Convergence Point

ConvergenceIt's weird walking around campus on my way to class, and not just because I'm an ancient, elderly, crotchety old crone surrounded by nubile little 20-year-olds in their Uggs and their AE hoodies and their bare midriffs even when it's like 9° and their skinny jeans that are so tight that I want to run up to them like some kind of religious evangelical with illustrated pamphlets about the dangers of yeast infections. Because seriously.

No, that's not why things are strange, although my puffy down coat and my sensible shoes and my tendency to dress like my own grandmother are certainly not helping things. Mostly I am finding myself slightly wigged out because I keep running into people I know, people I haven't seen in a long time, and I just don't know who I'm going to run into next.

I picked this particular college for graduate school largely because their M.Ed. program is well-regarded -- my aunt, herself a teacher, is the one who recommended it -- and also in part because it is significantly less expensive than other programs I looked into, and while I may be insane, I am not stupid. Since I had to take out student loans in order to pay for everything, I couldn't really justify the higher price tag for the big deal, big name, big ticket, big city school.

Also: that other program was entirely online, and let's face it, I simply cannot be trusted to maintain my focus for any length of time when I am in such close proximity to LOLcats.

So in addition to quality, cost, and actually being in a classroom, the one other thing that I considered was location. This school is about halfway between my house and my parents', and when I have classes at night, I can get there from work in just about an hour. This is wonderful, because it means that my days don't need to be any longer than they already are. (My night classes go from 6-9 twice a week, so those days are basically 16 hours long, but at least I have time in between work and driving and class to sit down somewhere and have dinner like a civilized person.)

But one of the things I never thought to consider is that going to a local college means that there would be the distinct possibility that other people might be choosing the college for the same reasons. It's close to where I grew up -- which means it's also close to where I used to be on the Y swim team ... which may explain how it turns out that my former swimming coach from 20-some odd years ago is now my academic advisor.

It also makes it close to where a lot of my family lived at one time, and still lives ... which may explain how it turns out that one of my cousins, who I last saw 13 years ago when my husband and I were in marriage preparation class, is also a student there.

Now, it's highly likely that these things are just coincidences. I mean, I didn't grow up in that big a town, or anything. But what are the odds that of all the gin joints in all the world, so to speak, that I would run into two people from past like that within just a few days of each other? Is this place some sort of a convergence point for all the "lost memories" of my past? Who else is there that I might run into?



"Wummer" was the alternate suggestion for "S'Winter" (again, TM Phineas & Ferb), and since these pictures are from the same day, I figured I'd just go with it. As should you, if you know what's good for you.


I still have to finish going through all the pictures from last Saturday when it snowed -- I got as far as picture 92, but I took more than 250 -- but I had homework due for class on Monday. HOMEWORK. That's such a weird concept after 16 years of no homework.

snowball fight.

Took this picture with my cell phone, and it's lightly processed (softening filter and then whatever it is that Instagram does), but it's still one of my favorites from the day. I am not a huge fan of snow, but I really love how Shae gets SO EXCITED when it comes.

snow angel.

And as much as I am still undecided on the hot pink snow pants -- because DEAR LORD ARE THEY BRIGHT -- they sure do make for some spectacular snow angels. (Also, you can see a bit of green hood peeking out -- that's from a 15-year old Eagles sweatshirt that's, like, 4th generation inherited, and Shae recently said it was her favorite shirt in the world.)

choco chip & blueberry belgian waffles.

But this -- THIS is the best part of a snowy weekend day. When you have to get up for work in the morning and you have to deal with traffic snarls and the like, you can't really enjoy a snow day in quite the same way that you can when it's a Saturday and you can wake up gradually and stuff yourselves full of homemade chocolate chip and/or blueberry waffles and crispy bacon and tea and hot cocoa before you go out to shovel and play.

Maybe if it snowed more often on weekends when we don't have to rush around, I could learn to love the snow. (But probably never the hot-pink snow pants.)



SHUT UP YOU GUYS. I know how much I suck. I am SO BUSY. I knew I would be busy, but I never knew it would be like this. I appreciate my accelerated class schedule because it means that I don't have class every night, but I feel like I haven't slept in four days.


