First things first.

Malone_Hood_Plaza_University_of_AlabamaAs many of you know because I have mentioned it no less than seven thousand and eleven times, I’ve been in school.

Ideally I would have graduated high school and gone directly through college as so many do – partying and schlepping laundry and staying up in coffee houses. I did that for a minute, but I was restless and antsy and thought getting married was the best thing to do.

And I did. I got married and had babies. Then I got divorced. Remarried.

I found myself an adult who never understood living for myself or working toward a goal. I inhabited the work force with no forward thought. I didn’t really know what I could do for myself.

I decided to go back to school. I decided it like I decide most  things, all at once and with everything I have. campus-slideshow

I quickly found that all the time and money I’d wasted was just that – wasted. I had to start from scratch, as barely any of the credits I’d taken years before were the correct ones or in the right order.

It seemed like it would never end. Every semester I found new classes that were necessary, new layers I needed, more work to do. Twice I began a semester convinced that it would be my last only to realize a week or so later that I had miscalculated transfer credits or requirement hours.

I gave up. I gave up a lot. In registering for this semester I was greeted with warnings and alerts that my financial aid was at an end and that after this spring semester I would no longer qualify for any federal grants, which had been my life blood in funding my quest.

I was left with eighteen hours needed and one semester to take them all. My advisor told me it was unwise and that taking too many hours would increase the likelihood that I would do poorly overall. I did it anyway, I had no choice.

And now this week, it’s over.

I have always felt, in most any milestone I’ve encountered, that something was off. I always felt like I was sneaking by, getting through on technicalities.

I feel this way now, I won’t lie. I feel like in two weeks someone will say, “Oh, nevermind. You skipped that discussion question and we can’t let you graduate.” 

Maybe that won’t happen. In the meantime, though, I will just be glad that I may have succeeded in something I thought I’d missed out on. And I’m kind of proud.graduation-hats

SMART notso

So, I'm taking a class about management this semester.

It was a requirement and it fills some hours, so whatever, yo.

This week has been kind of lax on assignments in my classes, so last night I got down to some of the first work in a bit. My assignment was about goals.

Specifically, I was to write about a time that I had focused on a set, specific goal and succeeded. No problem, right? No big deal.

Except it was. It is.

I didn't have an answer. Not at all. I thought and thought and came up completely at a loss. There was no time I'd worked and lost ten pounds to fit in a dress, no time I'd trained and slaved and crossed a finish line or worked by Lincolnian candlelight to finish a task. I mean, I finished high school, but seeing as how I'm not the subject of a premature-motherhood reality show, that doesn't really stand out.

I seriously felt like a one hundred and heirbferlcdnefity pound pile of marshmallow fluff.

Is everyone this inept? Is something missing inside me, some sort of drive? Is there a pill I can take that will make me focus and make me successful?

Does it always have to be like this?

 

Almost Christmas Confessions

This is hard to write. Hard to admit, I guess.

In the grand scheme of things – all the horribleness that has assaulted the innocent in the past week – it’s nothing. Less than nothing, and for that I am so grateful. I forget (on a daily basis) how lucky I am.

Still.

Selfishly, self-centeredly, I don’t want to admit this. I feel like by being honest and putting this out there that I am inviting disappointment. All of those who have said they were so proud of me, all of those who have told me I was doing the right thing, I feel like this is just a great big middle finger to that.

I got my grades yesterday.

I failed a class.

The rest of them I passed, and that’s about it.

I am not used to this.

Last semester I was on the Dean’s List. I was so proud of myself.

And now, this.

The class wasn’t hard. It just required effort. And the hard truth of the matter is that I didn’t give it the effort.

It was my first semester working and doing school, and I thought it would be cake. School, work, kids. No problem.

I was so cocky, and now because this is my own fault I feel like I’m not even really allowed to be upset over it.

I may never finish school. And it’ll be my own fault.

Existential Crisis

I came very close to giving up on school altogether this past week.

 

No really. I’ve run my mouth about being a student for years and I was all set to just fuck all and give up.

I’ve talked myself out of that, mostly.

 

I got sick. Like, snot and boogers and I can’t breathe sick. I stopped trying to do much of anything except exist and be, and I succeeded.

But in the succeeding, I fell behind on my school work. Quite behind, for me. Due dates were passing and I had never let that happen. It was like being in a bad dream.

It got to the point where I was afraid to check my online learning site because I just didn’t want to think about how far I’d fallen behind on everything. ABSOLUTELY ALL OF IT. And since recent revelations had established that I have a semester more than I had originally thought to go, I was decidedly discouraged.

