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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Second Guessing

It's been a good day gone bad. Not totally, horribly bad.  Nothing devastating happened.  No maiming, maladies, or death.  But bad, nonetheless.

All started well enough.  The kids got off for school okay.  I left on time for my classes this morning, amid joking by my husband of my schoolgirl status.  I remembered to bring along something to eat for breakfast.  Traffic wasn't wonderful, but not horribly bad.  I arrived at the satellite school in plenty of time to prepare myself and get situated.  I even enjoyed my first class:  Psychology.  We discussed some interesting things, I took some notes, and I did well on the class exercise.

After Psych, I sat down, did some reading, ate my lunch, and waited for my next class to start.  That's when things started to go wrong.

Composition & Rhetoric.  You would think that class would be cake for me since I love to write.  You would be thinking wrongly.  It's an entirely different kind of writing.  In class we discussed pre-writing and rough drafts.  We talked about paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting evidence.  Then we had to write a paragraph.  Just a paragraph.  Using one of five topic sentences provided for us.  We had to prewrite, then list our sentence and supporting evidence, and finally write the paragraph, to be turned in at the end of class.

I suppose I could blame this on performance anxiety again, as I did yesterday.  To be honest (and terribly cliched), I felt like a bull in a china shop.  A square peg in a round hole.  As I struggled with my format and evidence and sentences and the like, others around me breezed through it.  They're all so much younger, I told myself, and they probably all just did this same thing within the last year or two.  Still, I left school today heavy-hearted.

I beat myself up over it during the drive home.  Why am I doing this to myself? I thought.  We can't even afford for me to go to school, and here I am spending this money and failingI'm too old, anyway.  You can't teach old dogs new tricks, right?  And if I just failed at "sit!" how the hell am I going to be able to Bunny Hop while wearing a pink tutu in two months?

I'm a little prone to drama when chastising myself.

I know my husband would tell me I'm crazy.  It was one bad class.  I'll pick it up.  I'm not wasting our money.  It's an investment.  I can almost recite what I know he'd tell me verbatim, although he makes better faces while saying it.  Still, I can't help second guessing myself.  Yes, I've always wanted to go to college.  Yes, I was a pretty darn good high school student.  But did I wait too long?

Maybe I shouldn't have chosen what has turned out to be our worst financial period in over a decade to try and do this.  Maybe instead I should have gone out and pounded the pavement, looking for a job.  Yes, I'd already submitted a dozen applications.  True, I'd only heard anything from two of those: one to tell me they were filling the position internally, the other to tell me I wasn't what they were looking for.

Whaddya mean you're not looking for a stay-at-home mom who hasn't worked outside the home in almost twenty years?

Maybe I should have tried harder.  No job too meanial.  Set my sights lower.  Maybe.

It's too late now.  Wrong decision or not, I'm in college.  Waste of money or not, I'm going to school.  I'm just going to have to work harder.  Continue setting an example for my children.  After all, it was only one bad class, right?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Performance Anxiety

That's the only thing I can come up with.  It was all performance anxiety.  And I wasn't even expected to really perform!

Let me backtrack a little.  Today was the first day of my second week of school.  It was also the first time we actually did any learning in class.  Up to this point, it's been, "You'll need these books."  And, "Let's go over the syllabus."  And we mustn't forget, "Here's how you set up your computer account so you can turn in your homework."  Last week was nuts & bolts week.  This week, it's time to get down to the business of learning.

I only had one class today, so it was a really easy day.  Or it should have been.  Is it my fault I misunderstood the instructor last week?  (Yes, I know it is, but please allow me a moment to pout anyway.)

I could have sworn he said something about the syllabus today.  I'm certain of it.  Which is why, although I went online to look at the PowerPoints, I didn't print them out.  I honestly didn't think we'd need them until our class on Wednesday.  I was wrong.

Performance anxiety.

Luckily, the stuff we were going over wasn't too tough.  It was, after all, only the first day of learning.  I paid close attention to the PowerPoint slides my instructor projected onto the screen (while silently cursing the fact I didn't print them out...grrrr...) and took careful notes in the spiral notebook I brought specifically for this purpose.

He'd go over information, then he'd ask us to do an example problem.  Then he'd go over more information, and then he'd ask us to do another example problem.  I started out okay.  Plotting points on a graph?  No problem.  Solving equations to find the plot points?  Easy-peasy.  Although, I'll admit to a slight stumble when I saw the absolute value symbols.  What did that mean again?  Oh.  Yeah.

