Sunday, July 24, 2011

A big, awesome, happy deal.

This was a big week. A huge week. I took my state boards (finally) and started my first career job. Thursday morning I woke up to review some stuff even though everyone I spoke to and everything I read said not to. My anxiety is not relieved by "me time", it is relieved by productivity, so I did it my way.

The entire drive to the testing center, I felt very strange. I felt like I was on the verge of something. The testing center was in this big building on a rough side of town. It was ominously quiet, and the room where it would all go down was at the end of a very industrial-looking hallway. I sat patiently as the woman ahead of me made a lot of racket, shuffled through her small, over-the-shoulder purse with embroidered horses on it, answered her cell phone after it rang very loudly, and made weird jokes to the proctor about how unimportant the call was. The lady and the vibe of the testing center were absolute foils of one another, and it seemed rather ironic- especially in light of my state of mind. I realized that I was something in the middle of those two entities-- not completely eccentric, and not industrially rigid-- and for a moment, that brought me peace. It didn't last long.

When my number was called, I rose from my seat and approached the proctor, who would do a vein scan on each of my hands three times. I placed my hand on the contraption and felt like I was taking an oath. I guess I was, more or less; I was vowing that I wouldn't take a break and let my identical twin/impostor finish the test for me while I cried in the car. After that, I put all of my stuff in a locker, and showed the proctor my empty pockets. As I pulled the fabric out of one of my pockets, a dollar fell to the ground and the proctor and I agreed it was a good luck sign. The room was so silent. Aside from the occasional clicking of a mouse or keystroke, all that could be heard were the hums of computer towers and buzzing of fluorescent lights. I sat at station number 6. I think 6 is a pretty number, so I put that into my good luck bag with the found dollar.

As I was taking the test, I was simultaneously trying to practice every deep-breathing relaxation exercise I knew. Guided imagery, diaphragmatic breathing, in through the nose/out trough the mouth, the Valsalva Maneuver to slow my heart rate.... the whole bit. It didn't really work. I was a bit of a wreck the whole time. I took my pulse at one point and it was racing. The way this test works, if you stay at a "passing level" or "failing level" the whole time, your test will end at 75 questions. If you're kind of bouncing up and down, you can get as many as 265 questions. I've been told that getting cut off 75 questions is more often than not a good thing, so I kept an eye on my number. When I got to question 73, my heart started to flutter. At 74, I could really feel it. When selected my choice on question 75, the screen went blue and I think my pulse became audible. It was bounding. For some stupid reason, the testing company asks you to complete a survey at the end of the test. There is no way in hell anyone cares about those questions. I clicked "strongly agree" about 10 times, barely reading the survey questions. I felt like I was waiting for my ride outside the jail after serving a 10 year sentence... I wanted so badly to get out of there and fast! I felt sick. I was nervous. I was jittery as all get out, and the damn palm-vein-scanner-thing wouldn't read my veins because I was so shaky and weird.

When I was finally released, I got on the elevator and did breathing exercises while a man took an extra side-step away from me. I'm sure I looked like a nervous wreck. The whole ride home was a big, huge "what-if" story unfolding in my mind. It was miserable. I came home and had a glass of wine... a couple glasses of wine.

Today, I went to the testing company's website and logged into my account. At the bottom of the page was a message that read, "Your results are available. You may purchase access for $7.95." I took my computer and my credit card into the bathroom with me and sat on the toilet. I don't know why, but sometimes when I'm nervous, I find the bathroom to be a comforting place. Anyway, there I sat, waiting for this huge big deal to stare me right in the face. This is what I saw:
So very tiny. So simple. Such build-up with all the nonsense on the top of the page. At the bottom: what really matters. PASS. I PASSED! I PASSED?! I passed. In a deep breath, I said, "Oh my god!" I closed my computer calmly, and went and sat on my bed for a minute. I just sat there. All of the bullshit and the crying and the worrying and the studying and the anxiety were over. I did it. I have letters after my name. Letters that mean the world to me, and that I am proud of. What a big, awesome, happy deal.

This afternoon, I got to babysit some of my favorite kiddos, and they were so sweet and great and loving. It was a really good day. I got my letters, and I got my lovin'. What a big, awesome, happy deal.

Of course, Florence has the perfect song to go along with all of this.

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