Mushroom Cloud Over Madison

Aside

I’ve been feeling a bit agoraphobic for the last day or two. Gail tried to diagnose me with social anxiety disorders that she Googled* and I told her to shake her rat bones at someone else, insisting that psychology is a bunch of voodoo witchcraft. In actuality, I completely believe in the effectiveness of psychology, which is why it freaks me the hell out. I don’t want anyone cracking open my skull and taking a shit in it. Despite my discomfort, I went to Mass today, wearing jeans and a pink t-shirt, which I never do (dresses, usually). I huddled into my coat the entire time thinking about how if I transformed into a lion, I could run out. I’m not sure why that required being a lion, since I did, in fact, leave immediately after Communion.

*She majored in pyschology for the most annoying week and a half, so that’s an exaggeration, for which she’ll call me a bitch. As a matter of fact, she’ll call me a bitch for this side note too.

I’m just still not in a good place over my academic set-back. I’ve convinced myself, somehow, that this lessens my chances of ever being a librarian, regardless of my future success on the portfolio. The rational part of me knows that the job market hasn’t changed in the last week and won’t in the next six months. The irrational part of me, however, is still crying in bewilderment over a ridiculously large Old Chicago cookie about how the only life left for me must reside in the virtual world. Huh. Just made the connection from that to this blog. Ultimately, I know that I’ve been in worse places in life. Gail herself said “Hey. Look on the bright side. You’re not married.” Damn. Fucking. Straight. But it’s still a crushing blow for me. I don’t fail at things. I do a little less than expected and cry my eyes out over it, but I don’t actually fail.

ward - foot in mouth
Yeah. He did.

If it seems exaggerative, that’s a text from my friend, Ward, who has seen me in tears over a B or the infamous 98.5% assignment. I still haven’t told my guy friends about my delayed graduation. I kind of plan to avoid telling them and then just swear it was May the whole time. They’ll know something happened and that I can’t talk about it without crying and making them uncomfortable because they have penises. Win/win.

After a day of laying around in leggings and an oversized t-shirt, reading blogs and trashy supernatural romance novels, I got this super encouraging E-mail from my professor. He told me he looks forward to my re-presentation (word I made up) and that he’s sure I’ll do great. Either my portfolio defense wasn’t as bad as it seemed, or my instructors think I’m about to swan dive from the top of the college library after E-mailing to promise them that I’m going to re-read everything ever. It’s likely the latter, because I’m absolutely certain that a mushroom cloud went up over Madison as I gave that awful presentation. Then, first born sons mysteriously died. There was even a run on the banks for some reason. It was really bad.

Regardless, my professors don’t want to kill my spirit, and that’s what I took out assloads of loans for, am I right?!?! Honestly, I think they have faith I’ll do well. They wouldn’t be encouraging me to present in March if they didn’t, when I can have up to a year to prepare. Even I know I’ll fix this, deep down. But I still have these fits of “WHAT IF I DON’T?!?!?” Being a librarian is all I want. I went through so much to get here and I might lose it. I have no backup. I want no backup. The idea of not being able to do this job breaks my heart.

I feel like my whole life has stalemated until I pass this. I’ve decided to give up dating until I’ve graduated. That’s partly an excuse, just because I’m REALLY bad at it, but it’s still a distraction I can’t afford. I don’t have time for funny bad dates. Nor do I have time to hit it off with someone who demands a substantial chunk of my life. School. Career. Then boys.


That time I tried to be sexy…

I wish I could just cope with this adjustment and move on. I wish I could just get excited that I only have one more class left. I wish the stress would stop taking root in the form of feeling naked when I’m in public. Tomorrow’s the start of a new week, I suppose. At least I’ve come down from my promise that I’d only dedicate an hour a day to entertainment and the rest would be to studying. I’m too obsessive a person for this.

Gail: “Get out your laptop and fix this.”

I’m clinging to those words.

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A Chronicle of My First Failure Since the Driver’s Test

When I failed the driver’s test at 16, I cried for hours.I couldn’t even talk about it for months afterward. Two months ago, I wept because I made a 98.5% on an assignment. I felt it deserved a 100%. I was heartbroken. I was also a complete pain in the ass to anyone who would listen to my “woe is me, I”m 1.5% less than perfect” rant. So… take that and imagine my reaction when I “did not pass” my End of Program Assessment for graduate school yesterday. “Fail” is too negative a term for graduate students, which I swear have some of the most delicate selves-esteem in regards to their intelligence. Ironic huh? Following is a dramatic retelling of yesterday’s ordeal.

The committee sat with bated-breath, awaiting a presentation on the depth of my learning experience during my last two years in graduate school.

I entered and promptly presented to them… an orange.

A Chronicle of My First Failure Since the Driver's Test
… but it was an awesome damned orange.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened. I had the complete wrong idea of what was expected of me. My original advisor was a woman constantly being encouraged to retire. She rarely responded to e-mails and gave me a pat on the back and a thumbs up each time I presented her with what I’d accomplished for my portfolio. Then she retired without telling me and I had to acquire a new advisor the summer before presenting. My new advisor is kind and gentle… too gentle. She didn’t tell me that what I had sucked… and was a fruit. So, as I started speaking and saw the committee member’s faces, I knew I had it wrong. I was presenting an overview of what I thought would make me a good librarian, not an in-depth presentation of my learning experiences in relation to YALSA approved standards and objectives. I’m talking about how working circulation has helped me to put a smile on my face when this guy’s acting like a dick, and they’re wanting to hear about the Public Relations tactics I’ve learned in my Public Relations course. I knew I was screwed and just became more and more flustered to the point that, when asked what the purpose of a Reference Collection was, I actually said “I don’t know.” No. Fucking. Joke.

