fearfully and wonderfully made

two bits for tuesday
notes from maggie's farm

if you've been following along, you know yesterday was my 21st first day of school.  it went swimmingly.  no funny news to report.  (except my horror at the widespread abuse of the tanning bed.  step away, you orange kids!).  of course that doesn't mean i don't have a story.  i always have a story.  but first, the sammich.

which can be found by following this link, and to which we've added 2 oz crumbled goat feta.  it's rockin' good. 
enjoy that sammich.  it's possibly my favorite of the week.
now like i said, yesterday's first day of school was without crisis or careless blunder, thus without a funny story.  so, without further ado,  i give you last year's first day of school news. 
last year, i was giddy as a little school girl and on my way to my  first day of school.  as the student.  i hadn't been a student since i graduated from louisiana state university in 1994.  many years had passed since, i was nervous.  i fret over how in the world i might, or might not, fit in with classmates that were younger than my own children, and a few professors that were my juniors, as well.  i was eager to do well, and my plan was four pronged:
  1.  1. surpass the results of my previous collegiate plan-- 'b's and c's get degrees'.
  2.  2.  avoid coming off as a nerdy, middle aged bookworm, 
 3.  do not reveal that i might be hopelessly behind the times and subject to being completely outshined by those smart young whippersnappers, or

4.  at all costs, do not stand out, and do not make a fool of myself. 
the bottom line was no different than my first day of school at any age.  God help me, please don't let me make a fool of myself.  
like today, it was over a hundred degrees, so the first huge risk i took was---and it was a biggie- that i bared my upper arms.  there was no way i could make a cardigan look like casual chic that day.  it was not a comfortable decision, and i was sure that there would be groups of people huddled together all over campus talking about that middle-aged woman's upper arms in their class that day, but i had no choice.  it was too hot.  i went sleeveless. 

otherwise, i would blend in to the woodwork as much as possible.  give short answers, sit in the back, avoid eye contact.  wouldn't do anything that would make me stand out.  and the first class, all went well.  i was fairly certain that no one even noticed my upper arms, simply because i was hiding in the back corner.  no laughs, no jokes, not one cracked smile, nothing to draw attention to my 'differentness'.  i was on my game. and the day ticked along without incident.

last class of the day, intro to problem solving and computing. i had a little confidence built in my ability to be as inconspicuous as possible (anyone who knows me is aware that this is an impossibly tall order), however i had a longer hike to that building, and when i arrived, all the back seats were taken.   blast it!  discouraged, but not defeated, i found the best, worst spot available, sunk down as low as i could in my chair, and kept my head buried in my notebook.  safe.

professor younger-than-i arrives, and with little fanfare, passes out a quiz.  wow, this was going to be hardcore.  no introductory pleasantries—we were getting right down to the heavy hitting.  he instructs us to quickly run through the quiz, being sure not to skip anything,  reading through everything first, and then completing it in as much time as we needed.  of all that, what i heard was 'quickly run through the quiz'.  all the rest was wa wah wah wah, don't take longer than everyone else, wah wah wa wa.  all in that voice of charlie brown's teacher.  i actually still have the quiz, saved as a reminder of a defining moment, so i could give you the exact questions, but i'll spare you—they went something like:
1.       what college math courses have you completed? and
2.      what is the answer to f!, and
3.      what is a prime number, and
4.     what email programs have you used?, and then this one—
5.      put down your pencil, stand behind your chair, and yell 'hilltopper' three times, sit down, and complete the test. 
now at the point in which i read this, only one other student, a young man on the back row, has done as this question instructed.  i had no idea what this wacky instruction was about, but perhaps he was testing our ability to be brave enough to follow directions, i thought.   it concerned me that the other students were sooooo slow, God love 'em,   but as much as i didn't want to stand out, i also didn't want to be labeled as cowardly, so by golly, i got up, stood behind my chair, yelled hilltopper three times, sat down, and completed the test. 
then question number 6.
6.       did you read the instructions as the top of the paper?
( well sure i did.  of course i did.  lemme go ahead and check again, but of course i did.  wait.  what?  what??? )
instructions:  write your name at the top of the paper  put your pencil down.  go no further.


you guessed it.  out of 20 students, three of us STOOD OUT FROM THE REST.  for all the wrong reasons.  what i strove to absolutely not do.  i did. 
professor younger-than-i conciliatorily  commended us for our bravery, and went on to explain the importance of following directions, or i guess that's what he said because i had blood pounding in my ears and his voice, again, sounded like charlie brown's teacher. the two other students left the classroom in shame, never to return.  and i, well i turned the whole thing into a joke, as i am wont to do,  made a bunch of new student friends (who were profoundly relieved that i had been the one, and found me human and vulnerable and plucky, albeit as old as their parents),  and decided to stay.  even though i made a fool of myself.  because in reality, the thing i thought would be the worst thing to happen, did not kill me, and, i determined, was not going to keep me from my blessing. 

so what is the lesson in all of this?
had i not been so concerned with the whole not-standing-out thing, i would have had my mind centered on the more important details, like, say, the instructions of the quiz.  you can't run away from who you are.  and you shouldn't even try.  your nature will find you out.  no matter how you try to be something you're not, or not be something you are, it will eventually come spilling out the sides, and make a big ole mess, so you might as well give in and love yourself just as you are…just as others love you….just as God made you.
i praise you, for i am fearfully and wonderfully made. wonderful are your works; that i know very well.
--psalm 139:14
that's my two bits for this tuesday.  have a great day.

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