I do my best to remain present with head-nods and brow-furrows in all the right places. I pull out my virtual sticky notes and cover my cranium with a yellow sea of whats to tend to in more intimate settings.
I used to surprise Steve with my ignorance, but after 15 years of knowing me, he’s learned to not feed the Grand Canyon of my insecurity about Things I Don’t Know with detectable what-the-fuck pauses. He’s gentle and patient when I ask things like “Tell me again who’s our Prime Minister?”
In grade twelve my Social Studies teacher suggested I see him for extra help after school to pass the provincial exam worth 50% of my mark. I was failing and the exam would make or break my diploma. I was barely passing any of my classes. I managed to graduate with an advanced diploma the same way I’ve spent my life showing up to Halloween parties with ears glued to a headband or whiskers drawn on my cheeks and called it a costume.
When Steve met me, I was three years into my life-time administrative assistant plan and miserable. He suggested I go back to school. I told him school taught me I should stay away from school. The university would never let someone like me in their building.
My mom is a high-school drop out and believes she’s dumb. My family didn’t talk about current events, politics or anything to do with the outside world. School was a place I went to escape my family and have my Love and Belonging needs met. My concerns were being unforgettable and well-liked. I rarely paid attention or studied; I did enough to get through.
I sometimes wonder if I have undiagnosed ADD. I don’t retain information AT ALL. You can tell me where you were yesterday and two sentences later I’ll ask you again like you never told me in the first place. I’m your pet goldfish. I’m unable to recap anything with detail or accuracy. Sure, I read that book, but don’t ask me what it was about. Yes, I watched that movie, but I can’t remember what happened.
I got killer marks my first two years of college (before I had baby Emma and simultaneously finished up the last two years of my degree). I worked hard and studied, but all of that information left when I handed in assignments and tests. Water is the only thing I retain.
You know the question: If you could have coffee with someone famous—dead or alive—who would it be? My secret answer is no one; I wouldn’t have the ability to sustain the kind of conversation that would be of interest to Anne Lamott, Ellen Degeneres, Maggie Gyllenhaal, or Zooey Deschanel. Although, I’d mostly be interested in making out with Maggie and Zooey.
I was supposed to meet up with two women I primarily know online while I was in Toronto, but it didn’t work out. A huge part of me was relieved because they’re both brilliant. We can sustain a friendship online because of my fangirl love for them. I don’t add anything cerebral to our friendship beyond enthusiasm, open-mindeness, and link-sharing things created by other smart people.
To say I feel behind, stupid, ashamed, and embarrassed is glib.
I took Japanese in my first year of college. After four weeks, I knew some phrases and how to write a few characters and it was thrilling. It was my favourite course. I got sick and missed two or three classes. The material I missed made my ears sweat. Who knows if it was my belief I was too dumb to catch up, or if it really would have proven too difficult, but I dropped out. I remember calling Steve from the pay phone in the student lounge, devastated to waste what little money we had.
Falling behind in Japanese is how I feel about everything I somehow missed out on learning. When I think about tackling any of it now (or for the last 15 years), I picture being launched back in time to the flight control room of Apollo 13 in 1970 with the instructions, “See if you can help.”
Uh… anyone need a hug? Water? Have you tried Kumbuya? I’ll play with your hair while you confribulate the sidgamonitor.
I have a friend who does a lot of online dating. She said she couldn’t date anyone who didn’t know which was bigger—the earth or the sun.
Pleasedontaskme, pleasedontaskme, pleasedontaskme.
Aaaaand we won’t be dating.
A group of women dressed up like members of the Pussy Riot for the Karaoke party at the conference I was just at. I don’t remember seeing them, but I wouldn’t have known who they were. This is the only Pussy Riot picture I’ve ever seen, and I thought it was Katie Holmes, chuffed she escaped her marriage to Crazypants. One of the women from the group talks about her disappointment over having to explain their costume in her recap post.
During the hullabaloo with the teacher strike in BC last year, I had a few opinions, but for the most part I was dazed, just trying to do my brand new job and stay out of the mess that didn’t feel like mine. One of my colleagues called me out in the staffroom over lunch one day after I quietly asked one of my sticky-note questions. She was disturbed I’d gotten this far in life with my lack of knowledge, and let me know in front of my peers. I’m shallow-breathing remembering it.
It was the moment I was surprised hadn’t come sooner.
Sure, I’m fun and loveable and teachable and full of common sense, but I worry it’s not enough to keep people around. Steve is super fucking smart, and I’m not sure where he fills his need for an intellectual conversation, but it sure ain’t with me. If you wanna talk about feelings, I’m your gal.
I heard someone say that without writing they wouldn’t be articulate. That’s what the small print on my label says, dude. With writing I can trick you in to thinking I’m smart because I have time to research and shape my responses.
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. Most are full of vulnerable pieces like mine, but with a connection to feminism or politics. My new friend, Anne, is changing lives with her writing. She’s challenging us to think big and take action. She knows stuff about stuff I didn’t even know was stuff, and I wish I could tackle the topics she does.
I dunno. I’m only months into my return to blogging and I’m questioning the potential longevity of a blog about FEELINGS.
I’m not going to quit. I don’t want to quit. I find myself back in that flight control room; everyone has had their hug, the thirsty people have water, we did a couple rounds of Kumbuya, and since our lice encounter I’ve decided I don’t really want to play with your hair. It’s time I open a manual and learn some fucking shit and make myself useful around here.
I realize all of this sounds very self-depreciating. I don’t think I’m stupid. On some level, that’s the core belief I carry and let crippled me. Rational me knows I’m not stupid. Stupid would be not knowing and not knowing how to know. I know how to know. Stupid is not helping myself to the knowing and living in fear my non-knowing would be the end of love, friendship and opportunity. Yanno?
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