Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts About School

Since I can’t seem to write a proper blog entry, I’ll try doing a quick list of thoughts:

1. Going to school at night is very difficult. By the time 7pm rolls around after a full day of work (which has been very stressful lately), I’m pretty much brain-dead. Our teacher, Abeer, expects a lot of class participation. Normally, I’m the quietest one in the room, so add that pinch of lethargy and you’ve got me hiding under the desk!

2. Next semester, I’m going to try to get a Saturday morning class and see if that works better. Even though it would be 4 hours instead of two 2 hour classes at night, I think that might be easier.

3. I can’t hear French. OK, I can’t comprehend (comprends) French that well when I’m listening to it spoken. I’m such a visual person that I seem to need to visualize the words but I can’t understand it well enough to do that yet. I don’t think we’re expected to be able to do a complete, understandable conversation with French 1 (Thank God!) but we do have oral portions of our tests that Abeer has had to slow down to 78rpm for me to understand… Last night, I took the final part of our latest test with Abeer asking questions and me answering--not too bad but she still had to repeat and mime some things.  LOL!  She really wants me to succeed.

4. I can’t hear French and I’m trying not to stress about it. It’s my weakest thing and that’s ok. I’m not taking this course for anyone but me and I’m good with this. I’m trying to listen more to the video’s on our Supersite (our homework site) from now til the end of the semester because I want to do my best to understand it but I don’t want to get to that point where I’m giving myself anxiety attacks. Also, Tutor Joel suggests listening to spoken French while reading the script of what’s being said, so I can associate the words with the sound.

5. Now that I have a beginning knowledge of French, I’ll continue to read a lot and use the second half of the expensive textbooks to continue educating myself. I subscribed to some Etsy newsletters in French and in planning a trip to Paris and Normandy in 2 years, I log onto French websites and attempt to read those. There are plenty of places to ready French, so I’m not worried about running out of interesting things to translate.

6. I bought a Memorize Words app for French. It starts with flash cards of new words, then tests you on those. Then you can move on to concentration, word match, word find, Invaders (match the article to the noun before the noun dropping from the sky blows up the city!) and even Hangman games in French. It will keep me interested after class is over.
7. I don’t enjoy doing homework but neither do I loathe it. While doing the sometimes endless homework on the website and in the workbooks, it amazes me when I’m on a roll, making an effort to finish just one more assignment. Ok, now maybe another one, I mean as long as I have the books out and I have the French mindset goin’ on. It’s my personal mental challenge.

8. Love my Kindle! I think I’ve mentioned before that the French-English dictionary wouldn’t let me search on the Kindle app on my phone but it does on the device itself. It’s come in very handy!

9.  Not sure how I wound up with an 82 out of 80 score on my last test but I’m happy with it.  Unless I totally mess up the next one or two quizzes and the last big test of the semester, I should come out with a good grade for my first college class.  Not bad for an old girl!

10. The Spring Semester catalog came out today.  Yes, there’s a Saturday morning College Writing class I was thinking of taking.  But there’s also a History of Art: Impressionism to Present online class that I want to take.  And there’s philosophy…  And geography…  And Literature… Why can’t The Husband and I find a Sugar Grand-daddy who’d take us under his wing and grant us the gift of unlimited leisure time???

11. I feel like I’ve been in a cocoon in this class.  The teacher really does want us to succeed and the majority of the kids are funny and nice to each other.  When someone’s stuck for an answer, they start whispering to help them.  We all laugh at our wrong answers.  I never feel judged or stupid, even though I do feel “senior” sometimes, just by virtue of my advanced years.  I don’t know if I’ll feel this safe in future classes.

12. Less than a month left of school.  With all the craziness at work (the company I’ve worked for for 25 years was bought out in late September, worked a lot of over time and double time) and a few other stressors, it’s been a wild ride.  Two nights a week at school, most Saturdays (and some Sundays) devoted to homework, Wednesday nights out doing wash (washer broke down weeks ago…), then throw in some quality time with The Husband and The Cats.  Whew!  Just gotta get through these last few weeks and I get 6 weeks off.  I’m planning to celebrate with a new tattoo!

