Blogbaby episode seven: Chelsea Lowe on learning to fall

[While I’m busy scrubbing poop from diapers and other articles of clothing, several friends have been kind enough to provide content for this site, through a program we’re calling Blogbaby. Today’s contribution comes from my author friend Chelsea Lowe, who lives in Boston.]

The difference between high school and life, of course, is that one teaches you things you didn’t need to know; one teaches you things you didn’t want to know. The more I look back on that time, the more I’m struck not by what we learned, which was practically nothing, but by what we didn’t–which was practically everything.

What we were taught:

That Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter

That the president has the power of veto

How to bisect an angle

That a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by a force

How to say “a thousand quiet cities” in French

Divide, multiply, subtract, check, bring down

That you can remember “Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species” if you can remember “King Philip Cleans Our Filthy Gym Socks”

That the planets spin around the sun, no matter what was once thought

What we we not taught:

How to fill out a tax form

How to go hungry

How to bargain

That years after someone you love has died, something may bring that person’s memory back to you with such pure longing, you may burst out crying on a city street or at a kitchen table

That, by and large, the moments you’ll want to go back to won’t be vacations or achievements, but mornings of drinking coffee and gossiping about the neighbors

That you’ll miss the home you grew up in and the foods you ate

How to fall

Chelsea, who, as you might recall, was recently left stranded by a hurricane in Vermont, is a professional writer. You can find her website here. Among other things, she’s written books about living with OCD and dealing with loved ones who suffer from Bipolar Disorder. We met through the internet several years ago, when she was researching detectives with OCD for an article she was working on about the television series Monk for TV Guide. She, I believe, also has the distinction of being my only friend with an iPhone app.

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  1. Eel
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I get where you’re coming from, but I think that some important things were learned in school, like conflict resolution, working with teams, dealing with people you wouldn’t normally seek out in your regular life, etc. As for the rote stuff, though, it could be picked up anywhere. The real value is learning how to learn, acquire information, and deal with people. Unfortunately, as we continue down the No Child Left Behind “teach to the test” path, school is becoming less and less about those things.

  2. ChelseaL
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, actually. And, my Gcd! we can learn foreign languages in school! For free! But, at the time, I found it largely useless. Also: sounds as if you attended school in a more enlightened era than I did! Thanks for taking time to comment, Eel.

  3. Eel
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Is it true, Chelsea, that some things can never be fabulized?

    Exhibit A:

  4. ChelseaL
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    He, hee; only just saw this. I owe you an answer, Eel: Anyone can be Fabulized–provided he or she wants to be. ;-)

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