Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

I keep meaning to post.  Really I do.  Alas, I haven’t done it.  Until now.  I am posting.  Currently.  Immediately.

I am unwell.  Long sentences hurt.  Everything hurts. I am drinking Theraflu and tea.  Together.  Ugh.

I have embarked on this week’s bloggy photo challenge in order to liven up today’s post.  These photos are from around my parents’ abodes in Pasadena and Ojai (and one at a fun place called Clockwork Couture).  So enjoy.  That’s an order.  *cough*

Red - poinsettia in Ojai

Red – poinsettia in Ojai

Last semester I dropped a class I knew I was not going to do well in.  Simply put, the instructor was senile.   I dropped it too late, however, and upset the Financial Aid gods.  (And we all know how well that hasn’t been going.)  In order to appease them I have to file a petition to be reinstated, and include an education plan.  Getting in to see a counselor for an education plan is ridiculously difficult at my school, but I finally did it.

Orange - citrus in Ojai

Orange – citrus in Ojai

I had to wait in line for an hour just to make the frickin’ appointment!  My laptop and an episode of Downton Abbey took the edge off, though.

The meeting went very, very well.  I’ll spare you the boring details and cut right to the chase:  if all goes as planned, I will be graduating next Spring!

Yellow - chips in Pasadena

Yellow – chips in Pasadena

I will have an AA in Humanities.

Green - elephant ear plant in Pasadena

Green – elephant ear plant in Pasadena

And an AAT (Associate of Arts for Transfer) in English!  Two degrees at one time!

The counselor said university applications need to be submitted as soon as the Fall semester starts.  That’s only four months away.  I think I went pale when she told me that. *L*  I’ve been chipping away at this education for almost 20 years, and I was beginning to fear I’d be a career PCC student.

Turquoise - forgotten paper decoration in Pasadena

Turquoise – forgotten paper decoration in Pasadena

What this means, though, is that I don’t have room to take any more classes just for fun.  Not that I took any superfluous classes this year (except for my 1-unit independent study class for Inscape), but they were classes I particularly enjoyed.  I thought I had some wiggle room to fit in a few more, like Poetry and Spanish 2 and 3.  Nope.  No more creative writing classes.  No more Spanish.  I met the requirements and I have to move on.  Boo.  I mean, YAY! *hack hack cough cough sputter*

Blue - TARDIS in Burbank

Blue – TARDIS in Burbank

A couple weeks ago I served on a panel for a conference at school called Borders of Diversity.  It’s hard to pin down an exact description of this conference, but I’d say it was a social awareness thing.  There were student project posters all around presenting a variety of social problems, and the panels ranged from the environment to Autism to various forms of expression as a means of social…awareness, I guess.

Alls I know is that the Inscape instructor asked us to participate in a very informal creative writing panel, so I showed up.  I stressed about it all day, but in the end all we did was arrange some chairs in a circle and talk about Inscape with about a dozen people.  And snack on cheese squares and grapes.

Purple - recycle bin in Pasadena

Purple – recycle bin in Pasadena

And listen to a woman pitch a piece she wants to write advocating masturbation education as part of the sex ed curricula in schools.  Well now.

Lavender and yellow - lantana in Pasadena

Lavender and yellow – lantana in Pasadena

As part of this whole thing, we were asked to participate in a short interview for a show on the school’s radio station.  So earlier in the week I met with a lovely woman (seriously, we need to hang out) named Dot, who hosts a weekly news show called Over Coffee focusing on arts and community events.  We talked mostly about my writing, and she had even been here to read my blog!  I wasn’t quite expecting that, but I think I did alright.  It was pre-recorded so I was easily editable.  It aired the same day as the conference, and at the same time I was watching guest of honor Dan Kwong, so I missed it.  I’ve been waiting for it to post on-line so I could share it with you all, but eh: I’m not too keen on listening to myself anyway.  ;o)

Pink - rose in Pasadena

Pink – rose in Pasadena

So that’s all for my exciting past couple of weeks, culminating in illness.  I will try to consult with the first-come first-serve High Priestess of Financial Aid Petitions this week, so cross your fingers that I can get this all sorted out quickly.  And then rub your lucky rabbit’s foot for a quick end to this snotty, coughy, achy thing I have going on.  Or pray.  Prayers are good, too.

