I want to take a moment to thank everyone who reached out to me regarding my post on Friday. I'm happy to report that the concert went great and was a thrill and magical and all those things I'd hoped, despite my weighty woes. Guess what I realized? At the end of the day it was just me and the songs and the symphony and the audience. Nothing else mattered. That said, I didn't really eat very much for the rest of the week (can you blame me?) and by Sunday morning when I flew home I was starving. In fact, I even stopped and got scrambled eggs and a salad to eat in the cab on the way to my apartment. I'll have to find a healthy way to do this, and for those of you keeping score at home, I am thinking about Weight Watchers, which I've never done. The whole thought of it makes me weary, but it's important for my health, so I'll do it. Side note--it's weird to write about weight again. I haven't touched this subject since I fired off the final copy of my book manuscript in December of 2006. It's like hopping right back on ye olde bike, which in this case is a stationary bike set to "cardio burn". Mamma Mia give me the strength to do this.
It's great to be home, and I'd like to give you a small report of what I came home to, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow's Daily Dose.
So where did we leave off? I was re-writing my paper, and waiting for my midterm. In the mean time, I was lurking about Pace University looking like Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married. Some days it was weird to be an elder in a crowd of kids--especially trying to stay under cover in my Playwriting Class with the Musical Theater haters. Those were the hardest three hours of my week. No doubt about it.
Mostly, though, my days were good and I was feeling more positive about my potential as a student. So far, so good--it was October and I hadn't quit. Which brings us to the day the midterm was returned. Dr. Blumberg held the booklets in her hand and said, “Before I pass these out, I’ll say that I had a wide range of grades. There were some low scores and I strongly suggest that if you got a D or and F—and there were, unfortunately, a handful of those, that you see me after class and we’ll talk about how we should proceed. Most of you got a C, which is average. I would wonder if the exam was too hard, but there was one A+, which leads me to believe it was a fair exam.” There were audible groans.
Uh-oh. Everyone was going to hate that A+ person. Poor louse.
She started to hand the exams back and when she got to me, I got a quick smile. I glanced down to see….and yes….I was the hated A+. I got a 97% on my midterm. I flipped over that test booklet faster than you can say “I’ll bet the over achieving old lady got the good grade”, so the kids couldn’t see the giant 97% A+ on my exam. Flipping over tests to hide my score was an old habit for me, but usually I was hiding a 60%. Getting a good grade was a new development for this chronic failure and I didn’t handle it well.
For example, as soon as I could get my phone to a sort of hidden place (during class), I fired off a text message to Rob. “I GOT A 97% ON MY MIDTERM.” He was in the middle of teaching, but a few minutes later (when he was on break) I felt my phone buzz. “HOORAY!!! GOOD FOR YOU.”
Without missing a beat I wrote, “I wanted 100%.”
Immediately after class I rushed to Rob’s empty office and poured through my test booklet. What had I missed? All the identifications were 100%, and there was a general 3 points taken off the essay. Nothing was really wrong, I just hadn’t fully flushed out an idea. Okay, fine. At the end of my exam where I’d written some cornball thing like, , "This was my first exam in 25 years. I hope I did it right!”, Dr. Blumberg had written, “It is a fine exam. Good job. You don’t seem to have forgotten a thing!”
Isn’t that nice? (But she could've given me 100%.)
She had no was of knowing it was the highest grade I’d ever received in my life—on any quiz or test or exam—in any school or institution or even on a quiz in Cosmo magazine. I can’t even finish a crossword puzzle. Or a page in a coloring book. She probably thought I’d always been a crackerjack student, having no idea a miracle had occurred in that little exam book. It was an awesome feeling, but I vowed to do better.
Charlotte and I talked about it over dinner. “Mama, don’t be so hard on yourself. You got a 97. That’s really good.”
“I wanted 100%.”
“So next time we’ll study harder, but you should still be really proud of yourself.”
“Okay. Thanks, Charlotte.”
She can always make me feel better. Charlotte is a really good student, by the way. She takes after her father (he skipped 8th grade, as you may recall from the Don’t F%$# With the Pancreas series). She does all those things normal kids don’t do—like she comes home from school and starts her homework right away without being told to. Then she keeps doing it until she’s done. Then she studies. Then in the 42 seconds she has left before bed, she might watch Chopped or some other Food Network thing, although she usually plays with her sister who has spent the majority of the hours between 4pm and 9pm banging on Charlotte’s door and screaming, “Charlotte. Let me in. I want to play with you,”
Now let’s be clear, I might have a couple of good grades under my belt in Dr. Blumberg’s class (which was the hardest) and the other classes I was taking (which were going well), but I still didn’t have Charlotte’s discipline. I am a procrastinator at heart. Make no mistake that everyone of these blog posts are completed seconds before I go to bed the night before and scheduled to publish mere hours later. It is not unusual for me to see 2am with a deadline breathing down my back.
My Waiting For Lefty paper is an excellent example of the powers of procrastination.
Have you ever read Waiting For Lefty by Clifford Odets? Here’s a Sharon Wheatley summary. It’s a really dated piece of political theater from the depression about unionizing a taxi company. Got it? This is not my favorite play in the world. I thought it was a little confusing (it is a series of quasi related vignettes) and politically about as heavy handed as you can get (like, direct quotes from the Communist Manifesto). But I was supposed to write a term paper with numerous historical citations, not a review, so off I went. And...I started it the night before it was due. If by any chance Dr. Blumberg is reading this blog post, allow me to apologize for that confession, because, well, that paper became kind of…what’s the word? Well, kind of famous. I guess that’s the best way to describe it.