I didn’t get the nickname “Super-Becky Over-Achiever” for nothing. Not only did I love (nearly) every moment in school (even when it was a degree that I could have cared less about), I was constantly in competition with myself to get the best grades possible in each and every subject. At the end of it all (besides having the degree in a field I hate/d), I graduated summa cum laude, which made me prouder of myself than I’d ever thought possible, until I realized that I should have graduated magna. I might have, had it not been for an uncalculated error in judgement on my part.

When I got pregnant with Ben, in order to stay on my parents insurance, I had to remain a full time student. At the not-so-gentle urging of my mother, I signed up for some softer, easier classes that I could glide through, so that I could better focus my time on getting my life in order. I chose four classes: three in literature and the last in something that I foolishly assumed would be a cake-walk: Jewelry.

I suppose somewhere amongst the pregnancy hormones, I assumed that I since I adored jewelry, this would somehow translate to being able to create it. What I neglected to take into consideration is that I do not have a single creative bone in my body (nor was I able to use either diamonds or platinum, which should have been my tip off that I was in the wrong place). The creative genes had solely taken up residence in my brother who earned a degree in both creative writing/poetry and photography (for reference, I switched majors halfway through my degree in Bio/Chem due to the looming possibiltiy of single motherhood and wanting to provide for my child something other than Ramen noodles) and had left me out to dry.

But naively, I figured that by immersing myself into it, the particles of creativity would pass through the room by osmosis. Heck, maybe THIS could be what I did with the rest of my life! I had grand visions of making my own line of fantastic jewelry, so amazing that people would literally line up at my front door clamoring loudly for my wares. I would be like Donatella Versace (but less Muppetty, of course)! Like Picasso (but female!)! Or that guy that does the “Real Men of Genius” Bud Lite commercials! But with jewelry as MY medium of art.

(serious brilliance here).

I am all to sure that an audible pop was heard, the sound of my creative balloon popping as I sat down in front of my first square of metal. I was struck, of course, by absolutely nothing whatsoever. Save, of course, for the desire to run screaming away from this hell of my own creation.

I could, I suppose, blame the teacher, who was for all intents and purposes, a complete sea hag of a woman, frustrated by her own life and inadequecies and determined to take it out on the student that showed the least amount of aptitude for jewelry creation: me. This is not to take the blame out of my court completely, as I did treat her class as a blow-off, and showed absolutely no creativity or interest whatsoever. One might argue that I knew that I was fighting a losing battle and giving in seemed to be the path of least resistance, because, of course, that would be the truth (of course, that would be doing a great disservice to the fact that my life at that point was genuinely a complete shit sandwich and I still wonder how I got through those horrid, dark years). I think, however, it was a combination of both factors, magnified by our differences in personality.

At the end of the semester, each student had a meeting with her in which we showed her our creations. I had a sad, sad, sandwich baggie full of half-finished, stupid looking silver and brass creations that no one in their right minds would have worn. The bracelet weighed conservatively about 3.5 pounds, and would have broken the wrist of the wearer in a short couple of hours. The pendant was so full of sharp corners that I would occasionally draw blood while sanding it down, and may have actually performed open heart surgery if ever worn (true story, while attempting to dispose of it very recently, it punctured a garbage bag, spewing it’s contents all over the kitchen. I guess this was it’s final act of butchery).

This begs the fact that asthetically not even a blind person would could be fooled into wearing them, well, unless said blind person had exquistely bad taste. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I was so allergic to the metals that we were given that I literally had to scrub my arms down after working with it with Phisodex and pop copious amounts of Benedryl just to ward of an anaphylactic reaction.

I approached this meeting with the Sea Hag with both trepidation and resignation. Half of my “creations” were never completed. The other half only half-heartedly constructed. I knew that I had fucked up and was willing to own up to it.

She started off after briefly surveying my pathetic stash with “I should give you a ‘D.’ But I’m going to do you a favor and give you a ‘C.'” If she’d expected me to protest and grovel at her feet (do Sea Hags have feet?), she’d picked the wrong person. I knew that I’d fucked up, but unlike what she’d probably thought, my fatal flaw was to have signed up for her class in the first place.

I walked out of there full of nothing but relief that it was all over and no one would ever ask me to meld a piece of silver to a piece of brass ever again.

I rarely thought about this class again over the last couple years of my college degree, aside from snicker about how stupid I’d been to sign up for something I knew that I could never do. Until graduation time rolled around, and I realized how closely I’d come to graduating with highest honors. Only THEN did I see the error of my ways.

Guess I should have plead my case, afterall.

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