*achoo*

Waiting for an Hour – the Chapbook

A few posts ago I mentioned the book project for my Creative Nonfiction class.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

I am currently hiding in my sister’s room with a rather large bottle of Smirnoff Pomegranate Martini, and as I attempt to ignore the Christmas chaos outside the door I find this to be the perfect time to post the contents of my little book.

The assignment was to chose writing samples and include them in a small paper book to share with fellow students.  We had to include a writer’s manifesto, so I used a piece I already had called A Coinstar Kind of Writer. We also needed a writer’s bio:

j9 bio smallJanine McCarthy grew up on the mean streets of Pasadena, CA.  She holds Certificates of Completion in Business Writing and Management Skills from USC’s Professional Development department; Basic Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) for Dispatchers from Rio Hondo College; POST Communications Training Officer from Golden West College; and Terrorism Awareness from Chino Police Department.  There are at least a half dozen more, but she can’t remember them all. She is a member in good standing with the Yahoo! Group CHPercolator: Coffee House for Writers. Her work has appeared in John Muir High School’s The Inner Eye, USC Public Safety’s Dispatch Training Manual, Urban Dictionary, and Facebook Notes. Janine is currently a student at PCC and author of the blog The Letter J, The Number 9.  She resides in Monrovia, CA., with a motley crew of pets and people, including two teenagers and a savior of a roommate.  She swears that everything on this page is true.

Many students used several short pieces in their books, especially if they were poets.  I chose just one essay.  I’m a nervous wreck as I share it here on the public interwebs (and this strong red martini stuff isn’t the liquid courage it should be), but here it is, with the forward included:

Forward

This piece is from Writing Assignment #4: intersecting a personal story with a historical moment.  I chose the current economic recession as my historical moment, and the hour I spent waiting to be fired from my job last year.  I use this piece for my chapbook simply because I’ve put the most work into it. The biggest revision I had to make was to the tone: to choose between deep and emotional or funny and ridiculous. My natural storytelling tendency is to make things humorous; however, the sadness of being fired is still so raw it
was difficult to water down. My hope is that I struck a good balance between the two.

– Janine

Waiting for an Hour

It’s a beautiful, sunny October afternoon.  Not on my side of the street, though.  No, the sun starts across the street, at the far end of the parking lot, shining on fancy red brick buildings and the glamorous people who work in them, people with titles like Doctor and Professor.  My side of the street is grey, dominated by a seven-story parking structure and the long perpetual shadow it casts to the north.  The scraggly ivy and bald azalea shrubs barely survive in the constant gloom.  The dirt in between sure seems to thrive in it, though.

I park my car on the narrow street as the grey grimaces at me, gap-toothed and menacing. I enter a door in the side of the parking structure marked “Authorized Personnel Only” in rust, where the original decals peeled off exposing letter-shaped sections of the metal underneath.  A long narrow hallway leads through more grey to the cavernous Communications Center.

I’ve been a Public Safety Communications Operator with the university for eleven years:  think 911 dispatcher with a different phone number and three times the call load.  It’s stressful, difficult, and not at all congruent with my bubbly personality, but with two kids to raise and a recession to ride out I’m not going anywhere.  Besides, job hunting terrifies me.  Writing a resume gives me hives.  Job interviews make me want to shrink into a dark corner.   I can’t begin to describe the horrors my body endures swathed in business-casual for a day.

The Communications Center looks like a dungeon of technology.  White-washed cement block walls and cheap linoleum flooring sit right on top of parking spaces.  A four-pack of grey and burgundy cubicles occupies the center of the room, each outfitted with two computers, three large monitors, and an overworked dispatcher.  A long workspace matching the cubicles sits against the far wall under two giant 7’x10’ screens, each displaying forty postage-stamp-sized views of the surrounding neighborhood. The room is alive with a quiet urgency: electronics buzz, computer screens blink, keyboards tap, radio voices squelch through speakers, and live voices chat quietly with invisible callers.

