Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This is just ONE of the many buildings I had classes in this past semester.  And things are not so green and fresh looking as they did when I first arrived here.  But I snapped this photo with my phone for posterity's sake.

I was going to post individual assessments of my classes as the semester went, but….  I was working my butt off, so never got around to that.  I could go on about the interesting bits, like when I would rush from work to class, making a brief stop at the library to print out homework, didn’t notice my laptop bag hit my rolling desk chair, and fell flat on my ass when I decided to sit 2 feet off from where the chair apparently decided to be.  But none of you actually want to read THAT kind of thing, now do you?  No, I didn’t think so.  But none the less, posting this at the end of semester makes for a fuller, more well rounded experience that’s easier to recap.  This is in no particular order mind you.


A tough class.  That’s for damn sure.  Not that the course work is that difficult all around.  Just stressful squeezing in writing multiple speeches, performing said speeches, learning the statistics and facts about communication, remembering to take the quizzes on those said facts online, and only having ONE class per week to accomplish all of this.  That’s really the only part that made it that difficult.  Organizing all of that into a very short few sessions, where most of my classes were two days a week worth of opportunities to turn things in and remind us what was coming up.  I admittedly missed one or two things.  They just fell through the cracks.  Honestly it was the only class I had to turn in one assignment for half credit and missed another one completely.  But even so, I still received a solid B. 


Eeeeep.  I THOUGHT I had signed up for Japanese Karate.  NOT Korean Karate.  BIG difference.  My previous martial arts experience has all come from Japan.  There is a much different approach to fighting styles between the two.  Mainly, it is seen in formality, ceremony, but most of all….  Keeping feet PLANTED and lower center of balance.  Tae Kwon Do?  You do a lot of hopping around and…  It was a challenge.  But I like a challenge.  And I appreciated the workout.  And believe me, I felt it.

My instructor LOVED me, and she asked me one day after class, “I can’t remember, did you say you have children?”  “No, ma’am.”  “Well I REALLY hope you do one day, you’re going to make a fantastic mother.”  My friend Ken suggested that maybe it was keen talent for a right hook and kick to the groin that made her think so.  But call me a tootsie pop, I suppose I’ll never know that answer.

Overall grade.  A+


I was overwhelmed by how much amazing information was presented in this course.  The instructor was SUPER helpful and sweet, and within the first couple of classes I realized I had to shut up so that others could speak up.  …I’m told I have that problem sometimes.  …I’m also told I have a dry sense of humor.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull off the grade I wanted.  There was A LOT of reading material I just wasn’t going to have the time for.  I bought all the books.  Downloaded all the files.  Finding time?  Another story.  I was very upset for a while.  It had been SO long since I was in school.  Back in the day I was an EXPERT at faking my way through it.  I HAD to be.  Skim the material, pick out a few key sentences, read the back cover synopsis… evaluate what the professor said, tie it together and repeat it back and hope no one is the wiser.  ….Just like riding a bike.

Once I figured out that I can still do this, the semester went SO much easier.  In ALL of my classes.

For a final project I had to do an interview, read (pretend to read, I’ll get around to it eventually jut because it is something of interest,) a novel about experiences of Iraqi Women, as an example of how to present and conduct oral histories, and write a term paper that was…  well, 10 pages long.  At 2 in the morning, night before it was due, I sat in the library staring at a computer screen and a stack of books, with bloodshot eyes.  …So don’t act as if I didn’t do ANY work by cheating out of a little reading.  :P  There was plenty still accomplished, believe you me.

Overall grade.  A


This class.  SO much I can say about it.  One of my favorite teachers thus far.  I’m not sure what I can say I took away from it though, as a great deal of the lesson plans were on things I already had extensive knowledge of.  Honestly, I think the only reason I enjoyed the class so much is because at times I felt like I was helping to teach it.  I felt involved, affirmed, and confident.  The things I knew were reinforced in such a way that forced me to look at it again with new eyes.  Like sexist advertising.  Or the eco system.  …But mostly sexist ads.

We had an entire unit on the objectification of women (and men too at times) that blew my mind when I realized, though I KNEW about it going on, I wasn’t paying attention to when I saw it.  One of the classes, we were asked to bring in various ads we found in magazines and such from home.

I don’t do magazines.  BUT I DO do youtube.  :)  I am a youtube warrior!  I emailed myself this (and a few other links) and then pulled up the videos on the class projection system.  And let me tell ya, seeing this commercial 3 feet tall?  Adds new perspective.

But again, even with this class I had to fake it a bit.  We had TWO novels to read for a final project.  I bought one of them, and then realized that I got enough out of the class discussions and googling a few facts and watching a couple of interviews with the authors on youtube, to pass with flying colors.  …yay.

Overall grade.  A


English.  The reason I’m here.  I loved this class.  But it wasn’t without its challenges either.  Many don’t realize, but English was my WORST subject in high school.  Hate it.  All those rules, and correcting grammar, and piles of reading.  Okay.  I should probably clarify at this juncture, as I’m likely giving the wrong impression.  I didn’t and don’t hate reading.  In my past I hated being constantly told what I HAD to read, and told I had to like it.  That’s changed, and I do enjoy all reading now, and did PLENTY this semester.  I just didn’t have time for it all.  But as for English in general, through my constant scribbling before coming back to school, I’ve learned a few things.  I taught myself grammar rules, via the internet, and learned a thing or two about spelling tips.