As I stood waiting while they convened, I began to think up other possible careers. I texted Gail and told her it was all over. She told me to relax, I probably did fine. I didn’t respond, knowing very well this was bad. I was going to have to change the name of my blog. “I don’t know.” What the fuck? I do, too, know! A Reference Collection houses Almanacs and Encyclopedias. I just didn’t know I would be asked that or that I’d show up to the singing competition with my prized dancing mule.

A Chronicle of My First Failure Since the Driver's Test
Mildred. You expected a boy, didn’t you?

I sat down as they opened the door, shocked that I was intuitive enough to recognize the body language and energy of someone who was about to announce that I had cancer and had taken a shit all over the presentation podium.

“We’re disappointed.”

My first thought was “But can you pass me anyway?”

I pretty much just heard a roar of white noise in my ears after that. I remember blaming my advisor situation and then trying to simultaneously say that I wasn’t trying to blame my advisor situation and telling them that I just didn’t understand the portfolio requirements. I truly didn’t. I’m not going to lie. There a lot of readings I didn’t do. There were times when I zoned out during lectures or participated minimally during discussions and that is why I couldn’t talk about these things at the drop of a term. Call it a curse of online learning, but you don’t actually have to know what anyone is talking about when you can just Google the term to remind yourself before responding. However, had I understood the requirements of the portfolio, I’d have brushed up. I’d have known the term and realized that when I was asked how my searching techniques now differ from when I began the program, they weren’t talking about my ability to use the word “and” in the search box. They wanted to know what I’d learned in my Knowledge Management course.

At this point, I’m pretty much just proud that I didn’t beg them to pass me or burst into tears about how “I do, too, know what a Reference Collection is! I promise! IT’S BOOKS! IT’S ALL BOOKS!” and then run out of the room crying. I kept my big girl panties on and I asked questions while three people told me how much I sucked. I made arrangements with my advisor for the 2 hour Directed Reading course that will help me focus on my revision and re-presentation of my portfolio in March. I walked to my car and called my Gramma and assured her that I was not joking, I had actually failed. I called my dad and told him that I was the slow child and I was sorry I’d disappointed him. He told me I was being ridiculous. I went out with Gail and I wallowed and made jokes about how they kicked me out of college and made me ride the short bus home. I talked about how if I fail again and I don’t get my masters degree, I’m going to have to build a rich life in the World of Warcraft, because my life here is over. She laughed and told me that at least I’m still funny. I went home and I cried. I canceled work for today (substitute teaching, which can actually be canceled the night before and no one cares) and slept restlessly. My prayers last night were along these lines.

“Thank you Lord for all you’ve given me and please help me to move forward. [tearfully] Please, please let me pass next time and give me the motivation to work for it. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me for my sins. Thank you. Amen.”

In the night, my pain eased. As I tossed and turned, I’d wake up with a little less heartache, the pit in my stomach a little softer. I woke at 7:00 and knew that I could still accept a sub job, but decided I’d rather pout. Thirty minutes later, I got out of bed and grabbed my textbook for my current class. I began to read from page one, highlighting for notes. I ordered the textbook from the last class I breezed through as well. I messaged my advisor telling her the times we could meet and that I was rereading my old texts. I went grocery shopping and bought note cards and pretty pens for color-coding because I’m insane. I called my manager and secured every Wednesday off for the next semester. I explained I had two more hours I had to take, knowing full well that she’s a librarian and knew I had my presentation yesterday and failed. I put the embarrassment aside, because that is one of the worst parts. I hide behind a different persona at work to a psychologically unhealthy extent anyway (another entry for another time). Why should this be any different? I went to lunch with my dad and he reassured me I’ll pass.

I love my dad, but he doesn’t know me all that well. Gail is the person who knows me best in the world and she didn’t know if she should leave me alone last night, because she thought I might hurt myself. I’m not saying it was rational, but yes, that was a valid fear. My dad, however, felt he should begin sentences with “… and if you don’t pass…”

NO! Shut the fuck up! I WILL pass. That’s the only thing I want to hear. I’m not saying I’ll pass by fate or magic. I’ll pass because I spent the whole day reading and ordering textbooks. I’ll pass because I have six months to learn the theories of information services inside out. I’ll pass because I WILL read a minimum of two hours a day on information theories and articles about current trends in the library world. I may still be the worst driver on the planet, but I will learn this stuff to the point that I have no fucking social life beyond this blog and text messages to Gail if that is what it takes. I will not get used to failure and develop better coping mechanisms than eating an entire Old Chicago, because I won’t fail.

And in the meantime, I will slip behind my work persona, Winifred, and tell everyone I have one more class to take, consoling myself with the fact that it is not a lie. They just assume… and eventually write the blog entitled “Winifred.”