From the Loser
By Tim Drugan-Eppich
I hated math in high school. I used math class to catch up on my sleep, calmly placing a hand over my eyes seemingly deep in thought, while casually falling into a restful slumber. I got away with it, most of the time.
But now, looking in the rear view window, I realize a benefit about math I didn’t appreciate at the time. You knew where to start, could jump right in and do the work, and when a problem was done, it was done. And you knew it was done, so you could move on with your life, leaving that pesky set of numbers out of your brain forever. If only I appreciated that simplicity while in the midst of it. Instead, I complained and whined about my homework, struggled through the tests and celebrated when the whole subject was behind me.
I say this because now as an English major, trying to be a writer, how I lust after a simple beginning to anything. Every homework assignment requires critical thinking or creative thought. Every essay, story or narrative urges me to dive deep into my brain and find something new and interesting that I can bring to the world, a new view, a strange idea, a variable spin on the very human condition. This leads me to spend copious amounts of time examining the very depths of my brain, and to be honest, I am shocked at how empty it is.
I observe others in my classes who speak about creativity striking them like a bolt of lightning, keeping them awake all night writing furiously. This does not happen to me. Even when I have the slightest impulse for an idea, if it comes around bedtime, I easily convince myself of its stupidity, leaving me free to enjoy a good nine hours of shut eye.
The ancient Greeks were big on muses; women, or gods, or something in between, who were big into music. Every once in a while they grew tired of singing to themselves, so they sang into someone’s ear, usually an artistic type like a painter or a writer. Then, voila, a masterpiece. If there is anything of that sort going on now as the inspiration for good writing, I must have done something to irritate those musical ladies. Maybe I have a distinct smell that scares them off, or maybe they find my demeanor insulting. Because either way, there is nobody singing anything to me worth writing down. Every once in a while I have a ringing in my ears, but it usually follows listening to something too loud, or mowing the lawn, so I don’t think that’s anything other than my body telling me I should have worn earplugs.
Some advise me to look more closely at the world around me for ideas — the way people are waiting at the bus stop, how guys wear their hats, or even the simple effect the wind has on how women walk. But this does nothing for me. No matter how hard I try to concentrate on possible writing topics, my mind wanders. I’m not even sure where it goes. Spending so much time bouncing around in my own thoughts makes it that much more deflating when it leads nowhere. I have finished entire weeks, looked back, and realized I have not had a single thought worth further consideration. A humbling thing to bring to light.
But still I write, and through that, most of the things I write end up about nothing. This very column a prime example. Just like columns in the past, once again I wasted your time without your noticing. And through what means? Saying much about how I have nothing to say. What a scam! Yet it worked. And you aren’t even angry. In fact, maybe even a bit amused. Because though there is never a sure ending with creative things like writing or art, there is also no sure beginning, and no requirement for much of anything in between. Let’s see you get away with that in math.
Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.