That Which I Do Not Know


Saturday we went to Missouri to see Tim Conway (think, 1960’s comedy sketch program The Carol Burnett Show) perform in the Mansion Theatre in Branson.

I had a conversation with Chase today.

Today was my first day of work at Kohl’s.

I woke up in the wee small hours like usual to get ready for anatomy and physiology, (it’s nearly 9:00 at night now – I want to sleeeeeeeeeep! But, sadly, I will lose hold of my sanity in the night if I don’t type up a post). I stepped inside of the cafe and saw Claire Madame behind the counter.

“Goodmorning!” I greeted her.

“Hey girl! What’s happening?”

“Not much, what about with you?” I walked up to the counter and grabbed a pack of my usual Tazo earl grey tea, she knew the routine and had already gotten a cup for the tea.

“Oh, you know, just life. It’s all good.” She smiled contentedly as she rang up the order.

Claire is one of the happiest, most positive, up-beat people I’ve ever met. As she poured steaming hot water into the cup when I remembered something.

“Oh!” I said, unlatching my purse, “I was in the downtown and I got you something.” I pulled out the orb pocketwatch (a smaller version of my own) and handed it to her. Claire Madame’s response consisted of the next ten minutes repeating ‘thank you’s and ‘Oh my gosh!’s. A part of me wishes that I were that way – giddy all of the time, thrilled beyond expectation at things like pocket watches. I’ve always been envious of Claire, she is a truly happy person, she always has been.

I stepped outside to be met with fantastically chilly air, I made my way to the building to see Teacher Madame leaving with Marshall and Toby.

“Look at the board for instructions.” She said as we passed. I hurried to the classroom and met Chase at the doorway, he stood back and I passed, saying a quick ‘thank you’ as I focused on not spilling my tea. After I placed my bookbag, doctor-bag (so it’s a purse… I just don’t like the word purse. Besides, my purse looks more like an old-fashioned doctor’s bag than a purse…) book and tea down and looked at the board:

1. Get laptops from front desk

I looked out the window and saw the entire class walking back over to the study hall by the cafe where I just was.

The next thing I knew, I was sprinting to meet up to them in my high-heel boots. Chase was closest, so I ran up to him as he reached the door.

“So,” I said, panting, “I’m taking a wild gander and saying the board means the front desk in there?”

He shrugged, “I’m just following the group.”

He stepped in and I followed. Toby was handing out the laptops from the office inside the study hall. On the walk back Chase was ahead of the group, I lingered behind them all.

After class I stepped inside the theatre to get my yearbook photo taken. Teacher Madame had let class out ten minutes early so this left twenty minutes instead of ten to talk to Chase. After the yearbook photo I stepped outside of the cozy theatre and back into the wonderful cool air (I’ve loathed Summer so much – I would give anything for 48 hours straight of snow) I saw movement from my peripheral and looked over to my left to see Chase walking towards the cafe. I turned and started walking to the location myself, attempting to (and utterly failing) read an expression from the reflection in the glass windows. I paused for a moment, purposely slowing so he would reach the building at the same time I did – you’ll simply have to take my word for it, I haven’t done something like that since I was 11 and had a crush on the pastor’s kid. I stepped inside and walked over to directly to the left of his usual spot, right next to the cafe where Claire now sat cleaning out the minifridge. He stopped for a moment, and then went to his usual place. I felt oddly amused when I noticed he seemed to be ever so slowly inching away from me, to the point where he was eventually directly behind a bookshelf, his eyes peering over mahogany whenever he glanced up. An animated conversation began to take place at the table in front of me, people were laughing and playfully pointing fingers. I realized how distant I was from something like that, and I felt happy. Content, really. I have found a stable group of human beings that are never so expressive, they are rather serious in class, and show off their minds more than their wit, they challenge me. I looked back over to the bookstore and Chase had suddenly appeared several feet closer, halfway behind a bookshelf. I considered if he was using the shelf as a subconscious barrier – it’s not uncommon for humans to use clipboards, books, pillows, even coffee mugs as ‘barriers’ to create a more comfortable space for themselves by putting up a ‘wall’ of sorts when they feel awkward or in general uncomfortable. I watched from my peripheral as it would appear that he was stepping towards me for a moment, before quickly changing his mind. I counted slowly to ten before deciding to speak myself.

“So,” I said, his eyebrows raised for a moment in surprise, “Did you finish the PowerPoint?”

“Not yet. I was only able to complete half of the slides.” He stepped out from behind the bookshelf finally, and then quickly casually leaned against the shelf. I wondered for a moment what it would be like to not be able to read people. I decided I like knowing these things.

“Oy,” I said, wincing, “I only completed five.”

“What disease did you pick?” He asked.

“Gorham’s Disease. I thought it would look awfully impressive if I picked a rare one but, since it is so rare there isn’t much information.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“Well, there is something to the tune of less than two-hundred cases recorded in medical literature, so, it’s a tad bit of a challenge.”

There was a moment of silence, I wondered if I should check to see if my mom had arrived with the car when I suddenly found myself (of all things) speaking again.

“Do you take any other classes here?”

