Tuesday, March 24, 2009

LTS Gets a B

I am taking this great class, "The American Presidency." Our professor is young, energetic and manages to make each class interesting. I have noticed that there are a lot of young girls in the class, no doubt in part to his tall, casual good looks. He is a really nice guy, and I am really enjoying the class on most days. There have been a couple of times where I have left close to tears. The professor stresses participation, but several times has waved me off, and even said "Anyone BUT Cara." Now, a couple of weeks ago we were facing our midterm exam, and I was worried about the general nature of the professor's review guidelines, and I also wanted to probe him a bit about his feelings regarding my participation in the classroom, so I paid him a visit during office hours.
Professor Rocca was very welcoming and warm. I asked him for a push in the right direction regarding the exam, given that I haven't done this in a long time and was experiencing a little anxiety about the format (three short answer and one essay, it was totally subjective.) He was gracious enough to provide both guidance and reassurance that even if I didn't get a score that I hoped for there was ample opportunity to make it up with my paper and future exams. I then asked him if he thought that I was too outspoken in class, and he seemed a little puzzled and said, "No, you know you aren't coming off as a 'know-it-all' and your classmates aren't rolling their eyes when you talk, I think you are doing fine." So maybe I was just being too sensitive, though I am the only one he has waved off in a discussion, so I am trying to jump in less often. It's hard, though, I am really passionate about this subject.
So the exam...I really studied for this thing. I read, reread, and reread again. I kept my nose in the books for days, and even skipped a class the morning before to do a final review for this exam. Here is what is funny. I got to class with my blue book, and a pen I had just purchased. I sat down, I had a bottle of water and coffee in my thermos and was ready to go. Rocca handed out the exam and I started to write my name on the blue book and the brand new pen would not write. I scribbled all over the blue cover trying to get it to work, and got nothing but a few splotches of weak ink in deeply carved grooves on the paper. The very nice young man to my right passed me another pen, which I continued to scribble with until I got it going, and I scrawled "This doesn't bode well" beside my desperate attempts to get the pen working. I was off my game, and I could feel it. One major flaw also was I left my mp3 player at home and I always listen to Cake's "Nugget" to pump myself up (nurturing my inner badass). Well I started the exam, and the short answer questions weren't bad. I got through those and moved on to the essay with plenty of time to spare. Well I looked at the question, which roughly read, "Describe in detail the evolution of the nominating process of the president, why each transition occurred and what its effect was." Now this was the area that I had most emphasized in my studies. I was so prepared for this. I began to giggle because at that moment I utterly and completely drew a blank. I forgot everything. The brokered conventions. The King Caucus. Gone. Blank. I don't know how it happened but I found myself at a complete loss. After several minutes of trying to recompose myself I managed to hack together a completely unacceptable essay. It rambled, sputtered and lacked detail (with the exception of a barely related oddly placed personal anecdote). I drew it to a weak conclusion and sat there with the blue book closed for a minute, hoping desperately for a second wind, a relevation, anything. Nothing came so I handed it in and walked out, dazed and confused, and not in a good way.
As I left I texted my mentor and beloved friend and said "A 'B' would be a gift".
I had to wait two weeks for the results, running into spring break. Today I went to class and got my results. 85. Not bad! Not great, not what I expect of myself, but given my mental breakdown I can't complain.

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