I woke up this morning to a text that required me to be a bit introspective. Initially, it lead me to two realizations. The first being that I know my friends REALLY well. The second, though, was the one that stuck with me (and also made for a much better post than the first). The question? “What’s one question you always get asked?”
I thought about it for a good while. Tried to mentally tally up years of instinctive questions. But when that didn’t work, I decided to gather outside input and I started a poll. I asked a handful of people what question THEY would think that I’m frequently asked. A few of the fundamental answers were to be expected: inquiring about my tattoos, asking if I’m alright (because I probably just choked on air or tripped over my own two feet), or some version of wanting to know how old I am (because I have a baby face and don’t look like I’m even close to the legal age to [insert anything with an age limit here]). My favorite part about this experiment was that every person that I asked, save for two, had the same leading response: “Probably whether or not your boobs are real.” After the first person responded that way, I realized that this is the real answer. That is absolutely the question I get asked more than any other and, yes, they are and I hate them. Moving on…
The one answer that I liked best was, unsurprisingly, the vaguest.
“What does that mean?”
When explored out of context, I can see how it might seem odd that this is a question that I’m asked on a regular basis. The problem with this inquiry is WHY I’m asked it so often. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m very fond of vocabulary and the literary world. So much so, that in high school, a select group of my peers nicknamed me Webster because they considered me to be a walking dictionary. I enjoyed sounding intelligent when I spoke to people (partially because sometimes I like to feel pretentious but mostly because I believe intelligence is important). I remember countless conversations that would begin with my feeling passionate and excited to have a discussion that went deeper than the cliche goings on of us as high school students. I would dive so deeply into my mind to find and present these thoughts that I was so very proud to have and gratified to be able to appropriately express only to be met with dense reverberation. People would say things like, “Man, sometimes the way you talk, it’s just crazy,” thusly, ending the conversation. They couldn’t respond because they had no idea what I had just said and didn’t care to try to understand further. It was disheartening. Over time, I became upset with myself because I was so lackadaisical about, not only my writing but my vocabulary as well. I’d let my passion for beautiful and complex words fall by the wayside. I no longer cared to access that artistic part of myself because it seemed pointless if no one could keep up. I have hopes that this epiphany (and my efforts to try and change this bleak attitude) will inspire others to push themselves to want to learn more. To be moved by the fact that there are so many spectacular ways to express each and every mood or feeling and impress the same desire and perspective onto others so that we don’t have to live in a world where passion is stunted by someone asking you to “say it dumber.”
I spend a lot of time thinking about how, by societal standards, I’m behind in life. I’m bombarded daily with information about the people in my graduating class who are now homeowners with spouses and kids and careers and life insurance policies. I’m not even sure about the specifics on my car insurance policy. Now, do not misunderstand, I’m not making fun of my peers (at least not for the aforementioned topics) because I do want those things. But I feel like I’m missing that piece that allows you to understand everyday life and how it comes together. Paying for a family, saving for college funds, having that cushion in case your car breaks down. Mostly, it just gives me a lot of anxiety.
When I was in high school (and any other time in my life, in fact) I struggled severely with math. I could never make it make sense to me which was beyond frustrating because it was fairly cut and dry. Everything had a formula and a specific calculation but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. My senior year, this almost interfered with my being able to walk at my high school graduation. Looking back on it, it probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal to me if it hadn’t meant so much to my family. I still would have gotten my diploma, just a little later and way less concern about trying to keep my feet from coming up over my head, lest I trip in my heels that I never properly learned to walk in. I was failing my algebra class (although, I still maintain this was not my fault as my regular teacher ended up leaving the school year early with a broken leg and the substitute had more of an “I’m just here to make sure you don’t die or set the place on fire” attitude). Since failing the class would have put me one credit short of a timely graduation, my grandparents discussed the best course of action with my counselors and they decided that I could take the class period before my normal math class (where I was a teacher’s aide, and it was probably for the best because this particular group of underclassmen were shit-asses) to attend the same class the hour before with a different teacher. I had been taught by him previously (the summer after I, rather poetically, bombed my geometry class) and if you were to ask me now, I couldn’t possibly give you a straight answer as to why he made math in general so clear to me. It was like he translated it from the dead language it always sounded like into this beautiful musical soundtrack that played on repeat. I tried to blame it on the fact that he was pretty easy on the eyes, but that has been ruled out as any sort of credible reason, since my geo teacher was fun to stare at as well (and as noted, that did not save me in the least). Somehow, after just a few days in this new setting, I knew exactly what I was doing like I’d been doing it for years. By the time my regular class would start, I had already moved on to completing the next day’s assignment. I was able to soak up just enough information to secure a solid C on my final, just barely skating me into the passing percentage and allowing me that terrifying walk up the stage steps to that oddly important piece of paper (its current location, completely unknown, at present).
