Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Two Weeks of College.

Boy what a busy couple weeks it was.  And it left me with all the more certainty that having a full time position while doing school, is likely not going to work for me.  Maybe once upon a time I was able to shift around multiple jobs, theater, and family.  But for the moment, I just can’t juggle like I used to.  Come to think of it, in high school when I was at my busiest, what suffered most were my grades as I never had the time or concentration for homework.  I don’t want that happening here.  I have too much riding on this gamble.  But maybe I'm being a little unfair as I was also finishing with my moving endeavors this last couple weeks.

So, where do we start?  Well, as tradition would dictate, Monday.  But in the first week of school, Monday was Labor Day.  So, despite my panic thinking I needed to be removed from the work schedule (back in old Lake Geneva) for both Monday AND Thursday for class, I ended up laughing at myself for remembering schools still adhere to “holidays” and there would be no class.  (I say “still” adhere, because I’m willing to bank on that changing one day if things are allowed to continue to progress as they have been.)  So, the only day I needed removed from my work schedule before my move to Whitewater was Thursday.  I only had two days left.  Monday and Friday.  Two little shifts to get through.  Until I arrived at work on Monday (Labor Day) and was informed that “two” was now “one”.  ONE little shift to get through.  Why?  Because a coworker decided of her own volition to go to management and tell them I wanted her to take my Friday shift.  Because that’s okay, I don’t need the money to pay for anything expensive like tuition or anything.  I will just use this as motivation in my school as a reminder as to what I’m working to get away from.  I’m just not suited to working these kinds of low pay jobs with the constant backstabbing and scraping by.  Backstabbing should come at at LEAST a dollar an hour more.  :P

I spoke with management whom, for obvious legal purposes, would not be able to take my hours away midweek without either my permission or a reprimand being involved about what was going on.  The conclusion basically came down to them having taken her false request on good faith.  Something I would have been grateful for if that had been the case.  I couldn’t be angry with management for trying to be nice especially as they THOUGHT they were doing me a favor.  And they were very accommodating in offering for me to still work the shift (now WITH the girl that lied as it was too late to remove her) or even another shift for that day.  I considered it.  And I realized that if I came in that day, I would only be angry looking at the girl that decided she could get away with whatever she wanted.  And seeing as I had things to do and objects to pack…  I decided to take the free time.  Besides, I did not want my last shift there to be an angry one, and allowed Monday to be my last day at that location.  Friday I would dedicate to moving the bulk of my possessions.


Tuesday was my first day of college.  ….no not EVER.  I did try this whole secondary education once before.  It was a catastrophe.  Ask about it and I’ll tell you sometime.  This round?  Looks much more promising.  So I packed my supplies, hopped in the car, and drove to campus (some 40 minutes as I commuted the first week.)  When I arrived, I realize…. There is no parking on the street left, and I don’t have a permit for on campus.  Resulting in my first parking ticket.  :P  Damn.  But as far as the day goes, an acceptable sacrifice.

I arrive in the hallway outside my first class, English, where a bunch of young faces are gathered, staring silently at the dim room, waiting for the teacher.  As if waiting for permission to learn.  I walked in and the other students, after taking a moment for looking rather bewildered that I would just take it upon myself to do such a thing, followed.  The class went smoothly, as I expected, and I felt very excited to be back in this setting.  My hand was raised every five seconds it seemed to contribute something more.  And Next class up?  History.  And oh how I’ve despised history classes in the past.  In fact there has only ever been ONE history teacher that I didn’t want to force feed my textbook to.  And thankfully, this current teacher seems to have the same spirit about her.  I have hope.  Great hope that I won’t be bored this semester.  …Until second week of class that is.  Both my English Class and History Class have left me wanting to cattle prod the other students in motivational efforts.  I keep finding myself biting my tongue and having to hold back so as to give the others a chance to answer.  And of course we can’t move on from the information that I already have a firm understanding of, until the rest of the class shows they comprehend it as well.

But that’s okay.  I’m just happy to be here.  And there’s the BIG difference in comparing now to the last attempt at this whole college thing.  In fact, in the move I uncovered a diary of my first experiences at college round one.  I’d throw a few excerpts in here, but trust me, they are less than appropriate.

I’ve made it a point to stay behind and introduce myself to a few of my professors as I’m an “adult” student.  They all seem to appreciate the gesture and are very accommodating in asking if there are any questions or anything I need help with.  A few have even made a point to express their enjoyment in having an adult in class as adults typically have a more mature approach to education as well as life experience to bring to class.  My history teacher, when I introduced myself responded with sentiments of hoping to get the chance to say hello to me as I was the only adult in that period, but soon followed our exchange with, “you’re a little hard to get a peg on… you can’t have been out of school for TOO long…”  I smiled, thanked her, and responded with my age, which was generously more than half a decade added to her original assumption.  The funny portion to this little tale is that I’m not sure she is any older than I am.  A very young professor, I’m hoping to keep higher energy levels through the semester.

