So, tonight I’m competing in an adult spelling bee to benefit the Howard Area Community Center’s adult literacy program.* I’d like to say I haven’t posted today because I’ve been too busy studying, but I have not studied one bit. I can get nearly all of the 280 words used in last year’s National Adult Spelling Bee off the top of my head, and when you get into actual study guides, fucking forget about it. I watched Akeelah and the Bee recently (as part of my usual Al’s out of Town Self-Indulgence Program, which includes eating pasta**, turning on all the lights in the house, and watching movies I wouldn’t be able to hear for all the, “Oh my fucking god, YOU’RE REALLY WATCHING THIS??” if he were around), and since the whole thing is two straight hours of watching a girl study for a goddamned spelling bee — representing months of actual studying — I have been seriously disabused of the notion that the amount of studying I could do for this would make a dent. Not to mention the notion that I would enjoy studying for a spelling bee more than, say, sticking my head in the oven.

Despite spelling bees being about the only kind of organized competition I might have any prayer of kicking ass in, I haven’t been in one since I got knocked out of a classroom bee in 5th grade for spelling “aggressive” with one G. (For those of you who just saw me whine about this in the Tiny Superpowers thread, sorry.) AND I KNEW IT HAD TWO! The problem is, although I am an excellent fucking speller, thankyouverymuch, I’m not nearly as good at spelling aloud as I am at spelling on paper. In my head, I see “prepossessing,” but out of my mouth comes, “P-R-E-P-O-S-S- wait, shit, where was I? S?” So it’s entirely possible I’ll lose in the first round tonight, but hey, that just means more drinking.

If you’re on the north side of Chicago, please feel free to come cheer me on at 7 p.m. at Morseland. And you know what cheer I’m talking about.

*In answer to the obvious question: Kiyonna giraffe-print wrap top, J. Jill cami, and dark denim Right Fit flares.

**No, he is not anti-carb. He is just, quite inexplicably, anti-pasta. Also, anti-lights.

55 thoughts on “BE! AGRESSIVE!”

  1. Dude, there are adult spelling bees? Holy shit. I totally did not know this, and I am jealous now, and I want to compete. Except without all the studying.

    I’ve been sad ever since I won my school spelling bee in elementary school but then there was no other level to ascend to, because of where I lived. Sigh.

  2. Portland used to have one once a month at Mississippi Pizza and I totally wanted to go and compete and dress in costume. I never have.

    Good luck Kate.

    B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E

  3. Kate, you will do just fine and I second that thought up there:

    Dude, there are adult spelling bees? Holy shit. I totally did not know this…

    Ya, me either! Good luck, you will get far, if not… win ;)
    You are a great writer so I don’t see ya fallin on your face one bit. Happy competing!

  4. Dude, there are adult spelling bees? Holy shit. I totally did not know this,

    Damn, and you’re in Chicago, too, aren’t you? If I’d known, I would have told you!


    (Which I suppose would mean “not making progress”?)

    Anyway, I’m mad jealous. I’ve never gotten to do a spelling bee, and I am an aewsum spelr.


    Shit, that would have been way funnier. Oh, wait! Edit button! It’s not into the feed yet!

    (Which I suppose would mean “not making progress”?)


  7. My tragic spelling story involves 2nd grade and the word “bicker.” Oh, the shame.

    I wish I were going to an adult spelling bee tonight. Instead, I’ll be sitting in a dark, cold house wearing 85 layers of clothing. Our electricity has been out since early Monday morning and I’m starting to go a wee bit mad. Okay, self-pity’s over.

    Good luck at the bee!

  8. Awesome! I did the National Spelling Bee thing back when I was in 7th grade and died in the 3rd round on “scansion” (a word I had, rightfully, never heard of at age 12). If I had made it into the 4th round, I would have been on TV. I vaguely regret that.

    While I hate the CULTURE of spelling bees (watch Spellbound if you want to know what I mean), I love bees themselves. Yay learning big words for almost no reason!

    (There have been years when the kids’ list was harder.)

  9. I used to purposely lose spelling bees at school, because I have really awful performance anxiety. In seventh grade, some of my classmates lost a bunch of money because they bet on me to win. (Had I known they had bet, I may have actually tried to win.)

    Good luck Kate!

  10. Y’all are familiar with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” soundtrack, yes? HI-larious

    Have tons of fun!!

