Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Photograph is Worth a Thousand Words

So, it just came to me...when I'm hypomanic, I should practice my new photography skills rather than talking at all. If a photograph is worth a thousand words, then shooting a roll would certainly eliminate a lot of unnecessary conversation.

Having said that, I remember that dootz of
SurfCountry suggested that I tell you the story of my photography class final. Here goes...

Although I had an "A" going into the final, I was quite worried about the written examination. All of our other work had been photographic assignments, which I genuinely enjoyed. At this stage in my life, grades aren't important to me--I care more about learning.

Still, I hadn't taken the class pass/not pass because I didn't want the teacher to think I am a dilettante. But I was concerned because I hadn't taken a final exam in almost 40 years. One of the reasons why I majored in history as a UCLA undergraduate was because I preferred writing papers to taking written exams. I don't ever remember taking a multiple choice and true/false exam in college. But because Santa Monica College is a community college, most professors give multiple choice exams.

As the exam approached, I was in fine shape. All semester long--only six weeks in this case--I had earnestly done my reading. In truth, that was my modus operandi when I was an undergrad. Also, I wanted to be a role model for my son. For the last two years, I had pleaded with him to stop waiting until the last moment to study and to do his homework. So I had to practice what I'd preached.

Despite my preparation, the day before our final I spent three hours studying with a fellow student. When I returned home, I went over the material we hadn't covered together. When I went to bed that night, I felt confident yet nervous. I'd carefully read all the material but much of it was new to me and somewhat technical. I also was aware that my memory isn't what it once was.

The day of the final, I arrived an hour early at school so that I could do a last-minute review but our classroom was filled with other students who were taking a final before us. So I spent my study time chatting with my fellow students.

Once I entered the class, I felt slightly tense. As I sat down to take the exam, I "lost it" and began having the same pain in my stomach that I used to have during high school geometry tests. Not a good sign since I'm math challenged and math test phobic.

After 30 minutes, I noticed that some of my fellow students had finished. However, the moment I knew I was really in trouble was when the two women in our class from Japan, who are not native English speakers, walked to the front of the class to turn in their exams.

As I watched them place their papers on the pile, I started sweating bullets, and felt a wave of confusion. I blankly starred at the questions and suddenly couldn't remember whether a photograph with too much light is under- or over-exposed. I forgot the definition of depth of field. While I remembered f-stops and apertures, I couldn't remember how to achieve a silhouette. Within moments, I began worrying about answers I had confidently answered moments earlier.

Worst of all, although our teacher had spent the previous class teaching us all about flashes, and colored lenses, I couldn't remember one thing from that lecture, and I believe there were at least 6 out of 50 questions on that subject alone.

After an hour, I turned in my exam, said my goodbyes to my professor and barely made it to my car because I was so tired. Once I returned home, I felt like going to bed although it wasn't yet dark.

When my husband asked me how I did, I said, "God, I hope I passed. I forgot everything and if I get a bad grade, our son will never let me forget it."

Later that night, my son suddenly came into our bedroom and said, "So mom, what was it like to take a test after all these years?"

"Okay," I muttered, as I looked up from the book I was reading.

"Did all your studying pay off?"

"I hope it did," I answered, placing the book on my nightstand. "I must admit that I haven't taken a test in a long time, and I'm not good with multiple choice exams. I'm a bit worried."

"You should have asked me for help," he (with the 3.71 GPA) volunteered.

"I never thought of it," I lamely said. I didn't feel the need to point out that he hadn't offered this help before the exam.

"Well, I can call in next week and show you how to get your grade by voice mail," he said.

"My teacher said she was going to take a brief vacation. I don't think we'll get our grades for ten days," I said with palpable relief.

"Sure," he said as if he didn't believe me for a minute.

Well, the bottom line is that I was right. Although my son started calling the next Monday on my behalf, the computer voice kept on repeating that the grades for this class were not yet available. Each day when I heard that the grades weren't in, I breathed a sigh of relief.

After a week of no grades, my son lost interest, and I figured out how to call and punch in the proper codes myself. When I finally learned--almost ten days later--that I'd gotten a "B" in the class, I was weak with relief. Thank god, my teacher never notified us about the grades we received on the final. I'm assuming there is a way to find out, but I would prefer to remain ignorant.

When my son teases me because he's carrying a better GPA than I am--despite his procrastination--I smile. For the time being, I'm quite content with my 3.0. But next semester, I do plan on taking a workshop in how to take a multiple choice exam. While I don't feel compelled to compete with my 18-year-old son, I still have a reputation to uphold.

The older I get, it's becoming more and more difficult to maintain my edge as a role model.

1 comment:

marja said...

The neat thing will be when your son starts teaching YOU things. My son is 33 years old now, and I find I sometimes need to go to HIM for advice on things HE knows more about. It's wonderful how, as your children get older they have things they can offer US. And when we raise them well, as you raised your son, they will be able to be great support to us as we get older. Sound like your son will be that for you.