I can’t watch House; stop tempting me! I have to study! my sister lamented earlier this evening. Both of us have been complaining lately about the difficulty of taking classes in the summer. Something just doesn’t feel right about studying at 10pm while it’s still light outside, and though I suppose doing homework in a bikini on my back porch does have its benefits, I would rather just skip the homework all together.
But, being the children of highly-educated intellectuals (and a businessman in my case) that we are, both of us are succeeding in our summer academics despite the lack of “there’s nothing else to do because it’s shitty outside” homework-doing-inertia. Also characteristically, the biggest challenges in my life lately have had nothing to do with pens and pencils and bluebooks.
I think it’s fair to say that most of this summer has been a series of story-problems coming together to create the final examination of the things I was supposed to have learned in my college days. Though my degree has been earned officially, people like me who don’t put much stock in anything that comes on paper should not expect to receive our exams in such a capacity. I’ve got a list of real lessons, things I said at the time “I’m learning X” or looked back at in a too-soon blog entry saying “Yes, Friends, these are the things these days have taught me” and lately they’ve been appearing.
The thing about these kind of story problems that makes them far trickier than your standard short answer and essay test is that you have no way to study for them. There’s no date on your calendar circled in red saying LOOK OUT IT’S COMING! These problems come in facebook messages and voicemails and late night phone calls. The spring up on you on Sundays, on the way to baseball games or movies, at concerts or in the park while the mosquitos are biting every inch of you.
My exam questions have centered predominately around one theme – the ability to love other people without loosing my self. How to I give everything I can without giving up everything I am? How do I keep from using the same semi-solutions I know so well? How do I keep my own compulsion to be needed in check? How do I rebuild things that are broken? And how to maintain thing that aren’t? What does love mean; how does it start and how do you know it when you see it? How do I let go enough to let other people in? And how do I know when to let go to save myself?
Secondary themes include individuating from my parents, relaxing and re-creating, and learning how to function without getting on a plane every 3 months.
It’s funny, even questions that seem like they should be short-answers (ie. What do you do in your spare time for fun?) have proved to be more difficult to answer than might have been expected, usually because when I see them I draw a blank. Uhhh…well. I used to bake?
As the summer is coming to a rapid close (when did it get to be almost August?), my exam seems to be coming to the end as well. My story problems are closing themselves up, resolving themselves or reducing themselves in a way that is blessedly out of my control.
If you’re interested in the multiple-choice style facts, here’s a sampling. I pay attention to what I wear everyday now, and I enjoy it. I straighten my hair all the time, unless I’m going boho or “letting my natural scalp oils nourish my hair” on my day off. For the first time (ever?) I regularly drink water, run, pray, repaint my nails when they are chipping, and remove my eyemakeup before bed. I’ve bought acrylics and intend to start painting. I go downtown to the farmers market and make a different pie every week. I’m going to redecorate my room – meaning reorganize, clean the closet, repaint, and sew my own curtains.
And though I don’t have my score back yet, I’ve got a feeling I’m passing with flying colors.
“If you hold a cat by the tail you learn thing you cannot learn any other way.” – Mark Twain