This blog space is neglected. It’s also boring. I’m hoping to fix both of those things in 2019. This isn’t a New Year’s resolutions entry. I try not to make them anymore. Remember how I just said I was trying to not be boring? You’re welcome.
However…there is one thing.
Guys, guys, guys! You know how I was all: I’m going back to school! But then I was like: Never mind! I can’t go back to school!
I’m too old to be a freshman. I mean, there’s no age limit. I just feel like I’ve been a freshman enough times. Also, there’s this small (giant, it’s actually giant) problem of the cost of starting over. 80 grand. I’m too old now, and will definitely be too old for $80,000 in student debt in 2-4 years depending on when I’d finish the program.
In an act of sheer insanity, the advisor I’ve been working with at National University is actually doing her job. Advising me. She has patiently listened (read, via email) as I recounted my struggle to get my transcripts (she took over from the previous person I’d been communicating with). She’s laid out what would be required of me once it was determined my records are gone. And then, when I explained that the cost of another Bachelor’s degree would be too high to even think about now, she said the one thing I needed to hear.
“Have you thought about a Master’s degree?”
Yes. Yes I have. Every time I consider going back to school the first thing I look at is the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree. No matter where it is I’m looking at taking courses, I look at their MFA program. Every time. Without fail. I looked at NU’s program. I looked at the one at University of Phoenix. I’ve looked at the art school up the street from me before I even looked at those schools. And then I moved on, because it didn’t seem practical. Until I realized a going after a degree in psychology at 47 isn’t any less impractical. It’s considerably more expensive, but still, quite silly.
Both degrees would enter me into the workforce, and both degrees are ones I’ve been after my whole life. But truly, an MFA in writing is the one thing I’ve wanted to accomplish and never went after.
So this year I’m going after it.
There’s only one requirement I need to meet to qualify for the MFA program: can I write at a college level. The nihilistic part of me says “no, you can’t” but the fact that I’ve strung together nearly 500 words in this blog entry begs to differ.
That’s my 2019 plan. Write, read, consume as much material as I can, learn. And instead of spending a stupid amount of money on a 3rd Bachelor’s degree, I’ll be spending considerably less for the Master’s degree I should have gone after in the first place.
Happy New Year!
A few weeks ago I floated the idea of going back to school. I put it into the universe by saying it out loud to a few people, I looked into options, and found a program that would both suit me and excite me. There were two choices in the beginning. University of Phoenix’s program centering on the psychology of social media and technology, and National University’s program for sport psychology. In the end I decided a general psychology degree would be best, with the option to take two sport psychology related courses as electives. So I applied to National University. And the universe said “Slow your roll, player.”
A Brief Walk Down Memory Lane
It wasn’t my goal to be a career student. I didn’t really want to be a student at all, ever. I hated high school and was shocked to learn I graduated with a 3.8 GPA when all was said and done. I’d started working summer jobs at 15 and by 18 I had a steady job that I thought could be my career path. Of course, I did my time taking courses at a community college, without a single clue of what kind of degree I was going for. The only thing I knew was I wanted to study psychology. That was the first class I signed up for and the only one I attended without feeling obligated.
When my steady job turned itself into a full-time job I quit college and settled in to be an accounts payable clerk forever. Over time I did some dumb ass things, which resulted in me getting fired. A few things I learned from that experience: I was stupid when it came to trusting men, when I wasn’t calling in sick with bogus illnesses to hang out with one I was doing stupid things to impress one I worked with. Young and dumb I was, yes. (Should be read in a Yoda voice); I don’t panic in stressful situations; I always turn to going back to school when I don’t have any better ideas.
For 18-months I went to ICT College, a trade school, and studied business management. I was lucky enough to spend those years focusing on my classes and nothing else. I graduated with an Associates degree in Business Management and told the universe I needed work at a company whose focus was sports. It wasn’t long before I was an accounts payable clerk at Fox Sports and life was grand. Especially when they promoted me to a higher position a few short months into my tenure. Fox had a rash of issues with stolen and forged checks, and they created a new position, mine, to catch the bogus checks as they cleared their bank accounts. I missed three checks, getting too settled and taking too much advantage of my cushy job and they had no choice but to let me go.
As you can guess I did what I do in these situations. I went right back to school. But this time I had the plan to go at night and work during the day. So I went back to ICT to finish out my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and started my search for a part time job. This time I turned to entertainment, and within a few months I was working as a paid intern in a business department at Paramount Pictures.
The entire time I attended ICT (18 months) and worked at Paramount, I held a 4.0 GPA and missed one day of school. 9/11. I graduated valedictorian. And I turned my internship in the corporate accounting department into a full-time job in the marketing department in the motion picture division. Once again I was set. And then DreamWorks and Paramount merged, I was “laid off” and of course…I went back to school. In a total 180, this time for graphic design. Just to be clear, it wasn’t out of the blue. I was surrounded by graphic design at work and I had been running a Web site for an entertainment magazine in the midst of all this. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communications I found it hard to find a job and that has been my life for several years.
