Classes start in one day, and here I am on the fence about whether to attend CSUSB. The reality of commuting from the High Desert to San Bernardino has set in, and it seems completely unrealistic. I breathed a sigh of relief that my only classes this fall term are online classes, but I’m reconsidering how am I going to manage this commute come Winter 2010? What if it snows again and they close the pass? I won’t be able to attend my classes. Do I really want to drive an hour 3-5 days a week? There has to be some other option… right?
I flop down in front of the computer with a heavy sigh, and start clicking around to look at some other local colleges. Chapman University: no English program, University of La Verne: no English program, University of Phoenix: no English program; this is beginning to look like a lost cause. But wait, how about National University? AH HA! An English program! A few minutes of snooping around, and before I know it I’m on the phone with an advisor deciding online only is the way to go and forget the hour commute. Oh, but wait, I’m already registered for 2 classes online at CSUSB. What a conundrum: do I take those two classes? Or do I withdrawal at the last minute and start at NU for November? Withdrawing last minute seems like such a hassle. I guess I’ll take that Linguistics class and Humanities class… the Myth, Metaphor, and Symbol class sounds interesting, especially as an English major. Perhaps it will be an adventure. [Kid you not, I actually said this, and I hadn’t opened Campbell’s book yet.]
Here we go. You can do this. You’re pumped, you’re psyched. It’s only been just over 2 years since you were at SDSU. No big deal. Plus, National University is now right around the corner, just get through this semester. Type: blackboard.csusb.edu, hit the numbers 003573348. Click “Log In”… and cross the threshold to see:
“WELCOME TO ONLINE LEARNING!!!!”
Whoa, this guy seems enthusiastic about online learning.
After reading the introduction, I’m tingly in excitement. This class actually seems like –gasp– fun! I’m sure things will go swimmingly. The kids will be perfect, healthy angels and we’ll never have any sort of dilemma.
I’m constantly clicking “View Grades,” fidgeting around in my chair every time my eyes still catch that “-“ for no grade posted yet. Ugh.
Click again, click again, click again. Click one more time, and look! Grades! I’m afraid to look now. Quick, look away! Reflect for a moment.
I start fixating on a spot on the wall, while my mind wanders off about my writing experience in college: I put a lot of thought into the think piece, but also felt my nerves go after I submitted it, since it wasn’t your “average” paper. Would the professor like the story-telling paper? Or was he just looking for a standard boring response? To top it off, I’m anal about writing papers.
Finally, I regain the courage to check the grade. 36/40. Sweet! Passing!
Wait. What about those other 4 points? What prevented me from getting those other 4 points?
[See, told you I was anal.]
I gain the courage to email Dr. J, even though I’m reluctant because I don’t want to look like one of those students. You know the ones I’m talking about: you sit in class with them; they drive you bonkers with a 1,000 questions that aren’t pertinent to the class, or they complain about how they got only a 99% on the last test, and not 100%. My eyebrow lifts and I let out a little groan, beginning to question if I’m going to be an annoying student now. Nevertheless, I can’t get past knowing what may have prevented me from the “perfect grade,” so I send the email.
Pep talk response back: I actually do write well (whew), and perhaps I shouldn’t fixate on that “perfect grade…”
Good enough for me. Mental conversation: Okay Marlana, quit acting paranoid over the perfect grade, continue to be yourself and do what you do. Stop stressing. Onward!
My 2 year old is sick. Fever, terrible cough, and flat out miserable. I find him lying on the couch with those rosy cheeks against pale skin. My 1 year old is gnawing on his fingers, like a dog gnaws on a piece of meat, and he cries with every chew of the finger. I call the doctor’s office, and of course they say to bring him in right away. Elijah has had asthma since he was 3 months old, and had whooping cough when he was 2 months old. Needless to say, his lungs aren’t fantastic, and any time they hear he has an unusual cough, it’s “Bring him in ASAP.”
Elijah and I arrive at the doctor’s office. Sign in, and we’re quickly shuffled to the “Sick Baby” room, surrounded by coughing and sneezing kids, with very exhausted looking parents. I take my place among the Sleep Deprived, let my head fall back against the wall, and wait. And wait some more, and wait some more. Luckily, Elijah has found himself amused; thank God for hot wheels cars and Finding Nemo on the doctor’s office TV. After 45 minutes of waiting, I pull out Campbell’s book and attempt to read through the last few pages of the assigned reading.
