Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Grad School, My Brush With the NAVY, Finishing Well & Slaying the Dragon...

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, there was a very silly boy who thought he could run away from his problems into the military.  He'd just called off his engagement to a girl he knew he shouldn't marry (because they didn't love each other anymore, though neither of them had fully realized it yet), had gotten himself involved in some things he shouldn't have, bombed out of his first teaching job, and turned himself into a financial and spiritual wreck.  "The military", he thought, "that's the trick.  It'll help me learn discipline.  Make me all matured, and stuff."

Luckily, this very silly boy wasn't COMPLETELY silly, so he decided to test the military waters as a reservist, first. For the NAVY.  The book work was easy, and this silly boy even found a designation he was interested in - Religious Petty Officer.  Not only would he work in the chapel with the chaplains, he'd also work with Marines (because they have no chaplains) and be rated in firearms (because chaplains can't pack heat).

But, reserve life was a bit disheartening.  Mostly, it was a bunch of old, out of shape guys sitting around watching John Wayne NAVY movies, or cops looking for easy part-time paychecks.  Probably the best part was having lodging and food paid up for the weekend. In the great metropolis of Elmira, NY.

But, after all that, even after surviving and graduating boot-camp (the worst four weeks of his life), as easy as reservist life was, this silly boy ended up failing at that, too, mostly because his reserve center was over an hour away, his car would never start, and he could never make drill.  The NAVY eventually decided that even THEY weren't desperate enough to require this silly boy's services any longer.

Anyway, before all that happened, when this silly boy returned from boot-camp, he went right to grad-school, because he dreamed of paying for college with his G. I. Bill.  Of course, before leaving for boot-camp, he got into a car accident with an uninsured car, which pretty much wrecked all his finances upon returning.  He also returned two weeks late into the semester, behind on his reading and work for his two graduate classes.

This silly boy was young.  Inexperienced. Ill-prepared for bombastic, over-bearing graduate professors.  And in a really bad place in life.

So he promptly failed his two graduate classes.  Did so badly, in such a bad place in his life, he didn't even bother withdrawing.  Just stopped going to class, because he literally doubted if he'd ever return to college, ever.

And thus, would this folly ever follow him through his days.... 

Fast-forward to now. So basically, I've been afraid of this for some time, that those F's would dog me, pull me down.   Even through all the A and A- classes, those two F's loomed rather large.  And, as I investigated arrangements to finally close off my MA in Creative Writing/English the other day, those two F's popped up their silly selves and waved at me with wide, gap-toothed grins.

So, instead of just taking a Spanish test to fill my foreign language requirement, I have to take two more classes next semester.  Even after all those A's, because of those two F's, my GPA stands at a 2.84.

I need a 3.0 to graduate.

Honestly, I'm only annoyed by the money/taking out more loans situation.  In some ways, I actually WANT to take classes again. I started my grad degree strong, plowed through it, gritting my teeth, but really peetered out in the end.  Fatigued, burned out from juggling school at night, teaching during the day, Zack's then-new autism diagnosis and all it brought AND my own writing aspirations, I really did NOT cross the finish line with gusto.  I limped.  Heck, I crawled. 

So, in some ways, I'm sorta really okay with having to take two more classes.  Because I really want to finish well.  Go out swinging, knocking it out of the park.  The ghosts of my dismal academic failure after my failure in the military still haunt me.  For awhile, as the classes passed and the 'As' rolled in, I felt like I'd vanquished those ghosts.  But as the fatigue dragged me further down, seemed like I was doing what I always eventually do...bailing out right before the finish line.

But too much rides on this. I'm happy and content at Seton, but I'd like a stab at teaching at either Broome Community or Tompkins-Cortland Community someday, even if only as an adjunct.  I'd like to apply as an instructor to Seton Hill someday, for their low-residence MFA in Popular Fiction. I can't do that without my MA.

So it's time to wade back into the fray.  Finish well, and slay this dragon.  I'm ready, and it's time to get this done.

And, even though I've clearly established the military is NOT for me, I do sorta wish I'd finished well there, too.  I look pretty good in uniform, honestly.