Thursday, April 29, 2010

Introducing...

I have a love-hate relationship with writing.  I like the product, I like the satisfaction, I hate the process.  I feel like I could be a pretty good writer if my thoughts would just flow out of my fingers about one hundred times faster. It would also help if I could reprogram my compulsive tendency to read and re-read every sentence I write at least a thousand times.  I have decided that it would be a good idea for me to practice more--to force myself to just write, to let the words spill onto the page.

And so, I have designated Wednesdays as "writing day."  I'll try to post essays or narratives or poetry (be afraid!) or various other exercises with the written word.  To add a touch of irony and suspense, I doubt I'll post something every Wednesday--I'm too free-spirited (or is it lazy?) for that--and I doubt that every "Writing Wednesday" entry will actually be posted on a Wednesday.

But it's a goal, a start, a beginning.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Finished.


I just got home from taking my last academic test ever (as far as I'm concerned.  Maybe someday I'll see fit to pursue more education, but not for a long, long time).  Last night was my final presentation.  I'm done.

It's a surreal feeling.  It's scary.  It's liberating.  I'll no longer be able to hide from the real world under the label of "student."  I'll actually have a career (once I find a job...).  I'll finally be making "real" money.

It's strange to be at the top of  the proverbial mountain I've been slowly climbing these past twenty-plus years.  Looking down at my past and my future spread out below me and stretching toward opposite ends of the horizon, I expected to have a moment of triumph, complete with Rocky-like stance.

Instead, I feel nothing but a sense of wonder and dizzying vertigo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Eye of the Beholder

The other day, Jay and I went to the temple.  We both handed our recommends to the two nice older men behind the desk.  The man holding mine quickly scanned it and handed it back to me.  The man who had Jay's stood there looking, not at the recommend, but at Jay.  After a long pause, as he scanned his card, the man said, "You're a real good-looking young man."

I was already walking past the desk and felt obligated to say something--maybe due to a subconscious need to stake my claim?  Anyway, I said, "I certainly think so."

The older gentleman turned to me and said, in complete seriousness, "You have very good taste."

I giggled the whole way to the dressing room at the irony--call me vain, but isn't the wife the one who usually gets admired by sweet old men?

No matter.  I absolutely agree with him.

 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blessed

Several weeks ago, a few days after my interview, I took a test required for my graduation and certification.  It's called the Praxis, and it's like the infamous bar exam for law students, only, I'm guessing, not nearly as hard.  Believe me, though--it's hard enough.  I was rather nervous for this test because, though I had studied, I hadn't studied nearly as much as I should have.  Normally, that feeling doesn't bother me much, but this time, it really did.  It spawned nightmares, actually.  And all because of karma.  


I have a random talent for doing well on tests.  Often when I truly don't deserve it.  It's actually a curse (really!) because it lulls me into complacency and bad study habits.  And I've had this niggling fear in the back of my mind for over a decade that I would someday, somehow pay for my undeserved successes.  That when I most needed to score well on a test, the universe would release a veritable flood of bad karma to bring "balance" to my test-taking life.  


I'm not normally superstitious (though Jay will tell you that I'm still scared of monsters under the bed), but the stakes were high enough that I was terrified of even the mental image of vengeful test-taking gods.  See, I put off taking this test until the last possible minute.  Second, really.  This was the last day I could take the test and get the results back before graduation.  Meaning that if I did not pass, I wouldn't be graduating on time.  Which is a big deal, since I'm so trunky for graduation I can hardly stand it.  


The test was on a Saturday morning; "call time" was 10:45.  I'm not sure who's in charge of scheduling this test, but, as someone who is completely nonfunctional in the morning, I wanted to kiss them.  My brain actually had a chance.  


I woke up that morning feeling refreshed and relaxed.  I took my time getting ready, stopped by a friend's house to borrow a watch since mine died and Jay refuses to wear one (thanks, Shannon!), and drove to St. Mary's.  Jay had driven with me the night before to help me mentally map out the route; I wanted no surprises or problems finding where I was supposed to be.


As I drove, instead of feeling the expected nervousness or apprehension, I was overcome by a wave of exhilaration and gratitude.  I'm not a fantastic goal-setter, but I remember being eight years old and deciding I would get a master's degree.  Mom got one, I reasoned, so I would, too.  Taking the Praxis test felt like the culmination of years of work that had all led up to this point.  


My emotions began to build as I ran through a mental list of some of my blessings:

  • I am a woman in America in 2010.  I could have set my sights on any profession requiring any level of education, and it would have been attainable.  Even as recently as 50 years ago, that wouldn't have been the case.
  • I have parents who both have graduate degrees and who instilled in me love and value of education.  
  • I have a bright mind.
  • I have a husband who is incredibly supportive of my desire to make what I can of myself through schooling and a career.
  • I'm attending graduate school, and I'm nearly finished.
  • It should have been impossible for me to make it into this program--the application deadline was February 1st, and I applied on a whim in August about two weeks before school started.  It should have been, but it wasn't.
As all these and many more thoughts swirled through my head, I gripped the steering wheel and drove with slightly blurred vision.  I dedicated that drive, and later, that test, to the eight year old dreaming of a master's degree, to the awkward high school student with lofty aspirations, to the woman two years ago who felt grad school was beyond her reach.  

And as I pulled into the test parking lot, 45 minutes early, armed with my three sharpened number 2 pencils, I couldn't stop thinking, "How blessed am I!"

Friday, April 16, 2010

All in a Day's Work

One of the surprising joys of my time as an intern at the middle school has been working with the low-level special needs kids.  I definitely couldn't do it all day, but a couple hours a week is really fun.  One of the best things about them is that they're completely spontaneous, so you never know what they'll do or say.  

One of the boys, "John," is 14 and has Down syndrome.  He's pretty low functioning and is mostly non-verbal, but he's a real ham and fun to work with.  Yesterday, as I was getting the group of kids situated and setting up for the activity, out of the corner of my eye I saw John leaning across the table with his pointer finger extended.  Imagine my surprise when he touched my chest and yelled, "Boob!"

Not knowing exactly what to do, I quickly pulled back, said, "We don't touch those," and asked him to sit down.  Since chastisement usually reinforces rather than discourages, we just moved on with the activity.  

We're always trying to encourage him to talk--to say anything; maybe I should be proud?

Monday, April 12, 2010