We Don't Like Perfect People

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Archive for February 2010

Picaresque, part 1

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“Hey, you!” you say. “What makes you such an expert on this whole college thing? You haven’t even graduated yet.  You’re not even close.”

Don’t get me wrong, I dig heckling as much as the next person, especially when the heckler has a point.  I mean, isn’t the Daily Show just glorified heckling?  And hasn’t it been the best thing for America since the New Deal?

(Does heckling still look like a word to you?  Because it sure as hell doesn’t to me.)

So, to answer your question.  I’m not an expert.  But I’m a little more…well-traveled…than other students.  This semester — the second in my sophomore year — is the second semester I’ve spent at CCU.  Its beginning also marked the longest time I’ve managed to stay at one college.

I get around round round round...

Yeeeah.

See, what ha’ happened wuz…

[FADE IN]

Int. School Hallway – Day

It is late March.  Little Estie, a senior in high school, calls her mother on her handy-dandy cellular phone, to see whether any big fat acceptance letters have arrived in the mail.  Her mother answers the phone in tears.  She is ululating like a professional mourner.

Estie’s mother:  I DON’T THINK SHE’S GONNA MAKE IT!!!!!

Turns out, Estie’s mother is at the vet’s office with Estie’s dog.  She did not mean for Estie to find out this way, but Oreo has suffered a sudden rupture of the spleen, and will need to be euthanized.  Oreo is only eight years old, and her family loves her lots lots lots.  Estie’s family did not even know Oreo was sick.

Estie’s mother:  YEAH, THERE WERE A COUPLE OF LETTERS IN THE MAILBOX FOR YOU! JUST LITTLE ONES.

This is the thoroughly awful way in which Estie finds out that she has not been accepted to a single one of the colleges to which she applied.

[FADE TO BLACK]

What the hell am I supposed to do now?  I’m an honor student at a prestigious boarding school for the arts. I want to be a writer someday.  For God’s sake, I can’t go to a state school.  And community college?  I’d die of shame!  I’d rather amputate my own toes with hedge loppers.

At this point, I’m sure you probably suspect that this crisis was my own doing (the college one, not the dead dog).  I didn’t really have any safety schools, and though my academic record was impeccable otherwise, I had a nasty dark blot on my transcript called Mathematics.

So.  The short answer is, you’re right, it was my own doing.  The long answer is…a question.  (What a twist!)

Are you ready for another trip back, back, back through the dark mists of Time?

Wheee!

MONTAGE:

1.  Eight-year-old, snaggle-toothed know-it-all (and hyphenation enthusiast) Estie enters the Challenge classroom for the first time.  She is surrounded by late-90’s computers with undulating fractals for screensavers.  Crowded between these computers are scale models of the Parthenon handmade of styrofoam.

2.  Nine-year-old Estie, dressed in a hairy purple sweater, wins the geography bee on stage in front of the entire school.  She is presented with a medal and a stuffed tortoise called Geo Georgie, who sports a pith helmet and a shell that doubles as a globe. She beams.

3.  Nine-year-old Estie sits on a bench at recess, reading a book while the other kids play.  She glances up to make sure she hasn’t missed her class being called back inside.  Her teacher, Mrs. Cook, smiles at her and waves.  Estie waves back.

4.  Ten-year-old Estie is onstage again and still wearing the same damn sweater.  She stands at a microphone with her eyes closed.  She visualizes the word speleologist, and spells it aloud. “S-P-E-I-L…” The judges shake their heads.  Drat.  The next step would have been the national bee!

5.  Twelve-year-old Estie, sporting braces and a Spongebob Squarepants t-shirt, receives a graded math test from her Algebra teacher.  At the top, scrawled in red pen and circled, is a C.  She stuffs it to the bottom of her backpack without another glance.

END MONTAGE.

You can see where this is going, right?  All other sources pointed to the fact that I was smart:  I knew big words, I read lots of books, I scored high on standardized tests, and I didn’t have many friends.  I’d been hearing how precociously bright I was from a very young age.  Not much later than that, I’d also begun to hear about what a nerd I was.  In the socially-cutthroat worlds of middle and high school, being smart was all I had.  I wasn’t about to let anyone find out I had an academic weakness.

My teachers noticed, of course, but they had bigger problems than the fact that one of their honor students wasn’t Meeting Her Full Potential.  On the rare occasions that one of them did speak with me privately, I’d just smile and promise to do better on the next test.  I think they were honestly too exhausted to argue with me.

