So I survived my first week back in college. Ya’ll ready for the long boring-ass play-by-play? Too bad, here we go!
Last Wednesday before my first class, English Composition I (English 101), I stopped by my parents house. Of course, my Facebook feed has recently been flooded with parents posting photos of their precious little cinnamon rolls on their first day back to school. So…
My mom, who graciously took the photo at my request, found the whole thing incredibly amusing.
Then off to the campus I went. My early-arrival plan paid off, too. The class is extremely full, as predicted, and I was the only person who managed to hog a double-desk all to myself. Because I’m a dick.
Class was interesting, and the professor seems okay. She had us do a one-page narrative writing assignment in class, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. “But Billie, you love to write narrative pieces, you egomaniac!” Yes, this is totally true, however:
- I am extremely accustomed to writing and processing my thoughts on a computer screen, not a piece of paper. On the screen I can appease my anxiety with editing, reorganizing, adding, deleting, and reorganizing some more. On paper, you’re more or less committed to the first bullshit word-vomit that spews out onto the page. As such, this totally fucked with my flow. Not just a little bit, but I mean SUPER DUPER badly. I actually apologized to the professor when I turned it in because I knew it was far from my best work, or even a passable example of what I’m capable of as a writer.
- Another reason I’ve a strong preference for typing is that I have Systemic Lupus, and one of the places it regularly manifests is my hands. Gripping a pen, pencil, knife, scissors, etc causes me joint pain relatively quickly. People have commented at my various office jobs over the years how very little that I actually write down and instead choose to keep all my notes on the computer. When I type I don’t actually keep my fingers curled up in proper typing position, they stay extended out for the most part, hence far less ouch. But when writing with a pen or pencil, I’m good for about 2-3 lines before the pain starts. For this writing assignment, I had to write a full page, and the worse the pain got, the more distracted I became, and the more illegible my already horrid handwriting turned. I could hardly read it myself by the end, and I’m the one who wrote the shit.
I had brought my laptop with me but nobody else was getting theirs out, so I didn’t either. Besides, this assignment had to be turned in at the end of class and it’s not like there was printer in the classroom that I could network to, so it wouldn’t really have mattered.
We discussed at length our first actual essay assignment that’s due in a few weeks (the first of five over the course of the semester), and how we will start prewriting our rough draft in this week’s class. This one is another narrative piece, 800-1000 words, and the theme has to be about an social/ethical/moral issue we used to feel one way about but have since changed our minds, and what events in our lives lead to that change. And believe it or not, I’m stumped.
I’ve been pretty damn liberal in my views since my late teens, so the only thing I can really come up with is to go even earlier, and talk about how I was raised to believe that homosexuality is wrong and how my life experiences, starting with my best friend coming out to me in high school, progressively made me realize just how fucking stupid that shit was. The problem is that essay will likely be WAAAAY more than 1000 words due to it’s closeness to my heart, so I’m trying to think of a topic that I’ll be able to fairly express more concisely.
Of course, I say this even as I’m typing a stupid fucking long 2,511-word blog post, so obviously concise really isn’t my jam.
I’ve also considered writing about how I came to the decision to leave the Christian faith that I was raised in, but that’s another one that I can’t imagine doing proper justice to in under 1,000 words. Another topic I’ve thought about is how I used to think I wanted children (because when I was young and had never spent any real time around children, I was programmed to think that getting married and making babies was the only recipe for a happy life) and how grateful I am that it never happened because I’ve learned in my 30s that I actually don’t enjoy anything about kids. But I’m considering saving that one for the Argumentative paper later in the semester since it might be a good one for me to go into all the really great reasons for a person to choose to be childfree. (Y’know… Overpopulation, reducing your carbon footprint, shorter lines at Disney World, etc.) However, even that might be a risky topic because the professor is a very proud mother of six, so I worry it might push the wrong buttons which is the last thing I want to do since my grade is seriously important.
Maybe I’ll be a dick (sensing a theme here) and just write 1,000 words about how I used to love lima beans but now I hate them. I only have until 5:30pm today to decide, so I’m hoping for inspiration to strike within the next few hours or so.
Oh, but hey! Good news! When discussing this prewriting we’ll be starting in class tonight, the professor added that we can totally bring and use our laptops if we prefer to type. Say whaaaaat!
Hallelujer! After class, I waited until everybody else had left so that I could speak with her privately. I asked if there would be other in-class mini-assignments that we had to write and turn in immediately, and she said yes, so I reluctantly explained about my Lupus. (It’s honestly a conversation I absolutely HATE having with bosses/teachers because I always feel like I’m just being a big fucking baby. Yes, I know I shouldn’t feel that way after 22 years of living with this illness, but I still do anyhow. Fight me.) I asked her if it would be okay for me to type up those in-class assignments and just email mine right over to her. SHE SAID YES.
She was very cool about it, and even suggested that I have the college put a note in my student record so that professors will know ahead of time that I might require this type of special accommodation. That’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I try to live as normally as possible, so I really don’t love having those kind of notations hanging around unless it becomes absolutely 100% necessary. And since she’s my only on-campus class this semester, I’m going to hold off for as long as I can.
Speaking of hauling my laptop around, do you see that super cute purple bag with the Mickey Mouse heads in the above Facebook photo? That’s my Disney’s Animal Kingdom bag that I bought back in 2015, and I just love it. It’s what I’ve used as a laptop bag for the last couple of years, and it’s been perfect. However, I discovered that the laptop plus my books for class all just very barely fit in it (like the zipper was totally struggling), and it was a LOT of weight to be toting across campus on one shoulder with just thin leather straps digging into my flesh.