This past weekend, I knew it was do or die. I was either going to buckle down and get my shit done or I was kissing the whole semester goodbye.

And what did I do? I put it off until Sunday. Which, of course, left me with loudmouth children and baseball and OMG THE WALKING DEAD SEASON PREMIERE and I was totally distracted.

But it got done. I live to fight another week.

 

And that’s what’s happening here.

Winter is coming?

It’s such a strange time of year.

 

Still summer, but not really. And not fall. Sweaty thighs in jeans and goose pimples in too much air conditioning. Summer seems over and (if the Starks will pardon me) winter seems that it will never come.

Things are happening, though. The kids are growing and school is chugging along. When my classes start this week it will (fingers crossed) be my last fall as an undergrad – which makes me almost giddy.

It almost feels like I should be quiet, contemplate the changing seasons or some other poetic shit, but the truth of it all is that I just feel old. I feel old to look at my kids, at my place in this point of time. And I feel like I’m waiting for something. Like the breath before the blow.

Update on the crazy

It’s been a while since I really said anything about the cogs and wheels in my brain case.

Stuff has changed. How’s that for vague?

Mostly things are better. I have found calm where there was…less than none.

I don’t really know how. That should totally be something I could just spill out, right? It should be a logical progression. Breathing techniques. Colors and crystals, meditation and sex. Positive affirmations.

Maybe it’s all of that. Maybe it’s none of it.

Medicine has been adjusted. That could be part of it. I’m around people more these days.

School is starting back soon, and if I told you how excited I am about that you’d probably think my crazy is just relocating itself.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that things are better. I honestly worked on the way I perceive things and the levels of importance I place on different aspects of life…and I think it has actually worked.

I don’t go to therapy anymore. I was terrible at going to therapy anyway, as evidenced by the fact that my therapist changed jobs and I missed the appointment where she intended

to tell me. I could still go, sure. I could have a new therapist, one who knows about me from notes and files. I could even be okay with that – but things have flipped around so that where there once was too much time, now there is not enough. Also I kind of ran out of things to say.
The remarkable thing is that I know I’m not “fixed”…but I’m okay with that. Glad for it, even. I have grown comfortable with the fact that I will always be a little sadder/more sensitive/weirder than most people, but I’ve decided I like that about myself. It’s okay with me. Besides…isn’t that why I have a blog? Free therapy?

Worth more than 1,000 words

I made a great many friends when I was in college the first time. Friends I’ve kept throughout the years – one who I married and unmarried, and many others who I will never ever be without. 
Not many of them live nearby, though. It makes for long gobetweens in visits, calls, talks. I end up keeping tabs on people through Facebook and email.
 
It’s a type of friendship that I don’t really think has been pioneered exactly. It’s a far cry from the world of Beaches, all Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey waiting weeks for responses…I can have indepth conversations, exchange pictures, and gossip just like we were in the dorms again, all with a little bit of wireless internet. 
 
One of those friends is named Addie.
 
You guys, Addie is straight up one of the most wonderful people in the world. From the time I spent with her in 1999, to exchanging emails and watching from afar as each of her children has been born or found, she has always been a constant. Someone who I know won’t judge or sugarcoat. She is a treasure.

 
Addie has a photography business. Like many photographers starting out, she works a full time job and she only really has time for her work on the weekends. We’ve talked for years about getting together and making some pictures, but it’s just never happened. Conflicts and time and whatnot.
 
Until last weekend. We all packed up and squashed into Dan’s truck, drove 45 minutes to an abandoned motel, and prepared to grin and pose.
 
I hate having my picture taken. I hate it because I always feel self-conscious and fat, my chin is too pointy and my teeth are too big.
 
But we did it. Addie was sweet and gracious and put up with our weirdness. She had fantastic ideas and she made us feel so…normal. Which is difficult with a family like ours.
 
When my pictures are tweaked and awesome, I’ll show you. A whole post of pictures.
 
But until then, I just wanted you to know about my friend Addie, because I seriously love her and I don’t feel like I convey it enough. Also, go and like her on Facebook. It’s worth it just to see all the pictures she posts.

Only ten years late

Last week I took my last final of the semester.  
This means that I have officially taken twelve years to complete a two year degree. 
 
Who the hell cares, because holy shit I never even thought I would even do that much. It’s very exciting. And now we wait, because in just a month I will either be attending Ole Miss (already accepted/admitted, just not registered) or the University of Alabama (just applied last week). This is very important since (barring Josh’s somewhat unhealthy obsession with their football program), Alabama seems to have the whole “distance learning” thing firmly in hand. They’ve been helpful and friendly and I hope I know something soon.
 