He glanced over quickly, his expression communicating nothing notable. “Yeah, economics, which starts in about ten minutes. What about you?”

“I used to take American government but I dropped it. It just seemed like not even the teacher really wanted to be there.” I lowered my voice suddenly when I realized the owner of The Center stood fifteen feet away at the cash register. I watched her with weary eyes and hoped the crowd was loud enough that she hadn’t heard my comment.

“Which teacher did you have?” He asked. I looked back at him. Brown, deep-set eyes communicated genuine interest.

“Mrs. Lawrence.”

He nodded to himself, “I had a class with her last year, she was a good teacher.”

I thought for a moment. “All teachers here are incredible, really. It was just that class, it seemed a bit…empty? I felt that I wouldn’t learn much.”

He nodded again, “Ah,” he said.

Teacher Madame walked in then, holding a rather large computer monitor.

“Chase,” Said she, “Would you mind moving this to that desk for me?” He took the monitor from her and did her bidding. My phone beeped in my purse with a message from my mom, and I realized my time was up for this week. I glanced over to where he was and he was looking over at me. I put my hand up to wave goodbye when he started walking towards me, “Well,” he said, “I’ll see you next week.” I realized he was leaving the cafe as well and I chuckled before speaking, “We’re headed the same way, then.” I pushed open the door and he stepped out as well. “I’ll see you next week.” I echoed. He said something quietly that I couldn’t understand as he stepped off of the porch and onward, I made my way to the Fit. He didn’t look back, he just walked with purpose. I looked down at my watch and realized he was late to economics.

Alright, then, it’s five minutes to ten and I can’t possibly write about my first day of work, not accurately, anyway.

I hope dearly that one of you will let me know if I start becoming something I shouldn’t. I know it can seem odd of me to worry everyday about turning into a selfish, narcissistic brat. But, come now, I can be incredibly petty and selfish and naive. I suppose I just don’t want to stop trying. Sometimes it feels like people stop. They exist. They breathe in and out, wake up and go to sleep, and repeat until their heart or mind finally gives up. I suppose it’s all anyone ever does, it isn’t right to think of a human being as capable of doing anything more than existing. But in our lives, in our circles and in our reputations we manage to make miniature universes that can be bent and grown, affected by every choice we make that reveals something to ourselves and the world about who we are.

We have our ordinariness, routines, habits, people we anticipate meeting and dread to see. I feel that we are only using so much of our emotions, that, just like riding in the front seat of the car for the first time, we feel thrilled when a new development arises, but soon enough it becomes ordinary, or even downright dull. We begin to think that we know who we are, what we would do in situations entirely out of the ordinary. Only when a moment speeds upon our consciousness like a bullet train
to throw us for a loop and break emotions past the glass (perceived as steel)
barrier of our life’s ordinariness and make a presence of fear, excitement,
grief, rage or love completely known to such a vulnerable state of naiveté, do
we understand our own nature on a broader horizon and a deeper expanse. These are the things that make our foundations known to ourselves and the world. We
may sit and theorize and discuss and talk ourselves silly about how we could be
the grandest war hero, when it very well may be that, truthfully, we are
capable of becoming Hitler*.

And, I had better stop myself before I’m up all hours writing yet another 2-part blog post series. Odds are I’m going to read this tomorrow and think to myself “What on earth was I thinking?!” But I’ll leave it up, because it would bother me an awful lot to take it down, simply because this is yet another documentation of a day in my life. Another timestamp. Another cluster of moments in which I discover my goal is nearly the same as it was four years ago when The Last Classic first began, to reach a place in my life that, honestly, by now I’m not even certain what it is I’m looking for.

I suppose I’m looking for something that I will know when I see it.


*I believe this bit because of findings derived from men such as Phillip Zimbardo, who wrote The Lucifer Effect, as well as the obedience experiments done by Stanley Milgram.


11 thoughts on “That Which I Do Not Know

  1. I’m not sure which is stranger: you writing a post at such an hour, or someone writing a comment at such an hour.

    Everything that you’re thinking and feeling is by no means unique. I still experience days when I ask myself these same kinds of questions. I used to wonder if there was anyone else who thought as I did, until I started reading blogs…

    However, I was never able to phrase my questions so well as you have.

    Also, I can’t help but be amused by the difference in the publication time here on your site, and the time that I received notification. It appears that I received the e-mail before you published your post. Different time zones and everything…

    I need sleep.

    • WordPress tells me that a post I published at ten was published at 5:00AM – I’ve given up on trying to make sense of it. If I recall correctly you and Sir Ian are in Michigan?
      Honestly it bothered me a bit when I first started really reading blogs and saw how similar I was to other people. I was 12 and thought I knew everything, so it didn’t feel fair that everyone else did, indeed, have a clue as to what life was like, it meant I wasn’t special. But now it’s more comforting than anything else – because people who have been there, too, must have learned something that I missed.
      My doctor/therapist/friend Olga (aka ‘Batwoman’) told me once that there is no such thing as one person being ‘better’ or, at the core, ‘smarter’ than another, because when it comes down to it, all human beings have is an exchange of information. Information in books and notes and words and acts that we teach each other about. While I do think that there is the intelligent and the uneducated, it did lend a new perspective in an odd way.
      Yes, I would indeed say sleep is a tad bit important – there was some man who decided to play video games for a record time and ended up dead after about 60 hours from lack of sleep… Not that that is really relevant at all, it seemed related until I typed it out…

      • Was it 60 hours? I remembered hearing that it was 49. O_O

        Yes, I remember those days when I thought I knew everything. Then a few years go by, and you realize that you didn’t know everything then, but you’ve got it all figured out now. Then a few more years go by, and you repeat the process. Olga/Batwoman seems to be a very wise person. Incidentally, how did she get that nickname?