It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves.  The domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, who may not be who we essentially are.

Alain de Botton

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Time Flies!

Don’tcha hate it when things have been going along smoothly and then, bam!  Everything happens at once!

Yup, I decide to go to school and the business gods decide that and working full time just aren’t enough to fill my days… and nights… and weekends.  Two and a half weeks ago, I got to work to find an email saying the company I work for was sold.  It’s been controlled chaos ever since.  Through the transition, I’ve been working overtime and a smidge of double time, some of that on weekends.  It’s been challenging, to say the least.  But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  One more payroll with special handling next week and things should settle back to normal.  I’m lucky that we’re all being retained, with our benefits and seniority, so I can’t complain.  Yawn and whine a bit, well, yeah…

Then, I realized that I should have been doing homework in the workbook and lab book (listening to MP3s online and answering questions) all along, in addition to the online work…  *sigh*  So, I spent what I’d hoped would be a restful weekend catching up on all that…  I will say, though, it was a good  review for the big test we took last week!

Watson “helping” me with homework:

So far I’ve been doing ok on the quizzes we’ve had:

I hope I did almost as well on the test last week.  I didn’t start off well--part of the test was done on a scantron, you know those papers that you fill in the bubbles for your answers.  Several of us (thank goodness it wasn’t just me!) used pen and the machines won’t read the answers unless it’s in #2 pencil…  So Abeer has to grade those individually, plus the written parts of the test, so we should get our grades next Tuesday.  Fingers and toes crossed that I did ok.

In class, we’re moving along: greetings, university/classroom, verbs, adjectives, conjugation, time…  But speaking is slow and putting sentences together is still tricky.  But the class is pretty fun.  We do a lot of verbal activities in class and everyone tries to help everyone else and there’s a lot of good natured ribbing and laughing.  Most of the students are in their early 20’s and I haven’t figured out yet whether they like me or just consider me a strange being in their midst.  They do encourage me and I’ve exchanged phone numbers with a couple of the kids who I sit with at the back of the class, Nancy and Rudy. 

I’ve also attended a few tutoring sessions.  Very helpful!  Abeer, our teacher, is really fun and patient but she has to move fast to keep up with the curriculum.  Joel, our tutor, has the luxury of taking a little more time with explanations and getting us to talk and pronounce better.  And we have the opportunity to ask specific questions that we need help with.  Last week, I had him all to myself since no one else had signed up for that block of time.  We’ll see if that happens again this week.

So, student life is going well but I wish I had more time to do the actual studying…  Soon, life will quiet down and I’ll have more time to go back to a more organized study pattern.  At the beginning of school, I was establishing habits that seemed to be working and I’d certainly like to get back to that.  I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants and that seat is going to rip and I’ll be in a free fall of French garble!

One thing I really want to do when I finally get some time is to plan a trip to France in 2015.  I always love the planning phase as much as I love the travel itself.  I’ve been thinking of what I want to do there and now I’d like to make a proper wish list of places to go.  It’s occurred to me lately that I don’t want to stay exclusively in Paris.  I’d like to visit more of France, maybe take a cruise on the Seine (I know The Husband would like that, too).  The more I think about what I’ll use the French for, the more I’ll keep it up.

Speaking of keeping up, I’ll try to write more often here.  It’s what I started the blog for, after all!

Here’s the parking structure that welcomes me every day I go to school.  Just thought another picture in the post was needed :-)
Tomorrow is a new day: begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 2, 2013

First Week of School

So much to tell!

My stomach was all upset Tuesday, my first day of school, but the nausea was completely unnecessary.  I think it’s going to be a very successful semester.

