Pies on the Prize: A Hyper-belated Year in Review – Part 2

Here it is, the follow up (to Part 1) that nobody really wants for the year that nobody really wants to remember. Apologies for my belatedness, but uni assignments (and procrastination) got the better of me.

 

July:

The holidays — I mean “teaching free period” — were marked by my first ever game at Adelaide Oval. Wanting to escape the gloom of wintery Melbourne, I convinced Dad that I needed a study break and what better way to relax than a trip to the motherland? Of course, the weather seemed to follow us across the border and I spent the game in soaked socks thanks to the torrential downpour. Haighs in hand though, there was nothing stopping Adelaide from claiming the victory over 2016’s Premiers. The rest of the trip involved Dad making (multiple) pit stops at the State Library’s SANFL History exhibition, successful vintage shopping, multiple bottles of ice tea from Jam Face and speed readings of Anna Funder’s Stasiland.

 

At the close of the month came the most intense match of football I had ever seen (this statement still stands post-September). Sacrificing a shift, I sat in the crowd for Adelaide vs. Collingwood. Judging by the Crows’ performances throughout the year, I thought I was in for some easy viewing.

 

I was quite wrong.

 

That game was characterised by heart palpitations, shortness of breath and incomprehensible noises. I don’t think I started breathing again until McGovern’s last minute goal sailed through the posts. I was so tense afterwards that I whipped out the foam roller the second I stepped inside the house.

 

August:

With school balancing out, but not slowing down, for a little bit, I managed to get in some more regular shifts and returned back to the gourmet pie-cum-soup-cum-doughnut cart. Things were also starting to heat up in the football realm, with finals just around the corner and Adelaide excitingly in prime position.

 

Following on from our previous victories, us girls were gearing up for our own footy finals. We had made it to regionals most previous years, but we always faltered due to numbers (myself a guilty party). We weren’t the only team to make it to this stage, with the boys side making it too for the first time. Unfortunately, the girls had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict with house athletics, with a fair chunk of the team consisting of house captains.

 

Naturally, we were disappointed that we couldn’t play further, but the ball was out of our court (or field) in terms of scheduling. I thought that was the end of it until I walked into the Year 12 centre and spotted a particular notice on the whiteboard that read something along the lines of “Congrats boys on making it to regionals!” Boy did that really spice my currywurst! By making it once, the boys got the ENTIRE whiteboard, without a single mention of the girls, who, might I reiterate, had made it through to the same stage multiple times before the boys.

 

Overworked and mildly motivated by the themes of rebellion explored in Nineteen Eighty-Four and Stasiland, I marched up to one of my teammates and gave her the lowdown. In the power move of the decade, she sources a whiteboard marker and writes on the little space left on the whiteboard “and well done to the girls for making it this far too!” An iconic moment of passive-aggression that I will forever cherish. For some reason it slightly ruffled a couple of the boys’ feathers (we were in no way trying to undermine the boys’ accomplishments, just looking for a little bit of equality) but it seemed that the message did get through at least a little bit. Shortly thereafter, the four-time state champion girls soccer team received a congratulatory photo up on the board and our accidental state finalist hockey team receiving a nod too. I guess it’s the small victories.

 

September:

This was the month where my two worlds collided (cue INXS synths). Practice exams, final SACs, performance exam preparations were at the forefront of my mind. Chuck in finals footy and you have a recipe for utter chaos.

 

In amongst annotating news articles, practising verb conjugations and remembering the steps of PCR, I snuck off to the Almanac pre-Grand Final lunch with Dad. Rolling up to the station in my full Adelaide regalia (Eddie Betts-related pun included), it finally felt tangible that we could take out the big title. Unfortunately, my pre-exam jitters got the better of me and I ducked out of the lunch early to get some work done back at home. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as a certain member of the Adelaide fanbase who may or may not make up half of my genetic material got up on stage and sang the club song.

 

Waking up that Saturday morning, I felt quite ambivalent about the whole situation. In fact, I was more worried about not having enough pies at half time than I was about the actual outcome of the match. I also lost my Eddie Betts badge someone on the escalators at Melbourne Central, an event that I took as an omen of what was to come.

 

The first quarter was the quietest I had ever heard the stadium (and I’ve worked multiple shifts of below 30,000 crowds, including  round 14 Collingwood vs. Fremantle in 2016), an eerie scenario that did nothing to stir my unexplainable apathy. Admittedly, with the crowd virtually non-existent during gameplay, I even resorted to practising my German oral introduction instead of watching the actual game (what a nerd!). Surely enough, the game slipped away from us and I signed off with more than enough time to escape the crowds and make my walk of shame with what little dignity I had left as an Adelaide supporter.

 

How uneventful! I hear you say? Well just you wait for the three months ahead!

