|Senior Mary Ellen Dingley won this year’s AAP Prize.
I, like most seniors, have had a stressful (though exciting!) senior year. I was at a point in my semester where I felt very discouraged and unable to keep the myriad of small tasks together. I was thinking about this feeling, this particular feeling of failure – not the great failure of flunking out of school, or losing a war, or not getting important legislation passed, or destroying a small city, or whatever else people fail at. In general, as a graduating senior, I appear pretty successful, but I felt hounded by small failures: forgetting to return that phone call, procrastinating far too long on my paper, sleeping through meetings, etc. The image of a creepy, faceless puppy appeared in my head. Puppies need a lot of attention, they follow you around and are constantly underfoot, like my apparent lack of “getting it together” that had struck me, tripping up my plans, nearly tangible. I liked the juxtaposition of a puppy, usually considered a ball of love and cuteness, and failure. It allowed me to write about what is usually a heavy topic in a more light-hearted manner.I used to have a cat that would sit on my head every time I tried to sleep. If failure was a pet, it would be act like that – even when you try to forget it all and go to bed, it sits on your face. We all have those days, or weeks, or months. Luckily, I do believe that one can move past them. Perhaps I will write a poem about that, and maybe use a sloth, because they get stuff done, although at a very slow pace. I don’t think sloths have ever sat on anyone’s head.
And here is her lovely poem: