Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Either The Laziest or The Smartest Person Ever: I Failed Walking -- Twice

I went to college. 3 of them, to be exact, but I never graduated. The first college I went to was Ball State University, a big state school where a little girl with crazy colored hair (who was the leader of the outcasts in her high school) could fit in, be creative and find other geeks, freaks and weirdo's to be friends with.

In my time at this college, I failed my Walking class. Twice. And the story of how I managed to accomplish this feat is Why I Am Either The Laziest or The Smartest Person Ever.



Now, to the tale. I'll say it, again. I failed a college class called Walking. Twice. Now, this might be understandable if, say, I had legs that didn't work. But I was going to raves all the time and dancing my little butt off. Clearly, my legs work fine. The reason that I failed Walking twice is either that my mind is way too overactive or that I am lazy.


 This is what happened. I went to Ball State and I majored in Creative Writing with Poetry as my concentration. I had taken a two-week course, there, in the summer before my junior year of high school through their Honors College Summer Program. I was an Honors student and I was going, in my mind, to be a famous poet. While I was there, I had some awesome adventures. Not only with the other kids in my class, but with other students in the college. I forged a friendship that lasted to this day and I smoked a lot of cigarettes for someone who was legally too young to buy them. In short, because of that one summer program, Ball State University was (in my little 3-stoplight town, naieve little brain) the epitome of cool, bohemian, college land where I was sure to blossom into someone famous and find true love in under 4 years.

Needless to say, none of those things happened.

 My little hippie self in 1999, ready to conquer the world.
And photographic proof that my legs were working, at the time.

When I got to Ball State as a freshman, I was rip-roaring and ready to go. During my first semester, my hair was always dyed some strange color and I wore pants that were big enough to house a small Mexican village. I saw other people with strangely colored hair who looked cool and I decided that I would be friends with them. When I saw them smoking cigarettes outside my building, I ran down the stairs from my 5th floor room, lit my own cigarette, casually walked over and started a "random, friendly conversations."

My friendships with the strange people blossomed. It wasn't long before I was crossing state lines to go to underground raves twice to 3 times a week. My social life was off the charts. Fortunately, for me, so were my grades. I was taking mostly classes that I could either blow off or B.S., so despite my weekends and (sometimes Wednesdays) of all-night raves or coffee with friends in a local diner, I maintained a B average.

 But, at the end of my first semester, everything fell to hell. My boyfriend broke up with me and nearly all of our friends sided with him. I'm still not sure why, but I remember him saying something about my being "unstable." (During our second semester, he got a girl pregnant and they both had to drop out of school, so really, who was the 'unstable' one?)

At the start of my second semester, I needed a new crop of friends. Disillusioned with straight men and nearly all other girls, I decided that gay men would be my new crowd of choice. I had talked to some of the gay boys in my dorm during random times, first semester, so I nourished those friendships more. In fact, most of those boys continue to be my friends, to this day, and stories from this time are still regailed.

Friendships, forged at 18, continuing to this day

My second semester classes turned out not to be so much blow-off or BS classes. It was during that time that I had a run in with my soon-to-be first failure of Walking.

I want you to understand how my brain worked when it came to this class. The college wanted me to get up, walk across campus, change clothes into 'walking clothes,' walk around the campus for 40 minutes, then change back into my previous clothes and go about my day. Somehow, my brain just wouldn't shut up about the absurdity of it all.

But wait, there's more! Not only did they want me to pull this ridiculous Walking ritual twice a week, but they also wanted me to go and sit in a lecture hall with 74 other students once a week to . . . talk about Walking. I went to the first lecture and I feel asleep in class. The bad part about being dressed differently from everyone around you? Everyone notices when you fall asleep in class. Normal people with normal colored hair? Nobody notices them sleeping unless they snore. The girl about halfway down the lecture hall with the purple hair and neon pink fleece vest? Yeah. Everyone notices when her head hits the desk.

The lecture had less to do with Walking and more to do with general health. The professor droned on and on about alchoholism vs. binge drinking, BMI calculations and optimal heart rate. I couldn't take it. I was so bored! So, I kinda just stopped going to the lectures, too. There were so many more interesting things to do with my day!

