Sunday, November 18, 2007

Part 3 - Where I am Not Discovered

Scroll down for Parts 1 and 2.

I’m not about to say that when I read Sula I had a life changing experience and that the book spoke to me and that I identified with not just Sula but also with Nell and that the book shook me to the core of my soul and made me realize that I had to go to college and MAKE SOMETHING OF MYSELF! If my life were an Afterschool Special maybe that’s what would have happened, but my life is real and in real life things don’t exactly happen like that.

Two things happened. First, when I read Sula, I finally felt like I could barely sort of begin to understand a Toni Morrison storyline, which was a small miracle. The second thing that happened was that the more I read the more pissed off at the Boy with the PhD I became, and I don’t think the two things were related in any way except that I was doing them both at the same time.

Some time when someone offers a critique of you and you find yourself blind with a rage that makes blood pour out of your eyeballs, consider for a moment that perhaps the reason you are so angry is because perhaps the person offering the critique of you is right and you know they’re right and you don’t want them to be right because you just want to be right for once instead. I knew Mr. PhD was right, but I had just read Bridget Jones and I wanted someone to like me exactly as I was, all uneducated, with a job that was going nowhere, depressed and living in my parents’ guest room. I understood that Mr. PhD needed something more than a mildly cute girl who wasn’t annoying and who shared his love of Thai noodles, good sex, Radiohead and dark, ironic humor. But the fact that I understood, did not mean that I would admit I understood and it did not mean that I would concede defeat to some other girl who was a Chiropractor or Psychologist just because she had a degree and I didn’t. I was still mad.

I went through 2 more jobs in about six months and all the while PhD and I acted exactly as if we were in a relationship although we weren’t, and the whole time we dated other people and got violently jealous over each other about it. The whole time I knew I needed to go back to school, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually go over to the community college and sign up.

I have a dreadful character trait that I struggle with constantly. I never have any problem making up my mind. I always know what I want and what I ought to do, but often I can not take the steps needed to act on my desires. I take forever to do things. Years sometimes. I’m currently doing this now with a Yoga class. I know I want to take the Yoga class but I can’t seen to actually go and take the damn class, yet I spend hours thinking about how I am at some point GOING to take the Yoga class. This is what I was doing with school.

One day PhD was being what I perceived as particularly condescending and it probably had something to do with me not having heard of something or pronouncing something wrong or calling Hispanic people Spanish. Perhaps it had to do with my family, who PhD didn’t like or approve of. Maybe he had gone on another date with a degree. I don’t know, but what I do know is that he finally made me so angry, so flushed and trembling with fury, that I finally had the catalyst I needed to go to the community college registrar and sign up for a class.

This happened during the summer and it was the week before the shortened summer classes began. I was babysitting Aunt Kiki’s younger two daughters Brooke Lynn and Hunter, who are excellent forms of birth control. I have only once in my life encountered worse children than Brooke Lynn and Hunter, and on the day that I went to sign up for Community College, I had to take these two hellions with me and I knew that everyone thought they were my rotten kids. As I stood in line they fought. They dripped popsicle all over the floor and themselves. Brooke Lynn got gum in her hair. Hunter made incessant farting noises, some of which were genuine flatulence. Generally the two children caused an embarrassing scene and made me want to hack them into small pieces and bury them under the foundation of a tract home. I confess to having jerked them each by the arm a couple times, but they were used to that so I threatened to lock them in the hot car to suffocate and when that didn’t work I promised to take them to the Cheesecake Factory, which did work. For like two minutes.

Most of the classes were closed so I had to sign up for a Speech Class, a History Class and then I had to go take a test to see what Math I could be in, and it turned out that I was actually, literally retarded in math, so I had to be in a super extra remedial class for people who are super extra dumb and can’t figure out tips in restaurants.

After this I felt worse about myself. I didn’t feel triumphant or educated. I actually felt like worse white trash. I wasn’t proud of going to Community College. I cringed when I had to emblazon the parking sticker on my bumper which advertised that I could not get into a real college if my life depended on it. PhD didn’t make me feel any better because he had gone to good colleges and couldn’t take CC seriously. I don’t even think he was mildly fazed by my enrollment.

Because I had watched too many Lifetime movies and read several Chick Lit/ Inspirational novels for women who are idiots, I imagined an elaborate scenario in which a teacher would notice me, the quiet girl in the back of the classroom, and realize that although I had problems and had endured tragedy that I was actually a genius the likes of which this little Community College had never seen. The teacher would take me under his or her wing and I would be a star student, getting As on everything, excelling wildly and winning awards that never even existed but that the school had to make up just because I was that fantastic at everything. Then I would go to Harvard and be really famous at something and win a Nobel Prize and come home from Sweden to a ticker tape parade in my honor where I would ride in the back of an antique convertible wearing a tiara and a sash and waving very slowly. I’m not kidding you. I really believed this would happen, which may be the final proof of my stupidity.

Obviously this has not occurred.

I failed my first History paper because I didn’t know how to use punctuation and I didn’t indent. I had no clue what the hell MLA citation meant and I didn’t know how to use “quotes” (Me 28).

