I took my exam last night. I passed, and that's the best I can say about it. Well, I do feel that I have a femur-sized bone to pick with the College Board. I bought their recommended study guide and scored very well on the practice test, and I felt that it was reasonable to assume that the actual test would be of a similar degree of difficulty. It was actually substantially more difficult. So I passed, but did not distinguish myself. In fact, I think I'll end up with a C for the course I was testing out of. Still, I don't mourn the passing of my 4.0 as much as I rejoice in having completed a course for $100 and one evening.
The testing site was in South Campus Dining Hall on the University of Maryland campus. Having once taken a final on the basketball court at Cole Field House, I didn't question the location. I just had to find it. The main campus at UMD is large and confusing, and I'd never been on this end of it. I drove there from work and I even used my GPS, which deposited me at a parking lot near the business school. Something you might already know about me is that I have absolutely no sense of direction, and I very easily lose my bearings unless I very carefully record landmarks and turns as I walk or drive. Dropped in the middle of the wilderness, my chances of survival would be nearly nil. Still, I question the judgement of the GPS. Nothing in my history has ever indicated that I am more capable of navigation than even a single-celled organism, let alone a sophisticated satellite navigation system, but I persist. "Left?" I think to myself, "it can't possibly be left". And I go right, which nearly invariably turns out to be wrong.
Still, I was happy to find outdoor, free parking*. I hate parking garages, even free ones; paying for parking in a garage is insult added to injury. I made careful note of the parking lot location, and started walking toward what looked like it might possibly be SC Dining Hall. Even I am smart enough to know that most buildings offer visual clues to their purpose, and so I easily avoided the surrounding residence halls. But the first building that looked like a dining hall was not a dining hall, so I kept walking, thinking "right at the business school", past another non-dining hall building. Walk walk walk, building building building. While I'm picking femur-sized bones, here's one for the University of Maryland: a damn sign here and there would be helpful. Anyway, I knew not to walk too far from the parking lot, since that's where the GPS had directed me, so I kept following a winding path, which led uphill with each turn. The dining hall is at the top of the hill; the visual clue which led me to it was take-out containers, not architecture.
My test was scheduled for 7 PM. It was just after 6, and I was hungry, so I decided to eat at the dining hall. I got a hamburger. My husband, who loves me, will often tell me that men are looking at me. "Look", he'll say, "that guy is totally checking you out". My scoffing at these suggestions is not false modesty, it's just simple recognition that no, that guy is totally not looking at me. But you know what? When the man at the grill hands you your hamburger and winks as he says "there you go miss, that was cooked with love", it's probably not immodest to think that he's succumbed to your charms.
Leaving the usual trail of broken hearts in my wake, I ate my hamburger, and headed upstairs. I had to surrender my bag, coat, phone, scarf (in case I had embroidered the Bill of Rights or the Federalist Papers onto it, I guess) and driver's license before I could enter the testing room. And that's where I passed with strolling colors.
I'd had a little mild anxiety about finding the parking lot where I'd left my car. I had taken careful note of what I had passed on my way to the building, but I wasn't sure I wouldn't get disoriented on the way out. But when I came out of the dining hall, the little hill offered a panoramic view. There was the parking lot, and there was my car, and as it turned out, I had taken the long way up--there were two long flights of stairs down the hill, which led right to the parking lot.
So what, right? But I haven't been myself for a few months, and the part of me that's always writing something, the part that is always entertained by a running narrative about the ephemera and minutiae that make up my life, has been gone for a while. It came back a little bit last night. I was writing this (figuratively, of course) in the car on my way home. It was nice to be back.
*Totally not free parking. Reserved for faculty and staff. A "friendly ticket", so named because the University gives you a warning for the first offense, was waiting on my windshield when I got to my car. Again, a sign here and there would be helpful.