Sometimes My Life is a Musical

But then again, everyone has had some moment, at least, of broadway drama in their life.

I’m listening to a somewhat eclectic mix of songs on my iPhone at the moment, and Genius has managed to pull up “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde. Not sure why; I don’t think Warp 11‘s “Give It Up for the Captain” ((“And now I’m rappin’ / It was bound to happen / Show me an alien ass I’ll be tappin’ / Balls slappin’ / Your hands are clappin’ / Everybody give it up for the captain!”)) would lead to that follow-on… but ah well.

One of my secrets from college is that I wanted to major in comparative literature. I got A’s in literature classes in high school, I scored off the charts for the relevant parts of the ACTs, including essay questions, and I won a national competition vis a vis essay writing, for which I did not have to twist Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” quite hard along with Mark Twain, or indeed involve any literature at all because the topic was about gun control, but I did it anyways because that was how I rolled. And of course, obviously I had quite a good command of the English language. ((Full story is “Blade Off the Feather”, wherein I tell you another dark secret, which is that I screwed up for all but the last 45 minutes of four hours, and still managed to win.))

Then… there were the college entrance exams.

I… placed poorly.

Very, very poorly.

“We’re giving you remedial classes in both English and literature” poorly. “If you hurry up, you could get these classes done almost halfway through your sophomore year.”

No one gets a literature major after a blow like that. Maybe a minor.

And my gods. It’s not that they were bad classes, but… we were starting all over again with learning how to write sentences containing nouns and verbs. I could not even get into the most basic of the remedial literature courses my first semester. I could get good grades in my sleep (which was reassuring) but the remedials took up time and schedule slots.

And yet… I had pretty much funneled all my character points into literature. Foolish of me.

My first semester, I did manage to enroll a class involving, well, art and the internet. Kind of a fluff course, and nothing that would get me advanced in anything but generic liberal arts credits, but hell, it was open. I had low expectations.

My assumptions were wrong. I ended up learning a lot, getting acquainted with computers for the first time (and also Bladerunner, which blew my mind). Some of the class projects involved creating websites, and I managed to turn out a rather advanced site (HTML3, though, so not impressive by today’s standards). A fellow student recommended, seriously, I take CS 101 and see if I liked that instead of my current track of fail.

I took it next semester. I didn’t think I would do all that well; some of the folks in it had been programming scary-sounding stuff in what I would learn later was C, for like years before their freshman year, and doing stuff with this thing called BASIC, and command line stuff on “terminals” and, er, what was it—Unics?

When the semester finals ended, the final student rankings for the class were posted. ((I believe that kind of competition is now discouraged in colleges, particularly state-funded ones.))

I did not place first out of 200+ students. That would have been rather unreal.

I was in second place. That was unreal enough.

At this point I shall modify the lyrics for “So Much Better”.

[looks longingly at course schedules for comparative literature classes]


All of those years I planned,
I’d be studious and,
I’d do well again.

You’d come to respect my mind,
And at last I’d find,
I’d advance in you again.

And I have turned my whole world upside-down
Trying not to let you go.
Failing that entrance test
Was like a fatal blow….

[glance at CS 101 final student rankings]

WHOA!

Is that my name up on that list?
Does someone know that I exist?
Is this a mistake?
Am I even awake?
Pinch me now to make sure—oh!

Yes, that’s my name in black and white!
Maybe I’m doing something right.
Well! I feel so much better than before!

Literature—
Sorry I’ve been a pest,
But I guess my best
Was not worthy of you.
Looks like I’ve find a cure,
And I so look forward to dropping you!

Remember when I spent spring break
With Hemingway every night?
I thought nothing else could ever feel so right—
Well this might!

Seeing my name up on that list
That beats the first time I read Swift!
You thought I was dumb
But I think that SOMEbody’s judgement was poor!

Seeing my name in black and white
It’s like annotating Keats all night
NO WAIT!
It feels so much better, oh much better, it’s—
oh oh Oh OH OH
Much better,
‘Cause I am so much better than before!

Maybe that’s what you prefer
And last year I wasn’t heard.
Maybe you will change your mind,
But you’ll look up to find
I’ve gone on to better days,
Better jobs with better pay!
I don’t have the time to cry
I’m too busy loving my—

Name up on that list—
Kind of a cool, ironic twist!
Who else can I can tell?
I’m gonna write an email
My mentor’ll fall on the floor—

HEY MAN!
Look at my name in black and white
Your student’s doing something right!
I feel so much better—

I’ll be there on Monday, nine o’clock
And we will see who wants to rock!
No, no, I can’t wait
I will be there at eight
When they unlock the door!

Oh Oh—
I’ll even install Linux tonight,
See, I’ve not yet begun to fight!
And you’ll go “Oh much better!
Hello, much better!”
Soon all y’all gonna know much better!

I am so much better
I am so much better

I am so much better
Than before!

Hmmm. Actually, that reads like I traded one kind of geekishness for another.

Maybe some of my 20 years of hell weren’t total blackouts after all. That was a very, very sweet moment. I still remember it strongly, almost as strongly as some of my worse memories.

*goes off to listen to more Warp 11*


And boldly go where no one’s gone before—
Yeah I don’t want your shiny car
I don’t want your new guitar
I don’t want your medicine when I’m not feeling well
I don’t want your paradise
I found my god in Star Trek V
I don’t want to go to Heaven
As long as they have Vulcans in Hell
       — Warp 11, “I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven as Long as They Have Vulcans In Hell”

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