Here I am--had to have the traditional First Day of School picture :-)  Too bad my eyes weren’t open yet…

Here are my observations, reactions and whines:

**I got to school my first day an hour and a half early, anticipating horrible first week parking.  I drove around the structure just long enough to see that the best option was to go up and park on the outside tier, where there were still plenty of spaces.  It actually took me three times as long to leave at the end of the night as it did to find my parking space!  Second night, I lucked into a space half a tier down and it only took twice as long to get out :-)

**Had a leisurely snack wrap and soda at the nearby McDonald’s.  Then walked back to the zoo--I mean, the campus bookstore.  I looked for what I thought was my French 1 textbook.  Went into shock and left--more later.  Second night, I drove through and got a burrito to take to school.  Here’s where I ate:
Nice, huh?
**Before class on the first night, I sat on a bench in the shade and read for a while.  It’s been an extraordinarily mild summer--of course, the first week of school it turns blazing hot.

**First night I didn’t think I was the oldest in the class but the second night thinned out (people dropping, not coming back…) and so now I know I definitely am.  That includes the teacher…

**The classroom--can you say “sardines”?  Little desk/chair combo’s with just enough space to walk through.  Claustrophobia!  Even the teacher doesn’t have much room to move.  Like I said, though, we lost some folks, so the second night wasn’t so bad.  With a few empty seats, it doesn’t seem so squashed.

**Textbook--$162.50!!!!  Well, to be fair, it’s a textbook, two workbooks, a lab book and the key to the Supersite website that goes along with the class work.  When I saw the package at the bookstore that first night, I really thought I was looking at the wrong thing…  Then someone in class had already gotten it and quoted the price.  Amazon only sells the textbook, not the other things and even that was outrageously expensive…  The teacher says it covers both French 1 and 2 and most people just take the first class and use the book to continue their study afterward…  And to add insult to injury, the textbook is loose leaf, so then you need to get a binder!!  The Husband went out and bought me a purple one the next day :-)

  So supportive!

**Our teacher’s name is Abeer and her first language is Arabic but she sounds like a native French speaker.  She’s a lot of fun, working us hard but also making us laugh.  For some reason, she reminds me of Kate Winslet in The Holiday.  She doesn’t really look that much like Winslet but it’s something about her facial expressions. 

**We are required to have four hours of tutoring at the Skills Center, with two more for extra credit.  Joel, the main French tutor, came to speak to us the second night, explaining all the rules.  He can take a number of students at a time, so it won’t necessarily be one on one but he’ll have time to answer the questions we don’t get to in class and keep us current on pronunciation and grammar.  All tutoring is free, which makes me very happy because I know I’ll need it for math…
**The first week, there are stations set up around campus (see the blue canopy in front of the library) to assist you with questions and information.  So thoughtful.  Since I’ve been to this campus before, I was ok but I’m sure there were a lot of straight out of high school freshman who needed a little guidance.

**The bookstore is very efficient.  Tchotkes and snacks at the front, books by alphabetical order of the class name in the back.  I went late Wednesday afternoon, the day between my classes, so I could have the package and look through it before my second night.  All of the registers were open and the line to pay snaked through the aisles.  A young guy behind me talking to his girlfriend nailed it: “Yeah, they have you walk through the aisles so you’ll grab a greeting card for your aunt’s birthday, a bookmark and an energy bar”.  I admit, since I was writing a check from my savings, I figured I might as well buy a t-shirt and support my school…

**Never thought I’d have to relearn the alphabet but it was like first grade all over again!  The pronunciations are very different, especially Y (i grec--how do they get that??!!).  We’re already speaking in class and doing some conversation.  I’m there to learn, so I did do some speaking in class--but I didn’t raise my hand to do the whole alphabet--although I did spell out my name :-)  I’m usually The Quiet One, so this is going to be interesting!

**This morning, I logged onto the Supersite and took a look around.  There are no assignments yet, so I clicked on a few things and watched some video’s in French--they go along with the lessons.  Right now, we’re on greetings and goodbyes.  Once we all have our books/website keys, required by tomorrow, it will start to move a lot faster.  Whee!!!!!

“Life is only as interesting as the number of times you say yes.”

