Monday, January 5, 2015

The Test Quest

   It started with a dream.  Whether it was an unending search for knowledge or the fascination with where we've been and where we will go as the collective human race.  It was a dream of History to be more specific.  This isn't a story about a normal college student, not by a long shot.  Non traditional only scratches the surface of this fellow.  A bit seasoned lets say with quite a few life experiences to draw from, but this love of learning about why things happen a certain way has led to this.  Graduation from a fine University with that ever elusive college degree wasn't the end of the journey, but merely the beginning.  The continuation of this quest would require many things, but one in particular was a test.  You've heard the old expression, "Jack of all trades, but master of none."  Well, to make an attempt to at least be a master of one a test had to be taken.

     Tests were never on the list of favorite things to do nor should they be, but it was a necessity.  Nerves were frayed when the day arrived, and it was clear that everything was riding on this moment.  One challenge.  Sink or swim.  Sure the test could be retaken, but why fight again when the knockout blow is in reach.  One chance.  One opportunity.  The time is now.

     While a certain amount of convincing went into this event it would arrive nonetheless, and nothing could change that.  The journey to the testing site was long but not long enough.  Diet coke for fuel, but not too much to avoid any unnecessary bathroom interruptions.  The parking lot was full, but the destination was still unclear.  No marked areas saying, "This is where you are supposed to be."  The directions were followed, but still the path was unclear.  Like attempting to locate the lost continent of Atlantis or the fabled Shangri-La.  The place was not yielding the answers needed, and this was before the first question was even asked.

     Concern led to nervousness and the nervousness led to fear.  What if the place could not be located?  The dream ends?  Or would it.  Doors would be knocked on.  People would be approached and questioned.  The wife would be called five times on her cell phone while in an antique store.  The quest would not end without a fight.  Finally the clouds began to part and information was given that cleared up all the confusion.  Bad directions.  At least that is the story I will tell today.  No matter.  Water under the proverbial bridge, and the building that was the last roadblock to a certain future was finally located.  Game on.

     Entrance into the building was gained easily enough, but it would not be as easy gaining access to the test.  Paperwork must be filled out, and then the search began.  Not a search inside one's self, mind you, but a sure enough pat down body search.  Pockets emptied, belt removed, arms out to the side.  Hands on your head, and metal detector scans your body.  It was if Hannibal Lecter was attempting to gain access to take the test.  All that was missing was the face mask.  The searchers were not of the friendly variety, and the distinct feeling of doom emanated from the very situation.  Instructions were given Mission Impossible style, but the feeling was self destruction instead of briefcase destruction.  Mission accepted.  Time to play the game.

     The test was of the electronic variety, and this is only a positive because no number two pencils or little bubbles were present.  Under constant surveillance the test began.  After a moment of apprehension that almost produced heart failure a certain quiet confidence was exhibited by the test taker.  Verbal no problem.  Essay no problem.  Math, well problems definitely exist, but ones that could be conquered.  At least potentially.  Then just when all was right with the world.  Darkness befell the room.  All went black as if the fates had finally arrived to take back good fortune.  A reckoning was occurring right before all the eyes in the room.  The stench of fear was suffocating or maybe that was burnt popcorn.  What would happen next?

     The proctor and GRE security people keeping tight surveillance explained the situation.  Power surge caused all computers to black out, but the problem would be fixed shortly and then all could continue taking the test at the point where the interruption began.  I did not trust these people, but when in Rome or in this case when taking the GRE and while under constant surveillance as if in prison, well- just do what you have to do or what they want you to do.  The test continued and finally completion.  Finished.  Over.  Done.  Now, we wait.

     The wait would be excruciatingly long.  All the dreams and the hopes of a future historian hung in the balance.  Tom Petty once said that the "waiting is the hardest part."  I believe Mr. Petty to be quite the sage, and completely correct.  Finally, once all hope was almost completely gone a notification.  "Congratulations you have been accepted to the Graduate program."  It seems that the application had been lost or misplaced, thus the unusual delay.  Mr. Murphy up to his old tricks, but that law would be broken by a history loving middle aged father of two who is about to make his own history!  Mission accomplished.  At least up until this point.  Many classes and much to learn.  Fun will be had by all.

     Should I mention the Financial Aid glitch that set up yet another road block?  Another time.  The story must end on a high note.  A Happy Ending so to speak.  A wise man once said, "If you stop learning you stop creating history and become history."  History yet lives.