We talked about yearbooks today.
That previous statement is not like some stand-up comic preparing for a joke. “I was driving to the show tonight and…” Same joke every night. That funny thing sure happens a lot. I would think it wouldn’t be funny after a while.
Anyway, we *were* talking about yearbooks today. I was at a house-warming party. It is June is most of use are 28. Which means, we graduated from high school exactly ten years ago. Which means now is as good of a time as any to bring up high school.
My friend had said something like, “Everyone wrote stuff in my yearbook saying that I was crazy or that I was sweet.” That seems apropos. He is a kooky and extra-friendly guy. Someone else made a Buffy reference,” You did it too! ‘Have a nice summer.’”
It’s bizarre how one-dimensional it all is. People wrote the same crap in my yearbook as well. They wrote, “You are funny”, which is true for the most part. They also wrote,” You are weird,” of which I took great pride at the time, and though I’ve matured since then, I take mild pride in it now, since I certainly did not want to fit in with any of the people who would call be “weird”. They also wrote, “You are smart.” I’d like to think that still applies, but I don’t get to see it anymore.
I was successful at school. After seven-point-five years of crap jobs, I do not feel smart. I do not feel challenged. I do not feel intellectual. I have been inundated with ignorance and squelched by small people with bigger paychecks. My brother likes to sneer and mention how poor my grammar has become.
I cannot focus when conversions become intellectual. My growing number of friends with master’s degrees and doctorates start to chat, and my mind goes entirely numb. I stare at them and feel awkward, mediocre. And at the same time, I feel as though I really don’t care about what they are saying. Is that a defense mechanism to protect me from my inferiority? Why should I care about mineral counts in water samples? Why should I care about a root canal? Ok. It feels acceptable to not be interested in those things; they are very specialized.
But how can I rationalize my vacancy during conversations that do interest me? Someone starts speaking about her psychological studies. That interests me and so I want to hear what she have to say. But then other folk start interjecting, as if they already know all about it. What do they know? Why do they know? Literature, politics, philosophy. I hardly read, and I certainly don’t read works with intellectual credit. I don’t follow politics, and I don’t feel strongly about them unless I’m being screwed. Philosophy is very difficult for me; I know if I agree with something and I know if I don’t. That doesn’t make for conversation. I can defend or counter, but folks aren’t interested it that part of it. When a person states a philosophy, they seem to want you just to say something entirely new and different back. I want to explain why I think what they said was right or wrong, but they don’t care about that.
I am all about the why. Why is this so? Why isn’t it? People want to spew truths into the air like flowers, attractive and impressive. But if someone would just think enough to add some roots to their truths, they wouldn’t wilt so rapidly. Why don’t they care about the roots?
I feel I am capable of intellectual thought. I am not sure if I am capable of intellectual conversation. Maybe it is that it is all pseudo-intellectual. Prepared speeches of “I know this. What do you know?” Why do you know it? What is that basis for that knowledge? How do you apply it? Why do you care? Why should I? I like to know why something is important to someone else. Don’t tell me about the newest topic is “Smarty Pants Magazine” unless you are prepared to tell me why it has an effect on you.
I had another conversation today with a high school physics teacher, probably also a mere ten years out of high school himself. He was commenting on how it just recently that he has noticed more girls catching on the physics concepts more quickly. And I told him that I liked physics very much, but that I needed to know why everything worked the way it did, and I had a very difficult time grasping a concept if I had to accept a given- in his words, an “assumption.” If I don’t know why I’m doing it, it won’t stick.
And so I sit there listening to conversations, and whenever I actually have something to say, I am entirely stepped on by the next person who has a piece of paper that says that their mouth is more qualified than mine to participate. Suddenly, a topic arises that I can latch onto! Chihuly. I’ve seen an exhibit of his. Several members of my family own videos and books of his works. So I am able to inject a few points of interest and ask somewhat informed questions to make other feel more informed, and subsequently teaching me something so in the future I’m even *more* informed. But when would I use that information? Why would I use it? So the next time a friend says, “How about that super important influential international writer?” I can say, “How about that Chihuly?”