Y’know, this having a planned post makes life a little easier – I don’t have to keep thinking up titles. Very handy.
For decades, I’ve been writing bits and bobs, maintaining a journal off and on, even wrote and sold a few children’s books when I was a children myself (no threat to Maurice Sendak or JK Rowling). Didn’t really do a whole heck of a lot with it or about it, nor gave it much thought, until I was auditioning for my high school.
Perhaps to encourage voluntary desegregation, the Cincinnati Public Schools started a magnet program. Parents would camp out when they knew the registration date, so they could get their children in. Once in, going from one magnet to another is easier. Currently, there’s a lottery for getting into the magnet Kindergarten classes. Beyond that, there are other application procedures, accepted only during specific dates. I don’t have children, so I don’t have a very clear idea of how it really works. I do know that there are people whose parents couldn’t afford the time off to get them into these schools, and that there were fights that broke out during the waiting.
I was in the magnet program from the beginning. I started out at a Montessori school, although I had no idea that’s what it was until about ten years ago. Moved from there to a college prep school for 7th grade. The school required an entrance exam, and it wasn’t uncommon at the time for my particular elementary school to send a large percentage of students there. I knew a lot of kids when I started.
To say that I loathed it would be an understatement; I was miserable. For the first time in my life, I had gotten grades lower than B. I actually failed the last quarter of my Ohio History class. The next year, I didn’t even bother going to school on a regular basis. I was usually home at least four times a month, and hardly ever went to my Algebra class, which happened to be during a lunch bell. I could sign my mother’s name perfectly, and on the off chance the school called, I sounded enough like her to be plausible. They didn’t call often. That was the attitude that made me so miserable, that no one there really cared if I showed up or not. After another quarter of dismal, barely-passing grades, I finally convinced my mother to let me audition for my high school.
Since I was little, there were three things I did as often as possible. Well, four, but the fourth (craving knowledge enough I would read encyclopedias for fun) led me to the last school, and we already know how that worked out. The other three things I’d done since I was small is sing, write, and act. These things made me happy. My family was subjected to my mini concerts and plays, and as mentioned before, the little books. Kinda wish I still had them; it’d be interesting to see what passed for good literature when I was 9. Since these were the things I loved to do, these were the areas where I auditioned. I was so nervous that day that I passed through extreme anxiety right back into calm. I don’t remember my vocal audition at all. Couldn’t even tell you who I performed for, but I have a guess. For my drama audition, I did a cold reading of a monologue from “A Raisin in the Sun.” Or was it “The Glass Menagerie?” Both? Okay, maybe I don’t quite remember.
The one I do remember, though, was the creative writing audition. There were several kids at tables in a room surrounded by book-laden shelves, the dusty smell of the library mixed with the academic aroma of chalk dust permeated the air, overcoming the nervous sweat of the kids in the room. On the board in front of us was a task – we had to write about a bathtub, a filthy, disgusting, bathtub, graphically demonstrating just how nasty the cesspool of murky water had become. There was no plot required, thankfully; I’ve yet to figure out how to flesh one out beyond 5,000 words. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I do remember the visual I had in my own head. A white claw-foot tub, no shower, in a bathroom with moss on the floor tiles, and frogs in the toilet. The water of the tub was full of particularly-viscous sludge, built up after several years of never being cleaned. Must have been alright. Must have done well on all auditions, actually, because I was able to choose from any of the three as an area of focus.
I still get a little teary-eyed when I remember that phone call telling me I had been accepted. I hadn’t experienced that level of happiness until this past July when someone I love very much, and her husband who I’ve come to love very much, grew the family by one. That’s a little sad, actually, that there have been so few things in my life bringing me that degree of joy. I’ve had some truly amazing moments, don’t get me wrong, but that euphoria, only twice that I can think of. Maybe I’ll think of more at two in the morning. Seems to be when that happens most often.
So what in the world brought on this Rockwellian reminiscence? Oh, well it’s my first creative writing teacher’s birthday. Friends with her on Facebook. S’pretty cool.
Alright, I didn’t use the website I’ve been using to prompt me. Still, there was a prompt, wasn’t there?
Ooh, the day I passed my driving test, and mom sent me out in HER car to get a TV Guide! That was pretty exciting.