"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

small print modesty

I don't want to brag. Because of that, parts of this post are going to be in small print, just to offset the obnoxious sense of "look how awesome I am" that might otherwise eke through.

Here's what happened. Last fall, I went back to school, as you know. And there was much rejoicing. Back into the world of tutorials and lectures and textbooks and notetaking and exams and assignments. Fun, fun, fun. (You think I'm being sarcastic. I'm not. This IS fun. As noted in an earlier post, I am a nerd.)

However, in November I received an essay back which had a ... shall we say ... disappointing grade. Which was a bit of a shock to my system. I don't receive disappointing grades. Ever. And on the rare occasion that I do, I can feel it coming. I did not feel this particular one coming.

Now, I don't want you to think that I sobbed like an exhausted child whose blankie was accidentally destroyed in the wash. Because that didn't happen. Even if that HAD happened, I would never admit it in such a public space. But yes, I was disappointed.

And so, in a moment similar to Scarlett O'Hara's, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again," I made vows that caused those closest to me to back away fearfully and with hushed whispers. I created award-winning study notes. I wrote a perfect exam. I participated in class, visited the prof outside of class, asked for help from one particularly smart friend who understood my disappointment, did all the readings, and essentially behaved in a mildly obsessive way that is perfectly understandable when a nerd has received a disappointing grade.

Thus, this post, a few weeks ago. And I waited, daring the powers-that-be to give me a disappointing grade a second time.

In tutorial this past week, the beleaguered TA was explaining that no, she hadn't finished grading the papers. And yes, most of them were pretty good. Only a few were terrible. "But," she said, suddenly perking up, "One in particular was ... well ... it was a paper about gentrification, which we're talking about today, and it was ... is the person here who wrote that paper?"

Up went my hand, slowly, cautiously.

"That," she said, "was very, very good. An excellent paper. You should be teaching this tutorial today."

Modest acknowledgement of thanks from me.

Others wanted to know if she was going to write as many comments on these papers as she had on the first ones. She explained that there were less comments, in part because the papers in general were better this time around, and so there were less comments to make. "For example," she said, pointing towards me, "HER paper ... well it was just so good ... what can I write? There's nothing to say. It was excellent."

Humble oh-it-was-nothing vague gesture from me, as I avoided eye contact with students who were now turning and staring. Frantic consideration of how I might send multiple celebratory text messages to Spike and anyone else that loves me, without the TA noticing.

And then, once more, as she defined gentrification for the class, and then paused to ask me, "Did I get that right?" Silent nod from me. "Would you like to add anything?" A dumbfounded shake of the head.

And I just must tell you that I really have no recollection of what happened throughout the rest of that hour, because in my head, choirs sang, electric guitars wailed, crowds in the stands cheered wildly, and someone handed me a flag emblazoned with the word "NERD" which I held proudly in the air for all to see, as I did a celebratory lap around the stadium.

"I'd like to thank my parents, who always believed in me ... and my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Secord, who helped me learn my multiplication tables ... and Spike (blow a tearful kiss towards his beaming "that's my wife" smile) ..."

Apparently, some of you who know me well heard my shrieks of joy from wherever you were, because ... and this is the funniest part ... I received no less than four congratulatory bags of Lay's Salt and Vinegar chips the very next day. And I assure you that my next post will return to my regular, mildly self-deprecating, mostly unimportant views of the world. But until then, I thank you, my bloggy buddies, for allowing me to brag, just a tiny bit.


Sheepdog said...

Woohoo!!! Way to go!

But we all knew you would do great. :)

janer said...

...choirs sang, electric guitars wailed, crowds in the stands cheered wildly, and someone handed me a flag emblazoned with the word "NERD" which I held proudly in the air for all to see, as I did a celebratory lap around the stadium."
You are my people and I, yours.
I love the hilarious honesty of this. And I'm very very happy for you.

vjc said...

You should be using a MUCH bigger font for stuff like this!!! WAY TO GO!! NERDS ROCK!!! WAHOOO!!!!

Of course, there is the problem that results like this only encourage obsessive behaviour but, hey! I don't have to live with you :)

Patti said...

Yeah, Spike has been gently using the word "intolerable" lately ... and so has my father ... I can't imagine why ... LOL :D

Anonymous said...

Congrats Patti!!! I knew you would ace it.
I just might eat a bag of Lay's Salt & Vinegar chips in your honour!

Sue said...

I think it's as important to know how to handle praise and accolades as it is to be ableto handle criticism.

Over the years I've seen/watched you and

read you do that.congrats, Patti.

Dwayne said...

a little late, but congratulations. i'd write a celebratory blog if it was me!