hated history though, a friend and I used to sit at the back chewing gum and passing notes to each other. It’s not that I hated everything about history, but throughout the last few years of my school life we ony did 20th century history which seemed to just be about the politics surrounding the 2nd World War. I’d find it interesting now, but as a teenage girl, it really didn’t float my boat.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ooooh! It’s funny how you don’t think the teacher is hip to your antics while you’re in high school. Did we think he/she couldn’t see us?

      I actually loved history, but so much of it was a rush of fast facts… it would be so nice if the teachers had time to give a little more interesting twist on what really happened. You’re right–I’m fascinated by WWII now… but maybe in h.s., it wouldn’t have had the same appeal.

  6. Melissa says:

    Sorry, nerd here. Paid attention in class…even Physics. At one point I even understood it…a little. There was nothing that really wowed or bored me in High School. Don’t know why. College on the other hand… if I was thinking about taking a particular class, I’d try to sit outside and listen to the professor that taught the class, just so I could hear his/her voice. If the voice annoyed me, I wouldn’t take the class…priorities, man!

  7. Loved this!
    ‘One of them liked to prop his large, bare feet on the foot rests of the stool beside him. We found this irresistible.’ Took me back to all the random reasons I used to fall in love with boys at school.
    btw – I was dreaming about Tom Cruise last night, having to clear up his hotel room after what appeared to have been a serious sex and alcohol binge…
    I have no idea where this came from as I am on my own in a remote corner of North Wales at the moment.

  8. 4amWriter says:

    They didn’t teach economics in my high school…or wait, they did and I avoided it. I also got out of having to take physics. Woo hoo! I don’t know how I beat the system, but I did. As far as basic math and science, let’s just say I went to class, took notes, passed exams, and did enough to “get by.”

    It doesn’t serve me very well now though, as I try to help my children with their homework and realize I. don’t. get. it.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! I got good grades, so I must have paid attention to some extent, but yes, helping with homework now becomes an issue. They also use neat little “new” ways of coming up with an answer. I was helping my daughter last night with fairly basic word problems, and she was having to draw rectangles with numbers inside to solve for “x.” I could get the answer, but the rectangles proved to be my undoing. ; )

  9. Genetics. If I never see another fruit fly it will be too soon. Hours looking through stereoscopes at nasty little flies. unfortunately, it is not possible to write much while using one. Unless…you would have to write really small. 😉

  10. David Gentry says:


    Your mother told me what to say in case she does not have time to comment on this blog (she did read it): “You were doing WHAT in high school physics class!?”

    Actually, my high school physics and chemistry classes were bummers. Both were taught by the same guy who literally looked down his nose at us (he taught from a platform in front of the room) and expected that we would totally understand the periodic table simply by looking at it! I learned next to nothing in both classes. Turns out the teacher had severe ulcers.

    Turns out that the bar for liking a girl in high school was not high either. She had to be a girl.


    • annewoodman says:

      Glad to know I’m not alone in my distaste for bad science classes. Maybe it’s genetic.

      And tell Mom that I improved my writing skills considerably in that class. That was one major positive.

  11. There were no classes I had wished I had tuned into. Knowing what I know how, however, there were classes I wish I had tuned out of. For example, I should’ve been writing stories in precalculus. Also Spanish.

    My go-to comfort song is “Deck the Halls.” I hum it all year long. I don’t know why.

    • annewoodman says:

      Mike, “Deck the Halls” is a very worthy song. My kids have had entire summers where they played Christmas carols (on the piano)… so I don’t even know that I consider “Deck the Halls” seasonal anymore. ; )

      And yes, I would agree… pre-calculus has helped me not a bit in my grown-up life.

  12. Amy Mak says:

    Funny! I wish I was writing creative stories in classes – I would be way ahead of the curve by now. I avoided math at all costs, taking Spanish instead (I still don’t how those two are interchangeable). In Elem school, sometimes I even just filled in all the bubbles at random on those standardized tests b/c it was so. so. boring. That didn’t help me much as I was forced to go to EXTRA math for being so darn dumb.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! Math or Spanish? Those don’t seem to me to be interchangeable either.

      Yes, I remember the standardized testing being very dull, too. The difference that I can tell is that they used to just be like, “Hey, kids, we’re going to take a test today! How fun!” And they worry the kids about end-of-grade tests all year now. It’s tragic.

  13. Ravena Guron says:

    I dropped physics at the first chance I could! There are classes I tuned out of and I’m glad I did: my maths class, and my French. French, because I would have ended up hating the subject, and maths because MAN that teacher was boring!

    • annewoodman says:

      It’s sad that some teachers can really influence how we feel about the subject. Although I have to be honest… even if my physics teacher had been scintillating, I might not have been too attentive. ; )

  14. I was the annoying kid that “tuned in” all the time. I had to listen, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be ablt to get an “A” in the class.

    I’d like to switch that around and think of which classes I WISH I tuned out. Unfortunately, in retrospect 25 years later…. probably most of them. I could have had more fun, daydreamed, and recieved “B’s” and ended up exactly where I am today.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! It’s funny what looking at things in retrospect will do. I didn’t always tune in, especially in high school, but in college, I went to basically every class–a pretty unpopular thing to do. I loved going to class! Studying? Not as much. But yes, I agree… we learn so much from life itself. And if physics isn’t your thing, maybe it’s best to practice your creative writing in class.

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