Play Plastic Forks are Invaluable on the PE Exam

I haven't even typed anything yet, and I'm already considering what the "label" for this post will be. It qualifies for a few of them.  There's "Life's Little Adventures", "Completed", and "The List".

That should probably suffice.

In case anyone has noticed my uncharacteristically long blog hiatus [for me anyway], allow me to walk you through my past week.

Last Wednesday evening, I "finished" studying for my PE exam.  I worked the final problem of the review book and I was determined to spend Thursday evening thinking of nothing, clearing my brain, and relaxing.  Of course...I'm not entirely capable of that.  Thursday came and my stomach was in knots all day.  I was unable to focus at work.  I got home that evening, went to boot camp, came home and fixed dinner, then spent the rest of the evening packing up my books for the exam, unwrapping candies to stick in my bookbag to enjoy during the test without disturbing other test-takers, collecting random things I might need like a ruler, compass, and protractor.  You know, nerdy things.

All of the sudden as I wheeled my cart of books to the door, a peace came over me.  Just like that.  All of the anxiety I had been feeling all day was just whisked away as if a cleansing breeze had come through and carried away with it all of my fears.  It was surreal.

I laid my head down on the pillow that night, terrified of what the next day would bring, but at peace.  So peaceful, in fact, that I was asleep within a matter of minutes, and if you know me at all, you know that is no small feat.  That was all prayer, friends.  That was God's gift to me, thanks to you.

I woke up at 5:30am the next morning, feeling uncharacteristically relaxed.  I didn't even drink coffee because I wasn't sure what restroom access would be like during the exam.  I just got in the car with my cart o' books, bookbag full of unwrapped candies, nerdy engineering instruments, primary calculator and spare calculator (that my husband had so graciously stopped and gotten for me at Walmart the night before) and headed to the test site in the city of my alma mater.  I was about to turn the radio up in an effort to fill my head with meaningless song lyrics for the duration of the 20 minute drive when my cell phone rang just as I pulled out of my driveway.  It was my sister.  I don't know how she knew to call at that exact moment, but she wished me luck and chatted with me until I pulled into the parking lot of the testing site.  There was no time for my mind to race or fill with worry.  Instead, I spent the moments before my exam bantering with my sister about who-knows-what.

I wish I could have taken a camera into the exam room so you could feel the magnitude of it all.  The sight of it prompted the nerves to creep up from their hiding spots.  The enormous exhibit hall was filled from wall to wall, front to back and side to side, with long tables.  There were seat cards on each end of the long tables identifying each tester's designated spot.  There were no less than two hundred examinees, each toting their carts, boxes, crates, and even suitcases full of books to their spots.  As I took my seat, just like everyone else around me, I tried to get a little organized.  I unpacked my most-used reference materials onto my tabletop and left the less-likely materials in the crate.  As I pulled the largest book out, a surprise fell into my lap.

(Obviously, that was a reenactment.  We weren't allowed to have cameras in the exam room.  Nor would I have worn my pink pajama pants to the test.  What to wear was actually a big decision for me, someone for whom comfort wins 10 times out of 10.  However, I kept remembering something my husband told me years ago - you perform better when you look better.  It was an argument in favor of dress codes in high school.  I get it now.  So I dressed up...comfortably.  But no PJ pants for PE day.)


There I was about to embark on my greatest career milestone to date...with a pretend-play neon green plastic fork sitting in my lap.

I giggled.  And those nerves that had been creeping up were instantly alleviated.  I remembered having to shoo a curious Sarah away from my book cart countless times the night before.  I guess she snuck that in when I wasn't looking.  How did she know it would end up being exactly what I needed to see?

I'll never look at that fork without smiling again.

With a few minutes left to kill before the proctor started the clocks and set us loose on our scantron sheets, I looked to my table-mate.  We struck up a short conversation without properly introducing ourselves first.  At the last minute, we had an exchange like this:

Him:  What's your name?
Me:  Jennie.
Him:  Kenny.
Me:  No, Jennie.
Him:  You're Jennie?
Me:  Yes.
Him:  Hi, Jennie.  I'm Kenny.
Me:  (laughing)  Ohhhhh.  I could not figure out why you kept calling me Kenny!

Okay, so that's not quite "Who's on first?", but it provided just enough ridiculous levity to pass those final would-be nerve-wracking moments with a smile.

What the heck was I doing smiling during the PE exam?

The four morning hours whizzed by.  I left feeling less than confident, but no worse off than I imagined (hooray for the power of negative thinking!).  After a sack lunch and a quick phone call, I headed back into the exam room.  I decided to take a quick restroom break at the last minute before the afternoon session started.  I walked past the super-long line at the men's room, and got to the ladies' room.  No line.

So, I finally found a perk to being a female in a male dominated field.

I felt okay, but not great about the afternoon.  The rest is history.  I finished the afternoon about 20 minutes early, hastily ran through my answers, and turned it in.  It (and I) was D-O-N-E.

I treated myself to the "biggest white mocha you can make me" at my alma mater's coffee shop.  Then I went home and thought about big, fat NOTHING.

This, friends, concludes my excessively rambling, oh-so-very-long post about the P.E. exam.  Expect not to hear about it ever again.  (Unless I pass.)

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and has listened to me whine, complain, gnash teeth, and cry about it.  Thank you everyone who has encouraged me and had so very much more confidence in me than I have in myself.  Thank you to my husband for helping me get up early every morning in the month of October so I could study and for buying me that spare calculator (and for picking up my major slack).  Thank you to Sarah for throwing that fork in my book crate.  Thank you to anyone and everyone who prayed for me.  I felt it.  I felt it A LOT.  And last but not least, Thank you, God, for getting me through it. 

Oh, hey!

#1 - Get up when Sam gets up for one month.
#5 - Take the Professional Engineer Exam.

You have been checked.

The excitement of the week didn't end there...but you'll have to wait for the rest of it...


Sharon Kirby said...

Oh, Jennie - I've missed you! I am so glad to hear this update on your exam day! I prayed the night before, and many times throughout the day. It sounds like God "showed up" and gave you just what you needed to be as relaxed as possible. The fork is adorable! What would we do without our kids to give us a little perspective. They often take the "serious" right out of our serious stuff - and teach us that a smile cannot be measured, laughter cannot be calculated. (Did you like that? It was my small attempt at PE humor...)

Evidently, your bra strap did not break - I'm so relieved.

GOD BLESS, Kenny - xoxo to you!

Debbie said...

Into the City, and beyond!

Just thought the words of the great Abby Lightyear fit this post. You soared right past the most daunting item on the list, and I'm standing with the others and cheering. You get a big fat check mark in the "completed" column for facing that giant. Why do the words "stick a fork in it" keep coming to mind?

The yellow fork is precious! What a great reminder of what really matters. No, not eating. You know what and whom I mean.

I'm so grateful to have been a part of this prayer adventure. I'm proud of you, Mommy Engineer.

(And wasn't it just wonderful to have a crisis free, stress free, pain free week to follow?)

Denise said...

So glad to have you posting again. What a grueling day for you but I'm glad you marched through it with an army of prayer warriors behind you. Isn't it amazing when you get to experience the power of prayer first hand?!

The fork incident was so cute and clearly what you needed. (Imagine that God would know that!) So proud of all that you accomplish.

Can't wait to read about the REST of your weekend and what's next on THE LIST.

Brooke said...

OMGoodness...I just teared up thinking about that little fork plopping out. Such a sweet reminder of the non-work related successes that you have. I am so glad that the test is over for you. Fingers crossed until you get the results!

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