  11. Add me into the “There are adult spelling bees in Chicago??!?!?!” camp. I am a stickler for the spelling. I won my sixth grade spelling bee on “geranium”.

    I wish I still had that damn trophy.

    Good luck! Spell your ass off!

  12. You’re going to be in my neighborhood. Good luck! I wish I could be there to cheer you because I just love the hell out of your blog.

  13. ack! grrr… pft…. I can’t even begin the describe the horror of losing in the first round of my 4th grade spelling bee. It was just me and one other girl and the teacher didn’t like me so she actually gave the win to the other girl even though she spelled butterscotch as b-u-t-e-r.

    I cried. I have to admit I’m kind of shaking right now.

    God be with you Dearest Kate. And your outfit will be fabulous!

  14. Good luck, Kate — Bee Agresieve. You’re going to be not far from where I live (in the Loop), but alas, other Holiday Plans will interfere with me coming to see you. On the other hand, my mental pause has completely fucked up my ability to remember things, including common spellings of simple words, so it’s a good thing I’m not a participant.

  15. Good Luck! I can’t spell out loud worth a damn either. I do the same “Oh crap where was I” thing.

    And on an unrelated note **No, he is not anti-carb. He is just, quite inexplicably, anti-pasta. Also, anti-lights.

    I just don’t understand how anyone can be anti-pasta! My best friend is as Italian-American as you can possibly get…and she hates pasta. Makes her mom crazy. And I just don’t understand. I go over to her mom’s place and have the real stuff MADE FROM SCRATCH and I’m in heaven!!

  16. It’s so funny about the pasta! My husband is so totally anti-pasta that not only does he not want to eat it but he doesn’t
    really like to see it on the table. Potatoes the way Kate like them on the other hand – he would be in heaven!

  17. I don’t understand it, either, LL. His story is that his dad worked in a lot of Italian restaurants when he was growing up, so he got tons of leftovers from there, and his parents both liked cooking pasta, too, so he just ate enough of it for one lifetime before he left their house. I have seen him eat the occasional plate of ravioli, and he likes gnocchi — but doesn’t count it as pasta — but when we’re trying to figure out what to make for dinner, “Why don’t we just have pasta?” (my default for the 10 years before I met him) does NOT fly around here. Even good pasta, not just spaghetti and bottled marinara.(Which I love, mind you, but it’s a little less exciting than other kinds.) I had pumpkin ravioli in homemade burnt butter-sage sauce while watching Akeelah and the Bee. It was AWESOME.

  18. Oh, God, I just had flashbacks to eighth grade. Final round, four other students. Phillips Prep Middle School. Lots of snotty rich kids. And me.

    Please spell “hundredth.”


    Aaaaaaaah. Incorrect. I haven’t forgotten the fucking D since then.

    And wait, who is that kid in the YouTube clip??

    And for the twentieth time today, good luck Kate!

  19. I had pumpkin ravioli in homemade burnt butter-sage sauce while watching Akeelah and the Bee. It was AWESOME.

    He won’t even eat that??? That’s go so much flair its barely even pasta! And I knock my boyfriend for his hatred of cheese…

    And when you said homemade…does that mean you have the recipe?

  20. The trick to spelling out loud for those who have trouble: pretend to write the word with your finger on your other hand.

    I don’t know if that will fly in a spelling bee, but it helps a lot when your officemate goes, “hey, how do you spell [some random word]?” “Uhhhhh….”

    And, hey, that’s the only cheer I remember from being a middle school cheerleader! (My friends mock me now.)

  21. And when you said homemade…does that mean you have the recipe?

    Yeah, it’s pretty much:
    -heat some butter in a frying pan (wait, it really IS fried butter!)
    -with some sage


    Of course, I had to google “burnt butter sage sauce” to find that out, after having it at a restaurant. You can do the same for specific instrux, but that’s really all it is. (Some will tell you to clarify the butter, but others say that’s not necessary, so I didn’t bother.)

    Tari, I hope you make it out of work!

  22. That’s so cool – I wish we had adult spelling bees ’round these parts! I loved spelling bees as a kid – I was a book-a-holic and have a semi-photographic memory, so I’ve always been good at spelling; it was only getting up on stage that made me nervous. I made it to the state finals in 5th grade, but messed up on “chaff” – thought that seemed to obvious a spelling for the state finals. I’ll never forget again!

    Good luck!

  23. whatever you do: don’t “loose”!