But soon, all the knowledge just flew out of my head.  Saluted me smartly, waved buh-bye, and high-tailed it out of there.  Because every time I worked a problem, I arrived at an incorrect answer.  Or I'd forget how to perform the simplest operations.  Or I pressed to hard and broke my pencil.

Was it because I'd forgotten to eaten breakfast?  (I remembered when I was already halfway to school.  Damn...)  Or was it simple performance anxiety?

Did I choke?

"I'll let you try this one," my instructor said.  "You've got ten seconds."

Ten seconds! Gulp.  I tried.  God help me, I tried.  But suddenly that x- and y-intercept stuff may as well have been written in Greek.  Or Martian.  I tanked.

"Figure this one out," my instructor said of another problem.  "I'll give you twenty minutes."

Ahhhh.  Twenty minutes.  I've got this.  I breathed easier and went to work.

"Oops," he said, laughing.  "I meant twenty seconds."

WHAT???  I froze.  Tankarooni.

And then, there was one last problem.  Did I need to do the negative/positive thing?  Does that apply or do I have the parentheses in the wrong place?  I couldn't remember, so I did it both ways.  And still came up with the wrong answer.  Insert mental facepalm here.

I came home, printed all the PowerPoints I'd need for the unit--I wouldn't get caught with my pants down again, no sirree--and sat down to go over that last problem one more time.  No pressure.  No instructor standing at the front of the room.  No time limit. You know what?  I got the right answer on my first try.

I blame performance anxiety.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What a Nice Surprise

Yesterday, I came home from my second day of school with confirmation from my other two classes:  I need the textbooks.  After returning my Algebra book, I considered going into the school bookstore and buying at least one of them there.  I had a credit on my book allowance, and even though the bookstore is more expensive, it's also more convenient.  I figured that was a decent trade.

Until I saw the line in the bookstore.  It stretched and wound and wandered and serpentined throughout much of the store.  I was tired, sweat was running down my back, and there wasn't enough money in the world to make me stand in that line.  So, I went home instead.

When I walked in my door, I opened up the laptop and logged onto  I found my textbooks -- the cost of the new books was within a couple dollars of the cost of the same books used at the school bookstore -- and ordered them.  Because I signed up for a new student account, I get Amazon Prime free for a year.  That meant I could choose 2-day shipping for no charge.


My confirmation e-mail showed the estimated arrival date to be Saturday, August 27.  That's what I expected.  No problem.  I considered that they might not get here until Monday, but that was still cool.  I don't have those classes until Tuesday.  Later last night, I received another Amazon e-mail telling me my books had been shipped.  Wow!  That was quick!

This morning, I was putting my makeup on when my doorbell rang.  My UPS guy usually drops & runs, and since I didn't want to be seen with a half-done face (vanity, you know), I waited until he was back in his truck before I opened my front door.  I was shocked by what I found.

It was a box.  From Amazon. Addressed to me!  My books arrived!  Yes, instead of shipping my purchase 2-day, they shipped it overnight!

Not long after I opened my textbooks, I took a peek at e-mail.  I had two new notes from Amazon.  They both warned that my purchase might be delayed due to the weather.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Good and the Bad

I survived my first week of school.  I didn't fall down.  I didn't spill food on my shirt.  In fact, I didn't embarrass myself at all AND I even read aloud in class today.  I'm pleased.

As I mentioned in my last post, this is my first school experience since high school, and that was a million, billion years ago.  To say I was a little intimidated would be an understatement.  At the same time, I was very excited to get started.  Who wouldn't be excited at taking the first steps to fulfilling a dream?

So without further delay, here are the good and the bad for me this week.  Shall I start with the good?

  • For the most part, I like my instructors.  There's one who I wasn't able to get a good read on personality-wise, but I do like the rest.
  • After spending mucho dinero in the school bookstore for three textbooks bundles I couldn't buy elsewhere, I learned that one of them was unnecessary.  I was able to return that one and exchange it for just the computer code it was bundled with.  It saved me a little cabbage.
  • I wore my butt-toning shoes this week, and got beaucoup exercise. And sore calves.
  • I get home from school before my children do.
  • A BLT is a mere $2.99 in my school's food court. Yum.
  • Two of my classes are in a satellite campus located in a local shopping mall. Near a yummy pretzel place. So far, I've managed to avoid the yummy pretzel place. (Why does everything end up being about food with me?)
  • While the fact that my first class is pretty early could be construed as bad, I'm putting it in the good list. Why? Because getting there early meant I didn't have to fight for a parking space. Not everybody can say that.

