Sunday, September 6, 2009

I must draw time.

At some point during my first two years of university, I lost the ability to cram. Part of it may be related to this story.

For some odd reason, despite my inability (at the time) to visualize anything or work with spatial stuff in my head, and struggling with three-dimensional physics, I decided it would be a great idea to go into mechanical engineering. Subsequently, I was faced with the course that would cleave my brain in two and change the very nature of thought as I knew it. Everyone with any kind of ability to visualize things, or any mechanical aptitude loves that course. I thought it was kind of fun to draw all the 3D pictures that looked nice and to use the computer to make objects. At the same time, I was kind of upset because everyone else seemed to be waltzing through the material and I would spend days on the assignments, only to end up with 20, or 30% at best. The midterm didn't go any better.

Despite my best efforts, the fail continued. I guess you can't just make yourself think a different way all of a sudden, you just have to practice and practice until it happens. It wasn't working for me. I didn't want to fail the whole course after such a huge effort. At my weakest moment of desperation, I asked a senior student what she thought I should do. She mentioned that she, also, had struggled with the course and in fact failed it the first time. The only reason she passed the course the second time, she said, was because she had solved every single problem in the textbook. I swear there were thousands of them.

I abandoned everything and everyone and hunched over that book, sketching and sketching until I had to switch hands it hurt so badly. Many days and several dead trees later, it was the night before the exam, and there were (finally!) only a few problems left to solve. My sleep-deprived brain insisted on grabbing a few hours of sleep without notifying me.

This is when I began to be convinced that I was in the final exam. The exam question required that we draw time, and time, as everyone knows, is a rolling stone. I was very proud of myself for figuring out that it was a trick question, and that we weren't supposed to draw any moss because a rolling stone gathers no moss. It was a really tricky imaginary exam, because you couldn't stop drawing time or time would stop, and as you can imagine, that was very stressful.

At some point in real life, I noticed that I had dozed through my alarm and promptly grabbed everything in my immediate vicinity that could possibly be useful in an exam situation and bolted to the test. After being chained with the responsibility of drawing time for an evening, the final was comparatively easy.

When I got back to my dorm room, I noticed that the room was absolutely COVERED in drawings of a circle rolling down a hill, written on every available piece of material I owned, then taped or stapled to the walls, floors, and furniture.

I. made. time.

When the marks were posted for the course, I knew truly that I had commanded time and space, for I ended up with a fairly respectable mark. And most likely lasting mental damage.

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