What better motivation than mortification?
Way back in the fall of 2002, I decided at the last moment that I would apply for the Marshall Scholarship so that I could study literature in England for a year or two. Like so many goals I had that year, this one was hazy at best, and my application essay was fueled by the usual heady blend of caffeine and sheer panic. Nonetheless, I got called for an on-campus interview with a panel of five professors.
My preparation for the interview consisted of taking a nap, wearing eyeshadow, and making sure I didn't tuck my skirt into my underwear. In some ways, I'm glad I didn't spend too much time getting ready for what turned out to be THE WORST INTERVIEW OF MY LIFE.
Sometimes, situations are so overwhelming or horrifying that your instincts kick in, leading you to fight or flee. Sadly, my instincts are defunct, and I opted for giving the most inane, nonsensical, and borderline offensive answers to each of the friendly, yet penetrating questions asked by the panel. It's all a blur now, but as I think about it, I still feel queasy with shame.
The only part I remember clearly is being asked if I thought learning a foreign language was an important part of a liberal arts education. And I said, "No," which was perhaps the worst answer I've ever given. Regret instantly set in as I watched every professor scribble madly on his or her notepad (probably something along the lines of: "This girl is a waste of financial aid."). Needless to say, I was not a Marshall Scholar that year.
The silver lining of this story is that guilt and shame are tremendously motivating, as is that old desire to be at the top of my class. Which means that I have started to take my weekly Spanish class way too seriously, and am worried beyond reason about the fact that I cannot understand the grammar of indirect objects. Sadly, this is pretty much all I can think about, when I'm not thinking about food, sex, work, or that elusive five-year plan. I'm starting to feel a little conspicuous among my coworker classmates, all of whom are attorneys and/or engaged, and therefore too busy to think too much about their Spanish skills. So I find myself raising my hand too stridently, leaping a little too fast to answer the question, as though by getting it right, I could erase the mortification of THE WORST INTERVIEW EVER five years after the fact.
Or maybe I am just an incurable brown-noser. Hard to tell.
Listening to: "Poor Aim: Love Songs," The Blow.
Reading: The Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz; The Book of Disquiet (albeit very slowly), Fernando Pessoa (as Bernardo Soares); and Windflower, Nick Bantock.
Recently cooking: bean and cheese quesadillas on corn tortillas.