Friday, March 22, 2013

Reflections on a College Testing Center

one student's epic poetic musings on the acutely stressful situation of taking two tests in one day, both of which she is desperately unprepared for, due to her own negligence. 

It always starts with denial.
"Hooommmeeworrrrrk?" says my brain. 
Every day the wall goes up. 
The wall that points to other, more enjoyable activities that won't make me fall asleep. 
Sleep? Oh. Ha.  
This time I am determined to sleep long enough. 
Determined to be alert for my 2-test day. 
They say 8 hours is enough. 
But you can't trust the system
Because I did what they said
And 8 hours later, there I was.
In the testing center. 
White paper.
Red bubble sheet. 
Red, the blood of martyred students. 
Martyred by their own apathy for the institution they pay to attend.
Orange pencil. Mocks me with its cheery hue. 
Cookies N Cream milk promises sugar rush and sweet, sweet reassurance. 
Too sugary. 
500 calories in all. Not comforting.
Woeful glances at the clock. 
No real time limit
But limited by sanity-meter
Drained by the second
I only shout in my brain.
I'd rather wallow in my own insanity
Than allow strangers to be in on the secret.
Sleep finds me now. It seems 8 hours can never be enough.
20 minutes? 30 minutes? You don't sense time when your head's against the wall. 
When you're far away from that dingy curtain and ice-cold vent by your feet. 
I wake up and fill in the bubbles.
In 3rd grade, filling in the bubbles was a courageous task.
The risk of wrong answer was outweighed 
By the risk of stray marks outside the lines.
Now I need to know which lines. Which. Bubble. Which bubble.
Test finished. Practically sprinting.
Drop it on the grading desk like a venomous snake.
Out of my hand, ye fiendish stapled stack.
It's what I deserve.
Study. Attempt to study. Another test awaits. 
A friend. We quiz each other. We don't know what lies ahead.
We only prepare the best we know how. 
It's too late for listening better in class
For reading the whole textbook
For taking better notes
It's here and now, the final countdown. 
I feel better
Not ready. Never ever ever ever ready.
Always just "as ready as I can be"
But this time I'm confident.
Too confident, perhaps, for we all must be humbled.
The Great Assembly Maximilian Robespierre Japanese Imperialism Charles Fourier Catherine the Great
I thought I knew you, Catherine,
But none of these answers look familiar
I throw my desk to the ground
Spring up with a rebel yell
Scream at the top of my lungs
Raise my fists in the air
I yell as I wave the flag of the impoverished university students
I am the standard bearer of the downtrodden
I run through the halls, a hero
I don't. I sit. 
I want that daydream to be real. But instead I must complete the task in front of me.
I must fill in bubbles and engrave words into a blank essay response page.
The essay embraces me, and we are friends together. 
I stride with dignity to the grading desk for the second time.
I watch dreams crumble.
Very, very bad score. 
Very very bad.
Very bad.
iPod, give me some comfort.
Oh you prophetic device. Feist speaks through you. 
The song is "Past in Present."
The words that play immediately into my eardrums are 
"It's okay you know
It's okay you know
It's okay you know
It's okay you know"

And it is. It really is. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Well, it COULD Have Been a Great Story . . .

Sometimes I think of doing something that would make a great story.
And then I get too scared and don't do it.
But then I realize it would have made a great story and I want to tell it anyway.
This is one of those times.

A regular day in the library. I'm studying at a table. I soon realize that I can hear faint music. It's coming from the headphones of the guy about 4 tables away from me.
Why, why, why. Why did I choose this spot.
It would be weird to leave now, I just unpacked all my stuff.
I can tell exactly what song he's listening to. It's "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift.
Oh, whoah, he starts dancing. Not really dancing, just moving a little bit. Nodding his head. Mouthing the words. I am so close to writing a note that says "I knew you were trouble . . . when I heard your music from 4 tables away" and leaving it in front of him while dramatically relocating to a different section of the library.
But I don't. I just sit there trying to study.
And he leaves the area before I do. And it's all over.

That story would have been about 29 hundred million times better if I had actually written that note. But I didn't.
This is a minute example, but the point is important. Don't let opportunities slip by. Yeah, you've heard that a billion times. I know. Me too. But apparently it never really sunk in. Here's to taking advantage of  our opportunities to do funny things that will make great stories. Or do other valuable things, too, I guess.

Irony Is:

when your dad always takes a 2-inch stack of napkins from every fast food restaurant he visits to stock in his car, but when a Vanilla Coke explodes, there are no napkins to be found.

when you turn right and switch to the left lane, and the left turner turns and switches into the right lane.

when you remember something as soon as it doesn't matter anymore.

when Walmart doesn't have the one thing you need.

when you only need to sneeze when you're trying not to wake someone up.

when you buy something and it goes on sale the next day.

when you forget your sunglasses on a sunny day, but remember to bring them on a cloudy day.

when you pick up your 3-handled laundry basket by the one side without a handle.

when it takes you 5 tries to type the word "attempt".

Irony is everywhere, seriously. And the great thing is, even when something ridiculously stupid happens in life, usually I can at least find some amusement by saying "how ironic is that?"