You Are An Embarrassment To Humanity and Now You Will Suffer 4th Grade For The Rest Of Your Life…

I am going to share only a small part of my story with you, but it is an important moment in my life. 

If I was still who I was then, I wouldn’t share it with you because I’d be embarrassed, but then again, that is what this short story is about, a transformational year in my life, that I didn’t recognize as being as transformational as it was. 

Perhaps in this story you will see something for yourself, and you will understand that you may be in a moment in time that will be transformative for you as well. 

It’s often something we don’t see because we are in it. 

In fact, I’d say you often don’t see the transformation that is taking place for years, potentially decades after the fact. 

Well that was the case for me. And in a few short moments in time you will see years of life condensed into a passing few paragraphs. 

If I do what I am capable of you will also experience a shift as well, even if it’s only a small shudder in your being, after all a shudder of being is often all it takes to shift a perspective. 

I was a terrible student of life, afraid to be embarrassed, but not even afraid of embarrassment. It was the experience of my emotions that frightened me most. 

But I didn’t understand that at the time. Some emotions I was happy to come to know, others, well that is what this story is about.  

I shielded myself from feeling that which was making me feel the most and the suffering that ensued from my fear of dissolution turned itself over and over inside of me. 

This is not about regret necessarily, as none of us have the ability to really know what alternative path would have provided us with the “right” path, the “better” path. 

However, we all have a sense that such a path existed and still does. 

I was at my second University, there were a few community colleges before that, a brief stint as an Artichoke, another at the famous phallus, COCC on the rock; drop that last C for a K and get your kicks as you will. 

Before I carry on, I want to point out that I had some incredible interactions with amazing teachers, students as well. The depth of opportunity to explore is immense, if you have a sense of immensity within yourself. 

I was still drowning in the shallows, while a part of me was off and away, calling after me.   

The professor begins the class, “Alienation is the human condition, love the human necessity”. 

It was the first day of what should have been my last year of university. 

I was still somewhat clueless about what I was doing with myself, what I was doing in school. 

It started a long time ago, ages before university was even an idea in my little 9 year old brain. 

Before then, I am not sure. 

But we had just moved to a new house and a new school. 

The first day of class, the teacher sat me down at a desk in the front of the class, put a test before me, and then said some words that basically sounded like this, “This test is going to be a challenge for you; you are obviously a terribly shy child, so we are going to have you sit in front of the class, in front of a bunch of strangers. Based on what happens here right now, according to this test, we are going to decide that you will be faced with years of having to overcome the results of this moment in time. You will be forced to take remedial reading. You will be placed in a class with five other students who struggle with the language; you will spend years trying to overcome this deficit and you will do it by yourself, without knowing anything about how to actually learn, study, or properly progress. You will feel insecure about your abilities to learn. You will be embarrassed and afraid to ask questions, to inquire into topics that interest you because you will be afraid to be laughed out or screamed at because you don’t understand the material. Your father will be disappointed in you. Your mother will have know idea how to handle the situation. You will be frustrated year after year because there is a world outside of yourself that you want to come to understand, but you will feel it is closed off to you. You will have a lingering sense that you are always on the brink of doing something wrong, breaking something that belongs to someone else, taking someone else’s time by asking for their assistance and help. And then a day will come, and you will be faced by a choice. In fact many of these days will come but you will not see them clearly because you are you and you are afraid in some curious delirious and deranged manner, that makes perfect sense, yet makes no sense to you. And then it will happen and you will see it all. 

But until then, welcome to 4th grade and the next 20 years of your life. ) 

There’s no doubt that whatever transpired in that classroom that day was not the genesis of that moment in time, but it was one of the first and only moments I have of school other than when I was in 2nd grade, maybe 3rd, possibly 1st. 

I remember parent teacher conferences and the days when I met with my teachers and my parents at the same time. It was that moment when the paper was pulled out, a piece of paper full of x’s and / . I don’t remember what was better an X or an /, but I imagine it was the X winning the day and slash a symbol of incompleteness, and there must have been a Zero in there too. 

Maybe that wasn’t the case I don’t recall precisely, but whatever it was, I didn’t want to be there to experience it. So I wasn’t. I ran around outside playing with a friend, until the last moment. Children know the look of disappointment, even if they don’t know it. 

Strangely enough, I think I might have liked school at that point in life, I just didn’t like, “School”. Well that moment in time is lost on me and no one seems to know for sure, so I am putting the pieces together for you right now.

So there I was at a new University slogging through a few more core classes, coming into my last year, filling the gaps in my degree requirements because of a few basic classes that didn’t transfer over from the U of O. 

It was a small room, an  intimate class of students who read books. The professor opens with the words, “Alienation is the human condition, love the human necessity.”

