Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Miserable Un-Accomplishments of Becky

     Yesterday I told my friend to use this as a blog title, and I was totally kidding. Then I told her that I was going to use it as a title, and I was still kidding. But I woke up this morning and thought, "Wow, I have lots of miserable un-accomplishments to share." By miserable, I mean so ridiculously pathetic that I can only laugh at myself, and encourage others to laugh at me as well.
     Back in college when I was working on my BA in psychology, I took a course titled Behavioral Neuroscience. This was a combination upper division/graduate level course. The only difference between the grads and the undergrads was that the grads had to do an extra paper. It was a tough class. In retrospect, I'm not even sure why I took it. I'm not a science-minded person. Needless to say, I got a D in the course.
     Lucky for me, the university was testing out their course forgiveness program. If you received an undesirable grade, you were allowed to repeat the course the next semester. After completing the course a second time, the new grade would be the one recorded on the student's transcript, regardless of whether or not it was better than the first. I gladly took the course again. Guess what happened? I got an F the second time around. Yep. I repeated the course only to have my bad grade replaced by a worse grade.
     Go ahead. Laugh. I do. It's funny, and it's easy to laugh now because I still managed to graduate with a decent GPA.
     My next un-accomplishment is in regards to my quest to get my novel published. During the first eight or so months of querying agents, my manuscript was 124,000 words. For those who don't know, 80-100k is the standard word count for an adult novel. There's nothing wrong with longer novels, but in a new writer, it can be a sign that one has yet to perfect their craft. I of course was certain that I needed all 124k of those words.
     I met an agent at a conference, who was the first to request sample chapters. She ended up passing on the project. A few weeks later I had a major epiphany about how to shorten my manuscript. It's now 96k. Yay! I was upset that I hadn't had this epiphany before I'd sent my chapters to this agent. I looked at her agent page again and discovered that she accepts revisions, which is pretty rare. So I queried her again, and again she requested sample chapters only to pass on the project.
     I got rejected by the same agent for the same project twice. I'm still a bit embarrassed/sad about this, but I'm trying to laugh. I bet a few years from now I'll find it really funny, so you can go ahead and laugh now.
     Okay, I've saved the best for last.
     I used to own a VW Jetta. I bought it at a shady little used car lot which caused me a bit of trouble, though that's a story for another time. They gave me the car with only one key. It was one of those fancy switch blade-esque key fobs with that weird electronic key. If I'd known better, I would've demanded that they provide me a spare, but I didn't know better. When I went to the VW dealer to get a spare, I learned that another fob would cost $400 and a valet key would be $250. I was a student at the time, so paying that amount of money for a key was out of the question. I decided to risk having only one key. It worked out just fine for about four years.
     After college I got a job at a mental health center for incarcerated adolescents. I always used the bathroom before my shift started, because during the shift it could be hard to get away. I was wearing a sweatshirt with pockets in the front, which was where I'd stuffed my car keys. When I leaned over to flush the toilet, my keys slipped out of my pocket into the toilet. Time slowed during those horrifying seconds as I watched my keys swirl around and disappear. I reached for them (ick) but I was too late. This wasn't just one key either. It was a big clunky key chain with lots of useless things on it.
     My car key was not useless. Nor were my facility keys.
     I had to ask another staff member to walk me through a number of locked doors to get to maintenance. When I told Mr. Maintenance I flushed my keys down the toilet, I was so embarrassed that I couldn't stop laughing. I think he thought I was joking. He stared at me blankly for a full minute before he realized I was serious. He finally grabbed some long stick thing and we headed back to the bathroom.
     It was a single person bathroom and someone was in there by the time we got back. Mr. Maintenance knocked on the door and briefly explained the situation. He asked the woman inside not to flush the toilet, to which she replied, "Are you sure? It's not pretty in there."
     Yeah. She said that.
     Oh, are you wondering who was in the bathroom? It was the president of the company. That's right. My boss's boss's boss.
     She opened the door a crack so Mr. Maintenance could hand her the weird fishing tool. She closed the door and tried to pull out my car keys while Mr. Maintenance yelled instructions through the door. By the that time, a number of people had poked their heads out of their office doors to see what was going on.
     Unfortunately, my keys were irretrievable. The funny thing was, the toilet never clogged. That was some good plumbing. Luckily, my boss felt so bad for me that he waived the $150 replacement fee for the facility keys. It wasn't so easy for my car though. I had to get it towed to the VW dealership so they could program a new key, and pay several hundred dollars for a replacement. I learned my lesson and got two replacements.
     I'm sure I have more hilarious un-accomplishments to share, but I don't think anything can top the key story. That was seven years ago, and I still can't stop laughing about it. If you aren't laughing, then you have no sense of humor.
     As always, thanks for reading.