Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Got Standardized

Sorry if that last post was a bit dark. I would say it’s all about to get better, except I took the GRE Literature subject test yesterday. I won’t be insulted if you would rather cruise a few You Tube kitten videos.

I signed an oath on a grid sheet swearing I would not talk about this test. I look out the window for unmarked vans, wondering if I'll write my book from a New Jersey gulag. I’m so Atwood Handmaid’s Tale right now. Maybe I'll go lubricate my cracked skin with a stolen pat of butter. But I’ll divulge information for the resistance as long as I can. Okay: Milton is on it. And so is George Herbert. Blessed be.

There’s a certain familiarity to the GRE process, the kind of comfort that comes from picking a scab. This is my fourth shot (My first round of subject and lit test results expired so I had to take them again); I know what to expect:

The night before you carefully lay out your admissions ticket/directions, go to bed early, set your alarm. Then you spend too much time drinking coffee, fly out the door, discover the test center is not as easy to find as you thought, take wrong turns, accost some toothless waterworks employee for directions, freak like a wooly booly as you search for the right hideous square building located on some remote campus. Which one is it? They all look equally soul-crushing. After a few wrong doors you find a golem-faced man behind a fold out table. His look says: you are unworthy to change the toilet paper roll in my bathroom. Oh God! You are there on the wrong day. But as you hand your ticket and id he nods. He nods! You’re okay! You’re in! Relieved, you file in to a sterile, fluorescent room where you see a row of glum twenty-somethings with greasy hair and wire-rimmed glasses. That’s the Literature Subject people. You wonder: Is that what I look like? Then you twist your hair and sigh for the next four hours as you fight the desire to crawl up some watchtower with an automatic weapon.

This time around I noticed a lame duck attempt at diversity. My favorite was where I was asked to interpret African American dialect in a poem. This is supposed compensate for ten questions asking me to interpret Middle and Olde English. Not that I’m not all for interpreting African American dialect. I grew up in the South. Girl, I got that answer. A few questions required I know the most famous South American writer and his most famous novel, and the most famous African American woman writer and her most famous novel. Sorry, I can’t be any more specific that that. I signed an oath. Again, these were the only questions I got. Then it was back to Merry Olde England.

I hope the Graduate Schools of Tennessee and UGA appreciate my wasted Saturday and $130, because I’m pretty sure the creative writing faculty doesn’t care.

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