The notice for exam registration was going to come sometime, I knew that. Still, it was a sobering to actually find the email in my inbox this morning. Exams are a little worrying now, partly because I am sitting exams for 4 units, partly because they are still 4 and a half months away, and partly because this is such a busy time of year personally and professionally. There are so many deadlines, projects, and social engagements that any additional thing seems impossible to consider rationally.
Friends have sent me some ‘Exam Memes’ which do help lighten the mood if only as a kind of gallows humor. Maybe registering at a time like this is best. Sending in the form feels like pulling off a band aid. One quick pull and it’s all over – there is a little anticipation and a little flash of pain, but it is over quickly, and then you can concentrate on something else again. Still, it makes me a bit queasy to consider moving my academic project from where I am currently, my Point A, to my Point B, where I need to be at exam time. How will I prepare for 4 exams?
That’s a good question. This weekend I am going to examine my options. Accessing where I am in each course seems a good idea. What is most on my mind is developing some better stress management strategies. Somehow, crazy, stressful situations from the sublime to the ridiculous always seem to cluster at exam time. High stress situations that make extra eventful exams are not all that welcome, but it never fails to happen. Past exam day stories would make you howl with laughter, though they did not seem at all funny to me at the time. Ironic yes, but not particularly funny. All I can say is my sympathy lies with Renaissance authors struggling to render the role of fate in their characters’ lives. Today, remembering those adventures-in-exams does make me chuckle, but at the same time my rising anxiety makes me realize advanced coping strategies are required. Wish me luck with this part of the exam experience please.
Some luck might be reasonable to hope for, as I fantasize about a drama free exam cycle. There is plenty of stress around trying to achieve a high level of performance in all of my courses quite apart from incidents that can best be described as conspiracies of fate. My friends who are also juggling school, work, home, family, and their own well-being, do not have any more answers for it than I do just now. But like Christina in Woody Allen‘s ‘Vicky, Christina, Barcelona,’ we all know what we do not want our experience to be. Maybe this will be my Woody Allen exam cycle. After all, who is the master of anxiety and irony if not Woody Allen?
I think the most appropriate Woody Allen movie for an exam allegory might be ‘Hollywood Ending.’ In case you missed that one, Val Waxman, a paranoid, genius director portrayed by Woody Allen, is so anxiety ridden that he has ruined his marriage and wrecked his career. When offered the ‘comeback’ project of a lifetime by his ex-wife and her producer fiancée his anxiety induces psychosomatic blindness. Hmm. Directing a film while blind has predictable results, but remember the title ‘Hollywood Ending.’ French critics declare him a genius, award the Palme d’Or and I think the Legion of Honour. He and his ex-wife remarry and move to Paris to receive the affection and gratitude of a grateful nation. Fade to the sunset and the Hollywood Ending is complete.
Since my life every December is a series of deadlines and revised deadlines, I am opting for a little mental space and the fantasy of an exam ‘Hollywood Ending’ in May. Just the ending lease, without the drama.
Caowrites is studying for a BA English by distance learning.