  • This is actually part of that textbook item in the good list.  When I returned the textbook bundle and bought the computer code, I discovered the computer code was the more expensive portion.  Considerably more expensive.  While I wasn't surprised, it was still a little disappointing.
  • When I registered for my courses, the person helping me had me click a little button on the computer screen that give me a visual representation of my schedule.  What she didn't tell me was that visual representation was only for the first week, which was a short week.  I had to click another button at the top to see the more representative second week.  I didn't realize that until today.  As a result, I went from school two mornings per week to school four mornings per week.  Thank goodness I did realize it.  Can you imagine how horrible it would have been if I started missing classes next week?
  • I miscalculated drive time my first day.  My intention was to allow for an hour of driving.  Unfortunately, circumstances made me leave ten minutes later than I wanted to, which resulted in me arriving twenty minutes later than I'd planned.  And that was ten minutes late.  The good that goes with that?  The instructor was twenty minutes late.  (Whew!)

Ha. Check it out. The good outweighs the bad. That's a good sign for the semester, right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lynn Wood, Student

Last time I posted, I was sad.  In fact, I'd had a lot of sad.  Which probably explains why it's been two months since I posted.  Today, I thought why not go from sad to stressed?  Yeah!  That's a wonderful idea!

Okay, I'm kidding.  Kind of.  Truthfully, I decided to start chronicling my adventure as a non-traditional student.  Yes, I'm officially a full-time college freshman.  Non-traditionally, of course.

Why non-traditional?  Because unlike the many college freshmen who are college freshmen straight out of high school, I waited until I was three billion years old with kids.  When you're three billion years old with children and attending college for the first time in your life, you get labeled non-traditional.

Why don't we start with how I got here in the first place?

I'd always intended to go to college.  I was a decent high school student -- despite changing schools every year, I still managed to graduate ranked 76 in a class of 483 with a 3.231 GPA.  Not stellar, but nothing to sneeze at, either.

Unfortunately, circumstances, choices, and just plain teenage stupidity prevented me from going to college.  Instead, I worked full-time right out of school.

I always regretted it.

Eventually, I got married and had my family, but college was always at the back of my mind.  My husband and I had discussed it, but not really seriously.  Part of me still thought maybe I'd look into it when my kids were old enough.  If we could afford it.

The time came when I was doing research for somebody else.  It was then I fully understood there were education choices alternative to the classic 4-year university.  I started doing more research -- this time for myself.

Fast forward a couple years.  The economy's in the toilet.  My youngest is approaching an age when it might become possible for me to leave him at home alone for short periods of time.  The one missing element:  I had no idea what I wanted to do.

Then my son got sick.

He's always been more susceptible to illness than my daughter.  Two years ago he was down for two weeks with pneumonia.  He often has bouts of bronchitis and other infections.  But the last time was when he ended up hospitalized for ten days.  I remember when that all started, before we knew what was going on, it seemed like we were in the doctor's office every other day.  I actually apologized to the doctor, saying I felt like a neurotic mom who jumped at every sneeze.  I didn't want to be that mom.

It turned out my fears were justified, my son was hospitalized and eventually got better.  But while I sat in that hospital room with him night after night, I knew that I wanted to be better educated.  I wanted to be able to know for certain when I needed to call the doctor and when I could just send my kid back to bed to "sleep it off".  I wanted more confidence when dealing with his health issues.

While in the hospital, I watched the nurses, all the while asking myself is that something I could do?  I watched how seemingly unflappable they were.  I talked to them.  Then later, I talked to my son's school nurse.  It took a while, but I finally decided what field I would study.

When I started researching local schools, my plan changed a couple times.  I'd started thinking medical assistant, from there went to LPN and finally landed where I am now.

Tomorrow, I start my pre-nursing pre-requisites, with the hope of entering a nursing program Fall 2013.  When I graduate that program, I'll be an RN with an Associate's degree.

I know it's going to be quite the journey, and I plan to document, rant, rave, and crow each step of the way right here.