Harvey Fierstein

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Last Step Before The First Day of School

This morning, The Husband and I dragged ourselves out of bed early, so we could be at the Student Center to get my school ID.  I knew I’d be having my picture taken, so what to do with my hair was a topic of discussion in my head for a few days.  Curly?  Straight?  Since you get one picture ID, then each successive semester you get a sticker updating the ID, this is for posterity.  How did I want to present myself?  I’ve always blown my hair dry and relatively straight and this new, shorter style has been liberating in that I can let it dry naturally and curly, so curly it is.  And what to wear?  I didn’t want to wear anything too “old lady”--my definition of that deserves a blog post of its own--so I decided on a boat neck striped shirt.  I figured not much of it would show but I like that shirt and how it makes me feel.

So, we got to school and the parking lot was fairly empty, which is the last time I’ll see it that way.  I know from now on, it’s going to be a madhouse.

Anyway, we walked across the pleasant little campus, to Building 200.  Signs led us around the corner to a little patio with a half dozen wrought iron tables and chairs.  Since we were 45 minutes early, we were actually the first ones there.  As people wandered in, they took seats and many, like us, communed with their cell phones.  Some kids had parents with them for support--one girl was French braiding her mom’s hair.  Other people sat and stared--apparently, also like us, they hadn’t had their caffeine fix yet.  There was one man older than me and a guy probably in his late 30’s.  The rest were young freshmen.

When the doors opened, the two girls who’d arrived just after us made sure I was in the door first.  Are college students just more polite than the norm or maybe I’ve just only experienced the nice ones at school, so far.  No, I’m not anticipating surly teenagers but…  we shall see.  Anyway, we were led into a room where they’d set up chairs and tables in a kind of obstacle course that led to the desk where you presented your paperwork for inspection.  Hmmm, that sounds very Casablanca!  You’re required to show your zero balance for class fees and the payment for the ID.  Check, check, double check.  Onto a small room with a section taped out on the floor for you to stand for your photo, like at the DMV.  A sweet young guy with a Police K9 t-shirt on chatted a bit, then explained there was a 3 second delay with the camera, so don’t smile til “3”. :-)  A short wait in another room, and shazam, my student ID was hot off the press!

Collected The Husband, who’d waited outside, and headed back to the car.  Here’s the picture he took to commemorate the event:

I bought him breakfast and lamented that the picture he took was too close and I look awful.  Crepey neck, wrinkles everywhere and my teeth look weird.  But here it is anyway, because more than anything, I think I look happy.  There is a huge element of silliness in being so excited about these little things--ID’s, parking stickers, new notebooks--and that’s a gift.  We should all be happy with the little things!

So, I think I’m getting nervous.  No second thoughts, just wanting to get the syllabus and textbook and get this show on the road.  I want to see how hard the homework will be and push myself to talk in class and memorize stuff.  Failure scenarios abound--a crappy teacher, not being able to understand the grammar, flunking tests…  In 5 more days, all will answered!  Well, some anyway. 

I’m irritated that they don’t put the syllabus and textbook title online before class, so you can be prepared and not basically waste the first night of class by not having all the info already.  We do have a class website online but so far, all it has is the names of the students and teacher.  It gives you a place to link your own website, so I put my Etsy shop in there.  Never know, might get some holiday business from my classmates!

Anyway, next Tuesday is The Big Day.  I’m going to school right from work, even though class doesn’t start until 7.  I want to get parked--Lord knows how long that will take…  Then I’ll walk to a nearby McDonald’s for a snack wrap dinner and some reading time.  That’s one thing I know I’ll be sacrificing--I probably won’t get to read as much for pleasure.  But that’s ok, it’s a good trade off.  Eventually, I’ll be able to read books in French. :-)

Never think you’re not good enough yourself.  A person should never think that.  People will take you very much at your own reckoning.
Anthony Trollope

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Van Gogh is Official

Here's the sticker that officially lets me park at school.  

Yes, my van's name is Van Gogh.  

Let the Parking Wars begin!!

I have never looked in the mirror and seen a person I didn't like.

Nell Carter

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bonjour, Mes Ami!