Normally I’d fling my car keys and cell phone into a cubicle and race to the locker room, but it’s my Monday.  Not a Monday: my Monday. I move slowly on my Monday, so I’ve still got keys and phone in hand, blinking as I adjust to the dungeon light, when Robin pokes her head out of an office that looks more like a fishbowl.

“Go to the chief’s office and see Sonya,” she says.

I startle.  “Now?”

“Yes.”

“Should I put on my uniform first?”

“No.”  She doesn’t look at me.

Robin is the Director of Communications. She’s a tough, burly Harley chick, but these abrupt commands are unusual even for her, especially when I’m not even on the clock yet.

Something’s wrong.

I stand a little straighter to give the butterflies in my stomach less room to flutter, and turn on my heel toward the chief’s office.

The chief’s secretary, Sonya, is expecting me, but doesn’t know when “they” will be ready.  She invites me to take a seat and wait.  I scan her face, searching for a sign, a clue, something to tell me what I’m in for.  I see nothing.  I don’t know which is worse: a something, or this nothing. She offers me a cup of coffee, but I decline.  I already feel shaky, I don’t need caffeine.  I look around the office for a distraction, and see a picture of Sonya’s children on her computer screen.

I ask about her kids.  She swivels her chair toward me and smiles, and we chat the way mothers do.  I choke down the high pitch in my voice that will betray my fear.  Sonya’s oldest child is a teenager.  My own kids are thirteen and eighteen.  I’m  light-headed with dread.

“You sure you don’t want a cup of coffee?” she asks.  “I just stocked up on Equal.”

“No, no I’m good, but thank you.”  In the main hallway of our small station is a kitchen niche, built into the wall like a preschool cubby.  A big commercial coffee maker just fits on the counter.  Before every shift the Coffee Gods bless us with two full pots of fresh, life-saving coffee, and I do my part to empty them.   A box containing coffee paraphernalia sits on a shelf above the coffee maker.  If I’m lucky there are a few colored packets of fake sugar in the box, but not usually. Sonya has her own little white coffee pot in her office, and all manner of sweetener and creamer in a pretty basket next to it.  My pre-shift ritual often includes shuffling into her office bleary-eyed, hot hallway coffee in hand, hoping for a pack or two of Equal.  My declination of coffee is unusual, but Sonya doesn’t seem concerned: that disquieting nothing again.

I fold my hands into my lap and squeeze them together until my fingers turn white.  I inhale with purpose so that my nerves don’t stop me from breathing altogether.  I fight the urge to bounce my knee up and down and try not to fidget.

Sonya stands up.  “Be right back,” she says as she leaves the office.  Now I’m alone.

~*~

Six weeks ago my supervisor, Robert, pulled me from my workstation and asked me to follow him.  He carried a stack of papers as we walked across the street, through the parking lot, to the red brick science building on the other side.  He led me to a conference room on the second floor.  There are plenty of empty conference rooms in the station, so when supervisors come all the way over here to use this room it’s a grim sign.

The room itself wasn’t too foreboding.  Cork boards lined the walls, peppered with multicolored bulletins that curled around the thumb tacks and staples holding them up.  The furniture was a cheerful blond wood, and tall narrow windows overlooked the campus.

We sat facing each other.  He spread the papers out in front of him, took a deep breath, and began to describe a call I had handled two months before.  A drunken student was harassing people on the street.  He didn’t need to be arrested, he didn’t need a hospital, but he couldn’t be left alone.  The officers just wanted to take him home to sleep it off.  The problem was that he had no ID, and refused to give any information other than his name.  Together, we did everything we legally could to find him a safe place to go, but in the end we had nothing.  The officers decided to take him to a halfway house that would provide him a bed until he was sober.

