So I’m taking this anthropology class now: forensics. All about dead people and skeletons and horror incarnate. Of course, I like the science and can manage to be objective, and pull myself away from the dead thing and pretend I’m a detective or a scientist and see what a person can see in bone or chemistry or decomposition. It’s really cool, and terrifying, but that’s why I took it.
Along with the class comes studying and I’m a loyal student. I work hard and put other things aside so I have time to think, which isn’t always easy. This semester I decided to work less and learn more, so my paycheck stinks, but my brain is full of bones and putrefaction. I had my first real test last week, first one in probably 10 years. Keep in mind I’m an A student, carried a 3.89 GPA steadily for over 20 years. So I sit down to take the test and guess what. I got a 75.
An f*ing 75.
Six chapters and nine questions, short answer and simple essay, and I can’t pull it off. Right into the side of the mountain I go. I think there must be a mistake, certainly. But no. I’m a screw up.
On Wednesday we had another test, this one called a “quiz” so it wouldn’t shrink any wieners, twenty two questions labeling the facets and features of the skull. Now, I’ve had two skulls in my kitchen for years: a cat and a skunk. I have books and charts and posters and anatomy books. I’ve been looking at skeletons and human framework for a long time, dinking around, interested. Anyway, guess what I got on the quiz.
Yup, a 75.
I don’t know how that happened. I worry now that when it rains I’ll just look up into the sky with my mouth wide open and drown. Thank goodness I live where I do. But more than the “I’m so stupid” thing, it’s the surety I feel going in that’s scary. I approach the tests with alacrity, with a bow in my hair, sharp pencils and shiny shoes. I’m completely ready, been forming questions in my mind for days, rattling off parts and pieces. I know my stuff and yet, I don’t. And now I’m seven weeks into the class with another test on Wednesday covering the vertebrae. I swear to god, all I can see now is another shit poor grade and for what? To create one more area of insecurity where I’d thought I’d clearly excel? That seems an unwise practice. Not something I’d advise someone I love. But if I quit now I’m just a dipshit. But quit I probably will.
I have friends trying their hardest to quit things and I only wish I could give them my superhuman abilities to do so. I’d like to turn this all around and tell myself to quit failing, but there’s some kind of mobius twist in there and I’d wangle myself out, offer a hundred excuses, each perfectly valid: Why bother? Why take it? Why not just read the books?
No one would care. The whole thing is less than a speck in the larger picture. I’ve certainly good reason to knock that off my list of things to do. It’d make perfect sense. In fact, my family would probably rejoice, fearful as they are of my penchant for the dark side. But I know I’m letting someone down and it’s awful, this feeling. I can’t decide who it is, this person, but it’s real. I hang my head at the foot of the formless form I kneel to in my mind, the one in the Library who smiles at me like she would a child.
I hear her take a deep breath and try to clear her mindful palate, take some sorbet or a cracker to ready herself for my next deprecating act, to chronicle my lesser self, the incompetent, neural small change, the one who can’t light a spark in that head of hers.