So, guess what class I was able to register for~yes, I actually got French 101!  I really thought I’d end up with the College Writing class, since there was only one French class available at the time I wanted.  Then Young Mare reminded me that most of the high schoolers probably took elementary French within the last few years, so maybe my chances were better than I thought.  And, voila, French class, here I come :-)

Maybe I’ll finally be able to read the French Marie Claire Holiday magazine I bought a few years ago, to help me learn to read French…

And this French version of Cinderella…

I bought a French dictionary for my Kindle a while ago.  The story of my Kindle: A few months after I got the Kindle, I had to replace my simple phone and decided to upgrade a bit to an Android.  Happily downloaded the Kindle app and found that easier to use than the Kindle itself, so I sent the big grey device to my mom, thinking she’d be able to use one of the large fonts since her eyesight was failing.  Hmmm…  Mom’s not really a device person, so after she and Cousin Paul fussed with it for while, she sent poor unwanted Mr. Kindle back to me.  Where it sat in my armoire, wishing someone would read its stories.  Meanwhile, I had downloaded the French dictionary to my phone.  Apparently, the phone app doesn’t have a search feature, so if I wanted to find a particular word, the word most likely to be muttered while flicking through pages was Merde!  But one day recently, while fantasizing about French class, it occurred to me to try the dictionary on Mr. Kindle, who does have a search function.  And again, voila! Mr. Kindle has a new lease on life as my little electronic study partner. 

I think it’s beginning to sink in that I’ll be out of the house two nights a week and studying most of Saturday and I’m sure there’ll be the occasional midnight oil burning.  What is most concerning me is my ability to memorize and process at the college level.  I have a real desire to learn French, so I’m hoping that will help me to absorb everything and retain it.  I think if I can do well with this 5 unit/hour class, that will really give me a boost of confidence.  I’ll try to keep the woeful, what-made-me-think-I-could-do-this? posts to a minimum.   Actually, I think one underlying reason for starting this blog was to be able to keep myself pumped and positive, so there may be some venting here and there but I’ll do my best etre heureux (to be happy-according to Google…).

Next week:  The Saga of the Student ID
“God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”
― Mother Teresa

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Time Is It?

It’s Back to School time!

I used to love the idea of going back to school (school itself? not so much, especially as I got older…).  The new clothes and shoes, the new notebooks.  Making book covers from brown paper bags and stickers.  Even now, a million years out of high school, I wait impatiently for the stores to stock aisle after aisle with paper and pens, markers and highlighters.  I love to fill my cart with pens (used to be stick pens but my taste has gotten a bit more sophisticated--now I insist on clicky pens only).  And The Husband and I share a love of notebooks that borders on hoarding.  The ones that clearance out at 27 cents a piece at the end of the season give us goosebump inducing thrills!  I’m also a journal lover--a fresh set of blank pages set between pretty and /or inspirational covers makes my heart go pit a pat.

Here’s the notebook I just couldn’t resist for school.  It’s probably a bit impractical--I didn’t need 3 separate sections and it’s smaller than a “regular” notebook but I never fill a full notebook in a class anyway…  *grin*

Back in the day, you carried your books in your arms with pencils, erasers, six inch ruler and milk money tucked in a Monkees pencil case. So, one thing I won’t be buying is a backpack.  Call me paranoid, but I don’t like something on my back where I can’t see it and have little control over what’s happening to it.  I’d much rather carry 10 pounds of books, pens and homework in a tote bag plus my purse on my left shoulder.  Doesn’t make sense?  Doesn’t have to :-)

What’s your fave school supply?

Go around asking a lot of damn fool questions and taking chances.  Only through curiosity can we discover opportunities and only by gambling can we take advantage of them.

Clarence Birdseye

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What I Learned in School Today

Today was Group Advisory day.  Held in a classroom in the Counseling Center, we went through a Power Point presentation on how to figure out what classes to take for our certificates or associate degrees and how to register for classes.  And I was not the oldest person there.  :-) I love seeing folks starting their higher educations, at any age!

