(Pie from my mom's surprise birthday party. More about that to follow.)
"These were terrible," said my greying professor, thumbing through our latest journalism articles.
His reference to the articles alone was enough to make my stomach drop. The assignment had been based on political journalism: Write a quote-heavy 18-paragraph article using a 10-page transcript from a recent political rally. I couldn't have loathed the homework more. Given the choice between writing a political article or a close encounter with a rusty nail...where can I sign up for tetanus? I'd written mine after a series of 15 hour days, on my living room floor, exhausted, submitting it to my professor just shy of the midnight deadline. Certain it was complete rubbish, I wished only that my professor wouldn't place it on the overhead projector where names, assignment grades and journalistic shortcomings were bullet-pointed before the entire class.
Pulling a few "decent" examples from the pile and placing them under the overhead, he made visible the red-inked grades: 72 percent. 78 percent. 73 percent. My stomach flopped with each new article he pulled, each so marked up I could have wrung red ink from the page.
"Don't be discouraged by the low grades, I guess," he commented, passing back our papers. "Things will even out later in the semester."
I sighed, discouraged, and reached for my two page paper, which was noticeably nearly clear of his angry red pen. Cautiously, I flipped to the last page: "A bit short, but excellent transitions and quote selections. 92%."
I squinted at the grade. Was the nine a four? Or perhaps an extra-loopy seven? Upon prolonged inspection, it was indeed a nine. And although a 92 percent was not a grade about which I'd normally brag...it somehow feels like an A+ to me. Perhaps because I loathed the assignment, and was determined I'd not do well. Maybe because I continually box myself in, immediately assuming that because I lack interest or experience in something, I'll never excel.
Perhaps it taught me that words are words...and regardless of subject, I continue to love them.
One thing is for sure: This beauty has a place on my fridge.