Thursday, April 26, 2012

double space, dammit!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you have to admit: since Instagram for Android is now a thing, and they've update the app so that it syncs perfectly with the Samsung Galaxy Y, I've been taking photos on my camera phone for the past couple days and playing with the app. And so you end up with photos like these:

My friend La Gordita at Blacksoup Art Space

Anyway, if you're on the app as well, add me up @ sundialgirl. I'm enjoying it so far - the mix of technology and nostalgia and how you can capture the splices of a life lived in images and in the act of capturing images. And really, it's just fun. :)


So today was the second step in my pursuit to become a teacher at the university. (The first step was the panicked moment when I rushed my application requirements in 24 hours in between trips to Baguio.) This part was what they called a teaching exam, otherwise known as "we want to measure how good you are when it comes to writing." Having heard from people I know that these tests might include some aspect of literary criticism, I hurriedly brushed up on my frameworks and hoped against hope that I would not be expected to explain any Barthes or Derrida, especially since I've graduated from grad school about four years ago and hadn't had any academic exposure ever since. (Working in an office will do that to you.)

But really, there's not much you can do when you're just told to bring a pen to the exam, and you're not even sure of the scope of the test. While I tried to remember as many of the contemporary cultural critics and their frameworks in between the other stuff I've been doing, it's a bit difficult since you're not sure what exactly you're preparing for.

So this morning, I put on a new dress and a new pair of flats and tie my hair up and hope against hope that while I might not be the most academic person in the world, at least I can be dressed well for the test. I get to the English department 15 minutes before the time we're supposed to be there, and there are already people in the room: a couple of guys seated at the back, and a girl on the second row of seats. I slide behind her, pull out my pen and my phone, and try not to panic. In the interim, a few more people trickle in, until there's about ten people in the room. Aside from one other girl and myself, the rest look like either fresh graduates or twentysomethings taking their graduate studies. My first thought was: Oh shit. These people have read more academic things recently. The last book I finished was a young adult novel about magicians. Thrilling stuff, to be sure, but not exactly on par with academic theorizing.

And so when we're given our eight sheets of legal pad and the list of questions that we have to answer as well as the text we have to analyze, my first instinct is to write down, in big block letters: I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING. And it's true. Maybe for the first five minutes, I could not think up of anything to say. I felt like I was back in high school, taking a trigonometry exam and not knowing what the heck a sine and cosine and tangent was and how to solve for x. Except that this innocuous sheet of paper is asking me to discuss a critical theorist and their contribution to cultural and literary criticism and how to use their rhetoric as a framework and I haven't read anything in four years.

It didn't help that the girl beside me took one look at the sheet and started scribbling down notes on her legal pad and I still have a slightly stunned look on my face, as though the sheet of paper is going to provide me with all the answers in the universe.

But then my brain starts revving up and I try to remember who were the critics I enjoyed when I was in school, and joy of joys, my pen started moving across my pad and it just kept moving and moving, stringing lines and curves along to represent shapes, letters, and finally the words I was writing met more words until they started creating sentences that resembled sense. And then I kept on writing and crossing out things and rewriting, until I had filled up seven of the eight pages that was provided for us, and an hour and a half had passed by.

And so I flip through my answers, hoping that I didn't miss anything important, that I wrapped up my essays neatly and as complete as possible without references or a computer, when I saw, at the very end of the questionnaire, in parentheses, these words: DOUBLE-SPACED

Wait, I was supposed to write like a five year old?

I wanted to bang my head on the desk, to shoot up and ask for more paper, but there was only five minutes on the clock and there was really nothing to be done about it. (In fairness, I am extremely pleased that I went to a school where we were taught penmanship, and so my handwriting does not look like chicken scratches, unlike, say my father's handwriting - there are times when he cannot even decipher his own words.) And so I just wrote, at the bottom of the page, "PS - I apologize for writing in single space. I ran out of paper." But really, a good thirty minutes after the test, I still wanted to bang my head against the wall for such a rookie mistake.

How could I have missed it? (Nerves, I'm betting.)

How could I not have seen those words? (Once again, nerves. And a propensity to skim through text when you're nervous.)

My entire dream of teaching could collapse as early as now just because I didn't double space! (Okay, you're just being a bit too overdramatic there, aren't you?)

Of course, I can always insert a self-deprecating statement here about how I did my best, but I was beaten by simple instructions, or some such thing, but really, there's a part of me that knows I did my best and that it's now out of my hands and I'm really really REALLY hoping that it's not too much against me, this not-reading-instructions-because-I-had-butterflies-in-my-tummy, but alas, I do not own a time machine and I can't go back to warn my past self not to make the same mistakes. Plus, there's always temporal causality and all sorts of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey problems and I think I've watched enough Doctor Who to know that tampering with your past is not a very good idea. So I'll just sit here and cross my fingers and hope against hope that I still have a chance.

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