And when I did have a chance to get some sleep on the weekend, I couldn't anyway, because we had to get up and shovel, because it snowed, because it's "s'winter" (TM Phineas & Ferb).


Well, of course, I didn't shovel -- someone has to work the camera -- but I did get up to make bacon and blueberry Belgian waffles and make sure that Shae had enough layers of clothes on.


Because the snow angels aren't going to make themselves, you know.


Not that they won't try. Or something. I don't know, I'm sleep deprived.


Anyway -- S'WINTER! Huzzah! (PS Don't worry, none of that snow is yellow.)


Long Time Gone

Man, this month has really gotten away from me -- sorry about that. January has been SO CRAZY, you guys. I feel like I've been at work for 100 days in a row, and we're just finally (maybe) getting to the end, but in the meantime I've had, like, half a dozen birthday parties and car issues (insignificant) and grad school starting and medical stuff (which could have been major but turned out to be not) and SWIMMING LESSONS.

Oh, yes, we're at it again.

Swim 011512-1

Shae's first swimming lesson of the year was last Sunday. We couldn't get into a Saturday class because they were all full, and because of my crazy class schedule we didn't want to try for a weeknight class, but it turned out to be for the best because there are only like 5 kids in the class.

Swim 011512-2

We've moved up a level, to "Eel." I don't know any kids that really want to be eels, but whatever, I didn't name the classes. Last year the instructor recommended that Shae repeat Pike B, but she worked really hard on improving her swimming over the summer, and she can do all of the basic requirements for the level, so we went ahead and moved her up.

Swim 011512-3

I didn't bring the big camera with me this time, so these pictures are kind of meh (although, in all honesty, my new iPhone takes some pretty decent pictures that are at least as good as the old original crapcam, provided the light is good and your subject is standing still, which DOES NOT HAPPEN with this kid), but you can clearly see that someone is glad to be back in her natural element.

Swim 011512-4

And it makes me furiously happy to see her being so furiously happy. (Although something MUST be done about THAT HAIR.)


Attack Of The 50-Foot 4-Year-Old

We start swimming lessons on Sunday, and we spent 20 minutes tonight trying on approximately 538 bathing suits to see what still fits, because it turns out that one of the primary requirements for swimming lessons is a bathing suit. Preferably one that covers all of one's important bits and that does not give one a perma-wedgie.

You would think this would not be excessively difficult, since it was summer just 15 minutes ago, but -- wait, WHAT? Has it really been 15 WEEKS since Shae's put on a bathing suit? REALLY? 15 weeks and two missing teeth ago? DEAR LORD.

i am not yet prepared to be the tooth fairy, and yet HERE WE ARE. #teefs #noteefs lost another tooth! and the tooth fairy is unprepared yet again!

(Gratuitous pictures of my kid's missing teeth are gratuitous.)

So. Anyway. It's seems I've gone and overcommitted myself again, what with the OT at work and the new grad student orientation and the classes and the whatever the hell else I have scheduled which I can't even remember what it is any more, so OF COURSE we waited until practically the last minute to make sure we had a bathing suit. We tried on every suit she wore all summer, and -- SPOILER ALERT -- let's just say its a good thing we have a membership to Costco, where they sell swimsuits even at this time of year, because we have maybe 2½ suits that still fit, and at the rate this kid is growing, at least 1½ of them are going to be questionable by the end of the winter, I think. My niece is getting at least half a dozen hand-me-down suits, which will probably not fit her until she's 4 years old, because she? Is a normal-sized child, and not the Jolly Green Giant, like my kid is.

Shae is going to be 5 in less than three months, and by that time, she's going to be fully four feet tall. I'm 37, and I'm only five feet tall when I am wearing shoes with a nice thick sole. She's going to be taller than I am by the time she starts second grade. Maybe sooner, if the way she's been eating lately is any indication. We joke that her tapeworm has a hollow leg, because she just eats so much, but HONESTLY. There don't seem to be enough cheese and fruit snacks in the world to keep her belly full, and every morning I swear to God she's a little bit taller. I can hear her sprouting and spurting in her sleep.



