Friday, May 30, 2014

Theory 44: College at age 40 sucks compared to college at age 20.

How many of you college graduates have one of these recurring dreams?

1. You've been in school all semester, and it's now time to take the big final exam (one of maybe four grades in the class), and you can't find the testing location? I swear on the Smoky Mountains, I failed an Accounting 202 test because I took it in a gigantic theater-seated room in the Jessie Harris Building (I think). I was a finance major and that was a science building. No joke, I credit my awful experience to the intimidating table of elements that stretched wall-to-wall at the bottom front of the depressing room. I am terrible at science (no memory). Actually, I'm not even sure that it was the Jessie Harris Building. Whatever. I just know that taking the test in an unfamiliar location with two hundred other coeds under the, ugh, letter-number-combos representing matters and gasses mattered to me. I scored an F2O.

2. The other college nightmare that I often have is that I get notice of a test, say in December or May, and realize that I've never actually attended the course. It's too late to withdraw. It's too late to learn. It's even too late to crouch behind the sectional sofa in the athletic dorm and copy down answers from the "tutors" as they help Division I athletes master complex economic theories.

Well, as I explained last week in Theory 43: Working mothers can only do so much, I am living the college dream, or some would say, nightmare. Back in 1992, I went to college to become a business woman, but also to become educated. I think of education as light. Knowing things, learning things, mastering and exploring concepts, literature, procedures, ideas, opinions, research, etc. illuminates the world around us. I often ask my students, "When you find a song, read a book, or see a movie that you just love, don't you start to notice references to that song, book, or movie everywhere?" Delicious says that people who read poetry enjoy sunsets more than people who don't read poetry. I remember when Ronald Reagan announced his strategic defense initiative and said to military personnel, "May the force be with you." Even as a very young child, I knew exactly what he meant, because I was "educated" (culturally, anyway) through Star Wars. If I'd never seen Star Wars, I would have missed the meaning and magnitude and scope of that phrase.

~ ~ ~ Goob alert!!! I'm about to quote from a book I'm reading in my M. Ed. coursework.~ ~ ~

Okay, so I'm reading an actually enjoyable book. In the late 1940's Jesse Stuart wrote The Thread That Runs So True. The book is Stuart's account of his days as a mountain school teacher in rural Kentucky. He makes the following speech to barefoot, poverty-ridden students at Mountain View School:

I told [students]...that education was not a commodity to be bought and sold but something that gave one more realization and enjoyment of the many things that life held in store. That wiht more education, the mysteries and the beauties of life would unfold before them like the buds of leaf and flower in the spring. I told them they would even see more beauty in their natural surroundings than they now saw.

Amen, Jesse Stuart! All this is to say that I place extremely high value on education. Education is the one thing that, once you have it, no one can take it away. It is liberating. I love to learn. I love college-level coursework. I love teaching and teachers. But, I am struggling right now, because College at age 40 sucks compared to college at age 20. Let's compare the two, using Abraham Maslow's Hierachy of Needs theory, shall we?  I think it’s best to start from the basic needs, at the bottom, and work our way up. Here we go:

Maslow’s Defined Need
Bug age 18-21 (1992-1995)
Bug age 40 (2014)

Physiological Needs
Had just outgrown childhood asthma and could climb the 2.5 million steps on UT’s campus with toned marching band legs.
Can’t breathe walking uphill from the mailbox. Have to drive everywhere.
Meal plan. Took cherry tomatoes from the salad bar to my secret dorm pet guinea pig, Sam. Stole a pineapple from the Presidential Courtyard Cafeteria and soaked it with vodka. Good times.
Well, first I work all week. Then, on Sundays, I go Krogering and load up a heavy cart with apple juice, bacon, milk, loaf break, bananas, dog food. Then I bring it all home and unload it. Then I cook it. Then I slop the Hog, Gnome, and Sharky. Then I store leftovers. Then I wash the dishes. Then I put the clean dishes away. Some cycle.
Drank it like crazy.
Try to make myself drink it to lose weight.
One room in Humes Hall to clean. Four girls shared a bathroom. Good times.
I provide it, fix it, clean it, curse it, love it, and pray it doesn’t burn down. Oh, and kill mice who attack it. Two this week!
Not so good back then.
Not much better now. (Teacher fashion.)
Got it.

Safety and Security Needs
My school system forces us to weigh in quarterly for a $50 per month insurance discount. My BMI? TMI!
Dream job: school teacher
Clarinet, comforter set, lots of costume jewelry, micro fridge, mechanical pencils before they were cool
Though signs of the recession abound in our Glen Cove abode, I love my home and hope I can hang on to it. The Master’s Degree should help.
Delicious and Pooh
Delicious, Tall Child, Sharky, Gnome (long, sweet story), Buzz (dog from Helk).
Had it. Lost it when I lost Pooh (1993). Regained it partially.
I can’t afford prescriptions for that. Just do the best I can with prayer, yard work, and Bota Box.

Love and Belongingness Needs
Three girls from Gatlinburg. GT, TRO, and Mare. Funny stuff can happen, even when you spend most of your time in your Humes Hall dorm room.
I love people. Tall ones, fat ones, skinny ones, drunk ones, smart ones, dumb ones, and especially creative ones. Shout out to my sisters, from sports and religion and everything in between. I love you!
No way! I was a good little girl. But I did go to band camp. Just sayin’.
Tall Child wouldn’t want me to share such details. He’s too modest.
No cell phone, no internet, no computer, no social media.
Cell phone (got a smart one just last summer!), internet (most of the time), social media (a blessing to all only children), lots of online communities. I love this part of this century!

Self-Esteem Needs
Had it.
Have it. (Thanks to Delicious.)
Good grades, except for engineering calculus. No hillbilly should ever have a German teacher.
B.S., lots of jobs, Post-Bacc, published author,
and am able to gain and lose the same 2 pounds every week. Good stuff.
Respect of Others
Very protective of my self-esteem and reputation.
Want it, but don’t worry about it. Forty is the perfect age. Ahhh, liberating!
I did wear lots of white t-shirts and khaki shorts so the band director didn’t notice me.
Looking for a unique personal uniform. Ideas?

Self-Actualisation (British site=funky spelling)
Good girl, good daughter, good girlfriend, good student, good friend.
Same. Add wife and mother. At least I try to be. I don’t steal pineapples anymore.
Snuck in a non-required writing course at UT.
Write without fear now.
Not so much. Couldn’t afford it.
I will hit El Charro at the drop of a hat. Just text me. I also like to inject humor at will in unlikely/sometimes inappropriate situations.
You were OK. I was OK.
I love weirdness and even like my own weirdness.
To help Delicious.
To take care of my family and encourage or entertain others through meaningful work (teaching and writing).
I meant business.
I mean to have a good time.
Inner Potential
Ambitious, practical.
I really think I have a fiction novel in me. Time will tell. Maybe when I finish my Ed. S. degree. Ha!

That's all I've got folks. It's 8:44 a.m. and I have to take Gnome for his 4-year checkup. We sealed Sharky's teeth yesterday. I have class tomorrow (Saturday) from 7:45 to 3:00. Will you pray that I stay awake? I'm pretty sure I have ADHD. Hmmm, maybe a good topic for Theory 45. My, how times have changed.

Bug circa 1992

Bug circa this morning

Readers who have gone back to school as adults or are going through the helk of it now, PLEASE email/Facebook/comment my way. I want to know: For you, what is the biggest difference in being a college student "then" and "later/now"? THANKS!

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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