And we wait, and we wait, and we wait.
2 hours later, we’re called back to the patient room.
Another 2.5 hours pass, as well as a breathing treatment, and a referral to the x-ray office to check for pneumonia, and we leave the doctor’s office. 4.5 hours at the doctor’s office is a new record for us.
X-Ray comes back negative for pneumonia, but he has bronchitis. Keep up his breathing treatments to keep his asthma in check, get a new prescription, and keep him loaded up on Tylenol and Motrin.
The rest of the week consists of a teething baby who has no desire to sleep, and his constant wailing is his way of reminding us: “Mom and Dad, I am MISERABLE, and I’m bringing all of you down with me!” Elijah continues to cough and stays home from preschool (which he only goes to for half days, twice a week, so that time is precious to me to get work done!)
By the weekend, I’m sitting in the kitchen, my forehead pressed to the table, and beginning to wonder: Am I crazy for taking two classes? How on earth am I going to get by after a week like this? Maybe school right now was a bad idea…
Life Ring to the rescue, and I accept that life happens, with or without kids college life isn’t always going to be easy, and as long as I don’t throw in the towel, somehow I’ll make it through – and I remind myself once again not to stress about getting a perfect grade on everything. An announcement reminds me: Be who you is, because if you ain’t who you is, you is who you ain’t. This is my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sick kids can throw a curve ball into the mix of college work, but there were just as many times I was overwhelmed in college without kids. As long as I continue what being me and just pushing through, everything will work itself out.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Once again, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, no longer plain white like the beginning of the semester when I was “talking to my niece.” Now my laptop sits on a red brocade tablecloth, surrounded by tea light candles and glowing red poinsettias. The warm summer sun that heats up the skin has passed, gone through the crisp fall breeze, and now the bitter winter weather quickly approaches. There is talk of snow for us in the High Desert – which means they’d close the Cajon Pass until the snow passes. It only serves as a reminder why I’m transferring to National University instead of battling against Old Man Winter and a daily commute to San Bernardino.
I’ve gone through quite a few trials, have learned a bit about myself, and gained the confidence to handle fast paced online courses. “Be who you is…” became a motto for myself, not only for this class, but also in all of my life, in particular my “writing life.” Many years ago, when I was 17 years old, I met Michael Blake – the author of Dances with Wolves. I told him I was an aspiring writing (of course, being young, I was much more “gung ho” back then), and asked what advice he had for me. Mr. Blake told me “Keep writing. You’ll meet countless publishers who will reject you, but keep writing what you want to write and you’ll achieve your goals.” Looking back, the quote “Be who you is…” relates quite nicely with my goals to writing. I found that if I write what I want to write and if I quit focuses on perfection for papers and quizzes, I not only achieved good grades, I was proud of my achievements. I turn out products that said “This is me.” It fascinates me that every story I read now seems to follow the monomyth, and I’m grateful I’ve had the experience of this class because I know as a person who loves to write, the knowledge I’ve gained here is indispensable.
I see the world differently now. I never realized how everyone is living through their own life’s adventure, including me. If we pass our trials, instead of giving up half way through, we may return with our “boon” or find ourselves changed in some way. If we take Siduri’s advice of “Love life while we have it,” the adventure we travel on may be just a tad easier, as we learn to value what we have. I have a newfound appreciation for those hardships I come across; it puts me one step closer to becoming a hero in my own life.
For now, I’m quickly approaching the threshold once again. I’d rather pause here, and not cross back over. It has been so refreshing to find like-minded people and a like-minded professor; people who make the class fun. I know I’ll be returning back to the world where most people “just don’t get it.” I’m sure I’ll come across a situation with my acquaintances again, attempting to bring up a story I’ve read, or an experience I’ve had, and receive some blank stares. Actually, I’m very sad to see this class end, or to see this adventure come to a close and know that, as with most classes, you take the experiences you’ve had, store them in the memory bank, and know that you’ll probably never speak to these people again (whether you like it or not), but such is the adventure of the hero. I must return to my world, a changed person, to share what I have learned. At least I will hold my head high, and cherish the wonderful time I had with the class. That being said, I bring this reflection to a close, a chicken is calling my name…
[December 7, 2009 - The last "Think Piece"]