So I reluctantly decided that I need a good laptop backpack. (Reluctantly because I’m 36 goddamn years old. Have I ever mentioned that?) I hit up Amazon, and ended up ordering no less than FIVE of the motherfuckers. Because I’m indecisive as shit. The last of them arrived yesterday afternoon, and this is the one I finally decided on:
The other four (not pictured, obvs) were all the same model of a particular JanSport bag, just in different colors because I couldn’t make up my damn mind. Once I had them in my hot little hands, it was a bit easier to choose. So eventually I narrowed it down to a baby pink one, and then loaded it up with all my stuff to see what I thought and compared it to the Swiss Gear bag pictured above.
While the JanSport bag was definitely roomier and I could fit more stuff in it, the Swiss Gear bag was a lot more comfortable to carry. It’s something in the way the back panel and the straps are constructed, the difference was quite noticable. So obviously I went with comfort. All four of the JanSport backpacks have already been boxed back up and will get sent back for a refund tomorrow. (Thanks, Amazon Prime!)
Anyhow, so when I got home from that first English class last Wednesday, I ate some dinner then wandered into my office to log onto the computer and check out what was up with my two online classes, Spanish I (Spanish 101) and Western Civilization to 1689 (History 101). I kinda poked around in the History class first, reading up on the expectations, what weekly assignments are due and when, etc. Then I dipped over to the Spanish class to do the same.
Wait. I’m sorry, what? An assignment? Due by tonight at midnight? Estimated time to complete is about an hour? And right now it’s… 10:37pm? Oh, okay. Cool. Just fuck my life. No problem, yo.
I did manage to get it done and submitted by the skin of my teeth, and then with further exploration in the class requirements found out that there is an assignment of this nature due six days a week, Mon-Sat, by midnight each night along with the occasional quiz. Yowch. But the good news is that the professor posts the assignments several weeks out, so I can complete them in advance over the weekend if I know I’m going out of town or have a big test in one of my other classes or whatever. So it’s not so bad really now that I know what to expect, and I can manage my schedule accordingly. That first one stressed me the fuck out, though.
Speaking of schedules, both the Student Support Services coordinator (Jamie) and my academic advisor (who also happens to be Spanish professor) had the same recommendation when I expressed my fear of screwing this college thing up because of my inate laziness and lack of discipline: Make a study schedule, and stick to it like glue. At first I scoffed it off, but then I thought about the itinerary spreadsheets that I always make in Excel for my Disney vacations and what an enormous help they are in accomplishing all the things I want to do while there. So I figured I’d apply that same method to this study schedule idea, and here is the result:
I showed it to Jamie, and he was so impressed that he asked if he could keep a copy to show other students as an example of how to put a study schedule together for themselves. On the other hand when I showed my boss Karen (who is totally awesome and super supportive of me going back to school), her response was “Oh my God, I don’t like your life.”
Also, if you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice that the Sunday 9:00pm slot is currently occupied by Game of Thrones. Because priorities.
But as the season finale is this weekend, afterwards that window of time will turn into “Blogging” for the next year or so until it comes back off of hiatus. See, I think about my followers!
As for the final peice of the Fall 2017 semester puzzle, Western Civilizations… It’s a lot of work also, but nothing unmanageable. every week I have to read a complete chapter in the textbook, which is honestly the hardest part. Even though I’m interested in the material, my mind constantly wanders off all over the place. So it turns out staying focused on what I’m reading and actually absorbing it is a real challenge for me.
Every Wednesday morning the professor posts up a “Paragraph Answer” question regarding the chapter assigned that week, and just like it sounds, we have to write a paragraph or two (this week mine ended up being four paragraphs… oops) in response to the question. Sort of like a weekly essay question. I have until the following Wednesday morning to submit it. Chapter 1 was about Mesopotamia and Egypt in the Neolithic Age, and we had to write a Contrast & Comparison on some key features of each civilization. I submitted mine on Sunday afternoon (I’ll spare ya’ll having to read it here) and already got my grade on it: 10 out of 10 possible points.
There’s also a weekly timed quiz on the chapter. It gets posted on Monday morning, and is also due by Wednesday morning. Once it’s started, you get 35 minutes to answer 20 questions. I did this first quiz on Monday evening when I got home, and stressed myself out through the whole damn thing. But I managed to complete it in 24 minutes and got a 100% on it.
The final element of grade in this course is the Book Review. We’re given a list of three books to choose from, read, and write a 7-8 page review of (following very specific guidelines) to turn in towards to end of the semester. The books I had to choose from were:
The Death of Caesar (Meh.)
The Maid & the Queen (About Joan of Ark… Double Meh.)
The Rise and Fall of Alexandria (Ding ding ding!)
The lost library of Alexandria is something I’ve often been interested in, and I love the idea of learning more about the city. However, it’s still a history book and as such is quite dry. I’ve been working on it for about two weeks now, and lemme tell ya’ll… Ambien ain’t got nothin’ on this shit.
No, seriously. I last about 30 minutes or so before I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Hence why it’s on the schedule every night at bedtime since it’s clearly going to take me some time to get through it due to my inability to remain conscious for more than half a chapter or so. I’ve never in my life found a book that I’m actually interested in the material yet it still puts me right on to sleep.
And that, friends, was my first relatively successful week of classes! I’ll close this post with this picture of the adorable unicorn decal I put on my laptop last night, with derpyface Cupcake photobombing:
Have an awesome week, ya’ll!