The piece de resistance in the whole semester for English?  The memoirs project, hands down.  I mean, hell, like I don’t journal enough…  It was a shoe in.  But more than that…  the students in my class, and instructor liked it so much that it was shared with her editing class, and used as part of their project as well.  I loved that class, and there is no doubt that it boosted my confidence in my writing tenfold.

I left the semester in that class with encouragement to submit my class writings to magazines and to complete a full memoirs as well.
Overall grade.  A


This was the ONE class I had every confidence that I was going to be FINE in.  MAN was I wrong.  “Simple,” I was told.  “All you do is watch slides, go to a couple performances, and take a quiz or two,” they said.  And “they” were right.  If you have ANY teacher BUT mine.

I hated this class.  The professor made us write an essay about poetry, (which I’m not opposed to doing, though I don’t like poetry necessarily.)  The professor made us write this analytical essay on poetry HE WROTE.  …wait what?  Then we performed a poem.  Also not a huge fan, but I can do it, and even volunteered to do so for forensics.  …Again, a poem HE wrote.  Then for our midterm, we had to perform TWO poems…  …he wrote.  (GETTING ANGRY.)

We wasted SO many days on the rules of how to write a paper and why HIS style of writing is better than other styles, but never covered ANY of the information the papers were suppose to be about aside from watching some Native American Dance.  Once in person, and another time, a video.  (Which was AWFUL!  If you know ANYTHING about Native American culture, you would weep for this documentary.  It was complete with flying eagle footage paired with fake screeches and the dances were performed on a stage with fake trees and shrubs and odd lighting effects.)  We spent 3 full classes doing nothing but watching videos of past students give the same type of performances that we were expected to, again wasting time, ONE class doing nothing but participating in an interview he was conducting as to WHY current students want to BE students, and another class doing nothing but being placated as to “understanding” how “hard” this all is and that he understands learning is “hard.”  This is where my brain holds itself hostage.  He illustrates how learning something new is hard for him too, by telling us how he is learning to play the piano so he can play a song for his girlfriend.  And then wastes 10 minutes of class attempting to play the piece.  …REALLY!!!!?  The next essay I wrote, asked us to use and explain a term I have NEVER heard before.  (Again, never discussed any of the material in class, just how to write the paper.)  I have been force fed visual art since I could hold a crayon.  I’m not saying there can’t be something out there about art that I haven’t heard of, but I’m saying, it is unlikely.  So I researched the term.  Googled it.  Looked high and low.  (I have an entire shelf of art books.)  Nothing.  The only place I found the term, was in the reading material he assigned.  Again, reading material HE WROTE!!!

Okay…  some of you are aware of my unholy temper when something upsets me to this extent.  I have this odd ability, I’m told, to write the most polite, “go F*@$ yourself” papers/letters/etc… any have ever encountered.  Diplomatic, but sharp.

I’m actually quite surprised that I managed to resist as long as I did.  Even down to essay number four, I managed to hold my temper enough to simply refuse to use the term he made up, and willingly took the lower score in refusal to play his game any further.  It was bad enough that this was supposed to be a freshman class, and we were being graded on a master’s level.  Even I, with my years of experience freelance writing, felt like a white belt put into a black belt competition, and the black belts were fighting dirty.  I was being graded on skills I hadn’t had the instruction  on yet. 

The Final came up, and it was in the form of an essay.  Again.  We were to write about the difference between “learned” artistic ability, and “natural talent.”  To discuss if art is something you’re born with or taught.  Which is better… etc…  I saw my opportunity.  I took my chances, and decided that integrity was more important to me than a grade.  I followed the “rules,” so to speak as far as what the essay was to be about.  The intro included a thesis, and a preview.  The first paragraph discussed “learned” art.  The second paragraph discussed “natural” talent.  The third paragraph discussed how neither one is more valid than the other, or more pointedly, LESS important.  I included examples, such as Igor Stravinsky’s, “Rite of Spring,” to illustrate how art can be both, learned and innate.  How Stravinsky composed something that broke all the rules, and was the pivot point for MASSIVE controversy.  People either loved his new sound, or hated it.  …Then, after all that build up, I let loose the words of war.  I made the statement that writing is an art form, and supported, much like Stravinsky, just because a specific format isn’t followed, or deviated from, DOES NOT make the new format less influential or valid.  Just because ONE man may disagree with it, does not make that person the ultimate authority figure, but merely one small opinion, and I then followed with statements that artistic integrity was something to be far more valued than acceptance.  I backed him into a corner, arguing against everything he had “taught” us in the past few months.  I knew it was a risk.  One I could pay for dearly.  He would either be outraged with my audacity, or realize that my point was valid.

…..I got a perfect score.  Breaking all of his “rules.”

Class score A-


So...  I Made the Dean's list.  Something I NEVER, in my youth, thought possible.  Really, I wasn't even really sure what the "Dean's list" was.  I had to ask.  But I'm excited for it.  And have realized if I keep this up... well, I can go anywhere.  If I decided to transfer schools, and do some adventurous far off learning...  well, that is a door I'm opening for myself.  Honestly, there is less holding me back here every day.  But that is for another time.  :)

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