A chill overcame me, a desire unfulfilled took to my throat, a truth that had evaded my ability to put language to a feeling that I have lived with for too long, ran through me. It wasn’t the words alone, but the tone of truth that pressed against me, Some part of me shifted within and I wanted more.

I dropped the class immediately. 

A few days later, I found myself in an auditorium, a theater for the first day of a class on Classical Music, another core class I needed to fulfill. I already bought the book for the class, which was actually a four CD set of music with an accompanying guide book. 

I sat in a seat in the front row, strange for me, nonetheless there I was. And then the professor, perhaps with a few words spoken, perhaps not, pushed play on the audio system. 

The music in high fidelity, the music on this glorious soundsystem which was placed perfectly  for events such as this, for music and theater, and live performances, saturated my entirety. The joy overwhelmed me. 

I had never experienced such complete encapsulated musical ecstasy as I did at that moment. 

Tears were finding their way out of my entire body, an unexplained sensation that was so foreign to me, wrapped me whole. 

I dropped the class and returned the CD’s for $110 dollars. 

It was all too much, the passion, the motion, the inability to control whatever that was coursing through me.

The Life Force… 

I want to tell you all of it, all of this story, but time is of the essence right now and…

I was safe. 

Professor Shoedinger taught philosophy 101, and it would fulfill the core curriculum that “Alienation and Love” would have taken care of. 

I just wanted to graduate and get this business and finance degree over with. 

“Children, idiots, you ingracious know it alls, let me get it out of the way, YOU don’t know anything about much of anything. I do not want your opinion, nor your ideas about your opinions. After you have studied, thought, questioned, and tortured yourself with logical fallacies, when you actually truly know what the word love, happiness, sincerity, or any other of a thousand words you use throughout the week mean, then we can talk. Until then, just regurgitate the material I will be sharing with you.” 

That’s a paraphrase but it is true to his stance as a professor. The smart students, the students who were graduating in four years as opposed to my 7 years, didn’t like the thought of being told they don’t know what they don’t know. 

When the professor handed back the graded exams for the first time, I was not surprised, D -, not quite an F, not the C, I was hoping for. 

In the U.S., the grading system runs from F- being the worst to A+ being the best, a 4.0 grade point average. 

I had my exam in hand, looking over the red marks, contemplating my strategy moving forward. Meanwhile, moans and groans and sad long faces were filling up the room fast. 

It seemed the majority of the class suffered the words of Professor Schoedinger, for different reasons than mine, but nonetheless, we suffered together. 

And then I found myself a few days later walking to his office. As you already know I wasn’t a good student, but I was at least passing my classes and I was so close to being done with school, that to receive a D minus and do nothing about it was not going to happen. 

I walked into his office with my test in hand, not embarrassed, not shy, not afraid, just in need. 

He was much more accessible one on one. 

He asked how he could help me. I told him I received a D minus on the test and I wanted to do better.

He asked for my exam, which I handed over with a kind of enthusiasm that was unexpected. 

He looked it over as I stood there waiting for his reply. 

His face was neutral. “What year are you,” he asked. 

I’m a junior. 

His face turned to disgust and he didn’t hide his feelings about my test, nor me. 

It was a glorious moment for me. Because he was right. It was abominable, a disgrace to my humanity, to my own ancestry, to the entirety of the human race. 

The exam was mostly written. My writing was horrible, technically troubled, sentences running on forever, spelling that would make a dyslexic confused. Yet there was some sense of hope in all of it.

“Did you take the practice test?” 

I didn’t. 

“Okay, here is what you are going to do. You are going to come in here a week before the test. I will give you a practice exam and I will grade it for you. The practice exam is identical to the in class exam. Study the graded practice exam and you will be fine.”  

I walked out of his office relieved and overwhelmed with gratitude toward his words, his willingness to share his disgust, or at least his confusion that someone like me could have made it so far along in school and still lack the fundamentals that would set me free.  

There I was standing outside the philosophy department, about to transform my life. “I am going to become a writing major.” 

Are you serious, you are almost done with school, almost through torturing yourself with whatever this madness has been and now you want to sign up for another year plus the next semester. 



Okay, well maybe not writing. I don’t know how to write. General literature it is. 

The truth is, I would have chosen writing, but I was still me then. Even though I was emboldened by this moment, this moment was not yet emboldening me. 

General literature it was and an extra year of University it would be. 

And I hated it and loved it at the same time. 

I taught myself to speed read because I had too. 

I only see text on a page, never any imagery, never any emotions moving through me, yet something was capturing my attention. 

The classes, the professors loved their material, loved to teach. I enjoyed the performances more than the material itself. 

Yet, something kept grabbing me. The thinking, the experiences, the ideas were familiar to me. They were my own yet they belonged to others. 

My life suddenly belonged to me. I started dictating the rules. I no longer tok the classes that you were supposed to take. I took the classes I wanted. 