Nü Mäth

I’ve been doing some prep work for these standardized tests that I need to take as part of my grad school stuff -- the Praxis Pre-Professional Skills Tests, which are tests that determine whether or not you are smarter than a 5th grader, basically -- and I have to say that I don’t think there is anybody or anything anywhere in the world that is better at making me feel inadequate than the Educational Testing Service.

(BTW, here is the tl;dr version, if you don’t feel like listening to my first-world, white-girl problems: algebra and geometry give me hives.)

Probably it’s ridiculous, but I worry about standardized tests. I’m not entirely sure why, because I’ve always been a decent test-taker. I remember taking the Iowa Tests back in maybe second or third grade, when I was still in Catholic school, and then something else again in 8th grade, maybe, where a Fairly Big Deal was made out of the fact that I was one of the handful of people in my class who got a perfect score in the math portion, and I ended up getting my whole schedule reconfigured because the school wanted to move me up from the pre-algebra class that I was in at the time into a more advanced math class that some of the gifted kids were in, and basically my life was over at that point because I wasn’t in any classes with The Love Of My Life At The Time any more.

(And people wonder why I grew up to be distrustful of Authority.)

To this day, it bemuses me to no end that I’ve always tested better in math than in verbal. I still don’t know why. I am absolutely terrible at math, or at least I’ve always thought so. I can barely balance a checkbook. The only “F” I ever got in a class in my entire life was during my Freshman year at Syracuse, in Probability and Statistics II, which -- OK, yes, technically I might not have done very well on account of missing more than 50% of the classes, but this was during that one college semester when I had my existential crisis and dated three gay guys in a row and started chain-smoking Camel unfiltereds, and anyway, in my own defense I didn’t start skipping classes until well after I started failing them. (Also, the professor for that class was NINE KINDS OF TERRIBLE, and he wore white polyester leisure suits unbuttoned to the navel ALL THE TIME, I kid you not.)

Although, here is what I believe they call “irony”: I kind of use math all day every day since I have an “accounting-related” function at work, and I'm pretty good at it. But I don’t do much that couldn’t also be done by a potty-trained monkey with a basic understanding of Excel and an adding machine. (And actually, I’m not even entirely sure that the monkey would need to be potty-trained.)

I still have never used anything they attempted to teach me in trigonometry, though.

Anyway, when I took the SAT’s in 11th grade, the last standardized test I had to take -- which, by the way, was MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS AGO, if you are playing the home version of our game -- I did fine. Because my brain remembers bullshit that doesn’t matter like SAT scores, I can still tell you that I scored 1340 on my SAT’s (this was back during the Paleolithic period, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and the SAT only had two sections and no essay and a perfect score was 1600) -- 660 verbal, and 680 math. It took me two tries to get my verbal score that high. Back then, and still now, I look at that score and I think, “Wait, what? WHAT?

Because I absolutely STINK OUT LOUD at algebra and geometry, which if I recall correctly combined to make up about 148% of the math portion of the SAT’s.

And I was reminded about much I stink out loud at algebra and geometry when I took a practice Praxis test last night, where I was staring at these graphics that showed all these shapes floating in space and rectangles with cutouts in them and hypotenuses of equilateral triangles (which don’t even HAVE hypotenuses, I don’t think) (side note: WTF IS A HYPOTENUSE!?) and equations that involved fractions and variables and orders of operations and sometimes things were capitalized and sometimes they were not and there was a lot of ∑ and √ and πr² and DEAR GOD, ISN’T THERE ANYTHING EASIER THAN THIS I COULD BE DOING RIGHT NOW? Like studying ancient Sanskrit from a Latin translation? Anything?

Plus, when I yelled into the other room for help with something that I thought I actually remembered how to do -- yes, it’s cheating, but I wanted to feel like I was at least somewhere in the same state as the ballpark for a few questions that did not involve calculating a tip or determining the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow -- my husband answered back with this bit about how there is no such thing as cross-multiplication unless you’re an angry mathematician, and then he chuckled to himself for, like, two whole minutes.