As a complicated defense mechanism I became very stuck up. I was better than Community College (yeah right, please) and I felt like I was above everyone else there (also not true). Community College is definitely not glamorous. It’s the government cheese of education; a Brazilian jean and baggy short wearing conglomeration of the ghetto and a trailer park. A classroom at the CC looks like someone rounded up the customers at Wal-Mart, complete with old people, and forced them to learn something together whether they liked it or not. I believed that since I didn’t shop at Wal-Mart that I didn’t belong in the super extra remedial math class with all of Wal-Mart’s shoppers either. I also joked that I went to Port Au Prince Community College because of all the Haitian students, but when a very sweet Haitian girl explained to me that her relatives died coming over on a raft and that she lived in a one bedroom apartment with 15 other people and worked three jobs just to go to Community College so that she could be a nurse, then I stopped being such an asshole because I realized that there were people who had come a lot further than I had and who had way worse problems than I did.

I was not a star student. I didn’t stand out and the teachers didn’t have to wear sunglasses to class due to the glare of my shining brilliance. I was pretty much just like everyone else, although I’d like to believe that I was slightly better dressed. I went to class, I took notes, I studied and I tried really hard to do my homework right and on time. I was pretty, tragically ordinary.

Though I had hoped to discover some hidden talent, like gene splicing, I didn’t. You didn’t think this was going to be the story where a teacher sees through all my technical errors to uncover the latent genius in my writing and then tells me I should be a writer, did you? Good, because that STILL hasn’t happened, although the closest I’ve come in six years was last Tuesday when a teacher hit me on the head with my own manuscript and issued me a very cryptic and deadpan “Keep writing” which I have yet to decode.

I never even knew I had a way with words until I met White Chocolate in Speech class.

To Be Continued...


Anonymous said...

To be continued?

Anonymous said...

Refreshingly honest, again. I am LOVING your daily posts!

Wide Lawns said...

Yes to be continued. I was in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

Your "in a hurry" is pretty good. Excellent in fact.

Anom. Reader

Anonymous said...

You are such an inspiration. Thank you so much for writing this story. It will doubtlessly persuade many people to quit procrastinating and actually do the things that they know they should be doing.

Thanks again. I love your website and read it all the time.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for about a month now and I keep coming back...I must say you've got me hooked! I'll keep reading here until you publish the great write!!

Wide Lawns said...

Anom. Reader, what do you mean?

MP said...

smack on the head doubled here...keep writing..please

ps..I love that you have a Christmas tree

Anonymous said...

I would proffer that your instructor sees your current work as coal...with will ensue...keep writing.

Architect Critic said...

Well I must say that your writing has certainly improved since then. I haven't actually read anything of yours from that period, but now your spelling, grammar and punctuation are much better than average. Some other blogs are very difficult for me to read, as I often find myself correcting them rather than reading them. I guess that's what happens when you have a bachelor's degree in English.

During my academic career, I rarely was able to take some of the "fun" classes like the proverbial "Underwater Basket Weaving." For the longest time I had been talking about learning to weld, and today I finally signed up for a class at the local community college.

I am glad you decided to go back to school and am grateful for your willingness to share your stories with us.

Unknown said...

I think I must have deleted my comment instead of posting it.

Sometimes I wrestle with the concept that your story is non fiction, but then again, life can get pretty weird.

Once upon a time, a shrinky person explained the procrastination thing to me. She called it the three P's of Perfectionism.

Because one is a Perfectionist (for a variety of reasons) she/he Procrastinates, wanting to be certain to perform the "task" Perfectly.

She ruminates over the task during the Procrastination period and the task becomes larger than life.

That's when the Paralysis sets in.

It takes one to know one!

Keep up the good work!


LadyJane said...

Well, for what it's worth, I learned a long time ago(in therapy) that the inability to finish tasks (or even start them, sometimes) is one of the traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics. What makes it even weirder is that my parents didn't drink At All, but all of us have those traits. They were just erratic enough to cause those problems in the children. It sounds like this is your problem, too.

So, I managed to finally get through community college and university and get into a good career, so you will too! Just being able to face your own adversity (who needs other people? We can cripple ourselves!) and overcome it is a HUGE accomplishment! Congratulations! I'm loving your blog. I'm not a writer like you, but I did get the math genes. To each his own.

Wide Lawns said...

Pat that's me.

LJ - my parents arent alcoholics though.

Charlottex said...

Thanks for this writing this tale in all its various parts. I have always loved what you write, especially about your family. My family is also strange and slightly tragic. I also procrastinate to the point of paralysis. Oh, and I have my own Evil Ex.
Sometimes your blog provides more inspiration to me to keep going to school (for the second time)and keep my eyes on the prize. I wish that I lived in Florida (gasp!) so that you and I could be secretly best friends, or pen pals, or the people who get dressed up to watch the Oscars at home.
Keep it up gal!

Anonymous said...

where is part 4?

Anonymous said...

Who is White Chocolate? Is there a Part 4?

I'm feeling a little "special" today, so maybe I missed it? Oh dear.

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