Almost three weeks ago, I took the GRE, and later that day, I started writing an absurdly long blog post about it. The day before, my sister had asked me to tell her what the GRE was like, and I was facetiously pretending that I could only answer the question by going into detail about everything that had happened that day. (For the record, I actually am not allowed to say exactly what was on the test. They made me sign a waiver. Really.) As it so happened, though, I was so busy that weekend that I never actually finished that blog post. I was about three pages into it and had still only gotten up to 8 AM.

I just discovered that I happen to still have that unfinished draft on my computer. Here are a few excerpts.


“This morning, I awoke at 5:18. I had set my alarm for 5:20, and even that was just a safety measure to ensure that I would be up by 5:30. But as it turned out, my alarm was completely unnecessary because my brain had cleverly remembered that I needed to wake up early. At 5:19, I un-set my alarm clock, and then proceeded to spend the first hour of my awakeness today being a complete klutz by loudly dropping my alarm clock, a shampoo bottle, my comb, and the spoon with which I ate my oatmeal. I justify this clumsy behavior on the grounds that I had not yet consumed any coffee. Then, I consumed some coffee and thus became more adept at doing things without dropping stuff all over the place. As I drank my coffee, I noticed that it tasted a little different than usual. I did not know why, and even in retrospect, the reason for this anomaly eludes me.”

“As I started my car, I was pleased to find that it was still functioning. Indeed, I had expected this to be the case, as I had no reason to doubt my car’s functionality, but it is always a good thing when one starts one’s car and finds that said car functions. However, last night’s rain had rendered the brakes wet and squeaky, and therefore, for the first several minutes of my journey, they made a loud and slightly disturbing noise every time I braked. Also, there was a misty spot in the middle of my windshield. I tried to wipe it off when I stopped at a stop sign, but in doing so, I discovered that it was actually on the outside of the windshield. At the stoplight by the campus gate, I briefly turned on my windshield wipers to remove the misty spot, and thus, this problem was solved.”

“I arrived at the testing place at about 7:20, I think. I didn’t actually see a clock. I pulled into a parking space that appealed to me, then backed out and pulled back in, for I had not parked very well the first time. I then parked the car, rolled up the windows, checked to make sure that my lights were off, and removed the key from the ignition. Following this, I proceeded to open my car door, get out, push the lock thingy, and close the door, in that order. Next, I attempted to open the door just to ensure that it was locked. Not surprisingly, it was.”

“Before I went into the testing room, they had me put my purse in a locker and then they told me to stand on the green X on the floor while they scanned me with one of those security things that they use to scan people. (If it isn’t obvious, I have no idea what they’re called. I also am not entirely sure what it is that they’re meant to detect. Metal? Marijuana? Extraterrestrial technology?)This was necessary because, for all they knew, I was a dangerous terrorist. It turns out that I am not a dangerous terrorist, which is good to know. I had been worried about that. Well, not really.”

“As all these things occurred, I narrated them in my head for the sole purpose of being able to write all of these details later in the day. Note to my sister: I am telling you all of these things because you asked me to tell you what taking the GRE was like. As I do not know which details may be relevant, I am deliberately giving you an excessive number of details so that you can decide for yourself which ones are worth knowing. You are welcome.”


That’s as far as I got, but I have decided that at this point, I would like to relate the tale of the perpetually red stoplight, which occurred several hours later, as I was on my way back to campus. I had taken a wrong turn and was in an unfamiliar area miles from where I should have been, but there was a road up ahead that I knew would take me to an interstate going in the correct direction. I pulled into the appropriate turn lane to turn left and stopped at the red light. Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me that the light was staying red for a pretty long time. It seemed as if every other lane of traffic in every direction had moved more recently than I had. I waited a while longer and determined that this was the case. The sound of my turn signal was starting to get on my nerves. I became irritated at the thought of all the gas I was burning just sitting there. The temperature slowly increased as the hot August sun shone into my non-air-conditioned car.  It occurred to me that if I did it at the right time, I could safely make my left turn in spite of the red light. However, it also occurred to me that perhaps someone was secretly watching this intersection and doing a statistical study on how drivers would react to a perpetually red light. Although that idea seemed so unlikely as to be safely dismissed, I nonetheless decided that, if it was the case, I had better not mess with their statistics. I am extremely stubborn, so, for the sake of accurate results, I owed it to science to sit stubbornly at that light and wait for it to turn green.  Furthermore, there was no one behind me, so my presence in that turn lane did not hinder traffic in any way. I waited a little longer, but the light still didn’t turn green. My concern over the gasoline I was wasting joined forces with my impatience and they argued with my stubbornness, which still insisted that I was absolutely not to turn onto that road until the light turned green. So my impatience and my stubbornness came to a compromise. I pulled out of the turn lane, drove straight through the intersection, turned around at the first opportunity, and then got onto that road using the turn lane coming from the opposite direction. I should have done that much, much sooner.

The oddest part about this story is that I still remember my exact train of thought even though it was nearly three weeks ago.