Kage Baker hated tests, Any and all tests, for anything at all; she simply detested being evaluated. It was mostly for things in which she had no interest anyway; and often considered were no one else’s business.

She knew she could read. She knew she could write. Both abilities were self-demonstrating, if a teacher were paying any attention at all. For the rest … maths, geography, all the varied sciences: Kage figured there was either nothing that could make them explicable to her, or that reference works would be available to her in adulthood. She was pretty well convinced, though, that nothing she learned would ever again be of use to her, at least not in that specific form in which it was presented and tested for in her school days.

She was probably right. Kage was certainly not one of those kids who fit well or easily into the assembly-line format of standard schooling. She was one of the ones who slips through unseen, a shadow in the doorway, on her way to somewhere else. It was obvious to all her frustrated teachers that she was very, very bright – and also that she had no interest in taking part in the aspects of scholarship to which they thought that brightness should have led her. Why doesn’t she live up to her potential? countless teachers wailed.

Kage said later that there was no greater curse for a bright child than potential.

School systems have always struggled with kids like Kage, and more often than not they have failed. Standard classes have almost no way to reach that elusive spark of potential, and in their efforts to expose it they usually put it out. Kage was tougher than most, and more stubborn – she put her head down and slogged her way through 12 years of lessons and tests. Then she ran away with the circus and spent the rest of her life writing.

A lot of writers have childhoods like that. In Kage’s case, she maintained that she just too private a person to put up with being tested. Being published was much easier – because she got to decide what was going on display, and no one had to read the answers unless they wanted to.

Medical tests, of course, were different. They were inescapable. And by going to a doctor in the first place, one sort of requested them. That was one of the main reasons Kage put off going to a doctor in the first place – she didn’t want to ask for tests; she didn’t want to know the answer. Besides, as she said, it was bloody depressing to have passing the test be the problem.

I’m going in for some more tests on my eccentric heart tomorrow – stress testing. Hopefully on a treadmill, because the chemical alternative is an amazing drag – one ends up strapped to a table, head downward, while weird chemicals race through one’s bloodstream and aggravate one’s heart into beating too fast. Or, in my case, usually don’t … the techs get very annoyed then.

Of course, I usually fall off the treadmill. I have the last two times. I tend to pass out before any useful data is gathered; except the dubious information that if I run too fast, I faint. But I intend to try, because I really don’t enjoy that head-down-drugs-in-your veins route.

However the stress test happens, I am hoping it will supply the answer to why my heart is not beating fast enough. The tide of my blood keeps stalling out; then I get dizzy and fall down. My blood pressure is ludicrous, and reads like something someone calls out just before the patient codes.

At least I’ll be a part of the campus that has lots of aquariums. I’ll just think of it as going to visit the fishies.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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9 Responses to Tests

  1. Tom says:

    Wishing you every good wish and stash of secret test-answer flash cards, m’dear.


  2. Luisa Puig says:

    Best wishes, Kathleen! Say ‘Hi’ to the fishies for me.


  3. Steven says:

    I myself much preferred the drug version. I first had one of these treadmill things when I was 55. It was administered by a dour and grumpy gentleman who mowed large patches of body hair with a very poor dry razor, witch took off much of the skin under it. I had already walked the better part of the width of Pasadena’s older sections, from Lake and Villa to Huntington Memorial. It was a hot walk. Well commenced to tread and it was fine for a while, and then it got faster and steeper and I was miserable. I asked if this was about over and I was told that there was another increase of speed and one more inclination to go. I then inquired about what constituted a passing grade for this test. He was not amused, and neither was I. This had cost more money than most of the cars I had bought, and since they were plainly grading on the curve I was done , and to shut the damn thing off. This las spring I had another with the drug. no scraping in the landing places, no sweat except for the intended vague panic. Over in mere momentsI passed with flying colours “for a man of my habits and experiences”.



  4. Ruth Temple says:

    In hyperlocal news, I might just NEED the phrase “there is no greater curse for a bright child than potential.” on a T-shirt or book bag sized tote.
    Wishing you ease and a healthy heart in those tests.


  5. mizkizzle says:

    Ugh. Medical tests are dreadful, especially if they refuse to render you unconscious first. I really think doctors make up half of these tests out of a sort of sadistic boredom. Good luck. Enjoy the fish.


  6. johnbrownson says:

    I possess, I am told, some sort of non-life-threatening cardiac anomaly. My plumbing seems to have been laid out by someone other than the usual contractor, but at 78, I guess I don’t have to worry about it cutting my life short. One of the benefits of age.
    I took a treadmill stress test, a couple dozen years ago, and about one minute in, the med techs totally freaked out at the readings. They practically yanked me off the treadmill and had me sit down, while they deployed stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs- I suspect they had a syringe full of something, just out of sight. I was perfectly all right, felt fine, but I scared the hell out of them, evidently. That’s the last time I was ever on a treadmill, except at the gym, where I happily stress my heart three times a week. Still tickin’.


    • Kate says:

      Oh, Buff, that’s hilarious! I shouldn’t, but I am amused when the techs get scared. I think it’s because they so rarely share information – I have to badger them to give me details, and so I get the giggles when something in me startles them.

      I’m very glad that whatever eccentricity your heart gets upt ot is harmless to you, though.


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