Saturday, November 19, 2005

Four days in a row (now, and then)

One would think that I, being all grown up, would have enough intestinal fortitude to write "blog" entries 4 days in a row. One would think so, being as how I have this computer near my side a good 16 hours a day, and how it's almost always ON, and how it would be a good thing to do after the kids go to bed and I've got time on my hands and all, or it would be a good writer-ly thing to do before they get UP in the morning because then I could drink fresh coffee and ponder participles in the dark like I imagine all (successful or crappy, adept or struggling) writers do.

But first, before I imagine myself as a writer, I'd have to get over my vision. See, I have this VISION stuck in my brain that writers are cooler than me, or different from me, or smarter than me, or braver than me. I have this idea that one has to KNOW about being a writer to be one. One has to identify with the legions of authors or jotters or scribblers who went before, to find some common bond with them in order to truly call oneself a (struggling/adept/crappy/successful) writer. I do not. I don't. I don't identify, I just don't. I simply like to read good writing and write what I can as therapy for the remaining nimble bits of my brain.

But not four days in a row, apparently.


Now for a piece of history, which may indicate to you just how thick I really am, and how the signs and portents heaved in my general direction are generally NOT recognized for what they are. Throughout my life, if they HAD been, how different my life might be right now......

Example 1 (and there will be only one this time around) - I was a "first year senior" in college, I think, when I took honors English. Mind you, I didn't HAVE to take honors english, I did it because I liked all the stuff associated with the courses of studying english. I liked the words, and the different genres, I liked learning about poetry and prose and plays, I liked the smell of paper and liked hearing the scrape of pencils in blue books at exam time.

This was a discussion class, in which we had to express our opinions about what we'd been assigned to read, and then use the reading examples to craft some of our own work. During most of the semester I had been rather quiet, because the class was full of English Majors (the vaunted WRITER) and I thought they must know a lot more about our material than I did, because I was a science major with a music minor. English wasn't really my realm, it was just something I enjoyed, you know. So, with all my quiet and whatnot my instructor must have been forming some opinions about me (as, perhaps, the "moron who sits in the back and doesn't speak but does very well indeed on the tests"), until I realized, almost too late, that these people didn't know MORE about english than I did, they were just spouting off a boatload of crap to impress the instructor and whatever cute member of the opposite sex they hadn't slept with yet.

There was one guy in particular that chapped my ass. He wore the writerly shreds of clothing I'm sure he imagined the garret-dwelling author must wear (shiny corduroys! baggy sweaters! no deodorant!), he was working on a head full of white-boy dreadlocks, and he couched everything in terms of the philosophies of his teachers at the writing camps he had attended. I got ticked at him because of those affectations and because all the girls in class, which was about 90% of us, wanted in his shiny cords and so breathed warm sighs of approbation whenever he spoke. This mass female adoration seemed to irritate our (female) instructor, so I started to take the opposite side of ANYTHING this guy said just to piss him off, just to dig under his skin a little and find the vulnerable soft spot in his fakey writer's persona. Oh, it pissed him off, but how. Turns out he was a much poorer debater than I was, and once out of the comfortable realm of his english camp teachers he floundered in a pool of his non-ideas and poorly organized personal opinions. I was besting him at every turn, in a very polite and sinister way. I cannot tell you how good this made me feel....... (yes, I'm that evil)

Presently, the semester came to an end, at which time the FINAL EXAM was to be completed. To my memory, the FINAL EXAM was one question only, something about writing a whole bunch of stuff that required thought and organization into numerous blue books ("come with 4, and bring 2 sharp #2 pencils. You will have 2 hours to take the exam; after 2 hours you must stop and turn in whatever you have. If you finish before the 2 hours elapse, you may leave the exam room."). And, somehow, the one question spoke to me - I went on a roll, a tumble of words spilled out, a rush of ideas was transcribed into 3 blue books in 1 hour and 35 minutes and then nervously placed, wrapped in a rubber band, on the instructor's desk.

My final meeting with the instructor was a week later, which was a week of trying to ignore caring about my results (I'm a SCIENCE major, this class doesn't mean a THING!) and then caring so much my stomach hurt. At this meeting the instructor told me that if I had participated the whole semester the way I did the last 6 weeks I would have gotten a slightly better grade than what I had been given, but that nothing could have helped my final exam. (GULP!) Because it was perfect. She said she tried and tried to find something wrong with it, but couldn't. Not organization, not thought or theme, not spelling or grammar, nothing. It got an A+, the first one she'd ever given out. And then she said "you're not an English major, are you?" to which I had to reply "no." She said "too bad, you should be, you did better than any of them did and show real promise."

How much more CLEAR did it need to be, people?

Nevertheless, I didn't experience a life-changing event, I didn't switch majors (again!), I just said "thanks" and walked out smiling. But you know, if I ever need a boost, all I have to do is think of that A+ ; somehow it makes me very happy.

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