The process of self-discovery is never boring. One summer, while home from college, I had the wonderful opportunity to work at a hardware store. There's probably not a job I was ever less qualified for. Customers would come in asking for all these random tools I'd never even heard of; and of course, I would always respond, "Oh sure, sure… I got cha. Let me see if we have one of those in stock." Then the frantic search would begin: Tap and Die set… Tap and Die set… what the heck is a Tap and Die set!? Sounded like some sort of Chinese torture.
Nonetheless, despite my sincere lack of "manly" knowledge, I did realize something neat about myself: I have terribly fast reflexes. This I discovered a few weeks in, right after my supervisor had placed me on the sales floor. I was assigned to reorganize the bug chemicals section. The smell was mucus-awful, but I had fun. I would tear off all the price stickers, realign all 900 spray bottles, and then re-sticker the shelves so that everything was perfect and beautiful.
And when customers would come by, I would step back and watch them behold my work. They'd ask me important questions like, "Will this ant-spray kill my dog?" And I would scratch my chin, all professional-like, and say stuff like, "Why yes, yes it will." Then the customer would buy seven bottles of the mucus-smelling-spray and leave me there to reorganize my beloved shelves.
This is where I discovered my superhuman reflexes. My zeal for the job often provoked me to pick up more bottles than I could feasibly hold at once; and on several occasions, a bottle would fall out of my hands. But every time, before I even realized that the bottle had fallen, I would look down and see my foot holding the bottle in the air. This phenomena was terribly amusing to me. Soon I began carrying unnecessarily large loads of items across the store just to see if my flying feet could catch my mishaps. Certainly, not every item was capable of being caught and balanced on my feet, but my body could at least break the fall.
Now zoom ahead six months later: I'm walking across campus with my friends Kristy and Ashley, just having finished lunch together. It's wicked windy outside, as Tennessee can get in the spring. On my head is a red hat (which I wear everywhere), in my left hand is a 1" binder which carries all my accompanist music (since I play piano for everybody and their mother), and directly in front of me, side by side, are the two girls. Innocent enough, right?
Well, all of a sudden this huge gust of wind hits me head-on. I can feel my hat starting to slip off my head. But before I can even finish realizing this, something smashes into my face. Hits me real hard. My body jerked backwards, rather violently. And then I'm left standing there: stunned. My two friends quickly turned around and inquired,
I swear to you, the first thing to cross my mind was, 'A bird just flew into my face.' But this didn't make any sense at all. I put my right hand on my face, to feel where I'd gotten hit. My lip was bleeding. Then I remembered the binder in my left hand. And suddenly it was all very clear: when my hat started to fly off my head, I'd begun to think, "Grab your hat, Jason". But my body beat me to it: my reflexes had tried to grab the hat with my left hand… which meant the binder, which was still in hand, went slamming straight into my face. I couldn't believe it, but it was true:
"I just punched myself in the face."
"I… I just punched… myself… in the face."
A slight hesitation, then some laughter.
"How the heck did you do that?"
"Well… you see... I have these reflexes... ... "
How I wish I had more time to write.
Write my Thesis.
And of course, write to you : )
Wednesday morning I had a nice little writing session. Although, it was part of a test (the GRE). I had to wake up at 6:30 that morning and drive across town to another college. The proctor lady took away everything in my pockets... and my hoody. Me and one other girl in a computer lab. Very quiet.
I felt a little silly about taking the test.
First of all, I had no immediate reason to be taking it. The single graduate school I had applied for had already rejected my application (and rightfully so...).
Second, standardized tests are stupid and nothing but a money-making scam.
And third, standardized tests are stupid even if they aren't a money-making scam.
Before the proctor would let me in the computer lab, I had to say things like, "I am a U.S. citizen" and audibly count how many pieces of pink 'scratch paper' I was being given. Of course, I counted the wrong number... and so they asked me to count them again a couple more times just to make sure I was awake.
But then I got in there and the first section was all essay-writing. I had 45 minutes to elaborate my views on the topic "Present-day culture seems to place more emphasis on appealing images rather than images which uphold truthfulness". I killed that essay. (They'll probably even give me extra credit.)
And then something terribly humorous and profound happened to me.
Once the 45-minute timer ran out, my essay disappeared and another screen popped up. The entire image was blank except for three words in the middle of the screen: "You must proceed".
I don't know why I thought this was so funny, but I started laughing. All I could imagine was the idea of putting a marquee above my bed, so that every morning I would wake up and see these words:
You must proceed.
