#52snapshots 2022 | Week 16, What Makes the Heart Race

As Sonja Livingston’s Week 16 prompts asks us to make a list of what made our hearts race when we were younger, two things came to mind: tests and boys. I chose to write about tests and their three phases: studying, taking the test, receiving the results. Each of these phases produced its own set of worries. Of course, much depended on the subject matter and the teacher. I usually used the first step to determine the teacher’s strategy like the high school history teacher who liked to ask questions about textbook illustration captions. I developed a habit of getting up super early to study, say 3 am, because the house was quiet and because I didn’t see the sense of studying and then sleeping, strengthening the possibility that I could forget all that I studied. Anxiety amplified throughout the day if the test occurred any later than the first period. Should I look at my notes or textbook more or just let it be? My heart races now just thinking about it.

Standardized testing was a whole other matter. Even just entering the room, the room you entered every day, had a different feel, an air of expected performance. Getting that little circle filled properly with the lead of a No. 2 pencil. Heck, just following directions and understanding the question required mustering all intellectual capabilities. When my twin sister and I received the same score on a standardized math test, the teacher insisted I cheated. She’d favored my sister since she had her in her freshman algebra class. This teacher obviously wasn’t aware of identical twin performance. I could have told her we had exactly the same IQ. She didn’t want to hear anything from me. I think my mother had to intervene.

I made receiving test results into a dramatic art form. On the day I expected the teacher to return the test grades, I wore all black and got mightily peeved if the teacher re-neged and hadn’t finished grading. I’d have to figure out what black clothes I could wear the following day and while my wardrobe was extensive, I had few black choices. As the teacher stood at the front of the room, a stack of mimeographed papers in his hands, how would he disperse the grades? Were the papers randomly organized or arranged alphabetically? Or, arranged by grade? Again, the heart races.

What made your heart race?

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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