Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What to do with one's hands

I love the awkward moments of the first day of a new class. I love awkward moments in general, particularly that moment within an awkward moment in which you think to yourself, "I can't wait to tell so-and-so about what is happening right now." It is that moment, I believe, that salvages awkward moments. Otherwise they would just be miserable. Take bad dates, for example. You are sitting there thinking, "I do not like this guy at all," yet simultaneously you are thinking, "Corie is going to think this is hilarious. Be sure to take mental notes on the details." Maybe it is just me, but when I am feeling terribly uncomfortable, I am already picturing me and my best friend with glasses of wine discussing the terrible uncomfortableness, laughing all the way. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism; well, it's one that works.

As for the first day of a new class, such is FULL of awkward moments. Love it. Today I started a course, History of the Middle East (which I am so nerdily excited for, the reading, the writing, the learning, the discussion), and soaked up all the awkwardness like a good awkward person should.

I got there early, because parking can be a huge dose of gross, so I began the afternoon with awkward roaming of the halls. After a bathroom trip I reached my classroom, and read the note posted on the door, noting the students in the classroom, and pretended to casually read the posting that might say "History of the Middle East has been moved to Room...," but instead worried that I was not in the right location. I read the note which turned out to be a false alarm, and took a seat on the carpet in the hallway. Another girl sat on the other side of the hallway.

The other girl whipped out her phone to text, and I scribbled in my calendar, scribbled in my journal, then underlined some passages on the dog-eared pages of my book. Another girl sat down in the hallway, and she also whipped out her phone to text. I got up to go on another bathroom run, came back and sat down, now with more people sitting in the hallway, all of us avoiding eye contact and pretending to text or read.

Once in the classroom, there was more awkward waiting in silence, as the teacher always waits a few minutes on the first day to make sure everyone is there. I killed time putting my coat on the back of my chair, scribbling in my notebook, making a to-do list, sipping my coffee. I realized as I fidgeted that I chose the creakiest desk in the classroom, tried to fidget a little less, then gave up and kept fidgeting and thus creaking.

More minutes of silence passed, and finally our (fantastic) professor began class. Then the degree of awkwardness subsided; however, until you hit day 2 of a class, the awkwardness is always present, even when your professor breaks the silence. That is the beauty of the first day. There is no material yet to discuss, therefore students can choose boring small talk or they can choose to remain silent. And I, for the most part, exercise my right to remain silent, and sit back and take it all in. I am pretty comfortable with silence in the presence of others; though I can certainly be a chatterbox, I don't feel the need to fill every moment with words. If there is nothing to be said, don't worry about it. Therefore I often sit and soak. A true writer, observing and meditating, always on the prowl for content for her blog.


  1. Yeah, I noticed the same thing in my classes. I break the silence though by introducing myself to those around me and figuring out who would be the best to partner up with for projects.

  2. Now that I am taking only online courses, I don't get to experience these awkward classroom moments anymore! I do miss them because it is such a thrill to watch awkward human nature.

    I once thought of starting a blog all about awkward moments. Great post!