Robert broke down the call and asked me to explain each step I took, right down to the notes I typed and the follow-up calls I made.  I answered his questions, but I didn’t see any serious mistakes.  Why was I being grilled?

The kid had mouthed off to someone at the halfway house, who in turn stabbed him.  He survived, but his parents were suing the university.  We shouldn’t have taken him somewhere so dangerous, they claimed.

“How is that our fault?”  I fumed.  “We did everything we could to help that kid!”

A note I put in the call indicated that the kid might not have been enrolled in any classes, Robert said.  Would the officers have taken him somewhere different, better, had they known the he was a current student, as opposed to a random drunk off the street?  Why hadn’t I dug deeper to confirm his student status?

“Because it didn’t matter!  We needed his address, not his student status.  We figured he was a current student anyway; we talked about it on the phone.  Didn’t anyone pull the recordings?”  Yes, they had pulled the recordings.  And that’s all Robert said about it.

He looked me in the eye.  “This is bad, J.  This is very, very bad.”

~*~

I try to wipe the scene from my mind.  They can’t fire me, can they?  No!  The university makes it damn near impossible to fire people.  There are procedures, paper trails, patterns of behavior and such.   I’ve only had one written reprimand in my eleven years here: that’s hardly a pattern.  Maybe they’ll give me time off without pay.

I make a brave attempt to think positive. This waiting might not end in something bad. Maybe I won a service award.  Maybe they’ve created a new position just for me, because I’m that awesome!

Probably not, kiddo.  They wouldn’t make you wait alone in the chief’s office for anything good.  I slump a little in my chair.

I breathe deliberately to keep my heart from racing, timing each inhale and exhale.   Every shift in my seat and rise of my chin is a conscious movement to coerce my body into calm.  I follow the second hand on the round grey clock mounted above Sonya’s desk, hyper-focused on each tick, tick, tick, and the nearly imperceptible bounce between each second.  Please, please don’t let this be the end, I silently pray.  I can’t sit through endless interviews and wear heels every day.  Humor doesn’t work. The back of my neck starts to prickle.

Two of our IT guys had their jobs eliminated this year.  The smartest woman I know lost her job and her house, and has been living in a homeless shelter for three months.  My mother-in-law receives too much in Unemployment benefits to qualify for public health insurance.  My dad hasn’t been able to find steady work in years.  This recession has hit everyone so hard.  I’m grateful to have this job, no matter how much I hate it sometimes.  My panic is rising.  What if they really do fire me?

I’ve been sitting in the chief’s office for an hour now.  My coworkers are well into their shift.  They’re probably swamped with calls and wondering where the hell I am.  The clock on the wall continues its mocking tick, tick, tick.  Tears are pooling in the corners of my eyes.  I rub the tops of my thighs slowly, hoping I appear casually unconcerned as I dry my sweating palms on my jeans.  Don’t crack, I say to myself.  Calm down.  Don’t cry.

Our Internal Affairs officer peeks around the corner of the doorway. “Janine?  We’re ready for you.”  His breathy, simpering voice makes me want to punch him in his damn face.  I force a weak smile and follow him through the hallway, past the last dregs of burnt coffee, and into a grey conference room too small for the group of people inside:  Robin, the deputy chief, a captain, some pencil pusher I don’t know, and now us.  The captain sits at the far end of the table slowly simmering, red-faced, lips pursed, eyes ready to spill angry tears.  The other three look as if they stopped breathing ten minutes ago.  The deputy chief motions to an empty chair.  “Have a seat, Janine.”

The deputy chief introduces the pencil pusher as so-and-so from Human Resources.  I don’t hear more than fragments of the speech that follows, but I understand enough.  I hear the drunk kid’s name; something about the investigation; a decision has been made to terminate my employment; here is my last paycheck and vacation pay-out, please sign here;  Robin will escort me to clean out my locker, and then escort me to my car.

