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

1 comment:

  1. Yea Mary! Good luck taking "the road less traveled...".