Working to Convince Myself

It’s 5:30 in the morning. I’ve been up since 4:03. Why do I always wake up early when I most need to sleep?

I tried putting on the television, but it didn’t distract me. I buried my fingers in Blitz’s fur, closed my eyes, and tried not to think about it. That never works.

I’m taking the SAT today. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I’m fifty-seven years old and I’m taking the SAT. But it’s true.

Why am I taking the SAT?

I need to have a current score above a certain level before I can teach the SAT at work. My scores from high school don’t count. I don’t particularly want to teach the SAT because I don’t like the hours. It’s too much overlap with Mike’s evening hours at home, but I’m trying to be supportive of my boss and give him someone to call when the main people are out sick.

On top of that, I’ve worked with the new SAT tutors for the past ten weeks so they can hone their skills. My boss can also quote any increase in my scores to potential clients.

I have gone above and beyond to do my job, yet I wasn’t paid to do any of this. Why not?

I’ve wondered that myself. My boss said that since I’ll get paid more as an SAT tutor, I will benefit from being tutored. He’s right, but I’ve put many hours into this so I’d have to sub quite a lot to get those hours back.

Why did I do it?

I want to teach the essay when it comes down to that. I know how to teach writing. I enjoy teaching writing. The rest of it? Well, I’m glad that my math skills are more up to speed at work. It’s a relief because I used to sweat any time anyone in eighth grade or higher used to sit down and ask for help in math. Now, I’m almost comfortable with everything a math student can throw at me. I did every problem in the SAT math study guide, every single problem. I learned a lot. Well, I relearned a lot. Thirty-seven years ago, I knew this stuff. I think it’s been good for my brain, like those old people who try to avoid dementia by doing crossword puzzles and sudoku.

I also learned a lot in critical reading and a little more of editing. I learned that the SAT is designed to trip up the student, that there are correct answers that aren’t the best correct answers. That is such a crock of shit. I don’t think that any test should be designed to trick a student. It shouldn’t have to be. Tests don’t have to be kind, but they don’t have to be cruel either. Trying to trick a student into answering incorrectly is cruel.

I went through almost the whole English portion of the SAT study guide too. I say ‘almost’ because I was really good in the editing portion of the practice test when I took it in November. That’s my forte.

So, I’m going to try to go back to sleep now. I’ve worked hard to get to this point. I’ve helped the tutors get ready and I’ve studied on my own. I’m much more familiar with the way the test works, so I’m ready.

Can you hear me trying to convince myself? Can you?

It’s working. I am ready for this.

And afterward, maybe I should clean my house and take down the Christmas tree. Afterward, I’ll put away those study guides for now and focus on my own creative work. Afterward, I might stop at Starbucks with my notebook and a book and sit for an hour. I need time to stare into space. I can’t wait to get that extra time back during my week. I’ve earned it. I have a plan for those hours.

Thank you for listening, jules