The classes went on.  World of the arts, and Society and Individual, both classes I reserve judgment on but am looking forward to Thursday’s lessons.  Why?  Because class is being replaced for BOTH periods with attendance to a Native American drum circle.  (I approve.)  :D  But my last class of my first day was Karate.  Except it wasn’t.  I had signed up for Karate.  A Japanese based martial art, and though differing greatly from Aikido the discipline in which I hold several belts, it would help to further my understanding I felt as it is a good pairing to Aikido.  What did I ACTUALLY sign up for?  Tae Kwon Do.  A KOREAN martial art discipline.

I had the option of dropping the class of course, but I need every little piece of credit I can grab this semester, lest I fall below the 15 credit average to keep my financial aid and etc….  This class brings me to a whopping 12.5.  :/  I need to stick with it.  And by week two I’m finding I’m actually doing quite well in it.  Not great.  But well.  The homework is a ton of exercising.  Push ups, sit ups, and just about every other ups you can imagine.  Between the constant walking from building to building, this homework, and the heavy workout achieved in the class itself, I think I will be in better shape by the end of this semester than I have been since I was last in college.  And hey!  Maybe I’ll get down to that size 10 again as well.  A girl can dream.

But speaking of walking, bringing us back to where  I left my car the morning of the first day, I DID indeed get a ticket.  Not horrible.  15 bucks.  Which would go up to 22 if not paid before the 14th.  So, by time I had the time to pay it was Friday afternoon.  Past closing for the cashiers office.  So, I did as the back of the ticket recommended and tried to pay online.  But that was a bust.  There actually is NO WAY to pay online….    Why they put nonexistent instructions there I can’t figure out.  Maybe it’s an experiment for the psych dept.  Anyway, next available time I had when they would be open was Tuesday.  So I made certain to leave early for class to hit the office on my way.  I waited five minutes just to get up to the window just to read a sign that says, no credit cards.  ARG!  …okay…  And then the girl at the window explains to me that I’m in the wrong building anyway, that I want the parking building, and gave me directions.  The upside is, I DID eventually make my way over to pay the ticket on time.  But even the parking building didn’t seem to understand the false directions on the back of the ticket for payments online.

In future blogs I will likely elaborate some of the other details, like my first trip grocery shopping, starting work here, and my new apartment and roommate.  But for now, it is late, and I am tired.  Goodnight world.  I hope you are all finding content adventures.  Mine continue with a grin and tummy ache.

Monday, September 5, 2011

And Now for Something Fun.

I love when people think outside the box and manage to put new twists to old favorites.  Rewrites of old Fairy Tales have special appeal for me.  But I couldn't resist sharing this bit I came across this morning.

While researching Pirates and their pets I found this quirky bit of inspiration taken from Popeye the Sailor Man as applied to Blackbeard the Pirate.  This creative version claims that the infamous pirate Blackbeard had an arch nemesis named Popette, whom would call Blackbeard "Blue Toe" for a disfigurement gained after breaking a toe in their first fight.  A fight over the daughter of a man that made his fortunes in the Olive Oil trade.  Another fight supposedly cost Popette an eye to Blackbeard's dagger, and he began consuming Marijuana to ease the pain and took to believing it gave him "super strength."  I have to wonder if this were the case, if parents would be so eager to encourage their children to eat their “spinach” like Popeye.  :D

I especially enjoy the attention to detail they added by including the illustrations.

Sure there's nothing in here that can suggest that ANY of this is true.  But in the legendary world of pirates, filled with tales of gold, mermaids, and fountains of everlasting life...  Is it really any more THAT far fetched?  At very least, it added a smile to my day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Update to the College Process.

I haven’t posted in a bit.  I’d say it’s because I’ve been busy, but then again, when am I not?  But what I’ve been busy with this month is a new project.  Or maybe I should say a new hiccup with an old project.

I’ve been doing this whole “go back to college” experiment.  Because after all, I need something that will help me find a career that will actually, you know, put food in my stomach.  Which this song has me kinda getting the jitters for the career track I’ve chosen.

Yup…  I’m aiming for a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing, and a minor in Psych.  But really, I know what I would be doing with that.  A B.A. will enable me to substitute teach which pays twice what I’m currently earning, or apply to magazines or similar companies as a copy editor, or video game companies as a writer….  OR, I could take a year or two to go to Asia to teach ESL (which would wipe out a great deal of my college debt straight off.  Point is, there actually is PLENTY I could accomplish with a BA in English, and I’m pretty excited to be going this route.

The hiccups I’ve experienced along the way?  Not so excited for.  If you read my last post you already know that it was a struggle to get this far.  Between the hell Gateway put me through that had me telling them “thanks for nothing I’m going to go to a real school instead” and my former college being lazy asses and it taking THREE requests over a lengthy time period for them to send out my transcripts…  It’s a miracle I even was accepted to Whitewater to begin with.  So on to the next steps.  The financial aid process went much more smoothly this time, as I expected it to with the Whitewater staff.  It took just one or two communications by email or mail to get all of the paperwork they needed.  I did however get a bit nervous when they told me WHEN the aid would be arriving.  September 1st it would be posted for me to accept or deny.  No sooner.  And then it would be another week or two before I would have access to the funds.