I realized two things about my Assessment Test scores.  The bad thing first:  Apparently, my math score wasn’t the worst in school history because there’s actually a lower class than the one I was assigned.  However, what I didn’t realize is that once I take that class, there are two MORE classes I need to take before I even get to the college level 100 math class…  I wasn’t intending to think about math for a few years, but now I’m thinking maybe I’ll get some tutoring and retake the assessment test to see if I can skip a few of those Math For Dummies classes.  The good thing: I may qualify for Honors English.  
*big grin*

The school I’m going to is a two year junior college.  Eventually, I want to major in English, either literature or writing, at a four year college.  What I learned today is that there are slightly different requirements for transferring units to another school, so when choosing classes, I have to make sure they’re transferable.  So, I’m glad I’m aware of that as I’m picking my B, C and D plans for registration.  French 101 is on my transfer list but I’ll check on the other classes to make sure they’re ok. 

I’m going with the purple list but at some point in the future, I’ll talk to a counselor and make sure I’m on the right track.  No sense taking something that doesn’t count and losing an entire semester.  I wish I could go to school full time--of course, it would go so much faster, but I could also throw in an unrequired class once in a while, that just sounds interesting.  *sigh*

Here’s the most sobering thing said in the session: for every hour of class, 2 hours of study is expected.  Yikes!  If I get the French class, that’s 5 hours a week.  I know enough math to understand it’s 10 HOURS of studying…  I know what I’ll be doing on Saturdays from late August to mid-December…  And if I can do well with a 5 unit class, think what a cakewalk a 3 unit class will be in future semesters!

All the kids in today’s session were very quiet.  A couple spoke up when asked if they already knew what they wanted to do: we had a music teacher, a theatre tech and a law enforcement officer.  They were all respectful and friendly.  Maybe they’re a little scared of college?  It’s interesting how they emphasize that in college, you’re there to learn and if you don’t take that seriously, you’re out.  As opposed to high school, where slacking off, while not exactly tolerated, is put up with because they want to push you through the system and get you off their rolls.  Only the serious need apply!

The other thing I did today was set up my cell phone for automatic texts from school in case of emergencies--like tornado’s or crazy people shooting up the campus.  I do not jest in either case…

Next up, registration on August 1 and then getting my student ID.  You need your license or other ID and the receipt for your class before you can get it.  And yes, there are many discounts!!

Your vision will become clear when you look into your heart…
Who looks outside, dreams…   Who looks inside, awakens...
Carl Jung

Monday, July 8, 2013

Testing! Testing!

Generally, I’m not a good sleeper. But I went to bed early last night (my version of early: 11:30pm) and actually slept better than most nights. Made double sure I applied deodorant (yes, that’s how my nerves sometimes present themselves), checked my bag for the Orientation paperwork required to get into the test and went to work for a few hours. I grabbed a burrito on the way to school and read for a while at Del Taco. Hit the parking lot an hour and a half before the tests because I didn’t know what parking was going to be like during summer session. I lucked out, though, and found a space pretty fast. Paid my $2 and walked across the street to suss out the room for the test. Once I knew where I was going, I sat in the shade in the quad and read some more (you won’t be surprised by my English assessment scores, will you??).


15 minutes before the test, I opened the door to the building to find a mass of young people, filling out forms on clip boards, which were passed from person to person. A young guy offered me his. Why am I always surprised and pleased when young people act like I belong there? Anyway, filled mine out and stood in line with my form, Orientation printout and drivers license. Turned off my phone. Silent/vibrate isn’t good enough. Turn it off! Good example of how quietly manic I get: I checked my Student ID number, which is notated in my phone, when I put it on the form, then I turned off my phone. Then I turned the phone back on, checked it again, logged out of my notes, logged back in and checked it AGAIN…

One by one, they took us into a small office and checked our info. Then we moved into another room, filled with computers surrounded by cardboard dividers, like voting booths. A few whispered directions and off you go! The first test was Writing. They give you a few essays of several paragraphs each that you correct by clicking on sentences and picking the correction (or maybe not--tricky!). Some of the answers were so ridiculous, I almost laughed out loud. But I contained myself and got through that section pretty fast. I was confident and high on Word Power!

