Friday, December 2, 2011

How Can Smart Be So Stupid?

Day # 2 -- Prompt: What is the stupidest thing you did this year? What about in your whole life? You can take stupid to mean: embarrassing, dangerous, funny, lame, whatever you consider "stupid."


Heh. Well, I'm not a stupid person. I'm actually a really, really smart person -- really smart. But there are definitely stupid things I've done, and just like yesterday, I've been ruminating on this prompt all day (and now it's after 10 pm) trying to decide what to write about.

I think this year, there have been two stupid things that I keep coming back around to, but really, in their essence, they aren't all that stupid at all. But they seem more than a bit stupid in retrospect.

Thing #1: Deciding to Run a Half Marathon.

Obviously, this isn't really all that stupid. Hundreds -- nay, probably thousands -- of people a year train and run half marathons and full marathons and all manner of ridiculously long races for really no purpose but for the ability to say that you did it. I decided late last year and early this year that I needed something new to motivate me to stay active. After having lost almost 80 pounds four years ago, the last two and a half years have seen my weight creep back up and it's really pissing me off (you could probably also categorize that under "Stupid Things" also...), so I needed something else to focus on. My best friend ran her first half marathon two years ago -- she did the 2010 San Diego Rock N Roll Half. I was initially going to sign up for that one, but ended up getting really sick for a really long time during the crucial training part. I did, however, go and spectate, waiting for her at the end of the race, and I remember being really disappointed in myself for not just sucking it up and doing it anyway. So this year, I did it. And really, it was awesome and also stupid. I just still can't really wrap my head around the fact that I willingly dragged my over-200-pound body through 13.1 miles of running (er, the last two miles, it was less running and more hobbling...) -- I just still think running is stupid. But maybe the stupider thing in all of this is that I have recently signed up to run my next half marathon. I guess the stupid thing about this is that I really and honestly barely have the time to eat and bathe and sleep, let alone run the amount I need to run to get ready. I have no idea why my schedule is so stupid right now, but I'm struggling to eek out the time I need to train for this race -- and it's happening in January. I'm wishing now I'd just held off for the Rock N Roll Half, because it doesn't happen until January. But I guess a related stupid thing is that I'm way too nice and don't always put myself before other people (in fact, that really should be I don't often...).

Thing #2: Deciding to Radically -- and Publicly -- Change My Sophomore Curriculum

Oof. I classify this as stupid of the overly-ambitious and possibly-idiotic kind. Last year, my mom sent me a video that the teacher that she worked for had seen about gamifying education. It's a really great theory, and for a partial gamer like me, it makes total sense and it seemed like an excellent way to re-invigorate what I've been doing for a long time and would be a fun experiment. Plus, the theory was that it would help students be successful. So I tried it. And it's wearing me out. Completely. Don't get me wrong, it's been an awesome and completely fascinating experience, but there are so many moving parts to it that I didn't even anticipate -- my class sizes of over 40 being one of the biggest and most critical hurdles -- that I can't really keep up with the way it needs to be kept up with. It was stupid of me to decide to take this on in the hardest year of my career. The biggest classes I've ever had, therefore the most students I've ever had at one time, with three sections of sophomores instead of the two I've been having that last three years. So I've been nothing but overwhelmed and frazzled trying to make it work. It's been like throwing spaghetti at the wall. But I have hope for the system, and have hope that it will eventually work, and I trust my students enough to ask them for feedback and help. But I really am kinda wishing I hadn't undertaken it in a year like this. But oh well.

And stupidest thing in my life? Meh. Weirdly, nothing is leaping immediately to mind, which is both unnerving and totally misleading. I've done plenty of stupid and embarrassing things. I forgot the words to the poem I was supposed to recite in my fifth grade talent show. I once said -- I think when I was in 7th grade -- that if "Granny were alive today, she'd be dead by now," which is a quote my family STILL uses against me. I once tried to leap from one end of the monkey bars to nearly halfway across, obviously missed, and landed on the sand so hard it knocked the wind out of me, all in front of the boy I had a huge crush on. (<--- it's fun to link to people you know on Wikipedia. I had the biggest crush on him through almost all of elementary school. After I fell down the stairs in second grade (this was not a stupid thing, it was a horrifying accident), he made me a get well soon car with a picture of an ambulance. I swear I still have it somewhere.) ANYway, I digress. Where was I? Oh, right, stupid things. It was stupid that it took so long for me to figure out that I'm allergic to vodka; no wonder any time I tried to play the part of the "cool kid" in college I got violently ill and hated every second of it. It was stupid not to have told boys I liked that I liked them.

But you know what WASN'T stupid? Changing my major from Aerospace Engineering to English, despite having wanted to be an astronaut and aerospace engineer since first grade. I don't regret it, not one tiny little bit, even though my job right now is beyond stressful and I'm nearing my breaking point with my workload. I still love what I do now and have never, ever regretted not continuing on to become an engineer. I know I'm smart enough to have done it; I probably could have been really successful. But I wouldn't trade any of that for what I do now -- especially since my job now allows me to wear a felt Roman helmet (purchased at Michael's, of course), a black cape, and carry a plastic sword around yelling "FRIENDS! ROMANS! COUNTRYMEN! Lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him!" I mean. I could have done that in an Engineering job, I guess, but it would have a much different outcome. It would have been stupid not to have listened to my heart.

And so now I will leave you with the Stupid-Looking-But-Actually-Awesome image of me, dressed up in all of my Julius Caesar glory, banging on the desks of the students not working on their assignment and yelling Shakespearean insults at those who dared mock my amazingly silly looking outfit.

Nitey nite!

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