Before I knew it, it was finals time and I hadn't gone to either section of Walking but twice. The one day that I bullied myself into going to the Walking lecture, the prof. said, "All right. So our next class is the final." She went over what we were supposed to know, but it sounded like she was speaking some foreign language. "Body Mass Index calculations formula," I wrote down. "Optimal heart rate for strength training vs. cardio." And, even though I poured through my text book, I couldn't find any of these alien words to study. Frustrated and slipping into some collegiate-induced atheistic existentialism, I gave up. How hard could a Walking final be, anyway? Turns out, pretty damned hard.

Again, the test was written in some foreign tongue that I didn't understand. "Optimal grams of protein intake for a 2,500 calorie diet, non-sedentary lifestyle." Hey, I had taken Word Origins and passed with a C (the minimum passing grade for an under classman) and none of these things sounded familiar. "Okay. I understand each of these words individually, but the whole concept is completely lost on me."

It was the worst final I'd ever taken. When my grades came back that I had failed Walking, I wasn't surprised, but my parents were baffled. "How could you have just . . . FAILED. . . Walking? I mean, it's WALKING! How do you FAIL that?" My mother couldn't wrap her head around the situation. I tried to explain, "Well, there was a lot more to it than just, you know, walking around. It's dumb. I don't know."


My second year, I still had to fulfill my college's phys ed requirement. So, like a dumbass, what did I do? That's right. I signed up for Walking, again. "This time," I thought, "I'm just gonna do it. I'm gonna shut my brain up and I'm gonna go. It's a hoop I've gotta jump through to get my diploma. Just. Do. It."

I would also like, at this time, to point out that, in my chosen field, I was taking 3 and 400 level classes as a sophomore and getting A's in them. So, I'm not dumb. In fact, I was an Honors student. Quite intelligent, in fact. I just have a problem wrapping my head around doing dumb things.

So, anyway, sophomore year came. And, try as I might (my willpower has NEVER been that good), I still couldn't bring myself to go to Walking. That year, I also had Philosophy 101 at 8:00 am. There were days that I, literally, walked across campus, got to the classroom door, took one look in, turned on my heel, and walked back to my room. For some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to go in. The class was just so tedious and my professor had a thick accent that I could barely understand. Trying to discuss Plato is hard enough without having the added mix of thick accent in there, to boot.

My sophomore year, the same thing happened. I just couldn't talk myself into actually doing what my brain had deemed "pointless, menial, don't-need-to-do-or-know" activity. Do you think my parents understood? Oh, hell no! "You FAILED WALKING AGAIN?!?!"

Now, you could say that I am The Laziest Person Ever because didn't go to these classes. And you might have a point, except that I wasn't lazy, clearly. I was out dancing all the time. Or sitting in coffee shops having hours long conversations with a rotating groups of friends about art, music, culture and philosophy. (Ironic, isn't it?) It's not like I was just lying in bed, saying "F-it. I'm not gonna do ANYTHING today!"(Though that did happen on occasion due to my having depression, but that's another matter.)

Instead, I would prefer to say that I am The Smartest Person Ever. Because, not only did I forge friendships at this college that last me to this day, but I actually became a decent writer in spite of myself and in spite of failing the most basic of all college classes. Oh, now, sure I don't write poetry as much as I used to, but there seems to be a whole lot of people out there who enjoy reading what I write, now, anyway.

See? I wasn't lazy! I was smart! I chose friendships, stimulating conversation and interpersonal bonds over stupid, old, outdated academics. I wasn't just smart -- I was brilliant! I knew where my priorities were, the academic and parental world just didn't support me in them.

At least that's what I tell myself.

My visionaries, if you're trying new things, you will fail. It is inevitable. And it's okay to completely fall on your ass and look like a total moron. It happens to the best of us. What matters is that you get up, you try again and you find where you went wrong.

If I had it to do, today, do I think I'd be able to make it to my Walking class? Probably not. But, at this juncture, I'm a damned adult and I'll get my doctor to write me a note so I don't have to take Walking. See? You stand up, you go on, you grow up and you get smarter. *wink*


My lovely people, as you go about your day, please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Until next time,

Love to All,

-Bri


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