Since I've graduated and can't affect them any more, I've just looked at my grades[1] for the first time in a very long time.

It's a strangely detached feeling, lovely in its peacefulness. I grew up as a Studious Asian Child (TM). I used to wait anxiously for grades, work towards them, fret over them, and agonize over anything less than a B+. I pored over gradebooks whenever I could, making sure I was jockeying for a top score. It was another game to play, but it became an overriding input of my life. In middle school, I once spent an afternoon scrubbing a refrigerator to get an extra half-point to push me into an A- so I could get a 4.0. I kept a running total of points on my calculator. I was a grade addict, an plus-junkie, a check-head.

Sophomore year of college I went cold turkey. Now I don't even remember to check them until over a week after graduation, and that only when I read Boris's post about checking his. No drama, just mild surprise. They're numbers on a screen, measurements by one metric, some more meaningful to me than others, all small parts of my mental picture of "how I did" in a given class.


In at least one small way, I've managed to master my education rather than the other way around, to use its metrics as an (occasionally helpful) guide to my own rather than the gospel to which my life is held. It sounds really simple, stupid, and obvious, but - hey, I'm a slow learner. It took me 15 years of getting grades to learn how to look at them this way. And if you've been raised in a "grades! grades! grades!" culture, it's easy to step back and calmly evaluate yourself when you're getting decent scores. It's much harder when you start tanking (by their standards). Accepting volatile information into your input stream and letting it affect your judgment but not cloud it - that's tough. I'll be old and wrinkled before I ever get a grasp on that, if I ever do. But this is a step.

Now to print the screen and give my parents the letters they've asked for for 4[2] years.[3] And work on The Project.[4]

[1]To anybody who has the notion that I actually get good grades, I will say (1) Hah. and (2) class grades don't necessarily correlate with how much you've learned.

[2]homophones wheeeeee!

[3]I love footnotes.

[4]Dun dun DUNNNN...

Addendum - 1:30am is the best time for your mother to read such documents, because she's sleepy enough to not be able to react much.