What Made You Want to do That?

“I didn’t know you’re taking a Biology class, Katie. What made you want to do that?”

“A few years ago, I realized that I’ve never taken a Biology class, and that there was something missing from my life. I’m trying to fill the void that Biology Education has left in my soul.”

“Hahahaha,” person laughs.

Okay, so I get that the way I answered the question seemed like I was joking, but I totally wasn’t. One of the really cool things about public education is that it forces people to learn things that are foreign and mysterious to them.

English isn’t foreign or mysterious to me anymore.

I read books.

I write books.

I write about books.

I read about writing, books, and writing books.

And it’s not mysterious anymore.

You know what is mysterious?

The fact that enzymes get activated and deactivated in different pieces of the digestive system because they each get assigned to specific nutrients that get absorbed in specific spots IS mysterious.

The way oils with single bonds clump together and clog artieries, but those with double bonds don’t IS mysterious.

That’s why I’m taking Biology.

I’m also taking it to prove to everyone that I’m good at science and always have been.

When I took the test to get into Mr. Morrill’s AP English class in high school, his first question to me was, “You’re probably pretty good at math and science, right?”

He asked that because I was the worst writer who’d ever taken that test… but I was also the best grammarian.

Because things in my mind are orderly and emotionless.

Writing is really hard work for me.

I’ve had people comment on blog posts saying that I express myself so well, and they envy my ability to put thoughts and emotion into words.

Lots of them think it’s some sort of magical skill I was born with. Or perhaps, my goddess of a mom dipped me into a vat of writerly goo, leaving my ankle as the only part of me that’s vulnerable to literary criticism.

But that’s a load of horse radish.

I had to learn that passive voice is death to the essay the same way I learned that organic is just a fancy way of talking about carbon.

The question isn’t whether some people are born with the ability to express themselves better than others… they aren’t. We all start out communicating about our poopy diapers with loud “Whaaaaaahhhh!”s and squeels that don’t mean anything.

The difference is that the mystery of fortune’s fools and the delicate beauty of “Two houses, both alike in dignity” captured my attention more than it captured my peers’… they were too busy living their own tragic tales of woe to consider that of Juliet and her Romeo. And anyone who believes anything else is making excuses.

I don’t write because I’m skilled at writing.

I’m not taking a Biology class because I have a sudden desire to be a scientist.

I do those things because the mystery of spoken words forming new creations leads me to the same wonder that Lance Armstrong’s VO2 leads me to. I do it because Robin Williams told us to stand on desks and look at the world a little differently. I do it because there’s a little hole in my heart that is better filled with the revelation that my body is a gorgeous temple than with fatty-fatness that’s going to send me to my maker on a couch with potato-chip crumbs wedged between the cushions.

I know I was making a stupid joke, but have you ever thought that those things we were learning (or supposed to be learning in high school) were pretty cool?

What made me want to take a Biology class?

The mystery and wonder that I neglected when I was busy reading about Achilles being dipped into immortal goo… all except that heel of his. If only he’d been completely immersed, right?


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