Turns out she’s studying endangered species

Yesterday I finished up my midterms.

I had three in one night, which sounds insane. I realize. I did it that way for several reasons, but mostly because all the time slots were full at other times.

I spent yesterday studying. Or writing down all three study guides. Twice apiece. It’s how I do things.

During the course of my checking on past assignments to look over and review, I found an (unscheduled) exam that I quite clearly had not taken, since on the grades list there was a bigass zero. Zero. ZERO.

I’m already running short on those little pills I take for the crazy, and upon seeing that grade I could easily have downed a few horse tranquilizers and felt not much.

I emailed my instructor. Begged. Then refreshed my inbox every ten seconds waiting for a response.

After a minute and a half I had no response. The NERVE.

So I went to the staff directory on the school website, thinking maybe I could find a phone number or office hours. Her name didn’t come up. What?

I went to Google, the answer bank of the stars, and plugged in her name. In so doing, I found out that my instructor apparently lives in Chile.

Chile.

I tried to calm myself. Time zones and sheer geographic reality were heavy on my mind. I reasoned with myself that there was no need to freak out, because either she was going to let me take the test or she wasn’t – time really wasn’t even a factor.

I went to unload the dishwasher, but the dishes smelled like unwashed belly button so I ran them again. There went that distraction.

I went dutifully back to my studying, but I couldn’t concentrate so I decided to call the phone number on the class contact profile. I’d dismissed it earlier because I hate the phone and I wasn’t even sure it would go to my instructor, but these were desperate times.

I plugged in the numbers and waited.

“THE MAGIC JACK CUSTOMER CANNOT BE REACHED. PLEASE TRY AGAIN LATER.”

What the hell, Universe? I miss an exam and my instructor has a Magic Jack phone in Chile? Do they not have AT&T?

AND WHY DOES SHE EVEN LIVE IN CHILE???

About five minutes later, I got an email saying sure, I could take the exam, the password was beach and good luck to me.

I’m pretty sure she was pissed. I don’t know what time it was in Chile but I’m thinking not tea time.

Testing 123

So this week (and part of next) is midterm time.

Don’t get me wrong – I knew going in to all of this school stuff that tests were a part of the deal. And with my online classes I essentially take at least a test a week anyway.

But these tests are different. I haven’t taken real tests in a decade or so, to be honest. And while I used to be fairly cocky and overconfident going into tests like these…I guess it’s fair to say I’ve lost some of those testicles. Or used them in childbirth. Something.

Full disclosure here.

I never really learned how to study. Not really. And now, either because my brain is old or because I actually have goals in mind to attain, it matters.

The 72 I made on the test I took tonight matters to me. Because I know I could have done better.

image thieved from Google

Except I didn’t. And I really, really tried.

Although in fairness to me, one of the questions had, as the answer choice, an option of “2 weeks” or “14 days.” So I’m guessing that verbatim recall is what the instructor was going for and that’s not how I roll.

So what’s the right thing to do here? Study and hope? Do nothing but immerse myself in whatever subject?

Then what if I still am just…average? What if I pee myself with nerves and still just squeak by?

This school stuff is teaching me a lot. About a lot of things.

Insert Work Wanted ad here

Yesterday I went to the local job fair.

I really don’t know what I was expecting. I’d called for details and the gal I talked to made it sound like an organized, streamlined process. Resume tweaking, printing, and then pick the businesses you’re interested in and visit them.

I didn’t need resume help, I have a resume that I very much like.

It was very lucky for this girl that I didn’t, because I pulled up in the parking lot and….well, there was this huge bus that said it was an “online lab” and it kind of felt like the windowless van that follows the ice cream truck around.

So I bypassed the molester van and went on in.

First of all, I had on heels and I had to walk down this huge ass flight of stairs, the last five of which were on wheels and it kind of felt like I was tightrope walking. On ice. Over fire.

Once I made it down and I was amongst the blue curtains, I was a little confused.

All the publicity had said to dress as though you were going to an interview. I was surrounded by people in John Deere hats and flip flops with camo shirts. Classy.

The booths were varied. Kind of.

Army and factory and Avon and Mary Kay.

And the worst thing I think was that every booth I might have been interested in simply directed you to their website to search for open positions. Like I couldn’t have stayed home and done that from my chair with Netflix.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Applause when I entered. Commentary on my twisty hairstyle. Compliments on my lovely tree picture on my resume. Something.

Instead, I was in and out in about twenty minutes.

To be fair (job fair), there were a few interesting places there. I spoke with one fellow who worked with the state rehab and he was full of possibilities for me…after I finish my Bachelor’s. I talked to one lady who is my friend on LinkedIn, and she was really helpful and optimistic.