So it’s a big deal that Northeast is over. 
 
I mean, big deal, right? It’s a junior college and I pretty much gave up all my lofty Ivy League dreams the minute I signed the papers in 1998.
 
But it is a big deal to me. That school, corny as it may be, gave me some of the best and most interesting experiences of my life. 
 
Like the time we set up a scavenger hunt and asked a bunch of guys to the Sadie Hawkins’ dance.
Like sitting in daisy fields and watching meteor showers.
Like carving jack o’lanterns at Liza’s.
Like watching movies at Matt McCoy’s.
Like climbing up the porch roof at Scooby and Wingo’s crack house.
Like sitting in the stairwell in Indianapolis and talking about sin and heaven.
Like standing in the blistering heat to do not much besides carry around a clarinet.
Like empty stages and time to reflect.
 
I learned a lot about myself during the time I spent there. And I suppose since I left I am supposed to have grown up, whatever that means.
 
But I don’t really think so.
 
And it’s not like I’ll particularly miss it – the missable part is long over, but there’s some odd finality in at long last closing that book. 
 
Let’s just hope the grades come back nicely.
 

Thoughts on competition

(looking for the giveaway?)

So we’ve talked about the competition that I’m in for the blogging scholarship. A normal person would link to the voting thing right about now, but I’ve pretty much given up hope of winning. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Which is good, because it frees me up to say what I really think.

I mean, I was never officially hindered, but if I were talking trash and then I accepted ten grand from them that would be a little bit of bad form. Which I try to avoid. Sometimes.

But I won’t be accepting any money from them, so I’ve got some things to say.

Within a few hours of the email announcing the finalists, several of the finalists had hundreds of votes. Within a day or so, the numbers had escalated to tens of thousands.

It was intimidating, especially considering that the top contender at one point had 64,567 votes to my 75.

Then Friday night I got an email saying that the votes had been reset, due to “ballot stuffing” – which is a term I’ve never heard before. But I suppose it makes sense.

The same people are winning now, which is what was expected I guess.

The reset, though, led to a situation I hadn’t anticipated. I soon received an email from a fellow contestant, and this dude is PISSED. He’s angry that the suspected cheaters were not removed from eligibility (basically there was no way to know that it wasn’t done by a third party, the people said), and he’s calling for people to petition the proprietors. Then the website edits his comments calling for the petition, saying they don’t appreciate “hate mail.”

Hence commences a series of “reply-all” conversations, picking and sniping and keeping serene zen all in turn.

Which brings me to my reevaluation of the entire situation.

I think online voting is a shit way to determine something like a scholarship. I purposely haven’t perused the other blogs because I tend to get down on myself, so I don’t know how I stack up against any of them, hence this statement is unbiased: I think merit and need and all around awesome should be factors in the decision. I think it should be decided by committee or whatever. The current system is obviously flawed.

Besides that, we all know that popular doesn’t always equal best. Ashton Kutcher has five zillion followers on Twitter and Ke$ha is a thing.

Proof provided.

To dream, perchance to beg

Alright. I really don’t know exactly how to say this.

I last asked for you guys to vote for me during a contest held to find a resident blogger for a popular website.

I didn’t win, but I think it was a little close.

The next contest I didn’t even mention on the blog, but that was just because I never had a chance to be Cheap Sally’s gojillion dollar saving savvy blogger.

So after all that, I don’t really blame you if you brush this off and ignore it – except please don’t.

Every year, collegescholarships.org grants a $10,000 scholarship to a blogger. The only requirements are that you live in the US, have a blog, and go to college.

Just so happens – and you may not know this since I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it – I am, in fact, a college student. In fact, just this week I was admitted to the University of Mississippi, where I can hopefully finish my BA in record-ass time so I can go on to grad school. Yeah, I’m really doing that. No sarcasm.

So on a whim, I wrote an essay. I talked about how I’d blogged through so many major transitional times in my life, how it meant so much to me to be able to say what I think and feel. How this blog has become part of my identity and a project I adore and never want to leave.

The guidelines say they look for passion and depth. I don’t know how deep I am, but passion I have in spades…because people, this is my life. My kids. My family. My hopes and dreams. If this isn’t my passion then I’ve misunderstood the word.

Now I’m a finalist – and that may not mean a ton since I have no clue how many entries there were – and I’m happy about that.

The final round is based on votes. Which means I have to ask you to vote.

You can vote once a day (though i may be wrong about that) until November 23rd, from any and every device you come across.

Click through, select my name, and submit. The end.

I cannot tell you how much this means. How grateful I am. Please help.