There’s no stopping it now:  the floodgates open, and the tears come.  I sign my name in the general vicinity of a smeary line and accept my paperwork. In between chokes I apologize for crying.  Their voices turn soft and understanding, but they, unlike me, are still employed, and they don’t snot and ugly-cry in a room full of law enforcement professionals.  They shake my hand and wish me luck.  I wish they wouldn’t.

Robin walks  me to the locker room.  I feel like a criminal.  As soon as the door closes behind us, I turn around to face her, drop my head into the crook of her neck, and bawl outright.  It’s more than tough-chick Robin can take.  We stand in the middle of the room, surrounded by cold grey lockers with our arms around each other.  “I tried,” she sobs into my shoulder.  “I tried so hard.”

View Club N’ Stuff

I have to be in class super early in the morning (8:00, when it usually starts at 9:15) because of finals.  Naturally, I can’t sleep.  Not because I’m nervous about the final, since I don’t have one, but because I’ve been having a crappy week.  I’m trying to stay calm and be positive, or at least flexible, but my nerves are getting the better of me.

In the meantime, I finally finished my last school project!  Yay!  We had to take samples of our work and make a book.  I used just one long essay, about being fired from my last job.  Some of you read it when I sent it out and begged for feedback.  You can read the final draft here.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

We didn’t have to do more than fold or staple some paper, but I got crafty.

I forgot my View Club photos last Wednesday, so I made a special trip to school Monday to take them.  I didn’t have class, you see.  It was a glorious, stereotypical Southern California day.

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-10

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-10

I definitely like this shot better without the ugly parking lot.

Construction, 12-10

Construction, 12-10

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-10

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-10

It was such a beautiful day that I took an extra shot of the mountains:

Mountains east, 12-10

Mountains east, 12-10

This is a little east of the usual shot, which is due north.  A big rainstorm is expected to move in today and last until the weekend sometime.  I can’t wait!  The light-colored peak in the above picture will probably get snow.  That’s Mt. San Antonio, aka Mt. Baldy. It’s one of the taller peaks in the range, and I believe it’s the most easterly ski mountain.  If today’s storm is particularly big or cold, the tippy-tops of our mountains might get a dusting of snow, too.

I’m finally yawning.  Have a lovely Wednesday.

Detention For Missing Vocabulary Homework*

*A.k.a The Word Nerd

***Adult content alert

This is another first draft of an assignment for my Creative Non-Fiction class.  We had to write a lyrical essay where every sentence started with a sequential letter of the alphabet, and contained a one-word sentence and a 250-word sentence.

harried

I agonized over it for days.  We have to do a 10-minute freewrite every day, and of course I’m behind, so I used several day’s worth of catch-up to write about my anxiety over the essay, figure out how to tackle it, and finally start to practice.  I wrote a couple of decent ones but there was no way I could twist either of them into an ABC format.  I decided to construct a 250-word sentence first and work off of that, but the longest one I could possibly concoct only had 46 words.  Finally, when my brain throbbed and my nerves frayed and my eyes lost focus, I broke down and went to my professor for help.

She told me I was thinking too hard.  Shocker.  She said to ignore the parameters and just write.  Ignore the…you mean…you’re telling me to break your rules???  I couldn’t comprehend.  I got dizzy.  I started to twitch.

(Not really, Daddy.)

Yes, she said.  What could she do about it, make me do it over?  It’s creative writing. Be creative. Have fun. Quit stressing.

The nice thing about a lyric essay is that, despite the name, it’s really a free-form essay with no rules.  So I finally knocked it out, but I followed all the rules anyway because my CDO kicked in and I had to.

Detention For Missing Vocabulary Homework (or The Word Nerd)

Open the dictionary and I’m off on an adventure, roaming through words as if they are forests.  Pages of verbs and nouns become mountains to be explored.  Quests to find stories from Greek mythology, Biblical illuminations, Austrian folklore and nautical superstition are embarked upon.  Réchauffé leads to remoulade and R’emolade and farriery.  Strings of definitions entice me to hop from one word to the next, like stepping stones across a pond of English language, drawing me farther and farther away from my intended task. The words I should find remain undefined, replaced by terms and idioms of fascination, intrigue, and curiosity.  Unmarked notebook paper waits limp and taciturn on the desk, abandoned under a cheap blue ballpoint pen in the wake of Merriam-Webster’s siren song.

