I was a grind.
That was the word for it back in the day: the kid who sweated the details, who made flashcards. A striver, a grade-hog, a worker bee — that kid — and I can see him clearly now, almost 40 years later, bent over a textbook, squinting in the glow of a cheap desk lamp.
I can see him early in the morning, too, up and studying at 5 o’clock: sophomore year, high school, his stomach on low boil because he can’t quite master — what? The quadratic formula? The terms of the Louisiana Purchase? The Lend-Lease policy, the mean value theorem, Eliot’s use of irony as a metaphor for … some damn thing?