Then came the Math section. I thought the questions were supposed to get easier as you answered them wrong… If that’s easier, I’m blonde and buxom... I suppose I should be embarrassed by how little math I know but instead, I felt like Young Mare was pumping me with laughing gas. Truly, it was so awful, I had to keep myself from snickering. Ummm… Fractions, numbers squared, percentages of percentages of percentages… Even the calculator kindly provided on the computer was no help. It was like a foreign language. The most I could hope for was getting the lowest score in school history. And it was never ending--question after question, like a horror movie without blood spatter. Some I just clicked without even engaging, just to end the misery.

Finally, it was over and I went on to Reading. Relief! More essays, this time testing for comprehension--story on the left, questions on the right. You review the questions before reading so you have an idea of what to look for. Breezed through those and even learned some interesting things about Georgia O’Keefe. If anyone remembers the reading comprehension materials we had back in the day, you’d read the story printed on a folded piece of heavy stock, put it back in a color coded box, then take the quiz--not having the story there to check details. We’ve come a long way, Young Mare!! Again, basking in confidence!

When you hit ok on the final essay, you get the blessed You Are Finished Screen. Whew! Raise your hand and they come walk you to the printer to get your assessment. Reading: 96 Yay! Writing: 97 Woo Hoo! Pre-Algebra: 83 OK! Algebra: 20 Yup, 20. I didn’t have time to ask if that’s the lowest they’d ever seen… But I’m pretty sure that must be close. Anyway, I’m happy to say I don’t have to take the sub-100 courses for English, I can dive right into College level classes. Math, I’m too busy inappropriately giggling to even think about it right now. But, just for the record, the assessment recommendation is Pre-Algebra… Oh Lord, aren’t they teaching that in elementary school??

On my way to the parking lot, I stopped at the Counseling Center to make an appointment for my Group Advisory meeting, which is in two days. I wanted to make sure I’d done the counseling session before my registration date, August 1. I’ve pretty much decided to take French 101, with a couple of other default classes in mind if French is filled, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything vital about the modern day college experience. I also want to find out where I pick up my student ID. Maybe that’ll get me discounts at theatres and bookstores. The Husband helpfully pointed out that I may be able to combine it with senior discounts…

  A Few More Observations

I thought I was the oldest one there but after I was seated, an older man, maybe my age (no, you haven’t missed my age, I just prefer A Certain Age, thank you) (ok, 57 in a few weeks) sat down within my view. He looked like he’d just come from a mechanics job and after a while, he seemed to be struggling with one of the English sections, but he didn‘t make a peep through the math section. I silently wished him well.

The testing room was very Vegas--no clocks! I guess they don’t want you worrying about the time. I’m a clock watcher, so it was tough for me to be in temporary temporal limbo.

I walked into the testing building behind a family: Dad, girl student and younger brother. She was in front of me in the line for the first stop. Dad and Bro stood across the corridor, making faces at her, trying to keep her loose. Awwwww :-)

The Husband has taken to referring to me
as The Co-Ed. *giggle*

When it’s over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement.

Mary Oliver

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How a Traffic Jam Can Change Your Life

A few weeks ago, The Husband and I were coming home from a shopping trip. I wanted to make one more quick stop, so instead of going left, which would have gotten us home quicker, we went straight. Then turned right into a traffic jam. In front of Cal State Fullerton. During the exodus of a graduation ceremony. I think it was the Fine Arts Department.

We sat in the car, fussing and fuming. And as I damned the cars jockeying for the cleared lanes, I was watching the people, some young, some older, navigating the sidewalks and posing near public artworks in their caps and gowns, and I got all teary eyed. Not graduating from college has been one of my biggest regrets.

I wasted the opportunity I had as a kid, not appreciating education and knowledge. Just couldn’t see the point without a definite goal. I wanted to major in English but I didn’t want to teach. And if I wanted to major in English, why did I have to take math?? How come we’re so stupid when we’re young? It should work backward--when we’re young, we should work and when we get to a certain age, then the state puts you through school, when you can actually appreciate it.

