I cannot pay attention for more than 15 minutes when I’m in class. Sorry—saying this as a third-year college student who will most likely handle important financial situations in the future isn’t a promising statement, but it’s true. There’s so much going on in my head at once that I cannot just take notes on how to calculate inflation rates, or the dot product of a matrix, the probability of an event, the Bernoulli. These notes and new ideas bounce in my head nonstop. I wish it was a subtle bounce, like the DVD logo growing up slowly hitting the edges of the screen, praying that one day it will hit the exact corner and time will freeze, making all these notes go away. Sadly, the reality is displeasing. I combat these pinballs with something that I like to call—and yes, I invented this word—doodles.
I’ve been doing this since fifth grade when a friend I met had an abstract collection of pens. Not just those little plastic pens whose clips would break with the small gust of wind; I’m talking eccentric-named pens. UNI-Jetstream is one name that will stay in my head forever—I can feel it in the palm of my hand right now. The perfect balance, the sleek surface, the unforgettable comfort as I press it down on my notebook to write “Paul Gayle.”
This friend of mine brought a little notebook to school one day to show me his amazing drawings: sketches of eyes, veins in hands, the perfect water droplet. I, too, wanted a notebook so I can draw these intense, realistic drawings because in the fifth grade, everything you do is perfect—that is until I realized I cannot draw an accurate eye worth shit. Nor the veins in one’s hand, the perfect hair texture of women, that little glisten in a balloon on the top left corner, depending on where the light source is coming from. I could write my name though, or draw little circles over and over again until a teacher caught me and told me to look up. Block letters... ugh, I could go days and days drawing block letters.
And that’s exactly what I did. I was obsessed. I was in love.
I found my new distraction away from this world. These little drawings that didn’t need any practice, they tugged some part of my heart that nothing has touched before. When I notice the professor repeating a phrase or going over syllabus notes, I can’t help but look down at my paper, my tablet, and notice these blank little spots on the corner and side. Empty, blank, white spots. They needed to be filled, they needed to be told a story. No, not a story, I don’t have that long. The professor could have switched the slide by now, did I miss something they said? I can’t go in too deep. What can I do in these seconds of bliss, times where ecstasy couldn’t make me feel any better than I do right now. Little block letter “P” will do.
Ooo, what if I draw it like this instead? Maybe add edges to emphasize depth, shade to show that light shines even in places where the most depressing moments seem euphoric. The teacher changed slides, time to look back up. Reduced Echelon Form, the output per capita in one’s country based on their savings and investments, how to change the binomial to a moment generating function. I think I’ve caught up on notes, let’s look down, oh my god. I cannot believe it. These notes that I’ve taken opened up a new canvas on the outskirts of my page that are just begging for me to place my messy, disgusting penmanship on, screaming, “Paul, I need you right now to place that pencil on me. I need you to draw some stupid drawing of your hair on a turtle. I need you to draw the next big thing in fashion, the fit of the century, please.” I can’t wait.