So it wasn’t a total bust, but it wasn’t what I expected. Which I guess nothing ever is. Maybe it did some good. We’ll see.

Apropos of nothing, here’s the sweetest picture ever.

For every sprinkle I find I shall kill you

Perhaps going off my meds next month isn’t the greatest plan.

My first day of schooling went approximately as I expected.

There was so much.
So much.

I kept telling Josh we had to be calm, scheduled, and patient. Not to try and do everything at once, and then I ate my words because I was frazzled and scattered.

I swear I’m not going to talk about school and stress and being frustrated every day until forever.

But I kind of think I’ve grown some dumb in the last ten years.

I finished, though. I did all the assignments for the subjects I’d appointed for the day. I read and I quizzed and I GREW VIRTUAL CORN WITH VIRTUAL PESTS.

….and then I curled up on the couch, hummed a haunting tune, and rocked myself into a stupor while I knit a shawl.

A shawl.

In August. In Mississippi.

I think it’s safe to say this may be a long semester.

Terrified

In 1998, I graduated from high school. I went on to the local community college, because that’s just what most of my friends did.

In 2000, when I should have been finished with community college, I had changed my major six point five jillion times and I was considerably behind. Then I got married.

That ended that.

In 2002, I went back to that same school and tried to pick up where I’d left off. I had an infant at home and we had next to no money, so when the semester was over and I got a job opportunity, I took it. Thus ended my education.

A couple of months ago, after talking about it for years, Josh and I decided to try school again. It has been a mess of red tape and confusion, but we got everything in order. Scheduled. Ready and waiting.

Well, today is the day.

All our classes come live online today, and me, who has never taken a single online class, I have 16 hours of classes. While I realize that I’m not expected to suddenly have everything finished and done and I’m going to have to learn to schedule myself, it doesn’t change the fact that having a list of things to do and turn in and know is going to overwhelm me more than a little bit.

I really didn’t think I was going to be so scared. But I am.

I’ve had those dreams where I forgot about a class and never did any of the work.

Where I showed up for an exam and it was a class I was never supposed to have taken.

The good news is that if I make it through this semester I’ll (finally) have my Associate’s Degree, and it will only have taken me thirteen years.

I feel a little (or a lot) silly that this is so important to me. After all, what is an Associate’s anyway? Not much.

Except it’s more than I have.

And it’s that much closer to the PhD I ultimately want.

Yeah, I said it. That’s what I’m going for. Farfetched, right? I’ll be like eighty by the time I’m finished.

But that’s okay with me. I’ll be eighty when I’m eighty whether I have a PhD or not.

So if I die today, it’s because the online classes done kilt me.

White lies are better than moldy skidmarked truth

I don’t think I know much about my kids.

Wait, that’s not accurate. I know everything about Lucy.

But that won’t last long. The clock is ticking on that one.

My other two are complete mysteries, and I kind of hate it.

My hate has nothing to do with them – I suppose it’s actually all me.

Growing up, I never told my mom all that much about my life. I was always really afraid she’d flip out and tell me I was going to hell or make me go to some special church class or something. I actually did get punished that way once – my mom found out that I’d skipped school, and I had to spend every afternoon for like a month sitting in my room writing bible verses. I was a senior in high school.

So yeah, Mom and I never had girl talks. We talk more openly now, I’m older and she’s older and we can both admit I’ve had sex since I have three kids.

But I’ve always wanted to be a friend to my kids. To answer their questions and be honest with them, and be able to have a relationship with them that ensures that, in the future, they’ll come to me for advice. A ride when everyone is drunk. Clarity when their hearts are broken.

And I do try.

But I fail. For lots of reasons.

Max is just so…awkward. I love him dearly, to bits and pieces. Truly. But talking to him is like talking to a miniature Michael Scott. It’s painfully uncomfortable at times, even though I realize his mind is very different than mine. I need to work on understanding him more. I’m sure it’s fascinating to go through life as Max.

Ava is, I think, a lot like I was when I was little.

And that. Terrifies. Me.

I was sneaky. I was dishonest. I had terrible judgement. I had such a hard time.

I want to make it easier for her, but I don’t have any clue how. So I think I subconsciously pull away. Which is the very opposite, I know, of what I should be doing.

Wow. Writing all this stuff and seeing it in the light of reality makes it sound….awful. Which I guess it is.

I ache to be good at being a mom, especially since I legit suspect that I love my kids way more than is normal. I’m just terrible at showing it. I mean really, awful.

Maybe I should take some sort of class. My child psychology class came with a virtual child (yes, it did. So not only to I get to suck at raising three kids with a pulse, I get to have another one to go all A.I. Haley Joel Osment). Think that’ll help?

This won’t be earning me any friends

Generally I refrain from posting things I know will upset or irk people.