Anyway… Those people in the caps and gowns kept creeping into my head for the next few days, their gowns billowing around their knees. I logged onto the local junior college website, you know, just for a look see at the requirements for a two year general ed degree.

Run away, run away!! cried Young Mare. It’ll take you 20 years to get all those credits--you only have enough brain power, maybe, to take one class a semester. Forget it.

Old Mare closed the website but could still hear those gowns fluttering.

Opened the website again a few days later. How do you accomplish anything? asked Old Mare.
One step, or class, at a time. Young Mare sits with narrowed eyes. We’ll see…

So, one morning The Husband and I set out for junior college, to see a counselor. An extremely encouraging lady in the counseling office explained that it didn’t work that way. First you apply, then you take the placement tests (Oh joy, Young and Old Mare duet) and then you have a group advisory session. She said I could apply on the computers downstairs. When I couldn’t remember my passwords, I had a slight hissy fit. Poor Husband! But I did go into the bookstore and get my fall catalog. So it wasn’t a total fail. Went home and applied from there. Whew! One giant step for Old Mare!

Next, I made the appointment for my placement tests. I know I’ve taken them before, probably in the 80’s, the last time I tried to talk myself into attempting school. I took a history course. I still have the final essay I wrote, “McCarthy’s Handmaiden’s: Journalism in the 50’s”. Very proud. Anyway… I’m taking them next Monday afternoon. They actually say on the paperwork, get plenty of rest and only take the tests if you’re feeling good. I have to go into work early that day and I’ll be a little stressed, getting a payroll out (did I mention I work full time??), so I’m hoping I don’t fall asleep at the computer… I took a look at the sample questions. I have no qualms about the English tests--but maybe I should.

Young Mare: Your concentration is limited at the best of times.

Old Mare: Shut up.

But the math test--they explain that the math testing adapts to your answers and as you get answers wrong, it adjusts to easier questions. Bet I’ll end up with “2 + 2 = ?” It’s especially sad because I do payroll! But, hey, you don’t need trigonometry to calculate a paycheck… I think you get the results of the tests before you leave, so maybe I’ll be able to get the advisory session scheduled before I leave campus.

Campus. Have I mentioned that I love being on campus? I took some interior design classes at the junior college a few years ago and I loved being
o n c a m p u s. I love being in the classroom and I love having lunch on a bench in the quad and I even love studying and doing homework. In an effort to clarify what’s important to me, I recently made a list of what I love and what I don’t love: learning is in the top 3 loves, committees is in my top 3 don’t loves.

So, my date to register is August 1. Students with more units get to start registering July 16. There are so many courses I want to take but I think I’m going to try to get French 101 first. Paris is on my bucket list (yes, top 3), so I want to be prepared. There’s also a social geography class that I’d love to take but it fulfills one of the big requirements, so I’m willing to bet that one fills fast. Some people peruse fashion magazines, I moon through the college catalog. French 101 is Plan A, Social Geography is Plan B and by August 1, I’ll have a definite Plan C and D, just in case.

The Husband and I were aghast at the price per unit--$46! I think that’s doubled since the
mid-00’s. Crazy!! And why do I have to pay for the campus health center? I have insurance… Oh well, I guess if I take a spill or get a paper cut, I’m covered.

Why is it college campuses never have enough parking?? I remember when I went to the University of Lowell in the 70’s, I frequently had to park beside the river and hike to campus. And times here in CA, I’d leave two hours early for class, especially at the beginning of the semester, to make sure I got parked and to class on time… *sigh*

Anyway… Before school starts, I need to get some dental work done and have my second tattoo inked. A girl, even an old one, has to have her priorities straight!

So stay tuned. I’m sure I’ll have a case of the Nervous Nellies this weekend, anticipating the placement tests. And I’ll let you know how they go next week. Finger crossed!

Oh, and that day we got stuck in traffic? The road we needed to take for that “one more quick stop” was closed, so in the end, we never made it there!

“Not to dream more boldly may turn out to be, in view of present realities, simply irresponsible.”
George Leonard