 

October:

With finals well and truly behind me and a 43 day exam period not too far off, it was crunch time. My first exam was my Theatre Studies monologue. Whilst I was quite proud of what I produced and my performance on the day, my final mark indicated that perhaps examiners aren’t too keen on second wave feminism reinventions of Jane Eyre (beehive wig and shift dress included). Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

 

My last Tuesday of official schooling was spent outside of the classroom and on the cricket pitch, playing in the state finals. Donning our official Pipped just at the post, we did not make it past the semi-finals of the day, but I could not have asked for a better way to round off my high school sporting days (plus we did a Maccas run afterwards).

 

Year 12 frivolities included a dress-up day, where I lived up to my footballerina moniker and donned a tutu. *CONFESSION: I actually haven’t done ballet in two years. I’m very sorry and I request that any further queries be directed towards my management.* Then there was dress signing, tears, a waffle buffet put on by my German teacher, some more tears and an early morning party before the final Year 12 assembly. Naturally, I was a wreck leaving the hall afterwards for what symbolically felt like the last time. That was a lie, considering the fact that I was back that afternoon for a mock German oral.

 

Five days later was my actual German oral, during which I went on to talk somewhat coherently about everything from my family and hobbies, to school and aspirations, all the way up to the refugee crisis. I even managed to slip in: “Ich arbeite bei einem Sportstadion und ich verkaufe Essen und Getränke.” You know, just general chit chat.

 

The next night was Valedictory, which involved dressing up and forgetting the fact that I wasn’t even halfway through my exams. Oh, the joys of Year 12.

 

November:

The new month began with the biggest event on the VCE calendar: The English exam. Whilst it was the first exam for a fair majority of the year level, I was a seasoned pro by this point. I was like the Patrick Dangerfield of VCE, or at least Rory Sloane. But as the all too fresh wounds of the 2017 finals series reminded me, it was easy enough to pull a Tex and completely choke when it came down to the crunch (please tell me that this reaches the quota for AFL references per article).

 

My pink mouthguard was replaced with an equally bright array of highlighters, ready to dissect whatever cruel text type VCAA through my way. I had lined up my pens and pencils in the same ritualistic pattern as I had done for every SAC and stowed my clear water bottle beneath my desk. It was game time.

 

Just like I had spent months training to do, I approached the language analysis section with aggression and speed. I tackled each argument with as much precision as possible, breaking down everything from the implications of the foreboding tone surrounding the photograph of infinite rubbish bags and the coy play on words adopted by a parent opposing the abolition of soy sauce packets.

 

My Medea essay was nearly a breeze, regurgitating one of the many essays I had written throughout the year with a clever(ish) manipulation of words. I thanked the gods in the Ancient Greek heaven above that one of the options was one I was familiar with, because this was probably my least favourite section of the study design. I know Euripides could not foresee his play becoming VCE fodder, but it just ground my gears. I mean, Medea was cool when she stood up to her egotistical and chauvinistic husband and rode off on a golden chariot drawn by dragons, so long as you discount the fact that she had just committed filicide and was accompanied by the fresh corpses of her sons. Man, those Greeks knew how to have a good time.

 

Making perfect time, I stopped at the hour-and-a-half mark for a water break. With a few questionable hand gestures to make sure the muscles in my hand were properly working, I set forth to complete the monster of a final section: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF TEXTS. Now, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Stasiland are marvellous texts of merit individually, but the second you try to compare the two, all hell breaks loose. It’s like the Crows and Port Adelaide players at the Ramsgate Hotel (whatever that means, but thanks Dad).

 

But like any elite athlete, I had come prepared. A week out from the exam, there was a particular concept that I was not strong in, so I wrote a practice essay and drilled the concepts over and over again until it was part of my repertoire of essays. Just like applying set tactics learned at training into gameplay, the essay topic involved that theme. I was off like a rocket. I was round 22 Buddy Franklin. Nothing could stop me now. I had single paragraphs that stretched across two pages, something the lecturer advised us against, but hey, he thought that superlicious was a word, so I can do what I want. I was raving like there was no tomorrow about the dangers of hope in totalitarian societies (spoiler: it ends well in Stasiland, but not Nineteen Eighty-Four). I was all over the government’s manipulation of the past to control citizens. Metaphors? Check! Symbolism? Check! Tactical use of pronouns? CHECK!

 

And just like that, the clock struck 12:15. My pen was down and my answer booklet closed. I had kicked my goals and had my run. My fate was in the hands of two to three VCAA assessors. Whilst I felt quite chuffed walking out of the hall and all the way home, it wasn’t until the next morning that the panic set in.

 

“So did you analyse the logo?” asked Dad, referring to the language analysis section of the exam.

 

“No.” I responded, my body in catatonic shock.

 

To quote The Age quoting Fitzroy High School VCE team leader John Hinman: “the best students would have contrasted the school’s logo of a tree with the image of the garbage.”