Why Does Any of That Matter?
Both colleges I attended for my degrees are no longer in business. ICT changed hands twice, and Westwood just flat out closed down. And that matters. Because in order to go back to school and not start at square one, I need my transcripts. Westwood was kind enough to set up an online record keeping company for such things. So I have those. Which would be great, if I hadn’t fought with them to allow me to transfer credits for courses I took at ICT. Who’s new company in charge has informed me they cannot locate my records.
First they asked me if I attended under a different name. Nope. Then they asked for my social security number. When that yielded no results I got a short, snippy email that said “I don’t have your records,” and was promptly ghosted.
Eighteen months of hard work, a 4.0 GPA, Valedictorian. Gone. Poof. “I don’t have your records.” Period, end of sentence, I’m not even going to try helping you further.
Where Does That Leave Me?
So I had to ask myself several questions. The main one, truthfully, is how much energy I have to go through all this again. I’m 46 now. I’m not 19, 25, 30. Do I really want to fight this hard to become a student again? And how much debt do I want to be in to get a degree that to be honest, means dick all to anyone I actually want to work for? If I want to do any sort of counseling I need a master’s degree. So my cost has now skyrocketed from $30K (if I can somehow prove I don’t need the basic courses for the 7th time) to $75K to continue on to a useful degree. And is it a useful degree, really, if I don’t intend on using it in the end?
I still have social anxiety. And despite great strides in my health and strength, I’m still disabled. I’m not working now for many reasons. When I couldn’t find work I had to fight with the government to stop asking me for money to pay back loans I couldn’t afford, which meant for 5 years I had to continue to prove I was too disabled to work (that time has passed, but so has my relevancy). I’m 15 years removed from any kind of accounting job and my graphic design training is already outdated. It would actually cost me more money to make money at any kind of design firm.
And that brings me to the bottom line: when I really take a long hard look at things, I just want to write. I want to write about sports and people who have issues and things that mean something.
Would having a psychology degree help that? Certainly. But so might a $400 writing course. Or maybe I should read several (or all) of the books on writing that have been collecting dust on my shelves, or in my Kindle library.
That’s a misleading title, this isn’t about the Brad Pitt movie, and I’m not screaming “what’s in the box!” But It’s almost Halloween and almost NaNoWriMo and that’s all scary. So it fits.
First, something terrible. We’ll get it out of the way. This morning when I checked out my usual social media spots Facebook suggested I use their fundraise for your birthday function. When I searched through the list of non-profits I could choose to have my friends and family donate to it occurred to me that too many of the organizations hit home. Like, way, too, many. Cancer. Animal safety. Fire recovery. LGBT issues of every kind. Bullying. And those are just the close to home ones. Then there’s wanting to help Houston, Puerto Rico and Florida who have been hit by hurricanes in recent weeks. It was overwhelming.
Ultimately I went with Planned Parenthood, because women’s health has been under fire for far too long and despite all the devastation I have mentioned previously it seems the current administration is hell bent on reminding us it’s a man’s world and women should just be happy we’re allowed to live in it. I also chose this organization because it helps millions of men and women with cancer screening and pregnancy prevention, and prenatal care for those who have no other place to go. Because when they’re not focusing on saving all the babies and persecuting women for having a choice, our government is tearing apart our healthcare system piece by piece. The organization is also a safe place for HIV screening and STD prevention across the spectrum.
Anyway that’s where I’ll leave that. Donate. Don’t. Whatever you choose. I’m all about being pro-choice. And pro-life. You can be both. I promise.
Holy hell it’s the end of October. My kitchen renovation is complete and I couldn’t be happier. I have cooked twice in the new set up and it’s working great. I have access to the things I need and I feel comfortable cooking and cleaning in this new environment. If it weren’t 100 degrees in October I’d be itching to cook more complicated meals, but as it stands right now, the simpler the better in this god awful heat.
The end of October also means panic time for me because NaNoWrimo starts November 1. That’s when I’ll be tasked with writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Despite having my story idea ready to go, I’m always nervous about stalling out midway through the process. This week I plan out my background music, remind everyone in my life that I am doing this thing that requires me to be absent more than usual, and try to tell my brain to shut up about how bad I suck at writing, and finishing things.
This is also when I let you all know that this blog will turn into a writing update center for me for a month. In the past I’ve done daily check ins. This year I’m hoping to do it weekly instead. If you follow my social media accounts you’ll see my daily word counts there.
W.O.W. moment of the week (for last week): I survived 3 weeks of kitchen renovations.