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