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Today I was talking to my friend about graduating college – a thing he and I both are going to experience here pretty soon – May 5th, 2013, to be exact. He was telling me his post-graduation plans, and I was keeping quiet about my own. I don’t really know yet where I’m going go, what I’m going to do. I also told him that the more college classes I take, the less intelligent I feel.

I think there’s a lot of different ways you can take that statement. It can mean that I’ve realized how unintelligent I am, or how bad at college I am – But that’s not what I meant.

I meant that the more college classes I take – the more information I take into my brain, the more subjects I get exposed to, the more history I find out about, the more people I learn about that I previously didn’t know existed – the more unintelligent I feel. I’m graduating from college soon, but I don’t feel like I know very much at all.

As my graduation date approaches, I’m beginning to wish I would have double-majored. Or took a third minor. Or majored in Theatre, or Linguistics, or French, or Biology. I’m not done learning – I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I know enough – like I’m intelligent enough.

Sure, I could keep going to school for forever – for the rest of my life. Maybe I would do that, if it didn’t cost thousands of dollars per year. But people don’t go to college to learn, they go to get jobs.

So, in order to keep learning, without going to college Рwhat do I do? How do keep experiencing things in my life  which will improve my understanding of the world? Or the universe? How can I feel like each day is improving the person that I am?

Do I just have to find a job that I like? That makes me happy? Do I just use my college education for what it’s meant for: getting a higher-than-minimum-wage-paying job?

Do I travel? Do I meet and talk to new people as often as possible? Do I read books and blogs and listen to podcasts and radio programs and watch cool movies?

What do I do?

Once they had me that scrap of slightly-thicker-than-normal paper with my name on it, what do I do?

Today was a strange day.

I got up early to do some laundry. I ate a grapefruit for breakfast. All very exciting.

It was raining. No, it was lightly drizzling. It was the kind of weather that nobody likes – not even ducks. This went on all day long.

I had a class today that started at 12:30. I got to school at 10:00 (early enough to get a good parking spot). I sat in the library for two hours, waiting for class time to come around.

It was rainy, and I was too warm in that library. Bored, waiting for two hours with nothing to do, I went online to see what I had gotten on a Psychology exam I took last week. An 85%. Not so great.

Then I checked my school email account. In it, an email from the school about my upcoming graduation (in May). With it, a realization that this is almost all over. Something else is coming.

Another email, asking me if I wanted to pre-purchase tickets for an event in early August 2013. With it, a realization that I might not be in the US next summer. I can’t make plans. Something else is coming.

12:00 came around. Suddenly, I didn’t want to go to class. I wanted to leave. I wanted to go home – no, not home. Just elsewhere.

I walked out to my truck. 12:05. Should I go to class? Students walked past as I sat in my vehicle, staring at the clock on the dashboard. What do I do?

I turned the key. A lady walked by carrying an umbrella over her shoulder. I put the truck in reverse and pulled out of my parking spot.

Where to go? To Target. Once there (not very far from my school), I sat in my truck for a moment. I fiddled with my phone. I put my ipod into my glovebox (to prevent theft). I sat longer. I fiddled around on Twitter: “I don’t know where I’m going; I’m just running away.”

Target. I could just go wander around in there. I could see if they have any cute underwear on sale. I don’t really need anything. I don’t really have any money.

I put my seatbelt back on, and took my ipod back out of the glovebox. I didn’t want to go to Target. I pulled back onto the road, onto the expressway, again, heading towards home.

Gas prices are down a lot. $3.33 a gallon today. I could get gas. I’ve only got a half tank.

I pulled into the Meijer gas station. A lady was walking out from the gas station store when I pulled in. She walked awfully close to my truck as I zoomed past her on my way to a pump. I didn’t slow down like I normally would have. I got too close.

I pull in, check my mirror to see if the tank is close enough to the gas pump (I never pull up far enough and have to stretch the hose too far over).

“Ma’am?” The lady is walking over. My first thought: Is she angry that I got too close?

“The gas station has no power. The pumps aren’t working.”

“Oh, Thank you.”

I think: Do I really look like a ‘Ma’am’? Why do people say that to me?

The engine is still on, so I put my truck back into drive and pull away – back onto the road. Towards home.

I don’t have to work today. Just school. Only, I didn’t have school, did I? I’ve got to study tonight. Lots to study.

