Monday, June 15, 2009

Lost Opportunities and the Finals Frenzy

My house has officially been consumed alive by the "Finals Frenzy". I'm not really sure when we all got drafted into the service of a bunch of studying high school students, but every non-high school age member of my extended family is suddenly expected to be at the beck and call of our poor little study-ers.

"SD, can you make me lunch? I just came back from studying at my friend's house and I need to run out to a crash course in five minutes and oh by the way nobody else is home so you need to drive me. It's on Nowhere Street."

Seriously, we must all be crazy. We've been running out at all hours of the day and night to photocopy notes for the little pip-squeaks. And we are being treated to very-loud renditions of historical events that are generally found on the Global History regent. We are also having a grand old time waiting a month to use the phone, and longer to use the computer.

So I think back to my high school days and my studying methods, and I'm feeling cheated. I thought I was taking the easy way out when I didn't study. I enjoyed having MP one running to me at 11:30 on a night when she knew I had a killer midterm the next day, and BEG me to study. My protests that I will do it later resulted in further begging, and offers that she will drive to wherever the notes are, pick them up, copy them, drive them back, and then deliver them on a silver platter.

Naively, I honestly thought that this offer was an exaggeration. Why would any sane person ever do all that? It occurred to me that she might be willing to help, but only to an extent. See, God knew what he was doing when he placed me a year under her rather than over. While I hated stepping into classrooms each fall and facing the horribly lofty expectations set by one little miss perfect, imagine the reverse order. Poor MP, stepping into the reputations of a little blob.

My reputation was big enough to follow even her though. Most of my teachers had this love-hate relationship with me. I recently met up with my 9th grade history teacher, who struck up a conversation with me. I was shocked to find out that quite a number of years post 9th grade, and she still hasn't gotten over me.

HT: you know, SD, you were the only student that I ever had whom I allowed to sit in my class and not take notes.
SD: really? Wow! I mean, I remember fighting with you about the notes issue, but I hadn't realized it was so major.
HT: it sure was! I used to I insist that there was only one way to do well on the tests, and that was by taking notes. But you came to me after the first test, having taken no notes at all, and asked me if you would have done better had you wrote notes. I looked at your perfect 108% and I shook my head.
SD: cool! I forgot all about it!
HT: I didn't. It's been years, and I've had many students who insisted they could do fine without notes, but none of them get hundreds on every test I give...

I walked away with a huge grin on my face. This was the woman who had told us that King Henry VIII had VIII wives, and it was purely coincidental. And I was the mechutsif who had gone over to her after class to inform her that he had only six wives. She protested, saying that she was pretty sure that he had eight. So I sighed and listed off all six of them, in chronological order, complete with their kids and his method of terminating their marriage with him. She stood there open mouthed, but changed her curriculum. It's not that I'm brilliant. It's simply can't forget the little rhyme- "king Henry the eighth to six wives was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded." Ok, maybe I am brilliant but...

As I've mentioned previously, my learning style has been described as the osmosis method, where I sit there spacing out, while somehow absorbing the material. MP didn't like that. She was the student who got raised on her report card due to extreme efforts, and I'm the one who got lowered because I "didn't deserve the good grades."

Some of my teachers liked me for completely inexplicable reasons. Like the notoriously difficult and hard to please Peirush Tefillah teacher, who gave girls beis's for high nineties, simply because she didn't feel their tests were aleph tests. I think I didn't finish her test, probably because I got bored or something, but I got a fifty and she passed me.
Then there was my eleventh grade history teacher, who used to ignore the class and shmooze with me. I don't know why she liked me so much either. Perhaps it's because I had interesting things to say, but I dunno.
I know my twelfth grade English teacher liked me. In fact, she told me that I'm lucky she enjoys reading my essays so much or she would fail me for giving them all in two weeks late.

But in general, I squeaked by under the radar. The unspoken agreement I had with my teachers was something along the lines of "I won't bother you and you won't bother me."

But now, looking back, I wonder why I didn't study. It might not be all that fun, but look what my sisters are getting! "Mommy, I can't study unless I get ice cream!" That wouldn't have worked with me. She knew I wouldn't study with or without ice cream.

So as I grumble about the noise of studying that is taking over my house, and the ridiculous demands placed on me by a kid half my age and half my shoe size, I sigh at my lost opportunities. I could have had my family be my slaves for a month, every year, for four years. Instead I chose to sleep, read, play computer, bake cookies, and anything else that didn't involve squinting at barely legible notes, a copy of a copy of a fax of a copy of a fax...of pencil written words.

So who had/has it better?


Mikeinmidwood said...

I was just like that. I would sit in class and just listen, talk with who ever is around me also, but mainly listened. Tests came and I got 90's after neglecting to study. Some teachers hated me, and others didnt, no one really liked me like some others. My friends were jealous of all my free time, those were the days.

MusingMaidel said...

i was also among that category. Though I did pick up my notes to study for every test (and I even had my own notes :P ), I never studied as much as the other girls did. It just wasn't worth it to me to study an extra 4 hours for the last 4 points.

BTW, can I join the "I Love Comments Club"? (grammatically, should that ? go inside the " or out?). My blog is

tembow said...

OMG i totally know what you mean about finals taking over my house! my sister has been studying for a week already with multiple friends, needs to be dropped off/picked up from friends' houses and also had a trip for which i needed to take her to the store to get nosh! :) seriously, i think the only solution is to make "THE END OF THE YEAR" start in april so all the finals and trips are s-p-r-e-a-d out a little bit :-)

Inspired said...

Do you really think it's possible to study with friends? I guess you're right she might be better off than you were...

I'm so glad finals are over in our house!

Staying Afloat said...

In schmantzy language, you a called an auditory learner.

Apparently, (
I was you sister in high school, and then morphed into you for grad school.

High School- I spent hours writing up organized study sheets, complete with memorization-aid acronyms (think HOMES for the Great Lakes). My classmates borrowed them to "look over" during the 15 minutes before the test.

Grad School- My professor in my final seminar wanted me to apologize to my classmates for missing too many classes, including the one when the rough draft of my thesis was due, until she actually read the thesis. Then she backed down. :)

EsPes said...

hmm one more amazing thing about living out of town--- NO REGENTS!!!!!!

Something Different said...

MIM- I guess that's the difference between us. My friends didn't study either, they just flunked. Unless I tutored them, which I did occasionally, without notes of course.

MM- well if you took notes you're already in a diff category... ;-)
Bout the I-Love-Comments-Club, you are very welcome to join. Email me and I'll explain how. (justablobatgmaild0tc0m)

TB- so are you also wishing for the days when you were in highschool, and thus able to demand lots of attention?

Insp- nah, not with my friends! ;-)

SA- I think it's more than that. I think it's auditory learner combined with a great memory. How else would you explain this: sister is sitting with her friend studying in the dining room. I'm in the kitchen, and I hear them stumped by something in their biology notes. They are frantically trying to think who they could call for the I sigh and go in there to explain. Honest I haven't learnt biology since 9th grade....and that was a while ago. :-p
My memory is great when it comes to useless info. I can recite many radio commercials that I haven't heard in years.... :-O
Yeah your grad school experience sounds more like me... :-)

EP- while I was writing that I was actually thinking that you're probably gonna say something like that. :-p
But I liked regents. They were far easier than the teacher's tests. I got in the high 90s on all of them. :-)

tembow said...

nah, that's not why i miss high school. there are plenty of other reasons i do, though...

Something Different said...

TB- you just gave me a post idea! :-D

tembow said...

yay!! cant wait

Something Different said...

TB- Er, don't hold your breath. :-p It might taake a while till you actually see it...