Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone."

Why can't professors just recognize and accept that sometimes there are things more important than paying attention in class? Today in Shakespeare, I was hit with the sudden urge to write something. Anyone who knows me knows that I haven't been very happy with my writing lately and am desperately working myself through a 3-month long spell of writer's block. So, naturally, when the familiar itch crept into my hand, I allowed my eyes to glaze over and I indulged it. Dr. Garrity, however, must not have understood how monumental this moment was for me, and called on me to answer a question (which, of course, I had not heard... and not having finished reading the play or even spark-noting the last few scenes, I couldn't even BS my way to an acceptable answer). I admitted I had not been following and everyone laughed-- I thought I was done. But he continued to press me for nearly five minutes to uncover the depth of the subject in discussion-- and honestly, I was trying, at this point, but I really just had no clue what he was talking about. Finally, my face red and splotchy and my ears on fire, I asked him to move on to someone else because I had no idea.

Under normal circumstances ("normal" being the life I was accustomed to living for the past 21 years, up until about three months ago), this scenario would have resulted in me locking myself in my room and refusing to leave even for bathroom breaks, lest someone see the tell-tale signs of embarrassment permenantely etched in my face. But for some reason I've been more mature about things, lately. (The correlation between my onset of writer's block and my new outlook on life just occured to me when typing this.) Instead of burying my face in my book and willing myself not to cry, I kept my head held high for the rest of the Shakespeare discussion and made sure that I answered the next question correctly. Dr. Garrity and I joked about my lack of comprehension after class, and all ended well.

From there, I made my way to the cafeteria for a quick solitary lunch before my 2:00 class, which has become a habit of mine on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For my entire school career, I have never once eaten alone... not until August 23, 2004, that is. Something just clicked and let me know that it would be all right to eat alone... the world would not stop turning if I ate in silence instead of surrounded by friends. Reality TV would still suck, Harry Potter would still be my 15-year-old underdog hero, and Carrie would still love Mr. Big through seven seasons of Sex and the City. And you know what? I kick myself everyday for not having realized this sooner. Eating lunch at 1:00 is one of the best decisions I've made in a long time: there is less than a handful of people present at that time, so I'm free to hear the radio or read a book or study notes for class; the cafeteria workers (although getting a horribly bad rap in light of recent rules) really are nice people who each have thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of their own and apparently love to discuss them with students; if seated quietly in the correct location, one can overhear some rather controversial school topics and policies being discussed by the authorities who utilize the nearly-empty venue.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm finally starting to feel a little bit like an adult. I'm no longer embarrassed about messing up in class in front of my classmates (because, really, who are they anyway?)... I'm no longer embarrassed about eating a sandwich and some fruit in the middle of the cafeteria without a comfort cushion of friends to protect me... and I'm no longer embarrassed to leave the apartment without wearing any make up. This might seem trivial to some, but has become a defining factor to me lately. I used to put make up on to go get the mail (well, ok... not really... but still) and this past weekend I hung out with friends and went to lunch clean-faced and sans mascara. And I wasn't even thinking about it. I was thinking about having fun with the people about whom I care and feeling comfortable in a group of friends. And I have never felt better.

By the way... the thing I started writing in class didn't turn out so well. I lost the inspiration when I became unnerved by Garrity's question. But I did finish it. Although it's not my best... I'll still take it out and read it from time to time when I need to be humbled and remember the first piece I finished after going without for so long.

1 comment:

Frema said...

You are a better woman than me. I still have trouble controlling my crying impulse - sometimes, I don't even try.

Great stuff here. As my DePaul fiction writing professor would say, "Write on."

P.S. Ditto about the working relationship this year. :)