I still need gas. I drive closer towards home, through the city, into the country. I go North. I stop at another gas station. I wonder if I’m feeling cranky today. I wonder if I’m just hormonal. I wonder if it’s because the sun has gone farther away.

This was the first time I’ve skipped class this semester. I was doing so well. I feel guilty. Class starts in 6 minutes, and I know I’m not going back.

I pump gas into my truck. I wasted gas going to school for nothing. I knew I just should have stayed home in the first place. I felt it. But I don’t skip class.

I stop the counter at exactly $30.00. There’s one small accomplishment for the day. I take it. I print out a receipt. I never print out receipts. I shove it into my little brown purse along with my credit card. Other people are buying gas, too. I feel so tired of this. We all do the same things.

I drive towards home. My gas tank is full. This make me happier. The weather is still gray. I listen to my Paolo Nutini CD. I think about how his voice matches the weather.

I pull into my driveway. My parent’s driveway. My dad is home. Of course he is. I go to my room. I feel better. Maybe because my bedroom walls are painted bright yellow – much too bright for the color scheme of the rest of our house. My parents’ house. I put down my backpack. In it, the books I didn’t use today. A reminder. Something else is coming. But today, you were not the person you are supposed to be.

Today was a strange day.

So, here’s the sitch. (I’ve always wanted to say that in real life but the proper moment just never comes up.)

Recently (about six minutes ago), I was walking down the hall. Well, OK, the hall was actually a sky-walk (one of those tube-y things on college campuses that connect buildings so no one actually has to set foot outside). Anyway, there I was, walking down the hall/sky-walk.

I’ll admit that at that moment I was being one of those people who walk and text on their cell phones at the same time. I was trying to, anyway. I don’t really text that much, let alone walk and text at the same time. We are talking high-level functioning human stuff, here.

Even better that I was texting this guy from Saudi Arabia who doesn’t really speak English. He’s in the English language program at my University. Basically, we hang out sometimes and, er, talk. (We are “conversation partners”. It’s all rather fancy.) So, when I text him, I can’t be all: “lets meet 2morrow 4 food-age, bro!”, or, “wassup homie?!” — you know, my typical text language. Yeah. I can just imagine the confused stares that would bring about.

OK, so there I was, doing all this multitasking, when suddenly, a wild college student appeared! AKA, a thirty year old lady in fancy pants (dress pants, you might call them). I was gaping (I’m sure looking all intelligent) down at my phone when I heard,

“Do you have a pen? – I could have?”

Me: uhhh… wait what just happened? “Um, I don’t know….”

So then I dig immediately into my (rather tiny) purse and spot the four pens that are hanging out in the bottom underneath my keys and my magic gum (I’ll tell you about that another time).

I have a brief mental moment of consideration. These are like good pens. Not those little BIC ones that are found on every floor of every room in every building on campus. These are my Pilot G2 babies. I have a red and a black and a green and a blue (for every occasion!). Should I give one of these to this random person – fully knowing that not only have I never seen her before, but I will certainly never see her again, AKA, this is me giving away my pen. I mean, she didn’t even say that lame thing that people say when they’re all like, ‘hey, can I borrow a piece of paper?!’ You are not going to be giving it back, though, and both parties know this.

So, I did my little purse-digging, briefly (hopefully not too long) stared at my little pens, and looked back up at her with a sad face, saying, “No. I’m sorry!” And then she walked away and I clutched my pen-containing-purse to my chest and ran quickly away in the opposite direction. The End.

 
Does this make me a horrible person? I don’t think so. The only reason I ask this is because just before I was walking down that sky-walk/hallway I had been in a Philosophy class. Dang you, Philosophy.

I feel like this is sort of similar to those situations when homeless people/others ask you for change while you’re walking down the street, and you don’t want to give them any – for whatever reason – so you go and pat your back pocket, shake your head like you’re surprised to find nothing there and go, “Sorry, I don’t have anything. Must have left my two rolls of quarters at home today. Sorry!” (I’ve even done the back-pocket maneuver. You think I’ve ever kept a wallet back there? Nope.)

What really gets me is that I messed up my text message because of it! I’m supposed to be helping this guy with his language skills, and I go and send him the following: “So how about we meet tomorrow after your class tomorrow and then maybe go to the farmer’s market?” Tomorrow. Did you get that? Well, then again, maybe that helped him.

Maybe this a life lesson: Don’t attempt to walk and text at the same time, Jenni. It’s just not going to work out for you.

Whatever. You still can’t have my pen.