So I know that I need to do a WHOLE LOT of reviewing for the math part of this Praxis exam. I guess this weekend I’ll check around in my parents’ garage and see if I still have any of my old Prob & Stats textbooks lying around, but I’m pretty sure that I sold those sumbitches as soon as I retook the class and finally passed. (A-, FTW!) If G has any old college math books, they’re probably for Calculus or Nuclear Fission or something else that’s above my level. My standard reference book, Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, defines “polynomials” and “quadratic equations” and “cosine,” but it still doesn’t tell me what those words MEAN. I need to go back and re-learn how to solve for x, and try to remember what I know about 3-4-5 right triangles.

They’ll have to hold a gun to my head to get me to care about trigonometry, though.


The Changeover

I’ve been kind of absent from this blog lately for lots of reasons, with the holidays actually being among the least of them, if you can possibly imagine. My apologies for that; this, too, shall pass. But as you know (since I told you myself), I’m going back to school –- not in the Rodney-Dangerfield-film sense, but in the “holy-crap-I-am-actually-going-through-with-this-and-becoming-a-broke-ass-graduate-student-just-like-I-always-threatened-to-do” sort of way.

I made the decision in mid-November, when a whole bunch of Stuff That Shall Not Be Named happened (nothing of consequence to anyone but me, don’t worry; I just can’t talk about it in any detail), and since then I’ve been buried under a mountain of all sorts of paperwork: applications, drafts of essays, letters of recommendation, financial aid forms, calendars, textbook order sheets, standardized test prep workbooks, lists of supplies and materials and equipment and paperwork and forms and clearances I will need.

Two weeks from today -- January 18, 2012 -- mark the date on your calendars, people, because it may be important someday, or at least be a day that may live in infamy forever -- I start my first college class in 16 years.


The timing of these Voldemortian matters (because they Shall Not Be Named, get it? Haha, I crack myself up with my own genius sometimes) was such that, when everything went down, I quickly made a plan -- “I’m going to get my sorry ass back to school” -- and then I just went ahead and executed. It was around Thanksgiving when I hatched this scheme, and I had deadlines to meet, very tight deadlines that did not allow me a chance to second-guess myself. Applications were due by the first week of December, so I had to get right on it. Go go go! -- shoot first, apologize later.

This is somewhat unlike me -- I am not really the sort of person who wakes up in the morning and says to herself, “Self, let’s DO THIS THANG.” But in truth, looking at it now, I wanted to meet those December deadlines because I did not want to give myself a chance to chicken out. I've been thinking about going back to school to become a teacher for the last 16 years. But the stuff that happened? It scared me. And I dealt with that fear the way I often do: by coming up with an “exit strategy" on the fly, by the seat of my pants.

And what I found myself saying was, “I can change my mind later if I want to, but right now I really need to get this paperwork to Admissions or nothing will happen.”

Which is totally the truth, of course. I often get “analysis paralysis” -- when I stop to think about what I am doing, to consider all the possibilities and all the potential outcomes, come up with a list of pros and cons and maybes, I tend to get myself caught in this internal feedback loop where I keep “and another thing!”-ing myself into being unable to commit. I used to think I was being rational, reasonable, and thorough when I did this, but really, it’s more like playing devil’s advocate with myself over and over again endlessly, until all of the sudden it’s ten minutes before a major project is due and I haven’t started it yet because I haven’t been able to settle on a font.

You think I am exaggerating here, but I assure you: not really.

So this is kind of a HUGE step for me, getting myself involved in something from which I did not allow myself an “out.” I mean, yes, there is always an “out” -- I can just stop taking classes -- but it’s possible that this might be the first time in my adult life that I have turned a Plan-B situation into a Should-Have-Been-Plan-A-All-Along situation. It’s not like I don’t want to get my Master’s in Education and become a high school English teacher; it’s what I’ve wanted to do for basically my whole life. When I picture myself 25 or 30 years down the road, when it’s time to retire and spend my dottering old age doing whatever it is that dottering old retirees to, I picture myself playing bridge and mahjongg and watching “The Price is Right” with other former schoolteachers.

And if I expect to be hanging out with “other former schoolteachers,” then I guess I better get on the stick and become a teacher in the first place, right? So here we are.


I’ve starting making my own dreams come true, is what I’ve done.