Vocabule: Word, term, or name.

Xanthous:  Yellow or yellowish; of or pertaining to a race with blond hair and fair skin.

Zoic:  Animal, animal-like, relating somehow to an animal.

Baetulus:  Consecrated stone or meteorite.

D’Oyly Carte:  English light opera company founded specifically to present works by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Fuck:  (Giggles threaten to erupt.  Head down, lip bitten, too enticing for a teenage word-lover to ignore.)  Intercourse; the act of sexual intercourse; an act of copulation; to have sexual intercourse with; to engage in coitus with; make love; copulate; fornicate; a partner in sexual intercourse; a person who is annoying or contemptible; to treat unfairly or harshly; cheat; screw; used to express anger, contempt, disgust, or peremptory rejection, often followed by a pronoun <fuck you, fuck it>;  used especially with the and WH-questions as a meaningless intensifier to express annoyance, impatience, etc. <what the fuck are they doing>; to meddle, usually followed by with <if you fuck with it, you’ll make it worse>; fuck around: to behave in a frivolous or meddlesome way; to engage in promiscuous sexual activities; fuck off: to shirk one’s duty; to waste time; malinger; used as an exclamation of impatience, meaning to go away, equivalent to the expression get lost; fuck up: to bungle, botch, or ruin; to act stupidly or carelessly; cause trouble; mess up; give a fuck: to care or be concerned, usually used in the negative <I don’t give a fuck about politics>; cluster fuck:  an act of group rape; any event as riotous as an act of group rape <this day has been one long cluster fuck>; flying fuck: a real or imaginary act of copulation where the male leaps or dives onto and into the female; something totally worthless <who gives a flying fuck>; French-fried fuck: see flying fuck; mind fuck: to affect or destroy someone’s mind, as with drugs; to confuse or disorient <he mind fucked the teacher by asking stupid questions>; a question, phrase, or action that confuses or disorients.

“Janine!”

Keep my head lowered.  Lift my eyes to gaze through eyebrow hairs. Mrs. Mason dismisses me from detention with, “Your hour is up, so if you’ve finished your vocabulary homework, you can go.”

None of it is complete.

The Art of Procrastination

procrastination

I’m washing my hands.  The cool water is nice, especially since the heat of the day is starting to collect in this side of our apartment.  Suddenly the water sputters and turns a pale rust color before the stream begins to thin.  Workers must be fixing the sprinklers again.  Why the landlord is so hell-bent on growing grass in that sad square of dirt in the crook of our U-shaped building is beyond me.  I have to admit the green refreshes our tumbleweed-like landscaping, but it’s already dying despite being taped off since the seed was sown.  Perhaps a sturdier groundcover is in order, no?

I should be reading.  I still have a chapter left of homework reading.  I also have to do a 10-minute freewrite, and go over a class syllabus for an ungraded quiz tomorrow in my creative writing class.  I should also check to make sure I don’t have any other homework for my composition class.  I had to read the gospel of Mark for that one.  That was brutal.  Like eating Saltine crackers when I’m dying of thirst.  I’m sorry, more-Christian-than-I-people, but that was some dry, dry reading.

Now I’m in the living room, composing this blog post and thinking about my day.  When should I take a shower?  Will the water be back on?  What time should I leave?  When should I arrive at the library?  I’m meeting Esther there today, and hopefully Syd.   I really want to meet her.  I read her blog Embracing Homelessness and now I need to see her face, hear her voice, hold her hand or give her a hug…I don’t want her to be a computer person, I want her to be real.  So I’m excited for today.

