How I used “Lord of the Rings” to get into college

Did you know that your SAT essays are right there, scanned and posted on the College Board website, just waiting for people who graduated high school years ago to log in and relive the best 25 minutes of their lives?

I sure did!

In honor of the new SAT expanding the length of the now-optional essay section to 50 minutes in order to accommodate a longer prompt, I thought I’d share these excerpts from my two 2007 SAT essays. I believe they conclusively prove my demonstrated Lord of the Rings obsession trumped my GPA, letters of recommendation, and extracurriculars in helping me get into college.

Also, I don’t think context is necessary, do you?


March 2007 (with bonus Harry Potter):

“Literature has shown countless times that one should not set smaller goals if one will be displeased with the results. One should try to achieve a goal with an optimistic outlook, like Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series. Both characters exemplified their drive to achieve their respective goals. Sam was able to think about destroying the One Ring throughout the journey, and his optimism led Frodo to ultimately destroy the Ring. Harry Potter kept the destruction of Voldemort in sight as he, almost subconsciously, achieved smaller goals while keeping the largest one in his mind. Optimism is key in achieving large goals, whether one’s imagination permits it or not.”

October 2007 (with bonus Beowulf):

“If one researches some of the most recently recognized films, one will discover that history plays a large role in crafting these epic tales. The ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy is a prime example. Not only is it based on a book, but a myriad of the costumes and battle items forged for the battle sequences were based on Anglo-Saxon and Norman mail and swords. Director Peter Jackson knew that he had the task of creating Middle-earth for the very first time, but instead of treating his viewers to novel costumes, he told the employees at Weta Workshop to research the 12th and 13th century’s clothing and mail and design the costumes for ‘Lord of the Rings’ based on those pictures and descriptions. Although perfected, Jackson’s attempt at creating an original view of Middle-earth failed as he chose to mirror the Anglo-Saxon battlewear. However, one cannot assume that Jackson duplicated every aspect of the Anglo-Saxons; J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the novels, borrowed material heavily from Beowulf. The monster Grendel, for example, is an almost exact manifestation of Tolkien’s character Gollum. Shunned by his family, Gollum delves into the mist and becomes an unfathomable representation of a human gone mad.”


Now that I think about it, these read so much like posts on Shit My Students Write and lol my thesis that I’m surprised I didn’t get zeros on each of these essays. At least it wasn’t as bad as what I wrote/pictures I drew on my AP Biology exam, I suppose (purposeful vagueness and/or harkening to inside joke lost to time entirely intended).

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100 Things: Redux (1-20)

On January 19, 2010, I made a handwritten list called “100 things that make me happy.” I originally uploaded the photo to this blog so I could link to it when I made a brand-new list. But when the draft of this post sat in my “posts” section, untouched for months, I decided I needed to find a new angle.

Instead, I will split up that original list into groups of 20 items, and devote each post to briefly summarizing each one. Why might it have been on the list in 2010? Would it still be on my list today? Why was I such a strange 19-year-old?

Without further ado, please enjoy part 1 of what I’ll affectionately call “This 25-year-old revisited her teen years. What she discovered about herself will shock you.”

  1. My handwriting (sometimes)
    Sorry to start off boring, but this is still true. My handwriting is basically a disaster yet I tend to love it.
  2. LIGHTS MB
    This was a message board I joined in 2009 where I met the majority of online-only/online-first friends I’m still in contact with today.
  3. Major league baseball
    Case in point: I was recently trying to decide if I should buy an MLB.TV subscription, since the season begins soon. The single-team subscription gives you all out-of-market games for your team, excluding games that are blacked out in your region. Which, as an Iowan, means I cannot watch the Giants if they play against Minnesota, Milwaukee, Kansas City, St. Louis, or Chicago. That’s only 20 games I’d have to miss – and, realistically, I won’t be watching all 162 games anyway – but I still love baseball so much that I posted several bitter tweets about this injustice.
  4. My musical aptitude
    While this still makes me immensely happy, I play so less often now that I find myself not leading off my answer to the question “What are your hobbies?” with “You know, music and stuff.”
  5. Handel’s Messiah
    When I attended Gonzaga University, in my second-ever semester in choir, we sang Handel’s Messiah. Religiosity (or lack thereof) aside, it remains my favorite experience in choir.
  6. Keeping in touch with good friends
    Fewer now than when I wrote this list, but I don’t think that’s thr point. For example, I recently reached out to someone with whom I would frequently get into Angry Politics-Related Arguments on Facebook several years ago. We were friends most of the time, but our arguments could be brutal. I just wanted to say hi and apologize; I wasn’t expecting a reply. They were happy to hear from me, accepted my apology, and even apologized themselves. We haven’t spoken since, but that conversation was more meaningful to me than most I’ve had in at least the past year.
  7. Patrick Watson’s voice
    Still relevant. That is all.
  8. Being passionate about something
    I’m not sure what it was when I wrote this. Music, maybe. Now, it’s definitely writing. The two creative writing classes I’m taking now have especially rekindled my love for it, mainly due to the freedom the professors and graduate instructors give us to write about whatever we want.
  9. Tim Lincecum <3
    I hope a nice team picks him up. <3
  10. YouTube
    In 2010, I spent a good amount of time on YouTube ensuring that I saw each video from my subscribed channels on the day they came out. Charles Trippy, ShayCarl, Michael Buckley, Philip DeFranco, all those people who were among the first to make a living off their YouTube videos. Nowadays I mostly visit casually – if I’m in need of a good Vine compilation or “newcaster fails” montage, for instance – but I won’t lie, I do sometimes get a little nostalgic for the old days.
  11. Self-serve frozen yogurt
    My friend worked at one of these places before they came to my hometown. I used to go visit her at work, buy a cup of frozen yogurt and a root beer, and watch her do her Real Adult Job while I was on breaks from school. And when I lived in Iowa City, Yotopia was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights if you couldn’t get into the bars. When I learned that its owner was escorted out of a Donald Trump rally earlier this year, my respect for the business increased quite a bit.
  12. Singing in French
    Pretty sure the only French song I know most of the words to is still “Champs Elysées,” which we listened to in my high school French class a few times. (I regret that I cannot count Air’s songs here – while we also listened to this French band’s songs in that class, they sing in English.)
  13. Old Mary-Kate and Ashley movies
    Shhh.
  14. Gonzaga basketball
    I believe what I meant by this entry was “Gonzaga pep band,” since I probably wouldn’t have attended a single basketball game if not for being a member. (Not that I dislike basketball, let’s be clear. It was just a Goddamn Ordeal to get a student ticket, but if you were with the band you got in through the staff entrance.)
  15. Peanut butter M&Ms
    I mean, they’re not awful. But out of all the candy in the world, would I put peanut butter M&Ms on a list of “100 things that make me happy” today? Probably not.
  16. Owning Lord of the Rings trivia
    I assume I meant “owning at Lord of the Rings trivia,” not “owning the physical Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit game,” which I do, but that’s not the point.
  17. David Archuleta singing in Spanish
    This song, specifically. I don’t remember why this is on the list, to be honest. I think I just had a crush on him.
  18. “Comme D’Habitude”
    Oh, right, we listened to this in French class too.
  19. Being in a vocal ensemble
    See #5. I don’t have another video, or I’d post it here.
  20. Adam Lambert
    He’s just SUCH A GOOD SINGER. And I’ve seen him live twice, so, I mean, I feel especially qualified make that assessment.