 

It was all over (retrospective spoiler alert: it wasn’t). I had fudged my one and only shot at English glory. I was the shame of my family. I had disappointed every single English teacher in the history of mankind. All of my hard work had gone to waste over a bloody logo. Up until results were released, there were rumours flying around saying that “You can only get a maximum of six marks because you didn’t engage fully with the visual aspects of the article.” (Bonus points if you read that in a super nasally and bratty teenager voice).

 

“But I analysed the photograph using sophisticated vocabulary!” Nope, not good enough, Bridget.

 

“But I also discussed the nuanced progression of arguments!” You think that’s going to save you?

 

“But I made sure that my writing was legible!” Yeah, but you spelt negligible wrong in your Medea essay. Have fun getting into uni with that, honey.

 

Let’s just say I avoided reading The Age for the rest of my exam period.*

 

Thankfully, Biology rolled around without a hitch (and a stupid logo) a few days later. Yes, that’s all I’m telling you about the exam because I think I’ve already traumatised you all (myself included) with the gory details of the English exam. Let’s just say it involved mitochondria, evolution, photosynthesis and the phospholipid bilayer. With the weekend off, I relaxed with some retail therapy and a trip to the Dior exhibit and the NGV. I’m not really an ice bath kind of girl when it comes to recovery.

 

The next eighteen days were purgatory for me. I saw all of my friends progressively finishing exams, whilst I was cooped up in the library, studying adjective declination and pulling apart Michael Gow’s Away. Whenever I spotted a Year 11 walking into the study centre/library, eyeing off what was soon to be theirs (or you know, borrow a book), I once again felt like the old lady sitting on her porch, this time yelling at kids to get a haircut and stay off their phones. It was also probably the closest I will ever (hopefully) feel to a zombie apocalypse, as the numbers progressively dwindled in the library, until all that was left were a few disgruntled language students and embittered Theatre Studies kids (okay, maybe that was just me).

 

And then it came: Tuesday, November 21st, 2017. Sunny, with a top of of thirty-two. Eighteen days had elapsed for me without a single exam, only for my final two to be scheduled consecutively on the last day of exams at my school. I guess VCAA has a really twisted sense of humour.

 

Theatre Studies was an exam I decided to enjoy a little bit, with my costume design component involving a nude bodystocking with foam pieces to reflect Frankenstein’s emaciated figure. Theatre types, I know. The real highlight of the experience, however, was the invigilator congratulating the class for finishing their final exam, before looking at my dejected and most likely haggard state and saying: “I’ll see you in an hour!”

 

My hour was up and I stepped into the surreal world that was the Year 12 German Exam. It had everything: therapy pigs at airports in purple tutus, recycling coffee cups, an angry student requesting changes to the school athletics carnival because they are terrible at sport (relatable) and the pros and cons of a meat-based diet! Coming out of it,  I was cautious and tried not to discuss it, but when one of the Year 11 native speakers was upset, I tried to calm him down.

 

“But Bridget, I didn’t discuss the exchange family in the essay.” Oh no. Neither did I. Here we go again! To make things better, the reading comprehension section involved analysing an article about meat (because what kind of well-rounded German exam doesn’t discuss such staples of the native diet?). One of the questions in this section asked for three benefits of meat consumption, of which I had ticked off two. I knew that the final benefit had something to do with the word Eiweiß. Now, the literal translation of Eiweiß is egg white, but I knew that it meant something else. It just didn’t make sense in the context of the question and when my frenzied flip through the dictionary brought up nothing, I resorted to writing: Meat is an excellent source of blah, blah and egg white.

 

For future reference, the German word for protein is Eiweiß.

 

So after beating myself up for the rest of my life, I hopped in the shower and went out for a celebratory dinner with my German class. We dined on schnitzel and strudel and sipped Spezi and when the evening was over, I met up with my theatre class and we trekked off to the local bar, which ended up being closed. I hoped that it wasn’t an omen of what was to come.

 

The following weekend, I headed off to Rye with my school chums for the time-old tradition of Schoolies. Admittedly, I swapped ciders for hot chocolates and shots for Tim Tam slams, but it was a memorable experience nonetheless. Our days revolved around the beach, Netflix, reading in the sun and general laziness, whilst our nights included rowdy matches of Cards Against Humanity and a party or two. Alright, I gave the beach parties a miss myself, but when flares and the police are involved, you would do the exact same. Oh no, I actually am a grandma stuck in a teenager’s body! Someone send help!

 

* Here’s a bit of context surround the whole English exam fiasco if you’re a little bit lost (trust me, I was too):

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/students-analyse-giant-pile-of-rubbish-on-vce-english-exam-20171101-gzcj3z.html

 

http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/exams/english/2017/2017english-w.pdf (section C)

 

December:

Before the big results day rolled around, I had ample distraction. There were dance concerts and graduations and nights out with friends. Come the morning of December 15th, I opened up the VCAA website and let out something resembling a scream. If you want, you can use your best stalking abilities to figure out if that was a scream of joy or horror.

