February 2008: The Semester So Far

(Attention conservation notice: College blah blah blah my life blah blah blah new job opportunity.)

I’m nearly a month into the semester, and while my body has indeed been attending class, I think my mind is at home eating Captain Crunch and watching Masterpiece Theatre.

Which is to say that I have yet to find a rhythm as a student, and am constantly oversleeping, arriving to class late, failing quizzes, forgetting homework, and generally floundering in an unfamiliar and unhappy way. It’s like the first few confused, scattered, what-room-am-I-supposed-to-be-in-now???? days of the semester have extended themselves out into a full-on month of unmitigated WTF.

We’ve taken three quizzes in Media Ethics, and I managed to fail two and miss one due to being late for class. One day I knew I had a Latin quiz, but just felt too depressed and overwhelmed to drag myself to class. Another day I had to leave class early to meet a repair person fixing a busted home broadband connection, and stupidly didn’t think to ask the professor if there was some way to get credit for the quiz I knew the class was taking that day.

So I’ve made a zero on every quiz so far this semester but one.

And my International Law book (the class covers dozens of pages a week of incredibly taxing legal writing in a dictionary-sized law text) was supposed to be here Friday — I paid for expedited shipping — and hasn’t arrived yet. I’m way, way behind in my reading, and have had to borrow my professor’s book twice for two gonzo attempts to get in a week’s worth of legalese reading over lunch.

Trying to set my alarm earlier has once resulted in me coming fully awake, muzzily realizing that wakefulness was my goal, and contentedly deciding, half-asleep, that since I had achieved my goal, I could now safely go back to sleep.

One day I when set the alarm early it woke me only halfway, and I spent 90 minutes in a surreal dreamland between reality and NPR, which gave me weird radio dreams, made me feel half-asleep all day and ended up giving me a splitting headache by lunchtime, making it impossible to catch up on homework, even though I desperately needed to spend a few hours hacking away at my load.

None of this is like me. Or perhaps, none of this like the me I used to be. Since when is keeping up with my homework and rising by 7:30 a virtual impossibility? It’s more than just the fact that I’m taking 15 credit hours. Something is making this semester different.

I woke up on time one day, still somehow managed to leave the house late, accidentally walked to the wrong building at the college (I think I was on autopilot and last semester’s morning routine program took over), walked back across campus, and stumbled into Latin class late.

I opened my bookbag to see I had forgotten my Latin notebook.

It’s just going to be this kind of semester, I thought to myself. But then I gritted my teeth and cut off the thought before it could osmose into my soul.

It is not going to be that kind of semester. It is not.

Yes, things are off to a bad start. People, even studious and responsible ones, have bad semesters. And I’m not sure how to make a comeback from three failed quizzes in my Media Ethics class. But one sure way to guarantee a shitty semester is to all but prescribe yourself one.

Today I am making a plan to catch up with my Latin memorization, and let me tell you, memorization — brute, dull, rote memorization — is key in first-semester Latin, a very cool, weird and challenging language.

Today I am calling the bookstore I ordered my Int’l Law text from and asking what the deal is.

This week I am keeping up with my homework, and trying to ease my wake-time slowly back. 6:30 would be ideal, but if I have to start with 8:30, that’s where I have to start.

And certainly, there have been bright spots among the harebrainedness, failed quizzes, MIA textbooks, NPR dreams and general confusion.

In American Politics class, our instructor gave us a survey to show how much political matters really concern most Americans. His favorite reply to “What are your three greatest concerns right now?” was this very honest response:

the separation of church and st BOYS

And then of course there are the two students’ Latin sentences I shared earlier in this blog. Truly, every now and again I find myself not only an optimist, but an optimist with good arguments for being one.

And in the good-but-scary department, I got that job. I have been offered a position as a freelancer with a large, successful, multinational technical marketing company.

The good is that the pay is great, the company has resources and supports its freelancers (setting up calls, providing transcripts), the company comes recommended by someone who works for it, and my editor (translation: my boss) seems fair, nice, smart and likable.

The scary is the chill in the pit of my belly to take on regular, tight, high-stakes deadlines. Because I WILL turn that work in on time, and if anything suffers, it will, unfortunately, be me and my schoolwork.

But there is, of course, every possibility that the work will fit manageably into my schedule, and while I will be stressed out sometimes just like everyone else in the world, I will also be able to handle it, and be glad of the freelancer’s bread and butter, the generous corporate client.

I’ll be glad once my first assignments are underway, and I get a feel for how many hours/days of unbroken focus a typical assignment from the new client will need. You know, I’m not paranoid about what kind of job I will do. I am, in my perfectionist way, paranoid about the price of providing the level of quality I feel biologically driven to deliver.

Anyway. That’s the semester so far. I’m off from the college computer lab to do Latin homework and corner a mass comm professor to clarify my notes.

Nerd out.

4 responses to “February 2008: The Semester So Far

  1. sorry, off topic.
    I came here from a search for “freelance math writer”
    is this something you do or someone that you know does?
    specifically, it deals with showing the difference in odds from winning the lottery with 5 numbers of 1-50 plus two numbers from 1-9 compared with just 5 numbers of 1-50. explained in steps.

    once again, sorry if I am in the wrong place!

  2. Andy, I don’t know of any writers whom I think have the skills and knowledge you are looking for.

  3. I didn’t even understand what he asked! No matter. I empathize with your overall WTF, but I know you’ll pull out of it. I bet you’ll be better and better as daylight increases. (I know I will!)

  4. Congrats on the new job! Good luck juggling it all…

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