I might just as well have titled this post "Gobsmacked"...and really, I sort of am. But I'm not completely sure that we Americans actually have gobs--I think that's a part issued only to those who can prove that they're British. The rest of us must make do with mere mouths...unless we've starred at some point in a B-grade gangster movie, in which case we are allowed to have "cakeholes" or "pieholes" (as in "shut yer.."). And cakeholesmacked just doesn't really cut it, does it?
Whatever it is, I am. It has mostly to do with the HOBET. Which is not to be confused with a short, do-gooding man with large hairy feet and a ring fixation but rather, a test required in America for folks attempting to enter the healthcare world. At least, required by some colleges--such as mine, as you may have guessed. I was indeed one of those super weird and not hugely popular kids who loved school...but even I wouldn't have signed up for a 2 hour and 31 minute timed test if I didn't really have to. Truth is, I can't even apply for the nursing program at my school unless I take it, so I had scheduled it for today. Good thing, too, as I was running out of doors to slam my hands in and really needed some other way to torture myself.
I was advised by the advisor (well, duh) that the requirement was to be in at least the 50th percentile on this test. But that was on paper. In reality, competition is so fierce that last year they didn't take anyone below the 80th percentile. Okay, I see...I need to perform better on this test than 79 percent of the other people who have taken it IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. But no. No pressure.
Have you ever noticed how many people, at times like this, will advise you to "relax"? I know it's well intended....but you might as well advise Ed to walk upright and Gracie to write her memoirs in Latin with a quill pen because it's about as likely. If you've ever seen Tweak on South Park...that was me this morning.
I went in, I paid my $40, I sat at a computer, I answered questions. I was allowed scratch paper and a pencil, as long as I agreed to allow them to shred the scratch paper. If I didn't, my test would be forfeit and I would be accused of cheating. Not that they take this whole thing kind of seriously. Not at all. Fortunately I had decided against such bits of comedy relief as shouting across the silent test room "Hey! You in the pink! What did you get for number 12??"
I finished the test and came out to get my score. They do these things instantly now. (Being a Terry Pratchett fan, I pictured hoardes of little imps inside the computer, frantically checking answers...but I've been a little weird today. It might be all the no pressure. ) The woman running the whole shindig smiled brightly as she gave me the printout and said the following sentence: "Sroch xolzie chiroar chorqup eimso!" Or at least that's what it sounded like to my enfeebled brain that absolutely refused to process the actual phrase "You got the highest possible score on this test, scoring higher than 99% of all people who have taken this test in the country!"
Oddly, I did not turn handsprings, kiss the poor woman, throw a party, or squeal (I think the assessment office was good with that decision). Instead I felt a bit numb......because it seems just a tad surreal. I never think of myself as smart....and instead of experiencing huge amounts of joy, I find myself slightly panicked because I'm afraid the grown-ups are going to come home and realize I've been pretending to be intelligent again and I'm going to be in time-out for a looooooong time. It just seems so weird. I kept wanting to ask her if she was absolutely certain....if she knew that I haven't made a single pair of socks from start to finish without starting the first one over at least once and often as many as 4 times. Or that the last pair is made in two different dye lots because the intellectual challenge of reading the dye lot apparently escaped me. Or that I didn't know my right from my left until I conveniently acquired a scar on my left thumb, thus distinguishing it from the other one....and that I still sometimes can be seen stroking a finger across the scar when trying to figure out if I need the left on that side or the one that I apparently think I have on the other side. Or that I made sweetened hockey pucks ( you all remember that, yes?) because the vagaries of yeast went right over my head.
Or that I'm just that dumb kid on the playground who sprained her finger playing dodgeball but never did catch the damned thing because I couldn't figure out the order of steps involved in doing so. And I guess that's what it comes to. I grow up, I do things that I feel proud of...and some little inner voice keeps reminding me that I have spent much of my life feeling awkward, clumsy, and unsure and that whatever I just did is either as dumb as the dodgeball thing or I faked it somehow. Cause, you know, it's so much easier to feel good about yourself when you keep reminding yourself of your past embarrassments.
Damn. 41 years old and I'm still listening to that voice, even when I don't know that I am. How sad that it is easier for me--and so many other women I know--to believe that unkind voice than the one that says "Hey, look what we did!" Do you ever do that? If so, want to make a pact with me that we're amazing, capable women who worked for and earned all of our accomplishments? We deserve it, you know.
Okay, impromptu therapy session done. But I do have one last related question. If I'm so damned smart, explain this:
It began life as a spoon....it is now the victim of my apparently inefficient dishwasher loading techniques. It got even, though. If any of you aren't familiar with the lovely fragrance of plastic spoon on heating element, please come right over. I'm happy to share.
But then I look at this:
And I am enchanted with it and forced to admit that, at times, at least my hands are smart. It's another Jaywalker and yes, I keep checking the size. So far, I can get it on without any weird uses of butter.
Hey....maybe I really am getting smarter.