    Paul, I forgot to LOL at that upthread! As I’ve said to trolls before, if you can’t spell “lose,” don’t fucking tell me how to do it.

  24. I got one of my first jobs as an editorial assistant because I was the first applicant “ever” who had scored 100 on the spelling test they gave. He said nobody ever spelled zucchini right. This was circa 1986. Gah.

    Katy, Katy, she’s our man, if she can’t do it, no one can! Gooooooo, Katy!

    (Yes, Shapelings, Kate used to be a Katy — with a “y,” please.)

  25. (Yes, Shapelings, Kate used to be a Katy — with a “y,” please.)

    That might, in fact, be the root source of my obsession with spelling things correctly.

    Also, did you seriously just use quotation marks for emphasis?

  26. “No clue. I searched on ‘Be aggressive cheer’ and found his adorable dorkiness amusing.”

    It is! I think you should picture him when you’re spelling.

    Oh, and for the love of God, can anyone tell me how to do I do italics in the comments? I thought it was on either side of the phrase, but that keeps effing up the rest of the comment when I do it. Argh.

  27. riddlebiddle, you need to put a / in the closing tag. So italics would be like italicised words but without the spaces (we’ll see if that works).

  28. Argh, it didn’t work. Okay, the tag before the phrase has i between the little bracket things, the tag after the phrase has /i between the little bracket things.

  29. I started this. It’s all for me. What’s yours is mine and mine is mine. That’s plain to see. So give it up. I’ve got to have. I swallow, I swallow, I SWALLOW, I SWALLOW.

    Be aggressive.
    B-e aggressive.

    haha… I’m more of a speech person than a spelling person…

    Good luck Kate. Be aggressive!

  30. Thanks, Becky. I’m going to futz around with it on my own blog so I don’t keep continuing this non sequitur on Kate’s!

  31. I swallow, I swallow, I SWALLOW, I SWALLOW.

    Please tell me cheerleaders don’t actually yell that in public.

    I hope this isn’t one of those spelling bees where EVERYONE IS A WINNER.

    Oh, fuck no. There’s reportedly a trophy, and I WANT IT! AND THE GLORY! THE GLOOOORRRRREEEEEE!

    The charity part is just that there was a minimum $10 donation to spell, and the audience is being asked for a minimum $5 donation.

    Oh, and riddlebiddle, it looks like this [i]italic[/i], only with angle brackets instead of square.

  32. Hee!
    I could be married to you, Kate! I am anti-lights. I hate all manner of overheading lighting. That harsh glare just angers me! I’m only happy if no one can see or read a fucking thing at night.

    I love pasta and girl movies, though.

  33. Yea, Katy with a y! From another Katy with a y who corrected everyone growing up. I still answer to Katy from family, but somewhere around Freshman year of High School I decided Krista was far more grown up.

    And for those wondering, my middle name is Kathryn- I was named after my Aunt. ;)

  34. Won the sixth grade spelling bee in my elementary and went on to lose several rounds into the counties. I misspelled wayfarer. There is supposedly still a plaque in the elementary school with my name on it :-)

  35. I had this sort of ridiculous relationship with spelling bees as a kid. I won my elementary school bee five years in a row and the last couple of years other people simply refused to compete with me. Sadly, I lost every year at the county level. I have some theories about this, mostly bitter ones about lack of support and people in Hometown hating smart kids, but I won’t go into details. At any rate, spelling was really my game. If I hear of any adult bees around here I’ll have to jump in. ;) Good luck!!

  36. Also, did you seriously just use quotation marks for emphasis?

    Yes, I consciously chose to uses the quotation marks because without them, it looked like this:

    with a y, please.

    If I had it to do over again (redundant, I know) I would probably go with an upper-case Y. pbbbllft!

  37. You know, Al sounds like the mega-cool, but Akeelah kicks maor butt.

    Little kids that are going to mature into brilliant actors? Angela Bassett against type?


    That is all.

  38. Kate, you’re briliant. I’m saving “[i]italic[/i],” (with quotes) in my Gmail drafts so I won’t have to ask the protelariat again.

  39. Tonsil, it turns out, does not have two “L”s.

    Tonsillitis, however, has 2! That was another word someone else got that would have knocked me out, actually, ’cause I thought it only had one. (And in fact, dictionary.com allows for “tonsilitis” as a variant spelling, but Webster’s doesn’t.)

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