I start dating a French guy, Robert, largely because he is French and he makes me feel so above the goings-on in Central Illinois. We are cosmopolitan. He lives off-campus above a bakery and speaks several languages. He tries to speak French with me but I’m too self-conscious.
I live with my friend Esther. Our apartment has no closets but makes up for it with an in-unit washer and dryer. Plus, it’s brand new and we both have covered parking.
I’m a Teaching Assistant for an intermediate accounting class. To my dismay, I remember very little intermediate accounting.
My October is consumed with the upcoming election. Esther and I order John Kerry for President t-shirts and wear them with pride. I’m the most-vocal liberal in the business school, which is a bit of a shock to me. It also encourages me to wear the John Kerry shirt more often.
On the campaign trail for the Senate, Barack Obama stops by our school to speak at a local church.
At the beginning of November, someone drives over the Indiana border to get fireworks. The plan is to shoot them off in the cornfields on Election Day (if Kerry wins) or Esther’s Birthday (if he doesn’t).
We set them off on Esther’s birthday.
That Winter, something awesome happens. Our basketball team is unstoppable. I’m as un-sporty as they come, but I watch every game.
In the Spring, I begin my semester of studying for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. I spend every waking minute in the library pouring over my voluminous CPA review books. Robert sometimes accompanies me and draws penises in my books when he’s bored and wants to go home.
In March, students at U of I are excited to fill out March Madness brackets. Our team advances and the school is awash in orange.
My grandmother watches the NCAA Championship game wearing a U of I sweatshirt and UNC sweatpants. She can’t chose between her granddaughter and her home state. Her home state wins.
The Accounting graduate students begin scheduling parts of the CPA exam in late April and early May. There are four separate exams that all must be passed to get your certification. I’m most nervous about Financial Accounting and Reporting. There’s just so much material.
I schedule that test for late May. As I’m headed to my car to drive to the testing center, I get a phone call. The testing center has been struck by lightning and I will have to reschedule my test – possibly in July because they are really backed up. I stop where I am and sit down on the curb to cry. I’m so frustrated, so overwhelmed…
A woman in a nearby house sees me and comes running outside to see if I’m OK. When I tell her, between sobs, that my test has been moved to July, she backs away slowly, confused.
I’m able to reschedule my test – at a testing center 150 miles away – and Spring continues.
I proctor the intermediate accounting final. I accidentally leave all the completed exams in the testing room and have to beg to be let in at 4AM when, in a panic, I remember that I never took the exams home to grade. They are all still there where I left them. I decide to let this be my-and-the-security-guard’s little secret.
I graduate with my Masters in Taxation. My friend, Kim, my sister, and I plan a trip to Bavaria to celebrate being done with graduate school. We drink beer in Munich and see the famed castle at Neuschwanstein. We hike in Innsbruck and walk along wooden bridges in Lucerne.
I learn in late July that I’ve passed all sections of the CPA exam. I’m now a CPA. And an adult.
Yep, this was the last of my School Days series. I’m sad, too.