Bad Photo, good book. Just one of the many required
textbooks I found at Goodwill.org
I have about 30 days left.
Then with the grace of God, a full Partridge Family backpack, a compass, a slate board and some chalk plus a few coins to call home in case I get lost...I go back to school. I am ready, really, really ready. Except that I am having a difficult time remembering to exhale after I inhale I am THAT excited.
After years of talking but not walking I am finally entering the Creative Writing program at the University Of Illinois, Champaign, a major within the English department, which is a part of the Liberal Arts and Sciences College.
I'm not telling you all that to impress you, rather it is more of a pneumonic device for this quinquagenarian so I don't show up at Butts Road Primary school instead. Hey, don't blame me for the schools name. Talk to the state of Virginia.
None of this back to school stuff seems quite real. Especially when any U of I notices I receive in the mail are snuggled up next to the AARP brochures demanding I join now or they will revoke my senior discount at Dennys.
Like I would ever let THAT happen.
But even though it's not all sunk in yet I am indeed looking forward to academia. I was actually giddy last week picking out notebooks for my five courses, a different color for each subject, I mean class, I mean course, when it dawned on me that college students may not take even take pen/paper notes anymore. They probably just put those notes right on their laptop, or I-pad or padtop or I-lap.
Wait! What if the teachers, I mean instructors, I mean professors, don't allow pen and paper in the classroom? What if they require all the notes to be entered on electronic devices only? What if I am supposed to have some micro-recording device in the heel of my shoe that will automatically turn on the second I sit down and relieve the pressure of middle age spread from the heel of my orthopedic-velcro-secured-Easy Spirit oxfords?
What if I fart in my chair?
Oh please, it could happen. My sphincters are not the rock stars they were in the 70's. It's just that the possibilities for total embarrassment loom large. I am in fact one undergrad in a sea of 32,000. How could I not stand out?
Ok, so I make a spectacle of myself. So what? At 55 dying of embarrassment is not nearly the tragedy it is at age 13. I've already made a mix tape of the music to be played at my funeral. Basically anything I do to bring shame to myself on Monday will be forgotten by later that same day anyway. It's interesting how my attitude is so very different now than it was in Carters time. Back then I was too cool to attend any orientation sessions, whereas now I've gone to three.
I probably didn't need to attend the orientation for the new university groundskeepers but I am totally into zero turn mowers so I thought what the heck?
Back then I did not bother to find my classes before the semester started but I did draw a map of all the fraternity locations on the bottom of my feet. You know, for those moments when you just have to lay down and rest...on the Quad...for two whole days.
Now, I know 5 weeks ahead of time, each of the buildings my classes are in and next week I'll drive the 60 minutes to campus and actually walk to all the rooms. The week after that I will most likely time myself walking from the hall, into the room, to my seat of choice so I know exactly how long it takes to get from classroom to classroom AIS. (For those of you not schooled by the Sisters of Perpetual Critiscism as I was, AIS means ass in seat)
Back then, I attended class willy nilly. I did not attend my botany, speech, algebra, composition or biology classes. Willy Nilly required no papers, no tests, no finals. I loved that class. Imagine my shock (without awe) when called into my counselors office to be told Bye Bye. Seems a negative GPA was frowned upon. They took off additional points for the protest tables I had set up outside the classroom. I was very opposed to snail racing at the time.
Now, I plan to attend every course every day and maybe even skip lunch and sit in on the class again later that same afternoon. I plan to sit up front instead of sitting in the back writing love letters to David Bowie. I plan to take notes on my rotary phone, copy them onto my I-lap and save up all my Green Stamps so I can buy the 17 year old genius tutor I'm sure to need by week three.
I am planning to go back to school.