What a way to live. : )
The rest of the test I pretty much failed... which was sort of confusing. The GRE consists of reading, writing, and math, which are all things I simply adore, particularly math. And yet, the math section kicked my butt. Royally.
It took me 3 hours and 25 minutes (out of 4 allotted hours), which was probably a bad thing. Every couple questions I would succumb to thinking "screw this..."... but, only until I remembered how much I was paying to take the bloody exam ($130!).
At the end of the test the computer showed me my math and reading scores; but I had no idea what the scale was, so I simply disregarded the numbers. I can't be bothered with scores right now .
Afterwards I came home and read a nice little e-mail from Ashley. She had written me a few haikus, so I felt the inspiration to write a few myself. Here's one of my favorites...
An educational haiku:
I am not dead yet.
But... give it a little time.
School will take its toll.
Last night I slept for a full 12 hours. Half of one day, dedicated to nothing but slumber. And it was a bit strange, because it felt like 12 hours... I could sense, while sleeping, that time was passing. I would have a dream, and then proceed into another dream, wherein I would recall my previous dream, as a dream. It could have gone on forever, and I would have felt every second of it.
At some point, early in the morning, I dreamt that I was with Kristin again. She had decided to give me another chance; she liked me well enough, and so it was worth the try. And all I really remember was that the dream lasted 2 hours, and they were the most relaxing two hours I've had in two years. All we did was walk and talk... it wasn't romantic, it wasn't intimate, it wasn't even adventurous. But I was free... free of this immense burden that had been setting on my shoulders for so long.
And I remember contemplating how this situation related to the rest of my life... how it wouldn't solve everything, and how it wouldn't promise me happiness. And to that, I thought, "That's okay. At least I can dream again." (which is ironic, because that's exactly what I was doing). I was free to dream. And it was wonderful. It could have gone on forever, and I would have felt every second of it.
But it didn't. In fact, that dream bled over into another dream, wherein I was standing in the School of Music. I was there loading up my equipment, having just finished a rehearsal, and a few fellow musicians were standing nearby. I can't recall who they were specifically, but I remember telling them about my dream: how Kristin and I had spent two hours together, together, and how wonderful it was. But, alas... it was only a dream. Perhaps that was all it ever was.
It was fortunate to have dreamt the latter dream. For, when I truly awoke, the blunt of my disappointment had already been realized. I had, within my dreams, come to terms with the fact that: dreams, no matter how terrible or wonderful, are all scams. The economy of dreams are but fear and passion, neither of which can be trusted. It's a competition of unrealized horror and unrealized fantasy.
And yet, dreams are the economy of bliss. How cruel a trick is this.
Do we dream more when other dreams are realized?
Does the fulfillment of one dream propagate the birth of another?
And if so, why is this? Why cannot one realized dream ever satisfy us?
And if they cannot satisfy, one or all of them, then why chase after any at all?
But if we do not chase them, do we even live?
Is the chase itself the act of living? The act of growing?
The act of realizing that not all things in life are worth chasing after... but some are. Some are.
I think if God and I went out for coffee tonight, I would probably burst into flames (in His presence). But, granting He would spare me, I would first tell Him how awesome He is. And how much I appreciate the conveniency of the earth's rotation. I would even offer to pay for His coffee...
But after that, I would probably smash my cup on the table and yell, "Do You think that's funny?! Punishing me in my sleep, with thoughts that frustrate my life and wreck my spirituality! Why would You do that?!"
And He would sit there calmly. He'd respond, "Do you love Me?"
... that, or He'd burst me into flames.
Well. 1 a.m. Back into the battlefield.
I regret to have to write this letter, but I feel the time has come that I must. It is simply unbearable for me to go on pretending that I am living in the past; I need to cast off what "once was" and simply keep going. And unfortunately, this has a lot to do with leaving you.
I do not love you anymore. ...and I'm so sorry. Certainly, there was a time that I did. There was a time when I wished I would never stop loving you. But... it simply was not all I had expected. In the end, you were not what I had hoped for. Those many years slowly revealed to me that you were not worth a lifetime of my love. I simply couldn't.
I don't know who it was that changed first. You were once so happy; your dreams were larger than life itself. I loved you and I loved your dreams: they were my own. But now, where have they gone? You are as sad as they come. And if I couldn't continue loving you when you were happy, how could I ever love you in such a miserable state?
So often you spoke of "love" as some sort of commitment, how we should never give up. But I have to give up; I do not love you and I do not wish to see you any longer. The times have come and gone. Please do not write back; please do not plead with me to love you again. I cannot love you. It is best for you to move on and forget me as well. That's all I have left to say.
My fullest regret,
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