I wouldn’t take a class that started before noon. Sleeping in when I needed to and morning reading changed everything for me. For years I had fought my natural rhythms, waking up too early, having a schedule that was spaced out too much. Classes back to back, bunched together three days per week, with an odd class here or there on a Friday worked for me. 

I hated schedules and having to be anywhere at any particular time; getting it all done in a condensed week was incredible for me. 

My workload was heavy. 17 credits a semester, all literature, the normal load was 12 credits, maybe 14. 

My brain was moving and my memory was expanding and I was still not a good writer but something was bubbling about. 

It was an interesting experience to be surrounded by students who read most of their life, stories about hiding away in highschool to read privately were normal for them. The first novel I read was when I was 19 years old. Then I didn’t read much after that. 

I didn’t like to read. That’s probably why my reading ability was terrible. The chicken or the egg which came first…

Now, I am reading voraciously because that is what a lit. Major does. Reads and then makes some commentary about what has been read. 

Who am I to say anything about anything, nonetheless, I was saying what was being said and it was intriguing for reasons that only would interest me. 

The other students seemed to experience the authors in a different way than I did. They saw things that I missed or that I didn’t think were as important as what I observed. Of course there were plenty of shared observations, but I seemed to find something more in it, or at least different. 

It took me a short time to appreciate it. It’s something that I originally didn’t understand as a uniqueness to my way of being in the world.

In my junior high yearbook almost everyone who signed my book said the same thing, even though with different words, “You are weird but in a good way. Have a great summer and stay cool…” 

This story I am sharing here with you has been going on for quite some time. 

I want to wrap it up by saying that I graduated. It was the best year of my schooling life, good grades, super intense; I even had a near mental breakdown hidden as a breakthrough, but really a losing touch with physical reality. It’s natural. There was even a strange psychic experience with a library book that I will save for another day. 

You know, I didn’t care about graduating. It didn’t matter to me. My university history was nothing I wanted on a resume or a cv. The thought of a profession didn’t interest me. I walked that day because my parents needed it. 

I still didn’t know how to write. But I was learning how to express myself and how to think in a way that interested me.

But more importantly, I started to appreciate the beauty of a well written sentence, even though I didn’t understand that yet. 

Years later, I would come to know you as a movement of life living in words, an incarnation of whomever you are, sharing yourself with me. 

The end… 


I almost forgot everything I said above is true, but I keep forgetting one of the most important moments of my writing life and my life as a man sitting with another man in complete vulnerability. 

I hope this isn’t boring you, but it is important to share. 

First, I mentioned I hadn’t read a complete novel until I was 19 years old. It was some grocery store sci-fi throw away novel. I enjoyed it. 

A few years later, while I was taking time off from university, before the events above, I found myself reading a Dean Koontz book, 340 pages of energy, of ‘what’s going to happen next and then next and then…” I read 3 of his novels in a week or week and a half when I was 22 or 23. 

It was incredible; never have I experienced a reading event with such speed and desire. It wasn’t born of me, but there I was somehow ingesting novels. 

I graduated University at the age of 26. 

But the event that I wanted to share with you, happened at the same university I graduated from, pre literature major. 

I was 24 years of age, taking a core curriculum class to fulfil my finance degree, “Non-Technical” writing. I think it was a writing class for non writers. 

That day in class we were assigned a task to interview one of the other students and then write about it and then share it with the student that was interviewed. 

My partner was an actual grown man, old to me, in his forties. He was a student in the vocational school that was connected to the university, a school where professionals renewed their technical knowledge to keep their licenses up to date.

I handed him what I had wrote. 

He was quiet and calm.

And then he started crying, quietly tears fell from his face.. 

I sat still, the two of us silent together. I’ve never had a grown man cry in front of me. 

A minute or so passed and I asked him if he was okay. 

He told me that he never was able to express his emotions and feelings in the way I did, that he couldn’t put words to it, to his life, and that for the first time he was able to say what he wanted even if it came through my words. He said  that I gave him a gift. 

We gave each other a gift. I just didn’t’ realize it yet.

Whatever transpired in that non-technical writing class reaffirmed something within me that would remain asleep for some time, slowly waking up, slowly coming to life, slowly, slowly, slowly… 

It’s still waking up. That is its nature. Something within you must be expressed.

We are just beginning, you and I. 

We barely touched the topic that started this expression, the avoidance of feeling, the avoidance of emotional intensity, the willingness to be confronted by your own transformation.. The avoidance of confrontation with the willingness to be transformed. 

The music… 

The words…

The truth… 

The questions… 

Questions that live beyond those words, those words, “Alienation is the human condition, love the human necessity”, will have to wait for another moment in time.

I will take a walk now. 

Blessings and may you feel what you must when you must feel what is true. 

Emeric Damian