My parents noticed too, but I was still making better grades than they did in high school.  They let the Cs on my report cards slide without much comment.

It turns out that you can fool your teachers, and you can fool your parents, but you’ve got another think coming if you think you can fool the SAT.  The highest I was ever able to get my math score, after a prep course and a few sessions of private tutoring, was 560.  (Compare this to the 780 and 790 I made on the verbal and writing sections.)  I could have worked harder on math — taken more prep courses, and stuck with the tutor — but by that point the mere memory of math’s existence filled me with deep and pervasive shame.  Every math class and every tutoring session was a run through the emotional wringer.

Instead, I hoped that colleges would read my writing samples, look at my grades in other subjects, and recognize me as the genius I’d always known I was.  Sure, I didn’t have the greatest math scores, but I was exceptional!  Couldn’t they see that?  Didn’t they just know?

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

No.

I present, for your viewing pleasure, the list of schools to which I applied:

  1. The University of Chicago
  2. UNC Chapel Hill
  3. Reed College
  4. Washington University in St. Louis
  5. Whitman College

I am a big fat idiot.

I did not realize this until that fateful afternoon that my dog died, my schools rejected me, and I probably lost some of the hearing in my right ear.

Luckily, one of my Creative Writing teachers found me On the Verge of Meltdown after I hung up the phone.  He’s the male counterpart to the crazy cat lady archetype:  he chain-smokes, looks homeless, and owns nine dogs plus one very ornery cat named Herb.  His wisdom is second only to that of the great Roger Ebert.

He took me into his office, showed me a photo album of all the dogs he’d ever owned, and promised that he’d help make things all right.

And in a long, extremely roundabout way, he did.

Written by Estie

February 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Bonjour.

with one comment

Now that the salutation’s out of the way, I’m Estie.  Otherwise known as Celeste.  Otherwise known as:

  • Molestie
  • Impresstie
  • Armrestie
  • Pestie
  • Depresstie
  • Incestie, etc.

These nicknames are the creations of my younger brother, who thinks he is more grown up than me.  I’d like to point out that I’m not the one who was caught practicing my Rick Astley impression by a three-year-old child and a dental hygienist the last time I had my teeth cleaned.  But I digress.

I’m a nineteen-year-old sophomore at what I’ll call Country Club University in Greenville, South Carolina.  Yes, we even have a golf course.  And before you ask, Mark Sanford jokes are welcome here—see http://www.cafeats.com/ for further details, or consult Jon Stewart (duh).

To tell you the truth, though, Greenville is actually pretty nice.  We do our best to make the rest of the state look bad.  This is mostly due to the efforts of this cool guy:

Max Heller: Eat your heart out, Charleston! Nobody ever got malaria here.

The title of this blog is my great-aunt Eunice’s reaction to hearing that I only had a 3.5 GPA after my first semester at CCU. In keeping with Aunt Eunice’s wisdom, I hope to serve as a voice of reason to all those poor high school and college students out there who are killing themselves trying to be the perfect student.  I’m not advocating slacking, I just want to remind everyone (and help myself remember) that there’s more to life than making straight A’s.

Most of my entries will focus on issues related to college life, in all its various incarnations.  This will be limited somewhat by the fact that I don’t drink, and I’m not in a sorority.  If you’re here to find out the juicy details about all the bangin’ parties that go on down here at CCU, I’m afraid I can’t help you.  But if you want an honest look at what the life of an ordinary student is like, uncensored by marketing and admissions officers, you’ve come to the right place.

You’ve also come to the right place if you want to know one college student’s opinion on fashion, books, film, culture, teh interwebz, What Constitutes Proper Behavior, and anything else that comes to mind.  I’m not an expert, but like any good college student, I still reserve the right to present my opinions in as pretentious a manner as I desire.  I will also do my best to make these observations relevant to college life.

Apparently, it’s bad to make your readers go “whuh?” too often.

But sometimes, because I have delusions of grandeur, I will drift off into sordid tales of my own life and times.  I hope you’ll find them interesting, or at least entertaining (spoiler:  I fall down a lot).  If you are Not Amused, I apologize in advance.  I suggest that you visit Roger Ebert’s blog instead, because unlike me, the man actually knows what he’s talking about.  If he fails to move you, I have to inform you that you are either a Republican, a sociopath, or a spambot.

Begone!

In sum:

Me = Estie.  This = college blog.  You = welcome.

(I am a history major.  Above may be more math than I’ll do for the rest of my life.)

Written by Estie

February 25, 2010 at 2:35 am