The prevailing theme of my morning, however, is procrastination.  So should I get to the library early and take my laptop?  Take a book?  Should I get there right on time and read later?  Should I take a shower at Mom’s, where the water situation is less iffy?  How about a dress?  Should I wear a dress, or jeans?  It’s going to be scorching today.  My apartment feels so good, I hope the library café has good air conditioning.  I feel bad because Jess is going to have to walk in this heat.  Yuck.  I should take some time to get my cell number transferred to a newer phone.  I left it on top of my car last year and drove away.  It was badly beat up and the back was missing, but the Sprint store gave me another back, even though it was a different color.  I was fine with that because I’m not too superficial when it comes to my phone, but I’ve lost the back again and the buttons are becoming too scratched to identify anymore, so I think it’s time.  I would tell you more about my phone but I’m sure you’re bored and really I’m just procrastinating.

I’m proofreading.  I see a lot of “should.”  My coach, Claire the Magnificent, taught me to eliminate that word from my vocabulary.  Clearly I sucked at that lesson.   Somewhere I have a writing piece that Esther told me to blog.  I don’t remember which one, or where I wrote it.  It might be on my laptop.  I take it everywhere with me, yet I haven’t used it in a couple of weeks.

Okay okay, I’m going.  No really, I am.  Stay cool and hydrated today, friends.

Ex Hoss Ted

Yesterday was my first day of school.  It was more likely my 20th first day of school, but, you know: my first day of school on this attempt.

I spent most of last week making sure Drew, Jess, and I were properly outfitted: supplies, clothes, books, schedules, hair-dids, whatnots.  As Monday approached I prayed for a surge of energy to get me through.  A little ripple of nervous energy managed to help, but not enough.  I started a very early morning with my needle closer to E than F.

Too soon, I found that I have a long hike from car to class, comprising about three city blocks and two sets of steep stairs one-way.  It’s a hike I will make 4 times a day, twice a week, unless I can find a better place to park.  I will also make about 10 different trips, on school days, in order to accommodate the cast of characters who still require my taxi services.  After just one day of all this schleping back-and-forth I’m pooped!  I tried to blog yesterday, but even my writing was tired.  Mellow Yellow Monday?  Forget about it!

As I trudged back to my car during hike #4…quads shaking, calves cramped, sweat dripping down my spine…I spied an alumni banner that gave me pause.  They’re all over campus, these banners:  notable alumni with a picture, a name, and a list of accomplishments.  This particular one was Myron Tarkanian.  The face wasn’t immediately familiar, but the name hit me like a ton of bricks.  Tark.  I had him for PE the last time I was here, about 18 years ago.  He was the kind of coach that yelled and teased, ran you nearly into the ground, and instantly became your favorite.  One day, as I chased the rest of the class up and down a stairwell, I heard from two floors above me, “Hey, McCarthy!”

“Wwwwhat?”

“I saw your husband yesterday.”  (He wouldn’t know my husband from Bill Clinton)

“Oh yeah?”

“He said I’m not working you hard enough!”

“He’s a damn liar, Tark!”

And here I am, 18 years later, ready to drop dead only halfway through my cross-campus trek and just up from that hellacious set of stairs, face-to-face with Tark.  Ain’t that a bitch.

Other than being utterly and completely exhausted, I had a good day.  I got into Creative Non-Fiction, for which I was on the waitlist.  The teacher seems fun, so I’m very optimistic.  My second class, Intermediate Composition, I’m not so optimistic about.  I make 3 trudges and 8 car trips by the time I get to that class in late afternoon, and the teacher is dry as Death Valley.  I had a hard time staying awake as he droned through the syllabus.  He perked me up, however, when he asked us all for a writing sample.

I will go back tonight to try to get into another class, U.S. History to 1876.  I’m taking it to help Shelly.  She needs it, but I’m afraid it’ll be too intense, so I’m taking it with her.  It’s not the best reason to take the class, but I’ll get degree credit for it and it does sound interesting, so what the hell.

I’m off to finish my homework.  Stay cool today!  And Happy Birthday to Esther!!!