Final Exam

11 June 2021

I did two out of the three things on my list for yesterday, leaving me with a grade of 66%. A D. Might as well be an F. I never got anything below a C, which stung almost as bad as the professor who commented “You can’t write-seek help” on an essay assignment. God, that fucking hurt. It was a postmodern literature course, and it could have been amazing with a different professor.

The guy, gray in the gills, always left the top three buttons of his shirt undone, his wiry chest hairs a swirling, hypnotic abyss. There wasn’t a single day you couldn’t look around and see at least 66% of the students asleep or on their way to it. What could have been rewarding conversations on beautiful pieces of literature always descended into the droll musings of a washed up Bukowski wannabe.

I do like Bukowski, though. He taught me that writing doesn’t need to be beautiful to be beautiful.

If I had added and completed a couple more things to my list yesterday, I could have been at a B-. Still not good enough, but better than a D.

I always got good grades, graduated high school with high honors. Teachers liked me. Big things were supposed to happen for me. That’s what everybody said. I was supposed to be great, whatever the fuck that means.

The teacher I had a crush on in high school, who I imagined being locked up in the English office with, my inexperienced high school self straddled in his khaki lap like a porn star, once said I was “a writer with a voice mature beyond her years.”

He never crossed the line (with me), but there were a few instances where I felt like it might be a possibility. We got into a heated argument in poetry class one day, I don’t remember what about, and he got so frustrated he called me “smug.” The sexual energy was palpable. Another time, in the same class, he asked to read aloud one of the poems I’d written about a sex worker. I actually wrote a lot of poetry about sex workers in high school. I have no idea why. The way he read that fucking thing like it was a Robert Frost poem–hot. On a different day, in the same class, he brought his guitar, which makes me roll my eyes in retrospect, and held eye contact while he sang “First Day of my Life” by Bright Eyes.

Before anyone starts to think these are just instances of a teenaged mind overthinking the magic that occurred between us–maybe. However, it was speculated that he had something going on with the girl who looked like a husky, with her baby blue eyes, dark hair, and pale skin. They spent a lot of time working on her totally unmoving graduation speech. And the guy did end up marrying a former student.

There were a lot of inappropriate relations between students and teachers at my high school. There was one so painfully obvious that I can’t believe it was allowed to go on for so long. That groomer got what was coming to him several years later, at the very brave hand of one of his other victims.

Anyway, on the object of my high school desire, I saw him in his car a couple weeks ago, pulling out of a Kohl’s parking lot, his back seat littered with children. He’s still hot.

I was talking about grades. Well, it didn’t matter that I graduated high school with high honors, got into a great college with sizable scholarships, and continued to get straight As aside from that single, stinging C. After three years, I dropped out. My mom got laid off from the job she’d been doing for thirty years, fell into a black hole of depression, and forgot to fill out the financial aid forms. A semester off became long-term as I found myself entrenched in both my mother’s depression and an abusive relationship.

I ended up working full-time at a call center, fucking my boss on occasion, and slowly descending into my own sickness after meeting my boyfriend at the time in the same call center. Disordered eating, driving around looking for my abuser while he was on crack benders, doing my best to maintain my smart, good girl status despite my scumbag social surroundings. I never did any drugs aside from weed, which I likely overused to cope, but I did drive a lot of drugs around, since my boyfriend didn’t have a license as a felon on parole.

By the time I got my shit together enough to go back to school, and the d-bag was in jail for ten years, I had a full-time job at company name, my own bills to pay, and little desire to finish.

Fast forward ten years, and here I am with “some college” on my resume, and I look at some of these idiots I went to high school with doing “more” with their lives because they’ve got a degree they barely earned while getting blackout drunk at a state school. I sound like an asshole, but I’m proud of those idiots. Dissatisfied with myself. That piece of paper could have come in handy.

Alas, you can get good grades. Teachers can like you. You can be a fast and eager learner. Reliable. Trustworthy. All the wonderful things. And end up here.

I’m thinking about selling my used underwear on the internet.

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