 

A few days later was presentation night, aka my school’s Brownlow. The same night in 2016 actually almost was the Brownlow, with Max Gawn making an appearance to dole out sporting prizes. Alas, he was absent from the 2017 evening and Pie Girl was there to pick up the slack (not really). We were paraded up on stage for the final time and just like that, it was all over. A week later, my ATAR didn’t even matter (except for bragging rights at home) and I was free to live my life for two more months before selling my soul and racking up a massive HECS debt over the next three years.

 

The month wasn’t over yet. For the first time in my three years at the MCG, I worked all five days of the Boxing Day Test. It was blood, sweat and tears, minus the blood and tears. I spent two days on register, including many encounters involving customers telling me that the food is cheaper than during the football season. For the record, no prices had changed between the football and cricket. By day three I was knackered, having never worked more than two days consecutively at the MCG. Thankfully, I was put out the back and was doing chips on what just so happened to be the hottest day of the test. I did tell you there was sweat involved, right?

 

Oh yeah, I also turned nineteen on Christmas day.

 

January 2018 and Beyond:

The New Year kicked off with a spot of house sitting and a trip to the godless land where rugby reigns supreme (aka Sydney). After two months of Netflix, sleeping in and spending more money than my budget allowed, I landed square in the realm of crippling debt, caffeine (*cough* hot chocolate *cough*) addiction and Marxist societies. Five weeks in and I’m still learning the ropes at Uni, but fingers crossed that everything plays out in the end.

 

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past year and a bit is the importance of backing yourself, because in the end, the only expectations that matter are your own. So just remember: know yourself and go in swinging.

 

All the best,

Pie Girl

The Eddie Betts pocket

 

Comments

  1. Absolutely brilliant. What a Part II of the Grade 12 year!

    You have inherited the Schwerdt powers of observation – and perspective.

    And so many ripper lines.

    And congratulations.

    I’ll be showing this to my kids when they’re a bit older – for the humour, the perspective and the final line of advice.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    I wondered what you were up to last year.

  3. Luke Reynolds says:

    Wonderful read Pie Girl. Both parts. That’s a busy year well lived, and told even better.

    What a pity you missed “the certain member of the Adelaide fanbase who may or may not make up half of my genetic material who got up on stage and sang the club song.” Was worth attending the lunch just for that.

    Hope to buy a pie at the ‘G off you soon. All the best for University, hope you get more time for further contributions to the Almanac.

     

  4. Mark Duffett says:

    Sounds like we should expect the MCG pie cart to add bienenstich to its repertoire. “Ask for it by name.”

    Oh boy, that English exam. Thank you for the affirmation that the Arts road not taken was, indeed, best not taken as far as I’m concerned.

    Looking forward to the next exciting episode. Well done, Pie Girl.

  5. Peter_B says:

    Brilliant. Did you get up to the Ponderosa when you were back in Serial Killer City? I hope your love of books, German and other Schwerdtian heritage extends to the one true Bullydogs.
    I don’t believe a word of the Schoolies etc social life. Understandably the Almanac gets the G Rated version. I guess the unexpurgated Bridget Schwerdt’s Diary is on Reddit under a pseudonym. Barbie Betts? Sloane Ranger?

  6. Bridget Schwerdt says:

    John Harms – Cheers John! I am proud to have inherited at least some of Dad’s knack for writing (not so proud of the penchant for dad jokes, though)

    Luke Reynolds – Come to think of it, I probably could’ve gotten special consideration on my exams for extenuating circumstances had I stayed for that performance!

    Mark Duffett – There is an evident lack of German gastronomy at the MCG, I’ll get onto that. The English exam, however, has not deterred me from taking it up at uni next semester – maybe I should see someone about that…

    Peter_B – Unfortunately it was a short trip to Serial Killer City, so no trip to the Ponderosa (Dad dragged Mum up there one time, I think that was enough for the women of the family). As for schoolies, I hate to disappoint, but I am actually that boring, but I will consider adopting one of those monikers in the future.

    And yes Dad, I did manage to leave my room at least once during the year.

  7. PG- terrific stuff. Well done on the back half of the year. I really enjoyed this. Funny how I can’t remember where I parked my car at work but some decades on from Year 12 I can recite my candidate number!

    Looking forward to more on your escapades.

  8. John Welch says:

    Pearler tome BS, ripper read. I’m on the pie cart…nicest thing I’ve ever said about a Crowie…no BS.

  9. Mandy Johnson says:

    Bridget, fantastic read. Unfortunately gave me some year 12 exam flashbacks I could have done without, but otherwise compelling stuff. Can’t wait to read what you’re up to this year. Please write more!

Leave a Comment

*