        Ian and I are actually in West Virginia, and I realized after I commented that the correlation between the publishing time on your blog and the time of my comment would actually indicate that the sun rises in the west…

  2. I’m still there with “is this all there is?” Get up, do your job, come home, go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. I so envy those that have the balls to journey across America on a bicycle…who is from Great Britain (yes, I know someone who did just that). Or the couple that left their jobs and city life behind to sail around the globe to different countries (yes, I subscribe to their blog).
    What ever you want to do, do it. Because don’t get into a situation where you say “Damn, why didn’t I?” I have so many of those. Dare yourself to take risks. Break out of the “ordinariness”. As my son says “Can’t be scared”. You’re bright and perceptive! Explore life and live it. I know you can.

    • Thank you sincerely. The thought of attempting to accomplish something so great that it makes one significant kept me awake more nights than I can count, and only recently did I realize it was because I thought that, perhaps if I found a way to remain in the minds of others, that perhaps I could make myself, in a sense, live longer or perhaps forever. Coming to acceptance with insignificance opened more doors than I had imagined. Life is so brief that it’s absurd, and so when one looks at such a big picture, everything else falls to the distance for a moment. I do hope I don’t change that much when I’m 30, 40, 50 and beyond. If this is naivete, than I prefer an open mind to a limited, exprienced imagination. Obviously I don’t wish to be foolish, I just want to aways feel like the world is so big, and yet the chances so possible.

  3. Living mindfully, even if it’s only being mindful that the majority of our days and our selves within them is not particularly noteworthy, beats the socks off of not paying attention–ANY day of the week! It’s great that you document your experiences and progress; being small and mortal is no reason for us to think our modest lives are unworthy of the attention! 🙂

  4. Priority&Default –
    Perhaps it was 49 – still, impressive while tragic. I can’t think of many other ways of dying that would be less dignified.
    Olga got her nickname on my blog because of a post I wrote after I heard I was finally going to meet her – I believe it was called “My Meeting With Batwoman”, I called her Batwoman because at the time she seemed so much like a work of fiction that she was like a superhero. And the next post that I mentioned her in I called her Batwoman again because I needed a codename for her (I’ve changed my blog URL 4 or 5 times now out of fear of someone in my family finding my blog, so I refer to people by codenames to, well, I suppose make myself feel better by saying it’s to lessen the risk of someone finding it. I’m sure the risk is minimal to begin with, but I’ve found blogs of old friends just by typing in the right names into Google, and I don’t want that to happen to my blog.) She is a wise person – though I suppose I shouldn’t have been too shocked when a bit of the superheroness of her personality faded rather quickly. She enjoys being in control of situations. But she’s also awful lonely – her daughter was a drug addict and killed herself some time ago. She’s very new age, and very much so prides herself on the fact that she didn’t cry when her daughter died because she was so accepting of the ‘will of the universe’, she seems so emotionally torn up while so utterly put together. But then, I suppose, some people would say that makes her even more fitting for the role of superhero.

  5. Be careful not to fall into the illusion of control. You speak a lot of controlling your development and emotions when in reality, the world is really a non-sensical pattern of random events, if that even makes sense. It’s good to have a goal, or an idea of what you would like to become, but that alone should be enough to guide you without you also trying to choose your experiences. Some of the best are the ones that push you out of your comfort zone and remind you that you are still indeed alive.

    True freedom is throwing caution to the wind and becoming a falling leaf.

  6. I’ve made myself misunderstood, then – I have no delusions of control over my environment, I do believe, though, that since I cannot control the wind I should recognize my control over the sails and go with the tides holding an intent to attempt to make my way where I would like to go. 🙂

    Freedom, at least a definition of it, is relative to each individual. You mention quite a bit about doing random things and throwing caution to the wind, I supppose it just seems a tad (pardon the word) careless. Letting ourselves be kids is something we should no doubt do at times, but to me freedom is as much being controlled and cautious as it is being spontaneous and carefree.

    • Well then I guess we differ on the definition of our environment 🙂

      I agree that freedom is special and should be respected. There are certainly times to dive in headfirst and other times to check your landing before you go, I’m merely pointing out that uncertainty is the thrill of life. I am guilty of being careless more often than not but only because I am in search of anything outside of routine. If you could control and understand everything, life would not be nearly as much fun. Unexpected positive events have much more potential to be more memorable than the expected.

      There’s a good quote out of Man vs. Wild that I always throw in these discussions because I believe so strongly in it. “The core of man’s spirit is born from new experiences.”

      There’s there’s also the scene from Kung Fu Panda…

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