My mother and I were discussing possible college majors a couple months ago, and she left me with the question, “Well, what would you say is your greatest strength?” It wasn’t a question I had to mull over for hours. It’s English. It’s been English since the sixth grade. I just get English, you know? As long as I’m not forced to write a complete essay in forty minutes, I’m golden. Never once have I teetered dangerously on the edge between an A and a B. So, during the months since that discussion, I’ve felt fairly confident in pursuing English after high school.
That is, until I started writing my summer essay for The Catcher in the Rye and How to Read Literature Like a Professor. I completely understood both the books. The problem is never with comprehension. When I have to convince other people that I comprehended what I read…Well, that’s when the trouble starts. My mind is just a little off. Earlier today my brother told me that he always imagines a thousand men, all in different costumes, perpetually running through my head. That’s the best description of my brain I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard a lot. I can explain things, sure. But in a formal structure? Not really. Those men in my head need room to dance around with ideas and make silly comments and analogies. Formal essays don’t have that room.
Still, I always manage. I can’t even remember the last time I got a B (or lower) on an essay. I just hate producing a piece of writing that sounds so sterile. In my blogs, I can mess with structure and ignore certain grammar rules and insert witty comments whenever I’m feeling cheeky. Whether my blogs are actually any good or not, I don’t know. But I do know that I’m usually fairly proud of what I post because these blogs sound like me. In my head, I use contractions. I make up words. I occasionally use sentence fragments. I don’t intentionally insert transitional phrases at certain points or make sure I have topic sentences. That’s unnatural.
Of course, I’m sure there’s a way to splash a little of me into my formal essays without sounding too casual, and I think I may be hitting that mark with this Catcher essay. Still, it wasn’t fun getting here. And I’ll probably get a D because I actually feel fairly good about this one, for once.
We’ll see, I suppose.
Getting into AP Art was quite the ordeal. While the art teacher I had for two years had absolutely no reservations about signing my recommendation sheet, the toad (a.k.a. the head of the art department) decided to make it an issue. She had never met me. She had never seen my work. All she knew was that I never took the semester long Painting II, and obviously no student could do well on the exam unless she painted a handful of shitty watercolor landscapes in a classroom setting. And so what if said student was more concerned about her artistic growth than her exam score? The score of two she was most likely going to receive would look bad on the school, and that just won’t do.
But after a few sassy emails, an awkward one-on-one talk with my art teacher, and a “meeting” that was essentially the toad calling me a liar for ten horrifying minutes, I was put through to AP Art and life was good.
A month or so later, I heard that the guidance counselors would be calling down students who have conflicts with their class choices. That worried me. I had selected four AP classes for next year, and by senior year so many students are weeded out of AP that the number of available slots for certain classes is limited. I already knew that AP Calculus BC and AP Art would only have enough students to fill one class each. But weeks and weeks went by and I was never called down. I thought for sure I had avoided the bullet that had taken down so many overachievers before me.
On Friday the 13th, I was called down. How oh so very fitting. Calc and Art were only taught seventh period, so I had to pick one or find an alternative. Of course, the toad was still trying to ruin as many lives as she could before she retired at the end of the year, so an alternative was impossible and I had to trade art in for AP European History.
Bummer. I really wanted to take that class. But after allowing myself to stew in my own self-pity for a few days, the whole idea of fate started swimming around in my head. Why was I taking AP Art in the first place? I’m not foolish enough to believe that art could possibly be in my future career path. I never have been. Oddly enough, the fact that I had not originally placed AP Euro in my schedule began to eat at me during the days before I was delivered the bad news. After I finished the AP U.S. History exam earlier in the month, this horrible melancholy feeling washed over me. Once the pressure of the tremendous workload in that class was released, I realized that I miraculously grew to love history, a subject I’d always hated.
Perhaps it was fate that I had to drop AP Art. Perhaps my future path somehow involves history, and taking AP Euro will foster my love of the past and give me some sort of direction for post-high school life. Perhaps I’m thinking too deeply. I don’t know. I guess I’d just like to believe that I would not be denied something so seemingly simple that I wanted so badly for no reason.
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