I suppose that’s not really true.

But given the general temperament of my Facebook feed, this may raise hackles.

Meh.

Last week, we were fully immersed in getting ready for the return to school. Backpacks detrashed, lunchboxes found. Ava’s obnoxious feathers placed.

Late one afternoon, I received a call from the number I have saved in my phone as “AUTOMATED SCHOOL DEMON” – the number that calls when roads are flooded, a kid has disappeared, or cattle are loose. I turned on the speaker (but didn’t speak – I’ve caught myself talking to that machine too many times and now I’m wise to the game), expecting a reminder about not bringing guns or knives, or maybe a last minute nevermind-school-is-postponed-forever message.

Instead I got a recorded message inviting me not to forget about the upcoming “prayer walk” for parents of kids in the schools.

Now let me make one thing very, very clear.

If you are a kid in school and you want to say a prayer before you eat your lunch or take a test or walk on linoleum, I support that.

If you are a teacher and you want to send up a silent plea for mercy before you try and explain the branches of government, I support that.

If you want to bring your prayer rug and face Mecca between classes, I say go for it.

If you want to organize an event where people who are so inclined walk the halls and sidewalks of the school and pray for the students who will soon be present, I’m all for it! Bathe the desks and walls in prayer, and maybe that way my kids won’t eat boogers or mouth off (I may find religion if that works).

I will defend your right to do these things until my very last breath.

What I do not support is the use of school equipment, funds, and information to promote a religious function.

I never said, “Hey, sure, keep me posted about your rituals and gatherings.”
I didn’t say that because chances are I’m not coming.

It’s not because I don’t believe in God or I hate all religion or I think everyone should know that they know that they know whether they’re going to The Hell or not.

It’s because school is for LEARNING ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN’T RELIGION.
It’s because my son has already teared up more than once because he’s afraid his parents are going to hell.

Church is for religion.
Church schools are for the people who want everything to line up with what they believe.

School is not church. Amen.

I would rethink my stance if, say, I knew everyone’s beliefs would be equally welcomed. If the Muslims wanted to have a Q&A. If the Jews wanted to explain all the candles. If Pentecostals wanted to demonstrate hairspray usage. If the Mormons wanted to model Jesus underwear.

But that’s not happening. At least not here, because the vast majority of people believe the same way.

And that’s fine. What you believe is your business.

It’s when it starts being shoved at me and make it my business that I start caring.

I realize it’s election time and the superintendent was making sure everyone got catered to so as to put a good face on his campaign.

But just because the majority of people won’t care about the prayer walk phone call, or may even celebrate it, doesn’t make it okay. I’m not even sure it’s legal.

So please, pray. Fast. Sing. Speak in tongues.

Just don’t make me listen. Or watch. Or use the money I pay in taxes to promote it.

And in return, I will refrain from being an ass. Kind of.

Or not.

It’s Friday.

School started back yesterday.

I’ve never been one of those moms who tear up and take pictures and all that.

Call me selfish, but I’ve been kind of amped about a day of (relative) peace.

But that’s not what I got.

There’s been all this hubbub for us about our financial aid. I don’t want to get into it because I’m not really sure I understand it all and I’m not sure what it means for our schooling future.

We had to appeal, and the appeals people met Wednesday.

After waiting and stressing and moping, I was approved to receive financial aid this semester.

Josh wasn’t.

How’s that for some shit?

I’m torn. This is something we had planned to do together and I feel like I’m reneging on some unspoken deal.

But then it’s senseless for me to have the means and not do it on principle.

Neither of us handled the situation with much grace yesterday. Josh (rightfully) felt wronged and devastated, and I felt so guilty that I made him feel guilty for being sad.

Follow that?

So I apologize for not being entertaining. It’s beyond me at the moment.

As for school and the kids, they had a great day. It was “awesome but boring” according to Ava.

I do need to tell you about Ava’s feather.

This whole feather-extensions-in-the-hair thing is not something I’m much a fan of, I think it looks stupid and it kind of ranks up with fur in the ick department, not to mention places are charging an arm and a hemerroid to put them in.

But see, my dad is Larry Wilkes, and of course he has the contraptions needed to make farther hair extensions. The world would not be spinning if he didn’t.

So we picked out feathers from the fly-tying supplies, and hair feathers were had. The first time they looked pretty good, not too garish and a little bit funky.

Then this week Ava wanted more. Because school was starting and what better way to celebrate than with dead bird hair?

So she picked out the feathers and we put them in.

And because of this one fuzzy pink feather that refuses to calm itself and instead wants to catch every breeze and defy every law of physics by actually staying in her hair, my sweet second grader looks like she had a bad night at a Ke$ha concert.

Fashion victims, that’s what we are.