So maybe, that’s what I’m missing. That one substance or unit that takes every piece of information about life that I just don’t understand and filters into something I can’t wait to hear again and again. Like, a phonograph. I always imagined that was how they worked.
This will be the third time that I’ve erased my first sentence and started again and I can’t completely decide why. Perhaps it’s just been so long since I’ve put my thoughts down on paper (virtual…paper) or maybe it’s the fact that the new grammar app I’ve installed is trying to convince me that “a while” is not actually two separate words. Awhile. It’s strange to think that I’ve never considered that maybe they were supposed to be together. They look much more majestic apart. A part? I’m not sure I know for certain. For weeks now, I’ve been considering that maybe my talents in writing were being wasted but I can’t, for my life, figure out how to properly utilize them and I guess that’s why I’m doing this. That, and I can’t justify going back to school. So I’m venturing into the chaotic novel that is my brain to see what I can pull out of here. The piano music playing in my ears makes this all feel and sound a lot more profound than it’ll probably be to me later. I feel limited by the fact that I can’t get my mind to settle on one particular thought before it jumps to the next. My head is a constant run on sentence which is ironic. But I hear people love irony in literary work. I have all these projects and ideas that I’m bursting at the seems to execute, but I can’t even perfect the preliminaries. I guess what I really mean to say, is that I’m feeling a bit inadequate. In these moments, I realize that I’ve dipped my toes into plenty of types of sand but never found one that I felt secure enough to build a castle in. Since this is the only aspect of any “talent” I’ve ever shown some sort of potential in, it makes sense that I cling to it. I’m pretentious with my words. This initial bit was supposed to be thoughts as they come. Which, if I had stayed true to that tactic, would have translated into the fact that I dragged my ever-patient boyfriend on a three-hour quest for Dippin’ Dots today. Or that I actually said “binano splat” when I ordered the banana split flavor because I’m pretty sure my brain is a Tumblr page at this point. But, instead, the things I spend the most time writing about are the thoughts about thoughts. I should change my technique.
When I was…younger, I got my foot caught in the wheel of a bicycle and fractured (sprained?) my ankle. I ended up on crutches and in a cast that went all the way up to my knee. Mobility was a fairly dim memory for me for a…while. Instead of going to recess with my classmates, the teachers let me sit in the lounge with them (and eat their spaghetti which was significantly more tasty than whatever slop they ever served us for lunch). They would give me books to read and workbooks to complete and honestly, it was some of the most fun I ever had throughout my entire elementary career. I didn’t want to go out and play dodge ball or tag (mainly because I remember one kid getting tagged so hard that he fell on a pencil that someone dropped and somehow got it stuck in his ass cheek). I wanted to immerse myself in these magical pages, these still life inspirations with all of their possibilities. I wanted to go to the places I read about. Especially the ones that didn’t already exist. Because I was able to MAKE them exist solely using the combinations of letters and sounds that the authors so cleverly arranged. Up until the only thing I could do was read, I didn’t know how badly I WANTED to read. So now, deep down, beneath it all, what I think I really want more than anything, is to make other people feel that way too. I want to be so eloquent as to make others anticipate what comes next. So, welcome, any who are curious or bored enough to explore. I’ll have you know that you’re delving and diving alongside my own self. If I ever collect enough knowledge of this art and my ability to master it, you’ll have been along from the beginning. Consider me a walking, talking, breathing, bumbling set of words and spaces and commas. And let’s hope that, even if it isn’t going to be a best seller, at least it’ll have a happy ending.