Percy Jackson, my hero!

I never got around to finishing book #4 of January. There were too many to choose from and I couldn't stick to just one. I ended up reading the first few chapters of several books. My fickle nature will be the death of me. My boyfriend Toni thinks I have ADHD, which brings to mind book number #1 for Feb: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Theif.  That was a mouthful! 

I watched the movie before I read the book, which is good, otherwise I'd spend the whole lenght of the movie comparing the two, out loud! I'm one of those annoying movie-goers who can't stay quiet. I'm also a sucker for Greek-mythology and I'd watch pretty much anything with Sean Bean. I even watched Silent Hill!

My boyfriend took to calling me goddess or demi-goddess, because in Percy Jackson-verse, a sure sign of divine parentage is dyslexia and ADHD. I pointed out that I don't have ADHD. He replied, "are you sure?"

No. I'm not actually sure. I did date a guy with ADHD for quite awhile and he'd blame it for his tool-like behavior. I'm nothing like him!

The story behind the Percy Jackson is just as great, if not better, as the the series itself. Percy Jackson, diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, began as a character in a bedtime story Rick Riordan created for his own son, Hailey who himself was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. As most dyslexia goes, nine year old Haley had trouble reading, but he was very interested in Greek mythology. When Riordan ran out of Greek myths for the boy, he took up Hailey's suggestion and came up with his own. So began the adventures of Percy Jackson, ADHD and dyslexia addled, modern day son of sea-god Poseidon.

To write off Percy Jackson as a Harry Potter Xerox is to miss the point. While Riordan credits J.K. Rowling as an influence, he explains that both Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are similar, in that they are modeled after the same archetype: an outcast protagonist with horrible monsters standing between him and his great destiny. Lots of stories follow a similar structure and are no less loved for it.

Hailey, now 15 has only praises for the character he inspired. In one interview, he was quoted:

"Percy has changed my life.You read a lot of books and none of them have a hero who is ­dyslexic or has ADHD – it's always perfect people in a perfect world ­doing perfect things. Percy is, in fact, very flawed and he has to fight against that and at the same time fight monsters."

It warms the cockles of my cold little heart, truly it does. Dyslexia is far from being a badge of honor but the more attention it gets the better it is for those suffering from it. It wasn't even a part of my lexicon until high school and even then, I didn't think I had it. I could read, faster than most people in fact. Everything else that didn't seem to function normally with me, I chalked up to something else.

Growing up, there were only two kinds of students: good and bad. You were good if you kept your notebook neat, if you could copy everything from the blackboard, if you're good at spelling, if you can do long division without giving yourself a migrane. I couldn't do any of that. I was a lazy, daydreaming kid who never tried hard enough.

My notebooks/workbooks were a joke as I could never finish copying anything. Often, I'd mirror write, that is, write from right to left insted of the reverse. One of my most vivid school memories was of me volunteering to answer one of the math equations on the board, I got the answer right but the next thing I knew the whole class was laughing and I couldn't understand why. Eventually, after a fit of giggles, my teacher finally condescended to explain that I wrote my answer backwards. That was the last time I ever volunteered for anything that involved writing on the blackboard.

I would go on misspelling words, confusing dance steps, avoiding arithmetic at all cost and writing in my chicken scratch penmanship. Oddly enough, I fell in love with books and grew up to be a voracious reader.

Years later, it took all but 10 minutes for a neurologist to deduce what was wrong with me. It was a dinner party and we were sharing a table. I don't know what it was exactly that made him suspect. Perhaps he noticed how rattled I got with a harmless "left or right" question. He asked me if I make a lot of spelling errors, reverse my letters, etc.. Apparently, he was guilty of all the same things. That's how his dyslexia manifested.

I was just relieved there's someone to tell me I'm not an idiot. Not that I ever believed I was an idiot, but certainly I knew something was wrong with me. I still misspell words a lot (thank you Lord for spell checkers!) and I'll hesitate for a split second if you ask me a "left or right" question. But that's as bad as it gets. I'm an otherwise perfectly functional human being. I wish I could hunt down all my elementary teachers and tell them that. Kids aren't necessarily dumb or lazy if they can't read, spell or if they're not good in maths (it's not the theory, it's the numbers!). I'd bet my appendix and my spleen that I'm smarter and I've read more books than 3/4 of those kids who ever laughed at me.
To keep to the spirit of this post I wont use the spell checker. Enjoy deciphering through my mess. Be glad this wasn't hand-written.

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