Putting the ME in MENSA…

March 18, 2011

I may be a dumbass, but I’m also a genius.  It’s official:  I’m now a member of Mensa.   No, there’s no need to check your calendar; it’s not April 1st.  It’s true!!!

Okay, if you haven’t died from laughing yet, let me explain.  Some time ago, I read a book called The Know-It-All in which the author chronicled his thoughts as he read through all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  It was a pretty cool book, both irreverent and informative, but what really jumped out at me was the part in which the author joined Mensa and atteneded a member’s meeting to see if all his newly gained knowledge would allow him to hobnob with geniuses. 

The reason this part caught my attention so much is that he mentioned that you could get into Mensa using your old SAT scores.  Now I was pretty much a screw-up academically in high school (I wouldn’t get my act together until community college), but I still managed to do pretty well on the SATs, scoring a 1410 (620 Verbal, 790 Math).  Actually, even before that, I did even better on the PSATs, scoring 1420 (620 Verbal, a perfect 800 on Math), and so I got my picture in our high school newspaper with three other students as our scores all automatically qualified us to be National Merit Semifinalists.  It really was ridiculous, because there I was standing next to three honor students while I was rocking something like a 2.5 GPA.  The news came as such a shock to my accounting teacher, Mr. Berens, that he told another class (as one of my friends later told me) that he couldn’t even BELIEVE that I could’ve scored so high.  I remember feeling really down when I heard that and I still think it was unnecessarily mean, but in retrospect, I guess I couldn’t blame him TOO much, since I was getting a D in his class.

But anyhow, after I read the book, I looked up the Mensa website, and yup, my scores qualified me to become a member.  So I ordered a copy of my scores from the College Board, sent them off to Mensa along with a check for $100-plus for membership dues and score verification, and boom, now I’m an official card-carrying member of Mensa.

I can’t say that I didn’t have moral qualms about applying.  I mean, I’m not so self-deluded to think that I wanted to be a member “just for myself.”  If I had to swear a vow of secrecy and never reveal my memberhood to a single soul, you better believe I wouldn’t have signed that check.  People always go on about how you shouldn’t care what other people think, but the fact is, yeah, I DO care for the most part.  And maybe a part of it comes from living in Korea and some people here thinking that I’m not all that bright due to my limited Korean vocabulary.  I also have an abhorrence for talking “big” and self-aggrandizement (seriously, if I found the cure for cancer, I’d have to ask someone else to take the credit, because I’d never be able to say the words, “Oh, I have the cure for cancer”).  So it’s kind of nice to have the Mensa card just as a kind of assurance.  Right now, I’ll take any I can get!


March 18, 2011

I can’t believe it’s only been one month since my last post.  I was sure it was at least two, maybe even three.

A whole lot’s happened.  To make a long story short, my life’s become UNIVERSITIFIED, UNIVERSITALIZED, and UNIVERSITILICIOUS.  Yes, it’s been the comeback that everyone… okay, a few… all right, just me, and even me not all that much… has been waiting for:  TOMMYLAND, THE COLLEGE VERSION!!!

Yup, I’m teaching full-time again, this time at a Korean university, and it’s pretty much taken over all life.  In the last several weeks, my life has gone from “sleep, eat, nap, eat, do some writing, eat, and sleep” to “teach, prep, grade, counsel, and collapse in bed for a few Zs before that dreaded alarm clock sounds.” 

It’s been tough, I can’t lie.  I’m teaching 12-13 hours a week over four days (M-Th), which might sounds nice, but the lesson prepping’s been an absolute killer.  I really, desperately want to do a good job and do right by my classes (teach them something but also keep things enjoyable), and I’m giving my all here.   By the time I’m done with my last class on Thursday, I feel exhausted and pretty much numb.  And relieved, extremely relieved that everything’s gone okay.

And that’s the good side.  Things ARE rolling alone nicely.  As of now, three weeks into the semester, I have managed to find my rhythm.  I’ve developed a nice rapport with the students; I now know what I want to teach for each class; I’ve come up with my classroom rules and grading policies; the other teachers and I are getting along well; and as draining as the work has been, it’s also been incredibly rewarding.  Ultimately, hard work pays off in just about every situation.  I’ve been able to get the ball rolling.  Now I just have to keep pushing and make sure it stays rolling.  Right now is the toughest time for all of us new teachers since we’re all figuring things out as we’re going along and we’re all developing class materials and lesson plans completely from scratch.  It’s our pay-your-dues semester.

Bottom line:  Like the wise Tim Gunn says, I’ve just gotta make it work.  And the only way to make things to work is to work yourself.  And that’s what I’m doing.