But I needed a place to live, and money for the place, and every apartment is filling and time is of the essence.  I’m really not one for having a “roommate” any more.  Nothing against the friends I’ve had as roommates.  It’s just time for me to be on my own.  Fully on my own.  I’m getting older and I’m VERY ready for my OWN space.

Place number one.  Seville Apartments. 

I went to look at these, and they were perfect.  SOOOO PERFECT!  However, I needed 600 dollars by the next day and there was only one unit left.  …and the manager of the complex (showing me the apartment, and claiming he would be living in the unit right below me) continuously told me that if I wanted the place I would have to “hurry up” and “Jump on the stick.”  ……I don’t know about you, but by the fourth time or so that he said it, I was picking up on a subtle innuendo.  By the fifth I was fairly creeped out.  I really did want that place, but at least the creepy guy made it easier to cope with how impossible it was.  The search continued, and I had to use whatever minutes not working, or at orientation for school or at funerals to find a place to live.  And it wasn’t going well.  Each passing week came up with fewer and fewer results.  Even subletting opportunities were going fast.  BUT, I finally found one.  At long last, my saving grace, I found a place that is clean, decently priced, and right across from campus.  Sure it comes with a roommate, but I’ll take what I can for now, and when summer hits, more will be available for a more “adult” living arrangement.  I was and am thankful just to have a roof.

But that pesky student aid….  My loans still hadn’t come through.  And I needed to sign the lease NOW.  So, in the process of finding that “buffer” for funds between the two weeks, I found in my mail box a letter saying “preapproved” for a line of credit at my bank.  …okay, sure, we all know how these things work.  No one is ever actually preapproved for anything in generic mail.  It’s a gimmick to get you through the door so they can take a peek at your credit and sell you everything else you might “qualify” for.  Sending these things out en mass, is cheaper than actually prescreening each client and only sending them out to those who actually qualify.

But I figured it just may be the answer to my prayers.  So, I took the letter into the bank very next business day.  I filled out all the paper work.  I gave them paystubs.  Reported all stocks and 401k, and so on…  And hey, I actually do qualify!  Yay!  But all that paperwork still has to go to the underwriters.  So turn around (I was told) would be three to five days.  I took a deep breath and thanked them as I didn’t care when I got the cash, so long as I had enough for the deposit for the apartment in time.  (That Sunday, almost a week from then.)  The banker promised me that she would keep on top of my situation and inform me the moment the money was available.  At latest, she claimed, it would be there Friday.

The next morning I met with the student housing office and the girl I was subletting from.  The apartment was a Godsend.  The roommate I would be living with is clean and tidy, and the furniture and living space is appropriate for my needs.  Seeing as I filed all of the paperwork the day before and even set up accounts for automatic payments on the line of credit, the whole nine yards, I signed the lease, paid the 200 in fees up front, and made an arrangement to pay the rent and pick up the keys on Friday.  Moving along to Thursday afternoon, and seeing as I hadn’t heard from the bank yet, I thought I would just give a quick call to see what was going on.

After getting hung up on once, and then put on hold for more than five minutes the second time I got this, “Oh, yeah, I checked on that this morning.  It was declined, you’ll receive a letter in the mail why.”  …Declined?  My preapproved loan?  That had a special low interest that I even qualified for?  And you aren’t even going to tell me what went wrong?  And now I have less than 24 hours to come up with 2100 dollars?  Are you KIDDING ME?

…….Deep breaths.  Don’t panic.  It’s not like you signed a contract or anything.  Oh, wait…  you did.

Friends to the rescue.

I called several of my friends immediately asking for suggestions.  And logged on to the university’s website to see if the financial aid posts were on there as they told me they would be.  And to find out how to get my hands on that cash ASAP!

My friends helped me.  They made calls for me, researched with me, and so much more.  And I even had offers from some to lend me what they could.  I owe big thanks to two friends in particular.  One for monetary help, and the other for driving me all over Whitewater like a crazy person the following day.

Finally, after many phone calls, scraping together every penny I had left, haggling with the property management office, setting up direct deposits for my financial aid refunds, and whatever else I can’t think of that made this simple 24 hours seem to last a week’s worth of activity…  I had a set of keys in my hands and four bags of belongings moved into the apartment.

So, now I sit at home, with a bunch of maxed out credit cards, and only enough cash available for gas to get to whitewater and back until the rest of the funds come through.  And I couldn’t be happier, because the first day of class is day after tomorrow and I only have 2 more shifts at work.  I can see the finish line, and it looks damn good.

(and remember, clicking on one of those sponsor ads to the side there?  Earns me a little pocket change to help with those college expenses too.)  ;)